Category Archives: Own experiences

ICEd already.

Today we had a bit more driving to do. Klaukkala->Pitäjänmäki->Klaukkala->Helsinki-Vantaa airport->Tikkurila->Klaukkala summed up somewhere a bit more than a 100km. After the airport we started thinking we’ll need a bit more juice to get home with confidence. We were headed to Tikkurila, so we decided the slow chargers at the Prisma supermarket were a natural choice.

I had read somewhere that the chargers are on something called P2. My intuition told me that a P2 should be somewhat further from everything than, say a P1. When we went round in the garage for two floors and I saw the P2 sign, I got a sinking feeling we ain’t gonna charge this time. And surprise, surprise:

Got ICEd.
Got ICEd.

A Z4 bimmer and a Ford Fiesta. Last time I checked, neither of them was available as ev and I doubt either of them was a conversion. Tytti went inside and asked around at the info for a battle plan, a security guy came and checked the license plates and they announced for the owners of the two cars. The owner of the Ford happened to arrive a moment later and he kindly moved the car away even though he was going back inside (Thanks!), but someone in some small French car or something was already eyeing the spot. Tytti went and told her that we kind of needed to ‘refuel’.

The owners of the BMW also entered their car and I tried to be witty and tell the guy I didn’t know they make Z4 ev’s. Finland is a nice country where even people who drive something Bavarian can have a civilized conversation with a poor sod like me and he was quite correct noting that parking an ICE car wasn’t exactly forbidden in any way. He also told me he can relate to the problem when I told him it’s a bit problematic when you really need some charge, but someone who doesn’t exactly need the spot is hogging it.

And that’s exactly the problem and not only in that particular place. The charging spots in Prisma Tikkurila are just slightly further than three steps away from the doors to the supermarket and there really isn’t any kind of restrictions on parking an ICE on the spots. In the Jumbo shopping mall, also in Vantaa, the charging spots are almost as close to the entrances, but at least they made an effort and installed signs that ask other than ev or hybrid drivers not park on the spots.

I think they both should do a field trip to the Kaari shopping mall in Helsinki, where the charging spots are a bit further away from the entrances, are in a 90 degree angle to the other parking spots and are at the end of an hallway. Kind of awkward in every possible way as well as highly visible. I think their parking garage has to be really stuffed before someone strays with their old-fashioned ICE car on any of those spots.

When we left back for home and I stared disconnecting the charger (3.02kWh used according to the outlet meter) I made a laconic remark how Skoda seems to have started building Octavia EV’s…

The final error: Renting a Leaf.

I’ve been reading about electric vehicles, especially cars for several years already. I think the hottest thing electric around the time I started obsessing over them was something in the lines of Th!nk city, so not much of a real car, but still interesting.

I’ve also been going on about electrics for a while now, especially since the Leaf and Tesla Model S entered market. They seem like the vehicles that are turning the electric vehicle into main stream technology. Except of course in Finland. This is the land of rhinos after all (a kind of an inside joke), so it’s quite likely we are still running gasoline, diesel and wood gas (O.o) cars for years after the rest of the world has moved on to bev, fuel cell and probably even micro fusion vehicles.

I made the error of calling a Europcar rental at Vantaa Aviapolis, some 15km from our home and nicely midway to the in-laws and asked them for a Leaf rental for two days. I was prepared to wait a couple of days to get the car, but there was no waiting list of any kind. I got the impression I was one of the very, very few to even ask about the car.

Later in the evening my significant other, Tytti dropped me off at the rental and continued to the in-laws. After getting some paperwork done a younger guy went with me outside and showed me around the car. A lucky thing I’ve read so much about the Leaf and electric cars in general as the guy didn’t seem half as sure where things are as I was =P At the very least he showed me where the charging receptacles and the 240V charging adapter are.

When I departed the rental yard (and a free chademo charger with two spots) I could hardly believe my ears. The sound of silence while driving was pure awesomenessessess. Put the car on drive, lift your foot off the brake and off you go, without making a sound. I haven’t driven a lot of conventional automatics either, so the ease of driving took me a bit off guard too. After leaving the yard and a smaller street I turned onto Tikkurilantie and floored it. The instant acceleration from a standstill was pure joy and for a moment I was a bit unsure if I was going laugh or cry.

After visiting the in-laws I only drove the car home and plugged it in. We live in a row house, so getting a charge was a bit more involved. I ran a 20m heavy duty extension cord from the 16A socket next to our front door to the side of the road and connected the charger to the cord. There was no trouble charging overnight, but I did check the extension cord, the connections and fixtures for heating every now and then. There was no abnormal heating whatsoever.

The next morning (Wednesday) we made a trip to Helsinki, from there to the Jumbo shopping centre in Vantaa and back home. We did some 80km from full charge and there was about 80km more charge left so it felt like the guess-o-meter actually guesses quite well, having guessed we’ll go around 164km on a charge. It took us 7.5 hours to fill the missing 80km to the battery. Tytti also test drove the car in the late evening and she had to concede the car is quite nice to drive.

Later that night I took the car for another spin (heck, you gotta test it well when you rent it for two days). It’s been a long time since I last went motoring just for fun, but that time it felt kind of nice thinking that I wasn’t actually burning anything polluting, so driving for fun didn’t make me feel a bit quilty. I took to central Nurmijärvi (if you can say so), spun around at a gas station, received a couple of unfriendly glares and took the scenic route back to Klaukkala. Back there I tested the acceleration a couple times at red lights and just drove around on the smaller streets where the speed limit is 30km/h. Driving that slow in an electric is awesome just because it’s so quiet and effortless.

The next day I had to take the car back to the rental. It was the first time I felt I didn’t want to return the keys for the rental and go back to driving one of our Peugeots (Our 1007 and 407 wagon had beat the living daylights out of rental Volvos, Fords, Fiats and whatnots in pure driving comfort) and I made sure the clerks at the rental heard that =P I also tested connecting the quick charger when I parked the car at the rental.

Tytti came to me laughing that my red lights are something a bit different. She drove behind me in our 407 and told me that she hardly managed to lift the clutch when I was already disappearing in the horizon. And she’s not any slower at red lights on the 407 than I am.

I was left with the feeling that somehow I need to get one of those electrics as my daily driver as soon as possible. Here’s for hoping winning the national Lotto. =D