Canberra couple Shane and Karen Maher, thought to be the first owners in Australia of a long-range Nissan Leaf e+ with 62kWh battery – thanks to grey import laws – have delivered another installment of their experience of owning the electric vehicle (EV).
Readers may remember our report of the couple’s first few weeks of ownership in which they described the Leaf+ with 62kWh battery and up to 370km driving range as a “game-changer”.
This time they share their experience taking “Yuki”, as they have named their trusty EV hatchback, on a 1,000km plus drive from Canberra, to Wagga Wagga, Hay and then back to Yass via West Wyalong.
Posted on Youtube via their channel “EV4ME2” (and which you can view below at the end of this article), Shane says, “Say goodbye to the traditional Aussie long weekend away and say hello to the electric vehicle get away.”
According to Shane and Karen, their weekend was not ruined by their choice of an EV, and despite facing a few range challenges largely due to the Leaf’s passively-cooled battery and partly due to headwinds.
Pundits will know that lithium-ion batteries will deliver less driving range on a hot day, and as the Mahers point out on their Youtube channel, factors such as driving style and conditions also have an effect on range of an electric vehicle (and any combustion vehicle for that matter).
The difference, however, between owning an EV and owning a combustion vehicle is that charge points are still relatively few and further between than petrol stations. So some planning is required because of the lack of infrastructure.
The Leaf+ is billed with a 385km driving range under the European WLTP cycle and 370km according to the US-based EPA fuel economy rating. As Shane and Karen show, it can also be considerably less, depending on conditions, but with a bit of planning and understanding the EV’s capabilities, a good road trip can still be enjoyed.
Taking off from Canberra in early October, Shane and Karen recorded their trip including charging statistics to help potential Leaf e+ buyers (it will be available in Australia new from early 2021) understand its driving range and charging times.
The 244km drive from Canberra to Wagga Wagga was fairly straightforward, with the range meter showing 157km left in the battery which means an estimated 401km driving range was possible, at an outside temperature of 27°C.
While Shane and Karen stopped for lunch, the vehicle took a little more than an hour to charge from 39% to 98% at the local NRMA 50kW fast charger, delivering 32kWh in that time.
The drive to Hay (284km), while still well within the estimated EPA range, but left the couple with just 51km left on the clock. A 99 minute charge topped the battery from just 12% back to 96% on the (slightly warmer) 29°C day, with 44.6kWh power delivered.
The next leg was the real test for Yuki, as searing 34°C temperatures and a headwind meant the couple were unsure if they would make the journey across the Hay Plains to West Wyalong on one charge.
For this reason, they decided to stop at Goolgowi where an accommodating servo owner allowed them to plug in – this took much longer as it was straight off a standard AC power point, with just 3.48kWh delivered in 60 minutes.
This allowed Yuki to make it to the West Wyalong NRMA fast charger with 48km (12% battery) to spare, and where 46.3kWh of power was then charged to the battery in 112 minutes to take it back up again to 95% state of charge.
With temperatures dropping back to an amiable 25°C, the next leg to Yass – a 224km drive – was also fairly straight forward. Arriving at the Yass NRMA charger with 138km driving range to spare, a 47 minute charge brought the battery from 34% to 95% with 30.6kWh power delivered in that time.
Finishing the trip, Shane said, “I’d like to thanks the NRMA for rolling out these free chargers all over NSW.” (The Driven notes that while NRMA’s network of fast chargers is currently free, the roadside assistance company has flagged this may change in the future).
“As you can see they are well utilised,” he says, adding that, “The main point of this video is it doesn’t matter if you have a Leaf or a Tesla, you can still have a weekend getaway in an EV.”
He urges people to take the opportunity to take a road trip in an EV as regional travel becomes possible again, and particularly as overseas travel is not likely to open for some time due to the pandemic.
“As Australia opens up after Covid-19 … get away and explore your own backyard,” he says.
As for the challenges faced with varying driving ranges, Shane says that its important that new EV owners understand range ratings are a guide only and it’s imperative you understand your vehicle’s capabilities – thus it makes sense to take smaller road trips first and pay attention to your charge and range stats.
“It’s a matter of knowing your car,” he says. “It’s how you drive, the conditions you drive in and you’ll only learn that with experience after you’ve been driving your EV for a while.”
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.