Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Why Nissan's Battery Purchase is a Win Win

Recently Nissan announced that 24 kwh battery packs will be available for purchase to any existing LEAF owner for $5499 after exchange.  This was welcomed by the EV community both for its very reasonable pricing and the fact that all replacement packs would be with the latest chemistry and technology available; IOW, the "Lizard" pack.

The Lizard pack is the new tweak from Nissan to combat excessive degradation due to heat.  Too many people in Arizona were seeing 2-3 lost bars in the same time frames we Northwesterners were seeing a 5% loss (the first capacity bar represents about 15%) making a long term commitment to EVs a tough thing to rationalize.

Nissan then later mentioned that the pack price was less than it cost them to replace the packs.  One might wonder why Nissan would want to lose money on this option but this was a very smart move in that it was a way of saying thank you to the early EVers who accepted that leap of faith aka as the LEAF. Plus, now a long term financial plan was possible now that one knew how much money to set aside for a replacement pack.

What we saw was people who absolutely needed the price of the pack right away, then finding out what that price was and realizing they would not need a pack replaced for at least 2 years!  Funny how much that tiny piece of the puzzle created so much calm within EV Land!  Never mind the fact that the price is likely to be different when the time comes to purchase, it was information that completed the puzzle and provided a great sense of relief for people who needs to have all the i's dotted and the t's crossed.

But that is only the beginning of the benefits.  In my EVangelical pursuits, the biggest obstacle I am seeing is still price. Range is obviously a concern but nearly everyone I talk to who is interested has a "short commuter" in the house but the price is still the big stopper.  To them I say "Well, lease then!"

And you guessed it; the next biggest stopper is the idea of leasing. It was an alien concept to me 3 years ago but now, I have to say its the way to go until the range of the LEAF goes up.  Right now there is about a 10 cent per mile difference in transportation costs between our two daily drivers the LEAF and the Yaris.  My 15,000 mile per year lease costs me $245.75 a month but I am saving roughly $125 a month in fuel (15,000 miles divided by 12 months times 10 cents)  so that brings my cost down to $120.75 a month. I am just over 11,000 miles and my total cost including the random public charging fee is running me 2.1 cents per mile. Yes, that does include some free charging sessions but why should it not? I don't go out of my way to charge for free, never do it if I don't need it, and its THERE! If there was a promotion for free gas and you could go there without 10,000 of your neighbors in the way, would you do it? Well of course you would!

Now, my lease deal is probably better than most could get because of returning loyalty cash and whatnot but its not inconceivable that one could be driving a brand new car for under $200 a month AFTER fuel costs are considered. In a gas car, you are looking at an additional $100 a month just for fuel!

But the ignorance continues. But now that batteries are available, I think the used LEAF market is set to explode. Right now they are going for a pretty cheap price in the $13,000-$14,000 range.   This allows one to get into a LEAF relatively cheap and drive it.  As we all know, this is when EV Fever hits.  We soon realize that the convenience of not going to the gas station is just the beginning.  Driving an EV is cool, smooth, quiet and just downright addicting!  Soon the car purchased for errands and short jaunts becomes the car we want to take EVERYWHERE!  This is likely to lead to a sale of a new EV or another common option; the 2 EV household!

Knowing that batteries can be purchased to replace aging packs will open up EVs to a whole new segment of the population. People attracted to the low selling prices of used LEAFs but concerned about degraded batteries now have options!  So can we call the LEAF a "gateway drug to EVness?"  I think the battery purchase program is just the "pusher" we need!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

July 2014 Drive and Degradation Report

Ok, I thru in the "D" word to attract higher readership!  But then again, I am now only seeing a maximum 22 kwh available on a full charge even with the full 284 GIDs and 67.36 ahr so if every other number is max'd out why am I seeing less available capacity?

Well back in the "old" days I was seeing 22.7 kwh available. Then it settled on 22.5  then 22.2 and now its been at 22.0 since the first week of July.  The decline does roughly correlate with the rise of the temperature as Summer approached which when considering the appearance of adjustments made on the 2011's by the BMS, I have to think that is a possibility here as well.  And warm it has been. the big drop did happen the same week we hit the 90's for the first time this year as well.  One thing that did happen on Tuesday. This happened after a 26 min QC (needed all of it!) which also saw just over 3 hours on two different L2's that day along with 90º.  

8 Temperature Bars!! First time I have seen this in 3½ years of LEAFing.  In fact, the only time I ever saw 7 bars was after my 3rd QC of the day in my 2011 on a near 100º day. I now strongly suspect the TB scale has changed or the 2013 packs heat up faster

Now up until this past week (which included only one  QC but commutes of 174.3,  121.0 and 124.5 miles) I thought it was degradation until I saw this.

Like say what?? How am I back to the maximum 67.36 ahr and the maximum 284 GIDs but not the maximum available kwh ?  Something is up here! So the "final" word on degradation is... Stay tuned!

Anyway for the month of July, the Corolla drove 113.1 miles for an estimated cost of  $10.18.  This is an estimate since the last time gas was purchased was June 28th and the Corolla still registers more than 3/4th of that fill up.  Haven't gotten my pay stubs yet but the current rate is 40 cents a mile so if its the same I will get roughly $43 or so since all of the mileage I drove for the month is reimbursed I dont think. Remove the $31.25 for insurance and the car did pay off some of its ROI last month.  This does mean the Corolla wins the cheapest transportation of the month award!


The LEAF drove 1969.4 miles (nearly half of that in the last 9  days of the month!) for an estimated total cost of $40.95 or 2 cents a mile. This includes $6.75 in public charging fees.  Work reimbursement to be determined but definitely getting caught up.  Not sure if I mentioned this or not but its looking like I will  break even on ROI (IOW, no cost to drive the LEAF after work reimbursement) about the Middle of November!