There’s no Reason to Buy a Petrol or Diesel Car

We are now at a point where there is almost no reason for anybody buy a new petrol or diesel car. If you’re buying a new car it should be electric. With decent battery ranges, a model to suit most needs available and cost of ownership parity with ICE cars your next car should be electric.

Owning an EV

Now 4 months into Nissan Leaf ownership I’ve experienced most driving situations and types of journey. The 30kW Leaf I have was replaced by a new model 2 years ago and is, in the fast moving world of electric vehicles, now considered a low range car. At about 120 miles range on a good day I have no problem doing a day’s driving lessons charging overnight then with an hour’s top up on the slow charger while I’m having lunch.

Long journeys have been a pleasure. I have realised it takes longer to do the miles on Britain’s roads than we think. I usually need a break before the car is empty and, with a bit of planning ahead, the public rapid charging network is good. So a quick break gets enough electricity in for the next leg of a journey. There have also been unexpected 100 mile round trips to my parents as my father has been ill. With my father foremost in my mind I’ve not even thought about charging. I know where the rapid chargers are and simply stop if I need some juice.

With this experience it becomes plain that with a slight change of habits just about anybody can use an electric vehicle. With 200 mile and more range normal on new vehicles there’s a car to suit just about anybody’s requirements. Although still a bit more expensive to buy, EVs cost so little to run and have such high residual values that cost of ownership is now on parity, if not better, than an ICE car. They are usually high specification models so comparable to top of the range ICE vehicles.

A Car For Every Need

Let’s consider the electric models currently available. This is by no means an extensive list and some may be missed out as new models are being announced on a regular basis, and I might have forgotten some. These are all cars you can order or register an interest in at the time of writing.

Urban Runaround

  • Smart EQ
  • Renault Twizzy
  • VW eUp

Small hatchbacks

  • Renault Zoe
  • Honda e
  • BMW i3
  • Peugeot 208
  • BMW Mini
  • Vauxhall Corsa.

Medium sized hatchbacks

  • Nissan Leaf 40kW
  • Nissan Leaf 64kW
  • VW ID
  • VW eGolf
  • Hyundai Ioniq

Small SUV

  • Hyundai Kona
  • Kia eNiro
  • MG ZS

Mid Size Saloon

  • Tesla Model 3.

Large SUV

  • Jaguar iPace
  • Audi eTron
  • Tesla Model X
  • Mercedes EQC

Large Saloon

  • Tesla Model S

There must be a car in those lists to suit every purpose. Then there’s commercial vehicles. Lots of electric vans are being released and the Nissan eNV200 electric van is well established with a 7 seater in the range. Also camper conversions are available from specialist conversion companies.

There has to be a Maybe

Maybe I’m being a little arrogant, there has to be a maybe to this assertion that everybody buying new should buy an EV. There are two things that cause difficulty at the moment. The first is for people who have no off street parking so cannot charge overnight at home. There are solutions, by chasing councils and making it known you want an EV things can change. We now have excellent Ubitricity urban charging in Portsmouth. It made it possible for me to own an EV. The second reason is the long wait for new electric cars. There may be lots of models available, however, the demand for electric cars is so high if you order one now you’ll probably have to wait until some time in 2020 to get delivery. Most people can wait, some might not be able to.

Used Electric Cars

In this article I’m suggesting new car buyers should buy an EV. The used car market doesn’t have the supply to make it a choice for everybody. The EV with the highest sales since it’s launch in 2011 is the Nissan Leaf. The amount on our roads is small in comparison to ICE cars. Demand is high for them keeping prices high and making them difficult to find used. Currently the prices of used Nissan Leafs is increasing, not many cars increase in value as they get older. Buying a used EV requires some determination to find one. You need to offset the low running costs against the higher price of purchase. If residuals hold up the cost of ownership could still be less than an ICE car.

2025, No Justification For Buying ICE

The market is sorting out the move to EVs quicker than governments. By 2025 new car buyers will not be able to justify to themselves buying a petrol of diesel car. Electric cars will be cheaper to buy and run, battery range will be 300 to 400 miles, public charging will continue to improve. The cost of ownership of ICE cars will be much higher, buyers won’t be able to justify the higher cost of purchase and ownership. This will drive down ICE car demand and hence residual prices which will further increase cost of ownership and consequently lease costs will increase. Buyers won’t want an ICE car if it looks like residual prices are tumbling and by 2030 it will be worth very little as EVs establish themselves.

Fleet buyers buy most of the new vehicles. Businesses want the significant savings possible with EVs.

Cities with little off street parking will have to get on with installing the on street charging network otherwise people won’t want to live and work in them if car ownership is a lot more expensive.

EV charging sign

Technology is Moving Quickly

The rate of change will drive the market. You only have to look how far we’ve come from the original 2011 Nissan Leaf. In just 8 years the Leaf has gone from a 24kW battery to 64kW in essentially the same vehicle. 64kW capacity is giving 200 to 300 miles of range in many EVs. By 2025 the density of batteries will increase further and the purchase cost decrease. New car customers will want these cars that cost less to buy, cost a fraction of the cost of ICE cars to run and have almost no servicing requirement. Because of good residuals lease costs will be lower than ICE cars. By this time a lot more people will have been exposed to EVs and realise they are quiet, fast and comfortable. They will have friends and relatives running them and realise they are simply better vehicles.

Cost of ownership will be the motivating force for EV ownership. The benefits to being kinder to the climate will motivate a lot of people as well. The fact they can run a car on renewable energy and not pollute the air in the place they live will be important.

Buy Electric

My message is simple, if you’re buying a new car buy electric and get a green energy tariff to charge it with. Politicians can sit around making noises for and against de-carbonising the economy buy it’s the market, and it’s consumers, that will drive the change before they do anything with any urgency.

By The Time I Bought My Lunch The Car Was Charged

Rapid charging

One of the concerns about owning an EV is what happens if an unexpected trip comes up and the car isn’t charged.

I’m 4 months into 30kW Leaf ownership now. My daily use as a driving instructor works well starting each day with a full battery and charging for an hour at lunch time on the 5.5kWh public charging post I use. Usually finish the day with about 30% battery.

In the last 2 weeks my father has been taken ill and ended up in hospital a couple of times resulting in unexpected 100 mile round trips to visit my parents. I also had a holiday which involved a 160 mile trip each way. On the way home I had to divert to my parents house adding A few more miles to my journey.

Because my concerns were more with my Father I didn’t really think about range or charging. You get to know how far your car goes and where all the charging points are on regular journeys.

By the time I’d bought my lunch the car was charged (Veggie Pasty of course)

On the long trip for a short holiday I’d planned stops to charge on route. In reality those were convenient stops anyway as I needed to use the toilet and/or I needed coffee and/or food. The rapid chargers are fast and usually by the time I’d bought a coffee the battery was nearly full.

My trip was from home in Southsea to Devon. On the way home one particularly pleasant stop was at Thruxton race track next to the A303 where they have a Genie Point rapid charger next to the Jackaroo Cafe. A nice place to sit in the sun with some lunch while the car charges. Something I simply wouldn’t have done in an ICE car. I’d probably have had an overpriced sandwich and coffee at roadside services.

There was one interesting encounter with some chap aggressively shouting at me at an Ecotricity charging point “what’s the point of those the electricity has to come from somewhere” My response of “windmills” just made him shout the same thing louder a couple of times. I watched him drag his knuckles along the floor to his diesel car.

With both long and unexpected journeys I simply got on and drove the Leaf, I’m really enjoying EV ownership.

Greener Than The Average Dog

Greener than Wilbur?

We are all becoming aware our lifestyles are causing damage to the planet. There’s lots we can all do now to help improve the situation. Being an Electric Instructor is part of what I’m doing, however, being mildly smug, I’d like to ask am I greener than the average pet dog?

The average dog in the UK lives in a house centrally heated by gas emitting lots of CO2, gets driven to a walk in a polluting petrol or diesel car and eats meat, a big contributor to greenhouse gas through methane from farmed animals. The dog can’t help it and has more important things in it’s life to think off like chasing rabbits in the park rather than climate change.

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

What can we do as humans to reduce our own greenhouse gas emissions? Let’s consider the first, transport. If you use public transport you might have no choice other than to use a diesel bus or taxi so have little influence over this part of your life. You could consider how you holiday and cut down on air travel. Maybe take that weekend break to a European city by train rather than flying. We’ll let the average dog off here as it probably uses little public transport and rarely flies away on holiday.

Personal Transport

Personal Transport and Workplace

Personal transport can now be emission free on a daily basis. It’s simple, buy an electric car and run it on green energy. I know they are still too expensive for some people but you should have the intention to replace your car with electric as soon as possible.

I hear all the criticisms about EV battery range and understand the concerns. There are plenty of cars available that do at least 120 miles and most people leaving home with a full battery from an overnight charge can easily last a day. The new models being launched are mostly have over 200 miles. 100 miles a day 5 days a week is 26,000 miles a year. If your doing a long journey 50MPH will be the average speed on a UK motorway so that will mean stopping after 2 hours for a rapid charge and rest. I’m a driver trainer, you’ll not convince me anybody should be driving for over 2 hours without a short rest.

I also hear the criticisms about building electric cars creating more CO2 and cobalt mining being unethical. Most of an EV is the same as an ICE car. The motor and drivetrain are very much simpler so if anything, excluding batteries, the EV is greener in manufacture. Like any manufacturing process, manufacturing batteries creates CO2, there’s so much conflicting information about this. It seems that after about 5,000 miles the extra carbon in manufacture is offset by the lack of CO2 emission from driving the car. At the end of an electric cars life the batteries have a second life in electricity grid storage or home power storage systems. Then they can eventually be recycled. Most car manufacturers are now making, or moving towards making, all their EV battery production carbon neutral.

Yes, cobalt used in lithium iron batteries is mined in parts of the world where the health and safety standards are lower and child labour is used. This hasn’t stopped us all buying phones, laptops, tablets, toys and anything with a rechargeable battery in it for many years. If the world had a conscience about this something should have been done a long time ago.

An electric car is still not completely green and we have to find better ways to do personal transport. For the moment running an EV is the best environmental choice. My choice of an EV for my personal transport and work means my emissions from transport are much less than our average dog being driven to the park for a walk in an ICE car.

Fuelling our Homes

The electricity grid is getting cleaner all the time with more renewables being used and less gas and coal. Wind generation is now the cheapest form of power generation which means it’s attracting a lot of investment. Investors know cheap electricity will sell however it’s created. You can switch to a green electricity tariff now. It will probably be about the same cost as dirty electricity. There is no reason not to do it, use my Bulb referral and we both get £50 as well.

Green gas is a bit more difficult. Some suppliers will disclose how much gas they buy from anaerobic digesters which process plant waste using microorganisms to make gas. Think of it as bugs with wind. Gas boilers heating houses are big emitters of greenhouse gases and over time will be replaced with electric heat pumps and heat store systems. It will also get more comparable in cost to use direct electric heaters in homes.

My own home is a flat in a building about 100 years old. It’s difficult to heat being uninsulated with has large rooms and high ceilings. No gas into the building so heating is electric. I choose to use green electricity so even in a very inefficient building my greenhouse emissions for heating are zero. Less than the average dog in a well insulated home heated by gas.

Food for Thought

Another major contributor to greenhouse gas is farmed animals. We have to eat less meat and dairy products if we want to halt climate change.

I choose not to eat meat as much to do with health as the environmental impact. The reality is future generations will have to move to an almost completely plant based diet.

The average dog would react with contempt to a bowl of broccoli rather than a bowl of meat. Thinking about it, if the dog ate the broccoli it would probably contribute further to the methane problem.

Greener than the average dog?

Do you want to be greener than the average dog?

Three simple things will help:

  1. Change to an electric vehicle.
  2. Use a green energy tariff at home.
  3. Eat less meat.

Meet Wilbur

Meet Wilbur, he’s my sister’s family dog. I’d like to thank my sister for letting me use Wilbur’s picture as an example of an average UK pet dog. Wilbur is old and not well now so we should allow him a few carbon extravagances, especially as many of us humans could do better in reducing our emissions.

Recharging Point Made

EV charging sign

At last the urban charging bay is complete. There is a now little plate by the charging space I use saying “Electric vehicle recharging point only” this little piece of metal means ICE cars will get a ticket if they block the space. Portsmouth Council have confirmed this in an email so I shall report ICEing using the myPortsmouth app.

I feel a bit bad reporting ICE cars, however, on reflection, if I went with a number of other drivers and parked by all the pumps at a petrol station leaving our cars there for a few days the consequences would probably be worse than a parking ticket. I guess our cars would be towed away and the police might be talking to us.

urban ev charging
Urban Charging

The consequences for an electric instructor not being able to charge is lost money, damaged reputation and the possibility a pupil might not be able to do a test.

The final stage of Portsmouth’s urban charging scheme being effective is enforcement. It will get the message out there that bays are for charging. Especially as there seems to be a bit of hostility out there towards EVs and angry objectors will block the bays if they can. As you would guess I don’t understand the anger towards electric vehicles. They’re not badly affecting other people’s lives in any way and are benefitting them with zero emissions from a vehicle in their city.

I’m looking forward to being able to plug in when work is finished without having to go to the rapid charger for 40 minutes. Point made.

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.

Hi

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.

Electric Instructor visits Air Ambulance

Electric instructor and helicopter
SDIA Members with the HIOWAA helicopter

Last weekend, along with other members of our local instructor association, I visited the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance base at the Thruxton race track in Hampshire. Our association, SDIA, are raising money for the air ambulance and they kindly offered to show us around.

EV Journey

The journey was a round trip of 108 miles from home in Southsea, Portsmouth. Being entirely on motorways and fast dual carriageways the Leaf could have made it there and back without charging if I’d been prepared to arrive home almost empty. This is where range anxiety starts. I wanted to enjoy the drive without a constant mentality of driving to save miles at the end of the journey. Owning an electric car doesn’t have to be like this. So I was going to enjoy the drive at normal motorway speeds using the cruise control as I would in any other car. 

A look at Zap Map showed rapid chargers on the way. With a short diversion Southampton M27 services has Ecotricity chargers. Sutton Scotney services n the A34 and a Genie Point at Thruxton itself. Then checking out PlugShare revealed new Genie Point chargers at Weyhill services on the A303 near Thruxton.

The easiest thing to do was to get to Thruxton and use the rapid charger in the car park. Initially I didn’t want to do this even though it’s the most sensible option because Genie Point charge a £1 connection fee on top of the 30p kW for the charge. This extra pound makes the electricity more expensive for half a battery full, it took 14kW. Then I had a talk to myself and told myself that even with the connection fee the cost of fuel is still a fraction of that I was paying for petrol. Running an EV can make you stingy.

I went for the easy option and used the Genie Point rapid at Thruxton. There was a small second box there as well with 2 type 2 connectors for slower charging. By the time I’d said hello to fellow SDIA members my battery was full. So I disconnected and we were taken to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance base at the aerodrome in the middle of the race circuit.

Air Ambulance

Members of SDIA have embraced fund raising for the Air Ambulance with a lot of enthusiasm. From our visit it’s easy to see why. Our goal is to raise £7,500 in 2019 which is half of a day’s running costs. The Air Ambulance is an essential service for Hampshire which is funded entirely by charitable donations.

Before we started raising money for the service I thought the Air Ambulance was simply a helicopter that got people to hospital quickly, they are so much more than that. They are teams of paramedics trained to a higher level than ambulance paramedics along with A and E consultants. These teams respond quickly travelling to where they are needed using the helicopter and two cars. It’s like taking an A and E department to the scene.

HIOWAA Helicopter in actionThe helicopter is equipped with a stretcher and can take patients quickly to hospital. A life saver from remote rural areas which can’t be accessed by ambulances. It’s also a vital service for the Isle of Wight where they rely on trauma centres on the mainland and where a slow ferry trip is out of the question. It’s  able to land in a an area the size of a tennis court and capable of night flight. Space is cleverly used with seating for the medical team around a stretcher that rotates and pulls out of the side door.

HIOWAA training room Training is important to the Air Ambulance crew. We were shown a room with a dummy laying in the middle of the floor and projectors hanging from the ceiling. The room can simulate different situations for training, such as a noisy night club or building site, by projecting onto all four walls.

I’m pleased to be part of the SDIA fund raising effort this year helping to keep this vital service operating. We have lots of events happening. Myself and two other SDIA members, Tanya and Peter, are doing a 5K run at Eastleigh Airport on the runway. After entering I wondered what they did with the aeroplanes. Then it was pointed out to me the run is at 4:00am!!!

It was a pleasant day catching up with fellow SDIA members and motivating us to raise more money for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. The journey was pleasant in the Leaf. Electric cars are so quiet and smooth it makes motorway journeys a pleasure. Charging isn’t an issue and keeping the car charged is easy and convenient. Yes, charging an electric car is convenient. The public charging infrastructure is constantly improving making running an EV on long trips easy.

The Day Portsmouth Launched on Street Charging

Electric Instructor Charging Nissan Leaf

The on street chargers in Portsmouth are being installed. It resulted in me attending a launch for the media at the first charge point installed as well as being interviewed on the radio.

Lamp Posts Charge Cars

This is really good news the charge points are going in. The one across the road from me is still two green paint marks on the kerb with red paint marks on the pavement and lamp post, it should be installed over the next week.

The first of the 37 has been installed and Portsmouth City Council arranged a media launch with council employees, the councillor and representatives of Ubitricity involved in the project attending. Oh, and yours truly had an invite. As a result of this invite I also had an invite to do an interview on the Julian Clegg breakfast show on BBC Radio Solent the same day.

On the Radio

Electric Instructor at BBC Portsmouth
My Radio Moment at BBC Portsmouth

My day began with a visit to the BBC Portsmouth studio in Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth’s dockside shopping and entertainment destination. I left the Leaf in the underground car park connected to a Polar destination charger and went to the studio. It’s above a row of restaurants with a glass front facing out towards the busy entrance to the port. There was a room to one side where I sat in front of a microphone with headphones on linked to the Southampton studio. Then I was live on air. It was a unique experience. Every time Julian asked a question I had a moment when my inner voice said “oh no I have to say something sensible”. Despite this it all went well.

First Charge Point Installed

Electric Instructor Portsmouth EV Charging
From left to right: James Everley (ubitricity), Hayley Chivers (Portsmouth City Council), Glen Arnold (resident) Colin Martin (resident), Alexi Stone-Peters (ubitricity) and Cllr Lynne Stagg (Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport).

Then later the same day to the media launch at the first roadside charging point. The key people who have made this happen were there. It was a proud moment for all involved. I was interviewed by Portsmouth CouncilPortsmouth News and the local BBC TV crew which involved me being on BBC South Today news reports the following Tuesday. They filmed me arriving and driving into the charging space with my driving school roof box on the car. Another inner voice moment “no pressure, don’t hit the kerb”.

Building Charging Infrastructure

These charging points are a significant statement of intent by Portsmouth that it recognises the future is in electric vehicles. If people want to live, work and use cars and vans in a city like Portsmouth where off street parking is rare, a charging infrastructure has to be built.

The solution is elegant. Sockets in lamp posts. If the lamp post is to the back of the pavement small roadside posts are installed by the kerb and wired to the lamp post under the pavement. They’re easily used by scanning a QR code on a plate on the street lamp or by plugging in a special Smart Cable bought from Ubitricity. Using the smart cable means Ubitricity recognise the cable for billing so charging starts immediately and the electricity is priced at a lower rate. Scanning the QR code requires payment details to be entered on your phone. Updating to LED street lamps makes this all possible as there is spare capacity in the infrastructure to charge cars because the LED lights consume a lot less electricity.

Early Adopter

Electric cars have been with us a few years now so I wouldn’t consider myself an early adopter of the technology. The cars and vans that are about to be launched show the car manufacturers commitment to an electric future with a lot of longer range more mainstream models. I do, however, consider myself an early adopter of an electric car, in an urban environment, without permanent off street parking, an emerging public charging network and using it for driver training.

Doing a reasonably high mileage these charge points will make a big difference to my life as an EV owner. For nearly a month now I’ve had to rely on the single rapid charger in the city and sit in the car while it charges for 30 to 40 minutes daily. Returning home and connecting to an overnight charge will make my Leaf as convenient as using a fossil fuelled car, probably more so. The roadside chargers are the reason I bought the Leaf and I’d like to congratulate Portsmouth City Council for the initiative and hope this is the beginning of an EV future for the residents of Portsmouth and Southsea.

The Cost of Electricity for an EV

Free EV charging
Free Charging at Ocean Retail Park

Two weeks of running my 30kW Nissan Leaf as a driving school car I’ve got a reasonable idea of the cost of electricity for an EV. I’m using public charging and relying mainly on rapid charging until the roadside chargers are installed by Portsmouth City Council. While a lot of my motivation to run an EV is environmental there has to be a cost saving to make it worthwhile.

In the first two weeks of ownership I’ve done a 137 mile Journey on motorways and dual carriageway, a few local trips with a majority of use being driving lessons. There were two rapid charges on the long trip which were high priced electricity and the rest using Polar chargers in the city.

Electricity Costs

  • Polar £13.55
  • Ecotricity £3.66
  • Genie Point £7.28
  • Total £24.49
  • Total Miles 623
  • Pence per mile 3.93

The Ecotricity and Genie Point were relatively expensive single charges at 30p per kWh for the Ecotricity and 20.945p per kWh for the Genie Point with an additional £1.00 connection charge. They were, however, based on main highways and an essential facility for a long drive. The Polar charger is a local rapid and this is multiple charges at 10.8p per kWh.

As a comparison with a car doing 50 miles per gallon, 50 miles of electricity has cost £1.96 comparing with a Gallon of petrol currently about £5.40. Or looking at it another way it’s equivalent to 137 miles a gallon. A significant saving even relying on the public charging network. If you have off street parking and an economy 7 electricity tariff these costs could be even less.

All of the energy used has been from green sources according to the suppliers websites which means that total emissions for the 623 miles has been zero. A very small contribution to help slow climate change and improve the air quality in Portsmouth and Southsea.

Free Fuel

Since I compiled these figures I’ve also used a couple of destination chargers. These are slower chargers based at retail destinations. One at Ocean Retail Park in Portsmouth where I spent half an hour in the shops and plugged the car in resulting in 15 miles of free fuel. The second at West Quays in Southampton. A shopping trip to Ikea resulted in a few hours parking. Plugging into the free charger took the battery from 55% to 98% and parking cost £3.20 which I would have paid for in a fossil fuelled car anyway.

I’m presuming these chargers are free as an incentive to attract people to shop there. Whether we have to pay for them in the future remains to be seen. The charging units at West Quays are very simple with a mechanical on and off switch rather than starting with an app or contactless card. They would all need upgrading to be able to charge for electricity.

Even relying on public charging I can see the Leaf is going to be significantly less expensive to run than a fossil fuelled car over an annual 20,000 miles. The  roadside charging points Portsmouth City Council are installing will make life a lot more convenient than using the rapid charger. Slower lower rate charging will be kinder to the battery long term as well.