Monday, March 5, 2012

Linda's Nissan Leaf Goes on a Road Trip! With Topo!

Guest poster Linda Swyderski returns with an account of one more exciting day-trip in the life of her new Leaf!

 Feeling heady about the Leaf, I took it from our farm, Four Magic Acres, to the Universal Athletic Club, on the Oregon Pike in Lancaster, on Saturday. That trip is about 33 miles one way . . . nearly all downhill going out.

Below is a topographical representation of the route, which is from Route 401 to Route 23 to Landis Valley Road to Oregon Pike. The last big dip in the route (below 300’) is the Conestoga River.

Even starting with a theoretical 100% charge, my spouse was worried I wouldn’t make it back without “topping off” somewhere. According to, there is a “Chris F” in Leola with a Level 2 charger, four miles east of Universal. I emailed “Chris F” but never heard back from him (I did not call). Additionally, Brandon Hollinger of BH Conversions is right in downtown Lancaster and happily offered me a charge, four miles south of Universal. Plus, there’s Lancaster Nissan, four miles west of Universal. Yeah, I know; weird that they’re all four miles from the gym.

I drove to Universal and arrived with “50 miles” of range. So, from a full, 100% charge, traveling 33 miles (mostly downhill), I consumed half of my range. Okay, no problem, right; I’ve only got to travel 33 miles back home with “50 miles” of range. Ah, but remember, those “50 miles” of range are contingent upon many factors!

After allowing my body to be completely beaten up at Universal for the entire morning, I had a massage and a shower, then drove the Leaf four miles west to Lancaster Nissan. Thanks to a friend, I knew exactly where the Level 2 chargers were and located them easily. I parked the Leaf in the empty stall by the chargers and popped into the dealership to let them know I was out for supper and I’d be back in a couple hours. They seemed utterly delighted to have someone come and use their chargers.

After a fantastic meal at a nearby restaurant, my girlfriend drove me back to the Leaf, which was charged up to 80% (“84 miles”). I hopped in and drove home.

Where Route 401 begins, at the eastern edge of Morgantown, I was already down to “50 miles” of range. A couple miles later, at the intersection of Routes 401 and 345 (literally five miles from home), I was down to “47 miles” of range, but that intersection begins the long uphill trek home. Hard on horses; even harder on electric cars.

Care to guess my range when I pulled into the garage and plugged ‘er in?

“30 miles”

From Lancaster Nissan, I traveled 37 miles consuming “54 miles” of range to get home. The last five miles consumed “17 miles” of range. If I had started home from Universal Athletic, where I was at “50 miles” of range, I would have just made it home. Just. And, if it had been colder, maybe not. For the optimists who thought I could make the trip, out and back, on a single charge (yes, I was in ECO mode; no, I NEVER turned the heat on at all; yes, I WAS cold, even with the heated steering wheel and seat!), yeah, maybe I would have made it, but I am disinclined to run that close to the edge, and with three Level 2 charging points within four miles of my destination, why would I risk it?

After this adventure, do I yet have “range anxiety”?  In the immortal words of actor Will Smith, “Aw, hell, no”.

It has more proven the point that there is EV infrastructure available . . . at least where -I- want to go.

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