#evdriver to the test Ft. the Nissan Leaf 2.0

Hello everyone, it’s Steve and Charlie back again with another ‘#evdriver to the test’ entry. If it is your first time reading, we co-write our entries and so Steve is in normal text and I’m in italics. We’d also like to introduce our new hashtag: #beanevdriver.

The day’s task was to visit some of our charging stations for a regular service and maintenance check up while road testing another Plug-in Electric vehicle.

Announcing the new Nissan Leaf courtesy: Hammond Nissan of Bury St. Edmunds.

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The Leaf 2.0 is Nissan’s second gen. Leaf and it packs a 40kW battery, a new powertrain, with a slightly bigger 6.6kW onboard inverter and a bunch of upgrades, but of significance – the E Pedal. A pedal designed to enable single foot driving by braking when you lift your foot off the accelerator and so much so that it brings you to a halt. This as a result shifts most speed reduction to regeneration instead of using brake pads #eco.

As a current user of a Nissan Leaf which incidentally is now 2 years old, this new model felt very similar. However, this car has not just been facelifted, the improvements made surely must be from customer feedback over several years, a benefit of being one of the 1st Electric cars on the market as overall it answers all a family’s motoring needs.

This spacious car was collected early in the morning from Andy, a very helpful customer advisor from Hammond Nissan with a fully charged battery showing a capacity of 174 miles. Once I became familiar with some of the new features especially the e-pedal which regenerates the braking energy back to the battery and “Eco mode” I arrived at our Melton office with 152 miles remaining and the distance travelled was over 40 miles…. very impressed.

As those of you who have driven the Leaf 1.0 will know, the Leaf’s guess at what is left in its tank can sometimes (let’s be honest, most of the time) be very changeable if not unreliable. The Leaf 2.0 has vastly improved upon this. We found it easy to relate the satnav’s mileage with what the car’s computer was guessing and it was steady all the way down to 20 miles left to go!

Charlie had prepared a route and suggested we should visit one of our most distant charging points in Acle, Norfolk at the East of England Co-op. As it was a pleasant day the air conditioning would be needed for some of the journey but, to our surprise using the A/C only effected the battery by 2 miles.

Due to the e-pedal I was able to drive most of the journey without the need to apply extra braking – probably as I am a good driver #professional.

The cars ergonomics were particularly pleasing, and the leather covered steering wheel illustrated a very modern cockpit. A slight disappointment in my opinion when comparing it to a major competitor the BMW i3 was the lack of visibility and the “aeroplane cabin feel” that I loved when testing the German model.

The service check-up was completed without any issues – probably due to the installation of the robust “Ensto” unit which is now getting a lot of use. Charlie performed his tests and we were then on to Darsham, Suffolk – after having a slice of locally produced fruit cake…. Co-op at its best supporting local produce!

The charge point at the Acle Co-op is an ENSTO EVF200, a stainless-steel podium mounted bad-ass charging point. The charger has a brain (microchip – from Atmel) dedicated to each socket and each brain runs the Linux kernel, making it extremely versatile and so, software upgrades as easy and quick. During this maintenance visit, I put the latest firmware on and it builds in all the coolest things out there today, like vehicle-2-grid, dynamic load management (automatic shifting of electrical supply in response to pre-defined thresholds), active load management (defined schedule of supply rates depending on the time of day #smartcharging). These chargers also have a cool feature built in called OCPP based free charging, which means our hosts could have a promotion day and make all charging free, but all activity will be collected and so monitoring continues and enables us at EV Driver to assess how much of a difference free charging made to usage, just as an example.

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Now time to test the sound system….” Drum and Base Charlie…. are you sure?” The system coped with the base but seemed to lack the definition we hoped for and had experienced with the Harman Karden system in the BMW – but that was a cost option. Back to Radio 2 and some easy listening.

Hey some say that Drum and Base is one of the most effective ways to test a system – it combines all the highs and lows into one sweet combination of banging rhythm that always adds to one’s day…

The checks at Darsham and Aldeburgh were standard, and any software updates were completed without fuss as expected. I was able to excite Charlie with my description of tasting the best “Cod and Chips” in the world (opinion) but, horrified we had missed the opening times and then had to make due with a sandwich – albeit a Subway monster from the flagship Woodbridge Co-op.

The chargers at the Darsham and Aldeburgh sites are the Evolt (Circontrol based tech) Urban Dual 22kW units. These are urban, and they have a smaller footprint, with plastic bodies, making installation less disruptive. They also come backed with smart back-office diagnosis capabilities and tools, which for the charge point operator makes life great. In addition to remote monitoring, the units have built-in LCD screens, which we have found to be really useful as they enable quick testing and nice feedback for the end user.

The car was charged in Woodbridge having covered 152 miles for an hour allowing the return of the car to Bury St. Edmunds.

This demonstration of the new larger battery capacity (40kw) Nissan Leaf certainly adds value to the already class-leading car and will take some beating. I would quite happily use this great allrounder daily – 174 miles is almost a week’s motoring.

Look out for our next chapter when we visit some of our stations in the West of East Anglia, just need a car to try- any suggestions?