Going Electric!

(The article below previously appeared on our website earlier in the year, but we are including it again, as it is particularly relevant at this moment in time).

We have lately made a change to our mobility. After a lot of discussion and much soul-searching, and because we are trying on all fronts to be green and do our bit for the environment, we have traded in our VW Polo and bought a Nissan Leaf ELECTRIC CAR!!

I thought it might be interesting for others to know some of the pros and cons that we thought about along the way.

We firstly thought of the rental option. If you want to go green, why have a car at all? There are lease options which mean that you don’t actually own the car, but pay a monthly fee for it. A friend of ours pays about £70 a month for an electric Nissan which covers all costs and which mean that you can drive a petrol-free car with no responsibilities. My son, Toby, who lives in a city doesn’t own a car, but uses the Co-Wheels option of hiring when he needs to move around. He really enjoys driving an all-electric car because ‘it is so quiet,’ and he says, ’changes the way you drive’. The infrastructure to support the electric version is ‘now getting better and better’. He should know as he travels on the motorway much more than we do nowadays.

We looked into the various models that are being sold by dealers all over. BMW, Fiat, Vauxhall, Audi and VW to name a few, all do what look to be excellent cars. All of them drive beautifully, have bags of extras, are fully automatic, quiet and have zero emissions. What is there not to like!

We could have gone down the hybrid option. We thought about it. But, we would still be buying petrol. That was not really moving in an environmentally friendly way. We discarded that idea!

We went for a test drive in a Nissan Leaf. It was amazing. I was not prepared for just how quiet and smooth the drive would be. There is no engine noise because of course there is no engine! It looks like a car, but it is quite different from the conventional combustion engine. Many people worry about the price of the battery and what happens when it gets old. The Nissan model does not have a battery that needs replacing. During servicing the cells of the battery will be changed as they deteriorate.

We decided to buy and went through with part exchange. The dealer was very fair, gave us a good price for our Polo and a week later we were bringing home our electric version of our car.

The salesman had breezed over the fact that we would need a charging point at home and told us that there was a government grant that was available for this that would be claimed by BP Chargemaster, the firm that fitted the charging point. When we picked up the car I said very clearly that the firm had not been in touch to make an appointment. When would it happen? ‘Oh, they’re only interested in you when you’ve bought the car’ said he.

Three weeks later, several rather officious phone calls from what was supposed to our electrical adviser, some photos of our property and where we wanted the point to go and some remedial work done by Brights the electricians, and then the BP Chargemaster electrician came to fit our charge point. It was quite a performance. On reflection, we could have done things differently. New technology, new ways of working, we were unprepared.

Another pitfall that must be addressed before a cleaner, electrical world can go forward is the infrastructure that has to support it. We don’t do a huge mileage up and down the country anymore. We have bought our electric car to be local and so charging at home and working within the 160 mile charge that the battery holds will be fine. There are charging points now being put into place up and down the country. There is one at the American Diner car park on the A49. There is also one at the Etnam Street car park in Leominster and a new one being prepared for use on the long stay car park by the fire station in Leominster. All three of these points run on a different system which is very confusing and frustrating for everyday use in my opinion. What we need is a system that is as good as the petrol station version that electric will replace, hopefully soon.

Gerlinde Atkins-Child