Monday, November 9, 2015

"What If I Don't Want To Drive Like Dave?"

Every day I get feedback implying no one else can get the range I get out of my LEAF. Well, yes I do better than average and yes my circumstances are very specific to my performance and no I am not even close to the best hypermiler out there.

Now, I did drive a Prius for nearly a decade so I do have a lot of "careful" driving under my belt so naturally that equates to a better acceptance of what I needed to do to drive further.  But the biggest factor in my performance is traffic.  Puget Sound traffic has gotten progressively worse and commute times verify this.

Add to that several chokepoints where slowdowns cover more than 3/4th of the day and speedy travel is simply not possible. But there are times when traffic flow clears up for a bit here and there so I decided to find out what my range was when I "drove like everyone else."

To really come close to averaging 60 mph, one pretty much has to drive aggressively in the fast lane. Although I attempted this several times, the pattern was the same. I rarely could drive more than 10-15 miles at a time without a slowdown no matter what time of day it was.

A typical drive;  left my house driving 40-45 to the freeway 3½ miles away. Got on I-5 headed north and settled into left lane with LEAF speedometer at 66-68 mph.  Hit 70-71 a few times while on the downslope to the Nisqually Flats and this went on for  about 8 miles then we hit chokepoint #1 DuPont/Ft. Lewis.  It is just after 5 AM so slowdown is mild. Speeds drop to as low as 20 mph but generally maintaining a roughly 35-40 mph pace. In an hour the pace will be closer to 10 mph. In 3 miles we are past that and now I am up to 72 mph with occasional dips to 68. (guy in front of me has speed control issues...)  this goes on for about 4 miles then comes the 512 freeway interchange. There is something wrong today. Normally speeds drop to no lower than about 50-55 at this time of day but its goes to 35-40 mph until we pass the interchange where traffic flow immediately goes back to normal. Once again, speeds over 65 mph are doable.

5 miles further down the road is the Highway 16 interchange (this area has been under construction for almost 30 years) which includes in rapid succession the exit to Tacoma Mall and the Tacoma Dome along with I-705 interchange and the Port of Tacoma.  (the 2nd shortest freeway in the United States)  Traffic here varies in speed from zero to 15 mph and is like this about 18-20 hours a day since they close lanes at night for construction purposes so no, you will not breeze thru this area at 1 AM either...

Traffic here clears up just as you pass Tahoma Market; host to one of my most favorite fast chargers (a Blink no less!) and is clear sailing! well for 8 miles when the Highway 18 interchange shows up. Now this one is not too bad going north in the morning where many times I can maintain a speed near 50 mph but it does not come close to  making up for the HUGE slowdown every afternoon going south which is also the longest jam up at over 10 miles! (Because its a slight downhill slope from Highway 18 to Fife, I generally gain at least 1 mile per Kwh here...)

But its morning so the slowdown is only for 2-3 miles and averaging about 40 mph.  Finally the last slowdown is right next to where I am going.  This slowdown is caused by the main exits to Seatac Airport, I-405 interchange and SouthCenter Mall (one of the largest in the area)

I pull in and I am at 3.9 miles per Kwh and have an estimated range of 39 miles remaining and I have driven 46.3 miles. So should I be nervous? Should I plan to stop for a charge somewhere?

Nah!! Now you might but not me because I am Dave!!


  1. I am really glad we moved out of Lakewood in 1976. The traffic patterns are similar as then but even worse. As a teen I remember being able to head south from Exit 124 and go 100 mph unimpeded in my dad's new Chevy II and later with a friend from the U of W do almost the same in his GTO from the U District to say hello to his wife in Tenino if classes provided a break. With the wife we can use the HOV lanes to make our way through your mess to Canada, but other than the Tacoma Market in Fife a lot of the DCQC station sites leave much to be desired. However they still beat the Cascade Locks graveyard site ! - Pat Campbell

    1. I think people relocating will become much more common than people think. My Sister recently moved from Olympia to Graham and despite a commute that is now a few miles longer (it was only 16 miles before) its a good 15 minutes shorter most afternoons