Electric cars may inspire "range anxiety" among the unfamiliar, but a single battery charge can take you to some amazing places.
The top of a volcano, for example.
As part of a recent public-relations campaign centered around Leaf electric-car owners and their experiences, Nissan highlighted Neil Wagner, who takes his Leaf on an unusual journey.
Wagner drives his Leaf to the summit of the Haleakala volcano--part of a U.S. National Park--on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
Most cars can travel the paved road up Haleakala without trouble, but few can recover much of the energy used to make the climb on the way back down.
As with any electric car, the Leaf's regenerative braking allows it to recover energy used to accelerate up the mountain during its descent. There's little throttle use required, but plenty of time on the brake pedal.
More variables are involved than solely the steepness of the grade and the distance traveled, so an electric car can't recover all the energy used to make the climb on the way back down.
Still, the story of the Leaf and the volcano shows the utility of regenerative braking, even if most people don't have such steep descents on their morning commutes.
In fact, this could be the beginning of a new sport.
Instead of a traditional hill climb--where drivers compete to get up a mountain the fastest--why not an efficiency-minded hill-descent challenge, where the winner is the one that uses the least energy overall to get up and down the mountain?
Nissan seems to have found the ideal location already.