dad and son at ev charging station

Advisian oil and gas engineer turns over a new "Leaf": Charging options and the fun side

Andy Jones

Andrew Jones | Executive Engineer | 21 January 2020

In the second part of this three-part series, Andy Jones covers some of the most common questions he encountered along his EV ownership journey.

We’ve been living with the Leaf for around a month now. I’d say that the experience has been a positive one so far. I can’t imagine we’ll ever go back but never say never.

Charging

Most of the people I’ve had a discussion with on the subject so far were quite surprised to hear that you can charge these vehicles with a run-of-the-mill home charging plug. Indeed, we are charging ours using a lead running out of our carport. There are quite a few different charging options and the choice people make tends to boil down to one simple question: how long is it going to take me to put enough charge in my battery so I can get to where I’m going and back? Of course, there are remote charging options, but we’ll get to that later. 

There are regular 10-amp slow (or trickle) chargers, fast chargers (about double the power/speed installed in your home for approximately AUD 2000) and really fast chargers, most of which are currently too expensive as a home installation option. Time to charge will vary from 45 mins to 21 hours, depending on the vehicle and charging option used. For us, it typically takes around eight hours on a slow charge when going from around 30% to full charge. Essentially you can view it like owning a mobile phone - plug it in at night and it’s ready to go in the morning. Or in our case, plug it in during daylight hours (as often as  possible) when we’re producing excess solar power.

rendering of Queensland Electric Super HighwayOn the open road, charging options are improving. In fact, there are some excellent EV-associated infrastructure projects being developed and executed around the world. One great example is the Queensland Electric Super Highway (image left, courtesy of the Queensland Government), which is the world's longest electric super highway in a single state. It allows Queenslanders and tourists to travel from Coolangatta to Cairns and from Brisbane to Toowoomba in a low or zero emissions vehicle.

There are multiple things to consider when establishing your charging habits. If you work from home or the EV is a second car, and you have solar panels, then an ideal choice is to charge the vehicle using excess solar energy you might be generating from your solar array. We’re attempting to do this whenever we can, without getting too pedantic about it. This is effectively ‘free’ fuel based on 100% renewable sources (aside from subtleties regarding the feed in tariff and eco-questions around the creation and disposal of solar hardware). It was also a pleasant surprise to find that our electricity supplier in Western Australia offers a special tariff which allows us to charge at off peak times on a lower cost per kwh. They also pay a cash incentive to move to that EV tariff. So even if you don’t have solar panels at home there are some incentives available to charge at home. Alternatively, if you drive to work, many businesses have in-building charging options so you can charge whilst you’re at work.

On the open road, charging options are improving. In fact, there are some excellent EV-associated infrastructure projects being developed and executed around the world.

The fun stuff

 Even though our Leaf is five years old and represents relatively dated technology, the driving experience is surprisingly fun. It’s been great darting away from traffic lights, accelerated by instant power and torque coming from the electric motor. It feels a little like driving a go-cart! In this respect, I’d say it represents a boost to the legal aspect of having a speedy car. Clearly nobody could legally (or safely) exploit a sports car’s top speed on public roads. So, what I’ve found, is that it’s reinvigorated my interest in cars. That was something I’d mostly left behind in my 20s. When family and kids came along, the increased sense of responsibility and awareness of my mortality meant that sports cars dropped way down the priority list. A few articles and several hundred YouTube videos later, and I’m now quite knowledgeable about the in and outs of a Tesla Model S versus a Porsche Taycan. 

Something many people may also be unaware of, is that a relatively affordable electric car such as a Tesla model 3, is capable of outperforming most internal combustion engine (ICE) sports cars from 0 to 100 kmh. In addition, interestingly, the Tesla Model 3 is now also considered the most efficient of all vehicles sold in the US. According to thedriven.io the Model 3 SR+ can drive the equivalent of 141 miles (227 kms) on the amount of energy in a gallon of fuel which is 8 times more efficient than the average Australian vehicle. These kind of statistics increasingly are turning the heads of a many ‘petrolheads’ and converting them to ‘voltheads’.

In the third and final part of this series, I’ll cover the finances surrounding the cost of running and owning the EV versus our last car, the Nissan Xtrail. Sorry to 'Leaf' you hanging!

Discover where it all began. Read part one of this series: 'Advisian oil and gas engineer turns over a new "Leaf"'.

Andy Jones

Andrew Jones

Executive Engineer

Andy Jones is the Advanced Data Monitoring Lead for Advisian and is a process engineer with 25 years’ experience in the oil and gas, mining, chemical and nuclear sectors in various locations worldwide. He has spent 20 years of his career creating digital transformation applications for industry. He’s passionate about harnessing the best use of associated technology to bring the greatest value to customers around the world. Originally born and educated in the UK, he now lives in sunny Perth, Australia with his wife and three children. He has recently installed a larger solar array and inverter on his home and is using the excess generation to partly fuel his second-hand Nissan Leaf. More solar panels are likely to appear soon. Watch this roof space!

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