RAV4 EV Spotted in Nashville

RAV4 EV in Nashville!! Click to enlarge.

Seeing a RAV4 EV is much like spotting a unicorn. Especially in Tennessee.

Toyota sold just 2,492 of the second generation RAV4 EV’s in the US starting in September 2012 until the end of 2014. (A handful were sold in 2015 after production ceased in September 2014). Additionally the RAV4 EV was sold only in California as a compliance vehicle to meet the California CARB regulations. The production run was deliberately limited to 2600 vehicles. Tesla provided the battery and drivetrain for this vehicle.

The vehicle is registered to someone in Davidson County Tennessee. Where the owner gets this vehicle serviced I’m not sure. It was only sold in California so trained mechanics will not be available here locally. The vehicle was purchased at Carvana. Carvana have created themselves quite the niche in second hand EV sales. I’m pretty sure this was transported from California by Carvana to make the sale.

An electric SUV is such an obvious car to make in the US where SUV’s are very popular. Very few electric SUV’s have been made, the Tesla Model X being the most popular despite its steep price tag of over $100,000. The RAV4 EV sold for about $50,000 new and has a range of about 120 miles in extended range mode, which back in 2012 was a market leading range. Toyota still have a webpage dedicated to the RAV4 EV, which assures owners they can still get service despite the car being discontinued. A brief paragraph on the RAV4 EV is followed by advertising for the Toyota Mirai Hydrogen Fuel Cell vehicle, also a California only compliance vehicle.

An electric SUV powered by Tesla technology before Tesla made their SUV

 

Posted in Carvana, Electric Car, Tesla Model X | Tagged | Leave a comment

BMW 330e spotted in Nashville

BMW 330e spotted in Nashville. Click to enlarge

It seems hardly a day goes by without me spotting another type of electric vehicle on the streets of Nashville. Today I saw a BMW 330e plugged in at work. This car has Florida tags so may just be visiting. I’ve now seen 3 different types of BMW EV’s in Nashville, the most of any manufacturer.

Posted in Electric Car | Tagged | Leave a comment

New Battery – 6 Month Status Check – Looking Good

Leaf Spy Pro Android App

At the end of November 2016 I took my LEAF in to get the traction battery replaced as it had worn out. I have been tracking the status of the new battery using an application called LEAF Spy Pro. This app uses the OBDII diagnostics port to read data every 5 seconds on hundreds of parameters and logs them into my dropbox folder each day as I arrive home.

At six months I decided to look to see if the new battery is holding up or wearing out. The outcome looks favorable, compared to the capacity of the new battery it has lost 1.4% of total capacity. It’s dangerous to extrapolate forward so early but just for fun this would mean the battery has a 10 year life. Much better than the original which lasted just 5 years.

New Battery AHr over time. Click to enlarge

The new battery has exhibited interesting swings in capacity over the last 6 months. On January 23rd this year the capacity was down  4.5%. Indicating a projected life worse than the original battery. I was concerned I had bought a dud. However by mid March the battery was back to full capacity showing no loss whatsoever.

Another interesting observation is that the capacity has never exceeded 66.141 Ahr, it seems to return to this value occasionally and seems to “stick” at this value for a week or two.

Hx over time. Click to enlarge

Another battery parameter named Hx, the meaning of which is uncertain, is thought to reflect overall battery health. It doesn’t appear to have a maximum value, it moves up and down freely. This parameter has varied by over 7% in the last six months.

The battery appears to lose some capacity and somehow regain all the lost capacity, then lose it again and regain again. This is very odd behaviour for a rechargeable battery, one expects a short term initial gain as the battery matures then a continual gradual capacity loss; certainly little to no gains after the battery has reached its maximum capacity.

This behaviour has been observed by other LEAF enthusiasts who have monitored their new batteries closely as I have. What is going on isn’t clear, the most credible theory is that Nissan have added some “Hidden Capacity” that the battery management system keeps in reserve without reporting its presence and occasionally taps into this reserve when capacity is permanently lost. It’s just a theory, but it does match the data. LEAF enthusiasts that have had the new battery for more than a year report that the battery eventually stops regaining capacity and then loses capacity at a more consistent and predictable rate. This suggests this regaining of capacity will be short lived.

I’ll report the batteries status again at one year, which will be the end of November.

Posted in Electric Car, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Why did this Audi park in an EV charging space?

IMG_20170524_114418

Because it’s an EV!!

IMG_20170524_114350

This is the first sighting for me of the Audi A3 e-Tron plug-in hybrid car. I was surprised to learn they start at $38,900 which is pretty decent for an Audi which one expects to be very pricey compared to an equivalent car from a regular auto maker.

I see Audi have chosen to put the plug at the front of the car like the LEAF. It hides nicely behind the front four circle emblem.

I have seen a wide variety of EV’s at work recently. Here’s a list of what I have spotted.

Car Type
Audi A3 e-TRon PHEV
BMW 330e PHEV
BMW i3 BEV
BMW i8 PHEV
Chevy Volt PHEV
Ford CMax Energi PHEV
Ford Fusion Energi PHEV
Nissan LEAF BEV
Tesla Model S BEV
Tesla Model X BEV
Toyota RAV4 EV BEV

I regret not taking a photo of the RAV4 EV, it was bought locally from Carvana, so I might see it again one day. If you are in the market for a second hand EV, buy it from Carvana, they have quite a good stock of EV’s and sell them for less than Carmax.

Posted in BMW i3, Carvana, Electric Car, Level 2 EV Charger, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S | Leave a comment

100,000 Gas Free Miles!

100,000 Miles!

100,000 Miles!

After 5 1/2 years of owning my LEAF I have hit the 100,000 gas free milestone. Yoohoo!

The EV Experience.

I look forward to the next 100,000 electric miles. The car drives as well as it did when it was new. Smooth, fast and quiet. Once you’ve driven electric, you never want to go back, it’s like going from dial-up to broadband. The biggest problem I experienced was the original battery wore out prematurely requiring a major expense to replace.

EV Statistics

In those 100,000 miles I plugged the car in 6,062 times, 762 of which were rapid charge sessions. 64% of the electricity I used came from my home, 36% from public locations. In this time I have used 31.8 Megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 20,000 homes! Sounds expensive? Not really, total cost was $2,682. Still sound expensive? Had I driven my previous car for 100,000 miles the gasoline would have cost me over $14,000. So I saved $11,598.96 over driving a gas vehicle. All things being equal I should be on target to save another $11,500 over the next 100,000 miles. This estimate of savings is as accurate as I could make it. Each month I noted the miles I drove, the amount of electricity I used to charge the LEAF, the cost of gasoline and cost of electricity. I then calculated the difference between driving the LEAF and my previous car a Chevy Classic which got 25 mpg, close to the national average fuel economy. These calculations are in a spreadsheet I created.

Have you ever been offered 51 free tanks of gas by a car dealer?

One interesting statistic is that the value of free charging I received at Nissan facilities is worth $680 in electricity enough to drive 21,831 miles. This free charging is the equivalent of getting over 51 free tanks of gasoline worth $2,772.58. When was the last time a new car dealer offered you 51 free tanks of gas with the purchase of a new car? Just visit any Nissan dealer and top off your ‘tank’ whenever you feel like it. That’s a deal!

Did I break Even?

The LEAF was more expensive to buy than an equivalent gasoline car (Nissan Versa), so did I break even? The car cost $33,160 and thanks to the Federal Government and the State of Tennessee, my cost after incentives was $23,160. My fuel savings over 100,000 miles reduce my effective cost to $11,561.04. The residual value of the two vehicles is about the same leaving me $7,000 richer. But I have to include the cost of a new battery for the LEAF. So I figure I actually saved about $1,000 over buying a smaller, noisier, slower, jerkier and smellier car. The new battery should be good for another 100,000 miles so I will come out well ahead of a gasoline car when the car reaches end of life. Even without the $10,000 in incentives, it is possible to save money over the life of the car.

Would I do it again? 

Of course! I plan to get the Tesla Model 3 when it becomes available in 2017 which will cost about the same as the original LEAF. The Model 3 will provide the ability for coast to coast travel, not just regional travel and will come with a whole host of advanced features. The EV marketplace has come a long way in the last 6 years.

100,000 Gas Free Miles!

100,000 Gas Free Miles!

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

New Battery at 99,000 Miles

Old Battery capacity shows 36 miles on 3/4 charge

Old Battery capacity shows 36 miles on 3/4 charge

End of life for the old battery

Even with workplace charging I only had 8 miles to spare on a full charge. Fall temperatures reduced the range from what I was getting in the summer. With a cold snap due any day it was clear I’d struggle to make the journey to Nashville on a full charge and keep myself warm and the windows defrosted. So I decided to go ahead and buy a new battery for the LEAF.

4 day replacement

The process took longer than anticipated. Getting the battery delivered to the dealer took almost a month. Newton Nissan commented that the amount of paperwork involved for a customer purchase is much more than a warranty replacement. This is the first customer purchased replacement that Newton Nissan have done so they were unfamiliar with the process. The new battery is a 2016 style battery which is slightly different in size and shape to the 2011 original. Adapter brackets and new cables are required to make it fit. As a result a typical 4-5 hour battery swap turned into a 4 day process. Newton Nissan thought they had all the parts but overlooked the new under car battery covers they would need. I had a loaner car so the inconvenience was minor.

Better than New?

New battery sowing 96 miles on 11/12 charge.

New battery sowing 96 miles on 11/12 charge.

The new battery should be better than new. The 2016 battery I bought (first introduced in 2014) is known in the LEAF community as the “Lizard Battery”. This new battery should be capable of withstanding hot summers better than the original. I’m not holding on too much to that promise, the original battery did not perform as well as Nissan guidance suggested it would. So it’s once bitten twice shy for me this time around. It should at least last another 99,000 miles and hopefully many more at which point the car will probably be worn out itself.

Still waiting for my Tesla Model 3

I had hoped to replace the LEAF with the new Chevy Bolt EV rather than buy a new battery. However GM recently announced that they would be releasing the car on a slow release schedule instead of the nationwide launch at the end of 2016. Local GM dealers were not able to tell me when or if the car would be available in Tennessee. I just couldn’t wait until the car became available. Other choices such as the BMW i3 didn’t appeal given that  200+ mile EV’s such as the Chevy Bolt EV and Tesla Model 3 are now on the horizon.

So it looks like GM may have lost a sale. The likelihood of me converting my Tesla Model 3 reservation to a purchase just went up.

Posted in BMW i3, Chevy Bolt EV, Electric Car, Newton Nissan, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model 3 | Tagged | 13 Comments

HCA becomes leading EV friendly employer in Tennessee, second only to Nissan.

Public EV station at HCA Capitol View. Click to enlarge

Public EV station at HCA Capitol View. This can charge two vehicles simultaneously. Click to enlarge.

HCA is a major employer in Nashville, with the recent opening of a new downtown office building in Nashville called Capitol View, HCA now has 26 EV charging stations for the use of employees (14 at Capitol View and 12 at Park Plaza) which is second only to Nissan Americas in Franklin TN. In addition to the 16 employee charging stations at Capitol View, there are two stations available for visitors near the ground floor entrance.

According to Plugshare.com other notable employers in Tennessee include Vanderbilt which has 17 EV charging stations at several locations in Nashville for use by faculty or students. The University of Tennessee in Knoxville has 15 EV charging stations. The Oak Ridge National Laboratories near Knoxville have a good number of EV charging stations for employees and visitors, but they have chosen to keep the number private.

HCA have done well to install the EV charging stations with generous charging 22 foot cables capable of reaching a dozen spaces. This avoids having to dedicate spaces to EV’s that may remain empty some of the time. Unfortunately the spaces are premium parking spaces so there will be keen competition for the spaces. HCA have chosen to make the use of the charging stations free for employees and visitors.

Workplace charging stations double the range of an electric vehicle when used for commuting. So a 73 mile 2011 LEAF is instantly transformed into a 146 mile commuter. The latest 2017 LEAF can travel 107 mile on a single charge, making it capable of commuting 214 miles per day when taking advantage of workplace charging. The GE Durastation EVSE’s installed at Capitol view are 30amp / 240volt units capable of charging at 7.2 kW, enough energy to add about 25 miles of charge per hour.

In addition to office space for HCA, the Capitol View building at 1100 Charlotte Avenue hosts a conference center and retail outlets on the lower floors. The retail spaces have yet to be occupied, this will occur in 2017.

Capitol View Entrance seen from public parking garage.

Capitol View Entrance seen from public parking garage. Click to enlarge.

 

Posted in Electric Car, GE Durastation, Level 2 EV Charger, Nissan LEAF | Tagged , , | 7 Comments