You couldn't come up with a better definition of the concept of a fool's errand: a 500 mile drive in a Mini E. A car that does 100 miles between ten hour charges. If you're lucky. And worse still, it was my idea.

The object of the exercise is to find out what life will really be like for EV drivers over the next couple of years. Next year, Renault's electric production cars go on sale. The year after, Nissan's Leaf turns up. So is the UK ready? We're on a mission to find out.

Yesterday we collected the Mini in Brighton, then made it 130 miles north to Luton - but only thanks to a 4-hour splash and dash at home in Surrey. Assuming you can 'splash' 240v current, that is.

Today, we're aiming for one of the public charging bays at Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre, and then on to Scotch Corner tonight, with a following wind.

Right now I'm nervously waiting as the Mini tops up its batteries from the mains at family's house in the midlands. Can't get it close enough to the house to use the supplied cable, so I'm struggling along with a 13 amp extension reel which, every half hour or so, overheats and safety-trips itself off. It's keeping me busy just getting power into this car.