Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 LEAF Plus Introduced During CES

The press releases are flooding social media with all kinds of information on the upcoming LEAF Plus and its 200+ mile range and not all of it is accurate or understandable!   The information we have is just as superficial as the 2018 LEAF introduction but this time I was not at the reveal so there are a lot of questions unanswered!  But this is how Nissan rolls. Despite being at the 2018 LEAF reveal in Las Vegas in September 2017, there was a lot of question then despite getting a test drive!

The Basics

Ok so the car's appearance has changed little. Its nearly identical in size in every way. There is no doubt in my mind, that there are small changes here and there but nothing significant enough that Nissan wanted to mention.  Now, this also how they roll.  They have IDENTICAL cargo parameters from 2011 on but as we know, the charger was moved from the area (remember the hump, then partial hump?) so we had to have increased the space at least a little.  Also remember, I frequently did the Tetris thing with work equipment in my 2016 so well aware of the spacing in the hatch. But I also did the same for a short period time with my 2018 and there is definitely more space in the 2018.

New "official" statements from Nissan states they redid the framework a bit to allow more battery pack space without sacrificing any cabin space so other than a few millimeters here and there, nothing will look much different.  The 2019 does come in 300 lbs heavier due to the extra batteries. This probably accounts for its lower range verses the smaller lighter Bolt. Realize that the Bolt's thermal management systems uses what would be additional range in the LEAF.  Weight does have its drawbacks!

Performance

Ok, despite being "fattened" up a bit, its faster and in the case of zero to 60, a lot faster.  This will make some happy but I don't need it.  l often wonder if my insistence in using Eco mode all the time is an attempt to reduce the temptation to get in trouble.  My 40 kwh LEAF has more go than I need,  and for those who crave zippy, this promises to have plenty of that but the LEAF Plus puts the go power into the danger, risky, crazy range for me.

Battery

No, still no active cooling and more surprisingly, no new vendor.  It is still NEC battery technology presented by Nissan's and NEC's joint venture, AESC.  Now they claim they have learned a lot about longevity and yada yada but there are a LOT of doubters out there including me and barring a great trade in offer, my current lease is going till Feb, 2021. By then there will have been a lot of talk about whether Nissan has finally found their way.

The new pack is bigger in both capacity and space with the cell count increased by 50%.  The previous configuration had 2 cells in parallel hooked in series with a total of 96 cell pairs totaling 192 cells.  The new pack has 3 cells in parallel with the same 96 sets totaling 288 cells.   It would appear the EPA estimate (not yet official) will use 58 of the reputed 62 kwh available which is a good thing.  A slightly larger unaccessible portion of the pack goes a long way towards reducing degradation.

Charging

Level 2 remains at 6.6 KW. That works out to roughly an 11½ charge time from empty and with 226 miles of range, that won't be very common.  If we look at LEAF driving champ,  Steve "Quarter Million Mile" Marsh.  Even if he didn't charge at work he would be getting home with around 40% left making his charge time just over 6 hours which would be quite easy to manage.

The LEAF Plus keeps chademo but increases the speed to 100 KW peak using a "70 KW" system. I found that statement to be more than a bit strange and guessed (correctly it seems) that the 100 KW would only be during low SOCs slowing to 70 KW probably around 35% SOC.  Nissan says a zero to 80% charge will take 45 mins.  Obviously we are not charging from Zero% SOC and 100% of the pack isn't available so if charging from 10% with no more than 58 kwh available, we are looking at roughly 67 kwh charging speed. That would be huge! and likely only on the first or 2nd charge of the day.

Now EVGO has already committed to upgrading Chademo speeds across its networks but EA has only said CCS speeds would be turned up without mentioning Chademo other than to say the hardware did have 100 KW capability when it was installed.   So we shall see.

Early LEAF Plus adopters will still get NCTC if available in their area but a full 30 mins at 50 KW would be a big improvement. Better yet, the increased cells and capacity likely means no slow downs for at least the first few charges of the day.


Tech

Ok so the press release is about as dry as you can make it so it would be easy to miss a lot of key changes.  Just as the 40 kwh LEAF took a big step forward from the 24/30 kwh LEAFs, the LEAF Plus takes another big step forward as well.

Cosmetically, we get a bigger screen; 8 inches now but its now interactive like a tablet and comes with OTA updates. So no more $$$ to get a map that is reasonably up to date.  I can only hope that OTA's will also cover TSBs and feature improvements.  It is this area that I admire in Tesla the most. Charging stations are cool but the ability to add features long after the customer as left the lot is what really makes Tesla "not your Father's car dealer" for me.

Nissan Energy

To be fair; its mentioned and it very well could be mentioned for the Canadian market only since the press release covers the North American market but if it came here on all trims, this would be a HUGE marketing advantage over other EVs in the same sandbox.

For the unaware, Nissan Energy is two way charging system that can accept a charge from your home or charge your home! 

Nissan to win, you need to offer it standard across all trim lines.  Recently, I went nearly 48 hours without power due to a storm. I had fully charged my LEAF (something I rarely do) in anticipation and I was right. The tree that took out my power fell from my neighbor's house across my driveway.  That big battery could have really come in handy.  I average less than 20 kwh of power usage daily so I could have had 2 days of power from the LEAF Plus.  As it stands, I went and hung out at charging station which was on (along with most of the county).  Home without lights, stove, computer, etc. simply wasn't desirable not to mention it was 50º in the house when I came home on day 2 of the outage.

Oh course for Nissan Energy to work, it has to have an interface to your house so that would have to be purchased but just having the two way power ability is a hacker's dream!  It would be awesome to go "jump" a fellow LEAFer enough to get them to a station 10 miles away.  But that is down the road... :)

Where To Now? 

The LEAF Plus was supposed to be Nissan's grand splash last year.  Why the delay? I have to think the failure to sell AESC might have played a role. Now wondering if the original plan was TMS and we are getting plan B?  Nissan claims that 9 years of experience has taught them how to better manage degradation but that claim has been made before.  I do believe that Nissan believes the expected rate of degradation will be "acceptable" and due to the larger size of the pack, the stress on the individual cells will be much lighter so added robustness is a given.  But now the price range is the same as the major competition from VW, Kia and Hyundai; all of whom are reputed to have liquid TMS.

I have been in the EV market 4 times and each time I picked the LEAF not due to some sort of brand loyalty, I did it because it was the best option for me.  I took advantage of full federal tax credit on leases which resulted in great deals for me.  Combined with the WA State Sales tax exemption (which I took advantage of 5 times with One Prius and the 4 LEAFs) it was a win win.

In my mind, I was perfectly positioned to really get what I wanted at the end of my 2016 lease that would have happened Nov, 10, 2019 but a wreck derailed those plans. A year ago when it happened, the view for 2019 was a Bolt makeover, a $35,000 Tesla,  several Korean and VW entrants, etc.  I mean it was shopper's heaven!

It is now exactly one week away from the anniversary of the event that destroyed the best LEAF I ever had and the outlook for 2019 has changed drastically during the last 51 weeks.  If I were to be in the market this November, I would be taking another leap of faith that Nissan has finally gotten a good handle on the battery situation and due to lack of competition since VW won't be here, The Bolt still sucks along with losing incentives and the Koreans have yet to prove they can provide anything EV in sufficient volumes in a timely manner.  So their very promising (on paper) entries would have been on the streets for too short a period in too little volumes for me to gleem much if any real data from the sure to be mountains of  exceedingly biased "New EV toy nirvana."

This all means my timing would again be bad and the LEAF would likely have been my choice as still the best option out there.

But that was then and this is now and barring a too good to be true trade in, I am committed to Feb 2021 with my current LEAF.  There is no doubt it will be fine for the next two years but after that?  That is a question that is far from being answered.  The residual is a very attractive option. The cost with tax would be still be in the $10K range and the range would be well over 100 miles but as time goes on, I can't ignore the growing feeling I won't be happy with 50 KW charging long term.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Dec 2018 Drive Report; I Can See Clearly Now!

Happy New Year!  2018 is in the books and lez be real, it kinda sucked.  I have definitely had better years! So welcome 2019 (and hopefully dozens more fast chargers in the area!)

The Numbers

For December, I drove 1268.2 miles costing me a grand total of  $4.25!  As I am sure you have guessed, NCTC was used quite a bit (297.03 kwh)  for various reasons with free being the main reason but also did a few charging observations so it wasn't 100% greed... High 90's for sure but not 100%.   Without NCTC, the cost would have been closer to $30.21.  Full disclosure will have to wait until power bill comes in in the next few days. Although I am sure I am still tier one, the usage that could have been from home might push me to tier 2 but we shall see.

For the year, I had total cost of $97.64 (includes $7.92 in public charging fees) 2597.78 kwh public charging over 14,768 miles.

The Battery

Again, another month with nearly no degradation with pack finishing 2018 at 109.22 (EOM Nov 109.31) ahr, 94.61 (EOM Nov 94.69) SOH, 119.78 Hx (new record) 160 QCs,  129 L2s over 318 days. (Picked up Feb 16th)

Another metric is full charge stats. I did a full charge (well, lights were still blinking but SOC in car said 100%...close enough, right?)  on Dec 28th getting 469 GIDs with 36.3 ksh available. Compared to previous full charge on Oct 12th 2½ months (2771 miles elapsed) ago with 474 GIDs and 36.7 kwh available.  Sounds like cold weather does a battery good!

Projecting each metric to 100,000 miles my ahr would be 75.89; SOH 65.8% and kwh available ~ 23.  This means "just" missing the warranty claim.  But realize we are averaging in several Winter months that have boosted the average.  As always we will continue to track.  TBH; my 30 kwh LEAF spoiled me...BAD!  My 40 kwh LEAF has half the miles my 30 kwh LEAF had and 4 times the degradation.

Now I would be lying if I said I didn't lease this car with the intent of buying it.  But that is the beauty of a lease. It gives you ample opportunity to think and rethink that decision and the more I think about it and the more charging vendors are coming out with per minute pricing, the more I don't think I would be happy with a car that only charges at 50 KW... But 2 years is a long time for things to change so we shall see.



E Pedal Verses B Mode Part 2

I have been experimenting with B Mode a lot this month. I know my previous blog said E Pedal is THE thing and I haven't changed my mind on that but at the same time, B Mode is a tool and like all tools, it does have a place in the right situations.  So I decided to do some comparisons to see if I could improve efficiency with a minimal amount of effort.  However, it quickly became obvious that my driving style also changed despite the lack of a conscious decision to drive differently and it was noticed.   In the first week, I had 2 people flag me down to advise me my brake lights weren't working.  Just another confirmation that brake lights only engage automatically in E Pedal.

I did notice a bump in regen miles (which can be accessed in the menus on every power off) but that was due to my "coasting" sooner to compensate for the longer distances needed in B Mode to stop.  FYI; B Mode is stronger on the 40 kwh LEAF than previous LEAFs.  I can slow down to a near crawl much quicker than before.  Most of the time, the light changed before braking was necessary. In other times especially if there was the slightest of slopes, I would slow down to 2-3 mph which I was ok with but people following me weren't always on the same page. A bit of a strange response as we were normally talking about maybe 50 feet along with traffic sitting at the light so its not like I was losing any ground... I guess the LEAF just idles at a slower speed than a gasser?  😏

Another thing I realized is that I "now" HATE having to hold my foot on the brake sitting at a light and after 3 days of putting up with it, I decided that it was ok to shift to E Pedal when the speed dropped to a low level like below 5 mph. I would shift back to B Mode as soon as I started moving. This made the experiment much more tolerable.   But to make a true evaluation, I will have to continue the experiment for several more weeks to have any hopes of seeing any real differences in performance.

Winter Tools

Olympia is the "Fog Capital of the World" and rightly so.  Due to the normal onshore flow, our humidity in the morning is 100% just about every morning. This high humidity makes keeping fog off the glass a constant battle.  With a longer range, I have a lot more options like heat, etc.  but for those who still make 24 kwh work, a few things to know;

Fog forms on glass easiest when it has a foothold.  Fog is nothing but super tiny droplets of water that form and bead up. Now, big beads of water is what you want because they are heavy enough that air flow will push them up your windshield and out of your main field of view. But fogging becomes an issue when the glass is dirty because each tiny spec of dust is a incubation center for a droplet of water.

So how to combat this? Well, its rather basic. The cleaner and smoother the glass, the harder it is for the droplets to form.  Now, you can do it the hard way by simply cleaning the inside glass religiously (realize every open vent blast onto the glass is essentially throwing dirt onto the wet windshield thanks to your fellow gasser commuters...) or do it the lazy way like me.



Rain X and anti Fog are basically the same thing.  Each is basically a glass polish. They fill the super tiny imperfections on your windshield surface leaving a smooth flat mirror like finish.  So instead of micro beads of water forming on every piece of dirt or divot, the water forms large beads that simply run off the windshield because there is nothing for the water to cling to.

Rain X works the best but needs to be applied more often.  New applications of Rain X negates the need to use the windshield wipers in nearly all circumstances but the windshield is still constantly pelleted with dirt and the occasional wipe is needed especially if mud is involved so plan to reapply every 2 weeks to as much as month.

Anti Fog works much longer but is not a perfect solution and requires a bit of help.  Water condenses when cold hits warm. Sitting in my garage, my windows stay clear because the interior of the car and the garage equalize in temperature.  But jump in the car, open the garage door and immediately the fog begins to form like a glass of iced tea on a hot Summer day because the colder air is now assaulting the outside of the glass making the inside of the glass colder than the interior of the car which is being warmed by your body and breath (which also adds moisture) This is why turning on heat quickens the fogging process. Its simply a greater temperature delta which means more condensation on the glass.

Both require applying onto a clean windshield so the cleaner the better. Its my contention that all Rain X neighsayers simply did not clean the glass very well.   As you have probably guessed, cleaning the inside of the LEAF windshield is not all that easy to do.  What I do is spray the windex onto  a coffee filter (use what you want. There are a lot of suggestions like ultra fine steel wool, Aluminum Foil, etc. but I found those hard to attach 😎) that I attach to my glass wiper thing pictured below along with spraying a wipe and using a circular motion to scrub the glass.  Then I use a squeegee to wipe the bulk of the Windex to an area where I can wipe it with a cloth. This prevents streaks but also (for short armed people like me) is MUCH easier to dry and polish the glass.


Glass Wiper. Works great but strongly recommend getting a few extra pads. I have 3 that 
I rotate in and out to prevent smearing dirt around the glass.  As Spring slowly arrives, the wiper comes in handy as you will have cold mornings that evolve into warm sunny days and will come out to find water literally dripping off the interior glass.  The wiper would in a few seconds, clear what it would take defrost 5 minutes on high to do. 

Settings

I have noticed that I have become much more sensitive to the smell of exhaust to the point where I drive with my vents closed as much as I possibly can.  Obviously not the best option for keeping the glass clear but stumbled upon this setting that is not perfect but reduces the need for defrost by quite a bit. About half the time, I can do my entire morning commute (roughly 18 mins) without opening the vent at all. 


On days when venting is needed at least I can wait until I am on the freeway before opening the vent which greatly lessens the amount of exhaust I must endure.


The Shrinking of WA

Phil Brooke posted an article about a proposal to make White Pass green.  White Pass has nearly no amenities for EVers and is all but unreachable for anyone with less than a 40 kwh LEAF and worse; Its the main Southern path from I-5 to Mt. Rainier and its nearly one million vehicles that visit annually. 

This opens up a much shorter and visually enticing route for anyone south of Olympia (Olympia is basically the halfway point to Yakima or the tricities area going north via 1-90 or going south via Highway 12 thru White Pass)

Now we need to get some chargers on the Western Half of Highway 12 going towards Aberdeen.   The Lucky Eagle Casino located between Oakville and Rochester would be a great starting point. I have to say I have been expecting them to put up something for years now.  Its 2019 now so no more excuses!! 


Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The LEAFs Hidden Reserve; Yes, Its Another LEAF Spy Pitch!

**Disclaimer**

I am not a paid by LEAF Spy developer Jim in any way or form.  The opinions below are strictly mine and unbiased in any way.

We are now entering the 4th day of Winter which means two things;

Merry Christmas!!

and

We are quickly approaching post 1000 of "my range is dropping and I don't know why."

Forget that its cold and rainy and snowy.  Nearly all these statements are based on the GOM which pretty much explains everything. Do not use the GOM to evaluate your LEAF's performance.  It was never good for earlier model LEAFs but the 40 kwh LEAFs takes it a step farther by adding a significant amount of hidden range.


LEAF Spy Range Setting

LEAF Spy allows you to set your range based on "you" and "your" driving situation.  Now, there isn't any presets so you have to know a bit about your car.  This should be the easy part, right? You drive it every day and if you are resetting the trip meter every day, you have a pretty good idea of your miles/kwh performance.  There are a few settings you need to determine;

Efficiency

Now as we know, that number changes due to weather, rain, climate control usage, etc.  So a bit of data collection will go a long way towards getting you an accurate picture of just how far you can go but in reality, if you don't want to collect the data, that works too.  Simply pick a number and try it. At the end of the day, review the number against the car's and see if you need to adjust up or down while noting any specific situations that may have affected the numbers.

For me; I use a general average that low balls it a bit during Summer of 4.5 miles per kwh but use 3 different ones for Winter due to the much greater variance in weather and road conditions.

DoD   (Depth of Discharge)

This setting allows you to see what your range estimate is to a specific SOC.  There are presets for LBW and VLBW and a custom one you can choose from 1% to 25% in 1% increments.  Choose whatever you are comfortable with. For me? I want to know what my range is, period.  But 1% SOC is as low as it will go so that is what I chose.  Below we are looking at the two lower right boxes.

The one on top says I have 100.5 miles estimated to 1% SOC.   Tapping this box will toggle from my setting to LBW or VLBW.  The box below is using 3.6 miles/kwh to calculate my estimated range.


Now if 1% is just one of those "standing on a cliff peering over the side" kinda things for you, you can increase it up to 25% in the settings under the Range subcategory.


Drawbacks

Well nothing is perfect so knowing the limitations of the system you are using is simply a good thing, right?  First off, LEAF Spy range settings are a bit of trial and error.  There will always be a "first" time coming where your range will be well short of your LEAF Spy prediction.   After all, we are taking a full day's average and applying it minute by minute to our drive that includes uphills, downhills, tailwinds, headwinds and even unexpected squalls!  So how can one static number work for all that?

Well, obviously it doesn't so again, having an idea of your driving performance is the key.  Resetting the miles/kwh meter daily helps, is super easy to do and takes like 2 seconds.  Recording a daily log of driving for several months to cover the entire year of seasons you will see is not.  So like any good thing, there is no free lunch.

But as an EVer, I am guessing you already know that. The sheer volume of accessories you can buy to charge your car should be more than enough of a hint that being truly successful means thinking outside the box.

GOM Drift

This will make like what? entry #4 or 5 where I mentioned the inconsistency of the GOM range prediction.  The GOM is supposed to estimate your range remaining based on recent driving performance and the estimated charge available in the battery pack, right?

Uhhh, no.  Not even close.  In fact, I really have no clue how the GOM does its calculations and here is why I am confused.

The Test

Well driving around and recording GOM verses LEAF Spy numbers simply doesn't work due to the unquantifiable variability of real life conditions so, I figured the best way to overcome that variability is to use a static set of numbers for the GOM calculation just as LEAF Spy does all the time. To put it another way, I simply parked it.  This ensures that the "recent" driving history supposedly used by the GOM to calculate the range would not change.

GOM Bloat

So off to the charger I went putting 30 miles on the car to get a good reset of the miles/kwh meter.  Now we always complain our GOM drops fast in the morning completely deflating our elation at the lofty range we see first thing?  Well there is a reason for that.


From the dash we see the LEAF at 84% with a 137 mile estimate from a 4.2 mile/kwh performance. But LEAF Spy is telling us we will only get 123.7 miles at 4.0 miles per kwh.  So GOM is overestimating a range by 14.3 miles.

But wait!! you say. The car is doing better than LEAF Spy at 4.2 miles per kwh over the LEAF Spy's 4.0 miles per kwh so it should predict a higher range, right??  I will comment on this later but keep this in mind.

Like a Clock, the GOM is right...Once a charge



LOL!! Sorry couldn't resist that heading...  Now, here we are earlier in the same charge so the GOM is still using the very same "recent driving history" and guess what?? LEAF Spy agrees!! So the GOM is not "always" wrong, right?   Notice the SOC being so near the middle? Interesting, right!

Your LEAF's range is MUCH better than the GOM lets on

Truth be told; Who cares about how much range you have left when you have 100 miles? NO ONE!! What we care about is our range when the car has nothing to say but "_ _ _"

That is where LEAF Spy shines and quickly becomes an inconsequential expense when we realize just how much of a stress reliever it is!


Ok, now we have the GOM still using the same recent driving history saying we only have 32 miles of range (Which BTW, will disappear in about 22 miles...) while LEAF Spy says we have 43.1 miles of range.

Now for some reason, I don't have the shot I took before starting the charge which had my GOM at "_ _ _" and LEAF Spy at 17 miles but when I find it I will update it.


Drawbacks

Do I really need to list them out? Lets face it, even to most inexperienced EVer immediately recognized that the GOM was kinda...well full of it.   Now it should be a bit obvious that the GOM isn't as bad as we think with its bloated morning readings.   What is happening is a slow shift to the hidden reserve (This can be verified by the changing gap between LEAF Spy's real SOC verses the usable SOC on the dash)  resulting in a GOM error that ends up being relatively small or you could simply use the LEAF Spy reading which I find tends to be within 2-3%.  Of course this means you having had picked the correct number.


Finally, lets talk about that recent history a bit.  No one knows exactly how much "history" is used in producing the GOM figures (assuming the number is not pulled out from a magician's hat)  but since I was there, I can shed a bit more light on that.

First off, the 30 miles was done in two stints. The morning drive to work which was 12.1 miles and 3.6 miles per kwh.  So the afternoon part of the drive was MUCH more efficient than the 4.2 miles per kwh suggests which simply makes the error of the GOM larger than I have shown here.

IMHO, the GOM is Nissan's way of "babying" us.  Telling us what we want to hear.  Notice the SOC differences?  In the first pix, the dash SOC is 84% which represents usable SOC while LEAF Spy SOC is 83.2% which is real SOC.  In whose World does usable outdo real?? 

But as the SOC drops, Nissan moves towards making sure we don't put ourselves in a "tow of shame" situation which you can see in the last pix where usable is 19% while real is 29.2%   It's that lower gap that is really the whole point of this post.  What is really usable is completely dependent on your pack's balance since a single cell can shut the car down.  So there is no "magic GID" number that you can aim for.  I can say for certain, I have hit turtle at 9 GIDs and not seen Turtle at 5 GIDs.  So the bottom very much remains a mystery but at that point, we are talking less than a mile.

Conclusions

Said it once and will gladly say it again; LEAF Spy is by far the best investment I have made in helping to get the most out of my LEAFs.

The other conclusion; GOM is a very accurate name.  :)



Friday, December 7, 2018

Cold Verses LEAF!

Ok, so that long hot Summer is over and now the Mercury is dropping along with the LEAF range making public charging stops more likely than not.  With my light driving needs,  I have noticed a dramatic change in my LEAF's fast charge profile and its all about... You guessed it! Battery temperature again!

During the Summer, "RapidGate" was part of any trip planning. How to keep the pack temps low to ensure a reasonable fast charge speed during the trip.  There are really few options since normal driving was enough to raise temperatures during the warmer Summer days so it all became a question of which charge would be the one to shoot the battery temps beyond 110º F hoping that would be the last charge of the day allowing an overnight cool down.

Now, I noticed all this during our typical Fall weather which generally sees lows in the 40's, highs in the 50's.  Battery temps were in the mid to upper 50's.   But as luck would have it, we got a cold snap and a high pressure system parked over the Puget Sound region which means sunny days and COLD nights.  With temperatures plunging into the mid 20's, I felt this would be a good opportunity to see how far the knee moves.  It would also be nice to attempt a 3 TB reading as well!

The Test

To create a level playing field, I chose only DCFCs that will charge at least 122 Amps and they are not all created equal! The starting data is easy enough but I designated the "knee" when amperage drops below the max amperage for the machine at least 2 consecutive readings (This is not rocket science. The knee is VERY obvious) .  As always, the numbers fluctuate quite a bit so 124 amps is normal. Realize with a 50 KW charger, the theoretical max on a 400 volt pack is 125 amps.

Created equally??  The station I picked at Tacoma Mall
 simply because I know better.

A Tesla Model X who didn't. They got there first and selected 
the "runt of the litter" (this station also happens to be the
closest to the Mall. Things we do to save 4...no, 3 steps!)


 But it wasn't always this way. Same station 18 months ago when it
was only a 40 KW (100 amp max) charger.  Notice the knee on my 30
kwh LEAF?? Now THOSE were the good old days!


And yes, the 30 kwh LEAF was hampered by the cold (Notice I used the slow charger?
This was before they added the 3rd DCFC so selection was not nearly as good back then!)
But this slowdown I was ok with!

Below is a "worst to first" list of charge sessions. I bolded the key points of each observation which would be starting battery temperatures and the SOC of the knee.  The temperature of the charger does not appear to affect the speed of the charger. At least on OAT into the mid 20's.

From The Bottom!

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




Cold Kills! This was a 26 min charge session, by far the longest one. I got 15.03 
kwh charging at 82 amps (31 KW) at 63% SOC with batt temps in mid to upper 70's. 
To contrast, I gained over 11 kwh in 15 mins on the "warm" battery charges!

Dec 3; Start; Batt temps; 56.5/55.8/52.7  SOC; 25.8,  Max Amps 124.015
Dec 3; Knee; Batt temps; 74.7/74.8/69.6 SOC; 49.2

Nov 30 . start;  Batt temps; 56.7/56.8/55.7  SOC; 27.5  Max Amps; 124.2
Nov 30   knee; Batt temps ; 75.9/76.8/73.2  SOC; 51.6%

Nov 26; start; Batt temps; 60.1/60.1/58.6 SOC; 29.5 Max Amps; 124.145
Nov 26; knee; Batt temps; 77.9/78.6/74.7 SOC; 52.6

Nov 22; start; Batt temps; 59.8/60.1/58.5  SOC; 26.5 Max Amps; 123.433
Nov 22; knee; Batt temps; 79.9/81.2/76.8 SOC; 52.9

Nov 23; start; Batt temps; 57.6/56.7/55.2  SOC; 37.9  Max Amps; 124.053
Nov 23; knee; Batt temps; 70.3/70.0/67.1  SOC; 53.2

Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 53.0/51.0/46.7  SOC; 47.6  Max Amps; 123.748
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 60.5/59.0/54.3  SOC; 56.4

12/6 EVGO Tacoma Charge 1


Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 68.9/67.3/60.3  SOC; 38.6  Max Amps; 122.948
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 83.7/82.8/74.3  SOC; 57.3

Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 86.8/84.8/75.6  SOC; 49.6  Max Amps; 123.765
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 97.2/95.8/85.4  SOC; 63.4

  12/6 Charge 3 knee



Warm Pack!

Now, all is not lost.  You can still get a good charge! It just won't be the first one. This can be an advantage. If you are like me, the need for stops on a road trip tend to be earlier in the trip. In my case, its due to my loading up on coffee in the morning along with taking a full cup on the road with me. This almost always means my first stop is required within the first 60 minutes.  For those without home charging, this can also work out especially if you have enough charge to get at least an hour down the road.    (Easy with 40 kwh!)

Now we all know the battery temps rise just from normal driving. Maybe its the higher regen profile of E-Pedal that is responsible? Either way, I decided to see if this is true when its REALLY (well for this area anyway) cold! On the three 12/6 charges, I drove from Lacey to Tacoma to Centralia to Tumwater.  It was Sunny and cold with OAT running 37-42º and I noticed that the battery temps rose steadily as it always does when on the freeway doing 65 mph but it seemingly hit a wall at 69-70º. This is good!


Departing Tacoma Mall


Arrive Centralia 51 miles later. Batt temps barely budged!


Depart Centralia.  Drive to Tumwater 65-70 mph. Heat use reduced
since its now so warm! Distance 23 miles


Arrive Tumwater. Batt temps down! Have to admit, my SOC
was a bit higher than I needed it to be so I drove a bit "less
efficiently"

Captain Crunch

All the charge sessions lined up pretty well except the first 12/6 charge at Tacoma Mall. On retrospect, I should have used a different location. It was one of the two EVGO sessions used. (Nov 22)  Notice the batt temps lower than the Nov 23 charge but a significantly higher knee?   The differences include;

Distance driven before charging;  All the charges except 12/6 sessions, I drove from Lacey to Tumwater, about 10 miles before charging. Tacoma was a 23 mile drive.  This suggests a less than optimal placing of temperature sensors. Guessing true pack temp was higher but had not yet equalized causing temperature sensors to read lower. 

OAT; Most of the others (despite low battery temperatures) were drives down with temps ranging from low 50's to low 60's. The only exception was 12/5 when it was 35º.  Tacoma Mall drive ranged from 22º in Lacey to 35º in Tacoma

SOC was a bit higher than other charge starts but I don't think that played a part. Back when I noticed the early knee, I thought unplugging the car after it warmed a bit and restarting charge would restore knee but...that didn't work. I am not sure if its was simply not enough time between unplugging and restarting charge or what?


Now this charge graph looks confusing but what happened is I started a charge and knee kicked in at 50% SOC which was a shocker. It is rare that I sit with car while charging but this was one of those times. I unplugged immediately suspecting cold pack and restarted it but batteries were only in low 60's so figured not warm enough so I let it run until batts got to low 70's and unplugged again. As you can see, on restart, the charge hit full speed for about...5 seconds and plunged immediately. This basically kept the pack from warming up at all.  I now realized my starting and stopping the charge made it worse (not to mention the 3 minute wind up time for Webasto stations!)  essentially resulting is a "Reverse RapidGate" 

Conclusions

Should be obvious here.  FYI; Probably not an accident, but for LEAF Spyless LEAFers, The sweet spot is dead center on the TB screen, 6 segments.   Obviously there are holes in the data but the cold is almost done and other opps to do this will come eventually but will have to wait. There are still a lot of holes to fill. Then we can chart! 

  So is "87 Heaven?"  Well, maybe. 87º still allowed the max amperage on a charge and as we know, that is very close to the point we see RapidGate kicking in.  Maybe its different in Winter? Maybe Nissan considers OAT in their algorithm?  Maybe the key is examining the spread of the 3 temperatures?  

As always, stay tuned! 


Sidenotes

Eco mode allows a moderation of pedal input designed to reduce motor response so you can drive more "smoothly."  Its like mouse settings on your computer where your mouse has to move a certain number of pixels before there is any movement on the screen.  Obviously for game players, this should be very small but for the rest of us, a bit of "dead zone" is what we generally prefer.

But Eco also lowers power output to climate controls as well but if looking to boost range in Winter there is also another thing to consider and that is fan speed.  Below is two LEAF Spy screenshots taken a few mins apart.  Each shows the "settled" power usage of heat with fan speed of 2 and a fan speed of 5. As you can see, there is quite the difference.



Some background. I left my house at 5:50 AM so wanted to "equalize" power a bit to eliminate the very high power output that happens initially.  Fan speed 2 usually starts at 2500 watts but drops down quickly to 2000 dropping again to the 1750 you see within 3-4 mins.  Depending on OAT, it could stay at 1750 for entire duration of trip (11.8 miles and 16-20 mins) but have seen it drop to as low as 1250 on those super mild days.  For some reason it takes what I consider to be an inordinately long time for OAT temp to settle. As you can see, there is quite the difference.  Based on weather station reports (not official national weather mind you) in the area, temps ranged from 39 to 41º

Fan speed 5 gets up to 3750 and about half the time, it may drop to 3250 during the trip in this temperature range. I have seen it as low as 2500 in warmer weather.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November 2018 Drive Report; Its Winter Which Means The Beginning Of "IceGate"

The expected rush at work has not materialized which is fine by me. We had one pretty busy week but things have settled down a bit and yes, I am enjoying the extra time off!  As is the norm, Winter means more staying at home, gorging on comfort food, wrapped in a blanket while taking full advantage of my Netflix subscription.  In previous years, work forced me to drive a lot but that is no longer an issue as my 24 mile RT commute means a 75 min charge every morning is more than enough to last the day!

The Stats

LEAF drove 927.6 miles costing me $7.71 on the power bill or .83 cents per mile helped out by 153.788 kwh from NCTC at zero cost.   Without NCTC, my cost would have been $20.93 or 2.26 cents per kwh.  There was a rise in my power bill going from 8.5 cents/kwh to 8.6 cents/kwh. Rounding?? Either way, it was an acceptable outlay of cash. There was a milestone reached when adding in the $7.71 in public charging fees to my home electricity costs to put me over the $100 mark for the LEAF over the first 13½ thousand miles or so.  Getting expensive...

The Battery

Well, its another one of those months when the BMS did not do any resets or calibrations. I lost .05% SOH during the month.  Now will have to say, I have continued my goal of keeping SOC fairly low. During the 4 day work week, I always have enough to drive one sometimes two days before needing a charge but on the last 2 or 3 days of the week, I plug in when I get up in the morning and unplug when leaving for work which means about 75 mins of charging a day. This keeps my SOC between 25-45% more or less but also keeps my pack fairly cold. The batts have pretty much been in the low to upper 50'sº F for the most part.  I would post my extrapolated degradation prediction but I think I will wait till Jan to do that in case an adjustment does pop up like it did in October.  But month ending numbers

Ahr; 109.31
SOH; 94.68
Hx; 117.97

As far as noticable range loss, that is a tough question so can only extrapolate from yesterday (SOC was up to 84%) and yeah, I know that would be December stats but...no one's perfect, right! :)

I would have roughly 162 miles of range. Now that is a very rough estimate and GOM based on city/suburban driving along with a lot of heat. (It has been FRIGID here!)

IceGate

Well, it didn't take long for me to notice my knee (the point when DCFC stops providing max amperage on a charge) was plunging almost as fast as the Mercury!   The other day, I recorded a knee at 45%!  Granted batteries were cold so repeated the charge a few days later getting similar results on the first charge but seeing a knee at 61.1% on the 2nd when pack was warmer (80º verses 55º)

As always, I will dissect the logs for specifics, collect several more charges and report back here.

eLEAF

Finally, a news agency has reported the eLEAF will launch in January at the CES in Las Vegas. Rumors state no liquid cooling. I am very much ok with that. During my visits to Nissan World HQ, they were pretty adamant in stating that liquid cooling opened up risks to the driver they were not willing to take on.  Now a well designed heat exchanger using using conditioned air in Summer and cabin air in Winter that also assists with cabin warming would be the way to go.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

Beyond Carlos Ghosn and Andy Palmer, Was Nissan Ever A True EV Proponent?

In The Beginning

It was November 2010 and despite it being rainy Western WA, it was not raining but it was cold, very cold.  But that did not deter me or the hundreds of others who gathered at Southcenter Mall in Tukwila WA to get a chance to see and drive the new 2011 Nissan LEAF.

For years, it had been my dream to drive electric. There were no downsides I saw and it was a good for the environment, good for the economy (Especially in Washington State where we had no hydrocarbon resources but tons of clean electricity) and good for me.

But options were few.  I started with Priuses in 2004 and loved the the short stints of EV only operation and the challenges of getting higher and higher MPGs from each tank of gas.  The excitement ratcheted ever higher in May 2009 when I got the newly released (to few early adopters) 2010 Prius that now had a dedicated EV only button!

But like the ZENN I picked up in Oct, 2007, it was limited. The 2010 Prius wouldn't go much faster than 20-25 mph in EV only mode and only for a mile or so. My ZENN, despite being my daily commuter for 3+ years was barely any better. It had lead acid batteries and monumental battery issues (making LEAF a HUGE step up) complicated by the fact that I had mine modified to go 35 mph since Washington allows NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) to go that fast along with Montana (of all places) the only 2 states that allowed NEVs to go faster than 25 mph.

But my employer allowed me to use a 120 volt outlet so I was golden for my 16 mile commute. My co-workers hated seeing me doing whatever they could to pass me on the 4 lane Yelm Highway (speed limit 40 mph) so they wouldn't get stuck behind me on Henderson Blvd (two lane road with big hill) where the hill would slow me to 25 mph...

But the desire to EV... to like another town was unfulfilled. It soon started to gnaw on me. I decided to take a two pronged approach by getting a Lithium pack upgrade for the ZENN to boost range to 50 miles and get a pack add on for the Prius to get me almost the same EV range but all that did not come cheap back then so a lot of investigating and comparison pricing was needed.

Now the add on pack for the Prius was easy enough. Other than a handful of DIYers, there was essentially only one option.  But the ZENN thing was completely different. It was all about choosing the right cells at the right price and the landscape was changing fast. I had finally decided early in 2010 on a Chinese source and was ready to order when I hear about the LEAF. It was January, 2010.

Here was an affordable, highway capable EV.  Realize at the time, the only option was the $100+K Tesla Roadster which was is and never will be an option for me.

So I read all I could find about this LEAF car (took all of 10 minutes) and decided that was what I get.  So now it was get in line to order,  start liquidating assets (after all, had 2 Pruises, F-150 and a ZENN.  Not only did I not need all that, I didn't have room to park what I already had!)

So April 10, 2010, I reserved a chance to RAQ (Request a Quote) and received invite for that Sept 30, 2010 which I did within 10 mins of receiving the email to do so becoming one of the first LEAFer in the state of WA on Jan 18, 2011 when I picked up my 2011 SL.  This began a long relationship that continues to this day with a company I thought shared the same ideology of EV mobility.

I realized as an early adopter, it was important to relay my experiences and feelings, both good and bad. There was little bad (despite HUGE range anxiety and a near absent public charging network) and a lot of good. Yeah, I was restricted to a circle of roughly 40ish miles I could drive but every day, it became better.  I was lucky to live in a town that received one of the first Chargepoint chargers in the Summer of 2010 but then again, it was 6 miles from home. What I needed was something away from home and that was just around the corner as Chargepoint, Blink, and Aerovironment came online.

My LEAF's useability was bolstered by battery monitoring apps like  GIDmeter and LEAF Spy.  The rapidly expanding public charging network was soon to be tracked with Plugshare. All of which soon became essential tools for any EVer.

Anticipating The Future

I was also lucky enough to be invited as part of a group to Nissan World Headquarters in Yokohama,  Japan where we were advised the 40 kwh LEAF would be arriving along with infiniti EVs in a program that was spearheaded by Andy Palmer. Each year would see a new EV or Plug in entry to the Nissan stable. His excitement over Nissan future electric mobility plans was infectious but as things turn out, he never go to see them thru.  Aston Martin lured him away fulfilling his lifelong dream to be the Chief of an auto company.

Well, the 40 kwh LEAF still happened but the infiniti EV did not nor did any other plug in.  What was even more surprising is that after nearly 8 years, Nissan still only had one EV entry in the North American Market.

The Bombshell

Ghosn was arrested by Japanese officials for income reporting irregularities and corporate spending spanning nearly a decade.  Soon it became apparent, the arrest was due to the concerted efforts by Nissan officials to discredit Ghosn.

In Japan honor holds a much higher place than most societies. In a situation where a powerful figure in a company makes mistakes intentionally or unintentionally, it is the generally accepted practice to minimize blame on a person especially in the public eye.  Punishment still happens but it done in a low key and private manner. But Ghosn's arrest was anything but literally creating arguably THE news story of the decade in Japan.

But as the details untangled, fault became murky.  Nissan accused Ghosn of using corporate cash for personal gain especially in homes Ghosn supposedly purchased. It soon degraded into a "he said, she said"  where Ghosn claimed he did not own the various houses and that they were corporate homes used while engaged in his corporate duties that involved extensive travel while running companies on two different continents.

There was also a question of how Nissan finance controls and bookkeeping could allow many many millions to spent illegally over several years without stopping or mentioning it long ago. IOW, there is a lot of indicators that Nissan knew what was going on but looked the other way because during this time, Ghosn was in the process of rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy.

The final step in his plan was a merger between Renault and Nissan to become one of the largest car companies in the World but it seems that Nissan had tired of foreigners running things and the arrest was their way of "purging" the company and putting it back in control of the Japanese.

What's Next?

The details of the arrest and the outcome are still pretty much up in the air so all the above is simply speculation but it does give me an understanding to several things including why Nissan has moved so slowly in the EV arena.  It would appear that Ghosn was very much fighting a battle with odds stacked against him.  Again, after nearly 8 years, no 2nd EV offering from Nissan while sister company Renault (obviously more accepting of Ghosn) has a few along with the Nissan's own eNV EV in Europe.

It is also interesting to note that the elephant in the room, Toyota has also nearly EVless in its offerings making me think if Nissan hadn't had financial issues and didn't need a bailout would they be offering "any" EV at all right now?

But the final straw happened earlier this week when Nissan announced that they would be delaying the announcement of the 2019 longer range "eLEAF" due to the possibility of the excitement level of the car being undermined by the headlines of the arrest.

SAY WHAT?? What kind of logic is that?  Its the logic of making sure that Ghosn does not rise from the canvas.  Its the "kicking the dead horse" move rubbing Salt in the wound so the Japanese don't forget.

But let's be honest. If Nissan officials were serious about "fixing things" after this supposedly disastrous Ghosn incident, the easiest way to forget bad is to replace it with good... and the sooner the better.  But that is apparently not Nissan's plan.




Saturday, November 24, 2018

E-Pedal Verses B Mode

Why is this even a question!!  E-Pedal is by far the best innovation on the 2018 LEAF!  I like AEB but E-Pedal is a dream!

But some feel that E-Pedal uses friction braking too much which lowers efficiency. Now, how they got this idea is anyone's guess.  E-Pedal does use friction braking but the amount of friction braking is determined by the SOC. If the SOC is high, E Pedal will engage more friction braking in order to minic E Pedal at lower or "normal" SOC levels but for the most part, friction braking is used primarily at VERY low speeds.  Although it would seem intuitive, creep mode is not disabled in E-Pedal (or any other mode) is on making some friction braking required. (except neutral)

Well, it became quickly apparent that just saying E-Pedal is better wasn't going to work. People simply got it in their heads that certain things were happening and and that was that so this is my attempt to "data dump" naysayers into submission!

So armed with a good charge (75% is highest SOC my LEAF has seen in months) Fully charged LEAF Spy phone (and LEAF Spy of course)  off I went.

Now the first thing we need to know is that LEAF Spy on your phone changes rather slowly.  You can see this by watching power output.  Take your foot off the E Pedal and the motor power should show regen. The delay from the pedal movement to the LEAF Spy screen is significant. a few seconds.  Depending on timing of that delay, it can be hard to get values especially when we are only looking for max values and with regen levels we are expecting, max values will only last a few seconds unless going down very steep hills.  So several runs will be needed to determine a good close approximation.  Then the best course is downloading and reviewing the log files which can be opened in any spreadsheet program.  This allows sorting of any value making gathering peak values quite easy. 

To lessen the possibility of errors, I decided to do this over several days hoping for different temperature ranges to see if they had an effect. I also QC'd before each run to heat pack at least into the low 80's.  Was aiming for the upper 80's but one day, pack started at 51º and temps basically stopped rising about 75% SOC so had to settle for low 80's.  Close enough, I think.

I also separated the E-Pedal runs and Eco B mode runs into separate days as well.  So if LEAF Spy's granularity is so poor, why use it?  Well, the ability to download the data and sort in a spreadsheet is obvious but if that isn't enough consider...

We have a power meter on the dash that shows power or regen and like most Nissan instrumentation, it should be ignored. Ok, maybe that last statement was a bit over the top.  There is a small meter that is visible on most screens that has 8 regen segments and 16 power segments or we can use the dedicated screen that doubles the segments for both.   Should be enough, right?  WRONG!

Well... maybe not "completely" wrong as long as one understands the meter uses different scaling for each drive mode. In retrospect I do understand why people might think  E-Pedal uses a lot of friction braking because everyone knows the slowdown in E-Pedal is much more severe than B mode but what if they found out that E-Pedal's regen has a 50% higher ceiling?

The Test

We all know E-Pedal slows the car dramatically faster than B mode does although B mode does a pretty good job as well, just not quite as fast. If there is a slight upwards slope to the road, B mode will slow the LEAF to nearly a complete stop. But creep will allow the car to continue to... well, creep.   Sadly, even E-Pedal has creep enabled.  Creep power is small, roughly 150-200ish watts or so but even at a standstill, E-Pedal is still using this 150 watts just like D mode, B mode, and likely reverse (You will have to check on that)

Now both E-Pedal and B mode do quite well with moderated regen.  And this is how most (including me) drive 90% of the time.  Its gradual slowdowns mixed with shorter more aggressive acceleration.  So all this is dealing with the 10% where speeds are much less predictable due to traffic, controls, crazy drivers, etc.   So the target of the test is finding out why E-Pedal slows faster.

B Mode

I did several runs using B mode only (no braking) at high speeds on steep downhill slopes in order to max regen as long as possible. After collecting several data points, the best B mode could do was 36.8 KW.   Below is an edited version of LEAF Spy logs. No values were changed. I simply removed extra fields that do not pertain to the topic for clarity.

B Mode Regen

What I did is sorted the values based on amperage using the formula Volts*Amps for regen power.  I have SEVERAL data points but I am showing this because it shows two different battery temperature ranges. This resolves the small difference.  With batteries colder, regen was lower at 35.6 KW; not significant as we shall soon see. 

B Mode Regen High SOC

Here we see even lower regen  of 34 KW but this is at a higher SOC which is to be expected.  I suspect in a brand new pack, max regen in B mode is likely close to 40 KW. Unfortunately LEAF Spy does not designate what drive mode (at least I don't think it does. the log files are HUGE) so I was unable to go back to earlier logs to see if the regen profile had changed.  So this is only a guess based on the actions of previous LEAFs with degradation. 

E-Pedal

I wrote in my blog back in March 2018 that I was able to hit 60 KW in regen. At the time I wondered why I could not charge at that rate but I guess the short duration of that very high regen level could be endured by a system designed to do only 50 KW...  So I already knew going in that the reason E-Pedal slows the car much faster is because it regen's on a completely different level. 

E-Pedal Regen

It was my plan to do 3 days of E-Pedal just like I had done 3 days of B mode but after reviewing the first day, I felt the point is well proven. This chart we will break down in segments. 

Line 1; Cold pack, low SOC; 57.6 KW

Line 2; warm pack, higher SOC; 57.5 KW

Line 3; "low" speed  52 KW

Well, the difference couldn't be any more dramatic. Even at street level speeds, the regen in E-Pedal is nearly 50% higher. I am relatively sure this negates any friction braking losses which I still contend, only happen at speeds likely under 3-4 mph or... the same time you would have to brake in B mode if a complete stop is needed. 

Conclusions

This blog is NOT intended to say one mode over another is the best. Again, each mode with its regen profile allows X time to react to changing driving conditions.  This makes it obvious that the mode that can react the quickest, is the best in most circumstances. We have all heard Gerber Collision and Glass radio commercial about the guy bee bopping down the road without a care in the World because all situations developed slow enough that he had time to react. Unrealistic? Yep and that is how Gerber Collision and Glass makes money. Because things can happen in a split second, but "most" things happen with a 3-5 second window. 

Just because E-Pedal can regen at 58 KW doesn't mean you need all that. It can regen as little as you want and yeah, in emergency situations, braking will still be needed but that teeny tiny bit of extra slowing caused by an "additional"  29 KW of regen could be the difference between a racing heartbeat and a ticket and a $1500 front end repair for tapping the car in front of you. 

Safety

After all that is said and done, lets be personal.  I can't for the life of me understand anyone who does not use E-Pedal ALL the time.  I stand by my statement that this is THE best thing Nissan has put on the LEAF since heated seats!

**WARNING SARCASM ALERT ***

Finally; I do not have much to say about this simply because EVERYONE has very strong opinions about this but E-Pedal has simply gone overboard with the brake lights.  Have you ever driven around on an empty dark street and watched your brake light action? Its INSANE. They come on all the time for even the slightest slow down and whats worse. They stay on until you speed up!!

I mean this fact alone means that B Mode is much more efficient since it NEVER ACTIVATES THE BRAKE LIGHTS EVER!!

So if you are into driving in bumper to bumper traffic in B mode with your brake lights hardly ever coming on, then there is no need to read this blog. 

EDIT; Had to add the sarcasm alert since a few people simply missed the humor I was trying to input.



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is Volkswagen's Punishment For DieselGate Suddenly Become An Advantage?

Green Car Reports on VW expected pricing.
https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1119827_base-price-of-vws-electric-cars-could-be-as-low-as-21000


In 2015, The US Government brought suit against Volkswagen for intentionally defeating the required emission testing for its "clean diesel" fleet.  For years, VW had confounded the auto industry in its ability to provide a powerful, high MPG car that easily met an increasingly strict diesel emission standard set by the United States.

Faced with indisputable evidence of tampering, VW admitted it had installed special software that would greatly reduce emissions (and power) during testing. Since the car was not actually moving, the reduced power levels went unnoticed.  As soon as the testing was done, the software was disabled and the VW with its power restored was passed.  But now its emissions were as much as 300% over the limits that other manufacturers were being held to.

Over half a million vehicles were involved having been sold and driven for years in the US.  If you were ever stuck behind one of them with the vents open, your "clean diesel" thoughts were right. They were far from clean.

Eventually courts levied up to 25 Billion in fines (the figure is inexact due to cost variances in the choices offered current VW owners) which included 2 Billion to be invested in public charging infrastructure evenly divided in 4 phases covering 10 years.  Phase one concentrating on completing a major highway network with stations ideally 80ish miles apart is slated to be completed by Summer 2019.

  EA Network Phase One

As of this writing, 30 locations are now open for business; many in key areas where other charging options are minimal or non existent. But one thing has become quite clear; The network is becoming less punitive and more advantageous to VW's future EV plans with every station opening up and it seems like we are all but accepting of that fact. 

The SC Advantage

Tesla knew that their high priced cars would be much more attractive if they were able to be used well beyond their stated range. The Supercharger network exclusive to Tesla's allows exactly that to happen. Being an EV only manufacturer, it was easy for Tesla to make this mulimillion dollar decision but other EV manufacturers still rely very heavily on their carbon fueled products making an EV only investment of that magnitude that much harder to justify.  But the benefits of public charging are undeniable and most EV manufacturers have spent some money to that end. But a network that fails to cover the country end to end is exactly that; a failure.  A reason to keep gassing.

Electrify America

EA was created by VW to install and manage the network independent of VW... Well, at least that is what was stated on paper. 

VW set up a new subsidiary called Electrify America to build the network independently from the company. The chargers will not be proprietary to VW and use Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO and open protocols like Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP).

So its a win-win for all, right!!

WRONG!!

So far every station built has been using the same pattern.  They are advertised as having "at least" 4 high powered stations to be used by CCS and Chademo compatible EVs.   This implies equal access when the fact is EVERY site so far has ZERO exclusive access for Chademo compatible EVs.



Dual Format Charger; EA Site Albany OR Walmart
CCS Only Chargers; EA Site Albany OR Walmart

During my Oregon Coast trip, I took I-5 on the return so had a chance to see the Albany OR EA site at the Walmart there.  This site is advertised as having 4 CCS stations and one Chademo station implying that if you are the only Chademo compatible EV there, you are guaranteed a plug. This couldn't be farther from the truth. 

In the top picture we see that the chademo plug is actually part of a dual format machine that anyone who has used EVGO would be very familiar with. Unfortunately (despite the additional power available) only one side can be used at a time.  These stations won't even queue a 2nd car despite rumors stating they do have the capability.  

This means its possible a LEAFer or Souler could pull in with only ONE EV charging and not be able to charge if the ONE CCS compatible EV chose the dual format station.  Sounds ridiculous? It doesn't to me.  I have encountered a ton of clueless EVers out there including plug ins with only J1772 spending way more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to make the fast charger work. 

Another thing to consider is Tesla's (except the 3) can use Chademo but not CCS which means even less likely to have access to the single chademo plug. 

CCS Advantage

Ok so CCS is not a proprietary VW thing so how can they work it to their advantage?  How about pricing Chademo's out of the market.  EA announced pricing that includes a modest connect fee of a buck but an outrageous per minute fee.  Chademo is currently restricted to 50 KW (with no plans to upgrade) while CCS is slated to be at least 150 KW with 350 KW options for the upcoming 800 volt systems that will be hitting the streets next year. 

The outrageously high per minute cost will all but guarantee that older LEAFs (ramp down happens around 40%) won't be taking up any space here.  Even the 30 kwh LEAFs and Souls (full speed charging to near 80%) will be cutting their visits short. With an 80 mile distance between chargers, they will likely not visit at all. 

Finally (not really) don't be surprised when VW or Audi (VW in disguise) starts offering special sweetheart deals to EA's network. They have already delayed their big EV push so they won't be in direct competition price wise with Tesla or Chevy and their reduced fed perks.  

All in all, a great way to minimize the pain of their penalty, right?  Too bad the government did not demand cash and hand it over to EVGO or someone else to spend on the network instead. 


EA Report Card

At this point, I would struggle to give them a C.  Many feel that they are doing a great job of rolling out the network since several have opened all in the last 6 months but EA is behind on its timetable having promised to have 200 plugs by the end of Q4 2018. That does not seem very likely especially considering the very slow progress being made in California.  

Now if missing the timetable was all there was to it (Tesla's planned urban SC rollout has been MUCH worse) they would have scored better but the placement has been horrific. 

Its quite obvious that EA is scrambling to play catch up desperate for host sites.  In my area when the entire Olympic Peninsula remains uncovered, they have placed two sites literally within 2 miles of each other in Everett WA. Why? mostly because that is how Walmart is. They swoop in and dominate the retail landscape and Everett was big enough to warrant more than one Walmart but 2 miles apart??? 

But that isn't even the worst example.  North Bend Outlets has been host to EVGO for years and soon, less than 200 feet away, EA will also be there!

Access is another story.  EVGO has dual format stations and although you can't queue your EV like Blink does, at least you have a parking space while you wait. Doesn't sound like much but its INVALUABLE on a busy weekend when the station is located at a mall or something.  

But EA doesn't seem to understand that.  I am sure you noticed the EA Albany site that has 4 stations and only 4 parking spots. Design oversight? Nope. 

Hope Arkansas EA Site. No queuing here!

Now is this simply piss poor planning from EA? Or is it site host restrictions? If the locations were up front, I could see Walmart having an issue with giving up too many prime parking spaces but every site I have seen so far is located far away from the front parking spaces (A lesson EVGO needs to learn!!)  In fact; the placement of the stations is the ONLY reason why EA didn't get an F.   In all the pictures and site visits so far, the thought of stretching a cord from an adjoining parking space in the next row is not an option either. It almost seems as if to ensure cheap and easy access to feeder lines, green space was selected over blacktop.  

Now, this is only phase one of four so holding out hope that things will improve with both location, access and balance but then again, the adage; "Its so bad, we can't possibly get worse" applies quite well here. 


**EDIT**

Looks like I am not the only one unhappy with EA...