Thursday, January 9, 2020

The 2010 Decade Drive Report; The Long And Winding Road

Happy New Year!

As we enter the last year of the decade, so many things have improved while other things have worsen and the future outlook is hardly clear.  IOW; not much different than the beginning of the decade in 2011.  Back in January 2011, I was a mere 18 days away from leaving the Prius World and entering the LEAF World (although the Prius did remain in the family for 3 years, it was all but on life support)

Fast forward to a few weeks short of 9 years later and I am on LEAF #5 and I think I have finally got one that is actually worth buying.  But at the same time, I wouldn't trade a day with any of the 4 I've had. It has been a HUGE learning experience and it has really broadened my world.  As EVs take a firmer hold on our existence, the changes forward will be massive and revolutionary but will not match the level of change I have witnessed.

November 3, 2007; The EV Journey Begins But DEFINITELY Baby Steps!

Driving my 2004 and 2006 Prius had simply given me an insatiable thirst to drive electric. but options beyond DIY projects were non existent and EXPENSIVE.  After spending 2 weeks debating spending over $50,000 for a Gen one RAV 4 EV with a new lithium battery pack, I decided to spend a "bit" less money and got the ZENN. It was an NEV with a 25 mile range that would do no more than 35 mph. At the time, only two states; Montana and Washington even allowed these glorified golf carts to go that fast. The rest of the country was limited to 25 mph. It didn't take long to realize that the lead acid batteries were not going to hold up well.  I went thru 2 battery packs with ZENN and another set on my own.  Despite all the issues, it was my daily commuter for the next 3 plus years.

February 2010; Here Comes Nissan!

I was approaching the one year anniversary with my 2010 Prius and despite it being a very nice car getting me a lifetime average of 53 mpg, I felt I needed more. A lot more.  At the time we were a 2 Prius one ZENN household. I also had a Ford pickup but I used it less than once a year and it wasn't even parked at my house (we had used up all our allotted parking spaces so there was no room)  I was actively spending my time investigating Lithium upgrade for my ZENN along with adding a battery pack to the Prius to convert it to a plug in.

During my search, I stumbled across Nissan's announcement of a highway capable Electric vehicle. I went to their website, spent about 10 minutes (which is about all they had on the subject) investigating the car and decided to sign up. Later I found that I had basically entered a lottery.

April 30. 2010; Raising My Hand

The only thing I accomplished in February was signing up to receive an email invitation that allowed me to reserve a chance to submit a quote request to the Nissan dealers selected for the initial US offering of the LEAF.  (Yes, it's normal to reread that last sentence carefully) A $100 deposit was required.  As luck would have it, I had the day off so I basically got up in the morning, sat at my computer and refreshed my email all day waiting for the invitation. I only knew that it would come in sometime before 5 PM East Coast Time or 2 PM local time.  Soon it was 1 PM and I was getting nervous. MyNissanLEAF.com was starting to report people getting their invitations  and all were on the East Coast. It was then we (there was a lot of us on the computer that day) started to collect data on when each person had registered online to get an invitation. There really didn't seem to be much of a pattern.

There was some rumor that there was a limited number of slots available. As it was, Nissan had already stated that limited initial production meant the LEAF would only be available in 5 regional areas.  My town, Olympia was not one of them but at the last second, was added as part of the Seattle region. This late afterthought caused me to not get a free EVSE... (assholes!)

It was now 1:45 PM and I figured I was not getting a 2011 and would have to wait till 2012. My thoughts went back to the RAV 4...

But then at 1:58 PM, the invite came thru. I immediately clicked on the link with Visa in hand (earlier reports had said that 11 digit American Express was causing problems with the system and I was taking no chances!)  At 2:15, I received confirmation my invitation to request a quote was confirmed.  I WAS IN!!

But then again... it was only step one of what would be a nearly year long process.

August 31, 2010; Dealer Selected

In the 4 months of waiting, Nissan had all but promised that we would be getting our cars Q4 2010. To prepare for this, I had to work on my tax liability. Without some manipulation, I would not get the full $7500 credit and for a car that cost $38,000, I needed all the help I could get.  At the time I had short term mutual funds that were maturing during various periods during the year. I planned them to mature every few months. I had this in case of an unexpected medical need. My Son had developed asthma as he turned 2  and I wanted to be prepared for the worst in case it was needed.  As these funds became available, I started a Ross IRA account boosting my deductions to 55% of my paycheck (the max available) I also converted a chunk of my current 401 to Ross as well.

I received my email authorizing me to submit a request for a quote to my local dealer of choice. Rairdon's of Auburn was offering a few grand off on a purchase. Realize most cars were going for  MSRP or more.  Even in the very early days of  EVdom, I realized that an EV without DC charging was not an option for me. So I chose the top of the line SL which was the only way to get the Chademo port on the 2011 model.

My quote was confirmed almost immediately by Rairdon's and then... nothing. FOR MONTHS, there was no communication at all from Rairdon's or Nissan.

January 18, 2011; Delivery Day

Rairdon's contacted me in early December raising my hopes that a 2010 delivery would still happen. Well, it didn't.  In fact, it didn't "anywhere" in the country. Now Nissan did have 4 promotional deliveries in the 4 initial regions in December but that was it.  I was so pissed. It was MUCH later I realized Nissan had done me a huge favor.

Without the tax advantage, it completely destroyed my financing plans.  Purchasing would literally cost me an additional $3000 BEFORE financing costs. That made an already expensive venture too expensive.  Making a long story short; I leased.  Leasing terms weren't that great. They raised the money factor on me based on my income statement (It was my intent to write a check for the car) so to reduce my cost, I put $10,000 down on the lease lowering my lease payments to $160 a month.  But the car was mine!

NOTE; for those of you who think my down payment on a lease was a mistake. See Feb 2018 below. 


Later I learned I was one of 4 that received their car making me the first (tied) person in Washington State to take "nonpromotional" delivery of a Nissan LEAF!

2011 LEAF SL with Charge (yeah that was extra)
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost (Total lease + residual - financing; which would have been zero + purchase fees)  $30,818.

NOTE

NMAC sent me a flyer offering me a buyout of my 2011 for $6200.  I thought it was a scam...then others on MNL reported getting the same thing. They actually accepted the super cheap buy out. My residual was $14,400 so it would have made the car under $22,000 all in. Even after getting confirmation, I didn't bite. I had realized that the 2011 was simply not a car worth buying at any price.  Now that is me.

December 20, 2013; Selecting The Best (and only) Choice

My lease was running out fast but not nearly as fast as my lease mileage. I had 45,000 miles but was less than 500 miles away and the busy season for work less than a week away.  I used my LEAF for more than 2/3rds of my work transportation demands which accounted for at least 1500 miles a month. I would blow well past 45,000 miles if I didn't do something right away.  I didn't read up on the lease return process and took my LEAF to Olympia Nissan to have it inspected only to be told that a 3rd party had to do it but they would take care of it and I could drive my new LEAF away right then. Well, it being the holidays and time of the essence, it was just too convenient not to. I had already played the email game with several regional locations and they along with Puyallup Nissan were the lowest in price (most quoted me no price at all which means they were instantly eliminated)

Now I could have gotten a better lease deal had I waited but it wasn't that much of a savings (plus I had no idea what the savings would be at the time) but the 2014 changes were expected to be minor (a lie but in a good way)  so I said get er done!

2013 LEAF S with Charge/Climate AND heated back seats!
3 year lease 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost;  $21,070.64

November 10, 2016  30 kwh!

By now the online LEAF community was quite large and active despite EVs still very much in the early stages of adoption. This was before other major EV options started to significantly erode the group. But the LEAF had been on the streets long enough by then that the divide separating pro EV dealers and gassers dealers was getting significant.  In my mind; there was no longer any excuse for dealerships to not know about the LEAF. It had been nearly 6 years now. Because of this, it became necessary to simply eliminate several dealers when it came down to picking up my next car.  Because the residual was so low on my 2013, I had entertained the thought of buying it and driving it until the longer range LEAFs (or something else) started to appear. The residual was lower than the current used LEAF market so it would have been a TCO wash. But timelines kept getting pushed back. Washington State failed to step up in requiring manufacturers to bring their EV options here so I felt it was simply destiny when in October, Nissan quietly came out with the LEAF S 30 with the longer range.  Add to that; lease deals were simply amazing.  As far as dealer considerations? By now it was obvious that Everett Washington and Magic Nissan was simply not too far for "anyone" to go to get a deal from Ray!

As always, I still requested several quotes from dealerships in the area. I had a discount membership club accessed thru my employer that offered points for car purchases. The process required submitting request to 5 dealers. Well, they used my zip code to select the dealers (I had no choice) and after I realized it and found a way to change my zip code, I soon had 10 dealers emailing me so I did a copy and paste to all of them basically saying what I wanted and that I only entertained offers that came with a price.   I got

"Nissan doesn't offer 30 kwh on the S trim" 4 times.
"C'mon on in and we will make sure you get the best price" 3 times
Two dealerships did not respond to my email at all.  I think one of the two did respond a few months later...

Then there was Ray. We basically hammered out a price on Facebook Messenger and scheduled a day for me to drive the 85 miles to pick up the car.   IOW; the other dealerships never had a chance.

2016 LEAF S 30 with charge/climate
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost; $17,764.02

February 16, 2018 Still No Options!

As we all know, my S30 met an early demise sacrificing herself to save me. Despite only being 14 months old, she traveled nearly 30,000 miles enduring the heat of many QC's in the dead of Summer and came thru in near perfect condition. A LEAF Spy report taken a few days before the accident still showed 100% SOH with an ahr of 82.05 (from 82.34 new) Although her life was short, she left a MAJOR impression on me. Her ability  to take a full 120+ amps to over 80% SOC repeatedly was simply amazing.

My great lease deal from Ray who was now at Campbell Nelson Nissan of Everett (same place just a LOT more syllables) meant I had equity in my lease! Was that even possible?  After all was said and done, my insurance company paid me $1500.  For those of you who think that the insurance company had to settle with NMAC directly, that is not the case.  Despite the accident not being my fault, I had my insurance company handle the claim. There were two other people involved and they spent quite a bit of time "discussing" who was most at fault.  This would have extended my lease obligation. But my insurance company paid off the lease in less than a week leaving me a $1000 bill to NMAC to cover the collision deductible. (It took 2½ months to get that from the other 2 parties) Well, this happened in January  So I had a check...but no car. (Actually drove a rental for 3 weeks and my Corolla for 2 weeks)  The 40 kwh LEAFs were just hitting the streets but the S was even further delayed.

2018 LEAF S 40 with Charge/Climate
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD; $23,025.19

November 16, 2019  200 Miles PLUS! 

2018 quickly became known as the year of Rapidgate.  Unlike my 2016, the rate of DC charging was wholly dependent upon the temperature of the batteries at the beginning of the charge. If the pack was too warm, the rate would be reduced from slightly below maximum current to as much as 64% slower! If the batteries were too cold, the knee when the current starts to taper can happen as much as 16% earlier. Well, all that I could deal with. I had NCTC so free charging. I would just stop twice instead of once. I have a lot of options. But my real disappointment happened when I realized that my optimal charging performance saw my charge rate starting to drop around 63% SOC! That was a huge drop from my S 30's 80% plus!

Add in the Rapidgate and a course with properly placed charging stations, my S30 could beat my 40 kwh in a cross country race.  So did I make a mistake?  Well... no.

Obviously it was not an optimal situation but at the same time, I lived in a climate that meant I had to drive quite a bit before any of this started to happen. The real truth of the matter was that 40 kwh was quite liberating! I found its range minus expected degradation down the road fit in very well with the driving demands of my job which had grown to over 2,000 miles a month.  With a residual of $9600 I was really thinking this might be the first LEAF worth buying. And barring any fabulous unknown EV intro, that was probably going to be my plan.  It was quickly becoming obvious that many major players like Kia and VW would be here in volume by Feb, 2021 so the likelihood of buying the LEAF and driving it another year or two after the lease seemed quite obvious. Plus I was quite certain, I would be way over my lease mileage limit anyway.

But the clincher was the expectation of 100 "real" freeway miles for several years after the end of the lease. During my LEAF life, I have realized that my ability to spend 2+ hours driving had diminished A LOT.  So stopping is more a personal thing than a range thing. The attractive residual was also a great draw. I felt confident, I could buy the car, drive it a year or two and get most of my money back when I sold it.

But the time of free charging was coming to an end and the thought of paying 18 cents a minute while charging at less than half speed was a bit gloomy. Well that is until Ray made the Sun shine! 

2019 LEAF S E Plus with Climate (DC now standard)
2 year lease 15,000 miles per year
OTD; $27,641.19

January 2020; Ten Years Already?? 

Its been 7 weeks since my E Plus has come home and I am just now realizing how important a faster charger will be as my freebies start to wind down. My NCTC ends Feb 15th. I do have a $250 charging credit from Nissan for EVgo that will be used on roadtrips. I have a year to use it up  and that won't be a problem.  Having clocked 74 kw max on EA along with gaining 25 kwh "averaging" over 60 KW while doing it saw my per mile cost (@ 4 miles/kwh) dropping below 4.5  cents per mile.  Even at 74 KW knee, I was getting 120 miles of range during "semi" Winter. That would be well over 90 minutes of freeway in Summer and to think, those charging sessions were only lasting 15-16 minutes. I would have to rush around getting everything done on my charging stops now.

Road tripping On The Cheap

Having only had the car one season means not really knowing a whole lot about what I can expect down the road.  Even with higher than expected degradation, the range will suit me for quite a while.  It well too early to tell anything definitive but I figure my worst case scenario is 4-5% loss in the first year slowing down to 1-2% annually after that.   Initially, the pack gains heat slower, sheds heat quicker.  So things seem better.  Both Rapidgate and Icegate have completely different characteristics and both have improved. Maybe its simply the greater number of modules or the greater capacity that is reason. Hopefully its all that along with better chemistry.

But my goal will be to find out the cheapest way to get the most range out of my LEAF. IOW, can I live off the bottom 2/3rds of the pack and its estimated 175 miles of range?  Or will I have to settle for less range for less money?

In closing I present you this; This charge happened at 8 temperature bars and this is the first time ever seeing this.  I started the charge at the normal 120ish amps until the SOC hit 55% at which the rate started to drop...fast. It quickly dropped to 20 KW and leveled off but the thing that really caught my eye.  Despite charging as much as 45 kw down to 20 kw, the temperature WENT DOWN! That is huge. OAT was 55ยบ so not very cold.  Note; the temperature displayed here is the lowest of the 3. The others were just under 110ยบ

What does this mean? Its all about how far I can drive on 55% SOC which should be about 140 miles.  Unlike my 40 kwh where the speed of the charge was reduced at the beginning, now the pack only makes sure the pack doesn't get into the red zone. IOW, its effectively raised the bar on Rapidgate A TON!



On Facebook, I posted my other "high temperature" charge on the same EA station I had gotten 74 KW from.  Yeah, not nearly as fast but still started the charge at 55 KW so also a huge improvement!

As always, stay tuned. My next blog will come in when my my pack drops to 175 ahr.  So likely sometime next month or maybe even later ๐Ÿ˜‰

Thursday, January 2, 2020

California EV Camping

2020 marks a new era of public charging obstacles we EVers must add to the list of road trip challenges. There is a saying "As California leads, the nation follows"  and by and large, this is an accurate assessment of the influence the state has over the rest of the country.

I live in Washington State whom I consider to also be a leader in many things including same sex marriages and rights,  Death with Dignity, Support for the elderly, paid family leave, minimum wage, etc.

But sometimes California doesn't get it right and this law is a shining example of "sensibility takes a holiday" Maybe its processing legislation during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that caused this faux pas?

Of course I am talking about California's new requirement that public charging stations bill by the kwh.

But was this California making a "informed" decision based on a need of its citizenry or simply a victim of Big Oil manipulation?  In a decision this incredibly stupid, it can only be the latter. A glance at the "logic" behind the law quickly reveals whose agenda is being served.


Full Disclosure

This is so stupid its hard for me to type without spitting coffee onto the monitor screen.  California wants all providers to have displays on the stations fully detailing the kwh price. This includes Tesla who already stretches the definition of "public."  Despite their many invitations for other EV manufacturers to conform to their standards, none have accepted and the likelihood that will happen in the foreseeable future is zero.  Realize the Supercharger network has no screen at all. So complying with this law would be not only expensive but incredibly stupid.  Tesla drivers all know the cost of charging since their car gives them all that information in advance.  IOW a "victimless" crime??

Only Chargepoint has "wandering" rates with the host determining the cost to charge. Even the Chargepoint app does not have the rates...well, I think the app doesn't. At least they didn't when I realized the app was doing nothing but taking up space on my phone.  Thankfully other companies like EVGO, EA, etc. publish their rates.  EA even tells you on the screen of the station so they are already in compliance. (only shows its just as hard to be perfectly bad as it is to be perfectly good)

What this means is the bill was simply pushed thru senselessly without thinking (like DUH!) it thru including exceptions where the intent of the law had already been met.

Thankfully, there is a grandfather clause added to allow existing stations to get into compliance...At least that is what they say. Realistically, its time for the lawmakers to pull their head out of the sand. Hopefully 3 years will be enough time.

Bill Like Gasoline

The main (and only) supporting statement for this lunacy is consumer protection.  The law is supposed to protect the consumer by allowing them to know ahead of time that XX kwh received will result in the ability to drive YY miles. "Just like a gasser"

Now that sounds fine and my response; When you have enough public charging stations where the expected wait time to plug in will be no more than 5 minutes "just like gas" then fine, I accept your stupidity. Until then, PULL YOUR HEAD OUT!!

gasbuddy.com started when gas was nearing its true cost. Because gassers don't like to deal with reality, they felt it necessary to find the cheapest gas in the area. IOW, no laws were required here. They took it upon themselves to do some research to control their costs. But realize the key difference here; This did not go against Big Oil's profit machine pitting company against company. IOW, Big Oil had no fight here.  Result; NO LAW!!

But were consumers protected? Did anyone go to the gas station to see prices at that station PLUS prices at other stations in the near vicinity? Would that not be "full disclosure?"

The EV Advantage

Due to the nature of how EVs charge, the speed at which kwh's are dumped into the tank varies.  To get the best bang for the buck, its recommended you start your charge in the lower SOC range of your EV and stop soon after the charge rate starts to drop or as soon as you get the range you need to continue your trip.  Well, that is hardly complicated now, is it?

Any EVer with more than a week of experience with public charging understands this. There is an unwritten (and unenforceable) rule that one should unplug from the DC charger when you hit 80% SOC because staying longer is supposed to be rude and the charge rate is now approaching level 2 speeds. (VERY wrong)

Well, I never was in that camp and I never will be. Its ridiculous to tell someone to unplug for no other reason than my simply being tired of waiting to charge.  Besides with per minute billing, they learn the "better" way of charging soon enough.  IOW; there is an incentive to get only what you need and go.

Now there is also the novice EVer who simply takes off without doing any research.  Granted in the old days (2011) the network was sparse, unreliable, etc. You really never knew what you were gonna get! (Stolen from Pawn Brokers... sorry) They elected to practice the ideology that if a station works, charge up as much as the car will take because the next one might be broken.

But the war cry of the Millenia soon came to the rescue; "There's an app for that!"

Plugshare allowed users to warn/advise travelers of where to stop and in some cases, what speed of charge they might see.  It soon became the #1 indispensable Road Warrior app with LEAF Spy being a very close 2nd. (LEAF not included)   This allowed the traveler to peruse their route for stations that had recent successful check ins.  The smart traveler quickly realized that shorter more frequent stops could be a better way to travel but again, the short range EVs still made that a challenge; one that many chose not to take.

Its 2020; Get With The Program! 

But bigger batteries, faster chargers and EA changed all that.  Now, the distance between chargers were shorter, the options plentiful. The need to charge to over 80% simply vanished for most of us. Sure there were still challenges off the main drag and whatnot but the ability to travel was getting to the point where preplanning was almost unnecessary.

Another advantage (of many) EVs had over gassers was the ability to control costs of fueling. For most of us; home charging was well under half the cost of a highly efficient hybrid gasser.  But properly managed, even the much more expensive public charging could also match the gasser's per mile cost. 

IOW, we have options!  Recently, I was able to average  a charge rate exceeding 60 KW on the EA Lacey station. That means more than one kwh per minute over the entire session.  If getting 4 miles/kwh (My average for Dec 2019 was 3.95 miles/kwh) at 18 cents per minute, that is 4.5 cents per mile. Realize DC charging is over 95% efficient. With gas hovering at $3 a gallon, a hybrid would need to get 60 mpg to approach that. But the real advantage? I charged to a point where I had 2 hours of freeway driving. The charge rate never dropped below 50 KW.

IOW, I am rewarded with upgrading to a larger 62 kwh battery with "up to 100 KW" ๐Ÿ˜Ž DC charging.  Not only do I get what I need quicker which allows someone else to charge, the revenue of the station is boosted.  How can that be? You ask. When I am getting so much power in such a short period of time.  Because the power dispensed is a very very very small part of the cost of the station. The provider actually needs to have the station in use as much as possible. The likelihood that this will happen increases when the station habitually turns over in 30 mins or less.

A Bridge To Nowhere

Ok so California has backed these companies into a corner so what can we expect?  Blink instituted a per kwh billing plan years ago. How is that working?  (We are ignoring quality issues and only working Blinks will be considered in this discussion ๐Ÿ˜œ)  Well, it ain't and why? Because it is too much money! Or is it? 

We no longer had any options for controlling our costs. Whether we had a big battery with a beefy charger or a wimpy under 100 mile EV, we were all on a level playing field.  We EVers don't play that game!!  Its all about FB posts of my "300 mile per hour charging session"  or my .48 second zero to 60 time; IOW, we pay for the right to BRAG!!! We don't like being equal among our peers. The sheer volume of "my car's got 2 more miles of range than your car does" posts on Facebook confirms my point.

So what can we expect?  A per kwh billing rate has to be fair to the 100 KW EVers and still bring in enough revenue to cover the EV charging an additional 10 minutes to get that one extra kwh.  Is that even possible??

The only thing that is obvious is someone is going to get screwed BIG TIME. Either the 100 kw EVers will see HUGE charging bill in minutes and their investment in that bigger battery wasted or the per kwh rates will be so low that reservations booked months in advance will be needed to accommodate the increase in 90+ minute charging sessions.

The rampant issues seen at free stations should be enough of a hint to have nixed this per kwh billing plan before it was even suggested.  Cars getting unplugged because someone else decided their charging needs and their travel itinerary was more important?  Threats of keying, tire deflation or outright vandalism because someone got to the station first?  This is what free charging did.

Now billing by the kwh hardly qualifies as free charging but rest assured; when you remove the financial disincentives to unplug, charging times WILL INCREASE dramatically.

Soon, it will become obvious that this law has broken more than it fixed. Customers upset at high bills for charging sessions will not be reduced and frustration over the public availability of stations will increase. IOW; exactly what Big Oil wanted to see. As for me? I am investigating charging routes around California and they exist! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

From Russia With Love

Well, it was simply a confluence of things all coming together. It started late Monday night when I received a notice that work was offering Christmas Eve off.  I normally don't take time off but I already knew it would be slow which means a lot of "busy" work lamely disguised as preventative maintenance would be a likely possibility which makes a 10 hour day seem like forever. So I accepted the time off. To be fair; the notice came in at 6:30 PM and to give time to anyone who might have had plans, I waited until 10 PM before submitting the request. I already knew a lot of people were leaving early so they didn't have as big a hit to the paycheck but I have a bank of time off I could use (I won't)  so finances were not the issue.

So Tuesday morning I am sipping coffee and Facebooking and see a post from a fellow E Plusser who had major Rapidgate issues.  So far, my limited experience had given every indication that Rapidgate would be a MUCH smaller issue than in my 40 kwh.  So I was a bit surprised.  But it soon became clear to me that the person was not using his extra range to his advantage.  He chose the path of less charging stops but longer charging sessions.  IOW; he did not take advantage of the additional range he had.  So I decided I needed to see how much of a benefit my extra range gave me.  I would take a trip, heat up the pack but use more shorter stops only charging to the knee which means only using the bottom 2/3rds of the pack and see how well the car performs.

The Trip


My first thought was to duplicate the trip my fellow E Plusser took but that would have taken too much time and my Christmas obligations start well before noon so there wouldn't be time for that.  I decided the key factor was pack temperatures anyway so any decent trip length would do.  In the Summer of 2018, I discovered a gem in Newberg, OR called "From Russia With Love"  It was basically a drive thru espresso stand that serves the GREATEST Pieroski's! (Supposedly they have a great coffee selection too. One of these days, I will have to check that out too.) So I decided since it was Christmas, my present would be lunch there!


As always, I was completely prepared for a road trip... 65% is good enough! TBH; That is beyond the limit of my butt and in the critical area of bladder capacity.


I DC'd the night before so my pack is warmed up. Normally pack would be in mid to upper 40's due to long periods outside at work. (Garage ambient was 53.6ยบ) I figured 75 mph to Woodland would warm up the pack a bit. It was only 90ish miles so plenty of range.  Based on dry conditions going down averaging 70-75 mph on I-5 to the OR border and some scattered rain coming home on the WA/OR coast averaging 55 mph, I figured should average about 3.8 miles/kwh.

Castle Rock

Observation #1; Don't bring coffee in 18 oz mug with you if you want to drive 90 mins before first stop.  I had plenty of range but I "barely" made it to Castle Rock.


I should have reset trip computer. I sat in drive way for a while getting stuff together (including talking to mailman. He pulled into my driveway as I was leaving and opened the back of his truck and it was completely full top to bottom with Amazon. Unreal. Should have gotten a pix but anyway...

***ALERT TO GOM FANS. GOM BASHING WARNING BELOW!!***

Notice where the car is now? Above the GOM said 162 miles which means I should have 100 miles left. LEAF Spy said 145 miles and with the 62.8 driven should have about 82 miles left (realize my 3.8 miles/kwh estimate is for entire trip)  Now we can say that the GOM only takes recent history into account but that would have been my drive home from DuPont from the DC charging station which was at 75 mph (or more) to the Martin Way exit and home and that trip ended at 3.8 miles/kwh as well.


But now LEAF Spy is over the estimate that the GOM has. Why is that?  The reason is hidden reserve.  At roughly 70% SOC, the SOC on LEAF Spy and the GOM match.  From that point downwards, the hidden reserve starts to grow.  Notice when leaving home, the Dash is 65% while LEAF Spy was 68.3%? That is a 3.3% difference.  But when we get to Castle Rock, the dash is 31% but LEAF Spy is 40.3% a 9.3% difference.  A few % is ok but 10%???? 

To make a long story short; When you need the GOM the most is when it is the least accurate (assuming its even still there...)

*** WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULAR PROGRAMMING***

Ok, we gained a few degrees. We did have a rather lengthy "slowdown" from just North of Centralia to past Chehalis. Slowdown as in speeds dropped to the lower 60's. But I wasn't really expecting much. The bigger pack, the greater module count; all done to lower heat gain and its working (but again its still Winter)


The Webasto did all it could putting out  the full 125 amps.  As promised I was only going to charge full rate as much as possible. Granted, if the charging knee happened sooner than expected, I might be caught off guard a bit but fairly confident I knew about when that was going to happen.


Castle Rock Charge stats

charge time; 25:41
19.41 kwh
knee 69.55%,
Temps 77.5/79.9/79.0.
Charge speed average; 45.37 KW  (all data from LEAF Spy Logs) 

The knee was near perfect timing. I got caught up on Facebook, did the bathroom thing, picked up a 24 oz Extreme Mocha and basically waited less than 5 minutes and was back on the road again!



Newberg Oregon

If you are ever in the neighborhood, "From Russia With Love" is a MUST MUST MUST stop! If there was ever a place that could franchise, this is the place! (Not sure how they would maintain their fresh baked daily offerings but...)


No dining room. Just a drive up on one side, a walk up on the other.  (Check my Oregon Coast trip from 2018 for a close up of the menu)


Boo's Love; one of many many awesome items. Most come baked in that pocket crusty thing which is done perfectly. Its not mushy, not dry, not anything but PERFECTLY DELICIOUS!

Ok so some you are thinking I am crazy driving 150 miles for this but I am not the only one that thinks so. They rate 4.9 of 5 on Facebook. How a podunk wine country town of Newberg got so lucky, I simply don't know!


Webasto outdid themselves here putting out over 126 amps here!


Newberg Charge stats

Charge time; 32:25
24.48  kwh
knee; 70.82% SOC
temps; 93.4/96.8/96.8
charging speed average; 45.31 KW


Notice the slight temperature changes? The charging data is from the LEAF Spy logs which is simply more detailed and accurate. Screenshot is taken before departing Newberg so timewise, likely less than 2 minutes or so.  As you can see, we have 4 temperature readings but all LEAFs since 2013 have only had 3 temperature sensors so the lower left one can be ignored. Not sure what it represents?

Astoria Oregon

In case you are wondering, no I did not make it to Newberg w/o a bathroom break. The funny thing is I stopped at a Fred Meyer on the way and walked right past the charging station in the parking lot to the bathroom. I wish Washington had as much incentive as Oregon does. Oregon is light years ahead in both progress and its attitude towards electric vehicles.


The drive to Astoria meant a lot of winding around wine estates, farms, hills, Dales, Jane's, etc. Just about everything except freeways I guess you could say.  I did see some decent temperature spikes on some of the uphill climbs and yeah, sometimes 75 was needed to get around slower moving traffic. The rain had started and it was getting dark!  Then temperatures dropped into the upper 20's which made any temperature gain in the pack a tough challenge.

Now we all know about Rapidgate but there is also Icegate where the knee moves downward with the starting temperatures of the batteries.  In my 40 kwh LEAF, it was severe seeing knees at 48% SOC when pack temps started in the 40's.  I soon found the optimum temperature was with packs in the mid to upper 80's.

Another thing about Rapidgate is the initial charge rate would be lower so Astoria had some surprises.


The last 20ish miles or so were flat and low speeds which really saw a drop in the battery temps. I was nearing 100ยบ in the hills but the drive from Seaside to Astoria was all between 25 and 40 mph for the most part and pouring rain. So was hoping I was still in the optimum temperature range but that loan 93.8ยบ apparently derailed me.

I started out at full speed over 125 amps and thought I was safe! Rapidgate always lowered the starting charge speed when the pack was warmer than the upper 80's but my euphoria was short lived when the knee hit at 58%. (lowest ever on a 125 amp machine on my E Plus to date) This was unexpected and with my longest stretch w/o charging ahead, I had no choice but to keep charging well past the knee.

Astoria Charge stats

Charge time; 35:41
25.67 kwh
knee ; 57.81%
temps; 100.6/106.2/108.4
charging speed; 43.18 KW

Last Stretch

Leaving Astoria, I crossed the Bridge headed towards Aberdeen. I quickly realized I should have gone counterclockwise on my trip. It was dark, rainy, and lots of deer on the road.  Driving was rather "adventurous"  Luckily my high beams worked quite well so only had a few slowdowns to keep a safe distance away from Deer who seemed to have a healthy appetite for the grass in areas where little or no shoulders existed.

Although there were a lot of ups and downs before and after South Bend/Raymond areas, even the highest altitudes the temperatures were no lower than the mid 30's. Not quite out of Black Ice danger, but felt much better.  I soon hit a heavy rain band and now it was all about dodging puddles in the middle of the road in the pitch black of a starless night on a windy narrow highway.  Like I said; Adventurous!

It was my plan to have as little charge in the pack when I hit Lacey but I soon realized that 62% SOC to drive 130 miles in these conditions might have been a bit ambitious. But I was barely averaging 50 mph and there were more than a few occasions where I thought that I might be going too fast.

To make matters worse, for the first time in over 8 hours on the road, my feet started getting cold. I didn't have my "cold weather" shoes on opting for Reeboks and no show socks. Hmmm??

EA!


I arrived with plenty of range to spare and for the first time, I saw LBW at 113 GIDs, 5% SOC and VLBW at 87 GIDs and 2%.  The irony of my 24 kwh days were not lost when both were a daily occurance. It only took 5 weeks to see these all but useless warnings!

With the batt temps still touching 100ยบ, I was not having a lot of faith in my charging performance when surprise #2 came.  As you know; this station puts out 200 amps. I have hit 73.8 KW here before but was realistically expecting half of that and surprise!


This is a Rapidgate I could live with! I started at 162.48 amps which was quite a bit higher than I was expecting.   But 5% isn't much range so I decided I would aim for my best charging average of 45 KW and see what I get.  Interestingly enough, I ended the charge at nearly the same SOC as the knee on a a full charge speed at 200 amps (45.6% SOC)

We can tell this is a "Rapidgate" charge because it a constant power charge. Notice the green line is flat? In the previous charges, the green line rises slowly due to higher voltages as the SOC rises. Its the current that is constant. In a Rapidgate charge, the power is constant while the current slowly drops.


EA Charge stats
Charge time; 25:43
kwh; 23.1 kwh
knee; Temperature controlled curve
temps; 105.8/113.0/112.0
charging speed; 54.11 KW
Max current; 162.48 amps
Current at "power knee" ; 145.34 amps


Synopsis

There is no real conclusion here other than what we already knew. Unless you have to charge to a specific SOC like I did in Astoria or simply have extra time to kill like I did in Newberg, it simply does not pay in either time or money to charge to a high SOC.  The fellow E Plusser above was charging beyond 90% SOC and so yeah, it was less stops and he probably had the time to charge that long at least once due to meals  but it will cost him more than double what I paid and I am not sure he was more efficient at getting to his destination than I was.

The other key takeaway is well, its Winter. Yes, the pack is not heating up as quickly as the smaller 40 kwh pack and yes, it sheds heat quicker as well but the true test becomes what I can do during Summer time. Even after driving 375 miles, my EA session proves quite handily that Rapidgate is still present but much more manageable.  As you can guess; I will be revisiting this extensively when the weather warms up!

Show Me The Money!

I didn't care about a timeline or I wouldn't have taken the worst and slowest possible way home. I am really doing this for my own benefit more than anything else. In a few months, I will be "on my own" paying for all my public charging and I simply don't want to pay more than I have to.  Now, it is all a matter of preference. I prefer more stops and shorter driving stints.  The two hours from Astoria to Lacey only emphasized how much I don't need that in my life. If not for the MUCH higher attention to the road required, I feel like fatigue might have become a factor.

Yesterday, California announced a pay by kwh law which I think will hurt us tremendously. The areas where you have to get enough charge to make it 130 miles like I did last night are disappearing here so there is little need in my mind for someone to charge to that level when they have that much available range. But I fear w/o the financial disincentive to unplug and go as soon as you got what you need, there will be little reason to not charge another 10 minutes to get that one extra kwh.

For Gen one EVers, I get that. You might "have" to charge to that level to get to the next station 50 miles down the road but I am routinely getting stuck behind Bolts who have free charging who have 90+ minute charging sessions running.  Removing the financial disincentive of charging beyond one's current need WILL see more people simply charging for longer periods of time.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

E Plus Charging Profile; Still Searching For RapidGate!

RapidGate/IceGate started with the 40 kwh pack.  This is when the charging profiles on a DC session changes based on the starting temperature of the battery pack.   Now this is significant because other packs from the Bolt, Tesla, etc. act differently adjusting charge rates upwards if the pack is cold initially.  Cold packs are limited in the current they can handle so need to heat up a bit before taking on the full current a station can hand out.  There is some thought out there that this is being unnecessarily overcautious especially if charge rate is 1.5 C or less.

History

The original LEAFs charged...well slowly even on a "quick" charger.  On a station supplying up to 125 amps, the knee (when current starts to drop) was generally in the mid 30's SOC.  Now this was pre LEAF  Spy so only had the dash to go by.  With the reserve, the knee was probably around 40% SOC give or take a few.

30 kwh

Nissan's first major capacity increase happened with the 2016 model year introducing the 30 kwh pack for the SL's and SV's (S trim received 30 kwh packs starting in October 2016) and apparently Nissan heard our complaints.  Now that the early and free days of DCFC charging was fading fast in the rearview mirror, the pay per minute issues made the slow charging a bigger issue to contend with.  My 2016 S 30 would charge at full speed past 80% SOC! This was a godsend because of my work demands and adhering to a schedule that had no wiggle room. Delays for slow charging simply wasn't going to work.  The ability to grab a 10-20 minute boost under a wide range of battery conditions (hot/cold, high SOC) with a decent amount of range really made EVs an attractive option in a job where I logged over 25,000 personal vehicle miles for work a year.

Although the 30 kwh was a good boost in range, it was still not nearly enough for any real charge management on a road trip. If you were lucky enough to be in an area that had DCFC's every 20-30 miles or so then it wasn't so bad but most of the country was not lucky, so more range was needed.

RapidGate/IceGate And 40 kwh packs

In 2018, Nissan released the 40 kwh pack for the 2018 model year. It wasn't the rumoured and highly anticipated 60 kwh TMS pack we were hoping for but again, a decent bump in range along with several new driver aids.  I hadn't planned on getting one but my hand was forced when my beloved (and undegraded) S30 was killed.

A quick perusal of the EV options quickly revealed that even without the HUGE incentives of the past, the LEAF with its higher price was still the best option for me so l jumped on it as soon as they hit the streets. I was one of the first S 40 customers Ray had!

But it took all of ONE workday for me to realize that the full charge past 80% SOC I was expecting was not to be.  Not even close really as I was lucky to see the knee squeak past 50% SOC.  Now it was February and the added range usually only meant needing one QC to cover me which means heat wasn't an issue,  I was IceGating and didn't know it.

Heat

Because of changing personal needs (and escalating gridlock!) I made the tough decision to take a rather large pay cut and change employers. This put me on a 4 day work week with a 25 mile round trip commute which meant MORE TIME FOR ROAD TRIPPING!

So well before the heat of Summer arrived, I experienced the full brunt of RapidGate.  A trip in April revealed that my pack charged best (highest SOC @ knee) when batt temps were in the 80'sยบ F at the start of the charge but as soon as the pack hit 90ยบ, I no longer received the maximum current at the start of the charge.  As the pack heated up, the starting current continued to drop until I charged at North Bend EVGO starting temps 121ยบ and had max rate of 61 amps (of 120ish) to start!  My 30 minute NCTC charge didn't even get me to half ! (45% SOC)  The charging rate was so slow, the batt temps went DOWN during the session to 118ยบ (yeah, it was a bit nippy OAT in mid 40's)

RapidGate Mitigated

Now Nissan knew about RapidGate rather quickly and since their main market focus for the new LEAF was Europe (Yeah, we now have assigned seats in the nosebleed section) they released a software update in May 2018 to alleviate the ramp down. It helped but it was an EU update ONLY!!

But it was still Spring in America. The heat of Summer hadn't happened so the outcry in the US was barely a whimper.  In fact; most claimed their LEAF didn't have RapidGate.  Then July hit.

Olympia's year round mild climate insured that only multiple fast charges revealed any RapidGate effects. But elsewhere, it wasn't the case. Soon, social media was flooded by people not seeing more than 25 KW on their FIRST QC of the day.  Ambient heat along with sometimes aggressive driving was more than enough to heat up the pack.   We immediately started complaining about the issues to Nissan but our voice wasn't really heard until Jennifer Sensiba started a petition to simply allow us to get the software update that ALREADY EXISTED!!

I was almost ready to give up hope which was rare for me ( ok, maybe I wasn't!) when in mid July 2019 A YEAR LATER!! Aaron McAfee, the resident LEAF tech guru of the Pacific Northwest, notified me that a RapidGate SW update was now available and when did I want to come in and get it done?   I immediately went on social media to tell everyone the great news and ....

Well, no one believed me.  We had several supposedly connected people claim they contacted Nissan who told them no such plans to allow an update THAT ALREADY EXISTED!! to be issued to North America. So my announcement went virtually unnoticed until 5 days later when Nissan announced that it was now available to us.  Try to be helpful I do and what do I get?? Anyway...

Because of concerts, focus groups and birthdays, it took a few weeks to get the update but on August 1, 2019 the update was done that included a battery plate bonding recall. So two updates at once! and barely an hour in the shop. If you need LEAF work, go to Aaron at Puyallup Nissan. He is worth the drive!  It was another week before I had a chance to test the update and I did see a definite improvement ranging from 30 to 60ish% faster.  The hotter the pack, the greater the speed increase.

IceGate

As the days grew shorter,  I started noticing a reduction in charge gained during my 30 minute EVGO sessions. It wasn't much but since I was VERY consistent with the 30 kwh pack,  the variance was worth looking into so I started looking at my charging logs (I track EVERY QC on LEAF Spy) and started noticing cold weather affected the charge.

Unlike Tesla and Chevy, the LEAF starts at max current even when the pack is cold, at least within the parameters of the Pacific Northwest "cold."   So I decided I needed to test the charging when the pack was cold and this meant waiting for a cold snap to get a full range of results.

Chevy Bolt charging on a cold WA morning. After 7 minutes, they have only gotten
to 22 KW. (TMS must not be awake yet???) Later in the charge, they did manage to
get to 35 KW. 


It didn't take long for my suspicions to be confirmed. IceGate was real.  When my pack temps hit the 40'sยบ F, the knee was dropping in to the 40's as well, SOC that is.  So we were now getting it from both sides now!   FYI; I went thru the charging logs on my S 30 and surprise surprise. It didn't have IceGate either. I did manage to find one instance where the knee happened at 77% but starting batt temps were in the mid 50's so not all that cold to begin with.  Most others including ones that started over 120ยบ F, still had the knee over 80% SOC!

62 kwh E Plus

Unlike the bump from 30 kwh to 40 kwh, the E Plus pack not only increased capacity but also increased their module count.  This allowed more of a "spreading out" of the charge received by the pack making the individual stress on a cell much lower.  So it made sense that higher power would be fine and Nissan did upgrade the DC to 100 KW.   Now based on the knee, SOC limitations, etc. You won't see 100 KW but reportedly 80 KW would happen.  And when we get a 100 KW Chademo, I will test that theory out!

NCTC Gone

Nissan ended the NCTC promo the first week of July this past summer as planned.  It provided 2 years free DC charging with Blink, Webasto and EVGO. This meant I was soon faced with the decision of what vendor I would be charging with when my promo ends February 15th, 2020.  With the charging speed issues above behind me now, I needed to understand the parameters of how the E Plus charged and what was the best circumstances to alleviate RapidGate/IceGate, etc.

Heat Gain and Retention

It didn't take long for me to realize that keeping my E Plus pack warm wasn't going to be very easy. I did nearly a full 30 minute charge on EVGO the other day, gained nearly 23 kwh and pack barely hit 70ยบ. Battery temps at charge start in upper 40's, knee just over 65%

120 amp knee; 65.24%  batt temps start 
47.4/47.8/47.8


IceGate On The E Plus

So, its simply not the time of year for RapidGate testing. The pack isn't retaining heat like the 40 nor does it gain heat simply while driving or regenning. Guessing its a combination of more cells and better chemistry.  The E Plus does have a slight bump upwards on the E Pedal regen profile  seeing up to 189 amps but B mode remains the same as the 40.  Remember, I am seeing 200 amps from EA DC charging sessions so even with the higher regen profile of E Pedal, its still not an extreme hit to the pack. 

The Test

I purposely overcharged (AKA as charging to 70% SOC ๐Ÿ˜ ) to allow extra time for the pack to cool off between charge sessions. Although we did have a few colder days, car is in garage at home so only exposed while at work and was able to get two charges in with pack in the mid 40's ยบ F. I also wanted to see how much speed the EA DC had to offer. Its well known that the 50 KW chademo which generally has a limit of 125 amps (which is exactly where my 40 kwh charged at) but EVers were seeing over 150 amps so I had to see what I would get and I was not disappointed. 

SSSSSWHEAT!!  You probably have to click and scroll to see the details here
but 200 amps is a game changer for roadtripper! 

 The plan was to preheat the pack by high speed driving, lots of heat, and a QC.   So off to Centralia I went.  I charged there 20 mins heating the pack to 65.7/66.9/64.9ยบ.  I then sprinted to the Lacey EA at 70+ (Hitting 80 mph frequently in the South County area) with heat blasting, etc. and more than 30 miles later, I was at 65.1/67.5/69.1 ยบ.  This was not what I was expecting.  One temperature went up (guessing it was more equalizing after the Centralia QC) while one barely changed but one WENT DOWN!! 

WTF?? It wasn't that cold so heat didn't work hard but I figured the speed would more than make up the difference. Temps were in the upper 40's (in Centralia) to low 50's (In Lacey) I then realized getting a full spectrum of temps to test would be tougher than I thought.  My target was a charge in the mid 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.  But I was faced with a 5 day work week (not used to that kind of demand on my time!) and much more driving and charging than I was ready for.  So the testing is somewhat incomplete but the trend seems rather clear. 


With a 4% increase in SOC at the charging knee (120-125 amps) from the mid 40's to the mid 60's, I am quite giddy to think that the ideal charging temperature in the mid 80's could yield near 75% SOC!  This would be well beyond my dream expectations.  If you followed the IceGate link above, you would see that my 40 kwh at temps in the 40's had a knee below 50%. From the blog

Dec 5; start; Batt temps; 48.7/47.6/45.8  SOC;32.2 Max Amps; 123.901
Dec 5; knee; Batt temps; 61.7/61.3/58.3 SOC; 47.3
An improvement from 47.3% to over 65% is HUGE!! I have to say, I am pleased. This is real pack progress. 

Stay Tuned! 

My initial experience with the E Plus doesn't even begin to illustrate the massive changes from the 40 kwh to this car.  Still unknown is how the car will respond when the mercury hits triple figures but early indications are very good.  Guessing the pack has to be a lot warmer though. But, I think Nissan is finally realizing what Tesla knew from Day One. Without a big pack, there is simply no wiggle room.  Even if the knee doesn't change at higher temperatures, this car will be a godsend to many including me. 65% SOC is still over 2 hours of freeway.   I can no longer drive for hours at a time probably from simply getting old. I am still investigating seat cushion options (Have two, they help but didn't really fix anything...) and this all started in my 40 kwh LEAF where it took well over a year for me to notice I was no longer comfortable so I have to think its not the car. 

With the end of NCTC, I will need to start an analysis on which charging station provider to use. With subscription charges required to get the best price, the days of "too many cards" is long gone. EVGO is more expensive but more prevalent in my area. EA is cheaper and charges faster but less convenient with its one shared Chademo plug and still  sparse in the area but growing fast.  Webasto is rumored to be getting out of the public charging business which is greatly disappointing so their $20 unlimited plan is likely nearing its swan song.  So being able to maximize my dollar at the charging station is paramount to EV affordability.   I will admit, its been so long since I had to budget for gas, even a few bucks seems excessive for just driving if you know what I mean. ๐Ÿ˜  So charging without the knee is basically the goal. With per minute billing, the faster you get it, the cheaper it is per mile. 

30 min EVGO DC NCTC charge, no knee. 22.77 kwh received. 

Now, I know detractors will ride the TMS bandwagon until the wheels fall off but just a reminder; Elon Musk said the ultimate goal is a pack that doesn't need TMS. There was a rumor, still unsubstantiated, that the E Plus pack received a circulation fan so that is one thing I will be trying to confirm.  Remember the Bolt charging in the cold of a Washington State morning? He was in Covington, WA.  So I decided to see how my LEAF handled the cold so not wanting to heat of the pack, I took mine to the Lacey EA "on the same day" Ummm,  TMS'ers... You might want to see this. ๐Ÿ˜Š


Friday, November 22, 2019

More Range, More Screen, More Apps!; E Plus Comes Home

I really should title this "Ray did it to me again!"   I wasn't really in the market for an upgrade. I had the 40 kwh LEAF and it seemed that my pack had settled down and degradation had slowed to a trickle. My future had every indication of cheap transportation for the next 5-7 years.  This was good since this is the timeframe I expect automated driving to become both reliable and mainstream (AKA; cheap!)

But slow "fast" charging would always be a thing with the 40. The RapidGate software update did improve the situation but there was still the knee.  The knee is when the current starts to drop during a quick charge event. Depending on the starting temperature of the pack, it could be anywhere from 47 to 62% SOC.  With my NCTC coming to an end in a few months, I had to actually look at creating a "fuel allowance"  Its been so long, I am not sure I remember how to do it!

But the thought of seeing the maximum charging speed drop with half a pack yet to fill AND per minute billing practices of most DCFC providers, I wasn't so sure I wanted to settle on a car rated at 50 KW maximum.

I have to think the vibes my brain was sending out was stronger than I thought. Sure enough, Ray called last week, said with a tweak here and there, he could get me into a Plus for the same payments I am paying now.  After evaluating a few numbers, it was a bit more money on the back end with the higher residual but it wasn't too high and it was simply something I had to do!

So last Saturday, off to Everett I went. I got there, the car was already peeled, charged up and ready to roll.  Hopped into the new S Plus with climate (of course) powered up and as they say "First impressions are the most important" and I can't argue with what I saw



So, I take off for a quick jag around the block and after half a mile...


Hmmm?? Seems like someone might have been doing donuts in the 
parking lot while verifying the increased horsepower.  ๐Ÿ˜

But then again, that is Nissan and the GOM. We all know how that goes, right?  I don't suppose you can guess what comes next. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 



Despite all that, I knew the car was over 300 lbs heavier so there would be no great leap in efficiency needed to be able to hit that 300 mile target but truth be told; I don't really need a car that drives longer than 2 hours at a stretch mostly because "I" can't last that long.  Give me 200 miles of range; a full 30 minutes of charging at 120+ amps (basically full speed on the so called 50 KW chargers) and new tires and I am good. Well this car had it and much more.

_________________________________________________________________________________
**Sidebar**  

I started noticing a lot of discomfort when in the car for extended periods of time. The time has shrunk to as little as 30 minutes. Naturally it wasn't me (I am not "that" old!) so had to blame it on the car. (Funny how it took a year and half for me to notice it was the car's fault?)  So I got a gel pad seat cushion thing.  Didn't work. It helped I guess. Discomfort was less but still there.  So I determined I got the wrong cushion. It was rated 4.8 stars but then again, it was consumers doing the rating, not cushion experts.  ๐Ÿ˜•
__________________________________________________________________________________

The Pick Up

Gone is the super cool usb stick with all the paperwork on it. Great advertising gimmick as well, btw. But one cool gone was offset by another added.  

As we all know, the car buying process (even if all the terms were negotiated and agreed on in advance) is a hurry up and wait thing.  We provide info, wait for credit.   A few more questions, wait for service.  This and that; wait for finance.  In other words, there is a lot of "Facebook time" mixed in the process.  This time, Ray handed me an ipad with video links to all the new features on the car.  Now, most of  it I already knew but there were a few things that I didn't and the videos were short like 3 mins or so which made them very easy to digest, didn't get stale halfway thru and now I wasn't relying on the memory of a salesman who is trying to tie 14 different strings together on my deal. (along with other people who were there)  Now we all know Ray is pretty much on the ball but let's face it; everyone here has had the salesman who is new, or simply hadn't read up on the latest features of the car he is trying to sell, etc.  So we no longer have to go strictly by what the salesman says. In fact, if he gets something wrong you can say "But the ipad said..." ๐Ÿ˜„

The Deal

2019 LEAF S E Plus with All Weather package;  MSRP plus destination charges as provisioned; $38,420

2 year lease,  15,000 miles  15 cents per mile overage. 

23 payments of $380.67, residual $19,200

Money factor; .00147, Interest rate 3.528%,  Rent charge; $2385.26

Cash price; $25,981.47 plus tax and fees. (if paid in full by Dec 15) 

That is the basics but there was a LOT more to it than this. I still had 15 (one due on date of delivery but didn't process until 3 days later)  payments remaining on the 40 kwh so Ray had make those 15 remaining payments, then buy the car, then use equity in the car to apply to this deal.  So what Ray can do for you may not resemble what you see here but he is quite the math wizard! 

TCO Analysis

Ok, it's obvious that more range requires a greater financial commitment.  The Money factor is much higher than the 40 kwh lease but then again, car loan rates have gone up. Its much harder to find the 1.9% lease deals that my 40 kwh had. Starting from scratch, you may be able to swing a better deal but with my 40 kwh commitment complicating matters, this actually becomes quite the deal.

Other things to note; If you don't know, NCTC (Nissan free 2 year charging promotion) ended in July.  

But it's all about what I got and how much better it suits my needs and desires over the 40 kwh. It will take a while to make a real evaluation on that but that doesn't stop me from giving you initial impressions of the car! 

New (for me) for 2019! 

Power

Just kidding on the donut comments. On my test drive, there was a light rain so the road was wet. I didn't want to spin tires so I got a rolling start up to about 20 mph, then stomped the accelerator and still lost a bit of traction anyway.  Ah, well.  Nice to have I guess. Might try it again next Summer during the Les Schwab tire sale.

Back up Camera

Still has that "got water in my eye" issue at times but this has to be the perfect example of "not knowing what I was missing out on until I saw it" type of thing.  The view is definitely an improvement! 


The predictive lines are back? 

E Pedal Mapping

This is a change from my 40 kwh. I constantly shift from Eco B to E Pedal using the latter for stopping, quick decelerations and standing at lights. As soon as I take off, I switch back to Eco B. Using this method, I am averaging less than 5 brake pedal decelerations a week.  I noticed that the power mapping on the pedal is more aggressive in Eco B over E Pedal so swapping over creates a bit of a leap forward. E Pedal now resembles "Super Eco?" for lack of a better term.   Now that I know its going to happen, I simply adjust my pedal pressure to compensate.  Will be interesting to verify max regen for all modes again.

Steering Wheel Heater

The 2013 LEAF received all kinds of complaints from people who said their steering wheel heater got too hot. I personally loved it. Yeah, it was very warm and I liked it. Really made a difference on those sub freezing mornings. Sadly, Nissan listened and my 2018 (my S 30 didn't have it) they turned the heat waaaaay too far down. It barely got over lukewarm. Well, ok it probably wasn't that bad but it was a HUGE difference.  

But the E Plus got it right. Its warmer than the 40 kwh but cooler than the 2013. Its still on a timer but unlike the previous versions, this one seems to stay at the same temperature all the time. A very nice surprise! 

Android Auto

Ok, I admit I didn't have it so didn't know much about it so I watched the ipad video and it was pretty cool.  I am now able to connect the phone and it does the rest...literally.  I remember back in the day how difficult it was to setup your bluetooth with the car. Android Auto does it automatically.  Now why it does, I don't know because your phone has to be plugged into the USB port to run Android Auto. No setup involved. Plug it in and a few seconds later, its ready to go.  (It is apparently a standard app installed on my phone because I didn't even know I had it.) 

 And you paid how much for the maps update?? ๐Ÿ˜

Decent list of features. I like the Amazon Music link. Its a pain to launch from 
phone while on the move. 

WiFi

No, I don't have the tech package. Yes, I have the cheapest LEAF Plus you can get. The only option is the climate package but now WiFi is available on the Plus.  It took all of 20 seconds to connect the car to the home WiFi so no more going to the dealerships for software updates. You can now do it from the car! 

 
 Eventually, the novelty will wear off and I will stop checking daily ๐Ÿ˜Ž

  

Charging

**WARNING** PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR CARDIOLOGIST TO INSURE YOU ARE HEALTHY ENOUGH TO READ THIS SECTION!!


I could write a book on the things Electrify America is not getting right.  The "side saddle" layouts,  the lack of parking queues, unfair billing,  Chademo slights, etc.  Well, lets add another to the list; Inconsistency. Armed with 100 KW charging, the first thing I did was seek out the station with the rep of being "The fastest Gun in the West!"  Western WA that is.

This means I p...p...p..p..p.p.ppppppaid for a charge! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

But that is not always a bad thing.  I do wish it was a "farther away from home" thing but I was able to pull 200 amps with the knee at 45% SOC.  The charge rate did not drop below 125 amps until 68.8% SOC.  FYI; that just exceeds the capacity of a new 40 kwh pack. (533 GIDs)

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**Sidebar**

Less than one minute (charge timer in upper right corner at 47 seconds) into the charge, LEAF Spy is reporting 36% SOC. Car was reporting 25% SOC.  Looks like the hidden reserve will be setting all time records here. I haven't been down that far to investigate (it's a looooong way to get there) but trust in the fact that if you want over 200 miles of range, you will either drive blind or get LEAF Spy.
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Notice I plugged in right about when new 24 kwh
LEAFs would be unplugging? ๐Ÿ˜


The charge session lasted 22 minutes, 31 seconds (yes billing is prorated)  and I received 23.3 kwh based on EA's receipt.  a $4 monthly subscription would allow me to charge at 18 cents per min.  With an average charge rate of 62.1 KW, this would save me a LOT of money over my 40 kwh average charge rate that had a rather large mostly  downward range but was normally around 40 KW.

Driving

The car is heavier by 300 lbs and you can feel it. I did drive it around 5 days with tires at "dealer" settings but they are now back to 43 PSI. (I added air and simply reduced 2 of the 4 to the lowest figure. I am so lazy...)

The short time that I have had the car (just over 300 miles)  hasn't really given me a lot of opportunity to evaluate performance. The weather has changed a bit to boot but I am getting a sense of maybe a .2 mile per kwh hit. I know part of it is simply having "too much range to burn" along with new car interior windows which fog up much faster.  I will know more after the gassing of the interior materials has subsided and the Fog X treatments have been applied.

I do feel like the car is more stable at higher speeds. I did a cruise down the freeway to Centralia to check the charging knee at 124 amps. More on that later.  Even at 80 mph (For all you LE people reading this, I am lying) the car felt rock solid.

Public Charging

My NCTC runs out Feb 15, 2020 so I plan to take advantage of the perks as much as I can.  During that time I will be investigating methods to reduce my fees as much as possible while maintaining usability of the car.

Preliminary results have been very encouraging.  I checked the knee at Centralia (it charges at 124 amps, one of the fastest Webastos in the region) and was happy to see the knee at 66.37% SOC.  This was in spite of a cold pack where starting battery temperatures were in the low 50's.  If you followed the link above, you know I blogged about the relationship between starting battery temperatures and the charging knee on my 40 kwh.  The colder the pack, the lower the knee. Observed knee range varied from 47 to roughly 63% which best results happening when pack started at the mid 80's. 

Now it would seem obvious that the larger pack would accept more charge and heat up less. That didn't quite work during the jump from 30 kwh to 40 kwh but the 62 kwh pack has been quite icy the entire time I have had it.  Only charging over 73 KW brought the pack into the 90's. 

I received 22.07 kwh in a 30 min session on EVGO @ 120 amps (for 26 mins) and batt temps went from 53ยบ to 68ยบ.  That was SHOCKING in a very good way!

Needs, Wants and Desires

Sorry I don't have more details but I have only had the car 5 days. There will be much more to follow.  Even after reading this blog, some of you will still be wondering why I took on so much additional financial responsibility for what many perceive as the same car with the same basic issues. I get that but no matter whether I bought the 40 at the end of the lease for an estimated (starting from today) $15,300 (based on $300 in fees) or this car for an estimated $29,400, I would still be in the market for a car 5 to 7 years from now.

The real question now becomes how do I get my additional $15,000 of value from the E Plus?  Is that even possible?  I think not.  Cars are a depreciating asset so unless you have a Ferrari 625 (only two were ever built and the location of both is known so no 2 million dollar payday for you) you will lose money on your auto investment EVERY day.  Now, you might not lose it at the rate of $10,000 a year like early Model S owners but it will still be a loss.

So the real question now becomes what is an acceptable loss?  Early LEAFs dived in value quite quickly and anyone who did not fully expect that doesn't understand how emerging technology works. By far, my cheapest (and most reliable) LEAF was my S 30. Charged at full speed past 80% SOC, shrugged off high battery temps like Bezos faced with a +2 Billion NFL franchise price tag.  $245 a month lease payments, $9100 residual, that was under $18,000! But the odds of buying it was zero. It didn't have "buyable" range when I got it and despite it having all its range when it was killed 29,413 miles later, it simply wouldn't work for me long term.

But the E Plus range promises to be quite viable 7 years from now and beyond. I am guessing I will see a similar degradation pattern so expect my one year review to be a deep dive into the mechanic of my first year 5% capacity loss (yep, bigger battery so slightly less loss ๐Ÿ˜‰)

So the next time you see me cruising around town in my shorts and t-shirt navigating my E Plus thru the snow on the ground, wave.  Seeing me at a charger might not be nearly as easy to do.  A picture is worth 10,000 words so instead of explaining this paragraph, I present my drive home from Campbell Nissan. I think it says it all ๐Ÿ˜Š