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 2.zero. 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