My first few days as the ‘owner’ of a Nissan Leaf have not gone as planned.
I left the Autocar office late on Tuesday evening, ahead of a 6.00am check-in at Heathrow. Road tester Vicky Parrott had warned me earlier that the Leaf’s front passenger side tyre ‘looked a bit flat’. And it was.
So my first journey in the Leaf was, ironically, to the local filling station to use the air line. I pumped the tyre up but wasn’t sure it was perfectly healthy.
So I drove the Leaf back to the office, parked it and spotted a huge Phillips screw in the middle of the tread. Unlucky, considering the Leaf has covered just 150 miles and arrived on the back of flat bed. I had to borrow Editor Hallett’s Range Rover for the Heathrow run and the Leaf was left in dock while a new tyre was fitted.
Even so, planning my journeys with the Leaf in mind is requiring a completely new kind of thinking.
For example, the Leaf arrived fully charged on Tuesday and the charging point wasn’t being installed at my place until Thursday. So I had to tot the mileage up: 12 miles home and a 34 mile round trip to Heathrow, which would give me plenty of leeway before the charger was installed.
British Gas has the contract to fit home chargers for Nissan Leaf owners and Pierre and Brian arrived at 9.00am sharp. One of the reasons I volunteered to run the Leaf was because I currently live close to central London and have a driveway. Handily, the installation of the charger would be made easier because the fusebox is mounted up against the front wall of the house.
The charging point is wired directly into the fusebox, a solution which dramatically reduces the Leaf’s charging time from 12 hours (via a domestic socket) to around eight hours.
Although the fitting was technically straightforward, with the cable run from charging point to being short and direct, it took quite a few hours to complete, with much careful checking of the fusebox and trip switches.
The British Gas Pod Point looks like a giant hose reel and although the cable can be wound around the body, it doesn’t have a proper mount for the charging clamp itself. I may have to rig something up, partly to stop the local yobbos messing with it.
The charger had only been in place for a few minutes when a local hoody came up the drive on his bike to fiddle with it. “I thought it was a hose, I was going to spray my mates innit?” was his explanation.
So tonight I’ll head off into the future with the Leaf and spend a weekend running around town. This is a very different car to the Jaguar XJ, but will certainly be one of the most fascinating ownership experiences possible.