Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

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Flying planes, launching rockets, buying tech and driving a Leaf

Nissan Announces the 2018 Leaf

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From the LA. Times "The battle for control of the small but increasingly competitive electric vehicle market got a little hotter Tuesday night, as Japanese car company Nissan unveiled a new Leaf with a stronger battery and longer range — at a price well below rival electric cars. "

Read the whole article here.

http://www.latimes.com/business/autos/la-fi-hy-nissan-leaf-unveil-20170905-story,amp.html

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Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

An Assisted Driving Nissan Leaf?

This report is from earlier this year, but as we inch closer to an announcement about the 2018 Nissan Leaf, this CleanTechnica article certainly adds to the excitement surrounding the Gen 2 version.

The second generation of the Nissan LEAF will feature the company’s ProPilot technology — allowing for autonomous travel on highways under many circumstances — according to Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

Nissan Executive and the Future Range of the Leaf

Nissan IDS concept image.

Nissan IDS concept image.

Kazuo Yajima, head of electric vehicles for Nissan and Renault, recently discussed the electric range expectations for the new Leaf and future vehicles on the Japanese automaker’s electric platform, as reported by Electrek.   Look for the 2018 Leaf to cross the 200 mile range barrier and have a new form factor for the first time.  (Read more here)

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

The Next Nissan Leaf?

In an article just published on the web site electrek.co we may be getting a first real world sneak peek at the next version of the Nissan Leaf.  Despite being camouflaged, the car has some clearly new design points that look to be based on a concept IDS design.  Nissan expects to reveal the Next Gen Leaf (2018 model) in September of 2017 with sales soon after.  Click here to read more.

Other sites showing images of the next Leaf include:

AutoCar.co.uk

GreenCarReports.com

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

Learning A Lot About Electric Range

When I first got my Leaf, I concentrated heavily on how my driving style, techniques and car settings affected my range.  The more AC, more heat, more lead foot driving and jack-rabbit starts, the lower the range.  So it was a great learning curve and fun to watch the accumulating data.

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Then one beautiful spring day I needed to make a round trip up into New Hampshire.  The range of the trip was right near the edge of my 80 mile comfort zone.  So I planned a route that would take me near several charging options, mostly near the start of the trip, with the same ones on my route near the end.  And I also planned the trip using the ECO setting on the Leaf's navigation, which took me somewhat away from charging opportunities... but I knew it would be easy enough to switch routes if necessary.

It turns out that the real beauty of this plan was that I was able to experience the effect ECO routes would have on mileage.  It was an amazing trip in that regard. 

For the first time I was taking a long trip but wasn't in a hurry and so this route called for an average speed of maybe 40 miles per hour.  And that was the beauty of the trip, fast enough but not too fast.

I got to my destination with slightly more than half of my predicted range left.  The event was a party, celebrating the change a good friend was making in his life and while enjoying myself I went over the trip home in my head.  I figured I would start taking the ECO route, but if necessary, transition to the less-ECO route  charging options, near the end of my journey.  That would give me some safety in case things looked like they were getting close.

So I headed out and kept my eye on the GOM just to have a sense of how I was doing.  What started to become clear was  that based on my driving speed and the mild temperatures, it looked like I might get home without stopping. This was pleasantly surprising but I knew it was within the envelope of possibility.

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As the trip neared completion and the GOM indicated less and less miles available, it was still safely within the range of arriving at home with energy remaining.  I did frequently make use of the Leaf's steering wheel button showing the remaining range on a map.  But in the end it was never really in doubt, and as it turned out this was a record-setting trip for me.  It was the first and only single-charge, 100+ mile day for me in my Leaf.  Pretty cool and a great learning experience, about range.

 

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

Our First Trip That Required a Charge

Our fun fall trip in the Nissan Leaf.

Our fun fall trip in the Nissan Leaf.

In the fall of 2013, after driving our Leaf on mostly local trips for several months, plans started coming together for a trip that would require one stop for charging.  This was an exciting proposition and added a bit of a range “thrill” to what had quickly become predictable driving.  We have a second car that uses gas but it seemed like a fun challenge to try to plan a longer trip in the Leaf.

 

Being a pilot, once we committed to going, I threw myself into serious preflight planning, doing as much research as possible to feel comfortable with the equipment and the “mission.”

 

Our trip would be about 95 miles (of road travel) from the Boston area to Martha’s Vineyard, just outside the likely comfortable range of a highway driven Leaf.  Another factor to consider was that the family would be along, so taking too many risks with range was out of the question.  In addition I had to count on using climate control should it become necessary.  (There’s a whole other post waiting to be written about being a hyper-miler in a family of normal people.)

 

The Carwings online system is a great place to start planning, offering the ability to plan your trip, including routes, distances and the possible need to charge along the way.  It also takes into account things like terrain, and incorporates data acquired from other owners making the same trip.  Some trips of course don't have prior data, but often there is some good information.

 

There are also apps that show public charging station locations but it’s worth noting that not all sites or apps have the same information and not all of the information is current.  So it’s always worth confirming data from a number of different locations.

 

Anyway, because the trip was a little too long, I looked for opportunities to charge along our usual route and there was a cluster of charging options near Bridgewater, MA (about 35 miles into the trip.)  After that, the next opportunity would be on Cape Cod itself, just over the bridge at a Nissan dealer.  The stations near Bridgewater were at a 99's Restaurant or a Chili's and we chose the Chili's because it is within walking distance of a Lowes (since we needed to entertain kids while charging for around an hour.  That’s why waiting until the Nissan dealer was out…just not much to do at a car dealership if you’re a kid.

 

I also liked that we had several charging options in that same location, because you can't guarantee that the chargers will be available when you get there. Another route offered a few charging stations at a mall, but was many miles out of the way.

 

So that was the calculus for the decision we made to stop where we did.  I did the math and knew how much charging we would need to make it to our destination with a good comfort zone.  Hearing from some experienced Leaf drivers, I learned that the car takes longer to fill at the top end of the battery than the bottom.  As you near full, things slow down a bit.  This was unfortunate in our case because we were forced to charge early in our trip, meaning an inefficient use of our charging time.  But it was what it was.

The car charging at Chili's.

The car charging at Chili's.

 

The bottom line on the math, we needed to leave Chili's with more than 80 miles estimated range and hit the Bourne Bridge with 40 miles estimated range or better.  The departure number at Chili's would ensure the second number, but the second number was guidance for deciding whether or not to stop at the Nissan dealership (a mile south of the bridge) as a back-up.

 

Anyway, all went well.  The trip required highway driving, but the time of year and good weather meant that climate control was not necessary and the batteries were not terribly cold or hot.

 

That day, because of some local morning driving I had to do before leaving (which I could not re-fill fast enough to bother), we left home with 12 miles less than full.  We charged for an hour and a half at Chili's and left there with 91 miles estimated range (a very comfortable margin.)  We hit the bridge with 50 miles left (higher than 40 so no stop at Nissan) and had 37 miles estimated at the ferry.  Got to our destination on Martha’s Vineyard with 27 miles still in the “tank,” so the data and planning were right on.

The Leaf on the ferry.  Got a spot right up front!

The Leaf on the ferry.  Got a spot right up front!

 

Ran into a little challenge charging where we were staying.  This was mostly because it was tricky finding a 20amp circuit and had never been in a situation where the amps on a circuit might be an issue.  But that problem was quickly solved and all went well.  The trip home was a duplicate in reverse and as before, proper planning made everything seem effortless.


More to come!

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

Impact of Winter Driving on Energy Economy

Here is a chart.  It was generated by the CarWings web interface (which is a web data acquisition and reporting site that comes with your Leaf.  It's the back end of the Leaf's data reporting architecture.)  I mention CarWings because I know there are people with more expertise about the various ways one can measure Energy Economy with an electric car.  I'm not yet smart enough to wade into that discussion.  But I can use a web site to generate a chart.  

And like I said, here is a chart.

First 10 months energy economy with my 2013 Nissan Leaf.

First 10 months energy economy with my 2013 Nissan Leaf.

The bars represent miles driven by month.  And the line represents energy economy in miles/kWh per month.  One thing to note at first is that in October we took a very long trip in the Leaf which I have yet to write about here.  That explains the one large bar compared with other months.  I should also point out that I combined two charts to make this one since CarWings only reports by day, month or calendar year.  So if you see some odd graphic aberrations, that can be attributed to my Photoshop skills and being in a hurry.

 

The main story, coming on the heels of my last post is that winter cold weather driving does significantly affect energy economy.  Prior to October, I was holding a solid mid 4 miles/kWh average.  Something line a 4.5 or 6.  In fact as you can see, I didn't have a month below 4 until December.  But since then I've only managed to stay in the 3's and I've seen my rolling average since ownership go from a 4.5 to a 4.0.  I am working hard to keep my daily averages near a 4 to try to prevent my overall from dipping into the 3s.  I know, it's a silly game with myself, but it is a game in the service of energy efficiency so I can live with that.

 

I am interested to see where I end up in June as I come around to one full year of ownership.  My goal of course is to keep things above 4, but the longer I go the harder it is to affect that number either way.  I will provide an update here at the end of June.  Until then, I'm keeping the heater off as much as I can and watching my driving habits.

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)

Winter Driving and Conditions

With the 2014 winter season slowly winding down here in New England, I can safely focus some comments on how it was to drive a Leaf in the winter.  This was the first winter season with my Leaf and it went very very well.  

Our Leaf with remnant, non-melted snow still on the hood.

Our Leaf with remnant, non-melted snow still on the hood.

The car I traded in for my Leaf had an all-wheel drive of sorts and I had put snow tires on it.  I did this after a few rough slippery seasons when I had trouble getting up our driveway.  I made the financially conservative decision this year to see how the Leaf would do in the snow, before committing to snow tires, and boy was that a good idea!  

I should tell you that as winters go this was a little above average for snow and overall a pretty cold one.  And the Leaf with factory tires did great!  Even in heavily slushy conditions I was able to get appropriate and necessary traction, and that pesky driveway was never a problem.  Now I should say that I didn't head out when the roads were untreated or during the heavier parts of the storms.  But considering the conditions and being as prudent as one should be in the winter, there was never a day when I was trapped by the snow when others could drive their cars.  It was a normal winter for me.  

I think some of that has to do with the weight of the Leaf, which generally seems to help traction. But whatever the reason, if you live in snowy climates, do not fear getting and driving a Leaf.  It's a great winter car.  (Need I mention the remote pre-heating and the quickly hot electric heat and the heated seats and steering wheel?)  And one thing worth pointing out, that is wonderfully unique for a car living in the snow... the snow on the hood never melts, that is unless the sun melts it or you clear it off.  It's a funny and highly unusual thing to see.

Living with a Leaf (A Nissan Leaf Blog)