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"If you're driving from San Francisco to LA in a LEAF, what is wrong with you? Maybe once to say you did it, but overall it doesn't make a lot of sense"
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Long Distance Limits Still Apply
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A Modest Long Distance Example
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A long distance trip works for all electric vehicles with 150 miles or more of range (abbreviated as AEV 150s) on their batteries. One or two stops in such a vehicle and 3-400 miles a day is within reason. In Other words, Tesla's and vehicles like them work fine for long distance.

The limits that relate to using an 80 mile range EV (along the lines of the LEAF) are that they are just not practical for long distances. They can do it now but would you really want to travel long routes in that sort of vehicle?

The charging analysis below is very left brain and may not appeal to many readers. Here is a quote from David Packard, the CEO of the charging equipment company Clipper Creek that may be a little more readily appreciated.
It is possible to travel from Santa Barbara to San Diego in one day with a LEAF. The trip is about 220 miles in round numbers. It would take just under three and a half hours at 65 mph. Sounds good at first glance.

Then you have to add the fast charging to that itinerary. A LEAF can go something around 60 miles on a half hour fast charge and up to a comfortable 80 miles on most highways with a full charge. Here is how the existing fast charge network would let that work.
Longer Trips Call for a Different Vehicle
The trip from LA to San Francisco would be even more arduous. The fast chargers are not all in place so there would be some level 2 charging which takes 4-5 hours for a full charge on newer vehicles. Even if the fast charging was in all the right places, you would be looking at five to six charges along the way in an AEV 80.

The big reality is that most people do not take these sorts of trips very often. In addition those trips would typically involve more than one person and that would typically mean more than one vehicle available.

These long distance trips are easily done in a Volt or any plug in hybrid. The Plug in Prius would probably have the least fuel for this sort of trip as the distance is longer than 120 miles. 120 miles is the magic number when a Plug in Prius starts to save fuel costs over a Volt.

Then too, the really sustainable vehicle of choice is a completely different hybrid vehicle. That would be a train. Most trains are deisel electric hybrids.

The train from LA to San Francisco is quite pleasant. It will be even more so when the link from LA to Bakersfield is operational.
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What Does It Take To Drive an EV on
Long Distance Trips?
Traveling Half the Route Would Be Easy and Fun.
The good news is that we can travel the full route if we need to. A LEAF driver can do much more now than they could a few months ago. It would be great to have bragging rights to driving the whole route and the chances are you would not do it more than once in a LEAF.

If you look at that travel itinerary from a different view you can see what is possible. The midpoint of the trip is centered on the City of Carson. If a trip started from there you can see how an AEV 80 would be able to get to either Santa Barbara or San Diego and back pretty nicely. One half hour stop along the way is no big deal.

Any AEV 80 that starts with a full charge can do that even more comfortably. In fact, the AEV 80s located within 20 miles of Carson can all get to the outer reaches of the fast charging region just fine starting a month ago. Most of Los Angeles is within 20 miles of Carson.

The most important thing about all this is that it does not take away from the viability of an 80 mile range electric vehicle. They are truly awesome for well over 90 percent of what people do. With a few fast charge installations that percentage may go to 100% for many, if not most people. Even if there is some driving that an AEV 80 does not do, there are many other ways to handle the occasional driving needs outside the abilities of the AEV 80.


This quote comes from the article called Lean and Mean by Michael Kent in the Dec 13 issue of Charged magazine. That is a great magazine for on target information about EVs.

A trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco is about 380 miles. A Tesla can handle this reasonably. The Tesla Super chargers are already in place to handle that. Using an all Electric Vehicle with 80 mile range (AEV 80)* is just way too much effort.

Current Fast Charger Travel

Santa Barbara

Thousand Oaks

52

Thousand Oaks

Carson, CA

55

Carson, CA

Dana Point, CA

49

Dana Point, CA

San Diego, CA

66

If each charge takes one half hour then that adds two hours to the trip. A charge will probably take more like 40 minutes and longer for the last one if you are actually going to downtown San Diego.
Copyright 2014 Russell Sydney, All rights reserved.
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