Electric Car Road Trip in a Nissan Leaf

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EV20Q Podcast 49 – Révéo Charging in France

It was another electric car road trip day and this time to France. I recently received the Révéo RFID card and I wanted to test it out. On my last trip in a northerly direction to do the testing I wasn’t able to get past the traffic jams to get into France. I wasn’t sure if it was the roadworks taking place on the French side to widen the bridge or if it was the yellow vest protesters being revolting. On this day out we did see some of the yellow vest revolutionaries by the side of the road as we were coming back onto the motorway in the direction of Spain. It looked like they were busy doing some cleaning up and they were not stopping traffic from flowing. We got lucky!

A Surreal Charging Point on my Electric Vehicle Road Trip

The first part of the trip was to drive to Figueres which is the hometown of Salvador Dali. I have visited the Dalí museum three or four times and I have a couple of favourite paintings in there. Our interest on the trip was less of surrealist art, more about putting some electrons into Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf. On the outskirts of town there’s the Nissan dealership and it’s a good place to stop for charging. The CHAdeMO charger is easy to get to and not hidden away inside the workshop or within a compound. So it’s available 24-hours seven days a week. We stayed for about half an hour, maybe a little less and added a decent amount into the battery. I think we arrived with about 68% of battery and left with something in the region of 90%. The dealership was open and we had a look at an NV200 van which was converted into a camper. I’d certainly have one of these as an electric propelled eNV200 campervan. If you don’t mind doing a conversion by hand, it would probably work out a lot cheaper to buy the van and put the bits and pieces in yourself.

Leaf in the Dealership showroom

Crossing the Border into France

The road between Spain and France at the coast is interesting and winding. Good roads for an electric car road trip. Even though I had to drive slowly, I enjoyed the trip through Portbou. We stopped in a couple places here and there to take photos and shoot video. Just across the border we drove into a town called Cerbére. As it was time for lunch we were happy to plug in and charge the car. Found one of the Révéo chargers we were looking for, in a car park by the beach. The parking was free due to it being winter and there was a pizza place on the other side of the road. Disappointing the charge was going in to the car quite slowly. Much too slowly for a charger rated at 22 kW in the Révéo app. Using my new Révéo RFID card with a €1.50 connection charge and two cents per minute after the hour meant that even with a slow charge it wasn’t too expensive. For just over an hour its cost €1.78. It would be more cost-effective to find one of the CHAdeMO chargers on the same network. These destination type chargers are still useful for the grazing type charging. It’s good to add to the battery while you’re doing something else, like getting food or having a walk around the town.

electric car road trip

Collioure Tourist Trap and Charging Spot

After filling our faces with tasty pizza it was time to move on to the next town on our electric car road trip. The next town was Collioure and it was full of tourists, a harbour and a castle. The charge points were right next to the castle and there were two bays available. Both of these charging spots were empty and we took up position. We asked a local police officer if the parking was free while charging and they said yes. Once again I used the RFID card from Révéo to activate the charger. It was an easy operation to get the charger working. Spent a little over an hour walking around the town and exploring. We were connected to the charger for one hour and five minutes and the cost was €1.62.

electric car road trip - Collioure in France

EV Hole Kona Electric Driver

When we got back to the car we spotted a Hyundai Kona which looked pretty cool. He was also on an electric car road trip. Had a quick look around and it’s not got quite as much room in the back seats as my Nissan Leaf. It would be a good car to have with the larger 64 kWh battery. I certainly would have considered it if it had been available at the same time as I was buying the Nissan Leaf. With the extra battery available it would have probably cost another €5000 or €6000 more than my Leaf. Probably would have been worth paying the extra money for the bigger battery even though for the most part I don’t need it with my Nissan. In terms of value for money and the fact the Kona is available now I would say it’s a better deal than the Tesla Model 3. I think the overriding factor which would make you choose a Tesla rather than the Hyundai would be the network of superchargers you get with a Tesla.

Transport and Fuel – It’s All About To Change

It was obvious the Hyundai Kona driver was new to the realm of electric vehicle ownership. He had pulled into the electric charging bay for the Révéo charger and was not plugged in. It would have been good manners to have either plugged in or use a normal parking spot. Another EV driver on a electric car road trip arriving at the charging place would have been disappointed on being unable to plug-in due to this EV-Hole. An ICE-Hole is a driver of a fossil fuel car parking in a EV charging place. An arse-hole is just a bad person. Let’s hope people like this learn EV etiquette quickly. In the transition period between the majority of cars being fossil fuelled and the passage towards a fully electric vehicle environment there’s going to be pain points. The number of charging points will have to increase to take into account of the increasing number of EV’s on the road. The behaviour of drivers will have to change to take into account the new usage of energy/fuel.

Shopping and Charging – Or Not

On the move again and instead of heading back the way the same way, we took the easier route back on the main roads and motorways. A relaxed drive using Pro Pilot Assist in my 2018 Nissan Leaf called Rosie. It was a good day for am electric car road trip. We arrived in Girona and pulled into the shopping centre to use the facilities. My wife can’t resist a whizz around the shops looking for bargains. There are four charging points in this shopping centre, but we couldn’t get into the parking underneath easily. Annoyingly, a long queue of cars for the main car park where the charge points are situated. So we didn’t bother going in as we easily had enough power to get home. Plenty of charge in the battery so we used another car park which was easier to get into. Fortunately didn’t have to stay there too long. I’ve had enough of shopping to last me a long time over the last couple of weeks. The only shop of interest was the one selling personal electric vehicles. The single wheel Segway types, electric scooters and bicycles looked like fun.

Overview of the Electric Car Road Trip

When we got home there was about 20% left in the Leaf battery. To fill it back to 100% would cost around about €2.50. I reckon the total cost for driving 276 km was about €5.90. Even factoring in the cost of eating pizza while out it was a cheap day out for the number of kilometres driven. You have to feed yourself anyway during the day, so let’s not count the food costs. Rosie the 2018 Nissan Leaf is a joy to drive as well as being highly economical. During the winter it is great to make use of the heated seats when on an electric vehicle road trip. Seat heating takes very little electricity and has a negligible effect on the range of the car. Even using the car heating it only takes between 6km to 8km off the Guess-o-Meter range.


Nissan Leaf long-distance driving and Rapidgate


During the year since the 2018 Nissan Leaf came out, some people have complained about the throttled charging on a long trip. I can honestly say it hasn’t bothered me in the slightest. Usually, this is due to the necessary stops due to bladder range. If there’s a charging spot available you might as well plug in and add electrons to the battery during a 15 to 20 minutes stop. After an hour or so of driving it’s good to stretch your legs anyway. I usually find with such a stop I have still got 50% to 60% left in the battery. The battery isn’t too warm from having been used hard during driving. In any case, a relaxed style of driving keeping the speed under 102 km/h on the motorway isn’t working the battery too hard. It’s often true with the second stop of the day that it’s time for food. This usually means a break of about one hour and that’s plenty of time to put more juice into the battery before driving on. Depending upon the speed of the charge, this will bring the battery back up to nearly 100% and ready for the next stage of the journey. If the charge speed is throttled back on a second or third charging it’s also highly likely you’ll be more in need of extra time to recuperate from the driving. The rapid charger might be slower, but you’ll be taking advantage of that with a longer rest period. I reckon Nissan got it right with the battery management for the large majority of Leaf owners.

Optimum Driving and Charging

People who might complain about Rapidgate and the 2018 Nissan Leaf will be those who are in a hurry to get someplace. Perhaps they have more than one driver, meaning it’s easy to have short breaks on the journey before driving on further. Someone driving a vehicle as part of their job and having time constraints might need a longer range vehicle. For the average person on an electric car road trip Rapidgate is not really going to be much of a consideration. There are enough charging points on a route these days, especially through France it seems. More charging points are being situated during 2019 in Spain. So it works well to use the grazing type of charging as you travel on your electric car road trip. By not letting the battery get down too low it’s not working so hard and the temperature is kept low. Having short charging stops means you are not waiting too long when the charging speed has tapered down after 80%. This also helps to keep the battery temperature lower. The optimum charging speeds are found when charging the battery from 20% up through to 80%.

2019 Nissan Leaf Coming Soon

The new Nissan Leaf is going to be announced at CES in the U.S. in January. There are already rumours flying around about improvements made to the car. It’s expected there will be a battery in the region of 64 kWh coming from a different manufacturer. Even though the car hasn’t been announced properly there are rumours suggesting there will be no liquid temperature management of the battery. Electric car pundits and journalists are complaining about this even without knowing any of the details. We’ll have to wait and see and make our mind up when the car actually hits the road. I expect the car journalists will do a more thorough testing of the car than they did with the 2018 Nissan Leaf. There was a honeymoon period with the 2018 car when none of the journalists mentioned anything to do with the charging speeds. The Nissan Leaf was still ahead of the game with regards the technology and the comparative pricing. When the new version is announced in 2019 there will be other competitors to compare the car against. As well as the Tesla Model 3 there is the Hyundai Kona Electric and the Kia eNiro as well as an updated Hyundai Ioniq.

What Improvements Would I Like to See

I’d like to see a faster AC charging speed for the next Leaf. The built-in charging should be increased from the 6.6 kW to the 22 kW as you see in the https://ev20q.com/ev-nicolas-raimo-renault-zoe-driver/Renault Zoe. This should make a big difference driving the car around in France. For the moment the Nissan Leaf is still the biggest selling electric car worldwide, although that might change soon with the speed with which tester is making the Model 3.

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4 Replies to “Electric Car Road Trip in a Nissan Leaf”

  1. […] I did find a Lidl. So I went in just to grab a snack from their bakery counter. I plugged into the Révéo charger and it was an easy process to activate. The charging bay next to where I was parked had […]

    Reply

  2. […] there being other chargers in the vicinity I decided to move on. It was within 5 km to get to the Nissan dealership. It only took a couple of minutes to get there and I was soon charging at nearly twice the speed. […]

    Reply

  3. […] the first place I stopped, I got talking to a guy who had a 30 kWh Nissan Leaf. He was just about to leave and I could have plugged in there after him if I’d wanted to. I still […]

    Reply

  4. […] one more thing I love about my 2018 Nissan Leaf. The only thing to wish for is the slowness of the remote connection through the app to improve. It […]

    Reply

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