Just over three years ago on January 10, 2011, BBC news reporter Brian Milligan began to drive from London to Edinburgh in an electric car, seemingly with the intent to prove how unreliable, impractical and slow electric cars were. He chose as his chariot of choice a prototype Mini E — a car which at its fastest charge rate, took more than six hours to recharge from empty to full.
Milligan covered around 100 miles per day, and milked the slowness of his chosen car’s charging capabilities for all it was worth. And as you might expect, so did a large proportion of misinformed and jaded newspaper outlets, blogs and cable TV channels. Electric cars, they maintained, were a joke.
Two days after Milligan left on January 12 2011, EV advocate David Peilow left London at the wheel of a borrowed Tesla Roadster. Even with a two-day disadvantage, Peilow made it to Edinburgh first, not only proving Milligan and his skeptical colleagues wrong about electric cars, but proving that with the right car and the right infrastructure, EVs can be useful long-distance cars too.
Next Friday, Peilow will be joined by TV presenter, author, EV advocate and Transport Evolved regular Robert Llewellyn on a retracing of that very trip. Instead of driving a pre-production prototype or a limited-production luxury sports car however, Llewellyn and Peilow — who suggested the idea of making the trip again — will be driving a brand-new Nissan LEAF.
What’s more, Peilow says thanks to an extensive DC quick charge network, the duo should make the entire 391-mile trip in a little over 10 hours.
“To be fair to Mr. Milligan he said that it was a ‘golden age’ for technological development and ‘in a few years’ things would change,” Llewllyn noted on his blog yesterday. “Well, it’s three years later and as he predicted the picture is rather different.”
Leaving from London on Friday morning, Peilow and Llewellyn will head north up the M1 Motorway, stopping along the way at Ecotricity’s Electric Highway rapid quick charge points. Now servicing most rest stops along the Motorway, the duo should reach the North of England in double-quick time.
And while there are fewer rapid chargers currently serving the North of England and Scotland as there are in the South and Midlands, the duo are confident they’ll be within the walls of Edinburgh castle in time for a wee hot toddy to toast their day’s endeavours.
The trip, which would have taken substantially longer before the building of Ecotricity’s rapid charger network, will require the duo to stop every so often for around 30 minutes to rapidly recharge their LEAF’s battery pack. But, as Llewellyn notes, the trip really won’t take much longer than it would in a petrol car.
“If you drove the same journey in a modern, fuel efficient petrol car and didn’t stop once, even for a wee, you could do it in 6 or 7 hours but I would suggest your bladder would explode before you got to Newcastle,” Llewellyn says. “Not only that, you would spend a minimum of £70 on petrol whereas our journey will cost exactly zero, not a penny on fuel.”
Peilow — who drives a Vauxhall Ampera — and Llewellyn — who owns a Nissan LEAF and Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid — are being loaned a brand new LEAF by Nissan for the trip. As you might expect, they’ll be live-tweeting their entire trip on their respective twitter accounts.
We wish them all the best, and of course, we’ll keep you up to date with their progress throughout the trip on our own twitter stream too.
You can also support us directly as a monthly supporting member by visiting Patreon.com.