Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The LEAFs Hidden Reserve; Yes, Its Another LEAF Spy Pitch!

**Disclaimer**

I am not a paid by LEAF Spy developer Jim in any way or form.  The opinions below are strictly mine and unbiased in any way.

We are now entering the 4th day of Winter which means two things;

Merry Christmas!!

and

We are quickly approaching post 1000 of "my range is dropping and I don't know why."

Forget that its cold and rainy and snowy.  Nearly all these statements are based on the GOM which pretty much explains everything. Do not use the GOM to evaluate your LEAF's performance.  It was never good for earlier model LEAFs but the 40 kwh LEAFs takes it a step farther by adding a significant amount of hidden range.


LEAF Spy Range Setting

LEAF Spy allows you to set your range based on "you" and "your" driving situation.  Now, there isn't any presets so you have to know a bit about your car.  This should be the easy part, right? You drive it every day and if you are resetting the trip meter every day, you have a pretty good idea of your miles/kwh performance.  There are a few settings you need to determine;

Efficiency

Now as we know, that number changes due to weather, rain, climate control usage, etc.  So a bit of data collection will go a long way towards getting you an accurate picture of just how far you can go but in reality, if you don't want to collect the data, that works too.  Simply pick a number and try it. At the end of the day, review the number against the car's and see if you need to adjust up or down while noting any specific situations that may have affected the numbers.

For me; I use a general average that low balls it a bit during Summer of 4.5 miles per kwh but use 3 different ones for Winter due to the much greater variance in weather and road conditions.

DoD   (Depth of Discharge)

This setting allows you to see what your range estimate is to a specific SOC.  There are presets for LBW and VLBW and a custom one you can choose from 1% to 25% in 1% increments.  Choose whatever you are comfortable with. For me? I want to know what my range is, period.  But 1% SOC is as low as it will go so that is what I chose.  Below we are looking at the two lower right boxes.

The one on top says I have 100.5 miles estimated to 1% SOC.   Tapping this box will toggle from my setting to LBW or VLBW.  The box below is using 3.6 miles/kwh to calculate my estimated range.


Now if 1% is just one of those "standing on a cliff peering over the side" kinda things for you, you can increase it up to 25% in the settings under the Range subcategory.


Drawbacks

Well nothing is perfect so knowing the limitations of the system you are using is simply a good thing, right?  First off, LEAF Spy range settings are a bit of trial and error.  There will always be a "first" time coming where your range will be well short of your LEAF Spy prediction.   After all, we are taking a full day's average and applying it minute by minute to our drive that includes uphills, downhills, tailwinds, headwinds and even unexpected squalls!  So how can one static number work for all that?

Well, obviously it doesn't so again, having an idea of your driving performance is the key.  Resetting the miles/kwh meter daily helps, is super easy to do and takes like 2 seconds.  Recording a daily log of driving for several months to cover the entire year of seasons you will see is not.  So like any good thing, there is no free lunch.

But as an EVer, I am guessing you already know that. The sheer volume of accessories you can buy to charge your car should be more than enough of a hint that being truly successful means thinking outside the box.

GOM Drift

This will make like what? entry #4 or 5 where I mentioned the inconsistency of the GOM range prediction.  The GOM is supposed to estimate your range remaining based on recent driving performance and the estimated charge available in the battery pack, right?

Uhhh, no.  Not even close.  In fact, I really have no clue how the GOM does its calculations and here is why I am confused.

The Test

Well driving around and recording GOM verses LEAF Spy numbers simply doesn't work due to the unquantifiable variability of real life conditions so, I figured the best way to overcome that variability is to use a static set of numbers for the GOM calculation just as LEAF Spy does all the time. To put it another way, I simply parked it.  This ensures that the "recent" driving history supposedly used by the GOM to calculate the range would not change.

GOM Bloat

So off to the charger I went putting 30 miles on the car to get a good reset of the miles/kwh meter.  Now we always complain our GOM drops fast in the morning completely deflating our elation at the lofty range we see first thing?  Well there is a reason for that.


From the dash we see the LEAF at 84% with a 137 mile estimate from a 4.2 mile/kwh performance. But LEAF Spy is telling us we will only get 123.7 miles at 4.0 miles per kwh.  So GOM is overestimating a range by 14.3 miles.

But wait!! you say. The car is doing better than LEAF Spy at 4.2 miles per kwh over the LEAF Spy's 4.0 miles per kwh so it should predict a higher range, right??  I will comment on this later but keep this in mind.

Like a Stopped Clock, the GOM is right...Once a charge



LOL!! Sorry couldn't resist that heading...  Now, here we are earlier in the same charge so the GOM is still using the very same "recent driving history" and guess what?? LEAF Spy agrees!! So the GOM is not "always" wrong, right?   Notice the SOC being so near the middle? Interesting, right!

Your LEAF's range is MUCH better than the GOM lets on

Truth be told; Who cares about how much range you have left when you have 100 miles? NO ONE!! What we care about is our range when the car has nothing to say but "_ _ _"

That is where LEAF Spy shines and quickly becomes an inconsequential expense when we realize just how much of a stress reliever it is!


Ok, now we have the GOM still using the same recent driving history saying we only have 32 miles of range (Which BTW, will disappear in about 22 miles...) while LEAF Spy says we have 43.1 miles of range.

Now for some reason, I don't have the shot I took before starting the charge which had my GOM at "_ _ _" and LEAF Spy at 17 miles but when I find it I will update it.


Drawbacks

Do I really need to list them out? Lets face it, even to most inexperienced EVer immediately recognized that the GOM was kinda...well full of it.   Now it should be a bit obvious that the GOM isn't as bad as we think with its bloated morning readings.   What is happening is a slow shift to the hidden reserve (This can be verified by the changing gap between LEAF Spy's real SOC verses the usable SOC on the dash)  resulting in a GOM error that ends up being relatively small or you could simply use the LEAF Spy reading which I find tends to be within 2-3%.  Of course this means you having had picked the correct number.


Finally, lets talk about that recent history a bit.  No one knows exactly how much "history" is used in producing the GOM figures (assuming the number is not pulled out from a magician's hat)  but since I was there, I can shed a bit more light on that.

First off, the 30 miles was done in two stints. The morning drive to work which was 12.1 miles and 3.6 miles per kwh.  So the afternoon part of the drive was MUCH more efficient than the 4.2 miles per kwh suggests which simply makes the error of the GOM larger than I have shown here.

IMHO, the GOM is Nissan's way of "babying" us.  Telling us what we want to hear.  Notice the SOC differences?  In the first pix, the dash SOC is 84% which represents usable SOC while LEAF Spy SOC is 83.2% which is real SOC.  In whose World does usable outdo real?? 

But as the SOC drops, Nissan moves towards making sure we don't put ourselves in a "tow of shame" situation which you can see in the last pix where usable is 19% while real is 29.2%   It's that lower gap that is really the whole point of this post.  What is really usable is completely dependent on your pack's balance since a single cell can shut the car down.  So there is no "magic GID" number that you can aim for.  I can say for certain, I have hit turtle at 9 GIDs and not seen Turtle at 5 GIDs.  So the bottom very much remains a mystery but at that point, we are talking less than a mile.

Conclusions

Said it once and will gladly say it again; LEAF Spy is by far the best investment I have made in helping to get the most out of my LEAFs.

The other conclusion; GOM is a very accurate name.  :)



Friday, December 7, 2018

Cold Verses LEAF!

Ok, so that long hot Summer is over and now the Mercury is dropping along with the LEAF range making public charging stops more likely than not.  With my light driving needs,  I have noticed a dramatic change in my LEAF's fast charge profile and its all about... You guessed it! Battery temperature again!

During the Summer, "RapidGate" was part of any trip planning. How to keep the pack temps low to ensure a reasonable fast charge speed during the trip.  There are really few options since normal driving was enough to raise temperatures during the warmer Summer days so it all became a question of which charge would be the one to shoot the battery temps beyond 110º F hoping that would be the last charge of the day allowing an overnight cool down.

Now, I noticed all this during our typical Fall weather which generally sees lows in the 40's, highs in the 50's.  Battery temps were in the mid to upper 50's.   But as luck would have it, we got a cold snap and a high pressure system parked over the Puget Sound region which means sunny days and COLD nights.  With temperatures plunging into the mid 20's, I felt this would be a good opportunity to see how far the knee moves.  It would also be nice to attempt a 3 TB reading as well!

The Test

To create a level playing field, I chose only DCFCs that will charge at least 122 Amps and they are not all created equal! The starting data is easy enough but I designated the "knee" when amperage drops below the max amperage for the machine at least 2 consecutive readings (This is not rocket science. The knee is VERY obvious) .  As always, the numbers fluctuate quite a bit so 124 amps is normal. Realize with a 50 KW charger, the theoretical max on a 400 volt pack is 125 amps.

Created equally??  The station I picked at Tacoma Mall
 simply because I know better.

A Tesla Model X who didn't. They got there first and selected 
the "runt of the litter" (this station also happens to be the
closest to the Mall. Things we do to save 4...no, 3 steps!)


 But it wasn't always this way. Same station 18 months ago when it
was only a 40 KW (100 amp max) charger.  Notice the knee on my 30
kwh LEAF?? Now THOSE were the good old days!


And yes, the 30 kwh LEAF was hampered by the cold (Notice I used the slow charger?
This was before they added the 3rd DCFC so selection was not nearly as good back then!)
But this slowdown I was ok with!

Below is a "worst to first" list of charge sessions. I bolded the key points of each observation which would be starting battery temperatures and the SOC of the knee.  The temperature of the charger does not appear to affect the speed of the charger. At least on OAT into the mid 20's.

From The Bottom!

Dec 5; start; Batt temps; 48.7/47.6/45.8  SOC;32.2 Max Amps; 123.901
Dec 5; knee; Batt temps; 61.7/61.3/58.3 SOC; 47.3




Cold Kills! This was a 26 min charge session, by far the longest one. I got 15.03 
kwh charging at 82 amps (31 KW) at 63% SOC with batt temps in mid to upper 70's. 
To contrast, I gained over 11 kwh in 15 mins on the "warm" battery charges!

Dec 3; Start; Batt temps; 56.5/55.8/52.7  SOC; 25.8,  Max Amps 124.015
Dec 3; Knee; Batt temps; 74.7/74.8/69.6 SOC; 49.2

Nov 30 . start;  Batt temps; 56.7/56.8/55.7  SOC; 27.5  Max Amps; 124.2
Nov 30   knee; Batt temps ; 75.9/76.8/73.2  SOC; 51.6%

Nov 26; start; Batt temps; 60.1/60.1/58.6 SOC; 29.5 Max Amps; 124.145
Nov 26; knee; Batt temps; 77.9/78.6/74.7 SOC; 52.6

Nov 22; start; Batt temps; 59.8/60.1/58.5  SOC; 26.5 Max Amps; 123.433
Nov 22; knee; Batt temps; 79.9/81.2/76.8 SOC; 52.9

Nov 23; start; Batt temps; 57.6/56.7/55.2  SOC; 37.9  Max Amps; 124.053
Nov 23; knee; Batt temps; 70.3/70.0/67.1  SOC; 53.2

Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 53.0/51.0/46.7  SOC; 47.6  Max Amps; 123.748
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 60.5/59.0/54.3  SOC; 56.4

12/6 EVGO Tacoma Charge 1


Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 68.9/67.3/60.3  SOC; 38.6  Max Amps; 122.948
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 83.7/82.8/74.3  SOC; 57.3

Dec 06; start; Batt temps; 86.8/84.8/75.6  SOC; 49.6  Max Amps; 123.765
Dec 06; knee; Batt temps; 97.2/95.8/85.4  SOC; 63.4

  12/6 Charge 3 knee



Warm Pack!

Now, all is not lost.  You can still get a good charge! It just won't be the first one. This can be an advantage. If you are like me, the need for stops on a road trip tend to be earlier in the trip. In my case, its due to my loading up on coffee in the morning along with taking a full cup on the road with me. This almost always means my first stop is required within the first 60 minutes.  For those without home charging, this can also work out especially if you have enough charge to get at least an hour down the road.    (Easy with 40 kwh!)

Now we all know the battery temps rise just from normal driving. Maybe its the higher regen profile of E-Pedal that is responsible? Either way, I decided to see if this is true when its REALLY (well for this area anyway) cold! On the three 12/6 charges, I drove from Lacey to Tacoma to Centralia to Tumwater.  It was Sunny and cold with OAT running 37-42º and I noticed that the battery temps rose steadily as it always does when on the freeway doing 65 mph but it seemingly hit a wall at 69-70º. This is good!


Departing Tacoma Mall


Arrive Centralia 51 miles later. Batt temps barely budged!


Depart Centralia.  Drive to Tumwater 65-70 mph. Heat use reduced
since its now so warm! Distance 23 miles


Arrive Tumwater. Batt temps down! Have to admit, my SOC
was a bit higher than I needed it to be so I drove a bit "less
efficiently"

Captain Crunch

All the charge sessions lined up pretty well except the first 12/6 charge at Tacoma Mall. On retrospect, I should have used a different location. It was one of the two EVGO sessions used. (Nov 22)  Notice the batt temps lower than the Nov 23 charge but a significantly higher knee?   The differences include;

Distance driven before charging;  All the charges except 12/6 sessions, I drove from Lacey to Tumwater, about 10 miles before charging. Tacoma was a 23 mile drive.  This suggests a less than optimal placing of temperature sensors. Guessing true pack temp was higher but had not yet equalized causing temperature sensors to read lower. 

OAT; Most of the others (despite low battery temperatures) were drives down with temps ranging from low 50's to low 60's. The only exception was 12/5 when it was 35º.  Tacoma Mall drive ranged from 22º in Lacey to 35º in Tacoma

SOC was a bit higher than other charge starts but I don't think that played a part. Back when I noticed the early knee, I thought unplugging the car after it warmed a bit and restarting charge would restore knee but...that didn't work. I am not sure if its was simply not enough time between unplugging and restarting charge or what?


Now this charge graph looks confusing but what happened is I started a charge and knee kicked in at 50% SOC which was a shocker. It is rare that I sit with car while charging but this was one of those times. I unplugged immediately suspecting cold pack and restarted it but batteries were only in low 60's so figured not warm enough so I let it run until batts got to low 70's and unplugged again. As you can see, on restart, the charge hit full speed for about...5 seconds and plunged immediately. This basically kept the pack from warming up at all.  I now realized my starting and stopping the charge made it worse (not to mention the 3 minute wind up time for Webasto stations!)  essentially resulting is a "Reverse RapidGate" 

Conclusions

Should be obvious here.  FYI; Probably not an accident, but for LEAF Spyless LEAFers, The sweet spot is dead center on the TB screen, 6 segments.   Obviously there are holes in the data but the cold is almost done and other opps to do this will come eventually but will have to wait. There are still a lot of holes to fill. Then we can chart! 

  So is "87 Heaven?"  Well, maybe. 87º still allowed the max amperage on a charge and as we know, that is very close to the point we see RapidGate kicking in.  Maybe its different in Winter? Maybe Nissan considers OAT in their algorithm?  Maybe the key is examining the spread of the 3 temperatures?  

As always, stay tuned! 


Sidenotes

Eco mode allows a moderation of pedal input designed to reduce motor response so you can drive more "smoothly."  Its like mouse settings on your computer where your mouse has to move a certain number of pixels before there is any movement on the screen.  Obviously for game players, this should be very small but for the rest of us, a bit of "dead zone" is what we generally prefer.

But Eco also lowers power output to climate controls as well but if looking to boost range in Winter there is also another thing to consider and that is fan speed.  Below is two LEAF Spy screenshots taken a few mins apart.  Each shows the "settled" power usage of heat with fan speed of 2 and a fan speed of 5. As you can see, there is quite the difference.



Some background. I left my house at 5:50 AM so wanted to "equalize" power a bit to eliminate the very high power output that happens initially.  Fan speed 2 usually starts at 2500 watts but drops down quickly to 2000 dropping again to the 1750 you see within 3-4 mins.  Depending on OAT, it could stay at 1750 for entire duration of trip (11.8 miles and 16-20 mins) but have seen it drop to as low as 1250 on those super mild days.  For some reason it takes what I consider to be an inordinately long time for OAT temp to settle. As you can see, there is quite the difference.  Based on weather station reports (not official national weather mind you) in the area, temps ranged from 39 to 41º

Fan speed 5 gets up to 3750 and about half the time, it may drop to 3250 during the trip in this temperature range. I have seen it as low as 2500 in warmer weather.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

November 2018 Drive Report; Its Winter Which Means The Beginning Of "IceGate"

The expected rush at work has not materialized which is fine by me. We had one pretty busy week but things have settled down a bit and yes, I am enjoying the extra time off!  As is the norm, Winter means more staying at home, gorging on comfort food, wrapped in a blanket while taking full advantage of my Netflix subscription.  In previous years, work forced me to drive a lot but that is no longer an issue as my 24 mile RT commute means a 75 min charge every morning is more than enough to last the day!

The Stats

LEAF drove 927.6 miles costing me $7.71 on the power bill or .83 cents per mile helped out by 153.788 kwh from NCTC at zero cost.   Without NCTC, my cost would have been $20.93 or 2.26 cents per kwh.  There was a rise in my power bill going from 8.5 cents/kwh to 8.6 cents/kwh. Rounding?? Either way, it was an acceptable outlay of cash. There was a milestone reached when adding in the $7.71 in public charging fees to my home electricity costs to put me over the $100 mark for the LEAF over the first 13½ thousand miles or so.  Getting expensive...

The Battery

Well, its another one of those months when the BMS did not do any resets or calibrations. I lost .05% SOH during the month.  Now will have to say, I have continued my goal of keeping SOC fairly low. During the 4 day work week, I always have enough to drive one sometimes two days before needing a charge but on the last 2 or 3 days of the week, I plug in when I get up in the morning and unplug when leaving for work which means about 75 mins of charging a day. This keeps my SOC between 25-45% more or less but also keeps my pack fairly cold. The batts have pretty much been in the low to upper 50'sº F for the most part.  I would post my extrapolated degradation prediction but I think I will wait till Jan to do that in case an adjustment does pop up like it did in October.  But month ending numbers

Ahr; 109.31
SOH; 94.68
Hx; 117.97

As far as noticable range loss, that is a tough question so can only extrapolate from yesterday (SOC was up to 84%) and yeah, I know that would be December stats but...no one's perfect, right! :)

I would have roughly 162 miles of range. Now that is a very rough estimate and GOM based on city/suburban driving along with a lot of heat. (It has been FRIGID here!)

IceGate

Well, it didn't take long for me to notice my knee (the point when DCFC stops providing max amperage on a charge) was plunging almost as fast as the Mercury!   The other day, I recorded a knee at 45%!  Granted batteries were cold so repeated the charge a few days later getting similar results on the first charge but seeing a knee at 61.1% on the 2nd when pack was warmer (80º verses 55º)

As always, I will dissect the logs for specifics, collect several more charges and report back here.

eLEAF

Finally, a news agency has reported the eLEAF will launch in January at the CES in Las Vegas. Rumors state no liquid cooling. I am very much ok with that. During my visits to Nissan World HQ, they were pretty adamant in stating that liquid cooling opened up risks to the driver they were not willing to take on.  Now a well designed heat exchanger using using conditioned air in Summer and cabin air in Winter that also assists with cabin warming would be the way to go.



Saturday, December 1, 2018

Beyond Carlos Ghosn and Andy Palmer, Was Nissan Ever A True EV Proponent?

In The Beginning

It was November 2010 and despite it being rainy Western WA, it was not raining but it was cold, very cold.  But that did not deter me or the hundreds of others who gathered at Southcenter Mall in Tukwila WA to get a chance to see and drive the new 2011 Nissan LEAF.

For years, it had been my dream to drive electric. There were no downsides I saw and it was a good for the environment, good for the economy (Especially in Washington State where we had no hydrocarbon resources but tons of clean electricity) and good for me.

But options were few.  I started with Priuses in 2004 and loved the the short stints of EV only operation and the challenges of getting higher and higher MPGs from each tank of gas.  The excitement ratcheted ever higher in May 2009 when I got the newly released (to few early adopters) 2010 Prius that now had a dedicated EV only button!

But like the ZENN I picked up in Oct, 2007, it was limited. The 2010 Prius wouldn't go much faster than 20-25 mph in EV only mode and only for a mile or so. My ZENN, despite being my daily commuter for 3+ years was barely any better. It had lead acid batteries and monumental battery issues (making LEAF a HUGE step up) complicated by the fact that I had mine modified to go 35 mph since Washington allows NEVs (Neighborhood Electric Vehicles) to go that fast along with Montana (of all places) the only 2 states that allowed NEVs to go faster than 25 mph.

But my employer allowed me to use a 120 volt outlet so I was golden for my 16 mile commute. My co-workers hated seeing me doing whatever they could to pass me on the 4 lane Yelm Highway (speed limit 40 mph) so they wouldn't get stuck behind me on Henderson Blvd (two lane road with big hill) where the hill would slow me to 25 mph...

But the desire to EV... to like another town was unfulfilled. It soon started to gnaw on me. I decided to take a two pronged approach by getting a Lithium pack upgrade for the ZENN to boost range to 50 miles and get a pack add on for the Prius to get me almost the same EV range but all that did not come cheap back then so a lot of investigating and comparison pricing was needed.

Now the add on pack for the Prius was easy enough. Other than a handful of DIYers, there was essentially only one option.  But the ZENN thing was completely different. It was all about choosing the right cells at the right price and the landscape was changing fast. I had finally decided early in 2010 on a Chinese source and was ready to order when I hear about the LEAF. It was January, 2010.

Here was an affordable, highway capable EV.  Realize at the time, the only option was the $100+K Tesla Roadster which was is and never will be an option for me.

So I read all I could find about this LEAF car (took all of 10 minutes) and decided that was what I get.  So now it was get in line to order,  start liquidating assets (after all, had 2 Pruises, F-150 and a ZENN.  Not only did I not need all that, I didn't have room to park what I already had!)

So April 10, 2010, I reserved a chance to RAQ (Request a Quote) and received invite for that Sept 30, 2010 which I did within 10 mins of receiving the email to do so becoming one of the first LEAFer in the state of WA on Jan 18, 2011 when I picked up my 2011 SL.  This began a long relationship that continues to this day with a company I thought shared the same ideology of EV mobility.

I realized as an early adopter, it was important to relay my experiences and feelings, both good and bad. There was little bad (despite HUGE range anxiety and a near absent public charging network) and a lot of good. Yeah, I was restricted to a circle of roughly 40ish miles I could drive but every day, it became better.  I was lucky to live in a town that received one of the first Chargepoint chargers in the Summer of 2010 but then again, it was 6 miles from home. What I needed was something away from home and that was just around the corner as Chargepoint, Blink, and Aerovironment came online.

My LEAF's useability was bolstered by battery monitoring apps like  GIDmeter and LEAF Spy.  The rapidly expanding public charging network was soon to be tracked with Plugshare. All of which soon became essential tools for any EVer.

Anticipating The Future

I was also lucky enough to be invited as part of a group to Nissan World Headquarters in Yokohama,  Japan where we were advised the 40 kwh LEAF would be arriving along with infiniti EVs in a program that was spearheaded by Andy Palmer. Each year would see a new EV or Plug in entry to the Nissan stable. His excitement over Nissan future electric mobility plans was infectious but as things turn out, he never go to see them thru.  Aston Martin lured him away fulfilling his lifelong dream to be the Chief of an auto company.

Well, the 40 kwh LEAF still happened but the infiniti EV did not nor did any other plug in.  What was even more surprising is that after nearly 8 years, Nissan still only had one EV entry in the North American Market.

The Bombshell

Ghosn was arrested by Japanese officials for income reporting irregularities and corporate spending spanning nearly a decade.  Soon it became apparent, the arrest was due to the concerted efforts by Nissan officials to discredit Ghosn.

In Japan honor holds a much higher place than most societies. In a situation where a powerful figure in a company makes mistakes intentionally or unintentionally, it is the generally accepted practice to minimize blame on a person especially in the public eye.  Punishment still happens but it done in a low key and private manner. But Ghosn's arrest was anything but literally creating arguably THE news story of the decade in Japan.

But as the details untangled, fault became murky.  Nissan accused Ghosn of using corporate cash for personal gain especially in homes Ghosn supposedly purchased. It soon degraded into a "he said, she said"  where Ghosn claimed he did not own the various houses and that they were corporate homes used while engaged in his corporate duties that involved extensive travel while running companies on two different continents.

There was also a question of how Nissan finance controls and bookkeeping could allow many many millions to spent illegally over several years without stopping or mentioning it long ago. IOW, there is a lot of indicators that Nissan knew what was going on but looked the other way because during this time, Ghosn was in the process of rescuing Nissan from the brink of bankruptcy.

The final step in his plan was a merger between Renault and Nissan to become one of the largest car companies in the World but it seems that Nissan had tired of foreigners running things and the arrest was their way of "purging" the company and putting it back in control of the Japanese.

What's Next?

The details of the arrest and the outcome are still pretty much up in the air so all the above is simply speculation but it does give me an understanding to several things including why Nissan has moved so slowly in the EV arena.  It would appear that Ghosn was very much fighting a battle with odds stacked against him.  Again, after nearly 8 years, no 2nd EV offering from Nissan while sister company Renault (obviously more accepting of Ghosn) has a few along with the Nissan's own eNV EV in Europe.

It is also interesting to note that the elephant in the room, Toyota has also nearly EVless in its offerings making me think if Nissan hadn't had financial issues and didn't need a bailout would they be offering "any" EV at all right now?

But the final straw happened earlier this week when Nissan announced that they would be delaying the announcement of the 2019 longer range "eLEAF" due to the possibility of the excitement level of the car being undermined by the headlines of the arrest.

SAY WHAT?? What kind of logic is that?  Its the logic of making sure that Ghosn does not rise from the canvas.  Its the "kicking the dead horse" move rubbing Salt in the wound so the Japanese don't forget.

But let's be honest. If Nissan officials were serious about "fixing things" after this supposedly disastrous Ghosn incident, the easiest way to forget bad is to replace it with good... and the sooner the better.  But that is apparently not Nissan's plan.




Saturday, November 24, 2018

E-Pedal Verses B Mode

Why is this even a question!!  E-Pedal is by far the best innovation on the 2018 LEAF!  I like AEB but E-Pedal is a dream!

But some feel that E-Pedal uses friction braking too much which lowers efficiency. Now, how they got this idea is anyone's guess.  E-Pedal does use friction braking if the SOC is high, E Pedal will engage more friction braking in order to minic E Pedal at lower or "normal" SOC levels but for the most part, friction braking is used primarily at VERY low speeds.

Well, it became quickly apparent that just saying E-Pedal is better wasn't going to work. People simply got it in their heads that certain things were happening and and that was that so this is my attempt to "data dump" naysayers into submission!

So armed with a good charge (75% is highest SOC my LEAF has seen in months) Fully charged LEAF Spy phone (and LEAF Spy of course)  off I went.

Now the first thing we need to know is that LEAF Spy on your phone changes rather slowly.  You can see this by watching power output.  Take your foot off the E Pedal and the motor power should show regen. The delay from the pedal movement to the LEAF Spy screen is significant. a few seconds.  Depending on timing of that delay, it can be hard to get values especially when we are only looking for max values and with regen levels we are expecting, max values will only last a few seconds unless going down very steep hills.  So several runs will be needed to determine a good close approximation.  Then the best course is downloading and reviewing the log files which can be opened in any spreadsheet program.  This allows sorting of any value which makes gathering peak values quite easy. 

To lessen the possibility of errors, I decided to do this over several days hoping for different temperature ranges to see if they had an effect. I also QC'd before each run to heat pack at least into the low 80's.  Was aiming for the upper 80's but one day, pack started at 51º and temps basically stopped rising about 75% SOC so had to settle for low 80's.  Close enough, I think.

I also separated the E-Pedal runs and Eco B mode runs into separate days as well.  So if LEAF Spy's granularity is so poor, why use it?  Well, the ability to download the data and sort in a spreadsheet is obvious but if that isn't enough consider...

We have a power meter on the dash that shows power or regen and like most Nissan instrumentation, it should be ignored. Ok, maybe that last statement was a bit over the top.  There is a small meter that is visible on most screens that has 8 regen segments and 16 power segments or we can use the dedicated screen that doubles the segments for both.   Should be enough, right?  WRONG!

Well... maybe not "completely" wrong as long as one understands the meter uses different scaling for each drive mode. In retrospect I do understand why people might think  E-Pedal uses a lot of friction braking because everyone knows the slowdown in E-Pedal is much more severe than B mode but what if they found out that E-Pedal's regen has a 50% higher ceiling?

The Test

We all know E-Pedal slows the car dramatically faster than B mode does although B mode does a pretty good job as well, just not quite as fast. If there is a slight upwards slope to the road, B mode will slow the LEAF to nearly a complete stop. But creep will allow the car to continue to... well, creep.   Sadly, even E-Pedal has creep enabled.  Creep power is small, roughly 150-200ish watts or so but even at a standstill, E-Pedal is still using this 150 watts just like D mode, B mode, and likely reverse (You will have to check on that)

Now both E-Pedal and B mode do quite well with moderated regen.  And this is how most (including me) drive 90% of the time.  Its gradual slowdowns mixed with shorter more aggressive deceleration.  So all this is dealing with the remaining 10% where speeds are much less predictable due to traffic, controls, crazy drivers, etc.   So the target of the test is finding out why E-Pedal slows faster.

B Mode

I did several runs using B mode only (no braking) at high speeds on steep downhill slopes in order to hit max regen as long as possible. After collecting several data points, the best B mode could do was 36.8 KW.   Below is an edited version of LEAF Spy logs. No values were changed. I simply removed extra fields that do not pertain to the topic for clarity.

B Mode Regen

What I did is sorted the values based on amperage to show highest readings of the day.  I highlighted the regen entries. The other entries are charging at a DCFC which is easy to discern since we were not moving at the time. I used the formula Volts*Amps for regen power.  I have SEVERAL data points but I am showing this because it shows two different battery temperature ranges. This resolves the small difference.  With batteries colder, regen was lower at 35.6 KW; not significant as we shall soon see. 

B Mode Regen High SOC

Here we see even lower regen  of 34 KW but this is at a higher SOC which is to be expected.  I suspect in a brand new pack, max regen in B mode is likely close to 40 KW. Unfortunately LEAF Spy does not designate what drive mode (at least I don't think it does. the log files are HUGE) so I was unable to go back to earlier logs to see if the regen profile had changed.  So this is only a guess based on the actions of previous LEAFs with degradation. 

E-Pedal

I wrote in my blog back in March 2018 that I was able to hit 60 KW in regen. At the time I wondered why I could not charge at that rate (Note; The charge restriction is obviously a programmed restriction by Nissan illustrated by "Rapidgate" issue that plagues all 40 and 62 kwh North American LEAFs) but I guess the short duration of that very high regen level could be endured by a system designed to do only 50 KW...  So I already knew going in that the reason E-Pedal slows the car much faster is because it regen's on a completely different level. 

E-Pedal Regen

It was my plan to do 3 days of E-Pedal just like I had done 3 days of B mode but after reviewing the first day, I felt the point is well proven. This chart we will break down in segments. 

Line 1; Cold pack, low SOC; 57.6 KW

Line 2; warm pack, higher SOC; 57.5 KW

Line 3; "low" speed  52 KW

Well, the difference couldn't be any more dramatic. Even at street level speeds, the regen in E-Pedal is nearly 50% higher. I am relatively sure this negates any friction braking losses which I still contend, only happen at speeds likely under 3-4 mph or... the same time you would have to brake in B mode if a complete stop is needed. 

Conclusions

This blog is NOT intended to say one mode over another is the best. Again, each mode with its regen profile allows X time to react to changing driving conditions.  This makes it obvious that the mode that can react the quickest, is the best in most circumstances. We have all heard Gerber Collision and Glass radio commercial about the guy bee bopping down the road without a care in the World because all situations developed slow enough that he had time to react. Unrealistic? Yep and that is how Gerber Collision and Glass makes money. Because things can happen in a split second, but "most" things happen with a 3-5 second window. 

Just because E-Pedal can regen at 58 KW doesn't mean you need all that. It can regen as little as you want and yeah, in emergency situations, braking will still be needed but that teeny tiny bit of extra slowing caused by an "additional"  29 KW of regen could be the difference between a racing heartbeat and a ticket and a $1500 front end repair for tapping the car in front of you. 

Safety

After all that is said and done, lets be personal.  I can't for the life of me understand anyone who does not use E-Pedal ALL the time.  I stand by my statement that this is THE best thing Nissan has put on the LEAF since heated seats!

**WARNING SARCASM ALERT ***

Finally; I do not have much to say about this simply because EVERYONE has very strong opinions about this but E-Pedal has simply gone overboard with the brake lights.  Have you ever driven around on an empty dark street and watched your brake light action? Its INSANE. They come on all the time for even the slightest slow down and whats worse. They stay on until you speed up!!

I mean this fact alone means that B Mode is much more efficient since it NEVER ACTIVATES THE BRAKE LIGHTS EVER!!  Think of the power saved by not having to light up! 

So if you are into driving in bumper to bumper traffic in B mode with your brake lights hardly ever coming on, then there is no need to read this blog. 

EDIT; Had to add the sarcasm alert since a few people simply missed the humor I was trying to input.


EDIT;

After several people contended that friction braking is enabled in E Pedal even at higher speeds, I have begun a test of efficiency that will last several weeks. Since I am not going to just "drive around" in a circle or any other type of attempted close course, I can only average my results over an extended period of time. I did start the testing before the weather got warmer and drier but did miss the colder part of the year so will be adding that later this year but will be posting at least initial findings when I have enough "hot weather" data collected so stay tuned.

It does look like the best for efficiency is B mode for most driving using E Pedal for rapid slowdowns and full stops.  This does not change the fact that E Pedal is still a dream come true in stop and go traffic!

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Is Volkswagen's Punishment For DieselGate Suddenly Become An Advantage?

Green Car Reports on VW expected pricing.
https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1119827_base-price-of-vws-electric-cars-could-be-as-low-as-21000


In 2015, The US Government brought suit against Volkswagen for intentionally defeating the required emission testing for its "clean diesel" fleet.  For years, VW had confounded the auto industry in its ability to provide a powerful, high MPG car that easily met an increasingly strict diesel emission standard set by the United States.

Faced with indisputable evidence of tampering, VW admitted it had installed special software that would greatly reduce emissions (and power) during testing. Since the car was not actually moving, the reduced power levels went unnoticed.  As soon as the testing was done, the software was disabled and the VW with its power restored was passed.  But now its emissions were as much as 300% over the limits that other manufacturers were being held to.

Over half a million vehicles were involved having been sold and driven for years in the US.  If you were ever stuck behind one of them with the vents open, your "clean diesel" thoughts were right. They were far from clean.

Eventually courts levied up to 25 Billion in fines (the figure is inexact due to cost variances in the choices offered current VW owners) which included 2 Billion to be invested in public charging infrastructure evenly divided in 4 phases covering 10 years.  Phase one concentrating on completing a major highway network with stations ideally 80ish miles apart is slated to be completed by Summer 2019.

  EA Network Phase One

As of this writing, 30 locations are now open for business; many in key areas where other charging options are minimal or non existent. But one thing has become quite clear; The network is becoming less punitive and more advantageous to VW's future EV plans with every station opening up and it seems like we are all but accepting of that fact. 

The SC Advantage

Tesla knew that their high priced cars would be much more attractive if they were able to be used well beyond their stated range. The Supercharger network exclusive to Tesla's allows exactly that to happen. Being an EV only manufacturer, it was easy for Tesla to make this mulimillion dollar decision but other EV manufacturers still rely very heavily on their carbon fueled products making an EV only investment of that magnitude that much harder to justify.  But the benefits of public charging are undeniable and most EV manufacturers have spent some money to that end. But a network that fails to cover the country end to end is exactly that; a failure.  A reason to keep gassing.

Electrify America

EA was created by VW to install and manage the network independent of VW... Well, at least that is what was stated on paper. 

VW set up a new subsidiary called Electrify America to build the network independently from the company. The chargers will not be proprietary to VW and use Combined Charging System (CCS), CHAdeMO and open protocols like Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP).

So its a win-win for all, right!!

WRONG!!

So far every station built has been using the same pattern.  They are advertised as having "at least" 4 high powered stations to be used by CCS and Chademo compatible EVs.   This implies equal access when the fact is EVERY site so far has ZERO exclusive access for Chademo compatible EVs.



Dual Format Charger; EA Site Albany OR Walmart
CCS Only Chargers; EA Site Albany OR Walmart

During my Oregon Coast trip, I took I-5 on the return so had a chance to see the Albany OR EA site at the Walmart there.  This site is advertised as having 4 CCS stations and one Chademo station implying that if you are the only Chademo compatible EV there, you are guaranteed a plug. This couldn't be farther from the truth. 

In the top picture we see that the chademo plug is actually part of a dual format machine that anyone who has used EVGO would be very familiar with. Unfortunately (despite the additional power available) only one side can be used at a time.  These stations won't even queue a 2nd car despite rumors stating they do have the capability.  

This means its possible a LEAFer or Souler could pull in with only ONE EV charging and not be able to charge if the ONE CCS compatible EV chose the dual format station.  Sounds ridiculous? It doesn't to me.  I have encountered a ton of clueless EVers out there including plug ins with only J1772 spending way more than a few minutes trying to figure out how to make the fast charger work. 

Another thing to consider is Tesla's (except the 3) can use Chademo but not CCS which means even less likely to have access to the single chademo plug. 

CCS Advantage

Ok so CCS is not a proprietary VW thing so how can they work it to their advantage?  How about pricing Chademo's out of the market.  EA announced pricing that includes a modest connect fee of a buck but an outrageous per minute fee.  Chademo is currently restricted to 50 KW (with no plans to upgrade) while CCS is slated to be at least 150 KW with 350 KW options for the upcoming 800 volt systems that will be hitting the streets next year. 

The outrageously high per minute cost will all but guarantee that older LEAFs (ramp down happens around 40%) won't be taking up any space here.  Even the 30 kwh LEAFs and Souls (full speed charging to near 80%) will be cutting their visits short. With an 80 mile distance between chargers, they will likely not visit at all. 

Finally (not really) don't be surprised when VW or Audi (VW in disguise) starts offering special sweetheart deals to EA's network. They have already delayed their big EV push so they won't be in direct competition price wise with Tesla or Chevy and their reduced fed perks.  

All in all, a great way to minimize the pain of their penalty, right?  Too bad the government did not demand cash and hand it over to EVGO or someone else to spend on the network instead. 


EA Report Card

At this point, I would struggle to give them a C.  Many feel that they are doing a great job of rolling out the network since several have opened all in the last 6 months but EA is behind on its timetable having promised to have 200 plugs by the end of Q4 2018. That does not seem very likely especially considering the very slow progress being made in California.  

Now if missing the timetable was all there was to it (Tesla's planned urban SC rollout has been MUCH worse) they would have scored better but the placement has been horrific. 

Its quite obvious that EA is scrambling to play catch up desperate for host sites.  In my area when the entire Olympic Peninsula remains uncovered, they have placed two sites literally within 2 miles of each other in Everett WA. Why? mostly because that is how Walmart is. They swoop in and dominate the retail landscape and Everett was big enough to warrant more than one Walmart but 2 miles apart??? 

But that isn't even the worst example.  North Bend Outlets has been host to EVGO for years and soon, less than 200 feet away, EA will also be there!

Access is another story.  EVGO has dual format stations and although you can't queue your EV like Blink does, at least you have a parking space while you wait. Doesn't sound like much but its INVALUABLE on a busy weekend when the station is located at a mall or smaller parking lots where space is a premium. 

But EA doesn't seem to understand that.  I am sure you noticed the EA Albany site that has 4 stations and only 4 parking spots. Design oversight? Nope. 

Hope Arkansas EA Site. No queuing here!

Now is this simply piss poor planning from EA? Or is it site host restrictions? If the locations were up front, I could see Walmart having an issue with giving up too many prime parking spaces but every site I have seen so far is located far away from the front parking spaces (A lesson EVGO needs to learn!!)  In fact; the placement of the stations in non prime parking areas is the ONLY reason why EA didn't get an F.   In all the pictures and site visits so far, the thought of stretching a cord from an adjoining parking space in the next row is not an option either. It almost seems as if to ensure cheap and easy access to feeder lines, green space was selected over blacktop.  

Now, this is only phase one of four so holding out hope that things will improve with both location, access and balance but then again, the adage; "Its so bad, we can't possibly get worse" applies quite well here. 


**EDIT**

Looks like I am not the only one unhappy with EA...





Friday, November 9, 2018

2018 LEAF Drive Computer

Recently involved in conversation with 2018 LEAFer who was complaining that his LEAF was no longer able to make a weekly trip comfortably as it had done so many times before in the recent past.

His issue was quite obvious in that its now November,  Winter is just around the corner, and EV ranges tend to go... well, you know.  So I started asking questions and

1) He did not have LEAF Spy but that was not a game ender.

2) He did give a bare bones description of his drive (no distance mentioned)

3) He posted a screen shot of Trip A distance (which was reset) and the Battery SOC meter.

4) After asking him to post his trip computer a few times, he finally did but also said it had not been reset for the trip.

WHAT???

I get that he was probably new but at the same time, he was completely unprepared to make a trip that taxes the range of the LEAF.  Having LEAF Spy makes it all much easier but if you don't have it,  don't fret. You still have the car and despite its  instrument's huge drawbacks, you can still find out just about all you need to know anyway.

Details are still sketchy despite an extensive back and forth conversation on Facebook, but it would appear that he arrived at his destination with 1% then QC'd to 90% and then posted his dilemma online.  As a new EVer, he was simply unaware of how the changing seasons affected his range. But even seasoned EVers get caught short when underestimating the range loss caused by the weather that day.  Wind, water on the road, temperatures, climate control needs, etc. They all make a difference.

Normally, this is where I say "Get LEAF Spy!"  but if you don't have it or you ordered the parts and chose the free Amazon shipping option and their "5 to 8 day" window balloons to 3 weeks,  here is what you can do in the meantime.


Drive Computer



This is my Drive Computer screen available on the 2018 LEAF. When cruising around, this screen occupies the dash 95% of the time.  This displays the 4 parameters shown above and each parameter can be reset individually thru the menu but in my case, I simply press and hold the OK button (center button on 4 way nav panel, left side steering wheel) a few seconds to reset the entire computer.

All this is part of my logging process that has existed with minor changes since getting my 2004 Prius June 30, 2004.  I logged daily driving stats along with fuel/maintenance costs to determine my overall TCO.  I reset Trip A daily, Trip B on the first of every month.

Doing this daily made it easy for me to customize my LEAF Spy settings. I use 5 basic settings for estimated ranges. One for Summer (4.7 miles per kwh) and 4 for Winter.  This gives me an estimated range based on my selected miles/kwh setting.  As I drive, I monitor the Drive Computer to see how well my prediction is working out. Sometimes I have to adjust my driving and speed to make my goal but that also means that sometimes I have extra which means 70 mph instead of 60... :)

2018 LEAF Sheet One

Here is page one of my 2018 LEAF. I have other pages in the same file for maintenance,  monthly summaries, graphed battery trends, etc.  

Now a lot of you probably think I am crazy but to me its a hobby, one that involves not much of my time. In my case, LEAF Spy data plays a huge part in helping me evaluate and understand what my LEAF can do but using the Drive Computer can go a long way towards helping others do the same. 

Lets go back to the person I was talking about earlier.  Its my guess, he did not stop to charge until he got to his destination. He may not have had any other viable choice but if he had options, he could have noticed his miles per kwh was significantly lower than normal and realized that he would be short.  So instead of charging from very low to nearly full (which will generate a TON of heat and time) he could have made a much shorter stop enroute for a quick 20-30 min bump. Realize that the LEAF will charge at full speed up to 60% SOC with "not hot" batteries.   After that it slows and that slowing is dramatic with SOC exceeds 80%.  This would have allowed him to get to his destination, visit (while his pack cools off a bit) then start back home with maybe enough to stop at the same station for a charge but this time being closer to home with a higher remaining SOC.  Overall, his charge time would probably have been a bit shorter but his level of anxiety definitely would have been much lower. 

Even if there are no convenient fast chargers on his route, he could have noticed his less than expected performance and made small adjustments to his driving. Most are shocked at how much extra range they add by reducing their speed as little as 5 kph.  The sooner he realizes this, the greater the additional range. 

To summarize;  GET LEAF SPY!!! but if your Amazon delivery date is 3 weeks away, that Drive Computer can go a long way towards understanding how well your LEAF is coping with the change in weather.  Take my advice; reset it EVERY day and especially before any long trips you make on a regular basis.  This will also give you a handle on your eventual degradation when you compare your miles/kwh against the remaining SOC.  So, no the LEAF instrumentation is not very helpful, but it is consistent and understanding the changes of the numbers provided over time will help you. 



Thursday, November 8, 2018

October 2018 Drive Report; The Holiday Season Begins!

The Stats

As expected, my driving slows down a lot in Winter. Simply more into comfort food and Netflix I guess so only drove 935 miles. Since my needs were low, public charging becomes more of an inconvenience for the most part. I actually only charged due to need once, the rest simply because its free!

Because I only got 85.66 free kwh, my cost per mile "ballooned" to 1.38 cents (LT average is .63 cents BTW)  Had I not used any freebie juice, I would have still remained tier one with cost of 2.13 cents per mile which is actually lowest rate yet in my 2018 (average 2.2-2.3 cents per mile) probably from the lack of 70 mph highway jogs...

The Battery

If you have not already heard, I had some HUGE hits to battery health all surrounding the two full charge events I had last month.  I lost 1.17% in health.  I went from an estimated 85% health @ 100,000 miles to less than 70% health (if using extrapolation from Day One)

Note; Keep in mind that battery stats are logged the day recorded but mileage is actually from the day before.  This simplifies the process for me as I can simply "write down everything I see"... Yeah, being lazy.   This is also the reason why you see a lot of entries where a lot of miles are driven the day after a full charge or an active public charging day.

Notice the same GIDs and kwh available on both charges? 

But since that fateful first week of October, I have only lost .04%...or practically nothing. My Hx has also ballooned to 116.46% as well. Still kinda wondering what its measuring??

As mentioned above, I am relying a lot more on home charging but have been keeping my SOC between 20-50% for the most part. I plug in for 90 mins every morning before taking off for work saving QCs for my days off primarily.  This when my Hx started its rise.



 So what does this all mean? Well, its well established that 90% SOC is better than 100% and 70% is better than 80% for reducing the rate of degradation and this goes for ALL Lithium batteries.  So does the above mean that the 2018 is super susceptible to degradation at high SOC even in cool temps (both days, temps were in mid 50's to low 60's)

Probably not. As we all know, Nissan has had missteps with their BMS and LBC. I think what I saw was a pack recalibration by the BMS due to the very long period of time between full charges.  Remember the September and August drive reports? You know, the ones where I was bragging about how well my pack stood up? Well, I am thinking I saw 2 months of adjustment in 2 days is what happened.   Again, this means an SOH somewhere around 70% or less @ 100,000 miles.  Its more than enough range but to have it be that close to warranty exchange and not getting it would be very disappointing. 

As always, the real takeaway here is its simply way too early to make any definitive statements as I have yet to notice any actual loss of range but as you can see, I have not been challenging the range lately either. I did do 117 miles the other day quite comfortably...

Incentives

WA State realized the impact of being oil dependent decades ago so instituted a series of perks designed to reduce our fossil fuel addictions.  Most of us are only aware of the sales tax waiver for fully electric vehicles but that has not always been true. WA's awareness started with hybrids and the emergence of the Prius.  I purchased a 2010 Prius on May 19, 2009 that was also sales tax free.   FYI; No, Priuses were not going that cheaply especially the IVs. I received a special discount from Toyota (along with special early delivery.  The salesmen were much more interested in the car than I was! Remember the 2010 was the first major face lift after the Iconic version.)

2010 Prius purchase contract May 19, 2009

Our legislators essentially passed a bill to extend EV sales tax credits but it failed to pass simply because they ran out of time. It was a short session by design and there simply wasn't enough momentum to push the bill higher up the agenda.  I can only hope that it will give time for the legislators to reexamine the bill and modify it to be more conducive to lower income households. As the bill stood, there were a lot of well to do households taking advantage simply because they could. 

But now the state is investigating ways to increase revenue and one of the worst is RUC (Road Usage Charge). They came up with a cockananny formula of using the statewide fleet average of 20 MPG (thank you trucks and SUVs!) and the current gas tax to come up with a usage fee of 2.4 cents per mile.  

IOW; someone somehow thought it was OK to penalize all the EVers and Hybriders who did what the State asked them to do and pay an equivalent of 100 to 200% higher tax to drive!  That is only half the problem since a usage tax does not take into consideration consumption which means there is no longer a disincentive to keep gas guzzlers of the road!

This is basically a "bait and switch" by the state.  We were "lured" into getting a highly efficient vehicle to help save the environment and reduce the hemorrhaging of cash taken by oil companies out of state and this is how we are treated?? 

I signed up and was accepted into the RUC trial program being run by the state. If you think that $150 EV tab fee is expensive, how about a bill equaling that EVERY 3 MONTHS?? 

 Quarterly Billing under proposed RUC program. 

Here is a sample bill for 3 months driving only 4513 miles. Notice the chart? The average WA driver drives much farther than that and that is going up. Why you say?  The rising (its actually going down right now but its not like Seattle is suddenly affordable) cost of real estate has forced us to move farther and farther from work. Commutes are getting longer and more painful and there is no end in sight. 

Know of anyone who would be hurt under this bill?  Definitely makes becoming a Uberite a much tougher decision doesn't it?  I personally don't understand the draw, but it seems like I know dozens of people doing Uber for extra money....    

As always comment below.  My next blog concerns Electrify America or EA, the company put together to handle the public charging system the Feds mandated as part of VW's "dieselgate" scandal.  Sounded great, but VW is turning this "penalty" into an unfair advantage for its electric vehicles that will be on the road just about the same time Phase one of the penalty is completed, so stay tuned. 



Thursday, October 11, 2018

Fenix Power Soon to Offer LEAF Battery Leases!



The dilemma; The range started as "acceptable" but is now fading. There never was any extra so each mile lost is an ever greater degree of compromise.  But now Winter is approaching and the situation is now dire so what are your options?

Hybrid Industries

There has always been a few. Well, maybe...  Hybrid Industries offers a 24 kwh "add on" pack.  The theory is that it mounts in hatch area and connects directly to existing pack essentially doubling the capacity. It will share the charger, BMS, etc as the LEAF pack.  The cost; $4500.

Problem; I say "theory" because these guys have been around for a while and I have yet to hear of ONE person doing this and I have a LOT of ears in the EV public space.  Another issue is the added weight and the loss of the "not so ample" storage space.  If I wanted more range in a smaller space, it would be cheaper to just get a Bolt.

Nissan

The other more "official" option is simply get a new pack from Nissan. Here you have a full warranty, Nissan backing, unquestioned compatibility and (sadly) dealer pricing to match.  Recently Nissan announced that pack replacement prices would now be about $8500 which is actually $7000 for the pack plus labor.   Reports coming in are still seeing better pricing in some areas over others with some dealers simply refusing to do it. In all cases however, the cost is significantly more than the previous $5500 price tag. (which in this day and age is overpriced) What wasn't missed is the big jump in labor costs. Looks like Nissan figured out how to scratch the back of its dealers.

Problem; cost aside, doing this requires interacting with dealerships and few are "happy" to provide this option to customers. They make money by selling new cars, not extending the life of old cars so their willingness to "go the extra inch" is demonstrably lacking.

Nissan also made its motives transparent when they kicked up the capacity to 40 kwh AND kept pricing the same or even lower in some cases.  But realize that many 2011/2012 owners are still making payments or very recently finished payments so the thought of getting into another car payment was not an attractive one causing many to lose interest and revert back to the dark (and stinky) side.

Nissan is also providing another option in Japan where they are selling refurbished packs but details are lacking.  No actual information on what level of power these packs will have or what warranty would come with them. Pricing "seems" to be decent but again, that option currently does not exist here and there is only "general" speculation of when (if ever) it will be an option in North America.

Fenix Power

But news of the price jump did not go unnoticed.  Fenix Power is in the process of finalizing its product for EV conversions and as luck would have it, one of the main movers in this new startup is a Seattle area LEAFer very familiar with the 24 kwh issues.

Initially, Fenix Power wanted to wait until they were closer to having a shelf ready product but felt it was necessary to let people know what they were planning so they have started taking deposits now for a product that will be available by Fall 2019.  Initially they will provide a full range of options

1) Purchase; The pricing here won't be much of a savings according to John of Fenix Power but is offered in recognition of the fact that is simply how some people roll.  Along with a purchase would be an option to get discounted pack monitoring.   There will be finance options provided as well at a very reasonable monthly rate.

2) Leasing; Leasing will have an installation fee (estimated to be $1500) with monthly monitoring targeted at $99 a month.  Your current LEAF pack will be exchanged as well. Customers do have the option to keep their old LEAF pack for a fee.  Should you decide to turn in your pack, Fenix Power will evaluate the pack and if you decide to end the lease, it will be returned. (with equal or better capacity of course)

The Technology

Fenix Power claims their monitoring process combined with new technology will guarantee full or near full range for the entire leasing period with no time or mileage limitations. The pack will consist of Lithium polymer cells similar to Tesla tech so promises to be very robust.

Their main product push will be a battery pack leasing program but with a twist.  Each pack and module will be able to communicate its status back to Fenix Power when any issues might arise. This will allow Fenix Power to reset the module or schedule a replacement of the module with a local (to the customer) contractor to maintain capacity and range.  If needed, a module can isolate the bad cell while still maintaining the correct voltage.

I was able to talk with John about Fenix Power's vision and a lot of it is currently NDA as one would expect.  It is a very different approach from other battery leasing programs offered by Nissan and its partners in that the capacity is maintained. Now I know the first statement is "how can that be done?" since a well balanced pack will degrade evenly requiring all the cells to be replaced to regain any lost capacity and yeah, that is true in the current LEAF (and other EV) packs but Fenix Power will employ a pack with a module design where each individual module can self regulate to ensure it provides the proper level of support to overall pack demands.

Disadvantages

I will start with the bad since it is a much shorter list.  The logic of leasing needs to have the realization that you will want to stay with your car for an extended period of time and be happy with the range it has.  Like all leases, there is a startup cost and a termination cost.  Without any time limits we need to understand that monthly rates can and will rise. This is the normal way of things. Normal leases guarantees you a monthly rate for the 2 or 3 years of the lease, a luxury that is not present here.  As time goes on, maybe a renewable lease term will be instituted that at least has price stability for 1 or more years.

This also means that if you got your LEAF simply because it was one of the first EVs (first affordable) and want more range, than this is not the solution...yet.


Advantages

First off; People who bought 24 kwh LEAFs did so because the advertised ranges were what they felt would be acceptable. Yes, many bought under the misguided thought they would get 100 miles of range and that did not happen but those were generally the very early adopters. We made sure it was well known (as much as we could) that 100 miles was simply not something to bank on. 

But the rate of degradation is something no one was prepared for. We all knew batteries don't last forever since we all have cellphones but we simply did not connect the two. We also thought public charging buildout would be MUCH better than it turned out to be. IOW, our plan to mitigate our shrinking range was derailed from several fronts.  Fenix Power solves this issue and its cost is MUCH cheaper than

1) Reverting back to gas

2) Buying a new EV (with a pack that will still degrade)

3) Replacing the pack which will also degrade within a year or two.

Synergy

Fenix Power's goals are ambitious. VERY ambitious and if they can pull this off, they will at the forefront of a revolution in the EV movement. From Day One, the big knock on EVs is the lack of aftermarket revenue.  The success of their self regulated module will open up HUGE new markets for EVers allowing a flexibility we haven't even dreamed of.   Its not surprising that I actually wrote a very idyllic blog about a very similar scenario years ago. (Have fun looking!)

For more information, visit their website;  https://fenix.systems/leafbattery 

Make sure you click on the FAQ link. This will provide a lot more insight to the company's long term goals. If you are seriously thinking about doing this, right now Fenix Power is taking modest deposits that would cover initial installation costs. 

As always add your question below!