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

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bolt Winter Range; Where Is The CCS Network Going to Come From?

Bolt Winter Range 170 miles on OR Coast

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1521572851487669/permalink/1750723898572562/



Recently a new Chevy Bolt owner complained he was not able to make his trip in his Chevy  Bolt easily. He stated a range of 170 miles while driving the Oregon Coast. Most of the trip was at highway speeds that were likely 50-60 mph. I have driven this route and its two lanes so rare passing opportunities if behind slower vehicles and plus stretches of twisties and turns also makes fast driving highly unlikely.   I suspect a lot of his issues were the headwinds.  So guessing he would do much better on his return trip but the real issue was lack of fast chargers that support the Bolt.

His story is just another twist on the question of "how much range is enough?" and if its concerning EVs? Well, infinity "might" do it!  But that is not going to happen and the common perception of "200 miles is all I will ever need" will be hitting the immovable wall of reality as more longer range EVs hit the streets for the less informed buyer.

I found that as much as my 30 kwh LEAF was more useful than the previous 24 kwh versions, I now still charge publicly but on 175  or 200 mile trips instead of the previous 150 mile trips that seemed  like such an accomplishment. But this is something I have mentioned time and time again; even a 500 mile range gasser will have issues if gas stations were 400 miles apart.

Why you say?  400 miles is plenty close enough if the car has a 500 mile range.  Yeah, but... Gas stations that far apart will be crowded so expect a wait. Don't expect to have a 100 mile buffer either if stuck in traffic idling away the fuel while going nowhere, during snow and rain, or simply being on the wrong side of a windy day!

But all this will soon be for naught right? Nissan has finally announced a timetable for LEAF II. Details are sketchy but expect 200 miles on the biggest battery option, etc. So now we are golden, right?  Wrong.  The fact is our public charging network is falling farther and farther behind every day.  As the range increases, EVs will become much more popular and no matter how far they can go, for some, it will not be enough.

The irony in the story above is that a lowly 100 mile LEAF could breeze thru that trip because of the multitude of Chademo QCs spaced along the route.  OR has likely one of the most developed networks for State wide travel of any in the country.


The above filters out CCS (IOW, about 2 blips removed...) Tesla SC and any other QC format.  As you can see, there are few if any real stretches for a 100 mile EV in the central or coastal regions.

The problem now becomes where is the money for the CCS stations going to come from?   Obama is gone. The big initial government cash stash is spent. To say that little is expected from the current regime is a huge understatement.  Chevy is not selling the Bolt as it was expecting to.  What appeared to be Chevy moving up its delivery timeline now appears to be excessive California cars being shipped to other states.  So whether that is true or Chevy is moving up the time line,  both imply that Chevy is getting desperate.

But CCS based EVs are growing the fastest. Ford, a new entrant, with its soon to be released longer range Focus EV will have CCS. VW promising a huge EV footprint soon along with penalties for its emission scandal promises several charging stations. Obviously dual format stations ala NRG would be the best but to my knowledge, none have been installed yet  and guessing VW has little incentive to help out Nissan, Kia and the other Asian manufacturers clinging to the chademo platform.

Furthermore; Tesla has announced plans for the biggest expansion of the Supercharger (SC) network to date. Partially to prepare for the huge uptick in Tesla's on the road when the T3s start rolling off the line later this year (maybe) and partially I think to put the seed of doubt into anyone who is thinking about jumping ship to the immediately available and longer range Bolt.  Its hard for me to believe that American and European manufacturers are sitting back thinking they can still sell a car that has no public charging support.

So I am fully expecting a big announcement; a partnership to install stations or at least smooth the way for the installs. Dealership based installs have been a shaky option thus far and there is quite frankly not enough of them in many areas to make an effective network.  Also dealerships have not proven to be good hosts. Either thru restricting who can charge, lack of 24/7 access, ICEing the stations or simply being too slow to address maintenance issues.

Either way; something big needs to happen or the Bolt may flounder. Don't get me wrong; Its 240 mile range will cover the needs of a lot of people but without public support, it still falls short of mass acceptance.

Finally; Tomorrow, I will be testing the viability of  the network in my LEAF.  Not quite recreating the trip from above but will still be doing 300 miles.  I will be doing the Oregon Coast but will be waiting until the renovations at the Tillamook Cheese Factory is completed first!

**EDIT**   Just found out VW has submitted plans on how the money will be spent and its still primarily on public charging and it looks like it will be dual mode stations so CCS will be coming from at least one manufacturer! (this makes it easier to understand why the others are just sitting back observing)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

February 2017 Drive Report

Well this was the "calm before the storm" as work is generally slower in February because of the massive rush of work right before and after the beginning of the year so the LEAF only traveled 1189.4 miles costing me $15.37 or 1.3 cents per mile. This total does include a public charging fee of 44 cents for an emergency Blink stop.  What can I say? I did not take into consideration the very heavy headwinds of the day!  

NCTC did help me get "some" of that money back. I did help myself to 189.4 KWh of free juice for the month.  The light driving was evident with 10 days of 20 miles or less driven plus 2 days the LEAF never left the garage.   Contrast that to the first 10 days or March where I have gone over 100 miles 5 times including two days over 150 miles.

To make my math more simple, I have decided to start a policy of getting gas for the Corolla on the last day of the month. (or as near to it as possible) This simplifies the monthly cost calculations and takes into account months where the price of gas changes dramatically which I think is going to happen more this year than the recent past.

The Corolla went 271.1 miles costing $17.86 (more than the LEAF in case you didn't notice... :) ) or  6.8 cents per mile despite getting over 39 MPG.

There were no maintenance costs for either vehicles. I did rotate the LEAF tires at the 5,000 mile mark but did that on my own costing me nothing but time. I am getting older cause it took me almost 45 mins to finish the job which is a far cry from the 25-30 mins it used to take me but then again, I was in no particular hurry either. Since it was rainy, I did it while parked in the garage which means a lot less space to work in which naturally slowed me down a bit.

Other than that, Nissan has spoken! They are so secretive and low key about everything LEAF its really pain but their latest announcement has generated the most excitement since the LEAF was introduced.   Nissan promises LEAF II to exceed expectations in price, value and range. So we shall see.  I have said often that I would buy a 40 kwh LEAF but it all depends on price!


Bolt sales down. Despite an expanding market, sales dropped for February. This was somewhat expected as lease terms for the Bolt are either pathetic or non existent.   WA State is seeing Bolts earlier that then slated April launch with deliveries earlier this week. Maybe Chevy is trying to take advantage of EV hotbeds and pent up demand for more range?   Chevy; you can fix this by doing us Leasers right!

Finally, for all of you who think I am taking advantage of NCTC to the extreme (well, partially maybe...) you B WRONG!  I am doing it in the name of science. (and cheapness!)

Remember I am collecting data on how differently the 30 kwh pack charges over the 24 kwh pack. Earlier I related one crazy incident at the Tumwater AV where I charged at 40 KW past 83% SOC! Well, as mentioned, I suspected it was simply my LEAF BMS sleeping on the job and apparently that was correct.  My excessive use of the free juice train was an attempt to reproduce those results and I have so far failed... several times!

Looks like if starting at a lower SOC, the station will run at full or near full speed until 75% SOC. If starting at a higher SOC, the rate starts dropping below 70%. Doesn't matter if its a 50 KW charger or a 40 KW charger.   I have yet to notice any temperature differences and although most of my charges have started at lower temps with cells in the low 50's or so, I have done a  few twice a day QCs with the 2nd charges starting with temps in the 70's and have seen no change in the patterns.

But I just have to post this log of the Tumwater event....only to show it really happened. As anyone with LEAF Spy knows, the logs are packed with info so I have removed the extraneous stuff so you can see the basics.




As you can see, the GID count was at 312 by the time the charger dropped below 40 KW.  Completely different than these.








Remember these are just previews! Still working the charging things. Notice the black lines for pack temps?  Pretty flat.  I have to guess the temps are displayed in C and they apparently aren't sampled much. Notice the jumps?  Weird eh? If anyone knows how to address this, let me know!