Since the start of the year, my wife and I have played a game of “Could a Leaf do this journey?” It started as a joke, but as the weeks rolled past, we took it a little more seriously. If we ditch petrol in favour of electrons, we need to understand what we’re getting into.
Our driving is probably atypical. Weekdays are spent on tube trains or working from home where there’s no need for a car. Sometimes we have to make impromptu trips to a hospital that’s reached either by a 20 minute drive or a 2 hour bus journey. Most of our driving happens at weekends, where we tour the country exploring its history and visiting new places as well as familiar friends.
There’s no doubt our car use falls predominantly into the “leisure” category.
The rules of the game
The game has a simple question: could we achieve the same journey in a Nissan Leaf. We use a real-world range of 140 miles pulled together from research across owner forums and reviews. At our destination I’ll keep an eye open for public charging points available to use. If it’s a fast charge station, I’ll assume an hour to get us another 100 miles (only once on a trip though). Slow charge and it’s an extra 15 miles per hour.
When we get home, I check the miles we’ve covered and we can answer the question.
Could a Nissan Leaf do this journey?
It’s produced some interesting results. Tilbury Fort was a 115 mile round trip comfortably within range. Our recent tour of the Cotswolds (190 miles covered) would’ve seen us run out of electricity on the way back. While there were charging points around, each time an EV was busy topping up its batteries. Yet our 225 mile trip to the area around Market Harborough was covered easily thanks to fast charging points in a car park and a slower top-up on the way back.
There isn’t scientific rigour behind this that correctly calculates charging rates and ranges. What there is, however, is the real-world experiences and thought processes that owning a Leaf could trigger. Given the distances we cover, arriving somewhere would be an immediate hunt for a charging point to make sure we could get back. Or we’d travel to places that were closer.
Either way, the game has made us more aware of how we’d need to change our behaviour and expectations before we take the plunge.
The bigger problem is closer to home
Finding places to visit within range, or hoping there are charging points at our destination isn’t the biggest problem we face. The block of flats where we live has no way of charging a Leaf, not even a local power socket let alone a dedicated charger. Installing one would require the Property Management Company’s approval and the cost is astonishingly high, unreasonably so given we live in a rented flat. Our battery would be dead before we made it out of the car park.
For the time being at least, “Could a Leaf do this” remains a game we play while we wait for the world to catch up.
Image by Jakob Hartner on Flickr.