I had the most amazing experience driving the Leaf recently – I drove 15 miles and actually GAINED 5 miles of charge while driving! I assume this was due to the regenerative braking system, and my valiant attempts to hypermile, but still, I found it remarkable. Maybe it was because I was driving back to work from an electrical vehicle seminar hosted by Chicago Area Clean Cities?
After one month of driving the Leaf I believe my range anxiety is cured, but I also have a new and somewhat surprising outlook on these cars. I am a Midwesterner, so to me, a road trip vehicle needs to be able to go 300 miles with no more than 15 minutes on a fill up/recharge. Now, I know that Tesla is there already and building its nationwide network of charging stations, but even at $35K for the common-folk model, it’s still fairly unattainable. I also understand that the 2018 Nissan Leaf will have a range of 250 miles, but I have a radical proposition: is it possible that long distance just isn’t the point for EVs?
We know that 92% of daily commutes are less than 70 miles round trip. I am in that group, and thus far I charge at home at night only three days per week, and I have only used charging stations at destinations for experimental purposes. Would more people consider owning an EV if they knew that charging at home would cover virtually all of their driving needs?
What if we were to change the discussion, and consider our whole travelling system differently? Households that need multiple cars for daily use could easily make it on one EV, and have unlimited road trip use of their conventional vehicle. Households that need only one vehicle could cover the cost of renting a gas car for long drives when needed, using their annual EV fuel savings. I have heard these discussions in professional circles, but not in the mainstream nor in consumer media. Thoughts?