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Day Trip: The New West EV Family goes to Whistler for the Day

Day Trip: The New West EV Family goes to Whistler for the Day!

Please be sure to read to the bottom for our Bonus Features.

Over one two three months ago, when the fall weather was still clear and dry, we decided we needed some outdoor time and out-of-the-city time.  The plan was to go to Alice Lake for a picnic lunch and a hike. We would also use the opportunity to zip up to Whistler for dinner, to get out of town, and participate in some electric vehicle (EV) tourism.

I know this trip has been undertaken by an untold number of Nissan Leaf owners by now; however, it was in fact difficult to find trip reports on-line suggesting how much battery usage planning is required. The boy scout in me needs to be prepared so I pulled out my trip planning spreadsheet I used for the Zoo trip, saved a copy, started modifying it and plugging in numbers for a weekend Whistler Trip.


New Westminster to Whistler Drive Plan, click to enlarge

First thing to note is the direct-current fast charger (DCFC) located in Squamish (see PlugShare) which makes this trip do-able in a period of time similar to a conventional vehicle with internal combustion engine (ICE). Secondly, we know we are dealing with mountainous roads, so a range reduction due to an increase in altitude should be expected. The DCFC in Squamish is conveniently about half-way (not distance, but energy-wise.) The planning tools told me to plan for about 81 km distance to Squamish from our home; this would use about 12.3 kWh with an additional 2 kWh for gaining altitude. All told my Excel spreadsheet told me to budget 72% of my battery to get to Squamish. We left with 98% on the car and arrived with 40% remaining; therefore we used 58% or 14% less than planned.

Upon arrival at Squamish the DCFC was unoccupied and, lo and behold, it was in-service too <sarcasm>!

[Editor’s note:  there have been some performance issues {see Revelstoke portion at the link} with some of the DCFC stations installed in BC so far… KootenayEVFamily continues to believe that the best roll-out model for DCFC continues to be to install stations in pairs, that way if a station is down, there is an alternative right there, and we will eventually need multiples at each location anyways!]

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday morning and there was an excellent playground right beside the DCFC for our 5 year old. We were really in luck as the last Farmers’ Market of the season was also operating just across the park. So while we played, browsed, and sampled some kettle corn, the Leaf chugged back electrons, but slightly slower than we experienced on our Seattle trip. The total charge duration from 40% up to 93% was about 43 minutes. This was likely due to the battery temperature which was just barely 5 bars and more charge rate tapering (in contrast, on our Zoo trip to Seattle we easily charged from ~30 to ~90% in around 30 minutes when the battery temperature bars were 6 or 7 – click here and scroll down to see a video of using a DCFC).

Image gallery, click to any image to view

Location Batt % at arrival Batt % at departure Planned % to get to next location Actual % required Batt % discrepancy Distance
Start: New West 98% 72% 58% -14% 80 km
Squamish 40% 93% 67% 71% +4% 61.4 km
Whistler 22% 80% 41% No data No data ~56 km
Squamish ?? 78% 76% 62% -14% 80 km
End: New West 16%

After the charge we stopped at Alice Lake Provincial Park.  We had an enjoyable hike (aka meandering walk with kindergartener) through some of the trails at the park and a picnic at the river. I am looking forward to returning here another time. Surprisingly this was my first visit here even though I am a native to metro Vancouver.

Following our hike we departed for Whistler. The trip planner said we’d be gaining 1042 m in elevation over 58 km or so and around 9 kWh was to be required for the distance while another 5.2 kWh would be required for the ascent; however, around 1 kWh would be gained as there was 375 m of total descent as well. In total we planned to use 67% of the batteries capacity to make that 58 km up to Whistler. In reality we used 71% or 4% above the estimate. Part of this discrepancy is that we certainly used several % getting in and out of Alice Lake Provincial Park and the parking lots.

In Whistler we parked at the convention center and were able to use the single Sun Country L2. I then chose to set the Leaf to charge no higher than 80% as I knew we would have significant downhill sections when we departed. I didn’t want to do that on a 100% battery as I wanted to try to get full regeneration of that potential energy we built up climbing into Whistler. Unfortunately upon arriving back in Squamish I neglected to accurately record the % battery usage data and I see now how that totally ruined my data collecting. I would have liked to know how easily one could have made it back to the Squamish DCFC without charging in Whistler.

We arrived back in Squamish around 7 pm to charge at the DCFC. The place was deserted. We left the car charging and walked around the nearby pier park in the dark. I soon noticed my charge had stopped at 80% since I had not changed that setting back after leaving Whistler. I wasn’t aware that this setting also pertained to quick charging.

We walked back to the DCFC and another Leaf had arrived and unplugged me, which was ok since my charge had finished. However, I forgot to consult my drive plan whether or not 80% was sufficient to get us home. It was basically just the reverse trip we did in the morning with a little more elevation gained. We left Squamish with 80% and arrived home with 16% using 64% to get home (compared to the same trip in reverse this morning which used 58%).

Bonus features:

Youtube video of our first in-town trip to the petting farm

Youtube video of our trip to Woodland Park Zoo, near Seattle Wa.


1 thought on “Day Trip: The New West EV Family goes to Whistler for the Day”

  1. I’ve done this a couple of times now and my experiences were similar to yours, within a few percent.
    Looks like the single BC Hydro charger is out of service now, but hopefully they’ll replace it in the near future.
    There are two fast SWTCH chargers over by the Liquor Store which charge $15/hr. I downloaded and used the app, but I believe there’s a guest checkout option too.

    I managed to find level 2 and level 1 charging without issue in hotel parking, and I also noticed the daily parkades had a lot of empty level 2 slots, which is nice. I had no use for fast charging when at Whistler, as the car was parked most of the time.

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