Recovering from the disappointment of the cancelled trek to Clare and poor Le-c’s sojourn in hospital we decided to postpone the trip to North Leitrim for a few weeks and instead have a week of normal-life driving, an easy week, but even in the paltry 80 km done over the course of the week Le-c managed to shine. There was further evidence of the benefits of previously identified features like torque (speed) and regenerative braking (extending range while you drive) as well as one or two newly identified glories like never having to fear a hill start again. This week around home also gave the opportunity to show Le-c off and to talk about all those benefits to the many interested locals we met and of course, to trial the proposed cyclist/pedestrian warning systems. And then there was the return of the rain; how would she fare in wet conditions? The answer to that is; rather well!
To sing Le-c’s praises for a bit; the incredible burst of speed I’d so enjoyed coming off the roundabout in Collooney a few weeks ago is also, I’ve found, a huge advantage when merging onto a major road from a minor road or passing out the legions of tractors trundling down country roads at the moment. It’s not just the incredible visceral joy of being pinned to your seat while the motor whines jet-like, it’s knowing you can merge and pass with confidence. There is that potential for speed at all times which should see me driving at the limit on good roads, I’m rather fond of going quite fast, but instead I’ve been driving at a steady 90 km and even below. Despite the joy and ease of instant speed the sight of the available-km counter descending faster than the counter on a bomb-timer in an episode of 24 forces one into more conservative driving, the carrot being the satisfaction that comes from having travelled 10 km and the clock only descending by 8; 2 km gained from that wonderful regenerative braking feature – the ultimate in Reduce, Reuse Recycle!
The latest benefit I’ve been singing the praises of is the ease of hill starts, however, it appears anyone who drives or has ever driven an automatic car will know this benefit too so it’s not exclusive to e-cars. It is there though and it’s great, made me very happy on the quay road in Carrick, the recurring flashbacks to a day in Enniskillen many years, ago where I left half the tryres behind me on a hill, banished forever!
There have been two common themes in all the questions I’ve got from interested passers-by namely cost and range. The cost of the car initially, the cost of recharging and, to a lesser extent, the cost of replacing the battery. For two out of three of those it’s a case of smiling beatifically and saying ‘very little’, the other two are less easily dismissed. The cars are not cheap to buy new, but neither are they exorbitant (ranging from approx €15K for a Zoe to between €20K and €30K for a Nissan Leaf and approx €25K for an i-MiEV) and it’s a cost that will quickly be recouped on the savings in running costs. The cost of replacing the battery 8 -10 years down the road is a worry as evinced in Renault’s charging a monthly battery rental fee on the Zoe to avoid this once-off expense, but I believe improvements in battery longevity and reductions in cost of production will come with increased R&D through increased investment. Le-c follows myriad electric-vehicle enthusiasts on Twitter, every day links to news of improvements in range and performance of batteries are tweeted (especially in relation to Tesla, not available in Ireland and very expensive). I don’t wish to dismiss the concern but there is a cost involved in motoring anyway and with fossil-fuel dependant vehicles that cost is increasing alarmingly quickly in financial and environmental terms.
The second most common question concerns range; there appears to be a general fear amongst the populace of this island (or county at least), of not being able to escape to a distant place on a whim, the 150 – 200 km range of new e-cars should do all of us nicely on a day-to-day basis, the last census figures bear this out, but we all want to know we could just take off, no planning just go far away! In which case there’s always the option of renting, or, god forbid, taking the train. But, for all the concern, there is also a growing appreciation of the fact that electric cars are the future and that is down almost exclusively to potential cost savings.
The trial to select a suitable warning sound to cyclists, pedestrians and young birds is on-going, the horses hooves have been playing from the phone held out the driver’s window as we drive on our local road and one cyclist did react by checking behind him last Sunday as I hit play, a sure sign to me that he heard the hooves but evidence to the other half, driver 2 that he’d spotted us earlier and was checking our whereabouts (a man of logic and free of fancy is driver 2) – other than that it’s been hitting those regenerating brakes a lot to avoid the wee birds (who appear not to hear us at all and on whom I’m reluctant to use the galloping horses for fear of leaving a wake of birds dead from heart-failure), hardly a trial as it brings its own reward and not just a non-dead bird! This week the sound will be louder coming from Le-c’s own sound system now I’ve got it on a USB pen – there’s a port on the stereo (one of those glories I hadn’t realised many cars of this century have, ‘Oh, so it’s not just a feature of e-car!’). Listen out for it!
And so to the return of the rain, however welcome by the earth and all who work her, it has put a damper on our trekking, for me at least. Le-c is clean again and happy about that but wouldn’t it be lovely if we could generate electricity from the rain? My relationship with it would change for the better as it did with the wind when Windy the turbine came into our life 6 years ago. We can but dream! Le-c has had no problems with the rain, a tiny bit of battery draw to keep the windscreen de-fogged but hardly enough to mention. I have wondered about lightening and Le-c, specifically charging in lightening? Probably not a good idea? ESB experts please enlighten and reassure!
No major expeditions planned for this week, we are heading for Mohill on Friday to introduce Le-c to the uncles and aunts and particularly to remember one uncle who was so excited last September when he saw the article about Le-c coming to me in the local paper, but, who sadly died in the interim, we’ll do a tour of Rosharry for Uncle Sean. Keep an eye out for us if you’re in Mohill and come and say hello!
In the interests of fair reporting of actual running costs this week we will keep a log of distance travelled and kW hours used and report the facts next time.
Finally, Le-c received her first piece of fan mail this week, a beautiful picture done by a young artist friend – Thank you Kitty!
Now we are off to visit with a local GP who is a huge enthusiast and has already 98% decided that his next car will be electric, here’s hoping Le-c can provide the extra 2%!
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