Saturday, October 21, 2017

If You Have Battery Degradation, Read This!

Every day, I read posts from people who have lost a capacity bar on their LEAF and seeking information on why it happened or if their car is normal or not.  EVERY ONE of these posts do not provide the information that is needed to make a decent evaluation of that person's situation.

The reality is we as a society don't have the faintest clue as to what to do to maintain our battery packs. What I see is "I babied my pack and still lost a bar" which would imply they knew exactly what to do and guess what?? They were wrong.

What we need is a reference guide as to what we need to consider and more importantly a checklist as to what we need to report when looking for advice online!


Now this chart represents general guidelines on what affects the general rate of degradation. Obviously we are looking staying away from Black and Red.  So lets look at this and break it down.

Now, we all know Nissan put the fear of God into us when charging to 100% and letting it sit. They even went so far as to put in an 80% charge option for a few years. Thankfully, they quickly realized that the wrong message was received and removed the 80% charge.   So lets look at the 100% SOC area.  First thing we see is that there is some Red when the temperature gets hot enough but we have to be on "Broil" (or live in Phoenix) to see Black.  Luckily, even Nissan knows this so they restricted the charge to 97% so the downside of charging to full overnight is pretty minimal. What Nissan did do is allow you to manipulate the charge so it finishes near the time you would be leaving so again, no real downside to charging to full!  Now this chart does not input any time parameters in here so that is on us to guess but in Winter, there is little reason to not charge to full every day.

So the next question becomes "Why are you not recommending I stay in the Yellow ALL THE TIME?"  Well, I am recommending that you do... IF you can. Realize staying in the yellow means your already limited EV range is now cut by MORE than half.   Another reason and much more important is look at the cushion you have between the Yellow and the Red at the bottom verses the cushion at the top?   Not a lot of forgiveness is there? 

Thanks to the GOM's subliminal hypnotic suggestion, we tend to think we have more range than we really do. We also underestimate the impact of our habits like heat, taking the wrong route to work, etc.  After all, at the end of the day, how many times to do say "Wow, look at all that extra range!"
So, lets pretend "Yellow" doesn't exist.  For those of you that are retired, work at home or simply have nowhere to go, good for you! Your LEAF will last you a lifetime but then again you don't post online about losing bars anyway so the next time someone asks why Nissan removed the 80% option, now you know.

Now, I do have one recommendation; In Summer, if your ONE WAY commute does not drop your SOC below 80%, then probably shouldn't charge to full unless you are in an underground parking thingy, middle of the forest  or some place with a lot of shade. 

Another thing to look at is the huge number of people who charge at work. The chart above shows Red in the mid 80's for SOCs at 80% so if you are going to do this make sure you have shade and you don't start charging until after lunch. Remember, your packs can see radiant heat well over 100º on the mildest of Sunny days (People who live in San Diego or any other Sunny coastal area, please take notice. Your weather is FAR from perfect) So 80% would have been perfect for this right?  No, not really.  What it would do is give people the false impression that 80% would be ok even if done by lunch. In a perfect World, we would hit 80% 5 mins before 5.  The reality is half of you probably charge in the morning while your co-workers charge in the afternoon. Who is going to volunteer to be a "Red" EV?

Ok, so the full charge question is out of the way, lets look at the MUCH more familiar low SOC.

One of the things Nissan has not removed is the low state of charge warnings and for good reason. Look at the chart; other than extreme heat, low SOC is BY FAR THE NUMBER ONE reason for degradation. Remember this because this is THE MOST CRITICAL PART of the survey.  Low SOC is not affected in anyway by temperature which means this applies to everyone no matter where you live.  Simply another reason why you should charge more than you think you need. Its simply a good idea.

But I constantly read how people made it home with 8 GIDs and were proud of themselves and I ask them if they plugged in the car and they say, "I am fine, its on a timer"  or they say "I only charge when the rates aren't 30 cents per kwh"  and I think "Why do they want to screw themselves over like that??"  Is saving 50 cents really that important to you that you would sacrifice a $5500 battery pack? What is wrong with you!! 

Either way; My recommendation on this is if you get home with ANY battery warning on, plug in ASAP. This is what I do and its only for 60-90 mins. Sometimes 2 hours if  I spaced it off.   How important is this recommendation?  It is the MOST important thing this blog is relaying to anyone.  Couple things to consider; The LBW (low battery warning) comes on first and it comes on at 16% more or less. Well, look at the chart. The Red starts at 25ish % SOC. So by the time you see that warning, you are already beating up on the pack...

Ok so the basics of charging are out of the way, so now we need to get into the checklist for info you want to provide us online to get insight into your degradation issues.

**Location. This is important to evaluate your climate

**Build date (located on driver door jamb) Purchase date and any info about time spent on the lot.  Dates are also important because there is a huge difference between spending ONE month on the lot in Summer verses Winter.

**Driving habits. How far you drive,  how fast (be specific. "keeping up with traffic" is not an answer)   mostly freeway? Cold blooded (run heat at 80º on a 65º day?... Don't laugh, I know a lot of people who do EXACTLY this!) Hypermiler or constantly late?

**Efficiency. What is your miles per kwh average? Its on your display and can be reset as often as you deem necessary and I highly recommend you do it often. At least on every season change. I reset mine DAILY.

**Charging habits.  Do you plug in ASAP at low SOC? (anything under 25 miles on the GOM)  What is charging type and speed?  Charge to full every day or only a few times a week? Charge at work?  Fast charge?  There is no such thing as too much info here.

**Parking habits. Garage or driveway.  At work; Garage? Park in shade whenever possible and is it possible? Get to work with less than 80% SOC and more than 30% SOC

Finally the thing to keep in mind is the above info is the MINIMUM you should provide and when if you forget something, no worries but adding that info in the middle of a 100 post thread... well you might as well not add it at all. Any question answered in the thread should be updated on the your original post.  Your original post, nearly everyone will get 75% of the info contained in it. As for additional info added in the thread of the post? You lucky if 10% see it.

Remember that this battery babysitting thing is still a bit new to all of us and we are still learning just like you but the quality of what we know is solely dependent on the quality of the information we receive and the thing to remember, we are all doing this to learn how to keep those 12 bars as long as possible so everything we learn from you will benefit everyone!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Backwards Compatibility; I'm Sorry But Why Do So Many Of Us Want To Live In The Past?

Mr Money Mustache recently posted a reflection on his one year ownership of his 2016 Nissan LEAF.  As you might expect, he was practically gushing over the usefulness, convenience and most especially the minimal cost of driving an EV.

Well, we all knew that, right?  He stated that half his transportation "cost" was free based on the free public charging (guessing partially from NCTC)  but in the interest of "balanced" reporting, he had to find something "wrong" about the LEAF. Failing to do so, he turned to the next logical target; Nissan.

  • Nissan doesn’t seem to care about its past electric car customers: The 30 kWh battery from 2016 will not fit into a 2015 Leaf, and I’m out of luck if I want to upgrade my car to any of these juicy 2018-and beyond batteries which have been improving at a rapid pace. You can upgrade to a fresh replacement of your current battery, although it’ll cost you $5500.The correct way to handle this (as Tesla does) is to make new batteries backwards-compatible whenever possible, and allow old cars to be upgraded with minimal mark-up on the battery. After all, an electric motor can run for over a million miles with zero maintenance. The rest of the car is rock-solid as well. Why not provide a path for these cars to have a healthy 30-year lifespan, getting a longer range every 10 years or so as the batteries need replacement? There’s still a chance for the company (or the aftermarket) to correct this problem, so I remain hopeful.
Again, the same old story; Complain about range simply because its hard to find "something" to complain about so here is a guy who drove 3500 miles IN A YEAR  complaining about range!

Incredible!   I drove 3500 miles IN A MONTH and I don't have any range complaints.  But then again, Mr. Money did not have the same exposure to the 2018 LEAF that I had.  So I will give him a pass. Besides his main thing is how not to spend money so obviously buying new technology no matter how cheap, is not in his wheelhouse.  Did I mention the 2018 LEAF despite better tech, better battery, etc is CHEAPER than previous MY's?


But before we digress too much into this, lets discuss range.  At least twice a year, I have to drive to Ilwaco, WA which is located at the very SW corner of the State a few miles from the Columbia River ingress to the Pacific.  Despite living in Washington and working in Washington, my only option in my LEAF is to dip into Oregon to use the fast chargers "they" have since we don't have them.  L2 while on the clock is NOT an option.

What this does is takes a 115 mile trip (one way) and makes it a 140 mile trip.  I am ok with that. Its actually a very pleasant and scenic drive and allows me to spoil myself at the Berry Patch (a restaurant with decent food with pies that are to die for!) a stop that happens to have a fast charger on the premises.

Now, the Bolt and its vaunted 238 range would work here as well, BUT and yes I know it temporary but the reality is if it ain't in place by November, its useless to me. For the Bolt to make it, it will also have to stop to charge once as well but in Woodland, WA (the only CCS in the region) which now makes it 175 miles one way.  Now, I can charge for an hour (which is about the total time I would be charging my 30 kwh LEAF) at Woodland and this "might" give me enough to go home thru SW WA but it would be over 200 miles and not really doable under any but the best of driving situations due to terrain and the thought of that happening in November?  yeah, right.  So the more likely scenario is reversing the route with 2 30 min sessions making the charging time for both vehicles nearly identical.   Obviously a pleasure trip to the area completely changes the dynamics and there is a LOT of reasons to come to the area besides work!

 As mentioned in my 2018 LEAF blog, up until I drove that car, my primary concern was price/range.  This is why I jumped on the initial 2016 S30. It was super cheap, had more range and was 10's of thousands cheaper than a Bolt with a much more mature public charging network.  But it did not take long for me to realize how beneficial a small bump in range was in addressing my needs.  And to be honest with you, I am not sure how much the free NCTC plays a part in all this because it does fit rather nicely in one of my primary pursuits in life and that is a good deal!  So yeah, I am the one who does 3 refills of bottomless fries at Red Robin while taking nearly all my entree home to eat later.  Making a meal of salad and breadsticks at Olive Garden is hardly a compromise either btw!

But my driving habits changed as well.  In the 24 kwh LEAF, it was all about planning, checking the weather reports and monitoring LEAF Spy first thing in the morning to stretch and exceed the car's expected range.  As free stations faded away, my home charging increased exceeding $40 a month frequently.  But in the early days of EVness, that was the defacto challenge; proving that we could make molehill battery packs do mountainous commutes.

But upgrading to 30 kwh did not change my work destinations. It did add more destinations that were easier to do but what it mostly did was remove all the planning.  NCTC became my Plan B.  I no longer cared about my speed or efficiency and the arrivals to home under 10 GID dropped to once a month or so verses the 3-4 days a week. My reality became gorging at the fast chargers and getting home sometimes with nearly a full 24 kwh pack's worth of range.

So in my 300 days of ownership combined with probably 20-30 days I didn't drive the LEAF, my 200+ fast charge sessions do add up to a lot of time.  But so far, its only really been inconvenient to me a small handful of times.  Frequently I was able to get work done that would have taken away from my at home time so getting a charge and getting some work done meant in a sense that I was getting paid to charge! Many times, my gorging was a result of simply not getting work tasks done quickly enough when compared to getting the charge I needed to get home but will say my shift from rolling into home with less than 3 miles of range left was simply transferred in many cases to rolling into the charging station on "_ _ _" instead.

But the one takeaway from all that was that range is adjustable. Its simply easy most of time to get more and that is getting easier every day.  Don't get me wrong. I am lucky to be in a place that started public charging early in the game and yeah, lots of missteps, poor vendor decisions and simply really questionable decisions on territorial rights means it wasn't always easy and its far from a cakewalk now but the Sun is definitely on the rise here!

But then I did the 2018 LEAF test drive in Las Vegas and realized that my focus was wrong.  Before, it was the more range the better.  But after driving the LEAF, I realized the 2018 Nissan LEAF will be a watershed event in EV adoption but it won't be because of any of its EV features.  As we all know, the car has already been eliminated prematurely by a great majority of the die hard EV community whose only goal seems to be getting 300 miles on a charge but the question becomes "Do I need that much range and if so, how much am I willing to pay for it?"  The days of taking 2nd mortgages to get a Tesla are getting short.

The 2018 promises to be a near perfect blend of affordability, range, and tech and best of all, the tech that will be the "bait" that lures the "normal" consumer and maybe we have China to thank for that. I guess the numbers do always win. The near immediate reaction by several major auto manufacturers after China's announcement of it renewed commitment to EVs was unmistakeable.  The public has been put on notice and the percentage that are now listening has ratcheted up with many first time  lookie loos.


 I would love more range...if its given to me but when I have to pay for it, I'd MUCH rather get the range when I need it.  The Bolt is great but the reality is the range of 180 to 238 miles is something I would use a few times a month and not stopping to charge means getting home and having to do the work I would have gotten done at the charging station so its pretty much a wash 90% of the time.  My cheapness has struggled to justify the cost several different ways and what it boils down to is the ONLY chance (and its a pretty slim one) is lease terms giving full credit to me for the fed tax incentive like Nissan and doing the lease at near zero interest rates, like Nissan.

But why do something in hopes that it will be "like Nissan" when its simply easier and cheaper to simply "do Nissan?"

So lets go back to Mr Money's comments.  I predict that the 2018 LEAF will become so desirable that the market for extending the range of older LEAFs will shrink to a point that not even the most ambitious of aftermarket companies will want to cater to what will become the very few.

I do get the fact that the people who bought early instead of leasing aren't going to be happy to give up their car especially when they still have payments left. In that respect, I am like most in that I have never considered getting another car until the one I was driving was paid off but I also realize that was a different time. But back then, car loans were a lot shorter. My first car loan was only 4 years long.  The difference in technology frequently was pretty minimal so the only reason to get a new car was what?  The smell?  Moving from cassette to CD?  When I think about some of my previous purchase decisions I can't help but laugh.

So will I laugh about wanting to get a 2018 LEAF barely a year into a 3 year lease on my 2016?

I am pretty sure I will not.

**Edit** 

There has been a very active response to this blog (all online, nothing here unfortunately) claiming I am way off base. That most would want to keep their 2011-12 LEAFs if they could get a bigger battery pack.  I say there is not enough demand for that to happen.

If there was a market for this, some bright guy would have taken up the reins and done it, right?  Now we do have a company  that started advertising extended packs for LEAFs at least 2 years ago and I have yet to hear ONE person taking them up on this.  Not ONE single person has done this.

Well, I for one can't blame anyone for not doing it.  When Nissan was offering discounted out of warranty exchanges for a few thousand or less, I would have done that.  The money was insignificant when compared to the convenience and utility gained. It was a HUGE goodwill gesture on Nissan's part.

Back when Nissan first started offering replacement packs at $5500 with exchange, that was also valued under market.  Many were surprised the price was that low.  (comparing the price of the Chevy Volt battery pack at the same time at 16.9 kwh and over $11,000)  Not a stretch that Nissan offered the pack below cost as a goodwill measure and acknowledgment that they screwed up on the battery.  Requiring an exchange insured that only LEAF customers got that sweetheart price.

But $6500?  That is a different level of commitment.  This blog was an attempt to ask the question;

What would you rather have?

**Your 2011 with 40 kwh of range for what? $8,000 or maybe $7000? Obviously wouldn't be $5500. The Hybrid Industries option linked above requires sacrificing cargo space since they would adding another 24 kwh pack to what you already had.  So you would be hauling around twice the weight knowing that one pack is degraded and becoming more of a burden every day... Weird idea if you ask me.

or

**6.6 KW charging
heated steering wheel and seats (some cars mentioned above got them. I didn't)
Automatic Emergency Braking
4G Connectivity
Pro Pilot
Power drivers seat
Hybrid Heater
240 Volt Portable EVSE (something you could easily sell for $400 or so since you likely already have one...)

Compelling thought eh?  All of a sudden the decision isn't quite and cut and dried.

Instead of putting say $6500 into an aging car,  sell it for $6000 AFTER you get your 2018 LEAF SV with the tech and climate package added on for LESS THAN what you paid for that 2011 SL.

This gives you $12,500 to put towards that 2018 plus the $7500 Fed thing (do a lease/purchase if you can't get all that)  plus the $1000 Nissan loyalty incentive and now that $36,000 car (that much since "all" of it wouldn't be sales tax free in WA)  plus Nissan hints that there will be additional incentive for existing LEAF owners to move into the 2018 (guessing that is why they extended all those leases)  So, now you are looking at a price of less than $22,000.

So what about that incentive?   I asked and several hinted something was being discussed and that was all so ZERO confirmation its even going to happen but at the same time, the enthusiasm when they were talking about it suggests "they" had high confidence something was going to happen... sooooooo

Lets go back to the leaked configurator for clues.  Most of it was spot on except for ONE thing and that was Pro Pilot.  Nissan released a price of $2200 but the leaked configurator said $900.  So would it be too much of a leap to think our incentive would be getting Pro Pilot Assist for $900?

hmmm... ;)

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Electric Vehicle Incentives Needs To Be Revamped

On January 1, 2010 The US started the zero emission tax credit program that gave back $2500 to $7500 to any vehicle that had at least 5 kwh of battery capacity.   The first 200,000 qualifying vehicles from each manufacturer would get the credit. When that 200,000 was achieved, there was a ramp down of the credit lasting 15-18 months.

Section 30D provides for a credit for certain new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicles. The credit is equal to the sum of: (1) $2,500, plus (2) for a vehicle which draws propulsion energy from a battery with at least 5 kilowatt hours of capacity, $417, plus an additional $417 for each kilowatt hour of battery capacity in excess of 5 kilowatt hours. Under § 30D(b)(3), that portion of the credit determined by battery capacity cannot exceed $5,000. Therefore, the total amount of the credit allowed for a vehicle is limited to $7,500. The new qualified plug-in electric drive motor vehicle credit phases out for a manufacturer’s vehicles over the one-year period beginning with the second calendar quarter after the calendar quarter in which at least 200,000 qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer have been sold for use in the United States (determined on a cumulative basis for sales after December 31, 2009) (“phase-out period”). Qualifying vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are eligible for 50 percent of the credit if acquired in the first two quarters of the phase-out period and 25 percent of the credit if acquired in the third or fourth quarter of the phase-out period. Vehicles manufactured by that manufacturer are not eligible for a credit if acquired after the phase-out period. After December 31, 2009, a vehicle that qualifies for a credit under § 30 does not qualify for the credit under § 30D.

This credit was designed to incentivize adoption of electric vehicles for the customer (CHEVY!, did you hear that!!) because like any new technology, EVs were limited in performance with nearly no public infrastructure support and each manufacturer was still spending a ton of money for development.  So the first batch of EVs were expensive, VERY expensive and "higher" price continues today. Yes, the last 7 years has seen better batteries, cheaper batteries, and more range but there is still a bit to go before EVs can compete on a level field financially against the gassers out there.  But that time will come and its approaching rapidly.

But what the credit did not consider is the significant number of manufacturers who either did not produce a qualifying vehicle or simply did so in VERY limited numbers.  What essentially happened is they did not put in the same amount of money for research but reaped the benefits of the advanced tech. 

So what's wrong with that? you ask. Well nothing EXCEPT  for the fact that by waiting to get into the EV game late, soon several manufacturers will have a huge price advantage over the companies that got into the game early and helped push the technology to where it is today. Without the efforts of Nissan, Tesla and GM, we likely would still be in the dark ages of EV Adoption and development.

I think its time to start lobbying Congress to change the laws to allow a set number of qualified vehicles from all manufacturers starting on a specific date and using the same ramp down method. 

An example would be  Starting January 1, 2018  the first 500,000 qualifying vehicles (or whatever) from all manufacturers qualify for 100% of the tax credit with the credit reduced to 50% in the 2nd quarter after the 500,000 is reached.

Another option would be to simply start the ramp down of the credit on a certain date that would roughly correspond with the merging of price points between EVs and comparable gassers.

What this does is puts an incentive to get more vehicles out there now and does not allow laggards to dominate the market due to huge financial advantages after the "Big Three" are on their ramp down.  This also has the huge potential of saving the government some money. Instead of providing the 200,000+  credits  to potentially more than a dozen manufacturers who have yet to put out a mainstream EV,  the money flow would end for all at the same time. Better yet, the range, convenience, price factor will likely have caught up to the gassers in less than a few years.


Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Dark Days Ahead; RUC, And Why I Think Big Oil Is Behind It

In early 2018 Washington State will be one of a handful of states doing a test run to investigate replacing its gas tax with a road usage fee or road usage charge (RUC).  The preliminary reports states a 2.4 cents per mile charge on WA State roads instead of the gas tax with we EVers obviously do not pay.

Now they have BS justifications stating people who don't drive much will pay a farer price instead of the flat $150 EV Tab renewal fee. The $150 EV Tab renewal fee (Does NOT apply at purchase its "renewal ONLY") consists of $100 that goes the route of the state gas tax and then $50 put towards a fund to support the public charging infrastructure.   One program funded by that $50 will provide grants, low interest loans and other support for private business owners to host public charging stations.   15 new stations have been announced as a result of the fund slated for completion by Summer 2019.

Don't believe a word of the propaganda!   Lets look at who the real benefactors are. First off, the WA State Gas tax (currently the 2nd highest in the Nation)  billed every gasser equally.  You either drove a lot, a little and the amount of gas you bought was a direct reflection of that combined with the vehicle you chose to drive.  This will result in a huge increase of money out some of WA citizen's pockets into the state but who is the real benefactor?

To answer that question, lets examine the bolded phrase above. We all know that their are benefits and repercussions to EVERY decision we make including the car we drive.  Washingtonians are leaders in the adoption of hybrids and electric vehicles and other options that reduces our carbon footprint.  Up until recently, WA State has rewarded us for that effort. My last 4 cars have been sales tax free.  Wait a second you say! "Dave you have only had 3 LEAFs?"  Yep, that is true but my purchase of my 2010 Prius in May of 2009 was also sales tax free.  This is a perfect example of WA progressively recognizing and rewarding the "right thing"  so why the HUGE backwards step here?

In 2012 WA started a study and one thing was clearly obvious. The gas tax was not doing its job. In 2017, gas tax revenue is expected to increase .7% but highway maintenance costs will go up 2.7%. In 2016 revenues went up .9%, Maintenance 2.4%,  2015 it was .7% revenue increase, 3.1% maintenance bump. As you can see, we are falling behind rapidly every single year.  So "something" had to change.

In the study, it was determined the average gasser was sucking up gas at the rate of 20.5 MPG. It doesn't take a math wizard to determine how the 2.4 miles per mile RUC came about.  The cracked logic here was that EVs and others buying "less than their fair share of gas"  consisting of a few percent of the cars on the road would increase revenue enough to cover the shortfall.

Anyone see a problem with this revenue model?  What it does is reverses the decade long incentive program to drive more efficient vehicles in WA and penalizes everyone driving a car that gets more than 20.5 miles per gallon. Even worse, it rewards everyone driving a car that gets WORSE than 20.5 miles per gallon and that is the bigger, heavier cars that by default DO MORE DAMAGE TO THE ROADS!  But the real problem is that is the ONLY increase in revenue would be from current EVers who don't pay anything more than the $100 annual tab fee into the system.

To illustrate; A Prius getting 50 mpg would pay an effective state gas tax of  $1.20 per gallon (2.4 cents per mile * 50 miles) while a diesel guzzling smoking behemoth weighing nearly twice as much getting 15 mpg will pay 36 cents.  Sounds good?? 

As bad as this is, its only the beginning of the wrongness of this program.  The only thing we know for sure is that we are not paying enough to drive on the roads. So increasing something is what we need to do. A growing percentage of EVs on the road along with Priuses is lowering the income But a wholesale change of revenue collection is not free, easy or even guaranteed to be effective.   From ITEP (Institute of Taxation and Economic Policy)  claims gas tax collection is more than 99.5 % efficient. IOW,  nearly ALL of your gas tax dollar makes it to the fund it is supposed to support.  Will RUC be able to match that? Or even come close?

Also how will tourists be billed? They use the road and a random survey of license plates tells me that they use our roads A LOT! How will they pay for the use?  Seems to me that loss alone is more than enough to lambast any thought of getting any extra money from the "still" minority of highly efficient vehicles on the road right now.  Maybe the study should have done a survey on gas purchases by out of state travelers?

Either way, something has to go up, not stay the same as the RUC seems to do. IOW, keeping revenue the same is a failure even if it can be pulled off smoothly and efficiently. So what to do?  Raising gas taxes seems like the worst thing to do but why is that?

When viewed as a percentage of families’ household budgets, state gas taxes are lower than at any point since the widespread adoption of those taxes at the end of the 1920’s. Focusing on the more recent past, ITEP found that state gas tax rates, adjusted for construction cost inflation, are a full 17 percent lower today than they were in 1990.
Ok, so if we are getting such a great deal on gas taxes then where is all the money going? Who has been benefitting the most all this time?  Well, guessing I don't need to answer that question.  So maybe gas tax increases are the answer? This continues to force larger, less efficient vehicles AND tourists to pay more while others who chose smaller highly efficient vehicles to pay less. Isn't that what we want?

As far as EVs?  We pay $100 towards the road fund now. That is a bit low. that is barely 6,000 miles in a 30 mpg car. I think that should be doubled.  It still comes nowhere near the cost of gasoline so the "carrot" lives!  But the reality is we shouldn't be paying as much because we are not creating the same level of damage to our environment.  Different argument?  Maybe but why should it be? The reality is Big Oil's grip on our legislature makes a new argument complete with legislation to address is still years away from succeeding.

As mentioned above, WA will be starting a pilot program to test RUC but lets not fool ourselves. They are doing this to iron out the kinks before instituting this program for real and we need to let our thoughts be known. Its pretty transparent who the real benefactors are here and its nothing more than another misinformation campaign by Big Oil to maintain their monstrous profits.

I am signing up and I hope you do as well.

 https://waroadusagecharge.org/

During the pilot, you may be asked your thoughts on how more money should be collected, I would start with vehicle weight fees for any vehicle over 4,000 lbs billed in 1000 lb increments.  Increasing the gas tax is also required. This is very regressive so a program to help low income drivers move into more efficient vehicles would also be a great idea.  A lot of the issues we face today is our spiraling housing costs has forced many to compromise on transportation options and that means older, less efficient and poorly maintained vehicles on the road. "Cash for Clunkers" was a good idea but we should take that one step farther requiring all cars get  a minimal level of gas mileage like 30+ mpg.


Monday, October 2, 2017

September 2017 Drive Report; The Rain Has Returned!

The weather has turned, rain has returned and WA really needed it. On Labor Day Weekend, Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency for EVERY county in the state due to very high fire danger and deservedly so. Our Summer may not have hit a lot of record highs (several times smoke from fires blocked the Sun sufficiently enough to keep us off the record books) but it was a long dry one. It was THE longest Summer I have ever seen in my 30 years here by a huge margin. This year,  all 3 major holidays had perfect weather; something that has never happened to me.  Back when I used to plan camping trips for Memorial Day weekend, I can remember hoping for at least ONE decent day of the 3.  Having it rain most of all 3 days was the norm rather than the exception.

But many regions smashed records for consecutive days without measurable rainfall.  Considering we just finished one of the longest wettest Winters ever, 2017 will go down as a major "Weather News" Year!

With colder comes lower tire pressures.  A good rule of thumb is 1 pound of tire pressure for every 10º F change in temperature. My LEAF's tires are losing air faster than any set I can remember (going back to my Prius days 2 of which also ran on Ecopias) dropping about 2 PSI.  So now is the time to adjust.  Max sidewall pressure on the OEM tires is 44 PSI. This what I recommend. Keep in mind, temps will be lower so will pressures so set your tires first thing in the morning.

Now, I did say that I would be concentrating on driving the Corolla more and did just that doubling August by driving 304.2 miles at a fuel cost of $20.46 or 6.7 cents per mile.  Now as always, maintenance costs for both vehicles are not included but I did get the oil changed at a cost of $35. I hate getting it changed on the short interval of 3785 miles instead of the recommended  5,000 miles but it has been 14 months and....well you know.

However, the additional miles on the Corolla did not serve the purpose of slowing down the usage on the LEAF so despite 8 days of not driving the LEAF or driving it less than 10 miles, it still went 2909.6 miles costing $22.95 in juice or .8 cents per mile.  NCTC kicked in 450.24 kwh and I did incur  .97 cents of public charging fees.  (This was at a level 2 Blink and correct me if I am wrong, but I seem to remember that level 2 Blinks bowed out of the NCTC program?  Either way, I was plugged into the Blink at the Walgreens on Bridgeport Way in Tacoma and when I unplugged I received an email detailing fees and the fact that my first hour was free)

Without NCTC, my costs would have run 2.2 cents per mile IF all my charging had been done at home. If I had actually paid the going rate, my bill would have been an extra $20 for AV and an extra $67 for EVGO and $14 for Blink.

As mentioned previously, I am now seeing degradation. Ahr had dipped to a low of 81.00 with Hx as low a 96.77%  SOH, GIDs and kwh available at full charge have yet to change at 100%, 363, and 28.1 kwh.  I did do a few fast charges and they didn't really improve the numbers but it got somewhat warmer and the rain stopped and the Sun came out and the numbers went up but was also on a 2 fast charge day so... hmmm?  The question becomes when fast charging are the numbers being inflated or simply showing the truer state of the pack?   Well, my experiment of baking the pack as much as possible has not really yielded any results. I guess I need more time?  There are now reports of 30 kwh warranty exchanges in LEAFs only slightly older than mine and most with significantly less mileage.  Now we could blame it on heat and time, but I am leaning towards the build process. At this time there is not enough evidence out there to do anything but guess.

Jim the LEAF Spy Guru did mention that the next iteration will increase the significance of SOH to 100th of  a percent. Pretty cool!  LEAF Spy is not only a very useful tool to monitor several parameters of your battery pack but it also a great way to share info that is well known in the community and also to support a great contributor to the EV movement!

Despite still hearing random issues over inadequate 12 volt batteries, I am feeling like Nissan has addressed the issue at least partially on my 2016 LEAF.  Friday morning, I got up to go to work and my back hatch was open. This is 4th time in the last few months, I forgot about it leaving it open for extended periods of time. I am glad to see that so far my 12 volt battery seems to have survived and thinking Nissan put in some timers to shut lights off if it detects that too much time has passed?

Thursday, I stopped to charge at Tacoma Mall long enough to grab a break, hit the bathroom, etc. and when I came back out less than 20 mins later, the car was not charging. LEAF Spy and EVGO logs verified charge only ran 14 mins. When I plugged in, there was no one else there. When I returned there was a Tesla and BMW both plugged into the free L2's with the other fast charger empty.  So... don't know.  Unfortunately EVGO is NOT very good at sending notifications. This morning, I did two 15 min sessions and didn't receive notification on the first session end but did receive it within 10 seconds for the 2nd time I hit the stop button.  So not sure what is going on? Looks EVGO still has to work to do.  FYI; the station I got the notification about was the same one that I got the short session from.

This is going to become more common I think. I hate the thought of having to babysit the car but it looks like it may come down to that.  Right now, EVs are beginning to explode but new charging stations are not.  During NDEW, an announcement of new stations along the I-5 corridor were announced but install dates could stretch almost 2 years.  The Lacey location has zero evidence of any work done. I will check on it monthly but not expecting to see anything soon.  Looks like LeMay Car Museum in Tacoma will likely be the first one.  The more the merrier but Tacoma Mall is just down the street from there barely 3 miles away.  If I was looking at where the need was greatest, I would go Lakewood or Tukwila but as mentioned above, the more the merrier.


Thursday, September 28, 2017

I Choose Degradation!

This statement may come as a bit of a shocker to most EVers since this is the very thing we do our best to avoid and or ignore.  But the reality is Lithium packs degrade starting almost immediately. Granted; proper maintenance, habits and good SW/BMS can slow the process to a crawl but at the same time, after 24,000 miles, the pack is NOT as good as new, period.  Now we could have a Tesla where most would say there has been no degradation at all armed with data showing they have a range of 103% of new or something crazy like that but whether you have so much range, a few miles here or there simply don't matter or it gets lost in the humongous battery pack, it is there.

Now, I could elect to use LEAF Spy data concerning only the SOH (still 100%) or the GIDs (still 363) or the Kwh available at full charge (still 28.1 kwh) That is a majority, 3 out of 5! Majority rules, right! OH YEAH!!

But that would not really make sense or be realistic.  So maybe its time to look at Hx which I have been unable to get over 100% (like why is that even possible?)  for nearly 2 weeks despite doing "all the right stuff" but lets face it; we all know that quick charging and deep cycling the pack several days in a row does not make the pack stronger.  It more likely simply recalibrates the BMS making it more accurate. So you aren't gaining anything, only seeing what you already had.

I do choose my ahr reading which I have always preferred the most after GIDs but we all kinda have a fondness for GIDs simply because its not a Nissan thing, its a EV synergetic community thing.  But it is no longer at 82.34 ahr and unlike the last two times the metric dipped (due to extended rest periods) this time, it is not likely to come back.  In fact, despite driving 60 to 140 miles a day, it has slowly dropped every day. Its now wallowing in the mid 81's.

So the real question becomes what is my level of degradation really?  Ahr say just over 1% which is not likely. Remember, I have baked my pack into the red maybe 10 times, but hit 9 or 10 temperature bars DOZENS of times.  So 1%? Not likely. 

Hx says 3 % (well not quite yet but guessing it will by tomorrow morning) So that might be more plausible but problem with both ahr and Hx is volatility.  Unlike SOH and GIDs that move rather slowly and somewhat predictably,  they are the two numbers that move the most making it difficult to determine exactly where they really are.  I can move them both down 3-4% quite easily by simply taking a 3 day weekend at home on the couch! This was possible back when my pack was still new (and likely undegraded!) so wonder how it far it would drop now if I did it?  Remember, I did the experiment with my LEAF driving it infrequently during the first month of Leasorship. I was able to get the Hx to pretty much where its at now but also had the ahr move to 81.49 ahr on November 29th, 2016. (My delivery date... why do we call it that? I had to go get it, so my "pickup date" was 11/11/16)



Now, I can't really go by remaining range due to too many variables with trips in my area.  I didn't do a real range test back when the LEAF was new other than random observations. Just didn't see the point. It was all about what I could do now that I couldn't do before and in the grand scheme of things, that is the only thing that counts. Now, my 24 kwh LEAF I could do casual range tests easily because one common work destination was 95.8 miles round trip (you don't have to drive it until it dies. That is lunacy anyway. You only need to drive to the point that the error in estimating your remaining range is minimal which is easy to do if you are guessing 2-5 miles)

So for now, I will be going with the 3 % loss. This means I have just about one less kwh available (despite what LEAF Spy says and realize, it ain't LEAF Spy saying it. LEAF Spy is just the messenger and you know the policy about violence against your messenger!) or 3-4 miles less range. I might see range in the high 80's this Winter (had one really nasty day with range in low 90's but that was aggravated by having 4 in the car which really kicked up the defrost need and it wasn't even that cold!)

This brings me to another point in that my 24 kwh LEAF numbers seemed to move more in concert with each other.  Hx and SOH were rarely more than 1-2% apart (good pack balance!) so wondering why the numbers are starting to spread?  I have also noticed this with several other people where their numbers are all over the map including a few with more than 10% differences! Crazy stuff!

But  now I can start a trend line and yeah, its likely to be readjusted but at this pace I will end my lease with 95% Capacity!!!.... if I honor the terms I agreed to of driving it 45,000 miles that is. We'll have to address that later.

Now I thought about waiting another 3-4 days or at least until my ahr and Hx stopped dropping but it getting near the end of the month and I found that putting stuff in the monthly drive report never seems to get noticed plus I have some spare time right now (which is rare but should be more plentiful within the next 6 weeks or so as work winds down for the holidays)  but I may well be back next week in a panic when my LEAF shoots below 95% or something... or not!


Sunday, September 17, 2017

NDEW 2017 Steilacoom, Seattle and Portland

Today marks the end of National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) 2017 and I was lucky enough to visit 3 of them at least briefly. And first on the list was Seattle for two reasons. One which needs to remain secret (no insider Nissan info involved)  but the other was to sign up for a test drive! (One can never have too many of those!) But it would be tough to get there and to Steilacoom so decided to stop and get as much of a charge before the signups at 9 AM so I could drive "normally" back South afterwards and again, the benefits of a 30 kwh pack charging at 16+ KW even at 97% SOC!

So a quick stop to Harvard Market to say hi (just worked there a few days before) and grab a charge.


Seattle

I arrived in Seattle a bit early and luckily a spot was open next to Matt Moreno's Tesla S!



By now, my coffee had outstayed its welcome so was time to give it the boot and realized I had just missed out on a great chance to win something wonderful!


This pix kinda makes me wonder. Marketing puts so much into prepping for the big Holidays but we buy stuff every day. Friday night I was "doing the Puyallup" and the electronic reader boards were still flashing specials from Labor Day weekend!


Signups for the test drive started promptly at 9ish so got that and some sort of dinner thing on the 20th of October. I am guessing that is a "Thank you for your commitment" party or something.

2018 Nissan LEAF SL

As always there were several cool EVs present but had minimal time to see them since I had to get to Steilacoom but one LEAF with custom paint I just had to grab a pix of!



Steilacoom

But out of time and I was technically parked in someone's spot anyway (since I didn't register for the Seattle event...) so off I was back down South!  Thanks to Dick Muri, the Steilacoom Event was one of the largest in the Northwest. Not sure what the real total of EVs were but there was North of 80 registered but pretty sure we were well over 100!



EV Truck Conversion

Complete with its own 24 kwh Nissan LEAF battery pack!


Jay Donnaway and his ALL ELECTRIC Mail truck.
2 years ago, I had a chance to talk with the Lacey Post Office and found out that their routes run 20-50 miles total. In fact; the rural areas within their jurisdictions are contracted out to 3rd parties, so they only handle the close in areas! This sounds like a perfect "in" for Nissan and its NV 200 EV. Put a 30 kwh pack in it and it would save a ton in fuel and emissions!

Mazda RX-7 EV Conversion
My roommate in California had one of these. Pulling the engine out of the car has to be one of the best decisions ever. He had nothing but problems with it!




Zero EV Cycles 
Pretty cool startup displays!

Ford Focus EV.  A rare one but the newest version with better pricing and 
range should be much more popular!



RAV 4 EV
Now this car should be rarer but its not! There were 4 RAVs here but only one (maybe two) Focus EVs. So Toyota! Explain to me how a car not sold in WA and not built anymore  can out do an EV that is still being built and sold in the state??  Can we say "oops?"  or "maybe we need to rethink our super stupid decision to stop building the RAV 4 EV?"  SMH!

Kia Soul EV
Pretty cool color combo!


Prius Prime Interior with the obvious "Tesla-like" design.  Well, it does have a plug after all!
Notice the dash display that does put "something" in front of the driver!



Hyundai Sonata Plug in. 
Ok, so did this guy get super lucky on the license plate lottery or is this some 
sort of cryptic personal meaning?? 




Chevy Bolt. 
Its got the range but also VERY bad lease terms. I did get to sit in several and I do understand the uncomfortable seat issues but I can't even come close to understanding the decision to skip the padding that would have gone a long way to mitigate the problem?  I do think that the next Model Year will have several new (and much welcomed) features. 


BMW i 3
Great high seating position here. More money and less range than I need but still a very well appointed vehicle!

Fiat 500 e
Say what? I didn't know they were available here! But then again, half of what I saw isn't either.  No matter, with a background like this, this picture was a must!

Chevy Spark EV
After the Fiat, this was the natural next choice! This was the "Lease King" in California. In most cases costing less than a one month gas bill to lease!

Smart EV


Tesla Roadster
The car that caused the fantasy that continues today! 


One of the "BIG" reasons I had to be here was because Pierce County Transit was showing off their EV options including handing out test rides!  For the ride experience, you can youtube it here or watch it below (if you have bandwidth!) 






Proterra 32 Passenger Bus EV
A large part of the VW settlement money will go towards reducing emissions in the urban areas of the state concentrating on School Bus emissions. The reality is that all emissions are not created equally when our health is involved. Not saying that a billowing smokestack 100 feet high is a good thing but its MUCH better than a 2" tailpipe blowing exhaust into the face of our children. Its time that Washington mandates no emission transportation for our cities. There is simply too many downsides to diesel. Every reduction helps.  


This was not the only ride experience I had.  The other one was a "bit" less sedate. **Do not try this after a meal!**  Thank you Brian Manthos!


Telsa S P100D
FYI; It took 20 minutes for my stomach to recover from 2 seconds of Ludicrous Mode! If you haven't done this before, there are no words in this Universe that can even approach an accurate portrayal of what your body will experience!

Tonia Buell (and her finger!) and I displaying our like-minded "Soul"s!

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention there were also a "few" LEAFs there as well but you already know what they look like :)

Portland

A week later, Portland had their event which was good because it was a second chance to look at the 2018 LEAF.  Being a 127 mile (one way) jaunt means charging so a quick breakfast at Country Cafe for me and the LEAF and someone really pigged out! (I just had Biscuits and Gravy)

Chaz Smith, one of the city captains for NDEW Portland was nice enough to send a drone video. If you look close enough, you can see me just arriving!



30 min charge@125 Amp AV in Ridgefield, WA



2018 LEAF Interior shots
Despite it being the same Black on White color scheme, this was an SV.  Did verify no backseat heating (or at least I was unable to locate the controls for them) and no extended visor. This is a VERY appreciated feature from both my 2013 and 2016 LEAF. The Northern Latitudes suffer from very low Sun angle making the extension a very valuable asset.  Nissan, I am disappointed! Again, told they will be available in "early 2018" but this build date tells me that they will start selling as soon as the 2017's have been depleted and rumor has it they have already stopped building them!

VW Golf EV
I NEVER accepted "Clean" Diesel so I can say I am happy about "Dieselgate" because it finally got one of the largest polluters on the planet to do an inward evaluation of itself.  Now to see how they execute their 180º turnaround. I am rooting for you VW!

Chevy Spark EV
Can their possibly be two of them?? Same color, so I have my suspicions!

Archimoto EV
Remember the Sparrow? A 3 wheeled EV that required a motorcycle endorsement? It was enclosed so "weatherproof"  I often thought that if I ever got a real job and went to commuting solo to work everyday that it might be an option but not sure they ever made it to production? 


Th!nk EV
An Oldie but a Goodie! Waaaay back in the day when my ZENN and a few Zaps and Zebra's were pretty much the only EVs on the road in Olympia, I came across a Th!nk charging downtown using 240 Volts! This was in the Summer of 2010. It was my first ever 240 volt experience!




1958 Metropolitan EV conversion
Hands down winner of "Coolest EV of the Show!"



Chrysler Pacifica Plug In
Great option for Soccer Mom. 32 miles of EV range on 16 kwh pack means most in town errands are 100% Electric!





Honda Clarity EV
No Hydrogen needed! I guess I have to say not bad for a first "real" try. But maybe you should have looked at the competition first! Good interior space and ambience here. 


Fiat 500e
Just a super cool 500e interior. Interesting back "bumper" treatment. What are the holes for? Reduced wind drag? 


Honda Fit EV

Tesla Model X
Whole line of X's showing off their towing capabilities. Very cool but they are even expensive when compared to a Telsa S!

So there you have it! I have a lot more pix but tried to fill this blog (and its FULL!!) of the more unique and different. There were many many many more cars there than I could put into this blog.  NDEW is growing and so is the reality that EVs are the ONLY way to go!