When I first heard that the BritMums blogging network were looking for bloggers to test out ultra low emission (electric, plug-in hybrid and extended range) cars over the summer as part of the #GoUltraLow campaign, I put my name forward very eagerly. The geekdaddy and I have been watching the development of electric vehicles very keenly since we first heard of the early prototypes many years ago. At the time we were both working for a vehicle leasing company, so we were perfectly placed to hear all the news. For several years now the geekdaddy has said that he expects his next car will be an electric car – he feels he’s a perfect candidate to own one as he works from home and almost all of his travel is within our town, or to the neighbouring town. We recently purchased a new car for me, and fuel efficiency was very much a factor in my decision – whilst we were test driving we cast a glance at the electric cars, but the higher initial cost put us off, and we ended up buying my lovely Nissan Note instead, which I am still delighted with.
When we heard we had been selected as #GoUltraLow bloggers we were thrilled, and we were even more delighted to learn that the ultra low emission vehicle we would be testing would be the 100% electric Nissan LEAF. We’ve taken a particular interest in the LEAF ever since one of our TV heroes, Robert Llewelyn (better known as Kryten from Red Dwarf) started driving one, and talking about it pretty regularly on his social media channels. If you’re interested he also has a YouTube channel dedicated to electric vehicles – Fully Charged. Being 100% electric the LEAF produces no emissions whatsoever, and all the marketing material claims it costs just 2p per mile to run. Add in a zero rate of car tax, and it looks like a really good proposition, with just one major downside – the range of one charge. Will that be enough for our day to day life? I was pleasantly surprised to learn that with recent improvements the Nissan LEAF can apparently now go up to 100 miles or more on one charge, but it’s still an area of concern for me.
As part of our participation in the #GoUltraLow compaign we’ve been asked to focus on two aspects of ultra low emission motoring. First of all lifestyle – does the Nissan LEAF fit into our life and meet all of our needs? And second of all performance – does the Nissan LEAF have comparable size and performance to conventional petrol and diesel cars? So for the next few weeks we will be running the Nissan LEAF as our main family car, and I’ll be reporting back here on those aspects of electric car ownership.
Our Nissan LEAF was delivered last Monday. In preparation for its arrival we had already had our charging point fitted. I was amazed to discover that this was fitted completely free by British Gas, and that wasn’t just because I’m doing a review – that’s open to everyone. In general the government is subsidising 75% of the cost of fitting an electric charging point in your home, and some suppliers will pay the additional 25% for you. Installation was very easy – the installers ran a cable from our main electricity box to our chosen location where the charging box was fastened to the wall. It only took an hour or so. The plug can either be stowed in the charging point or left dangling with a plastic cover over the connectors to protect them.
I’ll be reporting back soon with another blog post to let you know how we get on with the Nissan LEAF, but for now here are some handy facts you might not know about ultra low emission vehicles courtesy of the GoUltraLow campaign:
- An ultra low emission vehicle is one which produces 75g or less of CO2 per milometre from the tailpipe. At the moment all cars which can achieve this use electric power to directly turn the wheels to some degree; from a 100% electric car to a plug-in hybrid and an extended-range vehicle
- The ultra low emission car with the furthest range can travel up to 700 miles (Toyota Prius Plug In)
- It costs from just 2p a mile to drive an ultra low emission car (Nissan LEAF) – a journey from London to Brighton or Manchester to Liverpool can be done for £1 (or less than the price of a high street coffee)
- The Government gives you up to £5,000 off the price of a new ultra low emission car (or up to £8,000 off the price of a new ultra low emission van)
- The Government covers 75% of the cost of installing chargepoints at people’s homes. And some suppliers are even paying the remaining 25% – making the chargepoint completely free
- 100% discount for the Congestion Charge (subject to an annual £10 registration fee)
- Free parking and public charging in selected locations
- There are over 5,000 public chargepoints already rolled out across the UK, and more set to appear soon
- By the end of 2014, the majority of motorway service stations will have a rapid charger that can charge up your electric car in less than 30 minutes – allowing you time to grab a meal/coffee or handle errands while you charge
- There are now over 20 different ultra low emission cars to choose from
- ULEVs on the market today have comparable size and performance to conventional petrol and diesel cars
- All top 10 of the best-selling car manufacturers in the UK will have ultra low emission vehicle options this year
I am one of five bloggers participating in the #GoUltraLow campaign. Each of us has been given a different vehicle to test, and we’ll all be sharing our experiences, over the coming weeks. If you want to find out more about the other cars, here’s where you can find them:
- Juggle Mum is testing the Vauxhall Ampera
- Mari’s World has tested the BMW i3
- Actually Mummy has got her hands on the Renault Zoe and
- Mummy Barrow is living it up in the Toyota Prius Plugin.
‘Go Ultra Low’ is a consumer campaign to help motorists understand the benefits, cost savings and performance features of the wide range of ultra low emission vehicles (ULEV) available today, including electric, plug-in hybrid and extended range vehicles. The campaign was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and is backed by the government and leading car manufacturers BMW, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Vauxhall. More information is available on the Go Ultra Low website, where you can also book a test drive of an ultra low emission vehicle.
Disclosure: We have been lent a Nissan LEAF for 6 weeks as part of the #GoUltraLow campaign. All opinions are my own.