Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Benefits of Guilt-Free Driving

Saturday, my little white microwave died.  It lasted thru 3 moves, 2 garage (maybe 3) sales,  4-5 years of neglect in the garage... It had a tough life. But it was a long life.

I got the microwave as a Christmas present roughly 15-18 years ago. I have literally had it forever  but it was a small one. 1.0 cubic feet I think and have no idea what the power level was... 600 watts I think.  It was put in storage when we moved because there was one of those hanging built in ones in the house.  Later I moved again and we got a bigger microwave from the in-laws I think so the little white one remained in the garage.  Unfortunately, it wasn't worth much so it garnered no interest when we tried to sell it. I think it was a bit too small for most people. Now that I think of it, I am beginning to have doubts that it was as big as 1.0 cubic feet...

But nevertheless, life without a microwave was not an option so I went down and got another one. This one was bigger. Big enough for me to be able to use my Chicken Roaster again. The little white microwave did not even come close to being able to handle the Chicken Roaster.

But when I got the new larger (1.8 cubic feet) Silver Microwave home, I realized that the smallness of the white microwave was the reason it fit so well on the kitchen counter.  The new one was way too big.  The white one was small enough that I could store my microwave plate cover,  plastic wrap, hot thing grabber and all the other stuff a microwave needs to function on top with plenty of room to open the cupboard doors above it. After all, it was the cupboard above that contained most of the microwave safe dishes and bowls I had. Blocking the cupboard was simply not an option.  I resigned myself to the fact that a microwave cart would be needed.

Well, normally I would bounce around online to determine what a good price to pay would be but I decided I had the time to do some comparison shopping and since I would be taking the LEAF, it would be nearly guilt-free shopping.

So I went to Shopko, then Target, then Goodwill, then Best Buy then another Goodwill, a Furniture Outlet place, Big Lots, Fred Meyer and Walmart.  It was after all this driving around town of 23.1 miles at 5.1 miles per kwh that I realized that Shopko (the first place I went to) had the best deal so I went back and picked up a nice roll around stand big enough for my Silver 1.8 cubic foot Microwave and my toaster oven.  I spent an hour putting it together which was pretty easy after unloading it from the car and bringing it in, which was not easy (It has a real granite top which didn't look heavy in the store  but...)  

So sum total was roughly 45 cents in electricity and for my efforts...

Not too bad I think!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

50 Fast Chargers Or 200 Miles?

My introspective analysis of my not too distant  (lease end, Dec 2016) future plans, I have been struggling with the question of need verses practicality (AKA affordability!) and came to the realization that I would much rather have a shorter range EV and use the savings on public charging as I need it and due to my job, my need is generally much larger than most.  Even with NRG's high prices, I could charge for years on the savings with  the possible price difference. Granted, I won't have the 200 mile convenience that would come in handy a few times a month in my job, but without public charging, no range is acceptable for me.

Now a lot of people will argue that time is money and spending time charging on the road is adding to the TCO of the EV experience which is as always, data spin.  Charging publicly can be a waste of your personal time but the key here is its "YOUR" personal time; time that if you looked at it closely, you already waste a ton of it anyway.  Driving is a unique experience in our World because of its singular ability to quantify how well our time was spent, hence the data sleight of hand commonly used in the anti EV argument.

"I made it to XX in 2½ hours" is one of the common themes at the annual far flung family gathering especially when it comes time to show your worth.  It is memories of this testosterone-based ritual that rears its ugly head when people are contemplating an electric vehicle in their future.   I can remember in the early days of Priusdom when my BiL lived in Salem, OR a 2½ hour drive of 164 miles.  The common topic was how long it took, where was the traffic, etc.  The conversation always went the same way.

They say "How was the drive down?"

I say "It took us just over 4½ hours"

 and they say  "Oh...ok. I have done it in 2 hours, which way did you go?"

and I say "Yeah but we stopped for breakfast (less than an hour from leaving home) and had a diaper change in Vancouver and bathroom break in Portland..."

and they say "Oh ya, I always stop at XX because we can eat, pee and change all in one place, and the service is fast!!"  With logic like that, I realize a stalemate is my best hope.

In all this, I never mention the fact that to maintain my 54 MPG lifetime average in my Prius my cruise control is set to 63 mph even in the 70 mph zone of SW Washington...

But the fact remains; if you are "wasting" time while publicly charging it is because this is what you have chosen to do. I have spent a lot of time charging on the road but very little of it has been wasted time and that is despite dealing with a very limited public charging system that is literally shrinking in parts of my local area!

But it was this conversation that made me realize that we Humans were not designed to do long drives in a car.  I only need to point out the existence of various products for "waste elimination without the inconvenience of unbuckling your seatbelt"  I also wondered if the huge variety of car cleaning products were inspired by a diaper change on a bumpy freeway...

But the one thing that is missing from the equation above is the fast charge network. In my previous entry, I closed with a question;

What would you rather have?  An EV that does a real 100 miles on the freeway and 50 well placed fast chargers added to your region or a 200 mile EV with your current fast charge network?

Well the first thing is defining "well placed"  I hear way too much about the "25-40 miles apart" model which is fine for a limited view, initial startup.  But that is not the definition of well placed. Maybe "good start" but not well placed.  

Now this would be a great Charging net.... OH WAIT!!! this is a map of rest stops for those 400 mile range gassers!! Some less than 35 miles apart!... Hmmm?? interesting,  veeerrrrry interesting! Now what would they be stopping for? there is no gas at most of these places...

I am looking at something that looks more like chargers 10 miles apart radiating out in all directions. Granted, unless you live in the Midwest where townships created the lay of the land, the roads are simply not that geometric.   But in reality, such a network easily changes your 100 mile EV to something approaching...oh my!! 200 miles?? Can that be?

Now some might argue that 25 locations 20 miles apart with 2 plugs each is a better deal and that would be a great argument.  Obviously when these 50 chargers would be incorporated into the area's existing network, doubling up would make a lot of sense in some areas, not so much in others so we kinds already got that covered.

So the real objective is getting a basket for the eggs before the Chickens are sent to the slaughterhouse.  But then again, it kinda reminds me of climate change and the soon to be attained 400 ppm of CO2 before we started to talk seriously about an action plan to reduce emissions.

Just like climate change, we are headed to an explosion of EVs on the road and have yet to do much of anything to support them. The thought process is moving towards "With 200 miles, I don't need public charging" and that is about as wrong as you can get!  WSDOT (after years!) has recognized that many EVers are being left out in the cold and has started a program to encourage private businesses to host charging sites but I am afraid the plan is too limited and will likely be slow to develop. I hope I am wrong.  

But the above map shows land and locations that require no owner agreements, etc. Its state land already developed to be easy access from the freeway for cars.  Putting in charging stations as a start has two hurdles; possible infrastructure improvements (some of these rest stops are bare bones) and changing some archaic law concerning vendor rights issues...

So whats the plan?  wait till we start dumping 200,000 new EVs on the road annually or taking action now?

Nissan + Mitsubishi = Synergy!

Recently Nissan announced they will purchase a large chunk of Mitsubishi which should generate some excitement in the EV World.

The subject of "What else, Nissan?" has crossed my mind several times, especially now 5+ years into the EV game. Its been way past time for a line expansion but its not happened nor has anything been announced.

The infiniti LE was a brief detour that resulted in a dead end, at least for now.  Guessing better battery tech would be required for the higher end tastes infiniti courts.

The e-NV200 is in Europe for a year now but still not a single word of it coming to the United States, so what gives?

Can it possibly be that after 5+ years and 3 battery plants, they are still struggling with meeting demand?

Not sure I can accept any of those reasons.  Depressed sales could be one reason but its easy to boost those. Put in more batteries!  The newer packs have definitely improved in reliability, longevity and heat tolerance. Granted, not there yet but progress is being made.

Now Nissan did bump the pack to 30 kwh but forced everyone to upgrade trim levels. Monumental mistake and hoping they have realized that by now. The popularity of the S trim with QC should have been enough hint that the low end market is still looking for a car to buy!  Put a 30 kwh (or larger) on the S trim for 2017 and start chanting now because a sales revival will happen!

But bringing Mitsubishi into the fold opens up new avenues. The MiEV is a smaller, cheaper EV that has been out a bit longer than anyone except the T Roadster.  But its initial pricing was too high for a car with shorter range and an overall impression of "entry level" to catch on.

But a small, very dedicated group of MiEVers are very happy with the purchase and with Nissan battery resources and guidance, the line could be reborn with a super cheap EV option.

The Outlander plug in has been delayed and some feel its due to a battery shortage. This is something Nissan and its worldwide manufacturing capacity can really address and it enters a market that is all but empty.

Now understanding the super cheap EV market is not that easy when you have to filter it thru the din created by the "I want 200 miles of range starting $35,000-$38,500" hoard, but rest assured we are here and wanting!

I am happy that so many can afford Tesla's, Bolts, and BMW's but I am not one of them.  $35,000 (to start mind you) is nowhere near my "cheap" category.  So give me an EV in the upper 20's that gives me 125-150 miles and I will be happy.  I have said it many times in the past and I will continue to say it; The 100 mile EV market will be here for several years to come.

A recent online discussion talked about "affordability" and one commenter stated that Tesla and GM's mid $30,000 price point was not that far removed from what we are paying now. That maybe true (its not) but that surely does not imply that is what we want to pay, because its not. The other point was that the link provided also mentioned that many cars will be sold in the low to mid 20's. Sure they were smaller cars or "student" cars some PC people like to call them but call it what you will, it is still a huge market.

All of this doesn't even address the used car market which (if only counting sales from licensed dealers) is more than three times larger than the new car market. All of this points to the fact that cars are too expensive and people are making compromises.  The EV industry has a golden opportunity to flood EVs into the lower price ranges and add in a perk for free charging for a few years and it becomes much easier to attract the lower income market.

But "cheapening" the LEAF line might be a deterrent that Nissan does not want to risk. They have spent billions to develop the line and the battery pack decision for the 2016 S trim might be an indication of that.  Its easy to understand not wanting to rush an infiniti to market because of the higher expectations of the brand so using the Mitsubishi nameplate for the low end market simply makes sense.

**Public Charging Rant Warning**

What would you rather have?

a 100 mile EV (100 miles on the freeway at 65 mph) and 50 DC Fast Chargers ideally placed in your region


a 200 mile EV with your current charging infrastructure?

Well, you already know my answer and I leave you with this; a gasoline car with a 1000 mile range is useless without a public refueling infrastructure.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to the kindest, selfless, most giving person I will likely ever know.  She may have only had 4 children in her life but there are far more than 4 people on this planet who feel the way I do about this woman.

Now some would say that she was a typical Okinawan (Not Japanese mind you!) woman where the culture was simply different. Family and children were simply much more important part of life than what is the American accepted norm. It was this ideology that so endeared my Mother to so many people...American people that is.

It is interesting how different nations react in times of great tragedy.

In the aftermath of Fukushima; many Japanese volunteered to turn off the lights to save power for the good of the country. Japan realized there was a problem so all nuclear plants were shutdown immediately to address the issue. Despite the obvious enormous financial impact to the country; this lasted OVER four years!   In America, we have to use the threat of fines for people to stop washing their cars in the driveway during catastrophic drought conditions; a situation that grows drastically more severe every day but still remains at best no more than an inconvenience in the minds of most Americans.

To contrast;
In the aftermath of Deepwater Horizon, Americans did...well, nothing.  To do so would upset the stream of money to a destination that I have to say could probably afford a few lean days... Now I would never accept the job of determining which tragedy was greater but then again; Fukushima had a much more direct impact on people than Deepwater Horizon. Unlike Oil where the damage stops immediately after the oil stops burning, radiation is a done deal.  We can only wait it out.  So its easier for us Americans to sluff it off as just a "bummer day" despite the fact that long term destruction will likely outpace radiation due to Oil Pollution's Worldwide scope.  But that is how we Humans choose to view life in general.  We remember and believe what we are able to accept.

Now a lot also depends on how the issue is presented in the media.  How many people died from the Fukushima tragedy verses Deepwater Horizon? I can pretty much guarantee the answer will surprise most of you so you will have to read it yourself. Granted the 20,000 people killed during the Earthquake/Tsunami likely did a great job of bending our memories since we can blame something other than ourselves (Mother Nature did it! We had nothing to do with it)  for the deaths but the fact remains that some cultures simply view life differently.

But going back to the Japanese response to Fukushima is even more shocking considering the financial impact to the country. Such a money play in the United States wouldn't have had a chance.  As it stands now; Big Business determines where it will operate based on the highest bidder, in many cases paying little or nothing to locate to an area citing the salaries of workers who would pay taxes. IOW; making the little people support them while they bank many millions in effect siphoning money out of the local area instead of putting it in.

But not paying taxes is only the beginning. Oh course tens of millions in additional payroll will help the tax base but does it help enough?  Does it pay for the burden the new business has on the infrastructure? Can the area's roads and utilities handle the additional workers without major upgrades?  I was in the 2nd group hired at the new intel plant in DuPont, WA in 1996. Since intel was looking at two different sites a few miles apart, Pierce County, hedging its bets built a new freeway off ramp to serve one proposed site before the site was selected. In doing so, they bypassed all environmental studies, etc. to put up the ramp taking less than a year from proposal to completion.  In contrast; the Highway 16 interchange on I-5 has taken over 25 years.

Recently a Facebooker in a discussion or car tab fees and whether they should go up to better address the real cost of driving or stay the same very low price and his response was "not with my money!" but what seems like a self-centered response may really be the result of watching large companies making money hand over fist as the worker's share shrinks daily, but the real meat of the discussion is the reason why taxes were so low in the first place.

Unlike Uncle Sam; city, local and state governments have to balance their budget. They don't have an unlimited ability to print money as needed.  But instead of raising taxes to pay for desperately needed services and infrastructure maintenance, they keep taxes low and we suffer and we accept this because the threshold of pain is low.  It only means tires every 3 years instead of every 4 due to worsening road conditions or 45 minutes to get home verses 35 minutes because of a combination of roads not built along with mass transit cutbacks forcing more cars on the road.

So why does this happen?  Well, if taxes were too high, it forces a closer examination of who isn't paying their fair share; a situation that Big Business will do anything to avoid.  So next time a major company comes to town wanting a 50 million dollar tax waiver in exchange for a 200 million dollar annual payroll (and its added congestion) think twice about who is getting the good deal.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

April 2016 Drive Report; After 36,000 miles, My LEAF Battery Can Still Be Revived??

I have proof that a gasser can be cheaper than an EV because my Corolla only used $24.20 in gas last month while my LEAF cost me $24.43!!! Moral of the story; Spin goes both ways...

For the month, the Corolla traveled 468.2 mile for the above mentioned $24.20 in gas or 5.2 cents per mile and that is all there is to that.

The LEAF using twenty three more of my hard earned cents traveled 1489.3 miles with its costs escalating due to $2.02 in public charging fees along with PUD charges totaling $24.43 or 1.6 cents per mile. Thankfully, I was saved by the 90 day free fast charging Nissan gave us for putting up with the borderline battery chemistry in the 2011 LEAF and got over 100 kwh on that program.

Since I am nearing the halfway point of my free 90 day charging, I am still working on getting the $50 worth that I declined in exchange for the fast charge sessions. But at least 2 of the chargers I might use are out of order including AV's Tumwater location and this definitely qualifies as the longest downtime stretch for that location by far. The location has been out of order several times but frequently was back up and running within a few days. Its been over 2 weeks now... :(

Now this is not being debated nearly as much as a year ago simply because there are too many people out there proving it on a daily basis but just some more evidence that the 2013 pack is a definite improvement of the 2011-12s.  We have known for quite some time that battery stats reported by the LEAF  and logged with devices such as LEAF Spy can have some pretty wide swings based on recent driving and charging habits.  Put simply; Drive your LEAF a lot and charge it fully every day and your battery stats will probably reflect a status better than reality.  Drive it modestly,  partially charge it or go several days between full charges, etc. and you see just the opposite. Numbers lower than the true state of health in your battery pack.

Well this is what I just did and yes I purposely did not charge it for high numbers which meant a lot of shorter duration charges that did not complete AKA Nissan 80% long life charging mode. ;)  As expected my numbers took a dive from the 61-62ish range to 58.44 ahr, 88.62% Hx, and 19.6 kwh available on April 25th. On that day, I drove 58.7 miles which is really far enough to keep your battery fully balanced with daily full charges.

But from the 26th to yesterday, I had a large client (they do this on last week of the month for most of the year Tues-Sat) and decided I would LEAF it every day. This required fully charging at home every night, A fast charge in the morning at work before picking up my crew and a fast charge in the afternoon after dropping off the crew.  Now the morning charge was only needed 3 of the 5 days since Renton and Tukwila are close enough but on the other 3 days for the Seattle Stores, I averaged collecting 4½ kwh which doesn't seem like much but my degradation needed it.  In the 5 days, I traveled 626.2 miles, publicly charged for 93 kwh and ended up yesterday afternoon with this


As impressive as this looks... I pretty much rely on 265 GIDs, 61 ahr and 94% Hx.... but still VERY nice to look at.

Fast Charge Notes;  Twice I saw a better than 100% efficiency based on kwh remaining delta / Wh
Using the pix above it would be 21.5 - whatever the charge session started at/ 12.572 (which i always reset to zero for the charge session)  Now this did not happen during the past 5 days but earlier in the month and I have not been able to reproduce this phenomena so am writing it off as user error or LEAF Spy strangeness...or something.  Other than those two times; Fast charge efficiency seems to be running between 91.4 and 94.7% efficient and no brand of charger seems to be consistently outperforming any other but as always, I will track it to see if any vendor emerges or falls from the pack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Tesla 3 Is A Good Thing Despite Not Ordering One

I am guessing Tesla will be pushing a half million Tesla 3 orders by the time I publish this so why did I not get on the band wagon?

After all; its a near no risk venture. I can always get my $1000 deposit back at any time right? The only thing I would be missing is the .18% interest my checking account is currently paying me for my average daily balance. It would be a "struggle" but I would find another way to replace that "income."

Well first off; I love Tesla and I want one but its not likely in the cards for me in the foreseeable future.  But Tesla is raising the bar of EV expectation which means a huge vacuum will be created in the 150ish mile range space pricewise as long as Tesla can pull off half the reservations within a reasonable time period and no I still don't believe they will have any significant deliveries of the T3 before Summer 2018.

The more significant reason is that the entire foundation holding up the T3 hype; an affordable electric vehicle with a range of over 200 miles will not be unique when it hits the streets.  Tesla has already said that the higher end trims will be built first so expect to see the first $35,000 Tesla no earlier than 2020. This gives me plenty of time to do another 3 year lease. This is the most optimistic prediction I can muster.

Depending on the source (all of which is speculation if you want to be technical) ; the average price of the T3 in preorder is between $42,000 and $44,000. Which means a chunk of T3's are probably near $50,000 when you mix in the small amount of $35,000 orders so "not a high priority" right?  Kinda like the S 40 or the S 60?  I personally think the $35,000 T3 will NEVER hit the streets. This is my expectation.  Tesla will realize there is more than enough work for higher trim T3's that lower trim is no longer needed and just like the S 40 fans, we will acquiesce...

Now I expect this comment to go over like a lead balloon.  In any "hype verses expectation" discussion, hype always wins since its based on a best case scenario but the best part of all this is that Tesla hyping the car two full years before it hits the streets means that other manufacturers are already making moves to thwart Tesla.

Ford announced they are not going toe to toe with Tesla and will likely come out with a Ford Focus EV at 100 miles in the low 30's which means mid to low 20's effective price after the various perks like fed taxes, etc (of which Ford still has a ton left)

Nissan will likely come out with LEAF II starting around 150 miles of range but I expect them to offer multiple battery sizes (as options this time) for ones who just won't feel comfortable on their 30 mile commute with less than 200 miles of range.  Expect the 150 mile version to be in the low 30's as well (Nissan will quickly exhaust their fed credits when this happens)

So yeah; love the T3 hype but only because it didn't kick everyone off the couch, it sent it off to Goodwill!!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Fast Charge Profiles

**Reader Note**
This will be a different kind of entry as it will be a work in progress for at least the next few weeks. I am posting initial reports because I know some of you check my blog randomly for new posts.  If anyone desires the CSV files the charts were created from post here with your email (probably not a good idea) or PM me at MNL or Facebook.

4/8/16   Blink at Tahoma Market.  OAT  72ยบ.   GIDs  46-213.     kwh LEAF Spy; 12.08  Blink; 14.50  cost $.02   Starting KW; 46,  ending KW  12.2   time "about 29 mins 30 seconds but due to the .02 charge, "someone" thought it was greater than 30 mins...

kwh on 30 minute charge
 Notes; For the first time ever (granted, its not something I normally look at) I noticed a much lower charge efficiency. with 12.08 kwh going thru LEAF Spy but Blink claiming I received 14.50 kwh means and efficiency of 83%.  I have tracked this machine before and it was always over 90%.  I did not hear the LEAF's fans running (they were pretty loud on my 2011) but then again, I was at a truck stop a few hundred feet from I-5 so not the quietest area in town.

Conclusions; Blink gets a lot of complaints but I have had very little trouble with them overall. I can't help but wonder when their clock starts as I specifically wanted to stop before the 30 mins was up but apparently a 20 second cushion was not big enough. I will pay a LOT more attention to when I need to start the stopwatch next time.

3/18/16  NRG Tacoma Mall.  Several sessions here.

NRG's stations won't charge more than about 40 KW due to its maximum limit of 100 amps so wasn't expecting super big numbers and since their billing is by the minute its obvious they know how to butter the bread! This session had no major surprises.  I started the charge at 68 GIDs and it went to 100 amps giving me just under  38 KW but then started dropping at 74 GIDs. This was not a gradual drop, more of a tiered drop as it settled to 90 amps.  From this point it slowly dropped until the finish of the session which lasted 29 mins 12 seconds. (I wasn't sure whether the station would shut off by itself after my 30 min free time and wasn't willing to pay anything)   finishing with GID count 224 with final charging speed roughly 10.5 KW.  So, not the best, but ok, I suppose.


Due to me having a light schedule at work, I was naturally the first one work would call for any last minute needs (My job has several a day it seems...)  But I ended up having to criss cross the region a few times so stopped at NFG again which is just over a mile from work. But I got a hot customer that was very time sensitive so had to get a charge and fast and besides, I was so low I really couldn't go home either so I plugged in at 30 GIDs and...

WTF??? I had half as much charge from the earlier session (I was only at 6 TBs) but I was charging at half the speed??  I had two destinations to get to, one North the other East.  Now I did not have enough to make it to both without charging to make it home.  When was the last time anyone here ended up with a faster charging rate at the end of the session?? I basically charged for 30 mins at a fast charger and then left with FIFTY FOUR PERCENT STATE OF CHARGE!!  

Now why was this happening?  Heat wasn't it. Nowhere near that point. The only thing I could figure is there was an i3 on the L2. Now it would be drawing 7.2KW which is a pretty hefty bunch so could it be possible, the power is split 50-50?  Wow... I guess I have seen dumber decisions... I think...

Finally I get back to charging and no longer interested in getting my free 30 mins. I was pretty tired of this place by now so only wanted to get what I needed and go... that is IF I could do it in 30 mins or less. By now it was after 7 PM and I was lucky my last appointment of the day had no real time frame.  But as luck would have it, I was back to the 100 amps again!! And because I was at 136 GIDs (yes MORE than 100 GIDs higher than my earlier session) I was charging just under 40 KW!   I was gone in 21 minutes!

AV 3/19/16;

Despite getting an email confirmation within 2 minutes of completing my EZ Charge registration on their site; the card was not being recognized at the station. I tried both Centralia and Tumwater with the same results. Finally, I called and got two completely different responses. One time, I called and the lady verified my name and started the charge for me. The other lady completely shut down after she heard I was using an EZ Charge card and refused to help me. Now the card works fine and the "bleeding edge" is starting to heal a bit.

This session started at 79 GIDs and lasted 27 mins ending with 217 GIDs. This was the most powerful session so far starting at 125 amps and 46.5 KW. This lasted almost 3 minutes! (167 seconds).  But then again, this makes sense. Unlike Blink or NRG,  AV has an "all you can eat" $19.99 billing system there is no reason for them to throttle back the speed, right?

NRG   3/24/16;

This session was designed to look at what parameters we would want to switch to L2 in consideration of our fellow "Electronite".  Again, very surprising results.  I started the charge at 157 GIDs and 28 KW to finish it 27 minutes later at 228 GIDs and 4.7 KW.  I am posting this to prove it happened. I can only hope its some sort of anomaly.

Blink 3/25/16;

Well NRG was just really disappointing so I decided it was time to try Blink.

Here I started the charge at 64 GIDs and immediately saw 46 KW! NICE!!! Granted it only lasted a short time so guessing it was more of a battery check than anything but the end results were the significant part. After 30 mins, I was at 221 GIDs but still absorbing  11.6 KW (Keep in mind this is LEAF Spy reading so this is AFTER efficiency losses).  In fact, it took just over 44 minutes before I slowed down to the same 4.7 KW charging speed of the NRG but at 243 GIDs!

Blink 3/27/16;
Start 60 GIDs, 45 KW.  End  217 GIDs,  12.2 GIDs, charging duration  28 mins, 10 seconds.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 2016 Drive Report; EZ Charge Update

Because my timing sucks as usual, I am currently running various scenarios thru my head trying to decide the best course of action when my current lease runs out in December of this year.  As always, I have to deal with several promises and expectations currently running rampant in the EV World.

With the pending availability of the Bolt, LEAF II and others, I had thought about extending my current lease up to 6 months in order to get something with more range.  This means more compromise on the range. I won't lose any capacity bars but remember, I have a job that pretty much requires a lot more range than my LEAF could deliver when new, at least occasionally.  This means more public charging so when Nissan offered EZ Charge as part of their settlement, I thought this would be a great opportunity to get to know the current state of public charging companies and what my best options were, so I sacrificed my $50 and signed up.  But more on that later.

For the month, the LEAF went 1365.2 miles costing $28.94 which includes $6.99 in public charging fees. This worked out to 2.11 cents per mile which is slightly better than normal due to the charging on the EZ Charge program.

The Corolla went 649.9 miles costing $31.26 or about 4.8 cents per mile. Now all this is using the "cheap" gas that was under $2 a gallon.  Last fillup was March 9th. The cost will be going up as current prices are running in the $2.15 range, a 30 cent per gallon jump. Guess Summer time is coming!

I will be posting a lot more details as I pile up charging sessions but a few observations;

AV charges fastest actually hitting "the max" of 48 KW briefly.

NRG charges slowest, but partially due to hardware limitations. The fast charger is rated up to 500 volts but the LEAF won't get much higher than about 398 or so but the current max'es out at 100 amps on the station so best you can hope for is about 39.8 KW which is exactly what I saw.

Unlike my 2011, the SOC displayed on the chargers are pretty close to what LEAF Spy reports generally being 1-2 % off at the most.

Looks like charging efficiency is about 94-96%.  Now, I only really have a roundabout way of figuring this so if anyone has a better way or better stats, please chime in!

And finally.... Everyone is finally working ok. Now will I get 90 days free charging or will it be 84 (AV) to 89 (NRG) days?

Much more to follow!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Tesla 3 Announcement; Is This Good For Anyone Else Besides Tesla?

Guessing many of you spent this past Thursday morning waiting in line somewhere in the World to spend a grand on a dream.  Although its only been 2 days,  Tesla has already collected deposits from over a quarter million people for the T 3. That is a quarter billion in cash representing over 10 Billion in orders that is projected to take over 3 years to fill with the already optimistic planned production schedule. As always, Youtube has the video of the 3 intro and one thing that is undisputable; Elon Musk, even in his stuttering, halting delivery method, can still put on a great show.

The car is beautiful, the promises lofty, but the details were lacking. But the car is also two years away! There is a limit to predicting the future, especially in the Car World.  Specs change on a dime.  Until the supply chain is in place AND up to speed; there is no real promise the car will (or can) live up to its billing.

Tesla claims the first 3's will start showing up on the streets in late 2017 or at least 18 months from now.  Tesla has never hit a production rollout yet and I don't see them hitting this one either.  The likely scenario is no significant deliveries for at least 2 years or Spring 2018.  Production for 2018 to be no more than 50,000-75,000 and all those likely to be the high end trims over $50,000. In other words; unlike the EV which has outstanding reliability primarily due to much less moving parts, the manufacturing process has not had that luxury.  A single vendor failing to meet its promises could tumble the entire Tesla house of cards!

So, not sure I can agree with Tesla taking deposits on cars that are likely more than 2 years away from delivery with a hype that has caused a backlog of greater than 4 years which means a handful could conceivably not get their T3 until 2022!!  But then again, I guess its easier than trying to get an interest free 250 million dollar loan from the bank!

Now I love what Tesla has done and despite my protestations, I am considering a 3 in my future but will still have PLENTY of time for another EV before that.   My only hope is that no one put off a plans for an EV to wait for the 3 because they will likely have 3 years or more to wait!

As Elon stated; We need to accelerate our adoption of zero emission vehicles but my fear is that Tesla has effectively cut the market in half with a promise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

WA State Infrastructure Development Conference; Public Charging Woes Part Two

On Wednesday, March 16, 2016, I attended a conference put together by WSDOT to gather input from the community on the direction of a pilot program to enhance the public charging infrastructure for the state.

The pilot program will be funded using the extra Electric Vehicle registration fees up to one million dollars. Because a million dollars is not a lot when considering the very low coverage the current charging networks provide, it was decided that partnerships in the private sector would be required. This essentially "doubles" the money in a way by spreading out the risks. But the risks come with rewards and there were several key criteria each partner needed to show.

1) Bidders must have private sector partners contributing to the project who stand to gain indirect value from development of the project, such as motor vehicle manufacturers, retail stores, or tourism stakeholders.

2) bidders must demonstrate that the proposed project will be valuable to electric vehicle drivers and will address a gap in the state's electric vehicle charging station infrastructure.

3) Projects must be expected to be profitable and sustainable for the owner-operator and the private sector partner and

4) Bidders must specify how the project captures the indirect value of charging station deployment to the private sector partner.

Well 1 is easy.  I think I can speak for the majority of EV owners who are grateful for charging stations and will patronize that location because of the charging station's presence. 2 is easy as well. Simply bring up Plugshare, determine if there is another charger in the area. (there are several areas that have very little or nothing at all).   4 is pretty easy as well.  Nearly all of the Washington Coast is unreachable with an EV of range less than 100 miles.  For day trips, fast charging is essential.  Many locations currently without a fast charger in the area are on the way to major tourist areas including the Olympics, Westport, Long Beach, Forks and Ocean Shores. These are World Class destinations!

Lake Crescent; Highway 101 Olympic National Forest just North of Forks

But then we come to point #3. All of a sudden, the point is not so clear. Most charging stations revenues barely cover the basic cost of maintenance and electricity. Forget the installation costs or any major repair like charging handles.  Recently a BC'er posted videos of customers at Chademo stations and the struggles they were having.  Break a handle and you just spent several weeks of revenue for the repair.  Now there are some locations that would be swamped by EVers because there is so few route options and even fewer competing plugs but if there is only one plug, it will quickly gain a reputation of being too busy so the host is faced with the expense of maintaining two stations or having too many people hanging around waiting to charge.  So a major crossroads might generate enough of a profit but most will not and the outlying stations which are just as vital almost certainly will not. 

Lets not make the same mistake San Diego did. Recently Car2Go announced they were starting to replace their 100% EV fleet with gasoline powered options citing the poor state of the public charging infrastructure in the San Diego as the main reason for the decision. They made the mistake of relying on Ecotality (Blink) to follow thru on their installs. In reality, less than one third were put in and the ones that did make it to ground received little if any maintenance support when the federal program ran its course. The resulting holes created, both geographically and in the minds of EVers, all made building a business based on having a reliable charging network a shaky idea.  Not only is this news heartbreaking but it also empowers the Big Oil team in its battle to slow electric vehicle adoption. 

How many of us plan our weekend excursions around where we can charge?  I do! especially on the occasional weekend that pops up where I had nothing planned in advance and this makes sense. I want to have fun on my days off and if you saw my gasser alternative, you would quickly realize fun in that car is not an option! 

And I am not the only one. Social media is the perfect gathering place for EVers simply because a lot of it is so different from the norm and we have new people coming in all the time. Here is where we find out the best methods for getting somewhere that might be a challenge like a hike found after a 3000 foot climb. A proper charging plan (with contingencies) is critical!   But the other great thing about social media is simply synergy.  No matter where new chargers get put in, someone will come across it and guaranteed, will post it on Facebook!  Now level 2's are not as big a deal (unless its in the Aberdeen area that is!) but a fast charger is a completely different game. Not sure why it is, but as soon as we find out a new one is in the ground, we have to run out and try it!  Its actually worse than that. When a station install is announced, EVers will start cruising the site weeks in advance reporting on the construction progress along with predictions on the power on date!

So are we getting a picture similar to Buzzards circling a carcass waiting for the Lion to leave?  Yeah, it really is that desperate!

Washington State along with others needs to realize that the need for proper public charging support is beyond the critical stage. We are now seeing many EVers going back to gasoline simply because they cannot handle the stress of an unreliable charging network.  We should not have to worry about the business hours of the station hosts or wondering how many cars will be there ahead of us or whether the station will work at all. 

I think the grant program will help bolster stations on the busier corridors along with several currently plugless destinations but the roads leading to these far flung destinations needs a better plan and a quicker plan without the added stress of being able to prove long term viability.  WSDOT already has an automated billing system in place for toll roads and Bridges.  I think it is time for Washington to take a serious look at extending "Good to Go" with a "Good to Charge"  Program that will take the lead in providing adequate charging in the less populated areas of the State where a viable business partner will be much harder to find.  This could greatly reduce the time it takes to get chargers in the ground and powered up.

Recently the World lost a great innovator, Andrew Grove; former CEO of intel. Even years ago, it was obvious to him that things needed to change. The urgency is now greater than ever.