When we bought the LEAF, I really didn't think we'd use public charging stations. Fill up the battery at home, drive to/from work, plug it in at night. Why would I want to spend 2-3 hours at the mall, trying to get enough electrons to make it home? After yesterday's adventure, my perspective is changing.
Make an unexpected trip during the day? Forget to plug in the night before? Worried you don't have quite enough charge to make it home? A public charging infrastructure addresses these situations, and provides a more important benefit: peace of mind. If I miscalculate, I face the minor inconvenience of stopping for 30 minutes or an hour or two, versus having to arrange towing.
In the US, The EV Project and ChargePoint America are rolling out public charging stations (240VAC and 480VDC) in selected communities. The stations will initially provide free charging, but switch to a subscription model sometime in the future.
Incidentally, Nissan really doesn't want you to completely drain the battery. We hit just the first of three warnings designed to get you to a charging station:
- Level 1 - Gas pump/plug icon starts blinking (~10% charge remaining)
- Level 2 - Visual/audio alert and console displays map to nearest charging station (~5% charge remaining)
- Level 3 - Reduced performance ("Turtle") mode, limits acceleration and top speed (~2% charge remaining)
Update: According to CARWINGS, panic-induced hypermiling reduced my energy consumption by 30%. Life on the edge has its benefits!