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Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:12 am
by Skydog
Hi Leaf forum,

I’ve read through some of the trip reports and it seems like the hundred miles from Denver to Vail shouldn’t be an issue, but I wanted to sanity check this. Is it an issue when it’s 0 degrees on top of Vail Pass and the car is wearing snow tires?

We are looking at the Leaf primarily as a city car and plan to hold on to our Land Cruiser for the mountain trips, but there are occasionally weekends where my wife goes up to Vail with the kids before I am done with work and I would drive up separately later. I would like to know what worst case scenario looks like.

Thanks!

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 9:49 am
by SageBrush
Bad idea.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:13 am
by WetEV
Skydog wrote:Hi Leaf forum,

I’ve read through some of the trip reports and it seems like the hundred miles from Denver to Vail shouldn’t be an issue, but I wanted to sanity check this. Is it an issue when it’s 0 degrees on top of Vail Pass and the car is wearing snow tires?

We are looking at the Leaf primarily as a city car and plan to hold on to our Land Cruiser for the mountain trips, but there are occasionally weekends where my wife goes up to Vail with the kids before I am done with work and I would drive up separately later. I would like to know what worst case scenario looks like.

Thanks!
I wouldn't do it.

Denver to the tunnels is almost 6000 feet of climb plus about 60 miles of freeway. This alone will use very roughly 100 miles of your 150 mile nominal range in good conditions. You will be using 30kWh to 35kWh to make it Vail in good conditions. And while the battery is 40kWh nominal, the usable capacity is more like 37kWh. Add cold, snow to the roads and no DCQC stop available. Oh yea, and snow tires. Double that energy estimate.

The worst case, if you are not taking crazy risks? If snowing and cold, you might find yourself stopping in Idaho Springs for two hours to have enough to make the tunnels for sure, then another three hours of L2 in Frisco to have enough to make it to Vail.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:20 am
by BillHolz
Depends on which Leaf you have or will get and what kind of range you get with the snow tires. There are several places along the way and 3 near the Vail exit of I-70 to charge but they all seem to be Level 2. As far as how a Leaf handles in snow and ice, I have never gotten stuck except when I tried to park in a driveway that had a bunch of snow that I high centered my car on. Had to push the car off the snow to where the tires could reach the ground. I am still on my OEM tires.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:17 am
by goldbrick
If it's 0 degrees on top of Vail Pass it will probably be 20-30's in Denver? Remember the battery will lose range when cold.
I'm in the 'bad idea' camp on this one unless the conditions are perfect and you have a high risk tolerance.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:48 pm
by WetEV
WetEV wrote:I wouldn't do it.
I should add, there is currently one place to stop in Idaho Springs, with two L2 charging cables from one Chargepoint station. Some of these Chargepoint stations are 6.6kW shared: meaning you get 3.3kW if someone else is charging. What if you get there, and need to wait a few hours for someone else? It's not too bad to stop for an hour and have Beau Jo's pizza and relax a little. But waiting for someone else to finish or worse wouldn't be fun. The good news is that getting home isn't a big problem if you can't get a charge, if nothing else follow old US 6 down the canyon. Slow and lots of curves and about 3kWh later, you will be in Golden, with multiple charge options.

Also, there are two possible stops before Vail pass, at the Whole Foods in Fresno with two charging cables, and at Copper Mountain ski area part way up the pass. One of the two cables at Fresno has been reported as not working for almost a year on Chargepoint's web page. I like to have two good options, and Fresno isn't quite to that standard.

There are not a lot of options in Fresno. For a pleasant adventure on a summer day, I'd go for it. If you need and don't get a charge at Idaho Springs, have a Beau Jo's Pizza and come home early. If you have enough charge to make Copper Mountain, and both Fresno and Copper Mountain stations look OK on Plugshare, then do the tunnel, get enough charge at one of the two locations if needed to make Vail, and get a full charge overnight. The return should be fairly easy in Summer, and only a little bit worrisome in winter..

I like to have multiple plans for trips like this. Good weather in summer, plan A would be just drive it. Plan B would be a stop in Idaho Springs if below the bail percentage. Plan C would be a stop in Fresno if below that bail percentage as well. and so on.

Wintertime, can not just drive it, will probably not work. So Wintertime Plan A would be drive to Idaho Springs, perhaps two hours to get above 95%, then drive the rest. Need a bailout percentage for Plan B/C, Fresno or Copper Mountain. If those don't look likely, perhaps Plan D, perhaps a stop in Breckenridge, CO. Adventure, not recommended.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 4:25 pm
by 2k1Toaster
Keep in mind that if you plan to go with the rush traffic to and from the slopes, you may be going 25mph to 35mph all the way, stop and go lots of places. Infuriating most of the times which is why we take 285 in, but in a Leaf it likes slow speeds. Keep your heater off and glide on in.

I still wouldn't do it though. Rent a car for $30 and be done with it.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Tue Aug 07, 2018 7:01 pm
by SageBrush
A quick calc says about 8 kWh used for the climb before the descent into Vail
Then figure a 20% overhead for cabin heating
Another 10% spent on bad roads

... I could go on.

Re: Denver to Vail in the winter?

Posted: Mon Dec 31, 2018 10:54 am
by sendmeonmyway
We've done it in the summer, with a fairly loaded car. Charge at the places mentioned above... (BeauJo's or in Fraser), and we made it to Vail with 40% of the battery. Then charged in Vail at the parking garage.

We left Vail at 90%, and had 50%+ when we returned home, no charging. Great to come down hill all the way!

I find driving at 80 MPH, you won't get too far, but if you aren't crazy, you'll be fine, even in Winter I think.

Ed