A Nissan LEAF Struggles With The State Of The UK Charging Infrastructure – Video

AUG 26 2015 BY JAY COLE 28

We have an affinity for EV reviews turned in my the fellows at CNET; they are pretty fair blokes and the production quality is always top drawer.

A CNET Review Of The UK Charging Infrastructure Comes Up A Bit Short

A CNET Review Of The UK Charging Infrastructure Comes Up A Bit Short

That being said, this isn’t so much a review on the Nissan LEAF – as everyone knows exactly what that plug-in is (and isn’t) capable of at this point, but more a reflection on the state of the charging infrastructure in the UK.

As for the LEAF specifically, the guys seemed rather taken by the electric Nissan, but not so much with their extended road trip.

Obviously, when you see the EV on a tow truck during a couple occasions over the 500 mile trip around England, you know it didn’t go all that well.

The nutshell takeaway on the EVSE infrastructure in the UK is as follows: big cities = good, other places = bad.

“…my jaunt through the countryside featured three malfunctioning charging points, two rides in a tow truck and an exhausted drive back to London in the wee hours of the morning. While I technically completed the route, it was plagued with so many problems that I can’t call it a success.”

CNET, Hat tip to David, Mark and sven!

Categories: Charging, Nissan

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28 Comments on "A Nissan LEAF Struggles With The State Of The UK Charging Infrastructure – Video"

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That’s a fake report. Why have they not checked how to pay at the chargers and installed the charging app before starting the journey? And I don’t buy it, that they have to walk a mile away from the charger to get a cellphone network signal. The charger isn’t located in the outlands. Obviously staged.


Maybe they should include how many Tesla-superchargers they passed by during hat trip 😉

thats the problem with some of these charging networks.
Why do they need a app installed at all?
Why can’t we just swipe a credit card like every other fueling system uses?
Completely valid points.

I drive a Leaf and plan accordingly, but regular folks (and reviewers) are being constantly told that EV’s are normal cars. Right now they are not (unless its Tesla) and anyone who attempts to treat an EV the same as a ICE gets into issues.
The reviewer is quite correct.
The Leaf and every other sub100 mile EV are great city cars which can only be used elsewhere with detailed planning and some compromises.

“The Leaf and every other sub100 mile EV are great city cars which can only be used elsewhere with detailed planning and some compromises.” Another way to look at it is that the program is still in beta, and if you’re interested in making the program better, please sign up and be prepared to file some trouble tickets. Is the infrastructure in the UK “ready for prime-time?” Apparently not. It wouldn’t hurt to have more than one charger in every given location – you know, like how Tesla does it. Because right now, even the gas infrastructure needs a backup. What if the one gas station in town closes at 6pm when you need gas? Oh, wait, you’re not used to living in a place like that, but that’s basically what the DCQC infrastructure is like right now. At best, there’s about one for every town, and if it’s not working, closed or inoperable because you don’t have the right card, then you get to use a much slower charger somewhere else. If one exists. But really, I like to consider myself a pioneer, even though I’m literally running around in the lap of luxury in comparison to any other… Read more »

That wasn’t one of their planned chargers – it was the third one they got towed to after finding the one they planned to use was down…and so was the next one.

I think it was a fair report. They liked the car, and had all the charging stations been working, they’d have been fine.

Counter-Strike Cat Are you from the UK? I am and can atest to the problems described here. A very big motoring forum in the UK and one I frequent has people complaining of the same issues with regards to charging stations. There are too many different standards so trying to find a compatible one can often be the first challenge. Secondly there are many many reports of malfunctioning and out of order charge points. This status is often not relayed via various services that purport to provide you. This also goes for points that DO work and yet remain reported broken on these services. Basically there are many EV owners on the site that say you really need a plan A, B and C if you are going to do a long journey because there is a high likelihood that your first choice stop will feature a in-operable charge point. So I can well believe their bad luck in this regard. As for mobile signal? I am on O2 network I am currently sat 5 miles from a major city (Nottingham) and I have no usable phone signal. Not even strong enough to make a call. This kind of service… Read more »
I must add I read of one station in the UK that charges £5.50 for a 45 minute charge and £0.15/minute for every minute over that. IMO this is rather quite expensive. In pence per mile terms that is now bringing you in line with diesel cars (especially at current fuel prices in the UK, most of which is actually taxation as we have fuel duty and then VAT on the fuel and the duty). A fast charge is 35-40 minutes and gets you 80% capacity which might see you 70 miles? thats 8 pence per mile. I am quite shocked that someone has seen fit to charge for charging at this price so soon. It is inevitable of course because if everyone has EV’s the demand for electricity is only going up and as we haven’t (in the UK) invested in electricity generation properly (intermittent wind and solar really don’t count, and we have no new nuclear so we’re left with old coal replete with all the CO2 levys and green subsidies it entails) then electricity cost is only going to go one way. Add that to the government needing to plug the £28 billion gap left by fuel… Read more »

Thanks for your comment. First hand knowledge of the charging situation in the UK is always better than the opinions of commenters who have never set foot in the UK and tried to charge an EV there. I hope your prediction of the end of cheap running cost doesn’t come true, but I have a bad feeling that you might be right.

Yes, thanks, and a very interesting read.

Tesla already got in trouble with their customers for this – it is why they had to re-word their warranty to specify that you do not have to have the annual recommended service (over $600 US at the time) in order to make warranty claims. I don’t know what the heck they are doing to an EV for $600, but that’s what they were charging. Anybody know what it is today, in USD?

“…the GPS said we may not be able to make our destination. Oh well, onwards and upwards as they say!”

Idiots. “Oh, there’s no petrol station for 400km and my gas car can only go 350km on a single tank. Let’s try it anyway!”

I have been to a place were the nearest gas station was 220 miles from the next one. It is on the Dalton Highway in Alaska in Cold Foot. Also south of Cold Foot Alaska is a 160 mile gap between gas stations. This place also only has 120 volt oil heating outlet plugs at these locations.

And Welcome to Jackass.

I noticed something interesting over the last week in Washington DC and Baltimore. Over the last week at least five new quick chargers are under construction or are proposed and several of them are unrelated to Maryland’s DC quick charger network.

Such as it looks like Mom’s Organic Market is adding a new quick charger or two to their new store locations.

The problem with the chargers in the DC area (Virginia side on my case) is that they are always in use or ICED. Yesterday I went to a parking lot on 14 and F with a chargepoint unit ICED. The Mom’s market on Tysons has four chargers, but they are always in use or iced. Last week there was a Tesla, an i3, a Leaf, and a Town and Country parked.
Unfortunately, we cannot count on public chargers. Since I own a Leaf, I have to plan every trip making sure I’ll have enough energy to make it back home.
I wouldn’t even dare to travel outside of the city, since I never know if the charging stations will be available or not, or even if they are working.

Richmond Virginia has very few chargers and they can only charge one car at a time. What worries me a lot is a lot of them are rarely working.

I remembering reading that Illinois based a bill to fine people 75 dollars for parking a ICE Car in a electric car charger which should help out.

Some of these charger docking stations are poorly placed, at least in Buffalo. I tried charging at the roadside 2 dual-ge-durastation units (disconnected for over 2 years while they were repainting the center line), of course, when they were reconnected one of the 4 cords never worked; its the only time you see a RED banner on the charging light. So there’s only 3 that work, but that’s fine since the way most ev’s have their j1772’s at the front left fender, the cords will only reach to 3 of the spots anyway, which were all ICED. The one spot free I pulled within a foot of the other car and the cord still was way too short. Of course, I could have parked backwards, but then Buffalo will give you a ticket. There are 4 more in a closeby and 5 more in a bit further away paid parking lots, whereas parking on the street was free. I figure I could have had something far more serviceable (in other words, more EV’s charging a greater percentage of the time, by just more widely spacing out the evse’s on the street. They upgraded the parking lot electric service from 100… Read more »

That 30 kWh LEAF can’t come quick enough but what we really need is a 50 kWh LEAF!

What good is a bigger battery going to do you if the places where it charges don’t work?

The UK needs to fix this. Mind you, so did these reviewers, if they couldn’t use the Chargepoint (or whichever company is running these things) app.

Bigger battery means you don’t have to charge as often and you are more likely to have some spare capacity left to find another charger

Well, BEV requires a good infrastructure to support it.

EREV/PHEV don’t. It is the best thing until the infrastructure is ready.

This UK CNET story follow the plot of a more famous John Broder (NYT) article from a couple years ago.

Day #1: Everything goes great, not an issue … even though taking a non-conventional route.

Day #2: Starts off extra early … only to discover not to have charge needed, or a single outlet DCFC has mysteriously failed (it this case, day 2 occurs on weekend when network support has been reduce)

The article features a large photo of EV with a flatbed tow vehicle. Story focus on all the failure points with great dramatization … most ignore the un-eventful first day of travel.

[ The Broder plot ]
He should of copywrite’d or trademarked the plot. Could have made millions! 😉

Yup, we’re in agreement here that there is plenty of nonsense in EV FANDOM writings.

Unfortunately it takes much extra reading by the casually interested reader to figure out what is for real, and what is not.

I fear though, that far too many people just dismiss the whole thng, and wouldn’t even consider an electric vehicle because of it.

The ‘simple soundbite’ is always taken, when, as in life, the real answer is always more convoluted.

But, its a slow news week in EV land, so it gives us all a chance to philosophise.

I was a longtime Tesla owner, and I couldn’t fault what Broder had said. I thought it was refreshingly candid for the otherwise “Toilet Paper of Record”.

Same as the criticism of the Roadster Review from Topgear. I had driven the car roughly 1200 times, so my opinion is somewhat more valid than someone who’s only spent a day with the car. I couldn’t seriously criticize their review either.

But, you’d never know it from what you usually read.

These newbies don’t realize the following:

1. The Leaf’s gas gauge is called the ‘guess-o-meter’ on Leaf blogs.

2. Never expect that the indicated range means you can drive that far.

3. Elevation changes do matter.

4. The low-speed charger can only do maybe 4 mph. It’s not good for much.

5. You should call ahead to make sure the solitary charger you need is functional.

6. They were in very temperate weather. If it was cold, they would have been stranded more often.

However, they DID test the car in a way that regular consumers would expect. Early adopters like me quickly learn the lessons I mentioned above. Failing to activate the power – easy mistake to make. I did that once, in one of the few times I used a public charger. Fortunately, I didn’t need the juice. I thought because it was free, the power would activate automatically.

What annoys me after 3 years of leasing a Leaf is that the company doesn’t disclose these issues to consumers. This policy of secrecy and mis-information actually hurts the reputation of EVs.

They also didn’t mention Tesla, which has all of this stuff worked out pretty well.

Wait a minute, I’m on my third year of Leaf lease also but I don’t think that Nissan needs to disclose your 6 issues to consumers at the dealership. Do you expect Nissan to mention that a gas guzzler is polluting the air, water land on planet Earth? Or to mention that gas guzzlers are increasing CO2 emissions resulting in ocean acidification, global warming, polar ice melt, etc…

I thought that was a reasonably fair report, but they showed their inexperience by not planning to have reserve miles to allow diversions when chargers are not working.

Had they rang my door bell and offered me a pound or two (more like 5) to charge I would have gladly let them. All houses are potential charging points, you just have to ask kindly.


On ICE-ing: there needs to be a marketing campaign showing people parking at a gas station pump to go shopping for the afternoon. Nobody is permitted to do that, so why do you feel entitled to park at an EV charger? Charging spots in a parking lot are no different, in purpose, from gas pumps at a gas station. If you’re not plugging in, don’t park here!

This video is nonsense… As any sensible EV driver will testify planning your EV journey is essential and forgetting to check that the power is switched on when connecting the charger is similar to forgetting to squeeze the trigger on a petrol pump – it simply does not happen… To then say the equivalent of “right onwards” having realised your stupid (to put it mildly) mistake is frankly ridiculous!
I am very happy for you to put down EV’s because that means us EV drivers that know and experience the truth can enjoy an under crowded and largely free charging network for longer!