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Articles on Electric Vehicles

June 28, 2015
Paul Gipe

EV Trip Report: Bakersfield to Grover Beach Revisited & Summary

We reprised our trip from Bakersfield to Grover Beach in our 2015 Nissan Leaf. See my previous trip report for the details of our fist venture to the coast in the Leaf, a consumer-oriented Electric Vehicle (EV).

As we’ve become more experienced, we’ve become bolder. On this trip we used our new Jesla EVSE—a portable charge cable—to charge quicker, and we took some shortcuts we avoided on the first trip. We also used more quick chargers than before—and they all worked as advertised.

The route we followed was similar to that before.

However, on this trip we charged longer in Lebec at the Flying J truck stop using the Shorepower pedestals. The longer charge time and the use of the Jesla EVSE enabled us to build up our State of Charge (SOC) sufficiently that we were able to bypass the Level 2 charge stop in Valencia and drive directly to the DC Fast Charge (quick charge) station in Ventura.

The 75-mile route from Lebec to Ventura is nearly all downhill from Tejon Pass to sea level. However, we’d never driven that far on a single charge during a road trip. (We’d done it several times around Bakersfield where we always knew the distance to our home port.)

Oddly, we found that on several legs of this trip we used less charge than before despite the same driving style and using the A/C liberally.

We arrived in Lebec with 33% SOC and charged for a little over three hours, raising our SOC to 94%.

When we pulled into the Flying J truck stop where the Shorepower pedestals are located, we saw John Lotze charging his Leaf. He too was on his way directly to Ventura and then on to Carpinteria. Lotze was one of those from the Southern San Joaquin Valley who pioneered the route from Bakersfield over Tejon Pass. He was partly responsible for our purchase of the Leaf and was using his ClipperCreek portable EVSE to charge up for the long leg to Ventura. We had a nice chat, catching up on his exploits since we had last talked at an EV function in Bakersfield.

We eventually arrived in Ventura with 31% SOC.

Since our last trip, NRG’s eVgo system has installed an additional dual fast charger. We pulled up and the old Nissan-branded charger was in use. After nosing around, I found the dual ports on the new charger included both CCS and CHAdeMO. Better yet, the cables on the new ABB charger were much longer than the original Nissan charger. I repositioned the car, logged on, pulled the cable to our car and plugged in. The plug on the ABB charger was also much easier to use than that on the Nissan charger.

The other driver just stared at me. She said, “I didn’t even know there was another CHAdeMO charger here.” And we thought we were inexperienced.

My first impression of the ABB charger? Give me ABB over the Nissan brand.

The rest of the route to Grover Beach was the same as before: Ventura to Goleta; Goleta to Solvang; Solvang to Grover Beach.

However, El Rancho Market in Solvang has installed a Nissan-branded DCFC since our last visit. It was working, no one was charging, so we charged up to 80% and headed to our motel for the night.

At the nearby Meadowlark Inn—picked for its proximity to the charge stations—we noticed a duplex 120-volt outlet just outside our door. I explained our situation to the staff and they kindly permitted us to use the outlet. We plugged in our Jesla and topped up the traction battery overnight.

On the return trip we again stopped in at the Solvang quick charger and charged to 96%. I wanted to gain as much charge as possible for the next leg.

Instead of retracing our path, we chose to follow Highway 154 from Solvang to Santa Barbara and then on to Ventura. This cuts some 20 miles from the route and bypasses Goleta. The route covers 65 miles, but has to climb 1,700 feet before descending 2,200 feet to sea level.

We arrived in Ventura with 29% SOC, well within our reserve margin of 20% to 25%.

We were the only car at the quick charger and again used the ABB unit for our allotted 30 minutes.

We left Ventura with 94% SOC and arrived in Valencia with 42%.

We charged in Valencia for one hour and 45 minutes and arrived in Lebec with 34% SOC. This allowed us to limit our charging on the 30-amp rated Shorepower pedestals to a little more than one hour—enough time for dinner. This raised our charge to 59% more than enough to cover the downhill route to home.

We arrived home with 30% SOC, completing another 500 mile roundtrip to the cool coast from the hot San Joaquin Valley in our EV.

The three quick chargers we used on this trip worked flawlessly. Two were in NRG’s eVgo network, the third was in the Chargepoint system. One quick charger we used was Eaton, one was by ABB, and one was a Nissan brand.

We also used our Jesla twice at the Flying J truck stop in Lebec. And we used ClipperCreek L2 stations several times.

We've now made several trips from Bakersfield over Tejon Pass and two trips to the coast and back.

There's now enough data to summarize how many kWh are needed to drive a Nissan Leaf on these various legs. We can also compare the actual consumption to that estimated by EVTripPlanner and a tabular estimator based on the work of Tony Williams.

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