Sunday, August 3, 2014

CHADEMO fast charging - Thanks Mom's Organic Market

Hi to the electric drivers and electric curious out there,

For July the 4th weekend I wanted to bring the Leaf up to PA. The thing that made this possible was Mom's Organic Supermarket. What a great place - most Mom's spend money and time to put in level two chargers - and I thank them. Mom's in Frederick MD goes even bigger - a two spot CHADEMO charger.

CHADEMO is the highest level charging at 440 volts and takes quite an investment for a business to put in. These were a Mitsubishi brand.

Currently running at one bar of twelve in charge, I got an 80 fill up in about 40 minutes - somewhat slower than the 30 minutes I had heard. Another 20 and I was 100% with the temp jumping one bar for the battery to 5, not bad at all. I picked up a couple of items at Mom's to say thank you, walked across to IHOP for a snack and coffee and was on my way.

Worked great going back too.

It always amazes me when business gives back rather than fracking and monopolizing. I want to believe in business because my country grew strong on it. So when you find ethical business - support it! BTW I own no Mom's stock etc - just shop there and pick up a few electrons while I'm there.

Here's a Mom's picture from Waldorf. (which has lovely level 2 chargers.) Will try to get a picture of the Frederick chargers another time.


Here's Mark Czajka promoting electric cars at Moms on Plug In Day:


And a little closer of the regular level two chargers at Moms with a plugin Prius.


Charge on!


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Awesome Leaf News - Battery Replacement about $6000

Well for my Leaf owning friends some great news.

A new battery and adaptor kit for 2011/2012 Leafs will set you back $5250 plus the old battery - which takes about 3 hours labor at a Nissan dealer to put in. Now I've been lucky to have minimal degradation - no bars gone at 37.5 K miles. Still I'm noticing some difference and I won't be surprised if I lose a bar of my 12 bar battery capacity indicator this summer.

Nissan has also states that this is the 'lizard' battery. That rocks - a reformulation that is less worrisome in the heat. Maryland is not the deep South but we do get some 100+ degree days. So the second life of the replacement battery won't be cut short by a bad heat wave.

Also Nissan will recycle the batteries. We have all speculated on the fact that they are very useful in a second life as an off the grid component and Nissan does not rule that out as the first part of the recycle process. Just another nail in the coffin of naysayers who claim the batteries are toxic and not able to be recycled. Generally the pattern seems to be parroting big oil talking points that are patently false for lithium batteries. Lithium batteries are much more environmentally friendly then lead acid or nickel cadmium models of yesteryear.

Awesome that my bells and whistles Leaf has the option to greatly extend its lifespan and continue to drive past gas stations for years to come.

Recently Bob Bruninga an EE teacher at the Naval Academy ( and EV'r) was having to school a few folks who clearly were reading off the 'big oil' mudsheet of misinformation. While I've hit this topic before for today I'll just link to Bob's great website for the facts:

http://aprs.org/EV-misinformation.html

Happy Electric Motoring my friends!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Another kind of Electric Vehicle

So electric cars are the main thrust of my posts, but there is another sort of vehicle we have not paid much attention to.

Electric Motorcycles. ( And other trikes and bikes... )

Look at the recent announcement by Harley Davidson of the Live Wire, a 53 mile range all electric motorcycle. It may be time to look at a wide range of transport not on 4 wheels.  My motorcycle days are behind me - granted it was great fun. However a bike with electric assist would be great for exercising but still getting home when older legs start to get rubbery. Bicycles with both primary and assist capability exist. I'm not sure if this capital bikeshare pictured has electric but they are out there.



Kevin at last year's electric social run tried out a neat enclosed recumbent bicycle three wheeler:


While I believe he is still a Think car enthusiast, he did enjoy the assisted bike feel of the ELF. It even has room for a bag of groceries behind you. Neat but still somewhat limited to low speed roadways.

However the motorcycles are the real go anywhere highway legal machines. Combine a motorcycle with instant electric torque and you have a legal non polluting rocket.


For those motorcyclists a number of great street models exist including Brammo and Zero. The 2014 Zero in its high end is quite nice, although I think that stating your range as 173 miles for the fully tricked out $19K SR may backfire a bit. Folks are not going to ride these at 35 mph. Still having over a hundred miles range at decent highway speeds is a big accomplishment - impressive.


The latest models can be outfitted with optional CHAdeMO fast charging, J1772 charging, and come with regular wall socket charging. These bikers enjoyed the social. Still some may miss the engine roar and throb.

So - yet another category of electric transport to consider. With assisted bicycles at $2-4k, intermediate three wheelers like the Elf under $10K, and motorcycles at $13-20K there are some interesting alternatives out there. The addition of Harley Davidson is interesting for the look of the bike alone. Still they may need to up their performance game to take on Brammo and Zero. Nice to see another 'big player' get interested.



Monday, June 16, 2014

Thirty Months and Thirty Seven Thousand Electric Leaf Miles

Well since we've out for awhile, let discuss the Nissan Leaf at 37k miles.

Big items first.  The vehicle is routinely showing a little less battery range. I'd guess between 5 and 10 miles. I was routinely able to get 82-83 new if you count that I rarely use the final part of that. I almost never hit VLBW (Very Low Battery Warning) although I often hit LBW when I hit a single digit of range left. Maryland is pretty moderate so no big drops due to heat like Phoenix owners. Now maybe 76-78 in mild temps. I would not be surprised to see the first range bar loss soon.

Still I expected range loss with time and it appears the vehicle will be sufficient for my use into retirement.

Next tire wear. I'm not a racing driver but I do love the fast start the Leaf has. That and the weight of the vehicle is now showing in worn tires. One tire is also having trouble maintaining more then about 28 lbs of air pressure vs the 40 I normally keep them at - over a week or so its back down to 28.  So they are going to be replaced this summer - stay tuned. Remember the stock ecotopias are considered a pretty low grade tire, so I may have better luck if I move up to Michellins.

Finally in the very cold temps the drivers side window has trouble moving. It's fine now but I should have been more proactive and taken it in to the dealer under warranty. Trouble is it was only happening in single digit weather so bringing it in was not convenient. This appears to be a common Nissan problem not limited to electrics.

A little fabric wear inside but still looking good and very little brake wear due to regen braking. Still handling great

Man, even today, not paying for gas never gets old. The Leaf has saved me paying an easy four thousand ($4,000) in gas. That and the low level of maintenance on brakes and oil is very helpful as I bought the Leaf early before the big price cuts. Kevin is driving the Th!nk happy as a working student that he doesn't have a big gas bill.

The goofy electric grin survives even this last harsh winter!




Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day and the Think Wiper

Well I have to apologize for a long hiatus.

For me it's been a winter of electric discontent. While the DC Auto show with EVADC gang and MDVolt people was great - winter in general was not nice. For the first time the intersection of the College Park commute 53-54 miles, Leaf battery mileage (33-36K), and single digit temperatures took me down to a round trip with almost no reserve always in single digits and LBW (Low Battery Warning). For me not comfortable. Now I commute at low beltway speeds (65 vs normal 75 in low temp) and preheat. The 26-27 miles one way are cold by the time I get to the garage although I have seat heat. The return is not preheated so worse.

It just was not exciting to write about. When normally range is about 75 miles, which certainly could be better, dropping to the fifties does not bring out my inner writer.

Still spring is cheering me. At 37+K my 12 bars on the Leaf are hanging on and range has returned. Kevin is a fully licensed driver doing well on his test and enjoying driving the Th!nk City on his own.

The Think also gave us a little father's day treat.  Kevin had asked for some help as his windshield wiper would slip and misalign - sort of crashing over to one side and not cleaning rain off. Asking on the list some folks noted it was a attachment or tightening problem and while no one had specifics it sounded simple. Eurostar has been fine with warranty work but it is a bit of production getting there as the Th!nk needs to fully recharge after the one way trip for hours.

I'm just enough to be dangerous with a socket set - no mechanic for sure but I thought we'd take a look. After various keystone cops moments finding sockets, taking off the two bolts holding the hood, and misplacing one for a bit we could see better the underlying mechanism of the wiper attachment.


Here's Kevin with the hood off:


So watching the wiper work when lifted off the windshield, the linkage appeared attached. It was just slipping when the work of moving across the windshield was added. Stopping the wiper I ran my hand under the linkage which felt more like a heavy rivet going up to the cylinder turning the wipers. No nut or screw head I could feel to tighten underneath.

Then it turned out to be way simple.

The top of the wiper where the pivot point attaches looks like smooth black metal. However it levers up with just finger pressure to reveal tensioning nuts (13mm).


How cool - the hood didn't have to open much less come off although it helped to see below. A quarter turn snugged the top axis bolt - the bottom armature bolt was already snug. I could have tensioned more but Kevin knows where it is if it loosens up and I didn't want to over tension. Flip the covers down on the wiper blade arm and done.

Here BTW is an under hood shot while we had it off.


So there you have it!  If your Think wiper slips a simple possible fix. Kevin is happy and Dad Dave has a Father's Day faux mechanic win - even if it was real simple. Got to love that. Hmm this might help my electric writing mojo - we'll have to see.  I'll leave you with another picture of the Think:



Saturday, August 3, 2013

A bursting bubble? - Hydrogen

Hydrogen - the mirage,

I'm beginning to see the conservative news machine and astroturf bloggers winding up for a go at electric cars. This makes sense as Big Oil needs to squeeze maximum dollars out of vast holdings that require fracking and pollution intensive methods for recovery.  Regardless of US security interests, world climate, etc. One of the darlings of this group is the hydrogen car. It is held out as 'the answer'. Why not - when it combines hydrogen and oxygen in a fuel cell - what do you get - good old safe non polluting water and electricity to power a vehicle.

That model also excites gas companies - liquid hydrogen can't be produced on your roof with solar cells or wind in the backyard. Electric utilities don't find it competing with their baseline load production like home solar and wind. Stations will just offer regular, unleaded, and liquid hydrogen. Centralized with the big companies selling the consumer 'what they need'. Taxed by the cold pint of course so legislators and oilmen turned politcos are just drooling at this well understood road revenue source.

My good workout friend Larry pointed out a desert solar plant for making liquid hydrogen. I'll grant you this is a positive - hydrogen cracking because the electrical cost to produce chilled compressed hydrogen from water doesn't make sense from an electric cost, but a giant desert solar source going to waste due to transmission costs. That works. You can truck it out on a hydrogen big rig - ok thats fair if you solve all issues with hydrogen storage. The energy density is nowhere near gas or lithium air. Still might work, uses seawater and desert, and very low enviro impact with no CO2 - which is great.

http://thewatchers.adorraeli.com/2013/08/02/free-energy-water-splitting-technology-sunlight-mirrors-and-seawater/

The overall efficiency of producing, compressing, and using the hydrogen in a fuel cell is 46.9%.  This is not much greater than the 40% efficiency of the Prius hybrid and well below the efficiency of a diesel hybrid.  Researchers at Massachusetts Institute Of Technology (MIT) have reported that diesel with hybrid is more green than hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. So this hydrogen production is best done at some kind of desert area where solar is wasted. Of course there are the various maintenance costs for the plant but still this is promising.

The physics for hydrogen make for a tough case for anything not zeppelin or big rig size. Huge tank and safety armor required. That's not optimum real world implementation - that's basic physics of hydrogen. To quote Elon Musk whose SpaceX runs resupply vehicles to dock with the International Space Station:

“You could take best case of a fuel cell, theoretically the best case, and it does not compete with lithium-ion cells today. And lithium-ion cells are far from their optimum.”


A pessimistic link:

http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/hydrogen-is-not-the-fuel-of-the-future/toyota-to-sell-50000-hydrogen-car-in-u-s-by-2015/

Check out this video from Fully Charged about fuel cells - interesting and partly positive:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c3PkgUcI4Z8

Some other sources on the problems with hydrogen:
http://www.triplepundit.com/2010/02/hydrogen-is-not-the-fuel-of-the-future/
http://www.dvice.com/archives/2008/07/shift_hydrogen.php
http://www.dalefield.com/slspartners/hydrogen_fm.html

On balance I'd say economical hydrogen without an increase in CO2 is going to take renewable non CO2 energy as in Larry's link to the seacoast desert solar plant, combined with hydrogen powered transport rigs. For use in large vehicles due to the tank size and corrosive maintenance involved with hydrogen. I don't see it in normal vehicles any time soon. Perhaps a Hummer? - which could please conservatives and monster truck enthusiasts alike.

Robert Llwellen in the Honda FCX *Video*
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYYR_wG-x_E

Don't get me wrong - I applaud Toyota saying they will have 50 to 100K dollar consumer hydrogen vehicles by 2015. I am a skeptic though and I'm curious if their rollout beats Tesla's consumer model 40K dollar family car.  Combined with minimal cargo space, fuel costs greater then gas, and immense maintenance issues will Toyota's new offering stand up to Tesla's battery powered one?

Even more reading:
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2009/02/17/203695/hydrogen-fuel-cell-wont-work-impractical-la-times-dan-neil/
http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2008/09/12/203088/the-car-of-the-perpetual-future-the-economist-agrees-with-climate-progress-on-hydrogen/
http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2008/06/19/202799/hydrogen-fuel-cell-honda-fcx-clarity-problems/

http://insideevs.com/has-tesla-killed-the-fuel-cell-vehicle/

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wild July

Well the dam is breaking. At various electric clubs I'm seeing in the flesh:

C-Energy Plug in Hybrids,
A Ford Focus EV,
Honda Fit EV,
The Prius plugin - although vastly outnumbered by regular hybrid Priusi.

Several of each of the usual suspects:
Leafs,
Teslas - Coupe and Model S,
Volts, and
Thinks...

I've driven a Smart EV coming in October for sale and these models are in the pipeline:

BMW I3 next year - about 42K and an option for range extension,
Chevy Spark,
and a Kia model that I guess will have sparking hamsters commercials.

Given the numbers compared with hybrid adoption we are WAY ahead even if the Presidents one million in 2015 still looks optimistic. Still Nissan/Renault alone is already at 100K EV's sold in 2013. Not too shabby. As usual the naysayers and oil shills are out in force. Still it appears the lower prices, electric efficiency, and fair carbon comparisons are finally carrying the day for a segment of the market.