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... 

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Range Test Hypermile Style!

Holy Moly! The Weatherman is predicting 7 straight dry sunny days IN A ROW!! Could be we are finally getting into driving season?

Well of course that meant it was time for the Summer range test!... Well sort of.  Not really Summer since the test temperatures ran from 55º to 64º but close enough! At least it was dry. If you live in my neighborhood, you already know the #1 range killer is rain!

So naturally I had to start with a full charge and yes, I am still at 28.1 kwh available so with the GOM, that means I should be getting what? Well, lets see. So we started out this morning

Ok so 121 miles means LEAF thinks I will average  4.3 miles per kwh.  Well, actually that was yesterday's average more or less and the weather promises to be better and DRIER!  So I think it should be 4.5 miles per kwh or about 126 miles.

Now as mentioned in the title;  This is a hypermiling test. So it will be speeds no more than 63 mph (was going to say 60 but since I have already driven it, that would kinda sorta be a lie...) discounting occasional higher speeds on down hills, etc so its Eco B and neutral! (when applicable)   I am headed to Shelton/Grapeview which is basically freeway 25ish miles so total 50 miles counting return and the rest will be county roads at 50 mph with a little bit of residential 25-35 mph stuff as well.

I took off and as promised the Sun was out but not quite as warm as promised. It was almost 11 AM and temps were just in the mid 50's.  But things were looking good!

But then again, I was at the bottom getting ready to go back up the other side. IOW; Reality was about to kick in!  But it was a very pleasant day for a drive and I was able to bounce over to Harstine Island where the water was as smooth as glass.  Unfortunately this jaunt required a 2 mile gravel road (actually barely qualified as a trail...) to the end and back.  This was done at 15-20 mph.  Boosted my numbers a bit I guess but I think the extra weight from both road dust and mud weighed me down canceling the benefits.

Halfway! (well not really but still looked cool) 

Now normally I stop at Little Creek Casino to upload jobs (they have a BLAZINGLY fast wi fi) and grab a bit of free juice but the weather was too nice and the range didn't need a boost so I passed on the stop which is same as I passed it by without stopping.  Weird how that works, eh? 

Finally I hit the AV QC in Tumwater and this is the results.  I thought it would be much more "adventurous" than it was but if averaging 4.7 miles per kwh, I should have a range of  132 miles but the trip meter and GOM was only 127  so  since I had "extra" time, (someone beat me to the plug!) I screenshot LEAF Spy to see if the range prediction was better 

Nope, pretty much the same story here.... (I normally don't have my tires that far off, btw... ;) ) but then again, if I changed my range estimate to zero SOC and bumped the average up to 4.7 miles per kwh, it would give me... well, 2 more miles than the GOM... BUT


As mentioned earlier, I had to wait like 15 mins for someone to finish her charge.  So I was sitting there idling away listening to radio, charging my phone and blowing that juice on Facebook....IOW, I was still consuming power and then... 

I gained a mile! I felt much better now.  128 is much more acceptable!  But mostly because thru out most of the trip, my combined range using the two numbers was in the 132-135 range but alas, I kinda ruined it on my freeway jaunt back to town.... Oh well... 

Well, I finally got my turn on the 50 KW AV and as always when the power dropped below 40 KW, I unplugged. I now had 100 miles of range and only 34 more miles of stuff to do so needless to say, I ended the day at 4.5 miles per kwh. Must be that headwind!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Public Charging 2017

You would think after several failures, wrong turns and plain old bad decisions, public charging would have learned from the past and at least have started on the correct path after 7 years but there is little evidence of that happening so far.

Any progress that has been made has likely been obscured by the fast growing demand caused by several new plugs on the road today and the number of plugs will be growing fast.

The issues vary widely from region to region and can be based on archaic laws about who can bill for power.  In British Columbia, there is a law that prevents charging stations from billing for services in many cases so free charging is the only option.  Problem with that is many take up a charging spot all day long when they only need a few hours to charge.  One plan to remedy that is fines. One location at a college studying electric vehicle charging supported by solar is thinking of instituting 4 hour charge time after which violators are hit with $60 parking tickets.

In other regions, demand fees are making expansion into the area a very costly proposition.  Places like Grays Harbor WA (negating the SC station recently installed) only has 2 Level 2 charging stations along with a handful of 120 volt plugs.  The very existence of the Tesla SC complex should be enough of an indication of how desirable travel in the area is. Recently an article illustrated this very point using 2 location on the EVgo network.  One station saw a lot of activity while the other was used much less but their costs due to demand charges were almost the same. IOW; demand charges was most of the bill!

So what we are facing is a situation that is getting worse by the day.  EV sales have escalated. New entries Hyundai, Chevy, and VW along with refreshed models from Nissan and Kia will insure that EV sales escalate rapidly.  Add to that a whole new batch of 200 mile EVs hitting the streets within a year to challenge the Bolt and our already overrun network will fail.

Now there was a glimmer of hope for me.  VW settlement meant money put towards public charging support and they had to not favor VW so they would be both CCS and Chademo.  Washington had $122.7 Million California was the first to announce that nearly every penny would go to public charging stations.  This gave me hope that Washington would do the same, especially considering we were the 2nd largest EV market with a woefully under supported network but that was not to be.

There are two proposals in the legislation; The Senate option is the worst.

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3079. FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY 31 VW Settlement Funded Projects (40000018) 32 The appropriation in this section is subject to the following conditions and limitations:33 34 (1) The appropriation is provided solely to implement the 35 requirements of the Volkswagen "clean diesel" marketing, sales 36 practice, and products liability litigation settlement. p. 97 ESSB 5086 1 (2) All expenditures from this appropriation must be consistent with the terms of this settlement.2 3 (3) To the extent possible, projects funded through this 4 appropriation should help achieve the state's results Washington goal of 50,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2020.5 6 (4) Fifteen percent of this appropriation must be spent upon 7 projects for the acquisition, installation, operation, and 8 maintenance of new light duty zero emission vehicle supply equipment 9 and infrastructure. The department of ecology must work with the 10 department of transportation to select projects and distribute funding contained in this subsection.11 12 Appropriation: 13 General Fund—Private/Local. . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,000,000 14 Prior Biennia (Expenditures). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0 15 Future Biennia (Projected Costs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0 16 TOTAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $13,000,000 
The House proposal 

NEW SECTION. Sec. 3077. FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF ECOLOGY 33 VW Settlement Funded Projects (40000018) The appropriation in this section is subject to the following conditions and limitations:  Official Print - 108 5086-S.E AMH ENGR H2636.E 1 (1) The legislature finds that it is appropriate to provide a  framework for the administration of mitigation funds provided to the  state as a beneficiary under the terms of the consent decrees entered  into by the United States, Volkswagen AG, and other participating  parties that settle emissions-related claims for 2.0 and 3.0 liter  diesel vehicles of certain models and years. The legislature deems  the department of ecology the responsible agency for the administration and expenditure of funds provided by the trustee under  the terms of the consent decrees, including the development of a  mitigation plan to guide the use of the funds, whether or not the department receives funds directly for projects included in the plan. (2) The mitigation plan and the stewardship of project implementation must adhere to the following guidelines: (a) Consideration must be given to investments in areas where public health is most impacted by nitrogen oxides pollution, and  especially in areas where disadvantaged communities reside; (b) Investments must fund, to the extent possible: (i) Projects that have not been funded or implemented by or before June 30, 2017, to mitigate nitrogen oxides pollution; and (ii) projects that do not replace projects and activities that were funded on or before June 30, 2017, for implementation after that date, to address such pollution by achieving an identical or substantially similar objective;

 (c) Investments in clean vehicles or clean engine replacements  must be shown to be cost-effective and, for the purposes of  leveraging funding, may not exceed the incremental cost of the clean vehicle or clean engine replacement, relative to the cost of a  similar conventionally fueled vehicle or conventionally fueled engine replacement;

 (d) Consideration must be given to investments in projects that employ a range of fueling technologies and emissions reduction technologies; and (e) Priority must be given to projects that have the highest benefit-cost ratios, in terms of the amount of nitrogen oxides emissions reduced per dollar invested.

(3) Funding must be allocated to eligible projects under the terms of the consent decrees in the following manner: (a)(i) No more than thirty percent of funding provided for  commercial vehicle class four through eight transit buses; Official Print - 109 5086-S.E AMH ENGR H2636.E 1 (ii) No more than twenty percent of funding provided for 2 commercial vehicle class four through eight school and shuttle buses; 3 (iii) No more than twenty percent of funding provided for (A) 4 commercial vehicle class eight local freight trucks and port drayage 5 trucks and (B) commercial vehicle class four through seven local freight trucks;6 7 (iv) No more than fifteen percent of funding provided for light duty, zero emission vehicle supply equipment;8 9 (v) No more than thirty percent of funding provided for 10 nonfederal matching funds for projects eligible under the diesel emission reduction act option; and11 12 (vi) No more than ten percent of funding provided for other 13 mitigation actions that are eligible under the consent decrees but 14 not otherwise specified under this subsection (3)(a). 15 (b) Projects that receive funding under (a)(iii) of this 16 subsection (3) and ocean-going vessels shorepower projects that 17 receive funding under (a)(vi) of this subsection (3) must include electric technologies, if practicable.18 19 (4)(a)(i) For the purposes of administering subsections 20 (3)(a)(i), (iii), and (iv) of this section, and, as needed, 21 subsection (3)(a)(vi) of this section, the department of ecology 22 shall enter into an interagency agreement with the department of 23 transportation. The department of transportation shall be responsible 24 for proposing candidate projects under these subsections, for working 25 with the department of ecology to determine their benefit-cost ratios 26 under subsection (2)(e) of this section, and for prioritizing these 27 candidate projects accordingly. The department of ecology shall work 28 collaboratively with the department of transportation to develop and 29 implement the elements of the mitigation plan that address these categories of projects.30 31 (ii) In meeting its requirements under (a)(i) of this subsection 32 (4), the department of transportation shall consider plans approved 33 under the consent decrees governing zero emission vehicle 34 infrastructure development identified in subsection (1) of this 35 section, making reasonable efforts to select candidate projects that 36 are complementary to those plans. The department of transportation 37 shall also consider and utilize, where appropriate and to the extent 38 possible, the following existing programs for alternative fuels and zero emission vehicles:39 Official Print - 110 5086-S.E AMH ENGR H2636.E 1 (A) The department of transportation's electric vehicle infrastructure bank program;2 3 (B) The state alternative fuel commercial vehicle tax credit; 4 (C) The state sales and use tax exemption for clean vehicles; and 5 (D) Public transportation grant programs administered by the department of transportation.6 7 (iii) To guide the department of transportation in meeting its 8 responsibilities under (a)(i) of this subsection (4) during the 9 2017-2019 fiscal biennium, a steering committee is established, 10 consisting of: The chairs and the ranking minority members of the 11 house of representatives and senate transportation committees, or 12 their designees; the director of the department of ecology; and the 13 secretary of transportation or his or her designee. The steering 14 committee must meet as needed to support the department of 15 transportation's contribution to the elements of the mitigation plan 16 that address the categories of projects referenced in (a)(i) of this 17 subsection (4). Staff support must be provided by the joint 18 transportation committee and nonpartisan committee staff of the house 19 of representatives and senate transportation committees. The 20 department of transportation staff must provide technical support, as needed.21 22 (b) For the purposes of administering subsection (3)(a)(ii) of 23 this section, including the development of the mitigation plan, the 24 department of ecology shall enter into an interagency agreement with 25 the office of the superintendent of public instruction. 26 (c) The department of ecology shall complete development of the 27 mitigation plan according to the timeline required by the trustee. 28 The department of ecology must submit the mitigation plan to the 29 appropriate committees of the legislature, as well as benefit-cost 30 information for projects pursuant to the guideline under subsection 31 (2)(e) of this section, on the same day that the plan is submitted to the trustee.32 33 (5) To the extent this section conflicts with the consent decrees, the consent decrees supersede it.34 35 (6) The department of ecology may modify the mitigation plan as 36 needed to comply with trustee requirements, including to the extent 37 these modifications conflict with this section. In making any 38 adjustments, the department of ecology shall consult with the 39 department of transportation and the office of the superintendent of Official Print - 111

So, its hard for me to be completely upset since zero emission school buses are important but the California proposal of mega charging complexes with 5-15 fast chargers per location would completely eliminate a lot of the range anxiety Washingtonians now experience.  I have heard too many people say "We weren't sure if XX station would be working or how busy it would be so we took the gasser instead"  comments.

The one location I use frequently; Tacoma Mall EVGO station is almost never a wait simply because there is two fast chargers.  We so desperately need these kinds of stations. Sure its nice to have a station on the way to the Olympics or the Cascades but when driving the Metro Puget Sound region, there are simply too many EVs and nowhere near enough plugs.  We need to have an acceptable level of certainty that we can charge in a timely manner on our planned routes.

We need to speak up. Allow our voices to be heard!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

6 Months!

Sometimes, life reminds you that you have something to do. I had not planned on commemorating my 6 month anniversary of the day I took my 2016 S30 home but I just happen to be sitting at the light glanced down and saw this and it hit me like lightning.

If you recall, I leased my LEAF on Veteran's Day 2016 which is.... 11/11/16! This pretty much verifies that if the odometer read in tenths, the reading would have been 11111.6 miles! And the first 6 months have told me a few things (besides wishing I had gotten more than 15,000 miles a year...)  and that is 30 kwh is a HUGE leap forward!

But first off; the basics.  My LEAF has had 96 QCs, 132 L2's, and has not lost a single digit on LEAF Spy readings. The day I picked up the car, the numbers were good but keep in mind; the little time on the lot (likely a week or two at the most) would lower the numbers a bit.

After a day or two, my numbers stabilized; ahr 82.34, kwh available (GIDs= 77.5 wh) 28.1, GIDs 363, SOH 100, Hx  101-105.

 Now we all know that driving it frequently helps boost the numbers and I guess you can say I qualify for that. Recall, I did an experiment where I drove the LEAF less than 30 miles a day for 10 days (most were under 15 miles a day) while doing one full charge, zero QCs.  Did all this a few weeks after I received the LEAF and did see the numbers go down with Hx in the low 97's and ahr down to 81.28.   So in reality, I am well over 2,000 miles a month.

As you can see from the first picture; battery pack toasting is no stranger to this car! I maybe paying for it later, but indications point to the pack cooling slightly better and one Portlandier mentioned that there is now an air tunnel from the front grill that passes thru the battery compartment. Aaron McAfee also mentioned the 30 kwh pack is constructed ever so slightly different in that there is air space between modules as if they used 2 washers instead of one.  So nothing Earth shattering but maybe we don't need it to be.

I will say on "light" days when only 1-2 sessions on a 40 KW charger is involved, I am seeing pack temps nearly normalized over night.  This was a change from my 24 kwh LEAFs where it would take well over 24 hours. What has also been noticeable is frequently a single DCFC on a 40 KW station (Yes, EVGO, I am talking about you) is about half the time, I never hit 6 TBs. That is VERY different from the 24 kwh packs!

But hit an AV station (50 KW) and the scenario changes dramatically.  Just as the 6 kwh bump "seems" insignificant, a charger that is 10 KW faster doesn't seem like it would matter that much at all, right?  Well the dash shot was about 20 mins after a stop at the Centralia AV station.  AV sessions its easy to see 7, 8 or 9 TBs!  (haven't seen 10 yet even on 5 charge days!)  I have seen 9 TBs with just 2 charging sessions a half dozen times as long as the 2nd session is an AV.   And I am not really charging to that high an SOC (sort of...) In fact, I frequently shut AV down when charging rate drops below 25-30 KW.  In the below case, I had to upload the day's work assignments which meant I could do it when I got home or do it while charging. Guess which I chose?  As you can see below, it was 8 PM and my patience ended at 40 KW (along with the uploads) .  Can't even begin to tell you how much this matter!

Let me explain further.  On my 24 kwh LEAFs, I would charge at full speed less than 10 mins.  Then the charge rate would start to drop.  So my 30 min charge session on the very same AV stations, would get me 50 to 65 miles of range depending on my starting SOC.  This made a trip of 200 miles very inconvenient. I was now hamstrung by charger placement.  I would frequently have to stop to charge 10-15 minutes simply because the next option was too far away with the problem being that as the SOC got higher, the rate of charge was too slow. We all have heard that its faster to charge on L2 than to stay on DCFC after 80% SOC which is a myth but like all myths, there is a bit of truth and the reality is you might still get a faster charge on DCFC but it will not be a runaway race over L2 after you hit about 85% SOC!

So we add a teeny bump of 6 kwh and BOOM!  Now, I am getting 80-90 miles of range in 15-20 minutes.  Check out my 300 mile roadtrip where I spent just over an hour charging.  The same trip on 24 kwh would have had me charging nearly 3 hours!  But that is only part of the story. Each stop requires time off the route besides plug time. Sometimes its a few minutes, sometimes not.  On my road trip, I stopped a few times for personal need. The car could have gone on so I could have reduced my plug time even further.  Also the trip was done during Winter during typically Northwest rainy wintery weather.  IOW; a real test of usability.  I did a similar trip on 24 kwh a few years back but during Summer or the best driving time and time spent charging was MUCH longer despite the higher efficiency numbers.

This brings me to the 2018 LEAF announcement in September.  There is now growing evidence that 40ish Kwh will be the top option with 60 kwh coming a year or two later.  I predicted the 60 kwh would be debuted by Nissan on another model (NV 200 or SUV?) so maybe a plausible explanation and this has not gone over well with the EV community who feels Nissan needs to meet the challenge of the Bolt (60 kwh) and the T 3 (55ish Kwh)  but I have to say that with the right price point, I can honestly say that it very well could be the LEAF I would buy.

Soooo, "again" I guess I am forced to say, its too early to make any long term predictions on battery improvement and what not since "again" there is nothing to report. By all indications, the pack still works like new.  Maybe I will have something to say at the end of the upcoming long hot Summer (its 42º right now...) or maybe at 22,222 miles (a few months from now. :) )

Sunday, May 7, 2017

RIP Chevy

Since I am on pace to go well over 20,000 miles this year on my LEAF, one might think that I would do anything for a longer range EV and I would do a lot and that is true!

Now don't get me wrong, the Bolt has the range. I had strongly considered it. After all, I spent premium money on my 2011 LEAF SL so it would not have been the first time I was swayed by EVvana and if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change a thing but today is different. We are farther down the EV road where as my 2011 had to clear a path.  There are options, considerations to weigh and one thing is really quite an easy decision.  Compromising my core values was not an option.

But options are soon to be had. I have a gasser; a Corolla.  Its old, beat up,  but runs reliably well.  Its not worth much but I need to replace it. I hardly ever drive it and even with minimal insurance and super cheap tabs, its still costing me over $600 a year which brings its TCO cost to over 30 cents per mile.  I do have a co-worker, a single mother who doesn't make any money (I know this because she works at the same company I do!) who had her car stolen out of the parking lot of K-mart while working 5-6 years ago. She will never get enough money together to get another one, no matter how cheap so I was simply going to give the Corolla to her.  Her not having a car also affects how much money she can make because she isn't scheduled to work unless there is a co-worker near by working the same job.  That option is limited to two people and I am one of them.  But we only work together on pharmacy jobs which is a lot of what I do but not that much.

Either way, I need another car. A longer range car and I don't want to go EREV or hybrid or whatever the PC term is these days. I want an EV that can fill the gaps.  I am a few days short of 6 months into my 2016 LEAF lease but I don't have 2½ years to make a decision. I have 45,000 plus a bonus (thanks Ray!) miles before I pay the penalties and I can't keep driving the LEAF as my primary car at the rate I am going.  Roughly speaking I have until mid 2018 to switch the LEAF to "around town" car.

But looking at the Bolt, I am still not finding the deals.  They are not passing all of the $7500 tax credit along unlike nearly EVERYONE else.

I ran the Bolt lease calculator for May and true to form, it went down again, so I attempted to email several dealers for details and got error messages on the website stating I was missing information. Even after filling out several fields with "NA" I was still unable to send one quote request. I guess this is a way to force me into the dealership...

This was for an LT with heated seats, floor mats and QC.  Weighted price is $483 a month. Don't know the rent fee (interest) or Money Factor (interest rate) or the residual (purchase price at the end of the lease) , all of which would be needed to determine the total cost.  Now, well qualified buyers were getting 4.9% interest on purchases so guessing lease terms will not be all that great for Chevy, or at least not the .07% term I got on my current LEAF.

But if thumbnailing costs,  my total payout on the lease term would be  $17,393.  We take $1500 (on the high end) for random fees, etc., the residual would be about  ($39K - $17 K - $7.5 K or in the $14.5 K range, maybe $15.5K at the most.... But I am thinking its likely to be closer to $22K which means Chevy will be pocketing the Federal Government's gift to me!

This is something I cannot accept in even the smallest of terms.  Even if Chevy cut the price to $20,000, if they kept a penny of the federal credit on a lease, they are nothing more than shysters in my eyes.  They are dead to me.

My Conclusion;  "Chevy who?"

Saturday, May 6, 2017

April 2017 Drive Report; 30 KWH Pack Update

Another month in the can and I am past due on tire rotation #2 (which should be done sometime later today).  I decided I would keep it under 10,000 miles in the first 6 months of leasership but that didn't work so I decided to keep it under 10,000 miles within my 6th month of leasership and made it!

First off, the bad news. The gasser has been neglected so I took her out a few times. She went 105.7 miles at a rough cost of $10.08 or 6.7 cents per mile. And rough it was! The car would not idle at a steady RPM. I finally had to get gas (at about 5/8th of a tank) and that cured the issue.  FYI; gas was up 26 cents per gallon between fill ups for me (last fill up was in March) but news says Oil prices hit 7 month low so sadly, it looks like the price hike is just temporary. Where are those tax hikes when you need them!

The LEAF traveled 2207 miles costing $15.96 or less than a penny a mile. Home power was 8.9 cents per kwh and was benefited by over 350 kwh of NCTC power.

Since I am 5 days from my 6 month anniversary, I felt it appropriate to post updated battery stats and... well, nothing to report. No changes detected.

Moving on!  As mentioned earlier, I had to evict my water pump. It was simply not pulling its weight and the new one appears to be blending in very well but as always, we want to keep an eye out on new roomies to make sure they are all they appear to be, right?

Normally, I power up LEAF Spy only in the morning to log daily stats, fast charging, or when stretching the range.  I have now started running LEAF Spy to monitor motor temps and have noticed that the peak temp seems to be around 128º F.  It is not difficult to get there if driving 70-80 miles at stretch or so (which would be a short trip for me lately)  and the temps rise rapidly to that point then bounce in the 124-128 range.  This seems to indicate the temperature control is working very well.

LEAF Spy also has columns in its log for two inverter temperature measurements but they are not working at the moment. Hope they do soon.

Another project I hope to start soon if the weatherman finally realizes the date is climate control monitoring. LEAF Spy breaks down power usage for A/C, heat, etc.  I have known for a long time that A/C is a pretty small hit on the range but I think its time to find out just how small it is.

Finally; Brent in the Portland area is grill blocking. This is an old Prius trick that did two things; heated up the Prius quicker which is needed to get the best performance but it also reduces drag.  The grill on a car has the same basic effect of having a parachute the same size hanging off your back bumper.  Instead of air slipping around the car, it goes into the grill, funnels around and leaks out. All that is creating a huge amount of drag.  So grill blocking will reduce that drag and increase your range.

FYI; NASCAR does the same thing but as we know; blocking too much of the grill on a gasser causes heat buildup which creates problems and this is "the" reason you see engines blowing up on the racetrack. Its almost never a malfunction; simply miscalculating how much of the grill to cover.  Done effectively means an extra few mph on the straightaways which is usually the difference between losing or kissing the girl!

Brent does caution that close monitoring should be maintained especially in warmer weather as there is pass thru ducting to the battery that helps to circulate air. This is a huge benefit since the 30 kwh packs charge with a much steeper profile on Chademo's so rapid heat build up is common!

Here is my 2nd charge after 30 minutes in Centralia with charge rate mostly over 45 KW.  First charge was about 90 miles and 3 hours earlier. OAT was the mid 70's which is the 2nd warmest day this car has seen (Warmest was day one!)

All this means not much grill blocking in my future but I  am still predicting 125 miles on a charge will not be a challenge for me.  I am confident I can do 140 miles if I want to and might have to try that soon!

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Water Pump Replaced!

As mentioned previously, I discovered my car making more noise than normal and found out the water pump was not performing up to par.  This however only seemed to be an issue when charging on L2.  It seems the motion of the car which creates airflow thru the radiator, etc. was enough to prevent a lot of heat buildup.  After several long jaunts, the top of the PDM was completely cold to the touch. There was not even the slightest hint of heat.  Fast charging also did not affect temps at all including the motor temps. In fact, the motor temps dropped several degrees during fast charge sessions.

But charging on L2 means standing still and you could feel the warmth building in less than 15 mins. While waiting the few days for the replacement pump to arrive, I decided to do a test so went to local Harbor Freight in Lacey  to get their $18.99 Infrared Thermometer and was thwarted! They didn't have it. Only the $27.99 version. Well, as luck would have it, I was working near the West Tacoma Harbor Freight so went there the next day and despite being a much bigger store, they also only had that option.  I decided waiting for an online order wasn't going to work so I just bought it and found out at the register it was a 20% off sale that day so it only cost me $22 and change. It was so nice of Harbor Freight to recognize my dilemma and split the difference with me!

Now that I had tools, it was time to experiment! It was VERY hard to resist the urge to stop at Tacoma Mall for a free charge but it was all in the name of science, right!

To reduce outside influences, I let car sit in garage with hood up for 2 hours to acclimate and it did a good job with PDM case registering 62.5º with garage temp at 61.8º  with probe roughly 44" off the ground.

My EVSE is a Clipper Creek LCS-30P @ 24 amps plugged into 30 amp dryer Socket installed specifically for charging. (My dryer is actually inside the house)

Since I had the thermometer, I measured literally everything.  The J-1772 handle went from 63.0 to 70.5º during the test, the EVSE brick went from 73 to 102º F.

The test ran 2 hours and measured every 30 mins plus or minus one minute.  For the PDM, I measured the highest temp from top and then on the side around the seam.  With minimal water flow, the temps did have a bit of a range to them but less than I expected. The heat was conducted rather well.  During the test, the garage temps dropped to 58.7º by test end.  As luck would have it, LEAF Spy came out with an update that provided several temps as well but didn't really go off as expected but motor temps were available.

The top PDM temps    were;  62.5, 76.0, 85.5, 87, 92.7.
The side PDM temps   were;  NA, 83.0, 91.5, 95.0, 100.0
Motor temps logged from LS; 73, 93, 99, 102, 106

A few days later, I went to Puyallup Nissan and got the pump replaced and Aaron McAfee did verify a broken blade that hampered operation.  I declined a fast charge (cause I wanted a low SOC for a good test) and took it home.  I didn't have the time to wait the two hours because of an early work schedule the next day so let it sit an hour.  To help cool things off, I left the garage door open for most of that time.

This test ran 2 hours and 44 mins. (Basically to bed time) The garage temps started at 58.6º and finished at 61.5º at 8:23 PM.  I was less regimented with my time checks since it was mostly around the normal day to day stuff I needed to do but started at 5:39 PM and checked at 6:07, 6:42, 7:28 and 8:23.

Top PDM;  67, 75,  82,  84,  88
Side PDM; 68, 80.5, 85, 92, 97
Motor LS; 81, 84, 93, 99, 104  

So the results? Well, I should have collected more "before" data to really make a conclusion but at the same time, I was unsure of how much abuse the system was willing to take and didn't want to push my luck.  But if we take this one off data, it appears the max temps don't change much. But one BIG change is the "non scientific" test.

The pump outlet hose I could literally squeeze nearly completely flat with the defective pump. There was barely a sense of movement then. But now, it was all I could do to compress the hose a few millimeters.  The hose was full with pretty good pressure and you could easily feel and hear the water moving.

Now it still amazes me how cool the entire system remains while driving so I guess the radiator is really doing its job!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Water Pump Dead=DOA? Not In A LEAF!

Normally I only charge just before going to bed. Its one of the last things I do and normally do it while I am brushing my teeth.  But the other day, I had a planned light day and had about 40-50 miles of range so didn't plug in that night.   But as life normally does, I had decided to do something with my time off that was a bit of a drive so I plugged in at home.

After about 2 hours, I went to the garage to retrieve a food item and noticed a faint high pitched squeal.  It was so faint, I couldn't tell where it was coming from but eventually determined it was the car.  So I popped the hood and it wasn't really that much louder but I immediately realized what I wasn't hearing.

In my previous LEAFs, I could hear a faint sound of rushing water. The water is used to cool the Inverter while it converts AC power from the wall into DC power that can be stored in the battery.  This was again very faint and easy to miss if you are not listening for it. In fact, many long time LEAF owners swore up and down that their car did no such thing....that is until they went out to check.

Now, I was concerned.  I do know that in some instances, the water pump turned on immediately and sometimes it took a while but I had been charging almost 2 hours and with my fastest charging option yet, my Clipper Creek at 24 amps! (previous options were EVSEupgrades at 12 and 20 amps)

So I put my hand on the PDM (its the valve cover looking thing) or power distribution module which houses the inverter along with several other components, and it was warm. I was immediately shocked. In all the times I have charged including during 100+º  heat, I have never felt anything resembling warmth before.  In fact, the underhood area is so cold that even Mice avoid it!

I unplugged the car right away thinking water pump failure but knowing this DOES NOT MEAN BEING STRANDED like a gasser would have been. That pretty much put a smile on my face for the rest of the day. My mood got better and better as the day went on. I think my making a point to everyone I talked to that my water pump went out and I was still driving the car and watching their reactions might have had something to do with it... :)

Anyway, as luck would have it, I was working in Bonney Lake which meant driving right past Bill Korum Nissan in Puyallup and the best LEAF tech in the region, Aaron McAfee!  This was simply too convenient!

So called up their service dept, set an appointment for 2:30 and kinda hoped that I would be close to making that time. I was on a Rep client job which means I have to work at their pace which usually means slowly and inefficiently and this was no different. And we were doing 3 locations to boot.  Luckily I was able to get out on time despite taking a 45 minute lunch 2 hours into our day. Since the first two jobs were in Puyallup, I was less than 2 miles away from the dealership and had a brief thought of running down there early to see if they could fit me in but in my previous experience with dealerships combined with the fact that I would be a first time customer there, I figured there was no way.

Anyway, after the job was completed, I went to the dealership arriving 15 mins early. I pulled up to the service area and sensors automatically opened the service bay doors. As I was exiting the vehicle, I could hear Aaron being paged.  I guess they were expecting me!

My total time at the dealership was roughly 20-25 mins. This included check in,  brief explanation of what I was seeing and what I suspected and the diagnostics which included collecting data to confirm and the MOST time consuming part of the visit. BSing with Aaron over the general state of EV affairs and the LEAF.  In reality, I could have been easily out of there in under 15 minutes if I was in a hurry. I have never seen a more efficient process along with a service department that valued my time more.  I know I am preaching to the choir here but if you want the best for your LEAF, take it Aaron at Puyallup Nissan!

Anyway, Aaron plugged the car in then started monitoring temperatures and it was confirmed that the pump was running but not moving much water. The squealing sound was likely the pump running at full speed.  The pump was also vibrating meaning one of the impellers was likely broken. He mentioned he had already seen a few of these.

This could be a concern.  There was no codes thrown and this could eventually lead to inverter failure which is a much harder part to get. (Water Pump should take a day or two to arrive)  Now, before anyone freaks out, the BMS would slow the charge rate down if the temperature got too far out of control but I wasn't really willing to take the risk and with NCTC, I was ok with shifting most of my charging (well, kinda already was... :) ) to DC only until the pump was replaced.

Either way, I think this is something LEAFers should check on just in case. Better to be in front of this then to be stranded, right!

Monday, April 3, 2017

March 2017 Drive Report; Battery Health Update

This month was unusual for several reasons. I am still trying to collect as much data on battery cooling as I can by checking the pack at random intervals between fast charges.  To reduce outside influences as much as possible, I am only collecting measurements when there was no L2 charging during the interval.

This meant a lot of charging on the road with charging before and after work common.  I soon began to realize that someone living in a situation where home charging was not practical could actually get away with all public charging with just a few well placed stations.  Yes, I did get out on the road early a few times and no there isn't as much to do in the morning to cover that time (other than Facebook, etc.) but early is something I do often so it was mostly a question of sitting at home before work or sitting at a charger before work.

The afternoons were easier because every job requires work at home and I simply did it while charging. Since this is a billable event,  I am getting paid and it does lessen the work I need to do when I get home so its a wash on time demands. All this really means that my weird work schedule simply gets weirder.

For the month, the LEAF traveled 2501.3 miles costing $32.65 or 1.3 cents per mile. My home costs dropped from 9.2 cents per kwh to 8.9 cents per kwh.  I collected 365 kwh from NCTC. I had 9 days over 100 miles driven which includes one 300 mile day and two 200 mile days.

Battery Health Update;  No changes from new 7980 miles.

My pack balance is more than twice the delta of my 2013 pack but only went to "L2 full charge" seven times during the month but only once (the 300 mile trip) during the 2nd half of the month.  With balance averaging 20-25 mV,  not extreme but a far cry from the frequent single digit readings my 2013 pack normally displayed.

All this got me thinking about just how effective pack balancing was when sitting in garage all night and I found that it... well wasn't.  No improvement overnight in the balance. In many cases it was worse in the morning than it was the previous night.  Now, I know there is a lot of noise in these readings including temperature, recent charges and discharges, etc but even when allowing car to sit for at least 4 hours before taking baseline measurements, I was still seeing no changes.

But when the car is on and running or charging (remember, I have a LOT of recent experience with the latter!) nearly all my shunts are active. Generally, I see 5-20 blues so nearly all red all the time so what are these shunts doing cause the results seem pretty slim??

So I decided to see if I could determine how many were active after the car had sat a while. Well, problem is that without the pack connected, LEAF Spy doesn't show everything but it did allow me to see that the shunts come on in waves.

So now the question becomes what are we seeing here?  There is really only two plausible explanations;

1) The load of the car turning on is enough to initiate balancing among all the red cells

2) None of the cells were actively balancing until the car was turned on and the traction pack engaged. It was only after the BMS was active that the pack started sending out balancing requests.

Now first off, yes I know that there were a few red ones right off the bat but LEAF Spy shows old data until new data is read so what you see initially is primarily previous readings from the last power down or last time LEAF Spy was logged off.  Yes, we see codes running in the background but I think those are related to the other stuff like tire pressures, charge counts, etc.

Now when the car is turned on we notice first the reset to all blue and 11 mV delta but as the red ones come on, the delta increases accordingly.  I had everything off and unfortunately, LEAF Spy does not measure loads, it only parrots back what the LEAF is telling it so all we had active was a "standard" 200 watt accessory load which is not actually measured according to Phil (Peef at or Engineer (sp?) at the creator of

Either way, there is evidence that supports both explanations above so I need your help. I know there is someone out there that has already answered this question so chime in so we can all find out (or at least allow me to be the last one to come in from the cold)

I guess my other option is to simply power up the car, turn off as much as I can and let it sit a few hours or so to see if there are any demonstrable improvements in pack balance which is what I am actually doing this very minute.  I would have done it sooner but opportunities for this have been slim lately!

So let me know!
Oh wait!.. almost forgot. The Corolla went 62.7 miles costing a few bucks or something like that.  In reality it was my plan to have ditched that car by now but Chevy is simply not allowing that to happen so probably have to tolerate its presence in my driveway for another 7-8 months or so!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bolt Verses LEAF; Is Twice The Range Worth Twice The Price?

We are on the eve of the official Bolt launch for Washington State and the excitement is ahhh...well, anyway I thought this might be appropriate for people considering their next EV option.

In a few days, the premise of this article might simply be completely different when the Bolt arrives in Washington State on April 1st (hopefully no pun intended...) .  Bolts have actually been at a handful of Dealers here for most of March and I recently found out that they were transferred from California Dealers who apparently ran out of room to store them, or something.  And despite an expanding market, sales of the Bolt dropped significantly in February but then again, February is typically sluggish for most automakers.  But what about the "Volt" and the LEAF? Both of them saw huge sales in February.

It is now looking like Chevy overestimated the new product excitement.  Both the Volt and LEAF are seeing most if not all of the $7500 Federal Tax Credit applied to lease contracts which is leading to prices well below $20,000 if the leaser decided later to buy out the car.

Why does this matter you ask?  Some EVers don't qualify for the full $7500 tax credit in a single year and it can't be rolled over to later years. (Not all of us are as lucky as trump...) So whatever you can't claim is lost.  So the best option is to lease, realize the discounts immediately, then purchase the car outright or better yet, wait till the lease is nearly complete and see if you can negotiate a discount off the residual which lowers your price even more. I am in this category.  I would be paying thousands more if I purchased an EV over leasing. Since Nissan generally waives lease termination fees if you purchase along with their near zero "Money Factor" (essentially the interest rate on the lease payments) resulting in a very low "Rent Charge" (interest payments on lease term) which in my case totaled $29.20 over the 3 year lease.  So there is minimal risk to leasing with maximum benefits of the $7500 off the top.

Bottom line?  If I decided to simply buy the LEAF after my zero down drive off on Nov 12, 2016 the day after I brought it home from Magic Nissan in Everett, it would cost this minus $149.75 (check received for over billing of licenses, etc)

IOW, I would get roughly half the range for half the price, right?  Well, since I am not likely to get near the max federal tax credit, I would have to go the lease way and as luck would have it, the lease calculator recently became active for WA Dealers (my local dealer has nothing btw but I am just in the State Capital, hardly an important area of the state.)  FYI; this was a great deal on Veteran's Day but I am now seeing SV's going for $1000 less!

So figuring with no federal tax credit from Chevy, its not looking good.

So if I leased at this rate today and decided to buy it tomorrow, it would be a total of

$4150 down
$14,436 in payments
~ 21,000 Residual (based on 54%)
Total $39586 plus fees so basically over $40,000.

So without the Federal tax credit considered, its much more than twice the price. If I were to buy it, my tax credits would drop it down to just about half the LEAF price.  Primarily because the Bolt being new, Chevy is trying to maximize profits, they are literally adding $7500 to the cost of a lease.   On the Chevy Bolt forum when I brought this up, I heard all kinds of excuses and twisted logic on how "Chevy was doing us right" but nothing made any sense to anything but Chevy's pocketbook.

But everything comes with a price and longer range is definitely worth a lot in time, convenience, and stress so now the question becomes;

Is twice the range worth twice the price?

First off, I need to add a few tidbits of info on what 25% more range can do.  I moved from a 24 kwh LEAF (range about 90 Summer miles for me) to a 30 kwh LEAF (range probably about 120 or so) fort the price listed above. It was a zero down, drive off $245.99 a month bill. This is 24 cents higher than my previous LEAF so essentially zero impact on my finances. Now there has been a LOT of talk on social media about how lame this was for Nissan to do this. The general perception is that it was a near useless bump in performance. After all, what difference is 6 kwh or roughly 20-25 miles or range really going to do?

And I have to admit, I was halfway towards this attitude as well but I was in a time crunch and the deal was good and the Bolt was simply too far off so I did it.

But the benefits of this slight bump in range was much greater than anticipated. Below a tale of two charges.

 2013 24 kwh LEAF Fast charge  April 2015; 33.4 min charge time, SOC 30 to 82%, Charge rate drop from max currrent at 38%.  Battery health  96%

2016 LEAF with 30 kwh pack  March 24, 2017;  > 30 min charge time, SOC 22-88%. Charge rate drop from max current <80% SOC. Battery health, 100%.

Now unless your an EV Nut (like me) a lot of what you see here is probably not making a lot of sense but in a nutshell, my 24 kwh LEAF after a 30 min QC was giving me maybe another 50-60 miles of range which basically made it a challenge to skip chargers on the West Coast Green Highway on the 2nd or later charges during Summer when my range was greatest.

In my 30 kwh LEAF,  I was charging MUCH less than 30 mins and able to skip chargers with ease. In my previous blog I drove over 300 miles with 4 stops (could have done it in two) of 18, 22, 28 and 13 minutes during the rainy season!  In fact; the fast charge profile was faster than me. I stopped to grab a quick bite and went to check the status of the car after about 29 minutes and the charge had already completed! I had spent less than 25 minutes in the restaurant!  UNREAL!  But the bottom line was even with 20 minute charges, I was rolling out with nearly 90 miles of "Winter" range!

But fast charging is only convenient if you can do it.  NRG is by far the largest CCS provider in the area and despite being the fastest growing public charge provider as well, they have a long way to go to come close to providing adequate coverage even for a 250 mile EV.

Result;  LEAF wins!

But range is important as we all know. My LEAF is losing range daily as we speak. It has not been noticeable or recordable due to LEAF Spy limitations, Nissan instrumentation limitations or whatever but the loss will happen. But my track record (and the favorable Northwest climate) has been good to me and I don't expect that to change much.  Either way, with NCTC I will definitely find out if excessive fast charging is detrimental to long term health!  For all we know, the Bolt for all we know could still have over 90% of its range in 10 years.  One thing we do know is charge cycle counts is a prime degradation factor and the Bolt being able to travel twice the distance on each charge cycle definitely means it will be better setup for the long haul

Result; Bolt wins.

So its a toss up, right? Either you want that range or you can live without it.  The reason that Bolts from California are in WA early has to be two things; perception that there is a pent up demand for longer range EVs and simply dealers in CA giving out great deals to dealers up here. Soon we will have sales reports for March and I am expecting the LEAF to continue clearing out the lots and the Bolt to hold its own which is not all that great especially considering very large East Coast markets are now in play. This might give Chevy a wake up call to reevaluate their lease terms or it may not.  In November, if Chevy had been giving out the full federal tax credit on leases, I would likely be driving one right now.

But the financial commitment is pretty extreme and in calculating my personal TCO, I can't ignore the fact that a Bolt requires me to pay for that range every day whether I need it or not.  Weighing the pros and cons here becomes very subjective so for anyone investigating the Bolt over any other car, a real evaluation of need is the first order of business.  I still have trips I wouldn't do in my LEAF on a time crunch, namely the Washington Coast. Charging there is L2 at best and not much of it so a high chance of a queue making a day trip a very long day. A Bolt would breeze thru that trip.

But my age says that the old days of driving 5-6 hours straight without stopping are long gone. I hate to drive as much as an hour at a time without stopping.  During my 300 mile trip, only the Astoria stop was made for charging only. The other 3 stops would have been done in any car and only the Castle Rock trip was extended due to charging (sort of. I actually had plenty to do... updating Facebook and other important tasks...)

So now the Bolt's additional range is more convenient for quick freeway blasts. Its convenience in Seattle area traffic a bit lessened.  We have so much congestion here that I frequently got over 100 miles of range in my 24 kwh LEAF not because I had to but because traffic allowed me no other choice!

So in a nutshell;

More public charging support
Free charging for first two years.
Easily justifiable TCO AKA getting home with a bunch of range left means you paid too much!

Range; I did not touch on the drastic reductions bad weather can have on an EV or even something as minor as changing the type of tire (John) but in a vehicle with super high efficiency, everything matters.

Public Charging Support; If WA follows the CA model for the VW settlement money, we should have several dual format chargers coming hopefully in the next year or so.  With 240 miles of range, The Bolt really only needs a little bit of help but with more CCS based cars coming out, queuing looks to be an issue as well.  Maybe being on the "black sheep" standard is not such a bad thing...

Performance; Bolt has it and I could care less about it.

Familiarity;  LEAF has it and I could care less about it. I like trying new things and the Bolt promises to teach me things I didn't know.

TCO; Again, the big challenge. Ignoring the sticker price, right now I am realizing a lot of benefits in free public charging.  Granted, not everyone's cup of tea but it currently provides me little inconvenience especially when half the time, I can use the time to get work done that would need to be done at home anyway. Besides (I mention this only because its a question that constantly comes up) charging publicly most of the time means having my LEAF never sitting at full charge. With the additional range I can charge publicly, go home, get up the next day, make it to the job then charge on the way home.  I actually went 2½ weeks never using my home EVSE (hopefully PSE won't be mad paying me $500 towards my EVSE for home use)  In reality, I can afford the Bolt but at this time, I simply cannot see the justification of blowing out all my emergency cash so the option is large down payment on a lease and what?? Don't know. Hope for a  $7500 reduction in my residual?  Sounds crazy right?

Well it is... as long as you are not talking to a current LEAF lessee  :) ...

Well the above is the perfect final statement but I just have to say something.   The Federal tax credit was designed to give the consumer the incentive to get an EV at a reasonable price and allow the manufacturer to charge a price that would allow profit for this new technology and I must tip my hat to Nissan, Tesla, BMW (finally) along with the others who have passed this credit rightfully to the leasers who have taken the leap to help contribute to widespread Electric Vehicle adoption.

But for those manufacturers who have chosen to keep all or part of the credit for themselves, this is nothing but profiteering, plain and simple.  The sad part is that they are actually getting away with it with some consumers.  As mentioned above, I have heard some crazy justifications for what Chevy is doing and I am shocked that no amount of explaining is shedding any light on this pathetic situation.

It is my hope that Chevy will understand the err of its way and fix it and fix it soon.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Road Trip; Adventures of a 9 TB Journey!

For those wondering; "TB" is LEAFspeak for the "Temperature Bars" gauge that indicates how glowing red your battery pack has become after that last fast charge.  As promised, I did make my LEAF road trip and it was quite frankly rather uneventful. No range anxiety at all.  On my last blog, I was mentioned a Bolter who was having issues making a 238 mile trip (I kid you not!) which just happened to be his EPA rated range but he was only making it 170 miles before having to stop and charge.  Granted, its Winter, rainy, cold, and all that range robbing stuff and this would be a non issue except that there is no CCS fast charge options on his route, a route that is lauded by many to be part of one of the best designed fast charge networks in the country. (Well, at least I think so) So when an opportunity to use that very same network came up, I simply could not pass it by.

My destination was Ilwaco, WA and I could have taken the route to the coast and down which would have been about 115 miles or take I-5 then across using the WCGH (West Coast Green Highway) that includes the Oregon extension to the coast.  It was a no brainer. It was longer at 243 miles but I literally had all day to complete two jobs with each job taking less than an hour so had plenty of time to drive!

Planning was easy.  I mean with a network like this, you really had to work hard to make it go wrong! I would only be skirting the OR/WA border but you get the idea!

But smooth sailing took a hiccup almost immediately as my LEAF Spy phone failed to power up. Not sure why but looks like my Pixel XL will be doing double duty. A bit disappointing as I had hoped to have continuous logs for speed, etc. but that is not likely to happen now.  Damn phone is barely 5 years old. They just don't make em like they used to!

The Beginning

First order of business was a job in West Olympia near Capital Medical Center. Finished that around 9 AM so hit the road headed south on I-5 with 10 miles of my 300 mile trip completed. 

Passed a few fast chargers and finally stopped in Castle Rock for a charge and some food from the Cascade Market Deli.  I could have skipped this station along with Tumwater and Centralia, but the deli simply wouldn't allow that!

Arrival Castle Rock, WA AV QC; OAT 48º, batt temps; 63,62, 59

18 minutes, 13.12 kwh, a bathroom break and ¾ lb of Jo's later, I am off.  Batt temps now 83, 80, 76.

As you can see, the interruptions in the graph makes using one phone for both life and LEAF Spy something I could never understand.  From Day One, I have always used a 2nd phone and this is why!

Leaving Castle Rock stuffed (maybe I should have only gotten a ½ lb of Jos...) The weather was still sunny and dry but that ended less than 10 miles down the road.  At first the rain was pretty hard but then slowed to windy drizzle. As much as I could, I had cruise control set to 65 MPH which was easy on I-5 but that was only going to last a few more miles.  

I crossed the Columbia on Highway 30 at Longview and began a series of hill climbing followed by hill coasting.  I know driving conservatively helps keep your batteries cooler but at the same time, on a single lane highway, the best opportunities to pass are when going uphill. During this stretch, my driving alternated between 8-10 power circle climbs and...oh wait?  I only have 8 power circles. Oh well maybe it was an 8 power circle climb wishing I had 10!...  The other side was coasting in neutral up to around 75 mph then slowing down with regen to about 60 or so and doing it again.  Now all this climbing didn't come without any benefits.  There were some pretty cool views. 

Overlooking Longview WA from Highway 30, Oregon

One thing for certain, my batteries were not going to cool down much driving like that but, it was kinda fun, so why not!   After about 65 miles, I stopped in Astoria to charge again and sure enough, the batt temps went up!

Astoria, OR Charge stop; mile 131

Here was simply too many things to see so I had to remind myself I was working, so 22 minutes, 16.37 kwh later and about 25 pix later, I was off to Ilwaco!

Batteries heating up now! Again the charge graph not very accurate
 since I was using phone for pix taking. Actual charge time 22 mins. 

Leaving Astoria and crossing over the Astoria-Megler Bridge that crosses over the outlet of the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. One big LOOOONG Bridge!  Ilwaco is a short 18 mile jaunt from Astoria and some very cool scenery.  I took a pix of the Bridge but you have to piece together two pix. I will tell you why in a sec.  

Here is pix covering the first 1½ miles of the Bridge.

Here I am approximately where the first pix cuts off. 
As you can see; I still really can't get it all in the pix

According to Wikipedia; It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. Well, I am convinced!

I arrived at the jobsite in Ilwaco and it literally took me 30 minutes to finish.  So now that I had extra time, I wanted to do some sightseeing but it was WIIINNNNDY!! and the rain wasn't helping either. 

Ilwaco, WA; Halfway!

The following is filler so this post won't look too short. :) 

Well, it was getting to be time for food! (what can I say? JoJos just run right thru me!) Next stop on the agenda was Westport OR and the AV charging station located in the parking lot of the Berry Patch Restaurant!!

Notice batt temps dropping? I went from 8 bars to 7

Now the "one phone for all" issue was a nuisance but really hadn't hurt me so far but that was about to change.  I plugged in, set my timer with the goal of checking it in 30 mins.  I went in and missed the Hot Turkey lunch special. But it was 2:30 and they closed at 3 so was kinda feeling lucky I had made it on time.  I ordered food, ate most of it and finally decided to check the car. Probably had enough already so I go out there and only 29 minutes after the charge had started, it had already stopped! Oh oh, not good. I thought I might have overheated it.  I turned on the car, no warning lights and... Holy crap! It was full! 94% SOC. I finally found something that could eat faster than me!!

Charge time 28 Mins?? 20.74 kwh. Auto shutoff AV DCFC 94% SOC

Now, not having a charging log was really pissing me off. I felt like going home and beating on my LEAF Spy phone! Oh well, no time for pie. On the road!

As I drove, I kept looking at my distance to home and the GOM.  The GOM was 4-10 miles ahead of my distance to home but LEAF Spy  was a steady 3 miles short. Well, we all know what that means. So next stop was Centralia. By now the rain was coming down pretty good and the OR adventure was over. I was back in my neighborhood. So, now it was time to get home, I kicked it up a bit and my steady 4,0-4.1 miles per kwh soon settled in around 3.8 miles per kwh. But again, it was not me, it was the rain!  

I was in Centralia basically long enough to use the bathroom and leave picking up 10.05 kwh in 13 minutes. 

Centralia stop

Centralia Departure. 121º!! 

Home Again!

Got home about 5:30 PM and other than about 90 mins of L2 at 24 amps, it sat in the garage for the night. Ambient temps in mid to lower 50's.  

12 hours cooling off. Down to 5 TB's.  GREAT improvement over previous 24 kwh packs! 

Previous packs generally took 24+ hours to cool down, sometimes 36.  But this time, I was back within ambient in less than 18 hours so not only does the 30 kwh pack go farther, charge faster but also seems to shed heat quicker as well.

Conclusions; TBD

But this trip really illustrated how much more effective the 30 kwh pack worked for longer trips.  I had done a trip of similar distance using many of the same chargers in my 2011 24 kwh LEAF and found that my 85 mile range was really only 50-60 miles after a two 30 minute sessions due to the quick ramp down of power.  After the 2nd charge despite chargers being roughly 25 miles apart, I found it difficult to skip chargers without some very careful driving. But the 30 kwh LEAF, I was able to leapfrog 2 of them stopping every  90 miles and as seen above, none of the charge sessions lasted 30 minutes despite my best effort.  When I did stop at every other charger, I was could be back on the road in 15-20 minutes with plenty of buffer on a windy rainy day.  A HUGE improvement!