Urban Baywatch

I’m becoming obsessed with a parking bay! The one I use to charge with the new Ubitricity charging points in Portsmouth. There’s a problem in so much as it’s not quite an EV charging bay yet.

Diesel Van Electric Bay

Just over two months into Nissan Leaf ownership and it’s fabulous. The car is smooth, quiet, fast and the running costs are about 15% of putting petrol in my previous Toyota Auris Hybrid. There’s no way I’d want to go back to an ICE car. Being an early adopter of running EV on public charging in Portsmouth has brought it’s frustrations though. I will say mainly caused by ICE cars but also because Portsmouth City Council seem to have fallen apart completing the on street charging project.

There was the media launch for the charging points on the 8th March and over the next couple of weeks the roadside charging points were installed. However, the parking bays weren’t marked out so, predictably, ICE cars continued to park by the charge points. After a few days frustration at not being able to charge I chased the council, made a fuss on social media and got answers, more like excuses really, resulting in confirmation the bays would be painted and finished between 23rd and 26th April.

initially the lettering “ELECTRIC VEHS” was painted haphazardly across what would be considered 2 parking bays with no lines to show the front and back of the bay near where I live . Needless to say the area near the charge post was ICE’d regularly. One particular car makes a habit of parking with the charging post half way along their car and so near that even if I can get close it’s difficult to plug in. This was the reply I received from the Parking Department when I reported it through the myPortsmouth app.


Thank you for your email regarding an Electric Charging Bay.

Unfortunately these bays are not enforceable until there is a plate next to the bay and the bay is completely painted.

Kind Regards”

This prompted me to send more emails to contacts I’ve built up and also to the councillor who chairs the Transport Committee. She has chased up somebody else and I received the answer that the bays will be correctly marked and enforceable within the next couple of weeks.

The charge point is behind the black car

It’s a shame such a good scheme is initially ruined by bad planning and organisation in the road signs and markings department in Portsmouth City Council. If EV owners cannot get to the bays to charge then they won’t charge and the critics of the scheme will use this to say it’s not working and potential EV owners will be put off buying a car seeing bays being ICE’d.

Would I go back to an ICE car because of these frustrations? Not at all. I’m an early user of the scheme and councils are not renowned for their efficient bureaucracy. I’m optimistic it will get sorted. My frustrations are almost entirely caused by selfish ICE car drivers ignoring the markings on the bay. The further frustration is the failings in the councils bureaucracy and planning but as soon as the bays are correctly marked tickets will be issued and the message will get out not to block the EV charging bays.

It’s Electric and Automatic

I,ve been teaching in automatic cars since 2006 and moving to the Nissan Leaf electric car I find it has much in common with my previous automatics. Learners notice no difference in driving it and lessons are the same as in a fossil fuelled car, except for the wonderful smooth silence you get with electric cars.

Electric cars are automatic, aren’t they?

The Leaf has things you’d expect from any automatic car. On the drive selector there’s Park, Reverse, Neutral and Drive as you would find in any automatic car. Selecting Drive or Reverse makes the car creep along when you release the footbrake. So no rolling back on hills or having to master clutch control as you would in a manual car. Hill starts are a thing of the past.

Conventional Behaviour

Electric cars behave just like a conventional automatic car. They are designed this way for familiarity, however, electric cars have no gearbox. Yes, you heard correctly, no gearbox. Electric motors are so powerful they’re connected directly to the car’s wheels. An electric motor will deliver full power the moment it’s turned on. Unlike a piston engine that sucks in air and fuel, ignites it to make a small explosion, coughs out fumes to build up to full power. It then peaks and needs another gear to continue.

With no gearbox in an electric vehicle there’s no need to manufacture a manual electric car. The instant power of an electric motor makes the car quick to move from a standstill. Electric motors are reasonably simple devices and only have one moving part compared to a fossil fuelled engine and gearbox with about 800 moving parts plus oil and coolant. Consequently there’s little to maintain on an electric car.

Automatic driving lessons in the Nissan Leaf are much like any other automatic lessons. The car, while behaving like any other automatic, is an elegantly simple piece of engineering.

Electric Driving Test Passes

Electric Driving Test Pass 1
Shannon the first electric pass

This week has sen the first two tests in the Electric Instructor Nissan Leaf at the Portsmouth Driving Test Centre. Both were passes.

First Time Pass

The first test was Shannon who passed first time after four months of weekly lessons. She was looking forward to the weekend when she could go car shopping.

Second Pass

Electric Instructor test pass 2
Erin the second electric pass

Erin took her test a couple of days later and passed with only one driving fault. Beating test day nerves she was looking forward to a drive in her Mum’s brand new car when it’s delivered.

For me as an instructor the Leaf is doing it’s job well. It’s all quite normal and yet so much better. The car is quiet and smooth making lessons a very calm experience.

Congratulations to Shannon and Erin. Enjoy safe driving and your new found freedom.