Trucks at Work
Taking a road trip via electric vehicle

Taking a road trip via electric vehicle

In a bid to boost the appeal of electric vehicles (EVs), Nissan recently its latest all-electric LEAF model – one fitted with a 30 kilowatt-per hour (kWH) battery pack – on a multi-country “Grand Tour” that encompassed what the automaker calls “six of the most beautiful drives” in Europe, including rural and coastal routes.

These new LEAF models toured Italy, Spain, Germany, Norway, Scotland and France, journeying to famous places such as Italy’s iconic volcano Mount Etna, along with visits to historic cities such as Granada in Spain, and Marseille in France.

With an estimated 155 miles worth of driving range, Nissan said its “Grand Tour” LEAF could also “refuel” at one of 2,800 “quick chargers” located across Europe – thus allowing it to make long trips.

This “Grand Tour” series of drives started off in Norway, with the LEAF journeying from island to island via that country’s famous 553-mile Atlantic Road; a road that includes no less than eight bridges and is a cultural heritage site.

Scotland marked the next stage of the tour of Europe and a journey from Dumfries to Clatteringshaw’s Loch – a “serene location” noted for “wild camping.” Though still in Nissan’s words a “traditional landscape,” Scotland is now also home to over 600 EV charge points.

[As an aside, check out this prototype Nissan LEAF – code named “Cocoon” and equipped with a 48 kWh battery that delivers 75% more driving range – built by a group of technicians at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Barcelona, Spain, in their spare time. They must live on coffee!]

The third stage of the Nissan Leaf “Grand Tour” included a spin through Spain to the ancient city of Granada, with its sprawling hilltop fortress of Alhambra, and then on to the reservoir at Embalse de Francisco Abellan.

The fourth stage rolled onto the island of Sicily, located off the southern tip of Italy, where the LEAF traversed a mountain route from Oasi del Simeto up the slopes of Mount Etna, known to be one of the most active volcanoes on Earth.

The second-to-last stage of the drive took place in to France, with a coastal drive along the Mediterranean starting out from Cassis to the oldest city in the country, Marseille.

Finally, the LEAF’s European tour ended in Germany with another mountain climb, this time starting off in the aptly named Pilgrimage Church of Wies, heading up into the Alps and then on through the region’s famous Black Forest.

The drive finished up at Neuschwanstein Castle, a Romanesque Revival palace, built atop of a rugged hill, above the village of Hohenschwangau, in southwest Bavaria.

Now, truckers might rightly say “ho hum, this is all very nice, but what does this have to do with freight?” Well get this: a survey conducted two years ago found that 54% of the 27,800 people polled across 28 different European countries prefer to travel by car rather than by trams, trains and buses. On top of that, less than one-fifth (19%) of those polled said they travel by public transport.

And here we’re all supposed think that Europeans prefer trains to cars; apparently, not so – not even close.

Thus people in Europe want to drive – and if they could follow through on that, well then, truckers over there would find the roads even more crowded that they already are. On top of that, demand for fuel – good old diesel and gasoline – would spike, as would fuel prices (which are already sky-high in Europe).

Using EVs, then, would probably help keep fuel prices down – sparing truckers added cost.

[Trucks are also getting a push towards electrification, too. Check out Daimler’s new “eTruck” below.]

[Swedish truck maker Scania is also working on an “electric highway” concept that harkens back to the trolley system of yesteryear.]

Where the LEAF is concerned, Gareth Dunsmore, director of electric vehicles at Nissan Europe, the Grand Tour demonstrates the future “intelligent mobility” and how EVs can be more than just “city cars.”

FYI, since its introduction in 2010, Nissan said it has sold over 228,000 of them globally, with more than 59,000 in Europe alone.

So are we getting to the point where vehicle electrification turns the corner and finally gets some traction with both consumers and commercial users? It’s probably still too soon to say.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar “Grand Tour” for an electrified commercial truck gets set up soon. We’ll see.

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