EV Roadtrip: 30kwh Nissan LEAF Pt1

I haven’t conducted a proper EV roadtrip for a while, so I thought it was about time I had another go. My previous roadtrip, in a Nissan e-NV200 Combi, wasn’t very enjoyable at all. Can the new 30kwh LEAF do a better job?

We need to cover 98 miles to the nearest charger...

We need to cover 98 miles to the nearest charger…

Firstly, let’s talk range. Even driving gently, I struggled to get more than 60 miles out of the e-NV200 between charges. That was against a claimed range of 106 miles. To be fair, I was conducting the test in November, so heater use was denting range, but it was still pretty poor.

The LEAF should stand a better chance. It has a claimed range of 124 miles, which is probably closer in reality to the 106 claimed for the e-NV200. Anecdotal evidence certainly suggests so. The other advantages are a larger battery back (30kwh to 24kwh), better aerodynamics and heat-pump heater technology – not that we should need it, being summer. Allegedly.

I’ll certainly be testing the range pretty thoroughly, and not out of choice. We’re off to Liverpool today, and the first rapid charger along the route is broken. It seems The Electric Highway is sadly still not entirely fit for purpose. Where this charger is located, there are no less than 16 pumps for internal combustion engines. If one of those breaks, it’s hardly the end of the world.

As it happens, I now have to try and get to a rapid charger near Chester, on the M56. That’s 98 miles away, so the challenge is definitely on!

First up, here’s a bit about the test vehicle. It’s Acenta spec, which is the lowest available with the 30kwh battery – you can have a Visia with the 24kwh battery and a few less toys. The on the road price, not including any plug-in grant, is a smidge under £30,000. The paperwork doesn’t confirm whether that price includes the Magnetic Red metallic paint – my favourite colour. The spec includes a reversing camera, heat pump heating and air con, lots of electric toys, auto headlamps and wipers, keyless entry and a 3.3kw on-board charger.

That latter point is worth bearing in mind. It means that it can’t charge particularly quickly at some smaller AC chargers, such as the ones you can have installed at home. There is an optional 6.6kw charger, but that seems to be about another £1500! Some people don’t consider that worth paying, and here’s why.

There are three basic charging options. 13amp plug, fast charger and rapid charger. The spec of the on-board charger only affects the fast charger option – typically a 16amp supply, or 32 if you’ve gone for the bigger charger. The sort of charge points you’ll find that use this are at home, in some car parks and even roadside in towns.

I probably won’t use that facility at all. I’ll either be charging at home via the 13 amp plug, or using rapid chargers, which supply over 100amps at several hundred volts. That should get the LEAF’s battery up to 80% charge in around half an hour – it’ll be interesting to see how the real-life experience tallies with expectation. 80% charge should be good for 80 miles and once I’m on The Electric Highway, that should be more than enough to get to the next station and/or destinations.

I’ll be live tweeting my experiences at http://www.twitter.com/dollywobbler and will, of course, be reporting back on here once the journey is complete. There will be video too. If you’ve got any questions about the LEAF, now is the time to ask!

What do you reckon?

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