I wondered this as I stopped at the local gasoline station to pick up some windshield washer fluid. I hadn’t considered that there might still be a reason for me to frequent a gas station but there I found myself, a fish out of water. I wanted to tell everyone, “I’m not here buying gas, I’m just here for windshield washer fluid.”
I do wish that the Nissan LEAF had a low windshield washer fluid monitor like my VW does. That would have avoided the situation where you find yourself driving down the interstate and plumb run out without warning.
While we all have different travel behavior yesterday was one of those days where I needed my ICE car or more Level 2 chargers. I drove from Jericho to Hinesburg and back and then from Jericho to Montpelier and back and Jericho to S. Burlington with stops in Williston and back. Easily over 100 miles. If I had a level 2 charger at home, one at the National Life building in Montpelier and one in Williston I could have made it in the Leaf. Or if there was one level 3 Charger in Montpelier I could have made it.
It did make me think about how realistic this kind of travel is for those who would prefer to just get in a car and if necessary stop at one of the many gas stations for 6 minutes to refuel and continue on, without considering their travel speed or the amount of ancillary power the heating or AC may require nor the cost. It’s getting close but in early 2013, with a 2012 model year Leaf it’s not quite there yet. A few more chargers and a few more miles of range at an affordable price and it will be. It’s days like this that make me feel like a pioneer.
I drove down to Montpelier last week and found a lovely parking space next to the new charger at the State House. It was in the single digits when I pulled in and activated the charger. The cord however would not release. I called the service number on the charger to see if they had any suggestions, I didn’t want to accidentally break it. The woman at the other end said they do sometime freeze in place in cold weather and I just needed to pull on the cord really hard. It was clear to me though that the frozen in place was not the plug but the metal release button on the top of the handle, it wouldn’t budge, so I whacked it and heard the magical sound of the plug releasing. So, when it’s frozen it’s not so much “pull on it real hard” but “whack it good.”
I also stopped at the new charger in Waterbury at the GMCR visitors center, free wifi and of course coffee. Now if only these charging locations also offered a car wash.
Another trip meant another stop at BTV. This time there was a Volt in one of the two spots and the other EV spot was open. The volt was plugged in to one of the outlets so I figured I’d take the other outlet. I pulled out my charger and went to plug it in to the second outlet. I opened the covering and found a 240 volt plug. Well my 110 charger plug wouldn’t fit and yes I did try. So, I hung my charger next to the Volt plug and left a note on the Volt windshield asking that they plug me in when they returned. I was gone for 4 days so I thought there was a good chance they would be back before me. I kept checking my status on CarWings hoping to get the signal that it was plugged in and ready to charge. The signal never came.
When I got back to BTV late Sunday night – that’s a whole other travel story, the Volt was still there. I packed up my charger and removed my note and found that even though it had been 4 plus days with single digit nights I had only lost 2 miles of range. The car started up just fine, and since I still had plenty of range I cranked up the heat. I suspect that we were both happy to get home and get plugged in.
On Wednesday I traveled from Jericho to Montpelier to Burlington before catching a plane to DC. The new charging station next to the State House was a great place to park and charge during my meeting. My flight back was scheduled to arrive at 11:40 p.m. and knowing that we were expecting one more near or below zero night I wanted to make sure that I would have plenty of juice for a heated ride home. As I’ve mentioned before I’ve been ICE’d out of the great EV parking spaces at BTV three times previous so this time I decided to email my contact at BTV and inquire about the possibility of reserving one of the spots.
In less than 5 minutes I got an email back with a photo showing them both available and an offer if they weren’t when I arrived to use some of the other plugs they have for block heaters. “Just let me know the make, model and color of your car and I’ll let them know.” So, I now feel confident that I’ll be able to access a plug at BTV.
Now if they only offered a car wash as well.