Robert’s LEAF diary – week 3: Fighting off the trolls

I’ve had a bit of troll abuse recently… I think that’s what it’s called. Trolls have had a go at me, nothing serious but not terribly pleasant. Basically stuff along the lines of, “I can’t afford a snazzy new electric car, we’re not all eco-luvvies like Robert Llewellyn with a huge house in the Cotswolds,” or “it’s alright for you to bully people into buying electric cars. You live in a privileged media bubble, Nissan aren’t going to give me an electric car.”

By Robert Llewellyn on May 13, 2011 2:30 PM

I can understand it, it does seem a bit unfair and it is sometimes difficult to keep a realistic grasp on the world when, through a series of circumstances Machiavelli would fail to arrange, I end up being loaned an amazing new electric car.

Story of my life really, it’s similar in some ways to how I ended up in Red Dwarf on the BBC. I just happened to be leaning on the back door that led into TV land when someone opened it and I fell in. You could never plan something like that, it just happened.

I suppose the grit in your shoe aspect of these idle accusations is they are so far from the mark. When someone accuses me of being a middle class tosser, I’m almost proud – that’s true, I am… nothing to be ashamed of. But media bubble? Huge house in the Cotswolds? Purr lees.

So, on the morning I read these rather ill informed jibes I left my 14 bedroom Georgian mansion and walked through the spotless 10 car garage next to where I keep my Ferrari, Rolls Royce and Lamborghini to shout at Garstang my driver because he hadn’t polished the chrome sufficiently on the mint condition 1968 Mustang Fastback.

Okay, I’ll admit that isn’t quite true, I walked out of my glorified shed through the smaller shed that serves as a garage to take the rubbish out, as I did so the bag split and some kind of fish pie residue cascaded down my trousers.

Not only that, I noticed the LEAF was not present. I wasn’t alarmed, it hadn’t been half inched; the Mrs had gone to yoga in it. Then she was going shopping, then she was going to pick up an old mate from Australia who was coming to visit.

So there’s me, Mr over-privileged-media-eco-luvvie with fish slime down my slacks and I can’t even get to drive the damn car.

After I dropped the pleasingly small bag in the landfill bin (obviously I’m an obsessive composter) I took time to view the empty space in the garage. At present we are still charging the LEAF off the specially fitted 13 amp outlet we had installed when we had a Mitsubishi i-MiEV on a long loan.

Okay, yes, media bubble, not in the real world, blah de blah. I’m very lucky, I admit it, although that was part of a special electric vehicle trial and loads of other people had them too.

Anyway, I checked the wall where we are about to have a 16 amp home charger unit fitted, according to the blurb this will re-charge the car in around 4 hours, less than half the time it takes at the moment using a 13 amp outlet.

Immediately I want to explain the lack of difficulty an 8+ hour re-charge creates. We charge overnight while we sleep and we use off-peak electricity. According to the little meter I’ve plugged in, it’s costing us £1.40 to charge. The car is never empty when we get back so this amount varies from under a quid to closer to £2 depending on how empty the battery is.

I say it takes 8 hours, I don’t actually know, it’s always full in the morning and I can’t be bothered to stand in the garage and wait.

I also feel I should point out that I calibrated the meter to our off peak rate of 6p per kilowatt hour. I might have done it wrong and anyway, it’s only a temporary measure. The new unit we’re having fitted will have exact readings and I will disclose them fully.

We are also having a set of solar panels mounted to the roof of my south facing office in the garden. This will feed directly into the re-charge unit. I’m very excited about this, I don’t know how effective it’s going to be but I will be recording precisely what our electricity is costing us and how much impact the solar panels have (take a look out how Smooth Radio DJ Mark Goodier has been getting on with his solar panel/ Nissan LEAF combo here).

All I have to remember to do now is get up early enough so I can use the car before my wife gets her greedy low carbon mitts on it. She absolutely loves it and is slightly resentful when I tell her, “I really need to use the car tomorrow, we’re filming in it.”

This week I’ve also been finding out a lot more about the public charging infrastructure that’s being rolled out, I’ve been told lots of figures and I’m not going to say anything now because I will get them all wrong.

‘The new charging posts are pumping out 400,000 volts at 10,000 amps and it takes less than 3 seconds to re-charge.”

I’d better go and lie down, anyway I can’t drive the LEAF – the Mrs is using it to go to her reading group. Yes, we’re that middle class.