Leeds journalist puts electric car charging to the test.

A journalist writing for the Yorkshire Post test drove an electric vehicle this week and his experiences make for interesting reading.

Chris Burn, a journalist with the popular regional newspaper, decided to see what it’s like driving an electric car in Leeds, as the city is one of five ‘Clean Air Zones’.

Clean Air Zones have been designated by the Government in five cities across the UK. There, a series of measures will seek to reduce the air pollution caused by diesel vehicles.

With Leeds set to become one of the cities affected by the changes, Chris Burn took to the wheel of a Nissan Leaf to see just how ready the city is for the electric revolution.

And while Chris said driving the vehicle was an enjoyable experience, even giving him the ‘EV grin’, charging was a different matter.

Like 30 per cent of UK households, the journalist doesn’t have off-street parking which is a major barrier to charging and therefore owning an electric car.

He wrote: “The result of this was setting off early to work the following morning to drop in at a nearby Asda store which has free charging points. The staff were somewhat surprised to be asked for assistance with getting the vehicle to charge (owners are provided with a card that allows them to start the charging machines that I didn’t get on the test drive) and once a staff member who knew how to get the machines to work arrived a few minutes later and helped me get plugged in, I headed inside to the cafe to have a coffee for 20 minutes.”

Unfortunately for Chris the Asda charger wasn’t a rapid charge unit, like InstaVolt’s, and the battery charge on his electric vehicle only went up from 53 to 57 per cent in the time he’d waited.

He continued: “It led to a rather cautious drive back up to West Yorkshire with eyes constantly flickering to the dashboard to see how the battery life was holding up, especially as I negotiated uphill sections of the M1. However, to the car’s credit, I managed to make it back with just over 10 per cent of battery life remaining. The vehicle’s sat-nav also includes a feature which shows up the nearest available charging points, meaning running out of power should never be a serious prospect.

Tim Payne, CEO at InstaVolt, says he’s not surprised by Chris’s experiences and that the work InstaVolt is doing across the UK could soon make sure inconveniences a thing of the past.

“The way the industry is currently looking at charging is all wrong,” he says. “A significant percentage of homeowners in the UK don’t have access to off-street parking, making overnight charging at home an instant write-off.

“We therefore need more chargers available in easily accessible public places like garage forecourts, supermarkets and council car parks. We also need more rapid chargers, like the ones we use which provide 80 per cent charge in just 30 minutes. People like Chris want to be able to duck in for a quick coffee and car charge then continue their journeys with ease.”

InstaVolt is installing rapid chargers all over the UK, with an aim of placing 3,000 by 2020.

Tim concluded: “With cities such as Leeds becoming Clean Air Zones, our mission to make driving an electric vehicle easier has never been more important.”

Read Chris’s full story on the Yorkshire Post website.

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