Our Cars: Nissan Leaf Tekna

14 February 2019: Five things no-one ever tells you about owning an electric car

The Details

Current mileage 8989
Claimed range 168
Actual range 110

We’re constantly fed a stream of images and information aimed at making us believe electric cars are the future. Make no mistake, electric cars are great. They offer instant acceleration without having to mess about with gears. It’s the kind of acceleration that make you feel like you’re in a Ferrari.

They’re also way more economical when it comes to a pence-per-mile running cost comparison. Every car (and driver) is different, but last month we covered 891 miles in our Leaf costing us just £35 in electricity.

Most importantly, they’re zero emissions – no small thing when you remember 40,000 deaths every year are linked to air quality. And then there’s cost savings and incentives on offer – the government grants, the ultra-low emission zone, congestion charging exemption, no VED to pay, discount parking permits…

But there are some serious downsides to EV ownership (apart from the obvious things like not being able to do high-mileages on a single charge). So here are five things we’ve learnt in our three months of living with an electric car.

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One. No one ever tells you that your boot will be a write off.  Our Leaf’s is covered in tangled wires and muddy charges. Unlike some its rivals, the Leaf comes with storage bags for the leads and a couple of storage pockets in the side of the boot… but most of the time leads just get thrown in because they’re a muddy tangled mess.

Two. You’ll need a constant supply of latex gloves, baby wipes and hand cleaner.  Why? Because every time you charge up either at home or at charge point, you’ll be handling leads that are covered in muck. And remember, there’s no nice canopy over the charge point like there is at the Shell garage.

Three. You’ll have apps and accounts coming out of your ears. An app for your car, an app for various charge points, an app showing you the charge points across the UK. And they all judge you. The Nissan Leaf app, for example, constantly reminds you that you’re not good enough. Specifically, I’m ‘below average’ because I don’t drive economically.

Four. Sometimes you get free charge.  Arriving at our local Ecotricity fast charge is a lottery. Sometimes it’s just not working, leaving you panicking about if you’ll make it home/to the next charger. Other times, someone’s parked their diesel Ford Transit in a bay. Occasionally, we find ourselves in a Leaf shaped traffic jam. But sometimes, just sometimes, we arrive and it’s broken and therefore dispensing free electricity.

Five. You have to talk to people. Pull up at a petrol station and fill up your Focus and no-one interrupts you. Not so in a Leaf. Sometimes you have to talk to other Leaf owners, who are all better at driving their EV than you, sometimes it’s just random members of the public who want to what it’s like owning an EV. Either way, I can’t multi-task so invariably I mess up the app or the buttons on the charge point and have to start again.

« Earlier: What is the real world range of the Nissan Leaf?     Later: Why is the Nissan Leaf EV app so bad? »

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