Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tesla car fires....enough is enough media

Time for the soapbox/rant stool. There has been a lot of media attention about the three Tesla Model S fires. Most of the articles I've read are trying to make the car appear unsafe and by extension all electric cars are unsafe. The most recent article by CNN actually has great support for EV's in the article even though the style it was written in tends towards the anti EV side of the fence.

The great thing about the article is the numbers:

3 Tesla fires in 19,000 vehicles or about 1/6300.

Annually in the US there are 172,500 vehicle fires (Car B Que's) or about 1/1450 cars.

The Tesla fires resulted in no fire in the actual cabin of the vehicle and no injuries. That is compared to 300 deaths and 800 injuries to ICE carbequeues.

All the car fires I have personally witnessed in my lifetime have been parked cars or cars that were not involved in a collision and were off the side of the road. I have seen over 5 car fires in my life and none of them were electric cars.

Let's be honest, there are cars on the road that have no business running. They are rusted, poorly maintained and are really accidents waiting to happen. That fact does impact the numbers for ICE fires.

From the movie I Robot - Susan Calvin: [about Spooner's motorcycle] Please tell me this doesn't run on gas! Gas explodes, you know?

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Friday, June 28, 2013

Common questions

If you're a frequent visitor or co-worker of mine you know that I'm....well, shall we say, enthusiastic about electric cars. Since I tend to get in conversations about EV's and mine in particular I've also noticed a tendency to answer some of the same questions quite frequently. There are plenty of FAQ's and websites dedicated to EV's so I'm not going to rebuild the steering wheel but I am going to put out some of the common questions and answers as well as some of the more humorous (i hope) anecdotes.

Q1. How far can you drive?
A1. The  estimated range is 50-60 miles all weather after 4 years of ownership. It will do more right off the log. YMMV (your mileage may vary). After 1 year of ownership I can still get 60-80 miles on a single 80% charge even with a year's battery degradation.

Q2. How much does the electricity cost?
A2.  About $2/day or 2.2 cents/mile. This means for a Prius to have the same fuel cost per mile that my Leaf has, gasoline would need to be about $1.10/gallon. For an older car like the Escort Zx2 I traded in, gasoline would need to be $.55/gallon for the same cost per mile and neither of those include oil changes.

Q3. So how much gasoline does it use?
A3.  None this is all electric

Q4. So you don't use any gas at all?
A4. Correct

Q5. Really?
A5. Really.

Q6. So where do you put in the gas?
A6. I don't. It's all electric but the charge point is here (in the front).

Q7. What sort of maintenance is there?
A7. Well here's a whole list of maintenance at 1 year - have a battery report completed (required to maintain warranty) and rotate the tires. Repeat every 12 months. Rotate tires every 7500 miles or as recommended by tire manufacturer. Yearly check for structural damage especially if you drive on rough roads or in Missouri <<chuckle>>.

Q8. You mean it's all electric?
A8. Yes, it's all electric. The only fluid is the windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, a/c coolant, and the coolant for the on-board charger.

Q9. How long does it take to charge?
A9. I charge about 2 hours a night, maybe an hour longer if I've done a lot of driving but dead to full is about 4.5 hours.
A9.1 It takes about 1 minute a day to plug in and unplug the car.

Q10. Where can you refill/recharge?
A10. Anywhere there's a plug. However I usually charge at home with a 240 volt Schneider EVSE that is attached to the garage but there are over 70 different public stations in the KC Metro with more being added every month.

Q11. Is it running?
A11. Yes, can't you hear it? <<giggle>>.

Q12. So what do you do when you run out of charge?
A12. The same thing you do when you run out of gas. I call a tow truck. When was the last time you ran out of gas? (Out of gas, 1992 and 1999)

Q13. So you can't take it on long trips can you?
A13. Well, I did take it to Manhattan, KS and back in a day (took 18 hours). But how often to YOU take long trips? In the past year I've HAD to use my wife's Prius because I couldn't make the distance 3x and all were Scout campout related. If we were going to take a long driving vacation (2009 camping trip to Yellowstone) we would be renting a minivan or SUV anyway.

The question I wish people would ask but only one person has asked is "So where can I get one?"

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Advertised, expected, real world and your mileage may vary

Sorry for being silent so long. No excuses but I have been busy. Lately it's been busy driving. Early on Nissan was advertising the Leaf had a range of 100 miles in a single charge. When you looked at the sticker it said EPA rated 73 miles. When I test drove the Leaf the dealer demo was charged to 100% and the Guess-O-Meter showed 100+ miles of available range. I toodled around the neighborhood and a little on a nearby busy street and fell in love with it immediately.

On a second test drive I was shocked when the GOM quite rapidly dropped from 100 miles to 70 in a short 2-3 mile test on the interstate. I was so surprised I took it for a third test drive from the dealer to the office and back all on the interstate to be sure that I felt good about the range. I was still wet behind the ears with EV's and hadn't spent the same time on the forums that I have in the intervening 12 months.

First of all, yes 100 miles is possible. I spent the last 3 days on my fourth attempt to break the 100 mile mark. My previous three tries all ended around 90 miles with range to spare but needing more the next day than the available residual. With 13k miles showing on the dash there is surely some battery degradation and I wasn't charged fully to 100% but I was pretty close. I didn't touch the highway but there were some significant hills involved during the run. There were also some abandoned roads that were perfectly suited for 20 mph driving/neutral coasting. I also ended the trip with 6 miles to the kWh for the energy efficiency.

Number, number, blah, blah, blah...bottom line you won't get 100 miles running 70 mph on the interstate. The last 88 mile trip I registered did include a trip out to Independence and 30 minutes plugged into their charger. But overall I spent less than 20 miles of that trip on the interstate.

So really what does all this mean? EV's can and do work. I'm taking mine to Lake Perry in July which is a 60 mile one way trip. Real world use of a Leaf you can easily get 40 miles of comfortable charge preheating in the winter. You can easily get 60 miles of comfortable charge in the spring/summer/fall with or without A/C and these ranges are what you can expect after two, three, or possibly even four years of ownership. I'm not done trying to get more 100 mile single charge trips to see how many I can get. But at the same time it is nice to just get out and drive.

When you look at the maps of Kansas City and the charging infrastructure you are always near a plug if you need one. Fortunately we are getting better about not parking our gas cars at the EV charging stations so those of us who need to charge can. Best of all people are buying EV's. Recently the most popular model of EV I have seen has been the for C-Max Energi PHEV. Each month I see more and more EV's and that makes me smile.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Been busy

Sorry for the silence on the blog. Things have been crazy busy lately. I'll post a couple links right now that were neat and get a real update out the door this weekend. Thanks to everyone who listens/reads.



Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Monday, April 1, 2013

Oil's well that doesn't end so well...

It was no April Fool's joke when the Exxon pipline began to leak Canadian crude oil in the yards of Arkansas residents.



I understand not everyone can go electric for their cars. They aren't inexpensive and they are limited but they are better than this mess.

I posted it before and I'll post it again here because it's pertinent but the worst solar energy spill is simply a really nice day.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Monday, March 25, 2013

It's been a while since posting, 10k miles gas free

Well it has been quite a while since I posted anything to the blogosphere. I would imagine that perhaps the opinion was that I'd quit. No, I've just been real busy reading everyone else's blogs.

Not too long ago I passed the first ten thousand miles in my wonderful Leaf. I would say still shiny new but with all the snow and a salt residue right now it's not so shiny. So 10k miles @ my old 25 mpg would be approximately 400 gallons of gas that I have not purchased. At roughly $3.50/gallon that means the cost of fuel savings alone is approximately $1400.

Now it's not really that much of a savings because my driving has increased because we're using the Leaf for family excursions around town instead of my wife's Corolla that we had been using before we got the new cars. The Corolla was getting about 35mpg and I don't have a good feel for the number of miles the family put on it. So for the sake of my math impoverished brain we'll stick with $1400 in gas savings. Or 2 car payments. Or a new laptop. Or new bicycles for everyone in the family.

And really, that's not all pure savings still. There was the cost of electricity to power my wonderful vehicle through the sweltering summer, the bitter cold of winter and the slush riddled streets of spring. The cost of electricity is much more reliable thanks to the cost estimator that is part of the CarWings application. Assuming the "OK" button was activated every, single, stinking time I started the vehicle (end of rant about the button), and using the summer electric rate year round the cost of electricity was $229.60. The reality is that the electric cost was less than that. The miles included the trip to Manhattan, KS which was free refills at public charging stations. It also doesn't discount the summer rate only applies June-Sept. The rest of the year is 1 cent/kWh less. I figure it's not worth splitting hairs over that much difference.

I must admit I also hit Very Low Battery warning again a couple weeks ago. However, given that there are more than twice as many public charging stations now compared to when I got the car, I wasn't really worried <bold and italics for effect>. The cold has affected the range significantly and that wasn't really expected but now I know what this summer and next winter will bring. This all equates to approximately 6000 pounds of CO2 tailpipe emissions that weren't emitted.

It's not much but it's a start. When I chatted with a local Leaf owner I found that I put more than twice as many miles on my Leaf than she had on hers.

Now all I need to do is figure out how to get some solar panels rocking and fill it up for "free".

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Friday, February 8, 2013

The hazards of alternative energy

Today's post is a simple summary of one of the greatest hazards in the use of alternative energy sources.

Just something to think about.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Friday, February 1, 2013

Taxes, roads and the so called 'free ride'

The ether has been buzzing the last few weeks with proposed and implemented legislation regarding appropriately taxing alternative fuel vehicles.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I enjoy smooth roads. I appreciate the efforts of the road crews to clear the snow off the road at 0300 in the morning so I can get to the office at 0700. Yes, all this takes money and I am perfectly willing to pay for these services.

Having made that statement, let's delve a little deeper into the murky underworld that is government, reality, and a stab at human nature.

People seem to get upset when other people get a 'free ride' or 'something for nothing' even when they have the exact same opportunity to take advantage of the same solution. The fact that I am able to plug my electric car into a charging station at the county library and spend 60 minutes adding a charge to my car for free would make some to claim that I don't deserve to charge for free.

The democratically elected county government decided that it was worth spending government dollars on EV charging stations and for that I am grateful. I'm a tax paying citizen of the county. My taxes helped pay for the device and the price of the energy. My taxes also help pay for the health and human services division. I don't receive direct benefit from that but I still support it and think helping others is a good thing.

People might seem to think that I'm still getting a free ride. Well, I pay quite a bit more in personal property tax which goes to the county and the state simply because the sale price of my car was quite a bit higher than the cars I typically buy. In fact, the last new car I bought was $13,000. My Leaf sales tax and registration is based on the $38,000 price tag when I got the Leaf in June. Math $13,000 old car X 3 = $39,000. I would say the sticker price is a significant bump on the taxes. You know what, every person who would complain about my 'free fuel' has the same opportunity to trade in the smog producing mobile explosion that is the internal combustion engine and use an emission free electric vehicle.

In Missouri there is already a registration fee associated with all alternative fuel vehicles that don't use any gasoline. It says gasoline specifically in the fee. Plug in hybrids like the Ford C-Max Energi and Chevrolet Volt would be exempt from this fee even though it is possible and even likely that city driving with either of those vehicles would result in the driver using no gasoline and thereby pay no fuel taxes or help pay for road maintenance at all.

Some of the discussion to equalize the taxes centers around a tax per mile solution. This would require government monitoring and a very invasive one at that. Talk about a Big Brother solution. Additionally, even if you only use  public transit and don't directly pay a fuel tax, you still want the roads in good repair and the streets cleared. According to Missouri, the gas tax for an alternative fuel vehicle is approximately $70/year.

Here's the simple solution. Set a registration fee of $70/year (or appropriate amount based on need) for ALL class C vehicles. Wow, simple, elegant and it would also cut down on a portion of government spending that must collect and monitor the taxes paid by the filling stations so the actual dollar paid will go further because there would be a reduction in government spending on the current solution. This would also mean that the government would still maintain a steady flow of income as vehicles register over the course of the year.

Don't limit the adoption of fuel efficient, alternative fuel, battery vehicles by strange and unusual fees. Encourage adoption with incentives and equality.

Environmental plug - we hold this Earth in trust for our children and our children's children. Let's try to leave it in a better place than we found it.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2012 in review - quotes of the year

After a few weeks being involved on the mynissanleaf.com forum I found several enjoyable comments and decided that a quote of the year needed to be established. Additionally, some of my co-workers have made comments both positive and negative that were worthy of publication. So in no particular order, the 2012 Quotes of the Year.....

From the forum: Riding in a LEAF just makes everything else in the same price range seem primitive.

From the forum: First day, "Did anyone tell you your car looks like a suppository?" , the response was "There's a lot of science in that shape so it slips through painlessly."

From the office: (context - EV car puns) "...hard to exhaust that."

From a new EV friend: (context, waiting for his new Leaf) "I haven't been this excited since they came out with Kung Fu grip for the GI Joe!"

From the office: I like buying gas  <shakes head in disbelief>

From the forum: The guy at the parts counter was about as useless as a cat flap on an elephant house.

From the office: (not EV but funny enough to post) It's ok, I already know I'm going to hell. I have my handbasket decorated.

From a local newspaper from an EV owner: (context, driving EV to California)  That's not what it's for just like you can't mow your lawn with a Ford 150 truck.

And finally from the forum:  I think it's a sign of how low-maintenance the LEAF is, that the Wiper Blade thread spends weeks at the top of the new posts

May 2013 bring hope, prosperity, and humor to all and an EV in every house.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience