So here is a glimpse of Chloé’s dashboard. (Yes, I went crazy with a preset in the Flare app.) It looks a good bit different from the dashboard of any other car I’ve ever had. I’m getting more familiar with the controls and information displays every day.
Chloé has two drive modes: normal and Eco. In normal drive mode, the car will get up and move. When switching it into Eco mode, you can literally feel the car “pull back.” In Eco mode the EV is placing more emphasis on efficiency: recharging at every opportunity and minimizing energy use, for example: with the climate control system.
This week I took three extended “trips” in Chloé. I must tell you, knowing that you are “driving on fumes” so-to-speak, that you only have an 80 mile range* has made me a little cautious about my driving. I worry somewhat that I’m going to “run out of gas.” But I forced myself to be brave and dare to take some “trips.” The more I drive the car, the more confident I become that it will get me “there and back” without running out of power.
So, this week I went to:
- Beverly Hills and the West Hollywood area and back (not too bad: about 40 miles remaining when I arrived home)
- downtown LA, then to Santa Monica, then back home (a little more unnerving: about 20 miles remaining when I arrived home)
- downtown LA, then to LAX, and then back home (not too bad: again, about 40 miles remaining
Changes in Driving Habits
- So now the navigation system assumes a new level of importance to me. Until I become more confident of “distance,” I have actually been plugging all of my destinations and waypoints into the navigation system to be sure they fall easily within the 80 mile range. “Quick little errands” have now become thought-out “trips.”
- Predictive driving has taken on a whole new dimension. For example: if the traffic light in the next block or two is red, why speed up to it only to have to stop when coasting up to it is far more energy efficient.
- Everything focuses on energy efficiency. I’ve even read that gas-powered drivers could improve fuel efficiency by about 30% just by changing their driving habits, being less aggressive at initial accelerations and more inclined to coast to a stop instead of racing to one. The climate control system, windshield washers, everything, uses a measurable amount of energy. The Leaf actually shows this information. (Looks like a single swish of the windshield wiper uses about .75 kw per hour of energy.)
- I drive much slower in LA than I ever did in Atlanta. I’ve often mused about the reasons for that. But now, I’m making certain I go the speed limit 100% of the time. And on the interstate, I set the cruise control for a maximum speed of 60mph. (I’m told the car can easily do 90+ but have no need to try that.) The owner’s manual says that speeds over 60mph greatly reduce energy efficiency.
- I’ve noticed that the car seems to be vastly more efficient in stop and go traffic than on the interstate. Since I tend to avoid the interstates out here anyway, this observation hasn’t really impacted my driving habits.
The Leaf really does a good job of providing the driver with a lot of real-time information, both in the dashboards (top and bottom) as well as in the information display area (not pictured in this post).
The large number on the bottom right of the dashboard is how many more miles the car thinks it can go. This number is being continuously updated in real time based on your driving patterns, the weather, your speed, the terrain, as well as other factors. It goes down more quickly, for example, when you are going up a steep hill. Just before you begin to worry, as you crest the hill, the car begins re-charging itself and the number of miles increases more quickly. This continuous feedback informs your driving behavior.
The dashboard also provides more longterm averages. For example: the Energy Economy Average which tells you how many miles you are averaging per kilowatt hour. Even the little gimmicky dial that builds trees in the top left dashboard encourages me to save more trees by driving more efficiently. Sounds crazy, I know!
Impression So Far
Tim likes. Tim really likes!