Electric cars

Up until last week my only experience of electric cars was using the runarounds one can rent by the hour in Nice. I've a pal who lives just beside them and he's convinced electric is the future. He even managed to convince two of his friends to buy Teslas, one in London, no congestion charge and free parking in the West End, and one in Dublin. He was collecting the Dublin bound one for his pal from the Tesla factory in Holland last week and he asked me if I'd like to come along. So, with nothing else in the diary I did. My first surprise was that half the taxis in Amsterdam now seem to be Teslas. The driver of the one we got from the airport said he had traded in his S class Merc two years ago and had now covered over 180,000 Tesla kilometres with no issues apart from a stuck door handle. He said his battery still retains 90% charge capability. The build quality certainly seemed as good if not better than Mercedes'. Not something I've come to expect from US cars.

We collected "our's" in Tilburg and drove it to Dublin over three days via the chunnel, London and Holyhead and I have to say it's a stunning car, exceptionally well built and with outstanding technology. An example is a feature which Tesla says is in beta test but which is actually installed and enabled. This allows the car to steer itself, change lanes and overtake autonomously while one loosely holds the wheel in case of emergencies or system failure. Surprisingly range was never an issue, we travelled from Holland to the Chunnel on one charge while using the cars Porsche type performance all the way. Tesla has installed "superchargers" at strategic points throughout Europe and England has around forty. When you enter your destination into the satnav the car works out a route that will take you there via superchargers, if necessary. Twenty minutes at a supercharger, just time for a coffee, gives you an 80% full battery and it's free!

I'm going to change my diesel sometime in the next twelve months and I was considering buying a more environmentally friendly plug in hybrid. Now I'm wondering if, given my daily milage and the increasing number of superchargers, I could go with pure electric. A Tesla driver I chatted to at a supercharger near Warrington told me he had driven to Austria a couple of weeks before with no recharging issues at all. The current Tesla range is expensive but last week they announced an more affordable model, the 3, with prices starting at $35k and delivery scheduled for 2017. The event generated the sort of excitement normally associated with the late Steve Jobs announcements. Within three days over 300,000 people had reserved a car with a (refundable) deposit of 1K, Tesla had a boost to it's cashflow of a third of a billion last week :-)

In my opinion Tesla is giving the mainstream car (and oil) companies something to think about and no harm there. We may be on the cusp of yet another technology shift that will topple the incumbents.

I didn't book a 3 but maybe I should have.


Hello John

We bought a 4 year old electric Renault Kangoo last October. We do a lot of local mileage for the farm, carting children, deliveries etc. My husband collected it from northern France and drove it down to the Dordogne stopping on route to charge. He used the ap chargemap to find the points to charge at on the way . Its a slightly different spec and price range from the Tesla ;) but we all love it. If we had sufficient funds we would swap all our cars to electric. Quiet, no fumes, good torque and so easy to drive. Cheap to run mechanically and energy wise. We charge on overnight cheap electric.

Go for it.

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John, great post, like to hear more and as Helen stated hybrids are ok if your life suits their electric range. When the smoke and mirrors fade is when you believe they will suit more long range journeys.

In the case of the PHEV Mitsubishi its very heavy with the batteries and electric motors as are many hybrids. If you need heating etc then the electric will run down much sooner and in the case of the PHEV after less than 20 miles then you have a very heavy vehicle runing on fosil fuel at 26 MPG! And that put me right off it completely. There is a good youtube vid of a guy comparing these vehicles near Southampton i think it was.

It has to be a Tesla! providing and in my case the detour shown on their map took me out of my way to get a charge so reducing the overall fun and increasing the journey time. Hopefully they will increse the recharging points and then things will improve, oh and make an estate!

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Yes John, I never really thought about the small petrol engines in the PHEVs having to drag the battries around most of the time.

Sounds great Helen.


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With Renault you pay a rental fee per month for the battery based on a estimated mileage and then they replace them when they fall below 75 percent charging capacity. Other companies have different policies but watch out as if you have to replace your own you are loking at 6000 euros (!). They are updating the tech all the time on the batteries so whatever you buy make sure the new batteries are designed to fit in older models of car that may have a different shape of load area for the batteries.

During the cold weather batteries do not have the same charging capacity. All our cars are not garaged. It is noticeable between January and end of March and you will need to take that into acount with regard to distance, charging etc.

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Anyone got any updates? have you bought an electric vehicle, hopefully not a Nissan leaf 2018 as that has battery management issues when fast charging so it’s actually worse than the 2017 model.

I am looking hard at the Kia and Hyundai range with the 64kw battery packs and reasonable price tags when they actually arrive. If I suddenly get lucky the new Jaguar I-pace.

I am interested in how many different companies charge points I would have to set up an account for or will some take the french banque carte?

We’ve been the very happy & proud owners of a Nissan Leaf 2018 2.Zero for nearly a month. My high expectations have been more than surpassed in terms of the performance, technology, & ease of driving (the E-pedal is a wonderous thing). Being an electrician I’ve installed my own level 2 charger at home.

We’ve only done a couple of rapid charges out “in the wild” so don’t have any first hand experience of the #rapidgate problem that has been flagged up by some intensive users. Personnally I’d not generally intend to be driving more than the range ot two charges in any given day, so if the third charge ends up being slow due to battery heat it wouldn’t be an issue. Apparently Nissan are working on the problem, which is actually an intentional fix to not having thermal management for the batteries i.e. by limiting the amount of heating caused by “too many” rapid charges the batteries should not degrade so fast. This is probably a response to the many howls of complaint from the American market over battery problems with the earleir model Leaf, but then some states do have much higher temperatures than northern France…

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that’s good Jonathan, they certainly have come a long way from the early cars, I have to admit to being somewhat sceptical of Nissan’s “working on the problem” unless they installed the liquid cooling from the start a retro fit could prove difficult. The thing that put me off with EV’s is not having the sort of life that fitted the EV, rather than the EV fitting into my life. The 64kw battery of the Kia and Hyundai goes someway to bridging that gap. A recharge just south of Rouen whilst I take a nap of have breakfast then maybe a last top up at tours. I don’t really want to extend the journey much more than I do with my diesel, but these days I like to take a break mid way, even if it’s just to let the blood flow back around.

Jonathan what accounts have you for the chargers and is that something that can be setup easily? Hopefully the legendary French customer services won’t mean having to journey over to setup accounts first. It is a while off yet but just wanted to see how things are going.

Excellent post @John_Scully

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Cor James, it only took you 2 years to realise it! :laughing::laughing:
The whole EV market has moved forward and is at least now beginning to become realistic for people who need to travel across countries without the Tesla budget.

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I’ve thus far only gone for the Chargemap Pass. Oddly they don’t seem to deal with the MobiSDEC who seem to have the lion’s share of local chargers round here, but they do deal with the more important (to me) rapid chargers on autoroutes.

EVs have certainly moved on since my 1996 electric Renauit Clio! I also had a Peugeot 106 & a Citroen Berlingo. They could do about 90kph & had a range of 80 to 90 kms. No good for long distances but fine for local use. Plugged in to a standard household socket too.

Thanks Jonathan, how do you obtain the chargemap pass? or the mobiSDEC pass?

have you been out in any of the new ones Mark, a man in the industry must keep tabs on developments.

No, John, but I would like to try a Tesla! Mine had the old water cooled Nicads. The early batteries had issues but if you could get the later ones they were quite reliable. These modern ones are much more technical & the chances of me ever being asked to do any work on one are thankfully small. I will stick with what I know!
Reminds me of a sign I saw many years ago on a complicated recording device in a control tower - in pseudo german -
“Das shushenscreech machine ist nich fur gerfingerpoken. Ist easy schnappen der springenwerke, blowen fusen, poppen corken und spricken sparken. Das lookenpeeper keepen das hands in das pockets und watch das blinkenlights!”
Sound advice for the untrained.

Yes, I believe working on Tesla’s can be a shocking experience.

All done on line:

MobiSDEC is a Calvados thing.


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Thanks Jonathan, sorry it might be obvious but when in the UK you get a different set of google search results.