I’ve thought about getting an electric car for a year now and finally took the plunge last week.
With my hatchback winging its way to the great scrapyard in the sky, I was faced with a stark choice: join the electric revolution or consign myself to another five years of petrol-powered commuting.
I’ll be honest: while the ‘Zero Emission’ status is a massive plus for me given the potential catastrophe awaiting our planet if we don’t get our act together, it wasn’t my primary motivation.
It’ll surprise no one who knows me that it mainly came down to cost. My weekly commute from Rossendale in the Lancashire countryside to south Manchester has been costing me up to £300 a month in petrol, whereas my Nissan Leaf should only come out at 50 quid, if the £2-3 a charge claim is correct.
In essence, it costs me the same to run the Leaf for a month as it did my old Chevrolet for barely a week.
My tight Yorkshireman tendencies persuaded me to go for a 2016 model, which is not the most up-to-date design, although I prefer it to the newer one.
The down side is the range on my car is only 84 miles, whereas the 2018 model can go for 151 miles and the 2019 car a much-improved 226.
I’ve got about 25 miles left on the battery when I get home, so as long as I remember to plug it in – when the ‘leccy gets cheap in the evening, naturally – that’s just about enough for me.
It’s also a cheap runaround for the weekends (and big enough to fit the kids in comfortably!)
I’m also looking at the GMEV network which costs £20 for an annual card and then allows you to charge the car for free at public points. That could be useful if I’m driving over to, say, Leeds or Liverpool. Any further than that and I’ll need to sign up with a nationwide provider such as Ecotricity to charge the car at service stations.
Traffic on the journey home is always a nightmare, but that actually works in the car’s favour. Regenerative braking puts energy back into the battery when you’re in those annoying stop-start situations. A handy digital graphic displays when this is happening, as well as how much power you’re using to accelerate.
When you tap the button for ‘eco’ mode, it delivers power from the accelerator more slowly – meaning you can make it for miles across town while barely draining the battery.
Of course you have to remember to get a chargepoint installed at home. You could go for a stylish ‘future-proof’ option like that of Andersen EV, or use a company like Chargemaster, which is basically free.
I’ve gone for the 7kW option, which should charge the Leaf in a couple of hours. The 3.5kW version takes double the time while using the three-pin plug as a stop-gap until mine arrives on Friday takes around six hours.
More powerful ‘super-fast’ points at service stations and the like can apparently do the job in around 45 minutes.
So far, so good then – although my wife reminded me last night that I won’t be able to make it to Barnsley and back when the football season starts!