Yet to be announced – 2016 LEAF spotted in the wild.

Forged Bronze (Brown) LEAF

Forged Bronze (Brown) LEAF Click to enlarge

There have been plenty of rumors about the 2016 LEAF and its capabilities, such as a 25% bigger battery. Nissan however have made no announcements about the 2016 LEAF, no release date, no pricing.

I spotted a LEAF today that I did a double take on. The paint looked brown rather than black in the morning sunlight. Then I realized it really was brown not black. There is no brown available for 2015 LEAF’s at Nissans website. This is new I thought. Leaked information at Autobytel regarding the 2016 LEAF colors includes a new brown finish called “Forged Bronze”.

The LEAF I saw was parked at Nissan HQ in Franklin TN and had Manufacturer tags on it. The Tires are not new looking so the car has been on the road for a while. There is little to distinguish this 2016 car from any other LEAF. The Michelin tires and Navigation console means it is probably an SL or SV trim. The interior was dark cloth, not leather.

So this is evidence the rumors are true regarding a  new LEAF model. We will have to wait until the official Nissan announcement(s) as to what we will get and at what price.

Posted in Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blink Introduce “Post Charging Occupancy Fees” in some markets – Effective July 20th 2015.

Occupancy Fee Email

Occupancy Fee Email Click to Enlarge

In an email sent out on 7/13/2015  Blink announced they will introduce, starting on July 20th 2015, “Occupancy Fees” of 8c per minute to discourage EV drivers from leaving cars parked long after a car has completed its charge. The fee would start 15 minutes after a charge is complete.

I read closely to see if the new fee was specific to certain markets. Blink do vary their fee structure by market. There was no indication which market this fee applies to. In Tennessee Blink charge members 2c for every 30 seconds (4c per minute) both during and after charging is complete. I grew concerned that the 8c/min maybe in addition to the current 4c/min. It wasn’t clear from the email.

I reached out to Blink to enquire to see if the occupancy fee would apply to Tennessee Blink units. I got a very quick response from Blink. They assured me that no occupancy fee will be assessed for Tennessee charging stations since we already pay by the minute.

Here’s their response:-

Speedy Support Response

Speedy Support Response

Their email could have been more specific by mentioning which markets this applied to or targeted only to those who it would apply to. At least their customer support was very quick.

Posted in Blink, Carcharging, Electric Car | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Third capacity bar lost – Replacement battery anticipated within the next year.

Third bar lost this weekend.

Third bar lost this weekend.

This weekend saw the third capacity bar on my LEAF dashboard turn off. This is confirmation that the battery degradation is now quite advanced and I can expect to replace the battery within the next 12 months.

My LEAF is at 71,000 miles right now and I now anticipate the battery will need replacing by the time it reaches 90,000 miles. This is disappointing given that Nissan’s Mark Perry provided guidance suggesting 10-20% degradation by year 10. I do drive above average miles per year and anticipated 7 years at 120,000 miles to be the time for a replacement based on the original Nissan guidance, not 5 years at 90,000 miles. I suppose this is the price one pays being the first to adopt a brand new car model with new technology on-board. Hopefully Nissan have a solution waiting in the wings for the early adopters….

New Better Battery Available

The original LEAF battery has not been quite as durable as predicted. In some climates in Northern Europe LEAF’s have over 100,000 miles with minimal degradation and are beating the Nissan guidance despite being rapid charged very frequently. The determining factor appears to be climate, hotter climates are seeing shorter LEAF battery lives.

Nissan introduced a new battery that tolerates heat better in the summer of 2014 for the new 2015 model of the LEAF. Earlier models such as mine can use the new heat tolerant battery. The cost of a new exchange battery is $5,500 plus labor and tax. So the final cost will be north of $6,000.

Bigger Battery Maybe Coming Soon.

Interestingly there are a lot of rumors surrounding the 2016 model LEAF which maybe released later this year. The rumors suggest a new 30 kWh battery vs the current 24 kWh thereby offering a 25% increase in range.

Speculation has also extended to the possibility that the 30 kWh pack could be made available for the earlier model LEAF’s as an upgrade. Certainly it is easier to justify spending more than $6,000 on an upgrade vs a straight replacement.

Whether there is substance to these rumors should be known as we go into the fall. The alternative would be to trade to a newer vehicle; Tennessee have re-introduced a $2,500 point of sale discount making a trade more attractive.

Longer Range LEAF “2.0” promised ‘soon’ by Nissan

This year Carlos Ghosn of Nissan hinted at a recent shareholders meeting that  a redesigned LEAF (aka LEAF 2.0) will offer a significant increase in range. More than double the current 84 mile range has been hinted at. Exact timing and specifications are not available just yet. Some industry analysts predict 2017 as the introduction of the new 2018 LEAF. Ghosn’s comments are no doubt in response to GM’s announcement they will introduce a 200 Mile Chevy Bolt. The Bolt maybe available as early as October 2016.

Choices Choices – New Battery or New Car?

I will be faced with an interesting choice over the coming months, buy a new battery or buy a new(er) car. Depreciation has been above average for the LEAF making a trade financially costly. My current thinking is if the 30 kWh battery is made available for my LEAF at a similar cost to the current replacement pack, that is my best option until the new LEAF 2.0 comes to market. If a retrofit 30 kWH pack isn’t made available, leasing a newer LEAF for 3 years maybe my best option.

Posted in Electric Car, Nissan LEAF, Opinion | Tagged | 10 Comments

Mapco NRG eVgo Rapid Chargers activate instantly, but parking spaces often blocked during busy periods

Less than 20 minutes to get to 80% charge level.

Less than 20 minutes to get to 80% charge level.

NRG eVgo Rapid Chargers in the Nashville Tennessee area are very reliable and activate instantly using an RFID card and thankfully don’t rely on finicky touch screens. Other charging networks such as Blink also use RFID cards, but the activation process can take up to a minute, more if the touch screen is not working. The eVgo Rapid Charge units are can be activated for up to 30 minutes at a time which allows a Nissan LEAF to reach a full charge rather than stop at 80% as some units are programmed to stop at.

Fresh salad while you wait

Fresh salad while you wait

I’ve been trying out the eVgo stations at area MAPCO gas stations. There is plenty to do while you wait for your car to charge. In addition to the convenience store, MAPCO’s have a deli equipped to make fresh salads and sandwiches to order and a beer cave stocked with good variety of craft beers. I have taken to eating a yogurt/granola breakfast at the MAPCO in Brentwood, on the way to my workplace in Cool Springs.

More often than not, its an SUV blocking access to EV charging spaces.

More often than not, its an SUV blocking access to EV charging spaces.

While activating is instantaneous, getting access to the right parking space can be challenging. Judging by comments on Plugshare other LEAF drivers face the same challenges.

Other drivers comment about having trouble getting an open parking space ar MAPCO stations.

Other drivers comment about having trouble getting an open parking space ar MAPCO stations.

Thankfully the space often opens up within 5-10 minutes, though this can double the time you need to charge your vehicle. Better signage would help deal with access to the parking space, its not obvious that the space can be used to charge an electric car, the gas car drivers can be excused for not realising. Once you pull in you typically won’t back out even if you do realize you did something wrong.

Positioning charging units between two parking spaces would increase access to the charging station. In the photo below if the unit was between two parking spaces the Blue Pickup truck would not be an issue since the space to the right is free.

Truck blocking the space needed for EV Charging

Truck blocking the space needed for EV Charging

Posted in Blink, CHAdeMO, Electric Car, eVgo, Level 3 EV Charger, Mapco, Nissan LEAF | Tagged | 6 Comments

Forgot to Plug-In tonight – No big deal

I forgot to plug my car in when I got home this evening. No big deal, the car emails me when I forget. Went out and plugged it in at 8pm, in plenty of time for tomorrow’s commute.

How much does this reminder service cost? Nothing. Thank You Nissan!

Forgetting to plug-in isn't possible with a Nissan LEAF

Forgetting to plug-in isn’t possible with a Nissan LEAF

Even if the unthinkable happened and did forget and also ignored my emails I have two rapid charge stations within 10 miles of my home on my route to work.

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

Replacing a Faulty Blink EVSE with a Clipper Creek HCS-40P

Old Trusty started displaying self-test faults. Time for a new unit before it starts a fire.

Old Trusty started displaying self-test faults. Time for a new unit before it starts a fire.

My trusty Blink EVSE which I have had for 4 years as part of the government sponsored EV Project started acting up, displaying several self-check faults. It still worked after power cycling, but I was uncomfortable with the frequent self-test faults, I didn’t want to burn the house down.

The Blink was installed using a 6-50R NEMA outlet. I purchased a Clipper Creek HCS-40P EVSE that came pre-wired with a plug that would fit the outlet to eliminate the need to hard wire the unit thereby preserving the codes compliant installation also saving the need to re-apply for building permission.

It seemed like a very straightforward thing to unplug the old unit and plug in the new unit which only required two screws to attach it to the wall. For some reason quick weekend projects tend to expand to fill the available time. What I thought would take 10-15 minutes took several hours.

Outlet Reconfiguration – Easy

Rotating the outlet was aasy

Rotating the outlet was easy

First I had to reconfigure the orientation of the 6-50R outlet. The Blink’s cable exited from the left side of the unit and plugged into the wall. The Clipper Creek cable exited from the right and the cable was too short to run left under the EV cable to the outlet, it needed to exit to the right requiring the outlet to be rotated 180 degrees. This operation was easy and took 15 minutes and I thought I was home free.

Attaching to the wall – Fiddly

I got a 'Third Hand' by plugging in the unit, the stout cable supported the unit while I marked screw holes.

I got a ‘Third Hand’ by plugging in the unit, the stout cable supported the unit while I marked screw holes.

The Clipper Creek comes with two huge lag bolts to attach it to the wall and for hollow walls they advised screwing it into a stud or plywood back board. Given the short cable to the outlet a convenient stud was not available and I didn’t want to fit a plywood back board and paint it.. I chose to use a hollow wall fixture instead. I had one which saved me a trip to the store in the busy saturday morning traffic

The hollow wall fixture seemed ideal until I put the screw through the EVSE mounting hole and realized due to the thickness of the plastic case, the screw didn’t quite reach the hollow wall anchor. A trip to Home Depot was in order to find a longer #6 coarse screw and a larger washer. Saturday traffic was heavy and the trip took over 30 minutes.

Mounting the unit directly under a wall cabinet made the job fiddly. The screw holes to anchor the unit are angled to allow a screwdriver to reach the screw at an angle. However the cabinet prevented a screwdriver from fitting and I had to resort to a stubby screwdriver in tight quarters. That took way too long. The bottom anchor and screw went in quickly, I plugged the unit in and switched the power back on at the breaker and now I have a fully functional EVSE with 3 year warranty.

All Done – Better unit all round.

Installation Complete!

Installation Complete!

The Clipper Creek HCS-40P comes standard with a 25 foot EV cable. This means I can now plug the car in either of the two garage bays. The Blink cable was too short to make this possible.

The Clipper Creek HCS-40P can also support up to 7.7 kW charging rate using 32 AMPs at 240 Volts. The Blink was originally rated for 30 AMP charging but due to a number of issues with overheating components, some of which damaged vehicles, the network operator reduced the charge rate to 24 AMPs. The reports of badly crimped EV cables overheating also gave me reason to buy a new unit rather than try and repair the old. I can now charge a new EV at double the speed than is possible with my older LEAF without fear of a fire or vehicle damage.

Unfortunately the Clipper Creek does not have on-board intelligence so I cannot easily meter the electricity going to my vehicle, so my monthly charging records on an Excel spreadsheet will be retired.

The Final Step. Turn the power back on!!

The Final Step. Turn the power back on!!

Posted in Blink, Clipper Creek, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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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