Saturday, December 7, 2019

E Plus Charging Profile; Still Searching For RapidGate!

RapidGate/IceGate started with the 40 kwh pack.  This is when the charging profiles on a DC session changes based on the starting temperature of the battery pack.   Now this is significant because other packs from the Bolt, Tesla, etc. act differently adjusting charge rates upwards if the pack is cold initially.  Cold packs are limited in the current they can handle so need to heat up a bit before taking on the full current a station can hand out.  There is some thought out there that this is being unnecessarily overcautious especially if charge rate is 1.5 C or less.

History

The original LEAFs charged...well slowly even on a "quick" charger.  On a station supplying up to 125 amps, the knee (when current starts to drop) was generally in the mid 30's SOC.  Now this was pre LEAF  Spy so only had the dash to go by.  With the reserve, the knee was probably around 40% SOC give or take a few.

30 kwh

Nissan's first major capacity increase happened with the 2016 model year introducing the 30 kwh pack for the SL's and SV's (S trim received 30 kwh packs starting in October 2016) and apparently Nissan heard our complaints.  Now that the early and free days of DCFC charging was fading fast in the rearview mirror, the pay per minute issues made the slow charging a bigger issue to contend with.  My 2016 S 30 would charge at full speed past 80% SOC! This was a godsend because of my work demands and adhering to a schedule that had no wiggle room. Delays for slow charging simply wasn't going to work.  The ability to grab a 10-20 minute boost under a wide range of battery conditions (hot/cold, high SOC) with a decent amount of range really made EVs an attractive option in a job where I logged over 25,000 personal vehicle miles for work a year.

Although the 30 kwh was a good boost in range, it was still not nearly enough for any real charge management on a road trip. If you were lucky enough to be in an area that had DCFC's every 20-30 miles or so then it wasn't so bad but most of the country was not lucky, so more range was needed.

RapidGate/IceGate And 40 kwh packs

In 2018, Nissan released the 40 kwh pack for the 2018 model year. It wasn't the rumoured and highly anticipated 60 kwh TMS pack we were hoping for but again, a decent bump in range along with several new driver aids.  I hadn't planned on getting one but my hand was forced when my beloved (and undegraded) S30 was killed.

A quick perusal of the EV options quickly revealed that even without the HUGE incentives of the past, the LEAF with its higher price was still the best option for me so l jumped on it as soon as they hit the streets. I was one of the first S 40 customers Ray had!

But it took all of ONE workday for me to realize that the full charge past 80% SOC I was expecting was not to be.  Not even close really as I was lucky to see the knee squeak past 50% SOC.  Now it was February and the added range usually only meant needing one QC to cover me which means heat wasn't an issue,  I was IceGating and didn't know it.

Heat

Because of changing personal needs (and escalating gridlock!) I made the tough decision to take a rather large pay cut and change employers. This put me on a 4 day work week with a 25 mile round trip commute which meant MORE TIME FOR ROAD TRIPPING!

So well before the heat of Summer arrived, I experienced the full brunt of RapidGate.  A trip in April revealed that my pack charged best (highest SOC @ knee) when batt temps were in the 80'sº F at the start of the charge but as soon as the pack hit 90º, I no longer received the maximum current at the start of the charge.  As the pack heated up, the starting current continued to drop until I charged at North Bend EVGO starting temps 121º and had max rate of 61 amps (of 120ish) to start!  My 30 minute NCTC charge didn't even get me to half ! (45% SOC)  The charging rate was so slow, the batt temps went DOWN during the session to 118º (yeah, it was a bit nippy OAT in mid 40's)

RapidGate Mitigated

Now Nissan knew about RapidGate rather quickly and since their main market focus for the new LEAF was Europe (Yeah, we now have assigned seats in the nosebleed section) they released a software update in May 2018 to alleviate the ramp down. It helped but it was an EU update ONLY!!

But it was still Spring in America. The heat of Summer hadn't happened so the outcry in the US was barely a whimper.  In fact; most claimed their LEAF didn't have RapidGate.  Then July hit.

Olympia's year round mild climate insured that only multiple fast charges revealed any RapidGate effects. But elsewhere, it wasn't the case. Soon, social media was flooded by people not seeing more than 25 KW on their FIRST QC of the day.  Ambient heat along with sometimes aggressive driving was more than enough to heat up the pack.   We immediately started complaining about the issues to Nissan but our voice wasn't really heard until Jennifer Sensiba started a petition to simply allow us to get the software update that ALREADY EXISTED!!

I was almost ready to give up hope which was rare for me ( ok, maybe I wasn't!) when in mid July 2019 A YEAR LATER!! Aaron McAfee, the resident LEAF tech guru of the Pacific Northwest, notified me that a RapidGate SW update was now available and when did I want to come in and get it done?   I immediately went on social media to tell everyone the great news and ....

Well, no one believed me.  We had several supposedly connected people claim they contacted Nissan who told them no such plans to allow an update THAT ALREADY EXISTED!! to be issued to North America. So my announcement went virtually unnoticed until 5 days later when Nissan announced that it was now available to us.  Try to be helpful I do and what do I get?? Anyway...

Because of concerts, focus groups and birthdays, it took a few weeks to get the update but on August 1, 2019 the update was done that included a battery plate bonding recall. So two updates at once! and barely an hour in the shop. If you need LEAF work, go to Aaron at Puyallup Nissan. He is worth the drive!  It was another week before I had a chance to test the update and I did see a definite improvement ranging from 30 to 60ish% faster.  The hotter the pack, the greater the speed increase.

IceGate

As the days grew shorter,  I started noticing a reduction in charge gained during my 30 minute EVGO sessions. It wasn't much but since I was VERY consistent with the 30 kwh pack,  the variance was worth looking into so I started looking at my charging logs (I track EVERY QC on LEAF Spy) and started noticing cold weather affected the charge.

Unlike Tesla and Chevy, the LEAF starts at max current even when the pack is cold, at least within the parameters of the Pacific Northwest "cold."   So I decided I needed to test the charging when the pack was cold and this meant waiting for a cold snap to get a full range of results.

Chevy Bolt charging on a cold WA morning. After 7 minutes, they have only gotten
to 22 KW. (TMS must not be awake yet???) Later in the charge, they did manage to
get to 35 KW. 


It didn't take long for my suspicions to be confirmed. IceGate was real.  When my pack temps hit the 40'sº F, the knee was dropping in to the 40's as well, SOC that is.  So we were now getting it from both sides now!   FYI; I went thru the charging logs on my S 30 and surprise surprise. It didn't have IceGate either. I did manage to find one instance where the knee happened at 77% but starting batt temps were in the mid 50's so not all that cold to begin with.  Most others including ones that started over 120º F, still had the knee over 80% SOC!

62 kwh E Plus

Unlike the bump from 30 kwh to 40 kwh, the E Plus pack not only increased capacity but also increased their module count.  This allowed more of a "spreading out" of the charge received by the pack making the individual stress on a cell much lower.  So it made sense that higher power would be fine and Nissan did upgrade the DC to 100 KW.   Now based on the knee, SOC limitations, etc. You won't see 100 KW but reportedly 80 KW would happen.  And when we get a 100 KW Chademo, I will test that theory out!

NCTC Gone

Nissan ended the NCTC promo the first week of July this past summer as planned.  It provided 2 years free DC charging with Blink, Webasto and EVGO. This meant I was soon faced with the decision of what vendor I would be charging with when my promo ends February 15th, 2020.  With the charging speed issues above behind me now, I needed to understand the parameters of how the E Plus charged and what was the best circumstances to alleviate RapidGate/IceGate, etc.

Heat Gain and Retention

It didn't take long for me to realize that keeping my E Plus pack warm wasn't going to be very easy. I did nearly a full 30 minute charge on EVGO the other day, gained nearly 23 kwh and pack barely hit 70º. Battery temps at charge start in upper 40's, knee just over 65%

120 amp knee; 65.24%  batt temps start 
47.4/47.8/47.8


IceGate On The E Plus

So, its simply not the time of year for RapidGate testing. The pack isn't retaining heat like the 40 nor does it gain heat simply while driving or regenning. Guessing its a combination of more cells and better chemistry.  The E Plus does have a slight bump upwards on the E Pedal regen profile  seeing up to 189 amps but B mode remains the same as the 40.  Remember, I am seeing 200 amps from EA DC charging sessions so even with the higher regen profile of E Pedal, its still not an extreme hit to the pack. 

The Test

I purposely overcharged (AKA as charging to 70% SOC 😁 ) to allow extra time for the pack to cool off between charge sessions. Although we did have a few colder days, car is in garage at home so only exposed while at work and was able to get two charges in with pack in the mid 40's º F. I also wanted to see how much speed the EA DC had to offer. Its well known that the 50 KW chademo which generally has a limit of 125 amps (which is exactly where my 40 kwh charged at) but EVers were seeing over 150 amps so I had to see what I would get and I was not disappointed. 

SSSSSWHEAT!!  You probably have to click and scroll to see the details here
but 200 amps is a game changer for roadtripper! 

 The plan was to preheat the pack by high speed driving, lots of heat, and a QC.   So off to Centralia I went.  I charged there 20 mins heating the pack to 65.7/66.9/64.9º.  I then sprinted to the Lacey EA at 70+ (Hitting 80 mph frequently in the South County area) with heat blasting, etc. and more than 30 miles later, I was at 65.1/67.5/69.1 º.  This was not what I was expecting.  One temperature went up (guessing it was more equalizing after the Centralia QC) while one barely changed but one WENT DOWN!! 

WTF?? It wasn't that cold so heat didn't work hard but I figured the speed would more than make up the difference. Temps were in the upper 40's (in Centralia) to low 50's (In Lacey) I then realized getting a full spectrum of temps to test would be tougher than I thought.  My target was a charge in the mid 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.  But I was faced with a 5 day work week (not used to that kind of demand on my time!) and much more driving and charging than I was ready for.  So the testing is somewhat incomplete but the trend seems rather clear. 


With a 4% increase in SOC at the charging knee (120-125 amps) from the mid 40's to the mid 60's, I am quite giddy to think that the ideal charging temperature in the mid 80's could yield near 75% SOC!  This would be well beyond my dream expectations.  If you followed the IceGate link above, you would see that my 40 kwh at temps in the 40's had a knee below 50%. From the blog

Dec 5; start; Batt temps; 48.7/47.6/45.8  SOC;32.2 Max Amps; 123.901
Dec 5; knee; Batt temps; 61.7/61.3/58.3 SOC; 47.3
An improvement from 47.3% to over 65% is HUGE!! I have to say, I am pleased. This is real pack progress. 

Stay Tuned! 

My initial experience with the E Plus doesn't even begin to illustrate the massive changes from the 40 kwh to this car.  Still unknown is how the car will respond when the mercury hits triple figures but early indications are very good.  Guessing the pack has to be a lot warmer though. But, I think Nissan is finally realizing what Tesla knew from Day One. Without a big pack, there is simply no wiggle room.  Even if the knee doesn't change at higher temperatures, this car will be a godsend to many including me. 65% SOC is still over 2 hours of freeway.   I can no longer drive for hours at a time probably from simply getting old. I am still investigating seat cushion options (Have two, they help but didn't really fix anything...) and this all started in my 40 kwh LEAF where it took well over a year for me to notice I was no longer comfortable so I have to think its not the car. 

With the end of NCTC, I will need to start an analysis on which charging station provider to use. With subscription charges required to get the best price, the days of "too many cards" is long gone. EVGO is more expensive but more prevalent in my area. EA is cheaper and charges faster but less convenient with its one shared Chademo plug and still  sparse in the area but growing fast.  Webasto is rumored to be getting out of the public charging business which is greatly disappointing so their $20 unlimited plan is likely nearing its swan song.  So being able to maximize my dollar at the charging station is paramount to EV affordability.   I will admit, its been so long since I had to budget for gas, even a few bucks seems excessive for just driving if you know what I mean. 😏  So charging without the knee is basically the goal. With per minute billing, the faster you get it, the cheaper it is per mile. 

30 min EVGO DC NCTC charge, no knee. 22.77 kwh received. 

Now, I know detractors will ride the TMS bandwagon until the wheels fall off but just a reminder; Elon Musk said the ultimate goal is a pack that doesn't need TMS. There was a rumor, still unsubstantiated, that the E Plus pack received a circulation fan so that is one thing I will be trying to confirm.  Remember the Bolt charging in the cold of a Washington State morning? He was in Covington, WA.  So I decided to see how my LEAF handled the cold so not wanting to heat of the pack, I took mine to the Lacey EA "on the same day" Ummm,  TMS'ers... You might want to see this. 😊


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.  😁

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. 😉 



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.

_________________________________________________________________________________
**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.  😕
__________________________________________________________________________________

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..." 😄

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)

_________________________________________________________________________________
**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.
_______________________________________________________________________________

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 53º to 68º.  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 😉)

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 😊


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

November 2019 Drive Report; Another Early Lease Termination. Farewell 40; Part One

Betting this headline has your head full of questions!

Question; What happened? Another accident? 

Answer; Not all unexpected early lease terminations are a bad thing.  Yes, my 2016 lease terminated in month 14 of 36 was a bad thing. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  But this time, it's all about being in the right place and knowing the right person! 

Question; How can we have a monthly drive report when the month is not over? 

Answer; Well the Month of November is over for my 40 kwh LEAF. It is now on its way to a very deserving family! 




The Battery

Now that the "adjustment" for October is more than a month overdue, I have to think it is just not going to happen.  Maybe my diligence in keeping SOC below 75% most of the time has paid off? I have only been over 85% 4 times in the past 4 months. Each time it was when plugged into the free Voltas at Capital Mall while watching a movie.  In fact, twice I charged to 99%.  But other than that; I have keep it between 20 to 70% and it would seem my pack likes it. If you recall, on my last negative adjustment in April, I was on track to be about 56% SOH at 100,000 miles, a shocking rate of degradation for a pack of this size. 

But then came July's adjustment and for the first (and only) time, my stats went up. Other than this event, I never saw even a .01% rise in the numbers in any of my daily checks.  


Deep Dive Degradation Data Details

Many Teslatonians also reported that their packs seemed to lose a chunk of capacity early then seeing the rate slow down considerably.  Could it be that the car simply learned the driver's habits and now provides a more accurate estimation of range?  That wouldn't surprise me since Tesla knows everywhere the car is going, terrain, weather, driver style, etc. But for a LEAF? Especially an S with no telematics so no active way of tracking the movements?  A Bit stretchy I think. 

The Adjustments

If you follow my blogs, you know I was seeing rather large adjustments every 90 days based on the build date. These adjustments covered over 90% of my capacity loss to date.  I lost chunks of capacity in April, July, October 2018,  January and April 2019.   But then July 2019 happened and the numbers went up.  How shocked was I?  We all know that the battery stats tended to bounce up and down based on our charging/driving habits. It seemed the more you drove, the higher the numbers would be. Fast charging seemed to bounce the numbers up as well.  Granted, all those increases were temporary and returned to their previous levels after a few days of "normal" driving. 

That all changed with my 40 kwh pack. I track my battery stats EVERY day recording miles driven, miles/kwh,  Ahr, SOH and Hx every morning before the first drive of the day.  Before and after that July 2019 adjustment, I had never seen ahr or SOH go up. Not even a tiny bit. Not even one time. 


Just like that I was almost back to the level before the April 2019 adjustment.  Why it happened, I haven't a clue. It did coincide with the start of warmer weather but we all know weather is one thing, baking the pack on a QC is another version of the same but more severe.  Since the RapidGate software fix didn't happen till August 1st, it wasn't that either. If anyone out there has theories, bring them on! Love to hear them. 

Degradation Trends

As mentioned above, I was tracking degradation rates every 1,000 miles projecting SOH @ 100,000 miles which was obviously picked as it would be the deadline for any warranty claim.  I was on pace to be at 56.25% in April. That has risen to 70.16% today  .  Coincidentally, that would be nearly identical to a new 30 kwh pack (ahr estimate 81.26)  But that assumes the average degradation rates for the next 75,000 miles.  Now anything could happen but recent trends indicate I would be much higher. 
From July 12 (the day after the July 2019 adjustment) to now, I traveled 4861.8 miles and lost .47 % SOH. That projects to losing another 7.23% @ 100,000 miles putting me at 85% SOH.  So is that a realistic projection?   I think it's not. 

Of course its anyone's guess as to what could happen between now and then but if I look back at just the last 2 months (which coincides with my deciding to charge only on DCFC or free public level 2) back to September 20th. I have driven 2064.9 miles losing .12%.  That projects to an additional 4.35% loss or  87.88% SOH @ 100,000 miles. 

Of course, its possible that the negative adjustments could come back at any time but I think the July jump signified the BMS overdid itself or something and gave it back.  I would like to think it was my world class battery management techniques that righted the ship! But.... I did the same process last year and it didn't do any good. I guess better late than never? 

One final note on the battery; The negative AND positive adjustments I saw were also seen by many other LEAF drivers. Truth be told, most people don't check their stats often enough to fully verify the every 90 days interval  but there were people out there that took measurements enough to verify they were seeing the same things as me. 

The Final Countdown


Notice the 200 L2's.  At least 100 was due to my "only charge in the morning" experiments. I was plugging in for roughly 90 mins every morning before heading out to work.  At any other time, I was mostly QCing.  I also "double dipped" a few dozen experimenting with my charge timer. When the timer is set you will get a "charge event" when the EVSE is plugged in and another charge event when the timer goes off. 


TCO

I was seriously thinking about buying this LEAF (first time LEAF buyer!) but still had caveats. Either the battery had to degrade quickly enough to reasonably guarantee I would get a warranty replacement or slow enough that it would last at least 6-7 years which meant 100,000 to 120,000 miles.   So I pretty much had a "no buy zone" of 70% to 80% SOH projection at 100,000 miles. Over 80% and I could manage with that. Under 70% and I would find a way to get the required degradation.  And yes, I will admit the $9655 residual was a very strong pro buy point that was hard to ignore.

Cash

No down payment. I made 21 payments of $382.94 totaling $8041.74.


With my balance, I could have bought the car for $23,294.60  all in.  This is a slight rise (due to rent charge) from the $22,8ish I could have paid had I bought the car before the first payment was due. 

But I didn't make it that far so if looking at lease/cost basis its 31.9 cents per mile.  Not too bad but of course, there are other expenses like maintenance... oh, wait. Wasn't any of that. I did buy wiper inserts and had planned to swap them in but since I now have new wipers, that expense will transfer.

Charging

Now, I suffered tremendously thru 2 leases (the only ones I actually completed) without NCTC so starting with the 30 kwh, I kinda sorta went hog wild on the freebie thing. I did plug in occasionally mostly last Winter so did rack up a bill (about a 3rd of which was public charging fees) of  $134.19 but that barely changes the TCO calculation... :) 

NCTC

I only have a few months left and will be taking advantage for sure but my 40 kwh sucked in 4632.8 kwh courtesy of Nissan perks. I also collected another 268 kwh from free level 2 charging mostly from Volta at Capital Mall. 


Epilogue

All in all, a great car.  The range is sufficient to cover even extreme commutes. The worst efficiency I saw was about 105 miles on a charge but that was driving in monsoon conditions on the way to Portland. Typical WA winter drives saw 120 on the lower end.   Despite the capacity loss, I still did several 150 mile drives this past Summer on a charge without issues.  I know there is a lot of talk about TMS and why Nissan doesn't have it but its becoming clear to me the issue is less the heat and more the SOC.  This led me to the conclusion that more capacity is what I needed but not for road tripping. More capacity allows me to live in the middle of the SOC range much easier.

IOW; the deadly combination you want to avoid is high heat and high SOC. High heat alone won't do it. When I noticed my degradation rate dropping off (easy to notice when I just "dash it" when the numbers don't change and I am looking at whole pages of dashes where the  numbers might change 4-5 times) I decided to not charge at home for road trips.  Twice I started 400 mile trips with an SOC UNDER 20%. Needless to say, it didn't take long for my pack to get hot and stay that way.

This created a lot of firsts for me.

First time ever seeing power restricted due to heat (happens when  you get over about 132º)
FYI; I only lost about 6 of the 16 power segments. In my day to day driving, I could lose 8 of them and never know it. I simply don't drive like that.  (unless I am showing off)

First time at 12 temperature bars.  Not really a big thing, except I did it about 5 times including 3 times on one trip.  Interesting note; Before the RapidGate update, I couldn't even hit 11 temperature segments simply because the QC rate drops to nearly nothing when the pack gets hot.  Last year at North Bend,  I charged at 14 KW and the temperature DROPPED from 124º to 122º!

Despite all that, the degradation rate stayed low. So if you want to preserve your pack simply don't overcharge.  Charge to what you need and no more and yeah, some days it will be a full charge but most of the time its not.  So if you can make it work at 80% do it. 70% is even better.  Without custom charge settings, its a challenge to manage but after testing, I found it takes only a few days to figure it out. If you are like most of us, your driving needs fall into a range that is no more than 20-30 miles wide. 

Moving On

By now you have all guessed my next blog will be introducing the newest member of the family.  Some of you might be wondering what it is while others of you might have already guessed since I have dropped several hints on Facebook, MNL, etc.  I haven't settled on a title for the next entry but a few proposed and rejected;

"One For The Thumb"  Sounded good at first until I realized it was the Pittsburgh Steelers War Cry the year they Beat the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Definitely don't need reminders of that!

"Some People Never Learn"  Kind of a joke but implies that mistakes were made which is far far far from true.  Any purchase decision requires weighing and balancing several factors. I think I scored on this one and I will tell you why!.... Soon.

"If You Are A Deserving Family, Go See Ray!"  I think that one speaks for itself.  😎

Friday, October 18, 2019

September 2019 Drive Report; No New Pack For Me...

Ok, I know its been a while since I have posted anything and I admit I was waiting on "something" to report.  As we know, 40 kwh packs seem to have major adjustments to battery status every 90 days or so. My car was built on 1/2018 and it had adjustments on

April 12, 2018  lasted one day and lost .76 ahr.  Now that doesn't sound like much but .66% exceeded what I had lost in the first 4500 miles.

July 6, 2018 and July 17, 2018 but was on vacation so don't know exactly when but was at least two days since both days above recorded drops. Remember stats are recorded the following day so the July 6th drop was recorded July 17th while July 17th drop was recorded July 18th.  Loss was 1.44% ahr

October 10-12, 2018  which lasted 3 days. Lost 1.39 ahr

January 8-12, 2019 for 5 days.  Lost 1.79 ahr

April 9-12, 2019 for 4 days.  Lost 1.06 ahr

If wondering; these 5 adjustments accounted for 6.44 of the total 8.79 ahr lost since new (115.05)  So if these adjustments weren't happening, I was looking at a very long happy life with this car.

Now, I was tracking my 100,000 mile projection and on April 11th, I was projected to be at less than 57% SOH at 100,000 miles which means I would have easily qualified for a warranty exchange that would have most certainly come with a better, more robust pack.  This caused me to heavily lean to purchasing at the end of the lease.  With sales tax breaks on used EVs combined with a very attractive $9600 residual, it seemed like a win win.

Time to Experiment

After the April 2019 adjustment, I decided it was time to experiment and as luck would have it; Late Spring and Early Summer was the perfect time to do it.  I decided to charge as much as possible at home keeping SOC no higher than 70% and batt temps no higher than 90º.  Of course, 3 months is a long time and there were a handful of QCs in there but a fraction of the normal. Then the July adjustment happened and everything changed.

July 8-11, 2019.  Up until this point, my stats had never risen. Not even .01% on either ahr or SOH (Hx bounces around more than a Superball) so saying "shocked" is understating my reaction by quite a bit as I watched my ahr RISE 1.12 over the 4 day period. I was now back to April 2019 levels (day before April adjustment) just like that!

But I wasn't about to get too excited. It was a single incident and haven't seen any rise of any size since. Don't get me wrong, I was pleased but not counting on anything either.  It was all about waiting until the October 2019 adjustment.  So now we know why this is late. Sort of...

Where is my Adjustment??

Never thought I would ever be pining for something that was much more likely to be bad news than good but October 11th came... and went. It is now a week later. The adjustment is way overdue. Truth be told, I was expecting the worst. In fact, the very worst.  Remember my stint from April to July; benign level 2 charging barely touching the upper 3rd of the pack? 

Well, my multiple in town appointments and commitments were done. My calendar was clear and the weather was gorgeous, so I hit the road.  Now, not as hard as I have in the past but still racked up dozens of QC sessions including my first EVER 11th temperature bar!  IOW; the pack did not have a lot of rest on my days off.

So this morning, I updated the spreadsheets, started looking at my monthly and 1000 mile trend lines and noticed something.

As mentioned above, my pack lost most of its capacity in 5 sessions.  But there was still 2.07 ahr lost in day to day action. This calculated out to roughly .12 to .15 ahr lost per month.  But so far this month, I have lost .02 ahr. that is  3X less than the average.  Now, I haven't done a lot of driving and only have 2 days exceeding 100 miles in a day but have 11 QC sessions.

So at this point, I am not sure I know what to think. Is it possible the BMS took over a year and a half to learn my driving habits and adjust the readings accordingly? 

Soon, I started seeing others reporting similar results of either no change, a very small drop (explained by the fact that very few check their stats EVERY day like I do) or a rise in stats.  So whatever the issue is, its systemic. Now whether Nissan programmed it purposefully that way or whether they even think its a problem is anyone's guess. 

Either way, my projected 56.55% SOH at 100,000 miles has ballooned to 69% which means just missing a warranty exchange which would be a disaster but right now I am trending to be well above 80%...

So best I can say is "I guess we will see what January 2020 brings us"

Saturday, September 21, 2019

30 KW LEAF QC

Not my car but pack is obviously hot and still charging at over 51 KW @ 72% SOC. 2016 SV charging on EA.  This is unusual in that highest charging current I have ever seen on mine was 125ish amps. This is at 132 amps.

This is my car. Unfortunately temp toggled off so can't see that but what you can see  is charging @ 42 KW at 81.6% SOC. Charge has been going 27½ mins I have received over 20 kwh in that time.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Rapidgate Software Update Quantified

Ok, I have had the update a week and still hadn't tried it yet, so my first chance I got, off I went. I actually got a bit of luck going my way as a quick errand down south came up making it time for a road trip to test just how much of an improvement my recent update to address slow rapid charging was.

For anyone who didn't know, Nissan released a software update to the North American market to mitigate the Rapidgate issue. This is likely the same update that the European Union received in the Spring of 2018.   So if you got a 40 kwh LEAF you are looking for

NTB19-056. It’s titled “2018-2019 LEAF; LITHIUM-ION BATTERY WILL NOT QUICK CHARGE.”

Now, I am getting reports that some dealers will not install the update unless you have experienced slow charging which generally happens on the 2nd or 3rd quick charge in a day. Even if you haven't actually experienced this, simply say you have. They have no easy way of proving whether you actually experienced it or not and getting it done now means getting it done for free.  This update is covered while under warranty. It will cost money if done later after the warranty expires. This may not impact you if you are not a roadtrip kinda person but you may be causing an issue to the next owner.  Again, the update is free, takes an hour.  So get er done!

Premise

The biggest thing I wanted to see was just how much time I would gain. So to make it easy, I selected a target based on the route of 17-18 kwh.  This meant starting off without a lot of charge because my batteries were simply too cool!

If you recall, the optimum first charge temperature is in the mid 80's. 
So not perfect but not really necessary for out test.

Trip computer shows stats from previous day's drive. 

Unfortunately, this would be the 2nd week in a row where we has hotter than normal weather on days I worked only to see the temps  plummet below normal just in time for my day off.  Temps would be in the 60's all day after an 89º high the day before.  But no worries. Generating my own heat is something I am very good at!

The Route

My errand only required me to go to Raymond so adding in the 17ish kwh charging parameter,  I choose this route. My last stop in Centralia, I would gain slightly more than the 17 kwh but I would record stats when charge collected hit the goal for consistency. 

The Route

Planned charge stops; Tumwater, Castle Rock, Astoria OR, and Centralia. All Webasto. Total trip distance 266 miles but some detours will add a bit to that.  Only the few miles of I-5 between Chehalis and Centralia would be covered in both directions. 

Tumwater Webasto @ Shell Gas

Tumwater Arrival

As you can see, a short drive from home. Interesting that the GOM says 18 miles. Someone was complaining that they were not getting their advertised 226 miles in their LEAF Plus but was using the GOM plus elapsed miles as their guide.  LOL!

Tumwater Arrival

Here LEAF Spy says nearly 31 miles left.  Anyway, since the pack is cooler than optimal, I expect to see an early knee. For more information on how temperatures affect charging curves, go here So because of the earlier knee, I had to make sure my SOC was low enough to generate enough heat and so this is the reason I started a 270 mile road trip at 15%!

Tumwater Charge knee 58.6%

The above charge curve is not temperature controlled. It started at 43 KW peaking to 47.6 KW at a constant current that varied from 123.5 to 124.3 amps until it hit the knee. 

Tumwater Charge curve. 17.31 kwh in 23 mins

Tumwater departure GOM 101 miles

Tumwater departure LS 107.4 miles

Notice GOM and LEAF Spy range estimates are pretty close?  At roughly 67% SOC on the dash, they usually match! Either way, Castle Rock is 60 miles down the road and we got plenty so time to go!  Total charge time; 22 mins 47 seconds,  17.31 kwh received

Castle Rock Webasto @ Cascade Markets

Arrive Castle Rock

Arrive Castle Rock

Ok so this part of the trip did not show what I had hoped to show but notice my average speed (which is not accurate since the car is on during all charging sessions)  went from 13 to 40?  Well, that is because I averaged close to 75 MPH on this segment. Despite all that, I still lost a few degrees.  What I was hoping to show is that even in warm (for us any way) weather in the mid 80's, driving that speed adds very little heat if you know how. Recommend Eco B simply because it prevents wild power/regen swings that happens much easier in D mode.  

Either way, this would be test #1 for the Rapidgate update.  Now, a bit warmer would have been better but the results couldn't be more obvious. A reminder of the test a few weeks ago; I saw 35.5 KW with batt temps @ 94.8º and 24 KW @ 109º.

What I expect to see is a temperature controlled charge. I will show you the difference below as the curve is easy to identify. 

Castle Rock 40 KW

40 KW easily out does the pre update rates! The charge started at 115 amps (from a possible 124) and slowly dropped to 108 amps maintaining the 40 kwh power rate until the knee which also moves to the left. 

Temperature limited charge curve

Castle Rock Charge knee 67%

Unlike the Tumwater charge, the power stays at a constant 40 KW until it hits the knee due to the current adjusting slowly downwards.  Guessing Nissan uses this method for better temperature control when charges start below the knee.   But there are always trade offs. Heat generation even on a mild day as this one still heats up much quicker than pre update rates. 

Castle Rock charge; 17.87 kwh in 26 mins, 51 seconds

Now we are up to 10 temperature bars (pips if you will)  but the trip now drops down to the Columbia River thru Longview where speeds are only 55 mph but has several very steep climbs which did add a few degrees to the mix. 

Depart Castle Rock

Leaving Castle Rock, its a short jog down I-5 before exiting to Longview with a drive thru town to cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge to Rainier Oregon. As soon as you cross the bridge and turn onto Highway 30, you climb...and climb...and climb!

Despite temps shooting past 130º (and bumping me to 11 temperature bars for a brief moment) there was still plenty of power available so no issues there.  Along with the ups, there are also some long downhills which I coasted in neutral shifting into a drive mode to regen down to a reasonable speed at the appropriate times.

Astoria Webasto@ Astoria Transit Station

By the time I got to Astoria, I was well past my time to stop. 

Arrive Astoria Oregon

As expected, the lower speeds pushed my efficiency up which was good since my next charging station would be over 110 miles away. This charge I was "hoping" would take less than an hour but was holding my breath. The last time I charged with batts in this temperature range, I went from 17% to 45% SOC!

Astoria 29 KW

This was a very pleasant surprise! You might remember last May, I charged at North Bend, WA with temps within 2º (actually lower) and only managed a charge rate of 16 KW. This is a 60% increase in charging speed!

But the real question is how long will it take to get my charge I need? EVGO has a 45 min time limit during daylight so the ideal is getting to what I need before that time.  So the plan was plug in, take a leak, then do a 25 min walk which was very needed by then. 

Astoria Charge 17.40 kwh,  36 min 44 seconds

When I returned, I realized it was already time to unplug. I was expecting at least another 5-10 mins. 

Departing Astoria

Depart Astoria

I had the miles I needed but was back to 11 temperature bars. But the next leg was around Willapa Bay and its direct off the ocean breezes which would make it a cool and pleasant drive. But first another climb but one with an awesome view of the Columbia!

Astoria-Megler Bridge from WA side

Well, the pix did not come out as well as I'd hoped but its hard to get all of a 4 mile long bridge in one picture! 

10 River Barges on the Columbia

Will have to zoom a bit, but there were barges lined up all the way up the river as far as I could see. Here is 10 of maybe 30 I could see? A closer view below

4 River Barges on the Columbia

Every time I had been to the area, I always turned left toward Long Beach, so turning right was a new experience for me. It has been YEARS since I had been in the area and actually never went that way to Astoria before so the journey to South Bend from the bridge was my first time ever. 

South Bend, WA

As I got to town, it was time for a break and I found a little park/boat launch/recreation area that would be ideal for a charging station location.  Lots of places to eat within a few blocks and things to see.  FYI; This area is on the State's radar for a QC station! 

 Sign says it all

Robert E Bush WWII Gold Medal recipient



Chinook Nation

Leaving South Bend, I turned inland at Raymond, driving thru forests and low lying hills. Altitudes ranging from 100 to 800 feet.  Although the slopes were gentle, the drive was quite fun. It was a small two lane road with a lot of curves and for the most part, abandoned so zipping from curve to curve was very entertaining but did not aid much in the cooling of the pack so Centralia started at 10 temperature bars and hit 11 quite soon after. 

Centralia WA Webasto @ Wendy's

Arrive Centralia, WA Wendy's

It was dinner time and I had coupons! So two single with cheese and a medium  chocolate frosty later,  I meandered out to catch the stats for the 17 kwh charge.  I did get 17.46 kwh in 40 mins.  I then talked with a gasser and hopefully he was converted. 

Centralia Charge 26 KW,  19.31 kwh  43 mins 39 seconds.  No knee attained 

I did gain a new entry on my Temperature Bar chart though. Introducing Bar #11! 


Ok, I know the time stamps don't match but I missed the first one in Astoria since it happened on my walk but I was lucky enough to catch the Centralia bar as it appeared so grabbed the LEAF Spy screen for prosperity! 

After my talk with the the EV hopeful (I hope) it was time for home. 

Depart Centralia

I turned right out of Wendy's electing to take highway 507 home cutting across the county on Military Road.  It was also a two lane twisty with no traffic so having a bit of fun here was too much to resist. 

End of trip

All in all a great trip. (notice where the miles/kwh ended up at?) The drive time does include random sitting there while recording stuff, 2 hours and 11 mins of charging, so taking charge time alone out of the equation, driving time average speed bumps to 46 mph. Not too bad I think. Skirting I-5 definitely slowed things a bit especially leaving Wendy's as it was the peak of rush hour and it took a while to drive the few miles to highway 507 but knowing what I know, I wouldn't have changed a thing. Passing thru Tenino, I saw a bit of wisdom I simply had to turn around and capture.  This does not happen when the only concern on a drive is how to get somewhere the fastest. 

No truer words!

The Grade

Using the Tumwater stint as a baseline, we saw a 4 minute slowdown at Castle Rock, 14 minutes in Astoria and 17 minutes in Centralia.  So after the update, we still see about 35 extra minutes of charge time.  So, the update was a compromise. a "meet halfway" solution.  It is not the "full speed charge to 80% SOC at any temperature" that my 30 kwh LEAF did over and over without fail. 

But it is a significant improvement over the pre update performance gaining anywhere from 40 to 80% faster charging speeds depending on the temperature of the batteries. The hotter the pack, the greater the percentage of increase. 

And yeah, you will now see higher temperatures than you saw before. I literally thought I would never see 11 temperature bars simply because the one other time I started a charge with 10 temperature bars, I charged 30 minutes and the battery temperatures barely moved because the charge rate was so slow so bar 11 never happened. But it appeared twice today. 

So I have to give the upgrade a pass. Its not perfect but its more than acceptable to me.  Thank you Nissan for giving us an update that is more than a year old. I am glad you took the time to test out the update for bugs on our EU compadres before finally giving it to us.