Thursday, July 25, 2019

Decoding Rapidgate And Why Everyone Should Get The Update

Last week I announced that my LEAF tech advised me that a fix for Rapidgate was available. Now this happened last Friday on the 19th for an update that was apparently first available on the 18th.  So naturally, no one had heard about it. This created quite the lively discussion including some feeling that not everyone needed the update.  Well, that couldn't be farther from the truth and I quickly realized that many people don't really understand what Rapidgate is or how it affects your driving experience.

So, I decided to dig out a few blogs on some of the road trips I did last Summer to compare with a drive I took today to see if my LEAF had changed at all.  The purpose being to show just how much additional time is added when the full force of Rapidgate is against you.

As always, if you don't like my banter, you can should be able to figure out the gist of the blog by simply looking at the pictures!

The Test

To level the playing field, I decided all my charging would be done at the same station so I chose the Webasto DCFC in Tumwater, WA.  As mentioned before, when I am not planning anything out of town, I like to keep my SOC between 25 to 70%.  Today, it was a bit higher than the norm considering I did not do my daily 90 minute charge this morning.


Knee; This is the point when the current starts dropping.

KW Rating; We all tend to quantify stations based on KW but in reality they should be based on current. In this situation we will use a 125 amp station (which varies from 118 - 125 amps from location to location) which is based on a 400 volt battery pack so that is how we get the 50 KW or 50,000 watts. (125 amps * 400 volts)

After all; which is more accurate?

I plug in at 20% SOC, start charging at 125 amps but only 44 KW so am I getting  100% power from the machine based on 125 amps received of a possible 125 amps or am I only getting 88% of the power available based on 44 KW from a possible 50 KW?

Temperature Gauge; This is the Nissan instrumentation which was a 12 bar graph. Now, its a sideways thing but the basics are the same. Still has 12 segments or pips, etc.  Segments 1 and 2 are blue. Segments 11 and 12 are red and the rest is "normal"

I think I threw up in my mouth typing that last part...

Charge # 1

First charge of the day. Batt temps in upper 70's
charging speed 46 KW @ 124 amps

First charge; 14 mins, 10.37 kwh.  I didn't want to charge too much and Rapidgate is all about the speed of the charge at the beginning. 

Charging Knee 60.61%, batt temps 91, 92, 88.8º F 

So first charge runs at max current which in this case, peaked at 124.37 amps per LEAF Spy logs which is the norm for this station. peak charge rate 47.3 kwh. This is the best I can get from the LEAF.  So all is good but remember the battery started out in the upper 70's. 

Charge # 2

As the day progressed, the temperature rose quickly. Soon it was 86º and very Sunny.  A/C was a must. After a quick sprint to Chehalis to check out the seemingly abandoned EA site, I had lunch and headed back to Tumwater. 

2nd charge; batt temps mid 90's, Charging speed 35.5 KW@ 100 amps

Ok, so we have LEAF Spy so we already know the speed won't be what we are expecting. But others will expect nothing as the temperature gauge will be at 6 pips, ticks, bars (or whatever) which is dead center on the scale. 

Charging knee 68.38% Batt temps; 112.2, 110.4, 106.7ºF

Notice the knee has moved to the right? At the knee, charge rate was 34 KW.  On first charge, SOC was 67.44% @ 34 KW.  So loss is not too bad, yet...

12.57 kwh in 21 minutes.  It was my intent to stop the charge at 10ish kwh like the first charge but was talking to a Bolter so was distracted a bit... 

Charge # 3

3rd charge; 24 KW @ 68 amps. 

So now we start seeing some real effects. As you can see in the upper left corner, my charging speed is nearly cut in half.  I am at 8 temperature segments (2 segments past center) 

Charging knee; not obtained. At this pace, I would be over 80% before that happened.  
Batt temps 118.7, 118.7, 112ºF

Charge summary; 10.42 kwh in 26 minutes. In a normal situation, I would have likely had to charge another 15-20 minutes or so. That makes 46 minutes charging.  Good for a meal but not so good if its just a pit stop. 

8 Temperature segments

Now, mind you, it gets worse. MUCH worse. Last Summer, at 9 Temperature segments (notice still not in the red!!) 

 On a 30 minute DCFC session, I went from 27% to 48% SOC. I didn't even get to half full!

Now, this was the 2nd Ellensburg trip which was quite the distance eventually running over 250 miles but today how far did I have to go to see almost a 50% reduction in charging time? 

Yep, that's right. 116.7 miles is all I had to drive to get to a severe Rapidate condition.  Ok, I admit I drove a "bit" fast but as you can see with 4.5 miles per kwh, it couldn't have been too fast. You can ignore the average speed as the car was on for all charging sessions plus a 20 min conversation with the neighbor as I was leaving the house today.  I did use A/C but set to 80º with fan speed on 3. Was very comfortable although I did not have it on during charging as it would have affected the numbers. 

Get The Update!!

Even if you don't ever plan to quick charge more than once a day, everyone should get this. My tech  did bring up an important point that the update NTB19-056 is free for in warranty vehicles and most if not all 2018's and 19's should be in warranty. This means if you don't get it now and decide to sell your LEAF down the road, you will either be screwing over the new owners or simply losing value on the resale if the prospective buyer is wise enough to catch the fact the car was not updated. So do it while its free. Hold Nissan accountable for their actions! 

Now some have had difficulties requesting the update simply because service advisors are just as much in the dark as we were before I and others started publishing info about the existence of the update.  Below is all the info you will need to give to the service advisor. 

EL19-018 and reference NTB19-056. It’s titled “2018-2019 LEAF; LITHIUM-ION BATTERY WILL NOT QUICK CHARGE.” 


Its too early to know what Nissan's stance is on this.  This update will cause your pack to be hotter than was possible without the update.  So learning to charge judiciously is needed to ensure a long battery life. 

To illustrate; on the last charging curve graph, I basically started and ended my 30 min charge at 16 KW. Notice the black line? That is the battery temperature line.  My battery temp went from 122º to 125º so hardly a budge at all.  My 2016 surpassed 130º at least a dozen times. 

But this update will allow the pack to soar into the 130's; a place that was all but unreachable without the update with the obvious exception of places like Phoenix, etc.  Now, those situations will be rare and will require a lot of things to line up like terrain, weather, speed, etc. 

But you control most of that. Getting the update installed whether you need it or not is holding Nissan accountable but you have to hold up your end as well.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

June 2019 Driving Report; Things Are Looking Up?!!

Summer is her...umm, coming?  It has actually been a bit of a slow start to Summer or at least I thought it was but apparently I have become jaded to the change in the climate here during my past 30ish years here.  When I first came to Olympia in the late 80's, the average high for July was 78º. It is now 80º so our colder, rainier weather is really not all that far from what it used to be.  Now, rain is rare here (isn't that a shocker!) during Summer so if we have any more rain besides the  we have had so far, it will go down as one of the wettest July's ever.

But this is the "June" report so enough of July! (We will get back to July in a bit!) due to several vacations, driving was very light for the month amounting to 599 miles and only 56.11 free kwh received from public charging. As you can guess, total cost was quite low or at least would have been if not for a stint at EA Lacey. More on that later.


A company has developed a CANBUS intermediary type device that promises to allow various pack sizes to fit into a 24 kwh LEAF.  This is promising and provides some possible competition with Fenix Systems but it would appear Muxsan is limited a bit geographically and does require a LOT more DIY skills. But its options and the interest (if any) gained will go a long way towards encouraging other 3rd party companies to investigate the battery pack upgrade market.

Public Charging

Electrify America

The 6 station Lacey Walmart from EA finally came on line and due to CCS issues, I was the first to get a successful charge on June 2nd.  The $7.19 I paid almost doubled my total outlay for public charging on my LEAF but those are the drawbacks of being first!

Naturally, the next morning EA announced subscription pricing that would have dropped my cost to roughly  $3.18 if signed up for the $4 per month subscription service.

Now EA pricing is attractive but their practice of only one Chademo plug is not sitting well with me. There have been 4 documented cases of a SINGLE CCS vehicle charging at the lone dual format station while the other CCS stations sit idle. It only takes a glance to understand why. In 3 of the 4 pix, its quite clear the driver simply took the station closest to the front door of the business.

This scenario I predicted months ago.  Although there has been growing awareness of the issue, we still need to do more. EA needs to understand that Chademo is not dead and there are still more Chademo plugs on the road than CCS.

Another thing about EA is their tiered pricing which quickly gets out of control. Level 2 pricing is supposed to start for anything over 75 KW but a 2020 Soul was billed the higher level 2 rate despite never exceeding 71 KW.  Apparently EA does not bill on what you actually get but on what you "could" get.  That is messed up!

Supercharger Coverage in the South Sound

Tesla Model 3

As if we didn't have it bad enough, Tesla announced last week that the T3 will now be able to use the chademo adapter. This probably means more traffic at Chademo stations.  Right now the general consensus is that no one will buy the adapter because the SC network is cheap but in my area, its not convenient.  I am in the process of polling my "plug competition" and its only been this week that the Bolt finally pulled into first place passing Tesla. So the statement that Tesla's won't use Chademo is simply not working for me.

Now, Auburn will soon have an SC so that will help but until we get one in BOTH Olympia and the Tacoma area, I will likely continue to see Teslas charging.


Its always darkest before the Dawn and that was very true but then on the 26th of June,  the long awaited EVGO station in DuPont opened and....the clouds came out.

We had long known a station was being located in DuPont and it being a small town, there was many conjectures as to where it would be but the large  parking area that serves several restaurants, a hotel and fast food joints seemed the best place and that was the original plan but new construction across the street made putting the stations there much cheaper since the cost of trenching, etc. was already paid for by new host Ace Hardware.

And as I tend to do, I was the first to get a charge at the new location and... one of the last.

Because EVGO is the fastest (by far!) DCFC on the market today, I generally take off all 5 seconds to get the charge going which means I did not see any screens that might have clued me into the fact the stations were not fully online.  Pure luck got me charging on the right side.  15 minutes later someone else pulled up, plugged into the left station and his card was not recognized so he used the credit card option and it worked but...

It was expensive!

One of the many reasons why I like EVGO is their quickness. As mentioned, they are THE fastest at getting the charge started but also provides immediate notifications when anything happens on my account.  Normally, I would have noticed that the usual email (usually arrives within 2-3 seconds after the charge starts) didn't happen but I was set upon immediately by the Construction Boss, Ace Hardware Regional Rep and the EVGO contractor all congratulating me on being the first to charge.

The EVGO contractor did say that the station was wired for future speed upgrades already which was a good thing and that new construction savings made it possible. Remember this station is part of Washington State's WCGH project that our hard earned EV tabs fees are partially paying for.

Well, during all this, I lost track of time so when I checked the status of the car, I knew immediately that there was something wrong.

My NCTC account only allows for 30 mins of free charging and the station generally shutdown between 29:45 and 30:15.  It was then I realized I had not gotten a charge start notification. I unplugged and didn't think much of it.

But a few days later, others were unable to get a charge on either side with their EVGO accounts getting the message that their cards were blocked.  A few days after that, the credit card option stopped working and the EVGO station was removed from Plugshare.  I guess thinking a station could go live in less than 3 days from install was a fantasy not quite realized.  Since we know the station works, not sure why its not on?  I have a sneaking suspicion the State is planning an opening and the station will be live then.  WSDOT; Please keep in mind that as a paying customer, I do have some expectation of expediency.

Despite the hiccups at DuPont, EVGO stands out as the public charging leader. Their pricing isn't quite as good as EA but their subscription charge of $7.99 a month is actually reimbursed back to you by allowing the first several minutes to be free.

Degradation Or... Regurgitation?

If you have been following my blog, you know every 3 months, I post the monthly summary late because my pack has had large drops every 90 days that start happening between the 8 to the 12th of the months of January, April, July, and October.   I have had 5 events and those 5 events have accounted for  6.2% of my total of 7.86% loss since delivery.

Using previous experiences and science has failed to explain the losses. My biggest loss came in Jan 2019 which included my shortest driving distance. My smallest loss came in July 2018 which included a longest (more than double) driving distance. So I was expecting the same, hoping for a smaller adjustment of 1% and...


I gained .95% SOH.  Now, we all know that battery measurements are hardly exact so a bit of bouncing around is to be expected but in the entire history (17 months tomorrow) of my LEAF checking and recording stats EVERY morning before the day's drive, I have never seen the stats go up. Not one single .01% rise until this past Monday.

All in all,  a great month. To finish, a dedication to my Dad from my nephew Steve Campbell who we visiting on a trip to Michigan last month.