Electric Car – Day 6 (Day sent to test me!)

Day 6 

Oh my goodness. Today must have posed every possible problem. Just a quick trip to Grantham on an overnight charge I thought, no problem, only to find I had plugged in the car in the garage and failed to turn it on at the switch – what an idiot! So 23 miles of charge for a 30 mile round trip. I programmed the destination on the Sat Nav which told me there was rapid charge point at the A1 Moto. No problem! Let’s give it a try I thought. So with 8 miles remaining I pulled up at the 4 plug charge point – these ones managed by Ecotricity. It was throwing it down with rain – but I braved the weather to read the instructions (well I didn’t have much choice if I wanted to get home again!) I needed to download the Ecotricity App. Fine. And unlike Chargemaster there was no minimum top up but a 30 minute rapid charge would debit my credit card with £6 and give a 75% charge. Still cheaper than fuel and with my own overnight stupidity it had to be done.

There were two different charge leads attached the machines, neither of which appeared to fit the socket on the car. Wishing I had checked that out first! After getting drenched I noticed that there is actually another charge socket next to the one I had been using at home on the car disguised with a black plastic cover. So I popped it off and with relief the charging lead socket fitted fine. The machine lit up and started a 4-step checking routine on its screen. After step one a message appeared “initiation failed”. Oh dear. I jumped back sopping wet  into the car and rang the Ecotricity helpline.

They were fantastic. They knew from the charger ID where I was and connected to the machine to find out what was wrong. I was on hold for a few minutes and then told I’d not plugged it in properly and to try again. With a phone battery now waning I asked them to call me back in a few minutes when I’d had another try in the rain.

Another member of the EV community was charging his Renault next to me and kindly came to my rescue with an umbrella. “Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve had this before and the Ecotricity people are very helpful.” I explained they had been very helpful but I’d not plugged it in correctly. So he had a try for me and, oh dear, my knight in shining armour seemingly broke the charge handle which now wouldn’t release. I jumped back in the car and my phone rang. Ecotricity had called me back. I explained the problem. “Don’t worry, we’ll do whatever we can to get you charged up and if absolutely necessary the AA will collect any stranded EV user for free and take you to the next nearest operational point.” Wow, that is good service. I had 8 miles on the  clock and knew Marshall Nissan, with whom AW has partnered in this power adventure, was nearby with a chargepoint.

But then my Knight wound down his neighbouring window. “I’ve finished my charge now, let’s swop places and I can help you.” The man in his late 50s has had his electric Renault for about 3 months and had an amazingly large umbrella! We swopped places, started the whole routine again and bingo! Success. If this had happened first time I would have been on the same cloud as yesterday. The machine whirred up, the blue charge lights came on and we were in business. I went into the Moto for a coffee and dry off and by the time I was back in the car there were only 5 minutes left to charge. Note all power has to be off while charging so no listening to the radio or charging up your phone while waiting. The charge closed off, my app pinged to let me know to unplug. Back into the rain and, oh no, I can’t unplug the socket. This really was becoming the worst day ever but I was determined to push to my limits if only to be able to demonstrate the worst case scenario in this blog for you lovely readers! With some jiggling and wiggling of the handle (similar to a petrol pump handle) I realised the tip of the handle had slipped inside a rubber sleeve (yes Ecotricity had mentioned that earlier on the phone, I recalled). Pulling back the sleeve released the handle and the socket came unplugged.

Very wet again I got into the car, albeit somewhat satisfied I had survived and now had 63 miles of charge.

I opened up my phone notepad and typed in the following

Essential EV kit list:
Large golfing umbrella
Mobile phone charger
Both leads
Raincoat
Pen & paper

I then went into town and bought a very large umbrella!

So ok, not a great experience today, but my own fault for not checking the charger was switched on in the garage last night. I hope you had a chuckle reading this and it spares you from going through the same. Nissan have also confirmed that it is correct that the AA will collect any stranded EV driver free of charge.

Electric Car – Day 5

Day 5 

The children absolutely love the car. They are naturally environmentally friendly and think mum driving an electric car is really cool (yes cooler than the yellow Audi Quattro!) The dash is clear and spacious, there’s digital radio, reverse parking sensors, SatNav which will also tell you if you have enough charge to reach your destination and, if not, where public chargers are available en route. The boot is huge, the back seats and passenger seats are extremely spacious and its just so quiet. It’s a real thumbs up from us.

Just a word about the technicalities of driving the Nissan Leaf. It’s an automatic car, so no changing gear. Infact it doesn’t appear to change gear at all as the vehicle speeds up or slows down. I don’t know about the engineering of the vehicle, whether it actually does or not, but doesn’t appear to!

Its keyless technology so just pressing a button on the dash gets the car started. The ‘gearstick’ is simply park, drive or reverse and the handbrake is actually a footbrake. It takes a little while to get used to the position of the footbrake as its quite high but only used when parking up so not required  in a quick reaction context.

Electric Car – Day 4

Day 4

The vehicle had 92 miles after an overnight charge. Knowing I only had a 50 mile round trip today I decided to push the vehicle and drive without trying to maintain energy equilibrium. I pushed the vehicle up to 70mph (previously I’d stuck to around 52-55mph) and noticed that the energy use white dots were reaching up to 5 and six. However on slowing down and breaking the green reharvesting dots were reaching the maximum of 4 – so driving faster and braking harder equalled out and I got back to my charge point with exactly 42 miles left.

So it was exactly mile for mile. I had not been able to save any energy but I hadn’t lost any by driving a little more intensive either. Great news for when I’m next up against the clock! I’m also now confident of taking the vehicle on the motorway and I’m starting to think that there is not much need to change the style of driving or worry too much on a daily routine.

Just when a journey extension or a trip out of the ordinary is needed there is a little more preparation to make sure you either have enough charge or a place en route to charge up. I left the overnight charger in the garage this morning but on second thoughts I think I would always put it back into the carry pack in the boot (or buy a spare) just incase I ever get caught short in the middle of rural Lincolnshire and need to knock on the door of a lonely farmhouse, hoping the farmer takes pity on me and allows a quick domestic re-charge. Unlikely to ever happen but then I was in the Girl Guides so its in my nature to ‘Be Prepared’ !!

Electric Car – Day 3…

Day 3

The car had 93 miles available following a full overnight charge. I took a bit of a diversion driving out on some country roads clocking up about 30 extra miles comfortably knowing I had the availability. About 10 miles from home a ‘battery charge low’ warning indicated at 16 miles left so that still gives pretty good range.

One annoying trait which can be fixed with a change of habit is that once the vehicle is turned off the windows cannot be put up. So a couple of occasions I had to restart the car after parking to put up the windows. But by park up number three I had got into the through process of windows up then switch off.

Once again the children have found another awesome function while playing ‘what does this button do!’ As the vehicle re-harvests energy through braking there is a further ‘EcoMode’ button which applies small amount of brake pressure throughout the entire journey and enhances the re-harvesting. Great for saving more energy.

I was asking for directions from a pedestrian today, a chap of about 60. He said ‘”Oooh, is this an electric car?” “Yes, its my third day, and I love it” was my reply. “Wow, it’s the first one I’ve seen. It doesn’t make any noise!” he said admiringly. I also heard a teenager in his school uniform shout ‘Hey look, an electric car!” I felt quite proud!

Electric Car – Day 2!

Day 2

I was a bit disappointed to find the car only had 53 miles charge on it when I picked it up this morning, I thought it would have about 70 like yesterday. But it was only onl charge for an hour and a half before closing time. I knew Bourne was about 20 miles each way so I thought it would be plenty and google had already told me there is a chargepoint at Larkfleet Energy in Bourne. What I had forgotten though was that I wasn’t actually going to Bourne, I was going to a village 5 miles beyond Bourne (an extra 10 mile round trip). By the time I had stopped off in town en route to get a couple of keys cut I was at my destination but with only 26 miles left for the return journey. I programmed the SatNav to check the true mileage home and it was 25 miles. I rang Larkfleet to ask if I needed a card (like the Lincoln charger) only to be told their charger was currently not working. Argh! Dare I risk it, with one mile to spare?  I knew from my Lincoln run that it was possible to re-harvest some of the energy but I could also get stuck in a queue. Deciding I couldn’t risk it I used the domestic charger to plug into my friends house for two and a half hours. This gave me only 25 miles of additional charge but at least with 51 on the clock I knew I’d get home safely and be able to put the vehicle on charge in the garage for the whole of the night until morning. This would definitely give me enough to do the same run again tomorrow.

The children are excited by the car and have already worked out that their tablet can wirelessly connect to the car and they can be in charge of the music! The songs are listed on the media screen and full functionality of play, pause, skip etc are available on the touch screen.

I’ve also looked up chargemaster on the internet. They are an EV network which is marketed as Polar. You can purchase a polar card which is £7.95 a month (first 6 months free) but it takes a few days for the card to come. So I’ve downloaded the Polar Instant App. The minimum initial top up was £20 so I’ve registered my credit card and ready to go. There’s just a £1. 50 fee per charge. The app is good. There seems to be at least one charge point in all the major local towns and more in the cities.

I’m feeling positive, albeit the little scare earlier today. Just need to plan properly and not guesstimate distances! It does feel good having done my trip today at zero cost when it would normally zap a quarter of my little Audi fuel tank – about £10.

The car is lovely and quiet and I’ve had the aircon on low too so guess that might have used up some extra charge. The feeling when the car just glides off after releasing the footbrake is great – I imagine that’s what it must be like to fly a spaceship!

My Electric Car Blog

Day one 

I’ve been waiting with anticipation for the delivery of 4 Nissan Leaf electric cars to AW Repair Group. I fall perfectly into the category of driving under 60 miles and day and having off street parking and I do like to ‘do my bit’ for the environment.

Having said that I normally drive a bright yellow Audi S1 Sport Quattro so like most people I have been feeling a bit daunted by the thought of driving an electric car. But I manage to keep my iPhone from dying every day, even with Pokemon hunters using it, so keeping a car charged can’t be that difficult!

I received the car with 73 miles of charge and need to drive from Sleaford to Lincoln. It was great fun trying to keep the energy monitor on the equilibrium…too many white dots illuminated meant I was using up the energy faster while the green dots meant the energy the car was producing from braking and ‘free wheeling’ down hills was re-harvesting itself back into the charge. By 10 miles down the road the charge availability had only dropped to 68. Brilliant! I do love a challenge.

While I had enough charge to get home safely while in Lincoln I decided to check out one of the public charge points in Lucy Tower Street car park, near to the Odeon cinema on Brayford Wharf. The Leaf is considerably bigger than my S1, in fact its a lot of car. Its very spacious, particularly in the back and boot, but parking in a multi storey needed a little more confidence. Eventually after passing up a few parking spaces buried between concrete columns I found myself on the top and 10th floor of the car park. But that was a coup as there I spotted the two charge points. They had a couple of cones around them and I’m not sure if that meant out of order or just to stop other non EV users parking there. I parked a little further up and went to investigate. The charger was operated by Chargemaster and needed some kind of card to operate it so I snapped the info on my cameraphone to investigate later.

Back in Sleaford my colleague was charging up the Leaf she had been trying for the weekend. She moved on and I put mine on charge, asking her to park it back round the compound just before closing time, ready for my next trip from Sleaford to Bourne tomorrow.

Fuel Free Driving!

Electric vehicles have been added to our car fleet allowing inquisitive customers the opportunity to go green.

The 5 door Nissan Leaf vehicles are being offered to customers who drive under 70 miles a day and have off road parking facilities at home.

Jade Johnson, Business Development at AW, said: “The short time customers’ vehicles are being repaired is a great opportunity to try an electric vehicle without commitment. People worry about the practicalities but with the need for a courtesy car different to their own vehicle anyway, they are already half way there so trying an EV doesn’t seem so daunting.”

We have teamed up with Marshall Nissan of Grantham for the project who have facilitated the installation of charge points at two AW sites offering a 20 mile boost to customers & public alike.

The vehicles are fully charged using the special charge cable in a normal domestic socket overnight at the customers’ home off road parking.

Continued Jade: “We have recently upgraded all our lighting to LED and have power saving booths so this is another opportunity to lower our carbon footprint as a business while also providing a service to EV community and help change the perception of electric vehicles. Not to mention fuel free driving at a time when customers may have the unexpected cost of paying a policy excess.”

Marshall Nissan Local Business manager Edward Manu added: “We’re delighted to be working with AW Repair Group on this project and their passion to offer EV opportunities to a wider audience is fantastic. This little taster of using an electric vehicle will undoubtedly change some pre-conceptions and benefit AW, Customer, the EV community and of course the environment.”

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AW Repair Group add manufacturer approvals

AW Repair Group have gained two new manufacturer approvals.

Lexus and Toyota are the latest addition to our impressive portfolio.

Our prestige HQ in Sleaford, Lincolnshire already holds multiple manufacturer approvals including VWG and JLR with structural aluminium capability.

Nominated by Listers’ Lincolnshire, we met the approval criteria with ease thanks to the familiarity with regular unannounced regular audits from VWG and BSI. Toyota and Lexus are also both audited by BSI to ensure exceeding standards are met.

 

A bright cheerful welcome & workspace

AW Repair Group is once again demonstrating its commitment to progression and reinvestment in people and technology.IMG_0466
The reception areas at two branches have been redesigned into modern open plan working areas including branded glass screens to separate departments, welcoming drop-fronted customer liaison reception units with décor and furnishings in the company’s striking corporate blue and orange.

The Newark (Notts) and Denaby Main (South Yorkshire) branches now match the welcoming customer experience extended at Sleaford (Lincs) and Markham Vale (Derbs) including refreshments and free wifi.

As well as front of house investment both branches have had new LED lighting installed throughout the offices and workshops and a new Junair Series 3 Spraybooth at each site.

Managing Director Andrew Walsh commented: “Our corporate branding is very important to us and I’m so pleased with the modern open plan work areas that have now been created. To have a welcoming entrance is of course important but equally a bright and cheerful working environment for the customer liaison team radiates through to the customer experience.
“The LED lighting through the workshop areas has also been very welcomed by the technical team along with the two new Junair booths. We installed the Series 3 at our new Chesterfield branch which opened in March 2015 and it hasn’t disappointed. It is an excellent product, particularly their LED and energy saving packs so I had no hesitation in placing an order for a further two.”

REFURBS RECEPTIONS

AW Repair Group moved their Lincolnshire Prestige HQ into a purpose built bodyshop in 2012 and in March 2015 opened the fourth site at the popular Markham Vale Enterprise Park, Junction 29A of the M1 where both branches carry the company’s bright corporate branding throughout.

Staff serve 142 years with AW (and that’s not a typo!)

LOYAL employees at AW Repair Group have been congratulated for clocking up more than 142 years’ service!

Team members, who have been with the company for more than 10 years,were recently invited to the company’s first long service ceremony and presented with a specially commissioned long service badge, certificate and AW’s own bottle of fizz.Long Service Awards

Proud Managing Director Andrew Walsh said: “We don’t live in a world anymore where people have a job for life so for 11 employees to reach a cumulative total of 142 years is remarkable.”

The longest serving employee Niel Harmston started working for AW in April 2001, closely followed by Steve Hoe who started in May 2001. Niel started out as a parts advisor at the Sleaford site and is now a senior ATA Vehicle Damage Assessor, whereas Steve started life at AW as a “very well groomed” painter, progressing through to workshop controller and is now the General Manager of the Prestige HQ in Sleaford.

Two members of the Yorkshire branch team joined as friends from school and are now Assistant Manager and Group Compliance Manager.

Added Andrew, who gave a poignant speech about each individual before presenting their award: “We will always promote company progression before advertising outside the business and we are very proud of our loyal team and staff retention. We will now make this an annual event to reward our dedicated team.”

Grab a coffee and click here to view ceremony highlights on our YouTube channel

Steve + AndrewNiel and AndrewKim and AndrewCraig + AndrewLorren and AndrewSimon + AndrewGemma and Andrew

AW Long Servers Edit