Despite having an almost indescribable love of gadgets and anything technical, I’ve got to admit to being a sceptic when it comes to electric cars and our Nissan Leaf. I drove the first Tesla in the UK, just around the block, as it were, and emerged from behind the wheel with a grin like an EU-approved banana, but for day-to-day motoring I remain to be convinced.
So when Hilton Holloway asked if he could borrow my Range Rover for a week, I leapt at the chance to swap and run his everyday wheels, the Nissan Leaf. I’d driven it a couple of times before, of course, but it’s only once the novelty has worn off that you can really get to grips with a car.
The first couple of days were predictably plain sailing: I drove it home, parked on the street, ate, watched a movie, slept, woke up, got in and drove off to work. And charged the car at work from the installed charging socket. The weekend was a bit more interesting. After dropping my wife at the station I stopped in Blackheath to get a coffee, knowing that it’s such a with-it borough that there was a charging point in the nearest car park.
The space reserved for electric charging was free, but once I’d parked and gathered up the charging lead and payment cards, I found that I didn’t have the right card for the PodPoint charging point. In fact, I couldn’t even work out how to use it.
So I swigged my coffee and headed home. Aware that without more electricity in the battery, I wouldn’t make it to work on Monday. That’s when I decided that I’d run an extension lead out of my living room window, across the pavement and plug the Leaf into the mains. The good news is that six hours later, no one had unplugged it, the car was fully charged and numerous children had peered intently at the wires as they drove past.
Now maybe it’s not human nature to unplug a car that someone else is trying to charge. It looks tempting, though. Or maybe it’s simply the novelty value, but if everyone tried to charge a car on the street at once, apart from some serious flickering of the lights, the local lads would start going round and unplug them for fun. But for now, I’m the only one, and it’s an option.