Returning Home in the EV, Priceless

Stephen Smith | December 29, 2011 | Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles, Energy Policy

OK. I must admit I hate driving but the LEAF has made driving fun again. If you have been following our little holiday adventure and the learning experience  we had, you will be glad to know we are back in Knoxville safe and sound. Well, at least my mother, who was keeping Warren for an extended visit, was relieved.  On the return trip home all the technology work flawlessly. To start, I had “trickle charged” the LEAF overnight to 100% of charge before we headed back to Knoxville approximately 180 miles away.  After driving around 30 miles or so in Nashville to visit some family, Libby and I  headed for the Lebanon, TN, Cracker Barrel Blink network Fast Charger. As you remember this was the one that was out of service when we drove to Nashville on Dec 26th, and is critical to making the 50 mile jump from Lebanon to Cookeville. When the Blink representative called me on Dec 27th to tell me that the charging station was fixed, I asked him about his experience driving his LEAF on this stretch. I knew that this leg included climbing some of the Cumberland Plateau. His advice was to charge to 90-100%, drive in ECO mode,  set the cruise control on 60 miles per hour, keep the climate control off and we’d be fine.  So that is what we did. We charged the LEAF to 98%, set the cruise and off we went with fingers crossed and Libby with her new Christmas mittens on. Climbing the hills was no problem and when we started to hit more level ground 15 miles outside of Cookeville, it was clear we were going to make it, no problem, so we cranked the heat up and pulled into the Cookeville Cracker Barrel with about 10 miles of range to spare. As we pulled up to the charging station several people were looking at the charging unit and with the car being so quite they did not hear us pulling in and jumped when they saw the lights right behind them. This was how it went at several stations. People really want to talk about this technology; they have lots of questions and are very interested in how it works. All the fast chargers worked great.

One thing we did do along the way was enter the new Blink fast chargers into the PlugShare network . Our friend Steve Johnson at Lightwave Solar had seen the story in the Tennessean newspaper and emailed me to share that he had a charger near where we were and that the PlugShare app was the best he had found to locate chargers in an area. The basic concept is that the PlugShare network is “crowdsourced” and people offer their home chargers and 110 outlets to EV owners to help overcome the fossil fuel addiction. App users also review and comment on the condition of public charging stations. There are numerous apps to get info on charging stations, but most promote a particular brand of charger. So we added the new stations as we charged up. Plugshare video.

So I think the trip was a success. We tested the developing charging infrastructure and extended the range of the LEAF.   It’s more than just an around town car now.  We also educated a few people along the way about cleaner cars and most importantly did what the BP Gulf spill , the Oil Sands and XL Pipeline screams for us to do: accelerate the development of technology that will get us out of the death spiral our addiction to oil represents.

Stephen Smith
Dr. Stephen A. Smith has over 35 years of experience affecting positive change for the environment. Since 1993, Dr. Smith has led the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) as…
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