As you probably know (after my constant babbling), I love a good road trip! There’s just something about the freedom of driving wherever you want and stopping whenever you want. This is exactly why we have headed out on a few road trips across the US, Canada, Scotland, Iceland and Italy (to mention but a few).
Now, the destinations for our road trips have constantly changed, that’s a given, but one constant has always been that need for fuel. This is the same if you’re in a petrol-guzzling car or driving an electric car.
That being said, I’d never driven an electric car, let alone ever thinking of one for a road trip. How would we even charge the car? I was concerned that we might just get stranded in the rural countryside with only sheep and badgers for friends. Yup, my mind was considering all scenarios. 😉
Knowing this, EDF Energy pipped up with a pretty epic plan to change it all of this… or so they said!
The gang hooked us up with with a Nissan Leaf (for the uninitiated, it’s an electric car) and an all-knowing electric car guru who knew their stuff. As total novices, we planned on grilling them all things electric cars!
It was also nice to have a back-up in the form of someone who was a lot more vested in driving a car that’s great for the environment.
Starting in the lovely city of Liverpool, we grabbed our keys to the car and headed straight over to meet this guru. It was Jim Chapman, who swished up in his fancy Jag. After a good few reassurances from Jim and a promise that he wouldn’t let us run out of electricity, we were headed on our way.
This was the start of our electric road trip!
Anyway, enough rambling! As you know, we’re total electric car novices and so we had so many misconceptions about how our road trip with EDF Energy would be. This is why I wanted to share exactly what surprised us, what to expect… and most importantly, what not to expect.
1.) Speed isn’t an issue
Now, before hopping in our Nissan Leaf, I had some serious concerns about how fast our electric car would go. After all, I still remember the milkman coming around in the morning, whizzing through the streets at an ungodly 3-5 miles per hour!
As soon as we set foot in the car, I knew my misconceptions were just that. To help us used to the car at the start of the trip (so I didn’t have to navigate), we decided to follow Jim in his electric Jaguar. Yeah, of course, his car was a little shinier and faster than ours but our electric Leaf packed a punch when it comes to speed. This totally surprised me, especially as it felt no different (just quieter) than driving a regular petrol car.
After leaving Liverpool, I was able to push down on the accelerator on the dual-carriageway. In fact, we made some pretty good time on our road trip, so much so that we managed to scale in a visit to the very top of Snowdon.
It was ace!
2.) Energy consumption
Now, as with any car, our Nissan Leaf needed energy – that’s kind of a given with all cars really. The big advantage of our ride being electric, though, was that we never needed to pop in any fossil fuels, which I’ve gotta admit does feel good. We also didn’t even have to look for charging points for hours on end – which was also a delightful bit to find out (I kinda assumed initially it would need to be charged after just a few hours of use).
Naturally, though, if you’re on a road trip, this will involve a big chunk of driving and so I was a tad concerned we’d be stuck in the middle of nowhere at certain points during the trip. How wrong I was.
The Nissan Leaf had a mileage gauge showing how far we could drive, so we decided in advance on a few stops on our road trip to charge. This changed depending on how fast or slow we went or if you use certain features like heated-seats or the aircon.
For instance, when we went over to surf in Snowdonia, we actually charged the car as we surfed the waves. We used this time to try and teach Jim a few of our (non-existent) surfing techniques, too. We’re terrible at surfing, by the way. No natural talent in standing on the surfboard whatsoever. 😄
We went in overly confident and Jim was the only one that actually managed to stand fully on the board. The shame! (The video above has a pretty decent ‘catalogue’ of our epic fails on the surfboard. 😄)
It was so easy to charge the car (you literally just plug it in) and there are different ‘fast charging’ and ‘normal charging’ methods that allow your battery to recharge quickly. This is amazing if you’re on a long drive. By the time you grab a coffee and cake, your car is on it’s way to having lots of juice.
3.) Finding charging points
So, this was one of my biggest concerns, especially as we were driving from Liverpool and heading across to Snowdonia National Park. You see, I kinda thought there’d be ample spots to charge an electric car in a city, but the countryside was something else.
Snowdonia National Park is one of the lesser populated areas of the UK and it certainly feels like that when driving around. Thankfully, each charging point can be clearly found on different apps and websites that has each point pinpointed. It was so much easier than I thought – even if we did rely on Jim with the directions to find them. 😉
There are a lot more charging points available than you’d imagine (it’s one of those things where once you’ve used one, you’ll suddenly start noticing them everywhere).
Also, it’s worth mentioning that we didn’t have to rock up to some weird, shady side road and sit there waiting to charge. Most places we visited, had clearly marked out charging spots waiting to be used – no different to say a parking spot at the supermarket (which is also a great place to find charging points actually).
This is exactly what we did at Zipworld where we conquered Yaya’s fear of heights by flying down the mountain at over 100mph. His screams could be heard for miles around. Ha! I bet he’d normally try to deny this, but as we have video evidence, there’s no getting away from it. 😉
4.) Electric is more sustainable
One thing I’ve always know about driving an electric car is that it’s a more sustainable option than just grabbing a fuel guzzler. You see, being electrically powered and without any emissions at all, we were able to ensure that our road trip to Wales was much more sustainable and generally good for the environment. We travel a lot and finding greener ways to do this is something that we absolutely love.
No choking exhausts, no fossil fuels and certainly much less environmental impacts. This was a big win for us, especially as it meant we didn’t release any fumes into the environment. #winning
5.) Cheaper to run
Now, this was something I didn’t know too much about before heading on our electric road trip but it turns out that electric cars are so much more economical to run than buying petrol by the litre.
For instance, Jim drove his Jaguar up from London and charged it once along the way, which meant he was able to complete the whole trip to meet us in Liverpool for less than a tenner.
Also, you can charge your car at home like you would your phone by plugging it into the wall. You would need to be on a special electric car tariff (don’t just go plugging it in straight away) but being able to do this at home is not just the height of convenience but bring costs down even lower than the already pretty low rate to charge it in public spaces.
We only actually became aware of this ridiculously convenient option because EDF Energy offers a charging package like this where you not only get a home charger and special tariff for charging your car at home but you can also lease an electric car from them too. There’s a lot more detail about all of this on their official website here.
6.) Super quiet
Another thing I noticed about driving electric was how smooth and quiet our ride was. It almost felt as if our Nissan Leaf glided across the road.
This was a massive difference from the chugging of a petrol or diesel engine and the occasion splutter. Plus, this quietness has some other amazing benefits, too. Typically, it’s me (Lloyd) that drives and Yaya hands out treats. Crisps, chocolates, sweets – doesn’t matter, no good road trip is complete without road trip snacks.
That being said, when the engine is loud, I swear he tries to ignore me asking for more goodies. Thankfully, Yaya had no excuse on our electric road ship and had to share his bag of goodies.
We had the most amazing time on our electric road trip with EDF Energy and our electric guru, Jim. He totally showed us the ropes and made our road trip a doddle. You can see our whole trip, with screams, surfs and Snowdon, right here.