My meeting to discuss Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure in Kern County was canceled, leaving my day free. So I turned to Nancy and suggested we drive our 2015 Nissan Leaf to Tehachapi for lunch. Nancy’s dependably game for another EV adventure and off we went.
I’d wanted to drive up to Tehachapi to check out their new charge station. Chris Kirk, assistant city administrator, had called Friday to announce that the ChargePoint station was installed and operational. However, he had no way to be sure since the city didn’t have any EVs.
I thought we’d be first to charge. It was Tuesday, on three days after the station was installed. After all, how many EVs can there be in Tehachapi, California?
Driving to Tehachapi, about 45 miles from our home in Bakersfield, was one of our first EV adventures. Highway 58 climbs some 4,000 feet from the San Joaquin Valley to reach the Tehachapi Pass.
On that trip we drove to Mountain Valley RV Park on the south side of the Tehachapi Valley off Highline Road. To charge there, you need to bring your portable EVSE (Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment) with you.
For those travelling on Hwy. 58 from the San Joaquin Valley to the Mojave Desert, the RV park is out of their way. Tehachapi installed the ChargePoint station at City Hall, centrally located in downtown Tehachapi and nearer Hwy. 58 than that at the RV park.
As before, we took surface streets for the first ten miles. Edison Hwy. on the way to Tehachapi is much like Union Ave. on the route up the Grapevine. It gives a glimpse of the real Bakersfield and its surroundings. In this case, carrot factories and packing sheds.
Since we’d done this route once, we were more confident. Though I drove conservatively, I was much less conservative than previously and much more relaxed. Once we entered Hwy. 58, I wasn’t reluctant to pass slow-moving trucks when it was convenient.
The route to City Hall was about four miles less than that to the RV park. We arrived with 35% State of Charge (SOC), well above my comfort zone of 20% to 25% SOC. We consumed 13.7 kWh, 1.2 kWh less than the previous trip to the RV Park. The shorter distance easily explained the reduced consumption.
We were shocked when we pulled into the parking lot. Someone in a brand new Ford C-Max Energie was already charging. We weren’t the first after all.
There was a slot open and we pulled in. As elsewhere, the ChargePoint station requires an RFID fob to activate the EVSE. It authorized our account and released the J1772 connector and we plugged in, almost effortlessly.
We stopped into the city offices and checked in with Chris and gave him one of the charging etiquette hang tags that we carry. Then we strolled down the street to the Kasagiri Japanese restaurant and had a filling lunch.
There are several restaurants within walking distance of City Hall. For a bit of old-time Tehachapi, there’s nothing like Kelcy’s Restaurant on Tehachapi Blvd. (breakfast and lunch). There’s also a popular Middle Eastern restaurant within a short block of Kasagiri on F St.
Note: All calculations assume there are 21 usable kWh in the Leaf’s traction batteries. We drive a 2015 Nissan Leaf. There are reports that the 2015 Leafs may have 22 kWh of usable battery capacity. The number of usable kWh affects the calculation of the kWh used in each leg of these trips. If current model Leafs have 22 kWh of usable capacity, the estimates here can be off by 5%.
After lunch we explored some of the shops we hadn’t seen before, and then closed the charge session on the ChargePoint station. In two hours, the station delivered 12.5 kWh, or 6.2 kWh per hour of connection. The Leaf’s traction batteries went from 35% SOC to 97%, more than enough for the trip back down the mountain.
We had some errands to run in the “big city” so the trip home was 12 miles longer than the trip up. Nevertheless, the trip home required only 8.2 kWh, the same as the previous trip.
EVTripPlanner estimated that the trip up would require 14.3 kWh and the trip down 10.6 kWh. Using a tabular estimator based on Tony William’s Nissan Leaf Range Chart the trip up would require 16 kWh and the trip down 9 kWh.
In the future, we’ll drive less conservatively and see how dramatically that increases our consumption. For now, we can safely assume that the trip up to Tehachapi from Bakersfield requires 14 to 15 kWh and the trip back down 8 kWh.