Sorry I missed you all, but the event was great fun!
Here’s our rundown of the event–which we took part in!
[FONT=arial]We took part this year as a family!
We were offered a free entry into the event because they wanted a Leaf to take part. At the time we were invited, they didn’t have a Leaf entered, so we said yes.
We wanted the event to prove that a real electric car could make the trip without any problems: a REAL family car, not one with a slimmed down, professionally-coached driver and a following support car.
So, we planned to do the entire event in the Leaf, not use any kind of trailer or tow (nearly every other car was trailered there.)
Leaving on Friday at 6am, we headed down from Bristol to our favourite Leaf garage – FJChalke, Wincanton. They are wonderfully courteous to Leaf drivers, have a wonderful Leaf lounge, and have some excellent complementary coffees and teas.
(They even touched up the paint on a scratch on the car for free while the car charged!)
After Wincanton, we headed down to Southampton. Much less of a nice experience there, with the coffee and tea costing 20pence per cup. A horrible waiting area too, and the rapid charger is a nightmare to pull into because of its location.
The dealer itself is on an onramp, which makes it easy to miss if you’re not careful.
From Southampton, we went across to Worthing. Because of the problems last year charging at the Brighton Metropole, we decided to rapid-charge to 50% for the final 14 miles or so.
It’s worth noting however, that Worthing’s rapid charging station, unlike its slow charging stations, is around the back of the dealership. Apparently, that’s to stop kids vandalising it.
Yeoman Nissan, Worthing, went well, and we headed to Brighton. It took somewhere around 1 hour to make that final few miles, but we got to Brighton without a problem.
And because the longest part of the trip was 60 (ish) miles, we kept the car warm at all times, using the rapid charging station time to pre-heat (re-heat) the car for the next segment.
On arrival, the event organisers wanted us to charge right away, using the provided type 2 charging units. As a consequence, the car was finished charging by 9pm.
On Saturday morning, despite attempts to remotely start the climate control, the car didn’t turn climate control on because of a problem with the charging station. As a consequence, we left for Maderia drive with a cold car.
When we started the run, the car was still cold, so we kept use of the screen demister to a minimum.
With two adults, two kids, luggage and two dogs, our car was probably much more laden down than everyone else’s, but it made the 65 mile trek to London–including an 8 mile stretch of Motorway at 50-60mph–without fault.
When we arrived in London, however, there were no charging stations at the event for us to use, and we only had 6 miles of remaining charge.
Because we planned to head out of London that evening, we pulled out of the Regent St. display, and drove over to James St. NCP carpark to charge.
We arrived there with 4 miles of remaining range, to find that the charging stations were still all 13A domestic sockets instead of type 2 charging units.
We plugged in, and took the dogs for a walk in the park.
After 2.5 hours, we had 40 miles of range (4 bars), enough to make it out of London to the rapid charger at Nissan HQ.
Arriving there, we encountered the NEW, slim Nissan Leaf charger, similar to the Abingdon rapid charger. It worked a treat, and we were off to Oxford after 35 minutes or so.
The next part of the trip went easily. With a full charge and plenty of range, we had the heating on, drove at 65 mph, and arrived at the M40 junction 8 rapid charging station without a care in the world.
It was working just fine-- although the type 1 and type 2 stations aren’t commissioned at the moment…
We gave the dogs a run, had some grub, and came out to find that our Leaf had finished charging and someone else was there charging their Leaf! they’d carefully disconnected us, and put their own Leaf on the rapid charger.
(I’ve forgotten the Gentleman’s name: he was a doctor from Hampshire…)
From there, we made a quick hop over to Abingdon. Only 15 miles or so, but essential to visit for the top-up to Bristol.
Abingdon Waitrose’s rapid charger was working great, so we charged up there to 100 percent, and picked up some things from the store.
Then, my wonderful wife managed the last bit of the trip with skill. Keeping the heating on for MOST of the trip, we managed the final 65 miles without incident. We pulled into the driveway with 4 miles remaining.
A great weekend!
IT’s left us with two key notes:
- rapid charging really is the way to go for long-distance trips. But it only works if the rapid charging stations are at 50 mile intervals, and are reliable.
- after 26,400 miles, our Leaf has probably now lost about 10 miles of range over new, although it’s still possible to eek out 70-80 miles on a good day (read good weather!)
- when it’s cold and/or wet, the range really does suffer. Torrential hailstorms as we left Brighton was the primary reason for arriving in London with such little charge!