Cold weather operation

My leaf has been through the Jan 2014 Polar Vortex here on Long Island, NY. The pre-heat from the grid power has been a great feature in this weather. Love getting in a toasty car. I have some concerns that it goes a little overboard in heating the car costing more than I would like though. A work around is to set it to finish later than you are planning to start using the car, however. I will try to get some number on how much it is costing me.

I took some data on the worst case weather experienced. To give the Leaf an acid-test I left it out in the cold overnight, whereas I usual garage it. The morning of Jan 4, 2014 the temperature was 0F on my home thermometer and 1F on the Leaf display. I drove 18.1 mi with a mix of highway and local (30.7 MPH average in 34 min.) Heat was used liberally for comfort. This consumed 48% of the battery on the charge percentage display. Extrapolating this gives 37.7 miles of range. I don’t know how much goes to heat but I feel it is quite significant. I will be trying to determine that soon.

The battery temperature was 24F at the start and 33F at the end. The battery heater apparently does come on to keep the battery warmer at these very low temperatures. The battery was still showing 80% charge on the display as I had left it when it finished charging the night before.

The recharge of the battery was done with L1 charging so that I could measure the KWHs with my kill-a-watt meter. It used 10.65 KWH which at $0.20 per costs $2.13. This is 11.8 cents/mi. which is a big increase from the 6.5 I calculated last April.

For a more typical cold weather trip I took data a few days later for my commute, 16.2 mi round trip. The temperature was 9F/21F for the 2 legs. Preheating was used in the morning and the car had been garaged. The Leaf was kept comfortably heated on both legs. I used 33% of charge which would give a range of 49.1 mi. The cost was 10.9 cents/mi. The next day I measured a preheating cost of $0.18. This was done using L1 power and the car wasn’t as toasty as with preheating with L2 power.

Enough with the flippin’ data now! In general the car has many cold weather advantages. The battery weight and weight distribution gives decent driving in the snow. Following the worst ice storm the car has sat out in a parking lot for, the near instant heat started melting the ice long before I had finish scraping it. I love the heated steering wheel. Last year I was having problems with numb hands when driving in cold weather in my 2002 VW Passat ICE. The bad thermostat I later found probably didn’t help that situation though. The heated seats are great too. These seem accentual in an EV since you don’t want to blast the heat to warm up your freezin’ a** like you might in an ICE car.

The longest trip I regularly use the Leaf for, round trip to NY City, appears to be practical down to about 40F without charging on the road. This is a 76 mi trip, preheating was used, a minimum of heat used during the trip and highway speeds were kept low by intent and traffic. At 40F I had 15 mi left on the GOM (guess-o-meter) at the end. It the summer, with A/C and higher speeds I will have 20 to 30 miles left.

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