Nissan Leaf: Is a road trip with an all electric vehicle possible?

I had the opportunity to test drive a Nissan Leaf this week, which was an absolute joy.  If you’re not familiar, the Nissan Leaf is a 100% all-electric vehicle. My experience driving the Leaf got me thinking…I wonder if it’s possible to do a road trip with an electric car?  The concept is intriguing and I’d like to explore it further.  I imagine with some thorough planning, a road trip with a 100% all electric vehicle could be achieved.

I would love to have a discussion Nissan, ECOtality, and/or chargepoint to see if we could work on a promotion together.  If anyone knows the right folks to talk with, I would much appreciate an introduction. Who better to partner with than someone with so much road trip experience. 🙂

If you’re not familiar with the Nissan Leaf, here are some facts:

  • It’s got room for five with lots of cargo space.
  • Cool modern interior.
  • Instant torque and a low center of gravity for an exciting ride.
  • There is no lag, no revving-up or shifting gears…when you put your foot on the pedal…it just goes.
  • Top speed is around 90mph.
  • Around 100 mile range per charge. Interestingly, the Leaf gets better millage in the city vs. the highway, which is the opposite of a combustion engine vehicle.
  • Regenerative Braking System captures energy while you coast or brake…recycling it back into the power supply.

If you own a Leaf or other all-electric vehicle, let me know how you like it…and, if you’ve ever taken it on a road trip?  Or, leave comments on what you think of an all-electric car road trip?

Mike Shubic

Mike Shubic is a seasoned road trip travel video blogger, traversing the byways of the world looking for those hidden gems of the road. From unique destinations, unexpected discoveries, creative cuisine, intriguing inns to exciting attractions…the road is his page. The experiences are his ink. And every 300 miles, a new chapter begins. Whether you live vicariously or by example, Mike will do the exploring so you can have an adventure.


  1. We bought ours last weekend. When I drive to work early on the streets rather than the interstate in ECO mode with windows down, I get 4.7 miles / kWh – the equivalent of 120 miles per gallon. It drops to around 80 if I drive on the interstate in drive mode with the AC on.

    My mom lives in Llano just outside the range of this vehicle, but mine is equipped with a “Quick Charge” 440V DC charge port that claims to be able to put 80% charge into the car in 30 minutes. Road trips will be possible when those Quick Charge stations are spaced at about 60 – 70 mile intervals, since the car will not go 100 miles at highway speeds. Unfortunately, the QC stations are being installed in cities like Dallas and Houston, not in between them.

    Use of a gasoline generator would extend range but drop efficiency down below 30 MPG.

  2. The answer to your question is no. While the range isn’t the limiting factor, the charge time is. Take a look at Top Gear UK a few seasons back. They gave it a try and while the drive wasn’t the problem, when you have to stop essentially after 90 minutes to recharge the battery, it become apparent that you cannot sustain a long trip.

  3. I would agree that the Nissan Leaf isn’t the best for road trips. I’ve taken two small road trips in mine and in both cases the trip time ballooned due to the wait for Level 2 charging stations to juice me up. With that said, if you go into a small road trip with realistic expectations, it can be interesting to explore the areas you stop to charge in, even if some boring time is mixed in with the wait. There are still no level 3 charging stations in my state. I have high hopes that Level 3 charging would make my Leaf more suited for the occasional road trip, but even 30 minutes is kind of long to wait for every 60-100 miles driving (Level 3s take Leafs to 80% in 30min). If you’re interested, here’s the blog post I did of my first trip:

  4. Mike, what do you consider a road trip?

    Okay, the LEAF will never be appropriate for the kind of road trip we take every year or two, travelling 1500 miles round trip to visit family.

    But I did once take my LEAF on a trip of 191 miles to a meeting about 85 miles away. I did have to go a little further than I would have in a gas car because I was avoiding the highway, and this did end up taking a lot longer than if I had just used the highway. Plus I stopped to charge a bit on the way, I charged while I was at my meeting, and on the way home I stopped again to have dinner and charge up while I ate. But I did have a very enjoyable trip.

    My goal in the next 2 or so years is be able to take a trip from Raleigh, NC to Charlotte, NC (where my son goes to school), which is just about 160 miles. I figure I can make it with careful driving 2 30-minute fast charge stops, so hopefully those fast charge stations will start appearing in the right places.

    Anything longer than that I probably wouldn’t attempt in the LEAF.

    That said, the LEAF easily meets the vast majority of our driving needs. We’ve only had to resort to the gas car 6 times in the past year.

    1. Hi Lance…I’d like to do maybe 150-200 miles a day with a couple of charges. Then stay in an area for a few days exploring. Maybe make it a month-long trip/promotion where I produce a number of videos and blog daily of the experience. It would be great if I could get someone like Nissan on board with a charging station company and perhaps a hotel chain that has charging stations at their locations.

  5. We have 3, Level 3 chargers around us and can easily run errands around Fort Collins, CO head to Boulder for the evening, and come home. A 200 mile day has been achieved twice now on our Leaf and we’ve only had it 7 weeks.
    Our family is planning to take at least one camping trip to a destination over 150 miles from home, one way. I do not anticipate having to stop for more than 20 minutes and the outlet at our tent-site (campground) will be used to charge us enough to get down the mountains and do short day-trips from there.
    As more level 3 chargers come online, we’ll have the entire front-range of Colorado to cruise freeley. Possibly by the end of ’14.

Comments are closed.