My first road trip

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duncan-s

Pinhead
Joined
Jan 28, 2024
Messages
22
Location
on the wind
Even though the wife and I agreed our Leaf would be for use within a certain radius from home only, reserving her RAV4 hybrid for road trips, I couldn't resist trying extended driving once. The trip was from the Des Moines area to Grand Rapids to visit my brother.

A number of factors came up unlucky for this one, including freezing temperatures and fairly constant headwinds, my new-user clumsiness with plugshare and other apps, and dense snow and slush for a ~1 hour stretch. I'd hoped to make it in one day but ended up stopping the first night at a hotel in the Joliet, IL area that provided a free L2 hookup for guests (La Quinta Inn). Showed off the car to my brother and to a cousin I visited west of Lansing, let each of them drive it, had a good time with everyone. Definitely need to make fewer assumptions the next time I try something like this, though I doubt I'd do it again at least at this time of year - and without a CCS converter. There were at least two different reportedly supporting stations that I couldn't manage a charge at including one I reported to plugshare because the CHAdeMO there wasn't just broken, it had been removed.

The return journey starts tomorrow. This time I'll probably avoid the extortion-priced stations in Benton Harbor MI and New Buffalo MI by avoiding that region entirely, instead taking a slightly longer route through Kalamazoo MI and South Bend IN, and plan for more stops in general. Forecast for tomorrow calls for tailwinds, at least through Indiana and Illinois.

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Every LEAF owners has to take a "Donner" trip once in the ownership experience to learn that it is not something that really works for this car.

Thinking about perspectives here ... well, I can say I just drove almost 1400 miles through crummy weather including heavy snow, in a CHAdeMO vehicle, and despite frustrations, never managed to get stranded. So, Donner you say? Nay, not even Comet or Blitzen. I don't feel discouraged. The last leg yesterday was considerably easier than the drive out. The adventure offered several lessons to make me better prepared if/when deciding to try another sometime.

Forgot to mention earlier that just the day before leaving home, I'd had the original Michelins replaced with a new set of Yokahama AVID Ascend LX. Those behaved great in all the rain/snow/slush and despite probably cutting into range a bit, made the trip safer and less stressful than it might otherwise have been.

Oh and based on just this one long weekend I find I really liked dealing with Chargepoint. I never had an issue with them, having installed their app and just tapping my phone against the machines. The Shell stations were about 50/50 for me. No luck on the times I tried to use Blink, Electify America and ABB. Not sure if I'm forgetting any others.
 
Oh, lots, I pretty much stopped at all stations I knew of along the way. Not the fastest plan but I wasn't in a hurry.

I hadn't heard the term "rapidgate" before you mentioned it, just looked it up. Yeah I'd noticed the battery temp getting kinda high, and the last couple of charges weren't as fast as at the beginning of the trip, but it didn't seem like a big problem. I guess driving in cold weather kinda cuts both ways? There's a loss in efficiency in general, but it probably helps with the charging heat.
 
Unfortunately, even cold weather does not help the rapidgate situation very much. The battery does not cool down much while the car is operating.

My inaugural Donner was from Detroit, MI to Charlotte, NC in mid-October. I did not get stranded, but more than three big QCs can result in some long waits at the tail of an already long trip.

I would love to install a forced air cooling system into the battery case (I have some air/air intercoolers), but I'm fearful of voiding my battery warranty. If I find a salvage 62kWhr battery, I'm certainly gonna try it.
 
If you do retrofit a 40kWh battery (or a 62) and you need a canbus adapter, Dala has software to limit the charge rate which will solve rapidgate.

By not charging as at fast of a rate, the battery won't heat up. Your initial charges will be a slightly longer, but you'll be able to maintain that rate at all times.

https://github.com/dalathegreat/LeafEnhancer-UserManual
(See RapidgateDodger)
 
Unfortunately, even cold weather does not help the rapidgate situation very much. The battery does not cool down much while the car is operating.

My inaugural Donner was from Detroit, MI to Charlotte, NC in mid-October. I did not get stranded, but more than three big QCs can result in some long waits at the tail of an already long trip.

I would love to install a forced air cooling system into the battery case (I have some air/air intercoolers), but I'm fearful of voiding my battery warranty. If I find a salvage 62kWhr battery, I'm certainly gonna try it.
If you are going to look at forced air cooling, RapidgateDodger would be a much less invasive (and non-battery warranty voiding) option.
 
The Gen2 Leafs already lower the charging rate as the battery temperature rises.

My goal would be to maintain charging rate by cooling the modules as much as possible. (Just enough to get a fourth full charge at the same speed as the third.)

Some Eastern Europeans (Russians?) pumped stock AC outlets into a pack with good results, but the setup looked sketchy and not too watertight.
 
I find 50s to be the ideal long range temp for the Leaf Plus. If you move to efficient 16" rims and tires (we sport ev01+ rims and eRange tires) you can get reasonable cooling in efficient freeway driving to balance the heat of DC charging.
 
Been lurking on the blog for a few months, trying to decide if the Leaf or Bolt will be my first EV, very happy with wife’s PHEV, a Toyota RAV4 Prime, just about ready to take the next step into something to be used as a local runabout.

@duncan-s Thanks for sharing your trip experience, glad you made it in trying weather. My first road trip could possibly be in a few weeks to pick up a 2023 SV Plus, hopefully better weather. I live in Dayton OH, haven’t been able to find a reasonably priced Nissan certified SV Plus locally, searching within a 300 mile radius, recently found good prospects in Chicago and Nashville, either one approximately 275 miles away, mountains between Nashville and Dayton, pretty flat to Chicago. Other related articles below on range are from 2013-2016, so looking for some more recent information. Max range listed for the Leaf is 212 miles, what should I use as a practical number for planning purposes using L3 charging to get me home without too much anxiety? Is there a sweet spot for highway speeds, does night driving use up range really quickly? It’d be great if there was a plug halfway, but there won’t be, it’ll take at least two, maybe three charges. As we all know, CHAdeMO plugs are few and far between, not afraid to spend the night somewhere with an L2 if needed, so what useful range should I use for planning purposes? All advice appreciated.
 
Excellent questions, and while I don't have definitive answers, I'd say night driving has insignificant impact. These seem to affect range adversely,
  • Cold/freezing temperatures
  • Consistent head winds
  • Wet or slushy pavement
  • Freeway speeds
The eastbound half of my trip was a sort of worst-case scenario because it featured all four of those, and my supposed 200+ mile range went down to around 120 miles. As mentioned before, my glass-half-full assessment is that I still made it, and learned a bunch. Warm, calmer weather and dry pavement will help, but I suspect I'll never get 200+ miles at freeway speeds; whereas in local driving I have been getting something like 4.2 miles/kWh which should translate to about 240 miles for a Plus model. So that 212 figure seems both too high and too low in practice, if you see what I mean. It's just a shot in the middle of something that's extremely variable depending on conditions.

Others with more experience than I have will doubtless have something to add here.
 
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Been lurking on the blog for a few months, trying to decide if the Leaf or Bolt will be my first EV, very happy with wife’s PHEV, a Toyota RAV4 Prime, just about ready to take the next step into something to be used as a local runabout.

@duncan-s Thanks for sharing your trip experience, glad you made it in trying weather. My first road trip could possibly be in a few weeks to pick up a 2023 SV Plus, hopefully better weather. I live in Dayton OH, haven’t been able to find a reasonably priced Nissan certified SV Plus locally, searching within a 300 mile radius, recently found good prospects in Chicago and Nashville, either one approximately 275 miles away, mountains between Nashville and Dayton, pretty flat to Chicago. Other related articles below on range are from 2013-2016, so looking for some more recent information. Max range listed for the Leaf is 212 miles, what should I use as a practical number for planning purposes using L3 charging to get me home without too much anxiety? Is there a sweet spot for highway speeds, does night driving use up range really quickly? It’d be great if there was a plug halfway, but there won’t be, it’ll take at least two, maybe three charges. As we all know, CHAdeMO plugs are few and far between, not afraid to spend the night somewhere with an L2 if needed, so what useful range should I use for planning purposes? All advice appreciated.
You asked for advice: Get a bolt.

But since you said a local runabout, a Leaf would work well. If you can get it significantly cheaper, go for a Leaf.

As for your other questions, I don't know... I have a non quick charging 2011 but highway summer is like 50 miles. Side roads are way more. If ferrying it, set your cruise control for 55 if you need extra range. 60 and especially 70 REALLY cuts down on range in all evs.

I would expect 212 miles to be about 120-140 in the summer at 70mph. Wet or headwinds will also kill range.

Heat significantly affects range in S (no heat pump). Night won't make much of a difference. Have a map with you--getting off the highway will add a LOT of range if you need to stretch out the next charger stop because 40mph is way more efficient than 55 or 60.

If you can find a rapid charger or two you should make it no problem.
 
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I'm a big booster of the LEAF, but I agree that it really is not a vehicle for longer trips. I think you already have this figured out. A LEAF is an excellent, reliable, and economical vehicle for local use. If you need a vehicle for longer trips, get a PHEV (as you already have). I have owned 3 LEAFs starting in 2013. I have tried a few trips in the past where charging on the road was required. I found it an exercise in frustration. Public chargers that were available and functional were hard to come by, and the rate of charging (cost) from a public fast charge (L3) station removed all the cost advantage of an EV.
 
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I would opt for the Chicago trip, given a choice. More chargers midway.
I have made several trips requiring a large range of charge uncertainty. Never rely on any single charger working when you get to it. Useful tools to find charger ahead of your trip are charge finder https://chargefinder.com/en and https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html#/find/route?fuel=ELEC Plugshare gives you some idea if the chargers are working but the apps specific to the charger may do a better job so load and fund the apps and check the day before you leave that the apps work and you are logged into each. If you are carrying a level 2 charger it is useful to now what campgrounds have 50 amp service, 30 amp is of no use.
 
I'm a big booster of the LEAF, but I agree that it really is not a vehicle for longer trips. I think you already have this figured out. A LEAF is an excellent, reliable, and economical vehicle for local use. If you need a vehicle for longer trips, get a PHEV (as you already have). I have owned 3 LEAFs starting in 2013. I have tried a few trips in the past where charging on the road was required. I found it an exercise in frustration. Public chargers that were available and functional were hard to come by, and the rate of charging from a public fast charge (L3) station removed all the cost advantage of an EV.
My wife drives her 2020 Leaf SV Plus 70 miles a day, 7 days a week. I have a 2018 Prius Prime, range gas +electric is over 600 miles. Being retired, I mostly don't drive all that much and can do a lot of it on the EPA 25 miles electric rating especially in the summer. I have gone 1,500 miles on 8 gallons of gas in a 6 month period.

Yep, one of each is your best bet. But if you own one car and only take a long trip on rare occasions a Leaf and a rental for the rare trips are a good bet. If more long trips, a Plugin hybrid is best.
 
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