Well.......some of the mystery can end now. I bought a Leaf last week and had to bring it over the Coquihalla to get it home to the Okanagan. So I went for it this past week. Expecting I MAY not make it, I went through the charts and tried to make the best go of it I could. Looking at the range and speeds, it looked like 70 km/hr may do it, so I decided with 60km/hr to make sure.
If you just want to know the result, you can skip all the details and go to the end of this post....otherwise read on.
With some hope in my heart, I left Hope BC, with a FULL charge from the charge station across from Blue Moose coffee house. Some pertinent stats for you calculators out there.
2011 Nissan Leaf, USED
Range: 12 bars and 161km showing
Temperature: 4 degrees
Roads: Wet throughout the trip, a few kilometers in the higher elevations of slush outside the usual wheel paths.
Speed: 60 km/hr (the whole time on cruise)
Climate control: off
Armed with the largest tea I could buy at the coffee shop to keep me warm, I headed in the most direct line possible to Merritt.
I had a light misty rain for the first approx 20 km followed by a light dusting of snow as I gained altitude.
By the time I hit the tunnel on the big hill it was -2. The power was draining rapidly and I started having a sense I may not make it by this time and was wondering how far I would be from Merritt when it gave out and how long it would take for the tow truck to show up. Also, I started to wonder how cold I would be by then as I was already a bit chilled having been in a heatless car for over an hour.
When I hit the summit the range indicator said I it only had 18 km range and I was only 44.5 km into a 125 km trip. Not looking good at all. Then some good news. I travelled another approximate 10 km and my range not only didn't drop, but went up to 29km by the time I hit the washrroms just before the Britton Creek rest stop. I stopped there briefly to take care of some quick business, then moved on.
When I got to the 84km mark, I decided to slow from 60km/hr to 50km/hr to be even more efficient. I only had 17km left according to the guess-o-meter. Warnings had been going off for a little while and the range went from 7km to no longer reading a range. I ran it for another couple kilometers and pulled off the road where there was a good shoulder and long straight stretch for cars to see me from a distance. I never hit turtle mode, but I didn't feel it was a safe place to be going super slow and in the car.
I was looking about 15km shy of the mark (basically the Comstock Road exit).
Would I do it again? In the winter, never. I was staring out my rear mirror 50% of the time and turning on hazards as cars came by. Twice I pulled over into the shoulder as the cars didn't seem to judge my slower speed well and were slow to move over. Once it was a big truck and a little unnerving.
In the summer? I would love to try it again. Maybe with 15-20 degree higher temperatures with no rain or slush, the battery would be more efficient and the work would be less and it can be done. Practically, I won't attempt it. I wouldn't take my Nissan on a trip to Vancouver as its not that practical especially with the slower speeds needed to 'make it. Hopefully someone else can give it a go.
So in the end, so far the answer is no....it couldn't be done, at least in the conditions described above.