Our Technology Director Mark Casey has bought an electric car and is already addicted to emission-free travel

Our Technology Director Mark Casey has bought an electric car and is already addicted to emission-free travel

About six weeks ago we took delivery of a Nissan Leaf electric car that has a maximum range of 130 miles or so. No fuel based back up at all; “Range anxiety” was now going to a be real threat to my state of mind. Or not…..as the family have quickly learnt to love our EV.

My car history was a bit eclectic and by the time I met my wife I had covered most of the German marques and I was settled nicely in a gas guzzling 4.2 litre coupe. I loved it. Smooth, refined and loads of POWER!!!!

But the pending arrival of our child forced me into a serious rethink.A “Chelsea tractor” wasn’t really us so we ended up getting a truly fantastic car; a Skoda Superb Estate. Built like a tank and with a load carrying capacity that could rival a Chinook helicopter, it soon replaced the coupe in my affections and was the perfect family wagon.

Of course, we were a still a two-car family and that is why we started looking at an EV. The second car was a nine-year-old, much loved, Mini Cooper S which was my wife’s car. However, the unsuitability of the car soon became apparent when it became my primary form of transport; my wife is a petite former marathon runner; I am not. Rugby was my sport and the rock-hard ride and the sports seats of the Mini made long journeys a form of torture. Throw in the fact it drank petrol with a thirst of my rugby team and the decision was unanimous and quick. We were going EV and we opted for a Mark 1 range topping Black Edition.

Driving the Nissan Leaf has now become a bit of obsession for my wife and I. I try and leave my son’s car seat in the Skoda, so I get to take the EV to the Nobull office which is only a 10-mile round trip. It’s a typical short commute, lots of stopping and starting and rarely getting over 40mph and this is where the Leaf absolutely excels. It’s so smooth, so quiet, so responsive that driving it is a pleasure. And if I am relegated to the Skoda and my wife is in the driving seat then the mileage is similarly low; I would be surprised if my weekly mileage gets above 60 miles.

We also compete on how well we can drive the car; if you are careful and use the “recharge” mode it is possible to return from a short trip with more mileage capacity than you set off with. Going down any hill is now an opportunity to free wheel down and watch the recharge indicator max out. It really is worryingly addictive to drive in such a way that every metre of journey becomes a bit of a competitive experiment. (Oh yes, did I tell you, it goes as fast backwards as it does forwards?)

The acceleration, (if you want to use it), is impressive and as there is no fuel tank, no combustion engine, no exhaust system and no gearbox, maintenance and servicing should be simple, straightforward and relatively cheap. Insurance is lower, there is no road tax, no congestion charge and of course you don’t have to stick fuel in it. Yes, it’s got a series of batteries that need regular top-ups of electricity to work, but with the home fast charger installed and some sneaky use of over-night tariffs you are on to a winner.

Perhaps “one fly in the ointment” is our charger has not been fitted yet. We live in a cul-de-sac, so we are not connected to our garage which is around the corner. I am solving the problem, but it certainly won’t be as simple as the sales person made out.

To date my experience of using of public charging points is limited but they all work the same way. Some are free to use, the others charge based on the time and cost of energy consumed, or a combination of the above.

So yes, we need more charging points across the country, but I have given myself over to the EV “side of the force”. My boy racer ‘petrol power’ days are now done and I am addicted to zero emission transport.

Automotive