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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

Long time reader, first time poster. First of all, I do not own a Nissan Leaf.... yet. I can't seem to convince my wife that it is a valid means of transport for us. My commute is about 15 miles total (I should probably cycle it but have you seen the roads here? :)) and most of the other trips are about 40 miles. My in-laws live about 60 miles away but with a fast charger on route I don't see an issue with it.

One of the other sticking points is that we have done 2 European road trips so far in our 2010 Prius and she is worried that we will not be able to do this in an EV. We live in Mallow, Ireland and I am originally from the Netherlands. My wife has a sister in Farnborough so we combined our road trip with a family visit.

I plan on buying a Nissan Leaf in the next year or 2. It will be our primary car since I think we can do 99% (explained earlier) of our trips in an EV. I am hopeful I will be able to import a used one from the UK since this will probably save me a bit of money.

So this morning I went on plugshare and Google maps to see what the journey would be like and plan some stops. I have 3 options to get to the UK and 2 to get from the UK to the Netherlands.

Ireland - UK:
Either Dublin - Holyhead, Dublin - Liverpool or Rosslare - Fishguard.

Uk - Netherlands:
Harwich - Hook of Holland
Channel Tunnel

My preference at the moment is leaning toward Dublin - Holyhead but as northern Wales seems to be a bit sparse on charging points Liverpool may win out. The UK - Netherlands bit would be OK as there are plenty of points around the London area and in the Netherlands.

I made a journey map on Google with the charge points highlighted if anyone is interested. They are very conservative I think but I just wanted to see if it was, in theory at least, doable.

My main question is: Has anyone taken their EV abroad on a similar trip and if so how was it?

Looking forward to the replies.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for that reply and the welcome.

That post is a valid point and is actually one of the reasons I am avoiding France. One of our trips we went from Cork - Roscoff and I found petrol stations to be sparse in that region of France. I can only imagine how the EV charging structure is. Holland has thousands of chargers so I am not worried to much about that. Plus, I speak the language. My French is horrible :)

The infrastructure in the UK seems to be great. When I look at any charge map there are enough rapid chargers along British motorways. The map I posted should be doable. Even more so if I go Dublin - Liverpool. I think I can charge on the ferries as well.

I know there are risks but I think it would be worth it. And I like an adventure :)
 

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I'm not sure I'd do it now, but in a year or two? Things are changing fast so it could well be completely viable by then.
 

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The infrastructure in the UK seems to be great. When I look at any charge map there are enough rapid chargers along British motorways. The map I posted should be doable. Even more so if I go Dublin - Liverpool. I think I can charge on the ferries as well.
Be very cautious with the maps because some contain locations that don't even exist. Also expect some rapid chargers to be offline in the UK, it was almost 50% but think it's now down to 20%.

AFAIK most UK ferries no longer allow EV charging following a fire onboard a few years ago :(

It's hard to predict what will happen in the next few years once government funding stops... personally I think range will keep you out of trouble especially if your wife is understandably hesitant.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I'm not sure I'd do it now, but in a year or two? Things are changing fast so it could well be completely viable by then.
This is true. I have to keep in mind that I am a long way off making this trip. I could make a marital sin and just get a Leaf no matter what my wife says :D

Be very cautious with the maps because some contain locations that don't even exist. Also expect some rapid chargers to be offline in the UK, it was almost 50% but think it's now down to 20%.
Very valid point and I suppose you guys speak from experience.

It's hard to predict what will happen in the next few years once government funding stops... personally I think range will keep you out of trouble especially if your wife is understandably hesitant.
At least the UK government is doing something. We have very little here and are dependent on the ESB (National Electricity supplier) and the EU to roll out a charging network. Uptake on EV's has been really slow here. Think there are less that 1000 EV's in the country.

AFAIK most UK ferries no longer allow EV charging following a fire onboard a few years ago :(
I saw chargers on the Irish Ferries boats last year but unsure if they are in use. It would be something worth checking but I think I should be OK if I charge up before boarding.

Again this is all theory at the moment. No sign of any Leaf on my driveway yet. These are just the words of a jealous Hybrid driver :(
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The other thing that would worry me besides the availability of a charger is getting access to them and potentially paying for charging.

In Ireland I would be fine since it's all the same company. In the UK you have, as far as I know, multiple companies doing charge points with presumably different access cards. I would have to find out which ones I am likely to use and register or can you use a Visa card or something?

Plugs would be another worry I have. Am I correct that the Leaf plug is compatible with most EU standards? I think UK Leaf owners get a separate cable with a 3 pin socket as well but this would not work in Holland (2 pin). I doubt I can buy a regular 3 pin to 2 pin adapter :) Not for sale in Ireland but I could order one on-line.

Anyway, thank you to @Kevin Sharpe and @flipper for the constructive replies. I am going back to my dream world of owning a Leaf now.
 

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Perhaps for balance Kevin could also have pointed you to the French / Dutch couple who live in Grasse and take their LEAF to Scotland annually.

Their route is to drive to Nice, pop the car on the train up to Paris, drive to The Netherlands through Reims, dropping the kids off at in-laws and then ferry to Newcastle. It is certainly possible but DOES require meticulous planning.

Kevin is quite correct - you CAN do the drive in an ICE. You can do the drive in a REX or you can do the drive in a Tesla (of the two varieties now available in RHD). However - one of the things which we do say is that one should buy a car based on the majority of usage - in your case you say that 95% of your trips are easily Pure EV'able so why not buy for your driving profile - what you save in petrol, perhaps you can charter a Cessna to take you home ;)
 

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Welcome...

Put simply... the Leaf is designed for short range. You can do long range trips with some additional effort and with a considerable risk of being stranded as Nkiki Gordon-Bloomfield was in France and many others have been in the UK. If you choose to do long trips that require you to rely on public charging then you are in the realm of the unknown as to whether you will arrive or not. That is how things are right now.

Will things change? Possibly, and they may be considerably better in the time-frame you are considering but at the end of the day you will never get away from the fact that it is not designed or intended for long trips and so it will always be a compromise/risk.

I am on my way back from doing the WAVE in Germany/Switzerland and I would not risk taking my Leaf from England so I hooked up with someone already here but one other other did bring their car but they have taken a considerable time to get here/back planning on only one public charge per day and then an overnight stop. That way, if a charger fails, they can get recovered to their next overnight, charge and carry on next day. That is a good way to do long trips as it reduces the impact of charger failure.

Ultimately, it is down to the amount of risk you are comfortable with and whether you can accept the consequences of a charger failure. I suggest that families, particularly with young kids, may not want to take that risk whereas single people or adventurous couples might.

:)
 

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Paul is correct in his analysis. Taking a LEAF or equivalent that kind of distance means that you are treating the journey as part of the holiday and that you're prepared to take an adventure.

I know that my wife would be less than impressed should we need to be recovered. I was going to take the LEAF to Narbone this summer via SNCF from Bercy but am now veering towards taking the train down and Ryanair back.

I still however maintain (and it's a how brave are you) that if you know that 95% of your travel means that you don't have to lug around a petrol engine, a gearbox, a bunch of battery storage you'll rarely use (delete as applicable) then buy for that journey type then find a way of handling the exceptions.

If you do then you may well find yourself surfing on BlaBlaCar, Yotlinks, railway sites etc and you never know you might find a much more interesting way of getting to your destination than simply driving!
 

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I'm driving to Amsterdam in the next couple of weeks and will do no planning because I have both range and good AC charging... If you want an adventure take a short range BEV, if you just want to drive then get a REx or long range BEV :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Taking a LEAF or equivalent that kind of distance means that you are treating the journey as part of the holiday and that you're prepared to take an adventure.
I'm always ready for an adventure and enjoy traveling as much as the holiday. :) But I see your point.

I know that my wife would be less than impressed should we need to be recovered. I was going to take the LEAF to Narbone this summer via SNCF from Bercy but am now veering towards taking the train down and Ryanair back.
I may well hang on to the Prius as a backup car for longer journeys but this will probably result in it only being used twice a month or less. :(

If you do then you may well find yourself surfing on BlaBlaCar, Yotlinks, railway sites etc and you never know you might find a much more interesting way of getting to your destination than simply driving!
Yeah.... Public transport (and many other things) in Ireland are not really UK standard so this is a no go for me... :D
 

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Yes, I know about the public transport issues you have! I was trying to think about some of the more "creative"

Not sure if there's the same deal in Eire as here but Nissan let us swap the LEAF for up to 2 weeks per annum as part of the lease.

If you're going to use the Prius a couple of times a month I'd say to have a word with your local car rental company and see if you could swing a deal on a regular pair of one way rentals and compare with the cost of ownership.
 

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To your question about plugs I'm afraid that there are several competing standards so you'd need to have:

3 pin UK
3 pin EU
Blue Commando
Type 2
Type 3a

Connectors to stand a flying chance. If you were to do this then you'd be best off looking at a single EVSE an a bunch of connecting cables.

Kevin is absolutely correct in that as he has a Tesla he does not have to do the same level of planning that you and I do. Kevin also has a £100k hole in his bank balance however to pay for his Tesla - much of that investment in battery storage that given your usage profile would be nothing more than added weight for 95% of your usage.
 

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Yes, indeed it is Kevin. I wholly intend to stump up my deposit for a Model X, looking to get it in 2016, or perhaps 2017.

I shall be doing however on the understanding that it is refundable because I'll still be looking for a suitable alternative.

Only 55k miles? That really does surprise me that your mileage is so low, based on some of the road trips you've been doing. I'm slightly behind where I expected to be but just going to go over 10k miles on Tuesday or Wednesday, since last week of Feb.
 

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Only 55k miles? That really does surprise me that your mileage is so low, based on some of the road trips you've been doing.
I only use the car on long trips where public transport is impracticable for me. At home I almost never use a car being close enough to walk and cycle to most things :)
 

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Hi Dexter,
Yes, you can make the trip in a Leaf, and have very few problems with a bit of planning.

Don’t be put off by some of the comments here. It can be done without too much of a problem, provided you do some planning, and have backup plans.

Your route looks fine. I would be cautious about Europe in general, but I understand that the Netherlands is good for charging, so Harwich, Hook of Holland would seem to be a sensible way. No doubt you are more aware of the Netherlands situation than I am.

I have never ventured into Europe, but I have done a ‘reverse trip’ to yours from Berkshire to Holyhead, crossed to Dublin, and headed up to Northern Ireland.

We did the trip in July last year, when the UK rapid charger network was vastly sparser than this year. We are planning the same trip next month. I intend to report on it, so you can follow my progress!

Last year from Berkshire to Holyhead the Ecotricity rapid charger network consisted of exactly three rapid chargers, at Oxford, Hopwood (Birmingham), and Keele on the M6.

That was it, but there were potential Nissan garage back-up sites open during the day, and I had earmarked one as a back-up near each of these motorway points. In the event, I did have to use one of them, as it turned out we were travelling on the hottest day of the year at that point, and the Hopwood charger’s cooling fans had been vandalised!
We also had to plan a couple of fast chargers after Keele, as there was not a single rapid charger between Keele and Holyhead, a distance of around 140 miles.

The Ecotricity Electric highway rapid charger network has multiplied considerably in the last year. The three rapid charger sites of last year have now increased to ten sites along the same route, so this year is going to be vastly easier, with more options should a charger be down.

The Ecotricity maps show chargers that are down, and they usually issue a twitter message for the latest news. So most problems you will know about in advance.

Kevin mentioned 50% of the chargers having been down. Remember that Kevin is prone to exaggeration where Ecotricity and ‘short range’ EV vehicles are concerned.

There has been a problem with the rapid chargers, and it might indeed have touched 40% down at one point. But a temporary fix has been applied, and the number offline is below 20% at the moment. A permanent upgrade is being applied during the next few months, so I would hope this figure would drop further, plus some of the more popular sites will continue to get a second rapid charger.

The 150 mile ‘rapid free’ gap has narrowed with Chester services now having two rapid chargers, but there is still about a 90 stretch to Holyhead without rapid chargers, so currently with a Leaf a fast charge is needed along that stretch. I will probably use the Nissan dealer at Abergely, which I understand is available 24/7, although it is a fast, not a rapid, charger.

It won’t stay that way for long however, as an EU funded scheme is in operation, and several more Rapid charge sites are due along that stretch in the next few months.

Irish ferries ‘Ulysses’ did have a charger last year, but it didn’t work. As you are aware, the Irish network has rapid chargers at regular intervals, including one within about a mile of the ferry port in Dublin. I had no problem with any rapid charger in Ireland, every one worked perfectly.

Basically, on the route you are taking, you would probably only need an Ecotricity card (currently free), although for back-up MAYBE a polar/chargemaster card would useful – it would cover a lot of the fast chargers you might meet in the area you are travelling in, (they have had a bad press, now they have started charging, but quite a lot are still free – but if you use their ‘instant payment’ app, you need to load it with £20).

Of course Zero Carbon World has a network of chargers, which need no card. Again they would be fast chargers, not rapid.

But certainly such a trip is completely doable, and with just a little bit of planning, and allowing a bit of time for contingency, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
 
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