Long distance in an EV

One of the biggest concerns regarding electric vehicles is perceived range. We are so used to covering hundreds of kms out of habit in our petrol and diesel powered cars. While battery technology is ever evolving and the mass production of EVs is bringing the purchase price down, how viable is an EV to cover long distance driving?

February 13, 2018
 

Before setting off in an electric vehicle to undertake a long journey you need to understand where and what type of chargers are available on your route. There are essentially two types of chargers available. Slow and Fast chargers.

Slow Chargers

Used for charging when you are not in a rush e.g going in to town shopping.

Fast Chargers:

For when you are doing long distance and need to recharge quickly. There is a certain etiquette with EV owners at these specific chargers. After the battery is charged to 80 or 90% the charging speed reduces dramatically. If someone is waiting to charge you should let them use it then.

The Journey

Kilkenny Castle to Ladies View on the Ring of Kerry… and back!
For this journey the fast charging stations I would use were located in Fermoy Co.Cork and Killarney Co.Kerry.

The Car

2017 Nissan Leaf 30kWH Fully Electric.

Roadtrip

Setting off on this journey at 12:20 from Kilkenny Castle the sun was shining and I was feeling positive about the trip. The Leaf’s indicated range showed 185km’s and my first fast charging destination was Fermoy which was 118km’s in distance. Plenty of range for the trip. I drove on B roads up to Ballyragget and then on to the M8 motorway. Cruise control was set at 115kph for the duration of the motorway driving and I sat back and relaxed, enjoying the surreal lack of vibration and noise only achievable from an electric drivetrain. Arrival time in Fermoy was 13:50 and the Leaf had an indicated range of 41km’s left in reserve, no sweat!

I plugged in to the fast charger and grabbed a cup of coffee. I had a bit of time to look around the exterior, the headlights are an unusual design but are built this wat for aerodynamics. The headlights direct air over the wing mirrors reducing drag and aiding economy.

Regenerative breaking

At 14:20 (after 30mins charging) my range was back up to 172km’s so I set off for Killarney. For this leg of the journey the road had plenty of corners and elevation changes allowing me to make full use of the regenerative braking. This recharges the batteries by transferring kinetic energy back in to the batteries, this energy is usually lost during braking in a petrol or diesel car. The system works well and mostly you can drive this car with one foot as the regenerative braking is activated by lifting off the accelerator. I arrived in Killarney at 16:02 with an indicated range of 64kms. I got a bit of a shock through when I noticed the battery temperature gauge was quite high and I had to fast charge the car again!

I sat in the car and monitored the temperature for 10 minutes and it did not go in to the red. I later discovered that unlike a petrol or diesel car this temperature is perfectly normal if the battery is charged/discharged so often while fast charging.

Going home

At 16:40 I departed Killarney and made my way towards the Ring of Kerry, total fast time charge in Kerry was 38 minutes bringing the Leaf’s range from 64km’s to 198km’s. The torque generated from the Leaf’s electric motor was great for the climb up the hill and it handled well due to the batteries and motor being mounted
low in the chassis. I arrived at “Ladies View” on the Ring of Kerry and enjoyed the spectacular scenery.

I then made my way back towards home, I would need one final fast charge to cover the distance. Killarney to Ladies View and then to Fermoy was a total of 128km’s. At 19:18 I arrived in Fermoy for my last charge with 37km’s left of range. The heavens then opened and it was lashing rain.

Bad weather

So, the final leg of the journey began as I left Fermoy towards Kilkenny. The weather was atrocious and the return leg was mostly motorway. When the roads are extremely wet there is greater rolling resistance and thus more energy is used to propel the vehicle. I also needed the wipers at full speed and the air conditioning on to clear the condensation. The range was dropping dramatically due to the weather.

I pulled over and checked the E.S.B charger map on my phone, there is a fast charger in Urlingford so I was in luck! I pulled in to Urlingford with 29km’s range left but the charger was not working! I called the E.S.B helpline and then my phone died! I had to travel 31km’s to get home so I went for it. I took my time driving and the roads were all B roads so I could let the regenerative braking help add some range. I made it home with 0 km’s range.

Summary

Current affordable EVs can cover long distance but you need to plan route and allow for extra time for charging.

This trip cost €0 as the electric car charging infrastructure in Ireland is currently free.

 

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Long distance in an EV

One of the biggest concerns regarding electric vehicles is perceived range. We are so used to covering hundreds of kms out of habit in our petrol and diesel powered cars. While battery technology is ever evolving and the mass production of EVs is bringing the purchase price down, how viable is an EV to cover long distance driving?