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Electric Vehicles: An expert’s journey on a Leaf

With the UK planning to ban petrol and diesel cars in 2040, and with the Government’s renewed commitment of £540 million to boost the number of electric vehicles (EV) on our roads, I set myself on a 600-mile journey aboard an electric vehicle to raise awareness on the many benefits they can bring to large companies like WSP

 

As part of my work in the energy team at WSP, I set off on a two days journey from Exeter to King’s Lynn to inspect two major solar farms we’re currently working on. My role involves the inspection of renewable energy plants for investors.

My journey starts before dawn as I unplug my Nissan Leaf from the home charger and head out onto the motorway. This lovely car is no milk float and can sit at motorway speed very comfortably. EVs are also very responsive and the acceleration is instantaneous. 

After sitting at 70mph for an hour and a half it’s time to stop and recharge, as the battery is now well below 30%. The Ecotricity Electric Highway network covers the motorway and a large proportion of the main road network with 50kW DC chargers that can take my Leaf up to 90% in half an hour - which is just enough time to check my emails and have a cup of tea.

The trip to Exeter required two rapid stops on the way down, and after another few hours on the motorway I arrived at the solar farm, overlooking the sea. The usual discussion on electric vehicles follows when the client I am meeting notices the car: “Yes it can last for 120 miles, no the warranty is eight years, and yes it is very fast.”

I don’t need to top up to get back to the nearest rapid charger but given the fact we will be parked here for four hours, I take the opportunity. I’m sure my Leaf prefers the taste of fresh solar electricity anyway!

Day two sees a repeat of the previous day, except that I am now heading East and only require a single rapid charge on the way, pulling into a services just North of Cambridge.

After a quick stop to recharge I am on site an hour later and the solar farm manager is a little surprised to be handed a plug, along with the request for some lovely clean solar juice.

Some people might think an electric might not be good for a long range journey, and that it’s not much better than a town car. I would argue that my Leaf has proved itself quite capable on the road, not to mention the emissions and cost savings, and more companies should look at encouraging their employees to use electric cars for work.

Gavin Roberts, associate in the energy team at WSP