Wednesday, December 25, 2019

From Russia With Love

Well, it was simply a confluence of things all coming together. It started late Monday night when I received a notice that work was offering Christmas Eve off.  I normally don't take time off but I already knew it would be slow which means a lot of "busy" work lamely disguised as preventative maintenance would be a likely possibility which makes a 10 hour day seem like forever. So I accepted the time off. To be fair; the notice came in at 6:30 PM and to give time to anyone who might have had plans, I waited until 10 PM before submitting the request. I already knew a lot of people were leaving early so they didn't have as big a hit to the paycheck but I have a bank of time off I could use (I won't)  so finances were not the issue.

So Tuesday morning I am sipping coffee and Facebooking and see a post from a fellow E Plusser who had major Rapidgate issues.  So far, my limited experience had given every indication that Rapidgate would be a MUCH smaller issue than in my 40 kwh.  So I was a bit surprised.  But it soon became clear to me that the person was not using his extra range to his advantage.  He chose the path of less charging stops but longer charging sessions.  IOW; he did not take advantage of the additional range he had.  So I decided I needed to see how much of a benefit my extra range gave me.  I would take a trip, heat up the pack but use more shorter stops only charging to the knee which means only using the bottom 2/3rds of the pack and see how well the car performs.

The Trip

My first thought was to duplicate the trip my fellow E Plusser took but that would have taken too much time and my Christmas obligations start well before noon so there wouldn't be time for that.  I decided the key factor was pack temperatures anyway so any decent trip length would do.  In the Summer of 2018, I discovered a gem in Newberg, OR called "From Russia With Love"  It was basically a drive thru espresso stand that serves the GREATEST Pieroski's! (Supposedly they have a great coffee selection too. One of these days, I will have to check that out too.) So I decided since it was Christmas, my present would be lunch there!

As always, I was completely prepared for a road trip... 65% is good enough! TBH; That is beyond the limit of my butt and in the critical area of bladder capacity.

I DC'd the night before so my pack is warmed up. Normally pack would be in mid to upper 40's due to long periods outside at work. (Garage ambient was 53.6º) I figured 75 mph to Woodland would warm up the pack a bit. It was only 90ish miles so plenty of range.  Based on dry conditions going down averaging 70-75 mph on I-5 to the OR border and some scattered rain coming home on the WA/OR coast averaging 55 mph, I figured should average about 3.8 miles/kwh.

Castle Rock

Observation #1; Don't bring coffee in 18 oz mug with you if you want to drive 90 mins before first stop.  I had plenty of range but I "barely" made it to Castle Rock.

I should have reset trip computer. I sat in drive way for a while getting stuff together (including talking to mailman. He pulled into my driveway as I was leaving and opened the back of his truck and it was completely full top to bottom with Amazon. Unreal. Should have gotten a pix but anyway...


Notice where the car is now? Above the GOM said 162 miles which means I should have 100 miles left. LEAF Spy said 145 miles and with the 62.8 driven should have about 82 miles left (realize my 3.8 miles/kwh estimate is for entire trip)  Now we can say that the GOM only takes recent history into account but that would have been my drive home from DuPont from the DC charging station which was at 75 mph (or more) to the Martin Way exit and home and that trip ended at 3.8 miles/kwh as well.

But now LEAF Spy is over the estimate that the GOM has. Why is that?  The reason is hidden reserve.  At roughly 70% SOC, the SOC on LEAF Spy and the GOM match.  From that point downwards, the hidden reserve starts to grow.  Notice when leaving home, the Dash is 65% while LEAF Spy was 68.3%? That is a 3.3% difference.  But when we get to Castle Rock, the dash is 31% but LEAF Spy is 40.3% a 9.3% difference.  A few % is ok but 10%???? 

To make a long story short; When you need the GOM the most is when it is the least accurate (assuming its even still there...)


Ok, we gained a few degrees. We did have a rather lengthy "slowdown" from just North of Centralia to past Chehalis. Slowdown as in speeds dropped to the lower 60's. But I wasn't really expecting much. The bigger pack, the greater module count; all done to lower heat gain and its working (but again its still Winter)

The Webasto did all it could putting out  the full 125 amps.  As promised I was only going to charge full rate as much as possible. Granted, if the charging knee happened sooner than expected, I might be caught off guard a bit but fairly confident I knew about when that was going to happen.

Castle Rock Charge stats

charge time; 25:41
19.41 kwh
knee 69.55%,
Temps 77.5/79.9/79.0.
Charge speed average; 45.37 KW  (all data from LEAF Spy Logs) 

The knee was near perfect timing. I got caught up on Facebook, did the bathroom thing, picked up a 24 oz Extreme Mocha and basically waited less than 5 minutes and was back on the road again!

Newberg Oregon

If you are ever in the neighborhood, "From Russia With Love" is a MUST MUST MUST stop! If there was ever a place that could franchise, this is the place! (Not sure how they would maintain their fresh baked daily offerings but...)

No dining room. Just a drive up on one side, a walk up on the other.  (Check my Oregon Coast trip from 2018 for a close up of the menu)

Boo's Love; one of many many awesome items. Most come baked in that pocket crusty thing which is done perfectly. Its not mushy, not dry, not anything but PERFECTLY DELICIOUS!

Ok so some you are thinking I am crazy driving 150 miles for this but I am not the only one that thinks so. They rate 4.9 of 5 on Facebook. How a podunk wine country town of Newberg got so lucky, I simply don't know!

Webasto outdid themselves here putting out over 126 amps here!

Newberg Charge stats

Charge time; 32:25
24.48  kwh
knee; 70.82% SOC
temps; 93.4/96.8/96.8
charging speed average; 45.31 KW

Notice the slight temperature changes? The charging data is from the LEAF Spy logs which is simply more detailed and accurate. Screenshot is taken before departing Newberg so timewise, likely less than 2 minutes or so.  As you can see, we have 4 temperature readings but all LEAFs since 2013 have only had 3 temperature sensors so the lower left one can be ignored. Not sure what it represents?

Astoria Oregon

In case you are wondering, no I did not make it to Newberg w/o a bathroom break. The funny thing is I stopped at a Fred Meyer on the way and walked right past the charging station in the parking lot to the bathroom. I wish Washington had as much incentive as Oregon does. Oregon is light years ahead in both progress and its attitude towards electric vehicles.

The drive to Astoria meant a lot of winding around wine estates, farms, hills, Dales, Jane's, etc. Just about everything except freeways I guess you could say.  I did see some decent temperature spikes on some of the uphill climbs and yeah, sometimes 75 was needed to get around slower moving traffic. The rain had started and it was getting dark!  Then temperatures dropped into the upper 20's which made any temperature gain in the pack a tough challenge.

Now we all know about Rapidgate but there is also Icegate where the knee moves downward with the starting temperatures of the batteries.  In my 40 kwh LEAF, it was severe seeing knees at 48% SOC when pack temps started in the 40's.  I soon found the optimum temperature was with packs in the mid to upper 80's.

Another thing about Rapidgate is the initial charge rate would be lower so Astoria had some surprises.

The last 20ish miles or so were flat and low speeds which really saw a drop in the battery temps. I was nearing 100º in the hills but the drive from Seaside to Astoria was all between 25 and 40 mph for the most part and pouring rain. So was hoping I was still in the optimum temperature range but that loan 93.8º apparently derailed me.

I started out at full speed over 125 amps and thought I was safe! Rapidgate always lowered the starting charge speed when the pack was warmer than the upper 80's but my euphoria was short lived when the knee hit at 58%. (lowest ever on a 125 amp machine on my E Plus to date) This was unexpected and with my longest stretch w/o charging ahead, I had no choice but to keep charging well past the knee.

Astoria Charge stats

Charge time; 35:41
25.67 kwh
knee ; 57.81%
temps; 100.6/106.2/108.4
charging speed; 43.18 KW

Last Stretch

Leaving Astoria, I crossed the Bridge headed towards Aberdeen. I quickly realized I should have gone counterclockwise on my trip. It was dark, rainy, and lots of deer on the road.  Driving was rather "adventurous"  Luckily my high beams worked quite well so only had a few slowdowns to keep a safe distance away from Deer who seemed to have a healthy appetite for the grass in areas where little or no shoulders existed.

Although there were a lot of ups and downs before and after South Bend/Raymond areas, even the highest altitudes the temperatures were no lower than the mid 30's. Not quite out of Black Ice danger, but felt much better.  I soon hit a heavy rain band and now it was all about dodging puddles in the middle of the road in the pitch black of a starless night on a windy narrow highway.  Like I said; Adventurous!

It was my plan to have as little charge in the pack when I hit Lacey but I soon realized that 62% SOC to drive 130 miles in these conditions might have been a bit ambitious. But I was barely averaging 50 mph and there were more than a few occasions where I thought that I might be going too fast.

To make matters worse, for the first time in over 8 hours on the road, my feet started getting cold. I didn't have my "cold weather" shoes on opting for Reeboks and no show socks. Hmmm??


I arrived with plenty of range to spare and for the first time, I saw LBW at 113 GIDs, 5% SOC and VLBW at 87 GIDs and 2%.  The irony of my 24 kwh days were not lost when both were a daily occurance. It only took 5 weeks to see these all but useless warnings!

With the batt temps still touching 100º, I was not having a lot of faith in my charging performance when surprise #2 came.  As you know; this station puts out 200 amps. I have hit 73.8 KW here before but was realistically expecting half of that and surprise!

This is a Rapidgate I could live with! I started at 162.48 amps which was quite a bit higher than I was expecting.   But 5% isn't much range so I decided I would aim for my best charging average of 45 KW and see what I get.  Interestingly enough, I ended the charge at nearly the same SOC as the knee on a a full charge speed at 200 amps (45.6% SOC)

We can tell this is a "Rapidgate" charge because it a constant power charge. Notice the green line is flat? In the previous charges, the green line rises slowly due to higher voltages as the SOC rises. Its the current that is constant. In a Rapidgate charge, the power is constant while the current slowly drops.

EA Charge stats
Charge time; 25:43
kwh; 23.1 kwh
knee; Temperature controlled curve
temps; 105.8/113.0/112.0
charging speed; 54.11 KW
Max current; 162.48 amps
Current at "power knee" ; 145.34 amps


There is no real conclusion here other than what we already knew. Unless you have to charge to a specific SOC like I did in Astoria or simply have extra time to kill like I did in Newberg, it simply does not pay in either time or money to charge to a high SOC.  The fellow E Plusser above was charging beyond 90% SOC and so yeah, it was less stops and he probably had the time to charge that long at least once due to meals  but it will cost him more than double what I paid and I am not sure he was more efficient at getting to his destination than I was.

The other key takeaway is well, its Winter. Yes, the pack is not heating up as quickly as the smaller 40 kwh pack and yes, it sheds heat quicker as well but the true test becomes what I can do during Summer time. Even after driving 375 miles, my EA session proves quite handily that Rapidgate is still present but much more manageable.  As you can guess; I will be revisiting this extensively when the weather warms up!

Show Me The Money!

I didn't care about a timeline or I wouldn't have taken the worst and slowest possible way home. I am really doing this for my own benefit more than anything else. In a few months, I will be "on my own" paying for all my public charging and I simply don't want to pay more than I have to.  Now, it is all a matter of preference. I prefer more stops and shorter driving stints.  The two hours from Astoria to Lacey only emphasized how much I don't need that in my life. If not for the MUCH higher attention to the road required, I feel like fatigue might have become a factor.

Yesterday, California announced a pay by kwh law which I think will hurt us tremendously. The areas where you have to get enough charge to make it 130 miles like I did last night are disappearing here so there is little need in my mind for someone to charge to that level when they have that much available range. But I fear w/o the financial disincentive to unplug and go as soon as you got what you need, there will be little reason to not charge another 10 minutes to get that one extra kwh.

For Gen one EVers, I get that. You might "have" to charge to that level to get to the next station 50 miles down the road but I am routinely getting stuck behind Bolts who have free charging who have 90+ minute charging sessions running.  Removing the financial disincentive of charging beyond one's current need WILL see more people simply charging for longer periods of time.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

E Plus Charging Profile; Still Searching For RapidGate!

RapidGate/IceGate started with the 40 kwh pack.  This is when the charging profiles on a DC session changes based on the starting temperature of the battery pack.   Now this is significant because other packs from the Bolt, Tesla, etc. act differently adjusting charge rates upwards if the pack is cold initially.  Cold packs are limited in the current they can handle so need to heat up a bit before taking on the full current a station can hand out.  There is some thought out there that this is being unnecessarily overcautious especially if charge rate is 1.5 C or less.


The original LEAFs charged...well slowly even on a "quick" charger.  On a station supplying up to 125 amps, the knee (when current starts to drop) was generally in the mid 30's SOC.  Now this was pre LEAF  Spy so only had the dash to go by.  With the reserve, the knee was probably around 40% SOC give or take a few.

30 kwh

Nissan's first major capacity increase happened with the 2016 model year introducing the 30 kwh pack for the SL's and SV's (S trim received 30 kwh packs starting in October 2016) and apparently Nissan heard our complaints.  Now that the early and free days of DCFC charging was fading fast in the rearview mirror, the pay per minute issues made the slow charging a bigger issue to contend with.  My 2016 S 30 would charge at full speed past 80% SOC! This was a godsend because of my work demands and adhering to a schedule that had no wiggle room. Delays for slow charging simply wasn't going to work.  The ability to grab a 10-20 minute boost under a wide range of battery conditions (hot/cold, high SOC) with a decent amount of range really made EVs an attractive option in a job where I logged over 25,000 personal vehicle miles for work a year.

Although the 30 kwh was a good boost in range, it was still not nearly enough for any real charge management on a road trip. If you were lucky enough to be in an area that had DCFC's every 20-30 miles or so then it wasn't so bad but most of the country was not lucky, so more range was needed.

RapidGate/IceGate And 40 kwh packs

In 2018, Nissan released the 40 kwh pack for the 2018 model year. It wasn't the rumoured and highly anticipated 60 kwh TMS pack we were hoping for but again, a decent bump in range along with several new driver aids.  I hadn't planned on getting one but my hand was forced when my beloved (and undegraded) S30 was killed.

A quick perusal of the EV options quickly revealed that even without the HUGE incentives of the past, the LEAF with its higher price was still the best option for me so l jumped on it as soon as they hit the streets. I was one of the first S 40 customers Ray had!

But it took all of ONE workday for me to realize that the full charge past 80% SOC I was expecting was not to be.  Not even close really as I was lucky to see the knee squeak past 50% SOC.  Now it was February and the added range usually only meant needing one QC to cover me which means heat wasn't an issue,  I was IceGating and didn't know it.


Because of changing personal needs (and escalating gridlock!) I made the tough decision to take a rather large pay cut and change employers. This put me on a 4 day work week with a 25 mile round trip commute which meant MORE TIME FOR ROAD TRIPPING!

So well before the heat of Summer arrived, I experienced the full brunt of RapidGate.  A trip in April revealed that my pack charged best (highest SOC @ knee) when batt temps were in the 80'sº F at the start of the charge but as soon as the pack hit 90º, I no longer received the maximum current at the start of the charge.  As the pack heated up, the starting current continued to drop until I charged at North Bend EVGO starting temps 121º and had max rate of 61 amps (of 120ish) to start!  My 30 minute NCTC charge didn't even get me to half ! (45% SOC)  The charging rate was so slow, the batt temps went DOWN during the session to 118º (yeah, it was a bit nippy OAT in mid 40's)

RapidGate Mitigated

Now Nissan knew about RapidGate rather quickly and since their main market focus for the new LEAF was Europe (Yeah, we now have assigned seats in the nosebleed section) they released a software update in May 2018 to alleviate the ramp down. It helped but it was an EU update ONLY!!

But it was still Spring in America. The heat of Summer hadn't happened so the outcry in the US was barely a whimper.  In fact; most claimed their LEAF didn't have RapidGate.  Then July hit.

Olympia's year round mild climate insured that only multiple fast charges revealed any RapidGate effects. But elsewhere, it wasn't the case. Soon, social media was flooded by people not seeing more than 25 KW on their FIRST QC of the day.  Ambient heat along with sometimes aggressive driving was more than enough to heat up the pack.   We immediately started complaining about the issues to Nissan but our voice wasn't really heard until Jennifer Sensiba started a petition to simply allow us to get the software update that ALREADY EXISTED!!

I was almost ready to give up hope which was rare for me ( ok, maybe I wasn't!) when in mid July 2019 A YEAR LATER!! Aaron McAfee, the resident LEAF tech guru of the Pacific Northwest, notified me that a RapidGate SW update was now available and when did I want to come in and get it done?   I immediately went on social media to tell everyone the great news and ....

Well, no one believed me.  We had several supposedly connected people claim they contacted Nissan who told them no such plans to allow an update THAT ALREADY EXISTED!! to be issued to North America. So my announcement went virtually unnoticed until 5 days later when Nissan announced that it was now available to us.  Try to be helpful I do and what do I get?? Anyway...

Because of concerts, focus groups and birthdays, it took a few weeks to get the update but on August 1, 2019 the update was done that included a battery plate bonding recall. So two updates at once! and barely an hour in the shop. If you need LEAF work, go to Aaron at Puyallup Nissan. He is worth the drive!  It was another week before I had a chance to test the update and I did see a definite improvement ranging from 30 to 60ish% faster.  The hotter the pack, the greater the speed increase.


As the days grew shorter,  I started noticing a reduction in charge gained during my 30 minute EVGO sessions. It wasn't much but since I was VERY consistent with the 30 kwh pack,  the variance was worth looking into so I started looking at my charging logs (I track EVERY QC on LEAF Spy) and started noticing cold weather affected the charge.

Unlike Tesla and Chevy, the LEAF starts at max current even when the pack is cold, at least within the parameters of the Pacific Northwest "cold."   So I decided I needed to test the charging when the pack was cold and this meant waiting for a cold snap to get a full range of results.

Chevy Bolt charging on a cold WA morning. After 7 minutes, they have only gotten
to 22 KW. (TMS must not be awake yet???) Later in the charge, they did manage to
get to 35 KW. 

It didn't take long for my suspicions to be confirmed. IceGate was real.  When my pack temps hit the 40'sº F, the knee was dropping in to the 40's as well, SOC that is.  So we were now getting it from both sides now!   FYI; I went thru the charging logs on my S 30 and surprise surprise. It didn't have IceGate either. I did manage to find one instance where the knee happened at 77% but starting batt temps were in the mid 50's so not all that cold to begin with.  Most others including ones that started over 120º F, still had the knee over 80% SOC!

62 kwh E Plus

Unlike the bump from 30 kwh to 40 kwh, the E Plus pack not only increased capacity but also increased their module count.  This allowed more of a "spreading out" of the charge received by the pack making the individual stress on a cell much lower.  So it made sense that higher power would be fine and Nissan did upgrade the DC to 100 KW.   Now based on the knee, SOC limitations, etc. You won't see 100 KW but reportedly 80 KW would happen.  And when we get a 100 KW Chademo, I will test that theory out!


Nissan ended the NCTC promo the first week of July this past summer as planned.  It provided 2 years free DC charging with Blink, Webasto and EVGO. This meant I was soon faced with the decision of what vendor I would be charging with when my promo ends February 15th, 2020.  With the charging speed issues above behind me now, I needed to understand the parameters of how the E Plus charged and what was the best circumstances to alleviate RapidGate/IceGate, etc.

Heat Gain and Retention

It didn't take long for me to realize that keeping my E Plus pack warm wasn't going to be very easy. I did nearly a full 30 minute charge on EVGO the other day, gained nearly 23 kwh and pack barely hit 70º. Battery temps at charge start in upper 40's, knee just over 65%

120 amp knee; 65.24%  batt temps start 

IceGate On The E Plus

So, its simply not the time of year for RapidGate testing. The pack isn't retaining heat like the 40 nor does it gain heat simply while driving or regenning. Guessing its a combination of more cells and better chemistry.  The E Plus does have a slight bump upwards on the E Pedal regen profile  seeing up to 189 amps but B mode remains the same as the 40.  Remember, I am seeing 200 amps from EA DC charging sessions so even with the higher regen profile of E Pedal, its still not an extreme hit to the pack. 

The Test

I purposely overcharged (AKA as charging to 70% SOC 😁 ) to allow extra time for the pack to cool off between charge sessions. Although we did have a few colder days, car is in garage at home so only exposed while at work and was able to get two charges in with pack in the mid 40's º F. I also wanted to see how much speed the EA DC had to offer. Its well known that the 50 KW chademo which generally has a limit of 125 amps (which is exactly where my 40 kwh charged at) but EVers were seeing over 150 amps so I had to see what I would get and I was not disappointed. 

SSSSSWHEAT!!  You probably have to click and scroll to see the details here
but 200 amps is a game changer for roadtripper! 

 The plan was to preheat the pack by high speed driving, lots of heat, and a QC.   So off to Centralia I went.  I charged there 20 mins heating the pack to 65.7/66.9/64.9º.  I then sprinted to the Lacey EA at 70+ (Hitting 80 mph frequently in the South County area) with heat blasting, etc. and more than 30 miles later, I was at 65.1/67.5/69.1 º.  This was not what I was expecting.  One temperature went up (guessing it was more equalizing after the Centralia QC) while one barely changed but one WENT DOWN!! 

WTF?? It wasn't that cold so heat didn't work hard but I figured the speed would more than make up the difference. Temps were in the upper 40's (in Centralia) to low 50's (In Lacey) I then realized getting a full spectrum of temps to test would be tougher than I thought.  My target was a charge in the mid 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's, and 80's.  But I was faced with a 5 day work week (not used to that kind of demand on my time!) and much more driving and charging than I was ready for.  So the testing is somewhat incomplete but the trend seems rather clear. 

With a 4% increase in SOC at the charging knee (120-125 amps) from the mid 40's to the mid 60's, I am quite giddy to think that the ideal charging temperature in the mid 80's could yield near 75% SOC!  This would be well beyond my dream expectations.  If you followed the IceGate link above, you would see that my 40 kwh at temps in the 40's had a knee below 50%. From the blog

Dec 5; start; Batt temps; 48.7/47.6/45.8  SOC;32.2 Max Amps; 123.901
Dec 5; knee; Batt temps; 61.7/61.3/58.3 SOC; 47.3
An improvement from 47.3% to over 65% is HUGE!! I have to say, I am pleased. This is real pack progress. 

Stay Tuned! 

My initial experience with the E Plus doesn't even begin to illustrate the massive changes from the 40 kwh to this car.  Still unknown is how the car will respond when the mercury hits triple figures but early indications are very good.  Guessing the pack has to be a lot warmer though. But, I think Nissan is finally realizing what Tesla knew from Day One. Without a big pack, there is simply no wiggle room.  Even if the knee doesn't change at higher temperatures, this car will be a godsend to many including me. 65% SOC is still over 2 hours of freeway.   I can no longer drive for hours at a time probably from simply getting old. I am still investigating seat cushion options (Have two, they help but didn't really fix anything...) and this all started in my 40 kwh LEAF where it took well over a year for me to notice I was no longer comfortable so I have to think its not the car. 

With the end of NCTC, I will need to start an analysis on which charging station provider to use. With subscription charges required to get the best price, the days of "too many cards" is long gone. EVGO is more expensive but more prevalent in my area. EA is cheaper and charges faster but less convenient with its one shared Chademo plug and still  sparse in the area but growing fast.  Webasto is rumored to be getting out of the public charging business which is greatly disappointing so their $20 unlimited plan is likely nearing its swan song.  So being able to maximize my dollar at the charging station is paramount to EV affordability.   I will admit, its been so long since I had to budget for gas, even a few bucks seems excessive for just driving if you know what I mean. 😏  So charging without the knee is basically the goal. With per minute billing, the faster you get it, the cheaper it is per mile. 

30 min EVGO DC NCTC charge, no knee. 22.77 kwh received. 

Now, I know detractors will ride the TMS bandwagon until the wheels fall off but just a reminder; Elon Musk said the ultimate goal is a pack that doesn't need TMS. There was a rumor, still unsubstantiated, that the E Plus pack received a circulation fan so that is one thing I will be trying to confirm.  Remember the Bolt charging in the cold of a Washington State morning? He was in Covington, WA.  So I decided to see how my LEAF handled the cold so not wanting to heat of the pack, I took mine to the Lacey EA "on the same day" Ummm,  TMS'ers... You might want to see this. 😊