Day 2: My first electric vehicle experience

Toyota Auris

Toyota Auris

Following Eleanor's first experience driving the Renault Zoe, and her initial range anxiety, she decided to carry out some further research...

Is a hybrid the answer?

"...Hence, in came the Toyota Auris Hybrid. Using both petrol and electricity, I thought this would be perfect for a longer road trip. The Auris wasn’t plugged in when I found it and there wasn’t an obvious guage displaying the battery percentage, but the petrol tank was full enough for my practice run so I set off. It felt natural to drive and the brakes were much less sensitive than the Zoe which I liked. Immediately, I thought this would be the perfect companion to take on our trip. 

This plan fell through when E-Car Club sent me an email saying all of the Auris they had were going to be taken for maintenance checks so I couldn’t use them. Not exactly what I wanted to hear, so I went back on my researching game and came across the Nissan Leaf I barely even glanced twice at the first version of the Leaf as it seemed so similar to the Zoe, but this second version looked much better as it has a 180-mile range. I had seen this car advertised before but was thrown off by the E-pedal, not realising that it was a function you could switch on and off. I assumed it only had one pedal! 

Not enough charge!

It was too late to fit in a practice run in, so I went to pick it up the night before our road-trip and hoped for the best. What a nightmare this experience was! I unplugged the car as usual and was disheartened as I got behind the wheel and noticed there was only 37% charge. Never mind, I thought, I could always charge it en-route the next morning.

How do I drive this thing?!!

I pressed the start button and tried to lift off the handbrake - but, wait...there was no handbrake! What do I do now? I decided to “Google it” but to no avail. The videos described either a third pedal to the left of the brake pedal, or a switch next to the gear stick as being the parking brake, neither of which I could find. 

Nissan Leaf

Nissan Leaf

I tried reversing thinking that perhaps it would automatically come off, and voilᾁ! The car moved! I stopped the car once I was out of the space and put it in drive to move off, at which point I was greeted by a loud, ear-piercing, screeching noise. The parking brake was definitely not off! I cursed under my breath - I’d already been in the car for 45 minutes trying to figure all of this out. I exchanged phone calls with my partner for another half an hour before I was ready to give up. By then, it was 22:15 so I was pretty tired and agitated. 

I remembered there was an emergency number to call E-Car, so I called and was reassured that there was in fact the third pedal I’d seen in the videos, it was just tucked up right in the corner, near-invisible to the eye and not obvious when I was feeling around with my foot. I pushed my left foot down into what I assumed was just the floor of the footwell, and was met with the familiar clicking sound of a parking brake as I pushed the pedal down. Success! One hour and fifteen minutes after I'd started, and I was off. I felt very stupid! 

It was a lovely car to drive and I took a couple of extra turns on the way home just to drive it for a bit longer..."

**Coming soon: the next step in Eleanor's EV journey...

  • Where are the charge points?

  • My conclusion

  • My favourite car

Is it time to introduce EV Charging at the office?


As the EV revolution rolls on and picks up steam (remember that!) in 2018, more and more businesses are looking into what will be required to keep up. As it is clear that hybrids will be the first step for the majority of adventurous drivers, a lot of new hybrids come with the ability to be plugged in. So, you are surely asking yourself, why not use the little EV engine in a hybrid to reduce your CO2 emissions each and every commute to work you do. Then, building on that, why not have chargers installed at work so you can drive home, or least partly home, on the EV tank again. To entertain these thoughts, the best place to start is to try and answer a couple of questions. 

1. Do you have a genuine need or at least potential for having EV charging at work?

The answer to this one should be quite easy. Do you drive a hybrid, or does anyone at the office drive one? If they do, there is a good chance it can be plugged in. If it can be, then the answer to the question is yes. Moving on. 

2. Think ahead, what does that mean?

The answer to this question is when EV charging equipment is installed, there are several prerequisites needed. In some cases, things like ground works and circuit board upgrades are needed and in others, the job can be very basic, with some drilling and screwing being all that has to be done. Either way, you will need to know if your electrical supply can handle EV charging and don't forget to ask, while you are at it, how many charge points are required. You will need to know if ground works are required and if things like conduit need laying. Finally, you will need to know what the whole thing is likely to cost.

We have been watching the trends of EVs around the world and in some parts of the world, EV charging is actually used as a lure to new employees and to some, EV charging is almost becoming expected. Considering we in the UK, well largely, are still catching up with such trends, it isn't hard to imagine that we will catch up and hence, it could be worthwhile thinking about how EV charging will be something that develops from appearing once on a balance sheet when you paid, what you might have thought was a pricey installation fee, to becoming part of all transport related aspects of your business and need we say, your personal life too.

If you are curious about what we have been reading, these are some of our sources:

ChargePoint ; PodPoint ; CleanTechnica ; FullyCharged