As a rule I’m not allowed to let Evie’s battery get very low; with wife and children in the car it’s more than my life’s worth to get us stranded. So when the chance came to drive the Leaf on my own to central London and back one evening I couldn’t resist the challenge. I had half a plan: I knew there was an Ecotricity rapid charger at Fleet Services, but I wasn’t at all sure whether I’d be able to charge near the South Bank.
Setting off from work in Southampton, I made it comfortably to Fleet and sat in the sunshine for 45 minutes while the car charged. That left me about 40 miles to go, so I was pretty pleased with myself when I arrived in London with an indicated range of 48 miles left. Maybe I could make it back to Fleet …
After a thoroughly pleasant evening with friends, I left at half past midnight. Driving cautiously back to the M3, I maintained about 8-10 miles of headroom. Moving up to motorway speeds, though, I found that cushion gradually reducing – to the point where the distance to the services was almost exactly equal to the indicated range. Exciting! I slowed a little … then a little more … until I was travelling at no more than 50mph. Normally I’d consider that dangerous on a motorway, but fortunately the road was deserted.
The indicated range went to ‘—‘ with about eight miles to go, but I still had 8% of battery left. What I wasn’t prepared for was that the state of charge also went straight from 6% to ‘—‘ when I still had 5 miles or so to cover. Boy was I relieved to pull into the services at Fleet! ‘Fleetingly’ I was tempted to drive round the car park until turtle mode kicked in but hey – it was getting late! When I plugged in, the charger showed the state of charge as 2% – cutting it a bit fine! I had a bit of a snooze while the car charged, and was on my way in half an hour; arriving at home near Salisbury sometime around 3.30am. It was a strangely satisfying homecoming – especially considering a total fuel cost for the journey of about £2.