Meet up with a friend, up a turbine and a traffic jam

What a day yet again! This time mostly good and even the not so good turned out OK.

It all started at 3am. I couldn’t sleep and wanted to get to the Green Britain Centre as early as poss in order to charge on the fast charger as the rapid charge was out of action. I didn’t know what time they would open the gates but I reasoned that I couldn’t charge if I wasn’t there so I had to get there early to allow for the 7hrs it would take to get 100%.

The trip to Swaffham was an eye-opened. At 4am the traffic seems to just ignore all speed limits and as I was needing to drive more slowly than normal it was difficult to keep the speed down. I had to drive at a sensible speed for safety’s sake but it was 5degs C and so I arrived at Swaffham with just 5 miles estimated range remaining. Less than I had imagined and way less than I was happy with.

At 7.30 Strattons Hotel, one of the ZeroNet locations, opened and allowed me to plug in. I bought a delicious breakfast there as payment.

I arrived at the Green Britain Centre to find a fellow Leaf owner, Nigel Hunt (@alternativetech) waiting for me and after plugging in we had a long chat and a coffee while his car finished charging. He has one of the new model Leafs and so we compared old vs new.

After Nigel left I then spent an hour wandering around the centre before my appointment to go up the turbine. I was the only person on the 1pm slot so I had the tour to myself. Luxury!

The turbine is just awesome. There is no other word appropriate but I shall do a separate blog entry just for that but needless to say I came down buzzing and after a great chat with a couple who had built their own zero-carbon house my Leaf was charged and I set off back to Peterborough. The temperature now was 17 degs C and I was making great progress until about 15 miles out when an accident had closed the road completely and a diversion was in place.

My heart sank. I knew I had an estimate of about 35 miles remaining but I had no idea how much further the diversion would take me and at that point thoughts of possible flatbedding started to drift through my mind. The traffic was horrendous and it too a further hour and a half to go the 10 miles of the diversion but eventually I made it back to the hotel… with 20 miles estimated remaining… what had I worried about? Huh?

I think this just highlights the precarious situation us early EV drivers find ourselves. Low range cars and not many charging locations (OK, getting better but still scarce) means we are vulnerable if diversions occur or if the once charger at our charging location is broken.

Still, it hasn’t put me off but I can see events such as this, or the risk of such events, are going to put a lot of potential EV owners off from using their EVs for long trips. However, don’t forget that the rationale behind buying an EV is not long trips right now and so if long trips are your thing then a 100% battery EV might not cut it for you just yet. I am sure in time it will but it needs charging at the frequency of petrol stations before that will properly be sorted.

So that was today. Great fun and a little scary all mixed up into a very worthwhile day in the Nissan Leaf.

Tomorrow should be a fairly relaxed drive from Peterborough to near Preston, Lancashire… Charge at Smiths Nissan here first thing then rapid charging at Leicester Forest East (got it right this time!), Derby, and Keele to arrive at Charnock Richard after 161 miles.

This is fun!

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