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Excuses to drive my electric car
During the summer time I drive my electric car every day of the week driving to and from work. Now that I’m off work for some months I don’t have anywhere I need to get to daily. I can quite easily spend three or four days at home in the house doing my stuff. If I don’t get out I go kind of stir crazy and so this is one of the reasons why I do my road trips. My excuse for the road trip is to go and locate electric vehicle rapid chargers and test them to see if they work. The reason to do this is when I’m out on a trip going someplace and I could have some sort of time-limit I want to have easy access and no hassle finding electrons.
When I first got my car, fairly shortly afterwards I needed to collect family from the airport. At that time I didn’t have all of the applications or RFID cards necessary. I wanted to put some charge into the battery to help me feel confident of getting back home again. I had already wasted some kilometres by taking wrong turns looking for chargers. I thought I was late for picking up my daughter-in-law and my two grandchildren. As it happened, I wasn’t late but I was still kind of stressed. I hadn’t been able to add charge to the battery on the way there due to getting a little bit lost. I tried to connect to a charge point which I found after picking up my passengers. I wasn’t successful and I had to mollycoddle the car back home again. I got back with 3% left in the battery and I breathed a sigh of relief. During the drive in my electric car I did feel fairly confident I would do it, going by the number of kilometres I needed to travel compared to the numbers in the guess-o-meter. Despite this I do feel the need to be more sure of where I can find suitable charging points on my travels. It’s for this reason I’ve been making trips to Barcelona to see which charge points work and which ones don’t. It’s also good to know which of these charging points are free of cost to use. We’re in a good situation at the moment with rapid chargers in Barcelona in that most of them are free to use. There are some in Repsol gasolineras/ petrol stations and I have used one of them when I had dire need for my electric car.
In order to keep the costs down what I like to do is to find the charging point which is closest to home and get a good fill of free electrons. I can then arrive back home after a days driving around the city and it will only cost me one euro and at most two Euro, to get the car back to 100% battery level. The nearest free rapid charger on this side of Barcelona is about 68 km away. Typically I can arrive back home with between 50% and 60% of battery left in my electric car. If I only have to fill up 40% of the battery the cost to me for that is approximately one euro.
On some occasions when coming back from Barcelona I could be getting kind of tired by that stage. Unless I need to stop for other reasons I will keep driving. I always don’t feel like it’s worth the hassle of taking any sort of detour to get to a rapid charger for the sake of one euro.
My latest trip to Barcelona
What I do is to have a look at PlugShare and choose a rapid charger I want to go and visit with my electric car. This time I chose one 94 km away which is about an hour of driving. The first one was in Carreterra de Fra Juniper Serra and not too far away from La Maquinista shopping centre. The idea was to go and check this one out and also go to the shopping centre so I could have a look at the new iPads and Mac Book Air computers.
I arrived at the rapid charger and it was fairly easy to find. It is in a slightly industrial area of Barcelona, but at the same time it didn’t seem like it was a dodgy place. There was a post office vehicle parked in the EV charging bay. I only had to wait less than a minute and the driver moved his vehicle. The other charging bay was occupied with an infernal combustion engine vehicle. It was okay because he was using his hazard warning lights. It was extra okay because I’d since found the rapid charger was out of operation. I looked at the screen and the lights were on but nobody was at home. I pressed buttons and waved my RFID card at it with no success.
I rang up the Ajuntament and gave them the information that the rapid charger was broken. The guy I spoke to, was aware of the problem with the charger and he tried to be helpful. He wanted to suggest to me rapid chargers nearby and hoped I had enough kilometres left in the battery to get there. I was grateful to find a sympathetic voice even though I still had plenty of battery left in my 2018 Nissan Leaf. Thanked him and told him I would consult with the PlugShare application to find the next location. In any case, I had planned to drive my electric car to the La Maquinista shopping centre.
As I drove into the car park for the shopping centre I noticed something was wrong straightaway. I needed to get to the minus one level and the entrance was blocked and we were guided down into level minus 2. I did find a way to sneak back up one level so I could go and park at the EV charging points. It seems they were doing some work in that minus one level which is why it was blocked off.
I got onto the intercom which is necessary to get someone to come down with an RFID card to start the charger. I don’t particularly like the way they have got this set up. There are other shopping centres I been to and all you need to do is to plug-in. There was one where I had to plug in and then go to the information desk to register and they were able to turn on the charging from there. It just seems a little ridiculous and extra work for their security people having to use a system of calling up with an intercom. There aren’t even any signs in the electric vehicle charging area telling you of the need to make the call. The guy at the other end of the intercom just told me that the chargers were still out of order. I was not impressed as they’ve been out of order for at least a month. At least they do have some chargers there and they have plans to make them work. There are other shopping centres who haven’t yet made the effort at all to install chargers.
Tea and carrot cake
I left my electric car parked in the electric vehicle parking bay even though I wasn’t plugged in. Why not, it’s not as if I was going to annoy somebody else by blocking a functioning charge bay. The new iPads were on display in the Apple Store and they had me licking my lips and wanting to buy one. I won’t be making a purchase because the iPad Pro I have still is giving me good service. I’ve decided to wait until next year. I also checked out the MacBook Air which is also tempting. Most of the writing I do is using dictation and I need a Mac to do that. I can use my iMac at home, but that does tie me to sitting at the desk in the office. DragonDictate would be more useful on a portable machine. It’s a shame I can’t get it to go on the iPad. The Siri dictation available on iOS works fairly well but is nowhere near as good as the professional dictation you get with DragonDictate.
At least I was able to visit the Starbucks in the shopping centre and grab a decent cup of tea and a fairly okay slice of carrot cake. I can’t stand coffee and it’s not that easy to find places selling tea here in Spain. I’m thinking of buying a 12 V kettle to use in my Nissan Leaf. That would be pure bliss. There should be tea making facilities in all electric cars not just my electric car.
Time to move on – two charging places down and still no charging done. I looked at the map in PlugShare for a charger nearby. I saw there was one not too far away at Sant Andreu. I set the GPS and Waze to help me drive there. I did get caught out going down a couple of small rat run type of roads. The charging point is situated behind a bus station and is also next to a metro entrance. It’s right next to a main road. I was hoping to find some public toilets, but I was out of luck. In these situations the only choice you have is to go and find a café or bar.
In terms of charging my electric car I was lucky because the two charging bays were both free and no one was using the charger. The charger was functioning and available to use. The parking and charging limit in these EV spots is 30 minutes although you might get away with just a little bit longer. I was able to add over 11 kWh to the battery in the time I stayed there. I was probably charging for around about 20 minutes. At this stage I’d got plenty of juice in the battery for as much driving around Barcelona as I was going to do and also enough to easily get me back home again.
Still some more checking and testing to be done.
There is a road I often take going through the city when I’m heading to the airport called Ronda de Dalt. I spotted there was a rapid charger on this road and not too far away from where I was already charging. It was definitely worth going and have a look. This was at the Mercat de Canyelles. It was an easy drive to get to this place and I was expecting to plug in just to test it. I was disappointed to find it was another charging point out of action. While I was there I did get chatting to a little old man who was interested in my electric car. He was asking me all sorts of questions about the car and how to charge the battery.
So I logged the inability to charge the car into the crowd sourced PlugShare application. However, I was undeterred in my search for active chargers around Barcelona. I saw there was another one not too far away on the same road and it was near to the consulate for the Republic of China. How useful is that??
Stopping at Vallacarca I els Penitents rapid charger was easy enough. I nearly missed it because I was in the left-hand lane and I needed to be into the right-hand lane. Fortunately there was a lull in the traffic and I was able to pull over into one of the two available charge bays. The charger was working and not being used by anybody else. I was at about 83% charge in the car and I didn’t really need any more. On the other hand, I did need to find some facilities. So I plugged in and took a walk and I found a couple of café’s and bars nearby. In the café I chose, I ordered some food and had to wait ages for it. It was for this reason I stayed at the charging point for longer than I wanted. The charge would have been going in very slowly due to the high level of charge already in the battery. I couldn’t leave though as I had to wait for the food to arrive and then scoff it. When I got back to Rosie the battery level was back up to about 95%.
Somebody had pulled in to the other charging bay who was driving a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV. The driver and hadn’t tried using the AC cable. Or maybe he had? I don’t really know which connection the Mitsubishi uses. With only having a small battery am guessing it would be AC. Sometimes with these triple headed rapid chargers the AC charging is still available even if somebody is using one of the DC adapters. Maybe he was just taking advantage of a free parking space. Parking can be quite difficult in Barcelona.
Moving on and finding another rapid charger
The Catalan TV station TV3 is in Barcelona and there are a couple of charging points next to the entrance. I drove to this rapid charger and had a look, but I didn’t bother plugging in. No point apart from just testing to see if it was in order. There was also a plug-in point next to it for motorcycles which could be used by a car driver, but would be very slow to use. I kept driving after spotting the charger.
Not far away Otto Diesel – Nissan dealership
So far I’ve not had too much luck with getting charged at Nissan dealers. There is the Nissan dealership next to the la Maquinista shopping centre which I have used once. The Otto Diesel (what an unfortunate name) dealership is on the far side of Barcelona from me which is not too far away from Barcelona airport. I decided it would be worth checking out the rapid charger. I still had plenty of juice in the battery so I just got out of the car to have a quick look. I saw that the rapid charger was inside the compound so it’s only available during opening times. I also saw that it was not broken and in working order. I’m sure I could have charged up there if I’d have tried.
I think it’s about time Nissan put their money where their mouth is. They really need to make sure all of the rapid chargers are in working order at the dealers. I would also like to see them add charging bays available 24/7 at all dealerships. These should be Type 2 sockets available to all Nissan electric vehicle drivers. If they want to keep it to just Nissan owners they could do it with a QR code and an app. Or there could be a system where you just have them available because the charger knows when you are plugging in a Nissan Leaf or a Nissan eNV200. Just the same way as someone with a Tesla can easily plug in and use a Tesla supercharger. In these early days of electric vehicles in Spain and everywhere else, this could make a huge difference. We want more people driving electric cars. Save our lungs and out health generally.
There were other rapid charges nearby I would like to have checked out. But, I was getting a bit tired so I decided I would head home. The plan was to catch one more charge at the rapids closer to home. Just to make use of the free electric. I pulled into a charger I’d used before at Cabrera de Mar. As I drove into the car park I saw there was a Renault Zoe already plugged in and charging. No problem, the Zoe uses the AC connection and I was able to check in with the CHAdeMO. A little bit of a walk around the town to stretch my legs, before jumping back into my car and driving the last bit back home.
As per my plan I did arrive back home with more than 50% still in the battery. All of my charging during the day was free. I drove 250 km approximately and to top back up to the 100% cost me less than two Euro. This is easily one of the best benefits of driving an electric vehicle.