Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Guaranteed To Increase Your Gas Mileage More Than 10 Percent!

In a few hours 2013 will be history and 2014 promises to be fraught with new setbacks, challenges, status quo's and legacy somethings and whatever.  But its also the end of December which means this is the December 2013 Drive report.

Lots of changes to report. I have added a 1999 Corolla for journeys my LEAF cannot make. The cost was $2573.47.  It came with half a tank of gas and I did do an oil change on it for  $23.92 so hoping to justify the price of the car based on its primary purpose of driving it for work.

But that was not the only change made. I terminated the lease on my 2011 LEAF with less than 400 miles left of its 45,000 lease (with a month to go) and promptly leased a 2013 S trim with charge package, floor mats and mud flaps.  There was no down payment and its $245.75 a month all of which I expect to pay for with my mileage allowance from work (along with the Corolla's cost)

The LEAF(s) drove 1216 miles for at a cost of $29.83 and that included no paid public charging but did have 67 kwh from eight fast charge and two L2  events. 488.7 of those miles came on the 2013 bringing the odometer to a ripping 526 miles (it had to be imported from another dealer to get my color so it came with 28.3 miles on it)

The Corolla, thanks to two trips to the Olympic Peninsula and a few to the far end of Highway 18, logged 948 miles which is more than I expect to normally drive the car BUT... In closing out the driving log for the 2011 LEAF, the one thing I realized is that I put over 17,000 on the LEAF in 2013. Now, considering my increasing my LEAF driving for work did not happen until nearly the end of February means the Corolla might have to be driven more simply to keep me within a reasonable distance of my 15,000 mile per year lease.  Gas cost (remember I started with half a tank for free) was $63.69.

Mileage reimbursement from work (tax free) was $331.83 keeping in mind that this is logged not as I drive it but as I get paid for it. The reimbursement is based on local gas prices so it changes a lot. It just recently went down based on the price drop we saw here about 5 weeks ago. Gas is back on the rise so as usual, work is behind the times...

On both cars, I will be tracking a total TCO which will include all costs (not including bling items...) to operate the vehicles with the exception of insurance since coverage's are not equal so will be interesting to see how the cents per mile converge as we get a few more miles on the cars. Just for kicks; after a month, my Corolla's TCO is running at $3.88.6 cents per mile.

So, I guess by now you are wondering how do I increase my gas mileage? The Corolla's last tank of gas came in at 41.8 MPG which is great in the best of circumstances but in the middle of Winter?? especially with over a week with temps in the teens?  Well the reasons are easy. The Corolla ONLY does freeway driving. So its expected to be on the high end of the spectrum. To compare; the 2012 Yaris which is rated higher by the EPA (using same test) is running around 33-36 mpg in mixed driving.

So to get better gas mileage, get an EV!!

Happy New Years All!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nissan's 500 Charger Promise?

Last Friday, I picked up my 2013 LEAF S trim with the charger package.  The dealer had to get the car from Tacoma so it was about a 2 hour wait for the car. The Dealer, Olympia Nissan was blameless in this since I was scheduled to work Friday but due to bad weather, the job was cancelled. (would have been nice to hear about the cancellation before getting to the front door of the business but oh well, still got 2 hours pay plus drive time plus mileage allowance, so not complaining). So instead of getting there around 5 PM, I got there at 11 AM.  So during the time I was waiting for my car to show up, I was talking with my salesman who is the internet sales guy  (I went thru my Corporate intranet to get an EPP discount worth a few grand!) he mentioned they had a fast charger!

I said "What??" How come no one has heard about this? How come Nissan isn't bragging about this like Tesla does?  First thing I did was put feelers out on Facebook (sometimes with my work load I tend to miss stuff) to see if anyone else had heard about this.  No one said they did. In fact, it spurred inquiries from LEAFers in the area to check with their local dealers who returned varying responses (some correct, some not)  and it was verified that several dealers had recently got fast chargers! So many that Steve Coram did a quick road trip to verify their existence finding only one (Tacoma Nissan) who said they did, but didn't.

The thing that concerns me is that he checked on 7 and one didn't have one (Tacoma), one we already knew about (Magic in Everett) but the other 5 were completely unknown. (except maybe Renton) Better yet, 2 of the newest ones; Olympia and Puyallup are true 24/7 access, not locked up at night and no FOB required! 

Charging at Olympia Nissan at 1:30 AM while connected to their wi fi uploading job I had just finished. Two birds with one plug!

Now, maybe its my "cave-like" lifestyle (I don't have cable which means I live  "commercial free")  that is why I have not heard about these new chargers which are so vital to boosting consumer confidence when looking at limited range EVs

But then again, all my Facebook friends (most of them anyway) do have TV and I should know, they ruin just about every cliffhanger episode there is (didn't say I did not watch TV shows, I do. just 6 months after they air on Netflix) Either way, it looks like (once again!) its up to us to update the fast charger map so this is where you guys come in.  We need help verifying whether the dealer has fast charge or not. Now, you could call them but be careful. I received an email response from Tacoma who said they did, but Steve went there and they did not.  And because all these installs are so new, I would not rely on your personal visits in the past unless they were in the very recent past. So best bet, is swing by and ask them. If they say they don't have one but plan to get one soon, get as much info as you can (site,  time frames, etc)

so chargers verified;

Ones to check on;

Auburn (rairdon's)

Port Angeles
Spokane Valley
Walla Walla

Monday, December 23, 2013

My 2013 LEAF Review

I personally don't like car reviews. They are first impressions which can frequently change over time and are loaded with personal observations very much tailored to the reviewer which I often find to be misleading in the real world.  It is, in most cases personal preferences on review.

But this review is really critiquing my 2013 introductory S model against my top of the line (for the time) 2011 SL with QC.  I have only had the car 3 days and due to several holiday celebrations, none of which is more than 15 miles away, I will only get a few opportunities to even come close to testing the range or anything like that but that has been done by several very competent people who are very good at recording data, etc so not going to do that either. Instead I will list observations and how important they are to me. Its up to you to determine how important it is to you.

**** Range No surprises here.  This morning, I left with a near full charge (only a 3 hour layover from one job to another)  did a 48.2 mile round trip, mostly freeway between 55-62 mph. Ended the journey at 4.1 miles/kwh and 39 miles on a supposedly much improved GOM.  (LEAF Spy said 37.3 miles to a 5% reserve which seems to be as low as it goes, but I will double check that...) This is a significant improvement over my degraded 2011 but it also had less efficient tires on the front as well.  2013 wins this but will also reserve the right to change my mind.  Unlike the 2011, the 2013's degradation will be documented from day one and so far, its done well. My first ahr reading was 67.24 (typical is 66ish) and so far, that number has gone up slightly every day. I expect that to stop soon and many reports of 2013'ers losing a big chunk in the first 30 days or so.  The list is not in any particular order.

 Seats Black interior which is better than the light cream interior of the 2011. Much more of a "cloth" feel which is fine by me but at the same time, the 2011 seats were more comfortable. I am still playing with the seat adjustments but seems like the microfiber seats of the 2011 were more padded, softer, and a bit more cushy... 2011 with a slight edge but then again, maybe the 2013 just needs a break in period.

Eco Mode Gave it 5 stars because I consider it very important. The LEAF drives so smoothly that a slight bit of inattention can see me exceeding my target speed by 10+ mph.  Big plus for the 2013 remembering my preferences between D and ECO. But after nearly 3 years of double shifting, it is not an easy habit to break, but I hope to take advantage of the single shift to ECO at least 10 times within the next week or so.  # of times I found myself in drive; about 50. # of times, I remembered and shifted just once to get to ECO; one.  Big plus to the 2013 here.

Interior lighting 2013 LEAF has a wimpy rear lamp with a single LED lamp pointing to each of the front seats. WAAAY TOO DARK!! I track my stats daily and reset my MPK (miles per kwh) meter and ODO A daily then record it into my drive log.   The ability for my old eyes to see well is critical and the only reason I did not assign it 5 stars is that I hope to simply change the back seat light to something brighter. Also a clip on light would work as well, so there is a light at the end of this tunnel.

Options The S is the basic package so its not supposed to have as much and for the most part, I am ok with that. For those of you that do not recall; on the 2011, if you wanted a chademo port you had to pay for the top of the line SL, PERIOD. But that also required paying for a lot of stuff I did not really care about including NAV among others. Getting my S with the charge package which includes chademo and 6 KW AC charging without the frills is a huge money saver and not much of a compromise in features.  Not hard to see why it's a popular configuration choice.  Although my TCO on the 2011 was pretty good, I expect to be under 20 cents a mile on the 2013, a HUGE financial benefit. Now, to be fair, I really miss cruise control and without experiencing it, I really wont know how much I miss the much more efficient (and warmer!) heat exchanger on the SV and SL's and that leads me to

Cabin comforts I have not seen a real cold day since getting my LEAF although it did get into the upper 30's the day I picked it up but the seat heaters and steering wheel warmers make a huge difference in how comfortable I feel. Putting heated seats in the back was a great idea on Nissan's part.   To be fair; the sunglass storage on the 2013 is smaller and I can't fit all my charging network cards and sunglasses like in the 2011.  The defrost on the 2013 seems to work MUCH faster and even heavy condensation clears up very quickly. MUCH improved over the 2011.

Controls I guess I could have added Eco shifting to this but my LEAF is undering a retro makeover.  One thing I hated was turning down the radio on the 2011. I had to press and hold the volume button for what seemed like an inordinately long period of time. This borders on a safety issue. Well, whether its a money saving decision or not, it does not matter because all the dials and knobs are back. Now, I simply lean over and with a quick twist, I can turn it from way loud to way quiet. Nice!

Fit and Finish This I hesitate to say but my 2013 seems quieter. Now the 2011 was never loud by any means. It did not have even the beginnings of a rattle at any speed.  But the 2013's road noise seems much quieter than the 2011, but maybe after 40,000 miles my 2013 will catch up so will have to see on that but so far so good. Other than that, the only thing I have noticed is the rear hatch does not seem to swing closed as smoothly as the 2011 but could just need to be loosened up. The weatherstripping on the 2013 seems a bit bunched up right at the latch and this has caused the hatch not to latch a few times already. I think at this point, I was accustomed to gently tugging the 2011's hatch and having its weight and momentum gently clicking into place. Pulling a tad firmer should be enough to close it and this may also resolve itself as the weatherstripping gets worn in a bit.  Not a big deal by any means and no leakage or moisture I can detect.

So, in a nutshell, so far so good! The only thing I really miss is the cruise control and it remains to see how well I can adapt to it but my Corolla doesn't have it either so, at least I will get a lot of practice. I think just checking my speed a bit more often is what I will end up doing.  The heating issue I have to say is not that critical to me so I de-emphasized it but this is where the real tough decision will be. Because of year end deals on the S, a bump to an SV would have been more than $100 a month higher on the payments.  I have done well to battle the cold in the 2011 and with the seat heaters in the 2013, I should be much more comfortable but I do live in a mild climate.

The faster charging will help. I mentioned that last night I only charged a few hours due to tight work schedule and this required me to stop in at Bruce Titus Olympia Nissan to charge. This was convenient since a test of the fast charge access at night was in order anyway and that went well so grabbing an 18 minute boost allowed me to go home and plug in for a few hours at 12 amps. As it was, I got home with enough charge to turn around and go back to the office. So, I sent off my EVSE to Phil (www.evseupgrade.com) to get it modified for 240 volts with programmable amperage. Should receive it back in a week or so.

As far as this review? I think I mentioned everything but as always, I probably forgot a few things and hopefully not too important and remember, like all reviews, this is subject to change

**EDIT** Ok, remembered that I did not mention Carwings. The ability to start heat remotely was cool but it operated so slowly and sometimes in my garage (which has a metal door) it would not work at all. It also did not update status although it knew the status had changed.  I would start remote heat, get a text confirming its start. Then I would go out, unplug and leave. I would get a text advising preheat is off. But the next time I accessed Carwings, my first step would be to send message to car to stop preheat! This doubled the time it took to get the heat going.  My house is not a mansion. It literally takes 20 seconds to walk out and turn the car on and that is what I had to do about 30% of the time anyway.

The other thing about Carwings I liked is notifications when charge was interupted or complete. But since the 2013 has locking charger port, the thought of someone unplugging me and I not finding out has been eliminated. The only issue with this is the unreliability of  outlets at campgrounds. Been a few places where 2-4 resets were required before the car would charge... but then again, it only takes me to glance at the car every once in a while since we were always right there anyway

**EDIT** Knew there was stuff I forgot

Something that was brought to my attention was the fact that the S does not have headlight aiming like the 2011 did.  But then again, the 2013 headlights seem a lot brighter than the LED 2011's and that is really illustrated when the high beams are on! But was easy to forget because on my 2011, I set the headlights up as high as they would go and then other than showing off, that is where it stayed.

But one of the BIGGEST improvements was the ability to take control over the climate controls. Here in the Pacific NW, humidity is a problem which causes fogging on the windshield which meant using the 2nd largest (after the traction motor) power hog in the car; the dreaded "Defrost" a lot.   In previous versions there was no way to turn off the A/C or heat usage. This did not work well for my area. Olympia is the foggiest city in America! but chants of "We are #1" is not very popular here for some reason...

Notice the "Heat" and "A/C" buttons at the bottom? This allows "Air Only" mode directed at the windshield. Here in the mild Pacific NW (or Early Spring anywhere else) the Winters are frequently mild meaning no heat is ok. This means only the power for the fan is sucking up my available range. How important is this? Phil from EVSE Upgrade actually markets a mod to do the exact same thing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Eulogy for my 2011 LEAF; Goodbye #258, You Were Wonderful!

The Basics;

35 months and 2 days
44,598.2 miles
$1083.05  with $28.38 public charging
10,996 kwh   4.05 miles/kwh from the wall
average ending GID count 236
ahr 57.10  Hx 57.16  SOH 87%
2.4 cents per mile.
Payment total; $15,508.68
Maintenance; $361.38
TCO; 38 cents a mile.

It was VIN # 258 delivered with 3 other LEAFs (One went to Patrick, the other to Sam and the 3rd was shipped to Arizona) and I was the first one to pick mine up on January 18th, 2011. I remember the day like it happened yesterday for but all the wrong reasons.

First off, I had originally said I was purchasing but then changed my mind in the last few weeks before delivery (keeping in mind, my purchase decision had been made over 4 months earlier) going for a lease instead. I picked Rairdon's Nissan of Auburn for two reasons; one they had cheapest sale price and my local dealer was not an option when the sign up process began.

We start the paperwork and the price comes in way higher than expected. I look it over and advise there is no sales tax for EV purchase which is the rub. They don't enter in the sales tax. Its put in automatically by their finance software. They don't know how to take this out (Remember I am customer #1, there is no precedence, no other dealer to call for advice, etc)  So they hammer it out with Corporate and determine a workaround which essentially is guessing what the payment would be without the dollar figure of sales tax (about $3300!) and come up with a number. Still pretty high and found out it was the MF which was higher than Nissan's Corporate which I later found out could have been negotiated downwards. I wish I had known that.

So to make it "close" to the total I would have paid (without considering other investment options) I reduced the "rent" charge (essentially interest) by writing a check for the largest amount I had in my account (I had set aside $2,000 for the expected down I was paying) for $10,000 lowering my payments to $162.02 a month.  Later, everyone told me this was a bad idea in case the car was wrecked, I would lose my equity but I called my insurance company before doing this and they advised I would get "replacement" value no matter what was owed to NMAC.

But despite the ominous beginnings, the car was better than I had hoped for. I had no illusions of getting 100 miles in all anything but ideal conditions. I drove an EV for 3 ½ years before getting the LEAF so was very familiar with EV range promises. Soon, I got one of the first EVSE upgrades from Phil and was soon blazing down the charging path at 240 volts and a massive 12 amps!

Now, don't know if I simply got a better LEAF or just got lucky but I had ZERO issues with the car. I got the brake SW update but didn't need it. I got the charger compatibility update but didn't need that one either and got the A/C "fix" but again, didn't need that one either.

I had no rattles, no vibration, no A/C issues, but did have some tire issues. I did hit a semi truck tread on an I-5 on ramp which took out both tires on the left side. That was a $260 repair (with alignment)  and had a 3/4 " bolt in a tire that was fixed at firestone for $21.97 (will NEVER go there again!) I also acquired a bubble on one of the tires (I think it was from cutting the corner on a roundabout...) and went to get it replaced at dealer and they did without charge (I was standing there with credit card in hand...) but have to admit, I cheated a bit. the wheel cover on that tire was scuffed, so I swapped it with one on the other side... I feel guilty about that and I hope I get over it soon.

Finally, I paid $78 for the brake fluid flush at first battery inspection. I did this only because I had taken the cap off the reservoir dozens of times for some reason I am not quite sure of when showing other people the LEAF.  Then later I found out that moisture in the braking system could be an issue so probably didn't need to but thought it good to replace fluid anyway. Obtw; never removed the cap anymore.

So that is it in a nutshell.  Oh one other thing. My office is in Tacoma so its a 22-23 mile drive there and in Feb 2013 one of the vans was wrecked (not really that bad) but was not replaced. So after that; I was able to use my LEAF a lot more for work. They pay mileage tax free and this year it ran from 33 to 46 cents a mile (based on regional gas prices)  My mileage reimbursement will be near $5,000 with about $800 coming from using the gasser, the rest from the LEAF.

All in all; the only real question in a customer service satisfaction survey is

"Knowing all that you know now and if given the chance to do it all over again; Who you still have gotten the LEAF?"

My answer?

You will have to wait for my next blog entry!

Merry Christmas all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas 2013 and my Cool Blue Present!

One of the key things coming from a supervisor's meeting earlier this week was that from December 27th to January 20th. There was no days off and that could be extended to mid February.  My 2011 lease ending on January 18th meant very little time to get that kind of thing done.  In my job, I have the ability accept or decline any job but declining jobs where I am supervisor costs me a ton of money so I only generally decline ones (I rarely turn down work of any kind...) where I am not the supervisor or am not driving. (driving is very lucrative especially in a LEAF!)

The other thing was that we had a company car that was wrecked in February 2013 that had still not been replaced. This has made using a personal car more readily available and needed in most cases. This is fine by me since it does put more money in my pocket but does put wear and tear on my vehicles as well.  But this also allowed me to maximize the mileage on my 2011 LEAF. Before the company van was wrecked, I was on pace to turn in my LEAF with about 38,500 miles of my 45,000 mile allowance used. As it was, I turned in the vehicle with 44,598 miles (Damn, let 402 miles get away!) and only after a concerted effort to drive the LEAF less from Mid November on.

So I had a opportunity to get a good deal on a (very well) used Toyota Corolla and I bought it the first week of December. It was only 2200 and change. The deal I offered the lot was $2500 cash out the door and they took it.  The car had a lot of miles on it but had never been wrecked, drove straight down the road and it would only be used for freeway miles anyway, so hoping to get 40-50,000 miles out of her.

So using my employee discount, I processed a request online to send a bid sheet to 4 dealers; (my portal only listed 3 so adding the 4th was like pulling teeth!)  Olympia, Puyallup, Tacoma and Fife.  I did meet a salesman at Oly but was not sure how the Employee discount worked and whether I could get it thru him. Probably should have called him to see if he could work it but...didn't think of it at the time.

I wanted S with charge package and floor mats in Blue with Red as 2nd choice. In my email, I advised I was shopping multiple locations and was price shopping right now.  Only one of the four came back with a price without a few rounds of email tag; Olympia, and at $179.08, it was over $100 cheaper than the next best price. So I immediately responded to them with "Is this price firm?" and for kickers as about an SV with charge package and got a price I expected soooo...

Anyway, based on comments at MNL, I thought a lease turn in inspection would be quick and easy, so due to snow in the valley up North, my job for yesterday was cancelled so I was looking at nearly whole day in front of me with no commitments!  So i swung by Oly Nissan (after all, they did give me a quote right off the bat without having to play email tag to get any info out of them) and it was then I found out that the dealer does not do the inspections. They are done by a 3rd party.  So had to schedule an appointment. Well this really put my plans of picking up my LEAF next week on the 26th in a major bind. ( this is reason I left those 402 miles on the odometer!)

But my salesman did a once over and thought that the $500 allowance on damage/excessive use would cover the issues I had (broken antenna for one!) so they agreed to "ground" the vehicle there to have the inspection. I was not real comfortable doing that because I wanted the chance to fix whatever first. It was also not ready to be turned in The interior was pretty dirty...crackers, chips, cookies, etc from my Son!! Now it wasn't real bad. I did a vacuum and wash for Steve's 100,000 mile event just a few days ago but somethings just don't take very long.

To get my color, Oly had to do a dealer trade with Tacoma (meaning supplies getting tight) and closest they had in blue included mud flaps. I was ok with that.  so that jumped the quote a bit. But my salesman had problems getting the numbers go thru and finally determined a price higher in the mid 2's. Now I went from way cheap to a bit higher than I had anticipated.  He also could not find the $1,000 loyalty cash offer. This took a bit of time but they did have a VERY nice espresso machine in the lobby so waiting around was not too bad. Plus my car had not arrived yet from Tacoma anyway. And I was about 7 hours earlier than planned.

Eventually they figured out that I was never put on the loyalty list (at least that is what they said) so they called someone in Nissan who verified I had gotten a LEAF (I personally thought it was easier to look out the window at my LEAF sitting in the service drive ;) ) and I was added to "the list".  Now this does not explain why I received an email early last Spring with the offer but anyway, I got it.  This made my payment $245.75 a month. I was expecting 220ish but this was still better than any other quote (2nd place was Puyallup at $289 a month) So I took it.

The details;

Price; $29,000.00 (includes destination, $150 fee
acquisition fee $595
MF .00008
"down payment" $9150 (which is $7500 fed tax thingy, $1000 loyalty cash and $650 for "something"
Residual; $12,179.70 (39%)
Rent Charge; $35.95

FYI; paperwork says first payment is "due now" so wondering if they will be calling for a check. there is also no tab fees listed here so don't know if that was all combined in the $29,000 price (I had not included it and came up with $28,800 without mudflaps so...) Normally, tab fees are nothing to worry about since they run about $35 in my area (no rapid transit tax here!) BUT its an EV with $100 tab fee... so, guessing they might be asking for a check on that too... but for now!

Ok; good deal, ok deal or bad deal?? As always, I have reserved space "just for you" to respond!

I will be writing up my thoughts on the S verses SL debate soon or at least as soon as I drive the car enough to get an impression anyway! Only have 30 miles on it so far and most of that was around town errands yesterday. Have only one 7 mile freeway jaunt, so need to take it on the road for the "wind and rattle" check.

so stay tuned!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

100,000 Mile LEAF!

December 16, 2013 will go down as a banner week for the Nissan LEAF. Not only did Nissan sell its 40,000th LEAF sometime last weekend, but it also heralded the first American LEAF to exceed 100,000 miles by none other than WA's own Steve Marsh.

He pulled into the Tumwater DCFC shortly after 9 AM with exactly (well exact a mile increments can be) 100,000 miles on the odometer achieving the feat in just over 30 months of ownership.

On hand was WA State Governor Jay Inslee,  Erik Gottfried; Director, Electric Vehicle Sales & Marketing,  Tonia Buell; WA Manager of West Coast Electric Highway and Project Development for WSDOT among many others. And (the important people!) as requested, LEAFers were asked to come display their cars

       Pictured (l to r) is Seattle LEAF owners Ryan Wallace (in blue) John Harris and Dr. Thomas Smith; the world renowned author of WSDOT's Hybrid Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Report. Notice the patriotic arrangement of our LEAFs?

The festivities started in earnest with Lynn Peterson (a fellow LEAFer!) WA Transportation Secretary introducing Erik Gottfried who is Director, EV Sales & Marketing for Nissan based in TN. who awarded Steve a plaque

Steve's Plaque color matched to his LEAF

Bill Taylor, owner of Taylor Shellfish Farms also spoke acknowledging Steve's issues getting back and forth to work and was more than happy to install the charging station at the office. It has worked out so well that he has installed another charging station at one of their harvesting beds farther up the coast.  WTG Bill!!

Then it was WA Governor Jay Inslee's turn at the podium. Inslee has been a strong advocate for EV adoption in the state and also supports distributed energy storage .  He announced support for creating and completing an East/West charging corridor to complement the North/South corridor installed by the West Coast Green Highway Program, which was one day before his release of his supplementary budget proposal.  He also awarded Steve the honor of "Washingtonian of the Day"

Steve was also given a chance to speak and said something that I had not thought of but is very much true when talking about the time waiting while his LEAF was charging, he related reading a story in the paper about people who waited several hours to buy gas for $1 a gallon during a special promotion. Compared to his previous car that got over 30 MPG, he was paying 85 cents a gallon equivalent in his LEAF so he was outdoing the promotion!

All in all, I had a great time. Met some great people, put some faces to names and all that kinda stuff! Lets hope that Steve's achievement sheds more light on EVs and generates more interest in creating the legislation to allow them to flourish.

Pictured (l to r) Lynn Peterson, Bill Taylor, Erik Gottfried, Gov. Jay Inslee, and Steve

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Has Hybrid Technology Prevented EVs From Flourishing?

"Just Take the Prius!" This is the phase we often hear about when discussing EV range limitations,  high costs of public charging,  or simply the time to charge.  But can you blame one? Time is money and frequently the slices of life set aside for leisure trips is limited by the lack of time off work. Even 3 day weekends seem rushed if several additional hours are required both going and returning due to EV charging infrastructure drawbacks.

But the overwhelming success of the Prius shows that Americans are concerned with reducing the cost of commuting. Ignoring HOV exemptions (which are thankfully going away for hybrids at least) the Prius has become a runaway success even attaining #1 sales of any vehicle in California. After 10 years, the Prius is still in a class by itself with its 50 MPG achievements and the best part; it still uses gas so refueling or the time to refuel is simply not even on the table.  It truly is a no compromise solution... But

As cheap as the Prius is to drive, EVs still do better, a LOT better.  Off peak electrical rate discounts, highly efficient drivetrains, and the rapid emergence of Solar power has allowed the savvy EV driver to save several hundred dollars a year that would have normally gone from bank account to gas tank.  But is it enough? Apparently not as many have chosen to pay that extra $1,000 PER YEAR to save themselves from having to set aside time at public charging stations.

But 84  ... 80 ...75 miles (battery degradation is hell ya know...) is more than enough for me most of the time so how often would I really spend at a charging station away from home and is it worth spending an extra $1,000 a year on just fuel costs ignoring the inevitable higher maintenance costs? Having a job that requires travel nearly 100% of the time (sometimes it is travel within my city...) means I probably spend more time at public charging stations than the average EV'er but even then, I have managed to avoid it most of the time.  Total time at charging stations peaked in September and only added up to 11 hours for the month with 8 of those hours charging AT the jobsite so not an inconvenience at all.

But the Prius with its performance can shave several hundred dollars off that Thousand Dollar Bill and it looks like its enough for Hybriders (its my blog so I can make up any word i want!) are using it as an excuse to ignore EVs and leapfrog to Fuel Cells and looks like they have Toyota's blessing to boot.

But those plans can be derailed by providing more options for EV'ers!! (sound familiar?) so where is our 150 mile EV?? Think about it!! It would completely blow the Hybrider Argument out of the water!!

Who is with me??

and Happy Thanksgiving!

Eggs, Chicken, and Uncle Sam

Since it is Thanksgiving 2013 which is all about food (not really) I thought I would put food in the title of my daily rambling which implies I blog every day which I dont. I wish I had the time to do so but I usually write when I have the time like today. It will be at least 2-3 hours before anyone here is up to do anything and since I put up with traffic and crowds last night in order to fulfill my role (buy supplies to make the various dishes "we" are to make) and got it out of the way. Now the only thing left is entertain the kid (to keep him out of the way) and build up an appetite!

But really its a day of thanks so who to give thanks to is my current dilemma today.  The EV movement is still weak (still no viable choices out there for me...its essentially LEAF or nothing ) but gaining momentum and as another year approaches we again have the litany of promises pouring in from many more directions than before and that will cover many more niches but how well remains to be seen (what happened to Ford's EV niche?) . But the ball is rolling so who do I thank for that?

Since Tesla announced the Roadster years before anyone even knew Nissan was in the EV game so would it be Tesla?

Actually I believe its Nissan mostly because they marketed a car that was aimed at the mainstream. The Roadster was a very limited production run (as all $100,000+ plus vehicles are!) with no real threat of taking over any significant part of the market but the LEAF was not and that got other car manufacturers nervous which also got them moving (albeit slowly) towards an EV solution of their own and now, even Volkswagen, the once "EV antichrist" (ooh i will get some hate mail over that one...) has seen the light and crossed over from the dark side!

So Tesla may have started the idea but without Nissan and its affordable EV which mainstream America could afford for the first time ever (lets face it, the EV1 and RAV 4 EV back in the 90's were pretty spendy vehicles to "buy" which means that I do realize the retail price of the EV1 was subject to interpretation) I dont think the movement would have survived because Nissan's affordable LEAF is the primary reason why Uncle Sam got into the EV game.

I can imagine the outcry that would have happened if the $7500 EV incentive only applied to $100,000 plus vehicles as if the rich did not already have enough tax loopholes. To this day, I find it hard to believe that the tax credit used on Hummers and other very large vehicles did not stir up more controversy than it did.

Now we can get into the "Chicken verses Egg" argument but is Tesla the Chicken or the Egg and besides, does it matter? because without Uncle Sam, Tesla would be no more than the rest of the failed EV automakers who tried and failed. Remember it was Tesla's last minute loan (bailout!!) from DOE that prevented their very existence  from shuttering their doors and from our minds forever.

So, I thank you Nissan for forcing the World to grudgingly accept EVs as a viable (and very cool) personal transportation option. It is now 51 days and counting until my current lease ends and I start haggling over the price of a new lease. Nissan if you are listening; keep in mind Christmas is coming up and if you want to send me a coupon for a discount on a new lease, I am ok with that!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Tesla's Real Advantage

Going to Japan!! wooo hooo!! can't wait!  Will be awesome to see what *might* be coming down the road in a few years at the Tokyo Motor Show. But like all car shows; it will be more concepts and fantasies than products and release dates.

The best I can hope for is getting a glimpse of where auto manufacturers are headed in the future and get a sense of where their heads are at.  Right now the main chant in the EV community is "More Range!" and they got it half right. It really should be "More Choices!".  The LEAF should not change significantly no matter what.  There will ALWAYS be a market for an 80 mile EV. Continuous improvement on the platform should be concentrated on extending battery life and lowering the price to bring in more potential customers.

One thing that the LEAF could use is a range extender and if done right; can kill two birds (no wait...not PC) address two of the biggest needs for EV adoption.  WE all want a bit more range but the LEAF really doesn't have a lot of room for more batteries and cramming them in there could be a mistake (See the C-Max Energi's rear hatch if you need an example) especially if one only wants the extra range occasionally (I really only need it a few times a month AT THE MOST).  But what if you only had to sacrifice the storage space only when you wanted to? Granted in some cases the storage is vital for luggage, etc. but I think I would rather have the option; Storage or an extra 60 miles of range! (choices are cool :) )

EVs have gained a lot of traction (and sales) in the past 3 years but still have a long way to go. A lot of people have strong interests in them but still need just a bit more to get them over the top and it can be done but there needs to be a concerted effort at all levels to insure that transition and that is where most of the current EV industry is failing.

 EVs are not what the dealer ordered. Most dealers paid a lot of money to become certified to sell EVs and its a vehicle that needs minimal maintenance so after the sale, the revenue stream stops. Many dealers rely on their service center for a large part of their profits which means double incentives to sell regular gasoline vehicles.

I worked for a dealer selling cars; Fords to be exact. Now was the owner of the dealership loyal to Ford? Ya, as long as they paid well! His loyalty was strong and could you blame him? He actually had 7 dealerships selling 6 different brands of cars. So he had a LOT of loyalty!  The other thing to keep in mind is that nearly everyone at a dealership works on commission. Even mechanics do. They actually are paid an hourly rate but those hours are not "clock" hours, they are shop hours.  So if a job is billed at 2 hours; that is what he gets for that job. His hourly rate times 2. Whether it takes him 20 mins or 2 weeks; he gets 2 hours of pay.  So he either worked fast and efficiently (and did it right because if it wasn't done right the first time, he did it again and no, the customer does not pay twice!) or he did not make much money. The dealership would not cover his wages other than whatever minimum rates the state mandated.  Salesmen worked the same way. They made commission on each car they sold or they got minimum wage based on the hours they worked (If the dealership could get away with not paying minimum wage, they would!) IOW; if there is not a clear view of a revenue stream tied to a product; do not expect the dealership to be on board with it! EVs may make money for the salesmen but the service department is left out in the cold with an empty cup!

So we have the owners, manufacturer, dealerships, and people at the dealerships just trying to make a living, so what if?...

Leasing battery pack range extenders on a short term basis? per day, week, or month.   Packs must be installed by dealership. This makes the mechanic happy because it will probably have more shop time assigned than actual time needed for the install since some reprogramming will have to be done.  These "types" of jobs are easy. They are very predictable, clean, straightforward but involves a lot of  "wait" time which means the mechanic can be doing another job simultaneously  essentially doubling their income. This makes mechanics happy which makes service advisers happy which will make anyone visiting the service center happy as well!

Have the leasing program run by Nissan Corporate. This will reduce the cost of the program, level the playing field among different regions and solidify customer expectations. Nissan needs to make sure dealerships are fairly compensated for the time.  At the same time (and this is vital) Nissan must introduce another EV model that has a battery with the extended capacity.  Now where they go with that is up to them. A smallish SUV or maybe something similar in platform to the Prius v or a larger sedan sized between the Volt and Tesla S, etc. Whatever! it does not matter.

What is important is that this new model will obviously be more money and that money will be hard to justify UNLESS, one could "try out" that extra range for the weekend by renting it for their LEAF!

Ok; so by now, you are thinking what has all this got to do with Tesla? Easy! they figured all this out a long time ago but NOT HAVING DEALERSHIPS!!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Another Tesla Fire

Once again, road debris has caused a Tesla S to burn. The fact that this happened just down the street from the US LEAF plant and battery factory near Smyrna, TN is somewhat suspicious and already more than a few have speculated online that maybe someone who was shorting Tesla Stock wanted to get out from under that burden and may have staged the accident... well, maybe if it was James Bond driving.

So now we have 3 burned Teslas from roughly 25,000 on the road so does that make Tesla unsafe? Nah! Their accident percentages are still way below regular gas cars on a per mile basis and Teslas do provide over the top protection in several other safety metrics that other cars can not match.  Add to that; one of the three accidents, the primary cause was alcohol.  The enormous damage sustained by the car still allowed the driver to walk (or rather stagger) away from the accident without much more than a scratch.  What is most certain is the high likelihood that any car would have caught fire and a real level of uncertainty concerning the well-being of a driver in a different car.

So to create a battery fire in an EV, a lot has to happen.  First there has to be a puncture in the battery pack, then one of the many flammable fluids has to leak and catch fire as well. But as we have already seen; Enough Murphy's Law combined with plain old bad luck can be overwhelming!

But there are nearly 100,000 LEAFs out there and NONE of them have had their batteries burn and amazingly, this also includes a LEAF in the Colorado Springs fire that did burn up but left the battery pack INTACT.   Now the Colorado Springs LEAF was not in an accident so none of its protections were compromised so it would be different right?  Ya, BUT...

We need to look at the types of accidents in the two road debris cases and the likelihood of them being repeated on anything resembling more than "hit by lightning twice" odds.   Being essentially impaled by road debris is not common in any circumstances and rightfully so. Unsecured loads that result in property or personal damage carry very stiff fines in this state due to a horrific accident to a young woman several years ago resulting in "Maria's Law" making such an act a criminal one.

Now for any car traveling forward, the likelihood of damage near the front of the car will be much higher than damage at the rear of the car which is pretty intuitive.  Keep in mind; most of the flammable fluids are upfront as well or at least the reservoirs for them are.

So it would make sense to keep the batteries and the fluids as far removed as possible, whenever possible. But the Tesla's battery configuration of being very thin creating a very large footprint for any possible intrusion underneath may need to be looked at.  The LEAF pack is much smaller in capacity but also its exposure to punctures underneath is much smaller. Not sure how big the Tesla pack is but guessing its in the 90 sq feet range. The LEAF modules being rectangular and thicker have an exposure under 10 sq feet.  Add to that the fact that the LEAF battery pack is in the back of the car well away from radiator and brake fluid reservoirs which further reduces a possibility of fire even if the battery casing was compromised.

Now; am I suggesting Nissan did it right and Tesla didn't? Well, we all know both could have made better decisions in several other areas and combating risk in a moving vehicle is always going to be a battle of compromises. With all that said; I would recommend a Tesla to anyone because the basic facts remain; A Tesla may not be as safe as a LEAF in the one respect of battery pack vulnerability; but overall, they are MUCH more safer than nearly any other car on the road today.

If Tesla reduced the footprint of the pack by making it thicker, this would reduce shielding weight as well, so a few positives can be had by this. Now, shifting that much weight around poses other engineering challenges so it would not be a quick or easy fix, but I think its worth looking into.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

2013 Tokyo Motor Show

I will be attending the first media day (Press Day Nov 20th) of the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show as a guest of Nissan which means I will have a 48 hour advance notice of some of the more compelling details that will start coming out when the show officially opens on the 22nd of November. There will (as always) be an NDA required to be part of the festivities but now you know how all these writers can post articles literally minutes after new announcements of products being introduced.

Either way; being able to see some of the possible newer EVs (guessing will see mostly non-operating prototypes) might help clear up the EV product map for the future and better gauge other manufacturer's depth of commitment to the technology.  After nearly 3 years, several major manufacturers have very little or nothing towards the technology with a few like Toyota and Honda who have seemingly already shelved EVs for something different involving Hydrogen... *sigh*

Well for those of us (which means YOU!) that need something viable to get us around and live a thousand miles away (actually is 858 miles so I am exaggerating  a bit...) from the nearest hydrogen refueling station,  the real news from this is who will be the maker that provides the first 150-200 mile EV for under $35,000!

We still haven't heard from Nissan about the specs of the 2014 LEAF yet but most feel that a jump in range wont be part of the equation and I have to agree. There is simply nowhere to add another significant battery module to the car. But these auto shows tend to have cars that wont be available for more than a year so we might see a new model from "someone" out in 2015 or 2016.  Who it will be is anyone's guess but Kia, Mitsubishi and Hyundai seem to still be interested in EVs and maybe another try from BYD to break into the American Market?

It seems like Japan has segmented itself into two camps. EVs verses Fuel Cells and the larger the market share, the less likely it is still interested in electric.  I find it difficult to believe that Toyota is seriously considering a consumer level fuel cell car so soon and have to think it is their way of meeting CA's emission policies. But have to think a well designed EV would have done the trick for MUCH less money.  Despite all our whining about wanting more range, there is still a very healthy market for an 80-100 mile EV. The level of sales in hotspots like Seattle and Atlanta is a great indicator of what a little local support can do for the platform.

Sorry but EVs are win-win for everyone but the oil industry. The government supports a lot of programs; many with questionable value if any at all. So a bit more could really help to solidify the market and provide the financial incentive to the auto makers to broaden the offerings.

One final note; despite my being against fuel cells, it will still be nice to see them up close (something I have yet to do) so will have some thoughts on them as well.  With the NDA, wont be able to show you anything until at least the 22nd I am guessing which is OK. That is a travel day so probably be near Thanksgiving before I report back!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Oh Where Oh Where Has My Regen Gone?

This past Summer I had the  P 3227 software update done. It was supposed to get me a better idea of what my battery pack had left, streamlined some software and other "stuff."  It was relatively painless and finished a half hour faster than estimated so all was good.

I took my LEAF home, drove it around and noticed...nothing.  The update did not seem to change much of anything that I could tell. The GOM "seemed" better but I had gotten so used to ignoring it, I probably simply failed to notice any real changes in its behavior. 

Well soon  other more observant people started saying they had lost some of their regen capacity.  So I checked mine and sure enough, the last regen circle did not seem to light up as fast as it did before.  I thought it curious and wondered why Nissan thought adjusting the regen profile was needed but had too much other things going so it fell to the back of my mind.  

Well now we are hitting the slow season at work and as always, my mind starts to wander when it is not otherwise occupied (can be a dangerous thing!) 

So got up the other morning and this is what I saw

This was first thing in the morning after an overnight full charge. I reset my trip A meter daily and first thing that pops out; I have a regen circle??

Well, how can that be? Not possible. After all, the batteries are as full as the BMS and degradation will allow right?  Charge profile seemed normal. 236 GID 56.99 ahr which ahr/health slowing declining over the past few days but both are cyclical trending downward slightly which in normal as the odometer goes up.

Well, I take off and first thing I noticed is that the regen circle might be lit up but it is not available confirming that the charge was completed properly.  I purposely made several efforts to regen that single notch to no avail.  It was after 2.2 miles that I could finally do it at 227 GID which is pretty much how the LEAF works every morning.

Now the thought came to mind; what if our regen profile hadn't really been changed but the software update tweaked how the gauge works?  Besides making the GOM (supposedly) work better, it also provided a more realistic picture of our battery pack health which generally meant that people in warm weather got a temporary capacity increase while we got a permanent capacity loss.  Both of which were not really gains or losses but only better reporting of the true state, right? 

Definitely worth investigating but unfortunately, despite driving the car with the energy screen on almost 100% of the time, I never paid a whole lot of attention to the amount of power I was able to regen in any given circumstances...so what to do??

Now, I have spent the better part of a few days trying to generate some cooperating brain cells from my casual observations of the regen circle in hopes of avoiding the obvious to no avail.  The regen just seemed to be...normal. Only the dash gauge seemed out of place.  It got really frustrating and time and time again, the same thing just kept coming back so finally I gave in...

"What about Carwings?"

Ya, remember Carwings? Tells you how well you drive verses the World, etc. If you think you drive poorly then just log into Carwings and marvel over your 6.8 miles/kwh lifetime rating! (mine is actually about 4.5)

But Nissan had an answer to that! Update the software, but due to my VIN or misinformation, I was told my LEAF was not in the "software update" range so I never got it. I admit, I only tried to get it once but that was enough. I felt I would have no use of it anyway especially after sales jumped and I quickly fell out of the top 100 in every category...that is until today. 

Carwings does track all kinds of metrics for you and its wonderful and the only real knock is the "creative math" it uses to provide those metrics for you. But unless the math has been changed (and it hasnt because I have no update) then it should be consistently inaccurate which means its a valid data set (sort of...) right?

Ok, whether its right or not, its the only data set I have so I think its "right enough!"

So basically, I collected 4 data sets to catch the seasonal variances both before and after the P 3227 update which was done July 5th. (I called Nissan to verify cause couldnt remember if it was a few days before my trip to Texas or a few days after..) The data collected is average watt hours regen'd per mile computed daily.

Data Set #1 ;  Jan 28, 2013 to March 9th, 2013
Data Set #2;   May 19th to July 4th, 2013
Data Set #3;  July 6th to Aug 31st 2013
Data Set #4; Oct 2 to Nov 1 2013

Now we had an Early Summer which is why I started Data Set #2 in mid May and it lasted longer than normal but there was no real hot streaks. Only a few days in the 90's but consistent mid 80's weather most of the Summer so confident that Data Sets 2 and 3 reflect fairly consistent weather conditions. Data set #3 will have been only slightly warmer

So the findings?  It would appear that I did not lose any regen capability.  I am considering the option of collecting data sets from 2012 for the same time periods (although that was one of the coolest Summers in recent memory) for comparison but since there is no direct way to get there (you can see the data a week at a time so you just have to click 52 times to go back a year...) so will shelf that option for now. 

Now the data collected has a VERY wide range of numbers which is the reason I just took averages over several days.  Interesting to note; both the low (Aug 20th; 21 wh) and the high (101.6 wh on  July 19th) happened during same data set. 

but the results;

Data Set #1; 52.95
Data Set #2; 58.93
Data Set #3; 62.28
Data Set #4; 51.13

Thoughts; No conclusions here. Not getting an updated Carwings might be a problem here.  Also collecting the data so soon after the update might also be a problem.  The decline from #1 to #4 I dont feel is statistically significant. The other obvious variance is the mileage difference, SOC differences, weather differences, driving conditions, etc. etc. etc. 

Just for kicks, I collected data matching the dates of #3 for 2012. Keep in mind; a much cooler Summer that had rain, etc. (we had NO rain this Summer other than affew days in Sept.  July and August 2013 came in as one of the driest ever) and that came out at 54.54 ah...so what can I say? tossed it. Just for kicks, I also collected data from 2011 and 2012 matching the periods above. None this I present due to the drastic change in my driving patterns since taking a job in Tacoma 25 miles away verses the one I had in Lacey 5 miles away.  But the averages ran from 54.54 to 78.74 ahr/mile (proving that the opportunity to regen happens a LOT more in city driving) with individual lows of  in the 5's and 6's balancing out highs of 121.3, 118.2 (one I am pretty sure happened on my "100 mile Winter Range Test" since it was about the same time in Feb 2012) 

Either way; if we had really lost most of or even a significant access to the far left regen circle, I would have thought it would have been more obvious, so I need your help.

If you have the updated Carwings Software, collect some data points (at least 40-50) and tell me if you saw any differences before and after your P 3227 update.

So is relying on Carwings for data a good idea? DK so ya, maybe its a shot in the dark but better than no shot at all right? 

Report back here. As always I have reserved a space especially for YOU to respond below!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Oct 2013 Driving Stats

Halloween has come and gone and that means the October Driving Stats are now available.  The LEAF traveled 1924.5 miles costing me $55.77 which of course includes public charging fees totaling $9.38  ($5 Blink  $4.38 from SemaConnect which reduces my $20 balance that I paid a LONG time ago, so that was practically painless ;) )  As always, AV is still free and did account for the bulk of my public charging. I wish the location was more convenient then I would have used it more but then again, if Blink's fast charger was more convenient, I would have used it more as well!

Due to possible issues with the timing of my lease, I am investigating getting a gas car for select transportation needs.  Right now am solidifying the purchase of a project car (i.e. very cheap) with a bit of money put into it that would be shared among family members. Total cost we hope to be in the $2500 range but that all depends on how much the repairs end up being. The LEAF will still provide most of my transportation needs (as long as I have it) but wanting the extra car right now in case there is a gap between turning in the 2011 and getting a 2014. I thought about extending the lease a few months but not sure that will be wise for me as I am going to exceed my lease's mileage limit but we shall see.

Now some of you know that I started using LEAF Spy on Sept 16th. The data I have gotten from it definitely sheds more light on my battery's status but as all measurements that are hard to track, the results have seen some ups and downs. At first I attributed it to the change in weather but now that we have had fairly consistent Fall weather for several weeks now, there is no signs of the data stabilizing at all

Above is my "ahr" chart from Sept 20 to Oct 31. as you can see, there is ups and downs but this morning's reading (not on the chart) is indicating that my stats will probably be settling on a lower plateau as new lows for ahr (56.96) and health (73.8%)  were recorded.

As you can see, the Health chart closely correlates with ahr.  Only time will tell how my pack's capacity will react in the next few weeks but another metric (and a VERY good one!) is Sloaty's Battery Degradation chart which takes time in service, location, performance, weather, and so on to predict mileage at various levels of degradation.

Well using the chart barely a week ago, I got an estimate of 112,117 miles on the LEAF at 70% SOC. Today its now down to 107,420 miles.

Kinda shoots down that theory that colder weather arrests the degradation. Then again, maybe its the fast charges?? Nah!! something that good can't possibly be bad right?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Idiot-proofing Transportation

Highway fatalities are on the decline and its not due to better driver's ed classes or our desire to pay more attention to where we are going. In fact; its very much been the opposite. With more features in many cars like complicated stereos, GPS and Bluetooth functions, we have less time to pay attention to the road.

Gone on all but the cheapest models are the knobs that allowed you to control many of the functions concerning the car's ambiance while maintaining your view of the road ahead; replaced in many cases by a touch screen that requires most of us to look at what we are touching or at least what menu function we are adjusting.

My old stereo had basically volume, base, treble, left balance, right balance and front/rear fade.  It took all of about 5 minutes to learn to adjust each without looking at the radio at all.  The newer stereos, it took 10 minutes just to find where these adjustments were and betting it will be probably never before I memorize how I got to each function, but all in the name of progress right?

But fatalities have dropped because it became apparent that having the car prevent the accident was a LOT easier than getting people to drive safer. The technology of making cars safer has improved and more innovations are coming. lane assist, collision avoidance radar, braking assist with improved traction control will all help to save lives by preventing or lessening the severity of an accident.  So making cars safer by building a sort of "self preservation" technology (and you thought "Hal" was just a movie!) advanced enough to overcome our shortcomings is now the new money maker.

I was thinking that maybe preserving the environment needed the same kind of ideology.

Today as I was leaving the Old Country Buffet in Lakewood, WA I was literally knocked over by the smell of exhaust as I walked out the front door. Sitting at the curb was an armored truck idling away waiting.  WA has a public smoking ban where smoking is banned within 40 or 50 feet of any public entrance. Apparently this law does not cover a smoking vehicle.

Now technology is addressing excessive idling with new cars coming out where cars shut down when at stop signs. This was done mostly to preserve gas and help obtain the CAFE requirements for fuel economy but this will also help with air quality as well. But this technology relies on the consumer being proactive with maintaining the vehicle.

Just a few miles down I-5 from Old Country Buffet, a 4X4 Chevy was merging onto the freeway from Joint Base Lewis McChord. I heard his diesel engine roar as he punched it to merge into an empty lane on the freeway with smoke pouring from his tailpipe.   Newer diesels have another tank that holds a fluid that is sprayed into the exhaust stream which is supposed to reduce pollution. It is primarily Urea and failure to maintain the fluid can prevent the exhaust gas temperatures from being reduced properly and burn up the exhaust particulate filter.  The recommended maintenance (for Ford trucks anyway) is a bottle every 5,000 miles done during oil changes. The fluid comes in 2½ gallon bottles and costs a mere $14 ( I can drive 583 miles on $14 of electricity and its not related to to the topic at hand...just saying ya know) which is not too bad but its still a process that must be completed by the end user to insure pollution levels from the diesels conform to the numbers used by anti EV activists.  Now if the engine blew up or the electrical system shut the truck down when the fluid ran dry, all would be well, but it doesn't.  Most of us do maintain the fluids including this one, but keep in mind; "most" does not mean all.

I guess what we really need is maintenance-free cars.  75% of all car fires are due to mechanical or electrical failures with an estimated half of those failures possibly caused by lack of or improper maintenance. Of the 258,000 car fires reported in 2007 only 4% were from collisions or over turns... WOW! talk about spontaneous combustion!

My neighbor tells me how much he likes my LEAF because he can't hear me leaving for work in the morning. (I turn the reverse beeper off) That is a significant statement considering I pull out of the garage sitting less than 50 feet from his bedroom window. During this operation I am waiting for my Droid to power up to load LEAF Spy in order to record and reset my data before the day's driving begins. IOW, its at least 2 minutes or more in the driveway getting all this done. (It also allows me a bit more time to think of anything I may have left behind that I need for that day)

During all this "idle" time, I have not contributed to the destruction of the environment, the serenity of the neighborhood or aggravated a child's asthma (My Son Ryland has Asthma)

Just more reasons to get an EV

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Picture (or Graph) is Worth a Thousand Words

Ok, so my attempt at getting feedback on the techniques we are using to recruit new EV'ers has not had a huge response... Thank You!  Seattle Area LEAF Owners (the ONLY respondents so far...) for your contributions. That kind of surprised me. I thought for sure we all had at least one funny, poignant, or scary story to relate, but the holidays are coming. Getting ready for Halloween is no small task! Free time is valuable and all that kinda stuff.

Anyway, if you get the chance, dont forget about that post just because this one is here.  Now, not all of us are good at speeches, sales presentations or simply gushing in public.  I have actually been caught off guard a few times or sometimes I just dont have the time to stop and talk.

For those times, it would be really awesome if I just had an informational flyer with a few pertinent graphs illustrating the benefits of EV Life.  I could just hand it to them, point out a few things and then be on my rushed way.

But we dont want to have too many pages. One is enough really. So real estate is tight. The graphs must be large enough so old people like me can read them and so on.

So, with this in mind; what do you think is irreplaceable on this flyer?  Now, I am not going to make you rack your brain, compromise your values or drive you insane like those "Top 5" lists do.

So you dont have to pick just one. You can pick 2, 3 or even 5 things and you don't have to put them in order.

Now, keep in mind; this and the previous requests were made for a reason and your input is GREATLY needed.  So help me out.

To facilitate a timely response I have reserved a space below for your personal response!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Feedback Requested! (Get Out the Podium!)

By now, most of you have realized that this is a pretty one-sided conversation. I do nearly all the talking and you do all the listening. But this time we need to reverse roles. What I am looking for is personal stories by EV owners out there on how they convinced their friend, family or neighbor to go electric. (or extended electric like the Volt)

Crank up the memories and relate your best stories of  being accosted by people in public parking lots who just could not get over how much noise your EV did not make.

If you don't have any stories then tell me what or who convinced you to go electric.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Take The Prius!

After 3+ years of development of the public charging system, we still have very little insight as to what the future holds. I thought by now a somewhat predictable roadmap would have emerged that would have made a buying decision a bit easier for someone thinking about a shorter range EV like the LEAF.  But that has not happened. If anything, the future has become cloudier.

Ecotality is no more, bought up by another company called "Car Charging" (www.carcharging.com)  so the "voting" for various billing options on the Blink fast chargers is probably going away which is a disappointment.  With the large disparity in electrical rates thru-out the country, a single rate structure means some benefit and some get screwed. With the low rates in the Pacific Northwest, I am definitely part of the latter group so "voting" for the rates I thought was a great compromise from a company that has done very little right the first time but they are no longer... *sigh*

 Now, Car Charging has posted that they will address any issues with current Blink customers for their home chargers and so far their ownership on the public chargers has been relatively transparent with the exception of splitting the billing cycle for the month of October.

But changes in the rates are sure to come. They have existing chargers and the rates for those are higher which makes the calculation for LEAF verses Prius much harder especially when we really dont know what the price will be. Its like 2010 all over again except that we dont get any free charging while Car Charging figures it out.

Also; Yesterday, CBS News announced that gas prices are dropping and are expected to continue to do so for the rest of the year. This is not really news as most of the time gas prices spiral downwards from their bloated Summer Vacation season levels. Analysts expect the national average to settle to about $3.15 gallon from its current $3.35.  ($3.54 in the Seattle Area)

So does this make the "Just drive the Prius" crowd stronger or more justified?

Well, that question can't really be answered directly because there is no right or easy way to answer the question. It also depends on how you determine the costs of the car.  Now, the best and easiest way is to simply have two cars. So for people in the buying market. If one can afford a LEAF and keep their gasser, that is the way to go.

The one rule that does apply is that a Prius will cost roughly 6-15 cents a mile in fuel costs. That is a pretty big range but that is how the math works when you only have a small percentage of the energy available to apply to the distance traveled. So to get a real good handle on the cost factor, we need to look at all the driving each car would do. Now we could do what EVERYONE else does and only look at the driving that the Prius does best in and the LEAF does worst in and then justify the Prius right?? WRONG!  After all, this is an EV blog and despite my having owned 3 Priuses of which I still have a strong fondness for, I do know when its time to move on! Actually just kidding on that last part and remember I did say the best option was to have two cars right?

Now, I normally would not be writing this but I am seeing way too many people (actually one is too many!) abandoning EVs and going back to gas based on the one-sided "JTTP" argument so the wrong must be righted! Now to elaborate on my statement above; the only justification I see is the limited range argument against the LEAF and the high cost of public charging and that could be a valid argument when time to charge is added in but its being unfairly presented.

So we first need to start off with a fair representation of the Prius.  Now everyone's driving needs are different so each of you must start out collecting data to see what your specific needs are.  This is something I started doing 15 months ago and this is what I have come up with divided by trip distances and frequencies. To make it a bit more fair to gassers, trips made within 30 mins of each other were counted as one. I did this because the large usually unconsidered factor is ICE warm up times and the penalties involved concerning performance. This time limit is valid during Summer but not so during Winter which means I am somewhat penalizing EVs by making gas cars slightly more efficient.

The other problem is that the Prius was wrecked (not by me!) Dec 30th but still had the car long enough during the record gathering to get a good idea of how well it does during all seasons.

A; 0-3 miles;  17%
B; 3.1-15 miles; 35%
C; 15.1-30 miles; 35%
D; 30.1- 60 miles; 11%
E; 60.1 miles +; 2%

In the breakdown above, I can safely say my LEAF covers 87% of my trips without public charging support (Actually by driving slower, colder, etc. Its more like 95% but also not what I would consider "mainstream acceptable") since many of these trip lengths need to be doubled as most are "there and back" types.  Of the trips more than 30 miles in length, 80% was because of work. Considering the office (a prime destination) is 23 miles away that also accounts for 60% of the "C" trips but many times, the office was a brief stopover to pick up co-workers, equipment or paperwork, etc only to go onward so the distance moved into the "D" category. Now most people would probably have much more in "B" or the lower end of "C" but once again, the variety of need is great and each of you should create your own mileage breakdowns.

Winter is coming and due to the short lengths of  Trips A and B, the Prius will not come close to its advertised 50 MPG. In all my Priuses, my overall average was in the 50 mpg range but there was always a 5-7 mpg difference from Winter to Summer in the 04, 06, and 2010 with the 2010 exhibiting the largest discrepancy and this discrepancy is magnified during colder weather.  Typical performances run 20-25 mpg for A trips and 25-40 mpg for B trips. Each trip performance was calculated by resetting the trip meters at the beginning of the trip and then deducting 8.35% from the dash results. The 8.35% figure was the lifetime medium variance from the dash display and the calculated fuel economy. My 2010 was from the first batch built in April 2009 and had a much larger discrepancy than ones built later that year.

The LEAF does appear to have somewhat of a warm up cycle as well but much shorter. I spent a lot of time experimenting with how well the LEAF does in the first few miles after a full charge was completed and found the first 5 or so GIDs dont seem to provide the same amount of driving distance. I even went so far as to drive ultra-conservatively try to bolster the numbers to no avail having to drop to roughly 15 mph before seeing any real repeatable results.  But what is there to warm up? Since getting access to the ELM app (now more commonly known as "LEAF Spy" at the Android Marketplace) I now can track battery temps and have determined their role to be small if any here. But whatever it may be, I mention it only in the interest of full disclosure of my observations.  But my LEAF essentially uses 225 to 265 watt hours per mile and this figure applies to a fairly wide range of driving conditions and speeds. 40 watt hours is not a whole lot so if using a widely accepted value of 4 miles/kwh (250 watt hours per mile) and my actual electrical cost of 10.4 cents per Kwh the value of 2.6 cents per mile comes real close to my real figure of 2.42 cents per mile (my real figure does take into account, free AV station charging and public charging costs by SemaConnect, Blink, etc) and that figure only seems to vary by no more than +/- .3 cents per mile from Summer to Winter. I will admit to using A/C liberally in Summer and very little if any heat in Winter.  Warmblooded I am, I am!

So to summarize what we have to this point; The Prius true cost for fuel can be hard to predict and very much tied to the personal driving needs of its owners and the seasons and the peculiarities of the Oil Markets.  The LEAF's cost varies little and is easily predictable weeks or months in advance.

Now if we look at the typical "JTTP" argument, it is centered on the only real thing a gasser can attack and that is public charging costs and the time it takes to rack up those charges. Right now, SemaConnect provides the worst deal in my neighborhood charging .49 cents per kwh. Now, I use them due to convenience of locations and the fact that I have a $20 credit on my account so might as well get that out of the way right? But unlike other companies; I pay for EXACTLY what I get to the penny! None of this rounding up to the next hour if I miss it by 5 minutes or whatever, so Kudo's to Sema for at least having an effective and FAIR billing system!  But at 49 cents a kwh and 4 miles/kwh times a 85% efficiency is 14.4 cents per mile (which is what my Yaris got last Winter when it replaced the Prius) and that is not good. The Prius can easily beat that right??

The above is how the typical argument goes and we have to assume this is for a trip of 60 plus miles or maybe even 50 miles in Winter right? Ok, but what about the other half of the trips made that fall into categories A and B?  Remember, in the LEAF it does not matter the length of the trip. The cost per mile is relatively static and predictable. In the Prius our 45 mpg winter average (actually 45.4 Winter, 52.3 Summer,  49.8 overall) at 7 cents a mile (when gas gets to $3.15 a gallon) is really as high as 15.8 cents a mile for A trips to 10 cents a mile on average for B trips.

So when I am categorizing my planned trips into EV or "JTTP" I compute my costs using the 2.6 cents for the first 60 miles then incorporating whatever charging cost that may arise.  Now, not all charging options are as expensive as Sema. Blink although much maligned for their one size fits all $5 flat fee fast charge (now to be known as "5F". I mention this so we all know that the "5F" is not a grade but an acronym, right??) actually provides a bargain for L2 charging at a buck an hour for members (there is no cost for membership and as I predicted, will never be...at least as a Blink company) so now for my dollar we are getting (at my 2011 lame-o 3.8 kwh rate) about 13 miles (at 85% efficiency) or 7.8 cents a mile which just about matches the Prius on a good winter day. (provided it has driven far enough...)  So on a 100 mile trip, the LEAF would have 60 miles at 2.6 cents or a buck fifty plus 3 hours of charging for a total of $4.50 roughly or the Prius at 45 mpg and $3.15 gas at 7 cents a mile or $7 so the Prius loses by a few bucks but add in the time to charge and that is a problem convenience wise right?

So lets look at the Blink $5 fast charge. Now we all know that the higher the SOC of the LEAF, the slower it takes a charge. So for convenience sakes and the consideration of time, lets do an 80% charge for 30 minutes.

So, now we drive the same 60 miles for $1.50, pay our $5 and get enough to complete our 100 mile trip and its $6.50 so we still beat the Prius  but only by 50 cents. We can almost call that a wash right? (remember, we are not only dreaming of a White Christmas but also $3.15 gas for this to work...)

So on long trips, Prius is good but even with public charging costs, the LEAF is still cheaper, but that is not where most people live.  Now if you are like Steve Marsh (who has a 130 mile round trip work commute) then maybe a re-evaluation of the car you drive is in order (unless you are lucky enough to have your boss install your very own charger at work!) but most of us put most of our miles on driving locally. Short trips.

Its short trips and the lack of  "warm up penalty" where EVs excel. So the small savings seen on longer trips becomes a significant amount of  "cash back" with shorter trips due to their being a lot more short trips and the gas cost being much higher while "EV" cost goes down as the percentage of "home juice" increases over "public (make sure that "L" gets in there!) juice."  Short trips is also what prematurely ages a gasser. So, if for no other reason; get a LEAF because you love your Prius!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The "H2**" With Fuel Cells!

Toyota is still the runaway leader in the hybrid industry which means they have the technical chops to handle most challenges so why have they not produced a mass market EV?

The RAV 4 EV has been very successful. The raw numbers are not impressive until we see how many buyers are not in the RAV's distribution area. ("California Special" personified here!) It really says a lot when you see this many people taking a risk (although probably small) and the additional expense (to ship the car to their home) to buy a car where official service center support could be thousands of miles away.

In a recent announcement Toyota said they will be putting out a 2015 mid-size SUV Fuel Cell car that will get 68.3 miles per Kilogram of H2. Now according to the article (check this because the article kinda sucks imm. More on my reasoning below.) a Kilogram (Kg) of Hydrogen is "roughly" equivalent to a gallon of gas. The hybrid version of this car (seems only the Prius on its coveted hybrid platform is the only one who gets a new design...) which is a Highlander only get 26 MPG so this Fuel Cell Version is much more efficient with the energy it uses  (Kinda like an EV right?) and its a much bigger car than even the Prius V.  So on paper it really seems like Toyota has really improved the performance of the fuel cell car but there begs the question; If you provide the car, who is going to provide the massive amounts of cash to provide the fuel? How will Toyota deal with the other challenges associated with bringing new technology to the market?

In a nutshell, new technology must address cost to market, fuel delivery, TCO, customer user experience and the aura of new vehicle ownership. Its these issues that still haunt EVs but if we take the 3 main technologies and examine them, is there a case to move full force on Hydrogen?

Cost to Market; Gas wins pretty easily. After all, the auto manufacturers have had a lot of practice ever since Henry Ford figured out how to turn Black into Green. (backs)  EVs still have issues with battery pricing but that is improving daily, or is it? Let me put it another way; news stories claiming a breakthru that will some day make batteries cheaper are published daily. The rest remains to be seen. But we can all agree that price will come down and one major breakthru will likely cause a very large drop in the price.  Then we have fuel cells. Well, I have to say I dont know enough about them to comment.  They are very new so have to guess that volume will lower the prices eventually. Now Toyota is claiming $50,000 which seems conveniently priced considering the cost of the a Tesla and since no other EVs are projected to have longer ranges yet, price comparisons on that end cant be made.

Fuel Delivery; Gas stations are in a crisis right now and the weird thing about it is that hardly anyone knows or cares about it.  The number of gas stations in the US has dropped dramatically over the past 15 years but has it really impacted anyone's ability to fill up?  Sure we all have stories about "Old Ben" (true story!) who owned the convenience store/gas station on the corner who opted for early retirement simply because he could not afford to keep up with the newer safety requirements for gasoline storage and containment. We all thought he got screwed and wondered why the State could think so little of the 30 years of service he had provided to our community but at the same time, leaks had been happening all over the state and even though his location didnt have any, it was put in the extra precautions or stop selling gas. Either way, it was simply go to the next station down the street (or more likely ACROSS the street) and fill up.

EVs are a different story. We have a half billion places to plug in and electricity is easy to come by but in little chunks and that is fine for the most part. My LEAF covers more than 95% of my needs and that is where public charging comes in because it allows me to eat into that 5%.   But now the question becomes "When is it simply cool to plug in and when does it become an inconvenience?   Fueling up is a fact of life. Now we can look at these as inconveniences or grin and bear it.  My gas stop at Costco on October 16th is not typical or out of the ordinary. I get there and its busy. I love Costco because its cheap and they have a lot of pumps with long hoses so even though my filler tube is on the left, I can use either side of the pumps. But all this is well known and despite my only getting gas during what I consider slack periods, every once in a while, I hit a crowd which was the case the other day. So it was a 17 minute gas detour (average is only about 7-8) which would have been no big deal and quickly forgotten as flotsam in daily routine of Life except I was in a time crunch (Murphy's Law got me!) so blaming the gas station, gas cars and whoever else was preferable to accepting the fact that I was lax on my "15 minutes early is on time" rule.

But public charging has struggled. Its placement has been inconvenient, sparse, and overall a bit strange.  Part of the problem is public perception has been inconsistent, business acceptance has been weak and governmental support has been poorly implemented at the local level. Now if I had a 250 mile Tesla S 85, I might feel differently but I dont (along with the $90,000 to get one) and I am betting neither do you so in an 80 mile LEAF how far is too far out of the way?  My office is on 56th and Tacoma Mall Blvd. Its very freeway convenient along with the Fife fast charge station at Tahoma Market but its 8.1 miles away in the opposite direction of home. For trips north, its very nice but that is about it. So my options are to use the much slower 240 volt options which are plentiful and several can be found while traveling in the general direction of home.  It is a combination of the latter along with driving slower that I have used.  So fast charging really needs to ratchet up its installs but that costs money and its money the government is not very willing to give up nor is any host hopping to volunteer either.

So will Hydrogen filling stations have an easier time finding acceptable places to operate?  They will definitely be much more expensive. Their safety and containment regulations will be massive. The areas they will be allowed to operate; limited. But then again, this is something the Oil Industry could easily Segway into so it will have governmental support anyway. The government might be "of the people, for the people, by the people" but its still owned by Big Money and we aint got that kind of cash so its got to be someone else.  Like batteries, Hydrogen storage and delivery needs a technological breakthru to be truly viable in the mind of the masses (EVs actually work for most but they just dont know it yet...) so maybe Toyota knows something no one else does?

TCO; Finally an area where EVs are undisputed leaders! Gas cars are pretty much guaranteed to have a $2500 annual fuel bill (at least for me) that quickly makes that nice purchase price not so nice and that is the beginning. They have become MUCH more complex that the DIY'er can no longer handle 90% of the maintenance needs like the old days. EVs have very little maintenance costs and 90% of the its fuel can be had dirt cheap or free (yes Aeroenvironment is STILL FREE!) but even if paying for public charging, its still a bargain if the location of the station is not too inconvenient.

Now, the cost to maintain a fuel cell car is to be discovered.  So everything I say here is just a guess. If we go back to the article referenced above (as much as I hate to) they surmise a fuel price of $9 /Kg of H2. which is the "mileage equivalent of $3.50 in gas using a "new math" I guess... So actual fuel prices are not to be known but what can be easily accepted is that for at least a few years (I am guessing more like 10) a fuel cell vehicle will have to go out of its way to refuel. Still guessing here but I can see the "lucky ones" only having to go 10 miles out of their way to get refueled which means their range is reduced by that length. These stations will be located near population centers (assuming someone does not object and spin it thru the court system for a few decades) but it will most likely be a significant chunk of time.  I measured how much time it took to get gas and did not consider the time at the station.  I only tracked when I left my commute and how long it took to get back to my commute.  During rush hour it was over 10 minutes if the lights were not kind and this detour was about 200 yards.  So 10 miles in heavy traffic TWO ways could easily grow into 30 minutes or more. FYI; I predict Hydrogen will come in at a MUCH higher price.

We also have to look at maintenance. No real guesses on that other than in my experience, any tank that holds pressurized gas has to have the seals on the valves replaced on a regular basis. I can easily see this as DIY type of thing so will negate that.

Customer User Experience; Dont know many people who feel good about driving their gassers. We accept the fact that they are transportation and that is that. Sure there are Vette Owners, Monster Trucks, etc... but all those loves has nothing to do with how the car gets down the road.

EVs are different. Quiet, smooth, clean and COOL!  But Fuel Cells have all that too... at least I have to think they will. Now, I know a lot of people who would not own a car the size of a Highlander for any reason.  Its simply too big a car. Now, tooling down the freeway is no big deal but in my experience as a driver for work (Yes, I still use the LEAF most of the time but do use the company car if needed) carrying 4 or more passengers that a large vehicle really really really SUCKS sometimes.  Seattle is not known for being car friendly in certain parts of town so maneuvering a 10 passenger Van can be a real pain sometimes so small is good. The LEAF is small enough to be very maneuverable. The Tesla S does have a bit of a knock as being more car than people prefer (although I could learn to live with it should someone be so kind to send one my way!!)

Fuel Cells are going to be different. You have to have a platform that can hide those tanks PLUS you still need batteries. The fuel cell is limited on how much power it can supply so the batteries are used as a buffer.  So the big question is; What is the smallest platform a fuel cell car can be and will that small platform still be able to maintain a decent range of at least 250 miles AND have passenger/storage space?  And will that platform be small enough to be accepted by the masses since initially, the car will be marketed more as a commuter than a family trip vehicle?

Now, EVs have their drawbacks so don't get me wrong. Due to limited range, public charging is the only way I can make my EV work for me but travel all over Western WA (and beyond) is part of the job  and its lucrative. I am reimbursed for miles I travel in my POV (rates vary based on gas prices but is currently 39 cents a mile and was as high as 46 cents a mile earlier this year) which provides me $400-600 a month tax free. Considering that my cost is about 2.4 cents a mile for home charging, I find little to complain about here.  Now if I had a normal job (which would not be good for me as I am an abnormal person!) and my transportation needs were to the office and back, no problem. Its a 46 mile round trip that my LEAF could handle for probably another 3-5 years with home charging only.

Examining my time at public chargers, I find that I am productive and rarely is the time spent that was inconvenient but that has not always been the case. I have had a few times where stops were required and had to wait for a charger which I did not plan for.  Broken chargers used to be an issue but no longer so much any more. But in all cases, I had planned the time to use the chargers and sometimes it required me to get up an hour earlier which could be a hassle but I frequently had work or socializing that needed to be done (yes, Facebook is a need for me and I am not ready to ask for help yet!) so I made the time less inconvenient.  But most chargers are self serve, 24 hours a day operations. Will fuel stations be so convenient? I think they will be eventually but considering the possible hazards I wonder if 24/7 access by the general public would be an option. Something as simply as plugging in a car has proven to be a bit beyond the comprehension of many. Damages to plugs by mishandling and misdirection (people who choose to not read directions) has happened on a much higher frequency than I would have guessed.  But the inconvenience I have refueling has only happened twice in the last 30 days which is not bad considering the 14 public charging events. Keep in mind that I have concentrated on not using public charging ever since the Blink $5 fast charge decision. (Aug 22nd in our area)

Aura; For lack of a better term. EVs are dripping in it. They are the cool new kids on the block and owners are literally gushing over their rides. (unless you live in Arizona... :( )  I will admit to hoping to run into other EV'ers at charging stations so I can gush in public over my LEAF and allow them to gush back but Fuel cells could also have that allure.  But with the 10 (ya TEN, with 9 in CA, 7 in Southern CA) current Hydrogen refueling options, it looks to be a small circle of people that fuel cell drivers will be able to shine their aura on, for now anyways.

So is Toyota making the right move by pushing H2 over EVs?  Well, actually I think this is simply Toyota being different. They were snubbed by the Big 3 back in the 90's when the Clinton Administration strong-armed the Big 3 to develop family sized cars that would get 80 MPG. Toyota got wind of this and wanted to participate and was rejected so they started their own development program and the Prius was born. The Big 3 were successful in developing the prototypes but then Gore lost the election and Bush decided fuel cells were a better idea and so here we are.  So I think that Toyota's Highlander FCEV is another compliance car to satisfy California.

So is fuel cells a bad thing? No, it definitely should be pursued because it does allow very large platform vehicles a valid way to travel. Semi's have the room to incorporate the very large tanks and batteries and do need a much faster refueling method. So even if the refueling stations were scattered around, a truck with an extended range could still handle it. So its something that should be strived for, but at the expense of EVs?? Cmon Toyota, pull your head out!

P.S.  If anyone has some insight or knowledge to some of the questions I have raises about FCEVs, please respond!