Friday, July 3, 2020

June 2020 Drive Report; How Roadtripping Is Done!

As the weather has eased into Summer...sort of, road trips were going to be common. With the new E Plus range, it was rather easy to reach previously "very" difficult to reach places.  BUT...as life does, it has tossed a wrench into the process.  My landlord is dying so her family is divesting all her assets which includes my house. So the place was sold and I am being evicted July 31st so July's road trips have to be put on hold but since I only got the notice on Monday it was too late to change all my plans so I still managed to get in two trips!

The Numbers

miles; 1396.9
kwh used 300.61
miles/kwh 4.65
Home charging; 320 kwh (all time record for plus)
Public charging cost $6.50 (16.4 cents per kwh)
Home cost $27.68
Cost; $34.18

Per mile; 2.44 cents per mile

Note; due to inefficiencies, the numbers DO NOT add up. The miles/kwh figure was calculated using daily trip computer numbers. 

Things to note; I had 2 longish trips mostly freeway done on nice sunny dry days.  Freeway speeds were cruise control set to 65 mph. Trips made during the week to minimize traffic issues and I didn't see much of a slow down. Trips were 4.7 miles/kwh and 4.8 miles/kwh.  Those two trips goes a long way towards explaining my great efficiency as both were over 250 miles.

We also see a rare category of public charging fees. Yeah, the gravy train has reached the station so I am back to paying for most of it. Yes, we still have a bundle of free level 2's which I do use if I have business in those areas.

The Electrify America Tour

As mentioned earlier, Electrify America has 50 KW DC's at their locations but they actually charge at higher rates. EA Lacey I clocked 200 amps but I am also seeing many reports of Souls (which can get to 175 amps) and other E Pluses seeing lower speeds at some stations so I had decided to take a tour of the EA locations that I encounter on various road trips to check their speed status.  So far, its been all good news. Battery temps at the start of the charge noted.

Kelso; 190 amps  (80.2/80.6/83.2)

Lacey; Still 200 amps. (70's)

North Bend; 191 amps. (89.2/87.8/85.8) Surprising at this temperature!

Vancouver Plaza; 202.75 amps (75.9/75.6/73.4)   A great number and also the coolest pack charge with temps in the mid 70's to begin.  Makes me think that a cooler pack might hit 200 amps on the above stations?

So I have done one of the first in the area and one of the newest (Vancouver Plaza opened June 18th)
So anyone who has an E Plus or a 2018 and newer Soul EV who has seen under 125 amp charging at EA, chime in so I can go check it out. Eventually I plan to hit nearly all of them but that might take a while.

RapidGate

Yes, its still here but better.  I stopped at Lacey for a quick boost with pack warmer (99.8/99.0/96.8) and only saw 155 amps @ 28% SOC instead of the usual 200 amps.  The charge curve was temperature controlled (nearly steady power) ending at 149.6 amps at 41.6% SOC.

We can also see on the North Bend charge that we can start with a warmer pack than the 40 kwh pack and still get impressive speeds.

There are other things to note here but too much info means only half if it gets to its destination so a deeper dive will be in a separate blog when I have more data.

Road Tripping Done Right!

Nissan reported a 226 mile EPA range on their E Plus. Yes, the S gets more range due to being lighter but mostly because it has smaller wheels. Smaller wheels means more efficiency and no smaller wheels do not mean smaller diameter or significantly so. the rotations per mile on each wheel size comes nowhere near accounting for the difference in efficiency but that is another story.

What we need to realize is that Nissan only reported the range the GOM provides us. As we now (or should) know, LEAF Spy allows us to use that hidden range of 10% which in my case is 22.6 miles (EPA rating) Obviously what you actually gets depends on how you drive, etc. YMMV!

But the real need is all about how far I want to go and how far can "I" go?  So I decided it was time to take my Son to the rock, Beacon Rock of course. Its a HUGE rock sitting on the banks of the Columbia about 140 miles from home. So we charged up, drove out there and... The Rock was closed.



View of Beacon Rock taken while standing on shoulder of highway. 
Yeah, directions not needed. Its impossible to miss

So we backtracked a quarter mile and stopped at Beacon Rock State Park and did the "Rock to Beach" hike.  I guess we wanted to see what we were missing



Now that the side views were done, we switched to top view which meant crossing the highway and heading for the Hamilton Mountain Trailhead.


Along the way we had several nice detours




But we did get our picture!  I have another panorama shot but it simply didn't turn out but we can see the top of the Rock!

This was taken when we were just past the halfway mark. 

After almost 6 hours on the mountain, it was time to jet. Next stop was the nearly brand new Vancouver Plaza Electrify America Station and it didn't disappoint

202.75 amps! An all time high!

After 14 minutes, we had just about enough to make it home so we left. Realistically, it was a pee stop charge.  The stations were situated at the far end of the Target parking lot so not sure we had enough time for pee and food to go!  

15.8 cents/kwh is more than acceptable as an on the road
expense. Again, a weird charging curve as it charged at 202 amps
for like 6 minutes then suddenly dropped to 191 amps (sound familiar?) 


The final tally; a 300 mile road trip with charging that added maybe 30 minutes to the trip.  I will take that any day!   FYI; no I did not miscalculate the charge needed. We stopped at Red Robin on the way home and grabbed just about 8%.  Realize that "6% GOM" equals "16% LEAF Spy" 

When An Extra 14 Minutes To Charge Is Too Long

Beacon Rock was Wednesday's trip.  Thursday it was the Western Olympic Peninsula; home of ZERO DC charging options.  The original plan was to do the 101 loop and charge at Dan Wilder Nissan but their normally very reliable DC charger was down and the EA station is not up yet but there was still the downtown charger to use but after mulling it over, I decided that the day after the Rock needed to be a bit shorter so decided on just a short round trip instead.  

The weather reports were not good and rain was predicted (in a rain forest?? How can that be!!) So the idea of a 260 mile trip in a car that did do 260 miles in very good weather, was not all that appealing so I simply added a hike that just happened to be a few hundred yards from Kalaloch Lodge near Forks, WA. (yeah, the vampire place) 

Kalaloch Lodge; SemaConnect Level 2 "drive up, plug in" 

We did the Kalaloch Nature Hike which is on the mountain side of Highway 101 a few hundred yards down the road. Just over 3 miles in distance allowing me to gain 6.91 kwh which was more than enough to make it home. 





On return, it was time to head to our destination; Ruby Beach. I will post only a few shots because there is simply so much to see...well, if you like rocks and driftwood that is.






Soon, it was time to head home but not before detouring to the "Big Cedar" 




On the way up, it rained about 80% of the time but as soon as we hit the coast, it cleared up. So Kalaloch, Ruby Beach and the Big Cedar, not a drop fell. I couldn't believe our luck but rain covered at least half our trip home with clear skies after cresting the hills just outside Olympia allowing us to bump from 4.2 miles/kwh to our final 4.3


Total distance was 266.0 miles and still have range to spare! (TBT; I only posted this pix for Gen One LEAFers!) 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Evaluating Range Needs In A Nissan LEAF

Previously, the car buying decision was all about deciding if the bling A you wanted was worth paying for package Z containing bling A.  After that, it was pick the color, negotiate a price and go.  Well, things have changed since EVs hit the street.  Not only is there the dilemma of several different charging protocols, there is also pack sizes. Nissan has joined Tesla in offering more than one pack size and soon this will be the norm in the industry so what is important to know?

In The Beginning

Back in 2010 when we were all anxiously awaiting the LEAF (the only real option back then) to arrive, we all evaluated our range needs based on two things; Nissan's claim of a 100 mile range and the EPA claim of 80 something miles (later changed to 73 miles due to the 80% charge setting according to them anyway...)

But that was not real world and despite Nissan issuing a chart detailing several driving scenarios and ranges expected, most people ignored the chart or simply didn't know it existed.  There is not one single report of a chart sighting at any dealership in the US... not one.

But if customers had seen the chart, they would have realized that their 100 mile EV could do no better than 47 miles under certain conditions. I would post the chart but even the chart gets it wrong... Ah! I will post the chart anyway since many do not believe it ever existed.



Now that we see the chart, experienced LEAFers will immediately point out that the bottom two ranges are flip flopped.  A/C uses nowhere near as much power as the heat. 47 miles in Winter especially with snow on the ground could make even 47 miles a challenge and you didn't have to drive 4 hours to find out!


Driving Blind

January 18, 2011 I made the journey about 50 miles to pick up my 2011 SL with charge. I expected to hit the dealership just before noon with my 3 year old Son in tow so expected to be home by late afternoon.  That did not happen.  This was one of the first LEAF deliveries in the state and my dealer had no clue what was going on.  I had intended to purchase the car but while fighting with the dealership over sales tax (of which there was none) I had an epiphany and realized that spending over $28,000 (after credits, etc) for V 1.0 was a mistake.

So I flipped to a lease. This created another delay.  So after spending over 3 hours trying to figure out how to create a lease that did not include sales tax, they finally decided to call corporate who spent about 5 minutes providing them a workaround.  To make a long story short, I left the dealership around 7 PM.  (I had to return a few days later to sign another lease form anyway)

Anyway, I am now driving home in the dark of a January night with heat enough to keep my son from freezing (later I realized he is MUCH more cold tolerant than I am) and my range display starts blinking and the dash lights up with all these dire warnings and I am still more than 10 miles from home.  I was unceremoniously introduced to the World of range anxiety!

Scotch Tape Is Your Friend

Later, I realized that all my panic was for naught. It was a brand new car with nearly 22 kwh of energy of which I could easily use over 20 kwh to get me anywhere. Even in winter (which ours is relatively mild and nowhere near as bad as the scenario in the chart above) I had more than enough range.  Soon new acronyms flooded the LEAF online community; LBW, VLB, GOM, POS... (JK on last one!)

Jan 26, 2012; A few weeks before GIDmeter. Notice only 3 power circles remain?  Proof 100 miles in Winter was possible (No, it was far far far from easy!) 

By now, it was obvious that 100 miles on a charge required a lot of things to go right which means the real question is how far can the average person go? Who was willing to have a tow truck follow them to find out?  Realize this was waaaaay before public charging was commonplace.  In my city, we had Lacey City Halls level 1 plugs that had been there for years and the summer before, the water treatment plant had a level 2 installed and due to proactive NEVer, we had a half dozen businesses around town offering wall plugs for the needy to plug into but that was about it.  Realize how little we had BUT it was much much more than nearly everywhere else in country who had NOTHING.

But the LEAF was cutting edge tech which naturally drew a lot of techies. Soon DIY projects started popping up. The main goal was digging up what Nissan was hiding under the LEAF dash.  Soon, the "Gidmeter" was available in a kit you could build.  It's various displays showed voltage, current but the most important thing; it revealed the actual capacity of the  pack in GID's.

Now, we don't really know what a GID actually is other than it counts down as the power is taken from the pack and it counts up when power is added to the pack.  Thru some reverse math, observations, etc. It was initially determined a GID was about 80 watt hours of stored power.


Later, a value of 77.5 watt hours of power was settled on. the 2011-12's had 281 GID at full power while my 2013 had 284 GID and several 2015'ers reported 292 GID (if you ever needed proof Nissan WAS working the battery issue ALL the time, this is it)

Now we knew how much the LEAF had when full and that was nice and all but not really what we needed.  It was all about avoiding walking, pushing, or sitting in the front seat of a tow truck. The real question was how low can we go!  (Thank you Limbo dancers for that phrase!)  but the GIDmeter allowed us to report to each other what we were able to obtain. Some got to 4, some to 6 before Turtle arrived (the point when LEAF restricts current draw from battery).  This allowed us to know within a few 10th of a mile how much range we had.

Armed with GIDmeter, the "100 mile" challenge quickly lost its appeal. It simply wasn't that hard any more.

Despite being a few miles from 100 with plenty to spare, it was no longer worth 
circling the neighborhood like the "pre GIDmeter" days.  

But despite a ton of pictorial evidence, people still freaked out over the GOM to which we advised; If you want a LEAF with longer range, tape over the GOM and get GIDmeter!

Degradation

Soon the "good old days" (which kinda sucked actually) evolved to the life of plenty. We now have a bunch of charging options.

AV Tumwater May 2012

Packs grew and soon the challenge was 300 miles but there was still a case of packs degrading. Some went downhill fast, some lasted a long time.  This caused a HUGE amount of misinformation on social media including many who thought that Nissan had "fixed" something so the reason they removed the 80% charge setting was because it was now ok to charge to 100% all the time.  This couldn't be farther from the truth. There are major physical challenges Lithium based packs face and NO AMOUNT OF TMS, BMS will fix it and that is higher rates of degradation at high voltages.  EVERY EV manufacturer knows this and EVERY EV manufacturer who has TMS also has custom charge settings to help the user preserve their packs. 

To add to the confusion; LEAF battery reports which only evaluates the driver NOT the battery pack had people claiming they still had 100% SOH because they earned 5 stars.  Others who admittedly never challenged the range of their LEAFs claiming no degradation while charging to 100% unnecessarily because they still had 12 capacity bars. 

For some reason; many LEAFers thought the #1 reason for degradation was lack of TMS and that is simply NOT TRUE.  It definitely doesn't help and heat is a problem but not the main problem.  Degradation is a combination of a lot of things;

Climate
driving style
driving need
charging habits
DoD (depth of discharge)
Time

Add in TMS and the list is 

driving style
driving need
charging habits
DoD
Time 

A Tale of Two LEAFers

The Pacific Northwest, particularly the Puget Sound region of Western Washington has long been known as a sort of "EV Nirvana" Our near idyllic weather which is not too cold, not too hot, has mitigated a lot of the climate issues which minimizes the benefits of TMS here.  This is illustrated quite well with Steve "the quarter million mile LEAFer" and John.   Both live in the area and have long commutes but there are huge differences in their LEAF experience. 

Steve

Steve had two LEAFs; a 2011 and 2014. Both basically fared the same. Both lost their first bars at just over 70,000 miles.  Steve's commute was about 67 miles one way. He charge to full on level 2 every night and plugged in immediately to level 2 charger upon arriving to work in the morning usually being fully charged by early afternoon.  His commute was nearly all freeway and he drove conservatively usually around 65 mph.  By 100,000 miles both his LEAFs were all but done.  DC charging did help him get more use out of his LEAFs but he was all but forced to get something different and at the time 30 kwh was not enough. 

John

John has a 2015 LEAF. His commute was a bit shorter at 50 miles. He charged to full every night on level 2 then stopped at a DC charger near his work and charged up to around 80-90% give or take for the drive home.  Unlike Steve, the bulk of his commute was on state highways with speed limits of 55 mph that passed thru several small towns with speed limits dropping to as low as 20 mph.  Although his drive seems inconvenient, it avoided the mess on I-5 so really only took a bit more time and was quite a bit less stressful of a drive.   At 100,000 miles his LEAF was LESS THAN halfway to losing its first bar. 

12 bars @ 150,000 miles 

DoD

Now everyone with a 2015 will confirm the "Lizard" pack improvements were nowhere near enough to explain the disparity.  So why were these two experiences so different? Climate (and TMS) wouldn't have changed anything.  A deeper look suggests that DoD was a key factor.  With an estimated 73 miles of range, Steve's commute used 84% DoD (based on 80 mile range) while John's commute used 63% or less. The 2015 pack had more power available but probably less than a kwh over Steve's 2014.  Steve charged to 100% twice a day while John only charged to 100% once per day.

Even if they had it, 80% charging would not have covered their needs very well.  It should be noted that the difference in driving conditions and styles probably plays a part. John likely used regen a lot more due to more speed changes required on his route and he prided himself on gentle driving with very modest acceleration and maintaining constant velocity as much as possible. This would have lowered his DoD needs as well.  But Steve's real claim to fame (IMHO) was his ability to get over 80,000 miles from his OEM Ecopia's. Yes, he was the first LEAFer to go over 100,000 miles in a LEAF in the US but to my knowledge; his tire longevity record still stands alone with no one even close.  This means his driving style was unlikely to be radical.  

Charging (Again!)

I could realistically access a dozen past blogs and simply cut and paste this entire section. I have repeated this information over and over and over.  Sadly, Nissan is now the ONLY major EV manufacturer without custom charge settings and it is literally KILLING their reputation.  Lithium packs have the same needs and desires as people.  They don't like living on the edge. They sweat in the heat, shiver in the cold. They simply want to live a comfortable stress free life just like us. So what does all that mean?

Lithium prefers life in the middle; 50% SOC as much as possible.  (actually its closer to 45% for long term storage) This is the ONLY thing you need to keep in mind when charging the car.

Back in the "good old days" we charged the car daily because it simply didn't have "2 day range." Nowadays, my car has 5 day range and TBH, that includes a MONSTEROUS buffer.  So my charging habits have morphed from a top 5 priority to...well nothing really.  I don't even think about it any more and its hurting my pack.

My mind is literally still in "24 kwh" mode.  I used to get home from work nearly every day with less than 10 GID in the tank and that was accomplished by carefully monitoring my speed, distance, and power usage. My 2013 and 2016 had an SOC meter on the dash and I venture to say the total number of times I referenced that information on BOTH cars was well less than half a dozen times. It was all about understanding how the GOM worked and how much farther I had to go.

Today in my E Plus, I glance at the GOM, see 60 miles knowing I am only going 20 and poof! No longer care about speed, power usage or charging... HUGE MISTAKE!!

Charge Every Day!

Battery U has done a lot of testing on Lithium and it is or should be well known that many many shallow DoD charges are better for long term battery life than a few big DoD charges.

In one test, they determined cycles to degrade a pack to 70% of its original capacity.  In the 80% test (90 to 10% SOC) which many think is a good thing because its not charging to full; it took ~300 cycles to degrade the pack.  Multiplying; we can assign a "range value" of 24,000 which is simply 80% capacity added * 300 charges.

60% DoD took about 600 cycles with a range value of 36,000 (remember the two LEAFers above?)

40% DoD took 1,000 cycles or a range value of 40,000.

My current daily commute is about 24.5 miles more or less (depending on where I park at work) and my E Plus has a range of 250 miles at this time of year so I use about 10% DoD daily.  At 10% DoD, my range value is 60,000.

So why charge every day?  As mentioned, the battery wants to be around 50% SOC. Be it 45 to 55% like me or 20 to 80% like John.  Even in more extreme cases like John, the predominance of time spent is around the midrange SOC level.  Another reason why its important is heat. Yes, I said its not the main cause of degradation because its not but it's still a factor and I mention it now because too many people have the wrong idea about what heat means.  Even at very moderate temperatures commonly seen in the Pacific Northwest, the relationship between SOC, temperature AND time is critical.  Below a chart and realize this chart should only be used for relational information only. Chemistries have improved which help but the phenomena is a simple fact of physics and chemistry. Heat is a catalyst, not a cause.


Without TMS, this is the least controllable factor of degradation; temperature. This chart should make it plainly obvious what our options are.  Looking at the 25º C line (that is 77º F) , its a 500% increase in degradation if charged to 100%.  In my world, 77º is a nice warm day. Nowhere near hot. Raise the temperature, raise the degradation.  Granted we are talking a year which is a good thing in that charging to 100% when you need it even if you need it a lot isn't going to hurt "a lot" but it will hurt, make no mistake on that.  But its also a bad thing because the "hit" is so small. We lose the ability to understand how detrimental our day to day actions are especially when we are doing this needlessly which brings me to something that all of you have heard me say.

Charge ONLY to the level you need to cover today's driving needs. 

You and you alone are the only one who can determine what that level will be because it not only has to cover your expected daily needs but also a buffer that will cover your likely unexpected needs. Now we are all by and large creatures of habit especially during the work week. My schedule varies so little on days I work its...well boring.   I have a half dozen places I may stop at on the way home but they are literally on the way so I might add 10 miles to the commute but most of the times I am adding less than 2 miles. 

Now on my days off, its wide open. Road trips, family stuff, etc. It covers a very wide range of driving needs but all that is planned in advance so no real surprises and yeah 62 kwh helps a TON with that. It is nice to charge to 50% and have enough to cover my needs plus a 100 mile buffer!

My Recommendation

If you have done your charging needs evaluation and you feel  you have to charge to 100% then you are driving the wrong car.  FYI; the "90% to 10%" idea is BS. Anyone using more than 70% of their range should be charging to full but that is a LOT of need and few of us are there unless we are in the used EV market.

So if you want an EV that will last you 10 years, get one that covers your needs with a 40% DoD

Friday, June 12, 2020

E Plus Summer Range Test

Now that most of the region was in phase 2, it was time for a range test. I could have just figured out a loop of the right length but there was no way my ass would survive nearly 4 hours in a car in one shot so decided that a goal was better so the plan was lunch in Portland and back to my home in Olympia. Round trip distance; 242 miles.  There is of course the Olympic Peninsula route but a pending EA site in Port Angeles means I might just have to wait for that site to open first. The other thing was I had already promised myself my next peninsula trip  would be with my Son camping... somewhere.

The Plan

The route will be 90% freeway. I decided a Thursday would be best for minimal traffic. Heading down in mid morning, spending enough time in town and heading back mid afternoon, I would miss any rush hour traffic. Only real requirement. The destination has to be less than 3 miles off the freeway.

I used cruise control set to 65 mph and only needed to bump the speed in 1 mph increments up and down to account for traffic.  Over half the trip the speed limit was 70 with 60 in Olympia, Tumwater, Centralia/Chehalis and Vancouver/Kelso. 

SOC; GOM Verses LEAF Spy

It should be well known that the dash info is not a good tool to use for a range test.  Recently someone did a range test in the Plus stopping at 1% SOC (maybe it was 2%)  to charge figuring that they had really "risked it for science" by going that far. It took me several minutes to recover from my uncontrollable bout of laughter which is why when anyone asks the best method to extend the range of the LEAF, my answer is "Get LEAF Spy."

Now the reasons should be quite obvious. Despite both being labeled "SOC"  they don't even run on the same scale.   The GOM runs 100% to Zero (or "_ _ _"  which does appear after 1%)  LEAF Spy runs from about 98% to 1.5% and both LEAF Spy numbers are dependent on cell balance.  The highest charge I have ever gotten was 99.3% but typical is the low to mid 98's. The lowest 1.4% so the range of LEAF Spy's SOC meter is essentially less than 97%.   Now we know that LEAF Spy shows "real" SOC and if the GOM showed "usable" SOC, I would be OK with that, but it doesn't.

So what I did is record the LEAF Spy SOC every time the GOM SOC ticked downwards.  I was able to capture each reading as the GOM updated except for 7 but at no time did I miss more than one reading (IOW, I caught 77%, missed 76% and caught 75%) I used the dictation program on my phone so it was simply a question of collecting the data after I got home.

Now LEAF Spy only shows SOC in .1% increments but does not actually calculate it that way and there were a few times when LEAF Spy incremented a split second after the GOM so I took the lower reading in those cases.  This means a .1% variance is possible.


Points to Ponder

** In ECO mode, I had an estimate of 251 miles but in D mode, the estimate was 235 or just a touch over EPA.  LEAF Spy was 252.2 miles at 4.5 miles/kwh and 1% SOC (my average over past 3 days before test was 4.4 miles/kwh)

** At 88.0% SOC, Both the GOM and LEAF Spy AGREE!!

** At 59% SOC GOM/ 63.0% LEAF Spy, the range estimate agrees (LEAF Spy set to 4.3 miles/kwh to match GOM)

**The largest gap happened at 22 and 21% when the gap was 10.7%.  This a radical change from previous versions of the LEAF which includes the 40 kwh LEAF where the reserve continues to grow all the way to zero which means...

** The GOM seems to run in 3 distinct phases; The first incrementing .8 or .9% from 100% changing to .7 or .8% in the mid ranges and then starting at 20% SOC, over 1% until the final gasp where its a 1.8% increment from 1% to ZERO.

** The data

LEAF BMS/LBC

There are many scientific reasons why we should not charge beyond our needs. We all know full charges increase the rate of degradation but the ideology that 80% is a golden number is also wrong. You want to stay around 50% SOC as much as possible for longest life.  But I recently came across a LEAF Spy screenshot that I was convinced was altered or "something"


Notice something here? Ok forget the ultra tight cell balance, the HUGE degradation, etc.   Look at the lower left corner; 100% SOC??? WTF!!!   This explains the degradation issues.

Has anyone ever seen anything like this? I was shocked when my 40 kwh pack charged to 99.3% It only did it once and 2nd highest was 98.54% The rest were in the 97% range. In an effort to see how high I could go I bumped my charge twice (unplug when charge is complete and plug in to restart) and got no more than 98.3% (poor top end balancing I guess?  This was only the 2nd time at 100% per dash. The first time was when I picked it up from the dealer)

But this "playing with fire" should be enough to make anyone nervous.  Just another reason why charging to full on a regular basis is a bad idea and should only be done when the need is that great and immediately after the charge is completed.  The reality is BMS/LBC programming is apparently still work in progress!

The Charge

On my Winter Range test of sorts,  the end balancing of the pack too much longer than expected so I unplugged at 98% SOC. The car was only charging between 4 to 7 amps so wasn't missing a whole lot.  Well, the same thing happened here.  I get roughly 10% per hour of charge and the timer was set to start at 4 AM and add about 36% of charge.  At 8:30, I checked it expecting to be finished and it was still charging this time around 8 amps.  Ok, this was familiar.

Notice the OAT of 73º? Garage was nowhere near that warm. Looks like thermometer is too close
to the inverter which does get warm during AC (doesn't heat up during DC charging) charging. 

98% implies that there is still nearly 1.5 kwh to add. My meter which only shows one kwh increments did not change but its maximum  error could be 1.5 kwh so we will consider that if deciding to upgrade the meter some day.  BUT....

Hitting The Road!




So after completing the charge AND bumping it twice, I am now at 100% SOC per the GOM and my range... has gone down.  Yeah well, its the GOM, right!


So everything was set...except for the weather. It was raining. The weather stated 40% chance of rain so it was kind of a coin flip.  Taking off, I decided to aim for downtown Vancouver instead which was a 15 mile shorter drive round trip.  The wet roads lasted until around Castle Rock, then we flipped to partially cloudy skies and by the time I got to Vancouver, the A/C was on.


Arrival Vancouver

I was beginning to think my alternate route was a mistake since the weather was now quite gorgeous but then again 

FREE parking downtown Vancouver until June 30th!

So Vancouver was turning out to be as good a decision as the weather! Using Yelp, I found a parking space that had at least a half dozen highly rated eateries within a few blocks.  I was literally 2 blocks down the street when I saw this


Outside dining on the covered porch was simply too good to pass up! But I elected to do the A/C inside and that turned out to be the right decision as it got very warm in the direct sun and after a large bowl of pho noodles, I was more than warmed up! 

Another reason I selected Vancouver was due to a city park surrounding Lake Vancouver near by.  They had a lot of walking trails so after lunch I headed over there. 

Obviously someone with COVID 19 had been swimming here! 😏

After a few miles of walking off the food (Got a sandwich as well!) It was time to head back. My plan was to get back to town before the afternoon rush started.  The drive home was uneventful and warm. A/C was on most of the trip. My A/C does not respond to the thermostat which means despite it being set to 84º, it gets a bit too cold sometimes.  So I toggle the compressor on and off. I guess its better than not cold enough. 

LBW came on at 14.6% SOC per LEAF Spy and soon after that, I hit EPA!


I got back to town a few miles later but couldn't stop since my SOC data was not complete so I wandered around town a bit, did make a few quick stops and finally

Zero % SOC on GOM achieved at 237.4 miles. Yeah, was slow taking picture but only because it too so long to change. Increment from 1% to zero was 1.8% SOC on LEAF Spy! 

Why LEAF Spy Adds Range You Didn't Know You Had

So for all intensive purposes and for any writer reviewing the LEAF, the car has given its all, right?  The GOM range has been all dashes since 227.3 miles, the SOC  has been all dashes since 237.4 miles so we are done, right? On the verge of entering the "Towing Hall of Shame" right? 

Yeah well, we shall see. I decided to swing by the West Oly EA site to see if the cut cables had been replaced so that was a quick jaunt on the freeway there and back and then to the store and then home. Remember the 251 mile estimate on the GOM this morning?  Well, I have been bashing the GOM all day and well, lets face it; The job was not complete until... 

GOM exceeded and LEAF Spy says I still have enough for a MiSo run! 


Saturday, June 6, 2020

April/May 2020 Drive Report

It appears no one missed last month's report so I felt a reminder that you should be anxiously awaiting each month's report was appropriate. 😊

Since this report is covering 2 months, a report on the battery's 90 day adjustment is next and yes it happened pretty much right on schedule.  If you recall, the first adjustment was the largest ever  (2 cars!) so being a bit apprehensive was a bit of a concern despite multiple reports of  milder adjustments coming from all over the World.  This one started April 25 (the first one started January 25th and lasted 9 days) and ran 4 days.  I lost 1.29% SOH this time so hardly a good thing but at least it wasn't an extreme thing like the first one when I lost over 2½%.  Probably not a factor but in 2 of the 4 days, I DC'd and drove over 90 miles.

Either way, my current stats has me at ahr 167.90, SOH 95.18% with just over 8800 miles.  My mileage totals would have been much lower but had a unique opportunity to be part of a labor shift at work in order to address rapidly escalating needs caused by COVID 19.  This meant my normal 25 mile round trip commute went to 47 to 50 miles one way.  Yes, I was paid a bit more to do this but the real incentive was being paid 57 cents per mile from my home. 

I had only intended to do this for a few weeks just to see what it was like but after getting my first two reimbursement deposits, I quickly decided I was riding this cash cow into the ground! I mention this as justification for my driving over 3000 miles during the height of the stay at home phase.  I ended up doing 6 weeks at 4 days a week banking over $1300 in travel reimbursements.  All my charging during the first 3 weeks used my EVgo promo received when I picked up my E Plus.  EVgo sweetened the pot by dropping its lowest per minute rates 25% and removing the subscription requirement due to COVID.  This COVID  pricing was recently extended to June 30th.  I suspect that will be extended again.  The last 3 weeks, I only used EVgo on the last day of the work week, charging at home for the rest of the week. This was mostly done to gather info on best charge timer settings.

For the month of April, I drove 1668.2 miles averaging 3.93 miles/kwh using 400.54 kwh from EVgo and 6 kwh from home costing me an all time high for the Plus of $5.57 (8.44 cents/kwh)  In May I traveled 1354.2 miles averaging 4.11 miles/kwh using 118.57 kwh from EVgo and 236 kwh from home costing me $20.41.  (Guess that record didn't last long)

Neither month saw me using public AC charging. My main use is at Capital Mall in West Olympia when seeing a movie. Looks like that won't be happening any time soon... Hopefully Cinemark does not go under before then. Their movie club is a bargain.

Managing SOC

As mentioned, my long commutes enabled me to play with charge timers and I found the easiest way to control SOC was to set the timer so the car is still actively charging when you get up or are planning to leave.  Since I was normally up 90 minutes to 3 hours before my scheduled departure for work, I had that much leeway as far as how long I wanted to charge.  This meant not having to adjust my settings every day.  But even if adjustments were necessary, it quickly became a 10 second task after learning the navigation settings to the correct place.

Now I am still using the EVSE I got for my 2013 LEAF which did have a 6.6 KW AC charger but my panel was not up to the task. Living in an old house, my panel is a Zinsco which has since been banned for new construction or upgrades. This means getting breakers for the panel is all but out of the question.  Luckily, I  had an unused 30 amp breaker than had been used for a pump on the old septic system so I am restricted to 24 amp charging which is fine by me.  I have never been inconvenienced by this but then again, if you have followed this blog you would know I have done minimal home charging over the past 3½ years.

Well, that gravy train is all but gone. I have only a few bucks left on the EVgo promo, my NCTC expired in February so I am on my own. Either way, it took all of a few days to see that I charge about 10% per hour.  I say "about" because the LEAF SOC meter is not linear.

Now what makes sense is the meter on showing usable capacity and that would be great...but it doesn't. It has a hidden reserve that slowly grows as the SOC drops. When the SOC meter hits zero you have about 20 miles of range on the Plus so keep that in mind before you complain you didn't hit the EPA numbers.

With the Plus, the error is a non issue. Whether I charge to 60% or 65% is not important to me.  Its more than double (in some cases quadruple) the range I expect to need that day and its in the "good for battery" zone so all is good.

Decoding the Algorithm

Another thing I wanted to look into is why these 90 day adjustments are happening.  The 2018's all seemed to follow the exact same pattern. Numbers never rose. They either went down very slowly or stayed the same then after 90 days they would drop a chunk.  This went on for nearly everyone for 12 to 18 months then nearly everyone saw an adjustment that went up. There was also adjustments that stayed the same or simply were too small to notice (not everyone checks the LEAF Spy daily like I do)

Then the Plus came along and the 90 day adjustments are still there but this time there is a twist. Most are seeing small adjustments between ¾ to 1¼% but then we started seeing reports that people on their 2nd or 3rd adjustments saw numbers go up!  Remember the March 2020 Drive report?  I quoted a LEAFer in Phoenix who has gone double the miles I have and has half the degradation. But unlike me who has done 90% DC charging, he mostly does AC charging AND he always charges to full!

Now its one thing to state the obvious that Nissan is making progress towards a cell chemistry that doesn't need active cooling but to do it in Phoenix is way over the top!  Either way, I still do not recommend charging beyond what you need.  So if you need 200+ miles that day, charge to full!  But if you need 50 miles that day, I don't see any good reason to charge over 70-75%.

But maybe there is another reason for these adjustments? Could they be evaluations or predictions of how our pack will go? It isn't really possible for a pack to gain capacity so what other explanation is there for the increases?  What if our habits during one 90 day period were particularly bad so we got a very large drop but then the next 90 day period our habits were very good. Would that cause a change to the algorithm that created that very large drop so extreme that it results in an increase? 

Now I know this is pretty far out there but then again, I am in a unique position in that I am going from nearly all DC charging to nearly all AC charging.  Will this make a difference in my next adjustment? 

Breaking Down the Adjustments

As mentioned my first adjustment started Jan 25 or 2 months and a week after I picked up the car. This implies a build date "around" October 25, 2019 and 10/19 is the build date of record. Unfortunately, there were several other unusual events preceding the start of the adjustment including my 2nd full charge (the first was done by the dealership) for my Olympic Peninsula drive.

First Adjustment

First thing you will notice is nearly all my charging was DC @ 648.489 kwh.  Adding that it was winter this means I was charging the car every 2-4 days so my battery temps were generally low in the upper 40's to 50's most of the time.  Don't know if that matters but just putting it out there. 

Second Adjustment

My 2nd adjustment the high DC usage continues. During this adjustment I drove 3534.7 miles, adding 835.66 kwh of DC recording 875.1 kwh usage from the dash. So pretty much the same charging pattern as before.  This adjustment started during my 3rd week of labor share commuting. 

Currently I am now 50/50 on DC/AC charging since the 2nd adjustment. We shall see at the end of July if it made a difference. The results would be more valid if it was still Winter but I am planning a quarter of near 100% AC charging right after next January's adjustment so stay tuned. 

If you have any questions about the data presented, chime in thru the comments. If you are wondering, there is probably someone else wondering the same thing. 

Friday, April 3, 2020

March 2020 Drive Report; All Kinds of Range and Nowhere To Go

COVID 19 has arrived and despite the lackadaisical response from the trump administration, it has hit us just as hard as it promised.  California all but closed its doors on the 19th.  WA closed all dining areas on the 18th. I predicted our daily death toll would exceed 1,000 by April 1st and sadly, I was right. So driving is minimal, work is not.  But things are calming down somewhat on the supply chain side anyway.  A lot of that is due to restrictions put in place to eliminate panic buying.  But at least this is the first time in the past 5 weeks I am not working overtime.  So I am back to my normal 3 day weekends for the time being and...not a whole lot to do.

The Numbers

For the month, I traveled 1098.8 miles @ 4.21 miles/kwh costing me $4.22 (8.44 cents/kwh)  in home electricity costs. I did use 234.9 kwh from my current EVgo Nissan Perks Program that would have cost me $73.25. As it stands, I have $149.63 in credit left to use.  Because the theaters are closed down, my use of Volta has trickled down to near zero with only one stint gaining 13 kwh.  What can I say? With no sit down restaurants working, no movies and only a handful of shops open (against State COVID guidelines, I might add) there just isn't a whole lot to do there.  The one time I did plug in was to walk around to check out possible places to go and to check the progress of the West Olympia EA station which was only 2 blocks away.

Since this was not an adjustment month, not a whole lot to report on the degradation front.  I ended the month with ahr of 170.72 (down .18) and SOH 96.78% (down .09%).  In monitoring other E Plus stats from around the World, I am realizing that my first adjustment was double the norm. So does this mean I won't see another adjustment for 6 months instead of the usual 3?

I have also wondered if my large drop was due to nearly 100% DC charging?  Tesla heats up its pack to better accept a charge and they are doing fine albeit with different chemistry and my charging has only been during the cold weather season so I am rarely seeing batt temps over 80º with DC charging and now wondering if cold pack charging is a good thing like it used to be?  More on that below.

Pandemic Promos 

Both EA and EVgo have lowered costs to charge at their stations during the COVID Crisis.  EVgo has dropped their per minute rates to 20 cents from 25 cents.  This drops my average cost to charge to roughly 27 cents/kwh.  Better but far from good.  If you are on the road and need a charge, its fine but there are cheaper options.

And EA is one of them. They normally charge $4 a month to get their lowest price which in WA is 18 cents/minute.  But EA stations charge faster if you are driving an E Plus so my average on those stations was down to 17.2 cents/kwh.  Since my cost per kwh is lower than the cost per minute, this means I am averaging more than 60 KW during the session.

Now EA still only has one Chademo per location but the locations have doubled in the  past year.  5 new locations are now being built including another one in my town in West Olympia.  Again, not what I would like to see as far as placement especially when everything west of me is still uncovered including the entire Olympic Peninsula.

Clock

This is weird. On my previous LEAFs I don't remember this being an issue but for the 3rd time, I had to move my clock forward 2 minutes.  This means for some reason, the clock is either

counting time too slowly

stopping briefly for some reason.

Now the losing time slowly does not "seem" to be the case since the last time I had to reset the time was a few months ago.  Losing time slowly is something I would have noticed sooner I would think.  But it was jump in the car and notice the clock is not right.  Now 2 minutes here and there is something that "most" people don't notice or care about.  I am not one of those people and never have been.  Back in the dinosaur age of computers, my PC was always on Atomic Time where it sync'd with some sort of super accurate Timex in Colorado or some place (just a joke there...) .   With the advent of cellphones and their tight integration with GPS; being on the same page with time is critical so my phone now takes care of that.  With my car being connected to my home Wi Fi ALL the time its home (I see the "disconnected from ..." message every day when I get out of range) one would think...
No... ALL except Nissan apparently, would think that time would be one of the things the connection would keep in sync.

The Heat Is ON!

Many times I had commented on the 40 kwh pack not seemingly being affected by differences in climate from ALL over the World.  It seemed like the degradation rate of every pack was in lockstep with variances very small.

This trend has continued with the E Plus packs and one of the earliest E Plus owners posted his recent stats.

Here are a couple of data points from my car: Initial Leaf Spy reading at 64 miles on 8/11/2019: 175.15 AHr, 99.29% SOH, 98.19% Hx, 1 QC, 6 L1/L2, 64 ODO. Tonight at 14,164 miles on 4/2/2020: 172.77 AHr, 97.94% SOH, 113.77% Hx, 4 QC, 103 L1/L2, 14,164 ODO.

The car was manufactured in July 2020 and purchased on August 10, 2020 with 30 miles on the odometer (my dealer picked it up the day it was delivered to a dealer across town).

 At 100,000 miles his Ahr (estimated amount of charge in the pack) will be 158 ahr or 90.4% of his original capacity.   Now realize that time is a degradation factor that even Tesla's suffer from so his stats will be a bit better looking than most due to his averaging 20,000 miles a year driving. That is the "not so good" news.  His location?  He lives in the area world renowned for battery longevity; Phoenix Arizona. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

LEAF Battery Upgrades Comes to Washington!

I have seen dozens of 2011-12 LEAFs on sale ranging in price from $3,000 to as low as $500.  Granted, they are 8 and 9 year old cars and some people are simply hard on their vehicles.  But even showroom new LEAFs were selling well below their value and the reason?  Range.  In my last blog, I detailed how Nissan is giving some of those early adopters viable options for restoring that new range to their LEAFs and this is a good thing. Many of them have a LOT of life left in them. (if not range)

But Nissan made a mistake when introducing the 24 kwh version. The first adopters were generally higher income, techies, greeners or whatever  and most tended to have high paying jobs in city centers that allowed them the luxury of living in the more desirable suburbs and its higher quality of life.

This meant the average 38 miles a day driven in America was frequently their one way commuting distance.  This was simply too much strain on the smaller pack. Tesla understood this immediately when ending their 40 kwh option. It simply wasn't enough for proper battery maintenance and longevity.

Now there are a lot of reasons early LEAF packs degraded quickly and deep cycling of the pack may not have been a chief cause but the limited range of the 24 kwh pack, no or very little public charging, and range anxiety meant many were charging to 100% in less than desirable conditions. This mean few battery management options for most.

As mentioned in the previous blog, Nissan is having a bit of a fire sale on 24 kwh packs pricing them at $4500 after exchange (yes, you MUST give up your old pack) plus labor and parts (bracket required for 2011. 2012 and Japanese made 2013 models.)   That meant a like new car for well under $10,000.   Two have done it so far but with the multitudes of 24 kwh LEAFers out there, why is there not a rush to the dealership to get this done. This is the reason I switched from buying to leasing at the last second.  I realized that 24 kwh would never work for me long term no matter how well the pack stood up. It simply wasn't enough range.  I wasn't alone.


DIYers To The Rescue!

You may have noticed that EVers have had relatively little support. Many dealers stock EVs on the lot but do everything they can to not sell them.  Even when a dealer is motivated to sell, they simply don't have the knowledge or intentionally misleads the buyer into believing something that is not true.  This has been mitigated a bit by social media where I recommend one go to get advice before making any purchase decision.   Advice; the more detailed you are in your ask, the more likely you will get information you can use. Generalize and you will get general answers you must sort thru and no one should make a purchase decision based on that!

Early on, two apps emerged quickly as the go to for the adventurous LEAFer; Plugshare and LEAF Spy Pro.  Both were basic grass roots campaigns that came into being mostly on the backs of a handful of people; most of which were simply EVers looking for some help. Instead of waiting for manufacturers to give us tools, they went out and filled the need.

As  LEAF pack capacities started to grow (while battery cases did not) the common question became "why can't I pay extra to get the bigger pack?"

Nissan's blanket answer was simply "Due to programming changes and other issues, that is not technically possible nor financially feasible."   And that was the end of it.  Thankfully, some people just can't take no for an answer.

Success!! If You Are Willing To Travel... A LONG Way

Undeterred by Nissan telling us it was impossible, tinkerers went to work. Just over a year ago, stories of progress started emerging.  New things were learned and shared and others took that knowledge, added a bit of their own.

Soon, working success stories started populating social media. Last summer,  A 24 kwh LEAF with a 18 kwh extender by Muxsan in the Netherlands.  A great solution perfectly integrated into the BMS and charging system.  But it took up space. Still something that would be useful for many. But that solution was 5,000 miles away on the far side of the Atlantic Ocean.  Yeah, Europe was happy but...

During this time, stories from New Zealand from people discovering more about how the LEAF recognizes battery packs.  Soon, they would have a way to allow different battery packs to communicate with the BMS.

Then last fall, news of a working gen one LEAF with a 62 kwh pack hit the internet! This would have been monumental news for the LEAF community in America but this time it was Canada (which is good since "Western" Canada is only 150 miles away) but this was Eastern Canada (which is bad) Granted, not Europe, but still 3,000 miles away.  So if you are near enough to Trois-Rivieres, Quebec Canada, then Simon Andres is the man to see. He has upgraded a few LEAFs now so his process is verified to work.

America's First 100,000 mile LEAF; Steve Marsh's 2011 SL  # 1561

But Simon's location was still a problem. It was simply too much of a logistical challenge. I did follow several threads on Facebook with people living near one of the international bridges (Michigan has 3) to Canada but even that "semi" close proximity had huge hurdles to negotiate.

But then I got a call to come test drive THE most famous LEAF in the Pacific Northwest. This was LEAF # 1561 driven by the Quarter Million Mile LEAFer Steve Marsh.  He put 141,000 miles on the car in just over 3 years and then passed it off to his Mother who added another 10,000 miles but by this time, its range wasn't even enough for her.

7 capacity bars at 150,000 miles. Barely a 1,000 miles later, it lost another. 

 A full charge with its remaining 6 capacity bars barely netted her 35 miles.  Despite the interior being in very good condition, Steve was unable to sell it for any reasonable amount of money. His $2,000 sale price didn't even garner a single inquiry.

Luckily someone did see the value and long time DIY EVer and SEVA (Seattle Electric Vehicle Association) member Jay Donnaway bought the car.  Immediately they put in a salvage 40 kwh pack and ran into the normal compatibility problems. The car was in limp mode unwilling to accept the interloper. But Jay reached out to the reigning battery upgrade guru, Simon Andres for some advice.

We Have A Local Source!

Yes, one still has to cross a body of water for this solution, but this time the location is closer and even better; it has a ferry terminal!

So I charged up my LEAF (needed 34 % SOC to make it there going the "long" way) and drove the 80 miles to EV Works on Bainbridge Island, Washington.

Being a long time DIYer, I expected Jay to have several projects non LEAF going and was not disappointed.  He had just gotten life from an ancient NEV as I walked in. This Dynasty IT NEV is slated for duty doing local delivery for Proper Fish
 


***Shameless Plug Alert***

If you want a great plate of English Style Fish and Chips, Proper Fish is the place. The fish was moist, tender and delicious!



There was also a VW Bus EV... not the new one, mind you.


Complete with its 31 kwh Tesla battery pack


Now this one was in the process of being converted to a camper van, a relatively sedate one.  They had another van waiting on Tesla Model S motor and drive components that will enable launch mode.  Definitely something to see!

One of their bigger projects currently going is converting an entire van fleet to electric. Pac Westy rents vans for camping, excursions or whatever else you have a hankering to do on the Olympic Peninsula. They have full kitchen vans, simple sleepers with pop ups, (two stories!) and so on. One is done, the others are patiently waiting their turn.  Being located next door to EV Works definitely helps!




Interested in a weekend getaway?  https://pacwesty.com/ for more details.

The Drive

Although decorated, Steve's old LEAF was unmistakable and actually looking pretty good considering the miles it has seen.

Yes that is my LEAF in the lower right corner! 

I started the car and the familiarity came flooding back. Both the good;

As we all know, the LEAF BMS is slow to react to changes. After several cycles, 
the car started displaying 12 capacity bars. 


And the uhh... not so good?

Doing my usual double shift, ECO bumped the GOM to 180 miles. So far so good! Now, I will say that the car drove differently than I remembered but then again, I'm used to driving a car with double the horsepower.  But other than the quiet hum of the motor, the car was completely silent. Not a buzz, a rattle, shimmy, or clink of any kind.  The car was still rock solid. This came as a surprise to me. I quickly realized why so many people were reluctant to give up their beloved LEAFs. Even with the degraded range, they were still nice cars to drive! 

BYOB (Bring Your Own Battery) 

Right now EV Works is sourcing their LEAF packs from salvage, auctions, etc. This means each pack currently coming in has a different cost which means I cannot give you a specific price for how much this is going to cost you to do this. 

You could simply bring your own battery.  Installation, testing, and software upgrade is $1999.  They also offer all types of EV repairs, upgrades, etc. at $125 an hour.  

For more information you can contact EV Works  www.ev-works.us     or Jay by email jdonnaway@pacific-mobility.com


EDIT

EV Works has completed upgrades on a few more cars and it would be more but the challenge of getting 40 kwh and 62 kwh packs has been a challenge.  EV Rides LLC in Portland, Oregon has also completed its first Gen One 40 kwh upgrade so even if you aren't in the Pacific Northwest, keep your eyes open for a local shop doing the same thing. The technology to do this is out there and spreading fast!