Saturday, August 12, 2017

Charge Session Limit Poll Results

Several weeks ago, I posted a poll about public charging habits.  This was primarily due to the huge increase of Tesla's using the very limited resources we "peon EVers"have at our disposal. Well, as you can guess, the responses covered everything plus more. Very enlightening. As expected, most selected the "politically correct" response of 30 mins and go or less if you can get what you need or a variation thereof.  Kudo's to the people with total honesty who selected "charge all day" and there were not many as expected.

But a lot of possible compromises including;

**Just put in more charging stations!"

**If they all worked like they are supposed to, we wouldn't have a queue!"

**Increase billing after 60 mins

**Allow a 2nd non consecutive session at EVGO for example with higher per minute rates but no additional connect fee

**cuts off at 80% SOC

**Escalating cost when SOC passes 80%

**Billing by the minute causes price escalation at high SOC when charge rate slows way down

There is an underlying reason why I posed this question. Instituting a time limit like 30 mins at every fast charger will create a lot of anger especially among EV owners with larger packs. This anger will hopefully turn into momentum towards getting more chargers installed. The desire, especially among Tesla drivers to support a public charging network is weak and its easy to understand. Most will spend whatever time it takes to get the charge they need regardless of who is sitting there waiting. As long as this goes on, a voice and a very powerful one at that, has no reason to speak up. We cannot afford this inaction.   Tesla seemingly has the foresight to build their public charging network but the sheer volume of Tesla's on the road will inevitably lead to chademo's and CCS stations seeing an even greater uptick than we are already seeing now.

**Just put in more charging stations!" 
Ok, so the obvious. Tesla is doing it.  I will soon have 8 SCs within 75 miles of my house, 12 within 150 miles of my house. That pretty much covers every scenario I can think of. Add one in the Silverdale area and that we are at 100%.   Now WA has started funding a program (thanks to us!) to promote and expand the network. We also have the VW money which was supposed to start showing results this Summer. Haven't heard any stations yet here and Summer is now more than half over.

**If they all worked like they are supposed to, we wouldn't have a queue!"
Well, that isn't quite true but having all of them working especially the several Blink Chademo's that are either down or abandoned would be a huge help until the above mentioned start making a difference.

**Increase billing after 60 mins
Interesting concept but geared towards a larger pack. I think it should be after 30 mins since most EVs on the road now can really only take advantage of 30 mins of QC.

**Allow a 2nd non consecutive session at EVGO for example with higher per minute rates but no additional connect fee
Not positive what this means but guessing it was addressed to EVGO stations that have a 30 min time limit for fast charge sessions.  I would think that anyone using them on a regular basis would have the subscription option since single use is so expensive but this would be more inconvenient if we allow longer charging sessions with no monetary repercussions.  Another twist on this is allowing one to move to an L2 without an additional connect fee if one applies.  Currently the L2s at EVGO in the area are free. It would be nice to think that EVGO did this to reduce camping at the fast chargers.

**cuts off at 80% SOC
This would suck.  I easily get to 90-95% SOC in 30 mins on my 30 kwh LEAF with 125 amp (50 KW) stations.

**Escalating cost when SOC passes 80%
See above. The main concern is time.  IOW, how long should a single car be able to monopolize a very vital and still rare resource?

**Billing by the minute causes price escalation at high SOC when charge rate slows way down
This is a solution some stations have adopted to address cars that only need a few hours to charge but are parked at the station all day.  Primarily for L2 stations but could be a solution but still leaves it up the driver and his ability to pay and are we not already tired of the privileged few? 

One thing this poll makes clear. There is going to be a lot of pain before it gets better if it ever gets better. The consensus is clear that most EVers will simply monopolize the station for however long it takes to get the charge they need and the lower the cost, the longer they will prevent someone else from charging.   Because WA has generally cheap electricity (Last I checked, we were still #1 in the nation) there is less people charging publicly to lower their home electricity bills but that is probably not nearly as true as more expensive places in California where I suspect many are taking advantage of the various free charging programs to load up even if only a few miles from home. 

So I guess the right answer is the first one. Build more chargers.  I think we need to come to the realization that EVs are here to stay and the adoption rate is exponential. We need to get ahead of the curve before it skyrockets. Failing to do so will be disastrous. 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Eeny, Meeny, Miney Moe; Wait!, Something Is Missing!

Despite it being nearly a month before the World Reveal for the 2018 Nissan LEAF, a lot of details were suddenly posted online by a lot,  like a configurator! But it was gone in a day which is not surprising but if you missed it, Lemme me tell ya what you could expect come January, when you order yours.

Since the S trim introduction, it has been a very popular model even dominating sales its first year out.  Since then, Nissan has slowly taken features off the S table while making its higher trims more attractive but up until now, it wasn't enough for me to want to move up.

But the 2018 model year promises to change all that and let me show you why.  For one thing, the trims basically were unchanged in price despite a higher performing motor and a bigger 40 kwh battery promising about 160 miles of range when combined with a slicker body and other drivetrain improvements.   But the options have changed dramatically so I configured what I thought would be the two most popular options.

S Trim; Have to have Quick charge. No mention of a 6.6 KW upgrade, so... well, more on that later.  But steering wheel heater is back! So added the climate package which also includes rear heater vents a huge want there.  Then the applicable floor mats which adds mudflaps. Here is hoping the mudflaps work better than the previous versions.  Missing here is half the color pallet. Remove the various versions of gray and Dark Blue is the only option.   But the bottom line!

The breakdown on the options were $450 for climate package, $200 (I think) for floor mats with the balance of  $1590 for the quick charge. So not a lot of difference here as far as my 2016 with a few minor differences.

On the SV, we kinda went whole hog a bit mostly because of the "untesla-like" option pricing. But   First off, the tech package adds a ton of cool stuff and its only $900!  It also has the climate package at double the S trim price also @ $900 but adds the hybrid heater (too bad that could not be separated out...)  so with $200 floor mats we have

The real S Trim killer here?  A color option fainting resembling GREEN!!! At long last! Its a light green Jade something or another but Green nevertheless!

So did anyone else notice the SV coming in just under Tesla Model 3? ($36,200 after destination fees)  Yeah, funny how that works!

Features listed on the tech package for the SV
6-Way Power Driver Seat w/2-Way Lumbar
Auto-Dimming Inside Mirror
Universal Garage Door Opener
LED Headlights
LED Signature Daytime Running Lights
Portable Charge Cable
Automatic Emergency Braking (PAEB)
Blind Spot Warning (BSW)
Electric Parking Brake (EPKB)
High Beam Assist (HBA)
Intelligent Lane Intervention (I-LI)
Rear Cross Traffic Alert (RCTA)
Propilot Assist
Intelligent Cruise Control (ICC)

So a pretty extensive package. Now, how it fares against Tesla is anyone's guess. I did post a link to an article a few months back that stated Nissan was farther along the technology road on autonomous driving but who knows how much spin was at work there. 

Speaking of Tesla, the specs on the model 3 were also released (busy week eh?)   Now there are a lot of options but if I were getting one, the only one I would pay for would be the paint for a grand bringing the cost to $37,200. ($35,000 MSRP, $1200 delivery,  $1000 paint. Aina no way, I getting Black!)   The tech package here is $5000 and hard to justify that at this time. 

But we also have the Chevy Bolt (which is still somewhat surprisingly in contention) So visiting the Chevy site to run the configurator (again!)  I added the Comfort and Convenience  $555(heated seats and steering wheel, etc) and Driver's Confidence $495 (Rear parking assist, Lane change alert, rear cross traffic alert)  Fast Charge $750 and floor mats $250  

So there you have it; the Big 3! So what will you choose?

As I see it, all 3 should thrive since they don't really reside in the  same space.   Nissan is cheapest by a goodly amount.  Tesla comes close but if you add the tech package, it diverges very quickly.  So lets break it down by need.

Tech and Driver Safety;  Nissan and Tesla seem to be even at this point. Since we know little about Nissan's program and Tesla's is constantly changing, we probably have to wait a bit for a better determination but the price of the Nissan package makes it a no brainer over the serious financial consideration to add the same with the T 3.

Range;  The Bolt is king but the crown is tarnishing and tarnishing fast.  The T3 has the advantage of the supercharger network and that is huge.  Even without the extended range option, Tesla wins this easily.  Complicating my decision is the 3 SC's going into my area all within 60 miles of me and the price of 11 cents per kwh!

Price; Easy win for Nissan.  The SV may not have the range but the options are there and even when "loading" up the price is still below the base price of either the T3 or Bolt.  I want more range but the estimated 38.4 kwh usable combined with promised efficiency gains in both body and system, a doable 170 miles only needs 4.4 miles per kwh, not even close to hypermiling!

Usability; Despite a 50% smaller cargo area,  I could make the Bolt work I think. It would require vertical stacking which makes it a bit inconvenient if you put the wrong thing on the bottom, but its a compromise I can live with. The Tesla 3 is a different story. I will hold judgment until I actually see one in person but I really don't see how it could work for me.  If I did go that route, it would be no more than a 3 passenger car at best for me for work.  The LEAF still remains the most flexible although the configurator had "identical" measurements in all categories making me think that that was guessed and not actually information provided for the configurator.  I did see what I thought was a LEAF II mule that was definitely bigger but a recent story suggesting several new configurations on the LEAF platform is starting to make me think that maybe I saw a LEAF mini SUV!!... (ok, maybe a bit "too" wishful)

So knowing all that I choose....

to wait until the reveal.

If Nissan did leak the info, there is no doubt they saved a much bigger wow for the reveal, so the real purpose of this blog is to speculate on what Nissan has decided to hold back? With the comparisons of the big 3 above, this should at least give us a picture of where Nissan is lacking in addressing its immediate competition.

More range; Since everyone will scream if I don't mention it, I will put it out there.  There was no mention of different pack sizes despite many rumors there would be.  How much would you pay for an extra 20 kwh?  Tesla is charging $9,000 for what might be 25 more kwh (if rumors prove true) but then again, that is Tesla with Tesla pricing.  Nissan was selling replacement packs for $6500 but that price has been static for years now and the reality is not many are actually going for that price any more anyway.  So if I had to guess, I would go ohhh, say  $4169... which would put it below the Bolt by a buck with considerably more tech going for it.

Faster Charging Anyone else notice that the QC option for the LEAF S trim was $1590? Seems an awful lot of money for a chademo port. But would it be if it was 150 KW along with say... 9.6 KW AC?  What is obvious is the configurator has veered a bit too far off the Nissan path. EVERY previous version went out of their way to mention the increase in  AC speed.  But then again, it could be that 6.6 KW is standard now and no longer worth mentioning... Not believing that for a second. Leaving out charging speed is like leaving out the number of cylinders in a gasser!

Communication This would be the only one of the three not mentioning connectivity. I guess hoping for wi-fi and LTE would be too much to expect from Nissan... or would it?  OTA's,  SW updates, etc. direct to the car would be awesome and way overdue.

Loyalty In my previous blog I suggested that Nissan was holding out on a big surprise for its current LEAFers.  They extended leases even offering 3 months free without caveats to entice more to hold on their current LEAFs until the LEAF II announcement.  Now, this could be a ploy to try to win some loyalty in the oft chance that someone will feel guilty getting a T3 or a Bolt but its my feeling that that guilty feeling would be easily overcome even with the 3 free months, so maybe there is something else afoot here.  Either way, with the big reveal less than a month away, its well worth letting Nissan redeem themselves to us long suffering (well, actually I have suffered little if any at all but if it will get me a better incentive, I will say I am!) LEAFers.

EVERYTHING! I mentioned that the dimensions were strangely identical to the current LEAF despite my impression that it was larger when I encountered a test mule charging at Tacoma Mall.  John Voelcker from Green Car Reports says he talked with Nissan who says they have released no information which means the entire configurator could be a sham.  This would explain why the tech package was so cheap!

So what is your prediction for the reveal?  Post below.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

30 Days To Redemption; Reading Between Blank Lines.

My  sister has worked in the auto service industry for years and all dealerships have the ability to get "off paper"  things done for those out of warranty facing expensive repairs and actually has a fund for exactly that purpose so the reality is it is a lot of how you present your case,  previous history with the dealership, etc.

Online forums are a pretty small sample of LEAF owners out there and by and large started by a small core of hard core EVers most of which still remain here despite many not even driving LEAFs anymore.   The overwhelming majority of new people ONLY come here to complain. This has caused a lot of us to get a pretty negative view of Nissan but that is how we Humans roll.

When things go as expected, it simply does not make an impression on us.  Now did Nissan have issues? Yep, they did. Even in the "best rated" climate in the US for EVs, I still lost 12-13% capacity in 45,000 miles and 3 years on my 2011.  I leased so it was a somewhat of an inconvenience at first but I leased because like any new tech, I wasn't all that sure it was going to work for me.  It was compromise, no doubt but EVERY car is a compromise.  I have a gasser and I soon realized that it was a  much higher level of compromise masked by decades of acceptance of "that is how it is"

So when it came time to dump the 2011, I examined my options and found that the LEAF was basically my only choice, So got a 2013 but this time at SUPER CHEAP prices.  It undoubtedly proved that Nissan had made progress. I drove pretty much the same way, same areas, same location but ended up with roughly 8% degradation after nearly identical miles.  There is no amount of variance that can account for that much improvement.  FYI; I think LEAF Spy only helped me to abuse my pack more if deeper cycling is bad because I literally came home EVERY days for months at a time under 10 GIDs.

But the 2013 again was a lease and despite a crazy discount to buy it, I knew that the 2013 LEAF was simply not a "purchaseable" car for many of the same reasons the 2011 wasn't.  So again, I looked at the options and now there was good competition out there including the option toe extend my lease (remember I had one third less degradation so a few more months was easily doable)  for a Bolt but realized rather early in the game that Chevy wasn't a company I was going to be happy to deal with.

But Nissan incentives to return were simply too much to ignore. I thought about a 2 year lease but also looked at the timing of other manufacturers and the current nearly comatose build up of public charging and decided to make it a 3 year lease.  Whether that works out is still up in the air but the 30 kwh pack was bigger and for the first time in 6 years, I got the 2 free years of charging but again, the price was simply not to be believed making other manufacturers options simply too much more money.  But again, the 30 kwh LEAF was not a viable long term option and I ended up with what is essentially a 3 year test drive. A near zero interest loan for a LEAF whose out the door price would be barely more than half its selling price.  I figured I had little to lose with a $9,000 residual which I felt could be negotiated down if I decided the car was worth buying later.  But the reality was I had the chance to really evaluate Nissan's progress in making a better battery. With free charging, I could abuse the Hell out of the pack with the extra range assuring I would not be too inconvenienced at the end of the lease and that is exactly what I have done. More on that later.

But one thing I have noticed that started just about a year ago is Nissan taking a dramatic change in customer service and huge incentives on new cars was only part of it.  Previously I had heard of just a handful of people getting a decent resolution from Nissan if that.  The reality was even people completely under warranty were having issues getting things done and when it did happen it was after several weeks or even months.  Battery supply issues?  Nah, Nissan has a ton of facilities with MUCH more capacity than they were putting out.

But late last year, evidence of huge policy shifts became evident.  All of a sudden, I was hearing about people out of warranty sometimes by a year or several thousand miles getting packs hugely discounted or in some cases free.  It started a bit slowly but I realized that what we were seeing here wasn't representative of what was really happening.  The great deals were actually happening in bunches.

Again, it seemed like Nissan had added a page to its customer service rules without telling anyone. This is typical of how they operate. They have been tweaking the LEAF for a better customer service experience without letting us know any progress they have made.  Remember the announcement of the 24 to 30 kwh upgrade for the S trim on the 2016 LEAF?  Yeah, neither do I since there essentially wasn't one.

But the news of deals on replacement packs kept rolling in.  I am now hearing 3-5 a week including one guy who has over 100,000 miles on his 2011 and got a battery for 80% off. He is almost double the warranty mileage and several years past his 5 year time line.  But he is not alone.  Its almost as if Nissan knew the earlier replacement packs were not going to be significantly better than what the customer had and was hesitant to provide them but now that they had improved the chemistry, BMS, etc.  They had something that they could be proud of and wanted to pass them out to anyone who asked, hence the crazy discounts.

So back to my 2016 LEAF.  I got the car Nov 11, 2016.  Since the 30 kwh S trim upgrade wasn't really announced, its anyone's guess as to when they started building them in TN but my build date was 10/16.

So why did Nissan upgrade the S trim literally weeks  before the 2017's hit the streets?  Wouldn't have been better to hold off until then? Or was it simply "proud parent" syndrome winning the day?

To date I have driven 18,226 miles  with (just checked 5 mins ago) ahr 82.34, SOH 100%, Hx  100.56%,  363 GIDs, 28.1 kwh available (GIDs = 77.5 wh)  with 159 QCs,  189 L2s.   All these numbers are the same as the day I picked up the car (Actually Hx was 99%)   Now, our "perfect" climate for battery longevity is on hiatus this Summer.  On Thurs night according to someone on Facebook (did not verify because I was too hot to care at the time) but at 11 PM, Seattle had a higher temperature than Phoenix AZ.   Granted we don't (does anyone?) touch Phoenix for daytime temps but only provided the info to show that this Summer is as far from normal as... well as this past Winter was from our normal Winters.

So does this mean that despite baking the pack to 125º a few dozen times during both cold and hot weather without any signs of battery fade mean that Nissan has finally hit one of their performance goals?  Well, its simply too early to tell to be honest with you. But the signs bode well so far.  My 2013 started its decline at roughly the same time period (but 5,000 less miles) so I might be just around the corner from seeing 99%.  FYI; because of out of town job assignments, a long 4th of July weekend (trust in the fact that going anywhere that weekend is insanity) combined with a few local jobs, my LEAF actually did see 81.90 ahr and 98% SOH after 9 days of averaging 25 miles a day and charging only a few hours every 2-3 days including one QC that literally lasted me almost a week. But my normal driving patterns made that a memory after 3 days.

We are now one month away from another "proud parent" day for Nissan.  This time the stakes are much higher. Gone is the pie in the sky expectations present in December of 2010.  Present on September 6th will be the still vivid memories of "100 miles of range"  "70% after 10 years"  "30 cents on the dollar for lightly used LEAFs"   For those of you that have had negative dealership or corporate interactions in the past, this will be a hard thing to believe, but this is Nissan's chance to thank the early adopters for their loyalty.  Already, they have made it clear that current LEAFers will have incentives available to them on the 2018 LEAF and whether you took an extension on a lease ending this year (along with the 3 free months) or you bought yours so many years ago,  you will be the beneficiaries.  Just as Tesla rewarded their current customers, Nissan will do the same.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

July 2017 Drive Report; Choices Choices Choices! So Why Are We Complaining?

Well first off, I have a confession to make.  Earlier in the month, I announced that my LEAF had finally started to degrade. After 150 QCs and 17,000 miles it was beginning its downward spiral.  ahr was at 81.90,  SOH at 98% and the usual charge it and drive it wasn't working. Well at least not for the first 3 days...

But then I got up one morning (after a 171 mile 2 QC day) and my Hx was over 105%. Highest I have seen in a while. She was back!  Although I will admit despite driving good distances regularly, my Hx has been on a slow decline ever since. Today it was at 100.02% and I am thinking the degradation did start after all and I got a very temporary reprieve.

But enough of that!  Excitement in the EV World abounds....or does it?  Tesla's long awaited Model 3 reveal was met with equal parts of enthusiasm and derision.  This was very puzzling to me.  Derision was primarily caused by pricing of options including the longer range battery.  Everyone thought it was way too much but what were they expecting?  A tricked out vehicle from a high end manufacturer at the base price?   Cmon people! lets try the real World for a change.  Tesla is like BMW, Mercedes or Cadillac.  They are a high end manufacturer and that is where they should stay.  The S and X built a reputation of cutting edge tech, no compromise public charging support, etc. but for a price. The Model 3 maybe mainstream but no more mainstream than any other high end manufacturer's "affordable" models.

I will say the whining did slow down quite a bit (Especially from the Bolt section) when the price was displayed from a another (more important imm) viewpoint.

The reality is the T3 takes the top spot no matter which range you choose if you configure the Bolt with QC but at the same time, the Bolt is seeing good incentives mostly due to very sluggish sales.  Price negotiations on Teslas don't really happen.  To put all this into perspective, my LEAF lease puts me at $163 (after incentives)  and change which does not surprise me. I knew I got a good deal.  But the Bolt is available now (in abundance in some locations) so there is a considerable tax break to consider.  The current price leader; the extended range T3 will get it but the standard T3 will have a lesser chance. Lets hope that Tesla #200,000 is sold April or July 1st.

But hold on! The Apple Cart is not full and the LEAF II could topple everything.  Now who should be the most worried?  I think Tesla is in a good spot simply because they are high end, a different class.  But GM and Nissan share the market and although LEAF II details are not out yet, I think its safe to say that both companies are taking different routes to the market.

The Bolt is to me an econobox with a battery on steroids.  They may have gone overboard a bit on the cost cutting. I think their better choice would have been a few more creature comforts in a car with 200 miles of range.  But the lack of charging support currently and Chevy's refusal to contribute probably played a big part in that decision. Add to that their shocking way of handling the federal tax credit on leases.  Maybe someone should tell them the incentive is for the customer! But the range is real and that cannot be ignored.

The Model 3 also has some compromises but still has the high end features for a cost and the Supercharger Network which Musk claims will be 3X larger by the end of next year. Near the end of last year when debating on my next EV, I lamented that the SC network might be great for driving 3,000 miles but didn't work if one only needed to drive a few hundred like me. Naturally as soon as I said that, Tesla announced plans to nearly triple the SC stations in my region. This puts an SC in every direction from me except Silverdale/Bremerton.  The best part is SC rates will be based on local market rates for electricity and WA will be at 11 cents per kwh!  Anxious to see one in the flesh. Seating height and cargo space are a prime concern for me.

But the LEAF II I expect to bridge the gap between the two.  Nissan has chosen to reveal teasers over the past few months to build anticipation for its World reveal scheduled simultaneously for Tokyo, Las Vegas and more maybe?   My guess is the LEAF will have the tech maybe not as advanced as Tesla but some autonomous driving features will be present and assuming upgradeable when more features are completed.

The range will not be as much as we want (if that is even possible) but again, its all about value. Being a current LEAFer means extra discounts and even if its the expected 40ish kwh pack, its still a significant chunk of new destinations added to the "easy" list for me!

Now I did have a chance to do a close up walkaround of a test mule and it does appear to be a somewhat larger vehicle. I am guessing a bit more rear passenger comfort. Reclining seats ala the Prius V would be nice.  More cargo space would be a plus as well.

But the redesign was probably to increase the efficiency which means that again, the extra 10 kwh will be more valuable than its face value just as the  6 kwh bump combined with the steeper charging profile was an unexpected boost in the usability of the 30 kwh LEAF.  There were other tidbits but the reveal is a month away so I am waiting to see the full story.

I will say one thing though; I may not end up with a Tesla but its looking pretty obvious that what I do get will be because of Tesla.

Anyway, back to the mundane.  To lighten the load on the LEAF lease mileage, the Corolla rolled 657.2 miles in July costing $44.78 or 6.8 cents per mile averaging 39.4 MPG.

The LEAF traveled 2125.2 miles costing $17.41 or less than a penny per mile benefiting 270 kwh of public charging during the month. The long anticipated $3.00 charge finally came thru from Chargepoint. My confusion appears to be from having several accounts from them AKA as Chargepoint not anticipating that anyone would buy more than one LEAF...

Normally the LEAF would have added roughly $44.46 to the power bill (actually probably more than that since I am barely on tier one these days) or 2.1 cents per mile.

Battery stats @ 18,000 miles remains at 100% SOH, 82.34 ahr, 363 GIDs, 28.1 kwh to use, 100ish Hx.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Tale Of Two Pictures

I was at 3.2 miles per kwh when deciding to take pix

Are you excited? I am!  We are a week from the details of Tesla's Model 3, 6 weeks from LEAF II, and this week, VW broke ground on the charging network they are building to compensate for polluting our World while touting "clean diesel."  These are exciting times!

But what does that have to do with the picture above?  Well, lemme tell ya.  Generally at 3:45 in the morning there is not a lot going long as we aren't going anywhere on I-5 that is. Thursday, I was doing my morning ritual getting ready to drive north when I found out there was an accident on the way, a bad one.  I cut my routine short, leaving 15 minutes earlier than planned and took off averaging 70-75 mph for the first 15 miles before hitting traffic that slowed me into my normal 65ish (we still don't comply with the drive right except to pass law around here)   By doing this, I arrived 3 minutes early as opposed to my planned 10 minute earlier arrival (with a 15 min later starting time!)

Before we get more into this, a bit of history.  Most of my driving home is southbound from Pierce, King or Kitsap County.  I exit I-5 from Marvin Road, hit a few roundabouts, pass by Cabela's  and hit this downslope to my neighborhood. I always coast hitting around 50ish before hitting a short rise to another downslope on the other side.  I mention this because I have seen gains on the GOM as much as 10 miles.  This allowed me to see crazy numbers the next morning when I left for work.  I knew the estimates were high and why. IOW, the term "GOM" a coined acronym for "guess-o-meter" was a very apt description. It literally made estimates based on very recent driving conditions which doesn't work for most especially when we tend to drive the same routes daily.

But Nissan does listen to us and although they don't have a trumpeting spokesman like Tesla does (Since Jobs is gone, does anyone any more?) they have still worked on getting us what we want.  But they do have to deal with entrenched corporate ideologies, outdated processes and a multi-layered approval process that has greater veto power as it moves up the ladder.

But one thing I have noticed is that during my day, my driving conditions varying wildly.  Before, I used to hypermile first thing in the morning due to the fact that I was frequently going 10 to 15 miles farther than the EPA said was possible in my 24 kwh LEAF.   Most of the time, I just couldn't justify stopping to get 2-3 kwh (which I had to do A LOT!)  Despite being authorized breaks (which cannot be waived) or meals (which could be sometimes) I didn't want to spend 15 minutes at a charger.  My driving style remained fairly static thru out the day with slowdowns for congestion a daily routine.  My GOM varied wildly during the day which caused me a sense of comical relief.  It was literally fun to tease the display into making itself a complete fool!

But then my S30 came along. I only did it because I realized that Chevy was not going to provide me an acceptable lease option so I decided the first week of November that extending my 2013 lease 6 months to get a Bolt was off the table. Sadly I was right. (To this point, they still have not)

Now, I have to admit, I was "somewhat" in the camp that a 6 kwh bump wasn't significant. But it did open up several options for me especially in Winter.  I had long since resigned myself to the fact that stopping to charge was a necessity and it was then that I realized that I was getting too old to sit in a car for 90 minutes at a time anyway.  My typical drive home (using yesterday as an example) was 52 miles taking 102 minutes. Too much sitting... It takes my legs about 10 minutes before I can walk again and part of that is due to my job where I typically walk 12-14,000 steps in less than 8 hours. (Fitbit will back me up!)

As expected, the 6 kwh bump wasn't that much of a big deal but the much steeper fast charging profile was a very unexpected surprise!  This allowed me to do much longer trips quite easily and my time at the station became much more effective. No longer was I getting 10 minutes of fast charge, 10 minutes of medium charge and 10 minutes of "barely over L2" charge. It was a full 30 minutes!  Clearly evidence that Nissan had heard us.  I can't even begin to describe how much more use I could have gotten out of my 24 kwh LEAF had it charged the same way!

Anyway, back to the picture above.  That was Thursday driving 75 mph.  So add the elapsed miles plus the GOM and you get 118.7 miles which is right in the average 118-125 miles I tend to see with a huge range of mixed driving that always includes a lot of stop and go.  I had noticed the GOM was a lot more accurate in my 2016, but this was quite literally shocking.  With the old GOM, a 3.4 mile per kwh average would likely had seen me with 95.5 mile range or less.  I snapped the pix a split second after it changed from 3.2 miles per kwh which would have been  89.9 miles.

So now its Thurday, my sleep in day.  Leaving home at 5:15 AM, headed to Tacoma, I am tooling along at my 65ish speed basically following traffic primarily in the right or center lane with occasional bursts to 70 to pass people who can't determine what speed they want to drive, etc. and snapped this and realized later (this morning in fact) that both pictures had the very same GOM reading! Well, now you know the inspiration for this blog!

Now a few things to point out.  Total estimated range will be 121.9 miles which is nearly the same as Thursday's trip despite being 10 mph slower over nearly the same distance.  Since both days, I started with 28.1 kwh available and 363 GIDs (for those of you that recall I reported the start of degradation. Sorry but it went away...)   But the reality is with a .4 mile per kwh difference, the range should vary about 11.2 miles, right?  Also, 28.1 kwh @ 3.8 miles per kwh only gets you 107 miles. So how is the GOM getting 121 miles?

Well, as mentioned, I see all kinds of traffic conditions during my day.  Because of my starting times, I don't see a lot of congestion. (Shoreline trip after getting past the Fife accident averaged 70 mph +. Try doing that at 7 AM!)  When getting home, my miles per kwh readings are averaging 4.3 or 4.4 (those two numbers come up 80% of the times for all days over 100 miles)  which means a normal range is 120.8 to 123.6!  This makes pretty clear evidence that Nissan is hearing us and one of our loudest complaints has been how deceiving the GOM is.

This brings me to a recent reveal for the 2018 LEAF of one pedal driving.  One thing we have talked about is how much B mode was appreciated and wished it would go farther and looks like Nissan is listening again. So now, for those who are in tune with LEAFers in the wild (or are a member of several dozen LEAF groups on Facebook like me) What is your prediction for new features on the 2018 LEAF based on what we have been complaining about the most?

I will leave the obvious unsaid...

Saturday, July 15, 2017

What Constitutes Abuse Of NCTC?

If you have read more than a few entries of my blog, you already know that free is in my preferred price range! And why shouldn't it be? The reality is that nothing is truly free. We have paid for it in one way or another.  Just as Tesla owners have paid for the free access to the Super Charger network, I have also paid for my access to NCTC.

Now, I have had a few comments on my charging sessions count which is currently 145 QCs,  182 L2's (there was actually one L1 in there for an hour only done to demonstrate) which lead many to believe that I was mostly charging publicly instead of at home and...well, yeah that would be correct!

So is it abuse to get way more charge than I need to get home?  Well, no not if I am not blocking anyone else from charging which actually did happen a few times but only because I was eating and not around the car but I paid for the right, right?

But I feel the need to defend half my actions so despite having 16,390ish miles on my LEAF, I have only had it 4 days over 8 months which is about 245ish days, give or take.  Now, I generally don't charge at home every day like today, I won't because I don't plan to go anywhere other than lunch or the gym or something. I have 85 miles or range more or less so don't need to charge.  Also need to consider times I have gassed it which would be more days where no charge was needed, etc.

But the reality is that the 30 kwh pack has made it easy to do a LOT of driving which means that public charging is more likely because of it. If you think that sounds counterintuitive, it really isn't. The reality is more range encourages much longer trips.  Unlike my 2013 when most of my "long" trips might have had 1-2 fast charges with an occasion 3 in there, I have done one 5 charge trip, 4 4 charge trips and the 3 charge trips I have lost track of... The month of May is a good example. I drove nearly 3300 miles but had 9 days where I drove less than 25 miles. So that leaves 22 days "averaging" nearly 150 miles a day.  But the best part of all that was most of the charging stops were incorporated into my work or "play" day so very little time just sitting there doing nothing!

  Generally I plug in for the full 30 mins whether I need it or not as long as there is not too much action going on. I tend to use Tacoma Mall most of the time because there are two stations which makes my blocking someone much less likely plus its 8 blocks from my office which I am compelled to visit waaaay more often than I want to... But because the office is 22.6 miles from my house,  this puts me in a situation where I am frequently getting home with 70-90 miles of range.

But my cheapness doesn't end here. How many of you use a credit card at chain restaurants? Like Red Robin, Applebees, etc?   And if you do, I only have to ask, why? Do you like spending more money than is needed?  I eat at these places a lot... probably more than I should but only with gift cards and why not?  Check with your credit card company. (yeah the same one you used on your last visit!) In most cases, they have great discounts on gift cards. I use got $100 of gift cards (In WA State they are not allowed to expire...) for Applebees and I will admit its probably a year's supply or so but only paid $75 so I will eat at 25% off.  Costco is another great source for discounted gift cards as well.

But back to the public charging thing. I will admit my circumstances are different than most where a lot of time (3 hours this week alone for 6 30 min sessions) charging publicly would seem like an inconvenience but of the 3 hours I charged publicly,  90 mins was "billed" to my employer for a State mandated meal period.  But overlaid on those 180 mins was also 125 mins of  "work at home" time that includes a whole bunch of stuff that can't actually be done at home.  So the reality is this week if considering lunch to be a waste of time, one could look at 55 mins of my time wasted charging but the reality is I actually used all my time charging to do something else but sometimes being there has other benefits.

2018 LEAF Test Mule

I originally only wanted to stop long enough to make a few calls and get a bathroom break but saw this so had to hang out for the full 30 mins.  So I uploaded that days job and started setting up my equipment for the next day's job instead.  As luck would not have it, they started a 2nd charging session so I decided to move to L2 and wait for them to leave and went inside to use bathroom and came out just as they were leaving so got 2 really sucky pix of the car uncovered but another EVer in South Carolina got a bunch of really good close up pix so you can check the Nissan LEAF Owners site on Facebook for those... or look below!  Thanks Calvin Greer!

Although I did not get any good pix I did do an up close walk around and the car is longer for sure so I am predicting 2" more rear leg room and larger cargo space in the hatch!

But the real excitement?  I have had a ton of fun (and made a lot of money) due to the extra 6 kwh capacity of my 2016 LEAF so just the thought of what I can do with the much greater range of the 2018 LEAF is really making me a bit giddy!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

The Clock is Ticking

Larger packs are already here but faster charging is not.  Several stories coming out with Bolters almost bragging they had to restart their fast charge sessions multi times to "fill up" while other LEAFers stating waiting over an hour for someone to complete a charge.

Does this seem fair?   My LEAF is almost never filled up after 30 mins, but I never start a 2nd session and yeah, there have been times I left knowing I would have to stop again somewhere else on the road.  But that was pretty much the "LEAF charging mantra"  Charge the lower part of the pack for greater efficiency, less heat, yada yada, right?

The other thing is that time in one spot is acceptable if its short enough. I had conditioned myself to have stops that last basically 15, 20 or 30 mins and this corresponds to the length of time I charge. How convenient is that!

Now, I am not a fan of restricting someone's charging time if they need it and we do realize that the CCS network is severely lacking in several areas including going south from Tacoma Mall, which brings me to an incident witnessed yesterday.

Bolt charging while passengers were inside apparently napping.  The charge session ended as we were walking into the mall. I did not stick around to see what was going on.  I returned about 15 mins later and their charge session had been restarted.  So its really anyone's guess as to how long they had been there.  But there was obviously others who were waiting as both L2's were full and another LEAF parked near by. I was going to charge the full 30 mins (since I was on "electrons" pulling in) but I had enough to eek it home so unplugged and left.

Maybe its time to institute a 30 min charge time limit.  Finish your first 30 mins and get back into the queue if you have to.  Public charging stations should not be monopolized by cars who have the desire to charge for 90+ mins.

Now the easiest way to do this is allow queuing on the stations like Blink does (or did...) This way, the Bolter can't run two sessions together if another Chademo car has queued up already.

Either way, chime in.

1) Should we institute a time limit on the fast chargers?

2) First come, first served even if it takes all day?

Keep in mind; the Public World has time limits imposed all kinds of things and comes with a huge level of "resigned acceptance"  We don't like it, but "them's the rules" so we grudgingly abide.

If we want more, we simply get back in line at the end and wait out another turn.  With the current state of public charging, this is something we need to adopt ASAP. There is simply way too much privileged abuse going on out there right now.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Death By A Thousand Cuts

Recently, Washington State decided to suspend sales of Lotto and Powerball tickets in preparation of a possible government shutdown if a new budget could not be agreed on.  Everyone in the state thought it was BS and that we always go thru this doom and gloom scenario every two years on the local news only without a shred of reality. Well, New Jerseyrites have a different view on that...

Anyway, it must the season because now I seem to be seeing the same thing over and over....

"My LEAF was at 93% SOH in April but now its down to 86% only a few months later. If this keeps up, I will need an EVSE at BOTH ends of my driveway to go anywhere!"

OMG!...Seriously???   There is NOTHING you can do to degrade your pack that fast!  But the readings did happen so what did happen? 

Well, its really anyone's guess but there are a few possibilities starting from the worst (and probably least likely)

BMS Reset;  I blogged about a famous (mostly famous since this was one of the first actually verified)  BMS reset 2½ years ago detailing how someone bought a used LEAF with 12 capacity bars only to find out it was sold 6 months earlier with only 9 capacity bars.  But as luck would have it, the car was a well known one whose degradation was tracked on so she got a new pack and it all worked out. 

Pack Stats Manipulation (PSM); For whatever reason, the pack numbers can be puffed up to a level not likely indicative of the pack's true condition. I have demonstrated this several times on both my 2011 and 2013.  (Haven't lost anything yet on 2016 so that is yet to be tried.) 

Here I explained how easily the numbers can swing up to 10%.  Yeah, that is like 66 to 60 ahr (done it!) or SOH from 93 to 100% (not quite as dramatic....unless its your LEAF!)  But then again, the LEAF only had 20,000 miles on it, right?  Much less than the people mentioned above. 

So lets move a year forward to March, 2016.  Now I am at 34,000 miles and ahr averaging 59ish so too late to boost the numbers?  Although it the blog was not specifically about boosting the numbers, the pix are still there to see...

Couch Potato Syndrome;  For lack of a better term, your LEAF is a lot like you. It performs sluggishly in the cold, degrades quickly in the heat and more to the point; gets fat and lazy if not exercised properly!  This is closely related to the  PSM mentioned above. 

The real question is can the LEAF be permanently damaged from lack of use? And the answer to that is yes. The reason is that degradation also suffers from the march of time.  There is a ton of anecdotal evidence that 2 LEAFs living side by side will vary only slightly in their levels of degradation even if one has driven 2 or even 3 times farther.  I we Pacific Northwesternites are lucky in that regard. 

But then again, it is a two edged sword.  Unlike Arizona that has 40 year old cars, so looking nearly new, all our 40 year old cars that spend a lot of time sitting are rarely any other color but green nowadays... 

But this does add another dimension to the purchase decision.  Previously the common ideology was "as long as I don't charge too full or run it down too low, I can do my 40 mile commute for several decades"  and that is proving to not be quite as true.... Well, sort of. You can actually go a long time in a LEAF if your needs are really that modest but we are seeing more and more doing 100,000 miles in 4 years with healthier packs.

But the reality is that no matter how your pack numbers changed, the pack does not fall off a cliff. It is well known that new packs tend to stay at max numbers longer than is realistically possible which tends to support the claim that Nissan instrumentation is not the best. (Please do not blame LEAF Spy! It only reads what is transpiring on the LEAFs data bus. Very little else is going on here. IOW, DON'T BLAME THE MESSENGER!) 

Your pack dies little by little which means everything matters.  Now before you go into panic mode and start calling around for bids to AC the garage, lets take a look at the compromises first.  

Although everything matters, you have to keep in mind, several hundred cuts may not be good but also may not be all that inconvenient either.  The extended degradation warranty on 30 kwh packs actually benefits us Pacific Northwesternites since its actually long enough for the more extreme cases we see here.  The previous 60,000 mile 5 year thing was simply hard to attain in this climate. 

We also have to think (finally!) that public charging is going to be better making opportunity charging much more convenient in the near future.

So what can we do that might make a difference? Weeeellll, SINCE YOU ASKED!!


I am on my 3rd LEAF and as luck would have it, from all early initial impressions this one also seems that it will outperform many of yours. How lucky can I be!!

Or is it really luck?  Or maybe the question should be "What am I doing that makes my pack stand up so well?" 

Could it be slow driving?  Well that argument would have had a lot of legs on my 2011 (I was simply too paranoid to go faster) but not as much on the 2013 (With LEAF Spy, I had the confidence to drive at a speed to get me home at ~ 10 GIDs and that frequently meant 70!) but on the 2016?  Well... it only took 3½ months to get a speeding ticket.  (confession is good for the soul!) so that should tell you enough...

Could it be the Mediterranean climate of Olympia?  Well, that could be true but for the fact that the car spends most of its time sitting in parking lots in full Sun all over Western  WA, the same place most of you all live.  Climate helps, parking in garage that is shaded more than half the day helps, etc. Remember, everything matters.  Charging primarily only late at night helps. Leaving garage door open a few hours after the Sun goes down helps. I live on the edge of somewhere facing the middle of nowhere.  You have to know the area to understand this statement but theft is not a likely risk. Besides they would probably grab my bike and other stuff that sits outside unsecured all the time, first. 

Well, in my mind, its none of that.  I get more because I simply travel a lot of miles without the battery at all. 

Only God knows why the resistance to neutral driving persists today.  On the Chevy Bolt forum we still have people who are dead set against it because its supposedly unsafe but none can actually say why its unsafe and these are the same people who say they are forced to drive 10 mph over the speed limit!

Years ago when belt driven power steering was the norm, there was an issue with driving in neutral. Back when mechanical shifting was literally unrestricted, neutral driving was not a good idea. Several mentioned shifting accidentally into reverse while coasting down a hill.  Not good for the car. I did this once just to see what happened.  It only cost me two new wheels because the rear locked up long enough and hard enough to slot the lug holes on both back tires! I was lucky in that I didn't even know it happened until I got home and decided to examine the car.... Maybe I do have some luck in me!

But why do I do it?  Well, that is simple. It is "free miles."  In neutral, the battery does nearly nothing. Neutral allows you to maintain speed better as you approach traffic, a light or a likely stop.  Anticipation is key to eeking miles out of your EV and I found neutral is a lot more forgiving then light regen to the stopping point. My ultimate win?  Shifting to neutral several blocks before the stopping point only to have the light or congestion clear up just as I am rolling up to them having lost 10-15 mph. So I am starting back at 25-30 mph instead of zero.  Any law of physics will tell you that regen cannot win that game, NO MATTER WHAT. 

But the reality is I only have the ultimate win infrequently.  Maybe 10 times a day out of 100+ opportunities.  The most likely scenario is too much traffic requiring a slightly higher speed to the stopping point or simply too many cars sitting at the light, downslopes, etc.  IOW, not stopping is not an option. 

Another common scenario is the "half win." This means coasting with regen.  I do this on very steep hills where I will regen to something say 5-10 mph below the speed limit and then coast to say 5-10 over (obviously this is dependent on conditions. Don't think I am rolling down residential hills recklessly since this is not the case) and repeat as necessary.  The other time is when things happen that simply does not allow you enough time to adjust your driving to maintain maximum efficiency AKA typical Puget Sound traffic conditions.  I have been doing neutral driving so much (started with first electronic shifter in the Prius in 2004) that my normal reaction when lights change in front of me is shifting to neutral. Frequently I am going to fast to stay in neutral but I have time to gauge when regen is needed. I always drive in B mode and yea, my brake pedal is a very lonely place. 

So is neutral driving really making that much of a difference for me? Well hard to say and since an experiment would pretty much require side by side cars over several months and tens of thousands of miles, I will never find out because I am not abandoning this technique. Well maybe I will when my 500 mile LEAF shows up.  But again, I am doing this easily over 100 times a day and the shifter is showing no signs of wear and tear! (or maybe we should be looking at the pack? ;) ) 

So can we look at Neutral Driving as a thousand tiny bandaids?  

Finally; anyone with LEAF Spy probably already knows this but regen, even slight levels don't hit the pack evenly. This I have repeated pretty much every time.  Have a million pix of this including ones that split the cells exactly in half but decided on making new ones to show my less than 100% Hx to prove I am Human... 

LEAF Spy during initial regen

As you can see, not the best way to maintain the balance, right?  I would have felt better if the pack switched sides every once in a while but have yet to capture that....

So why does this not happen during a call for power? Again, several attempts using 2-3 Powerballs (must be leftover budget worries that caused me to say that.)  and pretty much an even draw. 

Gentle power draw

Ok, I will admit to using the best of 5 pix to display here.  But they were like this one. Random levels on adjoining cells. No group of cells up or down. Delta ranges from 11 to 26 mV.

So it would appear that LEAF Spy is at least partially on my side. 

So, do try this at home unless you can come up with a valid reason that neutral driving is dangerous. 

Sunday, July 2, 2017

June 2017 Drive Report; 15,000 Miles And Still Nothing To Report!

As expected, June was just as busy as May for driving.  I did use the Corolla more mostly to keep her from sitting too much and also because I had passengers on some jobs that I would have had to stop to charge on the road making it a less convenient use of their time.

I am paid for most of my commuting because its a different location every day when driving my personal vehicle but passengers are on a different pay scale which is not good so additional time on the road is not beneficial for them in most cases.  When driving alone, I can alter my travel logs to take out time for charging when I have no justification for it.  So if I stop for 30 mins to charge and qualify for a break, I will deduct that break time and roll my real time to home back the appropriate amount.

I also frequently upload assignments, download new ones, etc.  This is also considered. For example, I drive home arriving at 5 PM but on the way, I stopped  for 30 mins of charging plus "detour" time of say 10 mins. (This is time off route to get to station itself.)  So my adjusted return time goes from 5 PM to 4:20 PM.   Now if I did upload assignments, I would not take that from drive time simply because uploading pays a lot more ;) so although I am honest with the books, I also do it to maximize my profitability.

For the month,  the Corolla went 605 miles costing $39.06 or 6.46 cents per mile or 38.1 MPG. 3 or 4 occupants each time with 70 - 120 lbs of equipment each time.  Sadly, gas is still cheap which means I am sharing the road with a lot of brand new full sized, single occupant SUVs...

The LEAF traveled 2485.6 miles costing $14.78 or .59 cents per mile... for now.  I did charge at my LEAFs hometown of Campbell Nelson Everett and the Chargepoint did advise it was $3 but it has yet to appear on my billing statement anywhere.  So I am reserving the right to call this month .2 cents per mile.

One thing mentioned is how much others could expect to pay if they only charged at home at my rates (just under 10 cents per kwh) and without the 405 NCTC Kwh last month or any month, my lifetime cost runs to 2.21 cents per mile. Still nearly 300% better than the Corolla.

Degradation;  With nearly 16,000 miles on the clock, batt stats are still frozen in place.  As mentioned several times before, in my area, I think time is the prime degradation factor and have not changed my mind on this.

This is an improvement over my 2013 which started dipping below the max 284 GIDs randomly before the end of its 8th month.  I have 12 reading in July 2014 ranging from 279 and up.  Keeping in mind, I still had several 284's after this but the definite beginning of the downhill slide.

Now keep in mind; we are talking two completely different cars with a 3+ year gap in technology so some improvement should be expected. But there are differences. The 2013 was charged mostly at home seeing only 31 fast charges in its first 8 months while the 2016 has 137 with a week to go.

The 2013 was fully charged nearly every night while the 2016 has been maybe 50% of the time.  Remember, I went 3 weeks without charging at home at all. I also had the water pump issue and only charged at home once during that period as well. This all means that the 2013 probably had a better balanced pack and the 2016 stats could be held up by the very heavy usage and the large number of QCs.  This holiday weekend should tell me something....maybe.  To compensate for the 15 consecutive days worked (ending yesterday) I am off till Wednesday and with my self imposed driving ban on holidays, should put minimal miles on the LEAF. Add to that, driving the Corolla yesterday and a local job Wednesday puts my LEAF on light duty for over 5 days.  Not sure if that will be enough to see a change in stats so stay tuned!

Maintenance; Well since I am over 15,000 miles that naturally means that tire rotation #2 is in the books. A lot of people rotate every 7500 miles and I suppose that might work. Keep in mind, I did experiment with a 10,000 mile interval that failed. Simply too much wear on the fronts causing those two tires to fail the lease turn in inspection. So do 7500 if you want but I will stick with the 5,000!

Finally some pix!  (Mostly tossed in because an all text entry seems boring)

Can't tell you how cool it is to get a full 30 minutes of fast charging!
As you can see, I am a few seconds away from ending my EVGO
session and still at full speed. (amps were bouncing around and
tried to catch it at 99 but oh well!) 

First encounter with a Smart EV.  Very small but seems like
huge front passenger space. Great litle commuter but too
 small for my needs.  Plus not sure I would want to be
 crossing the Narrows regularly. But I guess batteries would 
act as a good ballast to keep it grounded

This is just a shout out to fellow LEAFer Glenn Von Wedmeier at 
Harvard Market.  Had planned to plug in since I was there several 
hours before the crowds but an expected detour did not happen and had
65 plus miles of range so I "gave up" my spot to Reach Now. :)
Plus didn't want to charge to 90%+ and let it bake in the Sun 
all day. 

And finally; Another gasser bites the dust! Have needed to 
upgrade my BBQ options for a while now. The old one was 
too small really.  Saw this on sale at Costco and simply could
not resist! This leaves the Corolla as the last "smoking holdout"
and yes, she is sweating bullets right now!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

May 2017 Drive Report; I Need A New Job!

Well the month of May realistically should have been divided up into two months.  The first 10 days was very Spring like with enough rain to smash the average rainfall for the month. This was a good thing because the rain then stopped and the Sun came out as if it was making up for its absence this year.  We hit temperatures 20+ degrees over the norm including a 14 day dry streak recorded at Seatac. Not sure but I venture to say that they have never seen 14 straight dry days in the month of May, EVER!

First off, I checked the Chevy site again and ran the lease calculator again and from what I can figure, Chevy is still not passing any significant amount of the federal tax credit to lessees.  But the issue is that I have no idea what the residual will be because no one is willing to tell me. So that means

1) The residual is so high, everyone is embarrassed to say it (One in CA mentioned something in the upper 20's but that was months ago and terms change constantly and there has been nothing revealed recently!)

2) The lease deals are so bad, no one is leasing.

Either way, my plan of being a 2 EV house is being derailed and I am running out of time.  Yeah, I know its hard to believe when you are in month 7 of a 36 month lease but...

Anyway, I realized the gasser is going to be here longer than I had hoped so I used it so the battery would not die and got new shoes for it too blowing up the TCO but the Corolla went 556.0 miles costing $36.94 (6.64 cents per mile) while averaging 39.9 miles per gallon.  I still reserve the luxury of only using the Corolla when high mpg's are likely.

The LEAF went a "bit" further at 3287.4 miles costing  $23.86 in home juice or less than a penny a mile (.7 cents to be exact) helped by 455.593 Kwh of NCTC charging. There were a few short stints of L2  mixed in but generally did not add up to much. The reality is when averaging over 100 miles a day, there was just no time for L2.

What I did all month; 
Charging while working!

Now you might say the 30 kwh LEAF gets 110 miles on a charge so what's the problem?  Well,  when we consider that the month had 8 days where I drove 20 miles or less, you can guess what the rest of the month looked like.

One thing I realized is the conception of people who charge near home are taking advantage of a free thing is not always the case. I used Tumwater several times and my local Nissan dealer twice, both of which are less than 9 miles from my house but when a day consists of jobs in Gig Harbor, Bonney Lake and then Centralia (I don't have the option to change the order), sometimes charging near home is simply required...

Either way, I am on pace to exhaust my 45,000 miles a "bit" early so I need to (In order of importance)

1) Get another EV ASAP!
2)  Buy the LEAF
3) Drive the gasser more
4) Get a new job!!

Then again.... Driving the gasser more shouldn't even be on the list!  ;)

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Its BBQ Time (For the Battery!)

The heat is on!  According to local news, this is the first Memorial Day Weekend to have at least 2 "mostly" dry days in over 20 years.  But we haven't had a drop of rain in the week preceding the holiday and if the forecast holds up, we won't see any for at least a week afterwards.  IOW, we are already seeing "Middle of August" (mostly because early July can be wetter than we want...) Weather!

But there is always two sides to any good thing and unfortunately that means its also "Battery Degradation" Season here in the Pacific Northwest.  Now, don't get me wrong, its nothing severe like Cali or other places south.  In fact we have a WA LEAFer who posted a pix of his 2013 LEAF @ 90,000 miles with all 12 bars intact musing whether his OEM tires will make to 100,000 miles. 

Tires??? Who cares! How did you get to 90,000 miles with all your battery capacity bars??

2013 LEAF Build date 06/2013

His recipe? A lot of "easy highway miles" (well, that is a bit understated!) and charging from very empty to full when he gets home on L2.  But with the weather we have been having lately, I am almost as impressed he only has 5 temperature bars. 

Any way, as you might guess the great weather we are having calls for an experiment! (As if you didn't already know this was coming.... :) ) Many 30 kwh LEAFers are seeing degradation already, some significant and all appear to have either gotten cars that spent at least a few months on the car lot or live in hot climates.  Then comes my LEAF which after 6 months and 13,000 miles, my battery stats are EXACTLY the same as the day I picked the car up on 11/11.  But I got the 2016 S Trim with 30 kwh battery; A car that was only made a few months. It probably spent less than one week on the lot.  That is one thing. 

Now the other; hot weather? Well, I can't change the weather so its being cooperative for experimental purposes is awesome! But I could also help my case by simply creating the hotness with fast charging which is what I have been doing.  

Now previously I reported that initial observations has the 30 kwh pack cooling off much quicker than the 24 kwh pack. Now before we think that larger pack means quicker heat dissipation due to lesser pack cycling, be reminded I am on pace to hit 25,000 miles in my first year which means I am just as close to the bottom of the pack as I ever was! 

Also the change in fast charge profile has created a lot more heat.  In fact, fast charging has become so efficient that I generally disconnect when the charge rate drops below 40 KW because I have enough to go where I need to go!

100 miles of range in less than 30 minutes!

But again, there is a trade off. This kind of power transfer cooks the pack!  So I was seeing temperatures well exceeding anything I had seen on my 24 kwh packs. The biggest reason was because the 24 kwh packs slowed the charge rate so quickly that I generally charged only till the rate dropped below 15-20 KW but was barely seeing 65% SOC!  

But I also noticed that unlike my 24 kwh packs, heat dissipation was much faster.  Before a 2 fast charge day would take 24-36 hours to normalize even during cool weather but I was seeing this after less than 12 hours 

Parked overnight in garage.  Previous day 145.3  miles,  2 QC's.  
L2 finish likely before 8 PM.  Pix @ 3 AM

Pretty obvious that there is a big improvement in chemistry or something else. Well we all know that there is no active cooling added.  So is it all passive cooling?  I mentioned earlier that the 30 kwh packs (or at least later versions) were built with more space between the modules.  This would allow more air to circulate and help dissipate heat. Then Brent from Portland mentioned that he was seeing more heat buildup when he blocked his front grill and deduced that Nissan may have put in venting to the pack.  This all seems to correlate to what I am seeing. 

First off, the LEAF has 3 temperature sensors and generally they run hottest to coldest with the first two being fairly close to each other while the 3rd one is somewhat cooler. A 4-8º temperature spread is common.  

Temp Sensors are 9, 10, and 11

If there was some sort of ventilation tunnel, movement should provide noticeable cooling.  Now this could also mean cooling was happening without the venting due to the additional spacing between the cells so first to check;  What does the temps look like when its 84º in the middle of a shadeless parking lot?   So the experiment;  Get a cold day, a hot day, lots of fast charging, parking and driving and see what happens, right!

Ok, first the hot day (since it happened yesterday, its also fresher in my mind) Naturally we want to start with a full charge and verify our level of degradation... :) 

Hmmm??  Tire pressures a bit lower than I like. I guess it will have to do. 

So the early drive is fairly uneventful. The plan is to stop at roughly 105 miles to grab a quick boost from the L2 Station at Little Creek Casino.  It is unshaded and I will likely need it to get to Tumwater anyway.  The day quickly warms up and with full Sun, the 84º air temperature basically means nothing.  Below illustrates the benefits of parking in the shade whenever possible!  Anyway I had a bit more range than predicted but had to upload work and Little Creek has BLAZING Wifi and grab some refreshments so stop it was!

After 25 minutes of charging on L2 in full Sun. 

I kinda blew this one. The bottom two temps went up while the hottest one went down a few 10ths. Should have done a before and after pix.  Anyway,  leaving Little Creek and heading for some real heat. But after driving 108.3 miles before the boost, I am realizing that the temperature difference I had hoped to see was there but just barely.  No more than a 8º spread which is pretty common even while moving which tells me that cooling with hot air doesn't work well! But again, solar radiation is the main player here. With air temps in the mid 80's, its more like the mid 90's and higher on the roads. 

To illustrate, lets go back to another Sunny day when temperatures were "area appropriate" 

OAT 65º

The above was after driving 50 miles after a quick charge that heated the pack to 116º on the top end. As we can see, the range is much greater.   Notice the spread from #1 and #2 is growing as well?  

To illustrate even further; What happens when the temps in the battery are high but the air temperature is much lower?  

20º temperature difference

The above pix you might recognize from my 300 mile trip which had several QCs although most were shallow but I found that 122º was about as hot as it was going to get in rainy mid 40's WA weather. I was beginning to think 9 TBs was as high as it goes.  I don't have those issues any more.  I have seen 10 TBs 3 days in a row now peaking at 126.4º   In my previous LEAFs, I hit 8 TBs one time and it only stayed on about 10 minutes and I was SUPER concerned about it. I wanted to rush home, jack up the car and set some sprinklers under the car but now?  Ah, never seen red yet so I am good!

 If we refer back to the locations of the temperature sensors, we might notice that # 9 is in a position where it would be somewhat protected from outside air influences since its more forward and higher which means if passive only cooling was in place, it would receive the least because its farthest from the edge of the case making it the likely #1 sensor in LEAF Spy and the hottest.  Sensors 10 and 11 on the diagram would be closer to the edge of the case and more apt to see outside air cooling effects.  On the flipside, sensors 10 and 11 would receive more radiant heat when parked on hot asphalt. 

But if there was a vent from the front of the car as Brent suggests and the air was coming in cool and warming up as it traveled to the back of the pack before venting out, it would make sense that without say an exhaust fan to create negative pressure, the back part of the pack would cool much slower.

But alas, the diagram above does not indicate such a channel for air flow exists.  But, if there was...