My first out-of-town trip in the Nissan LEAF — to St. Petersburg — provided the comfortable experience that has me thinking, why not take a few days and do a longer trip to Miami? Any range anxiety I had about driving to St. Petersburg, to Tampa, or south to Venice or Englewood is gone.
The LEAF made it easily to St. Petersburg with plenty of range to spare (~50 miles). On the way up over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, I followed faster drivers in a quickly moving stream of traffic that made it impossible to go at a slower pace without upsetting the flow of other cars.
The LEAF’s range over the bridge ate up 10 miles quickly. At that point, I stayed on the faster-flowing interstate through south St. Petersburg and lost more miles until I got off the fast road in town. Driving through moderate traffic changed everything. By the time I got to my destination, I had regenerated half the range I had lost on the interstate. Keep in mind that, in general, your car probably uses about twice as much energy at 65 mph vs. 25 mph, or 75 mph vs. 35 mph.
Along with many LEAF joys, what makes LEAF drivers happy are the trees building on the dash. The trees started to grow from more efficient driving. The eco-friendly mode and driving slower uses less energy/range, and slowing stimulates regeneration. Braking regenerates even more. The small trees grew and multiplied on my left dash, showing me I was building range once more.
After finishing a client treatment, I charged at a public spot while in St. Petersburg and drove home again, over the Skyway bridge — which is a long, tall bridge between Bradenton and St. Petersburg. I again arrived home with plenty of range to spare. I felt silly that I ever had a concern about the trip. St. Petersburg, which has plenty of chargers.
Miami, where I’d also like to take a trip, is another story. Both coasts of Florida are full of chargers, for the most part. However, crossing Florida is different. In central South Florida, the most direct way is driving what’s called “Alligator Alley” — a route still slim one EV chargers. It actually has only one gas station in the middle of ~100 miles of Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, and that one gas station has a 110-v outlet for charging (which would mean trickle charging). The most direct route from West Central Florida crosses the northern part of Everglades. I will have to plan an alternate route to avoid the possibility of problems the long way.
Until Florida installs a few more EV chargers, to avoid range issues and to avoid towing, it is less stressful (I hope) in a Nissan LEAF to take a longer but more complicated route to Miami.
Many of our readers, and writer Kyle Field, have also noted what becomes automatic once driving the LEAF. Thanks to sault (and the other commentators) in the comment section of an earlier post on range, here are some of these tips/habits: “Anticipate lights. The most efficient way to handle a red light (or anything that requires you to slow down) is to coast towards it (without blocking up traffic too much) and hope it turns green before you get to it. If you need to slow down faster, use simulated “engine braking” by just taking your foot off the accelerator altogether.”
And remember to check tire pressure.
Gas2 has the fix for my Miami trips (eventually) regardless of chargers on Alligator Alley, a 200-miles LEAF, and Steve Hanley share, “The credit goes to scientists at the Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory. They started working back in 2011 on a new battery cathode made from an allow of nickel, manganese and cobalt that permits significantly higher energy flow and higher voltages. The new cathode makes it possible to more than double battery power and slash recharging times in half.”
Check out more stories in our Nissan LEAF long-term review.