Thursday, May 16, 2019

Temperature Bars On The LEAF

In 2018, the LEAF went to a slider like gauge for temperature bars and it works basically the same as previous versions with the same 12 segments, etc., but unlike my 24 kwh LEAFs, there is minimal overlap of the temperature ranges the bars appear and disappear.  They also are a lot more consistent at which temperature they appear and disappear...well, most of the time.

I did this the easy way of simply snapping pix as bars came and went (for the most part) so you could see for yourself. Below I will have 2 pix with the goal of showing both the lower and upper limit of each bar. Although you will see 3 temperatures, I am using the temperature # 1 (In portrait mode it would be the upper left reading) which is normally the highest, because of several examples of bar changes with matching temperature 1 but various other temps in the lower spots.   As we all know, when stationary, the 3 temps don't vary nearly as much as when we are moving. I once recorded a 24º difference from high to lowest during a cold day (40's) on one of my 2016's more "active" days AKA  starting a QC with 10 TBs!

Here the top temp is the same but 2nd temps are not hence my reason for using the
top temp only as a guide. There were several instances of this. 


There is a gap between bar 4 and 5. Due to limited exposure to lower temperatures of the battery, I am thinking both 4 and 5 are incomplete. I did see 3 bars only one  time during the Winter because the car is garaged so lower battery temps just don't happen that much.  Reality says that is not what people are wanting to see anyway and 6 - 9 are complete in that each was during an observed appearance or disappearance. The lower end of the 4th bar was recorded from the switch though.  In other instances where there is a gap from the high end of a bar and the low end of the next highest bar, we can assume the lower bar would have covered that gap.

4 Bars

39.8 - 47.1  º F

5 Bars

66.4 - 76.8 º F

6 Bars

78.6 - 95.8 º F

7 Bars

96.6 - 104.2 º F

8 Bars

105.6 - 114.8 º F

9 Bars

112.2 - 121.0 º  F

Interesting as I think the 9 Bar reads are an anomaly.  With no overlap anywhere else, the 9 Bar overlaps both ends!

10 Bars

119.2 - ???

Honorable Mention!

The upper range would definitely be just below 39.8º  and only got this due to a 36 hour power outage.

If anyone can fill in the gaps for 4 bars and under or 10 bars and up, please chime in!

Friday, May 10, 2019

To Tax Or Not Too Taxed!

In Feb 2018, I leased my LEAF sales tax free making it the 5th "new" car in a row I had gotten sales tax free dating back to May  2009 when I bought 2010 Prius under the "Prius Priority Purchase Program." IOW, WA was going the extra mile to get its residents into greener transportation.  Yes Folks, that was a DECADE ago.

But the sales tax incentive for WA ran out a few months after my LEAF came home.  As we should have gathered from the statement above, this was quite the turnaround in stance by the State. The tax waiver expiring did not sit too well with any of us but TBT (truth be told) the law was archaic, weak and did not really address the rapidly changing market.

Where We Have Been

Like any benefit, there is some give and take. Initially, the sales tax covered hybrids due to a higher sales price that did a great job of lowering the cost of the technology. As hybrids exploded, the tax expired (My Prius was purchased 12 days before the credit expired) and the credit was then applied to the new tech AKA "100% Battery Vehicle."  All EVs qualified, even $120,000 Teslas.

Then the Oil Lobby started throwing its weight around and an EV Tab fee was added. It started at $100 and was solely to be used to cover what would have been collected in gas taxes. WA pays a combined 62.9 cents per gallon (44.5 cents state, 18.4 cents Fed for gasoline. Diesel is slightly higher) In a 30 MPG car, that would cover roughly 4800 miles, a distance very few around here drive. IOW, EVers were by and large, underpaying.

So the EV tax was raised to $150 (Before you start screaming, the gas tax went up 7 cents a gallon at the same time)  but initially the first collections at the higher rate would be put into a fund to expand public charging. The EV tax credit also put an upper limit on the perk all but eliminating Teslas and other high end EVs.   The results of that expansion first showed signs in Central WA in Ellensburg with a Greenlots station that bills one of the highest rates for power in the State.  The time to collect for the project was barely a year but there is no clause that drops the EV tab fee but then again, the gas tax didn't go down either.  Instead the State put 15% into the "Transportation Improvement Account" and 15% into the "Rural Arterial Trust Account (RCW 46.17.323)

Why The Old Way Was The Bad Way

Fees too low

Even at $150, we EVers were by and large, underpaying.  Gassers are getting more efficient but even a 35 MPG car would only make it 8300 miles with only $150 in gas taxes. The tab fee going up? Well, saw that coming a mile away.

Cracks too big

Although the Chevy Volt came out the same time as the LEAF, it was simply skirting its responsibility.  I knew a guy who lived in Yelm, worked for the State and NEVER bought gas. His Volt easily made the 20 mile drive to downtown Olympia where he was plugging to the Blink L2 (when it was free) and walking 2 blocks to his office. Later he transferred to Tumwater which was an even shorter commute.  IOW, he was paying little if any in gas taxes. Later Volts' range increased resulting in less reliance on the pump.

Benefit for the rich

This ideology is pure BULLS***! I am as far from rich as you can get on this side of the poverty line. What passes as middle class in many areas of the country is simply not viable here. Nevertheless, the EVer somehow got this label slapped on them.  I drive EVs because I can't afford to pay for gas! Its too much money! 

So how did this misconception start? Well, partially because it was all about new cars. The unrich does not buy new cars that much and the new reality is that THE fastest growing segment of the EV community is the "used" EV.  The thought of getting a cheap LEAF for $4,000 (yes they are around) that would only be used to bomb around town dropping off kids at school, grocery shopping, and basically any other errand that KILLED a gassers MPGs was a tough TCO with that $150 tab fee!

The Phoenix Has Risen!

Yep, WA Legislature works EXACTLY like the mythical creature (especially the crash and burn part...) Since I am not a political person I will not speculate on the ideology of amendments,sensibility and flexibility.  No matter, the old law was dead and rightfully so but it left a void.  A BIG ONE!

 A new bill was immediately written and agreed upon in both houses but failed to come up for a vote before the legislative session ended.  But it was one of a dozen green proposals on the table and as part of HB 2042 "Advancing Green Transportation Initiatives" it was passed and will start doing business on August 1st running 6 years.

The Take

As mentioned above, we were underpaying at $150 a year.  So tab fees jumped $75 to $225 or 12,500 miles in a 35 MPG gasser. Now we are on par.  More on driving need below.

The Give

For the first time ever, WA will cover the sales tax on the first $15,000 on a used EV purchase (as long as its under $30,000)  This is BIG BIG BIG!!  We need to get a greater investment into EV tech and getting lower income mix is the key.  This remains the same thru out the entire 6 year period.

On new EVs, the first $25,000 is tax free for vehicles with a "sale price" under $45,000 which means no cheating the system as was done previously with $60,000 Tesla Model 3's.  The tax free portion drops $5,000 every two years so will be $20,000 in 2021, $15,000 in 2023.

Plug in hybrids will now have a $75 tab fee for their electrified half which for many will be a bargain.

The Bottom Line

Ok so we have won, lost and boot scooted sideways but if social media resembled real life, it would be a lose lose all the way around!  Why??  Does it "really" take one person driving 4,000 miles a year to turn the entire populace into a mob?  Do we really want no tax incentives and a $150 tab fee? Well, I sure as hell don't! I am not even in the market and I still favor the new fees simply because it does encourage EV adoption.


On a new qualifying EV, we are talking $2500 more or less (depending on where you live) off the top on the purchase. Unless paying cash, that is $2500 PLUS interest you are saving.  That is OVER 10 years of tab fees! I mean how can "anyone" not see the upside of that?

Lets use real numbers; You get an EV, you put down some cash, you get a 5 year loan at 4.74% (from which means you can probably do a little better)

Finance $35,000 that is $656.33  a month.  But no sales tax credit means financing $37.500 or $703.21  a month or $46.88 more per month or just under 5 months to cover that $225 tab fee (234.40 saved)  $46.88 a month?? That is paying for gas in a Prius! Caaaaraaazzzeee talk!

Even used EVs can easily save 4-5 years of that tab fee.  Realistically, most used EVs are not over $15,000 so lets use a price of $14,000 with $2,000 down so you are financing $12,000 under the new fees. Again, using, the used car loan rates are about 5.59% on a 3 year loan,we are talking about $362.84 a month (lower than my lease payments...) verses financing $13,400 or $405.17 a month; a savings of $42.33 a month or just over 5 months to cover that tab fee.

The Cracks

This fee structure does not favor the EVers whose needs are very modest. My nephew used to live in Seattle and despite being in a two worker household, both he and his wife used public transportation 99% of the time. The car was only used for out of town trips or special "events."  They did have nights out but Uber or Sound Transit was their designated driver. The car? Well, it spent most of its time parked at my Sister's house (conveniently located a few miles from the Southworth ferry terminal) where parking was free.  Needless to say, their cost per mile was well above the average since insurance rates do not go down when they were averaging 2,000 miles a year.

TBT; I don't know if there is a "good" way for people in the same boat. The cost of everything is going up but few as fast as housing and transportation.  I did participate in the recently ended RUC Pilot which investigated the ideology of a pay per mile fee based system that would replace the gas tax. This is a mistake, a BIG one.  The pilot centered on using a 20.4 MPG fleet average for the state divided by the State gas tax to come up with a 2.4 cents per mile figure.  IOW; the biggest users of gasoline would now be on the EXACT same level as an EVer not using ANY gas or expelling carbon or choking our children. During my year of driving, I would have paid over $400 in fees.

But the real result of RUC would be a massive shift of money from highly efficient drivers to the very high consuming drivers. The program by design would not generate more revenue.  The only way I could support RUC is if it was in addition to the current gas tax and EV tab fee program. Cut both the gas tax and tab fee in half and that means the new fee system would be an overall income generator.  But let me be clear, I am COMPLETELY against RUC.

The Win

Getting the people who need it the most into EVs is where we need to be. As we all know, gassers suffer the most doing the mundane short range errands that we all have to do in bulk.  There is simply no way of getting around that in Olympia due to an extremely inadequate public transportation system. Outside downtown Seattle or other major points (Universities seem to do well) in the city, many find themselves in the same boat. So making used EVs a good deal is important.  Now we do have to realize our thoughts on budgets override reality, logic and sensibility. We have always favored the "gasser business model" of low entry price offset by large ongoing costs and yeah, this new fee structure does follow that process.  But as long as we continue to support the funneling of money to the super rich and MegaCorps, support money will continue to be eroded which means costs to us will continue to rise.

Another thing that we have to consider is "EVness"  Its an epidemic...or at least it should be. I don't have to tell you how addictive EVs are.  But right now, its not an epidemic and that is due to exposure.  I feel quite confident in my beliefs that making used EVs attractive will be the best way to increase EV awareness and penetration into the "new" EV market.


Yeah, I know you thought this would never end.  The new fee structure is not perfect or even close for that matter. But fees are needed in one way or the other simply because no fees is not an option. In a perfect WA, we just raise the gas tax another 10 cents a gallon and leave the EV tab fee as it is with the sales tax incentive but that is not how WA works.

Putting all EVs into the same bucket is a mistake and a better way to do it would be basing the tab fee on range. Under 100 miles; $75, Under 200, $150 and so on. This allows the used EV to be much more affordable, helps to address the user with very modest needs and also gets the money from the people most likely able to pay the fee and eat too.

But we are still being crushed under the weight of Big Oil and that will continue to be true as long as EV adoption remains in the low single digits.  So I wrote this blog mainly to illustrate 3 big issues;

1) No pain, no gain. EV fees are high but only because our voice is small. Bailing out to gassers is EXACTLY what Big Oil wants us to do. We cannot let that happen.

2) Adoption needs to happen faster and the #1 area we need it to happen is lower income people who tend to live in town, take less long trips and primarily use their car to get back and forth from work. EVs are super cheap to operate.

3) No change is possible without a lot of money. As early EV adopters, we have taken on the role of paying that extra money to smooth the way for the people behind us.  But negativity is a powerful thing. A single negative word WILL prevent a dozen future EVers from experiencing the freedom we all enjoy every day.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

April 2019 Drive Report; Now That My LEAF Is No Longer Shiny, How Far Can It Go?

April is done and since we had our "BMS adjustment" earlier in the month, there will not be any degradation to report until mid July!  In an effort to see how little my electric bill could be, I did not charge at all at home during the last Puget Sound Energy cycle. This means not doing much driving and that was helped by two out of town trips including seeing Aerosmith in Vegas!

I have also been working on a blog to complain about disappearing incentives for EVs now that the federal credit sunset is hurting Tesla and Chevy.  Chevy has cut prices (which is good for us) but Tesla is all over the map. Price up, price down, added features, removed options, etc. Makes planning a future purchase based on ROI very tough. But things are starting to look up. 

May has had a GREAT beginning. Tesla as we know has struggled a bit causing some concern over its finances including the cash needed for day to day operations so they decided to raise some funds and the results were overwhelming!  Looks like the shorters will have to wait another day!

Locally, WA surprised everyone by pushing thru the transportation bill that included a return of EV incentives.  The new incentives start in August and for the first time, includes USED EV purchases!
But its still politics so there is always some give and take but the "take" has benefits. EV registration fees will increase $75 from $150 to $225 but that extra money will be collected and used to help fund public charging infrastructure. Lots of details in the link above so if you are in the market for an EV this year, check out the details!

GOM And The Semi Annual Range Test. 

I have heard complaints about the GOM for YEARS on how it was inflated, unrealistic, etc. And...well, most of that was true. But knowing the process on  how the GOM worked was the biggest source of confusion.  It created the range estimate based on recent driving history and conditions.  This meant a a 2 mile downhill drive could bloat your range by 20 miles or more.  IOW; to understand how many miles you had, you had to evaluate the driving you had just done.  Now, that isn't all that difficult to do if you know where you are going and all that stuff but the #1 complaint is the GOM first thing in the morning!

This is where the bloat was the biggest and partially that should be correct... partially.  Most people who tax the range of their LEAF  have commutes that is mostly freeway but no one actually lives on the freeway. So that drive from your exit to your driveway will be at a much slower speed and much higher efficiency and that will bloat the next day's GOM. (Hill Dwellers please hold comment...)  That is normal but the car should also understand that last leg is only a small part of the drive and shouldn't hold so much weight in the range estimate, right? Well, Nissan has seemingly struggled to understand that...Until now. 

The Charge

Now, I tried several times to get a baseline on my 40 kwh pack but that proved to be all but impossible. Unlike my previous 24 and 30 kwh LEAFs, a full charge was all over the map.  My kwh available (all with SOH at 99% or above) ranged from a shocking 39.1 kwh to as little as 37.7 kwh. 
Each charging session was completed including balancing (no lights) and had at least an hour to settle before LEAF Spy measurements were taken.  SOC ranged from 99.51% (That is real SOC!!) to 96.07%.  Voltage ran from 401.95 volts to 402.87 volts. 

So this time, the charge wasn't complete but was fully into the balancing stage.  I had 35.5 kwh available which is "about" right. I don't do a lot of full charges but this would appear to be no more than .1-.2 kwh short of charge completion. Pack voltage was 401.87 with SOC at 97.6%

GOM History

Now my only driving for the previous 4 days was my work commute. Due to Marvin Road Diamond Merge construction, I take Marvin Road entrance to I-5 in the morning, College Street exit in the evening.  Round trip is 25 miles with 62% freeway.  Because my commute is so short, I literally drive it as fast as traffic will allow.  This means 70-75 mph coming home and 50-70 mph going to work. My Sunday performance (4.3 miles/kwh) reflects the lack of traffic in the morning over my weekly performance (4.9 -5.2 miles/kwh).   Wednesday night before the charge was the 4.9 miles/kwh at 25.1 miles. 

The Test

Had a thing in Seattle so scheduled it in hopes of missing most of the congestion (It is IMPOSSIBLE to miss all of it.) for a more realistic freeway range.  The goal is to mimic "normal" driving so I selected an option of 2/3rds freeway, 1/3rd surface streets.  I will be in Eco B mode all the time with only selective use of E Pedal for sudden slowdowns on the freeway or in town.  The Seattle thing was only 55ish miles so a bit of zigzagging would need to be done to hit my goal of 120 freeway miles. Shouldn't be a thing... 

The weather was well, perfect for a range test. Mostly Sunny and cool in the mid to upper 50's. humidity was 50% which basically means even with vents closed (my default) defrost would not be needed and I didn't use it or any other climate control one time. I did roll down windows a few times while bombing around Seattle when the Sun got a bit warm. 

The Drive

The delay thru the Marvin Road construction was much worse than I had anticipated. This is well after morning rush hour but it took at least 10 minutes to go the mile thru a couple roundabouts to get onto the freeway.  After getting on I-5, the drive was reasonable averaging 65 mph with only slight slowdowns to just under 60 mph thru Ft. Lewis (JBLM) and Highway 512 interchange.  

After that was Tacoma where road construction has caused a rash of accidents which prompted officials to drop the speed limit to 50 mph. No major slowdowns although speed did drop to 35 mph in several sections but the traffic flow was better than I expected.  

I pretty much didn't hit any more slowdowns until just before Seattle two miles from my exit. Here the speed ranged from zero to 10 mph.  The Seattle thing lasted 45 mins so back on the road and headed to Oberto's Factory Outlet on Rainier Ave.  That was the end of my plans. The odometer said I hadn't gone anywhere near far enough to be close to out of range so after racking my brain for reasons why I would want to be in the area, I decided on the new Dick's Drive In in Kent. 

After eating way too much,  I took off heading South then remembered a new outlet store (Amazon) for scratch and dent items so decided to check it out to see if there were any deals. It was still in Kent but the far opposite side of town on the other side of I-5. Now thinking of this while still at Dicks Drive In would have saved me several miles but its a 40, no need to save! 😊

Using Google Maps, I decided on an alternate trip which turned out to be not such a good idea.  Road construction thru town had all lanes dropping down to one which took a while to get thru.  But this is where E-Pedal shines so not all bad.  After picking up a $149 Lego set for $70, I departed seeing smooth sailing nearly all the way home (except Tacoma Construction of course) and decided that would end day one. 

Day Two was a planned buzz around town to get some errands done. This would be roughly 35% freeway, 65% surface streets.  As it turned out, the freeway for part of the day looked quite a bit slower so surface streets turned out to be the quicker option covering 75% of Day two. 

The Drive Computer

Not quite a full charge since the light was still blinking but
only doing a bit of balancing at this point so close enough!
35.5 kwh available, 401.78 volts, 97.6% SOC LEAF Spy estimate 170.4
miles (4.8 miles per kwh setting to 1% SOC). Remember, GOM
history of 4.9 miles/kwh would equate to  173.9 miles. Notice the single
 segment of regen available? 

This is emerging from Tacoma construction slowdown. Estimated range(adding elapsed miles with GOM) 169.9 miles
which is practically dead on the LEAF Spy estimate of 170.4 miles. Trip so far was
a rough entry to I-5 due to Diamond merge construction at Marvin Road in Lacey.
A few mins of slow traffic around Joint Base Lewis Mcchord so predominate speed
of 65 mph not reflected here. I love the trip computer but wish it had separate entry
showing average moving speed that discounts time in park or stops exceeding 10

Here we have the effects of traffic slowdown and the downhill run into Seattle. 
Notice the HUGE 5.4 miles per kwh is not being reflected on the GOM? 
That is a monumental change from previous LEAFs. (Only took 8
years to get it right) Estimated range 174.1 miles

Kinda missed what I wanted to capture. I have phone on holder that is extended to its 
max so it bounces around a lot and was unable to get focused shot of 5.6 miles/kwh
before it updated. Stats update every 30 seconds.  The average speed is no longer 
accurate as it includes about 20-30 mins of "park" time while car was on.  (Yes, I was 
flooding the air with electrons. 😋) Estimated range 170.1 miles. 

Miles/kwh dropping fast but range estimate isn't. 163.7 miles estimated. 

Side trip thru town past construction requiring merge to single lane. Surprisingly
my performance and range estimate dropped?  Now 161.1 miles. Looks like that reserve
is getting bigger...

Same miles/kwh and relatively steady freeway speeds bouncing from low 50's to
near 70 (Nissan speed which means probably 65-66 mph...) Range is now 158.7.

Parked again. Downhill to my neighborhood boosted the range a touch. So range now
estimated to be 164.8 miles so recent performance will change estimate if hill is long
enough.  Now LEAF Spy does not take performance into account. Only uses target
SOC (1% for me) remaining juice (9.1 kwh) to create estimate (41 miles.) So that would
be 171 miles which is above what it started with. But realize not all of that 9.1 kwh
will be available to me. Only a perfect cell balance would guarantee that and mine
is good but not perfect. In fact, the lowest I have done is .2 kwh (in 30 kwh LEAF)
but no lower than .6 kwh on this LEAF.  Notice LEAF Spy setting is at 4.6 miles/kwh?
Got changed somehow while driving around. I was using Go Pro for phone and had to
reset it a few times.

EPA has been achieved! (FYI another ~ 20-25 mins of idle time was added lowering
average speed.)  Using the 5.3 miles per kwh, we can estimate of usable 6.5 kwh available
or another 35 miles.

LBW (Low Battery Warning) Not sure if age has changed this or its not
super specific like previous LEAFs but was expecting this to come on
at 87 GIDs.  LBW is when the estimated miles (GOM) starts blinking.
I took 4 pix of this and this was only one in focus but GOM was 17
miles for anyone wondering.  LEAF Spy estimate @ 4.8 miles/kwh 31.8
miles. GOM estimated based on 5.3 miles/kwh 35 miles.

Interim shot for reference.  Notice we traveled 9 miles and lost 8 miles on GOM

VLBW (Very Low Battery Warning) We are officially blind!  Now pix is a bit hard to see
but SOC meter is at 2% (notice LEAF Spy is at 12.2%) Previous experiences had VLBW
coming on at 61 GIDs.

For anyone who had an older LEAF, 49 GIDs (or 48 in some cases) should be
a familiar sight since this is when the LBW was triggered on the 24/30 kwh
LEAF.  Notice we have traveled another 3½ miles (country road 40-50 mph)
Sorry for pix quality. Took several, none really came out.

End of Test. I resisted the urge to make another lap around the Olympia Airport. I had
passed Tumwater Webasto twice previously and each time it was in use. This time it
was empty so decided it was far enough!


So the test covered 169.8 miles and I did not make to the 3rd of 4 range warnings. The 3rd one happens when SOC meter goes to "_ _ _" which happens right about where VLBW warning happens with 24/30 kwh LEAFs with the 4th we all know and dread.   So the question becomes what is the likely true range of the LEAF? 

Well, there are a few ways to look at it. Considering the weather, an all freeway trip running 60-65 mph would have been right at the 4.8 miles per kwh setting I had on LEAF Spy or 170.4 miles (which also contributed to my decision to end the test).  As we saw, around here that is a tough drive to make unless you are headed south to Portland. Now I did do that trip a few weeks ago but the weather did not agree including a 10 mile stretch on I-5 where it rained so hard, I could barely see. Freeway traffic dropped to 35-40 mph.  Despite all that (and a much faster trip home) I still achieved 4.2 miles per kwh. I was at 4.8 until I broke out of Portland gridlock and it was 70-75 mph for most of the remaining trip. 

But we averaged 5.3 miles per kwh which would have been 185 miles. Now if we assume that Turtle will hit at .6 kwh remaining, that leaves us 3.1 kwh to use which means 185 miles is not all that unlikely.

In Conclusion

So does this mean that the GOM is better or worse?  Well, both of course. We have demonstrated that the GOM no longer swings wildly on every little hill as it once did. On the long downhill into Seattle, gaining .5 miles per kwh over the entire trip on equated in a 4 mile bump in the estimated range. My back of the hand calculation says that 4 mile bump was actually the range gained during the actual downhill ascent as it was in regen most of the time. 

But it still stops reporting range way too early. If you examine the numbers on the Trip Computer shots you will see a growing hidden reserve as the SOC gets lower. Notice when at 81% SOC, GOM and LEAF Spy were almost identical?  After that point, the disparity grows. Now the GOM was close to my LEAF Spy estimate but only because LEAF Spy was set to 4.8 miles/ kwh and the trip ended at 5.3 miles per kwh. 

Looks like the GOM is better but is still only a tool that needs to be understood. Now the Trip Computer was new for the 2018 MY but I have been using a variant of it since day one. Every morning, I reset my Miles per kwh setting and my Trip A on my previous LEAFs when logging the previous day's stats.  This I found to be very useful but it still suffered from the wild adjustments.  The 2018 LEAF has fixed a lot of that making it more accurate. So before you complain about not hitting the EPA, realize that your LEAF has a lot more to give than its letting on. 

As always, comments are welcome.  I do realize the data is a bit scattered on this post so if you have a question or need clarification, you are likely not the only one so ASK!!