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7 Years Driving Electric: Three Nissan Leafs & A Tesla Model 3

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7 Years Driving Electrical: Three Nissan Leafs & A Tesla Mannequin 3

By Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, Former Chief of NASA Goddard House Flight Heart Scientific Visualization & Evaluation Laboratory, and avid CleanTechnica reader

When Toyota launched the Prius hybrid in 1997, I used to be fascinated by the expertise and longed to personal one — or higher, one modified to run a number of extra miles solely on battery electrical energy. Nevertheless, I had an amazing new Toyota Highlander, a Camry, and no extra cash, so one other automobile was not within the playing cards.

February 21, 2014
2014 Nissan Leaf SV

  • Vary 80 miles
  • 24 kWh battery

In 2014, Nissan was providing the Leaf on a two-year lease for $2000 down and $200 monthly. I figured it was a no brainer, I’d save not less than $100 monthly in gasoline price, so I’d have an amazing commuter automobile for under $100 monthly internet price. I leased it from the Ken Garff Nissan in Orem, Utah. I used to be informed the 2014 Nissan Leaf had a spread of 83 miles. I bought a degree 2 charger put in in my storage in order that I may get the automobile totally charged in solely 4 hours.

It was a really good automobile, easy as silk with nice acceleration, however problematic for longer journeys. SLC Worldwide Airport was 86 miles spherical journey from our home, so that you couldn’t simply decide somebody up on the airport going 75 mph each methods. You’ll both should cease and cost in downtown Salt Lake Metropolis on the Nissan supplier or drop your pace to 50 miles per hour. And neglect about utilizing the warmth within the winter or AC in the summertime. I spent many journeys within the Leaf wearing my ski boots, ski pants, parka, ski gloves, and carrying a balaclava to maintain heat.

I used to be instructing Alpine snowboarding at Brighton Ski Resort 37 miles from our dwelling in Lindon. The Leaf would simply barely make the 4700 ft elevation change up Large Cottonwood Canyon, and I’d limp into the resort on the previous couple of electrons within the battery. The automobile would regenerate the battery on the way in which down the canyon, which might take me to the closest Nissan supplier, the place I’d cost so as to make it dwelling. Luckily, later Brighton put in a L2 charger, so I used to be in a position to cost sufficient whereas I used to be instructing so as to make it dwelling.

When it got here time to go to Wisconsin for the summer season, I loaned the Leaf to my son-in-law, who was more than happy to make use of it to commute to his job in South Salt Lake from his dwelling close to us in Utah County. The subsequent summer season my son used the automobile whereas we had been in Wisconsin.

March 14, 2016
2016 Nissan Leaf SV

  • Vary 107 miles
  • 30 kWh battery

In 2016, I bought the lease prolonged on my 2014, however Nissan had simply come out with a Leaf with 107 miles vary and the lease wasn’t an excessive amount of dearer. I leased it from Josh Edson, Utah’s star Leaf salesman, at Tim Dahle Nissan on 4526 S State Road in Salt Lake Metropolis. In the meantime, I had photo voltaic panels put in on my home, so I used to be dwelling the dream, driving on sunshine. With the longer vary, we may make the spherical journey to the airport and the ski resort a bit extra simply. It was additionally simpler to make the 86 mile spherical journey to Park Metropolis Utah, the place my daughter lives with out L1 charging at her home. Nevertheless, it was nonetheless typically needed to chop the pace and switch off the warmth and AC.

Sadly, after solely two years, I used to be bitterly dissatisfied that the Leaf started to lose vary, and making these journeys into Salt Lake Metropolis and the ski resort had been simply as arduous as they had been with the 2014 Leaf.

Fritz and his Nissan Leaf, and bike.

Might 2, 2018
2018 Nissan Leaf SV

  • Vary 151 miles
  • 40 kWh battery
  • Extras: Expertise Bundle, ProPilot Lane Help, Good Cruise, Winter Bundle

I used to be decided to by no means return to a gasmobile and locked into Nissan for an honest deal to get out of my lease. So, I bought the utterly redesigned 2018 Leaf SV with the expertise and winter packages. The brand new Leaf had a spread of 151 miles. It was nonetheless simpler to make the runs into Salt Lake Metropolis and the ski resort. We may now additionally make the 144 mile spherical journey to Mount Nice and Spring Metropolis Utah, the place my nice grandmother had immigrated from Switzerland in 1865. Nevertheless, that was simply at our vary restrict and we needed to drive slowly to make the journey.

The 2018 had sensible cruise management, ProPilot lane help, Apple CarPlay, and a warmth pump heater, so we had been having fun with a state-of-the artwork vehicle. It was great to have a automobile that may warmth up in a short time within the winter. Nevertheless, the lane help was fairly lame — it labored okay on the Interstate highways, however it might lose observe on any tight turns. Additionally, it wouldn’t robotically decelerate for tight turns.

Moreover, I nonetheless had a significant drawback — I couldn’t bear to depart my great new electrical automobile in Utah once we went to Wisconsin for the summer season. Even with 151 miles of vary, it might have been a ten+ day odyssey to drive the Leaf, doubtless with some 8 hour cost stops the place I couldn’t discover a L3 charger. The one possibility was to rent a automobile provider to ship the Leaf to Wisconsin. In 2018, I shipped the Leaf to Wisconsin for the summer season.

I used to be spoiled by L2 charging in Utah, so I introduced an electrician from Northern Lights Electrical to my dwelling to see if I had 220 volt service in my storage. half-hour and $130 later, I had a NEMA 14-50 outlet in my storage. Because the 2018 Nissan Leaf SV got here with an EVSE charging cable, I used to be in a position to do L2 charging in my Wisconsin storage for under $130. That fall, I shipped the Leaf again to Utah. In 2019, I shipped my Leaf to Wisconsin for the second time. I spent that entire summer season scheming on how I may drive the Leaf again to Utah. However …

Extra vary, extra tech.

October 22, 2019
2019 Tesla Mannequin 3

  • Vary 310 miles
  • 60 kWh battery
  • Extras: Twin Motors, Lengthy Vary, Full Self Driving, Superchargers Galore

By this time, my brother had bought a Tesla Mannequin S and my daughter had bought a Tesla Mannequin X. From my brother I used to be conscious that Tesla Superchargers made long-distance journey sensible in an electrical automobile. If I had a Mannequin 3, I may simply drive the automobile to Wisconsin. The Mannequin 3 was now out there, and with some revolutionary financing, I used to be in a position to swing a dual-motor Mannequin 3 Lengthy Vary. As a expertise nerd, I even sprang the additional $6000 for Full Self Driving. With my restricted mounted retirement revenue, I knew I wouldn’t have the cash so as to add it later. We drove the Leaf from Wisconsin to the Minneapolis Tesla supplier and traded it in for the Mannequin 3, which we picked up in Salt Lake Metropolis after driving dwelling in our Toyota Highlander. Candy resolution — it wasn’t essential to ship the Leaf again to Utah.

Now we had been actually dwelling the dream. Our granddaughter spent three hours within the automobile that first evening taking part in with the infotainment system. The automobile launched like a rocket and the Autopilot would drive the automobile robotically up and down in Large Cottonwood Canyon, slowing down robotically for the tight turns. My spouse’s favourite factor concerning the automobile is Canine Mode, the place the automobile retains the automobile at a protected and comfy temperature for canine and alerts a passerby that the temperature is protected and the proprietor will return quickly.

Rapidly, all of our vary points had been a factor of the previous. We may do the journey to the airport, the journey to my ski resort, and the journey to my daughter’s in Park Metropolis and not using a thought. We may even make fairly prolonged journeys into the mountains and not using a drawback. Journeys to Arches Nationwide Park and Zion Nationwide Park had been additionally doable with stops at Superchargers in Worth and Beaver. My L2 charger within the storage labored with the adapter and I set the charging max to 80%, as a result of at age 79, I figured this may be my final automobile and I’d hold it for not less than 15 years. I need the battery to final.

That Thanksgiving we had a giant household reunion in St George in Southern Utah. St George is barely 40 miles from Zion Nationwide Park, and beautiful rock partitions of pink and white petrified sand dunes and slick rock are in all places. St George is 269 miles from our dwelling in Lindon close to Provo and a bit farther from Salt Lake Metropolis. There’s lots of Tesla site visitors between Salt Lake Metropolis and St George. That makes the Supercharger in Beaver midway between a highly regarded location. We simply bought the eighth charging station and the subsequent Tesla needed to wait not less than a couple of minutes. I used to be involved that sooner or later, with extra Teslas being bought on daily basis, that the Beaver Supercharger would quickly be overcrowded. In July of 2019, I marveled when Tesla put in a 24 station 250 kW Supercharger station in Las Vegas. It appeared an enormous step up from the principally 4, 6, and eight stall chargers I had seen as much as that time. Once we traveled from St George to Salt Lake Metropolis within the spring of 2021, we had been astonished to see that Tesla had put in 32 (250 kW) stations on the Supercharger in little Beaver between St George and Salt Lake Metropolis. No extra worries! Tesla is clearly manner forward of the curve, not less than on this a part of the community.

In 60 years of driving, my solely accidents had been hitting a automobile in my blind spot when altering lanes. Now I may simply push the flip sign and the automobile would change lanes robotically, with me understanding that 3 cameras had been watching to make certain the lane change was protected. It was additionally nice to have the automobile robotically cross gradual shifting autos on the freeway and robotically navigate Interstate freeway interchanges and exits. Nevertheless, on the 12 lane Interstate 15 the place we dwell, the explanations for the automated lane modifications had been typically inscrutable. I’d all the time use the automated lane help even within the metropolis if just for a number of hundred yards. I’ve additionally noticed that computerized lane help will solely have interaction if there are painted strains on the highway, but when they, finish the automobile continues to steer robotically even with out the painted strains. I additionally use the cease at stoplights and cease indicators function, however I’m very aggravated that I’ve to approve going via a inexperienced mild. I’m very dissatisfied that the so known as “Function Full” Autopilot on metropolis streets isn’t but launched to me after Elon Musk has been promising it for years, months, weeks, and days.

Lengthy Distance Driving — No Drawback

When it got here time to drive from Utah to Wisconsin within the spring of 2020, we left the Highlander at dwelling, downsized our luggage to slot in the Mannequin 3, and set off. We had been very frightened about journey with the Covid pandemic in full swing, so we had been dealing with the Tesla charging cables with disinfectant wipes and carrying N95 masks once we couldn’t keep away from going inside to bogs and our resort rooms.

We had no issues with the Superchargers in Wyoming, and we made it to our standard cease in Lusk Wyoming with a Supercharger proper throughout the road from our common resort. The second day, we made it to our common cease in Worthington, Minnesota, once more with a Supercharger solely a mile from our common resort. The third day took us via Minneapolis, MN, and Wausau, WI, to reach in Three Lakes, WI, in the identical variety of days as our fuel automobile and with little inconvenience. At 79, I wanted to cease each 100 miles or so and the canine wanted a break, so by the point we bought again, the automobile was normally charged and able to go.

I bought a giant electrical mountain bike in Tesla Mannequin 3 and had it shipped to Wisconsin. It arrived in damaged bins and with a number of key parts, together with the charger, lacking. I resolved to not ship the bike once more. So, I went to my native hitch installer and had a 2” receiver put in in my Mannequin 3 to make use of for my bike rack. The receiver works nice. I’ve additionally pulled my 3000 lb ski boat, and with the well-known electrical motor torque, I can barely really feel the heavy trailer behind me. Nevertheless, placing the bumper again on after the receiver set up has left gaps a bit larger than I would love.

Calamities & Adventures

Our third daughter lives in North Carolina and we owed her a go to. We loaded up the Mannequin 3 in Wisconsin with every part we would want for the journey to NC after which again to Utah, together with the massive electrical bike on the Küat bike rack, and headed east.

Calamity No. 1

Solely 50 miles en route, somebody was frantically waving at us and pointing to the again of the automobile. We pulled over to see that my $5000 electrical mountain bike had partially slipped again off the rack and the rear wheel was dragging on the pavement. It had worn via the tire and the again wheel was completely ruined. I had failed to lock the entrance tire holder on the bike rack correctly. I fixed it extra securely and had it mounted in NC.

Calamity No. 2

It was now time to make the lengthy trek 2/3 of the way in which throughout the nation again to Utah. On the time, we didn’t even know it might be a calamity. As we had been driving close to my daughter’s home in Harmony, NC, we had an intense downpour and flash flooding. We had been driving at 45 mph with very poor visibility once we bumped into water 12” deep. With the spray we regarded like a pace boat, however we managed to drive out of the water after about 100 toes. The primary trace of an issue got here when driving on a again highway in Tennessee once we observed one thing scraping on the underside of the automobile. It didn’t scrape when driving on the sleek pavement of the Interstate, so I foolishly ignored the issue. Later, I discover that the hole between the bumper and the automobile had expanded. Once more, I foolishly ignored the issue. We had been in Western Colorado once we went over a bump after which heard the scraping noise once more. We stopped to see that the bumper was practically falling off the automobile and a part of the apron below the automobile was completely dragging on the pavement. Another bump or rock below the automobile and the bumper would fall off utterly. Miraculously, proper there in the course of no place, a pleasant mechanic was there to assist us. We took the extension twine that I take advantage of for emergency charging and the mechanic’s belt to tie up the bumper, with the twine working via the trunk lid hole. That was sufficient to get us again to his dwelling in Rifle, Colorado, and an auto elements retailer the place he proceeded to jack up our automobile and purchase sufficient bolts to refasten the bumper. We bought dwelling safely, however we found that we had additionally misplaced the 2 entrance hubcaps, presumably within the floodwater. Our insurance coverage paid for half of the price of a brand new underbody apron and bumper, which we had put in by Tesla Service in Salt Lake Metropolis.

Calamity No. 3

Driving west in Japanese Colorado approaching Limon we drove right into a fierce windstorm. The winds had been a sustained 50 mph headwind gusting to over 65 mph. Tumble weeds had been blowing throughout the roads and we had been dodging them like going via a gauntlet or impediment course. Some had been 6 ft in diameter and we had been alternately braking and accelerating to overlook them. I’m all the time very cautious about monitoring the estimated state of cost at my vacation spot and I all the time plan to reach with a 25% battery reserve. As soon as we handed the flying tumble weeds, I checked out my estimated battery reserve. Within the 50 mph head wind, it had dropped to zero. I knew that I must drop my pace to fifteen mph to achieve the charger in Limon. On the Interstate, with poor visibility, that may have been extraordinarily harmful. I discovered a giant FedEx semi and drafted 15 toes behind him. We had been extraordinarily relieved to roll into the Limon Supercharger with 4 miles of vary to spare.

Calamity No. 4

Ontonagon within the Higher Peninsula of Michigan is due north of us in Three Lakes, and solely 174 miles spherical journey from us, so it’s nicely inside the vary of our Mannequin 3 Lengthy Vary. My spouse likes to benefit from the lovely limitless sand seashore on the South Shore of Lake Superior, the most important lake on the earth. One time on the way in which dwelling we observed that the tire strain in a single tire was very low. Within the boonies with no spare tire, it was time to get frightened. Not one of the small UP cities on our route even had a fuel station. Nevertheless, in a single we requested the place we may get air they usually directed us to the fireplace station, which had an air hose out in entrance of the station. We stuffed up and proceeded south, observing that we had been dropping a pound of strain each 5 miles. We limped into the larger city of Eagle River, the place we stuffed it up once more and simply made the final 10 miles to our dwelling in Three Lakes. We grabbed our second automobile and drove the Mannequin 3 5 miles again to our native Greg’s automobile restore store and left it the place Greg may repair it even when it went flat in a single day. It was a nail lodged within the tread which he was in a position to take away and plug. After that incident, we now have been carrying an air pump within the frunk in case it occurs once more.

New Winter Residence in St George, Utah

Our daughter bought an funding dwelling in St George, Utah, and made it out there to us for Covid quarantining the winter of 2020–2021. As soon as once more, there was 220 volt service within the storage, so the set up of a NEMA 14-50 outlet within the storage made it doable to have L2 charging for our Mannequin 3 and our daughter’s Mannequin X, since we each had EVSE cables for our vehicles.

We drove from Utah again to Wisconsin once more within the spring of 2021 carrying the electrical bike, however now on a Saris bike provider that holds it extra securely. With the bike on the again, we now have observed a big lack of vary. We now cease at each Supercharger on the Interstate, however solely should cost for 20 min to go on to the subsequent charger. We had been nonetheless in a position to make the Utah to northern Wisconsin journey in three days, although.

Electrical Avenue on the 2021 Three Lakes 4th of July Parade

Twice now we now have put collectively an electrical automobile exhibition on the Three Lakes, Little Little bit of Americana, 4th of July Parade. This 12 months we had 6 Teslas: 4 Mannequin S (Pink, White, and Blue), one Mannequin X, and my Mannequin 3. Our electrical golf cart led the parade carrying our Electrical Avenue signal. The Mannequin X pulled a trailer with a 110-year-old fantastically restored picket boat previously powered by steam, however now battery electrical. I put my two electrical bikes on my Saris bike rack to indicate off my e-bikes and for example the utility of a receiver-equipped Mannequin 3.


We’re nonetheless nuts about our Mannequin 3 after two years and virtually 50,000 miles. Our solely vital unforced restore has been to interchange a squeaky joint within the entrance suspension system that was lined below the warrantee. We love the leisure system, which we use to observe Netflix motion pictures on the uncommon events that we want an extended cost. We additionally love the music streaming the place you’ll be able to ask for practically any track you’ll be able to consider and it’ll play it. We additionally ceaselessly sing alongside utilizing the Karaoke function once we are touring, utilizing the improbable sound system. The voice management is normally glorious: you’ll be able to ask to navigate to virtually something, ask to alter the fan areas & pace, ask to alter the temperature settings and seat heaters. It’s also possible to use it to ask for the track you wish to hear.

We’re ceaselessly given the thumbs up, normally by younger individuals, and have spent many hours explaining the benefits of EVs to individuals we encounter. We additionally ceaselessly change ideas with Tesla house owners we run into on the Superchargers. Once we had been newbies, different drivers would give us ideas, and now we’re those that share ideas with new Tesla house owners. When our 6 12 months previous granddaughter is using within the again seat with my spouse, she says: Grandma, let the automobile drive itself! That’s what I do the place ever I’m going, notably on lengthy journeys. I sit there letting the automobile drive itself whereas I watch like a hawk for these uncommon instances that I must intervene. It’s notably good consuming a concrete mixer with a spoon when it’s good to use each fingers.

Photo voltaic-powered dwelling.

Extra data on Dr. Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler:

Analysis Meteorologist (Emeritus): NASA GSFC

Adjunct Professor: College of Utah Division of Meteorology

Adjunct Professor: Viterbo College On-Line Research

PSIA L2 Licensed Alpine Ski Teacher: Brighton Utah Ski Faculty

Analysis Meteorologist (Emeritus): NASA GSFC

Adjunct Professor: College of Utah Division of Meteorology

Adjunct Professor: Viterbo College On-Line Research

PSIA L2 Licensed Alpine Ski Teacher: Brighton Utah Ski Faculty Originator, Producer, & Presenter: NASA/NOAA Earth Science Digital Theater

Former Chief: Goddard House Flight Heart Scientific Visualization & Evaluation Laboratory


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