Is a Long Trip in a Nissan Leaf “Normal”?

I am always astounded at the way that Electic Car evangelists try to pull the wool over the eyes of the public.

They want to put a positive spin on EV ownership… I get that. They want to dispel the many false and misleading myths and folklore surrounding EVs that are constantly and relentlessly spouted in the media… I get that. The problem for me though is that replacing one misleading view of EVs with another – no matter how well intended – is not the answer.

Take today for instance… Robert Llewellyn tweeted the following…


Looks good doesn’t it? He appeared from his tweet to drive 211 miles in a Nissan Leaf “as if it were normal”.

The problem I have with that statement is that whilst it might be normal for Mr Llewellyn it is not normal and would not be considered normal by the vast majority of people.

I can’t argue with his tweet. He did it, it was normal for him (fair enough) and he wanted to let us know about it. Nothing wrong with that. But it is the hidden message behind the tweet, the reason why he and many others tweet these kinds of experiences, that concerns me.

To me, that tweet has been made to put a positive spin on EV ownership by suggesting that to drive a EV (Nissan Leaf) can be compared to our current normal driving experience. Clearly that is just not true. The Leaf has a maximum range of about 100 miles but at this time of year probably nearer 80 miles so it is very likely that Mr Llewellyn had to stop at least once each way to charge. That stop almost certainly took a minimum of 20-30 mins but if there was a queue then it could take upwards of 60-90 minutes… each way extra on top of the driving time.

Now I don’t know what you call a “normal” driving experience but I do not call stopping for 30-90 mins each way on a 105 mile each way trip, “normal”. Normal, for most people, would be to drive 105 miles without stopping at all! That is normal. Now, if he had done that trip in a Tesla Model S and started with a full charge then yes, I could not argue with the claim it was normal. But in a Nissan Leaf… long trips beyond the range of a single charge (say 80 miles) cannot be called “normal” by most people’s standards.

Having said all that am I against doing long trips in short-range EVs? Do I feel that we should not be tweeting our EV experiences? Do I feel that we should stop promoting EVs? My answer is NO to all those.

However, I feel that the more honest we can be when talking about our experiences, by telling it warts and all, the more credibility EVs will gain amongst the general public and the less criticism we will attract by trying to big it up. That is all.

So tweets like that one from Mr Llewellyn hugely disappoint me because in my opinion they are trying to portray just as much a misleading view of EV ownership as does the one that suggests EVs are no good for anything. Neither of those statements reflect the reality… and it is the reality of EV ownership that will win the hearts and minds of the general public… not some view through rose-tinted glasses.

I love Mr Llewellyn. I have all his novels. I watch all his “Fully Charged” shows and I have been to see him talk several times about EV ownership. He has done a massive amount to promote EV ownership and long may he continue doing so. However, tweets such as that one rather let him down in my opinion.

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