I have discovered another interesting thing about electric vehicles after spending about a week with Ford’s F-150 Lightning pick-up.
The first interesting thing was how much the indicated range differed from the actual range, especially when pulling a trailer. There was also the interesting caution in the owner’s manual about relying too heavily on commercial “fast” charging to get going again. Ford says that it’s preferable to use 120V (or 240V) charging, as available at home so as to preserve the health of the battery. But to make everyday use of the truck, it is almost a necessity to regularly “fast” charge it . . . unless you hardly drive it.
Catch call 22.
But then there’s this other thing.
I have discovered that the truck bleeds range when it’s parked – if it’s not plugged in while it’s parked. For example, I have not driven the truck since Sunday, when I did the tow test (you can read about that here). Today is Tuesday. This morning, I went outside to check on the range because I had intended to drive the truck down to the gym, about 25 miles away.
The indicated range when I parked the truck on Sunday afternoon was 112. This morning, it indicated 94 miles remaining. In other words, the truck lost almost 20 miles of range, just sitting. It is akin to having a gas-powered vehicle that has a leaking gas tank. But with a really important difference.
But I would not have lost any time – for it takes very little of that to put gas in the tank. As opposed to putting electricity into the battery pack, especially at home – where it takes hours to instill even a partial recharge.
It’s also easy (and cheap) to fix a leaking gas tank. A “leaking” electric battery pack leaks by design – and so cannot be fixed.
The Lightning isn’t actually leaking electricity. It is using it – even when it’s not moving. The battery’s temperature has to be maintained within certain parameters, not too cold and not too hot. It takes power to keep the battery from getting too hot – or cold. Battery power. That is why you lose power – and range – when an EV is just parked.
You can of course avoid this “leakage” by always making sure to plug in when you park.
But what if you can’t?
An extension cord won’t cut it – because (as I found out) the charger box won’t allow it.
These are real-world situations. And the loss of even a little range can be a big deal when driving an electric vehicle because the range you think you have may prove to be a lot less than the range you actually have. I covered this at length in my series about day-to-day living with the Lightning (the first chapter is here). And that is compounded by the time you may not have to wait for a charge, especially at home – where the wait for it is measured in hours, at the least.
I thought I had enough range left to drive the Lightning the 25 miles to the gym – and the 25 miles back from the gym – without needing to stop for a “fast” charge again, before attempting to make it home from the gym. And maybe I could make it. But 94 miles of indicated range may prove to be too-close-for-comfort to the 50-something actual miles I need to drive today – and running out of charge along the way is a whole different hassle than running out of gas along the way. Instead of getting a five gallon jug of gas, I’d need to call a flatbed to haul the truck to a plug.
So, I will wait – at home – for awhile, while the truck sucks up some of the range it lost from sitting for a day or so.
It’s something to think about.
Another think to think about is the potential cumulative effect of millions of EVs drawing even a little power from the grid to maintain their charge. In addition to recovering it. The maintenance charging will be at night – when the grid is most taxed because that’s when most people are home and using electrically-powered things like cook tops and microwaves and so on.
What effect will that additional draw have on the grid?
It’s perhaps something to think about.
. . .
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