Saturday, November 21, 2020

LEAF Spy, Batteries, Charging and Degradation; One Year Review Part 2

 I am currently collecting data from other Gen...uh...4? LEAFers with 40 and 62 kwh packs for a more balanced analysis of what we can expect to see long term.  Before 2018, I didn't have much interest since it wasn't till then that I wanted to keep any LEAF long term.  Even the bullet proof 30 kwh pack I had was only a considered cheap transportation purchase to use later to trade up. But despite the fact the 40 kwh had the range I would need,  it didn't have the buffer to allow better charge management which is why I am driving the Plus now. 

A New BMS

Starting with the 40 kwh packs, we started seeing large adjustments in pack  numbers via LEAF Spy every 3 months.  I still don't have enough data to tell you where we will be in 5 years but the early patterns are quite consistent among drivers with various needs, living in vastly different climates experiencing various driving conditions.  The "climate" factor so well published including a Gen One degradation prediction chart based on one's city (quite accurate actually) simply didn't work. We have people in VERY hot areas performing very well comparatively with others in mild climates that normally favor batteries by a large margin. 

Adjustments; Phase One

Although there seems to be outliers, the vast majority of us are seeing rapid drops in numbers lasting 9-15 months.  7 to 10% loss during this time is normal and covers over 90% of people who bothered to submit their battery stats.  My pack was no different. Not only was I losing chunks on my adjustment, I was also seeing a decline of .01 or .02% 4-7 times a  week. "That" alone can add up to over 2% annually. Hx is almost always skyrocketing here. There have been a handful of people whose Hx has remained "reasonable" lower than 110% and all of them (keep in mind my "all" is a very small list due to people not posting their stats when ASKED!) were slightly above the curve. 

Adjustments; Phase Two

But the  big chunks don't last. A new pattern emerges where the chunks lost in many cases, become chunks gained. Now we need to understand that realistically, this isn't possible but the circumstances of how these increases happen doesn't really allow us to blame instrumentation like the 24/30 kwh  packs which bounced up  and down on a near daily basis. So a huge number saw their numbers go up, others saw their adjustments get MUCH smaller or simply stop happening.  My guess is the adjustments are still  there but have nothing to report.  I also have daily records kept; something few others do. 

Adjustments; Phase Three?? 

Now, my Plus has only been in Phase 3 (I call  it  and...pretty much only I do) for just over a month.  In Phase 3, the downward trickle slows considerably.  Instead of seeing the .01 or .02% adjustments almost daily, they drop to almost once a week. In the chart below, to reduce the noise I only recorded ahr/SOH when the value changed.  Notice the Hx is also on the slow decline?  My adjustment happened during this period with a loss of .37% 

Notes; I have been on a SOC control kick.  Since I don't have NCTC any more, I have all but avoided DC charging for the most part and "maybe" that is contributing to the very slow numbers decline. I am running between 20-45% mostly with a few bumps to 65%.  Although it doesn't show here, the  longest day during the slow decline was 118 miles.  Another thing to consider is I am simply not driving all that much. With the new restrictions put in this week, it will be even less. I am  guessing neither the miles driven or lack of DC charging is a "significant" factor.  Below is my 40 kwh @ 15 months

Notes; Full on Summer here and all the public charging is DC since I had NCTC at this time which is why I didn't break out separate columns for DC and AC.  Unlike my Plus, I BAKED the 40 several times. Free charging does that to me and it was also during a time when Central WA was blowing up with new stations so trips to Ellensburg and Yakima were a must. Yakima was during Summer and it was HOT! Leaving there, I took White Pass back to Centralia Webasto; a 162 mile trip which is quite the challenge on flat ground. This meant charging on DC (it was free for the opening!) until it stopped at 98% and topping off at an L2 in town; all done at near 100º heat. Fun times!

Point of comparison; One year

2018 LEAF; 16,134.5 miles SOH 92.99%

Plus; 14,669.5 miles SOH; 93.13%

Factor in the mileage difference and its all but a dead heat. This is shocking to me. The charging/driving habits were as different as different can be. In the first year, my 2018 had a diet of 87% DC, My Plus only 55% DC with  nothing since August 24th.  The smaller pack charged to a higher level. I had 30 mins free so frequently charged until it stopped. So my SOC was higher, my pack a LOT hotter. 

Now the  Plus has not done the road trips I had planned. The real test was going to be a rafting trip in Central OR followed by a visit to Bend OR then swinging back up thru Central WA back to Olympia in the dead of Summer but COVID derailed those plans.  The additional range along with the fact the pack doesn't heat up enough on the first charge made hitting 110º quite the challenge. My only experience with Rapidgate was during a run when leaving home under 10% SOC. I stopped in Castle Rock charging only 20 mins which was more than enough to get me where I was going in time (barely) then grabbed another 23 minute charge and went back to EA Lacey and charged at 55 KW  when I normally would have seen about 73 KW.  A slowdown? Yes... drastic? You decide. 

Trendline

Now we are in complete guess mode but based on the limited data submitted by other LEAFers over 2½ years on theirs, the trend is holding up. Below is two charts; the 2018 with 25,125 miles over 21 months then the Plus at just over a year. Data points taken every 1000 miles more or less (whatever the end of the day provided) and displays projected ahr/SOH @ 100,000 miles.  The 2018 has a wiggle in it due to a LEAF Spy recalibration of the SOH. 

To read the chart, you need to look at the drops and how they compare with the upward slopes between the drops. You can see over time, the drops become smaller and the upward slope becomes greater. This indicates the rate of degradation slowing. 

2018 40 kwh
Note; On the left side we see the drop being more than double the slow rises between adjustments. Then you see the slow rise with a jump up when I had my increase. After that you will notice just a slow rise. My last adjustment before the trade in was Zero. Its not like it didn't happen. It simply had nothing to say. If we extrapolate "part" of this chart taking the rate from my one year anniversary 2/16/19 to trade in 11/16/19. My projected SOH @ 100,000 miles would be 85.05%... A 12 bar LEAF. 

But what if the bump up didn't happen (although its quite common) what if it was a zero bump? Then my projected SOH @ 100,000 miles would be 78.97% SOH. Easy to see why Nissan maintained the warranty degradation. I literally have no chance.  It also reveals a possible motive why Nissan is now using the 40 kwh pack to warranty 30 kwh packs. 


2019 E Plus
When I talked about phases above, it was probably a bit of a head scratcher to you but after seeing this chart, it becomes clearer. Extrapolating this chart will be a lot less accurate since we have barely over half the data the 40 has and several projections using different points on the graph ranged from 60 to 74% SOH (July 1 and July 24)  So I took another view taking the degradation from the last adjustment to now and doubling it to get 81.57% which I have to think won't happen. Not doubling the rate puts me at 87.3% a more likely result.  Either way, you will know what I know when it happens. 

Piling On The Miles...Or Not

I got my 2018 when I was still doing the inventory job so my driving was extreme. My first two adjustments I had done nearly 4500 miles on each. Realize the first adjustment, I had only had the car less than two months. Needless to say, I DC'd a lot. Remember, it was 87% DC and that includes a few stretches of a few months when I did no home charging. 

2018 Adjustments; Apr/Jul/Oct/Jan
#1; -0.67% SOH on 4499.0 miles  total 1.30% drop
#2; -1.31% SOH on 4243.2 miles total 1.87% drop
#3; -1.20% SOH on 3254.8 miles total 1.71% drop
#4; -1.55% SOH on 3054.0 miles total 1.73% drop
#5; -0.92% SOH on 2637.8 miles total 1.07% drop
#6;+0.97% SOH on 2642.9 miles total 0.72% rise
#7; zero change  on 3532.7 miles total 0.40% drop 

The S Plus showed up 4 months before COVID hit and I still had NCTC  till February along with a $250 EVgo credit. 

2019 Plus adjustments; Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct
#1; -2.35% SOH on 3267.1 miles total 2.82% drop
#2; -1.29% SOH on 3265.1 miles total 1.61% drop
#3; -1.13% SOH on 4123.2 miles total 1.59% drop
#4; -0.37% SOH on 2898.0 miles total 0.49% drop

Notes; Adjustment 3 covered my labor share assignment when I was working at a different facility. It was just under 100 miles roundtrip 4 days a week for 6 weeks. It was "profitable" I banked $215 a week in untaxed travel pay all while using up my $250 EVgo credit. 

About halfway between #3 and #4 is when I went to all level 2 charging and a lot less driving. The totals look ok but that is because school was out and my Son and I could take any day of the week for road trips so lot of "short" 200-300 miles trips were in there. Now that school is in, the only day we have to really do any traveling is Saturday which is just about my least convenient day.  

The 2018 bounced around quite a bit so hard to discern any real trends until the very end but the Plus is very predictable. The "total" you see in the last column is the adjustment plus the daily drops.  

Conclusions

Sorry... way too early to tell with any certainty which is why more data is important to the process.  This means several LEAF Spy data points spanning years.  Many 2018's will be hitting year 4 in the next few months and those data points are valuable but less so if we don't have your 2½ year data or your 2 year data.  I am guessing you figured out by now that this post was less a one year review and more a plea for more battery data. The MANY points mentioned briefly I will delve into more at a later date and that includes why charge management is more important than you think. I will also have more insights to my "keep it low" SOC experiment which will end around June. Hopefully by then the vaccine will be available and being rejected by millions (a sad and unavoidable fact I'm afraid) but traveling in relative safety will be an option for the more sensible people among us. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

One Year LEAF Plus Review

Just over a year ago, November 12, 2019 I received a call from Ray Raied Issak of Campbell Nissan of Everett WA  that was more than a bit unexpected. I was entering the 20th month of my 2018 LEAF S 40's 36 month lease when I was offered the chance to upgrade to a Plus at the same monthly cost.  Well, to say I thought there was a catch is a bit of an understatement but it was 50% more range, nearly double the DC charging speed so he definitely had my interest!

Now, I knew there would be a change on the backend because the Plus was simply more expensive so something had to change. My 40 kwh which I had thought about buying had a residual under $10,000 and its degradation had all but slowed to a crawl so my original 170 miles of range (Remember, YMMV) was down to around 158 to 160 miles. I could live with that. But the thought of a faster charger, the end of NCTC and the per minute billing of the day had me thinking that this was simply too good an opportunity to pass up so I resisted my knee jerk "Hell yeah" decision...and slept on it... Sleep didn't fix a thing so we set a time to swap cars. 

November 16th, I jumped in my car, set the NAV for traffic issues since this would be my 3rd car from Ray and I knew the way and off I went past a half dozen LEAF dealerships to THE best LEAF salesman in the Pacific Northwest. Ray was actually the best nationwide twice...or 3 times? Either way, he is VERY good at his job! 

The Pluses 

Power

Ok, it VERY noticeably faster than my 40 kwh LEAF to the point of being a bit scary.  In a year, I have had it to the floor like 3 times and that is probably 2 times too many so if power is your thing, its got it but you probably need different tires. Ecopias simply spin too easily.

Range

So I haven't really tested the range other than 3 times.  I did one trip during Winter and although not very cold with more than half the trip in the mid 40's with only the very end dipping into the 30's, it rained nearly the entire time including some pretty good downpours.  I was testing L2 chargers on the route so it was more than the normal in and out of the car which means running defrost more than usual was unavoidable but the car performed fine.  

Since I stopped to charge a bunch of times even if only briefly, I can only estimate the range to be just under the EPA rating of 226 miles. I was expecting over 200 miles of range so this was a pleasant surprise. As always, YMMV and this trip was the usual minimal climate control trip as much as could be done anyway. 

I did do over 272 miles with no charging stops with relative ease which is code for saying range anxiety did not play a part. The original route was about 265 but I had so much left I did some around town errands after my return with 275+ likely possible and yeah, traffic congestion played a part but that is everyday situation here with very few options to avoid it if going North. 

Note; All things are relative and I recently realized when I was putting this together that my perception has changed; what used to be a road trip isn't anymore. Any trip that requires less than 30 minutes of DC charging doesn't qualify in my mind and I did quite a few trips in the 300  mile range. 

Charging

It started out hot but didn't last and my relationship with Electrify America has soured considerably.  They expanded well moving into 4 of my 6 desired regions but the real goldmine was the ability to pull 200 amps while paying 18 cents a minute under their $4 a month subscription plan but then the veil was removed and Electrify America was revealed for who they are; NAZI's!!

Ok...maybe that was a bit over the top but they are thinly disguised Germans pretending to be an American company. First they throttled the Chademo down to 120 amps making Webasto and Blink faster. Then they went to a ridiculous 41 cents/kwh rate which means they now occupy the same brain space as Blink and its 49 cents/kwh rates for charging options. 

But it was awesome while it lasted. Getting a significant range boost in less time it took to leave some pee was totally cool! But as one fades, another emerges. Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has finally decided to get serious about providing public charging services. Yeah, they have had free level 2's for a few years now but few in anything remotely resembling convenient locations and...well its level 2. Great if there are amenities or near places where business needs to be conducted which these weren't.  Case in point; The free level 2 at the regional office in Olympia a few miles from my house existed for a few years before my first visit. This is a FREE station and you know me...can't leave them alone! 

So it was with HUGE gratitude I plugged into PSE's new complex  in Lacey and got over 200 amps! and it was at 25 cents/kwh...higher than the heyday of EA, but still quite reasonable! This was the first in a series they plan to build. We need to show some support here! Hopefully this will lead to many more locations! 

Safety and Convenience

Ok, some of this was there starting in 2018 but still worth mentioning because of the seemingly huge number of LEAFers who either don't know about this or doesn't use it.

One of the best features is the TPMS screen  which  shows individual tire pressures on each wheel AND they are self registering. When I rotate tires, it takes a few power cycles but the new positions are recognized. Pretty cool! 

Another cool perk is the steering wheel heater now has memory.  Before I had to turn it on every time I got in the car. Now, it remembers its last status and repeats it. So I turn it on in November, turn it off in May. Saving the button cycle count!  Keep in mind, its still on a timer so an occasional re energizing is needed. One thing I did test was letting it time out and it still came back on on the next trip!

Lemonade 

Licensing

Ok, I like Lemonade so I will start with what I like.  In WA, we are blessed with the ability to support our local charging infrastructure. Every year we pay $75 to fund that endeavour. Naturally the roads also need some love so an additional $150 goes to them. Like any tax, it works better for some than others. (A glance at trump's tax returns verifies this) To this date; the charging infrastructure has seen many new stations installed so its easy to see where that money is going.  So lets look at the cost of EVing Washington State. 

Fuel

We pay one of the highest prices for gasoline in the country so its easy to see why EVs are so popular. Having just sprung for $300 for my tabs a few weeks ago (taken from the account that was supposed to pay the sales tax on the car. FYI; got enough in there for several more years of tabs) sometimes we need to remember how it used to be. 

WA bills us 51.9952 cents a gallon for gas. The feds tack on 18.4 cents which means 70.3952 cents for every gallon we buy supposedly goes to fix the roads or the same place our $150 EV tab fees supposedly goes. So why am I adding both the state and federal tax when the EV Tab is a WA thing?  Well, I challenged anyone to show me how to get gas w/o having to pay both and still waiting for an answer so until that happens, we will deal in reality, not semantics. 

Having a huge concern for my footprint decades before EVs started becoming mainstream, I naturally drove the car that came closest to my goals; The Prius. I got 3 of them and like my LEAFs, two of them were tax free.  Hypermiling was a new term probably invented by Prius drivers chasing the 50 MPG goal which we all soon found was rather easy to achieve.  Even with two highway trips to Disneyland, I had a lifetime average in my 2010 Prius just over 53 MPG. I thought it was super cheap transportation. Since I have gas receipts for the car, a "scenario" which is often tilted is not needed here. Again, reality wins. For this, we will  use the  last Prius owned; a 2010 Prius purchased May 13, 2009. 

During my Prius' 66,000+ mile journey, I consumed 1245.78 gallons of gas costing $4096.98 or  6.2 cents per mile. Granted some of time involved was during a much more expensive time than the prices we are seeing today. Those trips to California were EXPENSIVE! and included the highest price paid @ $4.319 a gallon!   A more recent example would be my Corolla that cost $1811.69 averaging 6.78 cents per mile. It did pay prices comparable to what we are seeing today including a lot of sub $2/gallon gas. Ahhh, those were the days! As long as you don't breathe too deeply... Its lifetime was 38.14 MPG. I gave it away 5 days after I picked up my 40 kwh. Yeah, it took that long to realize I didn't need it any more. 

Now my Prius was around well before the $75 Hybrid tab fee was a thing so the average tab renewal was probably $80ish but only because of my "DUALPWR" custom plates. The Corolla's last tab fee was $52.75 paid December 2017. 

Anyway, I felt that a per mile cost was the most equitable way of determining fuel costs. No maintenance costs are added. To make the Corolla a relatively cheap car (as cheap as you can get with a car over 230,000 miles that is) I had my Sister go thru the car and fix, update, etc. it before I gave it away and that included a badly needed new set of tires. The Prius also had a new set of tires as well. Other than a few "curb" incidences; none of my LEAFs had the burden of that expense.  So that is the gas option. Under 7 cents a mile is not all  that  bad a deal really. 

So lets look at the EV "scenario" since reality is waaaay too unfair in this analysis. For this scenario; we will toss in home rates at 2.5 cents/kwh (higher than I pay BTW)  The $225 tab fee (I know only the $150 is the "fuel" thing but people will whine so...)  and say $10 a month for that road trip over 300 miles.  That should allow us 2-3 trips out of town per month. 

So in 15,000 miles, my EV would cost

$225 for tabs

$120 for public charging

$345.75 for home charging (Public charging adjustment calculated using Electrify America's 41 cents/kwh averaging 4.0 miles/kwh) 

So that is $690.75 or 4.605 cents per mile.  

There you have!... "it?" Hmmm?? Ok, so EVs are cheaper but something seems "off" in this comparison... How many of you have done that radio promotion that goes something like "For the next two  hours KXXX 91 on your FM dial will be selling gas for 91 cents a gallon if you pull into XX station with us playing!" 

In reality, free EV charging is not uncommon and many EVers use it extensively to the  point where many have no home or public charging costs.  I used to be that way but the added range of the Plus has me not seeking out free charging unless its simply convenient to the day's agenda but I would feel amiss if I didn't mention it. Now, it will not be part of the "My tab fees are unfair" argument but it "is" reality...

After a year  and 14,726.1 miles,  my "real" cost is $141.39 cents and to be fair, that does include NCTC to Feb of this year, the $250 credit for the Plus lease and current price reduction thru EVgo to 20 cents/min until the end of the year.  Include in the total above is $60.53 in public charging fees paid mostly to Electrify America.  So my cost will go up on year 2. My guess; it will approach but not exceed the scenario above. Again, it won't be used as ammunition in the tab fee wars but just so you know what is possible. 

Glitches

Like any computer, even one on wheels, glitches are a thing and my LEAF is no different. Like several versions before, this one also redirects airflow randomly. I also notice that occasionally, my steering wheel controls for the audio system don't work. So can't change channels or adjust the volume. But then again, up until 2004, couldn't do that with any previous car I had. Like driving a stick; once you learn, you never forget so a small thing, this audio bug. 

Another recurring issue is improper charge termination. This can be fixed by simply power cycling the car a few times or resetting the fault codes with LEAF Spy or disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a few seconds. Hard to blame this on the car considering the abuses public charging stations take both by EVers and outright vandalism but it happens so here it is. 

Wants

Seats

Recently I had the chance to drive the most iconic LEAF in the Pacific Northwest; Steve Marsh's 100,000 2011 SL.  Peppy with a new pack, I have to admit it was then that I realized two things; 

The power in my Plus is EXTREME and

The seats have taken a step back.  I did realize my hip issues were less the seats and more a drawback of one pedal driving. Using cruise control more (I never used it before as it is not the way for best efficiency) goes a long way towards fixing my issues but those 2011 seats were simply AWESOME!

Steering Wheel Heater

Another thing I would love to see is a high/low switch on the steering wheel heater. A lot of people didn't like it when the 2013's came out with them because they would cycle from very warm to cold. I loved the very warm part. Some thought it was hot but then again, some don't like coffee. Shocker, isn't it!!   Now my steering wheel heater gets warm and stays that way...warm. So give me the "very" switch! 

Drive modes

E Pedal has memory. In settings, we can set it so its on all the time or controlled by the switch next to the Eco button which also has memory.  So why doesn't B mode have memory?  I don't do D. Its too caffeinated for my tastes. I want the caffeine in  me, not driving me. 

Horn

I don't know what I am doing but lately it seems like I am a "distracted driver" magnet. Experiencing two very close incidents in less than a week made me realize my horn isn't cutting it.  One incident had me moving over TWO lanes to avoid someone redesigning the side of my car and I had the horn "bleeping" the  entire time. I began to wonder if they could even hear the horn? Expect a blog on addressing that concern. 


LEAF Spy, Batteries and Degradation

Finally the BIG thing and as I frequently do, this post has rambled on way too long which means many of you won't make it this far so looks like I will have to make this a two parter. 

Although I won't likely post it until tomorrow, I can tell you it is the deepest dive into LEAF Spy data I have done so if you are into that, you might like part two better. 




Thursday, November 5, 2020

To Pump Or Not To Pump?

 A Facebook post on one of the LEAF groups asking about the low tire pressure symbol on the dash. More than a dozen chimed in that they also saw it as well and its Winter which is a bit concerning. Like all dash warnings, they come on when the situation is quite dire. Since Nissan already low balls the tire pressure recommendation is it imperative to check those pressures EVERY time you drive the car. 

The new LEAFs makes it easy. Starting in 2018, Nissan started listing individual pressures on each wheel and these are self registering so no need to keep track of the changes in position when rotating tires.  Like all TPMS systems, it takes a few seconds for the tires to measure the pressure but this is something you should do before traveling too far. 


To access this menu option, use the steering wheel buttons to scroll horizontally thru the options. The one you are looking for is the one just left of the options menu or the "Information" screen.  Notice the vertical dots on the left side of the display? Those represent how many subcategories are contained within that menu. 

The information button has 4 subcategories and two of them should be used frequently. The Trip computer is my default screen which makes checking tire pressures that much easier since its just a single click up to see the TPMS screen

Notice we are now on subcategory "3" 

Why is it important to check pressures right away? Tire pressures should be set during the coldest part of the day. That is hardly convenient but the general idea is to check them before driving too far because tires heat up unevenly.  The heating of the tires is directly due to flex. The more the tires flex, the more energy is robbed from the motive force used to get you down the road so your efficiency drops. Well, that energy has to go somewhere and it goes two places; degrading the tire and heating up the air inside it. Obviously, the goal here is less flex. This means longer tire wear and better range but there are caveats.  A less flexible tire has less traction. In most cases, you will be fine unless you are a tailgater or speeder, or...something. 

So balance is the key. Many choose the Nissan recommendation of 36 PSI and this is the least efficient option. You will have less tire life and lower range.  Others choose the maximum tire pressure listed on the sidewall; typically 44 PSI and this gives you the best tire life, the best range, and the least traction. 

So what's the best option?  That is for you to choose. But this is also why I am writing this.  The #1 cause of tire failure is low pressure. The ideology that a tire will "pop" if inflated too much is actually quite laughable. Those days all but ended when steel belted radials came along.  

So the real danger happens when you stray outside the range set above; below 36 PSI or over 44 PSI. Since we are talking "cold" pressure, seeing 46 or even 47 PSI on your tires after an hour of timing laps on a roundabout is not only normal but expected. Its all about the law of reality AKA Physics. 

So we need to be not too low or not too high.  So are we looking at the lazy way or the smart, diligent and much harder way? 

Well, the easy way is to set it and forget it. We really only need to adjust when the temperature changes so if you haven't already, now is the time.  We really only need to do this twice a year. The pressure inside the tires changes roughly one PSI for every 10ºF.  In the northern tier, maybe 3X a year. 

Lowballing It

If 36 is your lucky number, you can make it work but it is a lot more work.  The problem with living on the edge is you have to be diligent...half the time....and you picked the edge that should get 100% of the attention.  Tires work by creating pressure inside that holds the tire to the wheel by its bead. That tire pressure maintains the bead and only a minimal amount of air escapes and can take several days if not weeks before we notice it but it WILL leak.... PERIOD.  So checking the pressures EVERY time you drive the car is very important and luckily we now have a process that takes 2 seconds (if you are slow) to check them.  Of course, the lower the tire pressure, the lower the integrity of the bead and the faster air leaks out.  The #1 cause of tire failure (as mentioned above) is...well, the #1 "avoidable" cause of tire failure is low tire pressure resulting in a bead that loses its integrity easier over bumps, etc. 

Bottom line; expect to boost the pressure frequently. 

Smartpressuring

44 PSI may seem like living on the edge but its not. Again, driving will push the pressure above 44 PSI but that is ok. Tire engineers already accounted for that. Now, just because tires don't have the "this is not a toy, do not place over mouth and nose or suffocation might result" warning doesn't mean they have the same BS legal ramifications to contend with. They do so the "maximum" tire pressure listing is a very very VERY safe thing to do.

as mentioned above, tires leak. Some leak slowly, some leak faster but they all leak. Now everyone here will contend that theirs don't leak because they have had a set of tires where they set the pressure one time and never went beyond the "look to see if one is lower than the other" method for the rest of that tire's life. FYI; most of these people also complained how bad their tire life was as well. Coincidence? Who knows...

Ok so just because there has never been a recorded incidence or air sneaking "IN" to an inflated tire doesn't necessarily mean it couldn't happen but as I understand it; the circumstances that would be needed is quite rare here on Earth. This means "one" car might have an issue but the rest of us should be fine. 

So yeah, even if in the "44" crowd, occasional airing up on the tires is needed. I wish I could say that I have added air less than a half dozen times since the early 90's (when tire pressure became important to me) but I didn't actually start tracking it until 2004 but discounting major intrusions of the screw variety, I have only added air "off schedule"  13 times and all 13 of those times was before I got my 40 kwh in February 2018.  But that was when I had my under 100 mile LEAF and my "trigger" point was 43 PSI.  Nowadays, I don't adjust until it gets to 40 PSI which is one reason why I haven't. I do adjust twice a year to account for Summer and Winter temperature changes but that is all. I guess my range concerns have "diminished"  😎

Spread The Work!

Ever wonder why birds fly in formation?  Its all about efficiency. If you had to flap your arms for weeks at a time, you would understand.  The lead bird faces the most resistance due to air currents.  When breaking that resistance, the bird creates a wake of lower air pressure where birds following are able to work much less to follow along.  Each bird takes its turn leading so no one isover fatigued and the entire group benefits.

Your tires also see this imbalance. Your front tires guides your car. This means all the inertia your car has is applied to the tire every time you change direction (which in the case of the typical WA freeway driver is every .4 seconds!) which means they wear out faster. They are also the drive wheels and as we know, the new LEAF will spin them tires like crazy. So I would be amiss if rotation was not mentioned.  To get the best tire life, you should rotate your tires regularly. 

So the only real question is how often? The answer is "often enough to maximize tire wear but not often enough to be an inconvenience"  Now what this doesn't mean is rotate them when its convenient. It means setting a schedule based on something.  The easiest way is by mileage interval. The LEAF even has a maintenance setting where you can set reminders to rotate when a certain mileage is obtained. 

Since I average 15,000 miles a year, I rotate every... 4, 5, or 6,000 miles.  Why so inconsistent? 

Miles are only equal in length. The wear on the tires is not. Freeway driving provides a lot less wear on the tires.  A good example would be Steve Marsh; the "100,000 Mile LEAFer" whose OEM tires lasted him over 70,000 miles! And he kept his tire pressures between 38 and 39 PSI so not even an "extremer" 

So based on that; in Summer, I rotate every 6,000 miles due to a MUCH greater portion of freeway driving due to road tripping. In Winter, its more around town driving which wears out tires faster so it 4,000 miles so it averages to 5,000 miles a year.  How you do it is up to you but do it! 


Saturday, October 17, 2020

September 2020 Drive Report; My All Electric Furniture Hauler!

 For September 2020, I went 729.3 miles @ 5.0 miles/kwh. Nearly all the charging done at home and no cost yet as the power bill has not dropped yet. Guessing tomorrow. If you are wondering, yes this is one of the lightest driving month in DECADES. I have tracked daily driving statistics since Thanksgiving weekend, 2003. Only in July a few years ago (599.3) was lower and mostly because I was gone for 21 days so car sat in parking lot near Seatac Airport. Even months when I had a gasser did my total never drop this low.

A better picture would be January 2018 which we all know is when my S 30 was murdered the 19th of the month. I had done over 1100 miles. Took FOREVER to replace her. Didn't get the 40 kwh until Feb 16 so only 12 days left in the month but still managed 866.6 miles.

Now, the full force of CV didn't slow me down (Apr 1668.2, May 1324.2, Jun 1396.9) but smoke stopped me dead in my tracks. Unlike the smoke situation of 2017, I could not drive myself out of harms way. There was simply no place to go. At least at home, I had two room air purifiers including one that claimed an AQI of "good."  (about one third the level outside my house)

Another lesser factor was the end of Summer. Ok, yes its October 1st and its 76º and gorgeous right this very minute. What I meant was school is in session (not in classroom) so roadtrips with Ryland are now restricted to Saturday our only mutual "day off" Either way, I am currently on a 10 day decline for Hx which I think may be a good thing. Adjustment day in 3 weeks!

Bad Seats Issue Resolved! 

Ok, it should be "solved" since it was never the seats at all. I had gotten to the point where even a 30 minute drive was getting painful so bit the bullet, whipped out the insurance card and headed to the local Ortho clinic for an eval.  Luckily Olympia has "Rapid Ortho" a walk in no appointment clinic so the process was quite expedited.  Then COVID happened.  

But when getting my initial evaluation and X rays, the Dr suggested that my "single" foot driving could create a situation where muscles get fatigued quicker due to holding a relatively steady but unnatural position. Apparently moving the foot back and forth from throttle to brake was just enough exercise to keep muscles from tightening up. I must say, I never realized how much Washingtonians were into exercise as a lot of car tail lights resemble strobes.  He also suggested therapy which was also derailed by CV which ended up being a good thing.  During my enforced wait I was also labor sharing which meant a 50 mile one way drive which really aggravated the hip situation so I decided to start using cruise control. I normally avoid it because its not very efficient but this was during the worst infection rate period in WA and I-5 was all but abandoned so it was easy to set a speed and go. I was working the night shift 6 PM to 4:30 AM which meant moving the opposite direction of the major traffic flow as well. 

Well it worked! Within a few weeks, my hip pain was gone. Not wanting to jump to conclusions as I was also taking muscle relaxers from the clinic but well after they ran out, the hip pain did not return. What was even better was that I didn't have to use CC all the time to prevent the pain from returning.  Apparently, it took quite a while to build to the level of pain I was having so random hypermiling here and there didn't result in any discomfort returning. 

Seasonal Tire Pressure Plug

The change has arrived! Gone are the mornings in the low 50's and here to stay (for 6 months) are the mornings in the 30's.  I run my tires around 43 PSI in Summer dropping to 42 PSI in Winter. With the individual TPMS readings on the newer LEAFs, checking pressures is easy so I spend roughly 1.4 seconds on EVERY startup and check them.   

The reason we should adjust is tires should be set during the coldest part of the day. So like first thing in the morning before driving anywhere. Increased pressures as the day warms up is normal and ok. The reason we want to set tires before driving around is because the front tire wear faster which means they heat up faster. This can lead you to undershoot your target pressure.  As far as what pressure you choose, I will leave that up to you but NEVER exceed the max tire pressure on the sidewall.  Higher pressures do lead to less tire failure and longer tread life. 

Now the pressure in tires adjust roughly one PSI per 10ºF temperature change.  As we know, clear sunny Fall days have one common characteristic in nearly all parts of the country; In the Sun, its glorious but when the Sun drops behind a cloud, it gets cold FAST! 

The other day, it was a typical Fall day with temps in the fifties but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The Sun felt great and avoiding shade was highly recommended.  I was at the mall getting free food for the car (I had to pay for my food) so its not hard to tell which side of the car was facing the Sun



Reboot, Reset

Previously I mentioned that my climate control would change settings by itself. The most common is going from "Face" to foot/windshield when AC was on.  The 2nd most common was "foot" to foot/windshield when heat was on. Then again, as often as I use heat, maybe its the most common and I can't tell? 

Either way, the LEAF is very much a rolling computer and like all computers, it glitches at times. Be it the center screen spontaneously rebooting or the AC flipping out, they all boil down to annoyances than real issues.  

Recently I began to notice that occasionally my steering wheel controls stop working. Now, only the audio controls are affected so I can still change the displays on the driver's screen but can't change radio stations or adjust the volume.  Power cycling the car fixes it. One of these days, I might...nahh...probably won't. 

Per Minute Verses Per Kwh

Yeah, this debate rages on online.  So many people are happy with Electrify America's decision to go with per kwh billing where allowed which is something they obviously did not think thru or they are driving around in 15 kwh EVs. They also reduced per minute billing to 12 cents with plan, 16 cents w/o. Yeah, that's right. I was paying $4 a month to get 18 cents a minute but now you can get 16 cents a minute with no subscription fee, no connect fee if you are lucky enough to live in the right area I guess! 

Kwh 

The main argument here is that this makes it fair for people with slower chargers, smaller packs. As we know, the higher the SOC, the slower the DC charges. Some cars go full speed (on 50 kw) to 80% which is great but others like the Gen One LEAF starts slowing below 50% SOC. Combined with degradation in an already limited range vehicle; this means charging to a higher SOC which means a long time on the station. In this scenario, per minute pricing quickly becomes costly. So the remaining people still driving early edition EVs are benefited. 

Per Minute

Like any emerging technology, REV 1.0 quickly becomes obsolete and EVs are no different. Their resale value plummets to nothing, they can't do as much as fast or "as cheaply." That is the way of things. The solution is simple; get rid of it and get something shiny and new.  Not the cheap way to go for sure but the increased utility, decreased range anxiety and simply the joy of posting fast fast charging speeds online is the benefit.  Likely still not the wisest investment one can make so being derailed on one of the reasons to upgrade is simply unacceptable...or at least adds a cloud to the purchase process. 

The benefit of the bigger charger and the bigger battery is simply being able to cover your needs before the DC charge rate starts its decline. My S Plus charges at full speed on 120 amp machines (50 KW if you prefer) to 70% SOC, 200 amp machines (80 KW) to 45% (interestingly enough, at 70% SOC, I am still above the 120 amp rate) so yeah, it was nice to pay 18 cents/minute and see speeds up to 206 amps on Electrify America.  But then they cut Chademo to 120 amps (or less in some cases) This was lower than before as my 40 kwh charged at 125 amps on the nose at 3 different locations. Before the cut in speed, I was paying 16 cents/kwh usually cutting the charger off when speeds dropped below 60 KW. 

Favoritism

So there are arguments for both sides here and if that was all, then ok. Sucks, but that is life, right?  Well, that isn't all. In some areas of the country, Electrify America just decided to cut rates BIGTIME including a 33% reduction to its subscription base dropping the per minute rate to 12 cents/kwh.  Pay as you go was even better with a 16 cents/kwh rate and no connect fees. 

So why didn't we have that option? Our rates were raised for nearly EVERYONE but a few and their rates were cut? IOW, we got screwed. EA's stated reason for the change was based on what customers wanted. But 31/43 cents/kwh for the area of the country with the lowest average electricity costs? How does that qualify as "what we want??"

The Bottom Line. 

In a perfect world, pay per kwh is fine. In my world, it simply is a major downgrade to what we had. 

"IF" there was enough chargers for everyone, pay per kwh would be fine. I wouldn't care if someone wanted to charge for an hour and 15 minutes to get that extra kwh because there would still be a charger for me.  

"IF" everyone was put on the same pricing everywhere (like EA said they wanted to do) then our price per kwh should have been a better deal than before, but its not. You literally have to be charging to 90% SOC on a degraded Gen One LEAF to pay that much money. Lets look at basic pricing; 16 cents/min verses 43 cents/kwh. You would have to get 1 kwh every 2.6875 minutes to break even or 22.32 kwh per hour on the hook. 

22.32 kwh an hour. Now that is an interesting number.  My highest charge received on my 30 kwh LEAF was 22.95 kwh but I was on NCTC which meant being on a 30 minute timer.  Now the 22.95 was on Webasto which didn't have a timer so I have to say the 22.95 probably happened because I was slightly over on my time. Back then, I generally did no more than 30 minutes as a habit especially on those one pump locations even if there was no one waiting. It was just a habit. 

In a nutshell, per kwh pricing helps about what? 10% of the current EVers on the road? Well, no. IF all 10% DC'd even occasionally, it would but my seat of the pants estimate from the aggregate data of several failed surveys says that "maybe" ¼ of them DC more than a few occasions PER YEAR. 

But Electrify America claims it was "what we wanted" so lets look at that. Our choice now is 43 cents/kwh here or 16 cents a minute elsewhere.  So I could charge for 60 minutes (something that would very very very rarely happen if EVER!) and pay $9.60.  Or I could spend that same $9.60 and get 22.43 kwh (EA appears to do whole kwh billing only so my choice is $9.46 for 22.XX kwh or $9.89 for 23.xx kwh.  Before the slowdown, I was getting 22 kwh in less than 20 minutes so my cost "there" would be $3.52.  After the slow down, it would be around $5.  

So why the HUGE difference? Even at the lower charging rate, my cost has nearly doubled.  What about the one forth of the 10% crowd that EA is supposedly concerned about?  What would they pay on each?  Well, the problem with Gen One LEAFs is they don't charge to 100% on DC. They charge to about 90%, give or take.  So if rolling on electofumes, they might get 16 to 18 kwh? Here, that is $6.88 to $7.74 but "there" they would be charging likely an hour so their cost is still higher but lower than the old pricing, right? 

IOW, at best a half assed solution no matter how you look at it.  So for the 90% of us which likely consists of 99% of the DC usage, we got screwed.  Yeah, that means the people cheering about the change. Yep you bud! 

If EA was DA

Ok, if "Dave's America" public charging was doing this. I would have gone with a mixed pricing scheme. To be clear; there is no requirement to bill by the kwh "anywhere"  Now, tiered pricing shouldn't be an alien concept since EA had it already. They also had customary pricing for certain cars who were being billed tier 2 rates despite the fact that their car could achieve tier two speeds. 

Obviously the ideal solution is simply build more stations and make them per kwh only but exactly how much money should we pay (yeah, its OUR money EA is spending BTW) to cater to the ¼ of 10%?

Now if EA's aim was more revenue, maybe they need to realize how much business they lose with one Chademo at each location.  Last Summer, I saw THREE at one location. One charging, the other two talking about which station to divert to. Believe it or not, neither used Plugshare and had no idea Tumwater Webasto existed. They did know about Olympia Nissan and were discussing failed charging attempts and workarounds when I walked up. Now EA supposedly closely monitors plugshare so I started doing failed check ins every time I happened upon a site where the lone Chademo was in use and other CCS only stations were sitting around bored with nothing to do. But after more than a year and a half of doing that, it doesn't appear to be working so maybe its time to bombard EA's customer service line with calls and emails complaining about the new pricing structure. 

Moving

I should have taken way more pictures but most of you have already been there and done it so I do have one. Because my move was two fold; one to storage and one to mi casa,  I did it over 11 days and several dozen trips. 8 to pack, 3 to unpack although the last day had nearly nothing to haul.  I did have one pickup truck load of help but the rest was all LEAF !



Friday, September 18, 2020

August 2020 Drive Report; Back to Home Charging!

 Ok, I admit it should be the "almost September Drive Report" but life has been hectic. First COVID canceled several planned road trips so had more money and time left over than I had planned for but being evicted quickly spent the money and monopolized all my time.  So almost the entire month was done on public only charging.  Luckily I was able to find a place that checked off nearly every box (I was SHOCKED at my good fortune!)  and was able to plug in at home during the last week of the month. 

Despite having an all time high of public charging fees of $31.20, my record 106.31 kwh of free L2 courtesy of Volta mostly with a bit of PSE tossed in (more about them later) took my spending to about the norm. 

For the month I went 1256.7 miles averaging 5.29 miles/kwh (a LOT of in town driving loading then unloading my storage unit helped here) with an all in cost of $33.77 or 2.69 cents per mile. Yeah, still great value but also much higher than what I am used to and looks like I will have to get used to that. (more about that later) 

Public Charging

Electrify America quickly degraded from "the one" to "completely out of the question" unless of course, there is nothing else and that scenario of few options is slowly but surely evaporating away. 

First off, they throttled Chademo.  I reported here and everywhere else about getting 200 amps or more from them at a cost of 18 cents a minute prompting me to purchase my first EVER subscription to a service. But then they turned the stations down to 125 amps or less making the speed the same as what everyone provides.  At 18 cents a minute, if I charged a lot, it would still be cheaper but with one plug per location, EVgo was looking better and better. 

COVID Care

In April, EVgo announced a 25% reduction in pricing with no subscription fee needed if you were affected by COVID 19. Well, as I see it, EVERYONE  was affected in one way or another so the discount was simply there for the asking. In my case, I was working at another location to help cover their massive increase in orders that changed my 24 mile roundtrip commute into a 48 mile ONE way drive.  So I got the 20 cents/min rate and it was extended several times and now its good to the end of the year. Great deal and nicer as most locations have 2 or more Chademos to choose from! I only had to send an email pleading my case. 

Pay by KWh

As mentioned above, EA's rate of 18 cents a minute was still reasonably attractive since I was still averaging 24-26 cents/kwh but then the bombshell dropped.  I don't know what WA did to deserve EA's rath but did they ever put the screws to us. 

Not only did they change to per kwh pricing of 31 cents/kwh with the $4 a month plan but they also dropped rates in other parts of the country to 12 cents/minute on the $4 plan and 16 cents/min ala carte! 

Despite paying the lowest electricity rates in nation, we are now billed the highest rates in the nation! So if you drive a Gen One LEAF or regularly charge to 90% SOC or higher, rejoice. You got what you wanted. As for me; EA who? 

PSE Charge and Go

What goes around, comes around. I lost one charging option only to gain another!  At the beginning of September, the loooooong awaited entry of PSE (Puget Sound Energy) into the public charging arena was finally here!  Now, I am not talking about a miniscule scattering of free level 2's. This was a charging complex anchored by two 150/100 KW DC's!  For the eco warrior; all Charge and Go complexes will be 100% renewable energy. 

Billing is handled by Greenlots and yeah that means putting money in an account that would "normally" be difficult to get out but unlike EA (EA who! 😆) where its all but impossible to run your account balance below $10, Greenlots has an option where you can turn off auto reload and run the balance to zero. Realize that when this happens your charge session ends.  In the grand scheme of things, I don't care that much but still nice to have the option.  I did run my account down to see how quickly they would pull the plug and they did it a bit prematurely leaving me with a balance of 14 cents.  Since they are billing 25 cents a minute, guessing their system only verifies there is enough to complete that minute before allowing the charge to continue.  Despite that, the 25 cents per minute charge is prorated. 

But it was so nice to get my time back! I plugged in and peaked at 201 amps. Since my time is valuable (did I mention I am on a 4 day weekend and due to smoke, have nothing to do?) I unplugged when the rate slowed to a crawl of 65 KW. 

Notice the tiered charging? I had seen evidence of this before but this the 
most defined curve yet. 

Since this was more a "demo" charge than anything (the station is less than 2 miles from my house) , I plugged in at over 30% SOC which I would normally never do but despite the less than ideal charging conditions, I still managed 22.4 cents/kwh. I am confident I can get it to near 20 cents/kwh under the right conditions. 

Now this is the first of only 7 locations but not bad for their maiden project. I do think that PSE will rapidly expand the program. The Puget Sound region is one of the leaders in electrified mobility and this should be a win win for everyone. Combined with a large renewable portfolio, this simply makes sense. 

Sleeping In My Bed!

As we know (then again maybe some of you don't since I didn't put out a July Drive Report) I was evicted from my home of 7 years in July. I do need to thank Crystal for allowing me to stay in her home for 6 weeks while I searched for a suitable home for my car but it was not easy.  Prices had gone up more than I expected. The medium rent on a one bedroom home was now $1400! INSANE! 

What was almost as insane was the number of scams on Craigslist. Nearly every ad I saw there had to be cross referenced with Zillow and other sources before I could consider them a valid option so when my new place came up, I thought it was a scam. 2 bedrooms, garage w remote, 200 sq feet bigger than my old place? No way it should have been on my targeted search but it was and I was in! 

Now, I mentioned above that my home charging costs will go up and the reason why? My 2.2 mile move from Olympia (wasn't actually in the city limits BTW) to Lacey came with a BIG jump in city tax. My first electric bill came out to 9.78 cents/kwh up from the 8.65 cents/kwh I was paying but that is not all.  The new home has electric heat which means I will be paying tier 2 rates all winter. So the sub 2 cents per mile will likely be a summer time thing only from here on out. 

Note;

Trying to get info from PSE on the other 6 locations for Charge and Go has been all but impossible so asking that anyone who sees anything to report back here! As always, I will let you know when I know! 

Friday, July 3, 2020

June 2020 Drive Report; How Roadtripping Is Done!

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

The Numbers

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

Per mile; 2.44 cents per mile

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

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

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

The Electrify America Tour

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

Kelso; 190 amps  (80.2/80.6/83.2)

Lacey; Still 200 amps. (70's)

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

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

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

RapidGate

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

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

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

Road Tripping Done Right!

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

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

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



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

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



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


Along the way we had several nice detours




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

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

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

202.75 amps! An all time high!

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

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


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

When An Extra 14 Minutes To Charge Is Too Long

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

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

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

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





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






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




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


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

Friday, June 19, 2020

Evaluating Range Needs In A Nissan LEAF

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

In The Beginning

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

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

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



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


Driving Blind

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

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

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

Scotch Tape Is Your Friend

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Degradation

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

AV Tumwater May 2012

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

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

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

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

Add in TMS and the list is 

driving style
driving need
charging habits
DoD
Time 

A Tale of Two LEAFers

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

Steve

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

John

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

12 bars @ 150,000 miles 

DoD

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

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

Charging (Again!)

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

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

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

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

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

Charge Every Day!

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

My Recommendation

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

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