Going the distance: Taxi driver defies expectations with his hardworking electric vehicle
“You’ll never make it work” – that was what one Dublin taxi driver was told when he made the switch to an electric vehicle (EV).
It was understandable if there was some scepticism among his fellow taxi drivers. Paul Clooney regularly clocks up 2000km on a busy week and there’s still a perception that EVs aren’t built for covering long distances.
However, Paul had done his research on the Nissan LEAF and he knew that it was the right choice.
“A lot of taxi drivers said to me that I’d never make it work, but I’d done my homework,” says Paul. “It’s been a superb investment for me. Over the year, the car will save me around €13,000 between fuel and service costs.”
One of the big attractions of the Nissan LEAF was the €10,800 in Government grants for SPSV drivers who make the switch to a new EV. Then there was the chance to slash his annual fuel bill of up to €10,000 by going electric. When he factored in servicing costs of €4,000 a year for his diesel car, it only made sense to make the change.
“Anyone who buys a new EV as a taxi gets €10,800 in grants, including the €3,800 SEAI grant and an additional €7,000 through the eSPSV Grant Scheme once it passes as a taxi. You also get €600 towards the cost of installing a home-charger and the added bonus is that all public charging is free.”
Long hours are just a part of the job for Paul. Every summer, he goes with his wife and three kids to stay in their apartment in Fuerteventura in Spain. To make that happen, he works 12 hours a day for the other 10 months of the year. Those long hours have also translated into some hefty fuel and servicing costs over the years.
“My average fuel bill when I was driving diesel was €200 per week,” explains Paul. “If you charge on the street, that bill disappears. I serviced my old car seven times last year, which cost me €4,000. That’s gone too. This is how I’m getting to my figure of €13,000 savings a year – and that includes the two months of the year that I’m not on the road.”
A typical working day for Paul starts at 3.30am on the taxi rank at the Liffey Valley Shopping Centre. Some forward planning ensures that he stays charged up throughout the day.
“I set out each day from home with the car fully charged and stick to the ‘ABC’ rule during the day – “Always Be Connected’. I top up regularly throughout the day and have a few regular spots where I can fast-charge, so I’ve no issues with range and I’ve never had a problem finding a charger.
“I top up for the first time around 8.30am or 9am and if I get a job to the airport I’ll use the charger there. There are a few other places I use regularly in Lucan, Park West and Stillorgan, so the car never drops below 20pc or 30pc charge and I can add as much if I charge during the time it takes me to grab a coffee or sandwich.”
After a long day on the road, he charges the car on his home charger so that it’s ready to go in the morning.
“I usually get home with between 40pc and 70pc charge, depending on jobs, so it’s just a matter of plugging it into the home charger. It takes four hours to fully charge at home and 30 to 40 minutes to charge to 80pc with the fast-chargers on the ESB network.”
Aside from the financial benefits, the Nissan LEAF can also deliver a great driving experience, which is important for someone who spends his entire day behind the wheel. Paul finds the ePedal to be a particularly useful feature in Dublin traffic.
“ePedal is one of the best things about the car. Being able to accelerate, brake and stop with one pedal makes driving around the city easier, but it also saves on servicing. You’re not on the brakes as much and the battery is your motor, so servicing is really only about changing the brake fluid and pollen filters.”
“Driving with ePedal is a more relaxed way of driving, especially in Dublin where the pace or speed at which you move is dictated by traffic congestion. It’s very intuitive and once you start using it, you start to wonder why every car is not like that.”
The stop-start nature of driving in Dublin’s congested streets does have one useful side effect when you’re driving in an EV.
“Last month I generated 413kWh through regenerative braking. The car battery is 40kWh so that’s over 10 batteries that I’m fully charging each month just by using the brake in the car. I’m getting 250km average and close to 300km on one charge, depending on how I drive.”
Paul hasn’t looked back since making the switch. After just four months, he’s convinced that he’ll never go back to a diesel car and he believes that it’s only a matter of time before everyone is driving an EV.
“I’ve driven 25,808km in four months, almost 7,000km a month. My stats tell me that I’ve saved or reduced carbon emissions by 3,742kg for that distance. That’s nearly four tonnes. I’ll never buy another petrol or diesel car. EVs are the future and in five to 10 years, we’ll all be driving them.”
To find out what it’s like to drive the world’s best-selling electric car, we talked to Nissan LEAF drivers in Ireland. You can also find out how making the switch to electric helped one Kildare-based family make huge savings and how a businessman traded in a convertible for his Nissan LEAF.
To experience electric driving and learn more about how much you could save by switching to driving a 100pc electric Nissan LEAF, book your test-drive today.