Saturday, October 17, 2020

September 2020 Drive Report; My All Electric Furniture Hauler!

 For September 2020, I went 729.3 miles @ 5.0 miles/kwh. Nearly all the charging done at home and no cost yet as the power bill has not dropped yet. Guessing tomorrow. If you are wondering, yes this is one of the lightest driving month in DECADES. I have tracked daily driving statistics since Thanksgiving weekend, 2003. Only in July a few years ago (599.3) was lower and mostly because I was gone for 21 days so car sat in parking lot near Seatac Airport. Even months when I had a gasser did my total never drop this low.

A better picture would be January 2018 which we all know is when my S 30 was murdered the 19th of the month. I had done over 1100 miles. Took FOREVER to replace her. Didn't get the 40 kwh until Feb 16 so only 12 days left in the month but still managed 866.6 miles.

Now, the full force of CV didn't slow me down (Apr 1668.2, May 1324.2, Jun 1396.9) but smoke stopped me dead in my tracks. Unlike the smoke situation of 2017, I could not drive myself out of harms way. There was simply no place to go. At least at home, I had two room air purifiers including one that claimed an AQI of "good."  (about one third the level outside my house)

Another lesser factor was the end of Summer. Ok, yes its October 1st and its 76º and gorgeous right this very minute. What I meant was school is in session (not in classroom) so roadtrips with Ryland are now restricted to Saturday our only mutual "day off" Either way, I am currently on a 10 day decline for Hx which I think may be a good thing. Adjustment day in 3 weeks!

Bad Seats Issue Resolved! 

Ok, it should be "solved" since it was never the seats at all. I had gotten to the point where even a 30 minute drive was getting painful so bit the bullet, whipped out the insurance card and headed to the local Ortho clinic for an eval.  Luckily Olympia has "Rapid Ortho" a walk in no appointment clinic so the process was quite expedited.  Then COVID happened.  

But when getting my initial evaluation and X rays, the Dr suggested that my "single" foot driving could create a situation where muscles get fatigued quicker due to holding a relatively steady but unnatural position. Apparently moving the foot back and forth from throttle to brake was just enough exercise to keep muscles from tightening up. I must say, I never realized how much Washingtonians were into exercise as a lot of car tail lights resemble strobes.  He also suggested therapy which was also derailed by CV which ended up being a good thing.  During my enforced wait I was also labor sharing which meant a 50 mile one way drive which really aggravated the hip situation so I decided to start using cruise control. I normally avoid it because its not very efficient but this was during the worst infection rate period in WA and I-5 was all but abandoned so it was easy to set a speed and go. I was working the night shift 6 PM to 4:30 AM which meant moving the opposite direction of the major traffic flow as well. 

Well it worked! Within a few weeks, my hip pain was gone. Not wanting to jump to conclusions as I was also taking muscle relaxers from the clinic but well after they ran out, the hip pain did not return. What was even better was that I didn't have to use CC all the time to prevent the pain from returning.  Apparently, it took quite a while to build to the level of pain I was having so random hypermiling here and there didn't result in any discomfort returning. 

Seasonal Tire Pressure Plug

The change has arrived! Gone are the mornings in the low 50's and here to stay (for 6 months) are the mornings in the 30's.  I run my tires around 43 PSI in Summer dropping to 42 PSI in Winter. With the individual TPMS readings on the newer LEAFs, checking pressures is easy so I spend roughly 1.4 seconds on EVERY startup and check them.   

The reason we should adjust is tires should be set during the coldest part of the day. So like first thing in the morning before driving anywhere. Increased pressures as the day warms up is normal and ok. The reason we want to set tires before driving around is because the front tire wear faster which means they heat up faster. This can lead you to undershoot your target pressure.  As far as what pressure you choose, I will leave that up to you but NEVER exceed the max tire pressure on the sidewall.  Higher pressures do lead to less tire failure and longer tread life. 

Now the pressure in tires adjust roughly one PSI per 10ºF temperature change.  As we know, clear sunny Fall days have one common characteristic in nearly all parts of the country; In the Sun, its glorious but when the Sun drops behind a cloud, it gets cold FAST! 

The other day, it was a typical Fall day with temps in the fifties but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The Sun felt great and avoiding shade was highly recommended.  I was at the mall getting free food for the car (I had to pay for my food) so its not hard to tell which side of the car was facing the Sun

Reboot, Reset

Previously I mentioned that my climate control would change settings by itself. The most common is going from "Face" to foot/windshield when AC was on.  The 2nd most common was "foot" to foot/windshield when heat was on. Then again, as often as I use heat, maybe its the most common and I can't tell? 

Either way, the LEAF is very much a rolling computer and like all computers, it glitches at times. Be it the center screen spontaneously rebooting or the AC flipping out, they all boil down to annoyances than real issues.  

Recently I began to notice that occasionally my steering wheel controls stop working. Now, only the audio controls are affected so I can still change the displays on the driver's screen but can't change radio stations or adjust the volume.  Power cycling the car fixes it. One of these days, I might...nahh...probably won't. 

Per Minute Verses Per Kwh

Yeah, this debate rages on online.  So many people are happy with Electrify America's decision to go with per kwh billing where allowed which is something they obviously did not think thru or they are driving around in 15 kwh EVs. They also reduced per minute billing to 12 cents with plan, 16 cents w/o. Yeah, that's right. I was paying $4 a month to get 18 cents a minute but now you can get 16 cents a minute with no subscription fee, no connect fee if you are lucky enough to live in the right area I guess! 


The main argument here is that this makes it fair for people with slower chargers, smaller packs. As we know, the higher the SOC, the slower the DC charges. Some cars go full speed (on 50 kw) to 80% which is great but others like the Gen One LEAF starts slowing below 50% SOC. Combined with degradation in an already limited range vehicle; this means charging to a higher SOC which means a long time on the station. In this scenario, per minute pricing quickly becomes costly. So the remaining people still driving early edition EVs are benefited. 

Per Minute

Like any emerging technology, REV 1.0 quickly becomes obsolete and EVs are no different. Their resale value plummets to nothing, they can't do as much as fast or "as cheaply." That is the way of things. The solution is simple; get rid of it and get something shiny and new.  Not the cheap way to go for sure but the increased utility, decreased range anxiety and simply the joy of posting fast fast charging speeds online is the benefit.  Likely still not the wisest investment one can make so being derailed on one of the reasons to upgrade is simply unacceptable...or at least adds a cloud to the purchase process. 

The benefit of the bigger charger and the bigger battery is simply being able to cover your needs before the DC charge rate starts its decline. My S Plus charges at full speed on 120 amp machines (50 KW if you prefer) to 70% SOC, 200 amp machines (80 KW) to 45% (interestingly enough, at 70% SOC, I am still above the 120 amp rate) so yeah, it was nice to pay 18 cents/minute and see speeds up to 206 amps on Electrify America.  But then they cut Chademo to 120 amps (or less in some cases) This was lower than before as my 40 kwh charged at 125 amps on the nose at 3 different locations. Before the cut in speed, I was paying 16 cents/kwh usually cutting the charger off when speeds dropped below 60 KW. 


So there are arguments for both sides here and if that was all, then ok. Sucks, but that is life, right?  Well, that isn't all. In some areas of the country, Electrify America just decided to cut rates BIGTIME including a 33% reduction to its subscription base dropping the per minute rate to 12 cents/kwh.  Pay as you go was even better with a 16 cents/kwh rate and no connect fees. 

So why didn't we have that option? Our rates were raised for nearly EVERYONE but a few and their rates were cut? IOW, we got screwed. EA's stated reason for the change was based on what customers wanted. But 31/43 cents/kwh for the area of the country with the lowest average electricity costs? How does that qualify as "what we want??"

The Bottom Line. 

In a perfect world, pay per kwh is fine. In my world, it simply is a major downgrade to what we had. 

"IF" there was enough chargers for everyone, pay per kwh would be fine. I wouldn't care if someone wanted to charge for an hour and 15 minutes to get that extra kwh because there would still be a charger for me.  

"IF" everyone was put on the same pricing everywhere (like EA said they wanted to do) then our price per kwh should have been a better deal than before, but its not. You literally have to be charging to 90% SOC on a degraded Gen One LEAF to pay that much money. Lets look at basic pricing; 16 cents/min verses 43 cents/kwh. You would have to get 1 kwh every 2.6875 minutes to break even or 22.32 kwh per hour on the hook. 

22.32 kwh an hour. Now that is an interesting number.  My highest charge received on my 30 kwh LEAF was 22.95 kwh but I was on NCTC which meant being on a 30 minute timer.  Now the 22.95 was on Webasto which didn't have a timer so I have to say the 22.95 probably happened because I was slightly over on my time. Back then, I generally did no more than 30 minutes as a habit especially on those one pump locations even if there was no one waiting. It was just a habit. 

In a nutshell, per kwh pricing helps about what? 10% of the current EVers on the road? Well, no. IF all 10% DC'd even occasionally, it would but my seat of the pants estimate from the aggregate data of several failed surveys says that "maybe" ¼ of them DC more than a few occasions PER YEAR. 

But Electrify America claims it was "what we wanted" so lets look at that. Our choice now is 43 cents/kwh here or 16 cents a minute elsewhere.  So I could charge for 60 minutes (something that would very very very rarely happen if EVER!) and pay $9.60.  Or I could spend that same $9.60 and get 22.43 kwh (EA appears to do whole kwh billing only so my choice is $9.46 for 22.XX kwh or $9.89 for 23.xx kwh.  Before the slowdown, I was getting 22 kwh in less than 20 minutes so my cost "there" would be $3.52.  After the slow down, it would be around $5.  

So why the HUGE difference? Even at the lower charging rate, my cost has nearly doubled.  What about the one forth of the 10% crowd that EA is supposedly concerned about?  What would they pay on each?  Well, the problem with Gen One LEAFs is they don't charge to 100% on DC. They charge to about 90%, give or take.  So if rolling on electofumes, they might get 16 to 18 kwh? Here, that is $6.88 to $7.74 but "there" they would be charging likely an hour so their cost is still higher but lower than the old pricing, right? 

IOW, at best a half assed solution no matter how you look at it.  So for the 90% of us which likely consists of 99% of the DC usage, we got screwed.  Yeah, that means the people cheering about the change. Yep you bud! 

If EA was DA

Ok, if "Dave's America" public charging was doing this. I would have gone with a mixed pricing scheme. To be clear; there is no requirement to bill by the kwh "anywhere"  Now, tiered pricing shouldn't be an alien concept since EA had it already. They also had customary pricing for certain cars who were being billed tier 2 rates despite the fact that their car could achieve tier two speeds. 

Obviously the ideal solution is simply build more stations and make them per kwh only but exactly how much money should we pay (yeah, its OUR money EA is spending BTW) to cater to the ¼ of 10%?

Now if EA's aim was more revenue, maybe they need to realize how much business they lose with one Chademo at each location.  Last Summer, I saw THREE at one location. One charging, the other two talking about which station to divert to. Believe it or not, neither used Plugshare and had no idea Tumwater Webasto existed. They did know about Olympia Nissan and were discussing failed charging attempts and workarounds when I walked up. Now EA supposedly closely monitors plugshare so I started doing failed check ins every time I happened upon a site where the lone Chademo was in use and other CCS only stations were sitting around bored with nothing to do. But after more than a year and a half of doing that, it doesn't appear to be working so maybe its time to bombard EA's customer service line with calls and emails complaining about the new pricing structure. 


I should have taken way more pictures but most of you have already been there and done it so I do have one. Because my move was two fold; one to storage and one to mi casa,  I did it over 11 days and several dozen trips. 8 to pack, 3 to unpack although the last day had nearly nothing to haul.  I did have one pickup truck load of help but the rest was all LEAF !