What spring break is complete without a family road trip? That’s what SDG&E employee Randy Schimka and his son Brandon sought out to do during their week-long vacation. This trip is now somewhat of a tradition. Last spring, they took an 850 mile trip in their Nissan LEAF – a plug-in electric vehicle – up the Central California Coast without filling up for gas once. This year, they looked to one-up themselves.
“We needed something fun to pursue and we wanted to ‘step it up’ a notch and take things to the next level,” said Schimka, who has been driving his LEAF for more than two years.
They dubbed their weeklong effort the “DC Fast Charging Extravaganza” and made a plan to drive to all of the DC Fast Charging stations throughout Southern California. A DC Fast Charging station is not your typical public charging station. These powerful chargers can dispense about 400 volts DC at 125 amps to fill the battery up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes. Compare that to a regular Level 2 charger, which requires about three to five hours to do the same. And the emptier the battery, the faster the charging works.
With dad Randy behind the wheel, 16-year-old Brandon was in charge of navigation duties and connecting and disconnecting the DC fast charging connector at each charging station.
World-record setting trip
The father-son duo ended up driving 923 all-electric and all-fun miles over the first six days in April. They visited Borrego Springs via Santa Ysabel, San Juan Capistrano, Diamond Bar, Orange County, Cypress, Newport Beach, Los Angeles, Escondido and South Bay, with fueling at some locations more than once.
“We sought out as many DC Fast chargers as we could, and probably ended up using them about 20 times in our week-long driving extravaganza,” Schimka said.
Over the six days of their trip, Schimka and his son even held the world record for mileage in the LEAF, including their biggest day when they drove 240 miles total – all electric. Nissan’s CarWings website collects and displays driving statistics for all LEAF drivers, so progress for a trip like this is easily tracked.
“We wanted to show people that longer travel is possible with an electric vehicle and the small network of DC Fast Charging stations is out there help to make it happen,” Schimka said. “It really gives you the freedom to go almost anywhere!”
Going even further on no gas at all
These super-fast chargers are changing the perception that electric vehicles are only for people who drive very little.
In addition to the ones Schimka used, SDG&E has a DC Fast Charger at its Energy Innovation Center and soon there will be a new DC Fast Charger on Convoy Street.
Of course, what would spring break be without a little excitement, which came after leaving the new Borrego Springs charging stations that were part of a donation by SDG&E to fund an electric vehicle education program for town residents.
“We were 90 percent charged when we left the new Borrego charging stations, but we should have waited for that extra 10 percent of charging because the 4000’ elevation gain when coming back up the hill to Santa Ysabel, a 47 mile trip, consumed energy at a record rate. We had two miles to spare when arriving back to the DC Fast Charger in Santa Ysabel,” said Schimka. “That was an adventure!”
With the Nissan LEAF as their vessel and the fast chargers as their fuel, Randy Schimka and his son Brandon knew this spring break adventure would end up being more than just a road trip.
“We managed to have a lot of fun throughout the week and got to spend some good quality time with each other to boot. It doesn’t get any better than that, does it? And like last year, I never heard ‘Are we there yet?’ even once.”