I was really really excited last spring to find out I had been selected to be an ecar ambassador for The Great Electric Drive this year!
But at the same time a bit apprehensive, I mean, what are electric cars actually like?
|My niece Emily getting on the low emissions bandwagon....|
|The Renault Twizy, on display in Dundrum TC|
As it turns out, they are just like any other car, only nicer.
|My Nissan Leaf.|
The specs are great. Built in sat nav, blue tooth and a great sounding stereo. There is a little camera yoke in the back that comes on when reversing so you can see if any of the latest batch of children under 3 feet tall are behind you. Electric cars are spookily quiet and the smallish children in our estate are notoriously ignorant of large moving objects like cars when scoot/skate/footballing across our drive.
After driving my diesel Nissan Juke for 2 years - a small car that sounds like a M*A*S*H helicopter taking off, (people duck when they hear it) the Leaf feels like you are floating in a cushion of air.
It is also automatic but not lazy like the cheaper automatics I've driven when I go home to Aus. It has great torque when you need it to overtake on a hill, but there is a catch...
You have to stop overtaking people on hills.
The range of the Leaf is supposed to be 145 kms on full charge. A full charge at home (where esb ecars installed a charge point for me) takes over 5 hours.
But if you drive like I do, well, like I used to, then that range is vastly reduced. No more speeding up and overtaking on motorways. I've had to slow down and even out my driving a LOT since I got it.
Even then, my daily commute to get the kids to school is 38 kms of motorway driving each way. So I could use over 50% of my charge just doing the morning school run if I don't take it easy. I open windows instead of using the air con and never charge my phone.
That kind of freaked me out, because we are entering flu season and there is every likelihood that I can arrive home after dropping the kids off, only to get a phone call telling me that one of them has just got sick and I have to come straight back.
Without the 4-5 hours to recharge, I could be running on empty.
The M50/M11 which is basically my highway is also very poorly served with fast charge units. There are standard chargers in Sandyford, "The Park" Shopping Centre and the Luas stop at Carrickmines but they take as long as my home charge and there is only so long you can spend wandering around Woodies or TK Max.
Well, today I had a few errands to do around Greystones and Kilcoole so I decided to pootle up the highway to Cullenmore (past Newcastle) and do a fast charge at the big motorway services there.
It took less than 15 minutes to get back up to 80% charge (over a 100 km range) and it took me only 20kms out of my usual commute. It was also very reassuring to stand there and watch the charging meter going beyond the 50% mark so quickly.
Yes, I have become obsessed with my charge since I became the caretaker of an electric car. It is not unlike those people who carry their iPhone charger everywhere and are always looking for a place to plug it in (I used to scorn them)
I actually wandered over to the services to get an early lunch (Burger King meal of the day, very nice hot chippies) then came back to eat it on the boot of the car because it was such a nice sunny day and the outdoor tables were full of smokers.
But in truth there is not a lot to do on the side of the N11 in Cullenmore, County Wicklow. Even the 3G coverage is woeful and there is no wifi (NO WIFI!!! ahhh the humanity!!)
This is all fine for me. Now that I'm a stay at home Mum again, I do actually have "all day" to charge my car while I potter around the house. But there is an absolute dearth of charging stations in Greystones, so going down the village to do errands means either walking or letting the car run low on charge. I don't mind walking but I don't like carrying big things like juice boxes or soda water home on my back.
I'm not the only Eco-nut in the village. There at least 2 other privately owned Nissan Leafs that I have seen in the last 2 weeks. We live in a beautiful seaside village with lovely outdoorsy coffee shops, we have a regular eco friendly transport service in the Dart; why don't we have charging stations?
So this is my mission for now: Drive smarter, walk a bit more and campaign for fast chargers on the M50 and in Greystones. Because I am heartily converted to this ecar lifestyle. Now I want everyone else to be too.