Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Road Trip; Adventures of a 9 TB Journey!

For those wondering; "TB" is LEAFspeak for the "Temperature Bars" gauge that indicates how glowing red your battery pack has become after that last fast charge.  As promised, I did make my LEAF road trip and it was quite frankly rather uneventful. No range anxiety at all.  On my last blog, I was mentioned a Bolter who was having issues making a 238 mile trip (I kid you not!) which just happened to be his EPA rated range but he was only making it 170 miles before having to stop and charge.  Granted, its Winter, rainy, cold, and all that range robbing stuff and this would be a non issue except that there is no CCS fast charge options on his route, a route that is lauded by many to be part of one of the best designed fast charge networks in the country. (Well, at least I think so) So when an opportunity to use that very same network came up, I simply could not pass it by.

My destination was Ilwaco, WA and I could have taken the route to the coast and down which would have been about 115 miles or take I-5 then across using the WCGH (West Coast Green Highway) that includes the Oregon extension to the coast.  It was a no brainer. It was longer at 243 miles but I literally had all day to complete two jobs with each job taking less than an hour so had plenty of time to drive!

Planning was easy.  I mean with a network like this, you really had to work hard to make it go wrong! I would only be skirting the OR/WA border but you get the idea!


But smooth sailing took a hiccup almost immediately as my LEAF Spy phone failed to power up. Not sure why but looks like my Pixel XL will be doing double duty. A bit disappointing as I had hoped to have continuous logs for speed, etc. but that is not likely to happen now.  Damn phone is barely 5 years old. They just don't make em like they used to!


The Beginning

First order of business was a job in West Olympia near Capital Medical Center. Finished that around 9 AM so hit the road headed south on I-5 with 10 miles of my 300 mile trip completed. 

Passed a few fast chargers and finally stopped in Castle Rock for a charge and some food from the Cascade Market Deli.  I could have skipped this station along with Tumwater and Centralia, but the deli simply wouldn't allow that!


Arrival Castle Rock, WA AV QC; OAT 48º, batt temps; 63,62, 59


18 minutes, 13.12 kwh, a bathroom break and ¾ lb of Jo's later, I am off.  Batt temps now 83, 80, 76.


As you can see, the interruptions in the graph makes using one phone for both life and LEAF Spy something I could never understand.  From Day One, I have always used a 2nd phone and this is why!

Leaving Castle Rock stuffed (maybe I should have only gotten a ½ lb of Jos...) The weather was still sunny and dry but that ended less than 10 miles down the road.  At first the rain was pretty hard but then slowed to windy drizzle. As much as I could, I had cruise control set to 65 MPH which was easy on I-5 but that was only going to last a few more miles.  

I crossed the Columbia on Highway 30 at Longview and began a series of hill climbing followed by hill coasting.  I know driving conservatively helps keep your batteries cooler but at the same time, on a single lane highway, the best opportunities to pass are when going uphill. During this stretch, my driving alternated between 8-10 power circle climbs and...oh wait?  I only have 8 power circles. Oh well maybe it was an 8 power circle climb wishing I had 10!...  The other side was coasting in neutral up to around 75 mph then slowing down with regen to about 60 or so and doing it again.  Now all this climbing didn't come without any benefits.  There were some pretty cool views. 


Overlooking Longview WA from Highway 30, Oregon

One thing for certain, my batteries were not going to cool down much driving like that but, it was kinda fun, so why not!   After about 65 miles, I stopped in Astoria to charge again and sure enough, the batt temps went up!


Astoria, OR Charge stop; mile 131

Here was simply too many things to see so I had to remind myself I was working, so 22 minutes, 16.37 kwh later and about 25 pix later, I was off to Ilwaco!


Batteries heating up now! Again the charge graph not very accurate
 since I was using phone for pix taking. Actual charge time 22 mins. 

Leaving Astoria and crossing over the Astoria-Megler Bridge that crosses over the outlet of the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. One big LOOOONG Bridge!  Ilwaco is a short 18 mile jaunt from Astoria and some very cool scenery.  I took a pix of the Bridge but you have to piece together two pix. I will tell you why in a sec.  


Here is pix covering the first 1½ miles of the Bridge.

Here I am approximately where the first pix cuts off. 
As you can see; I still really can't get it all in the pix

According to Wikipedia; It is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. Well, I am convinced!


I arrived at the jobsite in Ilwaco and it literally took me 30 minutes to finish.  So now that I had extra time, I wanted to do some sightseeing but it was WIIINNNNDY!! and the rain wasn't helping either. 

Ilwaco, WA; Halfway!

The following is filler so this post won't look too short. :) 






Well, it was getting to be time for food! (what can I say? JoJos just run right thru me!) Next stop on the agenda was Westport OR and the AV charging station located in the parking lot of the Berry Patch Restaurant!!

Notice batt temps dropping? I went from 8 bars to 7

Now the "one phone for all" issue was a nuisance but really hadn't hurt me so far but that was about to change.  I plugged in, set my timer with the goal of checking it in 30 mins.  I went in and missed the Hot Turkey lunch special. But it was 2:30 and they closed at 3 so was kinda feeling lucky I had made it on time.  I ordered food, ate most of it and finally decided to check the car. Probably had enough already so I go out there and only 29 minutes after the charge had started, it had already stopped! Oh oh, not good. I thought I might have overheated it.  I turned on the car, no warning lights and... Holy crap! It was full! 94% SOC. I finally found something that could eat faster than me!!


Charge time 28 Mins?? 20.74 kwh. Auto shutoff AV DCFC 94% SOC


Now, not having a charging log was really pissing me off. I felt like going home and beating on my LEAF Spy phone! Oh well, no time for pie. On the road!

As I drove, I kept looking at my distance to home and the GOM.  The GOM was 4-10 miles ahead of my distance to home but LEAF Spy  was a steady 3 miles short. Well, we all know what that means. So next stop was Centralia. By now the rain was coming down pretty good and the OR adventure was over. I was back in my neighborhood. So, now it was time to get home, I kicked it up a bit and my steady 4,0-4.1 miles per kwh soon settled in around 3.8 miles per kwh. But again, it was not me, it was the rain!  

I was in Centralia basically long enough to use the bathroom and leave picking up 10.05 kwh in 13 minutes. 


Centralia stop

Centralia Departure. 121º!! 

Home Again!

Got home about 5:30 PM and other than about 90 mins of L2 at 24 amps, it sat in the garage for the night. Ambient temps in mid to lower 50's.  



12 hours cooling off. Down to 5 TB's.  GREAT improvement over previous 24 kwh packs! 

Previous packs generally took 24+ hours to cool down, sometimes 36.  But this time, I was back within ambient in less than 18 hours so not only does the 30 kwh pack go farther, charge faster but also seems to shed heat quicker as well.

Conclusions; TBD

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Bolt Winter Range; Where Is The CCS Network Going to Come From?

Bolt Winter Range 170 miles on OR Coast

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1521572851487669/permalink/1750723898572562/



Recently a new Chevy Bolt owner complained he was not able to make his trip in his Chevy  Bolt easily. He stated a range of 170 miles while driving the Oregon Coast. Most of the trip was at highway speeds that were likely 50-60 mph. I have driven this route and its two lanes so rare passing opportunities if behind slower vehicles and plus stretches of twisties and turns also makes fast driving highly unlikely.   I suspect a lot of his issues were the headwinds.  So guessing he would do much better on his return trip but the real issue was lack of fast chargers that support the Bolt.

His story is just another twist on the question of "how much range is enough?" and if its concerning EVs? Well, infinity "might" do it!  But that is not going to happen and the common perception of "200 miles is all I will ever need" will be hitting the immovable wall of reality as more longer range EVs hit the streets for the less informed buyer.

I found that as much as my 30 kwh LEAF was more useful than the previous 24 kwh versions, I now still charge publicly but on 175  or 200 mile trips instead of the previous 150 mile trips that seemed  like such an accomplishment. But this is something I have mentioned time and time again; even a 500 mile range gasser will have issues if gas stations were 400 miles apart.

Why you say?  400 miles is plenty close enough if the car has a 500 mile range.  Yeah, but... Gas stations that far apart will be crowded so expect a wait. Don't expect to have a 100 mile buffer either if stuck in traffic idling away the fuel while going nowhere, during snow and rain, or simply being on the wrong side of a windy day!

But all this will soon be for naught right? Nissan has finally announced a timetable for LEAF II. Details are sketchy but expect 200 miles on the biggest battery option, etc. So now we are golden, right?  Wrong.  The fact is our public charging network is falling farther and farther behind every day.  As the range increases, EVs will become much more popular and no matter how far they can go, for some, it will not be enough.

The irony in the story above is that a lowly 100 mile LEAF could breeze thru that trip because of the multitude of Chademo QCs spaced along the route.  OR has likely one of the most developed networks for State wide travel of any in the country.


The above filters out CCS (IOW, about 2 blips removed...) Tesla SC and any other QC format.  As you can see, there are few if any real stretches for a 100 mile EV in the central or coastal regions.

The problem now becomes where is the money for the CCS stations going to come from?   Obama is gone. The big initial government cash stash is spent. To say that little is expected from the current regime is a huge understatement.  Chevy is not selling the Bolt as it was expecting to.  What appeared to be Chevy moving up its delivery timeline now appears to be excessive California cars being shipped to other states.  So whether that is true or Chevy is moving up the time line,  both imply that Chevy is getting desperate.

But CCS based EVs are growing the fastest. Ford, a new entrant, with its soon to be released longer range Focus EV will have CCS. VW promising a huge EV footprint soon along with penalties for its emission scandal promises several charging stations. Obviously dual format stations ala NRG would be the best but to my knowledge, none have been installed yet  and guessing VW has little incentive to help out Nissan, Kia and the other Asian manufacturers clinging to the chademo platform.

Furthermore; Tesla has announced plans for the biggest expansion of the Supercharger (SC) network to date. Partially to prepare for the huge uptick in Tesla's on the road when the T3s start rolling off the line later this year (maybe) and partially I think to put the seed of doubt into anyone who is thinking about jumping ship to the immediately available and longer range Bolt.  Its hard for me to believe that American and European manufacturers are sitting back thinking they can still sell a car that has no public charging support.

So I am fully expecting a big announcement; a partnership to install stations or at least smooth the way for the installs. Dealership based installs have been a shaky option thus far and there is quite frankly not enough of them in many areas to make an effective network.  Also dealerships have not proven to be good hosts. Either thru restricting who can charge, lack of 24/7 access, ICEing the stations or simply being too slow to address maintenance issues.

Either way; something big needs to happen or the Bolt may flounder. Don't get me wrong; Its 240 mile range will cover the needs of a lot of people but without public support, it still falls short of mass acceptance.

Finally; Tomorrow, I will be testing the viability of  the network in my LEAF.  Not quite recreating the trip from above but will still be doing 300 miles.  I will be doing the Oregon Coast but will be waiting until the renovations at the Tillamook Cheese Factory is completed first!

**EDIT**   Just found out VW has submitted plans on how the money will be spent and its still primarily on public charging and it looks like it will be dual mode stations so CCS will be coming from at least one manufacturer! (this makes it easier to understand why the others are just sitting back observing)

Saturday, March 11, 2017

February 2017 Drive Report

Well this was the "calm before the storm" as work is generally slower in February because of the massive rush of work right before and after the beginning of the year so the LEAF only traveled 1189.4 miles costing me $15.37 or 1.3 cents per mile. This total does include a public charging fee of 44 cents for an emergency Blink stop.  What can I say? I did not take into consideration the very heavy headwinds of the day!  

NCTC did help me get "some" of that money back. I did help myself to 189.4 KWh of free juice for the month.  The light driving was evident with 10 days of 20 miles or less driven plus 2 days the LEAF never left the garage.   Contrast that to the first 10 days or March where I have gone over 100 miles 5 times including two days over 150 miles.

To make my math more simple, I have decided to start a policy of getting gas for the Corolla on the last day of the month. (or as near to it as possible) This simplifies the monthly cost calculations and takes into account months where the price of gas changes dramatically which I think is going to happen more this year than the recent past.

The Corolla went 271.1 miles costing $17.86 (more than the LEAF in case you didn't notice... :) ) or  6.8 cents per mile despite getting over 39 MPG.

There were no maintenance costs for either vehicles. I did rotate the LEAF tires at the 5,000 mile mark but did that on my own costing me nothing but time. I am getting older cause it took me almost 45 mins to finish the job which is a far cry from the 25-30 mins it used to take me but then again, I was in no particular hurry either. Since it was rainy, I did it while parked in the garage which means a lot less space to work in which naturally slowed me down a bit.

Other than that, Nissan has spoken! They are so secretive and low key about everything LEAF its really pain but their latest announcement has generated the most excitement since the LEAF was introduced.   Nissan promises LEAF II to exceed expectations in price, value and range. So we shall see.  I have said often that I would buy a 40 kwh LEAF but it all depends on price!


Bolt sales down. Despite an expanding market, sales dropped for February. This was somewhat expected as lease terms for the Bolt are either pathetic or non existent.   WA State is seeing Bolts earlier that then slated April launch with deliveries earlier this week. Maybe Chevy is trying to take advantage of EV hotbeds and pent up demand for more range?   Chevy; you can fix this by doing us Leasers right!

Finally, for all of you who think I am taking advantage of NCTC to the extreme (well, partially maybe...) you B WRONG!  I am doing it in the name of science. (and cheapness!)

Remember I am collecting data on how differently the 30 kwh pack charges over the 24 kwh pack. Earlier I related one crazy incident at the Tumwater AV where I charged at 40 KW past 83% SOC! Well, as mentioned, I suspected it was simply my LEAF BMS sleeping on the job and apparently that was correct.  My excessive use of the free juice train was an attempt to reproduce those results and I have so far failed... several times!

Looks like if starting at a lower SOC, the station will run at full or near full speed until 75% SOC. If starting at a higher SOC, the rate starts dropping below 70%. Doesn't matter if its a 50 KW charger or a 40 KW charger.   I have yet to notice any temperature differences and although most of my charges have started at lower temps with cells in the low 50's or so, I have done a  few twice a day QCs with the 2nd charges starting with temps in the 70's and have seen no change in the patterns.

But I just have to post this log of the Tumwater event....only to show it really happened. As anyone with LEAF Spy knows, the logs are packed with info so I have removed the extraneous stuff so you can see the basics.




As you can see, the GID count was at 312 by the time the charger dropped below 40 KW.  Completely different than these.








Remember these are just previews! Still working the charging things. Notice the black lines for pack temps?  Pretty flat.  I have to guess the temps are displayed in C and they apparently aren't sampled much. Notice the jumps?  Weird eh? If anyone knows how to address this, let me know!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Shocking Prelim Data On 30 KWH LEAF Pack Temperature Management...Maybe

As mentioned MANY times in the 3 months I have had my S30, I have noticed the pack does not seem to retain the heat as much as my previous 24kwh LEAFs.  Now, it was a very warm Veteran's Day when I picked up the S30 but the weather has been pretty cold ever since. In fact, this Winter ranks as one of the coldest of this Century!

Anyway, me being cheap me (as usual) was avoiding home charging if I was even remotely going to be going by a free fast charger and the other day was no different.  But free was not to be! For one thing, it was very cold in the morning and I had a detour and defrost issues (I forgot my wiper. Took it inside to set over a heat register to dry it and forgot it!) so I basically had to stop at a Blink to gather enough juice before making it to the Tumwater AV so that was 44 cents down the drain!

So to put it mildly, I was in need when I got there. Unfortunately there was already someone there who was at 75% when I arrived but took another 28 mins before finishing.

So I plugged in and did random nothings and after 20 mins, I checked LEAF Spy to see how I was doing and pleased to see I was still over 40 KW charging (Ok, so I caught a temporary dip...)

**NOTE** GIDs = 77.5 wh


Either way, I only had about 30 miles or so for the day planned so decided at this point I would unplug when someone else arrived or when I dropped below 20 KW. 

I then noticed I was at 7 TBs for the first time ever in this car.  The Sun was out so some solar radiation would be contributing but I was only in the 102ºish range so not too bad. A coolish Spring day in Phoenix really... :) 

But the unthinkable happened.  The temperature started dropping! This was completely alien to everything I thought I knew about charging and TMSless LEAF battery packs! I was still charging over 20KW so how was this happening??

The Sun was still out so that wasn't it. I was so engrossed with what was happening I got a near full charge from the Chademo not unplugging until I was at 15 KW charging rate. The temps were still dropping now down to the mid 90's.  So I took off from the charger and about a minute later... I dropped to 6 TBs!

Final Stats (from LEAF Spy Log) GIDs 352,  charging speed; 14.7 KW.  SOC on dash would have been about 97%. I have to say, I am fairly confident I have never seen charging that fast at that high of an SOC!



So again, very preliminary and despite a sunny day, the air temps were still in the mid 40's that day but still VERY interesting observations. 

FYI; Tire rotation #1 in the books which means my new LEAF is "officially" no longer new... 

**EDIT**
To clear up some confusion, I am in no way whatsoever implying that my LEAF has TMS. Notice the the title says "Temperature Management?"  TMS is used when manufacturers can't solve the problem.  Nissan chose to tackle the root cause instead. Have they found the answer?  Doubtful, but if the above can be repeated it would be obvious they are on the right path. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Jan 2017 Drive Report

LEAF went 1160.4 miles costing $23.08 or  1.98 cents per mile. NCTC pitched in 105.92 Kwh for the month. A bit too early to start reporting battery stats as far as highs and lows.  Other than one day (in Feb actually) all my stats are still the same as new which is to be expected since I only have 4800 miles on the LEAF.

The Corolla traveled 531.8 miles costing $40.05 or 7.61 cents per mile. Winter range degradation hit the Corolla hard averaging a "career" low under 35 MPG. 

Anyway, in other news, My 2016 is still sucking on the efficiency meter but becoming more and more convinced every day that the previous LEAF instrumentation was simply inaccurate.  LEAF Spy allows me to estimate my range based on my expected performance and I use 3.3, 3.7 and 4 miles per kwh as a guide depending the weather conditions. First thing I realized is those numbers still work. So... pretty much just another reason to ignore the GOM.

I am continuing my data gathering on how well the 30 kwh pack dissipates heat. If you didn't see it earlier, I noticed that the 30 kwh pack simply does not heat up as much nor does it retain the heat when it does.  I have consistently seen the heat from a fast charge completely dissipated in less than a day including several times in roughly 12 hours.  This means at least one temperature sensor is within 2º of my ambient garage temperature.  IOW, no I am not leaving my LEAF out in the cold overnight to help speed the cooling process.  So far the results have been encouraging.  Anxious to see how she does when its over 80º!

For all current LEAF leasers; the deals are still flying! Do not be discouraged when NMAC does not discount your residual!  Although NMAC owns your car and does actually provide any discounts off your residual, you MUST go thru a dealer! Why is this?

Uhh, well, that is actually a very good question and anyone who knows for sure, please chime in but I suspect its done this way because the dealer incurs costs to handle your return and its another way for them to get a little money out of the deal so does this mean that you might not get a good deal on a lease to purchase if the dealer is too greedy?

Well there is very little evidence of that and the reason is likely due to the fact that 2014 was Nissan's best LEAF sales year ever so that means a lot of lease returns due back and Nissan doesn't want them so guessing there is perks for everyone. So what can you expect?

Well again, you simply need to beat feet to your dealer to find out!  Some dealers are very helpful in this regard but the "deal of the week"  a person just bought out their 2014 S with charge package and had 3 months lease payments waived. So total cost to them (without $2500 state incentive that not all of us qualify for) was  $16.7K!! (yeah that means just over $14,000 in real terms!)  IOW, the deals are getting better and better.

Finally; its Winter and sometimes our best estimation of our range might not be as accurate as we had hoped. If you find yourself just a little teeny bit short of a plug, your best bet is to shut the LEAF down even if you are less than a mile away. Look at your power circles on the dash for guidance. Don't go below 5 if you are more than a few hundred yards away.  You run a strong possibility of killing your 12 volt battery and if you do, its tow time!

But if you shut down just before that point, your LEAF may be able to rest up enough to make it that extra mile down the road to the charger.  Your LEAF will shutdown when the weakest cell in your battery pack hits a certain point. Resting the LEAF allows pack balancing (which is pretty much going on all the time) to boost that weak cell and it might just be enough for you to make it.  It might take an hour of sitting and balancing but then again, how likely is it a tow truck will be there in significantly less time?  Not very in most cases!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Public Charging Effectiveness; There Has To Be A Better Way!

The Chevy Bolt trickled into existence last month (December.... This blog was started MANY weeks ago but I was derailed by several life things.  FYI; 98% of my blogs are conceptualized, written, and published in less than an hour...)  but that trickle promises to become a flood as the pent up demand for a 200 mile EV under $40,000 is unleashed to an unprepared public charging network already overburdened by Nissan's fire sale of the remaining 2016 LEAF stock.

Add to that, a half dozen promising new EV entrants for the first half of 2017 and I predict we will see a renewed "turf" war emerging between the 100% battery cars and the "half as.." I mean the plug in's over whose need is more important.  I have already seen a few Bolters who have done 2 consecutive 30 min fast charges!

But there is some light at the end of the tunnel. A new wave of announcements for new stations and partnerships to build, propose or encourage private businesses to invest in stations is addressing areas that have had little or no public support previously.

But there is still a basic realization that many providers have not come to grips with and that is how to allow multiple cars to access one charging station?   Too many times I will see 6 chargers occupying 6 consecutive parking spaces.  IOW; unless there is a space at either end of the row, you can't get better than a one to one ratio.

One hurdle is clear. It costs money to trench and install new power equipment especially when the power requirements are this robust so putting the stations adjacent to the power feed saves a ton of money.  This almost always means they will be located on the edge of the parking lot or against a wall which means access on one side only.  So this is a cost cutting move that makes sense.

But what about the process of bunching the stations all together?  How much more money does it cost run to spread the stations farther apart if they are all running parallel to the power feed?  Nearly every station now has a cable that is more than long enough that 3 LEAFs can easily reach one station.

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Above we have the same six stations but instead of being able to charge or queue 6 to 8 cars,  we can now have 18 cars ready to roll, right!  In those rare cases when the stations can be put in the middle, we would have two rows of parking spaces meaning 36 cars can potentially access the 6 stations!

Well this would make the network much more effective but some states have ICEing laws where an EV parked in an EV charging space can be fined if not actively charging.  So this could be a problem... IF the law was actually being enforced.  In most cases, it is not. I am only aware of a handful of incidences at most where a ticket has been issued and all those instances likely only happened thru monumental efforts on another EVer's part.  IOW; if only relying on the diligence of the local constabulary, we be screwed!  So how to sort that out?  How can we tell if a car is waiting to charge or is simply wanting to park 25 feet closer to the entrance? 

SemaConnect stations have LEDs  that provide status of the stations.  Blue means available, flashing Green means charging, Solid Green means charge complete, but more importantly Blue also means the car parked in the spot NEVER attempted to charge.  One thing that is impossible to know is whether someone who is plugged in, ever charged at all. What's to stop someone at another station from simply plugging in the car and not starting a session to avoid a ticket? or at least consternation from the EV community? 

Obviously the ideal solution is each station having 3 cords allowing queuing between the 3 cars in question. This would not be cheap but would be cheaper than adding more stations.  This also opens up the possibility of upgrading the stations to higher outputs and possibly load sharing between the 3 vehicles.  Park and ride situations really need this. The bulk of the traffic in and out happens in the morning and afternoon with little action in between or even possible.  This means cars parked 9-10 hours.  Having 3 cars queued up can mean that all three could be at their desired charge level when owners return.  


But bolstering the network will take time, money and motivation, all of which is in short supply. The other much easier idea is financial disincentives.  But parking fines as mentioned above has not been enforced for the most, can be tough to determine sometimes and simply creates too much hardship for some drivers in park and ride situations.  But one idea that is gaining traction is variable rate billing to encourage sharing and more turnover.

The University of Idaho has installed at least one charger on the Moscow, Idaho, campus The Spokesman-Review (Embree, December 5, 2016) reviews. Charging costs  $2 per hour for the first three hours, after that, the rate goes to $3, 8 to 5 during the day. After hours charging costs $1 per hour for the first 3 hours, then goes to $2 per hour.

It has now been over two months since starting this blog entry and one thing is certain; EVs are gaining a lot of ground. Be it better range like the Bolt, versatility like the Volt or simply crazy discounts like the LEAF,  the battle for plugs will escalate and quickly.  We need to start moving on adding more plugs.

Finally; an interesting situation that I just have to share.  As we all know, fast chargers are the prime time destinations for people on the go. 80% in 30 mins just barely fits in most people's day so a slower option would be completely out of the question, right?...not always.



NRG EvGO at Tacoma Mall, WA

A few months ago, I reported that the L2's at Tacoma Mall were free. I observed people just pulling up and plugging in without scanning their cards.  So I was in need of a charge Friday (Yes, it was one of the 8 GID days!) so I pulled in with the idea of getting my free 30 minute fast charge courtesy of NCTC and then testing the free L2 on the way out.  Well, I got there and these two cars were plugged in and both drivers were in the car. I didn't think much of it. This is a common sight here.  I plugged into the DCFC and headed inside the mall to powerwalk for my usual 28 minutes. I returned and found the same two cars sitting there.  So my test of the free charging had to be put on hold because all the L2's were occupied while the fast chargers sat empty.  I have to say in 6+ years of publicly charging my LEAF, this was a first for me!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Used Nissan LEAF Buyers Guide

2014 was Nissan's best sales year for the LEAF which means the 2nd half of 2016 and most of 2017 will be the best buyer's market for used LEAFs coming off 2 and 3 year leases.

But Nissan has realized the market is saturated so the thought of selling any but the cream of the lease return crop is not looking well in what has become very much a buyer's market. Prices are simply that low. "Too good to be true" is not working!... or is it?

To the uninformed wannabe EVer the market seems to be flooded with "can't miss" deals but not everything is as cut and dried as one would think.  Hopefully I can provide a checklist every used car shopper needs if looking at a used Nissan LEAF.

DEGRADATION;
We all have enough experience with batteries to know that they fade away. Sometimes quickly, sometimes not. We have gotten better at preserving them with smarter chargers, better charging profiles, habits, etc. but that only delays the issue.  Since this is a "used car buying" guide, we will only briefly mention what you need to be concerned with and that is location.

The warmer the climate the car was in, the faster and deeper the degradation will be. Even with this knowledge, the range of user reported experiences can vary widely in just a few miles.  So even location can only be taken as a point of consideration.  For example; Los Angeles varies from moderate near the coast to desert-like 25 miles inland.  This means that not only is the home of the car important but also the area the car likely commuted to on a daily basis.

BASICS;
The Nissan LEAF dash has two gauges that at first glance looks like one.  More commonly known as the "GOM." Guessometer is so named because of the digital representation of range expressed in your unit of choice of miles or kilometers.  The "guessing" part stems from the fact that the LEAF calculates your efficiency over the very driving history assuming it won't change for the remainder of the charge left in the car. It should not be taken literally and it does not account for other uses for accessories, climate controls, etc.  It is basically the "fuel gauge" designating how much of the battery pack is charged and able to provide driving range represented with 12 long bars or segments. 12 bars is "fully charged" and 1 bar is nearly depleted. Like any fuel gauge, these bars are not a linear representation of range or remaining charge. The bars at the top represent more range just as there is hidden range or reserve at the bottom. IOW, just like any gasser gauge.


On the right, you see the 47 mile estimate that is the GOM, the 6 long segments is the charge level meter (or gas gauge for those you still early in the conversion process) and the capacity gauge which is the 12 little bars on the far right.  Before you ask, No that is not a gas pump symbol!!


The 2nd gauge is just to the right of the GOM is the "Capacity" gauge representing how much of the original capacity is remaining from the car when it was new and represented by short adjacent bars or segments.  It is also not linear but "somewhat" defined.  In the original iterations of the LEAF service manual, the 12 segments were designated as 15% for the 12th bar and 6.25% for the 11 bars below it.

First thing that we should realize is that only accounts for  83.75% of the capacity.  Part of the 16.25% we don't see is the reserve and part of it is the part of the battery not accessible for use. This is done to increase the life of the batteries. Discharging too much or charging too much greatly shortens the charge life of the cells.   FYI;  The reserve on the GOM is a blinking "_ _ _ " a very disconcerting sight for the new LEAFer which brings us to the next section.

TOOLS;
Unfortunately the dash is limited in the information it can give you especially when the first capacity bar represents 15%.  There is also a possible issue that is much less likely now due to a huge awareness campaign by the LEAF community to make the issue known is that the quirk of "capacity bar resetting" that causes lost capacity bars to show back up on the dash. This DOES not bring back any range.

Because of the widely varying rates of degradation from one area to another, a device to provide measurements of the pack is recommended. For the shopper, I would recommend simply borrowing one to check your possible purchase with.  LEAF Spy was developed by an early LEAF owner and provides a TON of information that is vital to know when evaluating purchase options.  It is also an essential tool for the LEAF owner that can be had for under $40.

LEAF Spy is an app installed on your Android or iphone. It works in concert with an OBD device plugged into the CAN port of your LEAF located under the dash just to the left of the steering column.

FUELING
You will not find a more economical way to get around than an EV. Even in areas with high electricity rates, charging off peak can still save you a bundle of the cost of maintaining and driving a gasser. But it takes time to charge and that can range from a little to a lot depending on your options.

Charging options are generalized into 3 categories; L1, L2 and L3.

L1; 120 volt based charging. Nissan provides a EVSE (Electric Vehicle Service Equipment) cable that you plug into a dedicated 120 volt circuit (dedicated means a circuit that has no other load on it. If you are not sure, best thing to do is plug something into every outlet in the area, turn on all the lights then turn off the breaker observing what goes off with it)  Generally 12 amps is the most you will get.  This creates power to the car at the rate of 1440 watts or 1.44 kwh determined by multiplying the voltage by the amperage or 120 volts* 12 amps.  Do be aware that Nissan BMS (battery management system) takes some of that power to monitor the charging process, keep the AC/DC inverter from overheating, etc.   Generally you can get roughly 4 miles of charge per hour. IOW, not a good option unless you have a lot of time on your hands.

L2; 240 volt based charging and what most public charging stations provide.  Amperage received will be based on the charger in the LEAF. 2011's and 12's only had 3.8 KW chargers capable of receiving no more than 16 amps at 240 volts.  2013+ that had the charge package (generally identified with 2 charge ports instead of one) "generally" came with a 6.6 KW charger capable of up to 27 amps.

The slower charger would give 12-14 miles of range in good driving conditions. The faster 6.6 KW charger up to 25 miles of range but beware several public chargers will not provide this much power. Blinks are common for this with many turned down to prevent overheating.  Most however will give 5.8 KW or higher. For general purposes, 20 miles per hour of charging is a good guideline.

L3; DC based charging. This is the ritz of public charging where the famed "80% in 30 minutes" slogan started. In reality, your charging speed depends on a dozen different things so expect your 80% to take a bit longer than half an hour.

DRIVING NEEDS;
 By far the toughest thing to advise so I can only say you really need to take a look at where you need to go, where you want to go and what kind of support you have available to you.  IOW;  Plugshare!!

Plugshare is an app and website and is THE MOST VALUABLE TOOL FOR ALL EV'ERS!  so as you may have guessed by now, it cannot be over emphasized!  Plugshare is a user supported database of public charging stations in your area. It is FREE!! and shows station locations, pricing, number of plugs and also recent charging experiences. Hopefully I got the point across that you should already be half way to DOWNLOADING PLUGSHARE TO YOUR PHONE NOW!

The Range; There are simply too many good deals out there to take a car that is missing any capacity bars but again sometimes the price is too good.  So things to consider is that as the batteries degrade, not only is the range reduced due to capacity but it will be reduced due to lower levels of regen available. Regen is the process where kinetic energy is transformed into electrical energy and stored back to the battery.  It happens anywhere from a little (constant speed driving like on a lightly used freeway) or a lot (AKA as real life) when there is a lot of speed changes involved. This can add a significant amount of range  back to the car.

The Weather Summer is the time to drive! AC uses a lot less energy than heat does so the hit on range will be much smaller but other factors are involved.  In Winter, cold air is simply denser (which is why your feet are more likely to be cold because they are at floor level where cold air hangs out!) which means more energy needed for your LEAF to push it out of the way.  There is also road conditions. Snow and rain also require more energy so expect anywhere from 10 (for the people willing to bundle up) to 25% loss of range in Winter.  Obviously, this applies to people who have Winter. For those whose seasons consist of Fall, Spring, Summer and Hell,  you have other things to worry about!

CHECKLIST;
In the used car game, its a process of elimination and comparison. By now we should already be armed with our driving needs, locations of public charging we would likely be using and at least an initial evaluation of where and how we will be charging the LEAF at home. So first off;

The Eliminations;

Location; Unless its a super duper unreal giveaway of a deal, stay away from cars from the Southwest. Phoenix, Needles, Las Vegas and any other place that brags "its a dry heat" should be avoided!  How much value should be assigned to this?  Good question and will be addressed again!

Degradation; 12 capacity bars! Remember, its the short ones on the right, not the long ones on the left!

Models; Nissan has a program of continuous battery improvement that has been in place since day one. Generally this means the newer the car, the better the chemistry, longevity, etc.  But there are still some significant points to consider.  Avoid first gen! 2011's and 2012's had the worst chemistry and worse yet, no more manufacturer's warranty and very little (if any) battery capacity warranty left.

Lizard packs; In response to severe degradation in He... er...uhh, I mean Phoenix, Nissan worked on developing a more heat tolerant battery. Well results in Phoenix may seem small but other areas of the country saw huge improvements. Officially Lizard packs started for the 2015 model year but there is strong evidence that many latter 2014's also had them. Considering that the 2014 Model year was one of the shortest in the history of the automotive industry, that does not eliminate many 2014's.

Build Dates; You can determine the build date from the inside plate on the driver's door. It will be listed in 2 digit month/2 digit year.  This is critical for the 2013 Model year since there is strong anecdotal evidence among owners that later build (May 2013 and newer) had better, more robust batteries.

The usual; Its always a good idea to check Carfax for not only location of previous owners but for accidents.  Unlike other EVs, Nissan has the most secure battery storage system in the Universe.  Yes, Tesla's do occasionally wreck and the batteries crisp the car.  This is not a Nissan issue! There have been some LEAFs in horrific accidents including one less than 10 miles from me when a LEAF was sheared in half when the driver hit a bridge abutment.  Despite not be recognizable as a car, the battery pack remained intact. Say what you want about Nissan's decisions on battery management but one thing that is completely unassailable if the level of safety designed into the car.

Shopping; Ok, so now we are browsing online and see a car that might work. Problem with used LEAFs especially if not at a Nissan dealer is that you probably know more about the LEAF assuming you read my previous blogs (shouldn't take more than a few weeks!) than they do.  So this is where you need to tread carefully.

Most have found that insisting on testing the battery with LEAF Spy  has scared several dealers into thinking they are going to walk out to see their car in parts scattered across the parking lot.  My take; Don't tell them what you plan to do.  It takes all of 20 seconds to plug in the OBD and get a reading. You will be done before the salesman even knows what you are doing. When new, 24 kwh LEAFs read about 67.36 ahr.  The values you want are this, Hx and SOH  both displayed as percentages, which are all conveniently located on one screen. (GIDs are useless if the car is not fully charged)  Best part is after the read takes place (about 3 seconds) you can freeze the screen. unplug the OBD and you are done. As mentioned, you can do it in 20 seconds. (FYI; if you are interested in a competition, call me when you have cut this time in half because that is where you need to be!)


OBD I use


Probably not a bad idea to familiarize yourself with the CAN port location. I can now easily locate and plug in OBD without looking. Benefits of a "3 LEAFer" I guess.

Ok so you got the basic foundation to make and informed purchase decision right?  LOL!! Cmon, we all know life is not that easy! 

Nissan, under pressure added a capacity warranty (FYI, don't bother comparing theirs to others in the EV World) which states they will replace pack if your capacity gauge drops to 8 capacity bars in less than 60,000 miles or 5 years from the original in service date which means my advice above to not consider LEAFs that don't have 12 capacity bars remaining stands, BUT....

Sometimes if the price is right and the car has suffered a lot of degradation and still has a ways to go to hit 60,000 miles and its 5 year in service date, you might be better off to get the car, put up with the now pathetic range and work towards losing that 9th capacity bar. 

Ok, so there you have it. Strongly recommend browsing the links provided in the blog or at least seeing what they are about. The best weapon you have in the used car market in knowledge.  Posted below are other links to blogs that you might also want to consider as well 

http://daveinolywa.blogspot.com/2016/11/in-with-new-introducing-era-of-eco-b.html

http://daveinolywa.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-6-kwh-lead-me-into-life-of-crime.html

http://daveinolywa.blogspot.com/2016/12/30-kwh-bigger-faster-hotter.html

http://daveinolywa.blogspot.com/2016/10/nissan-strategy-shift.html

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Dec 2016 Drive Report

First full month in the 2016 and this month, I actually have gas usage to report!!... well, a little anyway.

First off, EVs are not the only cars that do poorly in very cold weather. My Corolla which has a lifetime average of 38 MPG PLUMMETED in its short stint this month to 33 MPG which is even lower than its usual 36ish MPG during our normal Winter weather.  But it did travel 46.9 miles costing $3.75 or roughly 8 cents per mile.  There is an outside possibility that it might be old gas since the gas in the tank is from Oct 20th. Well shall see on the next fill up which I am determined to have happen sometime later this month. (filled up Jan 5th)

And the biggest reason I will be using the Corolla more is because my LEAF has already exceeded 3000 miles and its not even 2 months old yet!  In December, it traveled 1618.7 miles costing $31.81 or 1.97 cents per mile. This was helped by just under 100 kwh courtesy of NCTC. I did incur a $2 public charging fee. It was at the location I needed to be but a change in plans caused me to only get 35 mins of the hour I paid for. Another reason I like per minute billing!

Other than that, my recent extensive experience with fast chargers has me realizing that "you just never know what you're going to get!"   3 times, I have plugged in to get half speed charging presumably because of the cold battery pack.  Now, I was told (several times) that as the pack warmed up, the speed would increase however, I have seen ZERO evidence of that.  So what I tried once (since I was in a bit of a time crunch) is after charging just over 10 mins at 28 KW on a 50 KW AV charger, I unplugged and restart the charge and boom! straight to 48 KW!

But that has only happened one time and despite a lot of cold weather and a cold pack, I have had limited chances to charge and reproduce these results. I thought I would yesterday with only 3 temperature bars when I saw my batteries at 33.5º!

But it was not to be. Although it was still only 27º, the Sun came out and was VERY bright which meant the additional radiant heat helped to heat my pack up so by the time I got to the charger, my pack was up to 4 TBs with batt temps in the mid 40's and the NRG started me at full speed and yes, this was the same station that started me at half speed just a week prior! But I am sure I will have more opportunities to try it again, so stay tuned.

Other projects I am working on is I am starting to sense that my 30 kwh pack sheds heat better than my previous 24 kwh packs. It could also be the fact that we are in the middle of our coldest Winter in over a decade but we shall see.  I do know that my pack is nearly always within a few degrees of ambient temps of my garage every morning. I did not see this with my previous LEAF which sometimes took more than 2 days to cool off after a vigorous QC...

Case in point; Yesterday did a full speed charge of 30 mins finishing almost exactly 24 hours ago. I then drove home, going out a few short stints but mostly in garage with door closed so stored in moderate temperatures that generally run in the mid 40's with the weather we are having now.


Now, unfortunately, I did not plan this well since I plugged in a few hours ago and would think that some heating up would go on but just checked both garage and car and got this (garage was 2º colder when I got up)

 

But again, even after heating to 5 temperature bars (first time seeing 5 in a month!) the car is still cooling down overnight. (ignore the similarity in readings, there is more than a 50 mile difference from the two pix)

Again, the real proof will happen come Summer time when it could take 3-5 days to cool off from a fast charge but so far, everything is looking very promising!

Finally; after nearly two months, an update of LEAF v. 3 is appropriate. First off, love the faster quick charging, longer range and simply the new car smell!

But (and there is always a but if you are being honest)

getting dark blue was a HUGE mistake. A car wash barely lasts 2 days.

Really miss the steering wheel heater

My mileage efficiency still sucks so its kinda like getting a 27 kwh pack...sort of.

However;

I have been following the Chevy Bolt forum and sadly its really looking like not waiting for the Bolt was the right choice. The lease options are insane. Two people have posted lease details and both are over $500 a month in real costs, with very limited annual miles and a crazy 25 cent per mile penalty! I did the bleeding edge, pay premium prices to be first, thing with my first LEAF and not going to be doing that again!

At the same time, I am really considering getting rid of the gasser and getting the Bolt. But looks like that option is likely a year out. Part of the reason the Bolt leases are so crazy right now is because Chevy's leasing arm is pocketing all of the Fed tax credit. Now there are a few Chevy fans who are using Chevy's lease cash of $2500 (which is only available in a very select area currently) as a partial federal credit but that is not how it works. Nissan gave me the full $7500 credit PLUS $4125 lease cash, so one is not the other people!

Either way, if any of you out there have any info to share on the fast charging or the cooling rate of the 30 kwh pack, respond below!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

30 KWH; Bigger, Faster, Hotter??

Anyone who says the LEAF's 30 kwh pack is not an improvement simply does not have a 30 kwh pack. Yes, its still on the borderline of what a road warrior would need.  Yes, it still must rely on a reasonable public charging network and yes, it will probably degrade faster than a TMS battery pack would, but...

I have yet to realize just how much more freedom I have because I got mine at the end of November so its been cold, rainy, snowy, and even windy...VERY windy!  But a few things are already obvious; I now do what I couldn't dream of doing with a 24 kwh pack.

I am not talking about those Wintertime 80 mile trips that I made in my 24 kwh LEAF with VERY careful planning that I now do without even thinking about how much charge I have left. Typically, on the way home, I am in a hurry so previously I drove as fast as my remaining range and weather conditions permitted me to do, which was usually 55-60 mph.  Now, even at 70+, I am barely hitting LBW by the time I get home.

I am also not talking about the 163 mile trip I took the other day which included an unexpected detour to pick up my Sister when BiL's near new Chevy Truck went DOA on the highway.  This was an unplanned 52 mile detour.  I had already planned on getting a quick boost on the way home since I would still be near 110 miles in Winter but now it was a full blown 30 min charge on the way there.  Thankfully, the 30 kwh pack takes a charge at near full speed at much higher SOC's.  This allowed me to get enough so that I did not have to stop again on the way home. Again, not possible in the 24 kwh pack especially when the charging speed starts to drop before 50% SOC!

In a nutshell, the 30 kwh pack not only provides roughly 20-25 miles of extra range (5.4 kwh) its ability to charge faster means a much greater flexibility in planning a drive that may include charging stations not in the ideal position along the route.

BUT....

There is a catch. The 30 kwh pack has been available since the beginning of the 2016 model year in the SL/SV trim with the S Trim getting it mid Fall.  There was a lot of reports of "2nd Gen" LEAFers who claimed their 30 kwh pack heated up much faster than their previous 24 kwh packs despite less fast charging sessions.

Well this was a concern! What good is getting extra kwh's on the road if it heated up your pack so much that it rendered the car nearly unusable?

Now, initially I had some doubts. Hot weather was probably part of it.  I figured people were just Kwh crazed, driving 75 mph,  zipping from one station to the next only because they could.  But then I saw some reports in mid Fall from an Oregonian when the weather was in the mid 40's. Wow, that is not hot weather at all!

So I decided to heat up my pack to see just how bad it was.  But 3 stops at fast chargers this past week didn't seem to do much heating at all. As always the weather was completely uncooperative being much colder than normal. So might have to repeat this experiment when we get back to normal.  For some background, at this time of year, I usually had 4 temp bars and a fast charge would bump me to 5 or 6 temp bars and I would almost always have at least 5 temp bars the next morning.  But that is not happening with my 30 kwh pack and because I park in my garage, the colder than normal temps are not really a factor since the garage temperature swing is only about 4-5º even on the coldest days.

So, I purposely did not charge the night before, got up yesterday morning, OAT was 33º, garage was 50.2º and batt temps were 50.2/49.8/49.2.  So did a bit of driving around and then hit the Tumwater DCFC

Time Stamp 12:15
As you can see, the driving around we did hardly changed temps at all. In fact, the last number went down. This one I am guessing is at the end of the pack or more exposed because it always quickly diverges from the other two always being cooler than the top 2.  I also suspect that it might not be as accurate since its usually reading lower than the garage temp. (or I need to change battery in garage sensor...:) )

Time Stamp 12:38
So I charged for 21 mins to get to 80% (There was also a car with Campbell Edmonds Dealer plates who pulled in...) cutting it a bit shorter than planned but still ok.  AV says I got 12.05 kwh and as you can see LEAF Spy counted 11.558 kwh to the pack adding 12.6 kwh as "available" so the heatup worked. OAT has dropped to 32º and it starts to snow.

We then went home to wear out the Xbox which was 10 miles and FOREVER to get there. People seem to lose their ability to make rational decisions behind the wheel when flakes appear. Its almost as if they are auditioning for that scene from "The Wizard of OZ" or something...

Time Stamp 14:05
We get home and park in garage cause its snowing like crazy now and I don't want that stuff on my car but we leave garage door open (which is pretty normal for me during the day anyway) Later we dash off to get something to eat.  We picked a bad day to be out driving. It literally took us longer to drive the 3.4 miles to the restaurant than it took us to order, eat our food and leave.

We go home and car is in garage with door shut, OAT warms up to 25º, Garage is 45º. (left door open too long).  A few hours later, car has to give up its spot for Kayak (another story) but just for an hour.
Car returns to garage, door shut.

Time Stamp 20:46
LEAF put to bed with no dinner. (She was not bad or anything like that. Just another sacrifice for pseudoscience!)

Time Stamp 08:02  12/24/16
I got up, crank on heat (overnight temp is generally set to 55-58º), drink coffee and checked LEAF.  As always, all 3 are back to near ambient temps. I guess I should have checked before I turned on heat. But in reality, I probably don't want to know how much my furnace is heating up the garage. Sometimes a bit of ignorance is... well, you know.


In conclusion; my experiment did not go as I had planned cause I wanted to heat the pack up a bit more but even in the times I did it earlier in the week, I was still seeing the same results the next morning. The pack always returned to near ambient temps.

Another thing to keep in mind is most of what I was doing during the week was charging at Tacoma Mall, spending 25-40 minutes to drive home and immediately parking in garage with door shut so even with a somewhat climate controlled garage that never got below 46º even during the colder days, I was still seeing all the heat generated from fast charging dissipated overnight.

This experiment is not done but the initial results are interesting.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Winter Time LEAFing AKA How I get 100 Miles In The Dead of Winter!

Despite the calendar saying Winter is not arriving for a few weeks, Our Winter officially started a few days ago when the Mercury went below freezing.  This afternoon we are expected to get our first significant snowfall in nearly 2 years (or longer. Its been so long, not sure when it snowed and stuck around for more than a day...)

All this means reduced driving range on our EVs.  So a few tips for any EVers and also some great gift ideas for an EVer on your Christmas list!

First off; lower tire pressures reduces efficiency and tire pressures drop as the temperature drops.  What I do is set my tire pressures in the Fall to 44 PSI.  This generally means pressures no lower than roughly 42 PSI during the coldest of  Winter weather.  The rule of thumb is to expect a drop of one PSI for every 10ºF drop in temperature.  Another thing to remember is to set your tire pressures during the coldest part of the day.  First thing in the morning is usually the most convenient for me.

2nd;  Maintaining safety.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, temps in the 20's are rare but wet, rainy weather is not. So being able to see clearly is a huge concern. Making sure your windshield wipers are in good shape and maintaining the inside glass will reduce the need for using defrost to clear the glass.   One of the things I found that works best is this.


Mine has a two part handle which allows you to reach the entire windshield from the driver's seat. The handle comes in two parts so can easily fit in the glove box for storage. The microfiber cloth acts as a glass polisher which does a great job of not only drying the glass but cleaning off the tiny particles and junk that tends to gather on the glass. Gillian from the Seattle LEAF owners group;

"PM auto expert Mike Allen explains that the hazy buildup common to interior window surfaces comes from gaseous vinyl chloride, a plasticizer added to soften vinyl components, which slowly off-gases as a filmy fume. On a hot day, Allen says, the stuff just sublimates right out of the dashboard. Allen could see a use for the tool reaching across anything from steep-raked muscle car windshields to those long-dashed early '90s minivans that looked like DustBusters. Even if the windshield is clean, he might use the microfiber cloth to wipe interior condensation before defrosting "
I did verify this to be accurate. My first version of this I got last year and when I first used it, the streaks were very easy to see and I found that eventually I removed the streaks and the associated distortion.   Also keep in mind. The fog on your windshield is actually millions of water droplets condensing  on the glass simply because the glass cools down much faster than the rest of the car.  Water vapors need something to attach to.  Removing the slimy film along with dirt (most likely diesel particles btw... :( )  makes it that much tougher for water droplets to find a place to form which reduces the need for defrost as well.

AND...

Its currently on Amazon for $9 for a two pack!! So give one, keep one! FYI; fogging issues happen on every car.

Keeping moisture in check helps as well. The drier the car (and contents) the less fogging. Now in an area where the humidity runs high nearly all Winter, that can be a challenge.  I do have a pair of desiccant cans which helps I'm sure but I decided to bolster the drying power (Plus I need something for the Corolla) so I ordered a pair of these.  These plug in to regenerate via USB or regular power.  The "333" is the size of the area they should cover. Guessing that is cubic feet.





Thirdly and the most subjective is maintaining comfort.  Now this is the toughest since some people can handle cold and some cannot.  I find that its easy to be "heatless" in the morning than on the evening trip home.  Now part of it is hot shower, hot coffee and a lot of commute left in the morning verses  commute target in sight and extra range to burn!! (well... sometimes)

But the real takeaway is dressing for the weather! I had a video of a lady wearing a few sheer dress with a light weight sweater impatiently waiting for a tow truck driver to jump her disable vehicle (yes it was a gasser!) in Michigan and I can only guess she was not comfortable. So hat, gloves and coat is the minimum!

Now I am heading into my first Winter with my 2016 which does not have steering wheel or backseat heaters! both of which was in my 2013. I have blankets for both front and back seats including a Seahawks wrap thing that has arm holes!  The blankets helped trap the heat so my passengers actually felt very comfortable.  But I decided that a 12 volt blanket for the backseat was in order and got one large enough for both people on Amazon for $27.

For the cold hands issues,  I generally wear Seahawks Gloves during Winter all the time even on warm days but on the colder days, they fall short especially if my hands were already cold when getting in the car (A common issue with my job) so a bit of help was needed.


This I picked up at Shopko for $7 for the two pack. The warming pads are small enough that I can slip them inside my gloves so they sit on the back of my hands and are very effective in keeping my hands toasty!  They are reusable so should last a long time. One thing I did find out is that they need to be reset so they are good for one trip (or two if you are ok with one cold hand. :) ) but as mentioned before, in the morning I am generally pretty comfortable. You can also get an 8 pack on Amazon right now for $24. This is probably the way to go. This allows you to not get caught unprepared.  For $35 they have hand warmers that also provide duty as a flashlight and portable power pack for your electronics.


Finally, the biggest thing you can do is simply slow it down a bit.  Not only does it increase your range but its also all about safety. wet, snow, black ice, etc. all increases our risks on the road. Cold air is denser so your LEAF must work harder to push that heavier air out of the way.  There is no getting around that basic reality of physics other than reducing your speed.

In conclusion, the most important issue that needs to be understood is you. We all have limits to compromise, comfort, etc. and thanks to Global Warming, most of the time it simply isn't that cold here.  So if you think all this is my using any excuse I can to show Seahawks Pride, you might be on to something!