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 nearly double!

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. 





Thursday, July 25, 2019

Decoding Rapidgate And Why Everyone Should Get The Update

Last week I announced that my LEAF tech advised me that a fix for Rapidgate was available. Now this happened last Friday on the 19th for an update that was apparently first available on the 18th.  So naturally, no one had heard about it. This created quite the lively discussion including some feeling that not everyone needed the update.  Well, that couldn't be farther from the truth and I quickly realized that many people don't really understand what Rapidgate is or how it affects your driving experience.

So, I decided to dig out a few blogs on some of the road trips I did last Summer to compare with a drive I took today to see if my LEAF had changed at all.  The purpose being to show just how much additional time is added when the full force of Rapidgate is against you.

As always, if you don't like my banter, you can should be able to figure out the gist of the blog by simply looking at the pictures!


The Test

To level the playing field, I decided all my charging would be done at the same station so I chose the Webasto DCFC in Tumwater, WA.  As mentioned before, when I am not planning anything out of town, I like to keep my SOC between 25 to 70%.  Today, it was a bit higher than the norm considering I did not do my daily 90 minute charge this morning.

Terminology

Knee; This is the point when the current starts dropping.

KW Rating; We all tend to quantify stations based on KW but in reality they should be based on current. In this situation we will use a 125 amp station (which varies from 118 - 125 amps from location to location) which is based on a 400 volt battery pack so that is how we get the 50 KW or 50,000 watts. (125 amps * 400 volts)

After all; which is more accurate?

I plug in at 20% SOC, start charging at 125 amps but only 44 KW so am I getting  100% power from the machine based on 125 amps received of a possible 125 amps or am I only getting 88% of the power available based on 44 KW from a possible 50 KW?

Temperature Gauge; This is the Nissan instrumentation which was a 12 bar graph. Now, its a sideways thing but the basics are the same. Still has 12 segments or pips, etc.  Segments 1 and 2 are blue. Segments 11 and 12 are red and the rest is "normal"

I think I threw up in my mouth typing that last part...

Charge # 1



First charge of the day. Batt temps in upper 70's
charging speed 46 KW @ 124 amps

First charge; 14 mins, 10.37 kwh.  I didn't want to charge too much and Rapidgate is all about the speed of the charge at the beginning. 

Charging Knee 60.61%, batt temps 91, 92, 88.8º F 

So first charge runs at max current which in this case, peaked at 124.37 amps per LEAF Spy logs which is the norm for this station. peak charge rate 47.3 kwh. This is the best I can get from the LEAF.  So all is good but remember the battery started out in the upper 70's. 

Charge # 2

As the day progressed, the temperature rose quickly. Soon it was 86º and very Sunny.  A/C was a must. After a quick sprint to Chehalis to check out the seemingly abandoned EA site, I had lunch and headed back to Tumwater. 

2nd charge; batt temps mid 90's, Charging speed 35.5 KW@ 100 amps

Ok, so we have LEAF Spy so we already know the speed won't be what we are expecting. But others will expect nothing as the temperature gauge will be at 6 pips, ticks, bars (or whatever) which is dead center on the scale. 

Charging knee 68.38% Batt temps; 112.2, 110.4, 106.7ºF

Notice the knee has moved to the right? At the knee, charge rate was 34 KW.  On first charge, SOC was 67.44% @ 34 KW.  So loss is not too bad, yet...

12.57 kwh in 21 minutes.  It was my intent to stop the charge at 10ish kwh like the first charge but was talking to a Bolter so was distracted a bit... 


Charge # 3

3rd charge; 24 KW @ 68 amps. 

So now we start seeing some real effects. As you can see in the upper left corner, my charging speed is nearly cut in half.  I am at 8 temperature segments (2 segments past center) 

Charging knee; not obtained. At this pace, I would be over 80% before that happened.  
Batt temps 118.7, 118.7, 112ºF

Charge summary; 10.42 kwh in 26 minutes. In a normal situation, I would have likely had to charge another 15-20 minutes or so. That makes 46 minutes charging.  Good for a meal but not so good if its just a pit stop. 

8 Temperature segments

Now, mind you, it gets worse. MUCH worse. Last Summer, at 9 Temperature segments (notice still not in the red!!) 

 On a 30 minute DCFC session, I went from 27% to 48% SOC. I didn't even get to half full!

Now, this was the 2nd Ellensburg trip which was quite the distance eventually running over 250 miles but today how far did I have to go to see almost a 50% reduction in charging time? 


Yep, that's right. 116.7 miles is all I had to drive to get to a severe Rapidate condition.  Ok, I admit I drove a "bit" fast but as you can see with 4.5 miles per kwh, it couldn't have been too fast. You can ignore the average speed as the car was on for all charging sessions plus a 20 min conversation with the neighbor as I was leaving the house today.  I did use A/C but set to 80º with fan speed on 3. Was very comfortable although I did not have it on during charging as it would have affected the numbers. 

Get The Update!!

Even if you don't ever plan to quick charge more than once a day, everyone should get this. My tech  did bring up an important point that the update NTB19-056 is free for in warranty vehicles and most if not all 2018's and 19's should be in warranty. This means if you don't get it now and decide to sell your LEAF down the road, you will either be screwing over the new owners or simply losing value on the resale if the prospective buyer is wise enough to catch the fact the car was not updated. So do it while its free. Hold Nissan accountable for their actions! 

Now some have had difficulties requesting the update simply because service advisors are just as much in the dark as we were before I and others started publishing info about the existence of the update.  Below is all the info you will need to give to the service advisor. 

EL19-018 and reference NTB19-056. It’s titled “2018-2019 LEAF; LITHIUM-ION BATTERY WILL NOT QUICK CHARGE.” 


Note

Its too early to know what Nissan's stance is on this.  This update will cause your pack to be hotter than was possible without the update.  So learning to charge judiciously is needed to ensure a long battery life. 

To illustrate; on the last charging curve graph, I basically started and ended my 30 min charge at 16 KW. Notice the black line? That is the battery temperature line.  My battery temp went from 122º to 125º so hardly a budge at all.  My 2016 surpassed 130º at least a dozen times. 

But this update will allow the pack to soar into the 130's; a place that was all but unreachable without the update with the obvious exception of places like Phoenix, etc.  Now, those situations will be rare and will require a lot of things to line up like terrain, weather, speed, etc. 

But you control most of that. Getting the update installed whether you need it or not is holding Nissan accountable but you have to hold up your end as well.


Saturday, July 13, 2019

June 2019 Driving Report; Things Are Looking Up?!!

Summer is her...umm, coming?  It has actually been a bit of a slow start to Summer or at least I thought it was but apparently I have become jaded to the change in the climate here during my past 30ish years here.  When I first came to Olympia in the late 80's, the average high for July was 78º. It is now 80º so our colder, rainier weather is really not all that far from what it used to be.  Now, rain is rare here (isn't that a shocker!) during Summer so if we have any more rain besides the  we have had so far, it will go down as one of the wettest July's ever.

But this is the "June" report so enough of July! (We will get back to July in a bit!) due to several vacations, driving was very light for the month amounting to 599 miles and only 56.11 free kwh received from public charging. As you can guess, total cost was quite low or at least would have been if not for a stint at EA Lacey. More on that later.


Muxsan

A company has developed a CANBUS intermediary type device that promises to allow various pack sizes to fit into a 24 kwh LEAF.  This is promising and provides some possible competition with Fenix Systems but it would appear Muxsan is limited a bit geographically and does require a LOT more DIY skills. But its options and the interest (if any) gained will go a long way towards encouraging other 3rd party companies to investigate the battery pack upgrade market.

Public Charging

Electrify America

The 6 station Lacey Walmart from EA finally came on line and due to CCS issues, I was the first to get a successful charge on June 2nd.  The $7.19 I paid almost doubled my total outlay for public charging on my LEAF but those are the drawbacks of being first!



Naturally, the next morning EA announced subscription pricing that would have dropped my cost to roughly  $3.18 if signed up for the $4 per month subscription service.

Now EA pricing is attractive but their practice of only one Chademo plug is not sitting well with me. There have been 4 documented cases of a SINGLE CCS vehicle charging at the lone dual format station while the other CCS stations sit idle. It only takes a glance to understand why. In 3 of the 4 pix, its quite clear the driver simply took the station closest to the front door of the business.

This scenario I predicted months ago.  Although there has been growing awareness of the issue, we still need to do more. EA needs to understand that Chademo is not dead and there are still more Chademo plugs on the road than CCS.

Another thing about EA is their tiered pricing which quickly gets out of control. Level 2 pricing is supposed to start for anything over 75 KW but a 2020 Soul was billed the higher level 2 rate despite never exceeding 71 KW.  Apparently EA does not bill on what you actually get but on what you "could" get.  That is messed up!

Supercharger Coverage in the South Sound

Tesla Model 3

As if we didn't have it bad enough, Tesla announced last week that the T3 will now be able to use the chademo adapter. This probably means more traffic at Chademo stations.  Right now the general consensus is that no one will buy the adapter because the SC network is cheap but in my area, its not convenient.  I am in the process of polling my "plug competition" and its only been this week that the Bolt finally pulled into first place passing Tesla. So the statement that Tesla's won't use Chademo is simply not working for me.

Now, Auburn will soon have an SC so that will help but until we get one in BOTH Olympia and the Tacoma area, I will likely continue to see Teslas charging.

EVGO

Its always darkest before the Dawn and that was very true but then on the 26th of June,  the long awaited EVGO station in DuPont opened and....the clouds came out.

We had long known a station was being located in DuPont and it being a small town, there was many conjectures as to where it would be but the large  parking area that serves several restaurants, a hotel and fast food joints seemed the best place and that was the original plan but new construction across the street made putting the stations there much cheaper since the cost of trenching, etc. was already paid for by new host Ace Hardware.

And as I tend to do, I was the first to get a charge at the new location and... one of the last.


Because EVGO is the fastest (by far!) DCFC on the market today, I generally take off all 5 seconds to get the charge going which means I did not see any screens that might have clued me into the fact the stations were not fully online.  Pure luck got me charging on the right side.  15 minutes later someone else pulled up, plugged into the left station and his card was not recognized so he used the credit card option and it worked but...


It was expensive!

One of the many reasons why I like EVGO is their quickness. As mentioned, they are THE fastest at getting the charge started but also provides immediate notifications when anything happens on my account.  Normally, I would have noticed that the usual email (usually arrives within 2-3 seconds after the charge starts) didn't happen but I was set upon immediately by the Construction Boss, Ace Hardware Regional Rep and the EVGO contractor all congratulating me on being the first to charge.

The EVGO contractor did say that the station was wired for future speed upgrades already which was a good thing and that new construction savings made it possible. Remember this station is part of Washington State's WCGH project that our hard earned EV tabs fees are partially paying for.

Well, during all this, I lost track of time so when I checked the status of the car, I knew immediately that there was something wrong.


My NCTC account only allows for 30 mins of free charging and the station generally shutdown between 29:45 and 30:15.  It was then I realized I had not gotten a charge start notification. I unplugged and didn't think much of it.

But a few days later, others were unable to get a charge on either side with their EVGO accounts getting the message that their cards were blocked.  A few days after that, the credit card option stopped working and the EVGO station was removed from Plugshare.  I guess thinking a station could go live in less than 3 days from install was a fantasy not quite realized.  Since we know the station works, not sure why its not on?  I have a sneaking suspicion the State is planning an opening and the station will be live then.  WSDOT; Please keep in mind that as a paying customer, I do have some expectation of expediency.

Despite the hiccups at DuPont, EVGO stands out as the public charging leader. Their pricing isn't quite as good as EA but their subscription charge of $7.99 a month is actually reimbursed back to you by allowing the first several minutes to be free.

Degradation Or... Regurgitation?

If you have been following my blog, you know every 3 months, I post the monthly summary late because my pack has had large drops every 90 days that start happening between the 8 to the 12th of the months of January, April, July, and October.   I have had 5 events and those 5 events have accounted for  6.2% of my total of 7.86% loss since delivery.

Using previous experiences and science has failed to explain the losses. My biggest loss came in Jan 2019 which included my shortest driving distance. My smallest loss came in July 2018 which included a longest (more than double) driving distance. So I was expecting the same, hoping for a smaller adjustment of 1% and...

MY BATTERY WENT UP! 

I gained .95% SOH.  Now, we all know that battery measurements are hardly exact so a bit of bouncing around is to be expected but in the entire history (17 months tomorrow) of my LEAF checking and recording stats EVERY morning before the day's drive, I have never seen the stats go up. Not one single .01% rise until this past Monday.

All in all,  a great month. To finish, a dedication to my Dad from my nephew Steve Campbell who we visiting on a trip to Michigan last month.