Friday, June 14, 2019

May 2019 Driving Stats; EA, Tires, and Summer Heat Is Coming!

Another month in the can!  So I recently got a meter that will measure my home usage which I will be blogging about probably within the next month or so. I have had it over a week but have yet to actually spend 5 mins to hook it up.  But I have excuses. I had to work overtime last week shriveling my normal 3 day weekend into a measly 2 days and it was my niece's birthday which included a concert to see Train and The Foo Fighters so I literally didn't have 5 minutes to spare!

It didn't matter anyway because I haven't charged at home during that time so there wouldn't be anything to report.


Since my next scheduled "adjustment" isn't due till July, I have no degradation to report but the BMS continues to misbehave!

99% SOC @ nearly 404 volts!! 

Unlike my previous 3 LEAFs, I was unable to determine what the new pack stats on the 40 kwh LEAF should be due to a rather large variance in the SOC when the pack reached full charge.  This most recent example is just another in a string of questionable results.  The charge was started in early morning and was actually still in the balancing phase since the charging indicator lights on the dash were still blinking but I unplugged and was over 403 volts @ 99% SOC when it should be around 97.5% more or less.  That is playing it a bit too loose for me and marks the 3rd time over 99%!

This is a another reason to not charge to full. The BMS software is simply not doing its job. Its not stopping the charge when its supposed to and this WILL lead to premature pack degradation


Bridgestone is making the news with its upcoming "quiet tires."  We EVers know that the removal of engine and tranny noise has allowed us to notice other sounds that we previously didn't realize was happening and the biggest culprit is tire noise. The linked article claims its not the road's fault as much as we thought it was; its the tires.  Definitely something worth keeping an eye on.  Hoping they put out a LRR version!

Speaking of tires; Summer and the warm (or HOT!!) weather has arrived so if you have not already done so, its time to adjust your tire pressures. Remember, they should be set during coldest part of the day and the increase in pressure as the day warms up (or if doing the Mario Cart thing)  is OK.  Now if you live in an area like the high desert where cold nights turn into blistering hot days, you might want to lower the pressure a few PSI to account for the wider than normal temperature range.

LEAF Camping

Speaking of Summer, its now camping season. I did show one option that works fairly well for me but if you have a few people besides yourself, you might want a bit more room. Here is another option!

Supposedly, it only "takes a few minutes" to setup but according to the LEAFer that posted this, it requires perfecting the art of standing on tires to accomplish that level of efficiency.  And before you ask, its a definite range hit. No telling how much but definitely want to beef up the charging stops but its portable which is a big plus which means not a daily range hit!


We already knew that Hydrogen fueling stations were a bit of rush job but recently we found out just how much when a station blew up in Norway with a force so great that airbags on nearby cars were deployed.  What is even more shocking is the station apparently was not in use at the time which adds a lot of questions as to what went wrong.  Luckily, the only injuries were from airbag deployments of the nearby cars. Knowing Norway, they may have been electric vehicles. Wouldn't that be ironic?

This tells me that there is still many hurdles to address before Hydrogen becomes mainstream. Norwegian officials recommended a 500 yard safety buffer around the "blast zone." Can you imagine how that would go down when a Hydrogen station permit is submitted for "your" neighborhood?

The one shining light in all this is I can now focus on other things EV like more public charging as Hydrogen is quickly showing its just as useful as gasoline in that it will self destruct.  TBT; EVs are advancing so fast that Hydrogen will never catch up. What is needed is more public charging. Range is nice and Tesla should top 400 miles soon but I will take the reasonable expectation of an available well placed plug over range any day. (and the lower sticker price!)


Speaking of more charging, EA has finally come to town!  Lacey, WA Walmart went live at the beginning of June and I was the first successful charge there since 2 CCS'ers tried and failed including a VW (ain't that a kick in the butt!)

But being first does have its consequences and I paid "full boat" price and as my luck tends to be, the very NEXT day, subscription pricing was announced that could have cut my cost in half.  But reliability of the stations has been very poor so far. There are a LOT of reports of failed charges from both Chademolites and CCS'ers all over the country. A few days ago, EA did announce a "roaming agreement" with Chargepoint so hoping they will share some technical knowledge and get these bugs figured out.

NCTC and Taxes

 For those of you considering a new LEAF; you want to keep in mind that the NCTC (No Charge To Charge) program of free fast charging from Blink, Webasto and EVGO for 2 years is terminating new signups after July 9th.  This is a HUGE benefit and the reason why my total transportation costs (fuel only) was well under $100 for the first year of my 40 kwh LEAF over 15,700 miles.  But there is a caveat; a $2500 caveat.

WA has reinstated their sales tax waiver for plug ins but that does not start till Aug 1st.  This will create a sales vacuum so its now in Nissan's court as to what they will do about it.  The options;

1) It wouldn't surprise me to see sales incentives that equals or approaches the $2500 tax credit. This would make would NCTC a huge bargain especially for those who are getting their first EV and don't have adequate home charging or live in multi unit housing without reserved parking.

2) Extend the program. Nissan is not in a good position saleswise. The returning EVer is a major portion of Nissan's prospective new customer base and the lack of TMS is not going over well especially with emerging reports that the 62 kwh LEAF suffers from the same RapidGate  my 40 kwh LEAF is hampered with. RapidGate makes paying by the minute quite painful. Free charging does not address the additional road time but at least it won't cost the EVer. Nissan has had some success with simply selling at bargain basement prices. This might be the way to go until 2020 when they will finally provide an EV with the TMS option.

3) Do nothing. Nissan could simply sacrifice WA State sales for July knowing there will be a rebound in August.  But that only allows the possibility of more negative reports over RapidGate as the Summer heat intensifies.  The problem with negativity is it creates doubt where none should exist.  People read the stories, magnifies its results and then find ways, no matter how obscure, to apply it to their needs.   There are too many people concerned about the issues of full charging but admit they only charge a few times a week because of the additional range.  This is how a smidgen of  bad news mushrooms into Armageddon. 

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Route Del Sol!

Yesterday afternoon, I had the chance to spend some time with Route Del Sol at Puget Sound Solar in Seattle. It was quite the experience but pales to the great adventure Route Del Sol will spend nearly 3 years accomplishing.  Swiping pix from the webpage (hyperlinked above) their mission statement is short, concise and says it all!

Route Del Sol is two people; Joel Gregory Hayes, the techie and Keegan Taccori the vblogger, but like any major undertaking they are the iceberg of exposure with a lot of hidden support including Solarrolla the company who helped modify an "off the shelf" BEV for the epic journey.

Joel, Keegan and my LEAF! What a trio!!

The Vehicle

The van, a 2010 International E-Star BEV started out life... well, slowly. It was discovered after 7+ years of life with an odometer reading of 500 miles.  Despite the initial sticker price of $150,000, Route Del Sol was able to get it on the cheap. But it needed work before it could run on the Sun.

At Puget Sound Solar. This is a partial solar array setup. They also have another wing that extends from the back. The wings actually slide in under the center panel which makes setup quick and easy. Simply slide the panels out and plug them in!

In comes Solarrolla based in Ashland OR. First order of biz was bolstering the onboard 80 Kwh pack with a 40 kwh LiCo pack. This was done for two reasons; Boosting the 100 mile range was good but not nearly as vital as being able to store solar energy. The OEM pack can't use the solar energy directly so the 40 kwh pack is charged by the Sun and it then charges the 80 kwh pack. (which can also be plugged in a 240 volt charging station)  This brings the range up to 200 miles.  Solarrolla even documented the mods on You Tube so if you want some tips on how to prepare your van to live in for 3 years, this is a good start!

So after the supplementary pack, beds, solar arrays, etc. were added they were ready!

The Juice

Inside the van hidden in a cabinet lies the brains of the system. 

Status meter. If power was being transferred from one pack to the other, charged from line power or consumed, you would see it here. 

One of the two controllers for the solar (Outback Power) Remember the pix above? Van is partially shaded by the building, only has partial panel deployment and no solart tracking active but still pulling nearly 3 KW! Not bad!

As we all know, pack balance is critical so having an easy to read display of battery voltages is key. Here we have a .06 volt spread. Not too shabby! 

The Journey

They started the Summer of 2018 at the Arctic Circle on the Dalton Highway in Alaska, winding their way down thru the Yukon and into British Columbia. As all Northwesterners know, if powered by the Sun, you pretty much are not doing much traveling during the Winter. They were able to hit Washington early this year and enjoyed an extended stay in the region and after a few shows, they are set to continue Southwards here in a few days.

So there you have it! Not a whole lot of detail but Joel and Keegan has taken care of that. You can follow their journey and check out where they have been as well.

This the main page. Like any venture, this one still costs money despite the free fuel. So if you don't want to see our adventurers 25 pounds lighter when they reach the southern tip of Argentina, consider donating. Eating is always good.

Like their Facebook page

You Tube for videos

And instagram (you probably already knew that was coming)

And finally....

I had the GREAT fortune to meet Michael Foster!  For those that don't know, Michael is a Seattle area activist that has a huge concern over the sustainability of the planet. He became famous when he closed the valve on a North Dakota pipeline that was carrying Canadian tar sand oil into the United States.

I saw a cool documentary about his and his co-harts exploits but can't find the link right now but here is a pretty in depth story about him. He is a true hero!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Temperature Bars On The LEAF

In 2018, the LEAF went to a slider like gauge for temperature bars and it works basically the same as previous versions with the same 12 segments, etc., but unlike my 24 kwh LEAFs, there is minimal overlap of the temperature ranges the bars appear and disappear.  They also are a lot more consistent at which temperature they appear and disappear...well, most of the time.

I did this the easy way of simply snapping pix as bars came and went (for the most part) so you could see for yourself. Below I will have 2 pix with the goal of showing both the lower and upper limit of each bar. Although you will see 3 temperatures, I am using the temperature # 1 (In portrait mode it would be the upper left reading) which is normally the highest, because of several examples of bar changes with matching temperature 1 but various other temps in the lower spots.   As we all know, when stationary, the 3 temps don't vary nearly as much as when we are moving. I once recorded a 24º difference from high to lowest during a cold day (40's) on one of my 2016's more "active" days AKA  starting a QC with 10 TBs!

Here the top temp is the same but 2nd temps are not hence my reason for using the
top temp only as a guide. There were several instances of this. 


There is a gap between bar 4 and 5. Due to limited exposure to lower temperatures of the battery, I am thinking both 4 and 5 are incomplete. I did see 3 bars only one  time during the Winter because the car is garaged so lower battery temps just don't happen that much.  Reality says that is not what people are wanting to see anyway and 6 - 9 are complete in that each was during an observed appearance or disappearance. The lower end of the 4th bar was recorded from the switch though.  In other instances where there is a gap from the high end of a bar and the low end of the next highest bar, we can assume the lower bar would have covered that gap.

4 Bars

39.8 - 47.1  º F

5 Bars

66.4 - 76.8 º F

6 Bars

78.6 - 95.8 º F

7 Bars

96.6 - 104.2 º F

8 Bars

105.6 - 114.8 º F

9 Bars

112.2 - 121.0 º  F

Interesting as I think the 9 Bar reads are an anomaly.  With no overlap anywhere else, the 9 Bar overlaps both ends!

10 Bars

119.2 - ???

Honorable Mention!

The upper range would definitely be just below 39.8º  and only got this due to a 36 hour power outage.

If anyone can fill in the gaps for 4 bars and under or 10 bars and up, please chime in!

Friday, May 10, 2019

To Tax Or Not Too Taxed!

In Feb 2018, I leased my LEAF sales tax free making it the 5th "new" car in a row I had gotten sales tax free dating back to May  2009 when I bought 2010 Prius under the "Prius Priority Purchase Program." IOW, WA was going the extra mile to get its residents into greener transportation.  Yes Folks, that was a DECADE ago.

But the sales tax incentive for WA ran out a few months after my LEAF came home.  As we should have gathered from the statement above, this was quite the turnaround in stance by the State. The tax waiver expiring did not sit too well with any of us but TBT (truth be told) the law was archaic, weak and did not really address the rapidly changing market.

Where We Have Been

Like any benefit, there is some give and take. Initially, the sales tax covered hybrids due to a higher sales price that did a great job of lowering the cost of the technology. As hybrids exploded, the tax expired (My Prius was purchased 12 days before the credit expired) and the credit was then applied to the new tech AKA "100% Battery Vehicle."  All EVs qualified, even $120,000 Teslas.

Then the Oil Lobby started throwing its weight around and an EV Tab fee was added. It started at $100 and was solely to be used to cover what would have been collected in gas taxes. WA pays a combined 62.9 cents per gallon (44.5 cents state, 18.4 cents Fed for gasoline. Diesel is slightly higher) In a 30 MPG car, that would cover roughly 4800 miles, a distance very few around here drive. IOW, EVers were by and large, underpaying.

So the EV tax was raised to $150 (Before you start screaming, the gas tax went up 7 cents a gallon at the same time)  but initially the first collections at the higher rate would be put into a fund to expand public charging. The EV tax credit also put an upper limit on the perk all but eliminating Teslas and other high end EVs.   The results of that expansion first showed signs in Central WA in Ellensburg with a Greenlots station that bills one of the highest rates for power in the State.  The time to collect for the project was barely a year but there is no clause that drops the EV tab fee but then again, the gas tax didn't go down either.  Instead the State put 15% into the "Transportation Improvement Account" and 15% into the "Rural Arterial Trust Account (RCW 46.17.323)

Why The Old Way Was The Bad Way

Fees too low

Even at $150, we EVers were by and large, underpaying.  Gassers are getting more efficient but even a 35 MPG car would only make it 8300 miles with only $150 in gas taxes. The tab fee going up? Well, saw that coming a mile away.

Cracks too big

Although the Chevy Volt came out the same time as the LEAF, it was simply skirting its responsibility.  I knew a guy who lived in Yelm, worked for the State and NEVER bought gas. His Volt easily made the 20 mile drive to downtown Olympia where he was plugging to the Blink L2 (when it was free) and walking 2 blocks to his office. Later he transferred to Tumwater which was an even shorter commute.  IOW, he was paying little if any in gas taxes. Later Volts' range increased resulting in less reliance on the pump.

Benefit for the rich

This ideology is pure BULLS***! I am as far from rich as you can get on this side of the poverty line. What passes as middle class in many areas of the country is simply not viable here. Nevertheless, the EVer somehow got this label slapped on them.  I drive EVs because I can't afford to pay for gas! Its too much money! 

So how did this misconception start? Well, partially because it was all about new cars. The unrich does not buy new cars that much and the new reality is that THE fastest growing segment of the EV community is the "used" EV.  The thought of getting a cheap LEAF for $4,000 (yes they are around) that would only be used to bomb around town dropping off kids at school, grocery shopping, and basically any other errand that KILLED a gassers MPGs was a tough TCO with that $150 tab fee!

The Phoenix Has Risen!

Yep, WA Legislature works EXACTLY like the mythical creature (especially the crash and burn part...) Since I am not a political person I will not speculate on the ideology of amendments,sensibility and flexibility.  No matter, the old law was dead and rightfully so but it left a void.  A BIG ONE!

 A new bill was immediately written and agreed upon in both houses but failed to come up for a vote before the legislative session ended.  But it was one of a dozen green proposals on the table and as part of HB 2042 "Advancing Green Transportation Initiatives" it was passed and will start doing business on August 1st running 6 years.

The Take

As mentioned above, we were underpaying at $150 a year.  So tab fees jumped $75 to $225 or 12,500 miles in a 35 MPG gasser. Now we are on par.  More on driving need below.

The Give

For the first time ever, WA will cover the sales tax on the first $15,000 on a used EV purchase (as long as its under $30,000)  This is BIG BIG BIG!!  We need to get a greater investment into EV tech and getting lower income mix is the key.  This remains the same thru out the entire 6 year period.

On new EVs, the first $25,000 is tax free for vehicles with a "sale price" under $45,000 which means no cheating the system as was done previously with $60,000 Tesla Model 3's.  The tax free portion drops $5,000 every two years so will be $20,000 in 2021, $15,000 in 2023.

Plug in hybrids will now have a $75 tab fee for their electrified half which for many will be a bargain.

The Bottom Line

Ok so we have won, lost and boot scooted sideways but if social media resembled real life, it would be a lose lose all the way around!  Why??  Does it "really" take one person driving 4,000 miles a year to turn the entire populace into a mob?  Do we really want no tax incentives and a $150 tab fee? Well, I sure as hell don't! I am not even in the market and I still favor the new fees simply because it does encourage EV adoption.


On a new qualifying EV, we are talking $2500 more or less (depending on where you live) off the top on the purchase. Unless paying cash, that is $2500 PLUS interest you are saving.  That is OVER 10 years of tab fees! I mean how can "anyone" not see the upside of that?

Lets use real numbers; You get an EV, you put down some cash, you get a 5 year loan at 4.74% (from which means you can probably do a little better)

Finance $35,000 that is $656.33  a month.  But no sales tax credit means financing $37.500 or $703.21  a month or $46.88 more per month or just under 5 months to cover that $225 tab fee (234.40 saved)  $46.88 a month?? That is paying for gas in a Prius! Caaaaraaazzzeee talk!

Even used EVs can easily save 4-5 years of that tab fee.  Realistically, most used EVs are not over $15,000 so lets use a price of $14,000 with $2,000 down so you are financing $12,000 under the new fees. Again, using, the used car loan rates are about 5.59% on a 3 year loan,we are talking about $362.84 a month (lower than my lease payments...) verses financing $13,400 or $405.17 a month; a savings of $42.33 a month or just over 5 months to cover that tab fee.

The Cracks

This fee structure does not favor the EVers whose needs are very modest. My nephew used to live in Seattle and despite being in a two worker household, both he and his wife used public transportation 99% of the time. The car was only used for out of town trips or special "events."  They did have nights out but Uber or Sound Transit was their designated driver. The car? Well, it spent most of its time parked at my Sister's house (conveniently located a few miles from the Southworth ferry terminal) where parking was free.  Needless to say, their cost per mile was well above the average since insurance rates do not go down when they were averaging 2,000 miles a year.

TBT; I don't know if there is a "good" way for people in the same boat. The cost of everything is going up but few as fast as housing and transportation.  I did participate in the recently ended RUC Pilot which investigated the ideology of a pay per mile fee based system that would replace the gas tax. This is a mistake, a BIG one.  The pilot centered on using a 20.4 MPG fleet average for the state divided by the State gas tax to come up with a 2.4 cents per mile figure.  IOW; the biggest users of gasoline would now be on the EXACT same level as an EVer not using ANY gas or expelling carbon or choking our children. During my year of driving, I would have paid over $400 in fees.

But the real result of RUC would be a massive shift of money from highly efficient drivers to the very high consuming drivers. The program by design would not generate more revenue.  The only way I could support RUC is if it was in addition to the current gas tax and EV tab fee program. Cut both the gas tax and tab fee in half and that means the new fee system would be an overall income generator.  But let me be clear, I am COMPLETELY against RUC.

The Win

Getting the people who need it the most into EVs is where we need to be. As we all know, gassers suffer the most doing the mundane short range errands that we all have to do in bulk.  There is simply no way of getting around that in Olympia due to an extremely inadequate public transportation system. Outside downtown Seattle or other major points (Universities seem to do well) in the city, many find themselves in the same boat. So making used EVs a good deal is important.  Now we do have to realize our thoughts on budgets override reality, logic and sensibility. We have always favored the "gasser business model" of low entry price offset by large ongoing costs and yeah, this new fee structure does follow that process.  But as long as we continue to support the funneling of money to the super rich and MegaCorps, support money will continue to be eroded which means costs to us will continue to rise.

Another thing that we have to consider is "EVness"  Its an epidemic...or at least it should be. I don't have to tell you how addictive EVs are.  But right now, its not an epidemic and that is due to exposure.  I feel quite confident in my beliefs that making used EVs attractive will be the best way to increase EV awareness and penetration into the "new" EV market.


Yeah, I know you thought this would never end.  The new fee structure is not perfect or even close for that matter. But fees are needed in one way or the other simply because no fees is not an option. In a perfect WA, we just raise the gas tax another 10 cents a gallon and leave the EV tab fee as it is with the sales tax incentive but that is not how WA works.

Putting all EVs into the same bucket is a mistake and a better way to do it would be basing the tab fee on range. Under 100 miles; $75, Under 200, $150 and so on. This allows the used EV to be much more affordable, helps to address the user with very modest needs and also gets the money from the people most likely able to pay the fee and eat too.

But we are still being crushed under the weight of Big Oil and that will continue to be true as long as EV adoption remains in the low single digits.  So I wrote this blog mainly to illustrate 3 big issues;

1) No pain, no gain. EV fees are high but only because our voice is small. Bailing out to gassers is EXACTLY what Big Oil wants us to do. We cannot let that happen.

2) Adoption needs to happen faster and the #1 area we need it to happen is lower income people who tend to live in town, take less long trips and primarily use their car to get back and forth from work. EVs are super cheap to operate.

3) No change is possible without a lot of money. As early EV adopters, we have taken on the role of paying that extra money to smooth the way for the people behind us.  But negativity is a powerful thing. A single negative word WILL prevent a dozen future EVers from experiencing the freedom we all enjoy every day.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

April 2019 Drive Report; Now That My LEAF Is No Longer Shiny, How Far Can It Go?

April is done and since we had our "BMS adjustment" earlier in the month, there will not be any degradation to report until mid July!  In an effort to see how little my electric bill could be, I did not charge at all at home during the last Puget Sound Energy cycle. This means not doing much driving and that was helped by two out of town trips including seeing Aerosmith in Vegas!

I have also been working on a blog to complain about disappearing incentives for EVs now that the federal credit sunset is hurting Tesla and Chevy.  Chevy has cut prices (which is good for us) but Tesla is all over the map. Price up, price down, added features, removed options, etc. Makes planning a future purchase based on ROI very tough. But things are starting to look up. 

May has had a GREAT beginning. Tesla as we know has struggled a bit causing some concern over its finances including the cash needed for day to day operations so they decided to raise some funds and the results were overwhelming!  Looks like the shorters will have to wait another day!

Locally, WA surprised everyone by pushing thru the transportation bill that included a return of EV incentives.  The new incentives start in August and for the first time, includes USED EV purchases!
But its still politics so there is always some give and take but the "take" has benefits. EV registration fees will increase $75 from $150 to $225 but that extra money will be collected and used to help fund public charging infrastructure. Lots of details in the link above so if you are in the market for an EV this year, check out the details!

GOM And The Semi Annual Range Test. 

I have heard complaints about the GOM for YEARS on how it was inflated, unrealistic, etc. And...well, most of that was true. But the process on the GOM worked was the biggest source of confusion.  It created the range estimate based on recent driving history and conditions.  This meant a a 2 mile downhill drive could bloat your range by 20 miles or more.  IOW; to understand how many miles you had, you had to evaluate the driving you had just done.  Now, that isn't all that difficult to do if you know where you are going and all that stuff but the #1 complaint is the GOM first thing in the morning!

This is where the bloat was the biggest and partially that should be correct... partially.  Most people who tax the range of their LEAF  have commutes that is mostly freeway but no one actually lives on the freeway. So that drive from your exit to your driveway will be at a much slower speed and that will bloat the next day's GOM. (Hill Dwellers please hold comment...)  That is normal but the car should also understand that last leg is only a small part of the drive and shouldn't hold so much weight in the range estimate, right? Well, Nissan has had a bit of time understanding that...Until now. 

The Charge

Now, I tried several times to get a baseline on my 40 kwh pack but that proved to be all but impossible. Unlike my previous 24 and 30 kwh LEAFs, a full charge was all over the map.  My kwh available (all with SOH at 99% or above) ranged from a shocking 39.1 kwh to as little as 37.7 kwh. 
Each charging session was completed including balancing (no lights) and had at least an hour to settle before LEAF Spy measurements were taken.  SOC ranged from 99.51% to 96.07%.  Voltage ran from 401.95 volts to 402.87 volts. 

So this time, the charge wasn't complete but was fully into the balancing stage.  I had 35.5 kwh available which is "about" right. I don't do a lot of full charges but this would appear to be no more than .1-.2 kwh short of charge completion. Pack voltage was 401.87 with SOC at 97.6%

GOM History

Now my only driving for the previous 4 days was my work commute. Due to Marvin Road Diamond Merge construction, I take Marvin Road entrance to I-5 in the morning, College Street exit in the evening.  Round trip is 25 miles with 62% freeway.  Because my commute is so short, I literally drive it as fast as traffic will allow.  This means 70-75 mph coming home and 50-70 mph going to work. My Sunday performance (4.3 miles/kwh) reflects the lack of traffic in the morning over my weekly performance (4.9 -5.2 miles/kwh).   Wednesday night before the charge was the 4.9 miles/kwh at 25.1 miles. 

The Test

Had a thing in Seattle so scheduled it in hopes of missing most of the congestion (It is IMPOSSIBLE to miss all of it.) for a more realistic freeway range.  The goal is to mimic "normal" driving so I selected an option of 2/3rds freeway, 1/3rd surface streets.  I will be in Eco B mode all the time with only selective use of E Pedal for sudden slowdowns on the freeway or in town.  The Seattle thing was only 55ish miles so a bit of zigzagging would need to be done to hit my goal of 120 freeway miles. Shouldn't be a thing... 

The weather was well, perfect for a range test. Mostly Sunny and cool in the mid to upper 50's. humidity was 50% which basically means even with vents closed (my default) defrost would not be needed and I didn't use it or any other climate control one time. I did roll down windows a few times while bombing around Seattle when the Sun got a bit warm. 

The Drive

The delay thru the Marvin Road construction was much worse than I had anticipated. This is well after morning rush hour but it took at least 10 minutes to go the mile thru a couple roundabouts to get onto the freeway.  After getting on I-5, the drive was reasonable averaging 65 mph with only slight slowdowns to just under 60 mph thru Ft. Lewis (JBLM) and Highway 512 interchange.  

After that was Tacoma where road construction has caused a rash of accidents which prompted officials to drop the speed limit to 50 mph. No major slowdowns although speed did drop to 35 mph in several sections but the traffic flow was better than I expected.  

I pretty much didn't hit any more slowdowns until just before Seattle two miles from my exit. Here the speed ranged from zero to 10 mph.  The Seattle thing lasted 45 mins so back on the road and headed to Oberto's Factory Outlet on Rainier Ave.  That was the end of my plans. The odometer said I hadn't gone anywhere near far enough to be close to out of range so after racking my brain for reasons why I would want to be in the area, I decided on the new Dick's Drive In in Kent. 

After eating way too much,  I took off heading South then remembered a new outlet store (Amazon) for scratch and dent items so decided to check it out to see if there were any deals. It was still in Kent but the far opposite side of town on the other side of I-5. Now thinking of this while still at Dicks Drive In would have saved me several miles but its a 40, no need to save! 😊

Using Google Maps, I decided on an alternate trip which turned out to be not such a good idea.  Road construction thru town had all lanes dropping down to one which took a while to get thru.  But this is where E-Pedal shines so not all bad.  After picking up a $149 Lego set for $70, I departed seeing smooth sailing nearly all the way home (except Tacoma Construction of course) and decided that would end day one. 

Day Two was a planned buzz around town to get some errands done. This would be roughly 35% freeway, 65% surface streets.  As it turned out, the freeway for part of the day looked quite a bit slower so surface streets turned out to be the quicker option covering 75% of Day two. 

The Drive Computer

Not quite a full charge since the light was still blinking but
only doing a bit of balancing at this point so close enough!
35.5 kwh available, 401.78 volts, 97.6% SOC LEAF Spy estimate 170.4
miles (4.8 miles per kwh setting to 1% SOC). Remember, GOM
history of 4.9 miles/kwh would equate to  173.9 miles. Notice the single
 segment of regen available? 

This is emerging from Tacoma construction slowdown. Estimated range 169.9 miles
which is practically dead on the LEAF Spy estimate of 170.4 miles. Trip so far was
a rough entry to I-5 due to Diamond merge construction at Marvin Road in Lacey.
A few mins of slow traffic around Joint Base Lewis Mcchord so predominate speed
of 65 mph not reflected here. I love the trip computer but wish it had separate entry
showing average moving speed that discounts time in park or stops exceeding 10

Here we have the effects of traffic slowdown and the downhill run into Seattle. 
Notice the HUGE 5.4 miles per kwh is not being reflected on the GOM? 
That is a monumental change from previous LEAFs. (Only took 8
years to get it right) Estimated range 174.1 miles

Kinda missed what I wanted to capture. I have phone on holder that is extended to its 
max so it bounces around a lot and was unable to get focused shot of 5.6 miles/kwh
before it updated. Stats update every 30 seconds.  The average speed is no longer 
accurate as it includes about 20-30 mins of "park" time while car was on.  (Yes, I was 
flooding the air with electrons. 😋) Estimated range 170.1 miles. 

Miles/kwh dropping fast but range estimate isn't. 163.7 miles estimated. 

Side trip thru town past construction requiring merge to single lane. Surprisingly
my performance and range estimate dropped?  Now 161.1 miles. Looks like that reserve
is getting bigger...

Same miles/kwh and relatively steady freeway speeds bouncing from low 50's to
near 70 (Nissan speed which means probably 65-66 mph...) Range is now 158.7.

Parked again. Downhill to my neighborhood boosted the range a touch. So range now
estimated to be 164.8 miles so recent performance will change estimate if hill is long
enough.  Now LEAF Spy does not take performance into account. Only uses target
SOC (1% for me) remaining juice (9.1 kwh) to create estimate (41 miles.) So that would
be 171 miles which is above what it started with. But realize not all of that 9.1 kwh
will be available to me. Only a perfect cell balance would guarantee that and mine
is good but not perfect. In fact, the lowest I have done is .2 kwh (in 30 kwh LEAF)
but no lower than .6 kwh on this LEAF.  Notice LEAF Spy setting is at 4.6 miles/kwh?
Got changed somehow while driving around. I was using Go Pro for phone and had to
reset it a few times.

EPA has been achieved! (FYI another ~ 20-25 mins of idle time was added lowering
average speed.)  Using the 5.3 miles per kwh, we can estimate of usable 6.5 kwh available
or another 35 miles.

LBW (Low Battery Warning) Not sure if age has changed this or its not
super specific like previous LEAFs but was expecting this to come on
at 87 GIDs.  LBW is when the estimated miles (GOM) starts blinking.
I took 4 pix of this and this was only one in focus but GOM was 17
miles for anyone wondering.  LEAF Spy estimate @ 4.8 miles/kwh 31.8
miles. GOM estimated based on 5.3 miles/kwh 35 miles.

Interim shot for reference.  Notice we traveled 9 miles and lost 8 miles on GOM

VLBW (Very Low Battery Warning) We are officially blind!  Now pix is a bit hard to see
but SOC meter is at 2% (notice LEAF Spy is at 12.2%) Previous experiences had VLBW
coming on at 61 GIDs.

For anyone who had an older LEAF, 49 GIDs (or 48 in some cases) should be
a familiar sight since this is when the LBW was triggered on the 24/30 kwh
LEAF.  Notice we have traveled another 3½ miles (country road 40-50 mph)
Sorry for pix quality. Took several, none really came out.

End of Test. I resisted the urge to make another lap around the Olympia Airport. I had
passed Tumwater Webasto twice previously and each time it was in use. This time it
was empty so decided it was far enough!


So the test covered 169.8 miles and I did not make to the 3rd of 4 range warnings. The 3rd one happens when SOC meter goes to "_ _ _" which happens right about where VLBW warning happens with 24/30 kwh LEAFs with the 4th we all know and dread.   So the question becomes what is the likely true range of the LEAF? 

Well, there are a few ways to look at it. Considering the weather, an all freeway trip running 60-65 mph would have been right at the 4.8 miles per kwh setting I had on LEAF Spy or 170.4 miles (which also contributed to my decision to end the test).  As we saw, around here that is a tough drive to make unless you are headed south to Portland. Now I did do that trip a few weeks ago but the weather did not agree including a 10 mile stretch on I-5 where it rained so hard, I could barely see. Freeway traffic dropped to 35-40 mph.  Despite all that (and a much faster trip home) I still achieved 4.2 miles per kwh. I was at 4.8 until I broke out of Portland gridlock and it was 70-75 mph for most of the remaining trip. 

But we averaged 5.3 miles per kwh which would have been 185 miles. Now if we assume that Turtle will hit at .6 kwh remaining, that leaves us 3.1 kwh to use which means 185 miles is not all that unlikely.

In Conclusion

So does this mean that the GOM is better or worse?  Well, both of course. We have demonstrated that the GOM no longer swings wildly on every little hill as it once did. On the long downhill into Seattle, gaining .5 miles per kwh over the entire trip on equated in a 4 mile bump in the estimated range. My back of the hand calculation says that 4 mile bump was actually the range gained during the actual downhill ascent as it was in regen most of the time. 

But it still stops reporting range way too early. If you examine the numbers on the Trip Computer shots you will see a growing hidden reserve as the SOC gets lower. Notice when at 81% SOC, GOM and LEAF Spy were almost identical?  After that point, the disparity grows. Now the GOM was close to my LEAF Spy estimate but only because LEAF Spy was set to 4.8 miles/ kwh and the trip ended at 5.3 miles per kwh. 

Looks like the GOM is better but is still only a tool that needs to be understood. Now the Trip Computer was new for the 2018 MY but I have been using a variant of it since day one. Every morning, I reset my Miles per kwh setting and my Trip A on my previous LEAFs when logging the previous day's stats.  This I found to be very useful but it still suffered from the wild adjustments.  The 2018 LEAF has fixed a lot of that making it more accurate. So before you complain about not hitting the EPA, realize that your LEAF has a lot more to give than its letting on. 

As always, comments are welcome.  I do realize the data is a bit scattered on this post so if you have a question or need clarification, you are likely not the only one so ASK!! 

Friday, April 12, 2019

March 2019 Driving Report; Time Marches On!

March is over, the weather is warming up and 5 miles per kwh is starting to reappear again which means driving season is nearly upon us!  For the month, I abused public charging for over 166 kwh reducing my home charging costs to $10... NOT!!! (It was actually $9.39...)  Since it wasn't January, April, July or October,  degradation was nearly non-existent! But... 😔 that is the reason this report is a bit late. More on that below.

Milwaukie Expansion of Electric Avenue

On Saturday April 6th, I journeyed south to Milwaukie OR for the launch of Portland General Electric's (PGE) newest Electric Avenue location.  This is the 3rd location of 6 currently planned to open in the near future.  Milwaukie has 4 DCFCs with both CCS and Chademo along with a dual head level 2 outputting up to 30 amps.  The DCFCs are 50 KW and The Electric Avenue stations are priced at $3 for a 2 hour level 2 session,  $5 for a 2 hour DCFC session or you can opt for $25 monthly for unlimited.  Access is thru RFID card or the Greenlots mobile app.

RAV plug in on the left, Tesla on the right!  

Normally you launch the Greenlots App, scan the QR code and the station is initialized. One QR code was scanning to a station at another location so that wasn't quite working but you can also type in the 5 digit station code as well.  The station was quick to react and took all of roughly 10 seconds for the charge to start.  My pack was roughly 105º so you can see RapidGate still flourishing unlike the Europeans who got a SW fix that greatly lessens the effect.

  Despite the RapidGate issue, I still got what I needed in a decent amount of time.  Notice the 26%? That was my starting point. Very nice info to have!

It only took 37 mins to get the 20 kwh that I needed to do the 128 miles back to Oly.

In talking with the PGE reps at the event, the initial planning will be 6 locations with Salem being the southern boundary.  The $25 unlimited monthly plan likely means every Uber driver in the area will be using these stations extensively.  With the PGE plan combined with the Webasto $20 a month unlimited plan, this becomes a HUGE financial advantage (see gas price comment below) when computing costs especially when claiming the standard federal mileage deduction.  Not hard to see why EVs are exploding with Uberites.

But for drive thrus and visitors to the area, $5 for a QC session up to 2 hours (most won't need that much time) means even a LEAFer suffering the full force of RapidGate will be able to get a charge to 90%.  Better yet, this allows a full meal stop.  Normally, the QCs I do don't allow a sit down meal. So its fast food or food to go. I am ok with that. I have had tons of jobs where time to eat was minimal (IF available) so it was eat it while you can so eating fast is something I do most of the time but there are those days where sitting down to taste the food while eating is a nice change of pace.   Bolts and newer LEAFs will be able to get a charge that rivals or even beats their home rates. A great deal for the EVer and hopefully won't be too abused by local residents.  Either way, when visiting the area, these stations are moving to the top of my list when my NCTC runs out in 10 months!


A company in Holland has live testing of range extender for the LEAF! We have a LEAFer testing a 17 kwh extender pack on his 24 kwh LEAF. Details are thin but looks like we may have a buyable product here soon.   Don't let the Holland location scare you. They are working on a DIY option for the US. If you want to get in line, do so here

Not bad for a 9 bar LEAF, eh? 


PGE is not the only one expanding our public charging choices.  EA is installing a 6 stall charging site at my local Walmart in Lacey less than 5 miles from my house. No idea when it will be live as some EA locations get built quickly then languish sometimes several months before getting turned on.  With their connect fees, high per minute rates and my 40 kwh RapidGate, they won't be used in anything other than an emergency for me but for Plus owners, it might not be too bad.  One reports the full 50 KW speed up to 89% SOC on his SL+.  That goes a long way towards getting decent additional range are a reasonable price. 

Walmart in Lacey, WA

EVGO is also on the move. As it always seems to be, I wanted to check out the new EVGO station in Bellingham but it was the same day as Milwaukie!  Don't it figure? Go all year with nothing to do then two things on the same day???  Must be DCFC season! 😄

Its A Bird! Its A Plane! NO!! Its The Price of Gasoline!

Rumor has it, the price of gas is skyrocketing and may hit $4 around here before tapering off shortly after Memorial Day. I have to admit, I drive by gas stations all the time but simply don't notice what gas is selling for.  This comes as a bit of a shock as back in my Prius days, I literally tracked the price of gas everywhere I went in my quest for that elusive 5 cents per mile.  I think back on those days and its hard for me to understand what the fuss was about?

Costco CC Year End Summary

Last year, I spent $85.43 on vehicle services which means gasoline. I guess it "could" mean other things concerning cars but I have several credit cards used for specific purposes so in this case, it would be gasoline only. I did have my gasser until I got my 2018 and did give it away with a full tank of gas and I was forced to drive it for part of the 4 week delay between the death of my S30 and the arrival of my S40.  But the bulk of the cost was during vacation when I drove from Michigan to SW Ohio to visit my Son, Devin.  But this summary got me thinking so I looked back on previous years and found that even when I was part of a two Prius (and my ZENN) household, we were at or over $1,000 a year in gasoline.

Its kind of shocking I don't miss those days at all.  😏

Degradation On A Schedule

Its been nearly 90 days and I made a prediction privately to a handful of people and publicly in my blog,  that my "adjustment" was due.   Every 90ish days since my pack's conception (pack initialization, not delivery date) I have seen a rapid drop of SOH.   I purposely held off on the month's report to see it would happen and it did.  Remember the drop 90ish days ago last from Jan 8-14? Normally, the drop happens in a few days but my guess is light driving might have drawn out the adjustment, maybe?  

Soooo... Starting April 8th to this morning, my SOH has dropped from 92.90% to 92.05% just as expected.  Unlike the previous 90 days (which saw the largest drop) mentioned above (which had nearly no fast charging and a highly managed SOC) I did go back to a slightly lower than normal (for me but probably higher for others) DCFC use so my reward?  I guess I have to say the drop, although still dramatic still was less than the previous 90 days.   For a reminder;

Notice the 92.99 SOH on Feb 21st and the 92.90% SOH on April 8th?  Well that 47 days with a total .09% loss but this log tracks every 1,000 miles.  Looking at the daily log, we have 93.05 on Jan 14th ( right after the last adjustment) or a loss of .15% over 85 days.

All this along with very similar numbers from other LEAF 40's from around the World is cultivating a growing doubt about the programming controlling the LBC (Lithium Battery Controller) and BMS.

Or maybe I have the degradation that is gradual and the BMS is only accurate after these adjustments?  Adding my 17,000 mile stats to the chart above bumps my extrapolated SOH (to 100,000 miles) to 60.1% but only because it misses the recent adjustment. Plugging in this morning's numbers drops my extrapolates SOH to 56.55%.  I am on pace to receive a replacement pack well before the 100,000 mile warranty period.  Makes the "dump it or trust it" decision at lease end time a bit more interesting.  I guess it's all about how well I will like driving a LEAF with 35% of its capacity missing while having to pay for nearly all my public charging. Makes me wish I could select which two years I get the free charging...