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Don't Run Out of Charge in Your Leaf!

Discussion in 'Nissan Hybrids and EVs' started by cycledrum, Feb 27, 2011.

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  1. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    I was browsing a Nissan Leaf owner's forum other night and came across this (I don't own a Leaf) . Thread link at bottom.
    ----------------------------------------------------------

    p6

    klapauzius wrote:

    "Maybe you are the first, but it happened to me too! On 2/22 I was driving back from SeaTac airport back home, with 26 "miles" on the range estimation. Trip distance was ~ 15 miles. Some driving on I-5, eco mode on, no heating (at 32 F outside temp!) and around downtown the range is down to 8 miles (still plenty to get home, which was by then 5 miles away). At the ship-canal bridge it went into turtle, I barely got off the freeway. 2 Mile from home and after about half the distance it told I would have from the airport, i.e. 13 actual miles driven, it went dead. I actually managed to drive 400 yards in turtle mode. 10:30 pm, wife and screaming kids in the car (which was blocking the right lane of a busy road), just came back from the east coast, cars zooming by and honking, several near misses, I called Nissan for help.

    Their initial response:
    Sure we will tow you, but it will take an hour for the tow truck to arrive and we will only tow you to the next dealership (10 miles from my home). I said, well its an electric car and arent you supposed to tow me to my home when I run out of battery? Ah, its a battery problem, do you need a boost or a jumpstart??
    It was hilarious..no clue about their own product....neither the operator nor her supervisor were aware of special roadside assistance for leaf-owners.

    The experience with roadside assistance was quite sobering...
    What I find scarier though is this gross mismatch in estimated and actual range. Any ideas if this is normal or a bad battery?"

    My Nissan Leaf Forum • View topic - Dumb**s alert: am I the first to drain it??

    Another buy claims 17 mile on gage, drove 5, went into 'turtle mode' as they say, kaput. Seems in 2 cases the range indicator was optimistic. The opposite would seem better.
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  2. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    What, no discussion on the above? I see 2 cases - First claim is range indicator RI, showing 17 miles, he goes 5, car goes dead, barely made it out of an intersection into a lot.

    2nd case - RI shows 26 miles, driver goes 13, car limps, goes dead in right lane of a busy road, cars whizzing by, family in car, 1 hour for tow truck to arrive.

    Great, just what ya need on a BEV, an optimistic range-left gage.
  3. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    Remaining battery charge is difficult to measure/calculate. What you did range wise was the equivalent of trying to run a Prius within about 1 quart of empty. No surprise that you got stranded.:eek:
  4. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    umm, I don't own a Leaf. From what you say, this is definitely something Nissan should emphasize with new Leaf owners.

    Bad PR comes from Leaf's getting towed home, wife and kids taken home in taxi while husband rides home in tow truck.

    And the technical discussions in the thread indicate Leafs might be wayyyy over the head of ordinary nincompoop car owners (the kind that know nothing about their cars).
  5. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    Given that the full range for a leaf is 100 miles (under good conditions), I would expect if it said 26 miles, that's about the same as 25% left on the gas gauge, and to barely make it half that range is not a good thing. Both situations seem to imply you can't trust the last dozen mile, or the equivalent of 1/8th tank (1.3 gallons, not an ounce).

    That said, estimating range is a very hard thing to do. The batteries warm up and internal characteristics change, plus the first mile driven is often very different than the rest of the drive. Estimating usable time remaining is not accurate if you turn on climate control, go up a hill, whatever. We make a portable device that is battery operated, and about the best we can do is say if you're at 1/5 of full charge, 2/5, 3/5, etc. I'm not sure if storing it at the airport for some amount of time made any difference (maybe it started up displaying what it remembered, until they started the drive?)
  6. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    Obviously want a BEV plugged in whenever possible. These things require planning and must stick to the plan. We'll see how it goes, but to me it seems PHV has better chance for mainstream until we can get to another fuel source besides gas (HFCV, etc...)
  7. xs650

    xs650 Senior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    Harbor freight has some inexpensive gasoline generators on sale, they could convert their Leafs to a hybrid for less than $500:D

    I think the leaf is a great car and will serve the more astute Leaf owners very well but as you suggest, the bad PR will be coming from the less than fully astute..

    To put it in perspective, several Prius owners have gone into apoplexy at the thought that other owners would run a Gen III past "0 Miles". At 0 miles on the Gen III display, a Prius has close to the same range remaining as fully charged Leaf .:cool:
  8. dbcassidy

    dbcassidy Toyota Hybrid Nation, 5 Million Strong

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    I am missing something with this thread. What car are you referring to that you are driving. Could you please be more clear on this. We would like to assist you, but need more info on vehicle, age, condition.

    Thank you,

    DBCassidy
  9. Skoorbmax

    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    For Nissan's sake I hope these do not become common threads.

    I've said it before. If a guy gives this to his wife and kids to shuttle around it will take a single event of being stuck no the side of the road before his wife is saying get this thing out of my face, we're going back to a gas car.

    I read before that the range indicator on this was exceedingly conservative. I'm surprised people are hitting the limit with supposed miles left.

    Yep! My wife regularly runs down to 0 which is strange considering in other cars she's always hated it, but she unquestioningly trusts the 0 mile range. And we know from reading here that worse-case when it hits 0 miles is 50 miles left and you may get up to 100 out of it. Maybe toyota doesn't want to have pictures on the net of people run out of gas in their Prius.

    I understood cycledrum. He was posting in this thread referring to others' experiences. Not sure why the confusion; he does not own a leaf. I presume he owns a Prius, but this is not about his car or experience.
  10. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    Hmm...too bad. Nissan want's to avoid stories like this coming to light. I'd rather not hear stories like this, as they get picked up and become the mythology that slows progress.

    I see this mostly as a new product (may need adjustment now and in the future) and new users (learning sometimes the hard way about their product).

    I have to admit, I'm somewhat suprised. Everything I have read is that The Leaf was designed to give ample information and warning about distance and remaining charge. But you know what they say "Discharge Happens".

    The customer service of the local dealership is a separate issue. Unfortunately I'm far less suprised at that reality.
  11. jhinsc

    jhinsc Active Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    That's why I will never own an electric vehicle - range anxienty. Even though it would probably meet most of my needs, I absolutely need a vehicle that is reliable on distance-to-empty, and can be filled up in minutes, not hours or overnight. The Volt is a good start to an alternative, but CR gave an accurate overall assessment that matches mine, even though I have not driven one, nor ever will. The price is too high, especially considering the compromises GM made to bring it to market. Toyota had the right idea over 10 years ago with the first Prius, and they keep perfecting the technology through the years.
  12. Skoorbmax

    Skoorbmax Senior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    A real problem EVs face as far as I'm concerned is that of diminishing returns. These EVs have a "comparable" MPG of, say, 75, maybe 100 mpg tops when you look at cost of fuel, but on a 50 mpg Prius the cost of fuel is now such a small part of the vehicle that the savings from 50 to 75 are just really modest. At 15k/year and $3.50 gas you're paying less than $90/month in fuel on a Prius. The only way to beat that is to pay a big price premium and have range concerns. So maybe you get a Leaf and based on your electric rate say you save $40-50/month in fuel costs, but the purchase price was higher to begin with, more than blowing that away, and best-case you've got about 100 miles of range anyway.

    Even with lower battery costs (so maybe a leaf is the same price as a Prius) I don't see a big inroad of EV vehicles until/unless gasoline prices get substantially higher $5/gallon+ without an accompanied increase in electricity costs.

    Long, long term EV definitely makes sense. I think the vehicles are simpler and could be more robust. No ICE, no exhaust system, complex transmission, all the endless stuff that can go wrong, but an EV that costs the same as an ICE with 200-300+ mile range is years away.
  13. plug-it-in

    plug-it-in Junior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    Just a few points here;
    1. I always wondered how accurate and reliable is the measurement of the remaining charge on the battery. (My background is in electronics.) Did this technology reach a stage when we can count on the accuracy of the remaining charge in the battery to be comparable to our 'beloved gas gage'?

    2. The load on the battery of an EV varies a great deal. It depends on many variables. This is a very good reason to be 'pessimistic' when calculating the remaining drivable distance. According to available info Nissan seems to got this right. Still, consider my note above.

    3. It is entirely possible that Nissan Leaf has 'teething problems'. Some of the cars may have weak/faulty components; battery, even software bug(s) come to mind. These cars are very complex beasts I would not be surprised if it will take a Gen II Leaf before all bugs are ironed out. Nissan seems to be pushing this car into the market, which is very exiting but maybe a bit too soon? (On this note - Toyota has done a fantastic job, even on the Gen I Prius.)

    4. I am having trouble understanding the comparison with the Prius.
    One should never get stranded in a Prius- keep gas your tank.

    For these reasons PEVs (with 20-50 mile EV range) are a reliable next step, away from gas only cars. Think of getting stuck in a Canadian (Minnesota?) winter in an EV -even between your home airport and your house due to an accident or snow squall, on the road.
  14. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    I would imagine in the not-too-distant future, a place like an airport would have charging stations for EVs, and this would be easily avoided.
  15. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    That was my point earlier. An interesting distinction is that ICE cars (except the Gen3 Prius apparently) don't show remaining miles, but how much gas is left. How you use that gas will affect the miles left, and how you use the electricity in an EV will greatly affect the already modest range. Also, if the Leaf starts up showing the same value that it powered off at, that may not be correct if it the car was left parked for some time.



    Many people got stranded in the Prius back in the early days (2004-2007) as people tried to push the limits, going 10 miles on the blinking pip, etc. I thought they were asking for trouble, but they insisted on driving as far as possible on a single tank, even on what was widely called the "guess gauge". Hard to tell people what they should do sometimes. Eventually they learn for themselves.



    "Never" is a pretty strong word. Even when gas goes up to $8/gallon? That day is coming, and depending on the economy, might be sooner than you think. We don't have an infinite supply of oil, and what is left is becoming more expensive to produce and harder to produce in large quantities.

    At some point in the future, if you want to buy a new car, it will not burn a petroleum product. I still like the idea of natural gas, this is widely done overseas, Honda sells a car here (Civic GX) but only sells it in 4 states. We have ample supplies of domestic natural gas, not enough to replace all gasoline, but nothing can do that. Electric, cellulosic ethanol (not corn ethanol), natural gas, they'll all be needed to replace most of our gasoline usage.
  16. nerfer

    nerfer A young senior member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    That is a reasonable step. Although getting stuck in bad weather is not unheard, but usually happens because of the roads, not because of your gas tank. Occasionally an engine problem (my dad learned to not drive a diesel at temperatures well below zero (F), if it dies it's not restarting, and at -30 or -40, it might spontaneously die). Growing up in very rural northern MN, it was considered good practice to have a shovel and a sleeping bag in your car in case you got stranded somewhere. That was before cell phones. Even this last storm here in Chicago had over 100 people stranded on Lake Shore Drive overnight, which is crazy to think of, in this day and age.

    Do they sell the Leaf anywhere that gets really cold? What does that do to the range?
  17. qbee42

    qbee42 My other car is a boat

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    Many gasoline powered cars show distance to empty figures. Even my 1994 Ford Aerostar van had a display for that. Still, it doesn't mean the calculations are very accurate. If it is accurate, it is an instantaneous value that changes by the second, which renders it pretty useless. If it doesn't change by the second, it is an educated guess. Either way, it's no more useful than what you get with an EV.

    Tom
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  18. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    Added intro in 1st post.
  19. cycledrum

    cycledrum PSOCSOASP

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out

    I think it's cool of some people to go with efficient all electric cars. I just see bigger promise in plug-in hybrids.

    I didn't like what happened in regular Prius with a short, 5 minute trip to store - ICE comes on, FE drops in first 5 minutes. Do that enough, and the overall FE droops.

    Enter the PHV - 5 minute trips to store? No problem. Been plugged in, likely no gas burned. Get 10+ miles of those EV trips. If Toyota can bring cost down under $30k, PHV could be very good.

    -----
    back to the show :)
  20. wick1ert

    wick1ert Senior Member

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    Re: Oh wow, the flatbeds are coming out



    Actually, having a sleeping bag, blanket, and some bottles of water are a great idea to keep in the trunk during winter months no matter where you live. You never know when you'll get stuck behind a major accident in bad weather, slide off the road, etc. If it's 20 degrees outside, and you're stuck waiting for help for an hour or more, you'd be very cold and definitely in need of some warmth. Water is a good idea anytime, just to be safe. I wouldn't go overboard with it, 1 or 2 bottles of water would suffice, 1 or 2 blankets (more if you're traveling with children).
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