Saturday, December 13, 2014


I can't even begin to thank Nissan enough for having the guts to be first to market with a viable EV that fits my needs and guess what? After 4 years, the Nissan LEAF is still the best fit for my needs.

Now, there is competition but you have to live in specific areas of the country for that.  I am (like 90% of the country) not lucky enough to have the correct zip code. So, again I am thankful that Nissan has fully committed to the LEAF and not half-as... well you know what I am saying.

But like the first place car in a race, setting the pace uses more fuel and can cause a situation where additional fuel stops are needed. Plus, cars behind can use the leader's slipstream to keep up while conserving fuel.  So is Nissan making a mistake? Right now, the biggest draw to EVs is their relative cheapness that combines a reasonable sticker price (after incentives) along with ridiculously low cost of operation.  But those federal incentives are limited. Its up to $7500 for the first 200,000 units from any manufacturer then it drops from there each quarter until zero.

Which makes me wonder if other manufacturers dragging their feet has more to do with getting a price advantage on Nissan than waiting for better technology?   Cause I have to think if there was a "ticking" clock, then everyone would be in the market right now trying to establish a niche in the market.

Nissan should be rewarded for pushing the envelop and allowing us to enjoy, learn and incorporate electric vehicles into our lives today! We have over ONE BILLION kilometers of EV driving under out belts and that number is growing exponentially!

But incentives can't or shouldn't go on forever. Unlike the Oil industry, the incentives should have a finite period. So, this is where you guys come in. We need to start petitioning our legislators to make the incentives time based and not unit based.  This puts all manufacturers on equal footing and the best part is it rewards the manufacturers who take the risk and brings products to market sooner rather than later.

And I am betting this will meet with huge resistance from manufacturers who currently have little or nothing to offer in the EV arena currently. They will say its unfair because Nissan has been enjoying the benefits of the incentives for over 4 years and several thousand more units than them. But whose fault is that?

Compliance cars are simply an answer to other manufacturers taking advantage of loopholes in the system. Lets close some of those holes! Contact your legislator today!!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

**UPDATE** The Saga of VIN #222; RESOLVED!!

A while back I wrote about a neighbor, Jennifer who purchased a used LEAF last Summer. It has 12 capacity bars and was a good deal. Not a great deal, mind you. Just a good deal.   She soon lost her first bar which we told her was likely to happen in the first year. Now keeping in mind the first bar represents a capacity nearly three times larger than the next several bars, it would not be extremely unusual for only a short period of time to pass before losing bar #2.

But the Pacific Northwest's weather is nearly tailor-made for battery health. Our climate is tempered by Puget Sound so its rarely very cold or very hot.  My first LEAF, VIN 258 built nearly the same time but having the advantage of living in the Pacific Northwest went 44,958 miles with all 12 capacity bars intact. At 57.11 ahr, it probably would have lasted all Winter before losing its first bar in mid Spring. So it had at least a few thousand miles to go.

But Jennifer's bars continued to disappear at the rate of nearly one per month! Something was not right.  Further digging found that this EXACT same car was reported as a 3 bar loser by its original owner in Southern CA back in November of 2013.

Obviously, someone was trying to pull a fast one here. She posted her dilemma on Facebook and we encouraged her to get the car inspected and research its history.  When the history of the car was reviewed it was immediately obvious that all was not as it was represented to be.

She was able to get it tested and guess what?? During the test, she LOST ANOTHER BAR!!

As a result, a new battery pack is on its way. It will  be a "Lizard" pack so it will be coming from Tennessee but the adapter kit is on back order and will take several weeks. She is in a loaner until then so looks like everything will work out for her and she will soon be driving a better car than she thought she was purchasing!

There still remains a question of how all of this even happened. How the depleted capacity bars were restored. Why she was not advised they had been restored. Who knew what and when?

Having been in the car business, car dealers have no more protection at auctions than we do, so its very much buyer beware. But in this case, the dealer, Tacoma Nissan should have been able to access the car's warranty history just like the dealer who is helping to get the warranty pack.  But auctions frequently have time limits, limited information in advance, etc. So it can be conceivable that Tacoma Nissan would have known very little in advance before bidding.

But they would have had ample time to have discovered the true nature of the car well before it was sold. The price they sold it for does not suggest they were open about the battery's degradation level. Either way, it is pretty obvious that laws need to be written that REQUIRES the true nature of the battery pack to be documented and accepted by the buyer.

Because this is such a new concept and still very much under the radar in most areas, we REALLY need to rely on you people to get the word out to your legislators.  The first post concerning this issue has links from Facebook and detailing the history of the car.

Finally, this issue would have never come to life if not for the actions of several people.

Kudos to Jennifer, the Washingtonian who bought the car from Tacoma Nissan and alerted our Facebook group to her plight and also for completing the escalation process!

Kudos to Aaron (The Tech) for investigating the history and testing the car AND being insistent with Nissan who first stuck with the claim that the car had 12 capacity bars in Jan, 2013!

Kudos to Nissan Motor Corporation for having the insight to create the paper trail that allows us to know the true nature of the battery's health. It was the warranty history on the car that provided the proof to warrant the test needed to complete the escalation process.

and finally....

Kudos to Nissan of the Eastside  in Bellevue, WA for giving Jennifer the "proper" loaner while she waits for her new batteries


Edited to update that it appears Jennifer will be getting the Lizard pack after all.  Normally, it would be OEM for the 2011/12 model year but as expected, the packs from Japan have apparently run out so she will be getting a better pack than the car was originally equipped.  As mentioned above, the Lizard pack requires a adapter kit to make it work. Some components of the 2011 pack were moved to the front of the car so the adapter is required.

Also want to make it clearer that the information surrounding this situation is still coming in. There is some details of the story that some parties to the story want to keep under wraps for the time being, so stay tuned. We will have more updates as they come in.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

What I Want For Christmas Along With The Nov 2014 Drive Report

A Billion Kilometers! Wow, what an achievement but that is only the beginning! Nissan is really starting to move away from the pack and recent revelations from the top promises to widen the gap.

hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving but its now time to fill out the Christmas Wishlist.

Carlos Ghosn mentioned that much better batteries at a much cheaper price are just around the corner.  This is not surprising since the technology curve is always steepest in the beginning.  If press releases earlier this year are to be believed, then can we expect a 2017 LEAF with a 185 mile range in the low Thirties by Summer 2016?

That has been my hope which is part of the reason I did a 3 year lease a year ago.  Other than "stretching" the lease miles a bit, everything has worked out much better than I had hoped!

Today in my area, the LEAF is the ONLY viable option for me.  Yes, a RAV 4 EV would work because of its longer range or the Kia Soul EV would work because it has Chademo fast charging... but neither is available.

What I do have is the Mitsubishi MiEV with range that is too short and the Ford Focus without fast charging. Both are deal breakers for me. But Nissan's success will spur other car makers into action. I fully expect to have at least 3-4 cars to ponder over in two years. So Nissan; you have had a great start but no time to rest!!

 EDUCATION Right now, the biggest drawback to EVs is still education. Thankfully, EVs have such a high owner satisfaction rating, word of mouth is helping in that area but even among owners, there is still a lot of misconceptions and features your EV may have that are not being used properly.

With Winter well under way, the major topic has been the range hit we have all been seeing.  Still tons of misinformation being passed about or simply info being relayed that many are simply misunderstanding.

An example is knowing how efficiently you drive. There is a miles/kwh meter I recommend resetting daily because its a gauge that can illustrate day to day differences you are not aware of.  I posted a pix in August of a commute where I averaged 5 miles per kilowatt-hour (kwh) and several were amazed stating they only drove at "3.8 in the Winter to 4.0 in the Summer."

Well that was an immediate red flag in this area.  The differences should have been much greater. Further questions revealed the person really had no clue how efficiently they drove because they were unaware that the number could be reset.  If that was all there was to it, then not really a big deal but a surprising number of LEAFers knew about it but didn't do it thinking it wasn't all that necessary.

That could not be further from the truth! Even routes repeated often like a work commute can have huge variances in performances in seemingly similar situations.  What it boils down to is a car that is highly efficient, any variance can greatly affect its performance.  I found that resetting my odometer and efficiency meter daily does give me great insight on my driving performance AND bragging rights!

Another reason to do this is this also allows one a head's up to possible upcoming issues. A big drop in performance minus any obvious causes (track your weather! a change in wind direction will play havoc on your range!) is a red flag to investigate.  The other day, I started up my car to see my tire pressures ranging from 3940 PSI. I normally keep them at 44 but the cold weather reduced tire pressures a ton and the car's TPMS does not alert you until the pressures hit a ridiculously low number in the twenties!

AWARENESS  Nissan; its no longer a secret that you wish to corner the electric vehicle mainstream market. So, lets hear about it!!  Tell us what you are working on! What is your goal for 2016 or 2017? Give us something to look forward to!

SUPPORT Lets face it; other than Oregon (color me GREEN with envy) public infrastructure support has failed.  In a state that is one of the leaders in EV adoption, it really saddens me that I am experiencing some of the "best" we have to offer.  There has been some reports that more support is at least desired but I think the targets need to be changed.  As a 3rd time EVer, I am not likely to change my preferences the 4th time around, but many first timers are having a hard time adjusting.  More public charging does bring a great sense of security to EVers even if there are no plans to use the system.  Just knowing its there in case its needed goes a long long way. 

Now this by no means means the chargers will lie unused. Too many times we are seeing this

This is the scene at the Burlington WA fast charger. What we have is one fast charger and 4 LEAFs waiting to use it. It is literally an oasis and in Winter it is a must stop. This needs to be changed.  There are too many holes in the infrastructure. The Washington Coast is pretty much been ignored. Grays Harbor County has ZERO public charging of any kind. Sure there are plugs for the imaginative. After all, its electricity and we pretty much all have it EVERYWHERE but I think its far past time the States take a lead role in this. One need look to the South to see how effective this can be in encouraging EV adoption!

But anyway, the stats for Nov, 2014 and FINALLY as promised, the LEAF has seen a reduced roll primarily due to very cold weather and lease mileage limitations.  But still managed to go 813.3 miles at at cost of $15.75 in electricity or just under 2 cents per mile. Work reimbursement was only $105 so with insurance added, it was a "break even" month.

The Corolla drove 954.7 miles using about $75.11 in gas on 3 fillups for the month costing 8 cents per mile.  The last fillup consisted of driving with temps primarily in the 20's but still managed 37.3 MPG which is pretty good considering one morning last week, I had to warm the car up about 10 mins because it took me that long to scrape ice and pry the trunk open due to a frozen latch.  That was no fun! (especially without gloves!)

Since I am just now hitting 17,000 miles with an anniversary date of Dec 23 and a lease limit of 15,000 miles per, I will continue to drive the Corolla for my longer commute options. The LEAF has been doing mostly the shorter errand type of things which helps to preserve my outstanding gas mileage.