Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 LEAF Plus Introduced During CES

The press releases are flooding social media with all kinds of information on the upcoming LEAF Plus and its 200+ mile range and not all of it is accurate or understandable!   The information we have is just as superficial as the 2018 LEAF introduction but this time I was not at the reveal so there are a lot of questions unanswered!  But this is how Nissan rolls. Despite being at the 2018 LEAF reveal in Las Vegas in September 2017, there was a lot of question then despite getting a test drive!

The Basics

Ok so the car's appearance has changed little. Its nearly identical in size in every way. There is no doubt in my mind, that there are small changes here and there but nothing significant enough that Nissan wanted to mention.  Now, this also how they roll.  They have IDENTICAL cargo parameters from 2011 on but as we know, the charger was moved from the area (remember the hump, then partial hump?) so we had to have increased the space at least a little.  Also remember, I frequently did the Tetris thing with work equipment in my 2016 so well aware of the spacing in the hatch. But I also did the same for a short period time with my 2018 and there is definitely more space in the 2018.

New "official" statements from Nissan states they redid the framework a bit to allow more battery pack space without sacrificing any cabin space so other than a few millimeters here and there, nothing will look much different.  The 2019 does come in 300 lbs heavier due to the extra batteries. This probably accounts for its lower range verses the smaller lighter Bolt. Realize that the Bolt's thermal management systems uses what would be additional range in the LEAF.  Weight does have its drawbacks!


Ok, despite being "fattened" up a bit, its faster and in the case of zero to 60, a lot faster.  This will make some happy but I don't need it.  l often wonder if my insistence in using Eco mode all the time is an attempt to reduce the temptation to get in trouble.  My 40 kwh LEAF has more go than I need,  and for those who crave zippy, this promises to have plenty of that but the LEAF Plus puts the go power into the danger, risky, crazy range for me.


No, still no active cooling and more surprisingly, no new vendor.  It is still NEC battery technology presented by Nissan's and NEC's joint venture, AESC.  Now they claim they have learned a lot about longevity and yada yada but there are a LOT of doubters out there including me and barring a great trade in offer, my current lease is going till Feb, 2021. By then there will have been a lot of talk about whether Nissan has finally found their way.

The new pack is bigger in both capacity and space with the cell count increased by 50%.  The previous configuration had 2 cells in parallel hooked in series with a total of 96 cell pairs totaling 192 cells.  The new pack has 3 cells in parallel with the same 96 sets totaling 288 cells.   It would appear the EPA estimate (not yet official) will use 58 of the reputed 62 kwh available which is a good thing.  A slightly larger unaccessible portion of the pack goes a long way towards reducing degradation.


Level 2 remains at 6.6 KW. That works out to roughly an 11½ charge time from empty and with 226 miles of range, that won't be very common.  If we look at LEAF driving champ,  Steve "Quarter Million Mile" Marsh.  Even if he didn't charge at work he would be getting home with around 40% left making his charge time just over 6 hours which would be quite easy to manage.

The LEAF Plus keeps chademo but increases the speed to 100 KW peak using a "70 KW" system. I found that statement to be more than a bit strange and guessed (correctly it seems) that the 100 KW would only be during low SOCs slowing to 70 KW probably around 35% SOC.  Nissan says a zero to 80% charge will take 45 mins.  Obviously we are not charging from Zero% SOC and 100% of the pack isn't available so if charging from 10% with no more than 58 kwh available, we are looking at roughly 67 kwh charging speed. That would be huge! and likely only on the first or 2nd charge of the day.

Now EVGO has already committed to upgrading Chademo speeds across its networks but EA has only said CCS speeds would be turned up without mentioning Chademo other than to say the hardware did have 100 KW capability when it was installed.   So we shall see.

Early LEAF Plus adopters will still get NCTC if available in their area but a full 30 mins at 50 KW would be a big improvement. Better yet, the increased cells and capacity likely means no slow downs for at least the first few charges of the day.


Ok so the press release is about as dry as you can make it so it would be easy to miss a lot of key changes.  Just as the 40 kwh LEAF took a big step forward from the 24/30 kwh LEAFs, the LEAF Plus takes another big step forward as well.

Cosmetically, we get a bigger screen; 8 inches now but its now interactive like a tablet and comes with OTA updates. So no more $$$ to get a map that is reasonably up to date.  I can only hope that OTA's will also cover TSBs and feature improvements.  It is this area that I admire in Tesla the most. Charging stations are cool but the ability to add features long after the customer as left the lot is what really makes Tesla "not your Father's car dealer" for me.

Nissan Energy

To be fair; its mentioned and it very well could be mentioned for the Canadian market only since the press release covers the North American market but if it came here on all trims, this would be a HUGE marketing advantage over other EVs in the same sandbox.

For the unaware, Nissan Energy is two way charging system that can accept a charge from your home or charge your home! 

Nissan to win, you need to offer it standard across all trim lines.  Recently, I went nearly 48 hours without power due to a storm. I had fully charged my LEAF (something I rarely do) in anticipation and I was right. The tree that took out my power fell from my neighbor's house across my driveway.  That big battery could have really come in handy.  I average less than 20 kwh of power usage daily so I could have had 2 days of power from the LEAF Plus.  As it stands, I went and hung out at charging station which was on (along with most of the county).  Home without lights, stove, computer, etc. simply wasn't desirable not to mention it was 50ΒΊ in the house when I came home on day 2 of the outage.

Oh course for Nissan Energy to work, it has to have an interface to your house so that would have to be purchased but just having the two way power ability is a hacker's dream!  It would be awesome to go "jump" a fellow LEAFer enough to get them to a station 10 miles away.  But that is down the road... :)

Where To Now? 

The LEAF Plus was supposed to be Nissan's grand splash last year.  Why the delay? I have to think the failure to sell AESC might have played a role. Now wondering if the original plan was TMS and we are getting plan B?  Nissan claims that 9 years of experience has taught them how to better manage degradation but that claim has been made before.  I do believe that Nissan believes the expected rate of degradation will be "acceptable" and due to the larger size of the pack, the stress on the individual cells will be much lighter so added robustness is a given.  But now the price range is the same as the major competition from VW, Kia and Hyundai; all of whom are reputed to have liquid TMS.

I have been in the EV market 4 times and each time I picked the LEAF not due to some sort of brand loyalty, I did it because it was the best option for me.  I took advantage of full federal tax credit on leases which resulted in great deals for me.  Combined with the WA State Sales tax exemption (which I took advantage of 5 times with One Prius and the 4 LEAFs) it was a win win.

In my mind, I was perfectly positioned to really get what I wanted at the end of my 2016 lease that would have happened Nov, 10, 2019 but a wreck derailed those plans. A year ago when it happened, the view for 2019 was a Bolt makeover, a $35,000 Tesla,  several Korean and VW entrants, etc.  I mean it was shopper's heaven!

It is now exactly one week away from the anniversary of the event that destroyed the best LEAF I ever had and the outlook for 2019 has changed drastically during the last 51 weeks.  If I were to be in the market this November, I would be taking another leap of faith that Nissan has finally gotten a good handle on the battery situation and due to lack of competition since VW won't be here, The Bolt still sucks along with losing incentives and the Koreans have yet to prove they can provide anything EV in sufficient volumes in a timely manner.  So their very promising (on paper) entries would have been on the streets for too short a period in too little volumes for me to gleem much if any real data from the sure to be mountains of  exceedingly biased "New EV toy nirvana."

This all means my timing would again be bad and the LEAF would likely have been my choice as still the best option out there.

But that was then and this is now and barring a too good to be true trade in, I am committed to Feb 2021 with my current LEAF.  There is no doubt it will be fine for the next two years but after that?  That is a question that is far from being answered.  The residual is a very attractive option. The cost with tax would be still be in the $10K range and the range would be well over 100 miles but as time goes on, I can't ignore the growing feeling I won't be happy with 50 KW charging long term.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Dec 2018 Drive Report; I Can See Clearly Now!

Happy New Year!  2018 is in the books and lez be real, it kinda sucked.  I have definitely had better years! So welcome 2019 (and hopefully dozens more fast chargers in the area!)

The Numbers

For December, I drove 1268.2 miles costing me a grand total of  $4.25!  As I am sure you have guessed, NCTC was used quite a bit (297.03 kwh)  for various reasons with free being the main reason but also did a few charging observations so it wasn't 100% greed... High 90's for sure but not 100%.   Without NCTC, the cost would have been closer to $30.21.  Full disclosure will have to wait until power bill comes in in the next few days. Although I am sure I am still tier one, the usage that could have been from home might push me to tier 2 but we shall see.

For the year, I had total cost of $97.64 (includes $7.92 in public charging fees) 2597.78 kwh public charging over 14,768 miles.

The Battery

Again, another month with nearly no degradation with pack finishing 2018 at 109.22 (EOM Nov 109.31) ahr, 94.61 (EOM Nov 94.69) SOH, 119.78 Hx (new record) 160 QCs,  129 L2s over 318 days. (Picked up Feb 16th)

Another metric is full charge stats. I did a full charge (well, lights were still blinking but SOC in car said 100%...close enough, right?)  on Dec 28th getting 469 GIDs with 36.3 ksh available. Compared to previous full charge on Oct 12th 2½ months (2771 miles elapsed) ago with 474 GIDs and 36.7 kwh available.  Sounds like cold weather does a battery good!

Projecting each metric to 100,000 miles my ahr would be 75.89; SOH 65.8% and kwh available ~ 23.  This means "just" missing the warranty claim.  But realize we are averaging in several Winter months that have boosted the average.  As always we will continue to track.  TBH; my 30 kwh LEAF spoiled me...BAD!  My 40 kwh LEAF has half the miles my 30 kwh LEAF had and 4 times the degradation.

Now I would be lying if I said I didn't lease this car with the intent of buying it.  But that is the beauty of a lease. It gives you ample opportunity to think and rethink that decision and the more I think about it and the more charging vendors are coming out with per minute pricing, the more I don't think I would be happy with a car that only charges at 50 KW... But 2 years is a long time for things to change so we shall see.

E Pedal Verses B Mode Part 2

I have been experimenting with B Mode a lot this month. I know my previous blog said E Pedal is THE thing and I haven't changed my mind on that but at the same time, B Mode is a tool and like all tools, it does have a place in the right situations.  So I decided to do some comparisons to see if I could improve efficiency with a minimal amount of effort.  However, it quickly became obvious that my driving style also changed despite the lack of a conscious decision to drive differently and it was noticed.   In the first week, I had 2 people flag me down to advise me my brake lights weren't working.  Just another confirmation that brake lights only engage automatically in E Pedal.

I did notice a bump in regen miles (which can be accessed in the menus on every power off) but that was due to my "coasting" sooner to compensate for the longer distances needed in B Mode to stop.  FYI; B Mode is stronger on the 40 kwh LEAF than previous LEAFs.  I can slow down to a near crawl much quicker than before.  Most of the time, the light changed before braking was necessary. In other times especially if there was the slightest of slopes, I would slow down to 2-3 mph which I was ok with but people following me weren't always on the same page. A bit of a strange response as we were normally talking about maybe 50 feet along with traffic sitting at the light so its not like I was losing any ground... I guess the LEAF just idles at a slower speed than a gasser?  😏

Another thing I realized is that I "now" HATE having to hold my foot on the brake sitting at a light and after 3 days of putting up with it, I decided that it was ok to shift to E Pedal when the speed dropped to a low level like below 5 mph. I would shift back to B Mode as soon as I started moving. This made the experiment much more tolerable.   But to make a true evaluation, I will have to continue the experiment for several more weeks to have any hopes of seeing any real differences in performance.

Winter Tools

Olympia is the "Fog Capital of the World" and rightly so.  Due to the normal onshore flow, our humidity in the morning is 100% just about every morning. This high humidity makes keeping fog off the glass a constant battle.  With a longer range, I have a lot more options like heat, etc.  but for those who still make 24 kwh work, a few things to know;

Fog forms on glass easiest when it has a foothold.  Fog is nothing but super tiny droplets of water that form and bead up. Now, big beads of water is what you want because they are heavy enough that air flow will push them up your windshield and out of your main field of view. But fogging becomes an issue when the glass is dirty because each tiny spec of dust is a incubation center for a droplet of water.

So how to combat this? Well, its rather basic. The cleaner and smoother the glass, the harder it is for the droplets to form.  Now, you can do it the hard way by simply cleaning the inside glass religiously (realize every open vent blast onto the glass is essentially throwing dirt onto the wet windshield thanks to your fellow gasser commuters...) or do it the lazy way like me.

Rain X and anti Fog are basically the same thing.  Each is basically a glass polish. They fill the super tiny imperfections on your windshield surface leaving a smooth flat mirror like finish.  So instead of micro beads of water forming on every piece of dirt or divot, the water forms large beads that simply run off the windshield because there is nothing for the water to cling to.

Rain X works the best but needs to be applied more often.  New applications of Rain X negates the need to use the windshield wipers in nearly all circumstances but the windshield is still constantly pelleted with dirt and the occasional wipe is needed especially if mud is involved so plan to reapply every 2 weeks to as much as month.

Anti Fog works much longer but is not a perfect solution and requires a bit of help.  Water condenses when cold hits warm. Sitting in my garage, my windows stay clear because the interior of the car and the garage equalize in temperature.  But jump in the car, open the garage door and immediately the fog begins to form like a glass of iced tea on a hot Summer day because the colder air is now assaulting the outside of the glass making the inside of the glass colder than the interior of the car which is being warmed by your body and breath (which also adds moisture) This is why turning on heat quickens the fogging process. Its simply a greater temperature delta which means more condensation on the glass.

Both require applying onto a clean windshield so the cleaner the better. Its my contention that all Rain X neighsayers simply did not clean the glass very well.   As you have probably guessed, cleaning the inside of the LEAF windshield is not all that easy to do.  What I do is spray the windex onto  a coffee filter (use what you want. There are a lot of suggestions like ultra fine steel wool, Aluminum Foil, etc. but I found those hard to attach 😎) that I attach to my glass wiper thing pictured below along with spraying a wipe and using a circular motion to scrub the glass.  Then I use a squeegee to wipe the bulk of the Windex to an area where I can wipe it with a cloth. This prevents streaks but also (for short armed people like me) is MUCH easier to dry and polish the glass.

Glass Wiper. Works great but strongly recommend getting a few extra pads. I have 3 that 
I rotate in and out to prevent smearing dirt around the glass.  As Spring slowly arrives, the wiper comes in handy as you will have cold mornings that evolve into warm sunny days and will come out to find water literally dripping off the interior glass.  The wiper would in a few seconds, clear what it would take defrost 5 minutes on high to do. 


I have noticed that I have become much more sensitive to the smell of exhaust to the point where I drive with my vents closed as much as I possibly can.  Obviously not the best option for keeping the glass clear but stumbled upon this setting that is not perfect but reduces the need for defrost by quite a bit. About half the time, I can do my entire morning commute (roughly 18 mins) without opening the vent at all. 

On days when venting is needed at least I can wait until I am on the freeway before opening the vent which greatly lessens the amount of exhaust I must endure.

The Shrinking of WA

Phil Brooke posted an article about a proposal to make White Pass green.  White Pass has nearly no amenities for EVers and is all but unreachable for anyone with less than a 40 kwh LEAF and worse; Its the main Southern path from I-5 to Mt. Rainier and its nearly one million vehicles that visit annually. 

This opens up a much shorter and visually enticing route for anyone south of Olympia (Olympia is basically the halfway point to Yakima or the tricities area going north via 1-90 or going south via Highway 12 thru White Pass)

Now we need to get some chargers on the Western Half of Highway 12 going towards Aberdeen.   The Lucky Eagle Casino located between Oakville and Rochester would be a great starting point. I have to say I have been expecting them to put up something for years now.  Its 2019 now so no more excuses!!