Mythbusting: Electric cars are only good for short journeys.

I’m currently writing this blog post from a flybe plane (seat 18B if you’re curious). I’ve almost finished my journey for today, which began at 5am when my alarm rudely awoke me from a rather comfy sleep.


I got into my LEAF at about 5.45am, and set off to drive to our Wigan branch (50 miles away). I arrived at 7am, and swapped into a Silver LEAF which it was my duty to deliver to a new customer. The customer (Brian) lives in Bude, on the beautiful Cornish Coast (305 miles from Wigan).


I set off down the M6, with the morning traffic causing hefty queues from Wigan down past Warrington. My first stop was at Stafford Services, about an hour and a half later (57 miles, I told you the traffic wasn’t great). I arrived with 23% left in the battery, and plugged into the free Ecotricity Rapid charger whilst I went inside for some breakfast. 15 minutes later, the LEAF had charged up to almost 70%, and I set off again.


I continued down the M6 and on to the M5, called in at Frankly services, and again topped up to 80%.


Back on the M5, I kept going, past Gloucester, and called into Michaelwood services for a charge and a drink. I charged up from 17% to 80% in 23 mins, and then carried on my journey.


Next stop was at Sedgemoor services. I didn’t need to charge particularly, as I still had 34% in the battery. Sadly the coffee and two bottles of Oasis had worked their way through my system, so I had to stop for comfort rather than for electricity. However, since its free to charge, and it would save me stopping again before Exeter, I popped it on charge whilst I was there, so again in just 12 mins I was back up to 70%.


At Exeter Services, having travelled 250 miles in this car, and 50 in my own earlier, it was definitely time for lunch. The Cornish pasty company satisfied my hunger, whilst the Ecotricity charger filled my LEAF. At these services I met two other EV drivers – a guy in a Peugeot Ion (who also had a LEAF at home), and a gent in a BMW i3 REX (who didn’t really need to charge, as he had 80% charge left, and a petrol engine in the boot if that ran out, but worked round the corner so used the free charger rather than charge at home).


With 86% in the battery, I set off on the final hop to Bude, 60 miles away. I arrived at the customer’s house with 21% left in the battery. However, Brian was due to give me a lift to Exeter Airport so I could get back home. Fortunately there is a Rapid charger in Bude, just 5 mins from Brian’s house.


The Bude charger is a newly installed triple-headed rapid charger on the ChargePoint Genie network. This needs a different RFID card to Ecotricity, and isn’t free,  but as a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card, it works. Less than 20 minutes later, we were charged to 85%, and ready to set off to Exeter.

An hour and 20 mins later, and having had a very interesting chat about renewable energy, solar panels and electric cars on the way, we arrived at the airport in time for my flight back to Manchester. Total distance (in the Silver LEAF) was 365 miles. Energy economy was 4.5 miles per kilowatt-hour, which works out as roughly 1 mile per % on the battery gauge. Total fuel cost for the journey was £7 (thanks to the rather hefty charge for the Bude chargepoint).

To do the same journey in a petrol or diesel car would have probably been around £40. I doubt that I would have arrived feeling quite so fresh as I feel now after 12 hours on the road. The LEAF is so easy to drive, and because you tend to stop for short breaks every 60-90 mins, you don’t get as fatigued as you would driving constantly in a conventional car. The lack of engine noise also means that you are less stressed than you would be normally.

Sadly, this twin-prop Q400-8 I’m in at the moment is very noisy. The rumble of the engines is quite tiring, and you have to raise your voice to hear each other speak.

I’m looking forward to getting in my LEAF when we land, so I can enjoy the peace and quiet once again…


3 thoughts on “Mythbusting: Electric cars are only good for short journeys.

  1. Nigel Hargreaves says:

    Well done Miles. Not sure the refuel stops were actually for you rather than the Leaf!!
    Flybe. …not the best way back is it?
    Safe journey.


    • Miles Roberts says:

      I didn’t use cruise, I used the speed limiter function, set to 65mph. I tended to allow it to slow slightly on hills, and tuck in behind HGVs (so slowing to approx 60mph indicated), then allow it to gather speed on the downhills.
      I had climate control on all the way – it was very cold when I left Wigan!


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