North Coast 500

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog, but we’ve been doing the trip to Scotland in the LEAF each year since 2012!

This year we want to add a little challenge to it: The North Coast 500 tourist route (or the Scottish Route 66 as they say).

ChargePlaceScotland has installed chargers all the way along this road, so it would be a shale not to use them ūüôā

Stirling Park&Ride

First charge stop tonight: Stirling Park&Ride. Nothing to do around here unfortunately (no Costa Coffee as on all the Ecotricity charge stops on the way up…)

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Kielder Water

First stop in the UK:Nissan Newcastle (Benfield) for a fast charge. Plenty of LEAFs around here. The area around Newcastle seems to be one of the most LEAF-dense areas in the UK (Perhaps because they are now made in Sunderland, just a few miles away).

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Unfortunately their rapid charger has been out of service for 3 months. They’re not impressed with the “french” charger…

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Fortunately, there are plenty of rapid chargers around. We choose to go to a local shopping centre, the “metrocentre”, which has 2 rapid chargers as well as a number of slow charge points.

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Succesfull charge on the first of the “Charge Your Car” network of chargers. My badge from the year before is still active, and we’re fully charged in the time it takes to get a coffy at the first Starbucks of the journey ūüôā20140721_Newcastle_Metrocentre_2

Next stop Hexham. We don’t really need another charge before today’s destination, but we know there’s a rapid charger there, and we feel safer heading into Norhtumberland National Park with a full charge just in case. We find a brand new ABB tri-standard charger here, that doesn’t even need a badge!

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The very clear display is a little pessimistic, indicating 60 minutes for only about 30% of a charge. In reality it finished in under 15 minutes (while we were shopping in the Sainsbury’s just beside it).20140721_Hexham_New_ABB_Charger_display

The destination for the next couple of days is Kielder, on the shores of Kielder Water in Northumberland National Park. We reserved a B&B, and there’s a charge point in the village. Unfortunately, on arrival, the chargepoint is not in service. The association that runs the local petrol-station and the chargepoint is very helpful, but many phone calls further, it seems an electrician will need to be called out, so we won’t be able to charge at the chargepoint during our stay.

no blue light... bad sign!

no blue light… bad sign!

Instead we go for dinner at the Pheasant Inn, where we stayed last year. It has a chargepoint we have used before, and we manage to charge there no problem.

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In good (?) company of a Vauxhall Ampera who’s also come for dinner because of the charging point ūüôā

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The following day we cycle the 42km around the lake.

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We have lunch in a small tearoom at the south end of the lake, where by chance we find another chargepoint! Northumberland does not seem to be lacking chargepoints!

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In the evening, the B&B owner helps us out with a cable out the first floor window (no window needs to be left open on the ground floor), so that we can depart with a full charge the next day.

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Visiting Leiden

So E-laad does have a large network of chargers, but you still need to find them…

A trip to the natural history museum in Leiden (since the one in Paris was shut). 4 charging points nearby are listed on the dutch site http://www.oplaadpalen.nl, so we were not expecting any difficulties. Helas:

1) charge point 1 turns out to be a private charging point inside the Opel garage (although listed as public “NewMotion” charging point – which we should be able to use with the E-laad card.

2) 2 actual E-laad points are no-where to be found. After a long chat at the police station across the road, it turns out that the chargers are actually inside the “Nuon” compound (the electricity company), and that it is shut on a saturday. They direct me to a public parking that should have a charge point (which was also on my list).

3) The parking is being re-vamped. Chargepoint out of service.

4) Another actual E-laad point. The GPS leads me to the exact adress listed on the site, but no charger to be found…

After spending an hour (and 2 bars of battery !) searching, we go back to the Opel garage. ¬†They make me admit that I should really have bought an Ampera rather than a LEAF (no way ūüėČ ), before they let me borrow the cable from their car. But only for a couple of hours, since the garage shuts at 16:30… Also need to point out that the NewMotion points are no longer available to E-laad charge card holders, so I even had to borrow their card… ūüôĀ But thanks to Opel Leiden !!!

Nice museum, but I’m al the same a little worried about getting back… Luckily our friends from the ANWB¬†have (fast) charging points on several locations beside the motorways, so we stop for another cup of coffee (oh, and a fast charge…) on the way back ūüôā (these pictures are all the same – but it is really a good service!)

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Une visite a Leiden

<traduction google …a corriger>

Donc, E-LAAD a un vaste r√©seau de chargeurs, mais faut encore les trouver …

Une visite au mus√©e d’histoire naturelle de Leiden (car celui de Paris¬†√©tait¬†ferm√©e). 4 points de recharge √† proximit√© sont inscrites sur http://www.oplaadpalen.nl donc nous n’attendions pas des difficult√©s. Helas:

1) 1 point de charge se r√©v√®le √™tre un point de charge priv√©e √† l’int√©rieur du garage Opel (bien qu’il soit d√©sign√© comme public “NewMotion” point de charge – dont nous devrions √™tre en mesure d’utiliser avec la carte E-LAAD.

2) 2 E-LAAD points sont introuvable. Apr√®s une longue conversation au bureau de police en face, il s’av√®re que les chargeurs sont en fait √† l’int√©rieur du parking de “Nuon” ¬†(la compagnie d’√©lectricit√©), et qu’il est ferm√© le samedi. Ils me dirigent vers un parking public qui devrait avoir un point de charge (qui √©tait aussi sur ma liste).

3) Le parking est en travaux. ChargePoint hors service.

4) Un autre E-LAAD point. Le GPS me conduit √† l’adresse exacte indiqu√©e sur le site, mais pas de chargeur a cet endroit …

Apr√®s avoir pass√© une heure (et 2 barres de batterie!) a tourner en rond, nous retournons au garage Opel. Ils me font admettre que j’aurai vraiment du acheter une Ampera plut√īt q’une LEAF (mais non ūüėČ ), avant qu’ils ne me laissent emprunter le c√Ęble de leur voiture. Mais seulement pour quelques heures, car le garage ferme √† 16h30 … Il faut aussi souligner que les points NewMotion ne sont plus disponibles √† d√©tenteurs de cartes E-LAAD, alors j’ai m√™me d√Ľ emprunter leur carte … Mais merci √† Opel Leiden!

Jolie Mus√©e, mais je suis tout de m√™me un peu inquiet pour le retour… Heureusement, nos amis de l’ANWB ont des points de recharge sur plusieurs sites √† c√īt√© des autoroutes, alors nous nous arr√™tons pour une autre tasse de caf√© (et un rapide charge…) sur le chemin du retour (ces images sont tous pareil – mais c’est vraiment un bon service)

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Et ça devient encore plus facile!

Aux Pays-Bas de l’association “e-Laad” a install√© un r√©seau national de points de recharge. Nous ne d√©pendons pas des h√ītels, restaurants, etc pour la recharge. Ce nous qui nous donne vraiment la tranquillit√© d’esprit!

D√©part de l’h√ītel aux alentours de 10h, nous avons pris le “pittoresque” route vers Veldhoven (pr√®s d’Eindhoven), pour un d√©jeuner chez des amis. 110 km sur une seule charge, avec 50 km environ d’autonomie restante (c’est vraiment plat ici, et je pense qu’il serait effectivement possible d’obtenir les 175 km annonce pour la LEAF). Nous avons recharg√© √† l’une des stations e-LAAD √† environ 5 minutes √† pied de leur maison. (malheureusement pas de photo)

Apr√®s environ 2 heures et demi de charge, la voiture √©tait pr√®s de 75% de charge (√©tonnamment rapide), et nous sommes continu√© en direction de Breda, o√Ļ la¬†s√©curit√©¬†routi√®re¬†n√©erlandais a install√© un chargeur rapide publique. Un accueil chaleureux avec caf√© et biscuits gratuits pendant que la voiture charge (gratuitement aussi)!

Apr√®s la charge rapide, la derni√®re √©tape du voyage vers la maison de mes parents √† Oud-Beijerland (pr√®s de Rotterdam). 226 km aujourd’hui sans aucun soucis.

Ici, nous allons prendre une pause de quelques jours. Prochaine mise √† jour le 25 Juillet, quand nous allons continuer a Newcastle … D’ici la, je compte encore rajouter les¬†d√©tails¬†specifique de¬†kilom√©trage (843km au total)¬†/ recharge sur une page¬†d√©die…

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And it just gets easier…

In the Netherlands the association “e-Laad” has installed a nation-wide network of charging points. We don’t depend on having to charge at hotels, restaurants etc. This really gives us peace of mind!

Leaving the hotel around 10am, we took the “scenic” road ¬†towards Veldhoven (near Eindhoven), to have lunch with friends. 110km on a single charge, with an estimated 50km left (its really flat, and I think it would actually be possible to get the anounced range of 175km with the LEAF here). We charged at one of the e-Laad stations at about 5 minutes walk from their house. (unfortunately no picture)

After a little over 2 hours of charging, the car was almost 80% charged (surprisingly quick), and we continued towards Breda, where the Dutch equivalent of the AA has installed a public quick-charger. A warm welcome with free coffee & biscuits while the car charged !

After the quick charge the final leg of the journey to my parents’ house in Oud-Beijerland (near Rotterdam). 226km today without any sweat ūüôā

Here we’ll be taking a few days break. Next update hopefully on the 25th of July, when we’ll be sailing to Newcastle… Before that time I hope to add a page with details of distances (843km in total so far), and charges.

 

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An easier day!

After two days that were all the same a little stressful, we finally had an easy day today !

Leaving Chimay around 10am, we arrived at the Total fast charger in Namur at around 11:30, with about half a charge left after 75km. The charger was in fact working (after we had been warned that it has a tendency to malfunction…), and two 10 minute charging sessions (at 4 euros each) took us to rougly 80% charge.

The next planned stop was a public charging point in a parking garage in Liege. However when we got to Liege, we still had an estimated 90km range (even though we’d done 63km since the fast charge, but it was all downhill alongside the meuse river). And seeing that our destination was only 40km away we decided to skip the charge and go on directly. And even though the navigation sent us over very scenic (tiny) roads and many hills, we got to the hotel with around 30km range left, and they were prepared for us charging there ! (Hotel de la Frontiere – in Slenaken)

After a quick top-up charge we set off to the highest “mountain” in the Netherlands (yes we really call it a mountain); the vaals berg at 321m. This point is shared with Belgium and Germany, and is also known as the “drielandenpunt” (3 country point).

An enjoyable day, and we ended with a wonderful “South-African” dinner in the hotel.

Why was this day so much easier even though we covered 212km in total? Mostly because we learned our previous lessons:

  1. we had confirmed the fast charger in Namur worked by telephone
  2. we had an extra charging point planned in Liege (you really want charging points every 75-90km, even if you might not use all)
  3. we had definite confirmation that we could charge at the hotel.

 

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The adventure continues… (or the continuous adventure according to Rhona)

We didn’t charge during the night this time, but after having had breakfast on the square in Arras, our first appointment was in Brebieres (near Douai – 35km from Arras) for a fast charge in the workshop of the manufacturer of the fast chargers for Nissan. I have never seen so many fast charges in one place! Is this what service stations will look like in the future ? And if you see what is inside of these chargers, the price (10 000 euros) is easier to understand… One of the chargers was connected temporarily for us! 90% charge in 25 minutes. A big thank you !!!

With a full battery (or almost),¬†second stop was in Douai at our sponsor (who provided the necessary charging material for the journey).¬†We received a warm welcome but because we were late for our next stop (as usual) we decided to continue after a quick photograph…

Oops! Our next stop turned out to be 102 km away ¬†instead of 50km !!!¬†(3rd lesson; make sure that you plan using exact addresses!!!)¬†Estimated range at this point 110km… possible? 40 km from our destination a nice little voice from the car informed us “Vous risquez de ne pas pouvoir atteindre votre destination” (you might not get to your destination) Thanks! It’s not really what we wanted to hear… So, “super eco drive mode” – 70km/h on roads with a 110km/h speed limit (double lanes,¬†so at least we didn’t annoy too many people). Every time we went up a hill the range was a few kilometres less than the remaining distance and on every downhill drive we gained the few kilometres that we had lost. Fortunately the last 10km didn’t seem to follow the same scale and we got there with 7km remaining !!! (and 2 hours late…)

We enjoyed a tasty lunch chez Gabriel, a member of the French electric car forum (http://vehiculeselectriques.fr/)¬†while the car was charging. After that he showed us his ¬†electric cars: a Peugeot 106, and especially a wooden¬†“Milde Krieger” from 1942!

Here’s the 3 generations of electric cars together:

After a few hours charging, the last stage of the day’s journey was to Chimay. ¬†This was now only 13km instead of the 60km originally planned. Unfortunately the hotel at the Chimay brewery refused to let us charge (inspite of 2 calls in advance – I never really got a confirmation). The manager was quite hostile to electric cars: “Do you know what it costs to charge a car!!?” (yes – about 3 euros), and “If everyone drives electric, there will be no more electricity!!”. So we quickly left. Pity, but better to avoid the Chimay brewery! (4th lesson: you really need to be sure you can charge at a hotel before driving to it…)

Only 20km range left, but luckily we found a charming bed & breakfast right in the centre of Chimay (Le Petit Chapitre), where we could charge without any problem. And we managed to taste the Chimay beer in all the dishes in the excellent restaurant on the square.

All is well that ends well, and this was another nice day!

ps. another charge at 6A to avoid problems with an unknown electricity installation, and we had the time anyway. A charge control box that allows selecting 6, 10, or 16A should really be included with the car!

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l’aventure continue… (ou l’aventure en continue d’apres Rhona)

Nous n’avions pas recharge la nuit cette fois, mais¬†apr√®s avoir pris¬†le petit¬†d√©jeuner¬†sur la grande place d’Arras, premier point¬†d‚Äôarr√™t¬†a Brebieres (Douai – 35km d’Arras) ¬†pour une recharge rapide dans l’atelier du fabriquant des bornes rapide pour Nissan. Je n’ai jamais vu autant de bornes de recharge rapide au¬†m√™me¬†endroit! Est ce que¬†√ßa¬†seront les stations de service du futur ? Quand on voit tout qui se trouve a¬†l‚Äôint√©rieur, le prix des bornes (10 000 euros) se comprend mieux… Une des bornes en construction¬†√©tait¬†branche temporairement pour nous ! 90% de charge en 25 minutes… Un grand merci !!!

Avec la batterie pleine (ou presque),¬†deuxi√®me¬†rdv a Douai, chez le sponsor (fournisseur de¬†mat√©riel¬†de recharge pour notre voyage).¬†Accueil¬†tr√®s¬†sympathique, et qqs photos rapide car nous¬†√©tions¬†en retard (comme d’habitude) pour le prochain rdv…

Oops! Le prochain rdv¬†n‚Äô√©tait¬†pas a 50km, mais a 102 km !!! (3ieme¬†le√ßon¬†de ce voyage: planifier les¬†√©tapes¬†avec les adresses exactes !!!)¬†Estimation d’autonomie a ce point 110km… faisable ? A 40km du destination le gentil voix de la voiture nous dit: “Vous risquez de ne pas pouvoir atteindre votre destination”. Merci ! Ca n’est vraiment pas ce qu’on voulait entendre… Donc, mode conduite “super eco” – 70 sur les routes limite a 110 (double voies,¬†donc on ne¬†g√™nait¬†pas grand monde). Chaque¬†mont√©e l’autonomie tombait qqs¬†kilom√®tres¬†en dessous du distance restant, et chaque descente on¬†¬†rattrapait les¬†kilom√®tres¬†perdu. Heureusement les dernieres 10 km autonomie annonc√© ne semble pas suivre la¬†m√™me¬†echelle, et nous sommes¬†arriv√©es¬†avec 7km restant !!! (avec 2 heures de retard…)

 

Un bon dejeuner chez un membre du forum¬†http://vehiculeselectriques.fr/¬†pendant que la voiture charge. Ensuite Gabriel nous montre ses voitures¬†√©lectriques: une Peugeot 106, et surtout une “Milde Krieger” en bois de 1942!

Et voici les 3 générations de voiture électrique ensemble:

Apres qq’s heures de charge, la derni√®re¬†√©tape¬†pour la¬†journ√©e¬†c’est¬†jusqu‚Äô√†¬†Chimay. Du coup¬†√ßa¬†n‚Äô√©tait¬†plus que 13km au lieu de 60km¬†pr√©vu… Mais malheureusement l’auberge de la brasserie de Chimay nous laisse pas recharger la voiture (malgr√©¬†mes 2 appels¬†pr√©c√©dent¬†– je n’avais jamais eu une vraie confirmation). Un patron¬†plut√īt¬†hostile aux VE: “Vous savez ce que¬†√ßa¬†co√Ľte¬†recharger une voiture!!?” (oui 3 euros environ) et ¬†“Si tout le monde roulait¬†√©lectrique¬†– il n’y avait plus¬†d‚Äô√©lectricit√©!!”. Donc nous sommes vite repartis. Dommage – mais faut¬†plut√īt¬†√©viter¬†la brasserie de Chimay ! (4ieme¬†le√ßon: il faut vraiment une confirmation avant d’aller qqpart…)

Heureusement nous avons trouve une chambre¬†d‚Äôh√īte¬†tres mignonne au plein centre de Chimay (Le Petit Chapitre) qui nous laisse charger sans¬†probl√®me, et nous avons pu¬†go√Ľter¬†la¬†bi√®re¬†Chimay dans tout les recettes de la carte d’un excellent restaurant sur la place.

Encore une belle journée!

ps.encore une recharge a 6A pour¬†√©viter¬†des¬†probl√®mes¬†avec l’installation¬†√©lectrique, et toute¬†fa√ßon¬†nous avons le temps… Un boitier de charge avec choix de 6/10/16A devrait vraiment¬†√™tre¬†livre avec la voiture.

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Douai …or almost :-(

After visiting Compi√®gne we headed in the direction Douai. The new Nissan route-planner web site tells us to go through Amiens (a 40km detour), for a rapid charge at Nissan Amiens. The direct route (133km)¬†would be too risky. This wasn’t what we had planned (133km should be do-able), but Nissan should know, so we followed the advice.

When we arrived at ¬†Nissan Amiens around14h, they did indeed have a quick charger ! …but not yet installed… ūüôĀ Only option is a normal charge (16A) until 19h… This has taught us what we had already been told; you really need to phone ahead if you want to do a quick charge anywhere…¬†(Thanks to Nissan Amiens for the charge all the same !)

We had 2 appointments in Douai in the afternoon (one for a quick charge, and the other a visit to the sponsor), but that would obviously not be possible anymore. Same for the reservation at the hotel in Chimay, it would be impossible to arrive there today.. In fact, this has delayed our journey by a day. On top of all this our new gadget (a tablet) would no longer connect to the internet, so no way of notifying any of our contacts. ūüôĀ (second lesson: we should really carry a list of phone numbers…)

But on the positive side: Amiens is a really nice town. There’s a superb cathedral, it was sunny, and the river side cafes were very pleasant ūüôā

In the evening we finally headed towards Douai, and we’re currently in Arras (about 25km from Douai), which is another very nice town ! (see below). All in all it was a very enjoyable day !

 

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