Saturday, June 30, 2018

Changing Of The Guard; Webasto Road Trip.

Way back in the middle ages of EVdom, we had little in the way of options while road tripping. Most were simply not "day" trips.  I ventured far with my 2011 LEAF but all of them were at least one night due to lack of charging options.

Even trips as close as Ocean Shores a mere 77 miles away was considered "risky" back in the day.  If you didn't live it, you will be laughing right now and I don't blame you. Times have changed and that change has been accelerating. 

Recently I did two trips to Ellensburg, WA. Mostly went for the Wild Horse Renewable Energy Project  for the first trip but the 2nd trip was to illustrate the HUGE difference a single DCFC station can do for our road trip wants.   You see, Ellensburg is the best of both worlds; its a QC AND a destination.  Win Win!

Now all of this was made much more dramatic by two things; 

Rapidgate.  Yes, as the pack heats up, the charge rate slows down.  So managing your charging stops is much more critical than the previous 30 kwh LEAF which charged at full speed up to 80%.  The 40 kwh pack now only charges to full speed to 55-63% SOC but is also slowed by battery temperatures starting with temps in the mid 90's º F. 

CompatibilityGate;  What you say??  Well, it took all of 2 days for me to realize that one of our earliest road trip enablers, Aerovironment had DCFCs that simply would not charge a 2018. I communicated with AV tech several times as a parade of EVs including LEAFs charged happily as I sat there getting error message after error message. 

That was only the beginning. My bank Olympia Federal  offered free charging during business hours (never really go there much since all my banking is online but still cool, right?)  but they have Eaton level 2 stations that are ALSO incompatible with the 2018s!   I mean what good is long range if I can't recharge???  Even 400 miles ain't enough range if that is all there is!


AV was never heavily into the EV charging game.  They are a weapons contractor so not even sure how they got the WCGH (West Coast Green Highway) contract to install DCFCs from Canada to California.  Well, they never made it quite that far south as the California leg got derailed but from Blaine (Washington/Canada) border to the California/Oregon border, AV did a fine job of putting in stations close enough that even the lowly 24 kwh LEAF could easily make it from station to station. I generally only hit every other one as it was possible most of the time.  This all started in 2012 and they were free for a few years before they started THE greatest deal in public charging history; $19.99 a month for all you can eat!

And that was the last station installed in Washington. Oregon was able to get more private funding and greatly expanded the AV network covering its coast, the river and into several areas of Central Oregon like Detroit Lakes; a favorite of mine for camping. 

Since AV was a member of NCTC (No Charge to Charge) Nissan's free 2 year charging program AND that it has no time limit, the AV stations were a favorite of mine.  In my previous job, the stations were essential for a visit to the very SW corner of the state where due to lack of quick charge options in Grays Harbor County,  for me to do a job in Washington State (Ilwaco), I had to go to Oregon to get there.  

So it was with great anticipation when I heard Webasto had purchased AV's public charging business. New owners means new hope of network expansion. Well, the network isn't any bigger but less than a month after taking over, they have fixed the incompatibility program which brings me to the real reason for this blog;  ROAD TRIP!!

As we all know, I HATE doing full charges at home (since I have to pay for that) and with the extra range, I really don't need to for a lot of what I want to do anyway.  But it was a cool day followed by a cool night so why not? 

Departing Olympia

183 miles of range sounds impressive, right. Well it was surprisingly rather close but first off; the full charge.  Last full charge was May 19th so have to think my top end balance aint so great. 

May 19th;  489 GIDs, 37.9 kwh available,  SOC 97.6312%
June 29th; 492 GIDs, 38.1 kwh available,  SOC 98.5413%

I tried to plan my timing to miss the morning rush and did a GREAT job...until someone decided to have an accident on the 405 just north of I-90.   If I had known this was going to happen, I would have looped it in reverse but I was already on the 405 making great time averaging.... uh...hmm?? I yi yi!!

Fuzzy Math!!

Well, this picture would have been much more dramatic if snapped about 10 seconds earlier when I was at 59 minutes and 50.2 miles (yeah, traffic was THAT bad!) and still only averaging 49 mph. If you remember the old days when "portable" calculators first came out, there were operations you could do that would result in "4" becoming 3.9999999, etc.  This "could" be one of those examples but never seen Fuzzy Math be this far off before... Only Nissan! 

Anyway, the accident caused a 54 minute delay which is how long it took to cover the next 10 miles.  So the pix above is only "slightly" slower than my average speed during this part of the trip.  But notice my driving distance (50.4 miles) plus my estimated remaining range?  Ok, so the the traffic played a part but just before this, I was in the 177 to 179 range and that was with less than 5 minutes of congestion thru Tacoma. 

Arrive Sultan

Range on car which is bloated by the slog thru Bellevue but the distance I thought wouldn't make that much of a difference since it was barely 10 miles was 92.7 elapsed plus 85 GOM or 177.7 miles. 170 miles is which is pretty much how it goes if keeping it 65 mph or less.  LEAF Spy however actually "looks" at the battery pack so its 92.4 mile estimate is what I would believe in if I needed to. That makes a range of  185.1 miles.  Guess that accident made a much bigger impact than I thought!

First station test was awesome and worked like a champ.  It was here I realized that the super slow startup of the Webasto stations are likely due to the comm going to sleep.  It takes a good 2 minutes or more to authenticate the card swipe when I got there but Brian Henderson who was also roadtripping showed up and started his charge right after mine. took all of 5 seconds to authenticate him!

Charge curve #1; Sultan  15 mins, 126.15 amps peak, 47.775 KW peak, 
Ramp down @ 65.04% SOC  10.52 kwh received

Since this was  test and had places to go (plus Brian showed up) A long charge was not needed (love that luxury!) so 15 minutes was plenty long enough and a good thing to preserve pack temps! Still managed to reach 48 KW. Nice!

Depart Sultan

Another reason I like Webasto is they simply charge faster.  I hit over 126 amps. On my 30 kwh LEAF; because it charged full rate longer, I was able to exceed 49 KW!  IOW; my 50 KW charger actually charged at 50 KW!! (Well, close enough!) 

Arrive Skykomish

As we head east, the elevation game starts in.  Notice the drop from 4.9 miles/kwh to 4.6?  It will go as low as 4.1 before the day is done but what goes up, must come down eventually, right?

If you have not done the Highway 2 drive, do so. It is a very pleasant drive and a lot to look at. 

Charging at Skykomish with Brian Henderson

Had a chance to try out the food from the new owners. Pretty much like 7-Eleven food. It seems they all get their food from the same place. The gas station/deli's that do their food in house are the ones to treasure!

 Charge Curve #2; Skykomish.  6 minutes, 3.685 kwh received

Because the pack was heating up but under 100º, the charge rate is still pretty decent. Despite the relatively high starting SOC, the rate is still temperature controlled but 32 KW is pretty decent! Notice the SOC ramp down curve did not kick in? 

Depart Skykomish

Short charging session means not a lot of change here. Small bump in temps. Ahead a VERY steep climb before dropping down into Leavenworth for lunch. 

Elevation map; Skykomish to Leavenworth

If you thought fast charging heats up the batteries, check my 2nd Ellensburg trip blog.  Climbing then regenning back down the hill works WAAAAY better if you want to do some cooking!  FYI; the above map is from the trip planner in Plugshare. Just another reason why the app is the ONLY thing I would recommend over LEAF Spy if you could only pick one.  Luckily on this leg, the rise is steep, brief and early into the trip.  Temps hit 105º but the gentle slope into the valley did wonders for cooling the pack down. 

Arrive Leavenworth

Well, now for the "real" reason for the trip.  Lunch time!  If you have never been here, you gotta do it and  now that there are places to charge, you no longer have any excuses!  

Then again, Leavenworth is no secret and despite it being an early Friday afternoon, the town was packed with tourism!

Within a  block of the charging station there is literally a dozen options to eat so we took the place 2 blocks away because it was a place that nobody knew about...

The Munchen Haus

well that is except the people in line ahead of us... But the line moved quickly. They were very efficient in getting our orders and the wait for food was under 5 minutes. 

Building The Proper Brat;

 Start with IPA Ale Brat
 Get your condiments ready
 Sweet and Sour, Champagne, Backyard Brat Mustards;  REQUIRED! 
Topped off with Cucumber Relish and Sauerkraut 

And EAT!

Since this was the meal break, it would be a longer charge for me and the fact that it was 80º here meant the pack would be 

Charge curve # 3; Leavenworth  41 mins,  20.86 Kwh received. 

Notice charging rate still managed to hit 31 KW. Not too bad but the extended charging along with the rising temperatures of Eastern Washington will see charging no higher than the low 20's here on out. 

Depart Leavenworth

LEAF BMS was doing a good job of keeping me below 120º. I had anticipated seeing something above 125º with the high SOC but that did not happen.  Guess we need to find some hills for that!  But it was now on to Wenatchee and Apple Country!

Elevation Map;  Leavenworth to Wenatchee

After the short gentle drop into town,  Brian needed a charge and I hadn't really been here before other than passing thru so he plugged in and we went walking.  Conveniently there was a bridge to a park next to the Columbia so off we went. 


 The Bridge from the charging station 
Bridge entrance
 The charging station from the bridge. Notice left center, you can just see 
Eaton level 2 stations. Free but again, useless to me. :(
 The Upper Columbia; Supposedly the less impressive half but still pretty awesome in person!

After returning, I plugged in failing to get initial readings... 

Charge curve # 4; Wenatchee

As you can see, the temps didn't really change since I didn't really charge much. The downhill drive from Leavenworth simply didn't use much of a charge. Being below 125º still meant charging at 22 KW so not super slow yet. 

Departing Wenatchee

Having been to Ellensburg a lot lately, I decided to veer off the beaten path, take a VERY scenic drive down 97 and across highway 970 to Suncadia; A very pleasant drive. 

Elevation Map  Wenatchee to Suncadia in Cle Elum WA

FYI; Don't rely on Google Maps to do this. It would not recognize the route no matter what I did so I simply winged it enough until I was close enough that Google had no choice but to realize there was only one route left.   In reality, there is no real way to get lost as other than forest service roads, there were very few wrong turns available.  FYI; there is no cell service enroute so its all GPS. Near the peak, we got rain and temps dipped into the 50's but other than that, it was a perfect day weatherwise for a drive!


Arrive Suncadia

My last visit here was on the Wild Horse trip and it was WINDY.  So much so that I did not venture from the car for fear of literally being blown away. It was a struggle to open the car to plug into the level 2.  This time it was still windy but not nearly as bad and I had to charge. Didn't really need a lot but I decided I would see what was here. My plan to charge 10 minutes quickly dissolved. 

I hit the bathroom inside the lodge and then saw "the view"

View from Suncadia Lodge

Believe it or not, there is a river at the bottom of the valley.  The lodge lobby has an all glass back and its easy to see why. The view was stunning but the stairs... Before I could look away, my Fitbit spotted it and I was committed!

Well, this looked easy enough and it was.  Each landing had footprints in the cement with plaque of each. Very cool!

 We now have proof they exist!
Saving the worst animal for last... :(

At the bottom of all this was the Cle Elum River.  Very nice and I have 4 K video of it but its taking forever to load so... might have to wait a bit for that.  But now it was time to return and according to sign at the river, it was only 1000 steps back to the lodge. 

 The Lodge from banks of Cle Elum River
The "not so easy" half of the trip

I am proud to say, I did the ascent all in one go. The benefits of changing jobs. I am simply in better shape!

Charge curve # 5; Suncadia; 41 mins, 15.56 kwh received

Depart Suncadia.

Well, it looks like it took 5 charging sessions and a few hills to exceed the dreaded 120º.  So now it was on to North Bend.  Now I would be passing Snoqualmie on the way but it was not listed as an upgraded station and it was also occupied and didn't feel like waiting so off I went but used Plugshare to monitor the status of the station and as luck would have it, less than a mile from the turn, it became available so I figured why not? 

Elevation Map Suncadia to Snoqualmie

Arrive Snoqualmie

I pulled into the gas station deli with minimal hopes of it working and the place was packed! It was overrun by people going in and out. I can't remember a time when I saw a gas station that busy. It rivaled Costco on a Sunday afternoon and only a few were getting gas. I thought, wow the food must be awesome, right?  So if I could charge, I would eat here.  I didn't need much since it was literally downhill all the way home.   Success!!

Charging at Snoqualmie

So the charge was going so I went inside and...well, was not hungry enough to risk it. The place was so busy, I feared it would be a long wait to get something made and what they had displayed was not "a visual enticement."   So outside I went, I did a quick 2 block tour to realize not a lot of options. There was a pancake house but decided to nix it and head for home. 

Charge curve #6; Snoqualmie  24 mins,  7.828 kwh received. 

Since we are above 120º, the charge rate is now below 20 KW. Here it squeaked out 18 KW.  

Depart Snoqualmie. (Any of you 30 kwh LEAFers notice anything familiar here? 😀)

So I am just under 100 miles from home and the GOM is reflecting the recent climb so I have plenty of range to make it with about 18 miles to spare so I load Google Maps and it say over 2½ hours to home including 41 minutes of traffic delays.  Well, I decided I wanted to eat instead so changed destinations to North Bend. 

Elevation Map  Snoqualmie to North Bend

Arrive North Bend. Whoops, wrong screen... 

After coasting (literally all the way in neutral!) into town, I now had double the estimated range I needed to get home making a charge less important but I was here and it was free but it would be slow. So I plugged in and power walked just over a mile to get food making it back with 4 minutes to spare.  The 2nd bump on the heart rate graph? That is my proof.   

Charge Curve # 7; North Bend.  30 mins 17 seconds,  9.1 kwh received.  (EVGO is so precise...) 

Well, not much gained but at least it did not charge at 16 KW and the car would have just sat there anyway. Now one "will" say, you could have drove and got food and been on your way.  But that would not have worked.   Granted, I am closer now (but still before ALL the traffic slowdowns) but now I google home and it claims a total of 9 minutes of traffic delay so my arrival home time changed by roughly 10 minutes. 

Depart North Bend

Needless the say, the rest of the trip was done... quickly.  The threatened 9 minute slowdown didn't really happen and due to an accident on I-5 I was rerouted to 167 from Highway 18 thru Puyallup so might have seen about 2 minutes of congestion? 


So it was 6 stations tried and 6 successes. Can't get better than that. Using Plugshare to monitor each station's usage is just another of the things that is working better now that Webasto has taken over. The thought of them authenticating faster probably won't happen without a major hardware upgrade.  As mentioned, each station took at least 2 minutes to authenticate before I got the "plug it in" message with the one exception when Brian plugged in immediately after my session and it only took a few seconds like EVGO does to authenticate.  Removing the requirement for the 2nd button push would solve a lot of the issues allowing one to leave the car immediately without having to wait. Normally, I don't have a problem waiting (when its not raining) but at Sultan, my "doable" 1 hour and 43 minute drive became 3 full hours of a bladder control test so the extra minute or two waiting to push the start button the 2nd time seemed like forever. 

This won't be faster ultimately but a better system is scan card, plug in car, and hit start to signify that everything is ready to go with no more interaction required from the user.  Either way, I am very impressed at how Webasto has been proactive in handling the 2018 compatibility issues. 

Another thing less touched on is the issue of fast charging verses "how fast will it be this time?" issues.  Having a lot of charging stations in reach like Webasto does in Central WA allows me to plan charging sessions with other needs like bathrooms, leg stretching and food. It is clear that barring very hot temps and sustained speeds above 70 mph, the batteries won't be cool but still able to take a charge in the 25-32 KW range.  A quick glance shows that battery temps under 100º won't get you 45 KW but 32 KW is very doable and since many stations only provide 100 amps or 40 KW, you would be just about max'd out anyway.

Things to note;  This is the first trip East of Snoqualmie I have made where I did not have to designate the direction of travel on my North Bend data. Think about that... Let "that" sink in.  It is a VERY important distinction. 

I am leaving next week for Michigan so no road trips for a while but stay tuned as I will be "Doing the Webasto" again on the Oregon Coast edition.  That one threatens to be an overnighter!