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Joined: Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:38 pm
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chicago winter range

Thu Jun 19, 2014 3:49 pm

Considering a Nissan leaf.
My commute will be between 50 to 60 miles daily.
And I live in the Chicago suburbs.
What is everyone getting in Chicago for range during the winter?

Posts: 78
Joined: Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:02 pm
Delivery Date: 29 Jun 2013
Leaf Number: 411484
Location: Northwest Illinois

Re: chicago winter range

Thu Jun 19, 2014 6:15 pm

I am not in 'Chicagoland', but I am in IL at the same latitude and relative weather conditions, per se. My round trip commute without recharging is 72-75 miles. My drive is about half at 45-55mph and half 30-35 with mild elevation changes. I can drive it down til about 20 degrees f before I have to change plans. Fortunately, I have a rider whose home is about 10 miles closer to work, and I leave it at his house. This way we can still drive most of the trip emissions free. It is a minor inconvenience, but so is pumping gas at -10f. Plus his garage is kept at 65f and the car doesn't need much help from the heat on the way to work.
Winter range is really a difficult one to predict, because it depends on time, temp, and trip conditions. If you have a traffic jam to deal with, that adds time for the heat to run, and it eats range with a shovel at -10f. Above freezing it is more forgiving. If you can forego heat, the range can be closer to warm weather to some degree. There are posts on MNL about heating the Leaf via alternate methods.
There are people who do have more difficulty with range than myself, but I have driven my Leaf beyond 100 miles on one charge several times and beyond 200km (125 miles) once in the almost year I have owned it. Your mileage may vary greatly according to your driving habits and conditions.
My driving conditions benefit me about $200 a month in savings over an average 25mpg gas car.
If you are located in the greater Chicagoland area, you may have the advantage of en route charging stations and DCQC scattered around the landscape. These do include the inconvenience of delays, sometimes expense, and risk of nonfunctioning/ice'd stations, but those things will get better.
The Leaf is not for everyone, and please read as much about its limitations as you can before making a decision. But if you have the right circumstances and motivation, it can be a fun and comfortable car.

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Re: chicago winter range

Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:15 am

I live in Pittsburgh, and have a round-trip commute of 60 miles. Pittsburgh is a pretty hilly place.
On the coldest days of this past winter (-10° to -20° F), I was able to make it, but I had to really be gentle with battery use.
  • No heater. I've modified my car to allow me to put defrost on without the heater kicking on. The previous winter, without the modification, I'd put on the defrost for short lengths of time to clear the windshield, and crack the windows a bit to keep things from fogging up.
  • I used the seat & steering wheel heaters, & bundled up.
  • Kept highway speeds at 55mph.
The Green Race website allows you to enter the type of car you have (or are considering), put in a few addresses, and it will show you if you can make it, how much battery it will take, and a graph of the elevation changes during the trip. It's europe-centric, so you'll have to move the map to your location, and deal with everything being metric, but it's useful.
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Re: chicago winter range

Fri Jun 20, 2014 2:45 am

balefire wrote:Hi
Considering a Nissan leaf.
My commute will be between 50 to 60 miles daily.
And I live in the Chicago suburbs.
What is everyone getting in Chicago for range during the winter?
It isn't so much where you live as what the conditions - both weather and the exact nature (speeds, mainly) of your commute - are in your case. There won't quite be a consensus, but most people will be telling you (and I agree) that unless you have reliable at-work charging, even if only 120 volt charging, it's a bad idea. I had a 43 mile commute last Winter in slightly *better* weather, and I sometimes struggled to manage it when the weather turned frigid and windy. You would be fine for the Summer, with sensible use of the A/C, but not so much in January.
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Location: Buffalo Grove, Il

Re: chicago winter range

Fri Jun 20, 2014 4:04 am

In a nutshell. Temps in the teens should get you 60 miles. Anything less and you'll be in trouble. For those days I,used an ice car or worked from home.
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Re: chicago winter range

Fri Jun 20, 2014 9:03 am

Not to beat a dead horse (but I will anyway); there is a LOT of discussion about winter range on the Chicagoland thread: ... start=1450

In at least one case, a former LEAF owner sold/traded his LEAF for a Volt because he came too close to running out of power on cold days. We also (as you've indicated you're in Chicago) had a very nasty winter this past year that we hope doesn't become a trend so all bets are off if this year will be quite as bad or not (it was so cold that we closed our office and schools, etc.). On the coldest days, we simply switch to our 'other' cars (we have 3 driver's; 4 cars) so you would also need to plan for the worse case regardless -- if the LEAF is your only car, you simply need to know what you'll do if it gets too cold or too much snow. Using the heater does use much more juice than the A/C and range will also drop the faster you go --- my own 30 mile R/T commute has never been an issue; but if the temp all day remains below zero, besides the range I'd be more concerned that the battery temp drops so low (see discussions elsewhere on this) that the 'battery warmer' turns on using more range so it doesn't freeze because if it drops too low and their isn't enough charge left to warm the battery it needs to be towed to warm up in a garage, etc.

The first full year we had our '12 LEAF we had a mild winter and even long runs at highway speeds to O'Hare and back (44 mile R/T) we had plenty in reserve -- did not even try that when we had the low temps this past winter (if we were traveling and not just picking up perhaps we could park by a charger, but again leaving the car outside not so sure).
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Re: chicago winter range

Sat Jun 21, 2014 4:09 am

I would never recommend a LEAF for 50-60 miles daily unless you can do a level 2 charge mid-day, such as at work. When new on warm days it will be no problem. Under sub-zero weather you'll struggle to get 50 miles and probably will have to do without heat for part of it. After a few years of degradation even that won't cut it.

But, if you have level 2 charging mid way the LEAF will be perfect.
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Location: Chicago North Side

Re: chicago winter range

Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:00 am

You can still get 60 miles all the way to subzero on a new battery, but luxuries like heat in the cabin are out
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Re: chicago winter range

Sat Jun 21, 2014 6:49 am

Thanks for all the replies.
Basically just wanted confirmation of what I already suspected.

I really want a Nissan Leaf to reduce my costs for my DD, but it sounds like below 32F or degradation, it may not make my 50-60 mile trip.
I do have another ICE car but its a sports car that is getting high in mileage, wear and tear that I was trying to reduce

I'm thinking a BMW i3 w/ REX might be better for my Chicago 50-60 mile trip.
It is just WAY more expensive...
And the deals on the Nissan Leaf (0% 72 month, 3500 cash back) are so GOOD...
If the deals get any better with the Leaf MY2015 imminent, I might just get the leaf and suffer winter range anxiety, hehe.

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Joined: Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:53 pm
Delivery Date: 21 Jun 2014
Location: Chicago, IL

Re: chicago winter range

Sat Jun 21, 2014 7:43 am

I think it'll be a while before you see MY15 deals. I was just at a dealer in the Chicago area that just got the MY15's and there are virtually no deals offered from Nissan for them. It seems like they are trying to clear out MY14 inventory.
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