Thursday, May 30, 2013

Blink Fast Charge Rates

Guessing most of you are not surprised that this would be the next topic of conversation. So lets start with news that is not news any more since the announcement spread like wildfire thru-out the EV community. Ecotality, makers of Blink DC Fast charge stations announced a fee structure of $5 for members, $8 for guests.  Yes, the dreaded flat fee.  That means whether you are charging for 5 minutes or 55 minutes, you will pay the same.

As we are all well aware; the furor over this announcement has been quick, passionate and very one-sided.  Nearly all of us agree that $5 is very reasonable and not charging a per minute rate is a mistake. Portland Oregon's Electric Avenue Fast charge stations usage patterns show the average charge time to be just over 15 minutes with nearly half of the charging session at 10 minutes or less.  This allows many more people a shot at the very limited number of charging slots. IOW, OR EV'rs have learned the concept of sharing and working together.  "Get what you need, no more and move on!"

Yesterday, due to work needs. I had exhausted most of my range and errands used up the rest. Due to time constraints, charging at home was not an option. So, I picked up my Son from school to take him to his appointment but swung by the Tumwater DCFC (AV station) to get a charge. Pulled in with about 4 miles of range. I started my charge and Steve Marsh pulls in. He is also on empty and in a hurry but he got lucky in that he was behind me. You see, my average charge time is 10-12 minutes and mostly because of work constraints where I simply don't have the time to charge to 80%.  I charged as long as I could and got my 6.335 Kwh in 9 minutes and rushed off to my appointment.  Steve who works in Taylor Town which is 15 miles down the road and has a charger at work to use would only be charging for less than 10 minutes as well. So there you have it, two happy customers in less time than a single customer doing a 30 minute charge.

  Another thing to consider is new users. More than a few times I have shown new LEAFers that they did not have to wait until the charger stopped on their own. Once I ran into a lady who was furiously texting away on her phone when I pulled up. we talked a bit and she revealed she was concerned over making an appointment on time and whether her charge would be finished in time. well, I found out range was not an issue and walked over and hit the "stop" button and she was GRATEFUL!   A per minute fee structure intuitively gives them this knowledge.

So what is the reasoning behind Ecotality's decision here?  Is it get the $5 no matter what?  They have to know that most of us don't charge for 30 minutes.  Now in parts of California, the peak electricity rates are so high, they would be barely breaking even if the LEAFer was low and looking to get a full charge.  Which brings up another point; Is Ecotality charging the same rates nationwide? How is that making sense?

The prime goal of any business is an economic model that makes sense. Being able to pencil out the usage of their products and predicting revenue. In the case of charging stations; the revenue options are quite clear. You cant increase revenue unless you change your fee structure or put more chargers into the ground. Ecotality being buoyed by federal dollars has had the luxury of being able to experiment a bit with their business model but the money is running out. They have done a lot for the EV community but some of their actions has simply not been received well. I hesitate to say this (since I did not get one anyway...) but I have to think that I would have rather seen more effort put into getting more chargers put into the ground instead of handing out free home charging stations. (now if I had gotten one, I might have thought differently but since I charge at home about 89% of the time using a system I paid for, I actually don't...)

After all, Ecotality's role was to bolster EV adoption and they chose to do so by spending most of their fed dollars handing out free chargers. This resulted in  die hard early EV adopters being happy but did little to encourage fence-sitters to jump in.  Home chargers simply do not make a public impact.  Public chargers do. The huge amount of L2's installed around the region did make an impact to the general public because people saw them.  But Ecotality started charging for that access way too early in the game. The pattern of usage for the L2's had not been well established. Partly due to the slowness of the charge (we all did 3.3 kw back then) and partly due to questionable locations. But all that is a done deal. Not the best way to go but its history. We need to move on but looks like the path is not turning into the right direction.  Ecotality will alienate some of their clientele which cant be a good thing because many have already had several issues with reliability, mismanagement, slow charger rollouts, etc.

My charging fee structure will make Ecotality more money and is much less likely to create queuing issues at the stations itself.  What about a two tiered rate based on either time or charge/time combined?

1) Charge a one dollar connection fee. 15 cents a minute for the first 20 minutes, then 20 cents a minute afterwards.  This adds up to $6 for the first 30 minutes AND matches AV's rate of $2.50 (also a per charge session that although a GREAT deal is still wrong!) if charging for 10 minutes. 

2) charge by the Kwh.  Once again, a one dollar connection fee. Then 25 cents (this SHOULD be adjusted to local market rates. I am using this as the cheapest rate for people paying under 10 cents per kwh at home) per kwh plus 20 cents a minute after 20 minutes.

Both scenarios above are very reasonable for the drivers, provides greater revenue potential for Ecotality and will build brownie point for them which the really really need.

One final note; When you get down to it, $5 for a charge is very reasonable and if its an emergency, its a down right bargain. But the key thing to remember is that if Ecotality had come out and built the 22 fast charge stations as promised and they were rock solid reliable, then I really think the furor over this fee structure would have  been localized among a few die-hards because Ecotality would have built up a strong base of very loyal and grateful customers.  But that did not happen. Like any relationship gone bad, it has to be built back up. Ecotality has not done that and their recent press release blaming everyone but themselves over the slow roll out did not help matters either.

Ecotality; if you are listening take the advice of a good marriage counselor.  There are a lot of people who won the battle that are now living alone...

**EDIT**  If you think the per session charge of $5 is not the way to go, express your opinion here

****Public Service  Alert****
Help us help you! Plug in America has a survey to measure LEAF battery degradation. It takes only a few minutes and will help the EV Brainiacs get the data they need so they can tell us what we can expect down the line

Saturday, May 25, 2013

EV Options For the Future

Tesla has paid off their DOE loan early and their stock is just jumping off the page. Elon Musk who is known for making some pretty brash statements about what his companies can do and so far, he has pretty much accomplished it.

He also stated that Tesla will have a 200+ mile range family car for $30,000 within a few years to address mainstream needs. But one thing he has struggled with is meeting his timetable and  EVERY manufacturer has struggled with that as well and there are some questions as to how his calculator will come up with that $30,000 figure. Either way, I think investor confidence is a sure sign that Musk's statements have been re-categorized from "delusional" to "prescient"  which has no doubt, ratcheted up the pressure for the much slower legacy car companies to get products out to compete.

And we are not helping. Unlike normal cars, EV'ers are much more hungrier for details and we also collectively seem to have a limited amount of patience for waiting. This seems to have worked against us a tiny bit.  When statements do come out, we dissect every word searching for a the "hidden agenda" like its some sort of puzzle or scavenger hunt we are playing.  When the "actions don't match the words" we EV'ers tend to react like 5-year olds who has to clean their room before they can go out and play. IOW, not good. This might lead to companies being much more guarded about statements and attempting to get more of their ducks in a row before saying anything which means no incremental informational tidbits to digest. 

So, as we wait for Tesla, Nissan and Ecotality to make good on their word (some within 4 weeks...) concerning future developments in the EV World, it might be time to make some more predictions.

Nissan has made the most changes in the 3 model years of the LEAF but its been on the road the longest and lets face it. Just about all the changes fall into the "that is how it should have been done in the first place" category.  Now Nissan knows that there are several things that needs to be addressed in order for EVs to be successful and the 3 key issues are price, range and public charging.

Because of slow initial rollout of effective public charging, Nissan has given a boost with their announcement to put in 500-600 fast chargers at dealerships thru out the country. Hopefully this will include chargers at other locations to allow a better chance at 24 hour access. 

Nissan has also cut the price by introducing an entry level "S" model so now comes the range. I think the price cutting is only the beginning of the price reductions we will see and I guess the only real question is when and where do the range increases come in.

First off, I think the price reductions will continue as long as a few key metrics are reached.

1) Nissan completes its ramp up in Smyrna. Although Nissan has not said a word about it, it would appear the line is still getting up to speed. Reports of shortages of the LEAF are popping up all over the country and I don't think its unexpected demand more so than just not being able to get enough out right away due to a longer than anticipated ramp up and that is to be expected. It is a new product for Tennessee and one that will need to undergo many continuous changes for the near future.

2) The battery plant reaches its goals on production and quality. The battery building process takes a considerable amount of time and the ultimate results will not be known until the batches are completed. Just like any process that requires the level of exactness and consistency, even minute changes in the process can create drastic (and usually detrimental) changes in the finished product. It will take time to identify those issues and resolve them and this could be where the current bottleneck is located.

3) Sales continue to accelerate. Each EV on the road means direct exposure to dozens more people. The LEAF has had one of its 2 best sales months ever but I feel that they are still less than half of where they need to be to take the next step and that next step is another round of price cuts along with battery pack options for 2014.  Sales of 4,000-5,000 a month should be the incentive Nissan needs to accelerate the introduction of the larger pack.

Now, there has been a lot of discussion about when the next pack innovation will arrive and what it will do to pricing.  Its my opinion that Nissan needs to keep the pricing where its at now at the top end AFTER adding the extra range options for those who need it.  The other question is how much more can the LEAF take as far as pack size.  Introducing pack options now would limit the size of the pack but one that offers a real 100 mile freeway range is what Nissan really needs to make happen and waiting for battery innovations is going to be a mistake.  So look for a pack no bigger than 30-32 Kwh hours which should give the LEAF a range of 105-110 miles.  Do that as an option for 2014 at a few thousand bucks and Nissan will be flying high!

Murphy's Law says as soon as I post something, I will hear about something that needs to be added here and less than 2 hours after I posted, sure enough. news from Kia on their first EV and it does seem to fit the bill for range boasting a 200 Km range which hoping that means a real 110ish mile freeway range (200 km = 125 miles) with a starting price of just over $35,000 that is probably going to be a bit more than I think is best (probably near $40,000 for the options most would want)  with no mention of QC options and until we can determine what the true real world range is, we just have to take a wait and see attitude but still the options are really starting to pop and even at $40,000 before incentives, if the Kia Soul EV gets a real 125 miles of range, it will find a market

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Not With My Charger!

What has long been expected is now officially a fact released by Nissan that LEAF sales in both Portland, OR and Seattle, WA areas is leading all Nissan model sales for both March and April. Bellevue, WA's (across the lake from Seattle)  Eastside Nissan claims more sales than any other Nissan dealer in the country and boasts a 25 LEAF loaner fleet to boot.

But the huge increase in LEAFs on the streets has not happened without a significant amount of growing pains. The quick charge network had been slow getting off the ground and the ones that are out there are just now getting to the point where they are becoming semi-reliable.  Nissan has recognized this and announced they would put in several hundred across the country and this has resulted in a lot of confusion for new LEAF drivers.

There is little doubt that LEAF salesman are using this information as a selling tool but access to chargers has not been as rosy Nissan had intended or as we had anticipated.  Already several reports of LEAFers being turned away from a QC at a dealer because they had gotten their LEAF from a competitor.  One Seattle area resident was 8½ months pregnant and Eastside Nissan of Bellevue still turned them away. To be fair, Eastside Nissan does have "some" valid reasons for their policies.  With a 25 car LEAF loaner fleet their QC that is pretty much being used all the time to keep them on the road.  Since they put in the QC at their own expense  they should have the right to do as they please with that station AND they are installing a Blink that is actually outside their compound that will be intended for public use only and that is supposed to be as unrestricted as you can get when Blink is involved.  But I think Eastside Nissan may have screwed themselves on this one.  Car dealerships spend tens of thousands of dollars building community relationships and this would have been a small thing to do in what anyone would recognize as a special circumstance. The special circumstance would not have opened a floodgate of unwelcome requests.

There have also been several reports in CA over issues with dealers. Some are allowing anyone to charge, others are not so very much a confusing time for us.

Another thing that is also starting to rear its ugly head is jealousy for lack of a better term. A handful of EV'ers are getting upset that many of the chargers are being taken up by plug ins like the Chevy Volt or the PiP (Plug in Prius)  Many have expressed that they feel that a Volt that is charging should be unplugged if the LEAF needs the charge and is creating a lot of bad blood.

Since all this is new, there is not a lot of "charging etiquette" to fall back on here. But its really common sense that "first come, first served" should be rule #1 so an actively charging car has just as much right to be there as any other vehicle. Just because a Volt could use gas to get to where they are going is not really the point here.  The Volt was purchased to drive electric, PERIOD.  The Volt has a shorter range which means is has to be plugged in more often so what is the problem?  Some blame free charging  but whether the person is paying for the juice or not does not change the fact that he got there first so he should be able to get his charge.

Now all of this changes dramatically if the vehicle is not actively charging. WA amongst other states are enacting fines for people who choose to park at a charging station but not charge and that is only fair.  The company that paid to install the charger is expecting people to charge and pay and to park there and not charge is blocking that company's chance to earn a living. Just because a lot of fast chargers are currently free does not mean that we should start practicing good habits right away.

Finally the question of 80% verses 100% at a fast charger.  Due to time constraints, my average charge time is less than 20 minutes but other EV'ers are staying longer and sometimes, MUCH longer.

The fast chargers are really only fast up to about 60-65% SOC.  The speed of charging starts out fast but drops off rather quickly after you get past the halfway point. So the best practice would be to get the charge you need to get to your destination (or the next charging station) and go. This reduces the time for anyone waiting to use the charger.  Or just get the 80% charge and move on. Charging to 100% from 80% can almost double the time. But the number of  people charging to 100% has increased as quickly as LEAF sales over the past 2 months.  I think part of it is due to lack of education for new LEAFers and their still existing range anxiety. This will be alleviated over time but maybe an informational flyer needs to be distributed to new LEAFers?

All in all, we EV'ers need to understand that the public charging support has a long way to go to become even borderline acceptable. So when charging, keep a few things in mind.

1) Don't charge unless you need it. Don't assume that because the charger is not being used when you get there that its ok. You never know who could show up 5 minutes later.

2) Don't unplug any actively charging car for ANY REASON.

3) If you are charging, make sure you are able to move your car when its done charging. Don't plug it in in the morning knowing that you will be fully charged in 3 hours and you wont be able to get out there for 8 hours.  If that is the case, wait till lunch time, hope that other EV'ers are following basic etiquette and plug in then.

4) Have a way for your car to notify you when your charge is complete so you can be reminded of when you need to move your car.

5) Leave contact info or basic instructions for charging in the car so others can see it. This is especially vital if you choose to ignore rule #1 or if you do not have a time crunch.  One program that uses a 1-800 # and an access code (this way you don't have to display your personal #) is the type of program that would work very well. check it out and support a fellow EV'er too!

All in all, if the various private and governmental agencies would have been more organized and proactive about getting the proper legislation on the books, the public charging experience could have gone much smoother but it didn't.  So lets not take out our frustrations on our fellow EV'ers (even if they are only "half-stepping" it with a Volt)  because we already have too many strikes against us.  Working together wont solve all the issues before us by any stretch of the imagination but fighting amongst ourselves will only make it worse.


I have been advised that the pregnant lady story does have two sides to it (as always). Apparently when she arrived, the charger was already being used and there were two cars waiting to charge. She was offered the L2 to charge with and was in a time crunch and declined. They also advised her of a QC just down the road and she declined?? apparently thinking there was a charge associated with using it (although often threatened, there is still not a QC in the state that is billing as of today...)

As usual, I suspect the real truth to the story probably lies somewhere in the middle.

****Public Service  Alert****
Help us help you! Plug in America has a survey to measure LEAF battery degradation. It takes only a few minutes and will help the EV Brainiacs get the data they need so they can tell us what we can expect down the line


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Why I Have To Lease

Getting my LEAF was a long involved process, the decision to get it was not.  In fact, that was the easiest part of all.  Back in early 2010, I had just about been fed up with my ZENN's lead acid battery system. They were a headache to maintain, too vulnerable to deep discharges and the total lack of a ZENN BMS just made it worse.  I had pretty much decided to do Lithium. Now, this was not a cheap project and at $9,000 +, would nearly double my investment into driving electric, but I saw very few choices in the near horizon. 

Then Nissan announced the LEAF. I spent all of about 2 hours reading up on everything I could find online and then decided this was the car for me.  I immediately shelved my Li plans (I was lucky in that if not for the shakiness of Chinese Cells and my apprehension in taking the plunge, I probably would have already done it!)  and dumped in a set of deep cycle marine batteries with hopes that I could baby them long enough for my LEAF to arrive.  April 20, 2010 I reserved my place in line for the LEAF!

Now, when considering the LEAF, I was working in town so my commute was insignificant. less than 12 miles roundtrip. I determined thru Google Maps that my most ambitious errand day would only be 70 miles but also at the time I was working 4-10 hour shifts and had 3 week days off so the errands could be spread out making it no more than 40 miles in a day; very manageable!

So decided on a purchase. I had to manipulate various stock options I had to insure my tax liability would be at least the $7500 the feds were offering and that was done quite easily.  All this was based on a Dec 2010 delivery date that I received after my RAQ (request a quote) on August 31, 2010.

But 2010 came and went and still no LEAF. I ended up getting my LEAF Jan 18, 2011 in the very first batch of 3 delivered to WA State (there was actually 5 but the other 2 were earmarked for out of state owners) . So I became first to take a "normal" delivery of a LEAF in the state by a day over Patrick and Sam who got theirs the next day. 

But the delay put in into a bit of a quandary.  I no longer had the option to manipulate my tax liability again to get the full $7500.  So I decided to lease and investigate a buyout later. (Besides, due to lack of "proper" income, I was unable to get a decent loan rate from them despite the offer to put 50% down!)  So, I leased and to reduce my buyout amount, I put down $10,000 reducing my monthly payments (and rental fees!)  to $162 a month.

It wasn't until a year after delivery that I realized that buying my LEAF would have been a mistake.  I live at the very southern tip of Puget Sound which makes my driving distance needs much greater than one more centrally located. I slowly began to realize that I really needed 110 miles of good freeway range for three reasons.

1) degradation; I live in one of the best areas for EV battery health, but batteries degrade no matter how well they are treated. Two things degrade them in perfect conditions and that is time and cycling.  My LEAF's new range was more than enough but after 33,000 miles, I realized that my LEAF would start losing its ability to cover my transportation needs in just a few more years.

2)Weather; It did not snow this year in Olympia. Ya, that's right, not a single significant snowfall this winter.  So, it does not get real cold but it does get cold enough. My 2011 did not have the CWP (cold weather package) of the 2012's or the heat exchanger of the 2013's. So it was freeze or get a heated coat, or etc.  But that only covered half the problem. Winter range degradation also involves cold batteries simply unable to take on as much charge as they can in Summer and cold air is denser so the car has to work harder to move and rain.

3) Need; Here, it rains a lot. water on the roads increases rolling resistance which also reduces range. So between the two, I figured I will be having issues making my basic commute next winter. Now, I also have changed jobs and that is a 55 mile commute.  In the worst of Winter I am barely making that trip and its usually at 55 mph (or less) and no heat.  But that is only part of the story.  With the addition of the Fife QC station, I am able to use my car more often for work where I am reimbursed mileage. This has turned out to be a bit of a godsend.  My average cost per mile is running right at 2.5 cents per mile and mileage reimbursement is tax free allowing me to bank nearly everything.  Even a conservative estimate puts my "cash in pocket" at over $300 a month. It would be higher but I do have a mileage limitation for a lease I have to consider.  Before I was on pace to only use about 38,000 of my 45,000 mile lease. But at the current rate I am going, I will run out of mileage allowance by Sept/Oct so will be incorporating the gas car for selective trips here and there.

Another note; Steve Marsh has put 76,000 miles on his LEAF in 2 years and I lent him my SOC meter so he could record his degradation and the first measurement came to 231 GID which works out to an 18% loss in what would be covered in 5-6 years normally.  That might be workable but for three things.

1) my tax liability wont allow me to recover the entire $7500

2) Lease terms right now are simply too wonderful to pass up

3) And finally, there is no 110 mile EV on the horizon.  Now, the RAV 4 EV does not count because it does not have chademo, so no QC, no sale!

**Note about my down payment on my lease. Putting down more than you are required to pay can be a risk especially with NMAC's somewhat shady business practices so make sure you verify with your insurance company what their payout process is if an accident happens and force them to research it before giving you an answer. the LEAF lease is apparently different (I don't have experience with any other leases so don't know for sure)  than a normal lease.

When I did my lease, I was unable to get a good rate on lease or purchase due to my income level (my credit rating was about 830 at the time I think and I even offered up to a 50% down payment but they still would not lower the terms...) so a rough calculation of $8900 down reduced my total cost of loan to the best rates offered at the time.  I had put the down payment before checking into the exact policy but was lucky enough that my insurance company did pay out replacement value whether it was a lease or purchase, so my down payment was not at risk. THIS IS NOT the case with all insurance policies. 

Also, if you do get into an accident and you do get some money from your insurance company, make sure you call NMAC to check on the details of the pay out.  You might get a financial surprise of the good kind!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Are You An Optimist Or A Pessimist?

Saturday, May 4th, 2013 in Lacey, WA was a near perfect day to have a gathering of EV enthusiasts and "green" thinkers and that is exactly what happened with the 16th Annual Lacey Alternative Fuel Fair and Electric Car Rally held in Huntamer Park.  A sunny day hitting 80º helped to attract one of the larger crowds in my memory and since this was my 9th time here, I have a lot of memories! (mostly of cold, windy, drizzly days!)

Most of the plug ins were there including the rare Ford Focus EV and the slightly more common C-Max and Fusion Energi's. All three were making their first appearance at the annual event.

As always I had the opportunity to talk with several people who were anywhere from killing time to being within a few weeks of a purchase decision.  Now, this is where my role gets a bit tricky.  The people I talked with could be loosely categorized into three groups; non-believers, pessimists, and optimists. We will skip the non-believers simply because they won't convert until a close friend, neighbor or family member does it first.

Now the Optimists can also be categorized as "selective believers" having read the LEAF gets 100 miles on a charge and they are thinking about getting the LEAF for their 90 mile commute especially after being reinforced that it will work because a salesman had reassured them and off the wall stuff like that. Unfortunately, about half of them had unrealistic expectations and as much as it pained me to do it, I had to show them all the ways the LEAF would not work for them because one unhappy owner can poison the well for his entire community.

But, all was not lost. It was the perfect opportunity to pitch the RAV 4 EV, the unfairness of "Compliance Cars", effective grass roots campaigning methods (wish I knew a few of them!) and the utter lack of affordable EV options (Lets face facts. It will be 3 years when I turn in my LEAF next Jan and my options to replace it?? well, its LEAF and uh?.... see what I mean!)   WA needs to take California's lead on this and mandate the same. Do we have to wait until we can see colors in the air we breathe before we decide its time to take action?

Then we have the Pessimists (AKA fence sitters) who are interested in EVs, mostly drive Priuses and must be able to mathematically justify the purchase but tend to cherry pick reasons why it would not work for them.  In this arena, I had probably a half dozen that walked away smug in their beliefs that they were right and I was not but also had several who now had a LOT more things to think about.  Cant say that they were headed to the dealership to pull the trigger, but pretty sure I got a few to release the safety...

It is this group that really is my main purpose for being at the fair every year come rain or shine. I always start out with a tagline they have already heard which brings them in, then I shoot down that tagline with an explanation. Now, we have all heard the "$1999 down, 199 a month" but I tell them, get one with QC and pay the $230  with a map of the DCFCs for WA and OR in hand. Hard to shoot me down when I am armed with that much ammo!

Also long term degradation myths had to be dispelled. I have QC'd as much as 4 times a day. put over 100 miles on my LEAF at least 1-2 times a week and so on and I have seen 5% loss in my LEAF and Steve Marsh (who did pass 75,000 miles last week and will be borrowing my SOC meter to check his level on his 2nd anniversary May 15th) thinks he has lost 15% but still has all his CBs. (battery Capacity Bars)  Too bad I did not think to have him check a bit earlier to have hard #'s (well as hard as you can get using Nissan's measuring tools!) to present at the Fair but oh well.

They might have gone from medium interest to very strong interest. After all, its easy to find a way that works for one since there are really a lot of good things about EVs but we already knew that right!

I also met up with someone who had talked to me last year. He ended up getting a LEAF and a Volt.  He did say he almost wished he had gotten 2 LEAFs and admitted I was right in that it would have worked for him.  He also mentioned the gasser had only been used once in the last 6 months and the Volt never uses gas due to Wife's 20 mile RT commute. (since he got the Volt, not sure why he still has the gas car!)

Finally,  a father/son came by to say hi. The father "Glen" is not a Facebooker but was familiar with my blog and had a few questions about some of the topics discussed so I was pretty pleased about that. Both had leased and got great deals (after going out of the area) and both had concerns about the lack of support in their area. Glen lives in Grays Harbor County which is basically a well traveled area because it lies between Puget Sound and the WA Coast.  He lamented about his inability to get to Westport (a major launching point for deepsea fishing) or Ocean Shores (major beach area) and back on a single charge (there is virtually no public charging of any kind there) which really reinforces the idea that WA needs to step in to provide the stations as a way to support tourism. The two mentioned areas are VERY prone to fluctuations in our economy due to their high reliance on tourist dollars and the all but gone wood products industry.  The recent housing boom has actually created a few jobs as abandoned saw mills are coming back online to handle the increased demand for building supplies but that is most likely temporary and probably only good for a few years.

All in all, a great day for being outside and enjoying what WA has to offer which really reinforces the value of preserving the environment. Summer and Fair season is upon us and we must continue to be the informational conduit for the next wave of EV owners. I think we are now finally past the "bleeding edge" adopters and are now seeing the "Pioneers" which are not mainstream by any means but will be essential in getting the support that EVs need. After all, sales is just the beginning. Sustaining the value of EVs after they come home will be another challenge!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Charging Quirks

For the past few days, I have had to charge away from home so no 240 volt/ 12 amp,  nestled in a semi-warm garage environment. It has been outside in the cold, 120 volt trickle charging for me. 

Now before the past 2 days, my charges have been showing what I would consider to be inflated GID values.

GID counts at 240 volt charging has run between 274 and 280 (twice) with two 273's over the past few months. After 32,000 + miles, I always found that hard to believe and I have always thought the GID count to be an approximation anyway. Changes in tires has made a true evaluation of degradation by range testing impossible.

But GID count on 120 has been 270, 269 which in itself, I think means very little except that the last time it was that low was back in Nov right after we had moved and I was charging at 120 for a week (also had space issues due to move and 120 was the only thing that would reach)  and then went back to 240 and had GID counts in the 265-270 range for a week before jumping back up into the 275 range.

All this has brought up questions. Is 120 so slow that it is not finishing its initial charge soon enough to enable a rebalance charge?  both days, the charge completed at 7 AM but didn't go anywhere yesterday until 11 AM so seems like it would have had plenty of time.

Or is 240 charging at a faster rate and overshooting the BMS allowing a slightly higher finishing point?

Or is it the cold that is reducing the capacity of the battery?

**edit 5/6/2013**

The GID count continues to drop reaching 263 this morning. Now, don't know if this matters but weather has been unseasonably warm. In fact, at 84º yesterday, it does not fit into any season (August, our hottest month has average highs only reaching 78º)  Either way, I will be continuing the 120 volt charging for a while to see if GIDs go any lower or change when the weather gets back to normal