Thursday, November 28, 2013

Has Hybrid Technology Prevented EVs From Flourishing?

"Just Take the Prius!" This is the phase we often hear about when discussing EV range limitations,  high costs of public charging,  or simply the time to charge.  But can you blame one? Time is money and frequently the slices of life set aside for leisure trips is limited by the lack of time off work. Even 3 day weekends seem rushed if several additional hours are required both going and returning due to EV charging infrastructure drawbacks.

But the overwhelming success of the Prius shows that Americans are concerned with reducing the cost of commuting. Ignoring HOV exemptions (which are thankfully going away for hybrids at least) the Prius has become a runaway success even attaining #1 sales of any vehicle in California. After 10 years, the Prius is still in a class by itself with its 50 MPG achievements and the best part; it still uses gas so refueling or the time to refuel is simply not even on the table.  It truly is a no compromise solution... But

As cheap as the Prius is to drive, EVs still do better, a LOT better.  Off peak electrical rate discounts, highly efficient drivetrains, and the rapid emergence of Solar power has allowed the savvy EV driver to save several hundred dollars a year that would have normally gone from bank account to gas tank.  But is it enough? Apparently not as many have chosen to pay that extra $1,000 PER YEAR to save themselves from having to set aside time at public charging stations.

But 84  ... 80 ...75 miles (battery degradation is hell ya know...) is more than enough for me most of the time so how often would I really spend at a charging station away from home and is it worth spending an extra $1,000 a year on just fuel costs ignoring the inevitable higher maintenance costs? Having a job that requires travel nearly 100% of the time (sometimes it is travel within my city...) means I probably spend more time at public charging stations than the average EV'er but even then, I have managed to avoid it most of the time.  Total time at charging stations peaked in September and only added up to 11 hours for the month with 8 of those hours charging AT the jobsite so not an inconvenience at all.

But the Prius with its performance can shave several hundred dollars off that Thousand Dollar Bill and it looks like its enough for Hybriders (its my blog so I can make up any word i want!) are using it as an excuse to ignore EVs and leapfrog to Fuel Cells and looks like they have Toyota's blessing to boot.

But those plans can be derailed by providing more options for EV'ers!! (sound familiar?) so where is our 150 mile EV?? Think about it!! It would completely blow the Hybrider Argument out of the water!!

Who is with me??

and Happy Thanksgiving!

Eggs, Chicken, and Uncle Sam

Since it is Thanksgiving 2013 which is all about food (not really) I thought I would put food in the title of my daily rambling which implies I blog every day which I dont. I wish I had the time to do so but I usually write when I have the time like today. It will be at least 2-3 hours before anyone here is up to do anything and since I put up with traffic and crowds last night in order to fulfill my role (buy supplies to make the various dishes "we" are to make) and got it out of the way. Now the only thing left is entertain the kid (to keep him out of the way) and build up an appetite!

But really its a day of thanks so who to give thanks to is my current dilemma today.  The EV movement is still weak (still no viable choices out there for me...its essentially LEAF or nothing ) but gaining momentum and as another year approaches we again have the litany of promises pouring in from many more directions than before and that will cover many more niches but how well remains to be seen (what happened to Ford's EV niche?) . But the ball is rolling so who do I thank for that?

Since Tesla announced the Roadster years before anyone even knew Nissan was in the EV game so would it be Tesla?

Actually I believe its Nissan mostly because they marketed a car that was aimed at the mainstream. The Roadster was a very limited production run (as all $100,000+ plus vehicles are!) with no real threat of taking over any significant part of the market but the LEAF was not and that got other car manufacturers nervous which also got them moving (albeit slowly) towards an EV solution of their own and now, even Volkswagen, the once "EV antichrist" (ooh i will get some hate mail over that one...) has seen the light and crossed over from the dark side!

So Tesla may have started the idea but without Nissan and its affordable EV which mainstream America could afford for the first time ever (lets face it, the EV1 and RAV 4 EV back in the 90's were pretty spendy vehicles to "buy" which means that I do realize the retail price of the EV1 was subject to interpretation) I dont think the movement would have survived because Nissan's affordable LEAF is the primary reason why Uncle Sam got into the EV game.

I can imagine the outcry that would have happened if the $7500 EV incentive only applied to $100,000 plus vehicles as if the rich did not already have enough tax loopholes. To this day, I find it hard to believe that the tax credit used on Hummers and other very large vehicles did not stir up more controversy than it did.

Now we can get into the "Chicken verses Egg" argument but is Tesla the Chicken or the Egg and besides, does it matter? because without Uncle Sam, Tesla would be no more than the rest of the failed EV automakers who tried and failed. Remember it was Tesla's last minute loan (bailout!!) from DOE that prevented their very existence  from shuttering their doors and from our minds forever.

So, I thank you Nissan for forcing the World to grudgingly accept EVs as a viable (and very cool) personal transportation option. It is now 51 days and counting until my current lease ends and I start haggling over the price of a new lease. Nissan if you are listening; keep in mind Christmas is coming up and if you want to send me a coupon for a discount on a new lease, I am ok with that!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tesla's Real Advantage

Going to Japan!! wooo hooo!! can't wait!  Will be awesome to see what *might* be coming down the road in a few years at the Tokyo Motor Show. But like all car shows; it will be more concepts and fantasies than products and release dates.

The best I can hope for is getting a glimpse of where auto manufacturers are headed in the future and get a sense of where their heads are at.  Right now the main chant in the EV community is "More Range!" and they got it half right. It really should be "More Choices!".  The LEAF should not change significantly no matter what.  There will ALWAYS be a market for an 80 mile EV. Continuous improvement on the platform should be concentrated on extending battery life and lowering the price to bring in more potential customers.

One thing that the LEAF could use is a range extender and if done right; can kill two birds (no wait...not PC) address two of the biggest needs for EV adoption.  WE all want a bit more range but the LEAF really doesn't have a lot of room for more batteries and cramming them in there could be a mistake (See the C-Max Energi's rear hatch if you need an example) especially if one only wants the extra range occasionally (I really only need it a few times a month AT THE MOST).  But what if you only had to sacrifice the storage space only when you wanted to? Granted in some cases the storage is vital for luggage, etc. but I think I would rather have the option; Storage or an extra 60 miles of range! (choices are cool :) )

EVs have gained a lot of traction (and sales) in the past 3 years but still have a long way to go. A lot of people have strong interests in them but still need just a bit more to get them over the top and it can be done but there needs to be a concerted effort at all levels to insure that transition and that is where most of the current EV industry is failing.

 EVs are not what the dealer ordered. Most dealers paid a lot of money to become certified to sell EVs and its a vehicle that needs minimal maintenance so after the sale, the revenue stream stops. Many dealers rely on their service center for a large part of their profits which means double incentives to sell regular gasoline vehicles.

I worked for a dealer selling cars; Fords to be exact. Now was the owner of the dealership loyal to Ford? Ya, as long as they paid well! His loyalty was strong and could you blame him? He actually had 7 dealerships selling 6 different brands of cars. So he had a LOT of loyalty!  The other thing to keep in mind is that nearly everyone at a dealership works on commission. Even mechanics do. They actually are paid an hourly rate but those hours are not "clock" hours, they are shop hours.  So if a job is billed at 2 hours; that is what he gets for that job. His hourly rate times 2. Whether it takes him 20 mins or 2 weeks; he gets 2 hours of pay.  So he either worked fast and efficiently (and did it right because if it wasn't done right the first time, he did it again and no, the customer does not pay twice!) or he did not make much money. The dealership would not cover his wages other than whatever minimum rates the state mandated.  Salesmen worked the same way. They made commission on each car they sold or they got minimum wage based on the hours they worked (If the dealership could get away with not paying minimum wage, they would!) IOW; if there is not a clear view of a revenue stream tied to a product; do not expect the dealership to be on board with it! EVs may make money for the salesmen but the service department is left out in the cold with an empty cup!

So we have the owners, manufacturer, dealerships, and people at the dealerships just trying to make a living, so what if?...

Leasing battery pack range extenders on a short term basis? per day, week, or month.   Packs must be installed by dealership. This makes the mechanic happy because it will probably have more shop time assigned than actual time needed for the install since some reprogramming will have to be done.  These "types" of jobs are easy. They are very predictable, clean, straightforward but involves a lot of  "wait" time which means the mechanic can be doing another job simultaneously  essentially doubling their income. This makes mechanics happy which makes service advisers happy which will make anyone visiting the service center happy as well!

Have the leasing program run by Nissan Corporate. This will reduce the cost of the program, level the playing field among different regions and solidify customer expectations. Nissan needs to make sure dealerships are fairly compensated for the time.  At the same time (and this is vital) Nissan must introduce another EV model that has a battery with the extended capacity.  Now where they go with that is up to them. A smallish SUV or maybe something similar in platform to the Prius v or a larger sedan sized between the Volt and Tesla S, etc. Whatever! it does not matter.

What is important is that this new model will obviously be more money and that money will be hard to justify UNLESS, one could "try out" that extra range for the weekend by renting it for their LEAF!

Ok; so by now, you are thinking what has all this got to do with Tesla? Easy! they figured all this out a long time ago but NOT HAVING DEALERSHIPS!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another Tesla Fire

Once again, road debris has caused a Tesla S to burn. The fact that this happened just down the street from the US LEAF plant and battery factory near Smyrna, TN is somewhat suspicious and already more than a few have speculated online that maybe someone who was shorting Tesla Stock wanted to get out from under that burden and may have staged the accident... well, maybe if it was James Bond driving.

So now we have 3 burned Teslas from roughly 25,000 on the road so does that make Tesla unsafe? Nah! Their accident percentages are still way below regular gas cars on a per mile basis and Teslas do provide over the top protection in several other safety metrics that other cars can not match.  Add to that; one of the three accidents, the primary cause was alcohol.  The enormous damage sustained by the car still allowed the driver to walk (or rather stagger) away from the accident without much more than a scratch.  What is most certain is the high likelihood that any car would have caught fire and a real level of uncertainty concerning the well-being of a driver in a different car.

So to create a battery fire in an EV, a lot has to happen.  First there has to be a puncture in the battery pack, then one of the many flammable fluids has to leak and catch fire as well. But as we have already seen; Enough Murphy's Law combined with plain old bad luck can be overwhelming!

But there are nearly 100,000 LEAFs out there and NONE of them have had their batteries burn and amazingly, this also includes a LEAF in the Colorado Springs fire that did burn up but left the battery pack INTACT.   Now the Colorado Springs LEAF was not in an accident so none of its protections were compromised so it would be different right?  Ya, BUT...

We need to look at the types of accidents in the two road debris cases and the likelihood of them being repeated on anything resembling more than "hit by lightning twice" odds.   Being essentially impaled by road debris is not common in any circumstances and rightfully so. Unsecured loads that result in property or personal damage carry very stiff fines in this state due to a horrific accident to a young woman several years ago resulting in "Maria's Law" making such an act a criminal one.

Now for any car traveling forward, the likelihood of damage near the front of the car will be much higher than damage at the rear of the car which is pretty intuitive.  Keep in mind; most of the flammable fluids are upfront as well or at least the reservoirs for them are.

So it would make sense to keep the batteries and the fluids as far removed as possible, whenever possible. But the Tesla's battery configuration of being very thin creating a very large footprint for any possible intrusion underneath may need to be looked at.  The LEAF pack is much smaller in capacity but also its exposure to punctures underneath is much smaller. Not sure how big the Tesla pack is but guessing its in the 90 sq feet range. The LEAF modules being rectangular and thicker have an exposure under 10 sq feet.  Add to that the fact that the LEAF battery pack is in the back of the car well away from radiator and brake fluid reservoirs which further reduces a possibility of fire even if the battery casing was compromised.

Now; am I suggesting Nissan did it right and Tesla didn't? Well, we all know both could have made better decisions in several other areas and combating risk in a moving vehicle is always going to be a battle of compromises. With all that said; I would recommend a Tesla to anyone because the basic facts remain; A Tesla may not be as safe as a LEAF in the one respect of battery pack vulnerability; but overall, they are MUCH more safer than nearly any other car on the road today.

If Tesla reduced the footprint of the pack by making it thicker, this would reduce shielding weight as well, so a few positives can be had by this. Now, shifting that much weight around poses other engineering challenges so it would not be a quick or easy fix, but I think its worth looking into.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Tokyo Motor Show

I will be attending the first media day (Press Day Nov 20th) of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show as a guest of Nissan which means I will have a 48 hour advance notice of some of the more compelling details that will start coming out when the show officially opens on the 22nd of November. There will (as always) be an NDA required to be part of the festivities but now you know how all these writers can post articles literally minutes after new announcements of products being introduced.

Either way; being able to see some of the possible newer EVs (guessing will see mostly non-operating prototypes) might help clear up the EV product map for the future and better gauge other manufacturer's depth of commitment to the technology.  After nearly 3 years, several major manufacturers have very little or nothing towards the technology with a few like Toyota and Honda who have seemingly already shelved EVs for something different involving Hydrogen... *sigh*

Well for those of us (which means YOU!) that need something viable to get us around and live a thousand miles away (actually is 858 miles so I am exaggerating  a bit...) from the nearest hydrogen refueling station,  the real news from this is who will be the maker that provides the first 150-200 mile EV for under $35,000!

We still haven't heard from Nissan about the specs of the 2014 LEAF yet but most feel that a jump in range wont be part of the equation and I have to agree. There is simply nowhere to add another significant battery module to the car. But these auto shows tend to have cars that wont be available for more than a year so we might see a new model from "someone" out in 2015 or 2016.  Who it will be is anyone's guess but Kia, Mitsubishi and Hyundai seem to still be interested in EVs and maybe another try from BYD to break into the American Market?

It seems like Japan has segmented itself into two camps. EVs verses Fuel Cells and the larger the market share, the less likely it is still interested in electric.  I find it difficult to believe that Toyota is seriously considering a consumer level fuel cell car so soon and have to think it is their way of meeting CA's emission policies. But have to think a well designed EV would have done the trick for MUCH less money.  Despite all our whining about wanting more range, there is still a very healthy market for an 80-100 mile EV. The level of sales in hotspots like Seattle and Atlanta is a great indicator of what a little local support can do for the platform.

Sorry but EVs are win-win for everyone but the oil industry. The government supports a lot of programs; many with questionable value if any at all. So a bit more could really help to solidify the market and provide the financial incentive to the auto makers to broaden the offerings.

One final note; despite my being against fuel cells, it will still be nice to see them up close (something I have yet to do) so will have some thoughts on them as well.  With the NDA, wont be able to show you anything until at least the 22nd I am guessing which is OK. That is a travel day so probably be near Thanksgiving before I report back!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh Where Oh Where Has My Regen Gone?

This past Summer I had the  P 3227 software update done. It was supposed to get me a better idea of what my battery pack had left, streamlined some software and other "stuff."  It was relatively painless and finished a half hour faster than estimated so all was good.

I took my LEAF home, drove it around and noticed...nothing.  The update did not seem to change much of anything that I could tell. The GOM "seemed" better but I had gotten so used to ignoring it, I probably simply failed to notice any real changes in its behavior. 

Well soon  other more observant people started saying they had lost some of their regen capacity.  So I checked mine and sure enough, the last regen circle did not seem to light up as fast as it did before.  I thought it curious and wondered why Nissan thought adjusting the regen profile was needed but had too much other things going so it fell to the back of my mind.  

Well now we are hitting the slow season at work and as always, my mind starts to wander when it is not otherwise occupied (can be a dangerous thing!) 

So got up the other morning and this is what I saw

This was first thing in the morning after an overnight full charge. I reset my trip A meter daily and first thing that pops out; I have a regen circle??

Well, how can that be? Not possible. After all, the batteries are as full as the BMS and degradation will allow right?  Charge profile seemed normal. 236 GID 56.99 ahr which ahr/health slowing declining over the past few days but both are cyclical trending downward slightly which in normal as the odometer goes up.

Well, I take off and first thing I noticed is that the regen circle might be lit up but it is not available confirming that the charge was completed properly.  I purposely made several efforts to regen that single notch to no avail.  It was after 2.2 miles that I could finally do it at 227 GID which is pretty much how the LEAF works every morning.

Now the thought came to mind; what if our regen profile hadn't really been changed but the software update tweaked how the gauge works?  Besides making the GOM (supposedly) work better, it also provided a more realistic picture of our battery pack health which generally meant that people in warm weather got a temporary capacity increase while we got a permanent capacity loss.  Both of which were not really gains or losses but only better reporting of the true state, right? 

Definitely worth investigating but unfortunately, despite driving the car with the energy screen on almost 100% of the time, I never paid a whole lot of attention to the amount of power I was able to regen in any given what to do??

Now, I have spent the better part of a few days trying to generate some cooperating brain cells from my casual observations of the regen circle in hopes of avoiding the obvious to no avail.  The regen just seemed to be...normal. Only the dash gauge seemed out of place.  It got really frustrating and time and time again, the same thing just kept coming back so finally I gave in...

"What about Carwings?"

Ya, remember Carwings? Tells you how well you drive verses the World, etc. If you think you drive poorly then just log into Carwings and marvel over your 6.8 miles/kwh lifetime rating! (mine is actually about 4.5)

But Nissan had an answer to that! Update the software, but due to my VIN or misinformation, I was told my LEAF was not in the "software update" range so I never got it. I admit, I only tried to get it once but that was enough. I felt I would have no use of it anyway especially after sales jumped and I quickly fell out of the top 100 in every category...that is until today. 

Carwings does track all kinds of metrics for you and its wonderful and the only real knock is the "creative math" it uses to provide those metrics for you. But unless the math has been changed (and it hasnt because I have no update) then it should be consistently inaccurate which means its a valid data set (sort of...) right?

Ok, whether its right or not, its the only data set I have so I think its "right enough!"

So basically, I collected 4 data sets to catch the seasonal variances both before and after the P 3227 update which was done July 5th. (I called Nissan to verify cause couldnt remember if it was a few days before my trip to Texas or a few days after..) The data collected is average watt hours regen'd per mile computed daily.

Data Set #1 ;  Jan 28, 2013 to March 9th, 2013
Data Set #2;   May 19th to July 4th, 2013
Data Set #3;  July 6th to Aug 31st 2013
Data Set #4; Oct 2 to Nov 1 2013

Now we had an Early Summer which is why I started Data Set #2 in mid May and it lasted longer than normal but there was no real hot streaks. Only a few days in the 90's but consistent mid 80's weather most of the Summer so confident that Data Sets 2 and 3 reflect fairly consistent weather conditions. Data set #3 will have been only slightly warmer

So the findings?  It would appear that I did not lose any regen capability.  I am considering the option of collecting data sets from 2012 for the same time periods (although that was one of the coolest Summers in recent memory) for comparison but since there is no direct way to get there (you can see the data a week at a time so you just have to click 52 times to go back a year...) so will shelf that option for now. 

Now the data collected has a VERY wide range of numbers which is the reason I just took averages over several days.  Interesting to note; both the low (Aug 20th; 21 wh) and the high (101.6 wh on  July 19th) happened during same data set. 

but the results;

Data Set #1; 52.95
Data Set #2; 58.93
Data Set #3; 62.28
Data Set #4; 51.13

Thoughts; No conclusions here. Not getting an updated Carwings might be a problem here.  Also collecting the data so soon after the update might also be a problem.  The decline from #1 to #4 I dont feel is statistically significant. The other obvious variance is the mileage difference, SOC differences, weather differences, driving conditions, etc. etc. etc. 

Just for kicks, I collected data matching the dates of #3 for 2012. Keep in mind; a much cooler Summer that had rain, etc. (we had NO rain this Summer other than affew days in Sept.  July and August 2013 came in as one of the driest ever) and that came out at 54.54 what can I say? tossed it. Just for kicks, I also collected data from 2011 and 2012 matching the periods above. None this I present due to the drastic change in my driving patterns since taking a job in Tacoma 25 miles away verses the one I had in Lacey 5 miles away.  But the averages ran from 54.54 to 78.74 ahr/mile (proving that the opportunity to regen happens a LOT more in city driving) with individual lows of  in the 5's and 6's balancing out highs of 121.3, 118.2 (one I am pretty sure happened on my "100 mile Winter Range Test" since it was about the same time in Feb 2012) 

Either way; if we had really lost most of or even a significant access to the far left regen circle, I would have thought it would have been more obvious, so I need your help.

If you have the updated Carwings Software, collect some data points (at least 40-50) and tell me if you saw any differences before and after your P 3227 update.

So is relying on Carwings for data a good idea? DK so ya, maybe its a shot in the dark but better than no shot at all right? 

Report back here. As always I have reserved a space especially for YOU to respond below!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oct 2013 Driving Stats

Halloween has come and gone and that means the October Driving Stats are now available.  The LEAF traveled 1924.5 miles costing me $55.77 which of course includes public charging fees totaling $9.38  ($5 Blink  $4.38 from SemaConnect which reduces my $20 balance that I paid a LONG time ago, so that was practically painless ;) )  As always, AV is still free and did account for the bulk of my public charging. I wish the location was more convenient then I would have used it more but then again, if Blink's fast charger was more convenient, I would have used it more as well!

Due to possible issues with the timing of my lease, I am investigating getting a gas car for select transportation needs.  Right now am solidifying the purchase of a project car (i.e. very cheap) with a bit of money put into it that would be shared among family members. Total cost we hope to be in the $2500 range but that all depends on how much the repairs end up being. The LEAF will still provide most of my transportation needs (as long as I have it) but wanting the extra car right now in case there is a gap between turning in the 2011 and getting a 2014. I thought about extending the lease a few months but not sure that will be wise for me as I am going to exceed my lease's mileage limit but we shall see.

Now some of you know that I started using LEAF Spy on Sept 16th. The data I have gotten from it definitely sheds more light on my battery's status but as all measurements that are hard to track, the results have seen some ups and downs. At first I attributed it to the change in weather but now that we have had fairly consistent Fall weather for several weeks now, there is no signs of the data stabilizing at all

Above is my "ahr" chart from Sept 20 to Oct 31. as you can see, there is ups and downs but this morning's reading (not on the chart) is indicating that my stats will probably be settling on a lower plateau as new lows for ahr (56.96) and health (73.8%)  were recorded.

As you can see, the Health chart closely correlates with ahr.  Only time will tell how my pack's capacity will react in the next few weeks but another metric (and a VERY good one!) is Sloaty's Battery Degradation chart which takes time in service, location, performance, weather, and so on to predict mileage at various levels of degradation.

Well using the chart barely a week ago, I got an estimate of 112,117 miles on the LEAF at 70% SOC. Today its now down to 107,420 miles.

Kinda shoots down that theory that colder weather arrests the degradation. Then again, maybe its the fast charges?? Nah!! something that good can't possibly be bad right?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Idiot-proofing Transportation

Highway fatalities are on the decline and its not due to better driver's ed classes or our desire to pay more attention to where we are going. In fact; its very much been the opposite. With more features in many cars like complicated stereos, GPS and Bluetooth functions, we have less time to pay attention to the road.

Gone on all but the cheapest models are the knobs that allowed you to control many of the functions concerning the car's ambiance while maintaining your view of the road ahead; replaced in many cases by a touch screen that requires most of us to look at what we are touching or at least what menu function we are adjusting.

My old stereo had basically volume, base, treble, left balance, right balance and front/rear fade.  It took all of about 5 minutes to learn to adjust each without looking at the radio at all.  The newer stereos, it took 10 minutes just to find where these adjustments were and betting it will be probably never before I memorize how I got to each function, but all in the name of progress right?

But fatalities have dropped because it became apparent that having the car prevent the accident was a LOT easier than getting people to drive safer. The technology of making cars safer has improved and more innovations are coming. lane assist, collision avoidance radar, braking assist with improved traction control will all help to save lives by preventing or lessening the severity of an accident.  So making cars safer by building a sort of "self preservation" technology (and you thought "Hal" was just a movie!) advanced enough to overcome our shortcomings is now the new money maker.

I was thinking that maybe preserving the environment needed the same kind of ideology.

Today as I was leaving the Old Country Buffet in Lakewood, WA I was literally knocked over by the smell of exhaust as I walked out the front door. Sitting at the curb was an armored truck idling away waiting.  WA has a public smoking ban where smoking is banned within 40 or 50 feet of any public entrance. Apparently this law does not cover a smoking vehicle.

Now technology is addressing excessive idling with new cars coming out where cars shut down when at stop signs. This was done mostly to preserve gas and help obtain the CAFE requirements for fuel economy but this will also help with air quality as well. But this technology relies on the consumer being proactive with maintaining the vehicle.

Just a few miles down I-5 from Old Country Buffet, a 4X4 Chevy was merging onto the freeway from Joint Base Lewis McChord. I heard his diesel engine roar as he punched it to merge into an empty lane on the freeway with smoke pouring from his tailpipe.   Newer diesels have another tank that holds a fluid that is sprayed into the exhaust stream which is supposed to reduce pollution. It is primarily Urea and failure to maintain the fluid can prevent the exhaust gas temperatures from being reduced properly and burn up the exhaust particulate filter.  The recommended maintenance (for Ford trucks anyway) is a bottle every 5,000 miles done during oil changes. The fluid comes in 2½ gallon bottles and costs a mere $14 ( I can drive 583 miles on $14 of electricity and its not related to to the topic at hand...just saying ya know) which is not too bad but its still a process that must be completed by the end user to insure pollution levels from the diesels conform to the numbers used by anti EV activists.  Now if the engine blew up or the electrical system shut the truck down when the fluid ran dry, all would be well, but it doesn't.  Most of us do maintain the fluids including this one, but keep in mind; "most" does not mean all.

I guess what we really need is maintenance-free cars.  75% of all car fires are due to mechanical or electrical failures with an estimated half of those failures possibly caused by lack of or improper maintenance. Of the 258,000 car fires reported in 2007 only 4% were from collisions or over turns... WOW! talk about spontaneous combustion!

My neighbor tells me how much he likes my LEAF because he can't hear me leaving for work in the morning. (I turn the reverse beeper off) That is a significant statement considering I pull out of the garage sitting less than 50 feet from his bedroom window. During this operation I am waiting for my Droid to power up to load LEAF Spy in order to record and reset my data before the day's driving begins. IOW, its at least 2 minutes or more in the driveway getting all this done. (It also allows me a bit more time to think of anything I may have left behind that I need for that day)

During all this "idle" time, I have not contributed to the destruction of the environment, the serenity of the neighborhood or aggravated a child's asthma (My Son Ryland has Asthma)

Just more reasons to get an EV