It’s the one big factor most people are concerned about when they think about running an electric car, Range Anxiety. Facing a trip which is longer than my battery range in the first day of Owning my Nissan Leaf I was about to meet Range Anxiety head on.
I’d picked up my Leaf the previous evening. While still waiting for the slow charging roadside points to be installed in a few weeks by Portsmouth City Council, I’m going to be relying on the city’s only rapid charger at the Isle of Wight ferry port to charge the battery. I’d visited it the evening I picked the car up to fill the battery before my trip.
Before becoming an EV owner I was always of the opinion that I’d never run a petrol car ignoring the petrol gauge causing me to run out of petrol in the middle of the road so why should electricity be any different. The car provides plenty of inormation about the battery usage and range. Zap Map has lots of information about charge points for a journey. I was ready to face Range Anxiety head on.
First Big EV Trip
The trip was from Southsea in Portsmouth to Guildford to have the dual brake fitted to prepare the Leaf for teaching. On the way there I was detouring to Basingstoke to visit my parents. An estimated trip of 131 miles with a realistic fully charged battery range of 110 miles. I’d studied Zap Map and knew where rapid chargers are along the route.
After the previous evenings rapid charge I started out with 94% battery and an estimated 114 miles on the Estimated Range Meter, known as the Guessometer, or GOM. Getting in the car and turning it on produces instant heat to demist and warm the car on a chilly February morning. Already I can see an advantage of the roadside charging points when they’re installed. The battery will be charged to 100% and the car can be demisted and warmed up using the timer before I get in.
First Rapid Charge with Ecotricity
The first leg of my journey to Basingstoke along the M27 and up the M3 taking me past the services at Winchester where there is rapid charging. I arrived there having done 36.9 miles leaving 49% battery with an estimated range of 59 miles. I didn’t really need to stop at this point as I would have passed Fleet services on the M3 after visiting my parents. With hindsight, a wonderful thing, a stop at Fleet would have been the best thing to do. Charging an emptier battery would have meant I would have only stopped for one charge in the whole journey.
An objective of the day was to learn about using rapid chargers making the stop at Winchester a useful one anyway. Confronted with an Ecotricity pump, part of the Electric Highway, I was pleased I’d already registered with Ecotricity and downloaded the app. It was simple to charge. I read a QR code on the pump with the app and instructions on the pump screen walked me through the process.
Rapid charging gets a lot of electricity into the car in a very quick time. If you can get your mind around it. The charger is charging at 50kW/h. Thats the power consumed by about 17 electric kettles. It charges very quickly up to 90% in the Leaf then the car reduces the charge rate to be nice to the battery. The last 10% would take a lot longer to fill so I left Winchester with 90% battery and an estimated 89 miles range and approximately 94 miles to do.
In Basingstoke Mum made me a cup of tea then I took my elderly parents for a ride in the Leaf. They thought they were in some sort of a spaceship.
Lunch Time and Dual Pedal Installed
On to Guildford where the dual pedal was fitted by Clive of Trade Vehicle Modifications. while I grabbed some lunch at a cafe nearby. The journey so far to Guildford from home was 86.2 miles. I could have got to here without a charge. As I drove away from Trade Vehicle Modifications I noticed a Shell garage at the end of the road with a banner inviting in EV drivers as they had a rapid charger. Hindsight again, I could have got to here without stopping then charged once to get home. It’s all a learning experience.
I left Guildford with the remains of my charge from Winchester, a battery level of 41% with 52 estimated miles. Not quite enough to get home so another quick charge would be needed. Then a few miles down the A3 I saw a signpost saying 38 miles to Portsmouth. I looked at the GOM to see 39 miles left. Could this be Range Anxiety about to raise it’s head. There was a moments thought that there were only two possible Rapid chargers on the route home hopefully without faults. I concede, a moment of Range Anxiety.
Genie Point Rapid Charge
At Liphook services there is only a charger in the northbound services and I was heading south. An easy drive off of the next exit past the services and heading north got me to the Genie Point rapid charger in a Starbucks car park. I’d travelled 104 miles with a battery at 22%, 29 miles on the GOM.
As with Ecotricity I’d already registered with Genie Point. They use a login on their website to get the charge started rather than an app. There was a few minutes of head scratching as the charge wouldn’t start. Then I realised the account needs a prepayment so I had to top up my account. Once done the car charged quickly. It was a lovely unusually warm day for February. With no facility to plug the car in overnight when I got home I decided to bask in the sun and charge to nearly full so I had enough juice to last the next day as well. I spent the time wisely with the Leaf’s manual working out the cars systems.
I took the charge to 100% in in 41 minutes. Total electricity from the charger 20.58kw, two thirds of the 30kW battery. The estimated range was 126 miles. I happily drove home with the Eco Mode button off enjoying the silence and power of an electric motor. Arrived home with 70% battery and 92 miles range left. Total miles travelled 137.2. All of the journey was made using renewable energy and while the rapid charger electricity is expensive for electricity its significantly less expensive than petrol.
What Have I learnt?
What conclusions can be drawn from my first long journey in the Leaf? When I can charge overnight using the relatively slow 5kW charger Portsmouth Council are installing in the street the car will be be preheated while connected to the power and will start off with 100% battery giving a useful few miles extra. It will also mean the last rapid charge on route can be shorter because the car will plug in when it gets home.
Did I suffer range anxiety? With a bit of better planning this would have been a one stop journey rather than stopping for a charge at the first opportunity, mild Range Anxiety maybe. Even in a petrol car I would have stopped at some point on a journey this long for 20 minutes. As a driver trainer I would say that after two hours of driving any driver should stop and take a break. On that basis there’s not much difference between using Leaf compared to a fossil fuelled car. Getting used to a new way of fuelling a car can cause it’s moment of Range Anxiety. However, once I got used to it and was travelling in a very quiet car with instant power at the push of the accelerator I realised there’s no going back to fossil fuelled cars.