Friday, November 22, 2019

More Range, More Screen, More Apps!; E Plus Comes Home

I really should title this "Ray did it to me again!"   I wasn't really in the market for an upgrade. I had the 40 kwh LEAF and it seemed that my pack had settled down and degradation had slowed to a trickle. My future had every indication of cheap transportation for the next 5-7 years.  This was good since this is the timeframe I expect automated driving to become both reliable and mainstream (AKA; cheap!)

But slow "fast" charging would always be a thing with the 40. The RapidGate software update did improve the situation but there was still the knee.  The knee is when the current starts to drop during a quick charge event. Depending on the starting temperature of the pack, it could be anywhere from 47 to 62% SOC.  With my NCTC coming to an end in a few months, I had to actually look at creating a "fuel allowance"  Its been so long, I am not sure I remember how to do it!

But the thought of seeing the maximum charging speed drop with half a pack yet to fill AND per minute billing practices of most DCFC providers, I wasn't so sure I wanted to settle on a car rated at 50 KW maximum.

I have to think the vibes my brain was sending out was stronger than I thought. Sure enough, Ray called last week, said with a tweak here and there, he could get me into a Plus for the same payments I am paying now.  After evaluating a few numbers, it was a bit more money on the back end with the higher residual but it wasn't too high and it was simply something I had to do!

So last Saturday, off to Everett I went. I got there, the car was already peeled, charged up and ready to roll.  Hopped into the new S Plus with climate (of course) powered up and as they say "First impressions are the most important" and I can't argue with what I saw



So, I take off for a quick jag around the block and after half a mile...


Hmmm?? Seems like someone might have been doing donuts in the 
parking lot while verifying the increased horsepower.  πŸ˜

But then again, that is Nissan and the GOM. We all know how that goes, right?  I don't suppose you can guess what comes next. πŸ˜‰ 



Despite all that, I knew the car was over 300 lbs heavier so there would be no great leap in efficiency needed to be able to hit that 300 mile target but truth be told; I don't really need a car that drives longer than 2 hours at a stretch mostly because "I" can't last that long.  Give me 200 miles of range; a full 30 minutes of charging at 120+ amps (basically full speed on the so called 50 KW chargers) and new tires and I am good. Well this car had it and much more.

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**Sidebar**  

I started noticing a lot of discomfort when in the car for extended periods of time. The time has shrunk to as little as 30 minutes. Naturally it wasn't me (I am not "that" old!) so had to blame it on the car. (Funny how it took a year and half for me to notice it was the car's fault?)  So I got a gel pad seat cushion thing.  Didn't work. It helped I guess. Discomfort was less but still there.  So I determined I got the wrong cushion. It was rated 4.8 stars but then again, it was consumers doing the rating, not cushion experts.  πŸ˜•
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The Pick Up

Gone is the super cool usb stick with all the paperwork on it. Great advertising gimmick as well, btw. But one cool gone was offset by another added.  

As we all know, the car buying process (even if all the terms were negotiated and agreed on in advance) is a hurry up and wait thing.  We provide info, wait for credit.   A few more questions, wait for service.  This and that; wait for finance.  In other words, there is a lot of "Facebook time" mixed in the process.  This time, Ray handed me an ipad with video links to all the new features on the car.  Now, most of  it I already knew but there were a few things that I didn't and the videos were short like 3 mins or so which made them very easy to digest, didn't get stale halfway thru and now I wasn't relying on the memory of a salesman who is trying to tie 14 different strings together on my deal. (along with other people who were there)  Now we all know Ray is pretty much on the ball but let's face it; everyone here has had the salesman who is new, or simply hadn't read up on the latest features of the car he is trying to sell, etc.  So we no longer have to go strictly by what the salesman says. In fact, if he gets something wrong you can say "But the ipad said..." πŸ˜„

The Deal

2019 LEAF S E Plus with All Weather package;  MSRP plus destination charges as provisioned; $38,420

2 year lease,  15,000 miles  15 cents per mile overage. 

23 payments of $380.67, residual $19,200

Money factor; .00147, Interest rate 3.528%,  Rent charge; $2385.26

Cash price; $25,981.47 plus tax and fees. (if paid in full by Dec 15) 

That is the basics but there was a LOT more to it than this. I still had 15 (one due on date of delivery but didn't process until 3 days later)  payments remaining on the 40 kwh so Ray had make those 15 remaining payments, then buy the car, then use equity in the car to apply to this deal.  So what Ray can do for you may not resemble what you see here but he is quite the math wizard! 

TCO Analysis

Ok, it's obvious that more range requires a greater financial commitment.  The Money factor is much higher than the 40 kwh lease but then again, car loan rates have gone up. Its much harder to find the 1.9% lease deals that my 40 kwh had. Starting from scratch, you may be able to swing a better deal but with my 40 kwh commitment complicating matters, this actually becomes quite the deal.

Other things to note; If you don't know, NCTC (Nissan free 2 year charging promotion) ended in July.  

But it's all about what I got and how much better it suits my needs and desires over the 40 kwh. It will take a while to make a real evaluation on that but that doesn't stop me from giving you initial impressions of the car! 

New (for me) for 2019! 

Power

Just kidding on the donut comments. On my test drive, there was a light rain so the road was wet. I didn't want to spin tires so I got a rolling start up to about 20 mph, then stomped the accelerator and still lost a bit of traction anyway.  Ah, well.  Nice to have I guess. Might try it again next Summer during the Les Schwab tire sale.

Back up Camera

Still has that "got water in my eye" issue at times but this has to be the perfect example of "not knowing what I was missing out on until I saw it" type of thing.  The view is definitely an improvement! 


The predictive lines are back? 

E Pedal Mapping

This is a change from my 40 kwh. I constantly shift from Eco B to E Pedal using the latter for stopping, quick decelerations and standing at lights. As soon as I take off, I switch back to Eco B. Using this method, I am averaging less than 5 brake pedal decelerations a week.  I noticed that the power mapping on the pedal is more aggressive in Eco B over E Pedal so swapping over creates a bit of a leap forward. E Pedal now resembles "Super Eco?" for lack of a better term.   Now that I know its going to happen, I simply adjust my pedal pressure to compensate.  Will be interesting to verify max regen for all modes again.

Steering Wheel Heater

The 2013 LEAF received all kinds of complaints from people who said their steering wheel heater got too hot. I personally loved it. Yeah, it was very warm and I liked it. Really made a difference on those sub freezing mornings. Sadly, Nissan listened and my 2018 (my S 30 didn't have it) they turned the heat waaaaay too far down. It barely got over lukewarm. Well, ok it probably wasn't that bad but it was a HUGE difference.  

But the E Plus got it right. Its warmer than the 40 kwh but cooler than the 2013. Its still on a timer but unlike the previous versions, this one seems to stay at the same temperature all the time. A very nice surprise! 

Android Auto

Ok, I admit I didn't have it so didn't know much about it so I watched the ipad video and it was pretty cool.  I am now able to connect the phone and it does the rest...literally.  I remember back in the day how difficult it was to setup your bluetooth with the car. Android Auto does it automatically.  Now why it does, I don't know because your phone has to be plugged into the USB port to run Android Auto. No setup involved. Plug it in and a few seconds later, its ready to go.  (It is apparently a standard app installed on my phone because I didn't even know I had it.) 

 And you paid how much for the maps update?? 😁

Decent list of features. I like the Amazon Music link. Its a pain to launch from 
phone while on the move. 

WiFi

No, I don't have the tech package. Yes, I have the cheapest LEAF Plus you can get. The only option is the climate package but now WiFi is available on the Plus.  It took all of 20 seconds to connect the car to the home WiFi so no more going to the dealerships for software updates. You can now do it from the car! 

 
 Eventually, the novelty will wear off and I will stop checking daily 😎

  

Charging

**WARNING** PLEASE CHECK WITH YOUR CARDIOLOGIST TO INSURE YOU ARE HEALTHY ENOUGH TO READ THIS SECTION!!


I could write a book on the things Electrify America is not getting right.  The "side saddle" layouts,  the lack of parking queues, unfair billing,  Chademo slights, etc.  Well, lets add another to the list; Inconsistency. Armed with 100 KW charging, the first thing I did was seek out the station with the rep of being "The fastest Gun in the West!"  Western WA that is.

This means I p...p...p..p..p.p.ppppppaid for a charge! 😲

But that is not always a bad thing.  I do wish it was a "farther away from home" thing but I was able to pull 200 amps with the knee at 45% SOC.  The charge rate did not drop below 125 amps until 68.8% SOC.  FYI; that just exceeds the capacity of a new 40 kwh pack. (533 GIDs)

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**Sidebar**

Less than one minute (charge timer in upper right corner at 47 seconds) into the charge, LEAF Spy is reporting 36% SOC. Car was reporting 25% SOC.  Looks like the hidden reserve will be setting all time records here. I haven't been down that far to investigate (it's a looooong way to get there) but trust in the fact that if you want over 200 miles of range, you will either drive blind or get LEAF Spy.
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Notice I plugged in right about when new 24 kwh
LEAFs would be unplugging? 😏


The charge session lasted 22 minutes, 31 seconds (yes billing is prorated)  and I received 23.3 kwh based on EA's receipt.  a $4 monthly subscription would allow me to charge at 18 cents per min.  With an average charge rate of 62.1 KW, this would save me a LOT of money over my 40 kwh average charge rate that had a rather large mostly  downward range but was normally around 40 KW.

Driving

The car is heavier by 300 lbs and you can feel it. I did drive it around 5 days with tires at "dealer" settings but they are now back to 43 PSI. (I added air and simply reduced 2 of the 4 to the lowest figure. I am so lazy...)

The short time that I have had the car (just over 300 miles)  hasn't really given me a lot of opportunity to evaluate performance. The weather has changed a bit to boot but I am getting a sense of maybe a .2 mile per kwh hit. I know part of it is simply having "too much range to burn" along with new car interior windows which fog up much faster.  I will know more after the gassing of the interior materials has subsided and the Fog X treatments have been applied.

I do feel like the car is more stable at higher speeds. I did a cruise down the freeway to Centralia to check the charging knee at 124 amps. More on that later.  Even at 80 mph (For all you LE people reading this, I am lying) the car felt rock solid.

Public Charging

My NCTC runs out Feb 15, 2020 so I plan to take advantage of the perks as much as I can.  During that time I will be investigating methods to reduce my fees as much as possible while maintaining usability of the car.

Preliminary results have been very encouraging.  I checked the knee at Centralia (it charges at 124 amps, one of the fastest Webastos in the region) and was happy to see the knee at 66.37% SOC.  This was in spite of a cold pack where starting battery temperatures were in the low 50's.  If you followed the link above, you know I blogged about the relationship between starting battery temperatures and the charging knee on my 40 kwh.  The colder the pack, the lower the knee. Observed knee range varied from 47 to roughly 63% which best results happening when pack started at the mid 80's. 

Now it would seem obvious that the larger pack would accept more charge and heat up less. That didn't quite work during the jump from 30 kwh to 40 kwh but the 62 kwh pack has been quite icy the entire time I have had it.  Only charging over 73 KW brought the pack into the 90's. 

I received 22.07 kwh in a 30 min session on EVGO @ 120 amps (for 26 mins) and batt temps went from 53ΒΊ to 68ΒΊ.  That was SHOCKING in a very good way!

Needs, Wants and Desires

Sorry I don't have more details but I have only had the car 5 days. There will be much more to follow.  Even after reading this blog, some of you will still be wondering why I took on so much additional financial responsibility for what many perceive as the same car with the same basic issues. I get that but no matter whether I bought the 40 at the end of the lease for an estimated (starting from today) $15,300 (based on $300 in fees) or this car for an estimated $29,400, I would still be in the market for a car 5 to 7 years from now.

The real question now becomes how do I get my additional $15,000 of value from the E Plus?  Is that even possible?  I think not.  Cars are a depreciating asset so unless you have a Ferrari 625 (only two were ever built and the location of both is known so no 2 million dollar payday for you) you will lose money on your auto investment EVERY day.  Now, you might not lose it at the rate of $10,000 a year like early Model S owners but it will still be a loss.

So the real question now becomes what is an acceptable loss?  Early LEAFs dived in value quite quickly and anyone who did not fully expect that doesn't understand how emerging technology works. By far, my cheapest (and most reliable) LEAF was my S 30. Charged at full speed past 80% SOC, shrugged off high battery temps like Bezos faced with a +2 Billion NFL franchise price tag.  $245 a month lease payments, $9100 residual, that was under $18,000! But the odds of buying it was zero. It didn't have "buyable" range when I got it and despite it having all its range when it was killed 29,413 miles later, it simply wouldn't work for me long term.

But the E Plus range promises to be quite viable 7 years from now and beyond. I am guessing I will see a similar degradation pattern so expect my one year review to be a deep dive into the mechanic of my first year 5% capacity loss (yep, bigger battery so slightly less loss πŸ˜‰)

So the next time you see me cruising around town in my shorts and t-shirt navigating my E Plus thru the snow on the ground, wave.  Seeing me at a charger might not be nearly as easy to do.  A picture is worth 10,000 words so instead of explaining this paragraph, I present my drive home from Campbell Nissan. I think it says it all 😊


13 comments:

  1. Awesome to see another plus owner in the U.S. sharing details. I've been vlogging some of my experiences on my youtube channel. I've had mine since August. One thing to note. The lack of thermal management means that you'll have to really play the planning games for long distance trips. I did a 500 mile day, and had pack temps around 112 degrees by the end of the day, and they were still over 90 degrees the following morning, and this was on 50kw EVGo chargers. Good luck with your new ride.

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    1. Ahh interesting on the pack temps! Where are you located? Sounds like ambient temps played a significant role in your situation. Post your u tube link!

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    2. I live in Northeast Ohio. This was an August trip. I also noticed that charging higher than 50kw also has a significant impact on temps. My channel is: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEpoO8iVBG1J-QRHWWZjZaQ?view_as=subscriber

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  3. I have also done 500 miles in a day, but was visit g friends in the middle, so it’s wasn’t a continuous drive. In the 400 mile drives I have done is warm (95F) weather, with fast charge, we didn’t hit rapidgate, but guess it was close. Now that temps are around 32-40F, I think it would nearly impossible to max battery temps unless you drive really fast. Enjoy the car! We Love our Plus. I bought the SV with tech package, but given how little I use propilot, I think you made the right call with the S and the smaller tires with lower unsprung weight. Even with the bigger battery I still find myself wanting to use the efficiency techniques. Finally, yes for drives over 230 miles, you need to get comfortable driving at 1% in the GOM. Lots of range at the bottom.

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    1. Mine is the SL Plus with all of the tech. I wanted the pro pilot and the long range, plus the leather. I'm very pleased with the car. I tend to drive a little slower, and the GOM has kept me routinely well above the 215 mile rating.

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    2. At roughly 75% SOC, your GOM starts building a hidden reserve. This reserve grows with pack size. At 0% SOC, when it turns to "_ _ _" I have about 10-12 miles of range. This happens at least 10-15 miles AFTER the GOM goes to dashes.

      As far as heat build up; I am seeing very little of it. Already its obvious the pack was designed to take higher currents. I did a 30 min charge on a 124 amp and batt temps went from 54 to 68ΒΊ. That is AMAZING. Received 22.04 kwh so it was also a good boost in range.

      Granted, its cold now but looks like this pack is running cooler. That makes sense because this pack has more cells so its less heat per cell.

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  4. Congrats on getting your S Plus! My son just bought a SL Plus last Thursday and it is an amazing car!
    I say amazing because I'm still driving around in my I-miev electric and his car makes my I-miev feel like a Model T. LOL

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    1. Despite having had my 2018 for 21 months, I am still learning differences in this car. It is exceeding my expectations. Can't wait to see more higher speed Chademo's!

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  5. I am curious if any of upgrades you have downloaded are significantly beneficial. I've had my SL+ for 8 months and have not tried connecting to WiFi. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"

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    1. Have no clue since the one and only download happened when the day I got it. No explanation of what was being downloaded, fixed or improved. I didn't have enough experience to notice any changes.

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  6. Congrats on the new S Plus. But have to ask, maybe you covered this in a prior blog. Did you consider the Chevy Bolt? Just because of a better battery management system. The price is about the same and range. Granted the Leaf is bigger and has the drive assist, where the Bolt doesn't have this. Just wanted to get your thoughts.
    I have a 2018 SV with the 40kwh battery and starting to think of the Bolt. Just hate watching the gradual battery degraded. Currently i'm at 91.2.

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    1. Yes, considered Bolt twice and both times it failed to be the best value to me. Right now, Bolts are cheap but $26,000? Not even close to that. There is also a HUGE cost benefit to the "lease to purchase" process. Nissan passed on loyalty credit as returning customer, $7500 cash in lieu of fed tax credit and other discounts so great price, right?

      Well, actually its way better than that. Realize I had 14 payments left on my 40 kwh that were paid off as part of the deal. So evaluating cost out of pocket; LEAF wins by HUGE margin not to mention that leases provide lower monthly payments and a "back out" clause just in case.

      But then we go on to amenities. The size and ride of the Bolt were a bit of a turnoff. Minor thing but the short wheelbase made the ride more bouncier than I preferred. But I could easily have overlooked it. So ambience went to LEAF by a very small margin.

      Tech; LEAF with AEB. I got the S trim so no real tech advantage here but the E Plus added android auto along with other stuff that really boosted the value. So LEAF wins by a "medium" margin.

      Public charging; This is a bit of a blowout but also only half the story. If you read my current blog, the first pix is a Bolt charging on a cold WA morning at an EA station at very low speeds which is common with the Bolt. It was cold but a week later, I see another Bolt charging at EA and its 55ΒΊ and they are still charging at 35 kw when they would be at 52-53 KW (on the way to 55 KW before charge current starts to drop) so a big financial hit when you are paying by the minute.

      FYI; the same cold morning the first Bolt was charging 40 miles away, I hit my local EA and charged at 74 KW which was 2½ times faster than the other Bolt. But its winter. In summer with possible RapidGate, the issues might be reversed but with my range, I wouldn't see the slowdown until after ~ 350 miles and its my prediction the slowdown won't be as bad since the E Plus pack has already shown itself to shed heat better than my 40 kwh did. Big advantage to LEAF (at least in cooler weather. Stay tuned for the other half of the story in about 6 months)

      But the Bolt still has more range and it makes sense simply because its a smaller, lighter car. It wins handily in the passenger area with THE most combined legroom of any small platform EV (which means it also beats the Model 3) but at the sacrifice of the cargo area. Bolt wins this.

      So if you need 4 seats and cargo, get a LEAF. If its two of you, get a Bolt. TBH; I am a HUGE fan of both.

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