Tuesday, February 23, 2016

DOA

Having logged over 90,000 EV miles, I am pretty aware of what my LEAF can and cannot do and yesterday was no different. I had a light morning workwise so had planned to charge after the 2 hour job just 10 miles away in Tumwater, WA.  But as luck would have it, a last minute change required me to get to the office and I had to do it before noon.

I had not charged the LEAF overnight because I try to avoid being at a high SOC if I am not needing that much and I figured I had plenty of time before my other job which was 20 miles away but did not start until 7:30 pm.  But I figured I had just enough to get to the office and almost all the way home.  Errands at the office took a bit longer than expected so I left there being roughly 3 miles short of what I needed to get home.  I then decided I would stop in DuPont for lunch at Happy Teriyaki while my car got a charge from the Blink stations at the hotel.  Because its a few blocks off the freeway, I have used these stations several times in the past.

I pulled in and swung around to the stations to see only one ICEer but there are 4 stations so I was good to go. As I parked, I immediately realized something was wrong. The stations did not look good. They looked neglected and sure enough, all 4 were DOA.  They appear to have been disconnected and abandoned.  Well, I was screwed...


As you can see, Plugshare confirms DuPont is utterless plugless. The nearest station was the SemaConnect at Walgreens off exit 113. I was at exit 119 with roughly 3 miles of range left.  I had no choice but to hop back into the car and take off down the freeway.  It is almost all downhill from DuPont to the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge marked in green on the map. I got off the freeway at the Nisqually cutoff and first thought I would try to make it up the hill to Walgreens about 2 miles away at this point but as soon as I started up the hill, my power circles started disappearing.  I already knew my pack was not in good balance and it was showing. There is no way I should have been losing circles when I still had 6 GIDs!  I immediately slowed to 30 mph but to no avail. I went down to two power circles in the next ¼ mile and realized I would not have enough to get up the hill to a spot on the road wide enough to pull over so I did the unthinkable (for some but actually I have done this twice before on the same stretch of road) of making a u-turn over double yellow lines to coast back down the hill to the gas station.

Great... oh well, I called Roadside Assistance thinking it would be an all day affair getting my car to a plug. After a painful 14 minute conversation with customer service, a tow truck was sent out.  I received a text from the tow truck driver before we hung up. It stated about 90 minutes.... not unexpected.

But to my surprise, I had barely updated my status on Facebook when the driver pulled in 19 minutes after I received the text.  He laughed as he got out of his truck saying "A LEAF! I should have known!"

As it happens, this was his 4th stranded LEAF and talking to him really gave me some insight as to how valuable keeping a teeny tiny charge in the battery pack can be.  He had towed a young lady just a few weeks prior and her battery was so dead that he had to hook up a jump box to be able to boot the car up so he could put it in neutral.  Then after towing her to the charging station a few miles away, he was nice enough (lucky for her!) to hang around since it was very late at night by now to make sure she was ok and yeah, the battery was so dead, the LEAF would not recognize or take a charge. So he had to get the jumpbox out again to help her get the charge going.

I was very happy to have an experienced EV tow truck driver (less than a hour from the original call to plugging in in my garage) but at the same time a bit dismayed he had had so much practice lately.  But I had become careless in my EVness since I knew several charging companies had issues but until now, it had not affected me in a major way.  Its more than a bit shocking to me that after 5+ years that our public charging network seems to be regressing in the areas where its needed most. All I hear about is a new charger installed a few blocks away from and existing charger. Don't get me wrong; the more the merrier but it seems like we are not really making any headway as far developing a more effective network.

We still must navigate by leaps and bounds and this is not a good thing. Too many people complain as soon as someone hits 81% SOC without a hint of leaving but with these charging gaps, it is no longer easy to judge others for the time they take to charge. To address one's comfort level, maybe 90% or more is needed and its the thought that that possibility exists that we still have a lot of work to do.

**EDIT**  Lots of feedback on this post, both appreciated with a few "head scratchers"...

For the head scratchers; One thing to emphasize; I was not stranded due to limitations of the LEAF. I did mention that I passed dozens of viable charging options on the way to DuPont. So this is nothing about limited range, insufficient instrumentation, or poor planning.

When I mention DOA; I am talking about the current state of public charging in my area.  The LEAF is more than capable

http://www.orleanshub.com/news2016/Albion-man-breaks-world-record-for-trip-in-electric-car.htm

14 comments:

  1. Gwenn Laubach AlvarezFebruary 23, 2016 at 3:33 PM

    This is a very timely posting, considering the price of petrol these days, and the lack of maintenance in charging stations. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reply. In retrospect, there was nothing wrong with the LEAF, its the public charging system that is currently DOA in my area

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  2. What to expect past turtle mode

    Today I found a few pointers
    When stretching the range it is better to coast than to regen.
    When the turtle shows up find your parking of choice at the next most convenient space immediately.
    Once you coast past turtle; the high voltage battery contactor opens, Regen no longer works, and the 12v dc/dc converter shuts down.
    If your flashers have been on long enough, or any other total 12 vdc loads have pulled the battery low; windows roll down better than up, you may not be able to shift to neutral nor get it out of park, the instrument cluster, door locks, and things start to wig out...
    Any car or 12 vdc can replenish a drained battery with a pair of jumper cables to get to nutral for towing.
    If you don't go past turtle mode like I did, you can tow regen with up to full regen braking almost as fast as a QC L3 station (a 5 10 min tow to the nearest gas station can add a quite a few miles of range)

    The street cred and karma credits of driving a leaf are amazing.
    Within moments of crisis I had a fellow leafer flag me down and went the extra mile helping me through the ordeal towing me to the nearest QC station and ensuring it registered KWH charged.
    Additionally a young couple in a sports car stopped and tendered assistance with communications through all this, within short order of my leaf finding it's uphill resting space.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What to expect past turtle mode

    Today I found a few pointers
    When stretching the range it is better to coast than to regen.
    When the turtle shows up find your parking of choice at the next most convenient space immediately.
    Once you coast past turtle; the high voltage battery contactor opens, Regen no longer works, and the 12v dc/dc converter shuts down.
    If your flashers have been on long enough, or any other total 12 vdc loads have pulled the battery low; windows roll down better than up, you may not be able to shift to neutral nor get it out of park, the instrument cluster, door locks, and things start to wig out...
    Any car or 12 vdc can replenish a drained battery with a pair of jumper cables to get to nutral for towing.
    If you don't go past turtle mode like I did, you can tow regen with up to full regen braking almost as fast as a QC L3 station (a 5 10 min tow to the nearest gas station can add a quite a few miles of range)

    The street cred and karma credits of driving a leaf are amazing.
    Within moments of crisis I had a fellow leafer flag me down and went the extra mile helping me through the ordeal towing me to the nearest QC station and ensuring it registered KWH charged.
    Additionally a young couple in a sports car stopped and tendered assistance with communications through all this, within short order of my leaf finding it's uphill resting space.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good article with good insight. Charging network needs to be maintained and expanded as more and more EVs are bought and Leased, even if the sales haven't been maintaining the high levels of growth they were a couple years back.

      Delete
    2. Good article with good insight. Charging network needs to be maintained and expanded as more and more EVs are bought and Leased, even if the sales haven't been maintaining the high levels of growth they were a couple years back.

      Delete
    3. Biggest takeaway here is there was nothing wrong with the car. It was the lack of support for public charging. Some could argue that I should have just charged more at home and that would be my fault for poor writing because I did say I passed dozens of charging stations purposely to use one I had used before while eating at one of my favorite lunch spots

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  4. Sorry you had to get a tow. Was it your roadside assistance or Nissan's under extended warranty?

    I understand that you are trying to be kind to your battery by not charging overnight, I baby my battery too. However running down to turtle is much more harmful than charging overnight. Given the choice I'd choose high SOC over a deep discharge.

    My strategy is to charge to 80% overnight and I press the timer override button as soon as I stagger out of bed, the car is fully charged by the time I'm ready to leave and does not sit full overnight either. If you don't have the 80% charge capability (as in late model LEAF's) then charging overnight using a timer will automate the process.

    I've had a few close calls myself, I'm at 83,000 miles with a 3 bar loser. I've reverted to charging whenever and wherever I can. ABC (Always be Charging), it costs a little more money and sometimes I pay for a charge that I may not have needed, but until I get a new battery I'll keep on ABCing my way around :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. It was my insurance company roadside. (Nissan's is a bit slower...) Granted, most of this "could" have been resolved by doing a full charge the night before but you have really missed the point which is why I added the edit. I only got stranded because I was unaware the stations had been taken out. Previously there were two separate location in the area that had charging and both are now gone. I don't know if its a city thing or not (that is my suspicion) But I passed dozens of charging opportunities because this is a stop I had done before and I also had a craving for Happy Teriyaki!

      What this situation did teach me (actually Jay pointed it out to me) was that Olympia is an oasis with no charging outside the general area in EVERY direction. All I can say is thank god its the State Capital otherwise it would have been skipped over as well!

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  5. Though definitely better to perpare with a full charge than cut it too close on a journey, it is good to know how your car behaves at the bottom end. For instance, my i-MiEV has at least 10% SOC remaining when the turtle comes on, and more in a new car. During the darkest days of Blink's bankruptcy, I drove 8 miles on the turtle to get past two defunct charging locations.

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    Replies
    1. Yep; although I did not enjoy being stranded, I could have asked for a better opportunity. The tow was very fast and the guy was awesome. I got a great story from him, learned how important it was to keep those batteries balanced, etc.

      I have been as low as 4 GIDs without losing power circles but this time I was down to one circle left at 6 GIDs but my battery stats were ahr 60.74, Hx 91.79. I think a more realistic set of numbers for me would be ahr 62.5 and Hx 95.

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  6. Was that tow on Nissans dime or yours?

    I have 3 years on my car now, so I think Nissan is out of the picture when it comes to a free tow, but I have never had to use a tow service. Lowest I have been before returning home was 11%..I have noticed though that when I am in the lower 1/4 of "the tank" it goes down fast..or at least it seems that way to me!!

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    Replies
    1. Yeah, my driving needs does not allow me to have that kind of cushion but I don't need it either. I am very comfortable driving "on fumes." This only illustrates how much of a bargain LEAF Spy is. It is the only way I could do what I do

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