Rapid Charger Drama? Nissan Leaf goes to the mountains

Following a successful trip to the mountains the week before and having worries about whether the car would make it over the top we set out once again. The worries came about due to the lack of destination chargers in the town where we were staying, or any of the towns nearby. The worry was also due to the need to climb 600 m before commencing the downhill section. In the end, the worries were baseless and unnecessary worrying about nothing. They’re just part of the learning process you go through when you’re a new electric vehicle owner. You have niggling little worries because you don’t want to end up stuck someplace with nothing left in the battery. You’re still not sure about how the terrain and other factors such as a headwind might affect your cars range. The good thing about going on these trips is it doesn’t take too long to get past having these concerns. A car with a nominal range of between 240 and 280 km is pretty easy to live with if you do your planning for the rapid charger .

Driving the Nissan Leaf 2018 and loving it

Once you’ve got your Nissan Leaf it soon becomes a case of true love. You want to get out and go places just so you can get in the Leaf and drive. When you have days off from work the only thing you want to do is to go someplace. If there isn’t a town, city or special point of interest on your list of journeys to make you can just pick rapid chargers you want to test out. I did this when I first got the car and I still have a couple of trips where I’ll do the same. I went out one evening to Lloret de Mar just to have a look at the charging point in the town. I was partially successful with the first one I found, it was working and I could have used it. It was just the worker at the petrol station where it was situated was really busy and was struggling with the software to start it. I really didn’t have an absolute need to charge so I let her off the hook. I did go looking for the other free but slow charger down by the seafront. I cruised up and down the maritime passage and I didn’t spot it. I was able to find it later by looking at the map and the photographs in the app. It was kind of hidden by the maelstrom of tourists wandering around and the cars parked. It’s possible it had been iced making it more difficult for me to find on that trip. I’ll get it another day.

DC Charging

Nissan Leaf 2018 trip to the mountain part 2

We went to stay in the same hotel as we stayed in the week before. This was a no-brainer of a decision due to the good price and excellent room. There was also the fact there were still more things to see and visit in the area. The previous week the first stop traveling was at a charger in the north of Olot. It was okay in as much as it worked fine and there was a café nearby. It wasn’t a particularly nice café, so this time we drove past it to go to the other rapid charger in the town. It’s not a huge town and it was only about five or 10 minutes to get to the other charger.



The rapid charger at the south of the city is one I’ve tried before. I’ve been there twice and the first time was successful. Both occasions I was trying to use the Girona electric vehicle card. The first time it worked and the second time it didn’t. I was determined to try it again because it’s a good place to stop as the restaurant next to it is worth a visit. The restaurant even caters for vegetarians and vegans. Top marks from me! I’m a vegetarian and proud of it.

Parking in the right space for the cables

So I pulled up to the charging point in the parking place to the right of the rapid charger. I learned a lesson in there I found out the charging point to the left is better when you’re using the CHAdeMO plug. I was able to plug the lead into the car but I had to route the cable round the back of the charger. The space to the left was available but I couldn’t be bothered to move the car. I got the sequence of charger setup in the right order and we were in business. It’s best to use the card to check authorisation to use machine first. Then to follow the instructions for plugging in and once plugged in pressing the button on screen to start the charge. My wife and I were delighted when the charging started and we could go and get some food.

On Charge

Rapidgate Vapidgate…

Before going into the restaurant I jumped back into the car because out of interest I wanted to see what level of charge was going into the car. I was impressed to see it was going in at 42 kW. The car was completely unaffected by the drive from home and the supposed Rapidgate problem. It was a fairly warm day although not blisteringly hot. The number of kilometres from home to the charger was not huge either. We arrived with 60% in the battery approximately. I left the vehicle and charged for about 30 or 40 minutes to put in about 16 or 17% into the battery. This got me back up to nearly full and plenty for the rest of the journey. Also good to take advantage of this public charger in Olot because it was free to charge. The charger at the other end of town is also free. Not only that, only five minutes away from the charger we were using is another one at the Nissan dealership. Also a free rapid charger, so another thumbs up.

The drive from Olot to Vilallonga

The road climbs up the Pyrenees and is a fairly gradual climb. I think the percentage on the road is around about 5%, maybe 6%. I was enjoying the scenery and I kept my foot light on the accelerator pedal. I did make use of the Powermeter for the 2018 Nissan Leaf. As much as possible I tried to keep the powermeter in the eco-zone. To keep to a reasonable speed it was necessary to go past eco occasionally especially seeing as we were going uphill. Due to this economic usage of the energy while driving up the mountain we arrived in Vilallonga de Ter with 75% in the battery. With this trip we had no plan to drive to the top of the mountain to get to the other side. The itinerary for the next day was to go walking for the morning and to get into the car in the afternoon. Not expecting to do an awful lot of driving around the area. Loads of electric in the battery for the trip. No restrictions due the battery and lack of destination chargers.

Visiting the Rock – La Roca

There’s a walk which starts under the trees by the river in Vilallonga and I expected the walk to continue along by the river. It didn’t and after a little while started to climb upwards. I hadn’t realised until then La Roca was up a hill going away from the river. So it was a good bit of exercise and a great way to start the day. The town is really picturesque and is a small warren of paths in between old stone houses. Farmers would have lived there in the past and now it looks like it’s for holidaymakers. It could be possible to continue walking from there towards Camprodon, but we decided to head back the route we came. This would give us time to go and visit another small town to the north on the same road, Setcases.

La Roca

Small amount of electric energy used to drive to Setcases

The name of the town means seven houses, but there’s a lot more than that there now. There’s a river to the other side of the road and the town is just awash with bars and restaurants. This is to service the needs of the summer tourists in the mountains for walking and hiking. It’s also for those coming down from the mountain ski resort during the wintertime. Despite being spoilt for choice for places to eat we decided to wait until we got to Camprodon. The town was typical of what you’d expect from a Spanish Pyrenees village and well worth a visit. Only used about 5% of the battery to get to Setcases. Leaving there it was downhill back towards our next point of interest.

Setcases

Camprodon and the sweet smell of bakeries

I found myself wishing I had the smell-a-vision enabled on my camera because all of the sweet smells of the pastry shops. It was difficult to walk past any of them without wanting to go in and buy something. The town has an iconic bridge which is tall and pointy. We walked over bridge to get to the main part of the town where all the shops are. Two rivers enter the town and one flows out and there are plenty of bridges over the rivers. The view from one of the bridges is very reminiscent of the view in Girona and the famous river houses. Surprisingly, there were fewer restaurants in this larger town and it took a while to find one which suited our culinary needs. In the centre of the town you have small old-style narrow roads. In the outskirts it’s more wide roads lined with trees. Pretty town and well worth a visit.

Camprodon

Less driving this week and time to head home

Due to having to start work early the next day we left for home mid-afternoon. The plan was to go back to Olot to fill up again, both the face and the battery of the car. While we were enjoying tasty ice creams the car was taking in electricity at 44 kW. It was going in even faster than with the previous visit on the way to the mountains.

This week there was no worrying about whether we had enough battery range to get to places. On the return trip I could decide whether to put some extra charge into the car in Olot or in Girona. I wanted to use Girona because I would have less to travel home and I would keep more of the free electric to use for later in the week. Ice cream considerations made the decision. In all, I added about 33 kW of energy to the battery for free and so the journey to the mountains and back probably cost in the region of two or three euro. This is one of the excellent advantages of owning an electric vehicle. While the electric vehicle rapid charger infrastructure in Spain is still not the best compared to other countries, at least some of what is there for the moment is free. I’m able to use the free electric vehicle charge card from Girona or Barcelona in much of Catalonia. While it costs more to buy the car it is incredibly cheap to run.

Wondering what the charging infrastructure is like in the rest of the country

I use the PlugShare app as my go to application on my iPhone for finding electric car charging points. This shows there are a fair few charging points around the country, but it doesn’t give the full picture. For example you could easily arrive in town expecting to use a rapid charger and finding you need a specific card. Like in Sant Cugat de Vallés, near Barcelona. This specific card might only be available from the council offices during the opening times. I get the impression that in France the coverage of truly public electric car charging points is better. Even if those charging points are the 22 kW charging posts more suitable for the Renault Zoe. I can’t make full use of these charging points due to the hardware limitation of the car allowing it to only slurp electrons in at about 6 kW. I’d like to see faster AC charging in the next Nissan Leaf. I’d prefer it if it would be possible to retrofit such a charging possibility into the 2018 Nissan Leaf as I have now. It would be a huge improvement especially seeing as those charging posts charge on a per minute basis. It would effectively make the charging up to three times cheaper.

Renault Zoe spotted the other day.

Renault Zoe

Rapid Charging around Spain in the 2018 Nissan Leaf

I have a vague plan to head south from my home in Catalonia in the direction of the south of the peninsula. I’d like to do in the region of 400 to 500 km per day charging at various points along the journey. I want to visit places I haven’t yet been to in Spain such as Seville, Granada, Santander and Bilbao as well as to drive through Portugal. This is going to be a real test of the charging infrastructure in Spain. To a large extent I expect to be visiting Nissan dealers to use the rapid charger. I’ll hope they are in working order and not like the one at the dealership where I bought my car. I also prefer it if these charges are more publicly available like the one in Olot and not hidden away inside workshops or compounds. For example you can’t use the one in the Nissan dealership in Perpignan when the place is closed; it’s locked away in the compound. I know of three of these rapid chargers in Barcelona which are locked away inside the workshop.

rapid charger in Perpignan

Oh where can you find electric sockets?

The other charging opportunities will be to use the electricity available in campsites and bed-and-breakfast, hostel accommodation. I might even have to resort to asking to plug in at a bar or restaurant while I’m eating. It feels like it’s going to be a bit of an adventure and I’m looking forward to the trip with only a small amount of trepidation. It’s not as if electricity is scarce like it would be if you were travelling around Africa. There are always homes and businesses with plug sockets available. There’s always the possibility of knocking on a door and asking to pay for some time plugged into a normal household plug socket. That would be slow charging and there would probably be a certain amount of education required. People would not necessarily know how much would be the right amount to ask for or to accept. The electric is only going to go in at around about 3 kW per hour so you could need quite some time plugged in to get enough to complete your journey. I’m sure some people would think it would cost an arm and a leg to fill up a electric car battery. They might not even believe me when I tell them it only costs me approximately three euro for a full charge at home. I am making use of a night-time charging rate of 7.3 eurocents per kilowatt-hour. If I charge during the daytime the price is 15.1 eurocents per kilowatt-hour so it’s a good thing I have a timer set up in the car so the charging happens between 11 o’clock at night and 1 o’clock midday. It’s during the afternoon and evening where I’d have to pay more. These hours change slightly during the wintertime so from the end of October I’ll be able to start the charging one hour earlier. Not everyone has a dual tariff like I have.

It’s a rosy rapid charger future for electric vehicles

This is especially the case when you have a car which you have named Rosie. One of the applications I have on my phone now, will send me a message to tell me of a new electric vehicle rapid charger point. They were coming in fairly regularly and I think I may have turned off the notifications for the moment. It leads me to think the situation for electric vehicle charging will continue to improve in Spain as well as in the whole of Europe. We need to have a company like the one I found in France, Reveo or the company in the UK called Ecotricity which are strategically placing chargers. There is no need for range anxiety if you have a reasonable amount of range in your car and sufficient places along routes where you can recharge. It’s still going to be a need for the next couple of years for the infrastructure to build up. Where at the moment it might be a little bit of an adventure to venture too far away from home, is not always going to be that way.

Rosie the Nissan Leaf

A pioneer of Electric vehicle ownership

I’m aware that at this time we are at the forefront of electric vehicle usage. This is a good thing in one way. There are more free chargers out there now than there will be in the future. You have to love a free rapid charger. The more the situation is normalised the less there will be encouragement from local and national government. I’m prepared to take the rough with the smooth by being a pioneer and front-runner with electric car ownership.

One Reply to “Rapid Charger Drama? Nissan Leaf goes to the mountains”

  1. […] June I’ve been driving my Nissan Leaf daily. Every single opportunity to go for a drive I’ve taken it. During the summertime, I think […]

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