Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Regional EVing

Its a slow day for me. Everyone in the house is sick and I am spending most of my energy trying to beat the odds and stay healthy.  The big topic is Frankenstorm Sandy but I kinda already talked about the weather yesterday so need to move on

This is kinda of a repost of a blog entry at www.mynissanleaf.com but lots of stuff being written about the roll out or non roll out of public charging and the hurdles that still surprisingly remain.  Nissan offered England free Quick Charge stations and all England had to do is get some hosts but as easy as that would seem, things are not going well. Although nothing specific was cited as a cause of the "slow" roll out of the quick charge stations, one could probably guess cost was a factor.

This delay has caused separation of the ranks in the EV community with many pitching their support for either what they have or what they want.  Faster L2's (are cheaper which means better vendor site acceptance), battery swapping (where swap company takes care of the entire start up costs) or continuing to push for quick charge stations

Free Charging Stations is only half the battle. Many areas are not set up to handle the high current demands a 50 KW station requires.  In some cases even with the free station, the infrastructure upgrade costs are prohibitively expensive.  In the Puget Sound Region of WA State; many site hosts have bowed out due to that cost and sometimes an alternate site is not easy to find in the same location.  proposed DCFC (direct current fast charge) sites at Fred Meyer Stores in Issaquah, Maple Valley and other places were shelved due to high installation costs. Now, Fred Meyer Stores has been a great site vendor having already installed several DCFCs  at stores in Oregon and the Seattle area.

This is a problem. An effective fast charge network needs stations placed at intervals that allows use. the Mitsubishi MiEV has a lessor range meaning stations have to be closer together. The goal is 20-30 miles apart. For my LEAF, this means I could actually skip every other station and these options are greatly appreciated as station reliability is still very much up to chance.  But DCFCs allow me to gain up to 30 miles of range in my LEAF in 11-12 minutes.  Great when an unexpected errand pops up.

I actually ran into a situation when my LEAF SOC was in the 30% range. I had anticipated a light driving day and early return home from work so plenty of time to get a few hours charge in if needed.  Plans changing in the middle of the day are common but usually they are made with a few hours of notice to prepare.

Well, I was cruising the web (as if you didnt guess) when SO calls. She is at work in Centrailia 32 miles away and had forgotten some paperwork she needed for a meeting. its 12:55  the meeting is at 2 and she just now realized when went to the car that the paperwork was not in the car.  She was in a panic and asked (although it kinda sounded like a demand) that I bring the paperwork to her (which was sitting on kitchen counter along with her lunch she packed...)  Well, its 40 minutes to get there so I immediately jumped into the LEAF and headed out and didnt take me long to realize that I might not make it. I figured I could slow down a bit but realized that I would be short...very short.

I jumped off the freeway and pulled into the Tumwater DCFC thinking  I had nowhere  near 30 minutes but better than walking. I charged for 8 minutes (as long as I dared) and jumped back on the freeway and dropped off the requested documents at 1:50.  I then went to the Centrailia QC  charged for 12 minutes and then rushed to pick up my Son to take him to his appointment at 3 PM (which is what that original 30% charge was being used for...)

After his appointment in downtown Olympia, we swung by the DCFC again, charged up for about 10 minutes, went to dinner and shopping and got home with 31% SOC. Not bad considering I drove 90+ miles that day and spent 30 minutes charging!

Although quick charging works best for me; each charging option has its merits and will fill a void. The best option is OPTIONS!! choices.  L2's are much slower. Even the faster 6.6 Stations will still take an hour to give me what a DCFC can give me in 11 minutes.  But they are cheaper, can be deployed in much greater numbers and can go a long way towards "filling in the gaps"

Swap stations have huge upfront costs and subscription rates means that large scale adoption is likely in areas with much higher gas prices. But not all EV'ers have a garage to charge at home or even the time to stop often enough to make quick charging viable.

So, the more the merrier!

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