Nissan Leaf Diary

I have decided to buy a Nissan Leaf. This car is a technological masterpiece and as I was going to buy my first “new” car ever, I decided it should be the one.

Now, as I live a distance from Dublin where I work and have family, this could be quite an adventure.

I have investigated the distance from my house to work (105km) and have been watching it on my odometer to verify.

As the Nissan Leaf does up to 170km, it should be perfectly feasible to do, as long as I calculate my journeys carefully.

I understand that the 170km is in the most ideal circumstances and that depending on weather conditions (wind, cold,etc..), running of accessories, and also the weight being carried (passengers), that this range can be affected. Even so I believe that the Nissan Leaf should suit my needs.

There is a rapid charger + a standard street style charger in the new Mayfield (M7) fuel station at exit 14. This is exactly half way between my house and work, and should be a life line if ever I need it. Also I have recently discovered there is a charger in Port Laoise, which is only 15 miles from me and where I do my shopping, so its looking good.

Along with the house charger that will be put in to my house by the ESB eCars program, I am also hoping to get a EVSE “granny” cable which will allow me to plug in anywhere. These are pretty expensive and don’t come with the car. They do in the UK, but here in Ireland they don’t. I’m not sure of the reasons, but have heard it’s to do with ESB not trusting all the cabling in houses. The cable is 10Amp, and house cabling is 13Amp, so I’m not sure if this is true.

Anyhow, I plan to update this diary as much as possible with any issue and situations that arise (good and bad). I hope that it will show an honest recording of life with an EV. If I can do it living the distance that I am from work, then I reckon almost everyone (especially those who live and work in large cities) can happily feel the benefits.

Precursor:

I took the test drive for the Nissan Leaf last Thursday. Let me tell you it is a fantastic drive, very responsive, fast off the line, extremely comfortable and it feels well built, not flimsy or golf-carty at all. I decided then and there I wanted it and set in motion to get it. Oh, I don’t really care about colour, but it was decided to get a black one, and it looks class.

2011 Nissan Leaf in glorious black

The guys at Windsor Motors on Belgard Road have been great to work with. They have been fast on getting everything set and have done all the paper work and chasing for me. Thanks for that Windsor Motors (n.b. I have no affiliation with this company).

I have hit a snag though, small as it is, it’s still a snag. There is currently a backlog on getting the Charging Point put in. 1-2 weeks, maybe a little more. The problem is that as the vehicle doesn’t come with the EVSE “granny” cable, I cannot get the car until the charging point is in. You might be thinking I could use the charging points at the garages and street charging point. Unfortunately not, you don’t pay these like parking meters, you need a swipe card to unlock them and allow charging. I have applied for this through the ecar registration, the same one as you use to apply for the charging point, but will need to wait for it to be delivered. It is a pity ESB doesn’t allow dealerships to set up the cards and hand them out with the vehicle, that would cut down on the waiting time (or preferably Nissan supply the EVSE cable with them). Anyhow, it’s hardly a big gripe and I will just need to relax myself and wait until it arrives.

Waiting…..

Posted on 29/11/2011

So yesterday, I was told that the car is expected to be delivered to the dealers today. Unfortunately there is also a secondary snag (hopefully resolved quickly). The dealer is waiting to hear back from SEAI (these are the guys who promote less energy wastage through grants/schemes) about the grant. Until they approve the grant, the dealer cannot register the car. Like I said hopefully it will be sorted soon.

In the mean time, I have started a little preparation. Since I decided to get the Leaf I have been verifying things for myself.

Using my arsenal of android apps (3 really), I have been getting more information for myself.

1. Fuelage – A fuel & mileage tracker.

  • I have actually been using this for a while now. With it I have tracked the fuel I am using, mileage I am getting, costs and efficiencies.
  • These are my numbers; Total Mileage – 3,949 miles/6,355km, Total Fuel – 392.70 litres/86.38 gallons, Total Cost – €550.03; Average Fuel Economy – 16.47kpl/46.52mpg; Average Fuel Consumption 6.07 litres per 100km; Cost Per Miles – €0.14; Cost Per Litres – €1.40
  • Car Details – 99 Peugeot 306, 2.0 HDI l (Diesel), 60 litre Fuel Tank/500 miles per tank approx – (95% of driving has just me in car)

2. Pumps.ie – A fuel price program

  • This shows you all the fuel stations nearby, and the prices of the fuels (depending on how well the website is updated)
  • This has helped me get the lowest diesel whenever possible

3. Speedview – Speed Gauge

  • I used this to work out what my average speed was going up and down from work. As the speedometer on my car is a little off, I wanted to be sure.
  • I always drive on the motorway in fifth gear keeping the revs at 20000 (20x), turns out this is between 80-85kph (about 50mph)

I will be using the above details as my figures to put against the Leaf to start with. I will publish the details of the Nissan Leaf equivilant costs based on these. Also until I reach the Total Mileage above, I will drive the Leaf at the same average speed and in normal drive mode (i.e. not eco mode).

In comparison to the above details, a quick look at the Nissan Leaf wikipedia page shows these details:

  • 99 MPGe (Miles Per Gallon equivilant)/2.4L per 100km, 109 miles/170km range per charge

Finally, I am using electricity with Airtricity at a rate of 15.2 cent per KWh currently (I will apply for a night meter with a tariff of 9.5 cent per KWh). If I have my numbers right it should cost between €1.60-€2 per charge (full charge from empty) and possibly less with the night tariff, but of course I will let you know.

Disappointment…

Posted on 01/12/2011

So I woke up this morning in a great mood. Today I was going to be getting the car. Not so. After getting into work I was greeted with an email from the car dealers. They have still not received the offer of the grant from the SEAI. Obviously this is a big let down, I am hoping to get the car taxed and on the road before Tuesday (the budget), this is starting to look unlikely and I will probably be hit with higher car tax. A real pain in the ….. My mood has taken a turn.

And It Begins….

Posted on 03/12/2011

So an update of Thursday (01/12/2011)… Later on in the afternoon Dave from Windsor Motors (Belgard) sent me an e-mail letting me know that the grant had come through. A little later, I was provided with my new registration/license plate number, fantastic.

Friday (02/12/2011)…. Excitement galour today, car is ready and I can to pick it up. So I head down to Laois in my old Peugeot in the hope that the ESBI eCars have sent me my swipe card for charging… No they didn’t. Oh well, maybe I an get the tax sorted… No I didn’t. The line was crazy long in Laois Motor Tax office and I had to head and pick up my son. Oh well, on the way back I got to check the time in the Peugeot on the 0-60MPH test (all legal and safe), I done it on the motorway, stopped on the hard shoulder (only for a second as I needed to get something out of the boot and decided to try as I was taking back off). Anyhow, I gave it 1 try and 0-60MPH in 16.0 seconds was the result Speedview gave me. There was one person in the car with me and the same person will be there when I test the Leaf. So back in Dublin, I decided to get the tax done and collect the Leaf. On the way there I ran out of diesel (who has ever heard of someone running out of fuel on the way to get an electric vehicle). Even with more diesel in, I couldn’t get it started. I called Road Assistance, while waiting I rang to get my insurance changed over, it turns out Chartis/25 plus won’t insure an EV, so I ended up taking out a policy with Zurich. €551 it cost, this is with being 32 and having a full license and 6 years no claims bonus (I guess they don’t have enough data on EVs to give a lower price (it was €380 on the 2.0 Peugeot). After an hour the mechanic arrives and after 30mins of trying he still couldn’t get it going (reckoned it was finished). So I got it towed and I got a lift to the dealers. Finally at the dealers, papers signed, everything explained (turns out the dealers give you the details to tax it online, every handy), quick run down of the car and away I go, 15 mins. The car has been charged and shows 156km on the charge. First thing I noticed is that the mileage jumps around a lot. With the heater or windscreen demister on, it jumps to 125km, with it off it jumps back. That will take getting used to. There’s 26km on the odometer when I get it. After messing about, showing the friends and family it (they are all amazed and full of …ooh it’s so comfortable and so silent, and so fast to take off/My father especially used up some power with testing the acceleration), there’s 80km on the mileage left. So I had to take it easy as I have no charger. I get it home and leave it up for the night.

Unlucky Start

Saturday (03/12/2011)… Pulling out of the driveway today (on the way to check if the other car is completely gone…. It wasn’t, it started up straight away), a kindly driver beeped me and let me know I had a puncture. What a start, I pumped up the tired and got it repaired, quick job, 5 minutes, tyre wasn’t even taken off. I then drove around for the day, doing bits and pieces, the car shows 50km on the mileage. As I have no charger I was not sure what to do. Luckily I have a friend who has a charger that will work so I decided to go get that. Now the car has 50km on the mileage and his house is 22km away, so I had to make a decision. Take the Leaf or the Peugeot, in the end I took the Peugeot. Without the car charged and with so small a level of overhang (8km), it was the best choice. I had said from the start, I would calculate my journeys, and this was one of those decisions. On the way there I filled up 6.81L of diesel (10 euro) and I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, that would fill the Leaf 7 or so times. Anyway charger retrieved and back home. I decided I will wire it up tomorrow, as I still have 50km in the car, plenty left for things I need to do in Dublin. Once the charger is going I should be laughing, but c’mon ESB, can you get the finger out and setup up my charger at home!!!

Lastily, I setup Carwings (the telematics system). I registered online (google Nissan + You Ireland), filled in all the details asked. I am now just awaiting it to activate. After that, I will be able to monitor the charging, battery, mileage, and send route information from the website (you can also get an iPhone app, but they don’t seem to have an Android one for Europe/Ireland yet, 😦 Get your fingers out). All together it was a good day, so far I’m loving driving the Leaf.

The Long Haul…

Posted on 07/12/2011

After a few days of just fluting around in the car in Dublin, I finally drove home to Laois (Laois/Kilkenny/Tipperary border) yesterday.

So after charging the car up to nearly full in work the Estimated Mileage (EM) showed 151km (Odometer showed 205km). I started my drive from Citywest along the motorway and decided to stop in the M14 garage. I wanted to get a coffee and have a better look at the rapid chargers. I knew I couldn’t use the level 2 street (pole style) chargers as I haven’t received my ESB swipe card yet. On a side note, after getting an email address from a guy in the Irish EV Owners group, I sent a mail yesterday asking about the swipe card. Within 30mins of sending it I got a mail back from someone else saying they had sent it out that day. I can send on the email address to anyone who needs it if you contact me. So back to the chargers, after arriving at the chargers (78km of EM) I realised the rapid chargers don’t need a swipe at all. You just plug it into your car and press the start button, so I did. I went in and got a coffee. Arriving back at the car 6 mins later I unplugged, checked the EM (now at 96km) and continued on. When I finally arrived at home the EM was 9km (308km on Odometer). You would expect I’d have more but as the mileage got bumped up with the charger I had the heating on most of the rest of the way home, toasty. I had to drive around the town to pick up some things so by the time I plugged it in the EM said  – – – (328km on Odometer), but it still didn’t slow down or perform any different (i.e. tortoise mode). A few things I noticed from this first long journey…

  • It is very hard to stay at 85km when in the Leaf, because it is so quiet it makes you feel like you are going slower.
  • The acceleration is so smooth that at times I looked down and the speed was anywhere between 100km & 110km
  • When you get to about 25km Estimated Mileage left, the gauge seems to behave a bit more smoothly. It doesn’t jump around as much
  • AC & Heating are the enemy of distance (but we knew this anyway)

On the journey into work today I found out a few things. Even though the vehicle was fully charged when I got in, the EM only showed 129km (328km on Odometer). I am not sure if this was because of the cold or because I had the heating on. I believe the heating is meant to use the charger current when plugged in and not the battery (and the battery gauge did show as being full), but maybe if you put it up to really high temps it uses both (I set it to 30c). Anyhow so off I went. I stopped at the rapid charger again, to top up and get a coffee (I was hoping to not have to use the RC too much but as there are issues about charging in work, I may have to use it more than I like), EM = 68km. After a 15 min stop to freshen up I jumped back in and started off (EM = 128km). As I knew I couldn’t charge in work (not yet anyway), I decided I would drive in Eco mode as I needed enough juice to get back to the RC on the way home. I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t. Well I have to say I am sorry i didn’t use it before.

  • Eco mode doesn’t lower your speed, it  just seems to adjust your acceleration and improve regen braking.
  • The EM gauge seems to behave better and more accurately.
  • It is easier to stay at the 85km speed I normally do.
  • Although the acceleration is not as quick, it is perfect (I find) for traffic on a motorway, you can flick it off if you need a burst to overtake. I didn’t as I just gauged my overtaking correctly, and yes you will overtake some vehicles even at 85km.

I have decided to change my mind on Eco Mode, I am going to use it from now on and am just sorry I cant set it as the default. It will save me energy (therefore save me money and RC stops), and help me keep the speed I want. Oh, when I arrived in work I still had 63km of EM (Odometer was 432km). I will see how my next long journey goes starting with Eco mode on. Also in case your are wondering, I will do a 0-60MPH test in both modes to see the difference and put them against the Peugeot.

At last, I received a couple of phone calls just there on the charger issue. Seems there was a bit of a mix up, but the good news is the charger is getting put in this Saturday. Hooray!!

It’s All Coming Together

Posted on 12/12/2011

So on Thursday I decided today was going to be my first proper attempt at driving home without pulling in for a quick zap. That didn’t happen. I showed my boss and another few guys the car and couldn’t help showing off the acceleration. So instead of the 171km EM, I had significantly less. So a coffee and a quick charge was needed. 13km EM when arrived home. At home, my tax disc, insurance disc and ESB welcome pack with swipe cards arrived. I logged online and attempted to register my electricity supplier details but I couldn’t find anywhere to enter them. So I sent a message to ESB Irelands facebook page and awaited a response. Earlier in the day I decided to ring Airtricity to see about getting changed over to the 2 tariff/day-and-night package. I was told that the standing charge goes up and the installation will cost a few quid so I was just enquiring at first. The agent informed me there would be no standing charge change, no installation fee and that my day rate would go down from 15.2 cent to 14.5, also that the night rate would be 7.2. I’d have to be a fool not to go for it. Only hitch it could be up to 2 weeks before the installation went ahead.

Friday, I am woken up by the meter installation engineer, he is not far away and can install it today. Excellent, an hour later I have a brand new meter instead of my old 1969 black metal one. I head up to Dublin with 129km EM, the cold is definitely affecting the mileage. Quick charge on the way and off to Dublin again. I checked facebook and found out that the electric chargers at the road side parking is free for the moment until the billing is sorted out in mid 2012. More good news. I decided to park in Upper Rathmines as there is a charging spot there and wander down to Lower Rathmines where I needed to be for a few hours.

Inconsiderate Driver

Of course, there’s a big van parked right in front of the charger. There’s space in front and behind but he had to park right at the charger. Luckily the cable was long enough to reach from my car parked behind him. 47km EM when I left it and just under 2 hours later 110km was on it. Time for home. I knew I’d need a quick charge, 10 minutes is all they ever take. I have realised that the only thing that has really changed on my journeys, is the garage I get my coffee at and the fact I haven’t got the smell of diesel on my hands when I leave it.

Saturday, first thing in the morning, the engineers come and install my charger. That is nearly the last piece of the puzzle for me. If I can get a place to park and charge in work, I am laughing. I have been using carwings a bit now and my only issue is that the site is very slow. Especially to update details from the car. This could be a lag contacting the car though.

Sunday, on my way up to Dublin I needed to grab something in Port Laoise. This is handy as there is a charging point in the main car parking area of the town. I parked up, but of course the spot with the charging space is taken. I can see that this is going to be a running occurence. So I park in one that is a few spaces away, but unfortunately not close enough to charge. Oh well, a quick charge on the way if needed.

More Inconsiderate Drivers

Now I don’t think I have a right to a dedicated spot, I’m not disabled or pregnant and although I have the boy with me sometimes, he is perfectly capable. I do think that the ESB should either do 1 of 2 things though. Either put up a sign saying EV only, or more preferably put the charger at the furthest spot away from the shop, centre, cinema etc… Nobody wants to park a good bit away, but I am perfectly happy to if I can charge while there, this is why the charging spots in the M14 garage are always empty, they are not near to the shops.

Another Week Gone… Some Musings

Posted on 19/12/2011

So after another week of using the Nissan Leaf, I have a few musings and gripes. Not with the car (I think it’s great) but with Nissan in General, Nissan Ireland & Topaz garages.

First off: Topaz.

I’m delighted that some Topaz garages have EV chargers in them, but the Opertaing System is absolutely rubbish. It takes ages to get the car to start charging. It’s very slow and has far too many steps to go through. Then at the end of it you have to stand in line to pay your 9, 19 or 38 cent. They cant actually process the payment until you have finished charging. Now when I start charging the car I usually go in, get a coffee and pay. In Topaz I start charging, go in,  make and pay for a coffee, wait for the car to finish then go back in and pay for the charge. Usually the cashier looks at me like I’m messed up in the head for standing in line to hand her/him 9 cent. Now that is a terribly stupid way for Topaz to run charger payment.

Next: Nissan (in general)

The car is great, I love it……. but the fact that you have to have the heater running even if you are not looking for heat is ridiculous. The heater can use up to 5kw when running. All I want is the fans to blow up at the windscreen, that shouldn’t use that much. Also if I decide to use the fresh air option, I have to have the air running at my feet as well as the windscreen. Surely a firmware update can be made that would allow you to just choose the windscreen and keep the vents to the feet closed. Also an update that would allow you to press the temperature button down until after you get to 16c degrees you have an off choice, then this would make it so that fan could be put on but the heater wouldn’t start and therefore you could save on battery charge. Simples. Oh an the ability to choose which mode (D or Eco) to be the default would be a great edition to, hopeefully it would also just take a firmware update.

Finally: Nissan Ireland

This annoys me the absolute most. The Leaf costs a lot, it’s not cheap. It costs more in the south than it does in the North. After the government rebate they are close but it is still more. So why do Nissan Ireland not provide you with a 3 pin EVSE cable like they do in the north. I have heard different reasons for this, the main one being that ESB wouldn’t certify them. Well how come I received an email saying I can have one for an additional amount. Considering I paid more than our Northern neighbours I am still getting shafted. Now unless I am mistaken (and Nissan Ireland can correct me on this) the EVSE cable charger is a 10amp lead. Wall sockets are 13amp so there is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed. The 2 times I had “range anxiety” could both have been alleviated by one of these cables. I think it is an insult to Irish customers that it is left out and that Nissan won’t give a straight reason for why it is left out. I have asked on the Nissan Ireland facebook page but have not had an answer just yet. At present you can drive up north, buy the leaf, bring it into the republic without paying any VRT, get it changed over for very little and get ESB to install a charger and you would still save more money than buying one here and then buying the cable afterwards. I think this situation should be resolved to give a better customer experience. Oh and this is nothing to do with the dealers, so no point taken it out on them, it’s Nissan Ireland that needs to correct this issue.

Anyhow, now the my annoyances are over some good things. I charged the car one day and went to work. The car had 112km of EM left. When I drove it later on, and arriving at my destination it had 133km EM left. The day had warmed up enough and with the bits of regen I was collecting on the way home, I ended up with more. The next day after I had charged it, it displayed 188km and in Eco mode 202km. Now I know I wont get that but still it was a pleasant surprise. Now to see what this week brings, maybe Nissan will send Santa with a EVSE charging cable.

Reply From Nissan

Posted on 19/12/2011

I have received a reply from Nissan correcting me on the price of the Nissan Leaf and it would seem that the price after incentives works out in favour of the Republic of Ireland rather than the UK. So I take back completely my incorrect statements above. In saying that, I still believe that the 3 pin EVSE charging cable is a neccessity and it would provide a great backup for users and make it easier for them to use their car everywhere, giving an all round better experience knowing they had the cable to charge with if they needed it.

Happy New Year… Nothing Much

Posted 03/01/2012

So I have not been on this with any updates lately. This is because

  • 1. Christmas/New Year is a busy time
  • 2. I have no real updates to give.

I have been using the car so far now for over a month. I use it everyday and have only once used my old car (to move it from where it was resting to where it would be scrapped). I have had absolutely no problems. I have never once ran out of power. I have found charging it in and around Dublin to be very easy. When I do some shopping, I stop in St Agnes Rd Crumlin or Church Rd Rathmines, plug in and head to Tesco, Dunnes, wherever. In Tallaght, I usually grab a quick charge just a few minutes away in Newlands Cross. I have no home charging up in Dublin so for at least 2 weeks I have been relying on the charging infrastructure the ESB, Topaz & Nissan have in place. I have had no problems so far.

In saying this, there is something I’d like to see done – A proper database of charging points.

To find where there is a charging point, I end up using 3 different things

  • 1. The Nissan Leaf navigation and route planner (Terrible!!! This seems to never be updated as there are tons of charging points that this doesn’t have. Whoever updates this needs to get a move on).
  • 2. ESB eCars website. This is pretty good, it’s kept fairly up to date but obviously you need a computer with internet access to find where the charging points are. I can do it on my Android phone but it is hard to navigate and frequently resets itself to a zoomed out view (also does this on the PC website). An actual android app would be nice (or see number 3)
  • 3. PlugSurfing.co.uk. This is really good. It comes in website and mobile app form and it is more up to date than any other. It shows all charger types including “private/plugsurfer” (none in Ireland so far). Also you can join in and add your own. It has the ability to give details and show pics of the locations/chargers too.

It would be great if ESB eCars, Nissan & PlugSurfing could all combine the data into 1 database, that would allow access from all 3 ways. Really though, Carwings needs to be on the ball with the charging updates. There is a new FCP in Nissan HQ in Nangor and it doesn’t appear in Carwings yet.

On a side note, for some reason my Carwings could not get connection to the network. I thought that I would have to go back in and get the telematics reset but luckily enough after a few days it just connected up again. Anyway, after a month of driving the Leaf I am having no real issues so far. Also note that within the month I have had some long journeys, carried full passenger loads, transported items (a very large 32inch CRT TV to the recycling – heavy) and have not had any reason to think of it as anyway less useful than a standard car.

Numbers, Responses, Tunes

Posted on 05/01/2012

So todays update it a bit jumbled, as it is about a few different things.

Starting off, on Tuesday evening I decided to check out the new charging points in Newbridge. I travel near here all the time and as carwings will take forever to update the map, I decided to find both and plug in to them. With the Leaf you can have it auto-remember any charging points you plug into. When I got to Newbridge train station I drove around slowly for 10 minutes trying to find the charger. Turns out it is on the other side of the tracks, no big deal. When I plugged in and swiped my card though, I repeatedly got the message “Authenication Failed”. I headed to find the second charger. No luck. It was nowhere to be seen. I had plenty of power and was gonna be stopping off in the M14 garage so I wasn’t put out. On a side note, at the M14 garage there was a Renault Kangoo EV charging, not a bad looking cargo van. Anyhow, the next day I sent eCars a mail letting them know of my issues. It turns out they put the second charger in by mistake as they were in a rush before Christmas and that they had retested the train station charger and it was working fine. Hmmm? Thinking back, I placed the cable in the car and charger before swiping the card. On all other charging stations you have to swipe the card first, then a door opens and you can charge. This charger has just flaps over the sockets. I wonder was the order I preceeded in, the problem. I will test again next time I am passing. Even so, I was very impressed with the speed of response and troubleshooting from ESB eCars.

Now to something different… I have been driving my Leaf mostly on the motorway keeping at speeds around about 85-88kph. This is for efficiency and also because it was the way I drove my old diesel (I drove it this way to get more mileage). Recently I have changed my habit and it has worked out well. Most vehicles don’t travel at 85kph on the motorway, even trucks. Now I try my best to travel at 95-100kph and stay (safely) behind a high truck. As these plod along at a fairly standard speed and dont do much overtaking, it is suiting me fine. Well, better than that, my power saving so far has been on the average of an extra 20km each journey and I am actually getting there faster than before. I have also been looking at the mirrors while on the motorway. The Leaf mirrors look more aerodynamic when tucked in, they also move in and out quickly at the touch of a switch. My thinking is, I might tuck them in while I am plodding along and just bring them out when I am going to overtake or when taking a turn off. I am only thinkin of this on the motorways as in slow speed-city driving, it would make no difference.

This brings us on to what most people want to know about the car, the savings. Well I have calculated a bit for last month and also a little of this month. Here are the results.

Last month, I travelled 1994.6km @ a cost of €23.10; based on diesel costing €1.45 (works out to be 15.93 litres worth), my Leaf reached an average of 125.21km/l or 353.7mpg —– That’s good. *

This week (so far), I have travelled 400.9km @ a cost of €4.67; based on diesel costing €1.50 (works out to be 3.11 litres worth), my Leaf reached an average of 128.91km/l or 364.14mpg —– That’s better. *

* Calculations where performed using the Fuelage app and a calculator when dividing cost by diesel price.

Finally, just some things I noticed on the entetainment side of things.

Carwings has the ability to read out RSS feeds, so I added a few from news sites and a few jokes sites. It ended up very hit and miss. Certain news sites like BreakingNews.ie and IrishTimes seem to read out fine but most of the joke sites didn’t. The rss reader actually speaks a lot of punctuation and therefore can make it hard to understand what is being said. Your usage/useability may verify depending on the source.

Now the audio/mp3 side, I was using bluetooth to stream my music from my phone to the Leaf but it used up a lot of power on the phone, so I changed to plugging it in to the USB interface. This had the benefit of also charging the phone. Some issues I found, if you store all your mp3s in a single folder the system can only use up to 255 (it seems this is the limit for a folder). If you store them in multiple folders, such as ARTIST\ALBUM\MP3s when you are navigating it only shows you the bottom last folder, i.e. the album name folders. This can be confusing as you might have multple artists with “Greatest Hits” albums and all you get is multple “Greatest Hits” folders, that you have to guess from. Also if you choose a folder it automatcally starts playing that folder instead of continuing to play what was on and waiting for you to enter and choose a song inside the folder. The system has multple modes to play your tunes, I prefer to have it to play my files randomly and like the “Mix All” choice, which allows it to jump through the different folders and artists. The only problem is that when you choose to skip a track it goes to the next track in the folder, it doesn’t do another random pick and it cant skip out of a folder. So say you have a folder with 2 mp3s in it and you decide to jump to another song, it will only go to the next song in the folder, and if there is only 1 mp3 in the folder, skipping will just keep restarting the song. You have to wait for the song to finish before it will randomly choose and jump to a different folder/artist/mp3. This also happens if all your mp3s are in 1 folder, even if you have a 100 mp3s and it’s set to random/Mix All/Mix Folder, if you choose to skip a song, it will move to the next song sequentially. One thing to know though, is that in bluetooth mode the skipping/folders works fine but like I said, you have to deal with the power possibly running out on the phone.

Thats all for today, I told you it was random/jumbled.

A bit of a worry

Posted on 09/01/2012

Travelling home from work on Friday I decided to show my brother the new car. As normal I showed off, therefore I ate a lot of the power. I decided to do some shopping in Port Laoise and charge the car while I was doing so. This was my worry, as I have said before the charging points are not designated only for EVs and they are too close to the shops. All the way to Port Laoise I was worried the spots would be taken. When I got into Port Laoise I was even more worried. The place was packed, it took 10 minutes to get into the car park and all the spots where taken (with exception to some of the disabled places). As luck would have it, just as I was coming to the chargers a car beside one of the EV spots pulled out. There was enough length on the lead, so I plugged in. Phew!! After shopping I noticed that there was still not enough power (only 27km, my house was 29km). This was plenty to make it to the rapid charger at Monasterevin but I decided to give it a go anyway, and started toward home. I drove home at a standard speed but not flying along and was happy I got home fine. The – – – was flashing but the car never went into slow mode (turtle) and behaved as normal. I plugged it in and went about my business.

A nice surprise, well maybe not

Posted on 12/01/2012

On the way to work today I noticed that the ESB charging point was there in Citywest Shopping Centre, Hooray!! I decided to have a look. Unfortunately it is not up and running yet but I’m sure it will be soon. My disappointment is not with the charger not working but yet again, with the location. It is located at one of the nearest spots to the shopping centre and Eddie Rockets. This means a few things. There is a eCars sign but it is small, high up and not very noticeable and the ground around it is the same as any other spot. As the sign doesn’t say eCars only, other cars will park in it. I have noticed that if the ground is a bright green cars seem to stay away, as with the parking spots in the Monasterevin garage. The charger should have been put at the furthest car spot to make it be the worst choice for a standard car to want to park (as with the charger in the Newbridge train station, it is the furthest spot from the platform) or put into the underground car park. Also it is not going to be accessible 24hrs as the gates close and don’t open until 8pm the next morning, and you can’t reach it from the road on the other side (even if you could it would cause issue for pedestrians). The underground car park would have solved this issue too. I would like if whoever designs these locations to take into mind that, although we appreciate having a spot close to the main attractions (cinemas, shops, etc.), this inevitably causes that they will be taken up by inconsiderate drivers, as there is no law to stop them and no incentive for them to stay out. Looking at the picture below you can see a car parked in front, even though there are plenty of spots down from it (both sides of the Post Van), the sign is high and small, the ground is plain and the road on the other side has a pathway between it. Don’t get me wrong, I really appreciate this being here and I will be using it very often (if I can get parking) & I would like to thank the ESB for putting these up. I just think that a little bit more thinking in the terms of “not so much what suits the EV driver, but what doesn’t suit the standard driver” would help out a lot. With that said, thanks ESB and keep putting these up.

The charger at Citywest Shopping Centre

ESB eCars Reply

Posted on 13/01/2012

Here is the reply from ESB eCars on choosing the location for charging points. It would seem that there is a number of factors and is far harder than I thought when picking the best spot.

ESB ECars Charger Location Reply

Distaster… Recovery

Posted on 06/02/2012

So you will have noticed that I have not had an update for a while. Well this is because on Saturday (the 14th) I crashed the Leaf. To cut a long story short I swerved to avoid a fox and hit a telephone pole. The vehicle was damaged and was undriveable (1 wheel staight, the other bent outward).

As you can see, not an ideal way to have a new car.

So on the Monday I rang the number on the windscreen (EV recovery service), within an hour they had picked up my car from my house (I had limped the car home), and we were off to Barlo Nissan in Kilkenny. Once there I received a courtesy car (2011 Nissan Micra 1.2L) and was off to work. Let me tell you, it felt strange getting back into a car that used a clutch and gearbox/gear stick. It was like I went back in time, from an iPhone/Android to a rotary telephone. 3 hours after I dropped the car, I got a call with the bad news; how much it would cost to fix. I rang the insurance company (Zurich). They took my details, gave me a claim number and told me who the assessor would be. I rang back in 2 days to find the assessor had gone to Barlo Nissan, done the assessment, and was waiting for a price to fix. Next day (Thursday), I was informed that all was sorted and they would be starting the repairs. Unfortuantely some parts had to be ordered in and therefore it took 3 weeks until I got the Leaf back (03/02/2012). I had to fill out a claim sheet and send it into Zurich. I have to say I was very impressed with both Nissan and Zurich. The process of getting the car collected, assessed, repaired and paid for could not have been easier. Here’s the finished result.

From the side
The dinge is gone

I was absolutely delighted when I got the Leaf back. Although, the Micra is a grand little efficent car (5L/100km average as I drove it), it is still amazing what it cost to run compared to the Leaf. In the 3 weeks of having it I put in easily 120 euro and mostly this was pottering around Dublin. That’s about 4 months on the Nissan Leaf.

On a side note, on my way back to the land of electric driving I was welcomed by the fact that the charging point in Citywest is up and running. I have used it a few times now and am glad to say that it seems to be staying clear of any stray vehicles.

Finally, when I crashed the car I put it on charge so it would be full when it went in for repair. When I checked the range on the Monday (collection day) it had a very funny EM number. 240KM in normal mode, that would be 264KM in Eco mode.

Range was way up after crash

Maybe crashing makes it more efficient :). When I got it back and fully charged it, it had gone back to the average 160KM range.

Visiting Your Granny… Cable

Posted on 07/02/2012

Yesterday, I visited Damien Maguire from JTM Power. You may not know this but they are the company (and Damien the designer) that produce the EVCharge (A small device that gets you back on the road when you run out of power), soon to be piloted by ESB eCars & AA for roadside recovery. This visit was to help Damien in testing (hopefully) JTM’s next up-coming product, a “Granny Cable” for EVs. The actual cable is an EVSE cable, i.e. a 3-Pin domestic cable that can be plugged into any standard plug socket. More than that it runs at only 8amps, which wont fast charge your car but will also not over load any sockets in your house. The design of it also had a RCD on the plug, which is like a circuit-breaker and considerably safer than the standard 13A fuse you find in normal plugs. While there Damien tested the different states (standby, charging, disconnect) and we had no problems. The charging cable was even checked with a 30m coiled extension lead and still no problems or rises in Amp output. I don’t have any expected price yet but it should be well under the Nissan price for their cable, the cables you buy up north and last time checking were about 800 euro (price off memory and may be wrong).

Prototype EVSE Mode 2 charging box
Current drawn plugged in to wall socket
Nissan Leaf on a test charge with EVSE cable
Inside car display while charging
Attached to a 30m extension lead
Plug with built in RCD
Current being drawn on 30m extension lead

Now I am not doing a sales pitch here and have no affiliation with JTM Power, but I have repeatedly said (and argued with Nissan) that the one thing holding back more EV uptake at the moment is the fact you can’t plug them in anywhere. I don’t want to have to buy and install a 600-800 euro wall charger in my friends and families locations, just so I can go see them and be worry-free (remember although there are plenty of charging points, a lot of time they are taking up by ICE vehicles because there is no nothing to stop them). So anything that can help me drive to wherever I want and stay overnight, get a charge (safely) and not have to worry is a serious advantage, even just for the peace of mind. Anyway, in the upcoming week JTM will be showing the cable to the ESB and if all goes well, we may see an affordable 3 Pin charging cable soon.

It Had To Happen

Posted on 21/02/2012

Yesterday I had to drive from Dublin to Kilkenny to get a part replaced on the Leaf in Barlo Nissan. The car wasn’t fully charged with still 1hr 30mins left of charging to make it full. Still the EM said 140KM and I calculated that travelling via Baltinglass, Carlow and onto Kilkenny it should only be 106KM. Well unfortunately I didn’t make it on the charge, I didn’t forsee the effect the hills of Wicklow would have on the car and I had decided to drive in D mode rather than Eco as I was testing range difference between them. About 9KM from my destination the cars EM went from 6KM to – – -. Then just after the Lyrath Hotel (1.1KM away), the car went into Limted Power Mode (Turtle). It continued at 60KM but bit by bit it got slower and slower. Finally 500m from the destination I was met by a steep hill. The car made it up but finally gave up outside Duggan Steel Group, 110m from my destination. I walked over and spoke with Nissan and they said to have it picked up and brought across the road, as towing it is not a great idea. I rang the EV roadside assistance number on the windscreen, gave the details and 20 mins later I was in getting a Rapid Charge. 1 hour later – car was back to me, repair done, 120KM on EM, so off I went home, only 39 KM away.

View From Inside Car

Software Upgrades and Charging Downgrades

Posted on 21/02/2012

I received a call today from the Nissan garage and told that there was 3 campaigns on the system against my car. Well I got a fright, but all was well. Turns out these are software upgrades/service campaigns. I am going in on Friday to have them applied. I asked what they were so I could let others know. Below is the list.

1. Smart phone drive range display upgrade – (I think an upgrade to a more precise range estimation algorithm and smart phone connection system)

2. Battery charge timer indicator upgrade – (I think an upgrade to a more precise time to fully charge indicator)

3. Park position indicator upgrade – (I think this is an additional warning to let you know when the door is open and you are not in park)

My opinions above are from the bits of information I could chase online.

Anyway all these are free so I am happy to get them done.

Later on I tried to use the charger in Rathmines, this charger has changed quite a bit since I was last using it.

When I held my card to it, it did not respond and I had to do it a few times.

Then it said if you want to use standard charge hold the RFID card to it, there was a chance to wait 9 seconds for fast charge.

I tried and it took multiple attempts to get the CP to accept the card.

When I finally got the standard charge port to open, I found that it was a 3 pin domestic connection instead of a 7 pin.

I tried again and went for Rapid Charge. It took lots of tries to get it to open the port door, when it did though I found the 7 pin connection. Now I was under the idea that only the ChaMeDo DC chargers where considered rapid and that the 7 pin was the standard in Ireland. This especially made me wonder about the 3 pin socket when these cables aren’t given out with the cars.

Worst of all was after I plugged in, I found the cable was not locking, i.e. could be taken out by anyone. I still left it plugged in and went on my merry way. I checked my Open Wings app and found that the charge point was not charging the car at all, and the car actually reported it was not plugged in. So when I got back to the car there was no extra charge.

I did see a G-Wiz car parked around the corner on the way back. These use 3 pin cables and possibly this is why the port was added. I’m not sure if the G-Wiz will ever be popular but as it can be plugged in anywhere it is a pity that one of the standard 7 pin port was removed.

On a happy note, ESB eCars have brought out an Android and iPhone App today for finding, using and getting details on CPs, including the new booking system that will be coming out. Here’s a link to the Android App.

Charge Update

posted on 22/02/2012

I received an email from Dervla in ESB eCars. The charge point in Rathmines is a temporary solution put in to replace the original that is broke. This model is built for the UK market. In the UK they use both the 3 pin domestic and 7 pin ports/cables but over there 3 pin is standard and 7 pin is considered rapid charge, as the 7 Pin ports can be up to 32Amps compared with the 3 pin 10/13Amp ports. This would of course charge a lot faster. This charge point is going to be replaced soon with dual port 7 pin models. There are a few of these about at the moment so don’t be surprised if you see one.

More Charging Woes

Posted on 27/02/2012

So after last weeks attempt to charge at Rathmines (Church Road) CP, I decided to give it another go. I needed to do some shopping and the car was down on charge. I went through all the instructions on the CP and couldn’t get it working. 10 minutes I tried. I was then questioned by a passby who had been watching me try and had to tell him I thought there was something wrong with it as it is normally a simple procedure. I gave up and decided to drive to Crumlin Shopping Centre, I could always charge there. No I couldn’t, this charger had red lights and some writing on the screen about an update. I decided not to go to St Agnes Road, as although there is a charger it has been off since December and looks like it will never be fixed. In the end I used a FCP in Topaz as a last resort. This is a terrible way to have things, driving around to find a working CP. How am I meant to tell people about the virtues of an EV when the infrastructure is that flaky. If the CPs are a bad design they should be changed to a more stable version. Over on the Irish EV Owners facebook page, there is a lot of people giving out at the moment about charging points, both standard and Fast. I hope something is remedied about these systems as there is no point having them if they can not be relied on.

Also on Friday, after the software upgrades, I got a call from Philip in ESB eCars. It turns out that my charger at home will need to be replaced as the company who make them, have sent bad/faulty batches to Ireland and they are replacing all the chargers.

Results Are In

Posted on 22/03/2012

So just a quick update on costs/mileage. You may remember at the start I gave certain numbers I was using as a base to compare against.

Here they are again to refresh your memory:

These were my numbers; Total Mileage – 3,949 miles/6,355km, Total Fuel – 392.70 litres/86.38 gallons, Total Cost – €550.03; Average Fuel Economy – 16.47kpl/46.52mpg; Average Fuel Consumption 6.07 litres per 100km; Cost Per Miles – €0.14; Cost Per Litres – €1.40

Well today I noticed I had reached the milestone. Well I actually went over it.

These are my new numbers; Total Mileage – 4,356miles/7,014km, Total Fuel – 968kWh, Total Cost – €87.07

Thats some difference, especially when you consider that when I started the average diesel price was 146.9cent and now the average diesel price is 159.9cent.

Based on the old price of 146.9cent, that’s a saving of €462.96; and if I based it on todays diesel price (which would have cost me €616.14; 392.91 litres x 159.9cent) it would be a saving of €529.07.

If prices stay the same as they are now then that’s a yearly saving of about €1587.21, but we know prices won’t stay were they are 🙂

Anybody living in a large town or that works within 30-40 miles each way of their job should seriously think of getting an EV for their next car, especially as I’m doing 65m/110km each way and getting on just fine.

Battery Replacement Questions

Posted on 30/03/2012

This post is because I receive a lot of questions about what it will cost to replace the battery on the Nissan Leaf and how long before I will need to replace it. I get a lot of negative/almost heated statements directed at me about the battery replacement vs real cost of savings. So here are a few thoughts and answers on it.

First off the Nissan Leaf doesn’t have a single battery, it has 48 battery modules. Each module can hold 0.5kWh of charge giving it a full capacity of 24kWh.

So…

How much will it cost me to replace the battery? I don’t know. I will not have to replace the whole pack unless I have a serious crash. I will have to replace probably some individual modules. Individual modules cost in the hundreds (at the moment) not the thousands.

When will I have to replace them? I don’t know this either. Nissan reckon that after 5 years standard driving of 12,000 miles/19,300km per year, there will still be 80% charge in them. This should still allow me to get to work in Dublin from where I live.

Will the replacement costs wipe out any savings? As from above I cannot answer this until I know how many cells and what price they are (at the time).

Now that that is out of the way, here are a few musings I have.

1. In five years time, the battery modules should have advanced so they should be able to hold more than 0.5kWh of power (meaning more range)

2. In five years time, the price of batteries should have come down (as it is doing). Meaning it should cost less than it does now.

3. Fuel prices are not going to come down, they will stay were they are (unlikely) or rise. This means more savings for me the more the fuel goes up.

4. Companies are looking into ways of using 2nd hand batteries as storage devices for houses and such (as after 10 years it is reckoned there will still 70% storage left). This means if I did have to replace my entire battery pack, I would want to keep the old battery pack or get some money back off the new ones.

5. It is also good to remember that in the five years of running a petrol/diesel car, you will have possibly (and most likely) ongoing parts replacements, some small/some big. It all depends on how much you drive. It costs money to replace, oil, oil filters, fuel filters, spark plugs, glow plugs, air filters, timing belts etc… Also a petrol/diesel is supposed to be serviced about every 10000kms, a Leaf is serviced every 30000km (3 times longer between services). The brakes also last approximately 5 times as long because of the electronic/regenerative braking.

All these different aspects make it very hard to work out the true savings between running an EV against running an ICE car.

For anyone interested here is a link from Nissan explaining a bit about the Leaf battery pack

A Tale of 2 Apps.. and 1 Charger

Posted on 19/04/2012

Nissan do not supply a European version of Carwings for the Android phone. This is annoying but not unworkable. I have so far been using Open Wings for my remote monitoring/administration of the car. A few months ago I also downloaded another app called Leaf control centre, but at the time it didn’t work in Ireland. Well since last week it has started working, so I decided to give a quick run-down of both apps.

Open Wings:

This app is nice looking with multiple tabs for the different options, such as percentage, charging details & air con details.

Pros:

Fast (very fast), this app is even faster than the online official carwings website.

Cons:

Cannot switch on aircon unless you buy the full version.

Fails on first opening app (this is on the Galaxy SG2 and may not be on other phones).

Never seems to give the correct distance available (says on screen 39km but in car this will say 79-85km)

LEAF Control Centre:

This app is a 1 page all info system with the exception that if you click on battery report you get estimates of charging times.

Pros:

Current information all contained in 1 simple page

Comes with aircon control ability

Gives a good breakdown of battery charge times based on different chargers

Also it shows estimated driving range per battery bar

Cons:

Slow, this is as slow as the online website

Only shows units in miles not in KM (no way of changing)

Estimated range in incorrect (just like open wings)

Both apps are good to have and you can choose amongst yourself which one you prefer. I use both 1, for checking up quickly and the other to start the aircon.

I believe that both apps go through the online server to get the details and this is why both seem to get incorrect EM, as the online site gets incorrect EM. I am not sure whether the car is sending the wrong data or the site is messing it up. Once the car is switched on, if you refresh any of the apps, the correct EM comes up.

With that said there are a few things I would like to see on any Nissan Leaf app:

Aircon Temperature:

As it can be warm during the day and cold in the morning, I like to turn down the temperature in the day (16c) but forget to reset it to a warm temperature (25c) for heating in the morning. The ability to do this from the app would be fantastic.

Aircon Mode:

The ability to choose where the air blows from, either windscreen, feet, front, etc.. would be a nice choice too.

Set Timers:

The ability to set the Charge Timer & Climate Timer from your app. This way if something changed you wouldn’t have to go to the car, switch it on and then set the timers to the new settings.

On a seperate note, 2 days ago my charger was replaced. I had been informed it was going to be changed a number of weeks ago but as I had no issues with the one I had already, I felt no need to rushed them. Anyway, the unit was installed while I was away from the house and while it was still live. All went well and I now have my new ESB eCars branded charger in place.

A Tale of 2 Appliances

Posted on 01/05/2012

So the car would not be much use to me if I couldn’t abuse it a little, just like the old car. Well I got to. My washing machine broke down last week and I had to get another. I was giving one second hand and decided to bring it from Dublin to home in the Leaf. I am glad to say I had no issues with space for fitting it in and no issues with range as I still got back home with it and had more kms left on the batteries. Actually with the Leaf having the battery weight on the bottom of the car it was still very handy to drive and corner. Unfortunately, when I plugged in the new (second hand) washer it was also broke. I bundled it back in the car and brought it to the recycling centre.

This morning I pulled into Topaz garage on Templeville Rd and started a quick charge. After a few minutes another Leaf pulled up beside me. That’s the first time I have seen a queue for the rapid charger. Luckily I was only charging for 5 mins and he only had to wait 1min and 30 secs before he could use it. It did make me realise something with these RC units. If another EV parks on the left side of the spot, the lead will not reach but reaches fine from the right hand side spot. Another metre or so of cable and you could use all 3 spots if needed.

Rapid Chargers – A Waste Of My Time

Posted on 08/05/2012

I am forever extolling the virtues of Rapid Chargers (RCs) but my last few encounters with them has really annoyed me.

Firstly, last Wednesday (02/05) I was working in Ballycoolin and decided to get a RC off Nissan – Hutton & Meade as it was just down the road. When I got there, there was a display Leaf sitting in the RC charging space (and it wasn’t charging). I moved my car in a few directions and got it so that it would be able to reach the cable from the other side. When I got out I realised that the RC was actually switched off. All the while a guy from Nissan is watching me and seems to have no intention of either moving the display Leaf or switching on the RC. I mean, what’s the point in having them if you don’t want us to be able to use them. This I thought was fairly lousy salesmanship from Nissan – Hutton & Meade. As I had enough charge to get back to Citywest and then some, I travelled back and plugged in.

That was annoying but it wasn’t the worst experience I had. On Friday I travelled around doing bits and bobs in Laois. At 3pm, I decided I would head up to Dublin to collect my son and would just get a charge at the Mayfield garage in junction 14 M7. When I got there, to my dismay the charger was broke. I didn’t have enough charge to get to Dublin or back home. I rang the number on it and told them it was an emergency. While I waited for a call back, I plugged in at one of the standard street chargers. I got a call and was told an engineer was on his way from Dublin. After 1hr 30mins of waiting, I had enough charge from the standard CP and headed off to Dublin. I received a message 10 mins after leaving that the charger had been fixed. When I got to Dublin I decided I would get a RC in the Templeville Road Topaz garage. I pulled up, plugged in, set the time I wanted to charge and pressed start. Nothing happened, I repeated this 6 times and it never once started charging. I was now really pissed off with Rapid Chargers and headed into town. The only problem was that I needed to collect my son from Grand Canal street and had next to nothing left. I used the ESB eCars eConnect App to locate a charge point in Fitzwillian Street lower. As I was driving to it (in eco mode) my display showed —. This is the first time in a long time I have had any anxiety about the car. All I was thinking was, am I gonna run out of power & will the charger be working when I get there. Luckily, I got there ok and the charger was working. I got the boy, waited about for 30 mins and then took the car back to Nissan HQ in Park West where there was a working RC. To say this experience was souring is an understatement. Thinking it through I have some thoughts on the current Rapid Charger infrastructure.

The RC in M14 showed an error with a date and time of 05/03/2012 18:19 (American Date System m/d/y). The error had happened an entire day before and it was not reported until I rang. This shows that the chargers do not communicate back to the engineers or ESB eCars when there is a fault.

I was lucky that M14 garage has standard chargers as well as the RC. Most garages with an RC, only have an RC. So if I was at one of these I would have been screwed. It is a must that at least a second RC is in place for when one goes down.

RCs are planned to be in place every 60 km of each other. This is not enough, I don’t generally think of getting a charge when I have 60+km but do when I’m at 25km. Every 20 km from each other would be better. There are numerous in Dublin but become more scarce when you go out into the country (the place you really need them).

The engineer for the RC had to come from Dublin. OK, Monasterevin isn’t that far but what if I was stuck in Monaghan or Athlone. The engineers need to be more spread out.

Lastly, who looks after the chargers in Topaz garages. There is no number to ring on them and yesterday I checked again and Templeville Road charger is still doing the same.

All these things coupled with issues like St Agnes Road CP being down since December (nearly 5 months) makes the whole infrastructure look terrible. It’s just not good enough to lash in CPs all over the place. They need to be maintained and have quick repair times on them for people to want and trust them.

On a lighter note, an EV driver called Brian Cullen successfully drove from Dublin to Cork and back using the RCs on the way, this weekend gone. He done it in a relatively quick time as well. So when the RCs work, they are very useful.

Reversing Time

Posted on 16/05/2012

A strange thing happened to me today while dropping my son to school. I have often seen the estimated range counter have more miles/kms on it when I arrive at a destination than was on it when I left. It all depends on the traffic and landscape. Today when I started off the car said 1:30hr to full charge but when I got to the school it said 1hr to full charge. Like I say, I have never seen the charge timer go in reverse before, only the estimated range counter.

Euro 2012 – Embarrassing & Annoying

Posted on 12/06/2012

First off, let me assure you that I am not talking of the Ireland teams performance on Sunday (you can keep your own opinions for that), I am speaking of the horrific time I had getting home on Friday in my hope of seeing the first Euro 2012 match.

So I was travelling home on Friday and was doing a good speed, not my normal 90kmh or so. I should know by now that I should try to be conservative but I wanted to miss nothing and the RC in Monasterevin had been upgraded and was surely not going to give me trouble. This along with an update from the EV owners group that ESB believe that the teething problems are coming to an end made me feel confident.

I arrived at the charger and all seemed well. I had 30km left and needed 56km (of course I wanted more just to be sure). The new upgraded RC has what looks like an RFID reader and you need to swipe your ESB eCars card to get the choice to start the charge. When I was about to swipe my card I noticed that the text on the reader was garbled, still I tried my card. The reader attempted to read the card but no luck. After 2 minutes the leds went red and I was given no choice of starting a charge. I tried repeatedly but to no avail. To say I was in foul humour was an understatement. This new improved upgraded charger was giving me hassle yet again. I called up and logged the error. Meanwhile I plugged in at the standard charger and waited, I mean there’s nothing else I could do other than maybe ring the EV collection number and get carried home. I received calls from the charging point maintenance team. Seems that the reader is actually a remote monitoring device so that they know before anyone else when there is an issue. Pity it cant report when itself is broken. I waited for 45-50mins and at this point I decided to give it ago. The car said 59km, I needed 56km so off I went. I normally would never give this ago as I like to have a good bit more on the EM. Still driving at a horribly slow speed in the left lane of the motorway with young arseholes behind me beeping instead of just over taking me I moved closer to home. I am glad to say I got to my destination with the — flashing. I only missed 20mins of the match too. This just shows the resiliency of the car. Later I was contacted to say the error was resolved, it was a lose wire on the monitoring device. Other than the inconvenience of having to wait and miss some of the match, the biggest problem was the pure embarrassment I felt driving at a piss poor speed so I could make it home. I have tried to explain to anyone interested in EV’s, that they are not slow and you don’t have to compromise on speed in one. Well I’d say anyone driving behind that got a good look and recognised the car was electric will probably never be interested in getting one. Hopefully they will just think it was my bad driving and not the car itself.

Washed Out

Posted on 19/06/2012

I forgot to mention in the last post that on Saturday (9th of June) I was driving to Roscrea with my son along some back roads. Half way there I came to a road that had become flooded from the tremendous rain the day before. This was something I was always a little worried about, floods and an electrically based car. I decided to give it a try. So I drove through it at a fairly good speed (I wanted the water to fly up around the sides for the boy to see). I’m glad to say I had no issues at all. The water in the dipped road was just above the lower spot lights and the car didn’t seem to care 1 bit about it. Here is a video of the Nissan Leaf being tested through a number of conditions including floods and being struck by lightning. Enjoy!

New Job, New Journey, New Results, New Charger Pain

Posted on 10/07/2012

Yesterday, I started my new job. Instead of Citywest it’s in Kilmainham and has added an extra 7km each way to journey (now 112km). This means finding a new CP. The closest CP to my current location is Heuston (St Johns Road). This is a rather handy car parking place as being an Irish Rail car park it is made for parking all day and is only 8 euro a day. Getting to CP was no problem at all, I easily made it on a charge (well it’s only 7km more) but once I arrived the pain started. I parked in the left side parking space, the CP is a long tall unit which I had not seen before. When I presented my card it repeatedly told me “Charging not possible with this card”. After about 12 attempts it finally opened up, the right side port. Yes it specifically opened the right side port instead of both which obviously is stupid as I was in the left parking space. This is not such an issue as the leads are easily long enough it’s just a silly operating oversight. So I plugged in my cable and then plugged it into my car as per the instructions on the CP. After it checked the connection it told me “charging is currently paused” and I could not get it to start. I placed my card up to the CP and removed the cable, I also removed it from my car and started again. This went on for 3 more times (including the 8-12 attempts at getting the card to be read properly) and finally it started charging. If you were in a rush for a train this would be a nightmare as it took me just over 10 mins to get this working. I’m just glad it wasn’t raining.

Now for some price comparison updates 🙂

I have just went over another 7000km (I reset my second counter after last time I reached 7000km on 22nd of march). Here are the results:

Mileage: 7023.0 km

Energy Used: 942.5 kWh

kWh price (my price is night rate): 0.09 Euro (9 cent per kWh)

Cost: €84.83*

As I did before I am basing this on my original car (the Peugeot 306 see above to recall the details) which had an Average Fuel Economy of 16.47kpl/46.52mpg and have got the average price of Diesel from the month of March to July through the AA website and pumps.ie, the average/mean price is 155.7.

Therefore:

For the same distance in Diesel, it would have taken 426.4 litres at a cost of €663.90. So for the second 7000km I have made a saving of €579.07.

*The cost is actually less because currently charging at roadside & rapid chargers is free (about 2 5ths of my charging would be done like this), but I believe it is better to show the full possible price. Now onto the next 7000km.

Even If It’s Broken, Don’t Fix It

Posted on 13/07/2012

I have been using the charger in St Johns Rd W (Heuston Station) for the past week. As you may have read from an earlier post, it takes a while for the RFID reader to catch the card and then again a few more tries before it allows access. So collecting the car yesterday, I met 2 engineers who were working on the issues of charging point, i.e. the unresponsive RFID & only the right port opening. Today, I went to plug in my car and have to say the RFID reader is very responsive and picked up on the card instantly. Unfortunately, since the repair work the reader only says “Charging is not possible with this card” and it doesn’t matter how many swipes you try. So, I decided to park in my office building (no point in paying the car park fees when there is no benefit). As there is no other charging point within a walkable distance from my current location of Kilmainham (closest is Crumlin SC and always covered by ICE cars), I guess I will have to find a quick charger on the way home today.

More Of The Same

Posted on 13/07/2012

After this mornings trouble with the CP in Heuston Station car park I was delighted to be told there is a CP literally across the road from Heuston outside the HSE building. I decided to drive down and plug in. As I pulled up everything looked good. I plugged in the car, it started charging and I went to pay the parking fee. After returning with €5 parking fee for 3 hours I noticed the car wasn’t charging. I repeatedly tried again and again to get it to charge, each time it started then stopped after about 5-10 seconds. So I had to leave the car there and will get no charge again (well expect from the parking charge). By now I am extremely annoyed with the ESB’s choice of these ChargeMaster points, not 1 of them is reliable. They would be better off just pulling them up and removing them from the charging map as they are useless.

Feeling Disconnected

Posted on 19/07/2012

I arrived on Tuesday morning to Heuston station to plug in and head to work. It was 6:15am in the morning so the car park was pretty empty (well very empty). As I pulled up to the EV charging spot I noticed a VW Golf parked in the right side spot.

Before you ask, no it wasn’t the new electric VW Golf that may come out next year, it was a standard ICE model. I don’t really have an issue with people parking in the spots. In a very busy car park where everyone rushes and shuffles for a space, any car that gets there first has a right to the spot (as long as it’s not marked EV only, which these spots aren’t). What does bother me is that there was easily 10+ spots to the left of the charger and more to the right, never mind the 100+ spots free scattered around the rest of the car park and this inconsiderate driver (I’m trying to be polite) chooses to take up a charging point spot. I mean what’s the mentality in that. This wasn’t the only annoyance of my day. When I returned back to the car at the end of the day, I noticed the Golf was gone. More importantly I noticed my cable had been unplugged from the charger and was sitting on the ground. I started to think that maybe this driver beside me was one of those Jeremy Clarkson-ite EV hating people, who are under this delusion that electric vehicles are bad and in some way erode or attack their lifestyle. That they had chosen to park in one of the spots and later remove the cable just to somehow disrupt the onset of EVs into the world. I was of course, completely wrong. The cable had been removed by a Siemens worker who had been notified by the charger that it had a fault. He/She had to remove the cable while the CP was being worked on and didn’t plug the cable back in as I would not have been able to remove it later (because the locks only disengage with a swipe from the originating card). I discovered this by enquiring to Dervla in eCars. In her usual helpful way, she tracked down the reason for the disconnection. She also informed the engineers that it was not the policy of ESB eCars, that any personal vehicle of a user should be touched (including the cable) by any engineer and that in future they should inform ESB eCars of the maintenance work before hand so eCars can inform users and update the charging map. I would just like a card on the windscreen telling me they did it, so as to stop my paranoia getting the better of me. 🙂

No Response

Posted on 31/07/2012

Yesterday, I pulled up to a CP in Rathmines only to find the 2 LED bands bright red. I knew it was down. I stepped out and took down the details of the error on screen. It seemed a firmware issue and last code was PPP’d failed to start. I rang the number on the CP, the (01) number rather than the (1890) number. I choose the error reporting section and was greeted by some soothing music. 12-15 mins later the music was no longer soothing and I was well annoyed. There doesn’t seem to be much point in having a reporting phone number if no one is answering. Now to be honest, this is the first time I have ever had to wait anywhere near that long and usually get through to an operator straight away. Also it was at approximately 13:30, so maybe they where on lunch but I thought the line was manned all the time. Anyhow, I was unable to report the error at that time but brought it up with some guys who will be heading to meet ESB eCars soon.

Charging In Bray

Posted on 07/08/2012

So I had to stay up in Dublin this weekend and as I was bored I decided to go to Bray, Wicklow with the boy on Sunday. Bray has recently unveiled 6 new chargers in the space of 2 km, so it should be a doddle. First off let me say, Bray Town Council and ESB eCars deserve a medal for the commitment they have provided. It is the biggest support I have seen from a town council since I started driving my Leaf. It was great to see all the charge points about and it would have been perfect if not for a few points, which hopefully Bray TC will take into consideration. Below is a list of the charge points in order as I approached them. (Also it is worth remembering that it was a very busy day in Bray.)

1. Strand Road (Outside Bray Head Hotel). When I got here the 2 spots where filled with ICE cars, so I couldn’t use. It would be worth colouring the parking spots to make them more noticeable as an EV spot.

2. Strand Road (across from Sealife). Yet again it was filled with ICE cars making it unusable. Same suggestion as above might help.

3. Quinsborough Road. Even though there was plenty of car spaces all along this road. Right in front of the charger was parked an ICE car. Although there was space for me to pull up and plug in, the spot beside the CP is actually a bus lane meaning that this CP location only allows for 1 car to charge even though it’s a dual port CP.

4. Novara Road. As I pulled up to this spot there was no cars in front of it and it allowed space for 2 cars. Unfortunately this charger was down with no power going to it. It seems ICE cars are somehow attracted to the light of the CPs :). I called it in and got an extremely quick reply from Cara, although it did seem like there was no power at all going to the CP.

5. Eglinton Road. This CP is on a 1-way street which I went down the wrong way. Although I could plug in here, I realised that this (as well as the Quinsborough road CP) is in a crazy location. It is a dual point CP but is in a location which only allows access from one car. If you were to use the second port you would have to block an access road and the cable would not reach properly from a spot in front of my car. See the photos below.

6. Lidl’s Car Park. This is an absolutely wonderful spot. It must be one of the best I’ve seen. It’s hidden away and far enough away that it will probably never get blocked. Also it’s one of the Siemens chargers which are generally very good.

Quick run-down of all the things that would help make life easier.

Paint all CP spots in the standard green and if they are to be dedicated then actually fine offenders using the spots.

Move both the Eglinton and Quinsborough CPs to locations that properly allow access for 2 cars.

Although Bray TC & ESB eCars are doing a wonderful job in Bray a few changes or considerations would make this a fantastic area for EVs. With that said they still deserve to be commended for the work so far.

On a seperate note, I went to park at the City West SC charging point on Saturday. Only to find a poxy Taxi Driver had parked there even though the spots are well painted and sign posted as EV only. He parked in such a way (well over the line), I had to squeeze my car into the second spot. After I plugged in, he came out and said he would move the car. He did move, to a spot about 3 places down. Why not do that first off. The real problem is that Citywest SC have a clamp for people using spots incorrectly but they never use it. I have seen tons of cars park in  the Disabled Parking spots (right in front of the security) and never have I ever seen them being clamped. How can they expect people to respect the spots if they won’t punish the offenders.

First Battery Check… Not Yet

Posted 21/09/2012

So after reading and chatting on the Irish EV Owners group, I was informed that I should get my batteries checked at 15000km and that the check would be free. As I am at 20000km so far, I decided to get it sorted. I rang up Barlo Kilkenny to arrange a time to get the check done. Tom the service guy informed me that this is incorrect, I needed to get a check on my car (Batteries Included) after the first 12 months or at 30000km. This was what it says on the sticker on my windscreen and as Tom informed me, is what he was getting from Nissan (He was checking the warranty on my VIN live from Nissan). So I happily told him I will see him in December. As a side note, he told me there was a newer version of the Leaf Manual that I probably had not received yet and that maybe the 15000km number was quoted in the old Manual.

Exclusive Chargers

Posted on 21/09/2012

So yesterday I was visiting Bargain Town on the Old Belgard Road. This is not a busy area and I noticed that the Renault beside it had a dual port charging point right at the front, easily accessible from the Path/Road. I decided to try and see if I could use it. Unfortunately although it had an ESB eCars logo on it, when I swiped my card it told me that “Authentication/Authorisation Failed”. This has happened to me in both Port Laoise and Liffey Valley as well. Considering Renault & Nissan are pretty much in bed together when it comes to EVs, I think it is ridiculous that Renault have exclusive chargers that normal ESB eCar users can’t use. I’m sure if I walked inside and asked, it would be allowed and someone would unlock it, but what about when I want to leave, do I have to wait for the same person to unlock me. Surely it is in Renault’s best interest to allow all EVs to charge there. It shows they are friendly to all EVs and to people walking by shows the car charging. It let’s them know that just because they have a Nissan, Renault, Mitsubishi etc., that they are not locked into that brand when it comes to the infrastructure. I think all these chargers should be opened to the public and also mentioned on the ESB eCars charging map & App. This also goes for Nissan, it’s great that you have Rapid Chargers but these are not much use if they are in the back of the building where it is not accessible after 6pm.

Charging ChargeMaster

Posted on 27 September 2012

… with a crime, that is. Yesterday, I got a space at Crumlin Shopping Centre (not an easy task) and thought I’d plug in while doing a bit of shopping. I went through the usual ridiculous procedure to get the fast charge door opened and I plugged in. Of course, it didn’t work, what was I thinking? I took out the lead and attempted a second try, this time no matter what I did it would not open the fast charge point, only the 3pin door. The reason, it thought the fast charge point was in use. At this point, I am utterly dismayed by the fact ESB eCars still have these things in the ground. They should rip them up, burn them, melt them, do whatever they have to to get rid of them. They are entirely the worst part of the charging infrastructure. They must be offline 90% of the time. They are an embarrassment, I mean an actual personal embarrassment. Standing there, while people watch you struggle to get it working or it not being even on is embarrassing, especially if you want to advocate the use of EVs. I do not know what the official word is about these charging points but I think it is time that ESB gave us an official response about it.

Just to clarify my point. Go to the ESB eCars site and have a look at the lovely purple charge points (the ones not working). Just about all are ChargeMaster.

Personally, I am irked repeatedly by some:

St Johns Road West: offline

Crumlin SC: Doesn’t work correctly (if at all)

Junction 14, M7: offline (I reported this on 15th August, it’s still the same; and it’s the only hope you have if the RC is offline…which I am glad to say has been working brilliantly for a long time now)

St Agnes Rd, Crumlin: This thing has been offline since before Christmas 2011 (Santa please bring me a new charge point)

The ESB eCars should officially let us know whats the plan for these chargers and at least take them off the map. I mean what’s the point of having them on it anyway. Seriously, it really annoying.

It Happens Us All –  Even ESB eCars

Posted on 06/10/2012

First off, I think I should clarify something. Most of my posts in the last while have all been of things going wrong or of suggestions about improvements. This may make it seem like I am being negative about the EV and the infrastructure. This is frankly not true. The nature of writing this blog means that I only update it if there is something to update. If I was to update it everyday to say “Successfully made to work again” or “Rapid charger in Templeville worked fine” it would get very boring and also create information overload, possibly causing important issues I have to be lost. Take it from me, the fact I am not updating this blog everyday is because the Nissan Leaf is a fantastic car and the charging infrastructure is very good (and getting better all the time). I am yet to have to be towed away from anywhere except for the 1 time when I completely miscalculated the journey (shame on me). I hope this is clear.

On Wednesday, I pulled into Junction 14 Monasterevin to get a quick charge. I needed it, as I only had 10km left and needed to travel about 60km. When I pulled in I saw 2 Nissan Leafs parked in the RC spots. I noticed they weren’t plugged in and this caused me to think that they were just being ignorant, I was wrong (sorry about that). When I went inside I met the 2 ESB eCars representatives and they informed me that the charger was down. They had rang Cara and they were on their way from Dublin. Unfortunately as the standard chargers have not worked here for a while I resigned myself to wait with the others. Speaking to the representatives, they told me that they were dropping off a car to one of the new eCar Ambassadors. I thought to myself, this is not a great start to be telling an up and coming eCar user about. Anyhow, as annoying as it was to have to wait for Cara to arrive it was also informative. Just speaking to the guys I found out a few things that I had voiced my opinions about before in this blog.

Locations of chargers; I had always thought that ESB just choose some stupid spots to place them in. Not true. ESB eCars could offer up to 40 locations (could be more, could be less) to any county/town/city council and then get back from them maybe only 4 locations that they would be allowed to install them in. So if you think there is a charger in a stupid place or should be one somewhere else, speak with ESB eCars then ring and hassle the council. They are the ones letting us down.

Also, it turns out Leo Varadkar is getting an EV on trial for a week. Hopefully if he sees the issues we have (like ICE cars blocking spots, not enough RCs or charging points, locations like shopping centres that would be great for a charger etc..) he will get the finger out and do something about it.

My favourite bit of information. It looks like we may be seeing the end of the useless chargemaster units. During the chat, it was explained to me that the reason chargemasters have been around so long is because chargemaster repeatedly informed ESB that they were fixing them with new software, newer models etc… By the time ESB eCars had enough (and we had enough), they had to wait for new charge units from a new supplier. Thank fuck for that. I can’t wait to see these pieces of dirt replaced by decent chargers.

The 2 chargers at Bewleys & RedCow hotels not working.  It turns out that the electric closet/room was locked when these were put in. An electrical contractor was supposed to switch these on later but forgot.

All good things to know.  Anyhow, the Cara engineer showed up and after a minute or 2 informed us that he thought the charger was down and that a 2nd hand one from another unit would have to come down from Dublin, but luckily after a few minutes of Technomancy he found the issue and was able to replace a small component that had caused it. I chatted to him and the person from eCars for a while longer while the car charged. The conversation changed what would have been a bad afternoon into a quite informative one.

I also met and got the number for Liam Fitzpatrick, he’s a manager for Junction 14 Monasterevin and said to ring him anytime that the chargers are down and he’ll make some noise. So also good to know.

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Numbers

Posted on 02/11/2012

So I am actually late on this update. I went past another 7000km on the 20th of October (I’m on more than 8000km today). So quickly here is the pic followed by the numbers followed by the savings 🙂


Time Frame: 10/07/2012 to 20/10/2012

Distance Travelled: 7077 km (4397 miles)

Power Used: 1045.7 kWh

Cost of Power: €94.11c

Average cost of a litre of Diesel in that period: €1.55c

Number of Litres of Diesel needed to cover the same distance in old car: 429.6litres

Prices of Diesel equivalent: €665.88

Saving on Fuel: 571.77

So the saving are still looking good.

Calculations are – Power: night rate of 9c per kWh, amount of Diesel needed: 16.47 km per litre, Fuel price average: taken from aa roadwatch website and “meaned across the 4 months”

Cross Country Fun

Posted on 06/11/2012

So on Monday just gone I headed down to Fermoy Co. Cork. As I was in no immediate rush I decided to bypass most of the motorway and travel across country.

First stop Templemore, this charger was located in a good location away from the train station, ground was coloured green and everything worked perfectly. I only stayed a minute or 2 and had a chat with the train station ticket guy.

Second stop Thurles, again another great location away from the majority of parking spots, ground coloured green and charger worked fine. Stayed even less time here.

Third stop, Cashel. This one I was worried about. I would need this as if Fermoy was down, I wanted to make sure I had enough to get back to Cashel again. I had heard stories of this FCP and that it was nearly always filled with ICE vehicles. Well, when I got there it was filled with ICE vehicles except 1 spot that I had to squeeze into. The charger worked fine and I was delighted but why Topaz cannot paint the ground green is beyond me. As the charger is right at the front of the shop (one of the nearest spots) it is always gonna be filled up with inconsiderate arseholes. I was there for about 25 mins and am under the impression that the car parked in it was an actual worker of the shop (I could be wrong though).

So on to Fermoy, I travelled along steadily but didn’t realise exactly how hilly the road gets from Cashel to Fermoy. When I got there I didnt have enough to get back to Cashel on the rest of the charge. To my dismay the charger didn’t work. It looked fine but when I swiped my card it beeped and stared at me. I called the ESB number and after a short while I got a call back for Carra. They tried to reset the charger and I repeatedly attempted to test it for them (This was annoying as it was cutting into my time in Fermoy). Anyway finally they conceded that an engineer would need to come out and have a look at it. As Carra are based in Dublin and I was in Cork, it took 3 hours for the engineer to get there. Luckily I had better things to be doing than sitting waiting and the time flew by. When I got back to the charger it had been fixed and I tested it with the engineer. So I plugged in and attempted to wait the 1-1hr 30mins I would need to charge to have enough to get back to Cashel (I made sure I had extra with them hills). Thankfully I was rescued from my wait and had a good time instead of a boring vigil staring at Supervalu car park wall. What was worse was that I was told the issue was caused by the fact that the CP had recently been given a firmware upgrade but hadn’t been rebooted afterward. This simple task is what caused me so much hassle. The carra engineer texted me from Cashel when he reached it to let me know it was up, very nice of him.

So what can be learnt from this

Well more FCPs are needed along the motorway (every 30 km or so)

Also we seriously need engineers all over the country to be able service the charging points (not in the future, now, we have charge points around the country now so we need the engineers now)

Finally Topaz, for fuck sake paint the ground green

Fermoy Own Good

Posted on 20/11/2012

(See what I did there)…

Firstly some bad 😦

I decided to go for something to eat in Rathmines on Saturday. I checked my eCars app and was off to plug in at Church Road. When I got there, there was a very impressive looking, very green Pod Point charging post. I was delighted, the charge master was gone. When I got out of the car I discovered that there seemed to be no power at all. I called up and explained that it was down, I was told that earlier that day it had been reported as being down. I asked why it still showed on the App as being available. I was just told that he would ask “them” to update the map/app. I only asked this because after my last trip to Fermoy, I was informed the map/app had shown this as down for a few days (I guess my cache was not update).

Now for the Good 🙂

Yesterday I traveled back down to Fermoy from Laois, I dropped into Cashel on the way for a coffee and a quick charge. I got a spot behind the charger as the 2 spots in front of it were full. While I was in the car eating a packet of crisps, the guy who parked directly in front of the charger got into his car and drove away. I had seen him inside, he was talking to the staff in Topaz and appears to be a manager/area manager for them. I mean if we have to put up with staff parking in the spot how can we except standard ICE users to stay out of it. Actually while in the car, another driver pulled into the spot but when he saw me looking over at him he pulled back out and choose one of the numerous none EV spots. Anyhow after my charge I ambled on down to Fermoy with no problems at all. I got to the SuperValu, the space was clear and the charger was working perfectly. I plugged it in and went about my business. I actually plugged it in later to finish off when I came back into the town to have something to eat with a friend. I got to do a bit of geocaching and later on drove back up to Cashel on my way home. Again, I got a spot behind the charger as both front spots were taken. I had a nice chat with a friendly old man who was very inquisitive about the car. Finally after a few minutes I headed home. So I was delighted to be able to have had such a good/fun day and I didn’t have to deal with any issues, with the small annoyance of the EV spot at Topaz still not marked for EVs only.

A Year In The Life

Posted on 28/12/2012

So it’s been just over a year now since I got my Nissan Leaf Electric Car. I have driven just under  27000km in it so far and over this time I have had lots of different situations arise some bad but mostly good. I can say I absolutely love the car and don’t believe I will ever switch back to an ICE vehicle.

Anyhow, here is my final end of year post, it is a run down of Pros, Cons and suggestions with having an EV as your daily primary vehicle.

The Car (Pros):

  • It’s extremely cheap to run (I have saved €1500+ over using diesel/more if I had previously been on Petrol). It’s also cheap to keep up, as there are no oils/spark plugs etc… to get replaced. I recently had it’s yearly service done and the only filter needed was a pollen filter.
  • It’s easy to drive, quick to accelerate, smooth as fuck and extremely quiet. It’s also a roomy car and very comfortable to be in. Oh, and it corners great because of the low center of gravity from the battery position. There’s also plenty of space to carry goods in both the boot and with the seats down, I’ve had washing machines, rabbit hutches, christmas trees and all sorts of things for recycling fill up the back.
  • Full accompaniment of gadgets, bluetooth, navigation, rear colour camera etc…
  • After 1 year of driving there appears to be no issue or degradation with the batteries. I will need to go back for a full capacity check in the new year and will update on that separately.
  • Tax rate (now A0) has gone down from €156 to €120, the A1 rate previously at €156 has gone up to €170 so the saving it better again.
  • All in all it’s a standard working driveable car.

The Car (Cons):

  • The mp3 music system is horrible (look at my earlier post on this). It seriously needs a firmware update to make it more usable.
  • The navigation buttons (on screen) are too small for when you are trying to press them and choices stay on screen for too long (like when you choose a destination, it takes a bit of time for the destination set text to disappear and start the route.)
  • The interior colour is absolutely woeful if you are anyone but a clean freak with no kids. It will pick up marks and dirt almost as soon as you leave the showroom (I believe the newer models to come out will come in a range on interior colours)
  • Slow for charge points to end up in the navigation system. I believe this is more of an NavTeq issue though. Also no updates so far for the map, my map still hasn’t got the M7/M8 extension from Port Laoise to Cashel on it.
  • During the service on the car I was asked did I want to have the windscreen wipers changed. I said no as it was 47 euro, that’s crazy for wipers. I’ll buy cheap ones.

Most situations you have will be with the infrastructure (there are many different reasons for this and cannot be blamed on any one group or company)

The Infrastructure (Pros):

  • The infrastructure is very good and is always getting bigger and more spread out. With the new 2.1m funding Ireland has received from Europe this should only get better next year, with more FCPs being spread out across the country.
  • The charge points are simple to use and have a good general reliability (getting better all the time as well). With the exception of ChargeMaster posts, although I will state that of late they have been working more and more for me.
  • The hotel charge points are fantastic, the more these spread the better. Stay over night and your car is fully charged and ready when you wake up.

The Infrastructure (Cons):

  • Parking spots. A lot of times you cannot get access to the charging posts because ICE vehicles are blocking it or the location is a bit ridiculous. This is caused by inconsiderate arseholes, who fill the spots with their cars but it is not entirely their fault, the government/local council need to paint these spots and actually fine the drivers. The smart transport bill is suppose to help with this but the Minister for Transport has yet to bring it out (even though he had a loan of an EV early this year).
  • Locations: Most charging is done at home and very few of us will have the benefit of getting a charger put into our work place so the locations of chargers are very important. They need to be more spread out and they need to be thought out better. Libraries, Cinemas, Shopping Centres, Hotels, Swimming Pools/Gyms, Car Parks & Tourist Attractions are all good locations as you stay a while at these places. Also choosing FCP locations is important too. I asked about an FCP in the Topaz station at Kill on the M7 (great location for one), I was told one was being put in at Naas. That’s ludicrous, you want me to pull off the motorway into a busy town to stop and quick charge instead of pulling into a motorway Service Station located on the M7/N7. This goes against the idea of quick charging. Finally, more chargers need to be spread out across the country. Simply look at the charge map on ESB eCars site and there are parts of the country with significant dead zones while others appear to have an abundance. This could be that some local councils are more helpful than others but I don’t know what is the reason.
  • Maintenance: It’s great to have 1000+ charging points but it’s pretty useless if they are down (obviously I am not saying that at any point all of them have been down). Generally the dual head charging points go down together so that’s considered 2 charge points down. Also the old 3 pin chargers aren’t really much use as charge points, I mean if you want to mark them as charge points why not give out the 3 pin granny cables and announce you have more than a million charge points installed because houses all have these. Also if a charge point is down, it is imperative that it is looked at that day because the charging app doesn’t get updated fast enough and having to sit and wait hours for someone to come out and have a look at the post is not a good enough solution. Also having a charge point down for more than a year is a disgrace (I am speaking of the charge point in St Agnes Road, Crumlin – which has been down since early December 2011)
  • Charge points popping up in the charging app or map that are not ready yet (Under engineering design/to be commissioned, i.e. Rathfarnham Main Street). Just leave them off until they are fully ready and tested.
  • Charge Points in dealers hidden away where they are inaccessible or exclusive to the garage (Renault in this case)

You will notice that the lists are all very small, this is because there really is nothing more or less to say about life having an EV. Yes, there can be obstacles that may impede your use but to be honest they never actually really stop your use, they are more an inconvenience than a showstopper.

What can be done to improve the uptake/use of EVs in Ireland:

The media could start giving correct unbiased information. Having to watch shows like Top Gear literally lie about the way a car performed or setup situations in such a way so as to show the car in bad light is ridiculous for this day and age. It’s not just foreign media either, repeatedly I have attempted to have a text message read out on “The Last Word” showing the other side of having an EV only to not have it read or the question not put to one of the so called experts, while I have to listen to crap like “it takes how long to charge” and “the range will be sufficient for a very small portion of the population”, as if charging it for 6-8 hours while your in bed actually affects you, and as if 80% of the population drive more than 50 miles each way to and from work. When the petrol prices were a big topic my text on running an EV was ignored, when I replied about range being sufficient for most people it was ignored & when I tried to show how motor tax on an EV had gone down this year it was ignored. This type of 1 sided information is not very helpful at all and for anyone who uses the standard 3 statements; They are too expensive, the infrastructure isn’t there & the batteries don’t last long enough – think back a  few years, you were saying that about mobile phones. Now they are everywhere, it will happen the same in this situation.

The government say they want to be environmental and to help with the uptake of EVs in Ireland. So why don’t they show a bit of initiative then. Make motor tax on EVs nothing. Make parking free and the spots be painted and only for EV use. Make tolls free for EVs. I personally don’t think that having use of the bus lanes is going to change anything, they are barely monitored as it is. Now, you tell someone living in Blanchardstown, who works in Stillorgan, that they wont have to pay for the toll twice a day, nor will they have to pay for that 8 hours parking and that the parking spot will be clear for them, that there’s no yearly motor tax and that the price of doing the journey will be significantly lower. You’ll see how many people consider an EV next time it comes to buying a car. I mean, when there is a significant uptake of EVs, then they can tax us. At the moment they’re hardly making much on us.

More FCPs are needed in motorway service stations or just off them. Busy towns and built up areas are counterproductive.

Granny cable inclusion, I know all the reasons and excuses for and against these but they are just another thing that helps in giving you the confidence to be able to go where you want. I use mine quite a bit when I’m up in Dublin as the nearest chargers to where I stay are quite a bit away.

The smarter transport bill. This needs to get sorted and councils need to act by painting and signposting that a spot is EV only. About 2 weeks ago I stopped in Stillorgan for something to eat after bringing my friend to the hospital. The CP on Old Dublin Road was covered by ICE cars but just down from it there was free spots. I have seen this in numerous places, Rathmines, Crumlin SC etc.. It’s like drivers are attracted by the lights. Also a week later I drove slowly to Nissan HQ from Crumlin on – – – to charge, this was because I knew I wouldn’t get a spot just down the road at the Crumlin SC and there’s no point in even mentioning St Agnes Road charger.

New CPs need to be spread out a bit more. There are a lack of charge points in North Dublin and also in other parts of the country. I think it would help if you could look at the map and see charge points more even spread out making you trust that you will be able to safely make it to one.

Exclusivity of chargers in Renault garages needs to stop & also in Dundrum Shopping Centre, (this could be a prime location). If they are worried someone will lock the charger and they will not be able to use it, surely they can be made it an override RFID card. Also if Nissan dealerships have to hide an FCP in the back where it is inaccessible for large parts of the day, they should have at least a charger outside like in Deansgrange but Kilkenny’s setup is definitely the best way to go.

Repair engineers need to be spread out more around the country. This is just to speed up fixing of broken charge points. I believe this will be coming in soon.

Finally, more local councils need to make the effort (like Bray) in getting charge points in. Especially in locations that they want people to visit, public libraries etc…

So after all that I re-iterate again, although there are places for improvement and sometimes an obstacle can pop up in your way, I have truly loved having my Nissan Leaf this year. It was well worth the money and I cannot envisage going back to ICE. Everyone who takes a turn in it is always amazed by it.

I look forward to the next year and with the improvements coming all the time expect it to be even more pleasurable than 2012.

Slower Is Quicker

Posted on 03/01/2013

It’s nice to see I can still be surprised by the car. Today I was a little tired heading to work so instead of the usual 85kph on the cruise control, I set it to 75kph and headed off. I first noticed something up when the 1st bar on the battery range indicator disappeared at 14.3km into the journey (I’d usually get about 11km). By the time I got to my midway point (Junction 14 on the M7) the car had only 4 bars gone, this is 54km into the journey. I watched the 5th bar disappear at 61.7km. I continued on at this speed all the way to Newlands Cross where I cancelled the CC and continue at the speed limits (as I usually do). I was amazed when I arrived into work. The car’s tripometer had 110km on it but with 3 bars to go it showed a range of 59km still. If I’d kept driving would I have got the fabled “160km” out of a charge :p The temperature this morning was 10°C but even at this, it’s a large increase in range just because I drove that bit slower. Also I drove the entire journey in D mode, not in Eco mode. I usually quick charge on my way up so I have enough to reach the quick charger again on the way home. This is because (as of yet) there is no charge point within an acceptable walking distance from Kilmainham, where I work. I believe there is one going to be placed at Kilmainham Gaol, but I won’t hold my breath. What made going slower quicker was that with the not having to stop and with keeping the steady pace I arrived in work 15-20 mins earlier than normal. So that was a nice surprise to start the new year, I wonder would it get better again if done in Eco mode?

Amount left after arriving at work
Amount left after arriving at work

Summit Came Up’

It’s been a while but as I had promised here’s the results of the Battery Capacity Check. I got it done on the 10/01/2013.

Battery Test Report

As can be seen from the report, all’s good in battery town. Considering I fast charge my car quite often I was pretty happy with the 3/5 stars I got.

Also this month, I was at the Smart Transport Summit & the Nations Electric Vehicles Summit (as a guest speaker). The summit’s were both very good with lots of different parties from all different industries representing. I got to question the Minister for the Environment on why he wasn’t pressing the Minister for Transport on the Smarter Transport bill. As long as this is not in place the Environment Minster’s remit of getting more CPs and EVs on the road is being seriously delayed. He informed us all that he will push the Transport Minister on this (I won’t hold my breathe). My own speech was fairly slapdash, as it wasn’t well prepared and mostly was just statements and stories from my experiences and opinions on having and EV. We had members of the press there too. I asked one why they compare the CO2 levels from the petrol car exhausts to the levels created in making the electricity for EVs; instead of comparing the CO2 levels from the full extraction/production/refining/shipping/transport of the oil all the way to the exhausts, to the amount used in making the electricity. I didn’t get a reply on this (to be honest there was a lot of questions bouncing around at this time). One journalist made the statement that EVs would be good as a second vehicle and based this on the fact they don’t have a high enough range. I queried him on why he consider this secondary when the primary use of vehicle to date is to drive to/from work or shops etc (all things of a very close range) and secondary use was to go on once- or twice-off long journeys and Sunday drives (no reply on this again, but like I said there were lots of questions at this time and they couldn’t answer all).

Some side events to the summit were; I got to try out Carra’s new web-based app for controlling charging in public charge points (keep your eye out for it) but even more exciting for me was to get a quick journey in a fully electric truck. Celtic Linen is the company that have this. It was surprisingly nippy even for a truck weighing 10ton loaded.

Celtic Linen EV Truck

Continuing with the good fortune, I was informed that with the help of MCC Controls, the Hilton Hotel in Kilmainham is putting in a charge point in the next few weeks. This is excellent news for me as it will cut my RC charging by quite a bit as I wont need to use it when traveling up or down from work. I also was asked to test out one of the MCC units and it is a real good choice for hotels. The reason I say this is because it comes with a tethering connection (so no messing in the boot to find your cable), but more importantly the cable is 5 metres long (making it easily accessible from side parking spots even if some Muppet has parked in the designated spot) and finally it has a reset trip switch (excellent for if there is a problem with it and you want to reset as a quick fix). So all going good I shall be using this soon.

Finally, I will be attempting to head up to Strabane, Co. Tyrone in a couple of weeks time. This is a 241km journey each way and am planning on doing this with a friend of mine. If all goes well we will make it with no issues and I will report that, if it doesn’t I will report that. It will all depend on a few RCs along the way (Navan, Monaghan & Lifford) to make sure we get there and back. There is a new RC going in at Castlebellingham which if up at the time could be an alternative way instead of Navan. Well wish me luck.

Seems To Be Moving Backwards

Posted on 21/03/2013

Tomorrow I finish my current job and head back to an old company. This works out well for me as the distance is shorter and there is a charger across the way. Although the new charger in the Hilton hotel is brilliant at the moment. So I am moving backwards to an old job. Of course, it also seems like the infrastructure is starting to move backwards. More and more, new charge points are coming online (like Walkinstown and Glasnevin) but more and more the spots are getting worse. Like the charge points at Crumlin Shopping Centre and Stillorgan Shopping Centre, these locations are useless. You will almost never get the spot, unless you are lucky enough to be passing at 4am in the morning and need it (I passed both Walkinstown and Crumlin everyday this week at 6:15am and they are always full of ICE cars). This is not the only thing that seems to be going backwards, last year as the infrastructure improved so did the response times on getting units fixed. Now it seems to have slid again, I was informed in January that St. Agnes Road charge point would be replaced in 4-6 weeks & 11 weeks later, no change. Making this CP down for more than 15months now (1Year & 3 months). The excuses for this must be running out by now. Also 1 side of the CP at Citywest has been down for quite a long time and has been reported repeatedly, it’s still down. With the added bonus of the other side going down for me yesterday when I tried to use it. The constant repetitiveness of giving the same details over and over again to the eCars Fault Line everytime you wish to log a fault with them, coupled with the fact you are charged approximately 35c per minute to tell them their service is down is truly frustrating. The most annoying thing that seems to be moving backwards though is information. We (Irish EV Owners) used to be kept up to date once a month with new CPs and changes that was coming on stream or being changed. This seems to have nearly dried up as it is few and far between updates (we have suggested twitter updates but no luck so far). It would seem the only freely available regular update is from the eCars Ambassador blogs (a truly unbiased report I’m sure :s). With that said, it’s not all bad news. There is to be a roll-out of a number of FCP/RCs in the near future as a part of the EU funding project. Places like Castlebellingham and the service stations on the M1 will be usable very soon (let’s hope they are marked for us to use only). This roll-out should allow for a much improved cross country infrastructure for driving your EV. Again, more information on them going in and dates for going live would be appreciated. Below is pic of what I had to do to use the CP at Stillorgan the other evening. Please note this is nothing to do with ESB eCars, its all Leo Varadkar and his complete disregard for the EV community by not pushing forward the smarter transport bill.

The only possible way I could get to use this CP at Stillorgan. Park on the path.

Some Clarifications

Posted on 24/04/2013

I have not put up a post in a while now. The reason is as I have said before if I have nothing new to bring then there is no point in posting for the sake of it. Since my last post, I have happily travelled to and from work everyday without any complications to stop me.

In saying that, I need to clarify a few points.

After reading multiple posts lately on sites such as boards.ie, it has become very apparent that my blog is being used by people in their utterly ridiculous arguments on whether EV’s or ICE’s are better, practical, useful etc… These arguments are entirely based on people’s own opinions and likes. So for fuck sake stop using my words to try to justify your own agendas. I don’t care whether you want to buy an EV or not, I don’t care if you think they are the future or not, I don’t care if you think they are more or less fun than a conventional ICE and I especially do not give a fuck whether you think they are ready for the mainstream/ready take over ICEs/are better than ICEs.

If you don’t like EV’s, then stay the fuck away from them and the forums about them. Stop pushing your bullshit arguments and dislikes on the users who are happy with them, the users who it does work for. If you don’t like eating garlic, don’t eat it but also don’t go on to every veg growing website or garlic loving website spouting about the “evils” of it.

After that rant, I’ll get on to the clarifications. I will do this in points:

  1. The reason I started driving the Leaf at 85kph on the motorway was because I drove the Peugeot diesel at this speed (I done this because diesel at the time and even more so now costs a huge amount of money)
  2. I drove it this way for 3 or 4 sets of 7000km. This was so I could show the difference between the 2 cars, at the same speeds, doing the same journey and be able to give accurate fuel cost differences.
  3. I drive to work and back (105km each way) nearly every day, I rarely had an issue at the start when I needed to use the Rapid Charger and I have never had an issue getting to or from work since they put the charge point in Citywest. (Please stop taking the few times in the past when I had issues as arguments to completely degrade EV’s as a useful option for others).
  4. Know that my testing period is over and I have produced the cost savings a number of times, I drive to and from work at approximately 105kph. It takes about 1 hour 15 mins, as I do the last 30km on smaller roads and finally back roads.
  5. I usually have between 20-45km left on the car on my way up to Dublin, and between 13-25km left when I get back home (this is after the 105km drive and depends on multiple fators such as temperature, traffic conditions etc.)
  6. I have done this drive in Winter and Summer, in temperatures between -6 and +24c. I have never ran out of power on these journeys and even with the cold winter this year I have not had to use the RC to help me get home since the charger in Citywest was put in.
  7. I have never gotten less than 120km from a full charge. That’s me. I differ from you. You may get other results. You may prefer to be roasting in the car all the time, you may have a heavier foot and like to speed up to the arse of cars in front only to have go down to 80/90kph until they move over and then race back up to the next car. I don’t know. I  have never gotten less than 120km on a charge in the car.
  8. I have only run out of power 1 time. This was about 2 months after I got the car (in the 2 months you can include 3 weeks when it was off the road). This was my own fault. In my impatience I didn’t allow the car to finish charging. I also chose to go over the mountains as it was shorter. Unfortunately it’s also has very steep hills, and no matter how good the Regen is you won’t get back what you use to get up the hills. In saying that, I ran out of power 100 metres from my destination. If I had have been more experienced in driving the car I would have made it.
  9. I have now driven over 35000km with no issues in the car. Last time I checked my fuel costs was at 30000 km. I had made a saving of over 2000 euro. This is on fuel alone and I have not included the saving on tax from the old car to the new car.
  10. All my calculations are based on my old car to my new car and not on a new petrol/diesel car. The reason for this is that, I could not have afforded to buy a new car and pay the extreme high prices on petrol/diesel as well. So the calculations are specific to replacing an old vehicle with an EV not against the difference between buying a new EV or a new ICE.
  11. Range anxiety does not affect me anymore. It has not affected since about 2 months of driving the vehicle. I do get charging anxiety though. This is the anxiety that I will not be able to charge my car when I arrive after a long journey because an ICE vehicle is parked in front of the charge point. Although the ICE drivers in this situation are being inconsiderate, it is not fully their fault. There is no rules to says they can’t park there, the minister for transport hasn’t done anything to help this as of yet. Also they may say “I parked there because I never see them in use”. It is true that there is not an over abundance of EV’s yet but the real reason you generally don’t see them used is because we have to drive past them as an ICE vehicle is parked in them. If they were free more often you would see them used more often. As the vehicles become prevalent I am sure you will see them more often being used.
  12. Finally, in reference to the idea that EV owners want too many subsidies and such. The point in subsidies is to help increase the uptake of an idea. Stop whingeing about the 5k we get off buying the car. Considerably more cars were bought on the scrappage scheme (which you could not put an EV against) than was on the EV grant. I’d say the number is 100x times more. Try to remember that. Also I don’t want to be allowed to drive my EV in the bus lane. These are for public transport and should stay that way. I (myself) am not even asking for free parking (other EV owners will differ on this), if an ICE that drives from Maynooth to Dublin has to pay so will I. I am asking for the spot to be clear though. There’s no point in having the CPs there if they are blocked out on inconsideration, ignorance of them or just because someone has a gripe big enough with EV’s they choose to park at them. (Believe me I have seen people park in them plenty of times even though there are spaces all around). As to any other benefits, that is the idea; the government gets enough people buying and using an EV then they will hit them with charges. Don’t believe me! The smaller green cars had lower tax than any of the bigger CO2 emitting cars a few years back. Now they are the ones getting the highest motor tax hikes.

This blog was made for people to see what it was like for me to use an EV instead of my old diesel car.

I am extremely happy with it. It does everything I need…. everything I need. That’s because in 17 years of driving I have never ever suddenly needed to drop everything and drive to Cork. I could in the EV if I wanted, it would take a little longer but I could do it. Of course as a fully licensed driver I could rent a car for the day, that way I still wouldn’t have to spend all the extra money on petrol/diesel on my day-to-day drives for that once-in-a-blue-moon time I might need to drive out of the range in an emergency.

Please do not use my experiences to fuel your prejudices (pun intended).

If you want an EV/can afford the upfront price (or on payment like me)/are within a safe range/and don’t need to do Le Mans 24hour at 150mph all the way – Then buy one or at least try one.

If you don’t like them/can’t afford one/aren’t within range/need to drive at stop speeds for long periods of time – Then don’t buy one.

Either way, whether you are for or against the EV. Stop trying to push other people into your way of thinking. Let them do their own thing.

Rant over.

Gimme More.

Posted on 11/06/2013

So the other week I passed the 40000 km mark, (I’m over 41k now).

After reaching 40000 km
After reaching 40000 km

I’m glad to say that I have had no real issues with the only exceptions, a few broken CPs and also the more frequent and more annoying CPs blocked by ICE cars. Of course, Leo Varadkar could do something about the latter but as yet still seems to not care at all. Obviously after having such a good experience of having the Leaf, I want more (hence the title). Not just more mileage but more CPs, data, updates etc. Luckily enough I have been getting my wish, recently the CP in St Agnes Road, Crumlin (which I have long complained about) was changed out and is up and running. I’m delighted about this as I can use it when I have my boy and need to pick up from or drop off to school (and I suppose it only took 1 & 1/2 years to get replaced :p)  More importantly the CP outside the ESB building in Portlaoise is up. I’m a bit peeved at being told it would be up some weeks ago then being ignored every time I sent an email asking for an update on why it was not (finally got a reply to say it was running last thursday) but am genuinely delighted with it being there. It is a great location, close enough to the shops and also it is a location that would generally never get ICE’d except on exceptional occasions. There has also been a number of other CPs popping up (standard & fast) which is making it easier to get around. In fact, in Northern Ireland they are going up at a fantastic rate, only a little while ago there was a few, no there are loads (as can bee seen on this map). Also I wanted more data so about a month ago I bought a bluetooth ODBII connector (model ELM 327). It can be bought for about 20 euro on eBay or other online retailers.

ELM327

You simply plug this little baby in and download an app from this call Leaf Battery. Once you have paired the 2 up the information on the batteries is amazing. It will tell you the state of charge, battery temps, battery voltages, kWh amount, Wh used during journey as well as expected DTE (distance to empty). DTE depends on you setting your average kms per kWh. Plus much more info.

So what have I found out. Well a few things.

SOC depends on the heat: @5°C 93.0 SOC, @8°C 93.8 SOC, @12°C 95.5 SOC, @15°C 96 SOC.

The highest kWh I have noticed on my Leaf is 23.3kWh after a charge, I guess this is relative to the temperature/SOC.

These are the averages of SOC vs bar disappearance (i.e whats left on battery as the 12 battery charge bars disappear)

Bars lost / SOC %

1 / 87.2%, 2 / 80.9%, 3 / 75.4%, 4 / 68.8%, 5 / 62.7%, 6 / 56.5%, 7 / 50.4%, 8 / 44.8%, 9 / 38.9%, 10 / 33.5%, 11 / ?%, 12 / ?%

All numbers are rounded down. Also there was less data points to work with after 8 bars as I often have 3 bars left whether I am travelling up or down. This is why there is none for 11 or 12. I did once get the car to go to – – – on the dash but didnt have my phone with me. When I got home I went back out to the car and check the remaining SOC, it showed 14%. I am not sure if this is because Nissan leave a certain amount of reserve (there last software update increased this) for you to get to a CP when the dashs appear. I believe there is about 5 mile left after the dashs but don’t quote me on that. I will do some more research and try and find the remaining numbers to have a complete set, including the important – – – / SOC% number and also what is left when it goes into turtle mode (although this will mean purposefully running out of power).  Anyway, for those who like even more data, here are copies of some logs the app stores on the phone. They can be opened in Excel as a csv files. No data has been changed with the exception of the GPS locations removed. BatLog2BatLog1

Finally, the last more, I have been informed at the end of July the new Nissan Leaf will be coming out. Increased range, better safety (with the 4-way view while reversing), more luggage space, faster charging, heated seats & steering wheel. I am already looking at how I can get my hands on this model by trade-in or sale etc… (but thats just because I’m greedy I guess :p  )

Ignorance and the Infrastructure

Posted on 10/07/2013

I hate to have to write this after the last post that was so good but it is now getting to a point were it’s infuriating.

By ignorance I mean the fact that ESB eCars constantly ignore the EV drivers when we ask for information. Oh yes, you can get some information from them but is usually ambiguous and has to be dragged out of them or else a pre-canned response. Couple with the fact we have an inept Department of Transport that also ignores us just makes the situation worse. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but let me give a few examples.

Repeatedly many on the Irish EV Owners Group have asked for information on when chargepoints are going in and timelines. Occasionally you will get a reply but it is usually the same old answer about how multiple different things can affect the installation times and that they will update us later on. We used to get a fairly regular group email about chargepoint updates but this has all but dried up, with only a mail every now and again. We have asked for a simple twitter account that could give us updates on chargepoints status but this is made out as being really tough to do. Live Drive has a twitter account with updates, so does the Garda, surely these are busier. I can’t see the ESB eCars hotline ringing off the hooks any time soon. It would not take fuck all to have an operator send out a tweet on this account once a chargepoint has been reported as down or back up. The Hotline, why do I have to pay to report your service is down, 1890 numbers do not come under most people’s phone packages and usually end up costing an average of 52c per call (you might have to ring a few times to see if anything is being done about the chargepoint). And why do I have to keep giving my details each time, a simple database that can be accessed by the operators is not difficult (if you are stuck on using a PricipalID, use the registration plate number, these are unique).  A few weeks back I asked about a chargepoint in Port Laoise, I was told fairly promptly it would be up by the end of the week. When it wasn’t I repeatedly had to send emails asking when it would be up and only got an email back weeks later when they had an engineer actually at it. For the last few days the charger in Citywest has been stopping after an hour or 2 and then becomes unusable until the next day. Carra quickly looked at it but can’t find an issue and are waiting on the manufacturers. I then placed a message on the ESB eCars Facebook page complaining about this chargepoint and fact they seem to have no SLA or ability to hold manufacturers responsible for their products (shown in the past with the abysmal Chargemaster systems,  SGTE near the start and now followed on by EVVO, whose chargepoint has been in Mayfield for months and is still not on) only to find it disappeared from the front page instantly.  I guess this page is only for good news. Will I receive a reply about this soon, who knows. I mean the fact that ESB eCars is not even an actual member of the groups Facebook page shows a lot. The annoyance I and a lot of the EV owners are feeling in not because of chargers being down, it’s because of the lack of communication about the infrastructure that we are receiving from ESB eCars. Other than ESB & the Dept of Transport, all other parties are extremely prompt in keeping use in the loop, such as Carra, Nissan, DRD NI etc…

As has been raised before I would suggest that ESB eCars appoints someone to liaise with us. Someone that will actually chase after the information and will keep us up to date on the progress of things. This person could use the twitter account & group email (for those without twitter) to tell us of new chargepoints and timelines. Also the hotline could inform this person of reported downed chargepoints and Carra could inform them of the chargepoints being back up or if they need to be replaced/repaired. This would alleviate the considerable frustration we the EV Owners feel. We don’t care if it’s bad news, just tell us the news. Not knowing and feeling ignored only adds to the tension.

More ‘FUCKING’ Excuses

Posted on 30/07/2013

So last Wednesday, I received good news from ESB eCars. They were going to be replacing the intermittently working chargepoint in Citywest (the one I rely on everyday) and one in the Red Cow Luas stop with new CPs. I was pretty happy about this. As such I pulled up Thursday morning and at 9am on the dot, the workers where there to start the work. I drove back at 13:30 to find the unit in place and powered up. There was one guy left (from ESB eCars) and he explained that it would take about 1hr or so for the unit to talk back to the servers and then it should be working. I stopped by at 15:50 and attempted to use it. “Invalid Tag” was what I was greeted with. Still I thought that this was only part of it settling. 9am Friday morning the same thing happens. I called in the issue and also put up a message on the ESB eCars Facebook page. I was nice and polite about it. I explained I was happy to see the unit go in so fast but that there was an issue. I got a reply later on to say that this brand new unit had a software issue, but not just this one. The unit in the Red Cow stop had an issue too. How does 2 brand units get past testing and get sent out with an issue that causes them to be useless after being setup. Also in the message they said they hoped to have it up by Monday. So it still wasnt too bad. I could limp along. So Monday comes, of course, the unit is showing the same issue. I decided to not drive home but to get a quick charge in Topaz (Newland Cross) and then head to Meath. There is no Rapid chargers near Summerhill with the exception of the Topaz stations near Enfield. To use these I would have to enter the motorway (going the opposite way to work) pay a toll then charge at the RC and then exit the motorway to drive back to Citywest. Anyway, I arrived again this morning to the same error. The problem is, arriving this morning I only had 5km left on the car. I rang the issue in again and posted to ESB eCars Facebook page again. This time I was very annoyed and in my annoyance I did use the word ‘fucking’ when asking them to fix the charger. I got a call from Carra, they said they couldn’t fix it as it was a manufacturer issue (fair enough) but they also went out of the their way to help me. They wired up a standard charger. With this I charged enough to then drive to Newlands Cross and fast charge again. It would seem that the best decision ESB eCars ever made was to choose Carra as their maintenance engineers as they always go out of their way to help you. All in All, about 1hr and 30 mins of my work time was gone which I will have to make up. Now, this is the best part about it. I received a message from ESB eCars saying “as was said before the charge point has a software issue which could take days to fix….. our engineers and IT staff are working on it….. please do not use foul language or we will need to remove your comments…” This is amazing, how helpful is that in alleviating my worries of the charging network. We already told you its broke!!! Of course, I also got the very useful suggestion of why don’t I drive further from home to the fast charging points and sit there after (or during) your working hours so that you can continue on your journey back home. Another sterling suggestion I think you’ll agree.

It’s a real pity, the speed and efficiency of putting the charger in was really brilliant. I was gonna be praising the work done. Unfortunately because of lousy decisions with useless CP suppliers it has all turned bad. So to ESB eCars, I am truly sorry for cursing because of my annoyance with be put out repeatedly on a unit I severely rely on. I hope I didn’t upset your sensitive nature. Anyway, I’m to fill in the hours I missed from today. I might even do some spare ones as I will probably need them for the rest of the week as electromotive half heartedly try to work out why their products don’t work.

3 Years Down

Posted on 12/10/2014

I have been very lax of late with writing this and have put off this post for ages now. Anyway, on the 13th of October I drove my Leaf over the 100,000km mark. This is a milestone but also I was delighted because I am yet to lose a bar. In 3 years of daily charging and depleting of the batteries with frequent quick charging I still have all the bars. The battery health shows at being about 87% as shown on Leaf Spy Pro. Here are some pics I took of the occasion.

Rolled over 100kState of chargeBattery Health

As I said I have been lazy about posting, as such, I am now over 106,000 km and still holding onto that 12th bar. I do expect to lose it in the next 5k-10k and will let it be known when this happens. I have to get my 4th service check later on this month and will let the results of that be seen. As for my range, I can still get from/to Rathdowney/Dublin on a single charge as I have before. I couldn’t even say how much I have saved on fuel money compared to petrol/diesel (but its over 16k by now). Hopefully I will happily get another year or two out of the Leaf at which point I will pass it on to my partner and get a new EV.

I have had a great 3 years driving so far.

120 and 12

Posted on 30/04/2015

This i just a quick update to say that I have rolled over 120,000km and still have all 12 bars. To be honest I am pretty sure the car is not at 100% battery as it was when I bought it. That said, after 3 & 1/2 years of driving, fast charging when I want (and often), driving lots of extended journeys, cold winters, hot summers, cold summers, having washing machines in back, families in tow and always having the car set to charge to 100% (instead of the conservative 80%), I still have enough health in the batteries to show 12 bars out of 12. This is more than I could have hoped for. I expected to lose it at about 100k, then maybe 113k but it keeps on rolling. I know I am on borrowed time and that it will happen soon. I’m ok with that considering. I will update this blog when it finally happens 🙂

IMG_20150423_220740

It had to Happen Eventually

Posted on 20/07/2015

So this is a short but extremely late update on life with the EV.

As of today I have over 128000km on the clock and still going strong with no issues.

The actually real update is that a few weeks ago on 20th of June I finally lost my first bar of the twelve on the battery health indicator. This was at the impressive mileage of 125739km.

I know I wont get another 125000+ km before the next one goes but it does give me good hope for the future of the car I’m driving. Also, even though the battery SOH is now at 84% (using Leaf Spy Pro), I still get to work from my home 110km away, albeit not racing the car at full throttle but using a more moderate style of driving.

IMG_20150620_141806

This is the end… maybe

Posted on 27/11/2015

Again, I’ve been quiet of late. As before if I have nothing to say then why say anything.

The Leaf has done me proud, I have now crossed the 142k mark and it still works for me. I was very lucky in that I only lost 1 bar after over 125k of travel. Can I say what gave me such fortune, no. Do I have an idea on it, yes.

Damien Maguire built a prototype, 3 pin charger that only charges at 8amps. The idea was that it could be used with any size extension lead and still cause no load on the power line. He tried to market it (but was shot down). As a thanks to me for allowing him to use my car as a test bed for it, he gave me the prototype. I have used it as my majority of charging for 2 (maybe 3) years, and it is my opinion that the fact I got such long life out of my battery is because of this charger. In case, you wonder, I repeatedly rapid charged but the low charge rate from Damien’s charger made up for any negative effects. Again, this is only my opinion, I have no scientific evidence for this, but then again ask anyone on the Irish EV owners group. No one seems to ever have gotten to 125k+ before losing a bar.

Anyhow, I write this post now because 1, I haven’t for a long time and 2, I may be finsihing up with it.

I wrote this blog to be honest about what it was like to own an EV. I believe I have achieved that. When I started this blog there was only a hand full of us (Brian, you can contest to this). Now the EV community has just grown from strength to…

So why am I saying goodbye (or maybe goodbye). Well, I dont know what more I can say, the Nissan Leaf I bought in 2011 has been amazing. A fantastic buy. I have saved so much on fuel by now I can’t even tell you anymore. At last count, it was just over 21k on diesel. That’s not a feckin small amount. The car cost me 36k, but to save save 21k over 4 years is not to be sneezed at either. Just so you understand, the 21k is the last check I did. I’m absolutley sure that its closer to 25k by now, I just gave up on checking the numbers. I just got used to enjoying the driving experience of my EV.

On a side note, myself and my partner had another kid (4 now) and I really really wanted the eNV 200 (7 seater). It ain’t out so I had to buy a 7 seater Trajet. Good car but I’d love to have the 200. Just in case anyone ever meets me in the diesel.

So, let’s get to the reason for this post (other than my usual yearly post). On December 1st, I will be now on my 4th year of driving an EV (a Nissan Leaf to be precise). Have I enjoyed it, FUCK yeah. Would I go back to petrol/diesel….. You must be fucking mad.. never.. never ever. I love a big diesel enough, I really do. Love the sound, love the grunt,…. but not enough. I love, love, …. I fucking LOVE…. getting up in the morning to a car that is, defrosted, warm, ready for driving (and I’m the model 1 version of the car, I’m so jealous of the guys/gals with heated steering, seats, etc). A car that responds instantly, when you put your foot down, not 2 secs later when the turbo kicks in, now!!.  No one can tell me how good that feels. How good it feels when some asshole sits beside you at the lights, revs, and trys to pull off in front of you and skip in, only to find when they are charging gear, they are now in my rear view mirror.

The car aint a drag car, it aint a rocket, but off the mark, it leaves 70% of cars on the line…. While they fumble with gears, I’m gone.

Now, I don’t want anyone to think I’m sided in 1 way or the other. After all Nissan have never given me anything, neither have ESB. All my posts are from actual real life experience. So please bare with me.

So getting to why I say, “the end”, I have been offered the chance to upgrade to the new “25okm” version of the Leaf. The 30KW battery. Am I tempted, yes. Is it worth it for me…. I dont know. The original model I have still does what I need. Yes, I have to charge a bit more than before but I still make it from Tipperary/Laois to Citywest on a charge. So why change?

It’s true, I have to charge more than I did before. Is it enough to upgrade, maybe! The difference between the mark 1 version and the latest version is big. 250km on a charge (170km in honest use) is big. I only ever got 120km on average, but I always got 120km, always. Just about no-one in Ireland needs more than that. After 150km driving you need a rest, why not charge while you have a sandwich.

So, anyway, Nissan have offered me an upgrade, 8,800k (trade-in) for my 4 year, 142k+ km Leaf. I think it’s pretty fair. Not only is my car well used but there is a serious dent in the rear passenger quarter panel and door. So I reckon the offer is fair enough, considering the price of the mark 1 has plummeted. I’m not annoyed at the price of my car going down so bad (it was 36k when I bought it 4 year ago). I’m actually delighted that the Leaf, Zoe, i3 and others have increased so well that mine is worth so little. It means the progress of these vehicles is increasing all the time.

Now, that makes people think… I wont buy now, sure his car is worth so little… but I have saved easily more than 21k in fuel over the last 4 years.

Also in full disclosure, I am still paying for my car. €673 a month. I am on my last year now.

So to get back to the Nissan deal.

Nissan Windsor offered me 8,800 trade-in. With what I owe still on the car, which is now 8,256 to AIB leasing, it will work out at 530 per month for the next 5 years if I extend the loan.

So I’m on the fence, I can continue to pay 673 for 1 more year and then be free to try a new deal or buy a different car (Mitsubishi, BMW i3 etc.), or extend my loan and have a new model Leaf (with 30KW pack). I have asked for the cold pack so need to get the new quote with it. I’d also like to have the 6kw charger and solar panel. Anyway, thats a decision I will need to make. It does not take, in anyway, from the fact that I made the right decision by going electric. I have never, ever, looked back.

Now, on to my last subject…. The new ESB charges.

I have stayed quiet for a long time, even after they announced these charges.

Time to speak up.

What the fuck, are ESB eCars thinking. I mean really!!!

I appreciate the idea of charging by the minute on FC’s when it comes to ignorant muppets that are charging the last 20-10% and keeping others waiting. Yeah, the only way to punish pr*cks like that is to charge by the minute….. but…. charging by the minute is technically unsound.

30cent per minute.

In winter it costs you more than in summer. Petrol doesnt work like that. You per litre and thats it.

We live in a techincalogical time. Why cant you have your street charging attached to your house bill. At the end of every electricity bill, just a charge for the street charging. Seems simple to me. I work in the computer industry, I know it can be done.

FCP charges: You can see by going onto EV owners groups (see I said groups, stupid but thats where we are) that charging this way actually costs more than petrol.

 

ESB eCars, COP ON!!!.

Anyhow, at the end of 4 years with an EV and over 142000km of driving, I can say this. I love my EV. I love my Nissan Leaf. I love the the Renault Zoe with its ability to use a street charger to the best (in a way that the Leaf cant). I love the Tesla 3. I love that the EV industry is constantly upping its game. I love that EVs are being more popular, although I hate it means I have to wait longer in queue to get a charge, after all when I started I had the CPs to myself (with the exception of Brian and a few others).

So is this good bye….. maybe..

If I get a good enough deal from Nissan then its the end for this EV (4 years of great work). If I dont and keep the mark 1 Leaf, I dont know what I can tell you anymore. The car has done everything I asked it. It still does. I have no more to tell you about having an EV. Make up your own mind if you want one. For me, I’ll never go back.

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Comments
  1. Brian Cullen says:

    good diary, please join our group when you get the LEAF, or join us now. Search for IrishEVowners on facebook

    Cheers, looking forward to hearing about the LEAF experience when it arrives,
    Brian Cullen
    Founding member
    IrishEVowners

  2. Tony says:

    Makes for an interesting read – thanks!

  3. Ray Norris says:

    Good, honest, warts and all account. Mirrors a lot of my own experience with the LEAF.

  4. Everything said was very reasonable. However, what about this? suppose you added a little information? I ain’t suggesting your information is not solid., but suppose you added a post title to possibly grab people’s attention? I mean Nissan Leaf Diary Selfficiency is a little vanilla. You should glance at Yahoo’s home page and watch how they write post headlines to grab people to open the links. You might add a video or a related pic or two to get readers excited about everything’ve written. In my opinion, it might bring your posts a little bit more interesting.

  5. rhamilton says:

    First off I enjoyed reading your blog and found it very informative.

    I have a question regarding fuel savings; will all your savings on fuel be swallowed up by the cost of purchasing replacement batteries in 4-5 years time?

    • naturalblue says:

      Well to be honest the fuel savings are being swallowed at present by the fact I am buying the car on the drip (I have loan repayments).
      As fuel prices continue to go up I am obviously narrowing the gap between loan payments and fuel price payments.
      I put up the savings as general statement for people to know the ongoing savings, if you were buying a new car anyway,
      the savings you would be making and so on. In five years time the battery will still have lots of power in it and should still have enough for me
      to get to and from work, so I don’t think I will be replacing it then. This gets us on to more complicated scenarios though. The battery in the Leaf is a pack
      not a single battery, the individual cells change be changed out, so maybe some will need to be and some won’t. That makes the pricing hard to work out. Also as battery prices continue to drop and power/energy density increases, the battery cells could be a good bit cheaper by the time I have to buy. Also my car should go further if the newer cells hold more charge. I hope this has helped you. Unfortunately at the moment I just don’t know how much it will cost or when I will need to replace them. Regards.

  6. Wicklow Boys says:

    Bought the LEAF…Love it!
    My second car was costing €400 PM on fuel (Have 4 kids)
    tax was another €100 PM above Leaf tax rate
    People carrier was 7 years old, add €100 PM manitenance (I wish!)
    Insurance is cheaper €150 less PA
    On my own car, I am using it less and saving about €120 PM on fuel….
    Saving a month about say €700 to be conservative.
    Less Electric, worst case €60
    Saving €640, and that covers my repayments hansomly…no brainer!

    Love the blog.

    Electric good as a second family car…and its self financing.

    Living in Wicklow, no range issues…

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi.
      That’s excellent. Keep reading up on the blog and make sure to head over to facebook and join or introduce yourself to the Irish EV owners group.
      Also it’s worth getting a comment in on things like the Journals latest article. You get a lot of negative uninformed commentors such as “EV’s are for the rich, subsidized by the poor” crap.
      Thanks for the comment

  7. Mac says:

    Hi. Great blog. I’m interested in the Leaf 2013.

    For your leaf, how much difference in range when you load weight into it?

    Like, when you and your son ride vs you alone. Or you and the washing machine. Or you and another full size adult. It’s my big question. 🙂

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Stephen
      To be honest I have not really noticed any change in distance with load.
      Neither with family or machinery, or machinery and family at the same time.
      The way you drive seems to affect it more than the weight on it.
      I suppose this is because the vehicle has so much torque, unlike an ICE which needs more higher revs and slower clutch release to drag/start off with load.
      I hope this helps, please contact me if you have any other questions.

  8. Oisin says:

    Hi,

    great blog, am currently thinking of a leaf but have some “range anxiety”.

    Can you share what the average and minimum ranges you’ve gotten from the leaf?

    Thanks.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hey Oisin.
      Thanks for the comments. The range verifies depending on a lot of things. At first watching the range-o-meter will be daunting but you get used to it easily enough. The best way of working things out is not to look at the km that it says, but rather to take that each of the 12 battery level bars gives and average of 10-11km. This way you work out a good average. I have rarely ever got less than 120km but usually I get between 130km-140km. A good mean minimum is about 120km for me. Head over to the Irish EV Owners group on facebook and ask the same question. You will get multiple replies and you can then average it out. I hope this helps.

  9. Donough says:

    Have you seen the Tesla model s or x . A real upgrade. Somthing to save for.

    • naturalblue says:

      Yeah, I’d love to get it. Unfortunately by the time you could get it over here the price would probably be double what it is in the USA. Sweet car all the same.

  10. Thanks for the information .Im 60km from work and at the moment Im spending 400Euro per month on fuel alone. Your blog has really giving me the push that I needed.

  11. victor simpson says:

    A brilliant Blog. I have ha my leaf since 21/12/12 and great to read about your experiences over a year….

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Victor
      Thanks for that. I’m glad you like the blog.
      If you are in Ireland/NI please feel free to join the Irish EV Owners group on facebook. There are quiet a lot of lively discussions about life with an EV on this. Keep watching for updates.

  12. Ray Norris says:

    Nice thorough End Of Year post. Nothing much to add, I don’t push the envelope as far as you (I live 5.5km from work) and am wary of long trips unless I have time to spare.

    Winter does affect charging times, and you don’t get quite as much out of the battery, then again the winter this year has not been severe. There is a need for a separate heater, for the longer trips, as preheating will only last so long. My LEAF really mists up on the preheat not sure what that’s about, liquid defogger for windscreen makes first few miles safer though.

    Like yourself, I wish they’d update the map, or at least give us the ability to do so, I tried over a year ago, no joy – must try again.

    Keep ’em coming 😉

  13. Mark says:

    Great blog ! One thing that really annoys me is the fact the Charger Kw output is not displayed on the Ecars charge point map. For instance the new leaf due in the spring will be 6kw or twice the power of the current Leaf so If I go to a hotel charger, what power are they ? sure probably good enough for an over night stay but how about a charge over dinner ?

    Dublin airport have 5 chargers installed, what power are they ? you see the problem I have ? I need 33 kw/hrs to get to the airport and back based on the average consumption of 3.5 KW-hrs/mile so if the Airport chargers are only 3kw that would mean over 4 hrs to charge and completely useless, if they are 6 kw capable then just over 2 hours, again useless. Why did they not install fast DC chargers ?

    Who advised the Airport to install these useless chargers, they are only suitable for electric bicycles or Twizy !!!

    I see it as being a publicity stunt !!!

    And another thing, we need fast chargers at beaches, (Brittas bay etc) Tourist locations so we can take weekend trips, e.g Glendalough, Cliffs of Moher, etc. Trickle chargers are useless.

    I hope to have an E.V in the future but the charger locations are beginning to annoy me, for instance why install them in train stations where most people are travelling locally to ? they won’t drain the battery in a week never mind a day. Look at Carlow Town and Athy, yep they are at the train station and one in Carlow at the Bus Car park ? WTF ? why not in the middle of town ?

    Most of the on street chargers are 20kw capable, fine, but currently 0 cars can avail of the 20kw power and Zoe is not in sight. delay after delay.

    The Charge points at the Luas stops are a great idea because most people will be parked there for the day while at work. Still it would be nice to have at least one fast d.c charger there.

    The only places suitable for trickle chargers are the likes of work places where people will be parked all day, but there are no plans what so ever to get (encourage) work place owners to install chargers.

    The new proposed fast dc charger locations along the motorways is another joke, most of them you will have to turn into the old towns and villages, look at the one in Naas what a joke, I’d have to turn off the N7 and into Naas on my way home in peak traffic, are they insane ? Why not put one in a garage on the N7 ? Jesus lads come on.

    The proposed charger location on the “M9” is far from the M9, it’s in fecking Carlow Town, meaning a trip to Waterford from Dublin will require a turn off the Motorway at Castledermot and 10kms into Carlow Town and another 6kms back out to the M9 at powerstown.

    Sorry to go on, but am I the only one that sees a huge problem ?

    And a suggestion to those that think driving at 75kms on the motorway is good, this isn’t being smart, but why not take the older non national routes ? driving on them would mean you don’t slow down other traffic and the older routes are usually shorter and slower anyway.

    Looks like we have a very, very long way to go from the view of a potential E.V owner, and the thing that will make or break E.V success (and I can guarantee it ) is fast charging, FAST FAST FAST !!!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Mark
      Thanks for the input.
      It might be worth trying to clarify a few things.
      1st. Driving at 75km on the motorway was because I was not in a good condition, but more importantly I can drive at whatever speed I like. the motorway is perfect for this.
      If someone does not want to be delayed, they can use the over taking lane like it was made for. Being on a national routes wouldn’t always facilitate for overtaking. The right lane is the overtaking lane, not the fast lane as people think.

      2nd. 3-5kWh per mile? Where did you get this number from. That would mean you can only do about 5 miles in a Leaf. You would want to recheck this.
      3rd. Yes. DC chargers in towns are not a good replacement for DC chargers on motorways themselves. I would like to see a few in the rest spots on the sides of the motorways myself.
      4th. I’m not trying to sound condescending but you seem to have an issue with speed, whether driving fast or charging fast. If so then may the EV is not suited for you. Myself and many others use these cars very effectively everyday. We don’t seem to have the same issues you are worrying about (even before you have an EV). I would suggest you see if you can get a loan of an EV for a few days before deciding to purchase one.

      Thanks for your input. You can always join the Irish EV Owners group on Facebook. You might get more information and guidelines from the other members.

      • Mark says:

        Hi Naturalblue,

        First I’ll start with the 3.5 kw/hrs per mile. That is the average consumption as recorded by many U.S leaf owners. So 3.5 miles per kw/hr x 21 kw/hrs of the usable amount available in the Leaf battery of 24kw/hrs and you get 73.5 miles range, now it could be more or less depending on cold, or speed.

        And I’m not just talking about fast chargers in towns and motorways, we need them where people might take a weekend trip such as Cliffs of Moher, Glendalough, beaches etc.

        I don’t have any issues with speed, I drive a Prius, but I believe there are lower limits to which drivers should drive on a motorway, but the point I was trying to make was that a journey would probably be more enjoyable and efficient off the motorway as you might have better chance for regen. It might be worth a try on your next trip to Dublin. If I’m going to the west or south, I’ll take the older roads because I use less fuel and it’s not as boring as going on the motorway.

        An E.V would be more than suitable for my 20,000 mile annual commute, however I’m a temp worker and wouldn’t get a loan, and the boss of the building won’t install a charge point because he hasn’t a clue what I’m looking for, just a 3 pin outdoor socket is all I need and that granny cable, he said when more people get one bla bla, and he thinks everyone would fast charge using it, not what I’m looking for at all, and I can’t even talk to him directly. it’s is a very clever device. Tell me can it run the pre heating so the car would be nice and warm or defrosted before you get in ?

        I’m a big believer in E.V’s but we seriously need to get the fast charging infrastructure in place if they are to succeed, town chargers are not enough and neither is placing them at train stations because people driving to them are usually local and wouldn’t need to charge.

        What the ESB and Government, councils etc need to think about is the person who needs to charge, i.e the person coming from out of town. Can anyone tell me why local shoppers would need charge points ? and slow charge points at that ?

        For instance if I’m going shopping to Dublin I want to park, plug into a fast charger and my car is fully charged when I come out for the drive home so I don’t have to go looking for a fast charger. I mean what’s the point if I can’t ?

        This is what the people in charge of planning the infrastructure need to think about.

      • naturalblue says:

        Ah, Now I see. You mean 3.5 miles per kWh. You wrote 3.5kWh per mile, that’s what got me. I have many a time driven by the older roads on my way to Dublin. usually because I am in no rush and the stopping and starting and waiting in traffic at lights during the towns wont bother me. In the mornings on the way to work though I just want to get up to Dublin. I agree that more charge points are needed and that more FC/RCs are needed but I don’t believe having them on public streets would be of any use. The reason for this is that you would probably be shopping for longer than the need the RC and then you would just be holding up the space. RCs in places were you will only be 30-60mins is a good idea though (and especially at some tourist attractions). The granny cable I have is able to be used to pre-heat the car. With pre-heating though it depends on the way you set your car up. There is 2 options, 1 is to stop charging and heatup, the other is to finish charging and then heat-up. Unfortunately you cannot perform both at the same time, especially not with an 8amp cable like the one I have. To do with town chargers/street chargers, most of the guys/gals that live in & near Dublin don’t use them that much as there is easily enough to do you daily commute and shopping etc.. I myself would like to see more of the standard chargers in places like shopping centres etc. Also just for your FYI, only a few RCs charge past 90%, most of them actually stop at this to protect the batteries. I would like if they got to 90% and then ramped down the charge to finish off. Hope some of this helps.

  14. Mark says:

    Cheers that’s very useful info about preheating and the Granny cable.

    I checked out irishevowners on facebook and there seems to be no activity, or hasn’t been in a long time, in fact looks like not much has happened on it at all ?

  15. Ray Norris says:

    Mark,

    Irish EV Owners is a closed group, you have to ask to join – it is very active.

    I cannot grant you access

    Ray

  16. Mark says:

    Ah O.K I didn’t realise that , thanks.

  17. David Egan says:

    I bought my L.E.A.F. august 2012. Prior to purchasing I had a spin in the leaf of a friend and I was duly impressed. The LEAF has everything that one needs and a lot more.It takes a while to become accustomed to all the facilities.I would agree that my only reservation is with Range and location of charging points. I wist to ask Natural Blue if JMC ever came up with a granny charging lead. I would agree that with a granny lead and a 25mts extension lead one would have no worries travelling long journeys.During this past winter my distance per charge was very poor –only 42 Kms per charge.I found that one would need the A/c on all the time to overcome fogging up on the windows etc.Blogs very informative. D.I.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi David, thanks for the reply but I am somewaht confused by your statements. I am naturalblue, tha’ts my wordpress name. I did get a 3 pin charger off Damien (from JTM). Also only 42KMs per charge, you must be the only person in the conutry to get such a low mileage. Did you have the A/C to 30c all the time while you drove at 95+ mph up a very steep hill. It number is extraordinarily low. I would join the Irish EV Owners group on Facebook and say this to them. I would be very surprised if anyone else was seeing such numbers. Regards.

  18. Michael Rnaghan says:

    Have had my Nissan Leaf for 1 year now. (April 2013). 27,168 KM in year 1.
    Just had my service! €139.00 Thats it!
    Battery in perfect condition.
    C’ant fault the Leaf.If this is the start of electric cars, were off to a flyer!

    • naturalblue says:

      Excellent Stuff. Glad to see your enjoying your Leaf. If you can you should join the Irish EV Oners group on facebook. It’s good for us all to be in contact as we help each other other and keep each other abreast of changes and updates. Regards

  19. John harmer says:

    Thanks for your blog, vary informative. I am thinking of dipping my toe into the EV game and have been seeking owners views. I think I will be arranging a test drive of the Leaf and the Zoe soon.

    Looking at the Zoe, I find it interesting that their Chameleon charger does not appear to be compatable with the CHAdeMO rapid chargers that the Leaf uses. While they can use a 43KW 3 phase AC rapid charge system there’s currently non about in the UK. There are lots of 32A 22KW 3 phase chargers which can charge to 80% in an hour. The 43KW charger should be a lot cheaper than the DC CHAdeMO charger so we might see more interest in installing the cheaper charging infrastructure. It’s a shame that there is a split in the Renault/Nissan alliance technology when they have the same boss!

    Most of my driving is in London, with the occasional Motorway round trip of around 250Km, Range anxiety is up there with the doubts.

    Nissan have announced the price of the 2013 note and a battery hire arrangemnet here. I’m guessing you would advocate buying the battery outright given that the whole thing is un-likely to fail?

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi.
      Thanks for following. I hope it is informative.When it comes to batteries, yes, i am up for buying as with the Leaf you can replace modules rather than entire packs. I wouldn’t buy my house and then lease my kitchen. I see the leasing battery idea good for users such as taxi drivers or for fleets. I wouls like to see the Leaf with the chameloen and chamedo charging ports. Best of both worlds. I also think a car with chamedo is needed if you decide to travel as it is a well supported and approved standard. Thanks for the reply. Stay tuned 🙂

  20. […] Nissan Leaf Diary | Selfficiency – WordPress.com […]

  21. Jattie says:

    Excellent! Thanks for sharing!

  22. john dowds says:

    Hi, I have found this blog very informative, thanks. I am considering getting a leaf during the second half of 2014. I will have a 122 km round trip commute to work but there is a rapid charger and normal charger at two garages along
    my route so no worries range wise. One question. Is there any issues with power loss if the car is parked up for several(4-5). I work abroad with work and I would have to do this. Thanks. John.

    • john dowds says:

      Hi sorry, I was supposed to write 4-5 days. Thanks, John

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi. I’m glad you like the blog. Pass it on to others if you think it may be of use to them. I have not had the experience of have my Leaf left up for more than a few hours as I use it all the time. In saying that I have read online (somewhere!) that a user had left his lying up for 3 months and it had only lost 2% battery power. I cannot very for this. If I find the link I will send it on to you though. Although you don’t have an EV yet, please feel free to join the Irish EV Owners group on facebook. Mention my site/name if you wish. Regards
      Adam.
      p.s. if you have any other questions please let me know or better say it on the FB page as you will get multiple pieces of advice rather than just mine 🙂

      • john dowds says:

        Thanks for the info. Looks like parking it up won’t be an issue. I will join the facebook page. John

  23. Jonathan says:

    How is the charging situation now? Jono

    • naturalblue says:

      The infrastructure is considerably better than it was when i first had the car. Although there are a few set backs with chargers being down or ICE’d there is never really any occasions where I am left caught out. This is the reason why my blog has been so quiet of late. I have nothing to write about. It would get a bit boring if I wrote about all the successful charges and journeys 🙂

  24. Armando says:

    Hi there, just became aware of your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative.
    I’m gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll be grateful if you continue this
    in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.
    Cheers!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi
      Thanks for the support.
      I will continue the blog as I have stuff to add in. I am coming up to 85000km soon so will probably write and update at 90k or possibly 100k.
      Regards

  25. Ray says:

    Hi,
    Just came across your blog – very good. I’m thinking of getting an EV. I just want your opinion though, I live in the country side (actually just outside Rathdowney, Laois). What do you think? An EV in the countryside, I personally don’t see why not, obviously I would definitely have to plan journeys (charging points etc). We would still keep a 2nd car (currently petrol). Also, what kind of annual servicing costs do you face? Like is there any NCT after 4-year? Engine servicing…if any?

    Thanks!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Ray.
      I suppose it depends on your driving. I live just outside Rathdowney and travel up and down to my place of work in Dublin/Citywest. Its a pretty routine drive and I know I can make it, even if it is a rather long one. If you had a certain expected driving patterns then with a bit of research you should be able to work out whether you can do use a Leaf or not. The newer ones have more range than mine as well. I also travel cross country to trim in Meath a lot and have no issues with this journey either. Hope this helps.

    • naturalblue says:

      Also running costs are very low compared to petrol. Annual costs generally consist of a service every 30000km at a cost of about 100 euro. So its not very much either. You do need an NCT as this applies to all cars but there is no emissions testing and such. Just brake checks etc…

  26. Simon says:

    Hi,
    I am following your blog and thinking to buy Leaf secon hand. Your car has pretty big mikeage as for EV. Do you have any problems with the battery, downgraded capacity, etc.
    Simon.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Simon.I am coming up to 100,000km now on the car and have had no problems. It is still showing 12 bars on the battery gauge so i am happy with that. I will be getting another checkup on the car in the near future and will let everyone know how I get on.

      • Mark says:

        Wow! 100.000km! I have a 2012 LEAF with “only” 28.000km so I don’t have to worry about it. Good! How many charges and km you do per day? I stay in Rome, Italy and charge at home and work every day simply connecting to a 220v plug.I do abt. 100km per day. Not a common car over here I’ve seen just another one in 1,5 years! Bye!

      • naturalblue says:

        Hi.
        I do between 150km & 220km a day depending on where I am going. I charge at home at night then down the road from my job while I’m in work. I hope you are enjoying your car and you get many oil free years out of it.
        Regards

  27. Johng87 says:

    I truly appreciate this article.Really thank you! Fantastic. fdabafccgded

  28. Rachel Ryan says:

    This has been very helpful to me, thanks very much. I’m considering selling my 05 Saab and going for an EV. I can’t really see any downside as 99% of my driving is local in Blackrock Co. Dublin and my husband will keep his car until we decide whether we can manage with one car. It’s always possible to rent a car for the odd occasion when you need to go to the further reaches of Kerry or Donegal. I feel we all have to do our bit for the environment, quite apart from the savings that can be made. Thanks again!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi. Thanks for the comment. I’m glad the blog was able to help you in making a decision. I have successfully driven to area’s such as carlingford and cork using my Leaf so it is doable to get to Donegal (if you use castle bellingham & maonghan FCPs), also the modern Leaf travels further and has more efficient heating than my model. I hope you have great luck with your upcoming purchase. Regards

  29. james o sullivan says:

    where does one stand if buying a second hand leaf private in regard to getting a home charge unit. I’m thinking of buying a leaf from a private owner, its a 2014 and the owner is buying a 2015 leaf, who got a charge unit from ESB.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Jame
      Unfortunately you will not get a charger off the ESB. You will need to get one installed from a company like MC2 in Robinhood ind est. You will need to find the price and include this as a part of your initial cost. I hope this helps.
      Regards
      Adam

      • james o sullivan says:

        Thank you for the reply. I’m just making up the sums at the moment but I will certainly buy a leaf
        as our daily mileage is under 60 klm per day.
        Thanks again.
        James

  30. Andrei Furs says:

    Hello Adam,
    Thank you for the blog and all the info and updates!
    i have recently become a second owner of 2011 Leaf, and would like to clarify one thing: on 21/02/2012 software upgrades.
    My 2011 leaf has no option on showing remaining battery charge in percentage, just guess-o-meter. but i read on the web that some owners got this function after upgrading their leaf’s software. You also wrote that your leaf has gone through software upgrade, did you get any new features? especially does percentage of remaining battery charge show? if it does then is it only when plugged in and charging or is it also accessible while driving? THANKS!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi. There are no new features (such as % indicator) on the updates. The updates simply fine tuned the guess-o-meter. I dont think it is possible to get a percentage as it is a completely different dashboard, i.e. the led matrix is setup differently on the newer models. If you want to know the exact amount of charge left I would suggest you buy a cheap bluetooth dongle that connects into the canbus and download the App “Leaf Spy”. I hope this helps.

  31. Wayne says:

    My 2012 leaf, gets about 30miles or 50km before needing to be charged. Is this expected? Anyone seen this before.

  32. Mark says:

    My 2013 has 41000km and 12 bars. The first bar lasts abt 6-8 km with the 12 bars I drive abt 110km abt 60% highway ant 110/125 km/h. Ciao! Marco Rome Italy

  33. Jimbo says:

    It looks as though legislation to ban ICE cars from parking at electric car charging points was introduced in May last year.

    It is on the statute book as of July:
    http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/2014/en/si/0325.html

    It was signed off in May according to Eoghan Murphy:
    http://www.eoghanmurphy.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Sep-Newsletter-2014.pdf

    “New regulations for car clubs and electric vehicles were finally signed by myself and Leo Varadkar in May, bringing my Smarter Transport Bill in to law and completing five years of hard work. Phew!”

    This does not seem to have stopped idiots parking in the charging pays though! Time for some enforcement.

  34. James Healy says:

    If this works out the first people to buy these cars should be given medals.

  35. drfaulk says:

    Hello, and thank you so much for documenting your Leaf experience over all these years. The fuel and energy statistics are exciting to read!

    I’m very interested in buying a Leaf, but I do not have a driveway or garage. Does this mean I cannot charge my car at home?

    I was looking at the domestic charger adaptor (which seems to come as standard, now?) But I don’t think you can just disconnect the battery and bring it indoors for a charge, no? You’ve still got to connect the car to the wall?

    Or would ESB install a charging point outside my gaff if I paid them enough?

    Thanks again for a great read! Hope you get another 100,000 Km out of your Leaf!

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi. Apologies for the delay on this. I don’t know if it is possible to get a chargepoint outside of your building but there are some members on the Irish EV Owners FB page that i believe are in the same boat as you and so might be able to better give you advice on this. You are correct in saying you cannot take the battery out of the Leaf and bring it inside to charge. Im sorry I couldnt be of any more help. I would contact the ESB directly either through phone or their FB page (ESB eCars) and ask what are the options for someone who doesn’t have a driveway. Regards

  36. Glen says:

    Great posts. Thank you. You mentored early on “On a side note, after getting an email address from a guy in the Irish EV Owners group, I sent a mail yesterday asking about the swipe card. Within 30mins of sending it I got a mail back from someone else saying they had sent it out that day. I can send on the email address to anyone who needs it if you contact me”
    I could really do with that contact to help me out right now.
    Thanks in shave

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi. apologies also for the delay. To be truly honest it has been so long I cannot remember the email address. If you login to the Irish EV Owners group I am sure there is someone there that could help you to fast track the issue you are having. The group contains a high number of Irish EV users and they have all had different issues. Sorry, I couldn’t be of anymore help. Regards

  37. Mark says:

    Natural blue, haven’t seen you on boards.ie in a long time, why don’t you post your leaf spy data there ? would be good to have a discussion about it.

    The late 2013 Leaf battery seems to be doing a whole lot better, a U.K Leaf Taxi has passed 102,000 miles and still got all capacity bars but lost around 10% and has over 3 times the amount of fast charges on the battery that you have, above 1,788 Fast charges.

    http://insideevs.com/100000-mile-nissan-leaf-taxi-shows-12-5-battery-degradation/

    So there is a change to the late 2013+ Leaf and so far I am really impressed !

    For anyone who doesn’t know, You will know it’s the newer leaf because it has the darker interior. I’m not so sure exactly when the change was made to the battery but you can be sure if it was built in 2014 it’s got the change.

    I’ve got almost 11,000 Miles since Mid January 2015 and it shows 2-3% loss but if I fast charge to 80% it comes back up so health shows 99%.

    I usually fast charge for 5-10 mins daily after work but that brings me from 25-50 odd % but charging to 80% 4-5 times seems to bring capacity back up. Either way I will have long changed the leaf for the MK II before the battery ever becomes a problem.

    There is an updated battery for the 2016 model which should see another 20 miles range for 80 miles winter range at 62 mph and 90-100 Summer miles.

    I drive 100-110 Kph with some 120 Kph stints and arrive to work 65 Kms with 48-50% I would love to try some day if I could make it home on a full charge. I won’t alter my driving for the Leaf and won’t drive at 40-50 Mph unless conditions dictate.

    I do wish Nissan heated the battery for winter driving because it has a noticeable impact on range more than using the heater because the cold effects the ability to take a full charge a cold battery also a cold battery takes longer to fast charge by about 10-15 mins.

    I am really happy I got the Leaf and would never drive petrol/diesel/hybrid ever again. The next Gen electrics will be here in late 2017 early 2018 and they will have ranges between 150-200 miles.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi Mark
      I have been very busy lately with the new baby coming and a lot of sother stuff, so I ahve not been as visible online as I once was. Please feel free to link to my stats and start a discussion off. If you need any specifics on anything, just let me know.
      Regards

  38. Yes We have a baby coming in January and a 1yr almost 4 month old so it’s a busy house.

    I can;t remember if you leased or bought outright ? are you planning to keep it or get a new one in 2016 or wait until the 150-200 mile electrics come in 2018 ?

    • naturalblue says:

      I got a car loan from the bank and have been paying that off. Wont be finished until the end of next year. I will probably keep the car even if I do get a new one as I am not sure I would get much for 2011 Leaf with nearly 140,000kms on it and a dent in the side 🙂 My plan is probably to buy the 7-seater eNV-200 when i can. Hopefully by then the 200mile range will be available on it.

      • Mark says:

        Maybe you could wait for the 150+ mile range leaf in late 2017 ?

        It’s possible you could upgrade the battery in your 2011 Leaf with the improved battery that’s in the late 2013+ Leaf or perhaps find one from a crashed Leaf or possibly have it replaced up in the North.

  39. Nick says:

    A nice warts and all blog theres nothing else as in depth on the net, well done.

    I am planing to make the jump to the leaf early next year, i was looking at the base model and the 6.6kv option so i can take advantage of the fast chargers and have faster charging at home too, if i understand this correctly then i need a 30 Amp home charger installed by the ESB to take advantage of faster charging, do they just install a 16Amp version? or do you pay a little more for a 30 Amp version, how does this work for you?

    Also, how much do the headlamps impact the range in winter commuting to work, you will need them on all the time in winter & does the base model come with a heated front windscreen?

    My commute to work is 32 Miles each way & i have nowhere to charge at work, i think this car would work for me, i currently have a 08 1.6 TDCI focus and constantly get into the low 70’s MPG so i am no stranger to eco driving!

    Am i being realistic with the 64 mile round trip especially as the battery degrades as the years go by, or will i need to be charging in the winter.

    Regards
    Nick.

    • naturalblue says:

      Hi, The ESB will not install a charger with 32amp abilities. They will install a 16amp version on a 20 or 30 amp connection. The headlamps and radio etc has absolutely no bearing on the car, you wont notice it a bit. The heater does have a bearing but the newer models are a lot more efficient. You shouldn’t see more than a 10% reduction. I have driven about 64mile each way for nearly 4 years and haven’t had an issue. Although you cant charge at work there might be a CP nearby or you may be able to RC for a minute or 2 on your way there and back. The newer model cars have heated steering wheel and seats so no need even for the cabin heater if you dont need. Where is you start/end locations. Regards

  40. Mark says:

    Hi Nick,

    I got a 151 SVE Leaf with the 6.6 Kw charger and I am really delighted with the 6.6 kw charger because I can plug into normal street chargers and get from about 25%-90% in 2 hrs or little more, this then beats having to find fast chargers and wait up to 30 mins or wait behind someone already charging.

    I highly advise the newer larger 30 Kwh battery because this will guarantee your trip winter or summer with ease and it will be handier for longer trips. With the ESB due to start billing for charger use the larger battery will also allow you store more of your very cheap night rate electricity. There was a lot of anger about these charges but if you only take a couple of really long trips a year then so what ? you’ll be charging at home most of the time. A lot of the moaning and negativity is very much over the top in relation to these charges.

    Nissan are doing a deal now and charging 2,000 Euro’s more for the larger battery compared to 3 K if you buy before 31st December I think.

    I would have the 30 kwh battery and 6.6 Kw charger more than the highest spec leaf, you can add heated seats and steering to the SV Leaf and I think that includes heated mirrors which are only standard on the SVE spec which is a bit mad.

    The 30 Kwh battery also allows you charge faster with a charge time from 7-90% in just 33 mins, the 24 kwh gets from 18% – 80% in 30 mins and it’s a smaller battery. Cold slows charging on the fast charger but unknown how it effects the newer 30 kwh battery.

    Check out this link.

    https://transportevolved.com/2015/11/10/confirmed-longer-range-2016-nissan-leaf-charges-faster-than-its-predecessor/

    If you can afford it you won’t regret spending the money on the larger battery and it should last a very long time.

    Regarding the home charge point, the ESB won’t install the 32 amp only the 16 amp but make sure you have the cable from your consumer unit to where the charge point is to go wired for 32 amps so you can install the 32 amp later, all that would need to be changed is the charge point and the trip switch or (RCBO) to 32 amps. I would insist that you need it with the larger battery, you never know , they may install it for you. It doesn’t cost much extra but the ESB don’t want too many people pulling so much power from the local grid. They make up some BS excuse about house wiring not being suitable but this is untrue because the car will be wired on a brand new separate circuit. Even if you don’t get the larger battery you’ll appreciate being able to charge at home in half the time when you need to, remember the last 10% of charging takes a lot longer but up to 90% the 6.6 Kw makes a big difference.

    Remember the base model does not include the much more efficient heat pump heater , or remote activation of heat or cooling though you still can set the heater timer in the car, the base model called (XE) also doesn’t allow you to add the larger 30 Kwh battery, previously it also didn’t come standard with the fast charge port but I am nearly sure it does now, you need to check because without fast charging the car will be very limited.

    Check out the lease prices, they can make repayments a lot lower than bank loan or normal finance, this is a great way to pay for cars if you intend to change the car in 3 years for one with more range in 2018 the 200 mile range Leaf should be available but at what cost we don’t know yet. There is a balloon at the end that you must pay if you want to (own) the car which you can refinance or hop into a new car with little or no deposit to pay because there is usually more value in the car provided you don’t go much over the agreed mileage. I am on PCP and think it’s great.

    If you could find a 2014 Leaf or 2015 with the 6.6 kw charger you would save a good bit of money, could even find a SV or SVE for a decent price.

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