2013 LEAF Very Low Battery Warning Research

by Ernie Hernandez on September 8, 2013

VLB warning

Or what happens when you use all of your juice

We understand the need of many LEAF owners, and potential LEAF owners, to know how far their LEAF will take them. Depending on driving style, elevation changes, vehicle load, and the current orbital status of the moon around the earth, this distance will vary. We have always been more interested in what happens when all of the bars go away. What happens when we are running on “fumes”. This article will provide you with exactly that information.

In October of 2012 we wrote a similar article using our 2011 LEAF SL. The results can be found here. We wanted to run this test again to see if the results would change dramatically on our 2013 LEAF SL. We had our first experience with the Low Battery Warning in our 2013 LEAF back in July (found here). That experience was unintentional, and not well documented, so we actually planned to run all the way out of juice this time to provide you with some useful information. This is what we found.

The Low Battery Warning appeared with two bars remaining on the battery available charge gauge (fuel tank equivalent) and the driving range indicator displayed fourteen miles. Rather than provide a narrative of the events as they occurred, we opted to provide a more visual representation. Below is a graphical representation of each event as it happened.

VeryLowBatteryTable

Driving style will influence all of these numbers. We expect that most LEAF drivers will be able to go farther than the distances indicated above because of our driving style during this test, unless faced with a steep uphill incline for the entire duration of the drive after the Low Battery Warning. We drove in a loop that included a 55 mile per hour parkway with traffic lights. We accelerated away from every traffic light at full throttle up to the speed limit, and this was repeated many times after the Low Battery Warning appeared. We also drove in D mode. We did not use ECO or B mode to optimize regeneration. We also drove with the climate control (air conditioner) on. We did this with the realization that many drivers will wish to optimize their range once the Low Battery Warning appears so we wanted these to be very conservative numbers. This test was performed with one person in the car. If you wish to see what is possible with extremely conservative driving you can do so here.

For reference, these distances were all less than those from our 2011 LEAF test with the exception of the power limitation mode, which was about the same. At the time of this test our 2013 LEAF has accumulated slightly more than 3,000 miles in just over five months. We provide this information as a benchmark for those that have never been comfortable enough to drive their LEAF to the bottom of the tank. You can use this information to better prepare yourself for your own bottom of the range exploration, perhaps one day soon. Also, as you can see, the LEAF will provide you with many warnings prior to actually letting you run out of juice. If you find yourself away from home when this happens, we have found that the best charging station data resides at plugshare.com. It’s a free download on any phone (or you can just go direct from your browser) and you can locate nearby charge facilities. Hopefully this article will make you a bit more comfortable with driving your car near the bottom of the range.

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