Monte-Carlo New Energy Rallye – day 1

Preparing the car… stickers EVERYWHERE !

And here finally finished next to her twin sister ๐Ÿ™‚

Ready for the depart of the first part of the rallye at 9h30 tomorrow morning. We’re both new to this kind of rallye driving, so it is going to be fun! 128km, lots of very precise directions, an avarage speed to stick to, and arrival within the minute (!) of the given time…

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Trip to Sanremo – part 2

Next day we celebrate Alex’s birthday with a wonderful meal in a (rather “upmarket”) local seafood restaurant…

Later on, we try an even more ecological form of transport along the 24km cycle path following the Italian coastline (using the same old railway track as the parking at the hotel). More ecological, but hard work pedaling into the strong wind ! Next time we’ll use an electric bicycle ! ๐Ÿ˜‰

From the car’s GPS we learn that there are actually 3 charging points in Sanremo, and even though we don’t need to charge, it is always good to see if they work for future trips. Ofcourse, with the Italian driving- and parking-style, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that there’s a car wrongly parked in front of the charging point… (even though there is actual marking to indicate the place is reserved for electric cars)

But even if we could have parked, the chargepoint (from an American company called “ChargePoint”) would have been no use. It seems you need a specific badge, but there’s no information or phone number on the pillar. Also, the chargepoint shows no signs of life at all…

Back in the hotel, the owner of the hotel has spend over an hour on the phone to the council, only to learn that the 3 charge points are in fact not connected because of a dispute over payment of the electricity. They have been sitting there since july, and there was no sign of any resolution any time soon… Nice to know… ๐Ÿ™

We end the stay in Italy with real Italian ice-cream. Mega-size !

And another quick stop at the other fast charger in Monaco on the way home. The fast charger refused to connect to the car initially, without explaining what was wrong. However, a couple of curious Italians (that had been looking rather bemused at my attemps to hook up), switched the chargepoint to Italian, and surprise, in Italian it told them that the emergency button was blocked. Indeed, twisting the emergency button made it release itself, and charging started… How embarassing !!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Charging, finally…

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A trip to Sanremo (Italy)

A long-weekend in Sanremo to celebrate Alex’s birthday. Only 90km away really, but many steep hills on the motorway makes this a little bit of a challenge all the same. On top of that we weren’t quite sure about charging facilities in Sanremo.

So to be safe we stopped half way in Monaco for a fast charge, in case charging in Italy wasn’t possible. All charging is free in Monaco, and I’ve used the two fast-chargers there on a number of occassions.

However, at arrival in Sanremo (Ospedaletti to be precise), charging at the hotel was not a problem. The LEAF was placed behind bars ๐Ÿ˜‰ in an old railway tunnel used as private parking, for a nice safe charge.

Probably not the safest charge with the flimsy italian plugs and an adaptor, but it worked !

Time for an “aperitivo” as only the italians can do it ! Almost a full meal !

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Next Year ?

Nissan will be releasing an electric version of their NV200!ย  Nissan: When can we get this in campervan version ??? ๐Ÿ™‚

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Carwings data

Carwings is the system in the LEAF that keeps track of energy use. Here’s a compilation of the data for the months of july and august. A total of 620kWh used, of which 139kWh was from energy regenerated by braking, and 481kWh of electricity from the grid. At an average of 15ct/kWh that would have cost us 72.15 euros – roughly the equivalent of 1 tank of petrol for 4795km! (the data includes some driving before & after the trip).

Some interesting observations:

  • On the 26th of July, and the 16th, 18th, and 20th of August, we did roughly the same distance of 285km. However we used respectively 31, 26, 23, 22 kWh. The landscape was roughly the same for the 4 days wrt hills. So this can be explained mostly by the difference in average speed, but for the 26th of july the coarse road surface in the UK might have played a role ?
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Conclusion

Here’s some thoughts on our experience;

The holiday

  • An experience, a challenge & an adventure!
  • We very much enjoyed it, but it wasn’t always the most relaxing holiday!
  • Travelling “little by little”, we’ve seen lots of interesting places that we wouldn’t otherwise have seen.
  • We’ve met lots of people and we were very impressed with all the spontaneous help we’ve had when we needed it most!
  • We’re very glad we took the car train from Nice to Paris and back, as it would have been too much otherwise.
  • We know we’ve sold at least one LEAF with this holiday ๐Ÿ™‚ (Callum, I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!)
  • Quote from Alex: “There’s holidays and there’s adventures, in adventures things don’t always go right. This was an adventure wasn’t it?”

Charging

  • Organised networks of charging points are a must!ย E-laad / ChargeYourCar / NI-ecars / ESB-ecars were all very good. We also really appreciated having a contact that we could phone in case or problems. (OK that’s really only since it is early days, but it was reassuring, thanks!)
  • France and Scotland are sadly lacking any form of organised chargepoints. In Scotland I know they’re actively working on it. In France, there are localised networks of chargepoints both in Paris and in Nice, but nothing national. Also, the older charge points in Paris are being dismantled, and the new autolib system is no use (2hr charge max at those points)!
  • Hotels have been very willing to let us charge (apart from the Chimay brewery hotel – which is very dissapointing for what used to beย my favourite beer). It would be handy if more hotels would install actual charging points – or even just outside sockets (so that we can sleep with the window closed ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

The Car

We really really like the car, but there’s a few things we’d like to see improved:

  • Ventilation! It is impossible to have ventilation for the windscreen without also putting on the airconditioning. This just seems daft. We don’t want to be using extra battery for the airconditioning when a little outside air would do fine. This must be fixable with a software update.
  • Up-to-date charge point information in the car’s navigation device. One of the chargepoint networks told us it takes between 6 and 9 months (from the time they send it to Nissan) for a new point to appear in the car. That’s just rediculous. Can we not get realtime OCPP info in the car ?
  • The charge box delivered with the car is fixed at 10A. It would be really easy and very handy to make it switchable 6/10/13/16 A. We used OpenEVSE for this…
  • And then, last but not least, the range. We’re used to electric cars (our Saxo has 90km realistic range), but the range on the LEAF was sometimes a little dissapointing for the battery capacity (double that of the Saxo). At 90-100km/h average, you really can’t expect much more than a 120-130km. OK, we were heavily loaded 2 adults, 2 children and 124kg of luggage (of which 23kg for cables and charging equipment!),.ย At 60km/h average you probably could get the announced 175km.
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Final Itinerary

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Home!

At home with a grand total of 4468km since our departure 6 weeks ago!ย Of which about 1200 was commuting during the 2 weeks in Scotland, so 3268km for the trip. The extra kilometers compared to the plan are mostly due to the fact we made a much larger tour through Ireland than originally planned.

Unfortunately the train was delayed for over 3 hours, and the car-train even more, so we didn’t get the car until 15h30. But it came off the car train without any damage (surprising if you see how they drive them on and off… ๐Ÿ™ )

The picture to prove we arrived, same place as 6 weeks before:

Watch the blog for a conclusion and the map of the entire journey… A quick note; Did we enjoy it ? yes – very much ! We’ve seen lots of places and met lots of people. Though it wasn’t exactly a relaxing holiday… Would we do it again ? …not every year… ๐Ÿ™‚ (unless the infrastructure improves, especially in France)

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Paris

The last leg of the journey from Pacy-sur-Eure to Paris didn’t pose much of a problem. We stopped just outside of Paris at the Nissan garage in Chambourcy for a last quick charge so that the car would be charged when it went on the train.

We decided to go the “shortest route” through Paris, which took us round the Arc de Triomphe – very appropriate ๐Ÿ™‚

note: we never spotted the chargepoint that is indicated on the map above – they are replacing public charging points in Paris by “autolib” points (a shared electric car system) that are not available to the public… ๐Ÿ™ What does that do for promoting electric vehicles ?

On our arrival in Paris we were met by one of the french forum members, Patrick, with an electric Renault Kangoo at one of the older charging points that still remains. We had a good lunch, and it was very nice to be welcomed back this way!

After lunch we dropped of the car at the train, and spent the afternoon in de jardin des animaux before getting on the night-train ourselves in the evening.

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Much better day today!

When the garage owner picked us up in the morning, the car was indeed fully charged (he had already checked in the morning ๐Ÿ™‚ ). We set of direction Paris, but stopped in Caen for a quick top-up charge even though it was only 30km along. The next etape would be 115km, so better to be fully charged. The charging points in Caen were actually reserved for electric cars with markings and barriers !

Caen had yet another castle/fort ! (we’ve seen quite a few on our journey – good pass time when charging…)

We decided to stop in Lisieux for a picnic lunch, and found a campervan point by chance, so we did yet another top-up charge ๐Ÿ™‚

This extra hour of charge meant we didn’t have to make the detour to the public chargepoint in Elbeuf (40km out of our way all the same), and we could continue directly in the direction of Paris again. We stopped in Evreux, to book a hotel between there and Paris, and to have a look around. Very clean canal through the town, with lots and lots of big fish! (and Alex & Louise ready to join them)

The last hotel was in Pacy-sur-Eure. A small town along a river. Town itself is not anything special, but the hotel was nice, and the path along the river beside the hotel was almost disneyland like!

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