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charlie, computer cat

March 2019



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laden coal creature

Decisions, decisions

So, I've found myself thinking relatively seriously over the past few days about whether I should buy an electric car. I can't remember now what prompted the stray thought in the first place, but it's kind of lodged so I thought I'd put it down in typeface for a bit of a further think. So far, my pros/cons list basically looks like this.

1) We're on a 100% green energy electric tariff so the ongoing driving emissions would be close to 0. This is good!
2) The vast majority of my driving happens over short distances (e.g. to and from work). This would be no problem.
3) Here's where we get to the cons. It looks like I might make it to Alex's folks in a single charge, probably (although, because it's speed and temp dependent, I'm not certain of that - we might need a top up). To get to my folks, we'd definitely need a charge. That would add half an hour to the journey, and probably more like 45mins once you factor in actually getting the thing plugged in, the minor diversion to the charge point, etc. On the one hand, that's a bit of a pain. On the other hand, I don't actually hate the idea of having a break in the drive if I know I'm going to need it and plan ahead. An annoyance but not a deal breaker, I would say. Those are the long distance journeys I make most often, by quite some way.
4) Longer trips. If we went to visit [personal profile] coalescent, that would involve an extra hour to ninety minutes (two charges) on a very long journey. On the other hand (a) it's such a long drive that it's already borderline whether we do it in the car or on the train - it's only really the fact that we want to take lots of games that tips the balance and (b) we do it rarely enough that it would be totally reasonable/feasible to just hire a car for the one or two occasions in a year we want to take a trip of that length. I wonder if there are car clubs for borrowing long distance vehicles for electric car owners? I don't think I would consider doing the trip in the electric, but that's not necessarily a problem.
5) I would miss manual transmission. Odd, I know, but true.
6) Cost. I'm putting it down but this is a fairly minor consideration. Running cost would obviously be lower, but there would nevertheless be some financial outlay and there's nothing actually wrong with my petrol car right now, so I'm putting it on the list.

I don't know. I feel an odd disinclination, but I suspect that might be status quo bias rearing it's ugly head. What do you think? Am I talking myself into something silly? Or would it be more rational to have a go?


How common are charging points nowadays? I've noticed far more around Newcastle than I ever remember seeing in Oxford, but I have no idea what the national network is actually like.

I'm sort of hoping the technology (i.e. the batteries, mostly) will be better enough that when my current car starts to get a bit old, in another 5 years or so, it's the logical thing to do. But at the moment since almost all of my driving is long-distance it doesn't quite feel like a feasible shift.
Yeah, one of the motivating factors is that the vast majority of my driving is short distance, around Oxford with a few long distance excursions that are planned in advance, which makes the whole thing much more feasible for me.
Charging point wise, there seems to be a reasonable motorway network, and you can install one at home for £150 or so which is all I'd need in Oxford.
I'm still worried about range.

Picking a Nissan Leaf as an example and rough equivalent to what you have, it looks like will go from 0-80% charged in 1/2 hour at a rapid charge point, which argues that those second and third charges on a journey will give you 65 or so miles per charge not the 84 for a full charge. Also factor in how much shorter that mileage would be with the heating and lights on (which you will need in winter) but maybe on a cold day (-5) it could go down to 50 miles.

There are some figures for real world here http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1082048_nissan-leaf-range-how-much-does-it-lose-in-the-cold. It's noticeable they didn't get the claimed 84 mile range from full charge even under optimum temperature conditions which suggests you'd get even less out of the 30 minute charge.

As you can probably tell, I've been thinking about it as well but the range issue is nowhere near solved for me, and with the actual real world figures it may not be for you unless you decide to use a hire car for long journeys.

Edited at 2015-09-27 07:31 am (UTC)
I wonder what model that was - the claimed range is much higher now (125 miles) so I wonder what the difference on the actual performance is. Still, a very interesting graph - I was thrown for a second by the temp being in F though :) Because my communte is so much shorter than yours, I think it would work fine for me as a communting car even in winter, but I'd definitely want to hire a petrol car for visiting my folks at Christmas by the look of that!
After browsing around on that site, I *think* the model I'm looking at isn't available in the States yet - they describe it as a 2016 model, the one with the 30kwh battery pack. Obviously, there'll still be cold weather issues, but they won't be starting from quite as low a base as that one - more like 100 miles.
I was weighing this up last year and went hybrid instead. The clincher for me was not living somewhere with a reliable parking space where I could get a home charging point fitted, which still feels like a major negative for people in flats or with on-street parking. I'm also holding on a bit to see the range increase a little, but it won't take too much more increase to persuade me. I do miss the manual transmission but not as much as I'd thought I would.

Have you tried driving an electric? Maybe a test drive would help…
Took one yesterday afternoon, and it was a very nice drive, I have to say - much better than I expected at high speeds and felt very comfortable. Not being able to home charge would definitely be a deal breaker for me too - I park in a driveway so I should be able to fit a home charging port quite easily but if that wasn't an option, I don't think I would consider doing the 30 min charge on a regular basis - too much hassle.
The local councils went electric briefly, but we're back on petrol and bicycles now. There are some charge points in Oxford, though the only one springing to mind right now is the one up in Unipart -- and I'm not sure you're allowed to use it if you're not on their magic minis
The charge point map lists one in the Union St carpark but I haven't gone hunting for it yet. You can get one installed at home for pretty cheap, thanks to govt grants so hopefully I won't need to use local charge points much, just when I'm going more long distance.