What happens when you attempt a UK road trip in an electric car
Range, we don't have enough range.
This is getting ridiculous.
We can't partner.
We can't plug in.
Owning and operating an electric car in a big city like London is pretty straight forward when there are charging points on almost every street corner.
But what happens when you take an electric car out of the city and into the countryside where places to charge are few and far between?
That's what we're here to test with a drive that takes this electric vehicle around some of the most beautiful parts of the nation.
The atmosphere is electric, so let's charge up and hit the road.
Our car of choice for the trip has been Nissan Leaf, currently the most popular all-electric car in Britain, boasting a theoretical range of up to around 100 miles on a single charge.
Our 500 mile route will take us through ancient university towns, through national parks and even into the beautiful hills of Wales.
Stopping the car to charge along the way at slow, medium or fast charging points.
The slowest would take up to eight hours to recharge the car, while the most powerful gets 80% charge in only half an hour.
It's these that we'll have to rely on if we hope to complete our trip in the two days we have.
Driving as eco as possible, our range has gone up a few miles to 49.
I've also got the Regenerative braking active, which is, it's kind of like engine braking, except that when it does it, it's actually restoring power back to the battery.
We would soon be relying on that regenerative braking very heavily indeed, but for now an easy drive led us into scenic Cambridge.
Okay so leg one is done, we're in scenic beautiful Cambridge.
Andy, what have you found so far?
I've found that I like the car.
It's quite smooth to drive, but really you've gotta be So careful in how you're driving this thing.
You put your foot down on the accelerator, you'll see the range on the battery drop dramatically.
How far is it until the next stop?
It's about 70 miles I think.
What's the range of the car, roughly?
So, pushing it, but we should be okay.
And okay, we were wending our merry way up to a nearby Nissan dealer, our first charging point.
The drive was enjoyable, the noise of the electric engine, still a novelty.
I'm taking the fuel cap off but there's no fuel.
So I've got this thing which looks like a space weapon.
It is working well apparently we'll see
We've got 47% at the moment, and
Yea, 48 there we go, I'm not leaving until we're at 100.
Charging an electric car is slowly filling them up with petrol however, so getting to 100% in this instance gives it a little time to kill.
Because we're doing this in an all electric car, we wanted something with a bit more bite.
We found this GTR is their top hand petrol sports car.
Be honest would you rather go in a road trip in this?
The next stop is Grantham, 71 miles away.
In theory it's well within the car's range, but when we enter the details into the GPS
You might not be able to reach destination
Oh well, onwards and upwards.
My first time driving an electric car and the eerie silence you're used to because of hybrids.
But what I wasn't used to was how smooth the take off and driving away is.
It's really, really fun to drive.
17 miles to Grantham and we've currently gone 38 miles of range remaining.
It looks like we're doing pretty well
Thanks to my ambition.
We have made it we're in Gransom Services and so the truth's interesting because the car said we're not going, we don't have enough range to make it from
Cambridge to grant them and we've done it with probably about 20 miles to spare.>> Yup.>> That good.
we are at another rapid charge point so we've got roughly an hour to kill and kill it we did.
We are well and truly in the countryside now.
Look at all this green, we've left the gray and the smoke of London.
We've done from Grantham to Bakewell and we've got about 37 miles remaining.
Which is more than enough then to get us to on Buckston how far are we right now from the nearest charging point, what is the [UNKNOWN] part of the country like for charging?>>There are basically none in the Pete district.>>So we're hoping that the next one we visit is in working order>>Yes, I'm told on good authority that it is.>>Brilliant efficiently That good authority, is a local bed and breakfast owner in Buxton, who's kindly agreed to let us use their medium grade charge point, after we load up on Bakewell's most famous food.
It's all very pleasant, but back on the road, things suddenly get tense.
So what's happened to Dandy?
Well, we were
That the buffrin is held at about 28 miles of range.
It's now gone to 12 in only about maybe 3 minutes of driving.
Maybe that's just because we've been going uphill so I've had to keep my thoughts
On the accelerator, now we're going downhill a bit.
It's going to hopefully extend that range a little.
C'mon, so close.
I don't know where this guy's charging point is.
It's there, and there are cars in it.
No, what do we do?
We can't park there, we can't plug in.
Except we could, because as the BNB's proprietor helpfully explains, our cable was long enough to perch behind the other guests, and suck down some much needed power.
A near miss, but we left the leaf charging again, feeling that at last we'd got the hang of this whole electricity thing.
We are technology experts after all.
So as it turns out, plugging the car into the outlet isn't the whole story.
You actually have to turn the power on, lesson learned.
What that does mean is that the hour and a half we just gave it uncharged, it actually hasn't given the car any more range, so what we've done is Pumped it on charge again.
Yeah it's only going to get 10-15 minutes charge so we're not going to have the same range we would we had before.
So we have got to alter our plans a little bit.
This is getting ridiculous we left the BnB with about 21 miles of range.
We've come about a mile and that's 16 miles of range because we've had to go uphill quite a lot.
Luckily though we're about to go down into what's called [UNKNOWN] Valley, all downhill.
Fingers and toes crossed.
Cross everything, Luke.
I don't know that AA comes out here, Andy.
18 miles of range!
We are racking up the miles now.
We're getting it back.
Yes, give me more power.
So, we definitely made it to the country side in an electric car.
Yeah, we have.
Whether we make it out.
[LAUGH] A much more person in question right now because we've only got 14 miles of range which is going to be just enough to get us to our overnight location that's a push.
So we're very close to our next charging point but we've encountered an unusual obstacle.
This is one of the benefits of living in the country.
You don't so much get traffic jams, you get dairy jams.
Cattle proved no obstacle, however, and with a close eye on our regenerative braking, we let the Leaf carry us to our final stop of the day.
It's being tense but ultimately successful and as we pull up, we really feel we've cracked the code to rural electrical automobiling, careful driving and a lot of planning.
This is the end.
Indeed we're so sure we've got it down, we even recorded an outro for this video thinking there probably won't be much to say on day two.
Stay tuned to CNET.com.
We are idiots.
A few hours into day two we're already dancing with danger
The 75 mile drive from Buxton to our first stop, a service station in Osworthstry, is pushing our fully charged Leaf to it's limits.
As we approach the charge point, the range indicator isn't looking too happy.
We're half a mile away from services, we're so close.
We don't have anymore power.
It's been on zero for probably about a mile.
We're flat lining, but we're close.
Oh, that was close.
But there's problem, the service station's sole changing point isn't working.
With the screen unresponsive and no power flowing.
After prodding ineffectually of a display, we call the support number at the front of the charge point.
Thanks for calling the [INAUDIBLE] electric highway.
Our offices are currently closed, our open hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM.
I'm ridiculously low as well.
A fellow [UNKNOWN] driver pulls up behind us, but our combined efforts aren't enough to get the charger rebooted.
Which a little Google searching suggests is what we need to do.
It doesn't do anything.
Have you encountered this before, ever?
I've encountered chargers down.
But not charge you, shall we say so far, in the wilderness.
Right now, uw, I'm going to have to go and look at my map and try and work out what plan B is.
Have you been a happy Leaf owner, generally?
Yeah, I love the car.
Absolutely superb driving.
Beautiful to drive.
[INAUDIBLE] works great.
Unfortunately, they went from 24/7 customer service to Monday to Friday, office hours.
There was a time you could call them anytime, day or night.
Had you had to do that before?
No, I haven't.
But I've met people that have.>>Right.
Things break down.
Things don't work all the time.
You know, it happens.
You go into a petrol stations, petrol pumps are out all the time.
But in that situation, there are many, many more.
So, I've had to call for a tow.
And the annoying thing is they are going to have to come and tow the car It's only towing it just a few miles down the road, into the town center, into where there is a Nissan dealership which has a charger.
It's just that we arrived with such a little amount of power left we just can't risk driving it ourselves.
Did you get an ETA?
Within the hour.
Before cabin fever can truly take hold, it's time to get towed.
It's not a great feeling but at least we're moving, even if it's not under our own steam.
At the closest charge point in nearby Nissan dealer, we meet another intrepid Leaf owner who's family holiday has been disturbed by charging issues.
He probably's gonna be charges but see the problem we have now which is may I stay the night in [INAUDIBLE]
I mean would you still recommend to let your cast [UNKNOWN]?
The cast is great but we need more money in the infrastructure to make sure there are more enough charging points to maintain [UNKNOWN].
Do you want the good news or bad news?
This one's out of order too.
On the tow truck again, this time headed to a [UNKNOWN] in Shrewsbury where there's a medium strength charger with our names on it.
Third time's a charm.
Now we're [UNKNOWN] towed, rather to This outlet to charge here.
Problem is that none of the cars we have are vallied with this charging service.
Apparently this is a different service than the ones we've been using already.
We didn't know that and now we can't access the plug.
So again, no way of charging the car And the tow truck has gone.
Oh my God, it's
Pay as you go.
This is so exciting.
It's pay as you go.
I just had to download an app.
I put money on the app.
And it's in.
Is it charging?
Please, please please.
Please, please, please.
please, please, please
The light's blue.
Our new car is judging right now.
With the car sucking down power, we could get on the road again, but our mission to drive a cross country route in an all electric car could only be called a failure.
We would soon make tracks for home, but not before shooting a real [UNKNOWN] and here it is.
So Andy, electric cars on long drives in the UK, what's the verdict?
Well it doesn't look to good to be honest.
We planned our route and charging point down to the mile and we drove extremely economically, yet still because of only one charging point being out of order, we had to rely on a tow truck to get us out of trouble.
Now these long drives are possible, it just takes a hell of lot of planning and a certain amount of luck.
Yeah I think, maybe surprisingly, this experience hasn't really put us off
And we had a really good time driving this one but the support's just not there.
I mean this technology has so much potential but it needs that infrastructure to really push it forward.
Electric driving definitely is the future it just has a long way to go yet.
But do let us know what you think about electric cars and wether you would consider buying one yourself and make sure to stay tuned to CNET.
I think we nailed it.
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