Having had a Nissan Leaf for nearly 3 months now I thought it high time that I visited my sister-in-law in Kent. She and her family have been itching to see the Leaf since March when we took delivery and I have been promising them a trip to see them ever since. The problem has been that they live in Keston, Kent, just a shade under 250 miles away, and as the Nissan Leaf has a range between charges of about 90 miles it would mean charging up on route. In fact, this journey is quite possible from my home in Saltash, Cornwall using the Nissan dealer fast charge network. I would be charging at Exeter, Wincanton and Southampton. However, until recently, at least one of those chargers have been out of action whenever I was free to do the trip but last Monday saw the coming together of all chargers working and a couple of free days so I thought I would give it a go.
The route would be almost entirely off motorway and on slower roads whenever possible to keep the speed down and give me the maximum range but to be honest only the Southampton to Keston, Kent leg was anywhere near the limit of the car.
We set off on Monday morning at 7am aiming to get to Exeter, a hop of 50 miles, shortly after they opened. A 30 minute charge there and then 60 miles on to Wincanton, then a 50 mile hop to Southampton. At Southampton we charged to 100% as the next leg would be 85 miles and close to the limit of the car.
All went very well indeed. At each charging point we were offered coffee by the dealer and apart from at Southampton the charging point bay was empty. At Southampton they had to move a couple of cars but they did that within minutes of us asking so it caused us no delay at all.
The trip from Southampton to Keston was more of a challenge being 85 miles. I drove this leg very cautiously and used every trick I could to muster up an extra mile or two from the battery. 10 miles from our destination it was clear that we would make it with ease and so we decided to drop in on the public charge point at Best Buys, Croydon, anyway to eat and get a bit of a top up. One of the two POD Point charging posts at Best Buys was not working but the other was and so even though we really didn’t need it to get to our final destination we charged while we ate in a nearby restaurant.
We arrived at our destination at about 7.30pm after a 2 hour food break meaning the 250 mile trip took 10.5 hrs. Sure, it can be done much quicker without the stops to charge but to be honest, we enjoyed the forced breaks and I think we were better for them. If you do trips like this in the Nissan Leaf then plan it beforehand and enjoy the journey.
We charged up overnight using a plug in my sister-in-law’s garage and set off next morning at 8am for the return trip. We decided to stop again at Best Buys to top up to 100% while we had breakfast in the nearby Sainsbury supermarket and then set off at about 10am. The return trip was non-eventful and pretty much the reverse of the outbound route.
So, to sum up then, yes the trip took longer than in a non-electric car because we had to stop to charge but it was no problem for us. However, if we had young children I could see it becoming quite boring for them waiting to charge up. The charging was all free so the trip cost us less than £2!
What did my sister-in-law and family think of the Leaf? They all loved it!!!