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