As a new 2015 Nissan LEAF driver, I was not sure how far driving out of town would comfortably work. This past week, I explored my limits.
Planning a trip from EV charger to EV charger is the way and EV driver must plan travel, of course. Since jumping on the Interstate uses charge much more quickly than in-town driving, I decided to go the slower route — town through town — along the Gulf coast to the south.
That is a slower way to Miami, but it was more comfortable for me. Miami does have some good transport in parts of town, but it’s not easy to get there from the Gulf coast. In the end, I decided to drive the LEAF to Naples, and then just rent a Prius to get across Alligator Alley and over to Miami. I determined that trying to make it across Alligator Alley without running out of charge, and then safely find an EV charging station in hectic Miami, wasn’t an adventure I felt up for.
For a while after getting the Nissan LEAF, I put off my regular visits in parts of Florida for work and family purposes. After realizing how the car works, how it can even regenerate electricity, and getting used to the car in general, Englewood seemed within safe distance from Sarasota, driving on a coastal highway between a collection of small towns. Instead of the Interstate, the slower traffic made it easy for me to get there with only one charge.
I still checked PlugShare and ChargePoint for charging stations on the way and EV charging stations in Englewood in case I needed one unexpectedly. Charging stations are plentiful in Sarasota, but I wasn’t sure about the towns south of Sarasota in the rest of Southwest Florida. I found abundant numbers of charging stations listed in Ft. Myers — but only a few in Naples and Englewood. What I learned again, however, is that some EV charging stations are not listed on PlugShare. There were more charging stations in these cities than I could find on my apps.
Traveling south from Venice, Florida, to Englewood, Florida, I used only 9 miles charge, instead of the 14 miles I actually drove — by using ECO (which I always use) and not using A/C. The roads were not too congested, and I was able to coast a lot, go slower, and get electricity back while braking when I could — so I kept regenerating a lot of what I lost.
Testing the same drive on the way back while still in ECO mode, I went like normal without making an effort to restore, build trees, and recharge. Traffic was busier and fast flowing, and I was in more of a hurry to go home than I was going to Englewood. I used up more than 14 miles by the time I got to Venice, so that 14 driving fast neared 20 instead of shrinking to 9. I now realize there is quite a bit of play if you need to conserve — on roads that allow you to use the regenerative capabilities of the EV, in particular. The charge does diminish quickly with faster driving, and traffic can practically force you to drive speedily, making you go through your remaining charge more quickly.
Back to the charging stations: One thing I would encourage people to do — since I have found in Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and other cities that more chargers exist than show up on my PlugShare and my ChargePoint apps, and the Nissan navigator — is to please add charging stations to PlugShare when you find them. I have added one charger to my PlugShare app for other people to find, and will do so with more as I am able to.
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