445 miles in one day in my Nissan Leaf!

Yesterday was just awesome!

It started the night before when I saw a tweet from Ecotricity… they asked if any EV drivers would be willing to be interviewed at Cheiveley by the BBC. Well, I am not exactly near Chieveley with it being in Berkshire and me in Cornwall! Nevertheless, I am always up for a challenge and I really want to do all I can to help Ecotricity and their fantastic efforts creating what is now surely the very best rapid charging network in the country so I agreed to go!

Looking at the charger locations on the Ecotricity Electric Highway map I decided that the best route was:

Home to Exeter – 50 miles then 30 min charge
Exeter to Bridgwater – 50 miles then full charge (allow 45 mins)
Bridgwater to Leigh Delamare – 60 miles then 30 min charge
Leigh Delamare to Chieveley – 40 miles then 30 min charge

(all distances approx)

Total one-way distance was about 190 miles!

I needed to be there before noon so I planned to get there for 11.30 so assuming 60 mph on the motorway I worked backwards to get a departure time of 06.15 yesterday morning. So up at 5am remembering to pre-warm the car while it is still plugged into the charger… I remembered!

So that was the basic plan.

The trip went exceedingly well and smoothly. All my timings worked out to within a few minutes. I cruised on the motorway at between 60-65mph and I arrived at Chieveley at 11.40 – 10 minutes later than planned! I was chuffed with that to be honest.

I was also thrilled when Stuart from Ecotricity arrived because who should have with him? Only Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity! OMG! I must admit that I was rather taken by surprised and got all “star-struck” and did the very thing you never want to do when meeting someone you hugely respect… I got his name wrong and said “Hello Vince”! AAAAGH! How could I do that??? Totes embarrased! I must say though that he took it well after I apologized and crawled out of my hole which I willed myself into in my mind! He is a great guy to talk to and I only wish I had more time to chat. Sorry Dale for the name thing.

The interview went well. The BBC guys were very friendly and helpful and I did my piece to camera. I hate being the subject of a video camera and I get very nervous even when talking about things I know about but I think it went OK. I drove into the charge bay a couple of times for them to get some shots and that was that.

Anyway, after the BBC stuff was done I set off to meet Darren Griffin at Fleet services. He had contacted me on my way there to say he had just taken delivery of a New Nissan Leaf and as he lived in Fleet, just 30 miles from Chieveley, it was too good an opportunity to miss to meet up for a coffee and after a 30 minute chin-wag and the taking of pics I wandered back to Chieveley to start my journey home.

The trip home went just as well as the trip there and I arrived back home at 9.30pm tired but with a great feeling of achievement… not just from the trip but helping out with some PR for Ecotricity and EVs in general. It was a long day but I would do it again anytime if I get the chance.

So a successful example of how the Ecotricity Electric Highway makes it possible for even EVs with a realistic range of 70-80 miles to make very long trips comfortably. The trip took longer than in an ICE of course… I charged a total of 9 times with 7 of 30 mins and 2 of 45 mins… that is a total of 5 hours charging. But I didn’t feel as though that was an issue for me in any way. By the time I had gone to the loo & perhaps got a coffee, checked my email and Twitter, it was almost charged and ready to go. The stops, along with the slower driving pace seemed to make the 445 mile drive much more relaxed that you might imagine and probably a lot safer too. You know, I didn’t feel over-tired at any time on the trip and I think that is perhaps a lesson to be learned EV or ICE… regular stops breaks the trip up and makes it much safer.

One final note though on battery temperature… 9 rapid charges in the day shouldn’t be a problem as far as battery condition goes but on each charge the battery temperature went up. It cooled again whilst travelling but never down to its starting point so on each charge the battery temperature got higher.At no time did it go into the red zone so I was happy to continue but it got close reaching the last white bar before the red zone on my 9th charge.

Ultimately this will limit how far the Nissan Leaf can go in a single day because once the battery temperature gets to the red zone Nissan strongly recommend that you don’t charge until it drops into the white. I got home but if I had needed just one more charge I don’t think I would have done as I would not have been able to charge again for several hours while it cooled.

I was due to do a trip to London next week to test drive the Tesla Model S but as I really don’t want an overnight stop I will have to cancel that trip in the Leaf as it will require 10 charges and I think that will be just too much. I might do it in the Ampera or more likely I shall cancel until I am in London another time.

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