Reaching New Heights
in my Nissan Leaf

May 19, 2012

Mark D Larsen

Far, Far Away
(Click to enlarge)

Having driven to Veyo several times, and verified that the Leaf’s range was more than sufficient to handle the ascent, I decided to push the limit even further and drive all the way up to the campgrounds at Pine Valley. Someday I hope to camp there.

Those campgrounds are in the Dixie National Forest, much higher up Pine Mountain than Veyo, at an elevation of 6,535 feet. This means that, from our home, the Leaf has to climb 3,454 feet over a distance of almost 40 miles. The map at the top of this page shows the route to get there. Could the Leaf handle an 80 mile round trip with such a climb? Using the results from the trips to Veyo, my back-of-the-envelope calculations suggested that it could. But there was only one way to know for sure: charge the battery pack to 100% and put pedal to the metal.

Below on the left is the Leaf’s dashboard readout after arriving in Pine Valley. As you can see, I had driven 39.9 miles, used 8 bars of the battery pack, with an average of 3.4 miles-per-kWh. The GOM speculated that there were only 39 miles left before hitting empty. In fact, it had predicted only 25 miles left at the campground entrance, where we turned around: this photo was after I had driven a couple of miles back into the town on a downhill slope. One might assume that the prospect of making it home again looked grim.

Energy Summit
(Click to enlarge)

All the Way Home
(Click to enlarge)

The good news: on the right above you can see the readout when I pulled into my garage again. Made it! I only had two red bars left, and the GOM now estimated 19 miles to empty, i.e., it was guessing that I had driven half the distance I had actually traveled since its readout at the summit, thanks to the regenerative braking on the descent. Indeed, if we add those remaining miles to the odometer tally, the predicted range from the battery pack would be... nearly 98 miles! What amazed me most of all was that the miles-per-kWh gauge showed a 5.2 average for the entire trip. Given the significant elevation change to reach Pine Valley, and the fact that I had the climate control on for some of the trip, those results are truly amazing.

Leaf among the Pine Needles
(Click to enlarge)