- by Paul O’Neill, Nissan EV Category Manager
KEEN readers of Nissan Insider will know that Nissan, in partnership with Welcome Break and green energy firm Ecotricity, has recently installed three free-to-use EV Rapid Chargers along the motorway network.
They are at at Hopwood Park on the M42, Oxford Services on the M40 and South Mimms on the M25.
We said these chargers linked Britain’s first and second cities, and that LEAF drivers could now drive between London and Birmingham without having to worry about a lack of charge points.
This was theoretical however, and we wanted to prove that we weren’t ‘all mouth and no chargers’ by completing such a journey ourselves. And what better incentive than to visit Birmingham’s NEC to experience first-hand the awesome Nissan LEAF presence at Grand Designs Live?
And so it was I left Nissan HQ at Maple Cross, Rickmansworth, and headed off towards the NEC. The journey was 102 miles, theoretically within the LEAF’s independently verified 109-mile range – but as we know, that figure is based on a mixture of roads, and motorways are not a LEAF’s best friend when it comes to range.
No problem – armed with an Ecotricity swipe-card (get yours here), I could rapid-charge the car at Welcome Break’s Oxford services, and complete the rest of the journey with the confidence of having close to maximum range.
I completed the first leg of the journey, arriving at Oxford services with around 55 miles of charge left. The first thing that struck me was what a great location we had for the Rapid Charger – right at the front of the main building, visible for all visitors still stuck in the ICE age to see.
The charger was also very easy to use, with even a simple guy like me able to navigate the instructions. So I plugged in, let the charging commence, and retreated to the main building for a bite to eat.
One rapid-charge later, and with 106 miles of range, I continued the 66-mile trip to the NEC. Wanting to make absolutely certain I made it with a fair amount of charge to spare, I limited myself to the same speed as the trucks, which was certainly no hardship on the speed-restricted M42 at rush hour on a Friday evening.
I pitched up at the NEC with 22 miles of range to spare, an ample amount to get me to either of the Rapid Chargers close to the NEC – at Colliers Nissan, seven miles away, or Hopwood Park services, 12 miles away.
Conclusions? We’ve always said the LEAF isn’t the right car for customers who plough up and the motorways day in, day out, and my self-imposed speed limit suggested that isn’t about to change.
More work to do
But I felt a real sense that something game-changing was beginning for everybody else. Thanks to the Rapid Chargers, I was confident enough to drive from Maple Cross to the NEC, a journey that I wouldn’t have even considered just two weeks earlier.
And I had ‘filled up’ for free, at a motorway service station – and with the exception of credit card fraudsters not many of us can say that! Last but not least, while the whole journey had produced zero exhaust pipe emissions, the parts powered by Ecotricity’s green, wind-produced electricity had generated virtually no ‘well-to-wheel’ emissions either.
We have more work to do – a few more Rapid Chargers en route would have given me the confidence to press on a bit quicker – but the first three Rapid Chargers on the motorway network demonstrate Nissan’s commitment to a Zero Emissions future. Watch this space!
- Thanks to Colliers Nissan for the use of their rapid charger for the return leg.