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Promoted | Top electric car tips: on-the-go charging
Looking to go electric, and want to know more about on-the-go charging? Here’s the best advice from our What Car? panel of Nissan LEAF owners...
Making the switch to an electric car is far simpler than you may think. Thousands of drivers across the UK are already enjoying the benefits of EV ownership, and they’ve got lots of tips they can pass on to you. That’s why we recruited some Nissan LEAF owners from our What Car? audience and asked them to share their EV advice.
On-the-go public charging is one of the biggest concerns for drivers used to traditionally topping up their tank at a petrol station. How do you find the right speed of charger? What’s the difference between Type 2 and CHAdeMO connectors? What’s the best way to pay for it? In practice, it’s simpler than you think.
So, here are the top on-the-go charging tips and tricks from our Nissan LEAF-owning EV experts. Don't forget, they’ve also got plenty of tips on long-distance motorway driving, home charging and city driving, too.
To find out more about the Nissan LEAF, head to nissan.co.uk/leaf
Meet our panel of Nissan LEAF owners
Gareth from Staffordshire has owned three electric cars. His favourite aspect of the Nissan LEAF is its “stupidly-cheap running costs”.
Christine from Fife has owned her Nissan LEAF for three years and loves the punchy performance and everyday usability.
Tony from Yorkshire has just bought a new Nissan LEAF, having owned a first-gen LEAF for three years. Equipment and comfort are his stand-out features.
Andy and his wife have owned their Nissan LEAF for a few months. Andy says the electric torque is “addictive” while the running costs are a huge positive.
How easy is it to find a charger?
There are already far more EV chargers around the UK than you may think, and the number continues to grow at a very fast pace. According to zap-map.com, there were 38,000 charging connections at 14,000 locations around the UK in February 2021 – with around 700 devices being added each month.
Around 9600 charging connectors at 2700 locations are rapid or ultra-rapid, operating from 25kW to 100+kW. This makes them perfect for big fast boosts of range. So, what do our panel make of the UK’s electric car charging coverage?
“We’ve owned Nissan LEAFs for about three years now, and in that time the network has definitely grown,” says Gareth. “They’re in far more locations, making charging on-the-go much easier, and helping to reduce range anxiety”.
What chargers are available, and what’s right for me?
Fast 7kW to 22kW chargers tend to be based in urban car parks or suburban retail and leisure centres. They’re perfect for giving your Nissan LEAF a longer, slower and (typically) cheaper boost of range while you’re doing more time-consuming activities such as shopping, spending a couple of hours at the gym, grabbing a long lunch or watching a movie.
A lot of urban and rural hotels are now also adding 7kW to 22kW fast chargers to their car parks, making them perfect for overnight top-ups while you sleep.
Rapid 25kW to 100kW+ chargers tend to be the option of choice at service stations on motorways and A-roads, giving EV drivers a rapid boost of range on long journeys. In fact, around 97% of the UK’s motorway service stations currently have some form of rapid charging facility.
Using the Nissan LEAF’s CHAdeMO cable, a 50kW rapid charger can recharge a 40kWh Nissan LEAF from 20% to 80% in just 60 minutes, or a 62kWh Nissan LEAF e+ in around 90 minutes. So, it’s the perfect match for adding a quick boost of range while you grab a coffee or a big boost of range while you enjoy lunch.
How do I find the nearest charger?
The Nissan LEAF’s comprehensive NissanConnect in-car sat-nav will help you find public chargers as and when you’ll need them. Simply input your destination or current location, and it will recommend where to find a charger and how long to stop for. It also works remotely with the NissanConnect Services app on your smartphone for pre-planning door-to-door navigation from the comfort of your sofa.
But, as our Nissan LEAF panel advised us, a little extra planning and research goes a long way to making public charging even easier – especially on long journeys. There are a wealth of other websites and apps available, which let EV drivers share their experiences and the location and status of charging points.
How often (and how much) should I charge?
While home charging gives you the option to do a longer and slower charge to totally refill your battery if needed, on-the-go charging is much more about grabbing quick boosts to your range – often referred to as ‘grazing’.
Electric car batteries charge best between 20% and 80%. Equally, the rate of charging can slow down dramatically as the battery capacity gets nearer to 100%, which means it’s actually self-defeating to wait for a full charge at a rapid charger.
“I only graze for boosts of range at public chargers,” says Gareth. “Don’t waste time charging to 100% if you don’t need it. Get what you need and set off. Modern electric cars can charge from 20% to 80 or 90% in a short space of time. After that, the rate of charge slows down a lot. I once saw someone spend an extra 40 minutes at a rapid charger just to get from 90 to 100%, which was pointless.
What should you do while you’re charging?
Our panel agrees that waiting in your car while charging isn’t the best use of your time. Instead, fit charging around your life, and vice versa. “When we’re charging on the move, we always look for something to do,” says Gareth. “We often look for rapid chargers around lunchtime, so we can have lunch or a drink while we’re charging.
Whether it’s eating, shopping or going for a walk, do something while you wait.”
Christine agrees, but makes an important point about choosing when to leave your car. “If I’m at a [fast 7kW] destination charger, I’ll leave the car and do something else. That’s the point of them,” she says. “However, if I’m on a 50kW rapid charger at a service station, it’s not good to leave your car for too long. You’re unlikely to be charging for more than 20 minutes, and if you leave your car, people waiting to use the charger won’t know how long you’ll be. It’s just good etiquette.”
Gareth makes a similar point on charging courtesy. “You really shouldn’t hog public chargers,” he says. “Once you’ve got the charge you need, move on. The system works on mutual understanding.”
What if the charger isn’t working?
With over 36,000 charging points in total across the UK, there is a chance that the charger you arrive at is broken for some reason. But it’s not a regular occurrence.
“I’ve never come across a broken public charger,” says Christine. “Problems sometimes arise when they’re busy, but even that doesn’t happen often. I’d advise never to let your EV dip below 20% out on the road. That means, should you encounter a broken or busy charger, you’ll always have a range buffer to get to the next charge point.”
Gareth agrees that the best protocol is to always leave a buffer of charge in case of emergencies: “I’ve only ever found one broken rapid charger during our 40,000 miles of EV driving. Usually they’re working and free to use, but sometimes you will have to wait.”
Don’t forget, if you need more advice about driving and owning an electric car, our What Car? panel of Nissan LEAF drivers have also got plenty of tips on long-distance motorway driving, home charging and city driving, too.
To find out more on the Nissan LEAF, go to nissan.co.uk/leaf
 Data correct as of January 2021: https://www.zap-map.com/statistics/
 For more information, visit: https://www.goultralow.com/faqs/
 Indicated rapid charging time may vary depending on factors including charging conditions, battery and ambient temperature at point of use.
 NissanConnect requires a smartphone with compatible IOS or Android operating system. Connecting a mobile phone to NissanConnect should only be done when the car is parked safely and in accordance with the rules of the Highway Code. To use NissanConnect Services you need a smartphone with compatible iOS or Android operating system and a SIM card with data option from a mobile service provider. Services subject to mobile network coverage. NissanConnect services available from an additional charge on subscription after the third year. For further information, please visit www.nissan.co.uk or contact your local Nissan Dealer.
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