Saturday, October 4, 2014

How far is 60 miles?

Before buying my Mitsubishi i-MiEV, I read the expected range and then started paying attention to my daily driving habits.  The predicted range for the car is about 62 miles when fully charged (according to the EPA).  That seems quite short, considering that I would refill my gas tank every other week.  My drive to work wasn’t much of a concern because my travel round-trip was about 19 miles, and the planned relocation would double that to nearly 40 miles, both within my car’s range.  My bigger concern was how far I would drive on weekends.  I knew that certain weekend excursions would be beyond the reach of my car, so I ignored those trips.  Instead, I started paying attention to the trip odometer on my gasoline-powered car on weekends.  As it turned out, while I did a lot of driving running errands and such, I seldom drove more than 35 miles in a day, and often less.  So, it seemed that the car can meet the vast majority of my driving needs.

Once I got the car, the next challenge would be to see how far it can drive comfortably without needing a recharge (or only a small one).  My first extended trip was to a wine store about 26 miles to the north, which the car completed comfortably with some miles to spare.  Another time I had to drive to work and back and then to a relative’s place about 6 miles east from home.  After getting to their house, I learned I had to make another trip to another house about 15 miles to the south, and then drive home another 11 miles.  All this was in addition to my usual 40 mile commute.  I drove the freeway on the 15 mile leg, and streets on the 6 mile stretch.  Looking at the charge level, I decided it would be best to take streets home along the last 11 miles.  The 72-mile day left me with 5 miles of range indicated, with the last bar on the charge gauge flashing.  This was my longest drive without recharging.
My challenging trip to Oakland left me very charge nervous.

My third adventure was a little more nerve-wracking.  I needed to pick up a package (yes, more wine) about 37 miles from home to the north in Oakland.  The trip was entirely freeway speed, so I needed to be very careful of the distances.  I knew I could not make the full trip on a single charge, so I found a Target store on the way home that offered charging.  The distance to Oakland and back to Target was just about 60 miles, so I figured I could stop there for two hours, recharge, shop, and get back on the road.  The freeway drive drained more of the battery than I had hoped, so by the time I was looking for the exit to get to Target, the last charge bar was again flashing.  Luckily I had studied the map well and did not miss any turns.  I got to the charger station with 4 miles of range remaining.  But when I tried to start charging, my ChargePoint card was rejected because I hadn’t set up the credit card option.  A panicked phone call resolved that problem but left me with only 80 minutes in my schedule to charge.  By the time I arrived at home, the last bar was again flashing.  Even though I made it safely, I have decided to take my gas car from now on to this place (about twice a year).

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