Ray Schultens Motors in The Dalles let me test drive their Nissan Leaf and take some photos at the Sherman County RV Park solar array in Moro, OR (the SunStorage Carport Array was just aching for and EV photo shoot and I was looking for any excuse to drive a Leaf). It is 37 miles from The Dalles to Moro with a 1847′ hill climb in between. My plan was to drive the car up and let it charge at the solar array all day. Then drive back to Schultens in the afternoon – no problem. When I arrived at the dealer in the morning they told me the car had been sold and the new owners would be picking it up at 10:30. If I wanted to drive up, take my pictures and drive back that would be okay. Yikes. I left the dealer with 120 mile range. 65 mph down Hwy 84 for about 16 miles really ate range. There’s this gage on the dash that shows how far you have left. Heading up the Fulten Canyon hill climb the range dropped dramatically. When I finally got to the the RV park I only had a 22 mile range left. RANGE ANXIETY was pulsing through my veins. I plugged it in to the 120V receptacle at the solar array. This car – all cars – charges very slowly at 120V (120V x 10amps is only 1.2kW and the heater in this car uses 6kW). I was only able to charge for about 20 minutes before heading back. The range had only increase to 24 miles while charging and I had 37 miles to go. In my mind I was picturing the tow truck hauling the electric car back to the dealership with the new owners bailing out of their commitment…This was range anxiety peakdom.
I babied the car through town and across the prairie – going 20 to 40 mph and loosing range all the time. When I finally hit Fulton Canyon again the car started to generate power. Magic! At the botom where I got back on I-84 at Cellilo I had gained range. Only 16 miles left to go and 31 miles of range. RANGE ELATION! What a thrill. I took it up to 70mph and cruised down the Gorge to deliver the car to Schultens with 5 miles of range left. They plugged it in to their 240V charging station and everyone lived happily ever after.
The electric car experience is definitely not for the faint of heart. You have to know your range, know your route and plan your trip around available time and charging options. But EV driving really does put the zip back into the automotive experience. It gives the thinking person something to think about. Think about driving an average 2.9 miles per kWh. Multiply that by your electric rate. In The Dalles that’s 6.3 cents per kWh so I took this trip for about $1.60 (thank you Ray Schulten). Think about making those kWh’s with sunshine. RANGE REVOLUTION.
The Nissan leaf is going to join us at the Solarize White Salmon Kick off Meeting on May 1st http://hireelectric.com/solar/solarize-white-salmon/
2700 West Second Street,
The Dalles, OR 97058
Phone: (541) 296-5574
Fax: (541) 296-2222
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