⚡ Ford Lightning Forum ⚡ banner

Trip Report - Bay Area to Sierra Drive

956 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  everiklevine
Hi All -
Last night we drove our Lightning for the first time to our cabin in the Sierras (between Yosemite and Tahoe). Some stats:
Fully charged (100%) in Bay Area (sea level) got us 250 miles on the GOM
Arrived at cabin with 40 miles left on the GOM. Battery capacity said 27%.
Actual mileage was 164 miles.
Elevation gain 5200' (there are two other passes, Sunol and Altamont, each at around 1000' but both also descend back to basically sea level)
Temp ranged from low 50's at departure to low 30's at arrival
Per the Trip Meter, the average efficiency was 1.7 mi/kWhr
At 131 kWhr full charge, that should equate to 35 kWhr arrival, so, 96 kWhr consumed
At an average of 1.7 mi/kWhr that's 163.2 miles - pretty darn close

Some thoughts:
  • It was not as frigid out as the rest of the country is now! 🥶 But probably close to our usual drive up here in the winter (a bit warmer)
  • I bought the Lightning so that I could drive all the way here from Bay Area without stopping and still have some mileage left in case I have to bail back down the hill. It met that purpose. Going much further may have made me a bit more anxious.
  • I didn't get a photo of the cargo load we hauled up before we unloaded it, but I would guess in addition to two adults, a dog, a cat, we had 500# of 'stuff.'
  • We did stop for dinner just before heading up the pass. We chose not to stop somewhere with a charger. We could have found somewhere close to a Lvl 2 or 3 if we needed but that would have limited where we wanted to eat. We certainly had the time to get the truck back to full charge with a Lvl 3.
  • Yes, leaving the Bay Area, we had horrible traffic (note that this route is easily 3 hours in no traffic, it took us 4:20 o_O ). Outside of traffic we were going mostly around 70 till we hit the hill going up then was back down to 40-50 mph.
  • Portable charger got us from 27% back to 80% in about 9 hours (@ 240V). Will be hooking up new Lectron 48A V-Box later today :)
  • Looking at the trip energy consumption, it looks like we used 9% on climate control and 2% on accessories (radio?) - so, if wanted to be a bit more frugal, I guess we could have put on more jackets and talked to each other.... then the efficiency would have been 1.9 mi/kWhr (including the exterior temp which we have no control over). That would have led us to a total of 252 miles, which is what the truck said at the start of the trip (sorry, I'm an engineer and like it when math works out). Our drive up here must not have been very different than my driving history prior to this trip. I get what the GOM is trying to do. After 2000 miles, I assume the algorithm has dialed me in and is getting a pretty good estimate - again, assuming no luxuries of life like a heated seat 🥵 or Sirius Radio 📡🛰
  • For the record, we have a 2011 Leaf at home, so we get the limitations and advantages of an EV. So far, we are loving this vehicle.
  • I'll post sep about this, but yesterday, before the trip, I had a leak in one of my new tires 🤬. Piece of road granite punctured right between one of the outward horizontal treads. Luckily I was able to get a plug installed (thank you America's Tire!!!). Short story - I am NOT impressed with those GT AT tires! We'll see how they perform on snow in the next week.
Communication Device Gadget Font Portable communications device Mobile device
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 3
1 - 6 of 9 Posts
Folks, this should be the standard for efficiency posts! Well done.
Thanks @THEsocalledfan ! Again, engineer...., used to report writing :) (and reading...). Only contrary is I tend to not use emojis for work :confused:

I'm hoping to write the reverse trip report after we get home. will be interesting to see how a long down hill improves the efficiency.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Love seeing these posts. Thanks for the detailed write up. Do you know if temp number would mess with the efficiency yet? Like 71 degrees over 75 degrees. Or is it just the heater being on at all.
That's a good question. I imagine that the "7% Exterior Temperature" is purely the energy used (ie realtime) to keep the battery (and other systems?) warm (via electric heaters) to what ever preset Ford determined that the battery modules should be. The warmer the battery, the better the discharge efficiency (to a certain point). So, yes, a 71 deg battery should be a bit less efficient than one at 75 deg. It's not linear, though.

Without an ICE creating all that heat there really is no way to warm the batteries without using their own energy, seems strange, but I'm used this effect. As a note, I'm an aerospace engineer and used to design spacecraft battery subsystems. Most batteries like to be warm as they discharge, so we would often heat up the batteries just before being used. In those cases, we had solar arrays to power the heaters. In our Lightning case, we only have either shore power (via the EVSE) or the battery as we roll along.

I'm not super aware of the heat pumps that others are using (like Tesla) that are used to strap excess heat from the electric motors (other than the obvious technology behind a heat pump). But, I can certainly see that being a great use of passive thermal technology, albeit at the expense of some mass (and cost).
See less See more
Part 2 of my Road Trip
Round Trip: Cabin to Ski Resort

This morning I drove the Lightning to our local ski resort.
21.7 miles (no snow on the roads - it's still unseasonably warm here since last storms)
2800' elevation gain

Started at 80% charge, arrived at 67% charge ~ 17 kWhr
For some reason the display below didn't calc the efficiency (it was on the dash display, and I thought it was closer to 1.0). But, assuming the above data, this is about 1.3 mi/kWhr.
Note that had preconditioning on before I left. Nice warm cabin and battery. In fact, for the first few miles of my trip, the "Exterior Temperature" percentage was like 3% as was the "Climate Use." So, I would agree with the Ford folks, PRECONDITON your vehicle before leaving!
[Next trip to ski resort I will disable preconditioning to see how it effects these data]

On the way home, ahhh, the magic of gravity. I left at 67% charge and arrived home at 67%, yeah, basically no net battery usage. Note the pic on the right. 0% was used for driving! The energy regenerated replaced all the energy that was used for the motors. Of course, I'm a firm believer in the laws of thermodynamics, there was a loss, but I'm sure that the calcs the truck is making get messed up with such low usage vs. distance. The truck basically thought all my energy was being used to warm the cabin, the battery, and power my radio.

Per the computer, I got a whopping 12.4 mi/kWhr! Someday, all drives will be so efficient :ROFLMAO:

Product Telephony Communication Device Gadget Portable communications device
Communication Device Mobile phone Telephony Gadget Portable communications device

Tagging @Ford Motor Company in case the engineers there find this interesting.
See less See more
  • Like
Reactions: 1
Nice reports! Where is your cabin? I'll be out in that area visiting family near Camp Connell. Well have our Lighnting and may be towing our trailer (we may drop it off in Saratoga instead).
Very cool! I just PM'd you. I'd be very interested in seeing your performance driving to the Sierra's from the Bay Area with a trailer. It's totally doable, but even at 100% starting SOC, I'm sure you'll need to top off in the valley before hitting the hill going up.
  • Like
Reactions: 1
OK, follow-up on my trip to the Sierras. Here's the return trip data. I summarized both lengths in one table for comparison.

1.7 mi/kWhr UP
2.2 mi/KWhr DOWN

As you can see the trips were pretty similar in terms of where the battery usage was. Almost same time of the evening and outside temps. We were driving down in the higher elevations in the snow (side note... these General tires are slippery....). Return trip was a bit shorter as we took a shortcut around the Livermore area (those from the area will know). As expected, Guess-O-Meter was not useful. However, the mileage calculator was almost spot on. It was great to see an average mileage of 6 mi/kWhr as we were driving down the steep front of the Sierras, but as we kept going, the computed mileage leveled out. As others have pointed out, it's the gage that you want to look at. Just have to do the mental math of percent remaining on your battery and the magical 131 kWhr full Extended Range capacity (98 kWhr for the Standard). Keeping with that, all (well, almost all) your range anxiety should melt away :D

Bay Area to Sierra-Nevada Winter Trip
Elevation Gain5920 ft980 ft
Elevation Decline-980 ft-5920 ft
Starting Battery %100%93%
Ending Battery %27%37%
Start Battery capacity131 kWhr121.83 kWhr
End Battery capacity35.37 kWhr48.47 kWhr
Delta95.63 kWhr73.36 kWhr
Trip Computer Mileage1.7 mi/kWhr2.2 mi/kWhr
Percent used for
Climate Use9%10%
Exterior Temperature7%7%
Actual Miles164 mi155.3 mi
Actual Mileage1.71 mi/kWhr2.12 mi/kWhr
GOM Start250 mi185 mi
GOM End40 mi71 mi
Delta210 mi114 mi
See less See more
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: 3
1 - 6 of 9 Posts