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rescue us? We may live in a different era with different
problems, but we share similar anxieties.
Before heading off, we have a coffee while we ‘fill up’ the Leaf
at the EV charger outside NRMA headquarters at Sydney
Olympic Park. Our departure is slightly delayed by a ‘normal’
car parking in the EV space (a not uncommon situation), but
after half an hour on the fast charger we’re on our way.
Unfortunately, no one noticed the charger was set to 80
per cent and we depart with only 190km of the Leaf’s 270km
claimed range. Our trip notes suggest following the Hume
Highway through Liverpool and Camden Valley Way, but in
deference to our collective sanity we take the M4 and M7
and avoid Sydney’s morning congestion. Once we’re
beyond Camden we resume the roads our NRMA forebears
recommended, although we wonder how many would have
been proper sealed roads back then. Given most of Parramatta
Road was a glorified goat track until the mid-1920s, the answer
is probably not many.
An hour later we pull into a gravelly truck stop, which would
be completely unremarkable without the sign and plaque that
marks it as the Razorback Truck Blockade Memorial Site. It
immediately evokes memories of the nine days in 1979, when
3000 truckies stopped their rigs at the top of Razorback
Mountain on the Hume Highway and around the country. With
the road blocked in both directions, supermarkets ran out of
food and service stations ran out of fuel. Truck drivers were
protesting unjust taxes and low freight rates, and the dispute
only ended when the government agreed to scrap the tax.
With a few unscheduled side trips for scenic photos, the Leaf
is down to just 16km of charge when we pull in at the NRMA’s
new fast charger in the Mittagong RSL carpark. We don’t even
have time to plug it in before a man on a bicycle pulls up and
starts asking questions about the vehicle. This happens a lot
and is a reminder of how new the technology is. These cars
attract a new breed of motoring enthusiasts who are hungry for
information on range, pricing, plugs and, of course, batteries.
Eventually we get inside the club and sit down to lunch while
the car recharges. We’re only there for about 45 minutes, but the
Leaf’s battery is showing a 238km range when we return to the
charge point. It has a job in front of it, however, as there’s still a
long way to go and the route includes some steep hills.
What we haven’t factored in is the effectiveness of the Leaf’s
e-Pedal, which is Nissan-speak for regenerative braking. This is
the energy developed from resistance as the car slows or goes
downhill. As we descend into Kangaroo Valley via Moss Vale
Road, the Leaf’s range meter gains 17km. But what goes up
must come down and it drops 20km on the journey towards
Berry via Kangaroo Valley Road. The resulting net loss of 3km
isn’t bad considering it just travelled more than 30km.
TOURING TRAVAILS IN 1936
Embarking on a road trip over this route in a 1930s
vehicle would have been a vastly difference experience.
The Open Road review of the 1936 Wolseley 12/48
provides an insight in how motoring has evolved.
The Wolseley 12/48 was a ‘contemporary’ four-door
sedan priced at £399 (the average weekly wage at that
time was around £5). Powered by a 1.5 -litre four-cylinder
petrol engine developing 36kW, with a four-speed manual
transmission (automatics were still decades away) and
weighing in at just under 1200kg, it was seriously
underpowered by today’s standards. While it had a top
speed of 120km/h, the Wolseley took 26 seconds to reach
100km/h, and was happiest cruising at around 80km/h.
At the sight of any gradient the driver would be back to
second gear, most likely ‘crashing the gears’ since the
gearbox lacked synchromesh on the lower gears. They
would also likely have had one eye nervously checking
the temperature gauge, as vehicles of the period had
poorly designed cooling systems and shortcomings that
were further exposed in hot Australian conditions.
For its time, the Wolseley had some interesting
features, including in-built hydraulic jacking, which would
have been useful due to the frequency of punctures.
Even back then, range anxiety might have been an
issue, especially over a 581km journey. The Wolseley
returned around 10L/100km, a good figure for its time,
but only had a 34-litre fuel tank, so spotting a service
station would have been a relief.
Unfortunately, no one noticed
the charger was set to 80 per cent,
rather than a full charge
1936 WOLSELEY 12/48
Engine: 1.5-litre four-cylinder Transmission: four-speed manual
Power: 36kW Torque: 97Nm Fuel consumption: 10L/100km
ANCAP: Didn’t exist Price: £399 (approximately 80 weeks’ wages)
17/12/18 2:46 pm
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