Friday, March 15, 2019

The Model Y Show; Just One More Hit Before I Go On!

Believe it or not, even I watched the Model Y reveal (my first Tesla reveal and most definitely my LAST time) knowing that this car will completely blow away any sales record the Model 3 would attain and I was not disappointed.



As always, options are limited and spendy. Unlike the Model 3, there seems to be only one interior trim as standard. Nothing mentioned on controls or lack thereof but guessing it will be near Model 3 in its presentation.  Hopefully a few more steering wheel controls will be added.

Black - includedMSM / Blue - $1500White - $2kRed- $250019" sport wheels - $1500White interior - $1KSeven seats - $3kAP/FSD - $3k / $5k


Popularity

Its an family oriented SUV which is the most popular vehicle choice going right now. The option to add the 3rd row ensures the Model Y will be the most popular Tesla to date even outselling the Tesla Pickup (which was strangely not mentioned)   EV performance won't be lacking here either and efficiency will be good with a stated .23 coefficient of drag.   It will probably be a year or more before interior dimensions are mentioned but Tesla has always done well with leg room and I feel this will not be any different.  I will say that there have been a few mid size SUV's where leg room was less than desirable. 


Price

Yes the Model Y will show up well after incentives are gone so will it still be "affordable?"  If we configure the car to the average need; we have a LR AWD with 3rd row coming in at $54,000.  Expensive? Oh yeah but actually not bad considering the cost of other Mid size 7 passenger SUVs high end trim.  Cut the options down to the standard with 3rd row and now we have $42,000 which is right where most 7 passenger SUVs are now.


Utility

The seven seat option is huge but the information on cargo capacity is not specified so have to guess the 66 cubic feet is cargo minus the 3rd row.  All rows do fold flat (Nissan are you paying attention!) which ratchet ups the utility quite a bit. As seen below; quite a bit of space and functional as a 5 passenger with 3rd row folded.

Pix swiped from Electrek.com 



Safety

Best for last.  I have full confidence the Model Y will score very well on crash testing but the one reason I have never liked SUVs is rollover issues.  They simply roll too easily.  During my time as a road warrior, I witnessed two SUV rollovers caused not by hitting something or getting hit. They rolled simply due to a sudden maneuver.   Afraid that is just too close to "living on the edge" for me but the EV and its heavy low slung battery pack makes the risk negligible; a big plus for me.

As always, Youtube is beginning to flood with Model Y drives, etc.  This one illustrates how stable the Model Y is due to that heavy pack.



Finally

As always the reveal means that we have a long wait ahead of us.  Musk mentioned that the Tesla Model P  (Pickup) would be "available" THIS year  so a bit of a shock that there was no mention at the reveal but I guess this year is still young and plenty of time to schedule another reveal.

Tesla is  great company and wouldn't be anywhere without Musk's brilliance but I think its time for Tesla to find another spokesperson.  Musk's rambling oratory was extremely painful to endure and it will be the last time I waste my time.  I will wait until after the fact and simply watch one of the dozen highlight videos instead.

The one thing I was happy to see was the Tesla Semi dubbed the... uhh "S?"  for Semi...no, that's taken. Maybe "T" for Tractor... no Ford will nix that... So I am thinking the Model H (for hauler) but electrifying the last mile of the freight business will become Tesla's biggest contribution to society and I think, their best chance for long term financial security.

Either way, its interesting that the Model P which is by all accounts, imminent and will also have a rather brisk demand although nowhere near the popularity of the Y; but still not configurable but the Y nearly 2 years off (or more) can be ordered today.

But ordering the Y means no priority and a $2500 deposit.  Beginning to sound more like a "fund me" ploy.  Now it would take 400,000 pocketbooks to cover Tesla's recent loan payment but the Model Y will bring in a whole new group of buyers that may not be familiar with the Model 3 reservation process so it might just work.

Friday, March 8, 2019

LEAF Plus Verses The T3; Another TCO Evaluation.

Whether its a last ditch effort to save the company or simply another step to the pinnacle of the automotive world, the $35,000 Tesla is here!  

Either way, the reaction has been overwhelming positive and both the LEAF and Bolt forums are filled with obituary notices of the once beloved 4 wheelers in their respective garages.  Buyer's remorse? Or simply the inability to focus with the still high level of glitz and glam over the fact that Musk finally delivered on his $35,000 promise is anyone's guess.  Either way, I being old (and wearing sunglasses) with deteriorating vision thus somewhat insulated from the hype,  was confused at the reaction. 

Well, actually the Bolt is STILL an econobox with a big battery so the "woe is me" attitude among some Bolters I could see, but the LEAF still was a fairly functional car especially if the need was not "Uberish." IOW; it was a very fine choice for anyone but would it still win the TCO battle?

Remember, just before my wreck, I presciently wrote a blog comparing the cost of the Bolt, LEAF and the basic premise of the then shadowy T3 Basic.  Despite a huge range disadvantage, the LEAF won...by a LONG shot.  I did contend that the $35,000 Tesla Model 3 was the only EV worth the money asked.  But I admit to only going by what I thought would be part of the car. For the most part; I still feel that way so its time to grab the calculator, hit up some websites and price out my garage's future roommate!

Needs

I am flexible!  Decent range, decent charging speed, and GREAT price!  My current 40 kwh LEAF does 2 of the 3 (charging speed could be better) and places to charge.

What I am less flexible on is seat and steering wheel heaters. Both make a huge difference in comfort for me for a good 6 months of the year.   So with that in mind, lets roll!

T3

Ok, I already know that most of you are here to read about the T3 and nothing else so I guess I will start here. 

Likes;

Size. Not too big that I would have problems parking in my small garage. Its bigger than the LEAF  but I can still squeeze her in there.  The rear passenger leg room is good, the tech is cool (even on the basic model) What Tesla did a very good job of was maximizing the space it has to work with and that is a given considering it was an EV from start to finish. The LEAF also has that advantage but seems like Nissan's ability to exploit that advantage is a bit lacking.

Public Charging;  Although not very conveniently placed near me, the Supercharger Network is the gorilla in the room. But its very nature of being more regional insures a queue on the popular travel weekends. Queuing will only get worse as Tesla continues its high volume production of cars. Being in WA State will make it worse as we have adopted them at a rate well above the national average.  Not having a Chademo adapter loses a lot of points for me as contrary to EA's opinion, Chademo is still King around here.

On my first TCO analysis, I based a lot on the projected Tesla urban chargers that were supposed to have been here by now. To this date,  few have appeared. With SC V 3 recently announced, maybe we will see a flurry of activity but with Tesla's somewhat shaky finances, we might not.

Range;  Hey I was pretty happy with my lowly 150 mile (although 170 miles in Summer was not a challenge) LEAF so its like Candyland!  The reality on range really comes down to one's acceptance of public charging. I thought it was a pain when I had my 2011 LEAF mostly because each station was a required stop. With my 40 kwh LEAF, it became easier to incorporate charging stops with personal needs which actually has a bit of enjoyment mixed in that has given me a completely different attitude about range.  Without Chademo access, that would really change my process.  

Performance;  I only put this in because for some reason, a lot of people feel that this is important. So yeah, the T3 has a ton of  it but the LEAF has good acceleration and the LEAF Plus has even more. 

Dislikes; 

Rear Seats; Could be better. I don't sit back there so I have to say I can live with it 😋 but when trying them out, they just didn't seem right for some reason.  Could be the height, it could be the short bench? Don't know. Just something about them.  LEAF back seats are better but not really all that desirable either. I think my control issues are overriding my sense of fair evaluation here?

Controls;   Well, the LEAF has em, the Tesla doesn't, well knobs that is.  I get that touchscreens are the rage these days and they are cheaper but Tesla could have added some well designed voice controls for at least some of the functions.  Another track would simply be adding more functionality to the steering wheel buttons.  Add a "move to screen" button then the NAV buttons to toggle to each function and drill from there.  Tedious you think?  The first few times probably but as we get accustomed the the controls and the layouts, we will master the art of fine tuning our options with barely a glance at the screen.  Heat up?  <Screen>, right, right, down, <select> left, up, up,  DONE! 

Black; Yeah, its a ton for any other color but Black. A couple tons for some colors. Ridiculous. Its almost as bad as posting the price of the car after "possible" incentives and fuel savings. 

So there it is and truth be told; nothing above comes even close to eliminating the car. It really is that cool.  So on to Tsite and... well, looks like I have to register to get any info or skim a dozen various online articles. The articles might not be too bad if they all agreed on the details so I register, toss my "membership" into my membership drawer (which is the size of mid level city library) and I'm in!

Ok so not a lot of real addons here.  Not a good sign. This almost always raises the price. I hate having to pay for something that I don't want to get something I do want.

Notice cost is already up $1500. For an explanation, review the "Black" comment above

So, I select and zip thru the screens and realize that there is not a "packages" screen so I backtrack and despite being told the T3 came with heated seats standard,  I find they do not. 

Standard Interior Includes:
  • Manual seat and steering adjustment
  • Cloth seats and base trim
  • Basic audio
  • Standard maps and navigation
  • Center console with storage and 4 USB ports

Partial Premium Interior Includes:

  • 12-way power adjustable heated front seats  (Heat and power; Nice!) 
  • Premium seat material and trim     (AKA fake leather)
  • Upgraded audio – immersive sound
  • Standard maps & navigation    (Nice but have phone for this job) 
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with storage, 4 USB ports and docking for 2 smartphones

Premium Interior Includes:

  • 12-way power adjustable front and rear heated seats
  • Premium audio – 14 speakers, 1 subwoofer, 2 amps, and immersive sound
  • Satellite-view maps with live traffic visualization and navigation
  • In-car internet streaming music & media
  • Internet browser
  • Location-aware automatic garage door opener
  • LED fog lamps
  • Center console with storage, 4 USB ports and docking for 2 smartphones

All Interiors Include:
  • Tinted glass roof with ultraviolet and infrared protection
  • Auto dimming, power folding, heated side mirrors
  • Music and media over Bluetooth ®
  • Custom driver profiles

So after wrestling with my needs, I decide seat heaters are a must and I will somehow try to survive without steering wheel heater. (My S30 didn't have it either)  Thankfully, I did not throw my gloves away. 

So now we have this!






LEAF S Plus

First off some comments on the same subjects above.

Comparisons

Size

Both the Tesla and LEAF have the size I need but are far from similar.  Tesla has more passenger space and the LEAF concentrates on cargo space which is the norm considering the hatchback design.  So its basically a toss up to me. I can make each work quite well.  The one gripe about the LEAF is the unlevel storage when back seats are folded but again, an easy workaround and with space, you have options!


Charging

One reason I have for upgrading is the slow charging of my current LEAF. It maxes out at 125 amps and only to 63% SOC on a good day!  With providers moving to per minute billing, speed becomes a financial concern.  Granted, SC's charge by the kwh but also transcends any speed concerns so I can call that a wash.   But there is a well established Chademo network here that EVGO is expanding on (EA slightly but the config tells me it will be all but useless to me at any other time besides the middle of the night)

But Nissan realizes this and has ratcheted their NCTC program up to 3 years free charging. That is a LOT of money on the table. I did a few 500 mile trips courtesy of NCTC so its a lot of value to me.  Again, much slower than SC but again, I am ok to stopping and with a bigger range, this opens up more options to me.  On a cost basis; Its a major win for Nissan.


Range

With both cars being nearly the same on paper, there would be little to say except that range is what you make of it.  Tesla allows cross country travel and in a few months, so will the LEAF so its nearly a wash but having done both, I HATE the "charge for an hour" ideology that Tesla promotes, electing for much more frequent stops of 20 mins or less the LEAF can do due to more numerous (but more likely queued) stations. Granted, the cross country network is not developed to that point yet, but for local regional travel, I have already been there in a 30 kwh LEAF so doubling the range just makes it that much easier.

Now that would be the end of the story with LEAF edging Tesla out but SC V3 maybe a huge game changer.  I mentioned that a lot of the planned Tesla stations had not materialized but Tesla's announcement that current stations would not be upgraded to V3 likely means a new batch of stations opening up and at 250 KW, I could easily see me hitting them for  my preferred 20 mins and getting enough range to make the next station.


Performance

Have to call this a wash and why? I would gladly trade one second off the 0-60 time for an additional 50 miles of range. It is just that unimportant to me.

Dislikes

Degradation

After all these years, you would think that Nissan would have made some progress here and the scary part is...They have!  2015 Lizard battery was a huge jump. My 2016 S30 another huge jump but early results indicates the 40 kwh pack lost ALL that progress in one fell swoop.

So what to expect? With Nissan, its impossible to tell.  Granted more cells means less stress on each cell so all things being equal, the degradation rates should go down but how far?  Still no active TMS so we still must contend with manual manipulations of SOC, temperatures, etc.

Now Nissan does have their safety net degradation warranty in play but with the larger capacity, more cells, etc and still the 100,000 mile limitation its not likely to benefit me in anyway barring a major catastrophe.  But who knows?  I felt the same with my 40 kwh LEAF before I got it based on the excellent performance of my 30 kwh LEAF but my 40 kwh LEAF is on track for a warranty exchange. Its still early but...

There is also no mention of adding custom charging options. EVERY EV manufacturer has options to charge to a different level than full.  Nissan not having this basic feature is a MAJOR MISS.


Software

The LEAF suffers from subpar programming that controls both the BMS and the LBC.  There is simply way too much about how the manage the battery that is simply ludicrous.  In the normal process of performing various maintenance functions, a reset of the BMS is required. This requires the BMS to completely relearn the battery pack; a process that apparently takes weeks.  Why is that? Why should it take that long to determine basic characteristics like capacity or battery health?

And if the complete "mind wipe" is necessary, maybe Nissan needs to take a page from my cell phone that automatically saves my pertinent data and reloads it after the reset.  In the normal course of things, this wouldn't be that critical but in this day and age, shady characters do whatever they can if it will make them a buck. A reset can give the owner of a used LEAF the false idea that their battery pack is in good shape when its likely not the case!

Degradation has many causes and over time, I have come to believe the LEAF's major cause is Nissan programmers!


The Numbers

T3 S plus


TBH; Anyone who gets the Standard version without paying the extra $2,000 for the enhanced version with more power , more acceleration, more range and power seats (with heat!) , really should be spending their cash on a psychiatrist.  The blue set me back $1500 which is highway robbery but the red was $2500!!  CAAAAARRRAAAZEEE!! 

So now we are looking at $38,500... oh wait, (forgot delivery) $39,700 minus $3750 fed tax credit and zero hopes of negotiating a better price for a cost of  $35,950.   For those with lesser needs, a stripped down version in black would be $36,200 minus $3750 or  $32,450. 

LEAF S Plus


Ok the price of the LEAF is $36550 with an $850 delivery charge that brings it to  $37,400.  Now there is no configurator but the Comfort package is still an option so if using my 2018 LEAF pricing, that will be $450 and provides

Heated Front Seats
Heated Steering Wheel
Heated Outside Mirrors
Rear Heater Duct

An EFFFFING BARGAIN!!  I think.  😊

So tally it up and we have $37,850 minus the $7500 fed credit or a total of $30,350.


TCO

So no real way to match the cars due to differing configs and options available but the LEAF "is" priced as I want it in my choice of color, options, etc.   On paper its anywhere from a $2100 to a $5600 price difference.  But that is MSRP; a game only Tesla plays.  Nissan is likely to give me a discount. My employer will also give me a discount (works for "any" new car BTW...) but look at a low ball figure of an additional $2000 off making the difference of roughly $4100 to $7600.

But it doesn't stop there. NCTC is a HUGE benefit that will now run 3 years instead of 2.  Granted, my job change means I don't save $500 a year in home charging costs (Public charging fees are 4 to 5X higher) but the savings are real.  On my 800 mile Oregon Coast trip,  I received 143 kwh on the program which would have cost me $36 on the Supercharger Network which in itself is not a huge amount but in barely over a year of my 2018 (with only 7 weeks at my previous job) I have gotten 2857 kwh or over $700 of juice at the Supercharger rate.   With a longer range, longer trips are likely but even if the 3 years of free charging is worth a low ball figure of  $2,000, this changes the difference to $6100 to $9600.

Leasing

A lot of strong opinions on leasing out there but like any tool, it has its benefits and shortcomings.  If leasing with intent to buy, it can be a boon financially especially if Nissan keeps the money factor low as it has in the past.  Now, leasing terms change monthly so who know what it will be but if they come out with providing the full $7500 fed tax credit to the lease with low money factor rates (same as loan interest) then leasing becomes a very attractive way to get a LEAF among lower income people such as myself. 


Long Term TCO

In the not so distant past; we shopped for cars that we thought would hold up for 10-15 years and why not? Tech advances were snailish so its not like we were missing out and we enjoyed the 7 to 10 years of no car payments (which helped to finance those car repairs!) But this ideology doesn't work that well with emerging tech like EVs.  But we have had a hard time breaking that "keep it forever" mindset.

So, I can't help but feel that the goal of keeping an EV for 10 years is a good one. Now this applies much more to the LEAF which is essentially a frozen moment in time IOW; what you buy is what you get  over the Tesla which is constantly upgrading its cars well after the money has exchanged hands.

One thing not mentioned is seat heaters on the Tesla. Rumor has it that Tesla will provide that in a future OTA software update.  Guessing that means the heating coils are already in the seats? Not sure how that happens but still the car is an evolving entity while the LEAF is not so holding on to a Tesla for 10 years "can" make sense.   The question now becomes; what is the value of "future proofing?"

I guess its all about the resale price difference between a 5 year old car and a 10+ year old car.  I will say that I am more than a bit shocked at the resale value of the Model S being as low as it is but that is the problem with emerging tech. As each new rung is attained, everything below it gets pushed down and EVs are no exception.

Conclusion

I have to let you in on a secret first. This blog is not about recommending one car or the other. Either one is a great option. I only wrote this in response to the huge number of knee jerk responses that were premised on the "Tesla walks on Water" notion.  Now whether you decide to dump your Bolt or abandon Nissan after reading this is up to you but either way, as long as its EV,  you still made a great choice!

In closing;

Stop smoking; its the decision of a lifetime!






Thursday, March 7, 2019

February 2019 Drive Report;

Ok, so I skipped a month. I didn't post a January report but only because my battery stats weren't changing and I was waiting on that. Soon February was half over so... anyway, here is February and I hope you all realize I was quite rushed since this is the shortest month.

So I drove 696 miles with no public charging costing me 2.32 cents per mile.

Now, that was a rush!  To be fair, I did actually purposefully stay away from the QC stations for 6 plus weeks which hasn't happened since year 2 of LEAF #1 (because there really weren't any fast chargers around...)

But LEAFing really did take a backseat soooo....


EVGO Price Increase

Well, color me surprised on the one hand but not on the other.  With Electrify America coming on like gangbusters courtesy of the American Government, I expected EVGO to do whatever it could to maintain a competitive advantage in the public charging space but its price increase along with no timeline for increasing the speeds of its fast chargers has them nearly as expensive as EA when considering the faster charging speeds. EVGO does have one big advantage and that is equal CCS/Chademo access.   This means I will always choose EVGO if both are equal options simply because my odds of finding an available charger is simply that much higher.  Now EVGO does have faster chargers but they aren't here and there is no timeline for when they will arrive.

EA Expansion

Which brings me to EA and their charging area design.  Yes, they continue to build for "their" cars (VW for anyone who doesn't understand "in your face" clues) while grudgingly putting in token Chademo stations running at 50 KW that I predict will be upgraded last (if ever) making EA's per minute plan prohibitively expensive for all but Teslas and the Kia Soul which charges quite well up to 80% SOC.  FYI; they also don't provide any extra parking spaces for queuing which means if you get there and all the charging spaces are full (notice I didn't say "all the chargers were in use") then you have to wait until someone moves their car.  No doubt someone at EA OD'd on the SIM plan (stupid, idiot, moron)


$35,000 Tesla

Its here and hopefully that is a good thing.  On March 1st, Tesla had to make a payment on a loan of nearly one billion dollars which put a serious hurt on their plans for expansion and ramp up for the soon to be announced Model Y. (look for the announcement next week)

I said it long ago that Tesla should have stayed in the high end market. I think the Model 3 has hurt the company and I hope they survive as they have a lot to offer especially with their Semi's which is where I think Tesla should have concentrated on. There is nearly no limit to the money that can be made and truth be told; don't be surprised to see many cities tightening the screws on diesels belching in their city when a emission free Tesla is all you need to get your goods.

BUT, then again, the Cheap T3 is here and still a cool car so... for more, you will have to wait on my TCO analysis between the LEAF Plus and the T3 standard  standard range Plus... It will be the "Battle of the +'s!"

Chinese Invasion

They're up!... They're its down...  Kandi Technologies made a splash when it announced it was approved to sell some of its EVs in the US and will be based in Texas eventually building their cars in the US (Take that Little T!) Well, that is the up.  NIO Technologies, another Chinese EV manufacturer approved to sell EVs in the US recently announced they would not be building their own factory and will continue with a 3rd party vendor to build their cars. But their contract with that vendor looks to be prohibitively expensive and looks to be continued.   

This is a HUGE blow to their US expansion plans and puts into serious doubt that they can even survive the Chinese market. They must have a lot more cash stuffed in the mattress than anyone else is aware of...

Nissan RapidGate

Its official!! We don't buy enough LEAFs to matter!  As we all know RapidGate is something we only see when time is the most critical and that is during vacations, 3 day weekends and single day excursions.   On paper, we should be able to do 400 miles in a day without too much of a problem but that is not happening... UNLESS YOU LIVE IN EUROPE!

Its seems that Nissan saw fit to release a software update to the EU that greatly eases the slowdown we see fast charging when the batteries start to see about 90º F.   Now, if you recall, "IceGate" testing loosely verifies that the best charge times (both max starting current and highest knee) happens when pack has a starting temperature around 80-85º F.  What that means is the first charge session for most in MODERATE CLIMATES will start at 120ish amps (for 50 KW chargers, 100 for 40 KW Chargers, etc.) and charge at that rate until roughly 63-65% SOC when the current will start to drop.  That is the best we can hope for.

Subsequent charges will likely have a pack warmer than 90º which means the starting charge will be less than the max current the station can provide no matter what the starting SOC is.  My NCTC 30 min charge at at 50 KW station netted me 21% SOC. You can see the horror below.  Yes, the pack was "warm" but...



On the flipside, if the pack is too cold, it still starts at full speed (although that might not be true in super cold weather that we don't see here) Below with pack cold but only in the upper 40's and we see the knee moving to 46% SOC when it would normally be closer to 63%.  So slow in Summer, slow in Winter but still great as a local commuter.



So why does Nissan agree that RapidGate throttling was a bit too extreme in Europe but not in the US?  15X greater sales volume in Europe is why.

In reality, I am only posting the above as part of my continuing critique of Nissan's poorly designed BMS. Did you realize that it needs to test charger speed before it decides what to charge at? Does that make sense? Should it not have determined the max rate before you plug in?  Here below is a charge I started with the SOC above the predicted knee which in this case should have been in the low 50% SOC.  Look at the curve which doesn't start it downward trend until above 65% SOC.  I don't know. Maybe that is how they all work so that makes it right?  No wonder fake news is so popular.



Little T

The heat is on with Comey confessions, Democrats pushing for public tax returns, and China's refusal to play games.  But on the homefront, Little T has insisted on relaxing restrictions for drilling (he does not shoulder all the blame...) deconstructing the EPA, and general overall douchebaggyness.

Despite all that, the main beef I have is his claims his main concern is preserving American jobs but he is allowing Tesla and Chevy to fail. Well, Chevy won't fail because they never abandoned gas but Tesla is in a different boat and its sinking.  Right now he is just lucky that the Koreans and Germans are still trying to find the door otherwise Both Chevy and Tesla would be battling a huge opponent AKA unsubsidized MSRP.

But the Koreans won't be held down long and the Germans are coming and they will come to a table already set for success which means we need to start moving on fixing the EV tax credit. It is broken and we knew it would be broken but Oil Money blinded legislators to the reality that we EVers are NOT GOING BACK NO MATTER WHAT!

So restore our choices. Give us EVs on a level playing field!


Friday, March 1, 2019

Happy Birthday LEAF!

A year ago (2/16/18) , I picked up my 2018 LEAF from Ray at Campbell Nelson Nissan in Everett, WA and immediately I realized this was not like any LEAF I had before.   The car was quick charged to 96  % and then I drove the 77 miles home and parked the car with 61.4% SOC.  Yeah, definitely not the same!  I blogged my early impressions and a few things have changed but you should read it too as a refresher when you get a minute.

But the differences didn't stop there. I still had LEAF Spy but unlike previous LEAFs, I lost functionality including the brake/motor screen.  It was hardly one I used frequently before but with the new toy, E-Pedal to play with, I would miss knowing how much braking was going on. But E-Pedal quickly made up for the loss.

For those of you who forgot, I lost my 2016 S30 (the "30" is critical since there were 24 kwh S's) prematurely due to an accident.  This really threw my timing off as I felt (and very very much still do) that being in the market in October 2019 would be perfect timing for me.  But it was not to be.

So home came my 40 kwh LEAF S with Charge and All Weather Package which on paper is the same options my S30 had but changes did happen and here is my top 10!

The Gimmees!

1) E-Pedal

Nissan's way of creating "drive consistency."  Many people were more than a bit unnerved by the free wheeling feeling an EV has at full charge.  The lack of regen makes the car seem like its going faster than it actually was.   E-Pedal uses a combination of friction braking and much stronger regen to create a drive that feels the same at any SOC.    Now I know the word "friction" sends cold chills thru you but realize that at less than very high SOC, the friction braking is used quite sparingly and its level of use, while still hotly debated, is likely nearly the same as it would be if you were in Eco B mode. 

Tests showed that E-Pedal adds more than 50% regen power to the battery over B Mode. That is huge! This also allowed one pedal driving most of the time. Although I have not accomplished it yet, my goal is to go one entire calendar month without touching the brake pedal once while driving. My record so far is to the 22nd.  A month might be ambitious but as you can see, a week is a PIECE OF CAKE!

2) Automatic Emergency Braking

What a godsend!  By far the 2nd most loved feature  even surpassing the convenience of the extra range.  After a year, I have yet to allow the car to brake for me. Simply not that trusting of the system but it gives you an audible warning that seems to be loosely tied to the drive mode you are in and that has been more than enough to save me from an embarrassing tap at least once.   Sometimes it alerts when I am changing to an emerging lane or entering a roundabout but despite the alert being easy to recognize, it is not that intrusive. It is an amazing synergy of safety and driving ambience!

3) TPMS

Unlike the "idiot light" system my previous LEAFs had, I now had "real" TPMS including individual tire pressure readings on each wheel that did not have to be re-registered when I rotated tires!  Tire pressure maintenance is very important if you want to drive efficiently so an easy way to track tire pressures is a big plus.  I now do it EVERY day (as opposed to once every 1-3 weeks)  and why not? It takes all of two seconds!   The best part is the system is accurate. I did both a cold pressure and hot pressure test and the readings matched my hand gauge within One PSI.

4) More Range

Hey, what can I say?  Its not highly ranked but it did allow me to make trips (Yakima over White Pass to Centralia) that no previous LEAF could have so yeah, its very cool!   But it did make me realize that the most important part of the extra range was allowing me to "live in the middle" much easier and the ability to tailor road trip charging stops to my needs instead of the car's range.

5) Eye Candy

Previous LEAFs had an "all in one" concept for driver information. It was busy, limited and tiresome. The 2018 design team must have hired a smartphone interface designer because now we had multiple screens we can "swipe" to, using a 5 way pad on the steering wheel to access several info screens allowing many more aspects to be examined while driving.  After years of seeing the capacity bars, its nice to not have to see them all the time!

6) Steering Wheel Heater 

Yeah, still not understanding why that was taken out of the 2016 All Weather Package but I did miss it... A LOT!  For me, the things I need to keep warm are my feet, hands and head. The rest of me seems rather impervious to cold.  Because of that, I NEVER wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row. (except on vacation which is nearly always during the Summer) This rotation allows my shoes to dry completely which means feet stay drier and warmer! 

But the steering wheel heater changed quite dramatically.  My 2013 would cycle on and off so it went from very warm (some say too hot) to cold and over again.  I loved the very warm part and got around the cycling part by flipping the heater on and off but that wasn't completely effective as there was still a period  of no discernible warmth.  But the 2018 NEVER gets hot. In fact, it never gets more than lukewarm. It was a bit of a disappointment at first but over time, I realized it was still effective. I rarely wear gloves (as in never unless there is snow around) so I didn't think the new system would keep my hands warm but we are about to finish possibly the coldest February in Western WA history and I have to say the system surprised me.

7) Charge Port Light

Understanding the need is nothing new to modders who have been doing DIY's on this for years. Considering the cost, its about time Nissan!

8) Dual Voltage Charge Cable

Obviously this is cooler to others more than to me. I already have 3 EVSE's so didn't need it but many first time EVers will save a bundle (ok, small bundle as EVSE's are dropping in price) and it does help to reduce the questions many have over the sometimes confusing home charging options.

9) More Power

Some seem to need this but I can do without it. But it is a very noticeable jump in acceleration. I have actually squawked the tires surprisingly on a rolling start a few times this past Summer. I will admit a strange sense of pride when it happened.

10) Rear Heater Ducts

My Son will appreciate this more but I wish there was a way to simply divert flow fore and aft.  I rarely have back seat passengers and soon my Son will graduate to the front seat which will make the rear ducts even less valuable.  But many here will appreciate them.



The Backtracking

But as we know, there is no perfect car so things that could be better or rethought so I title this "backtracking" although a few on the list below have no tracks at all.

Instrumentation

Ok, so I admit the analog speedometer does not bother me. I dealt with it with company cars in my previous job along with the last 4 rentals (can't actually remember what the 5th rental had...) I have driven.  But a lot of people seemed to take offense to it. I don't really understand it but to each his own.  Gone are the trees but now we have the "Eco Bar" to decipher and its this time its less intuitive.  It grows and shrinks based on some sort of criteria I assume but there is no indication of how big the bar can become and it never seems to shrink beyond a certain size either.
ECO is there all the time so not related to drive mode (In Park for this pix) but the bar does
change size as I drive around. I would assume the bigger the better but what is the max here? 

Some will say this is just another way of saying "Eye Candy" and it is except when its not. Here its simply an unexplained unintuitive nothingness.  I will say the drawback to many screens is when people ask for help on social media, they invariably post the wrong screen thinking they are being helpful... 


RapidGate

With no active cooling of any kind for the LEAF pack, Nissan decided to greatly restrict fast charge speeds to preserve pack longevity.  This was not widely accepted.  The customer of the European Union successfully campaigned to Nissan who relented issuing a software update to increase fast charge speeds during higher battery temperatures.  With most charging providers going to a per minute billing scheme, this was not only a better use of one's time but a money saver as well.

The current stance of Nissan North America seems to be that we didn't complain enough or do multiple fast charges enough to make it a primary issue for them when addressing customer satisfaction.  This couldn't be farther from the truth.  Maybe Nissan should realize that the lack of multiple QCs was due to the extra time it took and people simply abandoned their LEAFs for alternative transportation options.


Charging Profiles
This is definitely in the "no tracks detected" category. Again its all or nothing. No SOC levels except full. In previous LEAFs where the range was so limited, I could understand not having a lower SOC setting but now that we have more than 3 times the average daily driving need, it is now qualifies as a major miss by Nissan.  Again, a DIY area simply because the greater the full range of the LEAF, the more options you have. Now it easier to partially charge especially when 75% could be double the range you need.  Using charge timers is hardly precise but with that much cushion, who needs precise?   Granted not the ideal solution for all things life brings up, but better than nothing.


BMS

Intro; LEAF Spy wasn't around when I got my 2011 but both the 2013 and 2016 LEAF easily established full charge guidelines that were rock solid.  I do think part of consistency was due to lack of granularity with BMS monitoring and less to do with LBC granularity.  There was also the phenomena that LEAF Spy readings could be manipulated with certain charging/driving habits.

The first time I charged my LEAF to full, I was calculating roughly a 96% of available pack with a .5% bottom being inaccessible and was quite pleased.  Degradation can be mitigated by not pushing the pack to the extreme ends of its capacity, especially the upper limit.  The quickest way to degrade a cell is to overcharge it so care must be taken to insure that there is a good buffer between full and "too full" and it would appear Nissan did a shoddy job of that as well.  Mind you, this is only an issue if you charge to full and sadly, Nissan has not provided us any tools to prevent that from happening every time we plug in.  Some may argue the Charge timer can be used but even that has lacked intuitiveness.  It took all of a few days after delivery to notice what I consider to be significant irregularities with the BMS including a variance as much as 3% SOC on a full charge.



A few things to note; in all cases, the dash SOC reading was 100% so no shocker there but as we can see, that is not all that well defined when actually looking at the pack.  On the highlighted line with a shocking 99.51% SOC, I did notice that 100% lasted much longer than normal. This was the event where I decided that a closer monitoring of the BMS was in order.  I did this many full charges in a short period of time because I was still doing the "on the road" job and wanted that "full charge baseline"  but these 11 full charges are nearly half of the 27 full charges more than a year later.  With the BMS playing so loosely with my pack, it simply became another reason to avoid full charges whenever possible.

The 4% SOC variance I mentioned? Notice it actually happened on consecutive days.

Leasing

I was one of the first to get a 2018 less than a month after they first started appearing on the lots but there were several reports that Nissan decided to not pass on all of the federal tax credit on leases (as most other EVs do) making a lease more expensive.  This was a HUGE reason why LEAF leasing was so attractive and led to many buying out their lease at the end due to the low residuals.

Nissan; If you don't bring this back for the more expensive  Plus series, expect many to go to a vehicle with similar pricing and similar range. Your passing on the full federal tax credit in the past was a HUGE advantage for you.  Now that you have leveled the range issue with the new Plus series, don't blow it.  It isn't really "your" money anyway.

Degradation

Well, its a LEAF and unlike most EVs, we have LEAF Spy (which I am sure Nissan hates) which allows us to track every little thing the pack does.  I have to admit I liken my introduction to LEAF Spy with the same feeling I had when my first born was a week old.  I would literally sit there at night watching him sleep listening for any sign of respiratory distress that might bring on SIDS.  For those who don't have a LEAF, this will sound far fetched but LEAFers will understand.

Now we all "should" know that despite differences in battery chemistry,  (and there are a lot) the same basic rules apply to all Lithium chemistries.   Degradation is a byproduct of time, cycling and SOC management.  If we look at how different chemistries are rated (Battery U if you are interested) the LEAF cells rank poorly for high temperature cycling at high SOC which is hardly a surprise since we already knew that from our LEAFers in Arizona among other warm locations.

So keeping all the above in mind, I now have a short commute and generally charge for roughly 90 mins every morning. I plug in when I get up, unplug when I leave for work, returning roughly 11¼ hours later.  This happens 3-4 days a week. (I work 4 10 hour shifts but frequently have enough on day one that charging is not always needed) Now since I have NCTC free for another year, on my 3 days off, I generally only fast charge anywhere from 1 to 3 times on average.  I am restricting full charges to specific far off events incorporating "charge on the way" as much as possible.

But there were a few instances this past Summer when a full charge was needed in hot weather to make several trips that had no realistic charging options on the route.  I knew it was a risk especially charging to 100% at Yakima with 100º temps but the views crossing White Pass on the the way to Centralia was a worthy trip.

Now in my previous 3 LEAFs, degradation seemed to take anywhere from 2 to 6 months before it started meaning my battery had like new numbers for an extended period of time. This is not possible of course and likely a limitation of the BMS (remember LEAF Spy only reads what it sees) and made some sense as the car simply appeared to have a break in period.  But my inability to determine like new parameters has been rather frustrating leaving me with using day one readings not knowing if those readings were higher, lower or "just right."


So I got my LEAF, did my daily tracking as always and all seemed good. The numbers started dropping right away which was different but it was a slow drop. .01 some days, the same on others. Unlike previous LEAFs, nothing would make the numbers go up. This made things more predictable; a good thing.

April 12, 2018


A few things to note; All public charging shown here is DCFC and the 55 cent charge is due to exceeding my free 30 mins on a Blink. Unlike EVGO (who shuts off at the end of the free period) or Webasto (who doesn't even keep a clock on the free period) Blink simply goes on billing me at 49 cents per kwh. 

So my first thought was the heavy driving and heavy QCing caused the drop. Realize that this timeframe had several "warmer" days mixed in although probably very mild to most people reading this. But reviewing logs did not show any major heat buildup issues. Realize the miles although a lot mostly happened early in the morning when it was cool, contained several hours of sitting and then an afternoon drive home. Most of the time, the charging happened on the way home but mostly to get free juice over any range concerns. This also allowed me to get my daily paperwork done, take bathroom breaks, meals, etc. so it was not really any more time taken from my day to stop to charge.

The thing that complicates this is I started my new job on the 13th (now you know how much my commute is now) so the days of driving and charging a lot were gone. I figured that would be the last of the big drop days.

July 17, 2018

Again, it happened and again,  probables existed.


I was out of town and choosing a supercheap parking option which is the norm for me,  which meant sitting in open air lot during one of the more ambitious heat waves Seattle had during 2018.  Now before we get into this, I took all the proper precautions.  I parked the car with 40% SOC, intended to unplug LEAF Spy dongle (forgot but the intent was there!) and simply planned to feed both me and car upon my return.  But the drop, over two days this time, albeit smaller than the first one was still shocking to me.   Notice I immediately went on a two day bender QCing 13 times?

Now nothing was quite making sense and it was Summer and it was hot and I was doing a lot of multi QC trips?? But I felt like I knew how to control degradation so why wasn't any of it working?

October 9, 2018



Now the drop happened over 3 days and started when I did a full charge, had a last minute change of plans and so the car sat at high SOC (over 90%) for two days in mild (60'sºF) weather.  This was after limiting full charges, less QCing and more temperature control of the pack (Fall helped a lot with that) So was that the cause?  It still didn't make sense. The first day I parked it with like 85% SOC  (bad day to get over 5 miles per kwh!)  but the temps were mild so I thought I was ok. Then all Hell broke loose.

January 8, 2019



My biggest single drop and this time, there was NO EXCUSE. None, nothing even remotely close to even a highly rationalized explanation as to why this happened. Battery temperatures were well in the cool range rarely hitting 60º F.  Also the shortest interval mileage wise between the drops. But the drop lasted SEVEN DAYS!  The thought the batteries were simply too cold to respond quickly did briefly cross my mind.  Without a rationalization, I realized I was not looking at this the right way so back to the logs I went and then a pattern emerged.

  When graphing my stats in 1000 mile increments, I began to realize my BMS was updating on a schedule. With 16 entries,  I was seeing degradation in two very distinct categories.  12 entries had a total degradation running from .07 to .21%, then I had the 4 events above.

So, I pick up the car on 2/16/18 with 20 something miles on the odometer, 5 charges registered. No idea when those charges happened. Build date 1/2018.

56 days later, I get the first big drop

96 days later, I get the 2nd big drop

84 days later, I get the 3rd big drop

92 days later, I get the 4th big drop.

Any guess as to when I will get the next one?

Outlook

Well, its only been a year so quite impossible to predict what I will do in two years when my lease ends. I do think the range will work well for me as I have found that public charging is "only" what you make of it.  Some consider it to be a waste of time, others an inconvenience and yes, some people are simply frightened over the thought of relying on availability and reliability of charging so far away from home.  But things I will be looking at the next two years.

Public charging costs

They are on the rise and likely not done yet. We have the two most active players, Electrify America and EVGO who are expensive and likely getting more expensive as time goes on and they will get away with it because the overall cost to run and EV will still be lower than gasoline for most of us.  But at the same time, this will work against my LEAF. It simply charges too slowly. When most chargers are going to per minute billing, speed is essential. The LEAF Plus charging at up to 100 KW will save a ton of money for the road tripper.

MSRP

They say emerging technology starts out expensive but follows Moore's Law in the capabilities double while the price is halved. Well, Dr. Moore got it half right with EVs. The capabilities are going up and with the LEAF S Plus starting at $36,000 its cheaper than my first 24 kwh LEAF but only slightly so.  This makes my under $10 K residual very attractive.  If Nissan does not do an about face on the providing the full tax credit to lessees, that makes keeping what I got all that more enticing.

Technology

The issue with buying and the advantage of leasing has always been technology. I drive the latest because I did not buy my 2011 (which was the only LEAF I considered buying) because after all this time, I would just now be finished paying for it.  But leasing allows you to get the new technology without the huge financial commitment. 

So I could speculate on emerging tech but I feel that the thing that pushes me into a new EV will be technology that is not really on anyone's current radar. Two years is a long time.

Degradation

You didn't seriously think I was done with this, did you?  The other HUGE advantage of leasing is the ability to simply give it back. Its essentially a 3 year test drive to decide whether its really going to work for you.  If it doesn't, I got to drive a brand new cool car for a very reasonable cost.

But what it also does is allows me to decide whether the degradation is ok (bad thing) practically non existent (good thing) or very bad ( a VERY good thing)

Nissan provides a degradation warranty and free replacement of the pack if it drops below 9 bars within 8 years or 100,000 miles.   The thought of driving a car for 6-7 years then getting a brand new battery with the latest chemistry tweaks for free is a very compelling reason to keep my current LEAF.

Here is my chart and I will leave you to make your own conclusions as each LEAF and its environment is different.


Chart info;

**Ignore the unlabeled heading. Its made that way so I can copy and paste from main log. The number is simply the miles driven that particular day and does not apply to any calculation in the chart.

**The part of the chart you should concentrate on is the last two columns. These are the predicted values of SOH and ahr at 100,000 miles. Examining this column also gives you picture of the trending rate of degradation.

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.