Sunday, November 23, 2014

TCO Equals ZERO!!!

On Wednesday, I booked 78 miles of personal transportation for work which they will reimburse me at the rate of probably 39 cents per mile. This brings my total reimbursement in the LEAF for 2014 to roughly $4352.

So what does that mean?  Well in 2014,  my expenses were

Lease @ $245.75 a month or $2949
Insurance   $837  (5 months at $68 and probably 7 months at $71)
electricity/public charging fees estimated;  $375  (YTD $342.71)
Tabs; $179.75 which does include a $100 EV penalty fee (I call it like it is!!) and a $30 Seattle Seahawk custom plate fee (wouldn't leave home without it!)  other than that, WA State tabs are fairly cheap if you don't live in the rapid transit district up north :)

But all that adds up to... oh wait!  Maintenance was about $10 for windshield wipers although they have not been installed yet.  so "that" adds up to $4,350.75

which means my total cost of ownership for the rest of the year is PAID OFF!!

Now, in all fairness, I should mention this has not been without repercussions since I am nearly 17,000 miles on my LEAF with 5 weeks left in my first year of my 15,000 mile annual lease.  So I should probably add  $300 to the cost of TCO for a lease mileage penalty... BUT I AM NOT!!! (Mostly because I don't want to delete this post...)

Actually, I will likely just break even this year and considered removing items that were not required for the car like the Seahawks tab costs but then again, would that be a true TCO?  I guess it could be a true CO... or FCO (false cost of ownership?)  or maybe I am putting too much into it. I did spend $10.87 on wiper blades that I have yet to install. I could wait till January.  But anyway, on the break even comment; if anyone remembers, I did break my passenger side view mirror mount and it was $239 to replace that piece of plastic so that will probably push my true TCO nearer to Christmas than Thanksgiving but I still have plenty to be thankful for!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Buyers BEWARE!!! This is a MUST READ!!

This concerns a purchase of a used 2011 Nissan LEAF VIN 222 from Tacoma Nissan in July of this year.  The car came with 34,000+ miles and 12 capacity bars on it. This is not unusual for the Pacific Northwest as I turned in my 2011 LEAF VIN 258 with nearly 45,000  miles and all 12 capacity bars intact.  I was at 57.11 ahr so still had a few thousand miles to go on bar 12. ( most report losing first capacity bar in the mid to low 54's)

But the honeymoon did not last as she recently lost bar #10 (3 bars gone) a few days ago. How could this have happened.  She posted on Facebook about her dilemma and a 2011 is a rather rare model and the interest of such a model was great so my first thought; "What is your VIN?"  and as luck would have it; it was a very well known VIN.

It took a bit of searching (and help) but found this posted Jan 15, 2014

I had a SoCal 3 bar loser:

Car 222 omkar Irvine, CA
3 bars lost at 35 months (11/19/2013) / 33,700 miles
2 bars lost at 29 months (5/25/2013) / 29,500 miles
1 bar lost at 20 months (9/5/2012) / 19,000 miles

This is a major problem and no less heinous as rolling back an odometer to increase a car's resale value. But that is really the only clear part here. Who is to blame? The car came from out of state so it was likely a auction purchase. What did Tacoma Nissan know about the car's history? It is conceivable that they were as much in the dark as anyone else. The owner said there does appear to be several entries in CARFAX but was unable to get details of the report without paying for it.

The VIN in question is JN1AZ0CP6BT000222.  Knowing the details of that report might shed some light on how duplicitous  Tacoma Nissan's role is in this scenario.

Either way, this is an issue that needs to be resolved ASAP and I encourage everyone who reads this to pass it around as much as you can. We need to get the word out! This is something that cannot go unnoticed!!

I will be posting MUCH more about this as it comes in!!


**Update; We shall soon have the warranty history and carfax info which hopefully will tell us what was known, when it was known and who knew what was known.


Here is a pix of her car taken Aug 3, 2014 after a few days of ownership. Notice all 12 bars are showing??


Stay tuned!!


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Are My LEAFs Ecopias Really That Bad?

Just the other day I was wandering up I-5 just south of Highway 167 when suddenly the car in front of me spun out of control. I then saw a truck tire tread in the roadway and swerved out of its path by violently jerking the wheel in the pouring rain.   I did realize about halfway thru my maneuver that it was simply too severe and let off on the wheel a bit correcting back so I essentially ended up altering my path of travel by only a few feet at the most. To my surprise, I did not break traction even slightly.

Now I do drive a bit slower than most and because of my neutral driving habits, I tend to maintain a larger than normal following distance mixed in with shorter than normal following distances especially if I was caught shifting back to drive a bit late.  But all this happens at pretty low speeds and there have been times where vigorous braking was needed to keep the peace (and pieces) together. In all those situations, my LEAF handled well. I attribute it mostly to a very low center of gravity and the extra traction a heavy battery pack can give.

Now as mentioned several times, my plan had always been to drive the Corolla much more than this past Summer and so far the plan is working somewhat.  Yesterday while running errands for work in Tukwila, I could not help but notice a few times I braked that the Corolla breaks traction MUCH easier than the LEAF.  Ok, so its lighter but I was not going faster... or was I?

The LEAF's super smooth ride and stability in cornering has lulled me a bit I think.  It only took one time for me to realize that the Corolla has to be at least 10-15 MPH slower thru the roundabouts in the neighborhood.  I do admit to not touching the brakes entering the roundabouts in the LEAF. It is part of the fun of EVing; zipping and dashing at 35 MPH or less!  The car is perfect for congested, in-town driving. Its responsive acceleration at low speeds are perfect for squeezing into that momentary opening before it vanishes!

Well, that extra weight has seemingly helped with low speed braking.  Now, the Corolla is a 2000 and does not have anti lock brakes which really makes a lot of difference; much more difference than I had imagined.  All these modern advances has essentially degraded our ability to drive. No wonder we suck on the road!

But what I really would like is feedback from anyone who drives the LEAF and a newer gasser enough to be able to compare them. Now, not looking for Porsche comments. I want someone who has a run of the mill passenger car with ABS at the very least to chime in.  Does the LEAFs added stability and low center of gravity overcome the shortcomings of its tires as compared to a passenger car with better tires?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

October 2014 Driving Stats

OK, I know I said I was parking the LEAF more and using the Corolla and that is the plan (although, I didn't really start using the Corolla until this week) although it was a bit slow in being implemented. Now we just had a all time record warm October so the "Winter Range hit" was more "dirty look" category than "hit."

The LEAF still managed to go 1622 miles for a cost of $39.82 which includes $8.82 in public charging fees. The bit hit was Blink and its new pay per Kwh pricing. I had to use them to show my support and once it was vital as I was in a major time crunch (perfect time to switch to the Corolla but the weather was gorgeous and... well, you know!) so fast charging was the only option. $435.24 has been reimbursed from work so far with another $80 or so pending.  There was a glitch in last month's paycheck so some of what I got this month by rights should have been received last month but whatever. As long as I get it, that is all that matters.

The Corolla paid off some of its ROI debt driving 411 miles at cost of roughly $33.70. The huge drop in gas prices was a big help lowering per mile fuel costs to 7.7 cents per mile. Work payout so far $102.96 with nearly $100 pending (remember, I just started driving the car this week...)

This month both cars received additional charges. The LEAF has decent wiper blades since I use RainX extensively so the wipers don't do as much duty as you might think living in the rainy Pacific Northwest but Costco had sales on wiper inserts at $4.50 each so to be cheap like I am, I got two of the 22" blades (driver's side....don't care if passenger can see where I am going) that I will need one day. Cost $9.09.

Which brings me to the Corolla. EVing has created some pretty bad habits for me and that is not caring about maintenance. What can I say? its hard to care about next to nothing! Well, the Corolla was neglected. This week when driving it for the first time in 3 weeks, I noticed the temp gauge riding a notch higher than normal. So I checked water; ok. Checked oil and it was 2  quarts low! OH NO! That gasser POS is gonna cost me a fortune! So went back to Costco, got a case of oil for $27.23.

Oh well. FYI; I am about 600 miles away from being due for an oil change! another month of no ROI gains coming up, but then again, since I am now 1,000 miles past my lease mileage with almost 2 months to go this year, i might have to drive the Corolla a bit more this month


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

80% Charging; Why I Don't Miss It And Why You Shouldn't Either

Guess what? Unless you want to do the math EVERY NIGHT and mess with the timer on your LEAF, you can't do 80% charging any more.  So why did Nissan decide to remove "long life charging" mode?  Well, maybe they figured out what I did.

Some background for the two people not familiar with my story. I work for an Marketing/Audit/Inventory company.  We do our work at our client's location and my district's territory covers Western WA from Seatac, WA South to Centrailia and West including the entirety of the Olympic Peninsula and South to Long Beach WA on the coast.  That is a LOT of territory!

We generally only have a choice of company vehicles when the one way commute is greater than 100 miles. After that its our POV so my driving need is beyond the norm.  FYI; my 15,000 mile annual lease limit is now been exceeded by 890 miles and I still have almost 2 months to prepare for my LEAF's Birthday...

So needless to say, even if I had 80% charging, I would never use it. Had it on my 2011 and never used it there either but there are other benefits to fully charging your LEAF such as conditioning your LEAF to better address your driving needs.  Sounds confusing? let me explain.

Based on my lease mileage issues and the start of the rainy season, I have to drive the Corolla more.  It sits outside under a tree and if I don't drive it regularly (unlike the once every 4-6 weeks this past Summer) it will become a haven for mold, mildew and other things I am guessing I won't appreciate. So the LEAF has spent the last 6 days mostly sitting the nice dry garage unplugged.

I actually went 3 days not plugging it in at all with the rest of the time just plugging it in for an hour or so here and there never getting past 11 charge bars. So what happened?

Well, as expected, my battery stats plummeted. I have blogged previously about how battery stats can be manipulated which was really more of a curiosity than anything else but the results did suggest that top end balancing was a good thing that should be done on a regular basis.

ahr went from 66.37 to 63.56
kwh available from 22.0 to 21.4
GIDs from 284 to 276
Hx from 102.58 to 97.58

So what does all this mean? probably not a whole lot.  There is NO evidence whatsoever that top end balancing or lack thereof causes any permanent damage.  So whether you do it every day like I do or once a month, you are probably ok.

But this does bring up some interesting observations.  I have contended from day one that my 2013 LEAF has more range than my 2011 and it was not a popular idea at first. Now that a lot of people have claimed the same thing, its now "somewhat" accepted to be true. And to be fair; its only a few miles more like about 4 or 5 so easy to miss, ESPECIALLY if you have not properly "trained" your battery to do a range test.

Tony Williams does a great job of testing ranges of various EVs by going thru great lengths to insure the testing conditions are as similar as possible but the one thing he has not done is conditioned the LEAF by charging it to full for several days in advance of the test and this is likely why his tests show only 21ish kwh (FYI; My LEAF when new showed 22.7 kwh available... wondering just how big my LEAF's pack is nowadays?) available and that is EXACTLY what mine shows as available when I don't do any top end charging.  In Tony's defense, he is testing cars that are not his so he has no control over the charging habits of the tester car and realistically, its a few miles; not really that important in the overall picture.

But the question remains; Should you charge to 80% (or any level below full) or 100% and what is the best thing to do?

Well, a few things to think about.  Pack balance is important. Only a well balanced pack can give you the chance to get the full range from your LEAF and sometimes every little bit can help. I am pretty certain this fact kept me from walking one day!  Now batteries are pretty flexible so they can take a lot but there is a breaking point and that happens when you charge too much or discharge too deeply. Now, Nissan has taken care of the "charge too much" thing limiting us to no more than a 97% SOC on the top end but the bottom end is a bit of a different story and the reason is an unbalanced pack means its possible a single cell could be overly stressed leading to a premature end.

Now a well designed BMS is supposed to protect against that and I have no doubt Nissan has addressed this issue but the delta in an unbalanced pack is greatest at lower SOC.  Normally my voltage delta is 20 mV or less.  10 or 11 mV is normal but when the SOC gets low...

 
So the potential for damage is MUCH greater.  So its 328 mV variance or  this.  You decide.



The other thing to think about is... well getting there! We all know the LEAF's range is limited but then again is it? Despite my "slightly" greater than normal need, I have only been forced to gas it 6 times in 10 months.  I have actually driven the gasser more times just to keep it active.  But is it better to run the SOC from 80% to 15% or  100% (or whatever) to 35%?

I think its the latter and not because of the screen shots above.  "Experts" say we drive 38 miles a day but do we really?  We may commute that much but some of us have lives! My "unexpertise" analysis says Life adds another 20 miles to the equation making "want" needs to be more like 60 miles.

So charging to 100% really just allows you more options, less stress, more ready to EV it! So how can that be bad?

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Road to Hell Just Got MUCH Shorter

Gas prices are plummeting and many people are now looking at bigger SUVs and sedans at the car lots again.

The US is now the #1 producer of oil in the World passing Saudi Arabia and Russia. They have been #1 in Natural Gas production since 2010 despite reports that a Billion dollars of NG is flared off EVERY DAY on the Bakken Reserve.

But there is a conundrum. If oil prices drop too much, oil recovery could become too expensive and that would slow the roll in North Dakota which recently surpassed a million barrels of oil a day.  To keep that in perspective. In 2008, the most productive fields were producing barely half of that. With new fracking techniques, The Bakken becomes the 4th US field to surpass the million barrel mark.  But rejuvenating old fields and tripling their production rates takes a lot of money AND resources. Money is not a roadblock. The oil companies have plenty of that. The resources, namely water, well that is a different story.

North Dakota has now become the most expensive place to live due to the Oil boom there. Some places boast rent levels more than double the poshest Manhattan address.  The area's ability to support the huge influx of workers has been strained beyond the breaking point.  "Experts" say the boom could last as long as 5 years while others predict 25 years. So much for "expertise."

A couple I used to work with live in Rochester, WA a town of roughly 2,000 people just south of Olympia.  3 years ago, Kevin got fed up with the low pay at his job and signed up with a temp agency that was promising him an annual salary of more than 75,000 a year.  It did require travel and he eventually ended up working for an Drilling company near Dickinson, ND. He got a job as a truck driver hauling water from one drilling site to another which in itself sounded pretty easy except for the fact that the volume of water required was enormous and the area is generally pretty dry.  What water that was there was either already taken or not for sale.

Although he was paid based loosely on an hourly wage (his paycheck was so confusing even he did not know what it was) his potential to earn bonuses easily tripled his take home pay. But bonuses were awarded on how well he was able to meet his schedule of deliveries.  Each week it seemed, he had to drive farther and farther to new sources of water.  During a trip to a farm in Montana he had a rare chance to talk with the property owner (most were VERY hostile to him and kept their distance)  who said that the payment he received for selling water was enough to erase 25 years of debt, pay off his mortgage, buy a new truck and car for the wife and send them to Hawaii for their first vacation in 15 years. But the farmer was now expressing regret. He simply had no idea how much water they would take since he only allowed access to the property with no mention of volumes.

Within a week, they came in, built temporary roads and drilled a dozen wells onto his property. Each filling a large tank servicing 4-10 water trucks daily.  Kevin did not find out exactly what the drilling company paid for the water but estimated there was probably at least 3-4 million dollars worth of equipment there.

Three months later, Kevin came home with cash, a LOT of it.  Towards the end, he was working 80 hours a week because the bonuses just got crazier and crazier. The other reason was he could not find a permanent place to live.  As it was, he was staying at a hotel in Montana over 50 miles from the truck yard renting a room by the hour. Depending on where it was or which room, it was costing him $100 a day.  the company he was working for was offering 12 week contracts but would not allow him to work consecutive contracts. He was required to take a break between them but there were new contracts offered every week. Committing to a contract in advance was a $200 bonus, so he had 3 weeks before he had to be back.

Kevin talked Sherry, his wife into quitting and going with him. They went out and bought an RV and a brand new truck. Then they set out leaving their 3 kids with the grandparents promising they would be back in 3 months for good.

Fast forward to Spring of 2013. I was working when I ran into Sherry shopping. (not their real names although I doubt they care) She said they were still doing the oil thing although they do take 2 months off during the worst of Winter.  Kevin has changed jobs a few times because he was getting ripped off on his paychecks or so he thought.  She had gone there, got a job in a diner eventually moving up to manager, bookkeeper, supply runner.  She did that for a year then had to quit because of issues with her kids. The grandparents were getting older and managing the kids in their small mobile home got to be too much.

They now had a big house they bought that included a guest house where the grandparents live on 2 acres in Rochester.  Kevin was now delivering supplies and pipe and general what not to drilling sites, some as much as 200 miles away.  They still had their RV and was paying $1800 a month for lot rent in a converted farmer's field. There was no power or water hookups. A water truck came twice a week to fill the portable showers (it cost extra for that) and the RV was powered by the onboard generator which meant the "park" was always noisy with the sound of idling engines droning on all night.  

Because the water truck rarely provided enough water for the site's showers, Once a week, they drove up to 100 miles to dump the waste tank and to fill up every container they could get their hands on with water.  Finding a place to dump their "brown" water was a challenge and expensive costing as much as $100. Illegal dumping was commonplace as was illegal camping.  She only went out for a few days to visit every few weeks or so and bring fresh bedding, clothes food and etc.

Last year, Kevin made over $100,000 and they figure to have the house paid off by the end of the year.  Kevin wanted to start applying for jobs in the Olympia area soon. They figured they would have the house paid off sometime early in 2014.

I guess the most shocking part of seeing Sherry is that she looked like she had aged 10 years. I am not sure how old she was but guessing she had to be in her early to mid 20's when we first started working together in 2006.  I jokingly said she should have bought a house in ND but she gave me a look that definitely said that was not an option. She then hinted another reason she was no longer working there was that is was starting to get scary there. She had seen way too many bad things go on in the diner.  Fights over food, showers, etc.  Even while staying there, she might go 2-3 days without seeing Kevin because of his working hours and it was just too much time alone dealing with customers that were getting meaner and meaner.

I got the impression in North Dakota's case, money is not the answer to everything.

P.S.
I was hoping to get an update from them but I really don't know where they live. What the heck? I saw them every day at work for 6 years... Hope to have an update about their story some day.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

What Do We Want in LEAF II?

A discussion has been fueled by comments from Nissan that the redesigned LEAF coming in a few years will be have a look of less "EVness."  We take that to mean that it will be less distinctive and more mainstream looking. So, what do we want?

** Driver Seating Position; Getting into and out of my LEAF is by far the easiest of any car I have used in years. Maybe I am getting old but I feel like I am climbing out of a hole in my other cars. No so with the LEAF.  Frequently, I am spending up to 90 minutes on a commute home which makes me rather stiff so an easy exit is much desired.

Maybe this is another benefit to a limited range EV. Less driver fatigue. I will admit to stopping in Fife for a quick boost and coffee to clear  the cobwebs from my head when Blink was still free  more than a few times at the end of a long day. Sometimes, just getting out of the car and taking a brisk walk of a few blocks during a cold Winter's day was enough. This resulted in the many times I stopped and charged for 10 minutes or less.

** At least 4 doors.  The hatchback design is awesome but can be inconvenient but not as bad as a trunk can be. Easier loading plus fold down seats makes the storage options in the current LEAF very flexible so definitely would love to have that again but not opposed to a great sedan design either!

** Another price cut. Nissan released the S trim in 2013 and I have to guess they wished they had done it sooner. Cutting a few thousand off the price really brought in a large group of new buyers who shied away from the near mid 30's price sticker.  But then again that is the Human Psyche when it comes to buying. That "starts under $30,000" is what got them in the door to buy. After the commit to buy is done, the salesman should NEVER again mention the purchase price. After that is all about "for an extra $21 a month (without mentioning what the monthly payment is) you can get "this" and "that".  No matter that the average S selling price was actually closer to $32,000, it was still that "less than $30,000" that did it.

Now, cutting the price before now was probably not doable but it has to be now. Higher volumes,  Production experience, and advancing technology should be making the LEAF cheaper to build. The next S needs to come in at $25,000 before incentives which btw, ain't gonna be around forever.

** Connectivity.  AKA; get rid of 2G!  Built in wi-fi that can be billed thru your cellular provider after a interim trial period, internet SW updates, etc.  This would allow a real ability to search for and determine the status of charging stations in the area.  Remember the story about someone who was told to take their LEAF in for a checkup and mentioned oddities about the car and the response was Ya, we know. Carwings alerted us and that is why we told you to come in? or some such.  That was great. Some of these features could become an additional revenue stream for Nissan to help offset the loss of service revenue.

Ok, so a lot of you will say "Bill me for wi-fi? forget it!"  well, its better than paying for XM Radio! Verizon used to offer this service and once upon a time you could even bill your OnStar services thru them.  This is an option that could easily be brought back.  Yes a multi-platform system would be required but keep in mind; the hardware is pretty cheap. The service is where the money's at.

** OPTIONS!! We need choices. Nissan needs to take a page from Tesla and offer a MINIMUM of 3 battery pack sizes.  Keep the 24 kwh pack (that is all most of us need anyway)  but add two more sizes as options available across all trims.

As competition builds, Nissan will see pressure to lower prices. Again, this can be circumvented by offering low and piling on options.  Multiple battery pack sizes is the easiest way. The new breed of EV'ers will be the less adventurous, mostly wanting to save money on the gas bill. They will have multiple cars, be attracted to the new lower sticker prices and "thinking" their existing gasser will still be the main source of transportation with the LEAF being a valuable niche player. We all know better.

Soon, the LEAF will be the main driver and the real thought process begins on getting the "loaded S" with the big battery, fast charger, etc.  This will be Nissan's bread and butter.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

New Battery Observations!! (No, not that one, the "other" one!)

Once again, another report of a dead 12 volt battery on the LEAF.  Why is this happening?  A computer also needs a battery supply to start up. The battery retains basic knowledge about the computer, its hardware and configuration settings so its BIOS can tell the processor how to talk to its various peripherals.

The LEAF battery fills pretty much the same role including a check of the system before it connects the traction battery. So its essential to the operation of the LEAF. Without it, its like having a gasser with a dead 12 volt battery; its simply no go.

With nearly 60,000 LEAF Miles under my belt, I have yet to experience this issue. This includes a time on my 2011 when a door was not closed correctly. I realized the error a few hours later when I went to start up the LEAF to do an errand and noticed the dome light was dimmer than normal. Luckily the car started ok and the dash alerted me to the door ajar issue. My short trip (added a 15 minute cruise around for good measure) was enough to get the battery back on track.

Now this was also about the time when the first reports of people having a dead battery surfaced. Initially, the user was blamed. Left lights on, left car on (ya, this one never made sense) or left door ajar, etc.

Then there was dead batteries after being plugged in while away on extended trips. We found that the 12 volt battery gets a boost every few days if NOT LEFT PLUGGED IN.  So we then decided if gone more than say 3-4 days, charge the LEAF to 50% SOC more or less and leave it unplugged and we should be good right?

Then Casey, A Seattle LEAFer left his car unplugged at 50% SOC for only 2½ days and his  12 volt battery was dead. What the hey!! He did what he was supposed to do and it did not work.  Obviously there was more to this than we realized. This is when I started monitoring my 12 volt battery on the 2011.  What was readily apparent is the car was simply not maintaining a healthy voltage for the battery.

Unlike other battery's chemistry, Lead acid should remain at the upper end of the SOC range as much as possible. extended periods at lower voltages dramatically shortens its life.  So the voltage target should be around 12.7-12.8 volts more or less.  My LEAF's 12 volt battery frequently read in the 12.1-12.3 range.  The longer it sat, the lower it would go. Yes, after a few days, the traction battery would kick in and give it a boost.  How much of a boost, I do not know. I never had an opportunity to monitor this because not driving the LEAF for that long a period was simply not an option and when it was, I was out of town!

Now, all this would make more sense if the issues were uniform but they were not. Some people were seeing dead batteries after a few days, some after overnight periods sandwiched between daily use and others were just fine after several weeks of inactivity.  So the conclusion might have been that Nissan needed to find a better 12 volt battery supplier.  Plus getting them replaced at the dealership was surprising pain free leading me to believe that Nissan had discovered something with the quality of the batteries or their own programming.

Fast forward to now and the recent reports of another battery failure. So it was get the meter back out and start measuring again.  After nearly 10 months and 15,000 miles, I have not had an issue so was not really expecting to get much insight to checking battery voltages but that never stopped me before, so

Like the 2011, my 2013's 12 volt battery seems to settle into a uncomfortably low resting voltage around 12.45 volts give or take.  A bit higher than the 2011 but far from the 12.7ish I would prefer.  I plugged in the car which had an SOC of about 30%, and charged it 90 minutes then checked voltage and it was 12.99 volts.  I unplugged the car, waited 15 minutes, checked voltage, it was 12.65 volts and plugged car back in. Voltage immediate rose to 13.00.

I unplugged car. Let it sit for an hour and voltage dropped back to 12.46 volts.  I plugged car back in and voltage immediately rose to 14.40 volts. So the battery was getting a boost now. So there is a cut in voltage level that initiates a battery boost.

I repeated the process this morning and saw the same results.  So, I did learn a few things about how the LEAF "manages" its 12 volt system but this did not really explain why others still continue to have issues including Tyrel who also has a 2013 and has been DIG (dead in garage) 3 times!

First thought (the fact that they are so easy to blame was a factor!) was Carwings. Carwings uses stone age tech to communicate with Nissan HQ thru the AT&T 2G network. This is a power drain on the 12 volt battery and whether its a little or a lot, its ongoing and also something I do not have.

The other factor is the very nature of wireless communication itself. The stronger the signal, the less power needed to manage it.  We have all been there when you see the roam or the dreaded slashed phone symbol which means you are experiencing poor cellular signals in the area. It could be a blind spot in the network or simply being in the wrong kind of building.  What happens? a MUCH faster than normal declining battery SOC on your phone.  Well, the LEAF system is not a whole lot different.

In a previous life, I pondered over the quality of phones and their ability to function on the network and there were frequently no reasons why they did not do what they were designed to do. The more complicated the phone, the larger the issue.  Environmental factors combined with end users was the general culprit blamed and frequently for lack of a better reason.  But this does make sense. Your phone is a sensitive electronic instrument not unlike your TV or computer, but unlike your TV which spends its life stationary in a climate controlled room, your phone is abused. Its hot, its cold, it takes soda baths, salsa facials, and copes unwanted falls on a regular basis.

So back to the LEAF's failed battery issues. Well, it would seem based on my observations that the 12 volt management system seems ok. It boosts it when its below a certain voltage when you plug it in. So driving and charging regularly would imply a regular boost to the system.  So maybe we need to look at environmental factors here as well.  Cars do go thru rapid and frequent temperature fluctuations and vibration (ya, some of the roads around here really suck!)  and all of that could be a factor as well.

My LEAF does not work correctly in all things. My climate controls are possessed. They change air direction functions on their own. When I first noticed this, I thought it might be a sticky button or something because I noticed a change in air direction (face to foot/windshield is most common)  when doing various things like shifting (ya, do a LOT of that) or even changing radio stations. This got me to paying attention to what I was doing when this "spooky" stuff was happening right? (Halloween is coming so trying to stay in the season!) This is when I noticed it also happened when I was doing nothing at all but steering.  Well, I have a bug. No question about that and one day, I guess I will have it looked into when its convenient and as long as the bug does not have children who might create other issues.

In conclusion, I have no definitive conclusion. I am thinking that further data collection on my 12 volt battery will yield nothing so probably need input from you. If you have a 2013 with Carwings, try some measurements like I did to see what your charging system is doing.  I will probably try to find where the cut in voltage for a battery boost will be. Its apparently above 12.46 volts and below 12.65 volts so we shall see soon enough.

FYI's; I have never used any special charge settings. No 80%, no timers, etc.  when I had Carwings. Now, I did do charge stop, finish alerts, remote A/C on a few dozen times, etc.  Also monitored charge levels a lot on the 2011. So maybe looking at timer settings might be an option as well?

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

September 2014 Drive Report

Another month is down and I am just now seeing a slight slowdown at work (Fear not. I am just getting "down" to averaging 40 hours a week!) which is good.  It has been a long Summer and I was thinking that September has flown by but realized its because most of the month had "July-like" weather.

The Corolla drove 213 miles for an estimated cost of $19.20.  The tank consisted of one trip with gasoline at $3.819 a gallon and a longer trip with gas at $3.419 a gallon. The last tank still managed 38.11 MPG (2nd lowest figure) despite having 3 passengers for nearly all the mileage due to work.  Because of the change in gas prices, part of the work reimbursement was 42 cents per mile, the other will be at 39 cents per mile. Final figures not to be known until pay stub comes in but it will be roughly $85.77 which means its still a small contribution to my ROI return since there were no additional maintenance costs.  This still however projects to a 4 year zero balance even with the small insurance ($31 a month) and fuel costs.  But this will soon change and for two reasons.

Its getting colder which means shorter range on LEAF and the LEAF is now over 14,000 miles so I need to reduce the amount of driving in it to prevent very large mileage penalties.  I had originally planned to limit LEAF to only 80 mile commutes in Winter but now thinking that 70 or 75 miles would be better.  We shall see how it goes.

The LEAF went 2032 miles in September (all time high and only 3rd time over 2,000 miles in nearly 4 years) for an estimated cost of $36.09 which does include 55 kwh at tier two pricing.  Mileage reimbursement was $546.39.   ROI looks good but my 15,000 mile annual lease mileage does not. My anniversary date is Dec 23rd and estimated date I will hit 15,000 miles is next week...

I guess its a good thing that gas is cheap right now

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Turtle Mode!!

Since getting my first LEAF on Jan 18, 2011 I had only seen turtle mode one time and that was on purpose. I actually was doing my 100 mile trip on a cold February day when it happened but had to circle my neighborhood for the last 3 or 4 miles to make it happen.

This was ok. But Tuesday I had 6 job assignments that had me running all over Puget Sound that ran from Puyallup to Kent to Shelton. Needless to say, charging as much as I could was a priority . Now, most of the jobs were short and actually was able to make it home 3 times to charge for short stints before I had to hit the road to head to my next assignment.

This is actually a rare treat for me because most of jobs lie North of my Lacey, WA home.  But it was about 9:30 PM when going from job #5 to job #6 that I realized that I had made a critical mistake.  I had been MUCH more interested in listening to a baseball game on the radio than I was in monitoring my speed and found myself driving way too fast (smooth ride of the LEAF be damned!!) for the distance I needed to cover and immediately started plotting a route to Olympia Nissan for a quick boost.

As I came off the Highway 8 interchange to Hwy 101, I saw I had 14 GIDs but almost 5 miles to go. A quick calculation told me I would be at least 1.5 miles short. This was not looking good. I immediately cut my speed to 50 mph. There was very little traffic and the speed limit would soon drop to 45 MPH for the 101 to I-5 Interchange.   I babied it as much as I could shifting to neutral for the descent to Mud Bay. I gained speed getting up near 58 MPH but every benefit has a price.

The ascent was looming in front of me and I started up still at 14 GIDs but started losing a GID every 4 to 5 seconds.  I was SCREWED!!

Now there have been many reports that the new turtle has a lot more range than the 2011's but THAT much more?  My only turtle event, I ended up with 3 power circles left losing each circle in .1-.3 miles. So Turtle really means stop NOW and plug in. There simply is not enough left to go anywhere!

As I eased up the hill, I approached the Black Lake Blvd exit and my GIDs were now at 6, my lowest ever in LEAF II!  Then the dreaded event; Turtle made its debut upon my dash! I was still nearly 2 miles away!

I slowed to 40 MPH (speed limit here is 45 MPH) It was still a mile to the Auto Mall exit. There is a slight downslope and I shifted to neutral hoping to maintain momentum but started losing speed immediately. I did not have enough speed to begin with so reluctantly, I shifted back to drive and eased onto the pedal. I looked down and was shocked to see that I had gone from 8 power circles to 2 in about 15 seconds!

I now started running scenarios thru my head of what I was going to tell my DM when I called to tell her I would be several hours late to the jobsite.  I also began to work out how I would be able to make my 6 AM Pharmacy audit in Kent the next day which was now less than 8 hours away! I can't really call in sick. I am the boss, I have all the downloads, equipment, etc. It would VERY inconvenient to get a replacement at this late hour!  I thought about calling roadside now to get a tow truck on the way early to reduce the amount of time, I would have to wait on the side of the freeway... Oh man I was SCREWED!!!

Not wanting to feel any worse, I reluctantly glanced at the dash to see only one power circle lit and still two tenths of a mile from the Auto Mall exit, I shifted to neutral and at least I was maintaining my 40 MPH speed. As I exited the freeway, I shifted back to drive and regen gained me TWO CIRCLES!!! I was stoked but still had a mile to go.  As I approached the light to turn onto the road to the Auto Mall, I debated just running the light, maintaining a bit of momentum thus saving power but decided against it. As always, there was no traffic to speak of and it took FOREVER for the light to change. I wanted to turn off my headlights while waiting but didn't. I did turn off the radio thinking it would help (it doesn't)

Finally the light changed, I eased onto the road and immediately shifted to neutral to take advantage of the downslope of the overpass but as luck would have it, the light at the bottom of the slope changed and I had to stop for a single car (probably the only one at the intersection in the past 10 minutes!) to go thru.

As the light turned green, I took off and saw I still had 3 power circles lit. Could I actually make it??But something must have been monitoring my thoughts because one circle disappeared immediately.  With my two power circles left, I tootled down the road that last .6 of a mile to the dealership. I was only 2 blocks away!! I was going to make it!!.

I was in front of the dealership and turned to pull in having had only one power circle left for the last 4-5 blocks. The turn in to the dealership is a short but rather steep slope and I as was about halfway up, my car slowed dramatically! OH CRAP! Don't tell me I was gonna die 50 feet away from the charger with no chance of pushing the car myself.  I literally slowed to about 4 MPH but made it to the charger!!

FYI: I was never worried for a second!~