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 51ยบ 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. 


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 than the max B mode regen at any speed.  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. 


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. 


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!


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 easiest method 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! 

There was still very little efficiency differences but I found B mode to simply be easier to not slow down too rapidly.  Many times a situation would develop in front of me and my knee jerk reaction was to completely lift my foot from the accelerator rapidly slowing in E Pedal. Nearly every time, it was too much slowing.  B Eco seemed to be a good compromise. D Eco proved to be too unresponsive to deceleration much more situations I tended to see. 

Eventually the driving style that seemed to work the best and the one I have since adopted is B Eco for all driving scenarios that are not full stops and go.  I will still engage E Pedal when an expected stop is suspected and at that point, I will return to B Eco within a few seconds or continue to a stop in E Pedal.  Over the long term, this appeared to give me a .1 - .2 miles/kwh advantage. I hesitate to say that because the results were inconsistent but against the  average of the same time period taken in both 2018 and 2019, the numbers did nudge upwards.  

Since D and B do provide a different driving feel, it really becomes up to the driver's preference. I think if I lived in an area with less traffic congestion, I might prefer D as well but I live in the land where camping in the left lane one mph over the speed limit is all too common. 

Saturday, November 10, 2018

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

Green Car Reports on VW expected pricing.

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!!


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. 


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.


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...


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.