Leaf’s Range Test Rangers


Having followed MyNissanLeaf for a few months, these Leaf early adopters sound like an interesting bunch of guys. In June, pilot Tony Williams and his daughter ran his Leaf from Baja California to British Columbia to promote the West Coast Electric Highway, while conversely showing that California’s charging infrastructure is sorely lacking. Last December, Williams was profiled with other early adopting pilots in the NY Times Wheels blog:

[Williams] became a pilot in 1986. He flew for major carriers, did contract flying in Africa and has owned several planes, including a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron.

“The demographics for the Leaf are men between 40 and 60 years old, which means they’re old enough to spend a little money,” Mr. Williams said in a telephone interview. “And pilots tend to be early adopters, so it all makes sense.”

Mr. Williams is totally in sync with Mr. Buttgenbach: he wants more numbers. “Pilots are used to having charts with all kinds of performance data,” he said. “The Leaf didn’t have anything like that, so I developed my own charts.” Many Leaf owners now use Mr. Williams’s range chart, which is posted on his Web site at LoveMyLeaf.com. Under ideal conditions, at 70 degrees, with 12 fuel bars and a car traveling at a steady 35 m.p.h., the chart shows the Leaf will travel about 132 miles. The chart is intended to complement the car’s on-board range gauge, which some Leaf owners call the “Guessometer.”

Pilots are known to be exacting, but Mr. Williams said his Leaf “exceeds my expectations.”

“It’s very quiet and smooth, with no vibration and no noise,” he said.

But the early adopter mindset both understands the risks of new technology and simultaneously demands that the purveyors of that technology be onboard with getting it done right (an attitude I understand completely). So far Nissan has talked the talk, but hasn’t walked the walk with respect to what Phoenix owners feel is an increasingly obvious flaw — the lack of a temperature management system (TMS) in the battery pack.

Williams, MyNissanLeaf volunteers and one Leaf-owning blogger they found at the charging station ran range tests on almost a dozen loaned Nissan Leafs (above) last weekend. The Sleepless 5 missed some Zs, suffered a few towing dings, and became reacquainted with spending several hundred dollars on gasoline – all to make that point with Nissan:

Williams: The Nissan PR machine will say that anything we do is flawed, that they know better, they’ve been doing EVs for a billion years, etc. At the same time, they are doing clean up on their Internet sites with their 100 mile range bullsh*t, just like OrientExpress is trying to rewrite history and deleting his posts on this site. All class. 🙄 They KNOW they f-d up when they CHOSE to offer this chemistry, with not even a fan to circulate air internally to the battery, and expose it to Dubai / Phoenix style heat. Now, they are just reaping those results that virtually every automotive battery expert questioned before Nissan built one car.

The real audience to our test is Nissan. Just don’t expect them to pull their heads out of their posterior any time soon. They may just go down with the ship. Even if they have that “super” battery waiting for a 2013/2014 model, their reputation for this blunder will not be good.

Opossum: We stuffed all 12 cars in a temperature chamber at exactly 7pm on September 12th with exactly 40% SOC, held them at a constant 72 degrees, then rolled them outside at 11am Friday and charged them all simultaneously on 12 chargers. We made sure to space them out by 50 feet so they had the same exposure to breezes. And if we saw a bird crap on a hood, we captured more birds and forced them to crap on the rest of the hoods, just to be sure one car did not have a dissimilar charge environment.

I can’t wait to read how the numbers crunch out.

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  1. Leaf Range Test Results « Donal - September 22, 2012
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