Lesson Learned on an EV Road Trip ⇒

August 5th, 2018 by with tags EV & travel

Some background on EV charging; there are 3 types of chargers, Levels 1-3. Level 1 is a trickle charge, like you'd get if you plugged the car into a standard 110V outlet. It takes ~30 hours to charge our car from one of these. Level 2 is a 240V outlet, like an oven or a dryer. This is what we have at home and it takes 9-10 hours to charge Leaf fully (from empty). Then there are Level 3 chargers. They charge the Leaf to 80% in only 30 mins. These are the types of chargers you want to use on a road trip.

We do an annual trip to Penticton with my family and when we got the Leaf, we just figured we'd take our other (non-EV) car on that trip, because we were worried about 3 things:

  1. Getting from Hope to Merritt over the Coquihalla
  2. Getting through the high pass between Merritt & Penticton
  3. Charging while in Penticton.

The distances weren't bad, but we weren't sure how the battery would drain going up hill in a fully loaded car and we didn't want to risk it with the kids.

However, a few days before the trip BC Hydro turned on a few more fast chargers, including one part way up the Coquihalla, one near the Merrit/Penticton summit and one in Penticton. These solved all of our problems in one go!

We decided to make it an adventure and told the kids we didn't know how long it would take because we might get to a charger and be "in line" to charge.

The trip through hope went fine, the DC charger was available and free and we charged for about an hour as we had lunch.

The trip to Merritt seemed to go fine...until we tried to charge. The Leaf should charge at around 35kW; but ours was only charging at 14kW, wth? Turns out that the battery was overheating due to how I drove; fast up the hills and using the regen on the way down. This turned what should have been a 45 min stop into 2.5 hours.

Then we discovered that when your battery overheats, the car reduces power...which made our climb over the summit quite slow. We nursed the car to West Kelowna and charged just long enough to have a glass of wine at a nearby social house, then made our way to Penticton.

What should have been a 6 hour trip, ended up being 9.5, not bad for our first EV road trip.

We took those lessons learned and on way home did several things differently:

  • took Crowsnest home as it's summit is only 1300m instead of 1700m on the way out
  • drove slower up hills
  • do more, shorter charges as those don't heat up the battery as much
  • use neutral on the downhills

Those tatics worked, no overheating, no power restrictions.

We ended up confirming the same thing these folks did, that you can't really do more than 2 fast charges in any given trip.

The Leaf is still the favourite car I've ever owned.

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