Friday, August 22, 2014

My commute

Before committing to buying my electric i-MiEV, reports had spread throughout work that we would be relocating from the Cupertino campus to the Palo Alto campus in the coming 12 to 18 months.  My coworkers and I had hoped this wouldn’t happen, because we had all purchased properties in proximity to the Cupertino campus.  My coworkers would go from driving two miles to driving about ten miles, while my commute would grow from 10 miles to about 20 miles (each way).  So, I plugged my home address and work address into Google Maps and saw that there were four practical routes to work for me.  One involved driving mostly on the most congested freeway cutting through Silicon Valley, another involved endless stoplights on a slower-speed expressway, and then two more involved taking the freeway that passes closest to my house.  The difference between these last two routes was in the last 8 miles.  On one, I would stay on the freeway and drive over rolling foothills, while the other traveled a slower, more level expressway with traffic signals.  This last route would add about five minutes or so to my travel time, was one-mile shorter, uses less electric charge, and has become my route to work.

The fastest route to work

The slower, shorter, more level route to work
During the Christmas shutdown, I decided to test out my future route to work to see how the car would fare.  I decided to drive at the speed limit (65 MPH) along the entire stretch of freeway, not using the car’s Eco mode, to get an “upper bound” on how much electricity I would use.  When I arrived at the office site in Palo Alto, I had used one third of the charge, meaning I could drive to and from work without any worry of running out of juice.  In fact, there would still be about 18 to 24 miles of driving range remaining when I arrived at home afterwards, which is enough to run to the store or go out for dinner.  As it turns out, I always use the car’s Eco mode when commuting and I keep the speed closer to 60 MPH, resulting in using almost 15% less electricity used for the same drive.  Over time, this savings becomes significant.

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