EVIOM came into being to provide answers to the many questions regarding EV ownership. Its purpose was to give new and prospective EV owners the benefit of knowledge gained by early adopters. So here we are, some 4 to 5 years later, and now every week a new EV arrives on the Island. The Nissan Leaf is by far the most popular due to the many great second-hand deals on offer but what can these new-to-EV drivers expect from their purchase? Below are a few things that may be of interest to new EV drivers. They are taken purely from our own experience and, as everyone’s driving style and journeys are different, are not meant to be typical for every EV.
Over the last 4 years we have driven our Leaf Acenta and covered 30,000 miles, mainly on-island. That’s a typical average of 20 miles a day. We are based in Douglas and have regular trips over the mountain to Ramsey and back as well as to all corners of the island. Our Leaf has a 24kWh battery and a 3.3 kW on-board charger. We charge overnight at home to the 80% battery capacity or what is termed the “Long Life” battery mode[i]. Occasionally we will set it to 100% if we know we have several trips to make the next day. Our home charger is a Rolec 32 Amp, which is capable of charging up to 7Kw. We bought this charger so we could ‘future proof’ the home charging capabilities should our next car have that greater charging capability. Although, in theory, we could have connected the charger to the garage wiring, we decided to add an extra, dedicated ‘circuit’ in our electrical distribution board. Unfortunately this meant the fitting of a new consumer unit but luckily this coincided with some other electrical work being undertaken at the same time. We bought the Charge Point directly from Rolec as there were few options for purchase at the time. Nowadays there are CPs from other manufacturers being offered for installation by registered local electricians.
It should be noted that only once have we had to charge the car from empty. Typically we have 20-30% left after our daily journeys and charging to 80% would take approximately 3.5 to 4 hours, which is ideal for overnight charging. We never rely on the Guess-O-Meter (GOM) which indicates approximate range, but instead, after a few weeks of driving, we soon got a feel for how much battery capacity we used on typical journeys and judge our range by the % reading. We also usually have the cabin pre-heat set to warm the car by 07:00 hrs, especially in the colder months.
We have a dual electricity meter provided by the MUA and this gives us cheaper, off-peak, electricity between midnight and 07:00 hrs. We set the car charging timer to start at 01:00 and charge until 80% full. We chose a 1 a.m. start time to compensate for the change to British Summer Time as the current electricity meter only has a clock based on GMT. It should be noted that it is the responsibility of the bill payer to ensure that the time clock on the meter is correct and in our experience it can "drift".
Here is a typical graph showing our overnight charging. The large peak is the battery charging and the smaller peak is when the climate control kicks in for the pre-heat. All this is pre-set and controlled from the Leaf’s on-board computer.
It May Be Winter Outside…
This is another reason we love our Leaf. Getting into a warm car with a frost-free windscreen on a cold winter morning is just one of the factors that makes driving an EV a pleasure. Smooth acceleration and regenerative braking also make for safer driving in winter. If it does get slippery then switching to ECO Mode and even turning off the traction control gives the car a better chance of grip in very bad road conditions.
In fact, all the year round, we will use ‘B’ mode regularly, particularly when going back and forth over the mountain. ECO mode in the towns is also recommended.
Like any car, the way you drive and the terrain affect the amount of fuel that you use. We are careful drivers but will quite happily “open her up” on the mountain road if conditions allow. We also like to set ourselves challenges as to how little battery percentage we use on typical journeys from Douglas to Ramsey. We have found that higher use of the battery mainly occurs when the traffic is such that we cannot take full advantage of regenerative braking. Obvious really!
There has been much talk recently about how badly the battery of an EV is affected by the cold weather and it is true there is an effect. But just how bad is it? Back in 2010 the AA[ii] ran a campaign that showed that both petrol and diesel cars exhibited an increase in fuel consumption due to cold weather. They showed that fuel consumption is higher when the engine is cold and stated “it could equate to an additional cost of 3p per litre”. Added to this is the extra use of heaters, lights, and heated screens/seats etc., which use more fuel no matter what type of car you drive.
When you first switch on the Leaf you will see an option, on the central console screen, to send telematics[iii] data to Nissan detailing your mileage and battery storage capacity. If you accept this you will be able to view your driving records on-line at “YOU+NISSAN” and also on the Nissan EV app on your smartphone.
This data is available on-line with about 2 years of historical data and will show you distance travelled, electricity consumption, travel time, CO2 savings and average energy economy. This term Average Energy Economy is very useful, as it will tell you how many miles you have travelled, on average, for one unit, or Kilowatt hour, of electricity (Miles/kWh). So if, for example, you average 4 miles per kWh and a unit is 8.75 pence then the electricity cost averages at just over 2 pence per mile.
Here is our chart showing the data collected from 1st. March 2016 to 28th February 2018. The top graph shows our Average Energy Economy in Miles/kWh, the highest reading in June 2016 at 4.5 Miles/kWh and the lowest being 3.5 Miles/kWh on several winter months. The lower graph shows the Average Mean Temperature measured at Ronaldsway.
The energy economy graph follows the temperature graph, which is to be expected, and it appears that we had a warmer summer in 2016 than 2017 but the recent 2018 February average mean temperature of 4° C didn’t have such a corresponding low in the economy reading. In short, I believe the lower economy figures in winter are similar to what you will find in ICE cars but obviously more noticeable when you have a smaller "tank" of fuel.
Turning Over A New Leaf
So that's a short summary of how we operate our Leaf and this post was written with the intention of giving some insight into EV ownership. When we look back, did the Leaf live up to our expectations? Well, yes, and much more. Our main reason for switching to pure EV was simply to remove the tail-pipe emissions. We were never under the illusion that it was a cheaper motoring option to ICE transport. No motorised transport is free. Saying that, we used to spend £185 on petrol each month and now our car fuel bill is about £15 a month which is a good saving to put towards purchasing a new car. We have never, in the last 4 years, had free road 'tax' although Electric Vehicles are now taxed at zero rate.
We are now ready to take ownership of the latest Leaf the 'Leaf 2.Zero', which by all reports, is a great improvement on the previous models. We will be very sorry to part with our current Leaf as the car shows no signs of wear and tear or battery degradation and is the easiest car we have ever driven.
[i] The 80% “Long Life” battery option was an option on the 24kWh leaf. Nissan have removed that option on the 30kWh Leaf.
[iii] At first there was no access to the Nissan Telematics system on the Isle of Man but campaigning by EVIOM who negotiated with Telenor, the company supplying the telematics infrastructure to Nissan, meant that the system has been available to IoM users since March 2014.