Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are My LEAFs Ecopias Really That Bad?

Just the other day I was wandering up I-5 just south of Highway 167 when suddenly the car in front of me spun out of control. I then saw a truck tire tread in the roadway and swerved out of its path by violently jerking the wheel in the pouring rain.   I did realize about halfway thru my maneuver that it was simply too severe and let off on the wheel a bit correcting back so I essentially ended up altering my path of travel by only a few feet at the most. To my surprise, I did not break traction even slightly.

Now I do drive a bit slower than most and because of my neutral driving habits, I tend to maintain a larger than normal following distance mixed in with shorter than normal following distances especially if I was caught shifting back to drive a bit late.  But all this happens at pretty low speeds and there have been times where vigorous braking was needed to keep the peace (and pieces) together. In all those situations, my LEAF handled well. I attribute it mostly to a very low center of gravity and the extra traction a heavy battery pack can give.

Now as mentioned several times, my plan had always been to drive the Corolla much more than this past Summer and so far the plan is working somewhat.  Yesterday while running errands for work in Tukwila, I could not help but notice a few times I braked that the Corolla breaks traction MUCH easier than the LEAF.  Ok, so its lighter but I was not going faster... or was I?

The LEAF's super smooth ride and stability in cornering has lulled me a bit I think.  It only took one time for me to realize that the Corolla has to be at least 10-15 MPH slower thru the roundabouts in the neighborhood.  I do admit to not touching the brakes entering the roundabouts in the LEAF. It is part of the fun of EVing; zipping and dashing at 35 MPH or less!  The car is perfect for congested, in-town driving. Its responsive acceleration at low speeds are perfect for squeezing into that momentary opening before it vanishes!

Well, that extra weight has seemingly helped with low speed braking.  Now, the Corolla is a 2000 and does not have anti lock brakes which really makes a lot of difference; much more difference than I had imagined.  All these modern advances has essentially degraded our ability to drive. No wonder we suck on the road!

But what I really would like is feedback from anyone who drives the LEAF and a newer gasser enough to be able to compare them. Now, not looking for Porsche comments. I want someone who has a run of the mill passenger car with ABS at the very least to chime in.  Does the LEAFs added stability and low center of gravity overcome the shortcomings of its tires as compared to a passenger car with better tires?


  1. The i-MiEV with all-season Dunlop EnaSaves seriously outperforms my Honda Odyssey that has traction tires plus traction control and ABS in the snow and ice.
    This applies even to getting underway. It seems that skinny tires with more psi on the contact patch are a better approach.

  2. Can't speak to your "run of the mill passenger car with ABS" 'cuz our other vehicle is an F250 diesel 4x4. I can tell you that the F250, when empty, has no traction on wet surfaces. None. The rear wheels will spin on every tar strip or lane edge bump, on any acceleration, and I don't dare follow closely because the tires (all-weather major brand name), even with ABS, won't slow the beast nearly as quickly as the LEAF slows.

    1. Yep, my Corolla is pretty much the same. The incident that started all this was slowing down on the freeway in response to a known choke point and was not anything resembling an emergency stop but locked up the wheels momentarily anyway. But its 2400 lbs and front heavy so what can we expect?

  3. Does the LEAFs added stability and low center of gravity overcome the shortcomings of its tires as compared to a passenger car with better tires?
    I love ecopias and already have another set in the shop for next time
    Mark in Idaho

    1. That really depends on the type of driving you do. In straight line driving, the battery pack being centered at the rear of the car definitely helps with the weight distribution to the rear and will help in understeer situations. But for me, I love its much greater stability especially when driving in roundabouts. I can take them at much higher speeds without even a hint of breaking traction. Now, my Prius was not a good car to compare since it had a relatively high center of gravity, narrow track and a much smaller battery but I also drive a Chevy Impala for work frequently and it feels like navigating a boat thru those traffic circles! so Yes, I think it does!

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