Being the only electric car owner in my friendship circle has meant that our Leafs successes and failures leave quite a mark, this is the curse of the early adopter. As I recounted our latest brush with a recovery vehicle (see issue 19) it re-enforced electric cars as a curiosity, something that was not ready for prime time. Although I am still an advocate for electric vehicles, my social circle remains (much like the wider market), interested but sceptical. The first question I often get asked is about range, to which I reply, “between 60-90 miles”. The real answer is, “it depends”. When I begin to detail the various aspects to consider such as rain, elevation, rolling resistance or time of day, it makes the case in favour of electric even harder to make.
I must confess that our nail-biting winter journey had shaken confidence and it felt like our electric dream had fallen apart. We began to think of journeys over sixty miles as being ‘too far’ and although I’d like to believe this came from an environmental mind-set, it really came from the now all too real concern that we simply wouldn’t make our destination. As most of my longer trips are often with my young family, it adds to the on- the-road stress. Trips that I would not have thought twice about in a petrol powered car have become military operations with multiple routes and fall-back charge points needing to be located before setting off.
Speaking of chargers, locally we no longer have access to free in town charging, as those have been replaced with a 50p connection cost and a 30p per kWh tariff (quite possibly the most expensive in the country). We’re lucky to have off street parking and a home charger, but having in town parking and charging was always helpful.
We knew that when signing for the Leaf electric cars of this generation, with low-capacity batteries, would be risky for longer journeys. By the time our lease ends and we have to wave goodbye to the Leaf, the latest generation of Leaf should be available with a 60kWh capacity or double that of our 30kWh car and more than ample for our needs.
However, that is likely to happen soonest at the end of 2018 and there are a great many more miles to cover between now and then (I hope). In the next issue, Tom tries the open road again – will he make it?