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. 

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