“What happens when the charger isn’t available? What about road closures? And bad weather, that’ll make you wish you’d kept your diesel!”


Just some of the criticisms I’ve had over the past year over my choice of a pure electric car. Many people think a hybrid electric car is the only way to cope with today’s less-than-perfect charging infrastructure. Personally I don’t like the complication that a hybrid brings; I’ll have elegant simplicity please.

So on a recent journey, charging issues, a road was closed and high winds all conspired against us. Did it cause a problem in my mere 20kWh capacity, 4-and-a-bit year old Leaf? No. Did we get home a little later than planned? Yes. Did I get a kick out of arriving home with “4 trees” on the dash and only 8% battery? Yes again!

Ideally the day would have gone something like this: drive to work, later on park and charge at a Park-and-Ride while we were at the gig (“destination charging” in EV jargon). Arrive back to the car at 100% charge, and go on our merry way, returning home with maybe 40% charge remaining. It was a very windy day with gales that would reduce range by a lot on the homeward leg, and probably driving in most other directions as well. However things don’t always go to plan and a Golf GTE hybrid was plugged into the only charge post at the Park-and-Ride. (Personally I think pure electrics should be the only cars allowed on public posts).  It’s always a good idea to have a Plan B, and on this occasion Plan B was to charge at a Rapid charger 4 miles away, on our return trip home. This worked fine, with only a short delay – as another Leaf was charging when we arrived! There’s only one Rapid at this location. With 80% charge in the battery we carried on.

What I hadn’t foreseen was an overnight road closure, adding a lot of miles to our journey, which was already going to use more energy than normal because of the high winds. There was no opportunity for any more charging so the only option was to keep a close eye on the fuel gauge, and I drove a little slower than usual. Comparing the “battery remaining” percentage with the “miles to destination” on the satnav meant that it was quite easy to keep a margin of at least 5 miles to spare.

We got home with the “VLBW” on (Very Low Battery Warning) and an average 4.9 miles/kWh, good considering the strong headwind, 16 gusting 30mph was observed at a nearby location. That’s equivalent to around 49 miles for one of those old-fashioned fossil fuel litres. The bonus is that the battery management system got a good recalibration, and battery health is showing a percent higher now!

The gig? Very in-keeping with this blog, electronic pioneers Kraftwerk 🙂

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