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.


  1. Merry Christmas or Snovem Goddem David, here's to more shared EV adventures and data in 2020. 😎⚡👍

    1. Merry Christmas to you as well Chaz! be safe, be sane, but most of all, HAVE FUN this holiday season!

  2. Glad you are enjoying the Plus. Keep the blog up. This makes me believe that last summer when I hit the Geneseo EA charger at 10 bars, when I was seeing 55kW, it was actually rapid gating. It still get from 13% to 90% before we finished our meal. I haven’t convinced the wife yet to try a cross country adventure yet.

    1. Well, I fly if going that far. Its all about time and the hours on the road. I can do a 12 hour drive in a day but not for several days in a row. I am planning a few trips that will take as much as a week but other than 2 of the days, most will be rather leisurely covering a few hundred miles a day.

      I have found one of the big benefits of public charging is discovering new experiences. This blog is a perfect example!

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