EV20Q Podcast 11 – Chris O’Connell

The Nissan Leaf and the vineyards of Oregon

Cork DorkToday for the podcast I was talking to Chris O’Connell from Oregon. He’s originally from California, but likes it in Oregon because it suits his outdoor lifestyle and his love for wine. Chris manages a couple of vineyards and obviously in the context of this podcast he’s an aficionado of electric vehicles. Chris previously ran hybrid vehicles and is delighted now to be driving a Nissan Leaf 2018. This car particularly suits his driving requirements and driving style. It is true to say that Chris will go back to driving a gas guzzling large vehicle for the long trips, but I think his wife has a big say in that department. As we know, it’s possible to do longer trips in a Nissan Leaf, but you might have to stop more often and do some planning. A Leaf doesn’t have the long legs of something like a Tesla with its large battery. The other thing to consider of course is the infrastructure. The availability of rapid chargers along a route says whether is going to be viable or not. This is something I’ve found out with trying to plan a trip to Madrid and there not being sufficient chargers between Zaragoza and Madrid. I’m still sure it would possible to do the journey, but it might be necessary to ring beforehand to a tourist information for a town along the way and ask if there’s anywhere in the town where it’s possible to plug-in an electric vehicle. Getting enough time plugged in to add just 30 or 40 km could make all the difference.

Getting used to the Technology

I talked to Chris about my recent visit to Barcelona to have a test drive in a Nissan Leaf. I told him how weird it felt to let the car come to a stop behind traffic which is stopped in front. It seemed like it was necessary to hover the foot over the brake pedal just in case. It probably just takes time to get used to this automated type of driving. It didn’t seem quite so strange to use the Pro Pilot Assist and have the wheel turning by itself as the car drove itself around a bend in the motorway. The other thing which concerned Chris and myself was the possibility from time to time needing to drive a different car without this marvellous technology. You might have to remind yourself that you don’t have intelligent cruise control available. It’s kind of the same thing when you’re driving the Nissan Leaf maybe you haven’t switched on the Pro Pilot. Instead of it driving you around the bend all it will do is warn you when you drive out of the lane. I suppose there is the other safety technology you find in the Nissan Leaf which is the anti-collision control. As a last resort the car could stop itself from crashing into the car in front. I don’t think I would want to rely upon that, but it’s nice to know it’s there just in case.

Different countries different options

Chris and I discussed the differences between the versions of Nissan Leaf dependent upon country. In North America they tend to get the option for electric seating. The car will move forward and backwards as well as up and down electrically. In Europe we don’t have that option and you need to use the manual levers provided. I’m kinda wondering if the battery temperature management system in the cars due to arrive in Spain will be different from those going to Norway or the UK.

Saving money by driving electric vehicle

Chris told me the Audi car he owned previously was costing $350 per month. He’s decided to change to the Leaf and enjoy the smoothness and silence of driving an electric car and paying a similar amount. At least this option is much better for the environment. This is something which is often an important consideration for drivers of electric vehicles. After spending so many years driving vehicles polluting the atmosphere it feels good to be in a more environmentally friendly car. Chris has solar panels on the roof and some of his driving is completely free. It must be extra nice to be driving along totally powered by the sun. I’d love to put solar panels on my roof, maybe one day.

Long distances in the Nissan Leaf

Chris drives quite a lot of miles in his car and has done over 4000 miles in the first month of ownership. However, the longest journey in one day has been about 130 miles and he still had about 20 miles left in the battery at the end of the day. On another journey of a similar length Chris had to make use of a charger part way on the journey due to terrible weather conditions. When you have wet and slippery roads you do tend to get poorer energy efficiency when driving whatever sort of vehicle. Having a little top up along the way it might stop you from having a wee bit of range anxiety.

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2 Replies to “EV20Q Podcast 11 – Chris O’Connell”

  1. Good interview David. I have a 4kw solar panel set up at home(South Wales) and the Power co. pays for half of what you produce.
    I applied for a Zappi charger to take more advantage of the panels, but they decided as they are based in Derbyshire, I think, they wanted an extra £394 to travel to South Wales on top of the Zappi . I ‘m not having that, so will buy a Chargemaster I think, and as I’m retired I can charge the car during the day. I don’t think it will be provable how much actually goes into the car, but it’s bound to help with charging costs.
    I totally agree with Chris in his comments about the “hate” around the Leaf, and “Rapidgate”. It’s deplorable.
    Nice comments from Chris.
    Thanks again David. Keep up the good work.


    1. Seems a lot to travel to Wales. Was that the installers adding that money?? Chargemaster charge less for the job? Does it have to be a specialist installer?

      I still don’t know what to do about my Leaf. Nissan and the dealership have treated me poorly. I don’t feel valued as a prospective customer. Still want the Leaf but would give the Hyundai Kona serious consideration if the price was right. The extra range of the 64kWh could be a huge decider.

      Nissan customer service rep told me today he will call again on Tuesday and hopefully with a solution to the problem caused by the dealer. Basically so far has only been repeating ad nauseum – It’s not the fault of Nissan. He says the dealer knew all along June was the delivery window and there’s no way the govt. incentive money was going to ever be available by then. The dealer didn’t even say there was a time limit on the incentive. So I am getting a bit fed up with it and want to put some distance between me and this dealer. Have to see how it goes over the next couple of weeks.

      Who knows I might get an acceptable deal from Nissan or I might get a price too good to miss on a Kona???


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