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My Journey To Cork In An Electric Vehicle Was The Easiest I've Ever Experienced

By James Fenton

August 21, 2018 at 12:18pm

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Dublin to Cork. One of the most travelled routes in the country and one I have undertaken on a few occasions in the past.

At approximately 266 kilometres, regulars on the M8 will know that driving between Ireland's two largest cities can often burn quite a hole in the pocket when it comes to petrol costs. But what if I told you you'd be able to put an end to all that by switching to an electric vehicle?

When I first turned on the Nissan LEAF, the thing that that stood out was how quiet and smooth it was. The loud revving noises of a standard petrol vehicle are replaced with a soft hum and with a fully charged battery I was ready to hit the road from the capital to the Rebel City.

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While automatic vehicles are becoming more and more common these days, it seems there are still a number of drivers in Ireland who feel that the transition from manual would be too complicated.

As an experienced manual driver myself, this myth was quickly dispelled once I was behind the wheel of the Nissan LEAF. Whenever traffic was encountered, simply moving my foot from the accelerator to the brake provided great peace of mind and this was repeated when I began to get to grips with one of the LEAF's best features - the e-Pedal.

At the flick of a button, I was able to accelerate and brake by using just the accelerator. With my right foot focused on driving, my left was allowed to rest for the remainder of the journey.

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A Nissan LEAF on full charge can give up to 378km (New European Driving Cycle) of battery life but this really depends on what kind of driving you are doing. With the stop-start nature of city driving, you never really go that long without having to apply the brakes. When you do, the LEAF recovers some of the energy created by the braking and stores it in the battery, meaning that you could reasonably go about a week without having to charge your car.

This changes slightly once you hit the open road of the motorway. Naturally you aren't braking as much, so if you're on a long journey there will come a point when you will have to visit one of Ireland's 1,100 public charge points.

I chose to stop in Cashel, 167km from my starting point and over halfway through my journey. Driving at motorway speed of 120km for most of the way, I arrived at my pitstop with 70km of range left. The charging process couldn't have been easier. A quick 10 minute top up would have done here to take me to Cork city, however I decided give the LEAF's battery a longer boost and got myself one in the form of coffee and a snack too.

Given that it's completely free to charge an electric car in Ireland, it was nice to take a break during my trip while knowing that I wouldn't need to splash out on a full tank of petrol.

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40 minutes later, the battery was at 80% and 302km which was more than enough for me to complete my 100km journey to Cork. This was the the perfect opportunity to sample the LEAF's proPILOT technology. Once applied, the car steered, accelerated and used the brake for me and I was able to set the speed limit where appropriate. The closest I've experienced to a driverless car and just another feature of the LEAF that puts the driver at ease.

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After arriving in Cork city, with 200km to spare, it didn't take long using my e-car app to find an overnight charging point. I was ready to relax for the evening safe in the knowledge that the LEAF would be ready to go again in the morning.

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There are clear benefits in driving an electric car. Firstly, there are huge savings available upon purchasing one with a €5,000 VRT government grant provided to every buyer, and if you have an electric company car there's 0% BIK too.

To add to that, the running cost savings are immense, varying from zero (when charged on public infrastructure) to about €200 (on night time electricity at home) for 20,000km of driving. This makes it as cheap as 1c per km travelled, or one tenth of the cost of running an equivalent petrol car.

Finally, motor tax on electric cars is the lowest band in Ireland at just €120 per year, and without an engine, clutch, oil, or gearbox, the maintenance levels are at a minimum.

There are also half-price toll fares available which is just another thing you don't need to worry about.

Another benefit is that because the car is 100% electric, there are zero emissions meaning that you know you're doing your bit for the environment.

Most importantly, I was sceptical about electric cars when I first got into a Nissan LEAF but the peacefulness, comfort and ease that comes with driving it got me contemplating if I'd ever go back to a petrol vehicle.

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