Last week, I delivered another pre-loved 1st Generation LEAF to a customer at the other end of the country (in this case, it was near Brighton, East Sussex).
The LEAF journey down was fairly straightforward, with the exception that I set off much later than planned (3pm from Burnley), so I copped for all the traffic around Birmingham at rush hour. There were several car accidents in the rain, and so it took me till 8pm to reach Warwick Services on the M40. After that, the roads were clear, although the rain got torrential as I got down to the M25, and M23, so I didn’t arrive in Newhaven until 1am (a total of 10 hours). Premier Inn was my saviour in this case – the 24 hour reception service coming in very useful for a weary traveller like me.
The following morning, I met with the customer (John), and completed the paperwork before setting off in John’s old car – a 2007 Vauxhall Astra 1.9 CDTi SRI. The Astra was in good condition, and had recently had £1000 spent on a new timing belt, DMF, and clutch, but with a 6-speed Manual gearbox, and a diesel engine, it was quite a shock to my system after getting so used to drifting along in silence in the LEAF.
The traffic on the way back wasn’t much kinder, and the journey still took me from 10am through to 5pm (7 hours), despite not needing to stop to charge like I did in the LEAF.
As I drove back to Burnley, I started to think about the impact of the emissions of this journey, compared to my electric journey on the way down.
Many people who criticise Electric vehicles tend to use phrases like “it’s just a coal powered car”, as they say that because the National Grid uses a lot of dirty coal/gas power to generate electricity, then the electric car is really just shifting the emissions from the tailpipe to a power station. This isn’t actually true.
You see, the Ecotricity-provided “Electric Highway” rapid charge points on the motorway are all offset by Ecotricity’s Wind Turbines, so the carbon footprint of the electricity used is very small indeed. They are also all free to use, so the cost is very low too!
To give you an idea, this journey was 312 miles each way. On the way down, I stopped at Ecotricity rapid chargers several times, using a total of 74.88kWh of electricity. Wind turbines have an average lifetime grams of CO2 per kWh of 11. So for the whole journey, the amount of CO2 generated was 823 grams. Wind turbines do not emit Nitrogen Oxides (NOx), or Particulate Matter (PM), so they’re both zero grams.
By comparison, the journey back in the Astra used 5.4 gallons of diesel (this translates to 58mpg, which is down to my relaxed “eco-friendly” driving style, as the official combined mpg figure is 49!). 5.4 gallons (24.5 litres) of diesel costs about £27 at the moment (@£1.09 per litre).
The tailpipe emissions of the Astra works out as 63 kg of CO2, 12.55 grams of Particulate Matter, and 125.5 grams of NOx. Not only that, but the refining and transport of the diesel to the petrol station in the first place also adds a further 15 kg of CO2, and 38 grams of Nox and PM combined.
So the total CO2 emission of the Astra’s journey was 78kg, which is 94 times more than in the LEAF. If the Astra was driven by a less light-footed driver, the figures would be even worse.
As a footnote, I have to say that despite being stuck in some truly horrific traffic jams in the LEAF on the M6, I never felt stressed, whereas the stop-start traffic on the M25 in the Astra was horrible. Having to shift between 1st, 2nd, and then stopping, then back to 1st etc, really took it’s toll on my left knee (clutch foot). I’m so used to just driving with one-foot in the single-geared LEAF, that I found it really hurting after a while.
So the LEAF is easier to drive, costs less to run, and causes less pollution.
What’s not to love?