Our First Electric Car: A week with a petrol SUV made us yearn for our electric LEAF


This summer we rented a KIA Sportage to drive to our holiday on the South West coast, because our day to day car is a used electric Nissan LEAF without enough range for this kind of rare journey — a conscious compromise we made to make real change to our emissions now instead of waiting forever for the perfect electric car that is big enough and has enough range for our family.

This journey would have required about three rapid charging stops in the LEAF which would have added up to 1.5 hours to the travel time. This would have been doable except for the fact that the South West of the UK where we were travelling has very little rapid charger infrastructure so charging en route would have been very tricky if not impossible.

The petrol KIA Sportage was frankly a disappointment. Compared to even our little LEAF it had no power on hills, feeling very sluggish, heavy and externally way too large purely to project ego and status. We found ourselves really missing the smooth and powerful drive of our EV. It was very unexpected.

The KIA did not have significantly more room, and arguably less, than our old diesel Toyota Corolla Verso which was a great family car. “Bizarrely ungenerous” is how I would describe it.

While the range of the KIA on a single tank is huge at about 400 miles compared to the LEAF’s 100 miles at best, filling up after our trip cost about £75 in petrol. At about 450 miles of driving this would be far cheaper with an electric vehicle, costing around £35 using even the most expensive rapid chargers available. On a slower home charger it would have cost about £15!

Interestingly as we return from holiday EV cars are in news again. EV sales are up while the rest are flat or down. The new Nissan LEAF plus with 60kW battery is now available, which seems very interesting for people wanting a ~200 mile range small car.

Many people can change their car now. There’s no time to lose. Larger batteries and better charging infrastructure are coming now but a great many of us can change right now with little or no compromise.

Our switch to EV this year means we’re not buying ~£3000 of diesel fuel this year and every year now on. It will not take that many people switching to truly change the market for oil and derivatives. Our local petrol station will be feeling this change, and so will the oil companies as well as the vehicle industry. The switch is going to happen very quickly now.

The Author

Marc Palmer (Twitter, Mastodon) is a consultant and software engineer specialising in Apple platforms. He currently works on the iOS team of Concepts sketching app, as well as his own apps like video subtitle app Captionista. He created the Flint open source framework. He can also do a pretty good job of designing app products. Don't ask him to draw anything, because that's really embarrassing. You can find out more here.