Saturday, August 10, 2019

Rapidgate Software Update Quantified

Ok, I have had the update a week and still hadn't tried it yet, so my first chance I got, off I went. I actually got a bit of luck going my way as a quick errand down south came up making it time for a road trip to test just how much of an improvement my recent update to address slow rapid charging was.

For anyone who didn't know, Nissan released a software update to the North American market to mitigate the Rapidgate issue. This is likely the same update that the European Union received in the Spring of 2018.   So if you got a 40 kwh LEAF you are looking for


Now, I am getting reports that some dealers will not install the update unless you have experienced slow charging which generally happens on the 2nd or 3rd quick charge in a day. Even if you haven't actually experienced this, simply say you have. They have no easy way of proving whether you actually experienced it or not and getting it done now means getting it done for free.  This update is covered while under warranty. It will cost money if done later after the warranty expires. This may not impact you if you are not a roadtrip kinda person but you may be causing an issue to the next owner.  Again, the update is free, takes an hour.  So get er done!


The biggest thing I wanted to see was just how much time I would gain. So to make it easy, I selected a target based on the route of 17-18 kwh.  This meant starting off without a lot of charge because my batteries were simply too cool!

If you recall, the optimum first charge temperature is in the mid 80's. 
So not perfect but not really necessary for out test.

Trip computer shows stats from previous day's drive. 

Unfortunately, this would be the 2nd week in a row where we has hotter than normal weather on days I worked only to see the temps  plummet below normal just in time for my day off.  Temps would be in the 60's all day after an 89º high the day before.  But no worries. Generating my own heat is something I am very good at!

The Route

My errand only required me to go to Raymond so adding in the 17ish kwh charging parameter,  I choose this route. My last stop in Centralia, I would gain slightly more than the 17 kwh but I would record stats when charge collected hit the goal for consistency. 

The Route

Planned charge stops; Tumwater, Castle Rock, Astoria OR, and Centralia. All Webasto. Total trip distance 266 miles but some detours will add a bit to that.  Only the few miles of I-5 between Chehalis and Centralia would be covered in both directions. 

Tumwater Webasto @ Shell Gas

Tumwater Arrival

As you can see, a short drive from home. Interesting that the GOM says 18 miles. Someone was complaining that they were not getting their advertised 226 miles in their LEAF Plus but was using the GOM plus elapsed miles as their guide.  LOL!

Tumwater Arrival

Here LEAF Spy says nearly 31 miles left.  Anyway, since the pack is cooler than optimal, I expect to see an early knee. For more information on how temperatures affect charging curves, go here So because of the earlier knee, I had to make sure my SOC was low enough to generate enough heat and so this is the reason I started a 270 mile road trip at 15%!

Tumwater Charge knee 58.6%

The above charge curve is not temperature controlled. It started at 43 KW peaking to 47.6 KW at a constant current that varied from 123.5 to 124.3 amps until it hit the knee. 

Tumwater Charge curve. 17.31 kwh in 23 mins

Tumwater departure GOM 101 miles

Tumwater departure LS 107.4 miles

Notice GOM and LEAF Spy range estimates are pretty close?  At roughly 67% SOC on the dash, they usually match! Either way, Castle Rock is 60 miles down the road and we got plenty so time to go!  Total charge time; 22 mins 47 seconds,  17.31 kwh received

Castle Rock Webasto @ Cascade Markets

Arrive Castle Rock

Arrive Castle Rock

Ok so this part of the trip did not show what I had hoped to show but notice my average speed (which is not accurate since the car is on during all charging sessions)  went from 13 to 40?  Well, that is because I averaged close to 75 MPH on this segment. Despite all that, I still lost a few degrees.  What I was hoping to show is that even in warm (for us any way) weather in the mid 80's, driving that speed adds very little heat if you know how. Recommend Eco B simply because it prevents wild power/regen swings that happens much easier in D mode.  

Either way, this would be test #1 for the Rapidgate update.  Now, a bit warmer would have been better but the results couldn't be more obvious. A reminder of the test a few weeks ago; I saw 35.5 KW with batt temps @ 94.8º and 24 KW @ 109º.

What I expect to see is a temperature controlled charge. I will show you the difference below as the curve is easy to identify. 

Castle Rock 40 KW

40 KW easily out does the pre update rates! The charge started at 115 amps (from a possible 124) and slowly dropped to 108 amps maintaining the 40 kwh power rate until the knee which also moves to the left. 

Temperature limited charge curve

Castle Rock Charge knee 67%

Unlike the Tumwater charge, the power stays at a constant 40 KW until it hits the knee due to the current adjusting slowly downwards.  Guessing Nissan uses this method for better temperature control when charges start below the knee.   But there are always trade offs. Heat generation even on a mild day as this one still heats up much quicker than pre update rates. 

Castle Rock charge; 17.87 kwh in 26 mins, 51 seconds

Now we are up to 10 temperature bars (pips if you will)  but the trip now drops down to the Columbia River thru Longview where speeds are only 55 mph but has several very steep climbs which did add a few degrees to the mix. 

Depart Castle Rock

Leaving Castle Rock, its a short jog down I-5 before exiting to Longview with a drive thru town to cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge to Rainier Oregon. As soon as you cross the bridge and turn onto Highway 30, you climb...and climb...and climb!

Despite temps shooting past 130º (and bumping me to 11 temperature bars for a brief moment) there was still plenty of power available so no issues there.  Along with the ups, there are also some long downhills which I coasted in neutral shifting into a drive mode to regen down to a reasonable speed at the appropriate times.

Astoria Webasto@ Astoria Transit Station

By the time I got to Astoria, I was well past my time to stop. 

Arrive Astoria Oregon

As expected, the lower speeds pushed my efficiency up which was good since my next charging station would be over 110 miles away. This charge I was "hoping" would take less than an hour but was holding my breath. The last time I charged with batts in this temperature range, I went from 17% to 45% SOC!

Astoria 29 KW

This was a very pleasant surprise! You might remember last May, I charged at North Bend, WA with temps within 2º (actually lower) and only managed a charge rate of 16 KW. This is a 60% increase in charging speed!

But the real question is how long will it take to get my charge I need? EVGO has a 45 min time limit during daylight so the ideal is getting to what I need before that time.  So the plan was plug in, take a leak, then do a 25 min walk which was very needed by then. 

Astoria Charge 17.40 kwh,  36 min 44 seconds

When I returned, I realized it was already time to unplug. I was expecting at least another 5-10 mins. 

Departing Astoria

Depart Astoria

I had the miles I needed but was back to 11 temperature bars. But the next leg was around Willapa Bay and its direct off the ocean breezes which would make it a cool and pleasant drive. But first another climb but one with an awesome view of the Columbia!

Astoria-Megler Bridge from WA side

Well, the pix did not come out as well as I'd hoped but its hard to get all of a 4 mile long bridge in one picture! 

10 River Barges on the Columbia

Will have to zoom a bit, but there were barges lined up all the way up the river as far as I could see. Here is 10 of maybe 30 I could see? A closer view below

4 River Barges on the Columbia

Every time I had been to the area, I always turned left toward Long Beach, so turning right was a new experience for me. It has been YEARS since I had been in the area and actually never went that way to Astoria before so the journey to South Bend from the bridge was my first time ever. 

South Bend, WA

As I got to town, it was time for a break and I found a little park/boat launch/recreation area that would be ideal for a charging station location.  Lots of places to eat within a few blocks and things to see.  FYI; This area is on the State's radar for a QC station! 

 Sign says it all

Robert E Bush WWII Gold Medal recipient

Chinook Nation

Leaving South Bend, I turned inland at Raymond, driving thru forests and low lying hills. Altitudes ranging from 100 to 800 feet.  Although the slopes were gentle, the drive was quite fun. It was a small two lane road with a lot of curves and for the most part, abandoned so zipping from curve to curve was very entertaining but did not aid much in the cooling of the pack so Centralia started at 10 temperature bars and hit 11 quite soon after. 

Centralia WA Webasto @ Wendy's

Arrive Centralia, WA Wendy's

It was dinner time and I had coupons! So two single with cheese and a medium  chocolate frosty later,  I meandered out to catch the stats for the 17 kwh charge.  I did get 17.46 kwh in 40 mins.  I then talked with a gasser and hopefully he was converted. 

Centralia Charge 26 KW,  19.31 kwh  43 mins 39 seconds.  No knee attained 

I did gain a new entry on my Temperature Bar chart though. Introducing Bar #11! 

Ok, I know the time stamps don't match but I missed the first one in Astoria since it happened on my walk but I was lucky enough to catch the Centralia bar as it appeared so grabbed the LEAF Spy screen for prosperity! 

After my talk with the the EV hopeful (I hope) it was time for home. 

Depart Centralia

I turned right out of Wendy's electing to take highway 507 home cutting across the county on Military Road.  It was also a two lane twisty with no traffic so having a bit of fun here was too much to resist. 

End of trip

All in all a great trip. (notice where the miles/kwh ended up at?) The drive time does include random sitting there while recording stuff, 2 hours and 11 mins of charging, so taking charge time alone out of the equation, driving time average speed bumps to 46 mph. Not too bad I think. Skirting I-5 definitely slowed things a bit especially leaving Wendy's as it was the peak of rush hour and it took a while to drive the few miles to highway 507 but knowing what I know, I wouldn't have changed a thing. Passing thru Tenino, I saw a bit of wisdom I simply had to turn around and capture.  This does not happen when the only concern on a drive is how to get somewhere the fastest. 

No truer words!

The Grade

Using the Tumwater stint as a baseline, we saw a 4 minute slowdown at Castle Rock, 14 minutes in Astoria and 17 minutes in Centralia.  So after the update, we still see about 35 extra minutes of charge time.  So, the update was a compromise. a "meet halfway" solution.  It is not the "full speed charge to 80% SOC at any temperature" that my 30 kwh LEAF did over and over without fail. 

But it is a significant improvement over the pre update performance gaining anywhere from 40 to 80% faster charging speeds depending on the temperature of the batteries. The hotter the pack, the greater the percentage of increase. 

And yeah, you will now see higher temperatures than you saw before. I literally thought I would never see 11 temperature bars simply because the one other time I started a charge with 10 temperature bars, I charged 30 minutes and the battery temperatures barely moved because the charge rate was so slow so bar 11 never happened. But it appeared twice today. 

So I have to give the upgrade a pass. Its not perfect but its more than acceptable to me.  Thank you Nissan for giving us an update that is more than a year old. I am glad you took the time to test out the update for bugs on our EU compadres before finally giving it to us.