Driving electric – Part 2

For those who’ve asked, a bit more on the numbers:


It’s been almost three weeks since we picked up our Nissan Leaf, long enough to accumulate some first-hand experience, and also to slightly broaden my understanding of EV use in general.

First and foremost, I love it. And my wife loves it. For a couple who couldn’t care less about our cars, we now bicker over who should drive. It’s smooth, comfortable, has great acceleration (though obviously the battery pays the price for every boy-racer moment), it’s effortless to drive (being almost entirely with one pedal) and, for what it’s worth, it looks even better than it did in the showroom.

Plus, being as tight as I am, I’ve been delighted to discover that it’s currently free to charge at most public charge points in Scotland. That will change as take-up increases, but for the moment it’s a joy to cruise around the country on renewable power knowing that our fuel savings are covering a large chunk of the loan repayments.

For those who can make the figures add up, the main hesitation – understandably – is over the range, a concern exacerbated by the apparent dearth of charge points, all too many of which seem to be out of order. In response, two points:

  1. There’s no doubt it can be alarming to watch the battery charge slip away, and it does so much faster than a normal fuel gauge. But with a real-world range of at least 150 miles, that’s more than enough to get us around our usual daily journeys.
  2. EVs are intended to be charged at home. Habituated to heading out to refuel at petrol stations, and encouraged by the fact that they’re currently free, I’ve been topping up when out and about. But public charge points, and especially the more powerful rapid chargers, are intended for emergencies, for those over-running their vehicle’s range with longer journeys. They’re not for the everyday.

We went north for an overnight trip last weekend, a 300-mile round trip that necessitated rapid recharging three times: once while we stopped for lunch, again while we stopped for an ice-cream, and a third time the following day while we browsed a bookshop. No waiting, no hassle. Easy. And totally free.

Obviously to make EV use viable at the necessary scale, we need more charge points – and they need to work. And this is happening, with a huge roll-out underway across the country. Meanwhile, until those charge points become pay-as-you-go, the economics of running an EV are wildly skewed in our favour. And I’ve not even mentioned the intrinsic value of running on renewables.

For the first time since I passed my test, I’m excited about driving again. Living in the country, we’re not yet ready to ditch the second car, a large petrol guzzler which has sat stationary in front of the house for the last three weeks, silently brooding. But if finances allowed, I’d be mightily tempted to swap it for a smaller electric option, and just hire when we need something bigger.

‘Course, living in the country means we also get power cuts…

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