Saturday, May 4, 2019

April 2019 Drive Report; Now That My LEAF Is No Longer Shiny, How Far Can It Go?

April is done and since we had our "BMS adjustment" earlier in the month, there will not be any degradation to report until mid July!  In an effort to see how little my electric bill could be, I did not charge at all at home during the last Puget Sound Energy cycle. This means not doing much driving and that was helped by two out of town trips including seeing Aerosmith in Vegas!

I have also been working on a blog to complain about disappearing incentives for EVs now that the federal credit sunset is hurting Tesla and Chevy.  Chevy has cut prices (which is good for us) but Tesla is all over the map. Price up, price down, added features, removed options, etc. Makes planning a future purchase based on ROI very tough. But things are starting to look up. 

May has had a GREAT beginning. Tesla as we know has struggled a bit causing some concern over its finances including the cash needed for day to day operations so they decided to raise some funds and the results were overwhelming!  Looks like the shorters will have to wait another day!

Locally, WA surprised everyone by pushing thru the transportation bill that included a return of EV incentives.  The new incentives start in August and for the first time, includes USED EV purchases!
But its still politics so there is always some give and take but the "take" has benefits. EV registration fees will increase $75 from $150 to $225 but that extra money will be collected and used to help fund public charging infrastructure. Lots of details in the link above so if you are in the market for an EV this year, check out the details!

GOM And The Semi Annual Range Test. 

I have heard complaints about the GOM for YEARS on how it was inflated, unrealistic, etc. And...well, most of that was true. But knowing the process on  how the GOM worked was the biggest source of confusion.  It created the range estimate based on recent driving history and conditions.  This meant a a 2 mile downhill drive could bloat your range by 20 miles or more.  IOW; to understand how many miles you had, you had to evaluate the driving you had just done.  Now, that isn't all that difficult to do if you know where you are going and all that stuff but the #1 complaint is the GOM first thing in the morning!

This is where the bloat was the biggest and partially that should be correct... partially.  Most people who tax the range of their LEAF  have commutes that is mostly freeway but no one actually lives on the freeway. So that drive from your exit to your driveway will be at a much slower speed and much higher efficiency and that will bloat the next day's GOM. (Hill Dwellers please hold comment...)  That is normal but the car should also understand that last leg is only a small part of the drive and shouldn't hold so much weight in the range estimate, right? Well, Nissan has seemingly struggled to understand that...Until now. 

The Charge

Now, I tried several times to get a baseline on my 40 kwh pack but that proved to be all but impossible. Unlike my previous 24 and 30 kwh LEAFs, a full charge was all over the map.  My kwh available (all with SOH at 99% or above) ranged from a shocking 39.1 kwh to as little as 37.7 kwh. 
Each charging session was completed including balancing (no lights) and had at least an hour to settle before LEAF Spy measurements were taken.  SOC ranged from 99.51% (That is real SOC!!) to 96.07%.  Voltage ran from 401.95 volts to 402.87 volts. 

So this time, the charge wasn't complete but was fully into the balancing stage.  I had 35.5 kwh available which is "about" right. I don't do a lot of full charges but this would appear to be no more than .1-.2 kwh short of charge completion. Pack voltage was 401.87 with SOC at 97.6%

GOM History

Now my only driving for the previous 4 days was my work commute. Due to Marvin Road Diamond Merge construction, I take Marvin Road entrance to I-5 in the morning, College Street exit in the evening.  Round trip is 25 miles with 62% freeway.  Because my commute is so short, I literally drive it as fast as traffic will allow.  This means 70-75 mph coming home and 50-70 mph going to work. My Sunday performance (4.3 miles/kwh) reflects the lack of traffic in the morning over my weekly performance (4.9 -5.2 miles/kwh).   Wednesday night before the charge was the 4.9 miles/kwh at 25.1 miles. 

The Test

Had a thing in Seattle so scheduled it in hopes of missing most of the congestion (It is IMPOSSIBLE to miss all of it.) for a more realistic freeway range.  The goal is to mimic "normal" driving so I selected an option of 2/3rds freeway, 1/3rd surface streets.  I will be in Eco B mode all the time with only selective use of E Pedal for sudden slowdowns on the freeway or in town.  The Seattle thing was only 55ish miles so a bit of zigzagging would need to be done to hit my goal of 120 freeway miles. Shouldn't be a thing... 

The weather was well, perfect for a range test. Mostly Sunny and cool in the mid to upper 50's. humidity was 50% which basically means even with vents closed (my default) defrost would not be needed and I didn't use it or any other climate control one time. I did roll down windows a few times while bombing around Seattle when the Sun got a bit warm. 

The Drive

The delay thru the Marvin Road construction was much worse than I had anticipated. This is well after morning rush hour but it took at least 10 minutes to go the mile thru a couple roundabouts to get onto the freeway.  After getting on I-5, the drive was reasonable averaging 65 mph with only slight slowdowns to just under 60 mph thru Ft. Lewis (JBLM) and Highway 512 interchange.  

After that was Tacoma where road construction has caused a rash of accidents which prompted officials to drop the speed limit to 50 mph. No major slowdowns although speed did drop to 35 mph in several sections but the traffic flow was better than I expected.  

I pretty much didn't hit any more slowdowns until just before Seattle two miles from my exit. Here the speed ranged from zero to 10 mph.  The Seattle thing lasted 45 mins so back on the road and headed to Oberto's Factory Outlet on Rainier Ave.  That was the end of my plans. The odometer said I hadn't gone anywhere near far enough to be close to out of range so after racking my brain for reasons why I would want to be in the area, I decided on the new Dick's Drive In in Kent. 

After eating way too much,  I took off heading South then remembered a new outlet store (Amazon) for scratch and dent items so decided to check it out to see if there were any deals. It was still in Kent but the far opposite side of town on the other side of I-5. Now thinking of this while still at Dicks Drive In would have saved me several miles but its a 40, no need to save! 😊

Using Google Maps, I decided on an alternate trip which turned out to be not such a good idea.  Road construction thru town had all lanes dropping down to one which took a while to get thru.  But this is where E-Pedal shines so not all bad.  After picking up a $149 Lego set for $70, I departed seeing smooth sailing nearly all the way home (except Tacoma Construction of course) and decided that would end day one. 

Day Two was a planned buzz around town to get some errands done. This would be roughly 35% freeway, 65% surface streets.  As it turned out, the freeway for part of the day looked quite a bit slower so surface streets turned out to be the quicker option covering 75% of Day two. 

The Drive Computer

Not quite a full charge since the light was still blinking but
only doing a bit of balancing at this point so close enough!
35.5 kwh available, 401.78 volts, 97.6% SOC LEAF Spy estimate 170.4
miles (4.8 miles per kwh setting to 1% SOC). Remember, GOM
history of 4.9 miles/kwh would equate to  173.9 miles. Notice the single
 segment of regen available? 

This is emerging from Tacoma construction slowdown. Estimated range(adding elapsed miles with GOM) 169.9 miles
which is practically dead on the LEAF Spy estimate of 170.4 miles. Trip so far was
a rough entry to I-5 due to Diamond merge construction at Marvin Road in Lacey.
A few mins of slow traffic around Joint Base Lewis Mcchord so predominate speed
of 65 mph not reflected here. I love the trip computer but wish it had separate entry
showing average moving speed that discounts time in park or stops exceeding 10

Here we have the effects of traffic slowdown and the downhill run into Seattle. 
Notice the HUGE 5.4 miles per kwh is not being reflected on the GOM? 
That is a monumental change from previous LEAFs. (Only took 8
years to get it right) Estimated range 174.1 miles

Kinda missed what I wanted to capture. I have phone on holder that is extended to its 
max so it bounces around a lot and was unable to get focused shot of 5.6 miles/kwh
before it updated. Stats update every 30 seconds.  The average speed is no longer 
accurate as it includes about 20-30 mins of "park" time while car was on.  (Yes, I was 
flooding the air with electrons. 😋) Estimated range 170.1 miles. 

Miles/kwh dropping fast but range estimate isn't. 163.7 miles estimated. 

Side trip thru town past construction requiring merge to single lane. Surprisingly
my performance and range estimate dropped?  Now 161.1 miles. Looks like that reserve
is getting bigger...

Same miles/kwh and relatively steady freeway speeds bouncing from low 50's to
near 70 (Nissan speed which means probably 65-66 mph...) Range is now 158.7.

Parked again. Downhill to my neighborhood boosted the range a touch. So range now
estimated to be 164.8 miles so recent performance will change estimate if hill is long
enough.  Now LEAF Spy does not take performance into account. Only uses target
SOC (1% for me) remaining juice (9.1 kwh) to create estimate (41 miles.) So that would
be 171 miles which is above what it started with. But realize not all of that 9.1 kwh
will be available to me. Only a perfect cell balance would guarantee that and mine
is good but not perfect. In fact, the lowest I have done is .2 kwh (in 30 kwh LEAF)
but no lower than .6 kwh on this LEAF.  Notice LEAF Spy setting is at 4.6 miles/kwh?
Got changed somehow while driving around. I was using Go Pro for phone and had to
reset it a few times.

EPA has been achieved! (FYI another ~ 20-25 mins of idle time was added lowering
average speed.)  Using the 5.3 miles per kwh, we can estimate of usable 6.5 kwh available
or another 35 miles.

LBW (Low Battery Warning) Not sure if age has changed this or its not
super specific like previous LEAFs but was expecting this to come on
at 87 GIDs.  LBW is when the estimated miles (GOM) starts blinking.
I took 4 pix of this and this was only one in focus but GOM was 17
miles for anyone wondering.  LEAF Spy estimate @ 4.8 miles/kwh 31.8
miles. GOM estimated based on 5.3 miles/kwh 35 miles.

Interim shot for reference.  Notice we traveled 9 miles and lost 8 miles on GOM

VLBW (Very Low Battery Warning) We are officially blind!  Now pix is a bit hard to see
but SOC meter is at 2% (notice LEAF Spy is at 12.2%) Previous experiences had VLBW
coming on at 61 GIDs.

For anyone who had an older LEAF, 49 GIDs (or 48 in some cases) should be
a familiar sight since this is when the LBW was triggered on the 24/30 kwh
LEAF.  Notice we have traveled another 3½ miles (country road 40-50 mph)
Sorry for pix quality. Took several, none really came out.

End of Test. I resisted the urge to make another lap around the Olympia Airport. I had
passed Tumwater Webasto twice previously and each time it was in use. This time it
was empty so decided it was far enough!


So the test covered 169.8 miles and I did not make to the 3rd of 4 range warnings. The 3rd one happens when SOC meter goes to "_ _ _" which happens right about where VLBW warning happens with 24/30 kwh LEAFs with the 4th we all know and dread.   So the question becomes what is the likely true range of the LEAF? 

Well, there are a few ways to look at it. Considering the weather, an all freeway trip running 60-65 mph would have been right at the 4.8 miles per kwh setting I had on LEAF Spy or 170.4 miles (which also contributed to my decision to end the test).  As we saw, around here that is a tough drive to make unless you are headed south to Portland. Now I did do that trip a few weeks ago but the weather did not agree including a 10 mile stretch on I-5 where it rained so hard, I could barely see. Freeway traffic dropped to 35-40 mph.  Despite all that (and a much faster trip home) I still achieved 4.2 miles per kwh. I was at 4.8 until I broke out of Portland gridlock and it was 70-75 mph for most of the remaining trip. 

But we averaged 5.3 miles per kwh which would have been 185 miles. Now if we assume that Turtle will hit at .6 kwh remaining, that leaves us 3.1 kwh to use which means 185 miles is not all that unlikely.

In Conclusion

So does this mean that the GOM is better or worse?  Well, both of course. We have demonstrated that the GOM no longer swings wildly on every little hill as it once did. On the long downhill into Seattle, gaining .5 miles per kwh over the entire trip on equated in a 4 mile bump in the estimated range. My back of the hand calculation says that 4 mile bump was actually the range gained during the actual downhill ascent as it was in regen most of the time. 

But it still stops reporting range way too early. If you examine the numbers on the Trip Computer shots you will see a growing hidden reserve as the SOC gets lower. Notice when at 81% SOC, GOM and LEAF Spy were almost identical?  After that point, the disparity grows. Now the GOM was close to my LEAF Spy estimate but only because LEAF Spy was set to 4.8 miles/ kwh and the trip ended at 5.3 miles per kwh. 

Looks like the GOM is better but is still only a tool that needs to be understood. Now the Trip Computer was new for the 2018 MY but I have been using a variant of it since day one. Every morning, I reset my Miles per kwh setting and my Trip A on my previous LEAFs when logging the previous day's stats.  This I found to be very useful but it still suffered from the wild adjustments.  The 2018 LEAF has fixed a lot of that making it more accurate. So before you complain about not hitting the EPA, realize that your LEAF has a lot more to give than its letting on. 

As always, comments are welcome.  I do realize the data is a bit scattered on this post so if you have a question or need clarification, you are likely not the only one so ASK!! 


  1. Last Sunday I was headed south to San Francisco, and also did my first "100%" range test on my 2019 SL. I drove a bit further down the charge than you did.

    First ~50 miles at various speeds below 55 mph with ~1,500 ft descent. Thereafter constant right lane I-5 traffic speed, ~62 mph . Results form the final miles:

    LBW at 9% dash 16.0 miles range, 17.2 % (LeafSpy Light) 153.1 m (odometer), @4.8 m/kWh (dash). Then reduced speed to ~55 mph.

    2% dash ...miles range, 12.2% 161.3 m @ 4.8 m/kWh.

    0% 8.6% 170.0 miles @ 4.8 m/kWh..
    Exited freeway and continued at low speed!

    6.5% at 172.1 miles @ 4.8 m/kWh.
    Arrived Vacaville DC.
    Google maps (correct AFAIK) indicated 176 miles total.

    1. Not surprised. Getting well over EPA is quite the norm. I did 173 miles from Yakima to Centralia last Fall which included going over White Pass. It was a bit of a slow drive (most of it is 55 mph) and did a lot of stops for pix opps and what not but I still have a good 5-6 miles of range left when I hit the DCFC.

      For another range test (down to .6 kwh remaining)