I started the day in a completely disorganised way. I didn’t put the car on charge the previous night, so didn’t have a full battery leaving home to go to Barcelona. Not at all worried because I had enough juice in the car to get to the city and there are plenty of charge points. Providing they are working of course and not being used by somebody else. My plan was to go to the Apple Store at La Maquinista and take a chance that there might be a delivery there of the latest Apple iPhone 10 S Max. I decided to take the coastal motorway, an easy drive to the shopping centre. When I arrived I thought the place was a little quiet. It was only when I arrived at the Apple Store and it was closed, I found out it was because of a festival taking place in Barcelona. I also wasn’t able to plug in the car at the public charging points in the underground parking. Out of order!
Decided to keep driving towards the Apple Store in the centre of the city at Passeig de Gracia. I checked beforehand on the web, it was open. I set up the GPS for the charging point near to the store. Not a difficult drive, but I didn’t find the charging point. I suspect it was boaded up as were the street vendor stalls due to the festival. During these festivals there are a lot of fireworks thrown around. For a couple of days everything is covered up and protected. I was also on the wrong side of the road to see it or easily pull in and check it out. I kept on driving and when able to, stopped to have a look at the PlugShare app for the next available charge point. The best one in front of me was the charger at Diagonal. Just a few minutes of driving and I was nearly at the public charging point ready for some EV charging.
Renault Zoe – EV Charging
As I was turning the corner to get to the public charging points, I could see them in front of me. I also saw a Renault Zoe. Flamin’ Typical… I thought… Zoe was in front of me and I pulled into the second of the charging points and took the one behind. I wasn’t too pleased to see a notice on my charge point to say it was out of order. The man with the car in front moved the out of order notice to one side and plugged in. The guy had local knowledge – The charger he pulled up to was in perfect working order. He told me the one I was at, had been unavailable for months. Now to decide what to do next. Wait for 30 minutes for the guy to come back and leave so I could take his spot. The other option was to try another charger nearby. I went with the second option which according to GPS was only about 15 minutes away.
Public Charging Points at the bus station in Sants
I had already tried using this EV charging point previously. It hadn’t worked for me because I didn’t have the correct Barcelona EV charging card. This time I had more options available including the Barcelona Live electric vehicle charging card. I knew how to find my way to the car park with the charging point at the bus station. No one charging and the electric vehicle charger was in operation. In fact, there are two charges at this public charging point. We need more charging hubs in Spain so more cars can plug in at the same time.
Within a couple of minutes I was plugged in and sucking in the electrons. Well, more to the point Rosie was using the Public Charging Points of Sants. The charge was coming in at 38 kW and at one point hit 40 kW. The level of the battery had gone down to 21% but there were still enough kilometres in the car in case I still needed another option. Not this time! I sat in the car and twiddled with my iPhone and before I knew it had been there for 45 minutes and had the car battery up to 90% charge. The rate of charge had dropped to an insignificant level by then so it was time to move on. I also had been in contact with Greg Oliveau who lives in a small satellite town of Barcelona to the north. Suggested we might meet up for a cup of tea and ended up going to meet him for lunch. On the way found out it was possible to share your present position using WhatsApp. Met Greg at the charging point in his local town.
Financial decisions affecting public charge points
Cabrils have put in EV charging with a Type II connection and a Shuko connection. The only people who can use it are residents of the town. They don’t seem to have noticed or have seen the argument suggesting it might be useful to allow passing motorists to use the charger. When you stop at charge points you need to wait for some time for the battery to charge up. The driver of the electric car is likely to go for a walk to use bars, restaurants and shops in the area. So why not make the charger universally available as an incentive for people to visit and spend money? The cost of the electricity being used is minimal and there is no need to be tight. Drivers of electric vehicles would be happy enough to pay for the charging anyway. It would be a good idea just to have the electric available at cost.
Chatting to another 2018 Nissan Leaf owner
Greg had had his car just about as long as myself. He bought one of the 2.Zero models, he went for the black one rather than the Jade frost colour. He’s extremely happy with his car although we disagree about the usefulness of Pro Pilot Assist. I think Pro Pilot Assist is marvellous and I use it all the time. You have to understand it’s there to assist and not to completely take over. When I’m using this sort of automatic driving feature I am driving, but just letting it help me. I find it cuts down on the stress of driving and I feel less tired when arriving at my destination. I know if you’re going above a certain speed it will not take the tighter corners. For driving on motorways and for main roads it is excellent. Not as full-featured and as fancy as you’d get with a Tesla, but then nowhere near as expensive either.
Installing a holder and a Lightning Cable for your phone
Greg showed me how he had his iPhone wired into the car. It was much neater than the way I had done mine. He was using a holder attached to the windscreen with a suction cup. The 1.8 m lightning cable was routed under the steering wheel and for the most part, is out of sight. Just a small section visible where it plugs into the USB of the car entertainment system at one end. Then enough available at the other end to plug into the bottom of the phone. I set this up similarly in my car and I’m happy with the way it works now. Especially now I have the iPhone XS Max with the Face ID. It is positioned so the phone can see my face when I am in the driving seat.
I was able to inform Greg about the application Leaf Spy Pro and how I have the ODB2 dongle connected in my car. I use an extension cable and I’m able to tuck the dongle away underneath the dashboard. It’s good to have it out of the way and unseen. He was impressed with how you can get a list of trips you’ve made in the car in a spreadsheet using this setup. It’s necessary to bring the application to the forefront on the iPhone to make sure it is recording each of the trips. There’s a huge amount of information concerning the battery and the electricity used for each journey you make. You could even say there’s too much information.
Uneventful trip home
I did try to use that charging point in Cabrils. I wondered if it would activate using the Barcelona Live chargecard. It didn’t recognise my card and you do need to have the card from the local council. I didn’t need any charge at public charging points anyway. I was able to head home and arrived back at the house with plenty left in the battery.
Another trip to Barcelona on the following day to actually get the new iPhone and more public charging points.