Sunday, December 16, 2012

Range Fear - The Reality

We had a family event earlier today at my sister's home in New Jersey [about 35 miles one-way, and in another State - we live in New York].  While planning the trip, I visited and found a free charging station 3 blocks away from my sisters house.  So, we decided to make the trip in our LEAF.

Today was a damp cold day [42 F and rainy], meaning we need heat, windshield wipers, defroster, and headlights.  We pulled out of the driveway with a 100% charge and the displayed range was 100 miles.  We did have to go 10 miles out of our way before we actually started the trip to New Jersey, so we actually traveled 45 miles one-way all at posted highway speeds.

Still 5 miles from our destination the range indicated 18 miles, the meter was in the red, and the range was dropping rapidly.  Here is where everyone in the car started blaming me for such a bad idea to drive the EV to my sister's house.  Deep down I knew the initial plan to take a charge at the ChargePoint station while we were visiting was a good one and that we would make it home without either pushing the LEAF or getting a tow.  The 100 mile range actually turned out to be a 60 mile range at highway speeds using the climate control, wipers, and headlights, this is on target for what Nissan claims for the type of driving we did.

While visiting, we were actually able to get 3 hours on the charger.  I also used the opportunity of using Google maps to find the no-highway route back home.  I picked up the car and it indicated a 55 mile range.  I placed the LEAF in ECO mode and the range quickly popped up to 70 miles (this made the rest of the family feel better).  By travelling local roads (Max. speed 30 MPH) for the first half of the trip in ECO mode, we were able to maintain a 70 mile range (just how does that work???? Regenerative braking and using less energy to travel at slower speeds).

When we got to the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, the remaining 15 miles to home was traveled by highway.  When we got to the GWB our range indicated 68 miles.  We pulled into the driveway at our house 15 miles later with an indicated range of 30 miles remaining.

We did it!  We beat our range fear!  Because of Sunday night weekend traffic, we actually made better time taking local roads than we would have if we took the highway to the GWB on our way home out of New Jersey.

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