Our Nissan Leaf has finally ventured further afield than our native Peterborough, as our confidence in the electric car’s abilities increases. The destination was AM’s new flagship event, Automotive Management Live, at Arena MK in Milton Keynes.
Milton Keynes is one of four cities to receive government funding to boost electric vehicle infrastructure through the Go Ultra Low Cities initiative. It already has numerous charging points dotted around the city, and it plans to let low-emission vehicles use its bus lanes and park for free.
The 124-mile round trip looked a very feasible challenge, despite 118 miles being the highest range we have ever seen displayed on our Leaf.
Indeed it was feasible. There was almost a hitch, as the charger at the Arena MK seemed constantly occupied, necessitating a short trip down the road to Ikea. There I plugged the Leaf into an Ecotricity rapid charger and made a short call to Ecotricity’s customer services centre (there’s no charging app available for my Windows OS company smartphone). A £6 payment by credit card and 30 minutes spent browsing some kitchen equipment was all it cost to get the battery boosted up to 91%. In effect, the 124-mile trip cost about the same as a gallon of diesel – and what diesel car does 124mpg?
EV owners are a patient and committed bunch, and it seems some relish the challenge of longer journeys. A browse on the forum website LeafTalk shows many adapt their driving to eke out the range, shunning faster-running motorways or running relays between charging points.
One owner, who has stuck with the original 24kWh model, wrote: “Shortly, my Leaf will be five years old and that equates to five years of trouble-free, smooth, quiet motoring, I simply could not ask more of a car.”
Yet the conversations also show that quite a few owners of the original 24kWh Leaf are looking forward to longer range by swapping to the 30kWh model, particularly since Ecotricity ended its free charging at motorway service areas this year.
One owner, who changed to a new 30kwh Leaf recently, wrote: “Although I loved my 2013 Acenta, this feels like care-free motoring should.”