Skip to comments.Taxpayers' Leaf: Four Recharging Stops Needed to Go 180 Miles
Posted on 01/03/2012 11:21:53 AM PST by jazusamo
Consumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.
Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leafs impracticality this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants equipped with so-called fast vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more fast) along the route would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leafs charge diminished.
Only problem was, the Leafs charge dropped more rapidly than promised. In what has to be a public relations disaster for Nissan, Smiths EV was unable to travel no farther than 55 miles on any leg of the trip and for the most part, much less. The company, and its government backers, proclaimed the Leaf was built to go 100 miles on a charge (large print), with a footnoted disclaimer (small print) that it travels shorter distances (like, 70 miles) if the air conditioning or the heater is used. Turns out even that was an exaggeration.
It was about 35 degrees in the Volunteer State when Smith departed Knoxville on Monday, and Mrs. Smith and his five-year-old son apparently were not willing to forgo heat in order to make the EV cause look good. A trip that should take according to map Web sites less than three hours, ended up lasting six hours for the Smiths because of all the stops they had to make. The approximate intervals where they paused for recharging were as follows:
Hence the Smiths required four recharges in order to travel approximately 180 miles. According to the account in The Tennessean, they experienced their first hair-raiser range anxiety before they even reached Harriman.
The display on the dashboard of their Nissan LEAF showed a drop in available range from 100 miles to about 50, when they had only traveled about 40 miles, reported the Gannett-owned newspaper, which also owns USA Today, a cheerleader of all clean energy projects regardless of viability.
If the specs promised by Nissan and Leaf advocates were to be believed, the Smiths should have been able to travel about 25-30 miles past Harriman (where it took 20 minutes to boost the battery to 80 percent) before theyd need a recharge, even when using the car heater. But because of the limited availability of so-called fast chargers (440 volts, 30 minutes), the intermediate stop was necessary in order to climb the upcoming Cumberland Plateau and reach the next Cracker Barrel fast charger in Crossville. The chargers (which, by the way, dont work for the Chevy Volt and wont for many future EVs planned for release) are sparse because they cost $40,000 each, and companies like Ecotality apparently can only do so much with the $115 million Department of Energy grant it received to deploy the equipment.
At Crossville, according to The Tennessean , the Smiths battery gauge failed them again. The reading at Harriman said they could go another 70 miles, but after 31 miles, the gauge indicated they only had 20 miles of range remaining. Obviously that wasnt to be trusted.
It was a little nerve wracking, Stephen Smith told the Nashville-based newspaper. Im finding the range is not 100 percent accurate.
But heading west from Crossville, according to Smith, would not be as taxing on the Leaf: Cookeville will be about the same distance but it will be flat or downhill. It turned out his battery gauge maintained accuracy on that leg of the trip, but when he reached Lebanon (50 miles), he found that the Ecotality Blink fast-charger at the Cracker Barrel was, uh, on the blink (he should have known that was possible, if not likely). So instead he had to plug in to another slower charger at the restaurant, which took an hour to boost the battery enough (they hoped) to travel the remaining 22 miles to their destination.
The Smiths arrived at their destination in Antioch with what the Leaf told them was six miles of range remaining. All that after an anxiety-filled six-hour trip that was more than twice as long as it would take in a gasoline vehicle, which could probably have been accomplished with a single stop for a bathroom break.
The Smiths experience echoed that of a Consumer Reportsreviewer and Los Angeles columnist Rob Eshman, who called his Leaf his 2011 Nissan Solyndra. Eshman, editor-in-chief of The Jewish Journal, experienced the same gauge inaccuracies and range anxiety that came from traversing hills and mountains and the use of his air conditioning in hot, smoggy L.A.
My life now revolves around a near-constant calculation of how far I can drive before Ill have to walk, Eshman wrote. The Nissan Leaf, I can report, is perfect if you dont have enough anxiety in your life.
Of course, you wont hear words like that from the lips of passionate Green energy advocate Smith, who chalked up the experience to being an early adopter and a pioneer.
Its good knowing we didnt use a drop of oil getting down here, he said. He must have had a similar fuzzy feeling on his return trip , which "only" took five hours, since the Lebanon charger was working later in the week.
As for the heavily coal-generated electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority that powered his trip, well, lets not go there. Lets just pretend that windmills and solar panels could have just as easily done the trick, if the EPA and Department of Energy would just do their jobs and eliminate all coal power plants and invest billions more taxpayer dollars in renewables deployment.
As for why Tennessee as part of this EV system rollout, you might ask? Thanks be to taxpayers there, also, as Nissan has in its back pocket a $1.4 billion federal loan to retrofit a plant in Smyrna just outside Nashville to mass-produce the Leaf. As company CEO Carlos Ghosn has said publicly, Nissan will produce EVs wherever government will produce the financial incentives.
And thats what it takes in order for the Green energy industry swindle to survive.
Paul Chesser is an associate fellow for the National Legal and Policy Center.
that was supposed to read
per lb of coal, not per lob of coal
LOL! The problem though is that it cuts it down to a two passenger vehicle.
The plug-in parking spots at the Cracker Barrel here in Hendersonville, TN are often occupied by large, gas-guzzling trucks. I giggle every time I see that. What do you do if you’re out of charge and there are vehicles blocking your access to these charge points? Out of luck I guess.
“LOL! The problem though is that it cuts it down to a two passenger vehicle.”
Yeah but it disposes of the extra passengers while it performs the four seat to two seat conversion.
On the record - I just don’t see all-electric vehicles being a practical technology, even after all these decades since the idea got going. It seems to be a financial pit.
But in all fairness - the Leaf really isn’t designed as a long-range travel vehicle (and who would want to be cramped up in that little thing for all that long anyway??? One would need frequent breaks to unfold your legs).
Another note - if the batteries in these things are anything like most other devices that use rechargeables - a partial charge can actually speed up discharge. So the driver’s charge “to 80%” - that 80% would not last as long as a battery that had been fully charged and was discharged through use to 80%.
As a commuter vehicle - that short 2-20 mile jaunt to the office cubicle, or to the corner grocery store - this thing would be just fine (if one is drawn to such things and taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill to subsidize your ride!).
But taking this thing on a road trip is somewhat akin to using a glorified electric golf cart...
Its good knowing we didnt use a drop of oil getting down here, he said.”
Only for sanctimonious, energy-illiterate, dumb ssses whose religion is “The Environment”, or more accurately, sneering condescension.
If one were to look for a way to limit the mobility of a population, the pathetic performance of these eco-fartmobiles makes perfect sense.
Thanks for the chuckle...
That guy’s stupidity is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
You make valid points. For local trips they’re fine but many people can’t afford two vehicles unless one is a beater. Even the small EV’s are not cheap compared to gas vehicles.
Like you say, no taxpayer subsidies should be available.
Everything has a trade-off, ain't nothin' for free.
VW Jetta TDI could have done the trip twice round trip on a tank of fuel. Cost Me (and you) and the buyer of the leaf a hell of a lot less and could be fueled at just about any gas station.
No way, not by a long shot.
You may get the efficiency from the boiler alone, but the overall plant efficiency, energy into the plant versus energy deliveried to the customers is going to be around 30~35%.
Specialized plants today can reach into the 40's of efficiency, but you still have transmission/distribution losses to get the electricity to the consumer.
Yes, there’s the cabin heat issue. There’s also the energy storage issue, the recharging time issue, the low temp operating issue, the durability issue, and a bunch of others.
It’s almost like the fossil fueled internal combustion engine was arrived at by engineering a bunch of compromises over a long period of time, isn’t it? Naaaahhh, it must be an evil conspiracy by big oil. /sarc
how about the fact that electric cars have zero resale value. IOW no used car market.
Read the article at the link in post #2.
My grandfather used to putt around (putt....geddit?) his retirement community in his golf cart. Could get to 5 different courses, the grocery / liquor store, and the Country Club in it. Freed up his "real" car for use by my grandmother.
I'm thinking that the Leaf, or the Volt, (or whatever) would be ideal for a small retirement community. I sure wouldn't want one for anything more that, though.
And, as an aside, I always thought it was hilarious to pull into the country club. 1/2 of the lot was filled with golf carts (doing the same the grandpa did)....the other half was filled with high-end Lincolns, Buicks, and Caddies (the GM kind, not the club-carrying kind).
Great article, worth the read. :-) Thanks for linking.
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