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Eight things about electric cars

13 April 2014 by Amy Hansford

After several years in my trusty Skoda Yeti, we have traded it in for a newer model. Not just new – an entirely different kettle of fish. We’ve got a Nissan Leaf. An electric car. Now, while I like my gadgets, I rarely understand them. People happily spout off EV (Electric Vehicle) stats at me and I look at them, smile and nod.

With this in mind, I thought it a good idea to blog about our new car in a way that I can understand it, blow everyone else.

1. We have a 100% electric vehicle*

Our Yeti was a diesel car. You can get hybrid cars where they run a bit on electric AND a bit on diesel or unleaded petrol. Our Nissan Leaf is completely electric, so everything runs off of a battery. Or several. Not sure. Either way, I don’t have to put any petrol in it; I just charge it up when I need to (see below).

Silent Ninja Car

It looks like a real car and everything.

2. It is really easy to charge up

Of an evening, I pop the little hood on the front (see the blue Nissan badge?) and plug in the charger, which is just a cable which comes off the charging point in the garage. It takes about 4 hours to fully charge the battery. It’s on a timer so it’ll only charge when it’s cheap, i.e. between 11pm-7am as we’re on that electricity tariff. (We can charge it whenever we want, but we are frugal.)
If we’re on the run and need a fast recharge we can use a Rapid Charger – there’s loads of these about; at Ikea, Nissan garages and along the motorways in the service station car parks. These charge up your battery to about 80% in about half an hour.
There are more chargers around town (the things in car parks that aren’t ticket machines) but you have to pay for those and I can’t be bothered.

3. It is much much cheaper for us to run

Diesel vs Electricity
I was spending around £140/month on diesel. We are now spending £15 ish a month on electricity instead. So that’s an average of £1680/year vs £180/year. So, you know. Duh.

Road tax
There is none. It is free. For now. They’ll get wise eventually and start charging, but for now it’s free, which is about £250 cheaper than before.

Charging away from home
At the moment (again), I pay £10 a year for each of the two charging networks that I am likely to use. Ecotricity do the motorway rapid chargers and Source East do the ones in London. This annual fee covers my rapid charging usage. So that’s an extra cost of £20 a year. Well BOO HOO.

Both liquid fuel vehicles and electric vehicles need services and MOTs so we’ll keep those costs on. As a basic view, we’re looking at a rough saving of £1730. PER YEAR. You heard me.

4. It even makes its own electricity on the go

Every time you brake in the Nissan Leaf, or even just take your foot off the accelerator to slow down, it uses the friction off the fact you’re still moving to create energy (Regenerative Braking). This goes towards powering cool car things like the music player, camera, air con etc. Also, Doctor Who “regenerates”, which makes this even cooler.


“You see that car there? That’s a damned good car, that is.”

5. It is well nice

I thought we would be dropping down with a big jolt from the luxury of the Skoda Yeti. Not so. I have heated seats, loads of space, a damned fine looking car, leather interior… It’s just really really nice, okay?
It’s also really bloody nippy. Having owned a Renault Clio, Skodas, a BMW 1 class and a SmartCar Roadster, this is by far the quickest, nippiest car I have ever driven. 0-30mph in WOAH. 0-70mph in Well That’s Fine Then. You weren’t expecting it to be fast, were you?

6. It gets us as far as we need to go

This is the bit you were wondering about, right?
On a full battery, we have a range of 86 miles. In the real world, this ends up being about 60 miles. But you know what? That’s all we need. I live and work in MK; I really don’t need any more than that, and mostly I only need to recharge every other night.
For longer journeys we stop off every now and again for a quick rapid charge at the services. Yes, it’s a bit of a longer journey and yes, it means we do a bit of planning before we leave. But it means we get regular breaks, we can stretch our legs and it makes us slow our lives down a little, which is shockingly overlooked these days.
Don’t get me wrong – we still have our Skoda Octavia for lonnnnng journeys. But in the main, we’ll use our Leaf where we can.

7. It is full of geek cool stuff

I have cameras for when I reverse. One looks like I have a tiny helicopter overhead, broadcasting my position to me.
It has satnav and heated seats etc (most new cars do these days).
Press a button and it’ll show you a map of the nearest charging points (filterable), your current driving range, even how you’re ranking within the UK/Europe/the World in terms of eco-ness.
I can put the heating on in the car from my phone. Bring it, snow.
The better for the environment you drive (i.e. the less you ram it), the more little trees you can make on your dashboard. I am obsessed with growing trees.
It makes as much noise as an electric lightbulb, i.e. none. It is silent. As such, to stop people getting run over (because they don’t bother looking**) it plays out a noise that sounds like Marty McFly’s hoverboard, which makes this car insanely cool.

Don't worry about the warning lights - I'd got the range down to 3 miles!

Four trees. Count them. FOUR.

8. You should totally get one.

If you are looking at changing your car in the next few years, do look into Electric Vehicles. They are only going to get better, the rapid charging points are more and more available and it makes so much sense financially let alone environmentally. We paid an additional £1,500 on top of the trade in for our Yeti to get this, a second hand top spec Tekna model Nissan Leaf with only 1890 miles on it, and we will make that back in the first year easily.

If you have any questions, do go ahead and ask them in the comments. If anyone is going to be able to explain it in an easy way, it’s me – I don’t understand stuff any more complex than that!

* I don’t care if you have found some percentage of it which is not electric. I really don’t give a jot. Go away.
** This statement does not include people who are blind or partially sighted because Obviously.


  1. Great to hear the Leaf is working for you.

    Just out of curiosity did you use it to go on your holiday at Hoburne Naish?
    If not, would you have if there was a charge point there?
    Do you now select holiday sites with charge points?

    We have chalet there and I have been trying to encourage the site to install a proper charge point and looking for people that would have used it.


    • Amy says:

      Hi Rob,

      We did take the Leaf on this one. At the time of our visit, the charging network wasn’t great in the area, meaning we had to double back a bit on our route back just to charge enough to make it to the next charging point! We went back to Hoburne Naish again this Easter and took our petrol care for convenience – the lack of charging points impacted our travel choices.

      When we did take the Leaf, we ran a charging cable from the car, through the window of the lodge and into a regular plug socket to charge. Doable, but a faff. Having an actual charging point (or two) at Hoburne Naish would make things much simpler and would encourage us to use the Leaf on such journeys in the future. The availability of charging points is definitely something we look into more and more when planning holidays now. I think it’d be silly for Hoburne Naish NOT to invest in one – a slow charger would only be around £200 to install, so they could easily install two and see how it goes.

      I hope this helps your cause!

      Best wishes,


      • Hi Amy,

        Thanks a lot for the summary.

        In order to promote electric vehicles, I always ask before booking if a location has a charge point so at least they know there is demand, even if an adhock approach is finally used.

        Anyway, I will keep you informed of progress.


      • Amy,

        Can you please email me as I would like to have some sensitive questions.


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