Tesla Road Trip

Guest post by Bill Wilkens

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I took a Tesla Model S 90D road trip to New Jersey recently from North Carolina. As you can probably tell, I enjoy talking about it. I used Autopilot about 90% of the time. It worked well on Interstate, but can’t be trusted in construction zones, on secondary roads or anywhere there are not clearly visible lane markings on both sides of the road. Just like traditional cruise control, there is a time and place to use it — or not.

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Charging was not an issue. I just stopped at the Tesla Superchargers that were indicated by the on-board computer (two stops/day, four stops for the entire 750 mile trip to NJ). There were more superchargers along the way than needed so I even passed up a few. The biggest change was to my stomach. After a free breakfast one morning at my hotel, the car needed a 40 minute charge about an hour later. So I had another light breakfast while waiting. Next trip I can eliminate double eating by staying at a hotel with a “destination charger” so the car starts the day with a full charge or at a hotel that doesn’t offer free breakfast!

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While at my son’s home, we converted an unused 30A/240V dryer outlet to the outlet used by Tesla (identical to outlets installed for electric ranges). I used it to charge the Model S as a test even though there is a supercharger only 10 miles away. I set the Tesla to charge at 24 amps which is 80% of the 30 amp breaker on the circuit as recommended by the National Electrical Code.

The car is fun to drive. I gave my daughter-in-law, Sibel, and grand daughter, Isobel, their first ride in an electric car. When I “stepped on it”, Sibel let out a short scream and 5-year old Isobel said “do it again, grandpa!”

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The only strange car behavior was that the computer locked up once while driving. The car continued to drive normally, but I was without navigation and radio for a couple of minutes so I could have missed a turn if there had been one. The computer automatically rebooted itself and returned to normal. I plan to ask Tesla about that. Perhaps car computers need rebooting occasionally just like desktops. I also thought the A/C was a little weak compared to my old Acura, but that might just be a learning curve on the way I use the controls. Outside temperature was 90+ most of the time I was driving.

All in all, I really enjoy the car. The more I learn to use the features, the more I like it. I haven’t yet dared try Autopark and Summon. I don’t want to ding up the car prematurely!

Editor: When Bill finally gets around to testing out Autopark and Summon I hope he decides to write about it and post it here :-

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The biggest adjustment for me has been the the feel of the regenerative braking and the accelerator pedal. It feels a little like driving a golf cart. When you let up on the pedal, the car starts braking immediately, so you only have to use the brake to fully stop the car after it has already slowed to a crawl. After 3000 miles, it is finally beginning to feel “normal”. I suspect next time I rent a gas car, that car will feel strange.

The below photo of my Model S was taken at an SAE J1772 charger normally used by Leafs and Volts but which can also be used to charge a Tesla with a supplied adapter. It charges more slowly than a supercharger, but is a good backup if I ever need it. I was trying it out to make sure I knew how to use it.

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Editor: Just last night I had the privilege to meet with Bill and several other members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at a planning meeting for the upcoming National Drive Electric Week EV car show we will be hosting in Asheville, NC. (Read more about it and sign up here).  At this meeting we all parked our EV’s around the recently installed BrightfieldTS solar EV charging station at Earthfare in south Asheville for some truly electrifying photos – take a look at this one with Bill’s Tesla front and center below!

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Thank you Bill for your exciting story of Tesla ownership!  I hope to join you one day with a Model 3🙂

 

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The cost of driving an Electric Vehicle

Many critics of electric vehicles will tell you that owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) is very expensive.

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The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV w/200+ mile driving range.

The way I see the relationship of debt to owning a car – petroleum or electric powered – is, simply put:

Either one is a subscription to dependency

No matter the car, just the act of buying the thing means you will have to pay weekly, monthly and yearly “subscriptions” for the fuel, repairs, tax, insurance etc…just for the privilege of owning and driving the thing.

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To me the logical choice is to buy the one that fits your needs and is more, well…logical.

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When buying a vehicle I take a scientific approach and try to leave emotion out of the decision so as not to be swayed by peer pressure (from friends, coworkers and the myriad of flashy automotive ads that saturate the mass media) or manufactured conformity (buy this car to be cool, look good, or “fit in” to some imaginary status caste) or manufactured demand (you need this-you need that–because without it you will be nothing so buy,buy,buy!).

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Nor do I listen to annoying, obnoxious, car salespersons like this guy.  I listen more to owners who post their stories and experiences on automotive blogs such as this one🙂 and then I do all of my own extensive research and crunch my own numbers before making a final decision based on my findings.

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So, in my rationale I could either;

Buy a gas powered car and pay the (higher) subscription fee for the gas, oil and tune-ups and resulting environmental damage cost caused by the cradle to grave environmental and human cost of the mining, shipment, refining, and distribution of those petroleum products that the vehicle requires to operate.

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A blast from the past a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 

Also, when I drive a petroleum powered vehicle I am willingly but not happily forced to accept the sad but true fact that the actual end use of all petroleum based fuels requires much less time to actually burn the fuel to propel the vehicle down the road from point A to point B…than the entire complicated and precarious supply chain that has been constructed to bring that fuel to my car’s fuel tank.

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Source

In other words depending on the country of origin of the crude oil it can take weeks to months to explore, deal, mine, protect, trade, ship, refine, store, and transport the fuel to the station where I finally pump it into my tank and then burn it up in only a few days or even a few hours.  Then there is the sad facts that it takes 44 gallons of water and around 15 kilowatts of energy to mine, ship and refine just one gallon of gasoline–ONE GALLON!  That is about half of the amount of water I use in a day and that 15kw of electricity would push my Nissan Leaf EV about 50 miles down the road!  Now if you really want a shocker multiply the above numbers times how many gallons of gas your car holds and if that does not make you furious with the oil companies I do not know what will?  I did the math for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner and the results are shocking: the amount of water required to produce just one tank of gas is: 814 gallons!!!  The electricity needed: 277.5 kW!!!  WOW!  By my calculations that amount of water and electricity would supply my wife and I, our house and EV for over 2 weeks (with my car going an average of 200 miles/week)!! Now, figure that for a month…a year…or a decade…of petroleum powered vehicle ownership…it just makes me want to cry.

bpdeepwater The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident 

My rather long-winded but valid point here is that the amount of energy and waste required just to get us down the road in gasoline powered vehicles is just incredible!

There is also the huge cost in human damage, suffering, pain and death caused by the fact that the acquisition of a portion of those petroleum products come from powers and factions that may support terrorism with some of that money.  These powers and factions often become involved in wars that drag us into the melee because we are addicted to their product for which many of us cannot live without due to our societal dictated and manufactured purchasing choices so we are forced to fight in their wars in order to keep the oil flowing to feed our sickening dependency.

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We are shamefully and totally hooked on oil.

Last but not least there is the environmental damage and degradation caused by the mining, shipping, refining and burning of petroleum (and all) fossil fuels.  We have been burning petroleum as our primary liquid fuel and coal as our primary solid fuel for a little over a century and in that very short time we have polluted our planet’s oh so very fragile atmosphere, oceans and wildlife with toxic compounds from oil spills and copious amounts of carbon dioxide–a naturally occurring and harmless gas when in “normal levels” but when in excessive levels it becomes a potent “greenhouse gas” with disastrous effects on life on earth.   It is true that CO2 has positive properties when in “normal levels.”   If you think back you learned of this in your high school biology class.  You will remember that it’s positive properties are;   1. It allows plants to grow and via photosynthesis create oxygen as a byproduct so animals like puppies and kittens, bunnies and whales, and you and me get to live.     2. Another one of its positive properties is that when it is in the form of atmospheric CO2 it traps heat like a blanket on a bed.  This heat trapping ability allows the atmosphere of the earth to stay warm enough for life to exist and that my dear reader is a good thing in every way.

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Source NASA

However, due to the continued and rapid burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) what we are doing to the planet is so far above anything that could be ever considered “normal levels” that the planet’s ecosystems are unable to cope with the influx of high levels of carbon pollution and in turn it the climate has begun to heat up.  It is as if we are adding more blankets to our bed without thinking about how hot it is going to get and how hard it will be to remove the blankets.  This process has often been called “global warming” but a more accurate term that better describes the problem would be anthropogenic climate change.  This is climate change caused by things we humans do to the planet such as burning fossil fuels.  If you would like a good visual of how this works consider the following video by one of my heroes – Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”

It is time for a big change. 

Enter the Electric Vehicle

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A Tesla Model S

Or, on the other hand I could drive an EV and pay the much lower cost for the electricity subscription, support the hard working Americans that build the cars (in the case of Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Tesla, Apple, Faraday Future and more) mine the coal, install and maintain the solar arrays, wind turbines, hydro-electric and nuclear power plants that provide my car with power to move down the road. The simple fact is that the electricity supply chain is much shorter and more efficient than the petroleum supply chain. In the area where I live, the mountains of western North Carolina, the power used to fuel an EV (and a house) is produced locally by a combination of coal, gas, solar, wind and hydro power plants so is therefore MUCH cleaner than any petroleum product will ever be.  (Read the true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

The human cost of driving EV is also MUCH more positive in that foreign wars do not need to be fought over their fuel source–electricity–since it is produced domestically, locally and in some cases on your own property!  If you have the means to install solar panels or some other form of renewable energy on your property you could easily power your home and EV(s) with clean, unlimited, renewable energy for free (after the cost of the system).

That my friend is brilliant!

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Charging up my Leaf at a local solar-electric EV charging station on the campus of UNCA in Asheville, NC. 

The sad fact is that now, in many states such as Florida and in my home state of North Carolina, our state government is hell bent on destroying renewable energy development despite the fact that NC is near the top in the nation for new solar installations which, if allowed to continue to grow, our energy grid would continue to get cleaner with each renewable energy installation and in turn the carbon footprint of our homes and our EV’s would just get smaller.  There is absolutely no logical reason this kind of backward action should ever be allowed to happen yet our lawmakers and politicians seem to be simply backward thinking Luddites who fear anything new and fear positive change especially when it means good paying jobs, a cleaner environment, and equal rights for all people.  If we ever want to progress and if we ever want to break our addiction to fossil fuels we MUST get the fossil fuel fired old fossils out of office and replace them with science minded, educated, caring people who think toward the future and want to make good and lasting change happen for everyone.  That change will only happen if we do our research,  speak out, vote, and get active.

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The BMW i3 EV

Either way and whatever car I choose to drive I will always have to pay the subscription to dependency to drive and power the thing…however, I choose the EV because it has a much lower subscription cost* and a much smaller environmental, human and future impact cost and that is as important to me as is the money. *I drive an average of 200 miles/week and my Nissan Leaf EV costs me only about $7-10/week in electricity!!

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However, something else to consider is that the EV may initially cost a bit more than the gas car so therefore I may need to finance the EV and go into debt. Yuck…yet another subscription to dependency. However, by buying the EV I would, from day one, have more money in my pocket since I have no gas, oil or maintenance costs typically associated with gas powered vehicles (especially used cars) so…all that money that I would have pumped into the gas tank and crankcase and then burned up and spewed into our shared atmosphere (to the determent of my loved ones, wildlife, the earth and future generations) can now be used to pay off the car loan🙂

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In conclusion; my sleuthing, science and number crunching all allow me to come to the conclusion that I would rather pay for the financing on the EV than drive a lower initial cost yet high operational, high environmental cost, petroleum powered car…but that is my logic, and everyone’s logic is colored and molded by their knowledge, research and experiences so you can take it with a grain of salt if you wish.

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The Nissan eNV200 100% electric small van.

The Roadblocks

Do not believe the fossil fuel fed naysayers who have spent millions on manufactured lies, false advertising through mainstream media outlets and propaganda campaigns (online and on TV) that try to say electric vehicles are dirtier to operate than their petroleum powered counterparts–none of these stories are true.

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The oil soaked Koch brothers are some of the worst EV bashers who are spending millions in the attempt to make EV’s and renewable energy look bad.  We must do all in our power to end their assault of outright lies against science.  

Even in the dirtiest states with the blackest, coal fired grids, an EV powered by 100% coal produced electricity (which is rare now with all the new wind and solar farms going online all the time) is still much cleaner than any gasoline powered vehicle ever will be (especially Volkswagen’s “clean diesels” or any diesel for that matter) and, because the electricity it uses to push it down the road is generated domestically by Americans – it supports American jobs and does not support foreign wars and terrorism…and that is a really good thing.  Furthermore, there are those who will say “what happens to the battery when it reaches the end of its life? It must be toxic waste and more dangerous than the emissions generated over the life of a gas powered car?!?!  Answer,  this is simply more lies and fabrications designed by those who want to keep you addicted to petroleum fuels.  The truth is that the lithium-ion batteries that drive an EV are 100% recyclable.  Before they are recycled they are often used as back up power supplies for computer data centers and soon even houses just like a back up generator.   (Learn more true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

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The 215 mile range Tesla Model 3 will be hitting the roads very soon!

The future

With Chevrolet and Tesla soon to be releasing new EV’s with a 200+ mile driving range, and Nissan releasing their plans to release a redesigned Leaf with 200+ mile range but they have not revealed the release date, (and hopefully they will also release a 200 mile range small van that would be a game-changer!  Check out the story I wrote about it here on this blog: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/the-env200-nissan-electric-van-where-and-when-is-it-for-the-usa-market/ ) all with prices in the $30-35k range (before the $7500 government tax incentive) Soon, the issue of “range anxiety” is going to be a thing of the past and we will all have no logical excuse to keep driving our dirty old gas guzzlers.  16volt

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

I truly believe the day is coming very soon when kids will look to their parents and say “Mom, dad – why are you driving that dirty old gas guzzler when you could save so much money, have a great car, and protect my health and future by driving an EV?”  and ” I want my first car to be all electric!” ( I already hear that from students in my middle and high school science classes all the time :-)  Then there’s this very encouraging article from England:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

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The Nissan IDS concept…is this the new Leaf or something more!?

Soon, I believe within 3-5 years, the choice will be ours to go electric and support a clean, healthy war-free future for us all or…digress and remain in the past while denying the science and refusing to accept the inevitable truth that driving EV is just a better and more economical way to drive for everyone, for the planet and for the future.

What path will you choose?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Yet another reason to LOVE my EV

A few weeks ago I was forced to regress and drive a gasoline powered vehicle on a long journey.  For the most part the journey went well until…I had to stop at one of those archaic “filling stations” to pump dino-juice into the holding tank of the vehicle.

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I pulled up to the station and prepared to fuel up my ageing gas powered vehicle.  As I touched the fuel nozzle I grimaced as I thought of the highly toxic and flammable  chemical concoction I was about to pump into the vehicle’s tank and all the nasty, infectious, human germs crawling all over the handle left by who knows who and their drooling, snotty nasal excretion drenched hands…I then thought of how easy it is to fuel my Leaf at home without all the chemicals and germs…pure and simple bliss when compared to this. (*Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennifercohen/2012/06/12/10-worst-germ-hot-spots/#2cf4f9d578ce  and http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-health-filth-idUSTRE79O0G820111025  and  http://www.naturalnews.com/034046_gas_pump_bacteria.html  and  http://cleantechnica.com/2015/06/01/are-gas-pumps-the-dirtiest-thing-that-you-touch/   and   http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1098445_a-gas-pump-is-the-germiest-thing-you-touch-did-you-know )

As I inserted the nozzle into the car’s fuel receptacle I held my breath to avoid inhaling the noxious gasoline fumes then, once the fuel was flowing, I walked to the other side of the vehicle while the tank filled so I could breathe somewhat freely again.

I know to some of you this may seem like overkill but to me it is just common sense and science that has been proven by countless scientists, doctors and Darwin Awardees such as this guy and these idiots  and the several times I have witnessed people smoking while fueling their vehicles, filling up with the engine running and fuel spills at fuel stations.  Everything about gasoline is toxic and dangerous and proof of this scientific fact is written on the gas pump just like it is written on a pack of cigarettes or bottle of booze.

(Sources: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002806.htm and http://www.healthline.com/health/gasoline#Long-TermImplications5 )

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In fact, North Vancouver, Canada has mandated the use of the below warnings reminding the user of the larger dangers of our addiction to fossil fuels.

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(Source: http://ecowatch.com/2015/11/20/climate-change-label-gas-pumps/ )

Environmental groups in California are working to get the warnings implemented as well and I firmly support placing these labels on fuel pumps everywhere.

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(Source: http://grist.org/news/berkeley-could-mandate-climate-warnings-on-gas-pumps/ and  http://www.dailycal.org/2014/06/16/new-proposal-require-climate-change-warning-labels-city-gas-stations/ )

In order to protect my health from these dangerous substances I always take the necessary precautions to avoid them whenever possible and this was one of those times….but this time it became even more bizarre.

As stood waiting for the tank to fill I observed as a rather beat up older model Toyota sedan rolled to a stop at the pump behind the one I was using. From inside the car came deep, thumping sonic vibrations of what I can only refer to as “gangsta rap.” It could be heard everywhere by everyone in possibly a 1000 foot radius of the epicenter at my location…I could even feel the noise deep inside the very bones of my body.  (I wonder what this kind of sonic disruption does to the USGS seismographs in the vicinity?)   Looking at the car and hearing the garishly loud yet incredibly high quality music (stereophonic reproduction not lyrics) that was emanating from the interior of the craft, it was painfully obvious to me that the vehicle’s owner had spent all of his hard-earned money on the stereo system and not any at all on the vehicle. I failed to see how the vehicle was even considered street legal. Subsequently, a young human male of European descent (not that it matters at all but I know someone out there will ask) exited the car. As he opened the door clouds of what appeared to be bluish-white smoke (or vapor) rolled out of the door and into our shared atmosphere. The young human male proceeded to hurriedly fulfill his addiction to fossil fuel and pump gas into his vehicle’s tank. I noticed another person in the passenger seat…from the observable physical features and clothing it seemed to be a young human female – not that that mattered but it was my observation. The individual was reclined all the way back as far her seat would go and she stared blankly at me and I at her…but only for a moment for fear of her or her male partner getting the wrong idea and therefore one or both of them initiating some form of primitive hormone driven posturing and dominance ritual targeted at me. I’m all about some self protection so I averted my eyes from the bizarre scene and walked to the other side of my vehicle pretending to check the air in my tires but in reality I was escaping the bone shattering sound waves and unbelievably insulting and rude lyrics pumping into our shared space from the decrepit vehicle. As I listened I heard prejudice filled insults to at least three different races, horrible insults to women, and a dangerous fascination with colorful metaphors, controlled substances, prescription drugs, alcohol, sex, guns, crime, hate, money and material things. The “song” was truly hideous in every way save for the concert-like sound quality. I briefly thought about asking the youngster to please turn down his music but decided against it based on the song’s lyrics and sadly, based on my observations of the appearance of the vehicle and it’s occupants. I know this all sounds superficial but in reality it is simply science. My observations of the study subjects suggested to me that any action on my part would most likely have an undesirable and opposite reaction initiated by the subject(s) that could be detrimental to my continued health and well being. Therefore I chose to hold my tongue.
In a few moments the youth returned to his vehicle and they sped away in a cloud of toxic smoke, noise, and apparent hostility toward well, everything.

My tank soon filled with the dirty, dangerous dino-juice and I returned to my vehicle and quickly got out of town.

Findings – By driving an EV for almost all of my routine driving needs (approximately 800-1000k/month) I avoid having to stop at gas stations and can easily avoid these undesirable and unsafe situations. How you may ask?

pisgahleaf

Simple, I most frequently fuel (charge) my EV at the comfort, freedom, and safely of my own home so I very seldom find myself at fueling stations used by the general public. Every evening when I return home after work I plug my Leaf it into the existing 110v wall outlet on my porch and by morning the vehicle is fully charged and ready to go for another day.  Average fuel cost per day/ ~.90 cents!!

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When on the road away from home in nearby towns and cities I sometimes do need to use public EV charging stations and outlets.  When this occurs I obviously do run the risk of encountering other people’s nasty music, uncomfortable situations and of course virulent germs.  The risk however is currently almost non-existent and nowhere near the risk found at gasoline fueling stations.   In fact, the times I have encountered other EV drivers at charging stations they have always been friendly, quiet, and willing to share their story and love of driving electric and never their toxic music and germs.  Speaking of germs, of course there are obviously germs on EV chargers and I would hazard a guess (since I have not done an experiment yet to prove it) that the concentrations of pathogens found at gasoline fueling stations would far outnumber those found at EV charging stations.  I base this hypothesis on the fact that the numbers of EV’s and their charging infrastructure are currently less than 1% of the new car market with only around 450,000 plug-in electric vehicles on the roads in the USA and over 32,900 EV charging stations supporting them (not counting private charging stations located at the owner’s homes.)

Source: http://www.pluginamerica.org/ and  http://www.afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_locations.html

When it comes to the other side of the coin there are over 260 million petroleum powered vehicles registered on the roads in the USA and over 168,000 stations to fuel them them.

(Source: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/national_transportation_statistics/html/table_01_11.htmland (source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/quizzes/answerQuiz16.shtml)  

Therefore my research suggests that :

A. Individuals that drive gasoline and diesel powered vehicles are much more likely to become infected with and vector their resident communicable diseases to others due to contact with the fuel delivery apparatus found at “filling” stations. My research and available data suggests that this is due to the larger number of gasoline powered vehicles and their associated fueling stations creating the perfect breeding ground for dangerous pathogens to be transferred from person to person via contact with the fuel delivery device (nozzle).

B. Individuals that drive gasoline/diesel powered vehicles are more likely to find themselves in a potentially distasteful, unsafe and often even life-threatening situation while visiting public use petroleum powered vehicles fueling stations.

C. Individuals that drive electric vehicles and most often charge them at home or use the limited number of public charging infrastructure have a much more limited chance of coming in contact with infectious diseases vectored to them by the fuel delivery apparatus and inherent dangers posed by contact with “shady characters” that are often encountered at “filling stations.”

D. What will the future hold?   With the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3, new Nissan Leaf, and eNV200 small van (hopefully) and many more, we will most certainly see many, many more EV’s hitting the roads in the next few years.  This will undoubtedly mean many more EV’s on the roads and many more EV charging stations and eventually –similar germ loads as found on fuel pumps at gas stations.  But thankfully much of that can be avoided by charging at home whenever possible.  

E. Hopefully, the toxic music and shady characters will also fade into the past along with their old fossil powered cars, toxic fuel and emissions…we can only hope.

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Thank you Nissan for the amazing Nissan Leaf. Not only does it give me the ability to avoid unpleasant encounters at the gas pump but better yet it allows me to drive free from the grip of petroleum for the vast majority of my trips. To date I have owned the little EV for almost 3 years, driven over 37,000 gas free miles, passed gas stations thousands of times, and saved thousands of dollars in what I would I would have spent on toxic, life, health, environment and happiness harming gasoline.

One day everyone will be able to break their dangerous addiction to fossil fuels and experience the true freedom of driving electric leading all of us into a fossil fuel free future.

Go EV for true freedom.

Just the Brakes

 

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In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds.  As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner.  It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride.  This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;

it always happened at speeds below 30 mph

it was more frequent in cold or wet weather

it was always random

When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up.  Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.

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My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino

Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.

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The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.

12190057_10207024051892475_5148828535035350589_n The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive.   Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf.  My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car.  However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles.  In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf.  In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric.  So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200.  If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs.  I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.

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Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.

I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible.  In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.

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Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –

the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.

Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.

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Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC. 

After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.

Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?

I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone.  Murphy’s law.

I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.

A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again!  This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)

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As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code.  I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue.  She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP.  I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.

I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor.  Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.

She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ.  I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.

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I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.

A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement.  The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental.  This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!!  Ouch!!

THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!  

Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty.  I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way.  Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew!  I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty.  I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.

Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima.  She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW!  Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!

A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it!  When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week.  At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.

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A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday!  Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.

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In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts

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The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car.  This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead. 

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The defective components 

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The shiny new components

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The surgery is complete!

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On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)  

A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)

20160118_175001   Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!

Very well done!

(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)

Until next time…

“Plug into the future!”

Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.

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Just the facts

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The author’s 2012 Nissan Leaf EV “plugged in” at a local solar farm.

In response to a recent, somewhat negatively pitched report by WLOS News 13 in Asheville, North Carolina (see the article here http://www.wlos.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Electric-car-sales-don-t-hit-initial-goal-246626.shtml#.VofUP_krJhF  ) and the ensuing wave of negative public comments in regards to the technology…

I offer just the facts on EV’s from the point of view of an EV owner of 2.5 years.

FACT: In 2013 I purchased a one year old 2012 Nissan Leaf (100% electric car) with 1,200 miles on the odometer. I have now driven the Leaf over 33,000 gas free miles.

FACT: I drive it daily to work and back in all weather, on paved and gravel roads, and up and down the mountains we call home. I drive it an average of 40-45 miles/day and more on weekends. Due to the wonderful and growing EV charging network that continues to expand and open the roads to EV drivers – I can go almost anywhere in the WNC/Upstate SC/East Tennessee areas with no problems.

A GE charging station in Black Mountain, NC. 

MYTH: It is very expensive to charge an EV.

FACT: Just the opposite. It costs me an average of $.89/day – close to $7/week in electricity to drive the EV around 300 miles/week. When charging at community EV charging stations (level 2 and 3) I usually pay around $2 – $6 to fully charge my Leaf and many of these stations are in fact…free. Many of these stations are also solar powered so some of my electric fuel is solar generated and my EV is then solar driven and fully zero emission! Learn more at www.brightfieldts.com

FACT: Even when I account for the cost of electricity over the last 2.5 years – I have still saved close to $3000 that I would have spent on gas and oil had we continued to drive two gas powered cars.

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Charging the Leaf in downtown Salisbury, NC on a recent road trip.

MYTH: EV’s have very short range, will run out of “juice” and leave you stranded.

FACT: While the currently available EV’s do have limited ranges varying from around 70 to 300 miles on one charge – like most newer Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered vehicles they have alert systems to let you know when your fuel level is getting low. They also have sophisticated GPS connected navigation systems that allow you to plan your trip ahead of time taking into account stops at charging stations along the way.

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The Tesla Model S interior

While it is understandable that this lifestyle is not for everyone, advances are being made daily in the EV, battery, and charging infrastructure that, within a few years time, will put 200 to 300+ mile range capable EV’s on the roads from start-ups to most of the world’s major auto makers that are now revealing some incredible new transportation technologies to the world such as the Nissan IDS concept, Tesla Model X and Model 3, Chevrolet Bolt and the incredible and out of this world Faraday Future that will hopefully lead to who knows what kind of amazing EV’s, and maybe one day an Apple EV and even an Electric-Corvette!

No matter if you run out of a charge or if you run out of gas – it is your fault for not planning ahead as I found out recently in the blog post just before this one.

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A Tesla Model S charging.

MYTH: “Electric Vehicles are not zero emissions, they run on coal, and are dirtier and more polluting than internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles that run on gas/diesel fuel.”

Let’s break it down…get ready because this is detailed.

FACT: Battery Electric Vehicles BEV’s (the focus of this report) do not run on anything but electricity and are themselves – zero emission. That being said, depending on how that electricity is generated– the place it gets its electricity–could be “dirty” (coal) or “clean” (renewable energy) but in most places it is a combination of both so let’s dig deeper.

FACT: A small ICE car emits ~390 grams of Carbon Dioxide CO2/mile.

FACT: The average power consumed by a small EV is ~.25 KWh/mile.

FACT: ~907 grams of CO2/KWh is emitted from coal fired power plants in the dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas.

FACT: 907 (g) x .25 (KWh) = 226 grams/mile in dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas, which remains lower than the 390 grams from the small ICE car so in reality, even if your EV is charged in an area that gets all of its electricity from coal, EV’s are still cleaner than a comparable ICE powered vehicle.

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The amazing BMW i3 EV

MYTH: Building more EV’s will require us to build many more power plants to provide all the electricity to operate all of them.

FACT: EV’s are charged from the same utility grid that your mobile devices use. Like your devices, EV’s come with their own charging cable that plugs into a standard 110v outlet. Like most of your mobile electronic devices they are usually charged at night, while you are sleeping, and when electricity generated from emissions free wind and hydro power is in low demand, lower in cost, and goes mostly unused – so there is ample supply to power your EV. For those opposed to plugging in (or the busy, lazy and/or forgetful types) now in development are inductive charging highway lanes that, when you need a charge, you will just simply drive in the lane and your car will charge while moving at speed! There are also currently available inductive charging pads  (just like you can buy for mobile devices) but made for select EV’s. This will eliminate the need to plug in your EV at home and possibly one day you will even be able to just park in an EV charging parking space and your car will automatically start charging as you walk away.

FACT: The US power grid is getting cleaner every day as more fossil fuel fired power plants are retired and more renewable energy power systems go online – so in these areas especially, EV’s are much cleaner.

FACT: Due to the fuel mix of the grid getting cleaner, EV’s get cleaner as they age. This is never a fact with ICE cars that constantly loose efficiency as they age due to wear and tear.
Learn more here:
www.greencarreports.com/news/1086927_coal-makes-electric-cars-bad-no-plug-ins-show-coal-as-worse
and
www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

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Three Nissan Leafs, A Chevy Volt, and a Tesla Model S charging at the BrightfieldTS solar canopy charger in downtown Asheville, NC.

FACT: One parking space covered with a canopy of photovoltaic solar panels (2.5KW) in the southeast would produce around 3,292 KWh/year. This will operate an EV for around 13-16K miles of 100% emissions free driving on clean, sunshine generated electricity!

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The owner’s Leaf on the right and another local Leaf charging at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s solar powered EV charging station in Mills River, NC.

FACT: EV’s produce a portion of their own fuel via the process known as regenerative breaking – try to find an ICE powered vehicle that does that!

FACT: The average EV travels an average of 4 miles/Kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity.

FACT: It takes 6 KWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline (source US DOE).

FACT: The average EV can travel 24 miles on the power that it takes to refine just one gallon of gasoline!

FACT: It takes ~9 KWh of energy to extract and transport the crude oil that will be refined into that gasoline.

FACT: An EV could travel an additional 36 miles on this energy.

So, no new power plants are needed, especially if we do not produce the gallon of gas. So…get an EV, and drive 60 all-electric miles on the same amount of energy we are generating today to refine all that dirty gasoline…

And…

Save the 44 gallons of water that it takes to refine that one gallon of gasoline! It is a no-brainer.

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The extention cord is the new “jerrycan.”

While anyone with a purely electric vehicle will tell you that good trip planning is essential for anyone owning a fully electric vehicle,  you just never know what may happen out there on the road.  Back in the days before electric vehicles I would always carry a small plastic “jerrycan” just in case I ran out of gas.  Today,  I always carry a 100′ heavy duty extention cord in my EV for the very same purpose.  Good thing for those of us that drive 100% electric vehicles, there are thousands of dedicated charging stations in most cities across the USA and the world however, in between those EV chargers there are also millions of standard 110v electric outlets everywhere you will find people and their buildings.

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Charging at Earthshine Discovery Center in Lake Toxaway, NC

These outlets and their electricity can be accessed in emergencies…with permission of course.  That said, I have only had to plug into a handfull of outlets due to a low battery charge since owning the Leaf–one of the first being on day one of Leaf ownership…I was such a greenhorn :-)…and most recently on a road trip I wrote this blog posting about.

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Trickle charging at the SmokyQ BBQ in Marion, NC. 

When I have had to do so, most of the people that have granted me access to their outlets have been very friendly, very interested in EV technology, and have freely offered some of their electricity.  In return I have always left them a generous tip for the use of their electricity and their time.  In almost every instance the most valuable thing I have driven away with is not the electricity, but the friendly conversation with an individual I would have never met if not for my EV.  I offer the below recent video as an example.

In fact, many EV owners including myself, list their homes and businesses on Plugshare.com as residential EV charging locations.  They do this in support of other EV drivers that may be close to the end of their vehicle’s range and need a charge to get to the next high power charging station and they do this to be part of the rapidly growing community of like-minded, forward thinking EV owners who see a brighter, cleaner, fossil fuel free future on the horizon for us all.

MYTH: It is very expensive to power an EV.

FACT: The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents/kWh. Therefore the average person driving an average EV 15,000 miles per year will pay about $540.00 per year to charge it. Personally I spend less than $300/year on electricity to fuel my Leaf…how much did you pay for gasoline/diesel last year?
I bet it was much more than that.
Think about what could you have done with all that extra money you spent on gas and oil? Just think about it…or remain in denial of the facts. It is your choice.

FACT: Believe it or not – five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: Five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watt-hours or 12kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles will use 4,500 kWh to drive 15,000 miles! Simply by turning unnecessary lighting off at your home, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your annual transportation fuel cost. Try doing that with an ICE powered vehicle! (The cost of LED lighting products has dropped recently so we have replaced almost all of our light bulbs in our house with LED’s. This has not only saved us money but we have also totally offset the cost of driving our Leaf EV!)
Learn more here: www.pluginamerica.org/drivers-seat/how-much-does-it-cost-charge-electric-car

Cars are not the only way you can reduce emissions by switching to EV’s

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Coal Rolling” photo found online…cough, cough…

FACT: One piece of gas burning lawn equipment emits more hydrocarbon pollution into our shared atmosphere than a gasoline-guzzling crew-cab pickup truck! You would have to drive a 6.2L V8 truck almost 4000 miles to equal the emissions produced in 30 minuets of use by a gas powered 2-cycle engine such as a string trimmer (weed-eater). Why not use an all electric string trimmer or lawn mower—there are many available now and they all can even be fueled with renewable energy you can generate at home!

MYTH: EV’s, solar, wind, and other renewable power sources are not American because they do not create jobs or use the oil/gas that we fight deadly wars to acquire.

FACT: The Nissan Leaf EV is made in Smyrna Tennessee and provides over 300 American workers with excellent jobs. Tesla provides around 6000 Americans jobs now and will employ 12,000 after the Gigafactory goes online.  The number of employees working in the solar industry has more than doubled in five years and today there are now over 200,000 Americans working in solar.  Believe it or not, there are now more people working in solar than in gas and oil fields and that’s almost three times the size of the entire coal mining industry…the carbon bubble is bursting.  The wind energy industry provides great jobs to over 70,000 Americans and clean power to over 18 million homes. And that’s just for starters…companies like Solar City and Arcadia Power are changing the way we acquire our energy at home from renewable energy providers.

FACT: Sourcing our energy domestically (be it solar, wind, hydro, coal—whatever the source) provides many good jobs to Americans and is much more efficient and much safer than traveling thousands of miles, dealing with foreign governments that are often hostile and feed terrorism groups, extracting the crude oil, then finally bringing it back home to be refined and used…often at great cost and loss of life due to the wars that often must be fought to keep it flowing.

FACT: It is more American to be self sufficient and produce your own energy at home, than it is to rely an outside source to provide you with that energy.

FACT: You can power your home and your EV with off-the-shelf renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc ) that you produce at home…and even make a profit from the excess!

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A solar powered home in Asheville with a monthly power bill of less than $20!

MYTH: EV’s are expensive to work on.

FACT: While it is no secret that EV’s have many similar systems as ICE powered vehicles such as braking, steering, suspention, heating etc. However, EV’s rarely need major servicing on their drive systems due to the simple fact that they have far fewer moving parts in their power plant whereas the average ICE engine has thousands! Therefore, EV’s require far less maintenance to keep them “healthy” and are therefore much more economical to drive.

I have been driving my Leaf now for over 33k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.

Recently, I had to replace the cabin air filter. By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!

Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time. This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 33k miles! Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example, to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla”, my only remaining ICE vehicle that I keep only for long range trips and hauling large loads, running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic American made motor oil, and I change the oil filter when I change the oil. Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!

FACT: The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many moving parts as petroleum powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts. The do not have or need any of the parts that commonly wear out in gas/diesel vehicles such as: belts, chains, hoses, air/fuel filters, water pump, spark plugs, glow plugs, oil, filter, clutch, transmission, muffler, catalytic converter, exhaust pipe…they do not even have an engine.

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The Tesla Model S

MYTH: EV’s are new…scary…future technology and cannot be trusted.

FACT: Electric vehicles are anything but scary and nothing new. The electric motor that moves them has only a few long lived moving parts and is a proven technology that has been used to make our lives easier since the mid-late 19 century.
They pre-date ICE powered vehicles and were hitting the roads of the world in the late 1800’s – see the timeline here: www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car

FACT: New technologies often have bugs that need to be worked out and then an adoption period before becoming mainstream.  Examples: the light bulb, the toilet, the automobile, the air plane, the microwave, the personal computer, the cellular phone, the rocket ship…the electric car is no different and will see some setbacks but it is here to stay.

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FACT: If your house or business is connected to the grid, and you or your company pays a power bill, then your, and most everyone’s houses/businesses are electric. Washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, stove and range, heating and cooling, lighting, entertainment systems, kitchen and many bathroom appliances, computers, mobile devices…electric…with many of these systems relying on electric motors and systems that quietly work in the background keeping our lives and the lives of our devices comfortable and functional.   Why is it then that we continue to use outdated, noisy, toxic, leaky, high maintenance, complicated, petroleum powered transportation systems to get around on earth, in the water, and in the sky?

Part of the answer to the above question may be fear of change driven by a inate and often handed down complacency that many feel when they get set in their ways and comfortably used to any form of technology they have grown up with.  To some, anything new, especially if it upsets the comfortable status quo, is seen as an invader that must be ignored and even stopped at all costs. I suppose not everyone can be an early adopter and game changer like Elon Musk. The final parts to the answer are the simply complicated politics and lots and lots of dirty money.  In this recent article by Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club president Rudy Beharrysingh he states: The political implications of oil and gas are huge. Currently, the U.S. imports about 9.5 million barrels per day of oil. About 30 percent of this is from OPEC, with half of this from the Persian Gulf. That’s about 1.4 million barrels per day coming from the Persian Gulf. At a cost of $35 per barrel that is $50 million per day that we (consumers) send to the Middle East (on the order of $20 billion per year). And, that’s low compared to what it used to be. Need I say more…?

An eye opening Nissan Leaf commercial  from a few years ago

The link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCs8B-TlylY

MYTH: “EV’s are slow like golf carts, dangerous, and I heard that they catch on fire and burn to the ground all the time.”

FACT: EV’s are anything but slow. The little Nissan Leaf EV will go 0-60 in around 10 seconds. The BMW i3 EV will do it in 7.2 and the Tesla Model S P85DL 100% electric car has the world record for the fastest accelerating production four-door car ever! It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a brain melting 2.6 seconds! Dangerous, totally the opposite – the Tesla Model S was rated by the NHTSA as the safest car ever tested…in history! If you want to see a Tesla Model S EV go against a Holden supercar take a look here:

 Or if you would like to follow the link:  www.youtube.com/embed/6eGhjhx8O9M?rel=0

Fires.  According to the NFPA, cars catch fire on American highways once every two minutes. There were an average of 184,333 vehicle fires per year from 2008 to 2013.  (I went back only to 2008 since it was the first year a highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production was available in the United States.  That vehicle was the Tesla Roadster).  Out of those 184,333 fires, less than a dozen of involved electric vehicles…ALL of the others were liquid fuel powered vehicles.  There were an average of 1651 car fire injury and death victims every year from 2008-2013. In fact, due to fires involving liquid fueled vehicles 1765 people lost their lives during that timeframe.  “The risk of a car or vehicle fire is even greater than the risk of an apartment fire. More people die in vehicle fires than in apartment fires each year in the United States,” said AAA President Robert Darblenet.  

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Burning Tesla Model S from 

FACT: Electric vehicle fires are not a common occurence in any way yet news agencies just love to manufacture drama.  The fact that gas powered cars burn all the time is nothing new, it is not dramatic anymore…but let an EV catch fire (like on did recently in Norway – see: www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-burns-fire-supercharger-norway/ ) and it is all over the headlines because sensationalist drama centered around anything new and possibly politically controvercial feeds the weak minded. Note: I am not saying anyone reading this is weak minded because if you have read this far you obviously are interested in the facts and not the drama🙂

More info on fires related to electric powered vehicles and other devices and systems can be found in this article and in this Wikipedia article. 

Fact: electric vehicles present far less of a fire hazard than ICE powered vehicles.

Think of it like this: if everyone had been driving clean, fast, safe, low maintenance electric vehicles for the last century, and someone tried to get you to drive or even ride in a vehicle powered by an incredibly toxic, flammable, explosive, liquid fuel—what would you do? Personally, I would R.U.N.N.O.F.T!

Observation: Back before I drove an EV I was forced to periodocally visit gas stations to fuel the subscription to dependancey I had opted for when I purchaced my gasoline powered vehicle.  While filling up I often encountered people fueling their vehicle with the engines running, or even more astonishing – smoking while pumping gas. On these occasions I wanted to sit the people down and calmly warn them of the errors of their ways. I wanted to describe in detail the science behind their potentially very hazardous actions and the three times that I have had close calls with gasoline fueled vehicle fires that I offer up to you below –

Situation #1. Year 1986.  My old Chevy truck would not start so I continued to give the engine more gas, the engine flooded, fuel leaked out of carbureator,  a spark from a cracked spark plug wire ignited the fuel leak sending flames up and out of the engine bay melting all the rubber and plastic items under the hood.  I put out the fire with a small fire extinguisher I kept under the seat and when it ran out I had to toss a jacket on the fire to finally put it out.  If not for my fast thinking the vehicle would have burned to the ground and this would have caused me great peril.

Situation #2. Year 1991. Although not a road vehicle incident, I believe under the circumstances it still applies. My old lawn tractor was running rough. I took off the air filter housing and adjusted the carbureator to richen the mixture and it started running better. I then failed to replace air filter assembly. A few moments later the engine backfired through the carbuerator sending a saber of flame straight up and into the old plastic fuel tank (that was soaked with fuel residue) which subsequently ignited into a ball of flame.  This melted the fuel tank causing raw gasoline to cascade down onto engine and tractor like a flaming waterfall of peril. The tractor quickly began to burn to the ground.  A passing off duty firetruck stopped to extinguish the tractor as it sat burning in middle of a field.

Situation #3.  Year 2000. While my driving 1966 Land Rover up a steep highway grade, the vehicle’s cab suddenly filled with thick, acrid, white smoke and at the same time I smelled an intense gasoline smell!! I quickly pulled the vehicle off the road and bailed out running about 100 feet away leaving the engine running and door open for fear of meeting my ultimate demise!  I watched from a distance as the smokle cleared from the cab of the still running vehicle and then a few seconds later the vehicle shut itself off as the fuel in the carbuerator ran out.  I did not want to get near it for fear of whatever caused the issue possibly igniting a gas vapor explosion, fuel fire, and loads of deadly peril.  After about 20 minutes of watching I decided that it was safe and carefully approached the vehicle.  I soon discovered that the issue had been caused by faulty wiring.  A wire had been routed around the fuel line and normal vehicle vibrations had caused the wire to abrade against the metal frame of vehicle creating an electrical short which burned all the insulation off of the wire causing the acrid smoke.  The exposed red hot wire then melted through the plastic fuel line cutting it totally in half. Gasoline then poured out of the fuel line and all over the top of the fuel tank – yet somehow, no ignition had occured.  Talk about the luck of the Irish–it was with me that day.  I would not be writing this if the gas fumes had ignited.  If that had happened, the cab would have become an instant inferno, and both fuel tanks, that were 1/2 full or less and located under the driver and passenger seats, would have possibly ignited killing me in a flaming fuel fire worthy of dramatic news worthy sensationalism.

So you might say I am somewhat qualified, or at least have some life experience in the area of what can happen when gasoline and an ignition source are brought together.  You could also say that I have the obligation to inform people of the error of their ways when I see them ignoring common sense and the warning labels posted all over the gasoline and diesel fueling station’s liquid fuel pumping machines.  However, I also know from past experience that when I try to help others by offering friendly advice on the subject, I have always been met by rude comments like “mind your own business”, “it’s a free country” or “#!@! off!!”…so, since these people apparently either are; totally ignorant and/or do not understand the science behind the reality of the situation, have a death wish, or just do not care at all about their own safety or the safety of the other human beings that may be nearby.  So, now whenever I encounter these situations I always report these individuals to the fueling station attendants and then I get away from the area as fast as possible because highly flammable liquid fuels + the increased potential for static/spark/flame induced fuel vapor ignition + careless, know-it-all or ignorant humans = loads of peril and Darwin awards just waiting to happen.

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New kid on the block – the Chevrolet Bolt 200 mile range EV

MYTH: Electric vehicles are expensive.

FACT: While it is true that a new Tesla Model S P85D will set you back over 100K, you can get into a new EV such as the Nissan Leaf and soon to be avaliable Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 for less than $35k. You must also remember to factor in that you will NEVER pay for gas/diesel and oil again and that in itself adds up to thousands of dollars/year…even when you account for the cost of the electricity used to fuel your EV! Then, when then you factor in all the money spent on tune-ups and engine/transmission/exhaust system repairs for most ICE powered vehicles – all the savings add up to reveal that most EV’s are much more economical to own and drive than your average ICE powered vehicle.

MYTH: When the battery wears out a new battery will cost more than the car is worth.

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Nissan Leaf battery photo from InsideEV’s

FACT: When an EV’s battery degrades to the point where it is no longer able to store enough energy to propel you in your daily commute, the battery can be easily replaced with a new one-it is as plug and play as the battery in your mobile device or cordless tool…only larger. Currently the cost for the Nissan Leaf battery is around $5500 so it is about the same as having a new engine and transmission replaced in a standard ICE vehicle. After the battery is replaced you essentially have a new car. I admit that price is a bit high (especially if you are a do-it-yourself mechanic) but when Tesla’s Gigafactory (goes online in a few years they will start turning out lithium ion battery packs that will drastically lower the costs of EV batteries across the board. ( Learn more here www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory )

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The Tesla Gigafactory: Source Tesla

Note: all EV manufactures have excellent battery warranties/leasing options that serve to help new EV drivers “ease into” a better way to drive and are great incentives for adopting a this technology. Nissan for example, offers a battery warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles against defects and 5 years/60,000 miles against capacity loss – whichever comes first.

MYTH: A used EV battery cannot be used for anything and is toxic waste.

FACT: Used EV batteries can be recycled just like any battery but before that time comes they can be used in stationary power storage facilities, as back up generators when connected to the energy grid, homes, and businesses, and off-grid power stations especially when connected to renewable energy power systems. Nissan has recently partnered with Green Charge to repurpose Nissan Leaf batteries for stationary energy storage Learn more here:

And more here:

www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/business/gm-and-nissan-reusing-old-electric-car-batteries.html?_r=0
and here
www.greencarreports.com/news/1093810_electric-car-batteries-what-happens-to-them-after-coming-out-of-the-car

MYTH: There is nowhere to charge an EV?

FACT: Most EV drivers charge their cars at home overnight with the dealer supplied standard equipment charging cord that allows the car to be plugged into any 110v outlet.  Many drivers have faster Level 2 charging units installed in their homes so they can charge up even faster.

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Plugged in and charging at a friend’s barn.

When out on the road there are over 25 thousand EV charging stations in the USA alone and the number is growing every day. To find out how many are near you just take a look at www.plugshare.com.

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A screen capture of the close to 100 public charging stations in the WNC area from www.Plugshare.com

MYTH: Charging an EV is SLOW!

FACT: While not as fast as filling up the fuel tank EV charging is getting faster every day. Currently there are three levels of charging for most EV’s.

Level 1. AKA Trickle Charge.  This is the method of charging that most EV owners use to fuel their vehicles while they sleep.  The car comes with a charging cable with J1772 SAE plug that will fill the battery at the rate of 5-7 miles of range added per hour.

Level 2.  This method of charging, that also uses the J1772 SAE plug, can be found at most of the publicly avaliable charging stations in cities and towns.  These units are often found near shopping centers, movie theatres, resturants and downtown areas and will fill up an EV in 1-4 hours depending on how low the vehicle’s battery was upon plugging in.  These units can be installed in your garage at home and there are some portable models as well.

Level 3. The fastest method of charging a fast charge capable EV.  Using dedicated fast charging equipment and CHAdeMO or CCS equipped EV can be charged to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes!

DCQCPlugged into a fast charger

FACT: Most EV owners love their cars so much that they have become “crusaders” of the technology and promote them every chance they get because they know from experience that that they are a much better way to drive.

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The Bluewater Leaf in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC far from any charging outlet

CONCLUSION

OPINION supported by SCIENCE, RESEARCH, and EXPERIENCE: All of these reasons and more are why EV’s are superior to everything else on the road and one day in the near future gas/diesel will go the way of the old fossils that power them. (this is not only my honest opinion proven by science, research and experience but it is also been documented by the owners of EV’s everywhere in articles like these and more:

www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/tesla-model-s-p85d-earns-top-road-test-score

www.news.discovery.com/autos/fuel-and-alternative-fuel-technologies/electric-car-drivers-say-theyll-never-go-back-150811.htm

www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

FACT: Quoted from this Clean Technica article writen by Mike Barnard.”A tipping point has been reached in the last two years for electric cars. Almost half of all fully or partially electric vehicles sold in the past decade were sold in 2014. In addition to the standard-bearing Tesla, every car manufacturer in the world has fully or partially electric cars in their lineups. The most exciting cars in the world are now electric.”

FACT supported OPINION: Driving ICE powered vehicles is like purchasing a subscription to dependency on a highly toxic, highly addictive drug that shortens your life while constantly draining your bank account and damaging everything it comes in contact with.

Be the change you wish to see in the world and the world will change….or do nothing and nothing will ever change…it is your choice.
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Special Thanks to Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute for compiling some of the facts in this document! Learn more at: blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Special Thanks to the members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club for supporting the future of transportation and renewable energy technologies.

* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles. Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid. Total cost = $610.
** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230. Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800! (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)
Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665
Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000
While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…
After “Godzilla” the 4Runner dies, I will never go back to gas.

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Plug into the future!

A Nissan Leaf Misadventure

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Part One: Setting the Stage

In mid November 2015 I was faced with a situation.

I had the opportunity to attend a science education workshop at the SciWorks science museum north of Winston Salem, NC almost 200 miles from my home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

This workshop was important to me for not only the knowledge I would gain but also in the hours that I could use to further the completion of my North Carolina Environmental Educator’s Certification.

The only issue was that my wife was out of town with our long range ICE powered vehicle so I was forced to make a decision – miss the class or drive the Leaf on the almost 400 mile round trip.

It was an easy decision – I like a challenge so I decided to drive the Leaf.

But first I would need to do some research to be sure that I would be able to make the trip without much difficulty.

Factor One – The Route

After comparing the charging station map on Plugshare.com with the distance and elevation maps on mapmyride.com I came up with this map…

winstonEVadventureElevations

Green = Level 1&2 EVSE and Orange=level 3 EVSE 

As you can see there would be no issues getting from Brevard to Black Mountain – I have done it many times when I have attended the Leaf Festival (it has nothing to do with the Nissan Leaf).  However, between Black Mountain and Hickory there is not a single EV charging station to be found so I dubbed this section of the route – “The Wasteland.”  I felt almost positive that I could make the crossing of this stretch of highway without any issues and then continue on to my destination.  My resolve to attempt this run was strengthened after my friend and fellow Leaf owner Rudy completed this same route in his Nissan Leaf a few weeks prior.  In fact, Rudy’s adventure took him much further than I was going to go – all the way to Chapel Hill – so his accomplishment gave me inspiration to tackle the shorter drive to Winston Salem.

What I failed to factor into my calculations was that “Murphy’s Law” always has a way of throwing unforeseen factors into the mix that often result in undesirable outcomes of which you will read all about in the play-by-play I have outlined for you below…

Factor Number Two – The Car

I drive a 2012 Nissan Leaf SL.  It measures available range only in mileage, not in percent of charge remaining as all newer Leaf’s so nicely do. Many owners of this, and earlier model Leaf’s, refer to the estimated mileage range meter as the Guess-O-Meter or GOM which calculates potential range remaining based on many constantly changing factors such as speed, elevation, temperature, accessories being used, and more.

I routinely drive my Leaf in ECO mode in order to conserve as much power as possible so all mileage reports in this document will be for ECO mode unless otherwise noted.

My Leaf has 31k miles on the odometer and it has recently lost its first battery capacity bar.

Factor Three – The Driver

Remember Melville’s story about the white whale…well, in the past I have often looked at driving long distances in my leaf as sort of my “white whale” so to speak.  In all other instances I have defeated my whale and always made it to my chosen destination and back using meticulous research, planning, knowledge, driving skills, and a bit of luck I suppose…and fortunately without the undesirable consequences Captain Ahab encountered fighting his whale.  On this trip however, due to errors of miscalculation on my part – the whale almost wins.

The Drive

Day one 11/13/15

Home. 8:30 am. o miles driven. I left home with  a full charge and  77 miles on the GOM.

Mills River. 9:00 am.  I stopped for a car wash to remove the dirt and grime built up from the last week and a half of constant rains.  Not only would the car look nice for the trip but the clean, shiny, paint would hopefully help the car slip through the air a little bit better thereby lowering my drag coefficient resulting in a bit better energy economy…that was my theory anyway.

Asheville. 10:20 am.   26 miles driven,  41 miles remaining on GOM. I made it to my first charging location of the DCQC CHAdeMO unit on the campus of Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College where I plugged into the massive Eaton Level 3 charging unit and filled up the Leaf up to 80% and 82 miles of range on the GOM before heading out to Black Mountain.

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DCQC View

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Leaf View

Black Mountain.  12:37 am.   17 miles driven, 44 miles remaining on GOM. At this point I was farther east that I had ever been in my little electric car.  I plugged into the Level 2 GE Watt station and waked about a block into the middle of the quaint little mountain town and found a bar and grille style restaurant called the Ale House where I had a great lunch.  After lunch I headed back to a fully charged Leaf with 72 miles of range so I pointed the car to the east.

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The only way to get out of the mountains from Black Mountain,  without undue difficulty and copious amounts of time, is to take interstate 40 east over the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge escarpment –  a massive wall of a mountain that drops from around 2800 feet above sea level to around  1400  feet in just  a few miles.

2:00pm. After leaving Black Mountain with a full charge and getting on interstate 40 I headed up to the gap in the ridge where I found that had only 54 miles of range remaining due to the high speed climb up from Black Mountain.  54 miles of range was nowhere near enough to cross “The Wasteland” – that close to 70 mile gap from Black Mountain to Hickory where not a single EV charging station can be found… but I threw caution to the four winds, trusted the science and the car’s technology and my “hyper-mileing” skills…and down I plunged off the edge of the mountains and into the foothills bound for the Piedmont. Then, after dropping over the escarpment – gravity, mass, and momentum coupled with the ingenious science of the regenerative breaking system in the little EV worked together to totally top off the car’s battery upon reaching the bottom!! Wow! The Leaf’s regenerative breaking system had filled the battery all the way back up to full even though the cruise control was set to 60 mph for the entire run down the escarpment–amazing!  I then set my sights on Hickory in the distance, set the cruise to 65mph,  turned up the stereo, and off I went.

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Hickory.   3:58pm.    63 miles driven,  3 miles remaining on GOM!!  WOO HOO!!  I made it across the wasteland without stopping!!! I rolled into Hickory with only 3 miles of range remaining on the Leaf—now that was close, the lowest I have ever drawn down the Leaf….but I made it across “The Wasteland” at 65 mph!

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Now I’m sitting here at Crossroads Nissan plugged into their CHAdeMO quick charger and will be getting back on the road soon to Statesville. I love my car!!

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Statesville.  4:58pm.   35  miles driven.  25 miles remaining on GOM!! Made it with no issues. Going to go find food while Elektra suckles the grid from the Level 2 charger at Classic Nissan.  Wandered inside to talk to the friendly sales staff and drool over the NV200 delivery van (hopefully soon to be sold in the USA as the eNV200 fully electric small van of which I will one day have for my nonprofit company’s education outreach and wildlife rescue vehicle–read all about it in one of my recent postings.)

nissanvan

Statesville. 7:15pm.  Still in Statesville…walked a few blocks down the street for some carnitas and chorizo tacos…car still charging…slowly…seems like this L2 is a bit under-powered…

After an 8:00 departure with around 60 miles available range I headed east on I-40 bound for SciWorks science museum north of Winston Salem where I planned to camp for the night.

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West Winston-Salem.  9:00pm.  46 miles driven.   12 miles remaining on GOM!!  Made it as far as a Microtel…only about 12 miles short of my destination…just too tired to keep going…been a long day and the Leaf was down to 12 miles of range…and it was dark…and the territory was unfamiliar…so I didn’t want to try to push the envelope like I did earlier crossing the “Wasteland” so I found a hotel on Plugshare where a user stated that they had successfully charged via a 110 outlet on the back of the building…so I booked a room and plugged into the outlet for the night. All in all it has been a successful but long day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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My outlet for the night…I hope nobody unplugs the Leaf!

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Day 2

8:29 am.  Had a decent nights rest at the Microtel and the Leaf charged at L1 for the entire night but only made it to around 75% charge. No problem however since my destination for this morning is the CHAdeMO DCQC at Modern Nissan just a few miles north of the city.

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North Winston-Salem.  7:20am.    12 miles driven.   37 miles remaining on GOM!! The drive to Modern Nissan was short and uneventful. I decided to feed the car first but had to squeeze my Leaf into the space that was partially ICE’d (blocked by a gas powered vehicle).

winstonnissanday2c2

It is charging now so I have some time to ponder the insanity of my surroundings – several older Nissan gas powered vehicles sit in various stages of repair from decades old to shiny new…almost all of them ICE powered… here I sit, charging my all electric intergalactic spacepod of light and wonder (not to be confused with the Intergalactic Spaceboat of Light and Wonder) from yet another technological wonder, the charger…that is unflatteringly installed on top of several wooden pallets and hidden in a remote corner as if they really couldn’t care any less. The people running this establishment and reading these words may not see as I do but as far as I am concerned, the future of passenger transportation is, no, must be the fully electric car powered by renewably generated electricity. There is no other way to get us out of this fossil fired mess we are in.  If I was Nissan I would have the DCQC installed prominently out in front of their facility for all to see and would be promoting their EV’s with more gusto….then again, there is the 2nd generation Leaf, the eNV200, and this to look forward to.
Meanwhile, the maintenance staff that has just arrived seems to not share my views as they were all driving large, noisy, modified ICE vehicles that looked like they either had just driven off the set of one of those childish fossil fired Fast and Furious movies or were built to survive an apocalyptic  zombie hoard…the one sad thing they all had in common was the huge and loud exhaust pipes. Do they even have any clue about the brilliance of driving electric? I doubt it.

8:15am Even with the range limitations I still love my car….it just finished charging so time for me to go get some fuel for myself now…off to the Waffle House.

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Sci-Works. 8:59am.  3 miles driven. After a great Waffle House breakfast I made it to my destination of SCI-WORKS with 66 miles remaining on the GOM.

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Modern Nissan. 5:04pm. After a great day of science education I departed SciWorks and headed back to Modern Nissan to top off the battery before   heading west to Hickory where I will flop at my sister’s place for the night!

Salisbury.  6:57pm.   41 miles driven.   15 miles remaining on GOM!!  I decided to detour to the newly installed Greenlots DCQC in Salisbury for a quick charge while I forage for sustenance on main street… salisbury11.15.15

8:52pm.  While the Leaf was fast charging I wandered down a nearby alley to main street, turned left, and found a great Italian restaurant where I had a wonderful vegetarian calzone before getting underway once again.

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Statesville. 9:50pm.  25miles driven,  31 miles remaining on GOM!!  I made the short run to Statesville where I was not planning to stop but once I hit the city limits and saw the 30 miles of range remaining on the GOM I felt that it was prudent to grab a short charge before pushing on to my sisters place in the backwoods north of Hickory.

Naptime…

10:15pm. The L2 has brought the estimated range up to 60 miles.  Time to set out on the 41 mile trek to my sisters home north of Hickory.  It will all be secondary roads so the drive should be easy and uneventful…

11:00 pm. My sister’s house somewhere north of Hickory.  41 miles driven, 6 miles remaining on GOM!!!  Made it to my sister’s house around 11pm…with 6 miles of range remaining!!  Good thing I decided to charge in Statesville!  During the charge and subsequent non stop 60 mph 41 mile drive in the country, the temperatures bottomed out around 28f so it is possible that temperature+speed+headlight use+hilly terrain may have been the combined factors that drained the leaf’s battery so fast on this leg of the journey…but I did make it.

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I pulled out the extension cord and plugged into a 110v outlet beside the porch and quickly fell asleep on the couch…

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The next morning

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Day three.

9am. This morning the sun cracked over a frosty morning with temps around 25F and a Leaf charged up only to around 65%. I set out on the 14 mile run to the CHAdeMO unit at the Hickory Nissan dealership that I visited on Friday…

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Hickory Nissan dealership.   9:45am.  14 miles driven.   35  miles remaining on GOM!  At the dealership now charging up as much as possible and planning my route back across “The Wasteland” and then up, up, up the escarpment to my mountain home.

Truthfully, I’m more worried about this leg than any other part of the journey due to the cold temps last night and gradual elevation gain possibly forcing me to stop and trickle charge somewhere in “The “Wasteland”…only time will tell.

10:15am – This quick charge seems to be slower than usual…must be the cold…

Marion. 12:30 pm.   45 miles driven.    7 miles remaining on GOM!

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I rolled into Marion around 12:30 pm…with only 7 miles of range remaining! I feared this might happen and here I am – that damn Murphy again.  After driving around looking for an outlet and not having much luck and then being turned down by two different small business owners-despite offering to pay them for the electricity – I finally found a place to trickle charge–at the Smokey Que BBQ restaurant.  I plugged in and let my car trickle charge while I filled up on a nice lunch of grilled catfish and veggies.

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As I ate I calculated just how long it would take to charge the car enough to make the climb up the steep escarpment. At level 1 trickle charge, since there are no L2 charging stations in “The Wasteland,” the remaining distance to the L2 charger in Black Mountain was only about 18 miles away but I needed to factor in not only the distance but the elevation gain up the escarpment and increased speed of interstate driving, so by my rough calculations I would need around a 75% charge to safely get me there with some juice to spare…and to do that in my current charging situation (or lack thereof) I would need to wait for the car to charge for about 8 hours…!

CRIKEY!!

I thought about all of my options and there were only two.

Option 1. Wait for 8 hours then drive to Black Mountain, charge at L2 for about an hour, then make for the DCQC at AB and charge up to 80% and then head home – this option would take me the most time putting me home at probably 1am…but it would also allow me to do the entire trip on electricity so I would have again killed the “white whale” and have some really awesome bragging rights🙂

or

Option 2. I could forget my pride and let the whale win for once.  Nissan offers, with all EV purchases (at least for now), the option of calling roadside assistance for a tow in the event an EV owner cannot make it to their destination due to either running out of a charge or a lack of charging station infrastructure…my current situation definitely qualified as lack of charging station infrastructure and would have been both had I continued without plugging into the restaurant.  I decided to make the decision that I never thought I would need to make – I called Nissan’s roadside assistance and asked for a lift.  The operator was very helpful and professional and soon the driver called me back and said it would take him 2 hours before he could get to my location so I pulled out my new Bill Nye book and read a few chapters while I waited.

After reading for awhile I took a walk and soon found myself chatting with the restaurant’s owner who seemed very open and interested in the possibility of installing a Level 2 charging station at his business.  If he did so he would not only put his business and town on the navigation systems of every EV in the region but he would also remove “The Wasteland” from the maps and make the drive to the “High country” that much more open to electric vehicles.  My challenge to all local EV drivers that are reading this – please, if you ever find yourselves in Marion, make it a point to stop by the Smokey Que BBQ and let the manager know how much an electric vehicle charging station would open up his business and his town to the future–and maybe he will see fit to be the first to do so.

About 1.5 hours later I decided I had enough juice to make the 12 mile drive to Old Fort where it would be easier to meet the tow closer to the interstate so I called the driver to let him know I was moving a few miles up the road.

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He soon met me in Old Fort and I snapped this pic of the Leaf being loaded onto the flatbed with Black Mountain looming overhead in the background.  At first I regretted having to make the call but later decided that it was a a good test of Nissan’s roadside assistance and I soon discovered that Nissan’s service was smooth, seamless and well orchestrated and if you are an EV owner it is there to help you should you ever need it.  Well done Nissan!  However, with proper planning you should never need to call for a tow.

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The view from the cab of the flatbed as we made our way up the escarpment…

While Nissan’s roadside assistance for EV owners is a complimentary service and my piggyback ride up the mountain was 100 free of cost to me –it was not free of fossil fuel due to the rollback being diesel powered.  So this one heavy hauler diesel fired trip most likely negated most if not all the electric driving I had done over the last three days – what a total let down😦  

Live an learn.

The driver soon dropped us off at the AB Technical Community College’s DCQC – the first and last charging stop of the trip.  I plugged in and charged up to 80% in 22 minuets and headed home.

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Home.  8:15pm. Finally, back at the old home place after an epic 427 mile EV driving and charging adventure that I do not want to repeat anytime soon.

FINAL NOTES

-I only spent $6 on electricity for this entire 427 mile round trip while driving the Leaf.  Try that in a gas/diesel vehicle.  Had I completed the entire trip without the help from the tow the trip would have been closer to 450 miles…but that is water under the bridge.

-Most of the greenhouse gasses saved by driving the Leaf on this journey were most likely negated by calling for the diesel powered ride up the mountain.

-Detailed trip planning is very important.

-The 2012 Leaf is a wonderful machine in almost every way but it is just not a long-range-at-highway-speeds vehicle.  However, if you have access to EVSE charging infrastructure including DC quick chargers spaced about every 50 miles…then it would be doable…although a bit more time consuming.

-Level 1 “trickle” charging is unbelievably, painfully, SLOW!  Do it at night while you are sleeping or while you are working.

-Electric cars will often force you to slow down and stop and smell the roses, taste the food, drink the ale, and generally enjoy life a little bit more.  This can be very good for business in towns that have charging infrastructure located at or near local businesses.

-Some see an adventure like this as just that–a grand, forward thinking adventure–even with the anxiety that is often inherent with new technologies.  Others see it as an impractical waste of time or a massive hindrance–I would be in the former.

-EV battery technology needs to be drastically improved so that EV’s can regularly go over 200 miles on one charge.

-From my experience on this and other long range EV adventures in my Nissan Leaf, as far as I am concerned – even with their limitations (and there are not many) – battery electric EV’s are going to play a major role in the future of automotive transportation.

When will plug in battery electric vehicles begin to dominate the roads?  I believe it will happen when all of the factors listed below fall into place;

Battery technology develops to increase range to around 200-300miles/charge.

Charging stations get fast enough to charge an EV to 80% in 10 minuets.

Fast charging infrastructure is more widely developed to fill in the gaps on the maps.

A wider variety of makes and models of BEV’s are offered that appeal to a wider range of buyers.  This should include passenger cars, pick-up trucks, delivery vans, motorcycles and luxury super-cars.

More people take a ride in or drive an EV and experience the freedom and joy of driving electric.

From all the hype it looks like 2018 may be the year of the EV if all of the rumors hold true.  I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

salisbury11.15.15a

In the meantime – watch out for white whales.

 

Changing the Cabin Filter in a 2012 Nissan Leaf

It had to happen eventually…routine maintenance.   I have been driving my Leaf now for over 30k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.

DCQCAloft

Recently however the Leaf popped up a message on the infotainment/nav screen and informed me that it needed maintenance on its Air Conditioner Filter aka: cabin air filter.

filter

Below I have outlined the step by step method I used to change the filter.

  1. Remove the glove box in its entirety–a simple matter of removing a few screws and then gently pulling the unit down and toward the rear. (This does not need to be done if you are a contortionist and want to use the tiny plastic door located on the back left of the inside of the glove box).  This is a view with the glove box removed.  GBremoved

2. A look inside reveals the ECM – the “brains” of the beast – bolted to the bulkhead.

brains

3. Looking to the left of the ECM we see the air handler system.

filtercover

4. Note the white plastic cover (black in some model Leaf’s).  You will need to remove this to access the air filter. No tools are needed, just simply locate the tab on the bottom of the cover and lift outward to remove the cover to reveal the air filter.  Mine was overdue to be changed so there was an assortment of botanical debris collected around and on the forward side of the filter.

oldfilter

5. Lift the flexible tab near the top of the filter (just above the word front in the above and below photos) and pull gently down and out to dislodge the top of the filter from its housing. Then pop out the bottom and the filter will slide out as in the next photo if you do it properly.

oldfilterout

6. Continue to slide the filter outward until it stops. You will then need to gently work the other side of the filter loose to get it out of the housing.  Once out, you can inspect it for damage and debris.

You may want to take a look inside the air handler box to make sure all is clean and debris free.  This is the inside of mine…

filterchamber

The old and new filters compared side by side. The old one (30k miles) is on the left.  The new one looks darker due to a coating of charcoal and baking soda that will act as an air freshener apparently.

filters

7. Installing the new filter is the reverse of removal but you will need to be careful in how you insert the filter to get it just right.  I found this video tutorial very helpful – especially for this part of the job.

8. The type of filter I used is pictured below.

filter

After the filter is inserted, replace all the parts and you are good to go for another 15k miles or so.

I hope this tutorial has helped guide you in the replacement of your Leaf’s cabin air filter so you can save even more money and grin an even wider EV grin🙂

Notes.

By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!

Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time.  This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 30k miles!  Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla” running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles  – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic motor oil, and I change the filter when I change the oil.  Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!

The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many many moving parts as ICE (petroleum) powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts.  This is one of the many reasons that EV’s are superior to everything else on the road.    march

* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles.  Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid.  Total cost = $610.

** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230.  Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800!  (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)

Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665

Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000

While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…

After “Godzilla” dies, I will never go back to gas.


Chapel Hill and Back Without a Drop of Gas. By Guest blogger Rudy Singh

“Chapel Hill and back without a drop of gas,” I exclaimed, walking through the door, after traveling from Asheville to Chapel Hill in the electric vehicle.   With a “range” of only 85 miles, traversing 500 miles in two days was a significant good achievement.   Gone were the days of “range anxiety” as I had mapped out the trip to the last mile.

Two days earlier, after dropping my child to school I headed to Black Mountain. Opposite the visitor center there are two J1772 chargers. Attached to one charger was a red Model S from Georgia. No doubt they were on a road trip. It looked like they had left it there overnight as the screen on the unit indicated “charge complete” with a charge time of 10 hours. I had a mind to pull out the charger from their car in case someone else needed to charge, but decided not to lest they were offended.

Knowing the car would require a few hours on the Level 2, I needed something to do. I strolled downtown Black Mountain and found a café where I grabbed a coffee and bagel while settling into The Martian, by Andy Weir.   A friend recommended the story to me after hearing of my adventures on the trip to Atlanta!

Leaf 1

After 1 hour and 50 minutes, I returned to the chargers. The red Tesla was gone. My car had 98% charge and 90 miles. I then headed to Ridgecrest – the top of the grade.   Regenerative Braking is an aspect of EVs that is unparalleled in gas counterparts.   At Ridgecrest the meter read 80% and 77 miles.   By the time the car had wound down the 6% grade to Old Fort, the meter was at 83% and 85 miles – a gain of 3% in battery energy – more than 700 watt-hours of energy (about 2400 Btu). Tell me of a gas car that can gain fuel while driving!

B1

The next stop was Hickory, 62 miles from Black Mountain.

One of the disadvantages of electric cars (or me) is that on long trips I tend to drive the speed limit or less, attempting to maximize the range.     Thus, it seemed everyone on the highway was passing me. I drifted into strange thought patterns wondering why we were always in a hurry to get somewhere. I drifted to the past: The distance from Toronto to Montreal is about 550 km. In my college days I would boast: “It took me four and half hours” an average speed of 122 km/hour, way above the speed limit of 100km – and never a ticket!

Finally, I pulled into the Hickory dealership with 25% battery. I charged for 30 minutes (CHAdeMO) and left with 91% and 78 miles.

Leaf 2

By noon, I was in Statesville with 47% charge and 50 miles. I could have tried to venture to Winston Salem without charging, but the distance from Hickory to Winston Salem is 78 miles, plus the dive to the chargers. I felt this might have been stretching it somewhat since one wrong turn it would be trouble!

The dealership in Statesville had only Level 2 chargers.   A friendly sales girl told me where they were and tried to sell me a new Leaf as wellJ One hour later, Watney had almost destroyed the HAB and I left Statesville with the range meter read 77% SOC and 77 miles.

H1

The Winston Salem dealership is far off I40 to the north of the city on University Drive.   The CHAdeMO is located behind the service area. When I arrived a car was blocking the unit, but a nice worker noticed I wanted to charge and moved the car. Arriving with 25 miles and 27% charge, I left with 91% charge and 95 miles.   NASA had discovered Watney was alive.

Burlington was 53 miles away, however I entered the dealership with 40 miles and 40% SOC.   When I plugged into the CHAdemo, the unit showed an error. One of the employees tripped the unit off waited a few minutes and then put it back in.   I re-attached the vacuum plug and hit start. It worked! However, I noticed the battery was hot – 1 bar away from the critical zone.   Perhaps, the continuous draining and charging to over 80% SOC was heating it up. I hoped it would not hit the critical heat zone which could potentially damage the battery. I was tempted to take the vehicle through an underbody car wash to cool the pack, but luckily the “air cooled” system on the car worked keeping it below critical.   I finally arrived at Chapel Hill with 50 miles and 59% SOC. Watney had found the Pathfinder!

The trip back was a retrace of the forward journey with the exception of climbing the mountain at Old Fort. I had planned to charge at a campsite there and had travelled with my Level 2 charger from home to do so.

But, after leaving Hickory, 9 miles out of Old Fort, the sign read “Black Mountain 19 miles”. The car had 37 miles. Sure, a no-brainer, I could make it up without charging. As I entered the grade the meter read 25 miles. Up and up, the car made the hill admirable, but every mile of the 6% grade took away 2 from the meter. By the time I reached the top of the 5 mile grade the meter read 14 miles. Yes, Hickory to Black Mountain was possible using this EV with energy to spare! Having left Chapel Hill at 8:30 am, I arrived home at 5:30 pm, travelling 240 miles with 5 stops and not a drop of gas!   Did I mention that even the energy was free on this trip!   Tell me gas car that can do as much?

So there you have it. Long distance travel is possible with limited range electric vehicles. All it takes is patience and thought. If anyone tells you about the range of electric cars, you know what to tell them as Watney would: “&* &%(+ & $%^&$#%^!”

The reason for narrating this otherwise routine trip as a story is to being attention to a function what we all take for granted – travelling. Our addiction to oil over the last century and a half, while bringing a lot of positive growth has not been without extreme negative environmental and political consequences. While politicians clamor about spending and national debt, they tap into the non-renewable oil bank at alarming rates. In fact, if the US were to use only its reserves for our consumption, we would run dry within 3 to 5 years!   http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/

 

It seems that the advent of the electric car will revolutionize transportation and you all are all pioneers of this technology. I apologize to those of you who have not read or seen the Martian for some “spoiler” effect, but the novel seemed to fit well with this narrative.J

The Nissan eNV200 electric Van…where and when is it for the USA market?

It is not as sexy as a Tesla.

It is not as everyday as a Nissan Leaf.

It is not as futuristic as a BMW i3.

It is not as unique as a Chevy Volt.

It is not as radical as a BMW i8.

What is it?

It is the Nissan e-NV200 all electric compact cargo van!

 eNV200

Above photo from: http://insideevs.com/nissan-e-nv200-sale-japan-october/

It is a small cargo-utility van based on the successful Nissan NV200 fossil fuel powered cargo van but it is powered by the motor and drive train of the all electric Nissan Leaf!

nissan-env200-ev-05-1

Above photo from: http://latestheadlinenews.org/2013/11/22/nissan-e-nv200-ev-tokyo-2013/

The eNV200 is a wonderful and incredibly practical cargo vehicle that will benefit so many large and small businesses, taxi, Uber drivers, shuttle and delivery companies, nonprofits, schools, churches and other organizations as well as families that need to tote around several people, cargo, and animals, on a daily basis.  Its beauty is not only found in its practicality and simplicity, but also the very low cost of operation due to its all electric drive train that has been proven by the astounding success of the Nissan Leaf.

interior

Above photo from: http://www.nissanusa.com/content/dam/nissan/future-and-concept-vehicles/e-nv200/gallery/6_large.jpg

nissan-e-nv20--evalia -340011

Above photo from: http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-review/nissan/e-nv200/first-drives/nissan-e-nv200-combi-first-drive-review

Nissan-LEAF-e-NV200avis

Above photo from: https://chargedevs.com/newswire/avis-denmark-orders-401-nissan-e-nv200-vans-and-60-more-leafs/

Unfortunately, this wonderful, small, electric utility van is not offered in the USA…yet.

Since it’s debut in early 2014 I have been patiently waiting for a revelation form Nissan about when the e-NV200 all electric small utility van will be released in the USA.

I have thoroughly searched the internet and found several great articles, reviews and open-ended, non committal commentary such as these.

http://www.env200.com/

http://www.nissanusa.com/future-and-concept-vehicles/e-nv200

http://www.autonews.com/article/20140609/OEM05/140609830/nissan-e-nv200-van-debuts-in-japan-but-is-it-a-good-fit-for-n.a?

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092763_nissan-e-nv200-electric-van-battery-adds-thermal-conditioning

https://chargedevs.com/newswire/avis-denmark-orders-401-nissan-e-nv200-vans-and-60-more-leafs/

http://2016nissancars.com/nissan-e-nv200-usa/

http://www.caranddriver.com/news/nissan-e-nv200-electric-van-photos-and-info-news

https://transportevolved.com/2015/03/03/nissan-officially-launches-7-seat-evalia-variant-of-e-nv200-electric-minivan-in-europe/

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/12/07/nissans-e-nv200-now-available-japan-us-release-delayed/

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1092704_driving-nissan-e-nv200-all-electric-small-commercial-van

http://www.autoblog.com/2014/06/13/nissan-expands-us-ev-test-market-for-e-nv200-to-portland/

The debut at the Washington Auto Show:Or follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kk9USADkx5A

2016 Nissan eNV200 reviewOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BIQf0UH2dMg

A review by Robert Llewellyn of Fully ChargedOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcf-NSkPE_w

Another, more recent, review by Fully ChargedOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGFt3i3kLqM

A video review by the Red FerretOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGxN2uShN5c

The Dalbury E: http://insideevs.com/nissan-e-nv200-transformed-worlds-first-electric-camper-van/

Dalbury E videoOr follow the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb1JTOrdbKU

As you can see the eNV200 is a very capable vehicle that is loved by many and, as far as I am concerned, its obvious benefits as a small, electric cargo vehicle outweigh any current range limitations. Unfortunately, I assume that from Nissan’s business point of view – this is not a practical outlook and I fully understand that position.

However, if Tesla can make a vehicle with a range close to 300 miles…why is Nissan taking so long to catch up, make a longer range battery, and get the eNV200 on the roads here in the USA?

I have questioned the “authorities” at Nissan in person and online and all I get is vague open-ended comments that lead nowhere and on one occasion a Nissan associate even attempted to re-direct me to another subject…hmmmm…why all the cloak and dagger…?  It is just a van…it is not an issue of national security.

After all my research and I have finally come to the conclusion that either-

  1. Nissan is working on and/or waiting on battery technology that will offer the longer ranges that many sources have reported will be in the next generation Leaf.  This technology could obviously then be applied to the van and thereby make it much more appealing to the US market where the average person drives a longer distance each day than in Japan, Europe, and the UK where the van has been available for the last year or so.  I would welcome longer range between charges so if this is the case I have no issue waiting.
  2. Nissan is planning to release the van alongside the redesigned Leaf in 2017 -possibly with the same battery options as with the second generation Leaf.
  3. Nissan has the technology in place for a 200+ mile range Leaf and/or van but is waiting to release the car at a later date in order to dispose of the current stock of older technologies.
  4. Or…Nissan is not planning on releasing the eNV200 in the USA.

Option one and option two make the most sense from my point of view.

Option three I can understand as well but I do not believe it to be the case as the technology in the Leaf and the van is essentially the same so one would think that Nissan would produce all the EV vans and Leafs it had in stock in order to maximize profits in order to produce the next generation of EV’s/vans with more capable range.

Option four…well, I truly hope it is not an option.

Nissan Light Commercial Vehicles product planner Evan Fulton stated in this article that “If we had, say, a thousand business owners waiting, we could move very quickly.”  Well, I would be one of those business owners that would put an eNV200 to purposeful, and highly visible daily use should it become available in the USA so that leaves only 999 more businesses and individuals to get on-board with the eNV200 to possibly count for something.  If you are interested in the eNV200 please, PLEASE do contact Nissan or at the very least comment on this blog posting with your interest because Nissan needs to know there is interest so that the eNV200 will become a reality.

nissan-env200-concept-dash-guage

Above photo from: http://www.trucktrend.com/cool-trucks/163-1201-nissan-env200-concept-photo-gallery/photo-gallery/#photo-10

I am usually a very patient person but just knowing that there are eNV200’s all over the roads in many other parts of the world, and that real people are enjoying daily use of these remarkable cargo-utility vehicles for purposes very similar to my needs…I just could not take the suspense any longer so a few months ago I wrote Nissan HQ in Atlanta in the hopes of being considered as a product tester for the eNV200.  Below is the letter for what it’s worth…

——————————————————–

Hello Nissan North America,
I would also like to personally thank Nissan for supporting the WNC area in working to build our EV charging infrastructure with the assistance of the installation of the first DCQC on the campus of Asheville – Buncombe Technical Community College and for bringing the Nissan Leaf EV to the world’s roads.  It is truly a remarkable vehicle that I have been driving to-from work daily since August 2012 and I am excited to see what upgrades and improvements are to come for the Leaf.
I am also very excited to someday see the eNV200 all-electric cargo van hit the roads in the USA.
If at all remotely possible, I would like Nissan to please consider my non-profit wildlife conservation organization, Earthshine Nature Programs, to be included in any future field/beta tests of the eNV200 van.  If Nissan chooses to select my company to test an eNV200 (if this is even possible) I would give it a very thorough beta test in an area that would give it great visibility.
You may ask why I say this?
1. Earthshine Nature Programs is a small 501c3 and currently, I drive my personal 2012 Nissan Leaf as our only company vehicle.  We are in great need of a dedicated company vehicle and, as we are an environmental/wildlife conservation nonprofit company whose goals are to teach ways to better live with wildlife, conserve and protect nature, and live more sustainably by using renewable energies such as solar, wind and driving EV’s, to me it makes perfect sense to use a clean EV as our company vehicle and promote Nissan’s clean vehicles and clean charging technologies to everyone we meet.
solarcharging714UNCA
Solar charging at a local BrightfieldTS L2 charging station.
2. We drive our Leaf an average of 15k miles/year and all of these miles are in and around the Western North Carolina, East Tennessee, Upstate South Carolina and North Georgia areas.  We are very visible to the public in our Leaf however, other than a small front license plate, it has no company insignia that denotes who we are.  However, if we are able to one day acquire an eNV200 van we will have it outfitted with our company logos (see attached photo example) and (if a field test vehicle for Nissan or a vehicle donated by Nissan…) we would gladly apply any and all appropriate logos chosen by Nissan to the vehicle to make it more visible to the general public when we were out and about.  This could only help promote Nissan’s amazing EV technology to everyone we meet.
ENPoutreachvanconcept
The outreach van would be charged primarily via classroom generated solar energy from our our soon to be constructed, student-built and maintained 6 kW solar array! 
3. I would drive the eNV200 in all types or weather and various road conditions as I have been doing with my 2012 Leaf.  I have a ~30 mile round trip daily commute and this route takes me from my home at an elevation of around 2200 feet to around 3000 feet at my office.  This route consists of several miles of high speed driving at 55-60mph, several more miles of “country road” driving at speeds of 35-50mph, then ~6 miles of mountainous driving on curvy, two and single lane paved and gravel roads at speeds of 15-30mph.  I also drive to and from my various wildlife conservation/research study sites at least twice/week and I frequently make many wildlife rescue, rehabilitation and consultation “house calls” all around the WNC area throughout the year.  In all of my travels, on all road surfaces, and weather conditions, the Leaf has preformed above and beyond my initial expectations.  It is truly an exceptional EV.  Should I be able to partner with Nissan and acquire an eNV200 van, I would drive it in the same conditions as the Leaf in order to test it’s capabilities as an environmental education, outreach education, wildlife conservation and rescue work vehicle in the cities, towns, and countryside of my service area.
4. I would also display/promote the eNV200 van at any/all National Drive Electric Week events, public car shows, farmers markets, and EV club meets that our local EV club (the Blue Ridge EV Club on Facebook) hosts or attends in the future.  In 2014 I was one of the Asheville “City Captains” for NDEW,  we put on a great show and I produced a video documenting the day, it is available via the YouTube link below. If you skip ahead to 6:28 there is a fun spin around downtown Asheville, NC in my Leaf and a convoy of EV’s that you may also enjoy🙂
 Or follow this link to the video:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=an9C_iILSzg
In conclusion, I believe that if Nissan chooses to offer/loan/donate an eNV200 van to Earthshine Nature Programs as a test vehicle, we will certainly be able to give it a wonderful field test and give it great visibility in the community. Also, as an early adopter and a science-minded person, I love to keep track of usage data.  As I have done with my Leaf, I would keep detailed daily written reports as well as video documentation on all of my experiences with the eNV200 van.  I would then post detailed stories with photos and videos on a blog similar to this one that would be dedicated to the eNV200.   This blog would allow people anywhere in the world to learn from my company’s experiences using an eNV200 van as a company vehicle and it would serve to further promote Nissan’s game changing EV technology to the world.
For more information on our nonprofit please visit www.earthshinenature.com
I hope to hear from you soon.
                                    ——————————————————-
It has been many months since I sent that email to Nissan HQ and in return I have received…silence.  Hopefully, this means that they are considering shipping my company a shiny new eNV200 complete with the new longer range battery tech as a Christmas present…or maybe a birthday present next July…
I can dream can’t I…🙂
From my point of view as a forward thinking nonprofit business owner, science and renewable energy educator, and supporter of the rapid adoption of clean tech and energy innovation, I believe that once the eNV200 is released in the USA it will be a great seller among progressive small businesses all over the country and a great move by Nissan that I will support 100% just as I have done with the Nissan Leaf.
nissanvan
Thank you Nissan for working to create the future of transportation today now please bring the eNV200 to North America because we are ready and waiting!

A Leaf Trip to Atlanta

By Guest Author Rudy Singh

“I think we have enough miles to reach Cornelia…” said Dad – were the words used by my daughter to start off her story about our trip to Atlanta with the Nissan Leaf.     Paying no attention to my wife’s warnings about heavy rain in Northeast Georgia, I left the Kia dealership Chademo in Gainesville with 77% charge. For some reason, the charger had shut down after twenty minutes, so I decided to venture on to Cornelia, about 22 miles away – a decision, I would somewhat regret later.

The trip down to Atlanta, GA two days previous had been long. However, we made it safely with only one anxious low battery moment – saved by the charger at a grocery store in north Gainesville, some 60 miles downhill from Clayton. Clayton was the weak link.   The Blink Chademo in Clayton, while looking beautiful was off line!   Instead, we relied on the adjacent Level 2 to bring us back up to 79% charge, while we ate dinner.

They say if you want to test the durability of something, give it the harshest conditions and see how it responds.   This was my motto as we left Asheville on a very stormy weekend. After picking up my daughter from school, with dog and stuff packed in we headed west for Waynesville, NC.   At the Greenlots Chademo on Depot Street, I topped off the Leaf to 90% and then headed on to Franklin, NC. I had estimated that there was enough battery energy to reach Clayton, GA. However, I had noticed a Level 2 charger on the Plug Share app at a Chevy dealership in Franklin. Perhaps we could pick a few more miles at the dealership just in case… The people at the dealership were very friendly. As I picked up a few more miles on the car, we chatted about the new Volt and GM’s electric truck.

The car drove like a dream the whole way, but we were relieved to reach Gainesville after a close call. We spent 40 minutes at the grocery charger and then headed 6 miles down the road to the Kia dealership where we bombarded the battery pack with fast moving electrons from the Chademo! After having to sit many hours at several Level 2 chargers, I sure appreciated these super fast chargers.

Hoping that the roads had not flooded, in pitch darkness we drove across Lake Lanier and entered Alpharetta around 11:30 pm. The trip had taken 9 hours – twice the time that it would usually take with an ICE car.   However, we had not used a drop of gas!

Atlanta is a hub of electric cars and charging stations – many more networks than I thought existed! For example, within a mile of our hotel, there was an nrg EVgo Chademo station at a AAA service station. The cost is high at $9 per half hour, but it was easy enough for me to go “gas up” to above 80% and come back for breakfast.

20151004_090406

With an 85 mile range (according to EPA), Leafs are not designed to travel long distances. But the purpose of this trip was two fold – to see if I could get to Atlanta and to visit the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, just north of Atlanta.   The museum was great!   The Dinosaur exhibit was incredible. But of special note was this:

image (4)

I had to touch the body of the great ancestor EV1! It was exhilarating!

image (6)

On the way back from Cartersville, we stopped at a pharmacy and took a few hours on yet another network: Sema Charge, while we perused the adjacent hardware store.

The weather projections for Sunday were heavy rain and wind – a perfect day to drive back home in an electric car! The trip back to Gainesville was uneventful and I thought we would make it back home pretty quickly – no problem. There were two Level 2 stations in Cornelia and if I needed to top off, I could do it there while we looked at the shops by the train depot.   At the Kia dealership in Gainesville, I lost signal on my phone and could not call Greenlots after the Chademo stopped charging.   With 77% charge, I was sure we could reach Cornelia to recharge enough for the trip to Clayton.

As we drove up Hwy 23 towards Cornelia, the rain was constant, but not heavy.   However, I did see some downed trees on the side of the highway.   As we exited onto Hwy 105 in Cornelia, there was spooky feeling.   The lights at the intersection were not working!   I started to drive towards the train depot and noticed that all of the lights were not working! Oh no! I needed to top off and there was no electricity. Even the big box store had closed its doors. Then there was Walt, the ex-Nissan salesman that I met in the parking lot. He informed me that two places down the road had power.   Perhaps they would share some – Not! They were operating on generator back-up and would not share an amp.

Thus, with rain pouring down and 30 miles left on the meter, we headed for Clayton, which was about 34 miles away. 10 miles further up, we saw a gas station with the sign, “last gas for 22 miles”. The car read 19 miles, but Clayton was 24 miles away. “We do not have any plugs outside” said the owner after I had seen a juicy 110 volt in the back of the station. Incidentally at the same gas station I met two students from the college. “Hi Professor” one student chirped. “What are you doing here?” I nonchalantly replied, not wanting to be obvious about my precarious situation. Boy, I was tempted to ask them to stay close and tow us to Clayton if necessary.   Instead I carped “Oh I drove my electric car to Atlanta and it was great!” Yeah right! I was about to run out of power and be stranded in the rain – in the middle of nowhere.

Range anxiety is not a myth and for a brief period on Sunday, I experienced this terrible feeling.   Driving much below the limit of 55mph, we chugged slowly up past Toccoa, which was out of power and then to Tallulah Falls. I vaguely remember seeing a station at the Tallulah Falls state park when my phone was working. Thus, with the blank lines across the range-meter on the dash, we entered the park not knowing how many miles were left. “We’re out of power as well.” said the Park Ranger. Crap – the drive up to the highway was at least a mile and I had about 2% charge left, having captured some energy on the way down. “But there is a private resort park close by that may have power. It’s about a mile down the road on the right and they just opened to the public!” On our way up the long state park driveway, we met a white Leaf. They were from Clayton, 10 miles away, the driver assured us. At the highway, we turned right and headed towards Clayton.

A mile down the road on the right we entered the resort campground.   “How much power do you need?” The nice lady at the desk enquired.   “There’s an outlet right behind the cabin.”

“Hallelujah”, she was our savior! Sure it was only 110 volt , but it was better than being stranded.   We thanked her plugged in and took a stroll through the park:

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The weather cleared up slightly and the campground was great place to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Just after 4 o’clock we unplugged, and after promising to come back camping headed to Clayton 8 miles away. The range-meter read 15 miles and 12% SOC. However, the drive to Clayton was mostly uphill and that can really draw down the battery! Those were the longest 8 miles I have ever driven.   As we climbed, the meter kept dropping… We were not going make it. The first set of traffic lights into Clayton were far ahead and then the last bar disappeared! 0 and 0 – I was waiting for turtle mode!

We inched into Clayton still in green mode, hoping I remembered where to turn off to go to the station. Left on Savannah, right on Main, left by the restaurant – Ah! We had reached the Blink god in the parking lot!   Never again would I charge the car to less than 100%

It took 4 hours and twenty minutes to bring us back up to 99%. In the meantime, we ate dinner, had dessert and walked around the town. For the last few hours, my wife read her book, my daughter finished her homework and I reviewed some differential equations!  I also had a chance to fix the error with the Greenlots card, courtesy of wifi at the restaurant. An extreme sense of guilt overcame me for torturing my family with this EV obsession. Maybe a gas back up was not such a bad thing. No never – I am a purist!

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Out of “gas” in Clayton.

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A nice town to spend 4 hours in…

We left Clayton at about 8:50pm and with 99% charge, I was confident we could get back to Waynesville.

There are two main climbs on the way to Waynesville, Cowee Mountain between Franklin and Sylva and Balsam Mountain that takes you into Waynesville. Although, Cowee is a bear to climb, the Leaf handled it nicely and the car almost gained as much coming back down as it had lost going up. However, Balsam was a terror.   The rain started to pour and the road work made it hard to see — it seemed to never end! Finally, we passed under the Parkway and were home free.

Back to Depot Street in Waynesville, NC.   Unfortunately, the Chademo would not work. There was an error code.   Oh no – so close to home and yet so far!   The car had 29 miles, but we needed more to make it back to the north of Asheville.   Would we have to stay in Waynesville overnight?

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Depot Street in Waynesville.

Luckily, I was able to call the company this time.   The problem was the emergency stop button on the charger – somebody had pushed it in and forgot to reset it.   Thank goodness!

Around midnight we waltzed into our home having completed our maiden trip to Atlanta.   Yes, it was trying at times, but we had just completed a 400+ mile ride in 2 days though hostile gas country, with an 85 mile range electric car.   Not bad I say, not bad at all! Next trip: Chapel Hill:)