Saturday, October 15, 2016

WA EV Fence Sitters AKA "T3ers" Read This!

After what seemed like an interminable period of stagnation in the EV World (besides Tesla) there is now rumors flying all over the place of bigger, better and longer just around the corner.  Whether its 2 months for a Bolt, 8 months for LEAF II or 16 months (or more) for a Tesla 3 there now seems to be a ton of things to wait for!


For those of us like me who is looking for the best deal range verses dollars wise, is waiting for a bump in range going to be the right choice?  Right now there is a lot of incentives making EVs essentially a cheaper "purchase" option than a gasoline car. This is new. Previously to win the TCO battle, we had to live in a relatively cheap electricity/expensive gasoline area and drive the EV a few years before we started to realize the savings.

Now we all know that the longer you drive the EV, the more you save. On a per mile basis there is not a gasoline car in the World that can touch an EV's efficiency.

This chart shows relative savings driving an EV over a gasoline car. The figures show annual savings if you drive the typical miles in each state.  More details here.  As you can see, its a win in every state.  Another thing to keep in mind; Each number is derived using the average power rates for each state and average number of miles driven annually in each state.   Get a LEAF and your savings will escalate with two years of NCTC.  Have solar, same thing. Charge off peak in TOU areas like California and again, savings escalate. So generally speaking; unless your driving needs are very modest, you are likely to save more than this chart displays.  OBTW; New Jersey will soon implement a 23 cent per gallon gas tax hike... :)

So this chart illustrates that the sooner you start on the EV trail, the bigger the pot of gold at the end.  But there are other reasons why waiting might not be in your best interest especially if 200 miles is not really a requirement for you.

It wasn't until I mentioned a great offer to buy my 2013 S off lease that I realized that a lot more people than I realized were happy with their 90 mile LEAF despite knowing that that range was dropping every month.  Yes, most were 2+ car families so a gasser was always in the wings for that occasional trip across the state.  In fact, many were shocked I did not take the deal.  "I am not thrilled with the range of my LEAF but for that price!" was told to me over and over.  Apparently a price/range performance still applied even at the low end of the spectrum.

And this does make sense.  Before taking my current job which requires me to travel to my client's location, I would have survived EASILY on the LEAF's range even after losing a few bars. The current state of public charging isn't really acceptable for work purposes but for personal trips, it will do. I am more than ok with incorporating stops in the journey.  Today I will be going to celebrate the first anniversary of my great nephew's entry into this World. It will be 65 miles one way in VERY unfriendly driving weather. But nothing a 30 min stop each way can't fix.

Another thing making EVs a no brainer is dealer incentives.  Its the same ole year end closeout to make room for the bigger and better.  The 30 kwh LEAF provides a better charging profile and a boost in range along with a MUCH longer battery capacity warranty and its priced to sell.

This is from a dealer in OR. I posted this before and wondered why the S trim pricing was not matching and the article I got this from provided ZERO details but it was revealed that Nissan did a mid year update and the price includes the 30 kwh pack and fast charge package.   Now this incentive runs til Dec 15th  but as always includes the disclaimer that the promotion can expire at any time. IOW, standard auto industry "While supplies last" jargon and at these prices the already low LEAF inventory won't be around long.  Again, if 200 miles isn't a requirement, hard to find a better price/performance deal!

But a lot of us are waiting for that extra range and for good reason.  200 miles becomes 150 miles in inclement weather. Rain, snow, and plain old cold weather whittles away at the range. This is a major concern for those who do not live in an EV friendly environment especially one without at least a bare bones public charging network. 

But longer range vehicles are just around the corner. The Bolt with a tested 230 mile range will be on the streets soon and available in WA probably in less than 4-6 months. At $38,500 to start, its not a cheap option by any means but will still have up to a $7500 fed tax discount along with WA State sales tax working out to about $3,000 which means it could be had for an effective $25,000 gasoline car with roughly $2375 sales tax.  

Rumors also flying over a 2017 40ish kwh LEAF hitting the streets in 2-3 months.  Now most of the fuel for this has come from Renault's announcement of their 41 kwh EV hitting the streets.  Guessing we will learn a lot more during the Los Angeles Auto Show next month.  Even if this is true, still no word on pricing but have to think that it will price under the Bolt by at least a few thousand thru factory incentives or simply lower prices. 

Then of course we have the T3 along with its 300,000 advance orders. Tesla has built a reputation of "gathering no moss." They have not always been on time and yes, sometimes they put out products that simply were not ready, but for innovation speed and coolness, they stand alone.  So does the T3 deserve 300,000 orders? Probably not.  Musk created hype by advertising a very attractive price that in today's World would have made a T3 purchase a no brainer.  But the T3 does not exist in today's World and that completely changes the math. 

With the success of the S and the X and Tesla's ability to continue eating into the luxury car market, sales are booming. Probably better than they expected. This has caused a situation where most of the T3's won't qualify for the fed tax incentive.  For a car that Tesla stated will average $43,000 OTD, (effective price today 32,500) it's effective becomes $40,000 before the WA State sales tax incentive. But  WA State changed its EV incentive allowing more types of cars to qualify including the Chevy "Volt." AND it will only cover the first 7500 vehicles registered.  With the huge incentives on the 2016 LEAFs, combined with the Bolt introduction, added Volt sales and expected mid range LEAFs hitting the streets soon,  I expect $3,000 WA State incentive to expire by mid Summer 2017 if not sooner.  This all means the "affordable" T3 will cost at least $38,325 for the entry level model.  

Now things could change.  Obama tried several times to introduce a wrinkle in the EV incentive program including a $10,000 instant rebate for those of us like me who wouldn't qualify for the entire $7500. That failed so he tried an instant $7500 rebate but with the Republican controlled Congress, that also died a very quick death.  But the government makes it a practice to do things at the last second and the failure of Obama's proposal is partly our fault. Not enough of us made our wishes known. I think when the lose of the credit is just around the corner, that will change.  But then again, who knows? Not sure I want to bank on that. 
Now, EVs have been around long enough that a look at the used market is definitely not to be ignored. For modest needs, used LEAFs are almost being given away. Shopping around we are seeing several in the $7,000 to $9,000 range.  If your needs are more robust (and you have a wallet to match) maybe a CPO Tesla is something to look at.  Normally I would say its way too much money despite the huge range but with incentives evaporating faster than Donald Trump's supporters; a lightly used Tesla might not be that much more money after all

There are also some S 60's listed for $44,000 which makes it nearly the same price as the average out the door price on the T3 after the loss of incentives. Here you have a bigger car with similar range slightly used but remember, the sooner you start EV the sooner you save the money. Keep in mind; most of these cars come with supercharger access a price yet to be determined for the T3...

So like Wow! What to do?

My advice? (or at least what I am considering) I will separate based on need....

For the bargain hunter who needs are very modest;  Used LEAFs can be had for super cheap. Low gas prices are driving some used LEAF prices into the ridiculously low category. But the range will be a factor if your needs approach 50 miles at a time or your area is not EV friendly.

For the modest needs;  Jump on the 2016 LEAF closeouts. These prices are really not to be believed and one of the biggest reasons is that I sincerely do not think the WA State sales tax incentive will survive long enough to cover the LEAF II.  Remember the 30 kwh LEAF has a much better fast charge profile which should be maintained even 6-7 years down the line when degradation is setting in.  It is nice to now actually get that "80% in 30 mins" performance!

For the Road Warrior; This is a tough call.  The Tesla CPO provides a bigger more known entity but at a significant jump in price. But Supercharger access is a tough perk to beat and that network has not shown any signs that its ready to rest on its laurels.  An 85 kwh pack will provide very useful range for probably at least 8-10 years which translates to a minimum savings of likely $12,000 - $15,000 over gasoline and more.  Best of all; its here and now.

The Bolt promises to be a "Tesla beater" but that is the issue. The Bolt is all promise and no substance.  This is not Chevy's first foray into an EV. The Spark is out there in very limited numbers so the real question besides reliability is will they be available in decent numbers in a non CARB state like WA? But with a range over 200 miles and an effective price well under $30,000 it is a tough deal to beat!

Our state despite being a leader in EV adoption has been ignored several times and I don't see that changing. I do think that Chevy understands the market here and we are "up there" but we won't be first.  I think the Bolt will be a viable option by no later than March 2017 so its a great option at a great price point especially if you qualify for the whole fed tax thing.

For me? I doubt its a go for me.  The price I can overcome, but the "buy first, ask questions later" approach I am not sure I can overcome.  I leased my first LEAF because of the tax incentive. It was my original intention to lease it, get the full tax benefit than buy it.  I soon realized after taking possession that Nissan was essentially offering me a "3 year try it before you buy it" test drive with nearly no extra cost to me.  This was especially true on my 2013 lease where the "rent" cost for the 3 year lease (Rent is basically the equivalent of loan interest) was less than a dinner at a chain restaurant.  I admit to becoming accustomed to that lack of commitment.  :)

Sadly, my long awaited choice; the LEAF II is not likely to be here in time for WA Tax incentive which means likely and effective price near to the Bolt and probably with slightly less range and a BMS/TMS system yet to be determined.  But again, if Nissan continues with its 2 year NCTC program, it still makes it a viable option. Add to that; the best lease terms in the biz.

Finally; the darkhorse.  the rumored 2017 LEAF with a the 40ish kwh battery.  Not the long range choice but in an EV friendly area like Western WA, it is more than enough for me, especially at the right price and the price will be right because it will be here to gather all but the dealer incentives. As a returning customer, I will save something there! The price is unknown but if I had to guess, I would say mid $30K making the effective price into the mid $20K.

Now, this is going to come as a huge letdown to many of you, but its becoming clearer and clearer that that the T3 has been outdone... several times.


There are several more choices I did not touch on including the Soul EV which will have a longer range version out soon. The fed tax credit will not be an issue for them for quite a while. So if you miss the bargains that are out there now, you will still likely have the chance with lower volume EV offerings from Kia, Ford and VW. Now VW promises to have a very large footprint in the EV arena but their late start insures a bigger fed discount.

Another thing I failed to note is that the fed tax discount does not end abruptly.  The issues with Chevy Nissan and Tesla still remain but after they hit the sales target of 200,000 units, then the clock starts to tick.  The full credit will be available up to the end of the quarter after the sales target is achieved meaning you can still get the full credit potentially just short of 6 months longer.  But all three should hit that target in 2017. With EV recognition accelerating among the general public, sales will be increasing so it will likely be earlier in 2017 than later.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Nissan Strategy Shift

Huge incentives are allowing 2016's to fly out of the dealerships so whether buying or leasing, it is a really good time to get a LEAF on the cheap. But what does this really mean?

Year end closeout specials are common in the industry so this is not that far out of character but the incentives are huge.  This ad from an Oregon Dealership also mentions discounted lease terms as well so clearing the lot is the obvious goals here.

This does represent a shift in Nissan's planning.  Earlier in the year, their big push was converting leases into sales. Many took advantage seeing a greater than 50% discount off their residuals. Some even had several months lease payments waived as a reward for pulling the buy trigger early.  But those incentives have dried least for now.  Expect that to change especially if dealer stock is depleted before the 2017's are ready.

All this points to the 2017 Model year introducing something exciting. We already know the 2017 S Trim will have the 30 kwh pack available AND we already know Nissan's sister company Renault will have a 41 kwh pack for its EV for 2017 so wondering if that pack will be coming to the 2017 SV/SL at a price that would stop 2016 sales in their tracks (or drop the value to the current incentive level?)

Exciting times are ahead whether you want a small bump in range (30 kwh) for less than your current 24 kwh LEAF or perhaps paying a teeny bit more for a much larger bump in range?

Its all speculation and its obvious Nissan is manipulating the market for some reason so incentives above run out Dec 15th which likely means the 2017's will probably hit the lot first week of January.

But I get a lot of people in my situation who don't know what they want to do and that is in a lease that ends in less than 3 months.  Well let me break down my thought process.

First off; we all want longer range but at what cost?  Waaaay back when I leased my 2013 I thought there would be two likely scenario's.  1) LEAF II would be on the streets or near it or 2) I would have to extend 4-6 months to get it.  All this seems to be on track.

I also thought that there would be several longer range options out there in case I wanted to jump ship and that has not happened.  I don't anticipate the Bolt getting here before Mid February and that is a bit too much time not to mention the Bolt is a bit too much money with much less attractive lease terms likely.

But my options as I see it would be

1) Buy out the LEAF, drive it another 6-8 months until LEAF II arrives
2) Turn in LEAF, drive Corolla for 6-8 months until LEAF II or something else arrives
3) Extend lease month to month until....
4) Turn in LEAF and get best deal I can anywhere

Now there are pro's and con's to every choice.  so....

1) Buy out the LEAF, drive it another 6-8 months until LEAF II arrives;

Pros; no more waiting for the longer range to come out!

Cons; I would be buying a car that has likely over 45,000 miles on it that would be less and less convenient for me. I could easily add another 10,000 miles in 6 months making the car much less valuable.  I would also have to get tires ($500-600) tabs ($280) and deal with trying to sell it in a very depressed market.

Result; least likely scenario unless they bring back the huge buy incentives.

2) Turn in LEAF, drive Corolla for 6-8 months until LEAF II or something else arrives

Pros; pretty much the same as above. cheaper expenses while waiting. one car, less insurance, etc...

Cons; Have to pay lease termination fees and well GASOLINE!!

Result; To be honest with ya, not sure I could go with gas only transportation for that long of a period.

3) Extend lease month to month until....

Pros; This allows me to really check out the market deals. Granted no where near as cheap as a 2016 LEAF but the range is likely to be enough for me to go from Leaser to Purchaser...

Cons; All the #1 list plus more if I decide to go with something other than Nissan.

4) Turn in LEAF and get best deal I can anywhere

Pros; Probably the best kwh/dollar deal I can get. a 30 kwh LEAF would leave me as a Leaser but then again; I now have time to see how the EV market develops. Avoiding the initial factory output of  unknowns is probably not a bad idea. A few years of Bolt and T3 user feedbacks, etc. would be a valuable tool in 3 years.   Also going from LEAF to LEAF means $500 forgiveness on damage/excessive mileage (guessing I will be max'ing that out) waiving the lease termination fees, and possible loyalty discounts on top of all that with the dealer incentives.   Granted if I decide to go with the only other real choice here (the Soul) then those go away but the Soul is not really getting the good deals. I pretty much have to lease and I have to have 15,000 miles and when that gets thrown in there, the price is merely "good."

All that pretty much makes a great deal a near no brainer.

Cons;  range. There is no real downside other than the 30 kwh. But it would still be more than what I had 3 years ago and quite a bit more than what I have now.  Add to that a LEAF gets me 2 years of NCTC (likely anyway) which allows more wanton driving. so umm, yeah this is the "con" section...

So uhh, well. I guess time will tell. What is not showing in the graphic above is the disclaimer that the deals could change significantly before the Dec 15th deadline. (Obviously you can't sell what you don't have)  So time will tell and that time is running short.

A Final Word to address another category of Leasers that I am not a part of and that is the one who has modest range needs and is considering keeping their current LEAF long term

Don't. There is so many reasons against keeping it and the biggest one is that you can get a better LEAF with a possible upgrade in range on the year end deals but remember; the 30 kwh pack has a longer degradation warranty.  I see this a lot where people are happy with the range until it starts to not work for them.  When that happens, there is an extreme change of habit that must occur and that is a greater reliance on the 2nd car and public charging.  I find that people who read about us charging publicly do not realize just how much they won't enjoy it. It doesn't bother me that much because I almost always have other things that need to get done anyway so its never a waste of time to me.

For you; that may not be the case.   So don't judge your buying decision on how well the LEAF covers your needs today. Judge it on how well it covers you when your payments are done in 3-5 years.

If you do decide to buy again don't do it unless you get a significant discount from your residual and I mean several thousand... not a few.

Friday, October 7, 2016

$150 EV Tab Renewal Fee; Part 3... (Wow, this is getting old!)

As always, taxes are a required part of our existence and as always people need to complain about them and the LEAF is not immune to that.  A lot of discussion over the "value" of the $150 EV tab renewal fee and whether or not its a "good deal" over simply buying gas is currently making the rounds.  One EVer wrote that they used their LEAF less than 1000 miles a year  and mused that gas would be a better deal.  I say that Uber is the better deal!

And that would be the typical knee jerk reaction but we live in Rainy WA so even something that is a mile away would translate into a very inconvenient chore (dropping kids off to school) during the loooong rainy season we have. I am ok with walking a mile during our glorious 3... , well actually its getting to be more like 4-5 months of good weather thanks to Global Climate Change!  In fact, I had a dinger on my LEAF which I took to the body shop to get fixed. It was 3.2 miles away and I walked that distance (normally I would have gone 4 miles or so at the gym anyway...) but both times it was during sunny days with temps ranging from mid 60's to low 70's.  IOW, perfect day to get out and suck up some exhaust!!

But back to EVer's "1000 miles on gas" is better statement.  Actually it really doesn't matter how far you drive in ANY kind of car because of two things.
Since gas is higher than when this chart was made, add a bit more to the total.

Thing number one;

The biggest cost factor for any car is the cost of the car and insurance.  I have tracked every penny since Nov 2003 on several different types of car and fuel costs is one of the smallest cost. Yes, I drive the higher end of fuel efficient cars but even a gas hog would not put up a serious fight.  The issue here is generally, the higher gas consumption equals higher payments, insurance, etc... Not always true granted. You could always pick up a 20 year old truck on the cheap but that frequently introduces another expense high enough for major budgetary considerations if you know what I mean...

IOW; he would lose on any car simply because he did not drive it enough. Now the definition of "losing" is highly subjective (objectivity is the excuse we use but in truth, it rarely comes into play) and really depends on one's desire to get things done cheaply.  There are buses, taxi's car pools, etc.  Now children throw a BIG kink into the mix but there are a lot of people who don't have cars and have children. There is no secret that we tend to not want to walk "anywhere" including walking from the 3rd row of the parking lot. Saturday morning, I watched a car circle the two rows on either side of the front door at Costco's parking lot at least twice. (don't know how many laps they had completed before or after I saw them since they were still circling when I parked halfway down the next to the last, nearly abandoned row from the front door) In fact; if you want to completely eliminate ICEing overnight, simply locate the charging stations at least 3 rows back.  Now there is an argument that one does not want to be caught with their car too far from the building in case of heavy rain but couldn't help but notice the very same practice at covered lots like Bellevue Mall so...

But using the chart above, our EVer would be paying just under $10 a mile with fuel costs completely removed.  Uber is starting to look better and better.  Not even going to talk about the invaluable benefits of "10,000 steps a day"

Thing number two;

He complained that the WA State gas tax (which he underestimated by quite a long shot) would allow him to gas it several thousand miles which was his first mistake because gas includes both state and federal taxes plus homage to the oil companies. The 3 parts can NEVER be separated so all 3 "have" to be taken into consideration. I think he simply forgot to consider that the $150 EV tab fee does cover the fed commitment to the highway fund.  Not all of this applies to EVs though. Fuel is frequently not a factor simply because its super cheap or free. Now this not the case everywhere but it IS the case in WA where the $150 EV Tab fee exists.  When is the last time you got free gas?... yeah, that's what I thought.

But if using math for fuel cost considerations only, and the cost of gas being $2.499 today (I checked several stations and this was the lowest I could find. Granted rewards from various sources will drop the cost a few cents but whatever...)   means a 30 mpg car will go  1800 miles so if the EVer's statement of 1000 miles a year is correct, on the surface, it would be cheaper to drive gas...


A gas car needs to warm up before it will perform to EPA expectations so

*30 mpg ain't happening unless the car has an EPA rating of around 50 mpg.  I had a Prius (lifetime average for all driving 53.9 MPG) that I tracked on trips likely farther than what the EVer above would be driving and in Winter using short trips under 3 miles. I averaged 24 mpg (Summer was higher at 36 mpg)  So lets take that $150 using a more realistic 20 mpg and now we are going 1200 miles which means, gas is still winning.  FYI; the 3 mile distance was selected because the strip mall on the corner from our house included several eateries, Safeway, Papa Murphy's, etc. was 2.4 miles away but you get the idea.

Note; the  Prius had a thermos which stored hot water from the radiator and was designed to warm up car quicker during multiple short trips with short stops between. This was supposed to help fuel economy. Most of the time the average "layover" was 10 minutes and that time seemed long enough to "put me back at square one" most of the time. In these cases, Summer was MUCH different.  For comparison; In Summer with car warmed up, I tended to average between 60-75 mpg on city streets with the wide range depending on traffic light timing.

Remember the oil story. My sister had a lady with a brand new Ford Taurus who had her oil changed at 6800 miles (interval is 10,000 miles or one year under normal conditions) more than TWO years after she bought the car. (despite the fact that her first 5 oil changes would be done for free) Luckily nothing really bad happened but the facts are, you are really pushing your luck if you don't get the oil and filter changed AT LEAST once a year and guess what? The more short trips you make, the more frequent your oil changes should occur NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU WENT... so if we take the super cheap route and and DIY'd it, You could probably do it for $25 filter and all.  ($150 tab fee - $25 oil change / $2.499 for gas leaving  smidgen over 50 gallons of gas) so now that $150 is only taking you 1000.4 miles.

Ok, I guess the EVer was right. It would be cheaper to do gas...


In this day and age, I almost never turn down a proposition to save some money. My income is likely a fraction of what most EVers make so it is more important for me to budget than for most. But this is not as cut and dried as we like to think. There is also the desire to have some fun while taking our ride on Planet Earth that needs to be balanced as well.

 But a close examination of how we spend money and where we choose to "get the bargains"  has left me scratching my head.  I thought I was singularly unique in my over the top penny pinching ways while literally throwing money away at other things but have come to find out that I am actually pretty typical.

I will likely end the year receiving nearly $1000 in cash back from the various credit cards I carry. I have a dozen of them or so (I should really know this...) selected for the various cash back options. Since I haven't paid a penny in credit card interest in over 30 years, the number of cards is unimportant and they are all on auto debit so they really make having them convenient, right?

I also have two that have 5% specials that rotate every quarter.  On one, it covered restaurants and I undoubtedly went out more than I normally would because I was "saving" money. Well, we all know that is not how it works.

But because of this give and take relationship with money spent and perceived value, we always need to keep in mind that money put into the local coffers tend to raise everyone's status in life.  Long after my youngest is out of school, I will continue to support education because the alternative is higher crime, greater financial need for social programs, and an overall blight on my neighborhood that will eventually lower property values causing an exodus.  So yeah, that $150 EV tax is one of "the" best ways to spend your money.  Just like any perspective where your wallet covers 90% of your view, this is not always easy to understand. Add the slow grind of governmental gears (at least the ones that aren't circular...) and the results of your money may take years to understand. But remember this $150 tax was bumped by $50 for a reason and that reason just started.

In closing;  I always consider my purchases and how they align with my ideals and I gave up the "hardline" approach a long long time ago simply because I found it tended to close my mind to new ideas.  The Dollar Store and all its iterations was one I avoided because it was supporting China, undermining American Factory workers, etc... But soon I realized I could not help anyone if I was not able to help myself, so I caved. But I discovered that the Dollar Store is not all useless junk (I also peruse the "As seen on TV" aisle closely...) Something I got a few years back and it came in a 3 pack. I find it to be a prime example how compromise in one area can lead to much larger benefits in another. Now, will the legendary (and exaggerated) Plastic Island in the Pacific shrink because of my actions?  Probably not, but in this case, I would require proof to burst my bubble...

Tonia Buell reminds us that the entire $150 is spent to improve our state.  As we know, what we pay for gas does not.

Note; (Another way of saying "Closing part 2")  Our ability to justify our decisions ranks just above our ability to adapt and find a way to make it work.  In my personal life, there are a few events I celebrate because they are very important to me. The anniversary of one of those events will be next week. A triumph of the Human Spirit to go do the impossible never giving up. Never accepting "No" "Can't" "Too Late"

The LEAF is another much smaller way of making it work. Small sacrifices for a much bigger reward. The reward has only trickled in so far but the stream is growing every day so I leave you with an example of making it work.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

September 2016 Drive Report

Ok, so my goal of reducing the LEAF usage as I near the end of my lease did not go as well as planned this month which means I have more lease time than lease mileage right now. Either way, it was just a somewhat busier month I guess cause both cars went over 1000 miles for the month.

The Corolla did go 1145 miles costing $70.95 or 6.26 cents per mile. I managed to average nearly 41 mpg, a very good number I think.  There was an oil change this month as well but to be fair since I don't count the LEAF maintenance costs (cause there is nothing to count) I won't count the gasser maintenance cost either. ($33.95 for anyone interested)

The LEAF went 1434.5 miles costing $25.21 (including $1 in public charging costs) or 1.76 cents per mile. Now that figure has a lot to do with NRG providing a week of free charging during NDEW 2016 of I managed to get over 50 kwh.  As always batt stats ebb and flow with the level of usage and during the very busy first half of the month, LEAF peaked at 267 GIDs, 20.7 kwh available, 61.07 ahr, and 95.07 Hx.  Low water mark pretty much happened when the car sat for 3 days straight then was driven less than 20 miles the rest of the week at 251, 19.5, 57.83, 87.28.  I am now over 43,000 miles with 12 weeks to go.  That leaves me an average of  167 miles a week... I think I am going over...

Strange...I can't decide if this is some sort of half baked attempt to show how much I saved or simply bad programming.  On the one hand, they show the connect fees I saved but did not show the per minute fees I saved. Since the station is preset to stop at 30 mins, not sure why 33 is showing but it should either all be there or none of it... Just strange...

Anyway, another great month in EVdom. National Drive Electric in Steilacoom was a success again expanding significantly in attendance this year. Some of the participants below

We had over 60 plug ins in attendance including a mail truck!  There has been a joke circulating that the Post Office went broke because Uncle Sam took away their gas card. Sounds like if they had gone EV, they would not have had that problem!... but nevertheless, it was a joke but the funniest jokes are funny because you can relate to them from real life experiences.

Also from Ray our "inside LEAF contact",  Looks like the S trim will have the 30 kwh option in 2017. Now if only we can get them on the streets in the next 12 weeks! 

Car Sharing programs have exploded taking the "Uber" concept one step further.  They work by having dozens of cars strategically placed around town. You log into the app, do a search, find the car nearest you. Simply go there wave your magic wand (or smartphone) the car unlocks and you drive off.  Pretty cool, eh??

Well, in our myopic World, it was pretty cool until EVs were added to the mix then all of a sudden, we got upset that these cars were monopolizing public charging stations! Oh the inhumanity!! What nerve!  Then news came that one company currently using a fast charger in Seattle frequently (although they will let anyone cut in line to charge first and they do most of their charging at night) plans to add 100 EVs to its fleet. The additional charging need probably means that more fast chargers and prob L2's would be occupied by them!

Well complainers; get in line!  Before you complain about these private business cars taking up public resources, remember.

Way before you started complaining about these cars taking up public charging spaces, I was complaining about them taking up public parking spaces but that was way after I was complaining about truckers, taxi's and buses clogging up my path to work! Take private business vehicles off the road or restrict them to the right lane only (outta way, outta mind, I always say!) is the only solution for me!


That will never happen just as complaining about someone using "public" charging facilities is never going to gather sympathizers. Sure it sucks that its late at night, you are short on charge and the station is the only one for several miles... but wait!

Maybe we are looking at this wrong. Do we complain there is too many trucks on the road or do we complain there is simply not enough lanes on the road to handle the trucks?

Maybe we need to understand that the quickest way to get more chargers is to demonstrate how inadequate our current network is.  Now you might say "that is exactly what we have been doing for 5 years now and its not working!"

Well that is not even remotely close to true. It is working. We have not seen a major deployment of new plugs quite yet but we have gained a lot of attention helped by the growing number of State legislators who are now driving EVs as well.

For anyone in WA, we know that any public transportation project takes massive amounts of money and time to implement. But public charging does not take that much. For the cost of a study to merely investigate a public transportation project, we could blanket the city with fast chargers. But all projects, big and small require money and support. We EVers are multiplying daily but our voice is not be directed in the direction that best addresses our needs.

Every time I frequent a business, I ask for a comment card or an online link to fill out a survey and every time I make it clear that I would think much more highly of the business if they supported public charging. When is the last time you did this?

Or would you rather sit in traffic complaining about the latest tax increase to cover mass transit? Think of where "that" has gotten us...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

To Unplug Or Not To Unplug? That Should Never Be A Question!

Recently someone unplugged a Volt because they thought the car had completed its charge based on the lights on the car.  He might have been wrong since Chevy changed the meaning of the lights in later versions which as you know creates confusion... or does it? Why should it?  Never confused me but then again, I never bothered to learn the patterns of the Volt or any other EV for that matter.  I always just looked at the charging station.

So I took it upon myself to search out a station that does not have any indication of an active charging session.  I failed to find this.

First off; the Eaton at the West side branch of  Olympia Federal Savings and Loan. I start with this one because there is a general consensus that one voice has no power and that couldn't be farther from the truth. The tallest skyscraper must rely on EVERY stone in its foundation to stand.  A habit I started when I got my ZENN is filling out comment cards, online feedback surveys, etc. and here I started requesting charging stations.  Be it MacDonald's, the Grocery Store or my bank (I never really bank there but do use the cash machine 4-5 times a year... I also have a safe deposit box for several years now and other than putting in some gold coins that I got from my Dad 3 years ago, I haven't had the notion to open it either...) Sooooo, my surveys probably did not contribute to this station being installed... or did it?

Here an active charging session would be easy to notice.  Interesting that a "Remotely Controlled" option means it can be turned on somewhere else which makes perfect sense but why would that be important to show here unless it was also on a timer charge that has yet to be initiated?  An unusual option for a public station to say the least.

This Clipper Creek is very similar to an AV and Blink L2 in that a glance at the lights will tell if the power is flowing.

Now some don't directly tell you they are hard at work. Those you have to have a bit of patience to see the status. The older Chargepoints are a good example. Most have a two line display that scrolls various bits of information such as station ID, cost, etc but also shows charging speed. I timed it and the screen you need to watch for comes up about every 20 seconds or so but on a dual head if both sides are active, the full cycle of displays will probably take longer but eventually you will see  the charging speed of the station.

The newer Chargepoints have a full display that shows several pieces of information and also have buttons where you can select certain screens on demand

Maybe Aeroenvironment got it right when they using animated lights on top of the station to show that a charging session is active. Maybe all charging stations should have a simple status light at the top of the station so parking enforcement officers can determine the status from across the lot?

There is also SemaConnects which I was not able to get to this week but most of them also have an LCD display that shows charging speed along with a "money counter" so again, it would take a few seconds but the charging station has all the info you need to make an informed decision of

"If It Ain't Charging, UNPLUG IT!"

Saturday, September 10, 2016

August 2016 Drive Report; Getting ready for Drive ELECTRIC Week!

Ok, so last month ended a while ago but in the middle of large project at work that runs every 6 months and last weekend was holiday so I am trying to get everything done this weekend that I ignored last weekend!

In August the gasser "won" the cheap transportation (in more ways than one!) contest costing me only $18.53 to carry me 316.3 miles or 5.9 cents per mile.  Although I don't include maintenance costs in these analysis, the car is likely going to cost me something down the road. Oil has to be changed as soon as the project is done since I am only 300 miles from that right now (have over 700 miles on gasser in Sept so far...)

The other possible thing is tires.  But whether I get new tires or simply dump the car is dependent on the range of my next EV. I would like to dump the car I think but we shall see...

The LEAF cost me almost double at $34.52 for the month aided by $4.68 in public charges but did go 1608.3 miles or 2.15 cents per mile.   High water battery stats; 261 GID, 20.2 kwh available, 60.45 ahr, 92.12 Hx.  Lows (mostly near the end of the month) 252, 19.5, 58.11, 87.91.

Today is the somewhat unofficial kickoff for Drive Electric Week but mostly because NRG is offering FREE CHARGING starting today and running thru next Sunday (central standard time) at midnight nationwide! So hopefully, the queues to charge won't be too bad. As always my off the charts work schedule will aide me in charging when no one else is basically conscious... still trying to decide if that is a good thing?

And NRG has been in the news a lot lately.  Recently we LEAFers became preferred customers of NRG along with preferred pricing!

Pretty cool eh?  Either way, NRG seems to be making the most noise right now in the public charging front (unlike our illustrious state :( ) and there is news that more stations are coming on line.

Fife Nissan also made a splash announcing a while back that they were putting in fast charger that would be free to LEAFers but an apparent change in management derailed the plans.  The charger is still happening but when is anyone's guess. I checked it out the other day and its in the ground  but no paving has been done yet meaning no power yet. Soon I hope...

And finally, more stories about crazy deals on LEAFs and they are starting to extend to 2016 SV/SLs as well.  One LEAFer decided to buy his 2013 SL for just over $9,000! A very good deal!  Some others who leased 2016's less than a year ago are getting discount offers of several thousand dollars and lease forgiveness if they decide to buy now.

All this has me thinking Nissan is trying to get as many titles transferred as possible before "something" happens. Well we can only guess what that "something" is. We all know that "motivated" battery research has only been in high gear for a relatively short period of time.  Previous to the EV, the big push was not more powerful batteries, it was designing battery operated devices to use significantly less power.  That is a great idea especially if its something you carry around in your pocket but a car doesn't have nearly the weight consideration issues.

Its been a year since 30 kwh came out, over 5 since 24 kwh. Its way past time to see a "real" upgrade and considering the competition coming real soon from Chevy, I think Nissan is poised to give us a significant bump in range.  40 kwh has been mentioned and makes sense simply because sure we want a 500 mile range battery just like we want a 500 mile range car but my car only has a 350ish mile range and I deal with it. Yes, its a compromise. EVERYTHING is really. Its all in how you want to deal with the various bumps in the road of life.

Either way; exciting times are just ahead.  Hopefully, NRG stepping up will motivate other charging companies to do the same.  Hopefully, Chevy putting 200 miles on the road this year will motivate others to at least boost their range. We have gone a lot of years with no changes. I think heading into 2017 we will be seeing our best year ever and here is hoping someone does it by December 20th!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Nissan LEAF Leasing AKA "Double Dealing!"

The debate over purchase/lease has ratcheted up a notch or two recently.  Nissan has been slashing lease rates on the 2016's to (hopefully) clear space on dealer lots for a soon to arrive longer range 2017 LEAF.

A rumor started in France predicts a 40 kwh LEAF hitting the streets in the next few months has me literally jumping out of my skin. The anticipation is unpalatable and  complicated by the usual "no word, no hints, no confirmation" Nissan stance on future models upgrades for its flagship EV.

Now before all this,  my plan was pretty clear cut. I would simply lease the best EV option out there when my current lease on my 2013 LEAF S expired Dec, 20 of this year. I figured the likely option would be a Nissan LEAF because they still give the best discounts on leases which includes the entire fed tax discounted immediately. I was willing to extend my lease up to 6 months on word of a better option like the 40 kwh LEAF if it was just around the corner but it would have to be a MUCH better option because....

I would have to get new tires. I planned to have just enough tread on my original OEM tires to pass inspection when I turned in my LEAF and that plan is right on schedule. With barely more than 3,000 miles on the lease, I can say with confidence, I might have a few thousand miles of tread to spare but not much more than that meaning more than a 2-3 month wait would require tires.

I would also have to renew my vehicle tabs at just under $300 a year ($225ish for the car, the rest is park pass, Seahawk custom plates. IOW; required driving utensils :) )

But my plan did not include a fire sale that would make California's wildfire season seem like an under-powered weenie roast.

First off; I received some snail mail a month or so ago offering to sell me my current LEAF for $5800! AND waive up to 6 months lease payments if I acted right away.  Well, you know the adage "If its too good to be true, it probably isn't?"  After all, my residual was $12,192.

Well that was my first, last and only thought on the subject and it immediately went into the garbage. So naturally I went on line to chide Nissan for sending me such an obviously transparent sales tool designed to get me in front of a salesman who would pressure me into something I didn't want at a price I didn't want to pay.


I was immediately inundated by other LEAFers who got the same offer INCLUDING one who had decided to buy and did everything thru email including the final quote who ALSO had a 2013 S on lease and he got his for just over $6,000!

Another with an SV purchased his lease for $8100!  I began to realize that the "too good to be true" offer was in fact, REAL!

All of a sudden, I have many other options to consider.  At $5800, the LEAF was just about cheap enough to purchase, use it for shorter trips AND still be able to lease another LEAF! The range (just like my 2011) was very useful until I hit the 40,000 mile mark and now its going to be a struggle. Right now in Summer, I am good. Just did 90.4 miles on Monday with A/C but this car used to do over 100 miles which means Winter will take another group of destinations out of reach without a public charging stop.


Another EV'er who wanted to end his lease early on the EV, stumbled across and pulled the trigger on a 2016 SV with the 30 kwh battery and got a GREAT deal with $1,000 down and $270 a month!

This would likely mean I could lease an SV with 30 kwh for the same as what my current 2013 S is at $245.75 a month because EVs are not taxed in WA! Even if it was the same deal, it would still be significant and the reason??

My 2013 S is a perfect example of obsolescence. After 3 years, the lease residual is ridiculously high to the state of rapid improvement in batteries leading to much more desirable EVs.  No one would pay $12,000 on a used entry level LEAF that had 45,000 miles on it so hence the "half off" sale.

Another LEAFer received an offer in the mail for a 2016 S for $199 a month after a few thousand down which is really only an average price but the residual is a MUCH more reasonable at $8361.

Suddenly its beginning to make more sense to lease a 2016 SV.  The 30 kwh range opens up Grays Harbor for me (since public charging there does not seem to be happening any time soon) and in 3 years, I should be able to negotiate a better buy out the likely residual they are going to be offering!

This means I make out on the lease, make out on the purchase! Better than the doubling down I will be doing at Muckleshoot Casino in about 3 hours on my way to the Journey Concert tonight!


Brian Henderson (also a LEAF Advisory Board Member) sent me this.

David, one more option to add to your EV decision confusion … as I feel your pat is missing a section!

FYI: a Soul EV. Right now offering leases with $13,000 (includes $7500 fed) incentives +$2-3000 dealer incentives. ie: a lease sub-$199. Know a couple owners at sub-$189/mo. While the monthly is lower tha Nissan, by default Kia quotes 10,000 annual miles vs. 12,000. (online calculators at each web make direct comparisons between LEAF SV/SL & Soul EV base/+). Kia's current base promotion is $169/mo (36 mo) with $199 down (ie: same as $224/mo avg with zero down)

On the use LEAF side, there's Paramont NW in Seattle and Platt in Portland. Both offer 40-60 used EVs at great prices. Seeing a number of lease returned 2013 LEAF's at ~$9000 range. Not sure how compares to you doing a buyout? Another option is to trade in your 2013 S and upgrade to a 2013/2015 SV/SL for the price difference. Advantage may be finding a more healthy (SOH) than you have at low mileage. A number of lease returns only have 12-18,000 miles!

Just a little something to consider as you enjoy your long weekend. 😉

Cheers, ++Brian

Thanks Brian for the heads up!

Friday, August 12, 2016

July 2016 Drive Report; No Alternatives


Despite a 4.9 cent per gallon increase in WA's gas tax on July 1st, gas prices went down!  Obviously the tax increase was not enough. And public charging is still struggling to find the money to grow. Something is real wrong here!

For the month of July in the year 2016, the LEAF traveled  1057.9 miles costing $23.33 (includes $2.84  Blink fee) at a pace of 2.2 cents per mile.  The Corolla went slightly further at 1076.6 miles at nearly 3 times the cost of $66.36  (guess gas prices didn't go low enough after all 0) ) or 6.16 cents per mile.  (FYI; due to my simply missing the fact a new month started, my stats actually run into August 1st...ooops)

As you might guess; a combination of local work, reducing mileage on the LEAF and days off pushed my pack numbers (GIDs/ kwh available/ ahr/Hx) to new yearly lows of  19.5/251/57.82/87.27. Most of the drop happened over a 2½ week period where I only had 2 complete charges so the drop was more than expected.  As we moved into the early days of August, I had planned days off that increased my LEAFing which also caused a bit of rebound in my numbers to 251/20.1/59.78/91.39 soooo looks like the going away party for bar 12 will need to be postponed again!

August saw some other milestones when on the 2nd

Now my LEAF kinda knows what I felt like when I turned 50... But in reality; she doesn't.  A good indication of your pack "can be" when you drop your first bar.  I reset trip A and Miles/kwh daily and as you can see, 6.6 miles down the road with 12 bars still so she is still pretty healthy!

In other news; if you have not already done so you should and that is register for the WSDOT Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report.  It's a quick summary on the various doing in the mostly (thankfully) EV World.  Written by Thomas L. R. Smith. PhD;, he has a easy to read writing style that is both entertaining and informative.  The latest entry is here.  Its published twice a month (unless they take a trip to Europe or other things) and you can see back articles here .

An example of the simple truth he writes...

"There are no alternatives"  well, gotta say HE NAILED IT!   Actually its his way of saying nothing of note happened during the two week period the newsletter covers. Hopefully this trend will continue!

I added the rest so our  FB Seattle LEAF owner Mod, Casey  could see that despite flipping coasts, he still has options!

And finally; (was hoping this would be a July story but.... Nissan of Fife is making progress on getting their fast charger on line. Hopefully not too much longer.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Public Charging Awareness Needed!

To say there is an energetic debate or who should be ponying up the cash for a public charging network is probably an understatement as compared to any question except maybe the question, "Will we need a public charging system when the 200 mile EVs come out?"

Well both questions are flawed, both rely on weak premises, and both center on all or nothing ideologies.

The need for a public charging network will always be great even with 200 mile EVs clogging the streets.  Why is that you ask? Unlike gas, one can leave home with a full 200 mile range meaning any charging network that would be needed would be something following the freeways, right?

Well, no... not even close.  There are several factors at work here and the biggest factor is the assumption that people will see the immediate value of an "affordable" EV in the $35,000 range (which would be true on the TCO over a relatively short period of time)  and flock to them instead of buying the much referred to new $32,000 gasoline car.  Well saving money is always a big consideration but emotions generally play the biggest part of an automobile purchase which means if you filter out trucks (average selling price over $40,000) sports cars, full sized SUVs, etc. you quickly find the selling price of the market that a 200 mile EV would be siphoning from is basically two segments; the car priced in the mid 20's.  The next segment would be the "bargain, commuter only" car in the high teens and low 20's.  Now we have a $10,000-$15,000 price difference to explain away.  And yes, compelling offers in the EV arena will siphon sales from all categories but we are just sticking with general trends.

It is this reason why the 100 mile EV is here to stay and stay for a long time. Now a few things to understand here. No amount of innovation will drive the price extremely low so compromises will need to be made. Nissan had a GREAT idea when they released a stripped down LEAF.  This is a very viable niche.  Supply a 100 mile EV (using the 30 kwh pack) at a price starting in the mid 20's and you WILL have a hit on your hands.  This is a niche car for sure but a niche that a huge majority of households have. The 2nd car primarily used during the week to drive back and forth (usually alone) to work!

Wait! you say.  The S Trim is currently in the low 30's without the 30 kwh pack so how we gonna get it to the mid 20's with the pack?  Well, remember the $7500 fed credit is still in effect and if in WA, you are saving another $3,000 by not paying sales tax so that actually brings it to the low 20's!  Now the only thing to work on is lowering costs between now and the time the Fed Credit ends, which is not an insurmountable challenge by any means. (the State Credit is in until 2019)  Either way, one thing that is very clear and that is not supplying the 30 kwh battery to the S Trim was a monumental mistake on Nissan's part.  I fully expect that to change for 2017 but because of the fed credit wind down (made famous by Tesla's goal of milking for as much as they can) Nissan and others probably have at least 2 more years to get the price right.

The credit remains at 100% until the quarter after the quarter in which the sales figure is reached. The sales limit is 200,000 per manufacturer so suppose Nissan hits that number the first day of a new quarter say July 1st for example. They would have the full credit for the remainder of the quarter plus the next quarter ending Dec 31, meaning the first reduction to 50% of the credit would not happen until Jan 1st of the next year.

Either way, more choices, more range, more EVers means one thing; our current, already inadequate public charging system is not going to work.  Right now its common to have to wait for someone to finish their charge before you can start yours.  During 3 day holiday weekends, popular stations (which in the public charging world means "working and the only option for 50 miles!") can have 3 or 4 cars waiting.

So public charging needs a shot in the arm, a HUGE one.  What is needed is a "Moonshot" effort to get the network built as soon as possible.  But waiting on private industry to do it has simply not worked. We have several networks that are here and there that provides bare bones coverage in most areas.  (We still have VERY desirable locations unreachable by LEAF)

So why is this happening?  In most areas, charging companies are now pretty much on their own to expand their networks. Federal assistance has all but dried up. New installations now are usually due to a benefactor AKA host willing to pay for nearly everything.  NRG made a big splash in the Pacific Northwest early Summer of 2015 announcing fast charger placements at 4 major malls. The speed in which they were installed gave everyone hope that NRG was a motivated player who was "all in" for us!

Well, that was not the case.  In reality the likely story was a single company, Simon Malls who put up the money for the initial installs. Unfortunately, there are only 4 Simon Malls in Western Washington so additional expansion, though ongoing, has been painfully slow. The ongoing issue of providing access to the Washington Coast is still completely unresolved.   Add to the fact that NRG has a subscription requirement for decent pricing which complicates the matters because nearly no one is in a position to access these far flung locations on a regular basis, making the subscription model, the one year contract requirement, and early termination fee very undesirable. In defense of NRG; I do know two people who terminated their subscriptions early without penalty. Now both had very valid reasons so maybe NRG simply did the right thing instead of not holding fast to the policy.  Now, I am not familiar with NRG's newer installs in the area but guessing it was due to hosts stepping up and paying for most of the costs and why do I think this?

Demand charges are a monthly fee added to an electricity bill if a draw exceeding a predetermined level is maintained for a period of time. (15 minutes in some cases) The charge is levied once per month and is for each KW over the threshold.  This can add hundreds of dollars to the monthly bill and some localities only apply the demand charge based on the highest usage for the previous year meaning one poorly timed fast charge could have a year long consequence!

Now one could argue that demand charges can be mitigated by having multiple meters at one location but most utilities have that covered as well. Several schedules have very large basic monthly fees. I went thru EVERY schedule Puget Sound Energy offered and looks like this would be the best option.  Now, even the busiest location is not likely to use anywhere near this much power during the month.

Now Puget Sound Energy has dozens of schedules for billing customers and here is one example. Here demand charges don't start until the instantaneous usage exceeds 50 KW which is actually fairly generous compared to several utilities in the region.  So imagine a "bare bones" charging station consisting of a single fast charger and 2 L2's.   Keeping in mind that only a brief time at high power usage is all that is needed to create a demand charge, we could see a 30 kwh LEAF at 45 KW along with 2 other LEAFs each pulling 6 KW or a total of  57 KW.  Now we are seeing a demand charge "starting" at $42.14 to $63.14. (7 times the applicable demand rate)  The problem is that there will be other power needs present including lighting and connectivity needs.  Also keep in mind; these are somewhat "low ball" figures considering that charging speeds will only be going up.

Unfortunately these "favorable" rates are not everywhere. In Washington, the Pacific Coast is a highly desirable location especially for simply spending the day walking (or driving) along beach.  But there is no real charging network located there. Yes, there is one at a lodge past Ocean Shores (unreachable by a 24 kwh LEAF) and an L2 at the Chevy Dealership in town but on a day trip, only fast charging will allow the trip to happen.  A quick glance at Grays Harbor PUD business rates quickly reveals why this is likely true.

In my travels for work I talk with a lot of business and franchisee owners including a business owner in Aberdeen, WA who drives a Chevy Volt. He was mulling the idea of putting in charging stations at his 3 business locations but was hesitant over the cost.  This was back in 2012 and I was completely unfamiliar with what businesses had to deal with and I thought demand charges was something only high cost Californians dealt with. Imagine my shock when I look at his bill and realized it STARTED at $500 BEFORE any usage costs were added in.   Now to be fair, he had gas pumps (which he did not pay any of the cost of including the electric bill) and his one other location that had no gas was a bargain where the bill was roughly "only" $300 before any usage charges were added.

Unlike Puget Sound Energy, Grays Harbor PUD applies a demand fee on EVERY KW! (Kudos to Snohomish PUD where demand fees start after 100 KW!) All of a sudden, it becomes very clear why there are no fast chargers in Grays Harbor County!  In reality; the only way to affordably put in charging stations is the "Small Use" rates which have a $20 service fees, higher usage rates starting at 9 cents per kwh but no demand charges. Problem with that is you are restricted to 200 amp service (240 volt feed) or 48 KW. Not sure what the continuous load restrictions are but if its the 80% max then we are looking at 38.4 KW which means barely enough for 3-4 L2's with some over head for lights, etc.... But the number of L2's doesnt really matter unless we can blanket the area with them making them destination chargers.

With these kinds of obstacles, it becomes very clear that governmental intervention is needed. Puget Sound Energy  is regulated by Washington Utilities and Transportation (WOW if that is not an EV marriage dream come true!!) Commission (UTC) and I think this ( is where we need to start. Unfortunately, this is only a start and it doesn't even address the horrors of being a business customer of Grays Harbor PUD. So what is the right answer?

Maybe a requirement to allow fast chargers to get demand fees waived. Or perhaps require certain amount of fast chargers to be installed in a county based on EV registrations. Either way, there is no perfect solution and only State law can force privately owned public utilities to comply.

Currently WA State is in the process of launching a new program funded by the increase in EV registration fees that will earmark one million dollars to encourage private investment in charging stations.  The ideology is the hope that grants and other financial incentives will lower the start up costs and attract local businesses.  But with ongoing demand fees, I am afraid areas like Grays Harbor will find very few takers.

 I have struggled with the end of this blog for several days now. An easy solution to this issue is simply not there. It has become much clearer to me why public charging is struggling here. There is a lot of obstacles including us EVers who quite frankly are clueless as to how expensive it is to maintain a charging station.  We only know the 8-10 cents per kwh we pay at home.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

June 2016 Drive Report; Gas Tax Goes Up, EV Registration Fees Go Up, Commuting Time Goes Up

As mentioned several times, my lease mileage is not going to survive til the end of my lease (Dec 2016) so I made the painful decision to gas it a bit more this month... a BIG bit more.

The Corolla drove 1108.2 miles at a cost of $67.81 or 6.1 cents per mile.  It gathered no other expenses other than few top offs of the oil here and there.  My previous long term plan was to drive the Corolla until it needed tires then dump it but the additional load its taking on might force my hand on the tire thing. Sucks...

The LEAF went 1248.9 miles costing $30.09 or 2.4 cents per mile. This includes $8.10 in public charging fees as my free settlement juicing has sadly expired. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted and it was nice to see how the other 90% lives (me being one of the very very few to have driven two new LEAFs without NCTC...) At just under 39,000 miles, I have 6,000 lease miles and just under 6 months to go... *sigh*

Anyway, enough of this; on to life!!  Its July and its supposed to be getting hotter (week long forecast for the mid to upper 60's here) eventually so the concern here is fast charging during the heat of Summer.  Now, I haven't had a lot of chances to test this since my charging times tend to be as far from the heat of the day as one can get when a lot of them happening before 6 AM but did have one this week.

On Monday after a very long day, we had to stop and charge at the Blink in Fife with temps hovering in the mid 80's all day.  I started the charge and the battery temp (have to think its an anomaly) jumped from 77 to 89º within 20 seconds (LEAF Spy had only been running a few seconds before the charge started)  I charged for 24 mins gathering 12.48 kwh. Temps started at 89/90/90.1, finished at  97/98.6/96.6. Took off and continued upwards to 99.6/100.6/96.4.  This heat up after charging was complete did happen in stop and go traffic with ambients in the upper 70's (it was 8:24 PM) and only lasted a few minutes, roughly 3 minutes and 12 seconds.

Now the ambient pack temps being in the high 80's is very believable as we had been crawling along I-5 with the pavement probably very close to 90º even at that late hour (Sun was still up)

In other news; this month signals the cost of driving going up.  The WA State gas tax goes up 4.9 cents per gallon moving us to 2nd place in that race.  The EV registration tax goes up to $150.  The extra $50 will be partly used to fund a pilot program encouraging private businesses to host charging stations in the form of grants and favorable pricing.  The fund will be capped at one million dollars and before you ask; no, the fee will not drop back down to its previous $100 level when the money has been collected. As far as the gas tax hike; it apparently isn't enough. My local gas stop's prices did not budge an inch after the increase.