Hoping to buy an EV down the line

Hi there! My name is Heather, and I work for the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, in our Austin office. A couple of months ago I had the opportunity to drive a Nissan Leaf for two weeks as part of one of our research studies on air quality in non-attainment areas. I really liked the Leaf, but I found it has two drawbacks, for me: 1) I have 3 kids, two of which are in child seats, so couldn’t take the family with me anywhere; and, 2) I live about 20 miles from my work, which = a 45 minute drive, and I’d have to recharge the Leaf almost all day in order to drive home again.

So, I’m hoping to learn here about either EV’s or plug-ins that might coming along and are suitable for a family vehicle, or one that can go farther on the highway (I use a toll road with an 80 mph speed limit for part of my trip) on a charge.

Hi Hford

First of all, welcome to the forum and we hope that you find it both informative and useful.

I note that you are looking to buy an electric vehicle in the future and wondered what kind of journey capacity you will require and whether you have any particular vehicles in mind at this moment in time?

Do you have the option of plugging in at work? I do a 60 mile round trip with incidental errands and this works well for me. I can turn the trip without charging but charging at work gives me some cushion. Of course my commute is almost no highway driving so that helps. I’m not sure what auto has the room needed for car seats though.

I know that the Nissan Leaf 2013 is said to have a journey capacity of up to 140 miles but what is the journey capacity of the original Nissan Leaf? Your round journey of around 40 miles to and from work should be well within the capacity of even the original Nissan Leaf?

I’ve never driven anything smaller than a Mazda Protege, and given the age of my kids, what I’d have to have is a sedan that seats five. I know there are concept cars out there that are suppost to seat more people comfortably, but I don’t have any particular one in mind.

I have a 30 to 45 minute commute each way M-F, and that commute is approximately 23 miles (depending on the route I take - toll or not). Other than that, I rarely travel more than 10 miles in any direction, except for an occasional hour-long trip to the inlaws, about 50 miles each way.

At this time, we do not have a charger at work, though that could change in the future - Austin is a very green-leaning city. When I was taking part in the research, I was charging at home in the evening, and parking about a mile away at a hospital where there were several parking spaces set aside. One of my coworkers would have to pick me up in the morning and drop me back in the afternoon.

I honestly don’t know what the capacity is on Leaf we used at the time. I know that it did vary noticeably between my longer commute in stop-and-go traffic and my shorter commute that included 15 minutes on the toll road at 80 mph. Using the tollroad was definitely an energy user, but that 15 minutes really makes a difference when you are trying to get to the daycare on time after work.


Thank you for the feedback which is very interesting and shows the large differential in journey capacity during different types of traffic. This is something which is not often discussed but is something which we all need to be aware of in the future.