US Navy establishes policy prohibiting workplace charging

No EV Charging for you! So says Captain Chris Yanke

No EV Charging for you! So says Captain Chris Yanke

One thinks of California as a very progressive state that has wide acceptance of electric vehicles. The Naval Base at Ventura County California has established a policy of prohibiting employees from charging their electric vehicles while at the base.

On the other hand the Department of Energy has launched a program called “EV Everywhere Workplace Charging Challenge”.

It seems the different branches of the government are at odds with each other.

The Navy’s reasoning goes thus.

“appropriated funds cannot be used for personal employee expenses, which fueling a personal vehicle clearly is. Whether that fuel is gas in a tank or electricity in a battery is irrelevant.”

When asked by employees if they could pay for electricity, so as not to use government funds. The navy responds

“Currently, there is no mechanism for reimbursement, nor is there a program authorizing such reimbursement.”

In order to enforce the policy the Navy says

“If you see a personal vehicle plugged into a building’s power grid, please alert the facility manager so the issue can be addressed and the user educated.”

Many large organizations such as the military or large corporations have a great deal of bureaucracy. This bureaucracy stands in the way of workplace charging adoption. As employees of large organizations the employee can be excused for giving up in their quest to educate their employer to the benefits of introducing workplace EV charging. I was recently told when enquiring about workplace charging at an office complex my employer leases space at that the building owners had determined they had looked into the possibility and determined they would never install a charging station at any of their properties. You may ask so what?

DOE EV Charging program

DOE EV Charging program

Workplace charging increases the chance someone will buy an EV 20 times. That’s according to the Department of Energy study into workplace charging.  Outside of the home, workplace charging is the best way to encourage EV adoption. Workplace charging is doubly important for people who have no way to charge at home, such as those living in an apartment complex or downtown highrise.

It is a shame the US Navy and the Department of Energy do not talk to each other.

 

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Padlock removed from DC Fast Charger at Newton Nissan

NewtonDCFC-GallatinCommon sense has prevailed and Newton Nissan have reversed their earlier decision to padlock their DC Fast Charge unit.

I noticed this on Memorial Day weekend and asked the staff inside if the padlock was gone for good. They confirmed that they will no longer padlock the unit.

If you need a charge at Newton Nissan and are a Nissan customer you are welcome 24/7. Owners of other makes of electric vehicle should extend the courtesy of asking first before using the DC Fast Charging unit. The staff at Newton Nissan pointed out that there is a 240v “level 2″ charging station in the front parking lot that anyone in any electric vehicle is welcome to use.

Posted in CHAdeMO, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Level 3 EV Charger, Newton Nissan | 1 Comment

NRG eVgo partner with Plugshare to report real-time charging station status

 

 

There is nothing worse than driving up to a EV charging station to find out it is out of service.

nrgandplugsharepartner To combat this NRG eVgo and Plugshare have partnered to make sure up-to-date status is available to drivers via the Plugshare app. plugsharewrench

If a charging site is out of service due to a maintenance issue or the site is new an not yet activated the usual Plugshare icon is replaced with a Wrench. This is an improvement over having to open up the details of a site to determine its maintenance status giving the driver an at-a-glance status.

Thank you NRG eVgo and Plugshare for making our lives easier!!

 

 

 

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Nashville Airport installs reasonably priced EV Charging including a Rapid Charger

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Two Level 2 charge units and one DC Fast Charge unit at Nashville AIrport Short Term Car Park

The Nashville International Airport (BNA) is installing several EV charging stations in their short term parking lot. They are housed underneath a solar canopy on the top deck. Two 240v Level 2 charging stations and one Eaton CHAdeMO DC Fast Charge unit will be operational soon.

The cost is very reasonable. $2 per charge session starting in June 2015, until then they are free to use once the installation is completed.

One very refreshing feature of these units is the inclusion of a credit card reader for activation. No ‘charging network cards’ are required to activate the units. I wish more charging stations followed the standard credit card model utilized at gas stations. I have no problem with an additional loyalty card(s) to get a discount or other benefits.

 

The first 20 minutes of short term parking is free at the airport. So it is conceivable one could rapid charge for $2 and not incur a parking fee!!

Well done Nashville Airport, you have a done a great job all round with this installation. It promises to be the best EV charging location in the Nashville area.

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Fast Charge Unit at Nashville Airport (BNA)

 

Posted in CHAdeMO, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Level 3 EV Charger | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Cheeky Tesla Driver prompts Newton Nissan to padlock their DC Quick Charge Unit

Padlock on Rapid Charge unit at Newton Nissan

Padlock on Rapid Charge unit at Newton Nissan

Update: 2015-05-23. DC Fast Charger no longer padlocked.

I visited Newton Nissan for a quick charge and was glad the parking space was open on a busy Saturday afternoon. I was greeted however with a padlock on the quick charge unit.

I enquired inside the service department and they unlocked the quick charge unit for me to use. The padlock is a new addition due to the fact a Tesla driver recently charged his vehicle without asking. They asked him to leave which he did, but found him using the quick charge unit again 2 hours later. Cheeky cheeky cheeky!! The EV charging wars have begun!

It’s a shame a driver had to overstep the mark. Now all drivers maybe inconvenienced, especially out of hours.

I checked on Plugshare and the Tesla Driver is someone called Chris. Ironically he thanked Newton for the rapid charge and being open out of hours. There maybe two sides to this story….

I suggested to several of the dealership staff they should not look upon this as a problem, but an opportunity. I suggested if a Tesla driver wants to charge his vehicle, let him do so, so long as he/she agrees to the test drive of a vehicle while they wait for their car to charge. Maybe his wife or kids might like to buy a Nissan LEAF or another Nissan vehicle. If they decline the test drive, decline the rapid charge. Shutting out owners of competitive EV’s may not be the best approach. Tesla owners have money, they may be willing to buy from Nissan as well, running them off will guarantee no sale now or in the future. By padlocking the unit Newton Nissan have won the battle against the cheeky Tesla driver, but they may lose the war on sales if they don’t choose to negotiate rather than stonewall.

If you expect to need to charge your LEAF out of hours, call by the dealership in advance and get the combination from them.

Tesla Charging at Newton Nissan

Tesla Charging at Newton Nissan

Update: 2015-05-14

Within a few days of the padlock being installed, a Nissan LEAF owner called Lindsay has already been inconvenienced by the presence of the padlock out of regular hours (see Plugshare comments in image below). I have exchanged messages with Lindsay in the past on Plugshare and she is a long time LEAF owner and utilizes the public charging stations frequently. It’s too bad that the padlock intended to prevent ‘unauthorized’ access actually inconveniences genuine Nissan customers. I believe they should rethink this policy.

Lindsay leaves comment on Plugshare regarding padlock

Lindsay leaves comment on Plugshare regarding padlock

If you read the blog comments at the end of this article you will also discover that Chris the Tesla driver says he did ask ahead of time if it would be OK to use the DC Fast Charging station. More and more it looks like Newton Nissan have handled this issue poorly and in a heavy handed manner.

Posted in CHAdeMO, Level 3 EV Charger, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Overcoming Common Error on Nissan Quick Charge Units

DC Fast Charge Error Message. Click to enlarge

DC Fast Charge Error Message 0x050 – Click to enlarge

That Sinking Feeling

There is a sinking feeling as you approach a quick charge station with just a few miles of range left only to see a red fault light and error message on the units display panel. Great! Now what? You think.

One of the most common errors experienced on the Nissan Quick Charge units is a communication error between the charging station and the car. This is frequently due to a badly inserted plug in the cars DC Fast charge socket. With colder weather the cable can get very stiff and result in misalignment. Drivers may get frustrated when they see this and drive off. Two of the three units at Nissan HQ had this error condition this morning, both were fixed easily. Here’s how.

Reset the DC Fast Charge Unit

Press and hold the small green stop button

Press and hold the small green stop button for 3-4 seconds – click to enlarge.

Close examination of the error message actually reveals the action necessary to fix the error. Unplug the car, press and hold the small green STOP button for 3-4 seconds which does a soft reset of the charging station. DO NOT press the large red emergency stop button which will render the unit inoperative until reset at the breaker panel.

Unit displays diagnostic information during reset. Click to enlarge.

Unit displays diagnostic information during reset. Click to enlarge.

You can then plug in the car and start the charge process. Just be sure the plug is well aligned and goes all the way in. If the cable is stiff due to cold, you may have to re-position the extra cable slack to help with successful alignment. Press the blue start button and you should see and hear the plug ‘lock’ into position and the charging unit. There is  small red indicator on top of the plug which illuminates when the plug is locked into position.

Charge On

Charging successfully!!

Charging successfully!!

This simple procedure will resolve this common error on Nissan DC Fast charge units. It takes all of 5 seconds to accomplish! If the unit continues to fault and you are sure the cable is well inserted into the cars CHAdeMO socket, then call the number displayed on the unit you are located at. Please don’t just drive off without reporting errors that cannot be resolved, the site administrator depends upon field reports to know when the unit needs attention.

Posted in CHAdeMO, Electric Car, Level 3 EV Charger, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

60,000 Miles and Counting….

60,000 All Electric Miles - Click to Enlarge

60,000 All Electric Miles

I surpassed the 60,000 mile mark in the LEAF this week. I have had the vehicle for 3 1/2 years so I have averaged about 17,000 miles per year.

Electric Car Drivers drive 50% further than Gas car drivers.

I drive more than the average gas car driver which is 13,476 miles per year despite the LEAF’s “Limited Range”. My commute has doubled since I first got the LEAF so my current annual mileage is 20,000 miles/yr which is 50% further than the national average. (Last January I had 40,000 miles on the clock).

A recent web post by CleanTechnica reported that in Europe LEAF drivers drive about 50% further than the average gas car driver. So the pattern of driving 50% further is true across the pond as it is here in the USA.

At first this may seem counter-intuitive that a car with a range of less than 100 miles is driven 50% further each year when compared to a gas car which can get between 300 and 600 miles range per fillup *and* as gas car drivers like to remind EV drivers constantly, can be refueled in 5 minutes versus hours to refuel an EV. The reason comes down to economics. The people who drive longer than average commutes, stand to save much more money by driving electric.

Electric Cars are considerably cheaper to drive

I estimated before buying the LEAF I would save $10,000 in fuel alone in the first 100,000 miles of driving the LEAF. The reality is that I have saved $7,500 already, which means I’m on track to save over $13,000 over the first 100,000 miles. Not only do EV drivers save hard cash, budgeting for electricity is much more predictable than gas. Back in July 2011 I was paying 9.8c per kWh for my electricity. Today I am paying 9.8c per kWh. The price of electricity has varied by no more than 1c per kWh over the last 3 1/2 years. Gas prices are much more volatile Right now gas is cheap compared to 2011, but it was considerably more expensive just 6 months ago.

Hybrid cars sales are down 15% this year, largely because of lower gas prices, however EV sales have remained strong and have grown over 40% in the last year. Clearly EV sales do not depend upon gas prices, mainly because they do don’t use gas, the price of gas is much less important.

Electric Cars visit the dealer much less often

In addition to costing less to maintain, electric cars are simply more convenient. The LEAF maintenance schedule is to get the LEAF serviced each 7,500 miles, twice the average interval compared to a gas car. Half of the visits are simply inspections and tire rotations only. A LEAF driver could get tires rotated anywhere, no need to make an appointment with a dealer for those.  The more costly maintenance visits ($140) come once every 15,000 miles.

EV’s are very reliable, so unscheduled visits to the dealer are less frequent as well.

Since EV drivers don’t have to make special stops to refuel (recharging occurs at home 80% of the time) the EV is clearly much more convenient to drive than gasoline requiring less time out of your life devoted to keeping your car on the road.

Would I go back to a gasoline car?

No!

 

 

Posted in Electric Car, Nissan LEAF, Opinion, Review | Tagged | 1 Comment