About us.....

Abingdon Carbon Cutters is a Community Action Group formed to help reduce the carbon footprint of Abingdon in response to climate change, and to promote a sustainable and resilient lifestyle for our town as fossil fuel stocks decline. We meet on the third Wednesday of each month at St Ethelwold's House, which is here.

At some meetings, we have guest speakers to present various topics, and at others we discuss our own personal actions to address climate change. The group has a focus on encouragement, both of one another, and of the town community.

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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Seen but not heard: Electric car in Abingdon

One of the Carbon Cutters was lucky enough to have an electric Nissan Leaf car to test last weekend.

The car drove like a conventional car, but there were a huge number of beeps, buttons, and screens inside. The Nissan dealer did explain that there is likely to be a version of the Leaf car with fewer gadgets inside, once production moves to the UK in a few months. Undoubtedly some early adopters of the new electric car technology will enjoy the electric handbrake, the absence of an ignition key, the mirror that automatically turns dark when needed, and other clever gadgets, but I couldn't help but feel that the car would move from being "good" to being "awesome" if the luxury features were all removed to save weight and cost!

One bonus of the multiple flat screens (that provide the driver with continuous information about anything and everything) was that it was possible to visualise the electrical energy coming out of the batteries (when accelerating and when driving). This was interesting, but far better was seeing when energy was put back in to the batteries when coasting or braking.

Having the car for a day gave a fantastic opportunity to try out the electric car charging station in Abingdon's waitrose car park.

There are two charging stations in the car park, a "big" one and a "small" one as you can see in the photo below:

 To use the small charging station, it is necessary to be a subscriber to the service provided by a company called Polar, who provide an electronic key to subscribers so that they can open up the socket on the charging post.

The big charger is branded as a Nissan charger, and looks very much like a petrol pump. It provides power free of charge, through the fast charging connector on Nissan electric cars. The Nissan garage does not recommend that every charge is a fast charge. A "normal" charge which gives around 120 miles of travel will take 12-16 hours by plugging the car in to a standard domestic British power outlet

Initially, we had to diagnose and rectify a fault with the"big" electric car charging point. The emergency stop button had been pressed and latched in, causing this error each time the system started up. I unlatched the e-stop button, and all was well.   

37 amps reportedly filled us up down this black cable. The charger itself hummed a little, and some blue lights flashed on the dashboard. We were able to lock the car doors, and go in to do our shopping while all this was going on.

The electrical connector was fiddly to attach to the car, as it had a lever, a button, a springy part and a flappy cover for the lever.
We were on charge for 20 minutes, and the car's battery went from 60% charge to 90% charge.

1 comment:

  1. Not bad for a 20-minute charge. A 30% increase in the battery's capacity should get you to your destination. Anyway, electric cars and their charging stations are still difficult for some of us to understand, so I would propose suggesting this page to your readers for reference: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/understanding-electric-car-charging-stations.htm I hope that helps. :)



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