Nissan LEAF trip
Douglas Stansfield's picture

Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle long distance Road Trip gone bad

Can you plan a long distance trip with a Nissan Leaf? Should you even attempt it? How scary is it to go outside the 80 mile safe zone of the Nissan Battery’s comfortable range? Can eco driving and expert planning prevent inevitable “fill up” problems from occurring?
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My answer may surprise you. With a Nissan Leaf, you better be really careful to make sure you have yourself well prepared. I’ve traveled over 200 miles one way to a destination in my Nissan Leaf to prove that long distance driving is possible over a year and a half ago. Did I have issues? Yes. Have others had issues with infrastructure? Yes. Is the infrastructure developing? Yes. Is it perfect? No! Can I say that again? The Charging infrastructure is nowhere near what it needs to be.

In my trip, I drove the first leg of the journey the 200 miles with two successful charges at CHAdeMo stops on my trip. I got to my destination about 1 hour longer than it took my wife who was driving my Plug In Ford C-Max Energi.

The return trip was not so pleasant. The trip to the first CHAdeMo was flawless. A beautiful day, the AC blaring and some happy tunes playing on the stereo. We roll up to the first unit that worked fine one week earlier and to our surprise it was not functioning! OUCH! Lucky for me, I had enough excess reserved to make it to a second CHAdeMo location which I had singled out for backup. Murphy was hiding in the bushes as everything that can go wrong did go wrong on that fateful day.

Bad luck for me again. The 2nd CHAdeMo was also down. We found out from a local that a strong thunder storm had blown through and knocked out power to the area. After some frantic calls to fellow EVers (other electric vehicle drivers) we managed to pull into a Level II charger at a Ford Dealer (on a Sunday) with a 5 hour 240v charge remaining. I pulled in with dashes on the range display so we were really close to getting stranded. Needless to say, my trip home was LONG! Instead of a 3 hour trip, it turned into an 11 hour trip saga.

I came across this video today of two gentleman from England attempting a similar long range trip only to find the EVSE not functioning in multiple locations as well. This was a cruel reminder that the infrastructure is not progressing as quickly or as smoothly as the Electric Car roll-out.

We are going to experience some pain here as this roll out continues and I have to say that even fellow electric car drivers truly lose patience when these units are not functioning and you have done everything you can to plan correctly for your EV trip. This is a barrier to adoption that must be fixed or the niche EV market will plateau. American consumers will not be as forgiving.


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Comments

I have 2 cars. One for long range trips and my Leaf. I love the leaf. I take anywhere in town and sometimes can run errands as well as long as it's within 80 miles. Most people that don't commute to work don't drive 80 miles a day. It's plenty for an around town car.
hi nice review can you share your experience with me on the blog journey any tips
I think the charging aspect is flawed, how many portable drills have you seen being sold with batteries that are permanently attached? Luckly very few, thats because contractors buy extra batteries to swap out when needed. In fact most job sites now have no power supplied other then a gas powered air compressor. I think auto manufacturers are doing us a major diservice by not allowing the vehicles batteries to be swapped out for a fully charged one. I know Teslas already caught on to this idea and have engineered all model s' s to swap out in less then a couple of minutes. Chances are pretty high that once the gigafactory is built tesla will be branding their charging stations with this feature. Lastly, 200 miles is not a long trip! I make this and more round trip to work ever morning.The bottom line is that batteries need to have 500 miles range to be useful to "real people" or else these cars will always have only a limited percent of the population, 3%, who will adopt.
Hi, I did my Barry, Wales to Warrington, England 200 mile trip when I bought the 1 year old car and yesterday I did Warrington, England to Glasgow, Scotland (both ways 500 miles) and it was successful. What I would say is: 1) Use PlugShare app to ensure charger works (and update if they don't) 2) Ensure you have Plan B and C (Good Plan B is one where PlugShare says charging stations work and charging stations are at both sides of the motorway) 3) Instead of longer breaks and charging at services, do shorter and more frequent that considerably gives you more options and has little effect on total journey time. so instead of 30 minutes break do 2x 15 minutes, you will notice charge is faster at shorter intervals as the longer you charge the slower it goes (closer to 80-90%), this way if both don't work (check the other side, if next one doesn't have it on both sides) and move on. Hope that helps Emil
For the sake of balance, here is my experience of a 4 day test drive with a Nissan leaf. The major planned expedition was to visit Lichfield via M1 and M6 to see my daughter and granddaughter, stay overnight and then return the next day. I picked the car up from the dealer on Monday 29th June. It was fully charged, but my first journey was to pick up an ecotricity card from the St Albans dealership on my way to the M1. These cards enable you to fast charge the car at a network of charging stations. Most motorway service stations now have them and charging to full capacity takes about half an hour. Most Nissan dealerships also have these fast chargers. The big plus of charging away from home is that the electricity is completely FREE [at present anyway!] I picked up the card OK, but unfortunately Nissan St Albans fast charger was out of action. No worries I thought, Toddington services on the M1 isn't far away. Unfortunately Toddington's fast charger was also out of action. A sudden sinking feeling was my first symptom of range anxiety. Is this going to be a pattern I thought. Apparently you can get to the southbound services from northbound by driving past a no entry sign, to use their charger and then return, but being basically law abiding I decided against that, and continued to Newport Pagnellservices. After all, I'd only come 40 miles so there should have been about another 40 left. And the charger at Newport Pagnell was working, after a bit of a struggle using the connector for the first time [you quickly get used to it.] So I got a full charge to 99% capacity in 40 minutes. All the other service stations had functioning fast chargers [Watford Gap on M1, Corley on M6 and all the southbound stations], so my first experience was bad luck. Corley services to Lichfield, and then back next day to Corley was a trip of 70 miles and I had 17 miles left - so I was relieved to see the services sign! Coming back I recharged at all the service stations, not because I always needed to , but I wanted to check how many were working. So it looks pretty good. Back in Hertford I recharged overnight. I fortunately have a socket in the right place in the garage. It’s a slower process, but as you're asleep that doesn't matter much. An overnight charge costs roughly £2, depending on your tariff, and that takes you 70 miles of mixed motoring. On Wednesday we visited my daughter in Dalston, so that was a 44 miles round trip, with no problem. The air conditioning meant we were comfortable, despite the 35 degree temperature (middle of the heatwave!). This did of course affect the range. The display did inform us that on that trip the range was reduced by 5 miles by using the aircon. But we still had 17 miles left when we got back to Hertford. On Thursday we visited our our grandchildren and daughter in law in Walthamstow and then reluctantly delivered the car back to Waltham Abbey. I've talked mainly about range, because that's what concerned me and concerns most people. But given a bit of planning, all is well - it's a different way of thinking about driving. And if you do 70 miles or less a day, all your charging is at home. The good news is that the fast charging network is expanding all the time, but touring in rural Norfolk, Wales or Scotland would still be difficult. The other good news is that Nissan will be bringing out a new Leaf with a bigger battery and therefore enhanced range, in 2016/17. Regarding the driving experience, the car is uncannily quiet in town. Petrol or diesel cars are only quiet because of lots of insulation - whereas electric cars are inherently quiet. On the motorway, road noise is of course evident, as with all cars. The performance, with eco drive switched off, is phenomenal. You are driving a fast automatic car. I seem to remember I had it up to 100 mph (allegedly) after a quick stab at the throttle on a quiet stretch of the A10. And you hardly ever need the brakes. If you take your foot off the loud pedal, the momentum of the car recharges the battery and slows you down! So I have seen the future of motoring. I kept thinking, as I went by wind turbines on the M1 - I'm using some of that power!
For the sake of balance, here is my experience of a 4 day test drive with a Nissan leaf. The major planned expedition was to visit Lichfield via M1 and M6 to see my daughter and granddaughter, stay overnight and then return the next day. I picked the car up from the dealer on Monday 29th June. It was fully charged, but my first journey was to pick up an ecotricity card from the St Albans dealership on my way to the M1. These cards enable you to fast charge the car at a network of charging stations. Most motorway service stations now have them and charging to full capacity takes about half an hour. Most Nissan dealerships also have these fast chargers. The big plus of charging away from home is that the electricity is completely FREE [at present anyway!] I picked up the card OK, but unfortunately Nissan St Albans fast charger was out of action. No worries I thought, Toddington services on the M1 isn't far away. Unfortunately Toddington's fast charger was also out of action. A sudden sinking feeling was my first symptom of range anxiety. Is this going to be a pattern I thought. Apparently you can get to the southbound services from northbound by driving past a no entry sign, to use their charger and then return, but being basically law abiding I decided against that, and continued to Newport Pagnellservices. After all, I'd only come 40 miles so there should have been about another 40 left. And the charger at Newport Pagnell was working, after a bit of a struggle using the connector for the first time [you quickly get used to it.] So I got a full charge to 99% capacity in 40 minutes. All the other service stations had functioning fast chargers [Watford Gap on M1, Corley on M6 and all the southbound stations], so my first experience was bad luck. Corley services to Lichfield, and then back next day to Corley was a trip of 70 miles and I had 17 miles left - so I was relieved to see the services sign! Coming back I recharged at all the service stations, not because I always needed to , but I wanted to check how many were working. So it looks pretty good. Back in Hertford I recharged overnight. I fortunately have a socket in the right place in the garage. It’s a slower process, but as you're asleep that doesn't matter much. An overnight charge costs roughly £2, depending on your tariff, and that takes you 70 miles of mixed motoring. On Wednesday we visited my daughter in Dalston, so that was a 44 miles round trip, with no problem. The air conditioning meant we were comfortable, despite the 35 degree temperature (middle of the heatwave!). This did of course affect the range. The display did inform us that on that trip the range was reduced by 5 miles by using the aircon. But we still had 17 miles left when we got back to Hertford. On Thursday we visited our our grandchildren and daughter in law in Walthamstow and then reluctantly delivered the car back to Waltham Abbey. I've talked mainly about range, because that's what concerned me and concerns most people. But given a bit of planning, all is well - it's a different way of thinking about driving. And if you do 70 miles or less a day, all your charging is at home. The good news is that the fast charging network is expanding all the time, but touring in rural Norfolk, Wales or Scotland would still be difficult. The other good news is that Nissan will be bringing out a new Leaf with a bigger battery and therefore enhanced range, in 2016/17. Regarding the driving experience, the car is uncannily quiet in town. Petrol or diesel cars are only quiet because of lots of insulation - whereas electric cars are inherently quiet. On the motorway, road noise is of course evident, as with all cars. The performance, with eco drive switched off, is phenomenal. You are driving a fast automatic car. I seem to remember I had it up to 100 mph (allegedly) after a quick stab at the throttle on a quiet stretch of the A10. And you hardly ever need the brakes. If you take your foot off the loud pedal, the momentum of the car recharges the battery and slows you down! So I have seen the future of motoring. I kept thinking, as I went by wind turbines on the M1 - I'm using some of that power!
Should have used a Tesla car. Those toytown, pretend electric cars have almost no real world range. Tesla is the only car manufacturer, that is putting it's money where it's mouth is & investing in a nationwide supercharger network. If you want to see state of the art at the moment, look at Tesla products, not those laughable, toytown pretend electric cars as illustrated above, made by Ford & Nissan. We aught to be ashamed of ouselves, in the UK. In the Netherlands, An electric car owner has the right to request & recieve on street electric charger points on demand, free. Where are we ?, supporting, major car companies like Nissan, to make joke electric cars in Sunderland, & not even providing the infrastructure at a local level so that EV's can become a practical reality....
Please come down off your elitist high horse; most of us can't afford Teslas. Things have improved for the owners of 'toytown" EV's since you wrote this in the summer of 2015. The new 2018 Leaf has 150 mile range, is virtually the same price as the old car, and IMHO has gorgeous styling. You can get it for less than a Tesla Model 3. And let's be real about another thing; most people drive less than 80 miles/day in their commutes, so the current range of around 80 miles is plenty. Yes, longer trips can create issues, mostly due to the evolving infrastructure of charging stations, but once they get there (and it's a LOT better than in 2015) it will be viable.
A Prius Plug-In has a 520 mile range between refuel and or recharge and has the same cost per mile here in Mass. as a Leaf.
Just buy a Volt you woudn't have to worry if the charging stations work. Also you woudn't have to plan your trip around the charging stations.
I bought 2014 Leaf Acenta for £11.7k with battery and I drove 2,500 miles in the last 2 months, I don't even have a charger at home. It's the most comfortable car I drove so far (fluent / very quiet) and so far running costs are £0.00, but I knew I would have to learn new skills and change habits. I intend to sell it in 2 years time (keep it for 28 months, sell when the car warranty runs out) and get 7-8k back with only with maintenance cost (tyres, service + other costs) of around £500-£700 and upgrade to a 1 year old electric car with bigger battery :)
80 miles is more than enough for me and my 2013 Leaf, I drive about 25 miles each day commuting to work and charge only every other day using a standard 110 volt outlet, on the rare occasion the family needs to go somewhere further we take the wives Honda Pilot, no problems
Here's a concept... BUY A CHEVY VOLT instead and don't stress over range anxiety! It's amazing how anti-American some American's are...they would be a limited ability import than an awesome Volt.
Last comment brought to you by GM, the same company that single-handedly destroyed a fully functional electric vehicle 20 years ago that was ahead of its time. Had the EV-1 survived, the vehicle with the batteries of today would most likely rival the range of the Tesla Model S. The Volt/Bolt = too little too late.
Don't agree. I own a 2013 Volt and love it; the ride, the quiet, the economy, the torque, the solid build, no range anxiety, etc. Offsetting a lease of around $240 a month is a $130 fuel savings (since my electric costs to charge it are negligible). And, the 2016 Volt will be a game changer; lighter, 50 miles a charge, 45mpg on regular gas and again..... no range anxiety! Let's not dwell on the past and forge forward to a new day.
In four or five years we might consider a new Battery for Leaf we have had since 2011 and we have 43K miles now. Will we be able to get the 30kwh battery upgrade? When we get about 100K miles we could consider it but we will continue to drive for free until then.
You can't buy gasoline either if the power is out. You just have to wait for the power to be restored.
I haven't been sick in four years. No upper respiratory infections, no sinus infections, no colds, no flews, no pukes, no manstreual cramps. It is good not having to mess with blood, phlegm, snot, mucus, feces, sweat, food, smeered gasoline pumps anymore. We just charge or Prius and Leaf at home and totally avoid that problem. My wife even uses disposable gloves for her once a month plug-in Prius fill up. Thats the best reason of all for going electric, it is much healthier. Besides, scientist say some people are extrememly sensitive to to the carginogens and toxins in gasoline. One exposure for some can cause cancer, if they do not burn alive in a fiery auto accident.
I'm a little skeptical as to the authenticity of this article. The car is on the wrong side of the road? Do they import Chevy Volts to the UK? Why buy a Gringo car when you can get a good old Leaf made at home in the UK.
I had a leaf for about 20 days this month. One problem that I had was that the leaf navigation would not download any free local charging that I knew existed. Even local Nissan dealership chargers were completely missing from the list. And the Nissan dealerships were the most reliable and were free. It only showed me a couple pay units that were at hotels and it didn't indicate that they were not free. When I tried to use it, the screen display said 110 charging only. 6 units were at the hotel. 5 were blocked by ICEs. So, the charging station would have only been useful if I were staying at the hotel since even a half charge would be around 8 hours. And of course I did update the local charging stations multiple times, but I ended up using plugshare on my android phone , which was much more reliable. Of course even plugshare led me to one Mitsubishi dealership that was a dud. Pulled in and found 1 charger with a sign that read "for customers currently having a vehicle serviced only!" In other words, go away! My next car will be a Tesla.
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