For a good number of us now we have had the opportunity to take the Nissan LEAF for a test spin. However, that being said, we have only been on short, tidy test drives around parking lots, or quick jaunts around town (or through Central Park as the case may be), but never had the opportunity to really run the LEAF into the ground.
So, what actually happens when the LEAF gets low? Really low? Recently, John Voelcker (senior editor-ACE) did break into those precious last few kWh of power in the LEAF, and was kind enough to take some photos and describe the event for us.
The first trigger happened with about 12 miles of range left on his drive, which coincides with the fact there was 4 kWh of total battery capacity left in the pack. At that level, the car gives you a notification that the “Battery level is low” (pictured above) and lets you know how far away the closest charging station it has on record. Incidentally, for Mr. Voelcker at the time, the LEAF said there was 3 destinations where a free receptacle was available.
The LEAF then asks if you would like to head out to one of its suggestions, and if you respond in the positive, the navigation system quickly draws up the route.
However, whilst on route to your charging destination, if you break into that last 2 kWh of power (or about 5 mile-ish of range remaining), the LEAF is none too thrilled with you having not heeded its warning, and will shut/curtail non essential functions (like the A/C…and say good-bye to that 90 mph top speed).
Just to further annoy you inform you…in the space that would normally tell you your range, the LEAF is now letting you know you are in trouble with the dreaded three flashing bars, which loosely translates to “You fool! Your wife beside you is clearly going to have a heart attack in anticipation of you stranding the family on the side of the road.”
Unfortunately, the good people at ACE (All Cars Electric) did not run the car completely to a stand still (because they had a plane to catch or something), so they then theorized that because petrol cars typically still have up to 2 gallons of spare fuel in them when the dash is reading empty, that the LEAF still has a ‘hidden’ 10% capacity, which means another 10-15 miles of range.
We reached out to Nissan about his theory of an extra 10 miles range being in ‘reserve’ reserve, only to receiver the shortest of all answers, “Nope” (I guess they could have said just “no”…which technically would have been shorter)
Mr. Voelcker also interviewed Nissan’s Director of Product Planning, Mark Perry about range anxiety in conjunction with his piece on the low warning system on the LEAF, and Mr. Perry again stated that:
“We (Nissan) believe range anxiety is a falsehood…(that) electric-car drivers turn out to adjust fairly quickly to their cars’ abilities, and soon stop worrying about the car in daily use. If Leaf owners have a day where the total journeys add up to more than 100 miles, they simply plan to use another vehicle in the household fleet.”
/looks like Mr. Perry has been into the box of common-sensicles again
(Photos/Story: ACE-All Cars Electric)