What I’ve learned from my first six weeks of driving my first electric vehicle

Thursday, 28 February 20194 minute read
Electric Vehicles

Marc gives us his thoughts on his new Nissan Leaf

Marc is our Pure Planet Community Manager. You’ll usually find him giving useful updates, answers and chatting about all things sustainability with our Members. Say hello and join the conversation here.

He’s also is revelling in his new Nissan Leaf 2. He test drove one last summer, and loved it so much that he got one himself. Read his initial reflections in having ditched petrol for electric.

I seem to have developed a split-personality whenever I get behind the wheel these days.

Either I’m driving as carefully as I can, trying to make every last kWh of electricity last as long as possible, watching my expected range like a hawk, wishing for steep downhill slopes at every turn so that I can use the e-pedal to regenerate more power.

Or, I snap into boy racer mode. Albeit an emissions-conscious one, and minus the baseball cap.

I took delivery of my first ever electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf, in early January. EVs are the future and I’m happy to be a part of that now.

It’s been an eye-opener in so many ways: I’m more aware of the number of EVs on the road (low but growing); I’m saving a fortune in running costs; I’m not churning out toxic fumes and tonnes of climate-damaging CO2. And I’m trying really, really hard not to judge others who do.

Seriously though, going from a doddery old petrol car to a brand new EV is a dramatic shift. It’s clean, smooth and noiseless drive. It makes me aware of how I’m driving — both in style and in speed. It feels like the future. It feels like the right thing to do.

And, yes, when I want it to be, the Nissan Leaf is fast. When I switch off the e-pedal and eco mode and press hard on the accelerator, I’m leaving Audis and BMWs behind at the lights.

Which feels, nice.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t do it that much. It tends to be my treat-to-self at the end of a long day, safe in the knowledge that it’s OK to use my Leaf’s renewably-sourced electricity now, because when I get home I’ll be able to recharge — on Pure Planet, of course.

I find that I charge on average three times a week. As a Pure Planet Member, I’m spending about 14p per kWh of clean, renewable electricity.

If I were to wait until the battery was at 0% before each charge, it would cost me £5.60 per charge, or £16.80 a week.

What actually happens is the battery is about 20% full when I plug in, so I reckon it’s costing closer to £12 a week. My previous car, a beat up old SUV, typically costs £75 a week in dirty petrol.

Having a home charger is handy. I’m lucky to have a driveway, so mine was installed about six weeks before the Leaf arrived.

But without a home charger I could run the Leaf, no problem. Zap Map gives me all the info about where the nearest charging points are. And in Bath where our Pure Planet office is based, Pod Point has public chargers at park and ride car parks, and they’re free to use.

But having the home charger is brilliant and really handy.

I charge overnight on a timer. Using the timer means the car won’t charge until you tell it to — either by programming a time in advance or using a phone app. And you can switch on climate control to defrost your windscreen just before you need to go out to the car — and because it’s plugged in, it’s the house, not the car’s battery, which is powering the heat. Pretty cool.

So far, I’ve not had to go on single, long-distance journeys. But there’ve been a few times where I knew that I had a lot of short journeys to make, and wanting to avoid a charging stop, there’s a few things I learned to do to extend battery range:

  • Turn on eco-mode and the e-pedal
  • Turn off climate control and use heated seats and heated steering wheel instead
  • Drive carefully — no fast accelerations, no taking corners like Jenson Button

So far, I’ve no regrets — quite the opposite, in fact. I love clean power. I’m really looking forward to driving the Leaf this summer and getting even better battery performance.

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Head of Knowledge and Community