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Hello,

this is my first post on a forum and the longest I have written in years - so please excuse the rambling nature of it. Its also aimed at someone like me last week.. who didnt know much about EV cars. This is a review of the Nissan Leaf we had over the weekend.

I have always liked the idea of owning an Electric Car, they have no tailpipe emissions, have a lower cost of ownership and they seem like a lot of fun. But for us we always thought they were too expensive to buy and this put us off. That was until we found out you could buy a second hand Electric car on finance.

It was at the same time we were due a trip to London to see a relatives and My Girlfriend spotted an advert for a 4 day test drive. So we quickly did a little maths on the range and decided to try and get the test drive booked.

We called in to Nissan and booked the test drive. It was as easy dropping off our petrol car, signing an insurance form and photocopying our licences.They would let us have it Thursday night fully charged and we could drop it off on Monday afternoon. Best of all it was free.

So we arranged this on Tuesday and for the next 3 days I became an EV nut, watched videos on youtube, researched range and charging points and prepared as if I was taking a horse and cart to london. In the end it was so much easier.

To get to London from Cheshire is 200 Miles and the range of the leaf driving on the motorway was 80 to 100 miles. So I reckoned we would have 2 charging stops.

My main source of information was a great channel on YouTube hosted by Rob Llewelyln (Cryton from red dwarf) called FullyCharged.

I also watched another channel called "the electic leaf man" about a yorkshire leaf owner and his adventures owning a leaf, he is a big fan of Ev's and is one of about 480,000 ( i think) people who have put a deposit down on a Tesla Model 3. He is quite witty and I would recommend checking out his channel, especially the episode where he takes a Renault Twizzy round the yorkshire dales in a torrential downpour.

So Thursday arrived and we picked up the leaf. If you have not driven an electric car before it is an interesting experience. You get a smart key which sits in your pocket and as long as you are within 3 feet of the car you are in control. So you get in, press the button to start and get a "bing" sound and thats it. Silence.

"Is it on?" Amy said "I think so, put it in drive" So after figuring out you need to press the brake and start button to allow you to drive, we were off and yes it was absolutely silent and surprisingly fast off the mark. If you the BMW driver I pulled up next to at the lights that night, thanks for the drag race.

So the initial plan was to pick the kids up from school at 3.30 the next day and drive to London on 2 charge stops. But it didn't quite work out like that, as the 100 percent battery we had when we collected it soon dropped below 50%. It turns out racing around Cheshire (Safely of course) on a Thursday night is not good for an EV's range.

We soon became expert EV drivers and worked out the cars various power screens. One tells you how much power you are drawing from the battery. There is another that gives you points in the form of tree diagrams for how eco you are driving. I am very proud of my 4 Tree high score on the way back from London, although this may not overcome the embarrassment of a caravan overtaking me at 52mph on a hillier part of the M6.

So the plan was to use Ecotricity's electric highway to get us to London. This used to be free but now has a £6 charge for a 30 minute blast. I downloaded the Ecotricity app and an App called Next Charge to work out where our range would get us. We topped up at Knutsford before we set off and stopped twice more on the way, we arrived in London with about 20 percent Battery at 10pm.

The drive of the car was really good, considering the only noise was the road and the bickering of a 5 and 7 year old in the back.We did have a Dab radio to keep everyone entertained and played a few games of spot the electric car. Stopping for two 30 minute breaks broke the journey up well and the kids didn't seem to get too bored. The car was also fun and comfortable to drive. The air conditioning worked well and a quick blast every now and then cleared the windows. The power of instant torque from the battery made lane changing effortless. Amy and I took turns at each stop. I didn't seem to get the usual long distance arm ache but I can't be sure if this is because of less engine vibrations or because of the breaks. All in all a great driving experience.

The "range anxiety" you hear about with electric cars just didn't seem to exist for us, we quickly worked out how far it was,on the in built sat nav,to the next stop and you then drive the car as economically as is needed. It comes naturally after a while.

On the drive there and back we had a lot of conversations with other EV drivers and discussed the practicality of owning an EV ourselves. Thanks to the Zoe driver at Watford Gap for the informative chat about Tesla and the problems of air pollution. I apologise again to Amy for my over enthusiasm when the Tesla Driver and I waved to each other at the same time with a knowing nod. "... But Amy he has a Tesla and waved to me!" I think I have decided I want to be part of the club.

In terms of practicality the only problem we would have owning an electric car was off street charging as we don't have a drive. Where we stayed in London had no off street parking either. We quickly worked out how to use an App and Charging system called Polar. They have various charging points around London and we were able to charge at these points, although they were slower than the Ecotricity ones. It was a little tricky trying to find one that worked or wasn't in use.( while trying to use the Kingston one way system on 15% battery) On the way home I spoke to another Leaf driver who didn't have off street parking who uses a council installed charge points in a nearby car park overnight.

But this is London and we live in Cheshire, the network around us, although may be growing, is a little patchy.The options seem to be charging at Knutsford services for £6 or at the slower charger at Nissan around 1.5 miles down the road for free. We worked out we only need the car for getting the kids to school, grocery shopping and some trips locally to work. So a charge should last us a couple of days. If we have a trip out somewhere we would charge accordingly.

I watched a great video on Robs Fully Charged youtube channel where he interviews Richard Bruce from the Office of Electric Vehicles (OLEV) If you have five minutes and are interested in EV's I would recommend it.

Looked at OLEV more and they have a scheme to install charge points for residents who have an EV car and no off street parking. We are waiting to hear back from Cheshire West and Chester council to see if they are part of this scheme.

If we do get one though we will be part of a small number of owners, the current sales level is only 1.5% of all new car sales. In my opinion it would be better for our planet and lungs if more people bought them although there is a lot of discussion about the pro's and cons of moving the emissions from the tailpipe to the powerstation.

To be fair think I was sold on the idea of electric before I test drove one but now I am sold on the performance and pleasure of driving one. The way I see it, the technology is coming on so fast, all the manufacturers seem to be working on a model and the range and charging network will keep improving. Buying a second hand model now, even with the current limitations for me seems like a good move.

So this is where we are up too now. I hope to post some more on here in the future.

Cheers

Cheshire EV
 

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Nice write-up, like you I wanted to like it and then was even more impressed when I drove it.

In the early days we were quite careless about the range as we were only doing local runs, then had to make a diversion on the way back from a shopping centre to a slow charger at a Nissan dealer! Since then we have found a good balance and don't worry too much, but don't run out either!

We have nearly had ours a year, and don't regret it for a minute.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the comments. Glad you don't regret getting one. I really think they make sense. So we have just taken the Leaf back to Nissan and picked up the old petrol one. Had a look at some of the second hand ones they have available. We will probably get an earlier one to save money if we do. The next stage is waiting for the council to get back about the chargepoint as we don't have a drive. I will do an update on this when I know more.
 

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Glad you enjoyed your experience. Owning an EV without off street parking is a challenge, but there are people on this forum doing it. Have you discovered www.plugshare.com and www.zap-map.com/live yet? There may be local chargers you are not aware of. I know for example that Engenie have recently been installing rapid chargers in Cheshire.

If you decide to buy an EV check out the For Sale section in this forum. There are often very good deals advertised for second hand and leased EVs.
 

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Well done. It took two weeks for me to build up courage to make the first trip beyond the comfort zone.

Fully charged is a great mix of helpfuland entertaining.

I believe electric leaf man is our @ardandy who is a great presenter of reality ev(y) . Check out his Twizzy test.:ROFLMAO:

I think you are probably now beyond help:) and will end up with an EV but think carefully about charging at home.
 

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Great write up. I would get a Gen 2 if I were you for the better battery, heat pump and the less likely to have an expensive repair hand brake; £149 down and £149 per month on a deal (search threads). Cheaper Gen 1 cars (2013 model) were also advertised on speak ev at £99 down and £99 per month a short while ago.
 

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Reading between the lines I suspect they loaned you a 30 kWh LEAF. I doubt the trip to London would have been as easy in a 24 kWh. Just be aware when purchasing a secondhand.
 

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Reading between the lines I suspect they loaned you a 30 kWh LEAF. I doubt the trip to London would have been as easy in a 24 kWh. Just be aware when purchasing a secondhand.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Glad you enjoyed your experience. Owning an EV without off street parking is a challenge, but there are people on this forum doing it. Have you discovered www.plugshare.com and www.zap-map.com/live yet? There may be local chargers you are not aware of. I know for example that Engenie have recently been installing rapid chargers in Cheshire.

If you decide to buy an EV check out the For Sale section in this forum. There are often very good deals advertised for second hand and leased EVs.
Thanks for the reply, I will check out engenie and plugshare.. I used zapmap over the weekend too. Will also check out the second hand leafs EV's too. Much Appreciated
 

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Well done. It took two weeks for me to build up courage to make the first trip beyond the comfort zone.

Fully charged is a great mix of helpfuland entertaining.

I believe electric leaf man is our @ardandy who is a great presenter of reality ev(y) . Check out his Twizzy test.:ROFLMAO:

I think you are probably now beyond help:) and will end up with an EV but think carefully about charging at home.
Haha.. i think I was beyond help before I test drove one.. my GF is now convinced she wants one too but yes I will wait to see what they say about the install from the council on a charger near the house..cheers for the link to ardandy's forum on here.. I will check out some of his posts... yes loved his twizzy test! :)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Great write up. I would get a Gen 2 if I were you for the better battery, heat pump and the less likely to have an expensive repair hand brake; £149 down and £149 per month on a deal (search threads). Cheaper Gen 1 cars (2013 model) were also advertised on speak ev at £99 down and £99 per month a short while ago.
Thats really interesting.. and even more affordable than I thought. Cheers for the info. Will have a dig around
 

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@CheshireEV Great post and I admire your nerve in going for such a virgin voyage ! We will be coming back to Cheshire (Holmes Chapel) in November / December so will see you around!
 
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