Friday, January 31, 2020

The Olympic Peninsula

Back in the day, I had a tradition that every Prius I got, I did the loop. Highway 101 circles the Olympic Peninsula and starts in Olympia and ends....In Olympia.  Yes, that's right; its a true loop. But that tradition ended when I went EV.  The problem; The 101 goes thru a lot of wilderness barely touched by Humanity.  It is remote and wide open going thru the biggest rainforest in the contiguous United States.  But the scenery is a must.  In Winter, the opportunity to do this is limited. We simply do not have enough daylight to drive the 350 miles with charging and pix opps. 

Going counterclockwise is a challenge in that its just under 230 miles to the DC in Port Angeles. This was my original plan but I quickly realized that even if the LEAF could make it in horrid Winter conditions without stopping, I could not.  So the trip has morphed into checking out the various level 2 stops.  So the plan is now evaluating the "stop worthiness" of the locations and amenities. Distance off route is how much was added by stopping as opposed to not stopping. Some instances will have a different route in and out so this can vary depending on your direction of travel.


The plan was to plug into the home EVSE the night before and leave early with 100%.  The weather forecast was predicting very heavy rain thru out the entire peninsula so driving could be  challenge depending on how hard the rain came. Flooding is a major risk as the 101 is where all the flood swollen rivers of the Olympics will be draining. 

But I have never charged the E Plus at home and unfortunately that was still true when I awoke the morning of the trip.  I plugged in immediately then debated whether I should cancel and do it another day.  But part of the challenge was seeing the range in the least desirable conditions and we don't always get storm systems this large so, I decided to go for it.

Since I would be plugging into several level 2's on or near the route, I figured 98% was close enough. Besides the charge rate had dropped below 10 amps.  I don't use the GOM for trips like this (or ever really) so...

Notice power into battery in upper left corner says 4.73 amps? V*I says 1905 watts.   Power feed in was 240 volts @ ~ 9 amps. 

With the expected weather, I figured 3.8 miles/kwh would be a bit ambitious but good a start as any. With detours off the route, it would appear I will be roughly 40 miles short on range to Port Angeles. This meant almost 2 hours of level 2. More than I planned on. We shall see.

Leaving Olympia, I was immediately deluged with rain.  Rain was so hard that hydroplaning became an issue slowing my speeds to 50-55 mph on the 60 mph highway.  This continued until I crossed the hill and began the descent into Aberdeen.

Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. Ocean Shores, WA
Free Chargepoint
App required

Although Aberdeen has a couple level 2 options, I don't consider either a viable option for a stop.  Both are detours off the route. If headed south towards Long Beach then maybe but not for this trip.  The Casino I have actually been to a few times including in my 2011 LEAF while camping near by. They have a very worthy buffet.   It is a significant detour off the route but because its a meal stop, most of the range used will be recovered.   But a few miles before the turn off at Hoquiam, I learned the buffet was closed on Thursdays. Guess they are closed 3 days a week. Well, it is a beach resort so definitely the slower time of the year for them.

Charging Stats
No Charge
24.3 miles off route
Amenities; Great food options, Beach you can both drive and walk on. Its a resort touristy trap of a place. Easy to spend a few hours here.

Lake Quinault Lodge, Quinault WA
Free Semaconnect
No app required. 

The rain respite was brief. As I exited town, the rain returned. A bit slower than before and puddles were minimal. I think it was more due to the road design. I was now paralleling the coast on a road that was once mostly traveled by logging trucks.  Even today, they were the  predominant vehicle on the road. Thankfully traffic was very light.

Unfortunately the weather again turned dramatic as I approached the lodge. By the time I got there, it was again back to monsoon conditions.   It is a short detour off the route on a very twisty narrow road where speed limits dropped to 20 mph as I got close.  The place is quite picturesque but the weather was not agreeing.  The lodge was right on the road with the stations in back situated for easy access to guests at the lodge and cabins.  Thankfully, no app required so it was jump out, plug in and jump back into the car.

Charging Stats
4.5 miles off route
Charge time;  17 min. 1.75 kwh received
Amenities;  There is a few shops, museum, and a restaurant to visit. The lodge sits on a wide spot (actually its very narrow but speed limit is 20 so...) about a block in length.  Easy place to kill an hour.

Kalaloch Lodge Forks WA
Free Semaconnect
No app required

Leaving Lake Quinault, I turned back towards the Pacific and the rain "seemed" to subside a bit.  Although Kalaloch Lodge lists Forks as its location, it is quite a ways from town.  Situated on the coast, it promised some great views and it did not disappoint.  The rain was still coming down but not as badly so I ventured out for pix. But then again, it was near gale force winds so maybe the sideways rain just "seemed" more endurable?  The chargers were located well off the road at least 200 yards from the Restaurant.  They were situated among dozens of cute little duplex cabins. Each cabin had a kitchenette with fridge, no stove but small table, couches and a bed.   A short walk from the chargers there was a gazebo like structure with informational plaques on it in front of a short trail that led to the beach below.  Easy to spend hours here exploring the beach or grabbing a meal.  Despite the short walk, I still got rather soaked so the rain was coming down harder than I expected.

 The view from the gazebo that provided "some" shelter from the rain. The wind is howling here!

Lots of walking here along with a ton of driftwood. Most places don't allow you to take any
but guessing one could easily get away with a few smaller pieces here and there 

A very short walk to the beach. As you can see, there is not a lot of protection should tsunami hit. 

Both the restaurant and store were too far to walk in these conditions so I decided I had enough charge, unplugged and drove up to use the bathroom. 

 Taken from left side of parking lot for restaurant. 

The water isn't deep but you will get your feet wet at anything but low tide
 if you want to explore here. 

Charging Stats
Detour off route, less than a mile. 
Charging time 24 minutes, 2.75 kwh 
Amenities;  An upscale restaurant with very good reviews and views! There is also a store right on the road across the  parking lot with a deli that has excellent reviews as well.  There is a lot to do here. Bathrooms are located outside the store. Not sure if they remain unlocked when store is closed or not. 

Forks Community Hospital, Forks WA
Semaconnect $1.50 an hour
App required

One of the major reasons I took this trip is due to the new station here.  This was one of my clients when I was an auditor so I have been here many times.  As I moved away from the coast, the rain subsided quite a bit until I was 2 notches below intermittent max on the wipers.  For some reason, I had GPS on and it routed me off 101 just outside of town taking me thru a residential neighborhood to the hospital. In retrospect, this prevented me from driving past the new Supercharger site and missing a pix opp.  Recent reports says equipment is now in the ground so activation is likely just around the corner.  It is situated in the parking lot of the largest retailer in town; Forks Outfitters which is a HUGE country store that sells EVERYTHING.   Some say its Fork's version of a Walmart Superstore. I say "No. Walmart doesn't have that much variety. Its more like a brick and mortar Amazon!" 

But the Supercharger site is a very good location and the hospital site is not.  The stations are actually across the street at the clinic and I do know from experience, the bathrooms can be used (although sign says not for public use. Its a small town with a small town attitude.) but obviously limited by business hours closing at 6 PM during the week.   Now during the Summer, its ok for me anyway. Its only a 3-4 block walk to 101 and the main downtown area. 

Charging Stats
1.2 miles off route
charge time 24 mins, 2.596 kwh received.
75 cents.
Amenities;  Any port in the storm, right? Well, unless you want a flu shot, there is nothing here. Nearest anything is at least 3 blocks away.  

It had been my plan to do a sit down eat here but it was later than I had hoped so I grabbed a Subway heading out of town which gave me a chance to say hi to someone I hadn't seen in over 2 years.

Lake Crescent Lodge
Free Semaconnect
No app required. 

The reason for my  rush was Lake Crescent. Because of my job, I have driven past here dozens of times and well, it just never gets old. The lake is essentially a flooded valley between two mountains. It is deep which means the water temperature changes little from season to season and that creates an almost perpetual fog. It is easy to see why a Vampire movie franchise was based here (although they did all their filming in Canada, they still did several flyover videos of the area for inclusion in the movies) 

About 10 minutes outside Forks, the 101 does its bend to the east. Soon entering the Olympic National Forest and climbing to near 1000 feet.  Although the weather was mild in the mid 40's, heavy snow from the  previous week was still in evidence. 

I should mention that Sol Duc Hot Springs and Resort also has charging and its a bit over a 20 mile detour off the route up into the Olympic Mountains. I wasn't planning on stopping there since I wanted to get to Lake Crescent before nightfall but as I passed the turn, there was a tree partially blocking the road so... I knew I had made a great decision! 

As I approach the lake, the speed limit drops to 35 mph and that is really about as fast as you would want to go anyway. There are several blind curves, very narrow roads with sheer rock walls to the right with the lake a few feet off the road to the left.  It was already getting dark so a mile or so before the Lodge, I had to grab some pix before it got too dark.  There a several pullovers along the roughly 8 mile drive past the lake. 

 By now it was rather dark so even when bringing light up, pix is blurry due to darkness. Fog also contributed to the effect. 

 I am using the new Pixel XL 4 with its improved Nightsight mode. Although grayer, the results are much better

Here you can see my headlights hitting the railing on the lower right. Yes, it was pretty dark! 

Despite it only being a few miles further down the road, by the time I got to the Lodge, it was completely black.  Definitely missed a great pix opp. The lodge is located on a peninsula with great lake views on 3 sides.  Its my plan to camp here with my Son this Summer. Should be fun!

Charging Stats
~ 2 miles off route
No charge. 
Amenities; Restaurants, hiking, boating, camping. GREAT views

Dan Wilder Nissan, Port Angeles WA
Free non-networked Chademo
No app required

As I traveled east on the 101, I am moving from rainforest to rain shadow. The Olympics control the weather channeling moisture and wind thru various channels and gaps. On the western side; we have Forks at well over 100 inches of rain a year. At 12 o' clock on the 101 loop is Port Angeles at 25 inches a year while barely 10 miles away,  Sequim sitting on the western shore of Puget Sound where they get 10 inches of rain a year.  By the time I got to Dan Wilder, the place had been closed a mere 15 minutes. They have a chademo only station same as what EVgo uses. So you pull up, select Chademo, plug in and hit start. Its free on a 30 min timer.  It is located off the highway and the exit is similar to a freeway exit although its still the 4 lane surface highway at this point.  The charger is available 24/7 but other than the dealership, there is nothing here. 

I plugged in getting a steady 99-100 amps. My original plan was to charge two sessions here which would easily give me enough to stay on the 101 all the way back to Olympia.  As the first session ended, I got out and tried to restart the 2nd one. It wasn't working.  After 3 tries, someone else pulled up so I left. As I was leaving I saw the fault light on the dash that undoubtedly was the issue.  I stopped at McDonalds for a bathroom run and cleared the error with LEAF Spy.  Oh well, alternate plan in  play. 

Instead of the straight shot home down the 101  (about 125 miles) I only had 110 miles of range so another charging stop was needed. So now it was across the Hood Canal Bridge to Silverdale then staying on Highway 3 to Shelton and rejoining the 101. Adds only 12 miles to the journey but the 101 along the Hood Canal contains the highest concentration of Bald Eagles in the Contiguous United States.  But alas, it was well past dark so wouldn't be able to see anything anyway. 

Charging Stats
1.8 miles off route
30 mins, 19.25 kwh received
Amenities; Nothing but the dealership which closes lobby at 6 PM.  

Haselwood Family YMCA Silverdale WA
Blink Chademo/L2  49/39 cents per kwh
App required. 

Blink has a pretty bad rep and for the most part, deservedly so.  But they have finally found an owner that seems to care about the stations being operational. The transformation could be construed as amazing but when you go from near dead to even semi functional, it is a major leap forward.  At one time, Western Washington had Blink DCs that been non functional for YEARS. Thankfully, those days are gone as nearly every, if not all the Blinks on the network today are working. 

So the Haselwood Family YMCA has literally been an oasis for years. Even during Blink's darkest days, this station has always been rock solid. I have been using this station for years having had several clients in the Silverdale/Port Angeles/Port Townsend area.  Its location is only so so. Being in the middle of town, its on the wrong side of Silverdale Blvd with the mall on the other side. There are only 2, maybe 3 food locations close enough to park,  plug in, get food and return in 30 minutes. I have done this many times.  

With only a few weeks left on my NCTC, I got the first 30 minutes free but unlike EVgo, the station does not shut off. It keeps running and tallying up the bill at the rate of 49 cents/kwh which is pretty high considering I average an estimated 17 cents a kwh on EA and under 30 cents a minute on EVgo. 

So its all about that 29.9 minute charge. I plugged in and it was charging at just 92 amps. Blink lists the station as a "40.5 kw" station which has been my experience as I remember seeing 102 amps normally.  My battery pack was in the high 80's so couldn't be RapidGate  and I soon verified it was not. But on a pay per kwh machine, I guess speed is not that critical.  The Y is open 24/7 and they will let you use their bathroom. You need to be escorted. 

There was no rain here so I leapt at the chance to stretch my legs and returned to the car... 2 minutes late. Oh well. Might as well get used to paying. Its only a few weeks away. 

Charging Stats
2.2 miles off route
Charging time; 32 mins, 18.45 kwh
Cost 88 cents
Amenities; Bathroom at the Y allowed.  A few places to walk to but not recommended in bad weather. Best bet; Get your charge here, then move to the free level 2 Voltas at the mall a few blocks away if a meal is desired. 

Missed Ops

From Silverdale, it was a quick jaunt to Bremerton where I remained on highway 3 to Shelton and then back to the 101.  Leaving late was a mistake. I will repeat this trip. In Summer, the Sun is up well past 9 PM.  The weather prevented me from really evaluating things to do at too many locations.  I am happy the car performed so well. The winter range hit was not nearly as bad as I thought.  As predicted I ended the trip at 3.8 miles/kwh over 373.8 miles.  

A side note; Despite my batteries now in the low 90's, I did a quick stop at the DC in Tumwater and saw 126 amps on the charge. This verifies that the Silverdale station was either having a bad day or perhaps turned down. Recent weather events (similar to what I drove thru) has played havoc on the power supplies thru out the region. 

FYI;  A Rapidgate charge is identified because its a constant power charge. This provides a flat line on the LEAF Spy graph.  A normal charge in a constant current charge until it reaches the knee or the SOC where the current starts dropping. LEAF Spy will show this as a slowly rising power curve. 

That being said; The 62 kwh pack has a completely different BMS especially concerning Rapidgate. Instead of starting a charge at lower current, it starts the charge at the regular current rate but the knee happens earlier.   Normally I would see the full current until nearly 70% SOC. This time it dropped at 48% SOC. So still Rapidgate but a much better version especially if per minute public billing rates are a concern to you. 

Thursday, January 9, 2020

The 2010 Decade Drive Report; The Long And Winding Road

Happy New Year!

As we enter the last year of the decade, so many things have improved while other things have worsen and the future outlook is hardly clear.  IOW; not much different than the beginning of the decade in 2011.  Back in January 2011, I was a mere 18 days away from leaving the Prius World and entering the LEAF World (although the Prius did remain in the family for 3 years, it was all but on life support)

Fast forward to a few weeks short of 9 years later and I am on LEAF #5 and I think I have finally got one that is actually worth buying.  But at the same time, I wouldn't trade a day with any of the 4 I've had. It has been a HUGE learning experience and it has really broadened my world.  As EVs take a firmer hold on our existence, the changes forward will be massive and revolutionary but will not match the level of change I have witnessed.

November 3, 2007; The EV Journey Begins But DEFINITELY Baby Steps!

Driving my 2004 and 2006 Prius had simply given me an insatiable thirst to drive electric. but options beyond DIY projects were non existent and EXPENSIVE.  After spending 2 weeks debating spending over $50,000 for a Gen one RAV 4 EV with a new lithium battery pack, I decided to spend a "bit" less money and got the ZENN. It was an NEV with a 25 mile range that would do no more than 35 mph. At the time, only two states; Montana and Washington even allowed these glorified golf carts to go that fast. The rest of the country was limited to 25 mph. It didn't take long to realize that the lead acid batteries were not going to hold up well.  I went thru 2 battery packs with ZENN and another set on my own.  Despite all the issues, it was my daily commuter for the next 3 plus years.

February 2010; Here Comes Nissan!

I was approaching the one year anniversary with my 2010 Prius and despite it being a very nice car getting me a lifetime average of 53 mpg, I felt I needed more. A lot more.  At the time we were a 2 Prius one ZENN household. I also had a Ford pickup but I used it less than once a year and it wasn't even parked at my house (we had used up all our allotted parking spaces so there was no room)  I was actively spending my time investigating Lithium upgrade for my ZENN along with adding a battery pack to the Prius to convert it to a plug in.

During my search, I stumbled across Nissan's announcement of a highway capable Electric vehicle. I went to their website, spent about 10 minutes (which is about all they had on the subject) investigating the car and decided to sign up. Later I found that I had basically entered a lottery.

April 30. 2010; Raising My Hand

The only thing I accomplished in February was signing up to receive an email invitation that allowed me to reserve a chance to submit a quote request to the Nissan dealers selected for the initial US offering of the LEAF.  (Yes, it's normal to reread that last sentence carefully) A $100 deposit was required.  As luck would have it, I had the day off so I basically got up in the morning, sat at my computer and refreshed my email all day waiting for the invitation. I only knew that it would come in sometime before 5 PM East Coast Time or 2 PM local time.  Soon it was 1 PM and I was getting nervous. was starting to report people getting their invitations  and all were on the East Coast. It was then we (there was a lot of us on the computer that day) started to collect data on when each person had registered online to get an invitation. There really didn't seem to be much of a pattern.

There was some rumor that there was a limited number of slots available. As it was, Nissan had already stated that limited initial production meant the LEAF would only be available in 5 regional areas.  My town, Olympia was not one of them but at the last second, was added as part of the Seattle region. This late afterthought caused me to not get a free EVSE... (assholes!)

It was now 1:45 PM and I figured I was not getting a 2011 and would have to wait till 2012. My thoughts went back to the RAV 4...

But then at 1:58 PM, the invite came thru. I immediately clicked on the link with Visa in hand (earlier reports had said that 11 digit American Express was causing problems with the system and I was taking no chances!)  At 2:15, I received confirmation my invitation to request a quote was confirmed.  I WAS IN!!

But then again... it was only step one of what would be a nearly year long process.

August 31, 2010; Dealer Selected

In the 4 months of waiting, Nissan had all but promised that we would be getting our cars Q4 2010. To prepare for this, I had to work on my tax liability. Without some manipulation, I would not get the full $7500 credit and for a car that cost $38,000, I needed all the help I could get.  At the time I had short term mutual funds that were maturing during various periods during the year. I planned them to mature every few months. I had this in case of an unexpected medical need. My Son had developed asthma as he turned 2  and I wanted to be prepared for the worst in case it was needed.  As these funds became available, I started a Ross IRA account boosting my deductions to 55% of my paycheck (the max available) I also converted a chunk of my current 401 to Ross as well.

I received my email authorizing me to submit a request for a quote to my local dealer of choice. Rairdon's of Auburn was offering a few grand off on a purchase. Realize most cars were going for  MSRP or more.  Even in the very early days of  EVdom, I realized that an EV without DC charging was not an option for me. So I chose the top of the line SL which was the only way to get the Chademo port on the 2011 model.

My quote was confirmed almost immediately by Rairdon's and then... nothing. FOR MONTHS, there was no communication at all from Rairdon's or Nissan.

January 18, 2011; Delivery Day

Rairdon's contacted me in early December raising my hopes that a 2010 delivery would still happen. Well, it didn't.  In fact, it didn't "anywhere" in the country. Now Nissan did have 4 promotional deliveries in the 4 initial regions in December but that was it.  I was so pissed. It was MUCH later I realized Nissan had done me a huge favor.

Without the tax advantage, it completely destroyed my financing plans.  Purchasing would literally cost me an additional $3000 BEFORE financing costs. That made an already expensive venture too expensive.  Making a long story short; I leased.  Leasing terms weren't that great. They raised the money factor on me based on my income statement (It was my intent to write a check for the car) so to reduce my cost, I put $10,000 down on the lease lowering my lease payments to $160 a month.  But the car was mine!

NOTE; for those of you who think my down payment on a lease was a mistake. See Feb 2018 below. 

Later I learned I was one of 4 that received their car making me the first (tied) person in Washington State to take "nonpromotional" delivery of a Nissan LEAF!

2011 LEAF SL with Charge (yeah that was extra)
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost (Total lease + residual - financing; which would have been zero + purchase fees)  $30,818.


NMAC sent me a flyer offering me a buyout of my 2011 for $6200.  I thought it was a scam...then others on MNL reported getting the same thing. They actually accepted the super cheap buy out. My residual was $14,400 so it would have made the car under $22,000 all in. Even after getting confirmation, I didn't bite. I had realized that the 2011 was simply not a car worth buying at any price.  Now that is me.

December 20, 2013; Selecting The Best (and only) Choice

My lease was running out fast but not nearly as fast as my lease mileage. I had 45,000 miles but was less than 500 miles away and the busy season for work less than a week away.  I used my LEAF for more than 2/3rds of my work transportation demands which accounted for at least 1500 miles a month. I would blow well past 45,000 miles if I didn't do something right away.  I didn't read up on the lease return process and took my LEAF to Olympia Nissan to have it inspected only to be told that a 3rd party had to do it but they would take care of it and I could drive my new LEAF away right then. Well, it being the holidays and time of the essence, it was just too convenient not to. I had already played the email game with several regional locations and they along with Puyallup Nissan were the lowest in price (most quoted me no price at all which means they were instantly eliminated)

Now I could have gotten a better lease deal had I waited but it wasn't that much of a savings (plus I had no idea what the savings would be at the time) but the 2014 changes were expected to be minor (a lie but in a good way)  so I said get er done!

2013 LEAF S with Charge/Climate AND heated back seats!
3 year lease 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost;  $21,070.64

November 10, 2016  30 kwh!

By now the online LEAF community was quite large and active despite EVs still very much in the early stages of adoption. This was before other major EV options started to significantly erode the group. But the LEAF had been on the streets long enough by then that the divide separating pro EV dealers and gassers dealers was getting significant.  In my mind; there was no longer any excuse for dealerships to not know about the LEAF. It had been nearly 6 years now. Because of this, it became necessary to simply eliminate several dealers when it came down to picking up my next car.  Because the residual was so low on my 2013, I had entertained the thought of buying it and driving it until the longer range LEAFs (or something else) started to appear. The residual was lower than the current used LEAF market so it would have been a TCO wash. But timelines kept getting pushed back. Washington State failed to step up in requiring manufacturers to bring their EV options here so I felt it was simply destiny when in October, Nissan quietly came out with the LEAF S 30 with the longer range.  Add to that; lease deals were simply amazing.  As far as dealer considerations? By now it was obvious that Everett Washington and Magic Nissan was simply not too far for "anyone" to go to get a deal from Ray!

As always, I still requested several quotes from dealerships in the area. I had a discount membership club accessed thru my employer that offered points for car purchases. The process required submitting request to 5 dealers. Well, they used my zip code to select the dealers (I had no choice) and after I realized it and found a way to change my zip code, I soon had 10 dealers emailing me so I did a copy and paste to all of them basically saying what I wanted and that I only entertained offers that came with a price.   I got

"Nissan doesn't offer 30 kwh on the S trim" 4 times.
"C'mon on in and we will make sure you get the best price" 3 times
Two dealerships did not respond to my email at all.  I think one of the two did respond a few months later...

Then there was Ray. We basically hammered out a price on Facebook Messenger and scheduled a day for me to drive the 85 miles to pick up the car.   IOW; the other dealerships never had a chance.

2016 LEAF S 30 with charge/climate
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD cost; $17,764.02

February 16, 2018 Still No Options!

As we all know, my S30 met an early demise sacrificing herself to save me. Despite only being 14 months old, she traveled nearly 30,000 miles enduring the heat of many QC's in the dead of Summer and came thru in near perfect condition. A LEAF Spy report taken a few days before the accident still showed 100% SOH with an ahr of 82.05 (from 82.34 new) Although her life was short, she left a MAJOR impression on me. Her ability  to take a full 120+ amps to over 80% SOC repeatedly was simply amazing.

My great lease deal from Ray who was now at Campbell Nelson Nissan of Everett (same place just a LOT more syllables) meant I had equity in my lease! Was that even possible?  After all was said and done, my insurance company paid me $1500.  For those of you who think that the insurance company had to settle with NMAC directly, that is not the case.  Despite the accident not being my fault, I had my insurance company handle the claim. There were two other people involved and they spent quite a bit of time "discussing" who was most at fault.  This would have extended my lease obligation. But my insurance company paid off the lease in less than a week leaving me a $1000 bill to NMAC to cover the collision deductible. (It took 2½ months to get that from the other 2 parties) Well, this happened in January  So I had a check...but no car. (Actually drove a rental for 3 weeks and my Corolla for 2 weeks)  The 40 kwh LEAFs were just hitting the streets but the S was even further delayed.

2018 LEAF S 40 with Charge/Climate
3 year lease. 15,000 miles a year
OTD; $23,025.19

November 16, 2019  200 Miles PLUS! 

2018 quickly became known as the year of Rapidgate.  Unlike my 2016, the rate of DC charging was wholly dependent upon the temperature of the batteries at the beginning of the charge. If the pack was too warm, the rate would be reduced from slightly below maximum current to as much as 64% slower! If the batteries were too cold, the knee when the current starts to taper can happen as much as 16% earlier. Well, all that I could deal with. I had NCTC so free charging. I would just stop twice instead of once. I have a lot of options. But my real disappointment happened when I realized that my optimal charging performance saw my charge rate starting to drop around 63% SOC! That was a huge drop from my S 30's 80% plus!

Add in the Rapidgate and a course with properly placed charging stations, my S30 could beat my 40 kwh in a cross country race.  So did I make a mistake?  Well... no.

Obviously it was not an optimal situation but at the same time, I lived in a climate that meant I had to drive quite a bit before any of this started to happen. The real truth of the matter was that 40 kwh was quite liberating! I found its range minus expected degradation down the road fit in very well with the driving demands of my job which had grown to over 2,000 miles a month.  With a residual of $9600 I was really thinking this might be the first LEAF worth buying. And barring any fabulous unknown EV intro, that was probably going to be my plan.  It was quickly becoming obvious that many major players like Kia and VW would be here in volume by Feb, 2021 so the likelihood of buying the LEAF and driving it another year or two after the lease seemed quite obvious. Plus I was quite certain, I would be way over my lease mileage limit anyway.

But the clincher was the expectation of 100 "real" freeway miles for several years after the end of the lease. During my LEAF life, I have realized that my ability to spend 2+ hours driving had diminished A LOT.  So stopping is more a personal thing than a range thing. The attractive residual was also a great draw. I felt confident, I could buy the car, drive it a year or two and get most of my money back when I sold it.

But the time of free charging was coming to an end and the thought of paying 18 cents a minute while charging at less than half speed was a bit gloomy. Well that is until Ray made the Sun shine! 

2019 LEAF S E Plus with Climate (DC now standard)
2 year lease 15,000 miles per year
OTD; $27,641.19

January 2020; Ten Years Already?? 

Its been 7 weeks since my E Plus has come home and I am just now realizing how important a faster charger will be as my freebies start to wind down. My NCTC ends Feb 15th. I do have a $250 charging credit from Nissan for EVgo that will be used on roadtrips. I have a year to use it up  and that won't be a problem.  Having clocked 74 kw max on EA along with gaining 25 kwh "averaging" over 60 KW while doing it saw my per mile cost (@ 4 miles/kwh) dropping below 4.5  cents per mile.  Even at 74 KW knee, I was getting 120 miles of range during "semi" Winter. That would be well over 90 minutes of freeway in Summer and to think, those charging sessions were only lasting 15-16 minutes. I would have to rush around getting everything done on my charging stops now.

Road tripping On The Cheap

Having only had the car one season means not really knowing a whole lot about what I can expect down the road.  Even with higher than expected degradation, the range will suit me for quite a while.  It well too early to tell anything definitive but I figure my worst case scenario is 4-5% loss in the first year slowing down to 1-2% annually after that.   Initially, the pack gains heat slower, sheds heat quicker.  So things seem better.  Both Rapidgate and Icegate have completely different characteristics and both have improved. Maybe its simply the greater number of modules or the greater capacity that is reason. Hopefully its all that along with better chemistry.

But my goal will be to find out the cheapest way to get the most range out of my LEAF. IOW, can I live off the bottom 2/3rds of the pack and its estimated 175 miles of range?  Or will I have to settle for less range for less money?

In closing I present you this; This charge happened at 8 temperature bars and this is the first time ever seeing this.  I started the charge at the normal 120ish amps until the SOC hit 55% at which the rate started to It quickly dropped to 20 KW and leveled off but the thing that really caught my eye.  Despite charging as much as 45 kw down to 20 kw, the temperature WENT DOWN! That is huge. OAT was 55ΒΊ so not very cold.  Note; the temperature displayed here is the lowest of the 3. The others were just under 110ΒΊ

What does this mean? Its all about how far I can drive on 55% SOC which should be about 140 miles.  Unlike my 40 kwh where the speed of the charge was reduced at the beginning, now the pack only makes sure the pack doesn't get into the red zone. IOW, its effectively raised the bar on Rapidgate A TON!

On Facebook, I posted my other "high temperature" charge on the same EA station I had gotten 74 KW from.  Yeah, not nearly as fast but still started the charge at 55 KW so also a huge improvement!

As always, stay tuned. My next blog will come in when my my pack drops to 175 ahr.  So likely sometime next month or maybe even later πŸ˜‰

Thursday, January 2, 2020

California EV Camping

2020 marks a new era of public charging obstacles we EVers must add to the list of road trip challenges. There is a saying "As California leads, the nation follows"  and by and large, this is an accurate assessment of the influence the state has over the rest of the country.

I live in Washington State whom I consider to also be a leader in many things including same sex marriages and rights,  Death with Dignity, Support for the elderly, paid family leave, minimum wage, etc.

But sometimes California doesn't get it right and this law is a shining example of "sensibility takes a holiday" Maybe its processing legislation during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas that caused this faux pas?

Of course I am talking about California's new requirement that public charging stations bill by the kwh.

But was this California making a "informed" decision based on a need of its citizenry or simply a victim of Big Oil manipulation?  In a decision this incredibly stupid, it can only be the latter. A glance at the "logic" behind the law quickly reveals whose agenda is being served.

Full Disclosure

This is so stupid its hard for me to type without spitting coffee onto the monitor screen.  California wants all providers to have displays on the stations fully detailing the kwh price. This includes Tesla who already stretches the definition of "public."  Despite their many invitations for other EV manufacturers to conform to their standards, none have accepted and the likelihood that will happen in the foreseeable future is zero.  Realize the Supercharger network has no screen at all. So complying with this law would be not only expensive but incredibly stupid.  Tesla drivers all know the cost of charging since their car gives them all that information in advance.  IOW a "victimless" crime??

Only Chargepoint has "wandering" rates with the host determining the cost to charge. Even the Chargepoint app does not have the rates...well, I think the app doesn't. At least they didn't when I realized the app was doing nothing but taking up space on my phone.  Thankfully other companies like EVGO, EA, etc. publish their rates.  EA even tells you on the screen of the station so they are already in compliance. (only shows its just as hard to be perfectly bad as it is to be perfectly good)

What this means is the bill was simply pushed thru senselessly without thinking (like DUH!) it thru including exceptions where the intent of the law had already been met.

Thankfully, there is a grandfather clause added to allow existing stations to get into compliance...At least that is what they say. Realistically, its time for the lawmakers to pull their head out of the sand. Hopefully 3 years will be enough time.

Bill Like Gasoline

The main (and only) supporting statement for this lunacy is consumer protection.  The law is supposed to protect the consumer by allowing them to know ahead of time that XX kwh received will result in the ability to drive YY miles. "Just like a gasser"

Now that sounds fine and my response; When you have enough public charging stations where the expected wait time to plug in will be no more than 5 minutes "just like gas" then fine, I accept your stupidity. Until then, PULL YOUR HEAD OUT!! started when gas was nearing its true cost. Because gassers don't like to deal with reality, they felt it necessary to find the cheapest gas in the area. IOW, no laws were required here. They took it upon themselves to do some research to control their costs. But realize the key difference here; This did not go against Big Oil's profit machine pitting company against company. IOW, Big Oil had no fight here.  Result; NO LAW!!

But were consumers protected? Did anyone go to the gas station to see prices at that station PLUS prices at other stations in the near vicinity? Would that not be "full disclosure?"

The EV Advantage

Due to the nature of how EVs charge, the speed at which kwh's are dumped into the tank varies.  To get the best bang for the buck, its recommended you start your charge in the lower SOC range of your EV and stop soon after the charge rate starts to drop or as soon as you get the range you need to continue your trip.  Well, that is hardly complicated now, is it?

Any EVer with more than a week of experience with public charging understands this. There is an unwritten (and unenforceable) rule that one should unplug from the DC charger when you hit 80% SOC because staying longer is supposed to be rude and the charge rate is now approaching level 2 speeds. (VERY wrong)

Well, I never was in that camp and I never will be. Its ridiculous to tell someone to unplug for no other reason than my simply being tired of waiting to charge.  Besides with per minute billing, they learn the "better" way of charging soon enough.  IOW; there is an incentive to get only what you need and go.

Now there is also the novice EVer who simply takes off without doing any research.  Granted in the old days (2011) the network was sparse, unreliable, etc. You really never knew what you were gonna get! (Stolen from Pawn Brokers... sorry) They elected to practice the ideology that if a station works, charge up as much as the car will take because the next one might be broken.

But the war cry of the Millenia soon came to the rescue; "There's an app for that!"

Plugshare allowed users to warn/advise travelers of where to stop and in some cases, what speed of charge they might see.  It soon became the #1 indispensable Road Warrior app with LEAF Spy being a very close 2nd. (LEAF not included)   This allowed the traveler to peruse their route for stations that had recent successful check ins.  The smart traveler quickly realized that shorter more frequent stops could be a better way to travel but again, the short range EVs still made that a challenge; one that many chose not to take.

Its 2020; Get With The Program! 

But bigger batteries, faster chargers and EA changed all that.  Now, the distance between chargers were shorter, the options plentiful. The need to charge to over 80% simply vanished for most of us. Sure there were still challenges off the main drag and whatnot but the ability to travel was getting to the point where preplanning was almost unnecessary.

Another advantage (of many) EVs had over gassers was the ability to control costs of fueling. For most of us; home charging was well under half the cost of a highly efficient hybrid gasser.  But properly managed, even the much more expensive public charging could also match the gasser's per mile cost. 

IOW, we have options!  Recently, I was able to average  a charge rate exceeding 60 KW on the EA Lacey station. That means more than one kwh per minute over the entire session.  If getting 4 miles/kwh (My average for Dec 2019 was 3.95 miles/kwh) at 18 cents per minute, that is 4.5 cents per mile. Realize DC charging is over 95% efficient. With gas hovering at $3 a gallon, a hybrid would need to get 60 mpg to approach that. But the real advantage? I charged to a point where I had 2 hours of freeway driving. The charge rate never dropped below 50 KW.

IOW, I am rewarded with upgrading to a larger 62 kwh battery with "up to 100 KW" 😎 DC charging.  Not only do I get what I need quicker which allows someone else to charge, the revenue of the station is boosted.  How can that be? You ask. When I am getting so much power in such a short period of time.  Because the power dispensed is a very very very small part of the cost of the station. The provider actually needs to have the station in use as much as possible. The likelihood that this will happen increases when the station habitually turns over in 30 mins or less.

A Bridge To Nowhere

Ok so California has backed these companies into a corner so what can we expect?  Blink instituted a per kwh billing plan years ago. How is that working?  (We are ignoring quality issues and only working Blinks will be considered in this discussion 😜)  Well, it ain't and why? Because it is too much money! Or is it? 

We no longer had any options for controlling our costs. Whether we had a big battery with a beefy charger or a wimpy under 100 mile EV, we were all on a level playing field.  We EVers don't play that game!!  Its all about FB posts of my "300 mile per hour charging session"  or my .48 second zero to 60 time; IOW, we pay for the right to BRAG!!! We don't like being equal among our peers. The sheer volume of "my car's got 2 more miles of range than your car does" posts on Facebook confirms my point.

So what can we expect?  A per kwh billing rate has to be fair to the 100 KW EVers and still bring in enough revenue to cover the EV charging an additional 10 minutes to get that one extra kwh.  Is that even possible??

The only thing that is obvious is someone is going to get screwed BIG TIME. Either the 100 kw EVers will see HUGE charging bill in minutes and their investment in that bigger battery wasted or the per kwh rates will be so low that reservations booked months in advance will be needed to accommodate the increase in 90+ minute charging sessions.

The rampant issues seen at free stations should be enough of a hint to have nixed this per kwh billing plan before it was even suggested.  Cars getting unplugged because someone else decided their charging needs and their travel itinerary was more important?  Threats of keying, tire deflation or outright vandalism because someone got to the station first?  This is what free charging did.

Now billing by the kwh hardly qualifies as free charging but rest assured; when you remove the financial disincentives to unplug, charging times WILL INCREASE dramatically.

Soon, it will become obvious that this law has broken more than it fixed. Customers upset at high bills for charging sessions will not be reduced and frustration over the public availability of stations will increase. IOW; exactly what Big Oil wanted to see. As for me? I am investigating charging routes around California and they exist! πŸ˜‰