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.  UPDATE as of 6/21/17: I have now driven the Leaf over 50,000 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, Model 3, Model Y, Tesla Pickup and SemiChevrolet Bolt, Workhorse pickup, Via motors, and the incredible and out of this world Faraday Future and many others 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 electrical outlet found on the outside of your house. 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 from the Union of Concerned Scientists

www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

The updated numbers as of May 2017 reveal that, as predicted, EV’s are getting cleaner in response to a greening power grid; http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

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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 rather remote (for EV’s) 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 covered in this blog posting.

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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!

UPDATE 6/21/17: Since I wrote this article many companies have introduced all electric lawn equipment such as the Ego backpack leaf blower and the  Husqvarna Auto Mower and many others.  Electric vehicles are quickly and quietly taking over the world and that is a very good thing!

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 one 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 periodically visit gas stations to fuel the subscription to dependency I had opted for when I purchased 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.

nissan leaf battery

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.

earthshinebarncharging

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.

pisgahleaf

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.
————————————————————

Special Thanks to Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute for compiling many 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.

sunleaf

Plug into the future!

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

Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette 101

tl

Drivers of EV’s everywhere are beginning to see issues crop up around public charging station etiquette.  This is happening for several reasons, some of which are listed below;

1. More people are buying EV’s or PHEV’s or EV REx ( for the remainder of this article collectively called EV’s) than ever before.  In many areas there is just not enough charging station infrastructure to cover all the EV’s that need to charge, especially on busy days.

2. Some uninformed or inconsiderate EV drivers are treating EV charging spaces as a right not a privilege.  They park in the space, plug in their car and walk off, sometimes leaving it there or many hours even after it is fully charged.  It is as if they believe that they are entitled to park in that space simply because they have an EV or that they perceive the spot to be a standard parking space to be used as long as they like.

3. The space has been ICE’d by an inconsiderate or unobservant gasoline powered auto driver.

4. Plug In Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV) and Range Extended Electric Vehicles (EVREx) drivers that have a gasoline back up, are plugging in at charging stations when they just want to top off their battery to save gas and ignoring battery electric vehicles that may need to charge.

SNB

How can we stop this madness?

If you drive an EV please follow these 12 simple rules of charging station etiquette (see sources at end of article) and all of us–from the pioneering early adopters, forward thinkers and tree hugging earth worshipers to the EV tech geeks and and those just out to save some money on gas–will be able to work together in helping to promote the future of EV’s and their associated charging infrastructure.

NDEW9

1. Pure Electric Before Plug In Hybrids and Range Extended EVs

If your EV is fully electric and runs on battery power 100% of the time, common sense and good etiquette says you should have priority over EV’s with internal combustion powered range extending technologies such as the Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3 REx.

If you are the driver of a Plug In Hybrid or Range Extended EV, and any of the below conditions apply, please do not hog the charging station.

-There is a small number of charging stations.

-You see battery-electric EV’s waiting nearby to charge.

-Your vehicle has enough of a charge/fuel to get you to your destination.

– Your car has a gasoline engine to fall back on if you run out of charge.

Please do the right thing, be courteous, and let the battery electric EV’s charge first. Remember that some of them may have come a great distance and need a charge just to get home.

t

However…

Owners of fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3Tesla Model S  or Zero motorcycle do not have the right to unplug extended-range EV’s such as BMW i3 REx or Chevrolet Volt, simply because those vehicles have backup gasoline engines…

…unless they are fully charged.  See #2 below.

2. Do Not Unplug Someone Else’s Vehicle – Unless They Are Finished Charging

If you arrive at a charging station and another EV is charging, please do not unplug it. You have no idea how far they have to go and how much power they will need to get there. However, if their car has finished charging as indicated by the blinking charge indicator lights on the car’s dash, or as indicated on the charging station’s screen, then you may unplug it, close their charge port, and plug in your car.  In this event, the driver of the EV in need of a charge should leave a note explaining why it was unplugged. The note should be full of gratitude and should always include your cell number and/or a business card.

Be aware that on some later model EV’s the charging cord cannot be removed without being unlocked by the driver.  In this case it is entirely up to the driver of the plugged in vehicle to be aware of his car’s status and unplug and move it when its charging cycle is complete or when he has enough charge to get to his next destination.

fastcharging

3. Be Courteous, Charge Up, and Move On

Please occupy a charging station only while your EV is actively charging. As soon as the charging session is completed, no matter if your battery is full or when you have enough range to reach your destination, please unplug your car and move it to allow access for another driver in need. Please remember that these are charging spots, not standard parking spots. Using a charging space as a standard parking space is really not cool.  Would you leave your gas car parked at the pump for several hours after its tank was full and if you did so, what would happen?

Brammo_Empulse_at_charging_station,_August_2012

Brammo Empulse Electric Motorcycle charging

Most EV’s, or EV networks such as Chargepoint, will text you when the vehicle is full. If your vehicle/network texts you to say “I’m full!” then please, free up the charger for another driver.

In some areas with pay to charge access, the charging network will continue to charge you a fee for as long as your vehicle is plugged in and in and even after it is fully charged.  This is a great motivator for the vehicle owner to get unplugged and moved as soon as it is charged in order to avoid overage fees.

IMG_20140508_175548_614

4. Charge Only When Really Necessary and Share and Share Alike. 

Just because you drive an EV does not mean you’re entitled to an EV charging spot–remember it is not a parking spot for those with the most expensive EV’s, or perceived higher social status, it is meant to be equally shared by all Plug In Electric Vehicle drivers. If you do not need the extra juice, please leave the spot open so another driver can use it.

EV Charging Station - Biltmore Square

Personal Observation: I have noted on several occasions, at one particular charging station in the south Asheville, NC area, that certain repeat offenders treat the only two available free charging stations in front of a certain Hilton Hotel as regular parking spots.  These owners will often leave their vehicles, of various manufacturers, in these spots for many hours at a time thereby blocking assess to other EV owners in need.  I noted this once again on January 03, 2015 when I arrived to view a movie at 2:30 pm.  Two Chevy Volts occupied both charging stations and were actively charging.  There was no way to park beside them and wait to charge as the only other available parking spot was handicapped access only.  My Leaf was low on juice and needed a charge to get home after the movie.  Since I had 45 min until the movie started, I parked nearby and decided to have a beer at a nearby restaurant in order to keep an eye on the cars in the hopes that one of them would leave and I could therefore get a charge during the movie.  When it was almost time for the movie to start I checked both cars’ charging status and noted that one was fully charged and the other was still charging.  I could not wait any longer so went on to the movie.  After the movie I found that the Volt that was still charging before the movie, almost three hours earlier, was gone and had been replaced by a Leaf that was actively charging.  The other car, the same volt that I noted to be fully charged before the movie, remained, still plugged in and still fully charged just like I found it over 3.5 hours previous.  According to this information from Chevy it takes around 4 hours to fully charge a Volt, and since the Volt in question was fully charged before I entered the movie theater and remained plugged in over three hours later, it seems that that the volt owner was using this spot as a privileged parking spot rather than an EV charging station.  This is just totally uncool and very bad charging station etiquette and, as I have said before, please do not hog charging stations and always share with other EV owners in need.  Anything less makes you and other EV drivers look bad.

solarcharging714UNCA

 

I know it goes without saying but please, never park like I did in this well composed photo that illustrates really bad parking etiquette no matter what you are driving.  

5. Drivers Must Follow The Rules 

This goes without saying but simply because you drive an EV does not mean you can park in a handicap space or on a curb just to be closer to a charging station. Do not do it unless you enjoy having your car towed.

EVparking

6. Do Not Leave Nasty Notes…But Do Leave Notes

If the charging spot you counted on using has been occupied by another EV for an extended period of time or has been ICEd—in other words, a gasoline powered Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicle is taking up the spot—the EV driver should leave a polite note on the vehicle explaining the predicament. The note should be viewed as a good-will gesture that will hopefully work to convince the offender not to make the mistake again.  Please also note that in some areas such as Raleigh, NC, drivers of internal combustion engine powered vehicles that park in spaces reserved for EV charging are subject to high fines.

7. First Come, First Served

It doesn’t matter what you drive, how much money you make, where you live, or who you are, or if someone else was in the charging spot before you, then that is your tough luck and you are going to have to play be the rules and the etiquette, be nice, and wait your turn.

leafvoltcharge

8. It’s Okay to Ask for a Charge

If you are really in need of a charge and the spot you need is occupied, and you are able to park next to the car that is currently charging, you can signal the other driver that you would like them to plug you in when they are finished charging by opening your charging port/door.  It is also a good idea to carry in your car “charge” cards like these from Pluginamerica.com.  You can put them on your dash when you are in need of a charge as a signal to the other driver to plug you in when they leave.  Another really cool high tech option is to use a myEV datalogger *  not only to keep track of your vehicle’s stats and health, but it also allows you to ask other EV drivers if you can unplug their vehicle via a text message, wherever they may be. See an example image from the app below.

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* This option requires that both EV owners have a myEV datalogger and it’s associated QR code window sticker installed in/on their vehicle.  NOTE: The myEV datalogger is currently in the beta testing phase and will be available soon for all EV owners everywhere.  I am a beta tester for the unit so if anyone in the Blue Ridge EV Club wants to learn more about it just ask me at the next club meeting and I will be glad to show it off 🙂

9: Register With A Charging Network.

If you are a frequent charging station user then it will benefit you to register with the charging networks that serve your area.  It will also greatly assist you to download the charging station locator apps (such as Chargepoint and Plugshare) to your smartphone.  With these you will be able to pull up all nearby stations and, depending on the app, see which stations are occupied and you will also be able to comment on if the station was functional or not or any other issues other station users need to be aware of.

The map below is from the Plugshare.com website/App showing charging stations in Asheville, NC USA.

asheville charging map

If you are a local business owner/operator and have installed an EV charging station that is not on any of the charging station networks and/or you live in an area that does not have a strong charging station infrastructure, then you should really consider registering your charging station with one of the charging networks and put your station on the map.  This will not only let other EV drivers know you are out there via their cars navigation system and/or app, but it will also give more people access to your business and more money in your pocket if you decide to charge a fee for the use of your station.

sierranevadaEV

 

10. Safety First

Watch that cord!  While your car is plugged in, make sure the charging cord is either flat on the ground and/or tucked under your car so pedestrians do not accidentally trip or drive over it. You would not want to have the surprise of a nasty lawsuit thrown in your face because someone tripped over your charging cord and was injured.  Once your car has finished charging, remember to wind the charging cord back up onto its holder if the station is so equipped, to keep it neat and out of the way of others.

11: Charging Is A Privilege, Not A Right

As stated previously in Rule #4, just because you drive an EV does not mean you’re entitled to an EV charging spot.  Remember, it is not a parking spot for those with the most expensive EV’s or perceived high social status, it is meant to be equally shared by all EV drivers and it is a privilege, not a right.

Remember this: You are the future of clean transportation,  you are helping an entire new industry get off the ground and at the same time lowering the nation’s consumption of fossil fuels by driving electric.  However, owning and driving an EV is a personal choice and as a direct consequence of that choice, any charging stations out there are there for your convenience, especially the ones that are offered free of charge.

Many of these charging stations are offered by nearby businesses so please be courteous to those who have provided it, take care to look after the chargers and report any issues to the owners.

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Lastly, if you are in need of a charge from somewhere in between charging stations or at an even more remote location without EV charging station infrastructure, such as a barn, gas station wall outlet (as I wrote about on day one when we drove our new Leaf across half of Tennessee), or a beer and ice shack at a festival (as seen in this article ), do not assume that access to the power is free.  Be courteous, positively represent all EV owners everywhere, offer to pay for any power used, or at least give the business/outlet owner a tip.

earthshinebarncharging

Charging my Leaf at the Earthshine Discovery Center barn in Lake Toxaway, NC.  The good folks at Earthshine will let you charge if you are in dire need of some juice–please be sure to tip them for the charge.  While charging take a walk around the farm and see what this wonderful place has to offer–you will be glad you did.  Hopefully soon I will have this location on Plugshare as a residential emergency charge point.  If you do not see it there please contact me for more information on how to access it when you are in need of a charge.

We do not want to in any way be known as rogues, bums, or moochers and give a bad name to the EV community as a whole.

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I gladly donated $5 to a children’s charity for one hour’s access to this gas stations’ outdoor wall outlet.

12. EV Owners Are Ambassadors For A Better Future For Everyone

Being an EV owner and driver means you are also an ambassador for a gas-free future. Help make that future an even brighter reality by spending time talking with people who stop to ask questions when you are plugged in at public charging stations or parking your EV in a public parking lot.  Be nice and genuine to those who ask questions, do not be in a hurry and always spread the word about the joys of driving electric electric in any way you are able.

NDEW

I know that is a lot of information to process but I believe you will see that these “rules” of EV charging etiquette are really just basic common sense that when applied, will make your EV ownership experience better for you and for those you share the roads of the future with.

chargingleleaf

Sources:

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1050431_your-ultimate-guide-to-electric-car-charging-etiquette

http://www.pluginamerica.org/evcard

http://gmauthority.com/blog/2014/06/general-motors-offers-ev-drivers-10-workplace-charging-etiquette-tips/

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/faq.html

http://www.chargepoint.com/

http://www.plugshare.com/

http://www.plugincars.com/eight-rules-electric-vehicle-etiquette-127513.html

http://www.recargo.com/

http://insideevs.com/one-charging-spot-generated-27000-fines-ice-drivers/

I have been “Coal Rolled”…..sort of.

Well, it had to happen eventually, I’ve been “coal rolled”…well, sort of.

The photos embedded within the story that follows are sad examples of “coal rolling,” a “practice of intentionally disabling the Clean Burn Programming of a computer controlled diesel engine, and/or installing a “defeat device” similar to the one Volkswagen illegally and secretly developed for millions of its vehicles.  This device illegally allows the vehicle to emit an under-aspirated fuel-rich sooty exhaust that visibly pollutes the air.

DARWINLAUGHSATYOU

Practitioners tamper with their vehicles’ emissions controls in open defiance of environmental regulations that require all gas and diesel powered vehicles to have emission control devices and systems that reduce the amount of pollutants released into the atmosphere. It also may include the intentional removal of the particulate filter. Practitioners often additionally modify their vehicles by installing smoke switches and huge tailpipes and smoke stacks. Modifications to a vehicle to enable rolling coal may cost anywhere from $200 to $5,000…or more.  Rolling coal is a form of conspicuous pollution. Targets of rolling coal often include owners of hybrid vehicles (and now EV’s) as well as bicyclists and pedestrians. (From Wikipedia) 

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My story.

A few days ago I was driving my 2012 Nissan Leaf through the small town I call home when I pulled up to a stoplight to wait for it to change. After sitting silently in traffic for a moment I began to hear the unmistakable sound of an idling diesel engine growing louder to the left rear quarter of my Leaf. I glanced in my rearview only to see a large, raised, black, pick up truck with an over-sized tires and a huge chrome exhaust pipe sticking out of the undercarriage in front of the right rear wheel (clearly he must have been compensating for something…). A red alert klaxon Captain James Kirk would be proud of went off in my head: COAL ROLLER! I rolled up the windows and set the climate control on recirculate to keep the inevitable black clouds of diesel soot and ash out of my car’s cabin and out of my lungs. The light changed and I made a split second decision to take action and remove myself from the situation so I dropped out of Eco mode, actuated the accelerator firmly to the deck plate, and was silently, smoothly, and rapidly suctioned into the future leaving the dinosaur-like diesel danger far behind in my clean, statically charged dust while grinning ear to ear the EV grin. I moved silently through traffic for a few moments and was unfortunately stopped behind a slow moving old vehicular construct from the 1970’s and yet another stoplight. A few seconds later the gaudy environmental perpetrator idled up beside me rolling and rumbling slowly forward to get his behemoth of a truck in just the right position to angle his tailpipe in the direction of the front left corner of my Leaf.

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We sat there waiting for the light: in one lane a massive, towering, Goliath of a vehicle that Mad Max would have been proud of.  It was idling so roughly that I could see the entire truck vibrate with the controlled internal combustion chaos going on in the climate science and common sense denier modified, oil soaked innards of its massive, Cummings turbo-diesel powerplant. In the other lane I sat, like the proverbial David, in my tiny, silent, futuristic, 100% electric car. When the light changed Mr. Diesel dropped all the ancient dinosaur juice and testosterone he had into his illegally modified, anti-environment, fossil burning, ultra conservative, big wheeled statement and out came…a tiny, rather insignificant, little puff of black smoke. Something had clearly gone wrong with his truck’s coal rolling modifications and with his attempt to drench my Leaf in billowing clouds of black diesel smoke.  I grinned again as he sped away thinking he had made some sort of an anti-green, anti-Obama, anti-environment, anti-EV, statement. From my perspective Mr. Diesel’s childish display of blowing smoke seemed to backfire on him miserably and for that I am forever grateful.  Did he learn a lesson from our encounter…doubtful.

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This was my first Coal Rolling experience since owning my Nissan Leaf so I decided that “retaliation” was in order so instead of flying off the handle and doing something as idiotic as the “coal rolling” infant – I did some in depth research on the topic.  According to many articles I have read:  the “Coal Rolling” culture is a juvenile attempt to build up the egos of anti-environmentalists and ultra conservatives who feel that their freedoms are being trodden upon.  Many of them are afraid that new, stricter pollution regulations imposed by the Obama administration may cause them to loose some of their access the ultra consumptive lifestyle they have become accustomed to.

JUSTDONTCARE

Another possibility is that with more and more people becoming more informed and conscious of the realities and truths of the indisputable scientific facts and findings in support of global climate change being caused by our daily actions, and more aware of their their carbon footprints, and their resulting impacts on the environment and therefore switching to hybrid and electric vehicles, tiny houses, renewable energy sources, and growing their own food–this could be yet another cause for concern for the Coal Rolling crowd.  They see that their “kind”, their “people,” are going the way of the very dinosaurs that power their smoke belching giant wheeled beasts and their childish coal rolling displays are a visible way of rebelling against the inevitable change closing in all around them.  They are like children throwing tantrums because they do not want to grow up and face the facts of life.

DARWINLAUGHSATYOU2

Whatever their juvenile reasons behind why they “roll coal,” what they are really doing is celebrating an act of the pre-meditated polluting of everyone’s shared atmosphere. Coal rolling is a blatant disregard for the safety and health of other drivers, pedestrians, and the environment and in every way this practice should be illegal and banned everywhere.

This may happen sooner rather than later as the coal rollers obviously do not think before they roll.  Proof can be found in this article where New Jersey Assemblyman and Leaf driver Tim Eustace was targeted by a Coal Roller and now Eustace aims to work to make it illegal in his state. He has announced a bill that forbids coal rolling.  Read more about it here.  Hopefully it will catch on in other states and coal rolling will fade away forever.

WARNING

If you drive an EV or Hybrid, bicycle, or are just out for a stroll or run, keep your eyes and ears open for these small minded, backward thinking, environmental scofflaws in their giant trucks because they target not only EV’s, hybrids and other small, fuel efficient vehicles but also pedestrians, officers of the law, and even the elderly. They clearly have serious mental issues and need some serious help.  If you are “coal rolled” try your best to get a description of the vehicle, tag number, and report it to the police. If enough people report this insanity to the authorities, hopefully the perpetrators will slowly become extinct like the dinosaurs they love to burn.

Funnyman Stephen Colbert did a hilarious and revealing commentary on Coal Rolling here: http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/bfvmgh/coal-rolling

Another good article from Slate.com 

From TYT University on Youtube:

If Coal Rollers continue to participate in actions like this individual, then hopefully they will quietly be weeded out of the gene pool by natural selection – and they should all win Darwin Awards for their ignorance.

breathedeep

 

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NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

The Blue Ridge EV Club Presents

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

solarcharging714UNCA

Join us for an electrifying experience on

Sunday afternoon, September 21, 1-4 pm.

Asheville’s premier solar powered electric vehicle charging hub will be abuzz with free opportunities to:

  • Talk with owners about their electric cars and see these marvels up close
  • Talk with dealers about new production electric vehicles (EV’s)
  • Drive or Ride in one or more electric cars (10-minute city/highway loop)
  • See the operation of several BrightFieldTS electric vehicle charging stations which produce power for your electric vehicle from the sun
  • Get answers to all your questions on cost of operation, savings, available cars, area charging locations, home charging options, rebates and tax incentives
  • See some specialty electric vehicles
  • Meet members of the Blue Ridge EV Club & join up!
  • EV Parade

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Come out and ride in or drive an EV! Learn for yourself why Electric Vehicle sales have doubled in each of the last three years.

If you would like to reserve a spot for ride/driving an EV or volunteer to help with our event:

First, you will need to “Register” to attend the main event by following this URL:

https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=157

Once on the site just fill out some information and click the “Contact” button to give the organizers your request.

During the weeks leading up to the main event, there will be other local learning opportunities:

  •       Wednesday Aug 20, 6-7:30pm, Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Thursday Aug 28, 6-7:30pm, Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday Aug 30, 8am-12 pm, Transylvania farmers Market – Farm Fair in Brevard, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 13, 8 – 1 pm, North Asheville Tailgate Market, UNC-Asheville Campus. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 2:30-6:30 pm, Weaverville Tailgate Market, Weaverville, NC Community Center overlooking Lake Louise. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Thursday, Sept 18, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Revenge of the Electric Car followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Friday, Sept 19, am, Workplace Charging Workshop at  Asheville Chamber of Commerce/Visitor  Center.  Businesses learning about providing charging at their sites (Register for this workshop by contacting Bill Eaker, bill@landofsky.org)

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 10 am-6 pm, Weaverville Arts ‘N Autumn Festival, 30 S. Main Street, Weaverville, NC outside of the Town Hall. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 8 am-1 pm, Asheville City Market at the Asheville Public Works Parking Lot, 161 S. Charlotte St, Asheville, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

      These events are organized by the Blue Ridge EV Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/blueridgeevclub/) and Land Of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition (www.cleanvehiclescoalition.org) with help from NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources.

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BREV Club is not responsible for ads that may appear below this line.

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NISSAN LEAF REPORT for July 2014

solarcharging714UNCA

We have been driving our Nissan Leaf now for almost 11 months now and you are probably asking: Do we still like it after almost one year of EV ownership? What do we like about it? What don’t we like about it? Has it saved us any money?

Here are the answers.

Leaves7.5.14Do we still like it and why?

Absolutely, wholeheartedly and positively: YES!

What do we like about the Nissan Leaf:

For the last 10+ months it has been a wonderful vehicle that gets us around quickly, quietly and cleanly. It continues to be a joy to drive and we always look forward to driving it because it is fast, fun and easy to drive. When we are forced to drive Godzilla, our 1999 Toyota 4Runner, it continues to seem like an archaic, sluggish, noisy, smelly old fossil compared to the smooth, fast, responsive, clean, green Nissan LEAF.

fogleafI love the fact that the Leaf needs virtually no maintenance. Since I have had it I have only had to check the air in the tires and rotate them twice and wash it a few of times. As far as the old Toyota–I have had to change the oil/filter twice (I use fully synthetic, bio-based, American sourced and produced GOil) and those oil changes cost me almost as much as it has cost to power the Leaf for four months! Recently I had to replace the water pump and timing belt on the Toyota for a grand total of $650! That would power the Leaf for almost TWO YEARS at our current cost of electricity!!!

Issues

The Leaf has experienced no problems related to the mechanics and systems of the car. The only mishaps being two road hazard incidents that were out of my or Nissan’s control.

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 Tire trouble in Cherokee, NC.

Seat comfort.  The one major complaint I have about the Leaf is the design of the drivers seat–I still do not find it to be very comfortable although I have adapted to it a bit more. The non adjustable head rest is too far forward so I had to turn it around so that I did not feel like my head was forced forward all the time. It would also be very nice if the seat had a lumbar adjustment as well. This is more than likely my problem because no one else that has driven it has had any issue with the seat.

Leaves7.5.14a

Has owning the Leaf saved us any money? Let’s look at the totals for a clearer picture.

Mileage driven from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014.

Total all electric miles: 11,951 miles

Average miles/month: 1138.2

Average miles/week: 284.6

Average miles/day: 40.7

Electricity Usage from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

Total KWh electricity used: 2,727.6 (sources: 80% mains trickle charge at home, 20% on the road from level 2 commercial charging stations and 120 volt outlets at work and friends’ houses)

Average KWh used/month: 259.8

Average KWh used/mile: 4.0

Cost/KWh: $.09

The below electricity usage histogram is from the Carwings telemetric monitoring system.  Units on Y axis are KWh.

electricconsump10.5

Electricity Cost to Operate the Leaf August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

Total 10.5 month electricity cost to operate Leaf: $245.48 (2727.6KWh x .09/Kwh)

Note: The average ONE MONTH cost to operate the Toyota 4Runner is: $253.42!

In other words it costs us less to operate the LEAF for 10.5 months ($245.48) that it does to operate the Toyota 4Runner for ONE MONTH ($253.42)!

Average cost/month to charge Leaf:$23.37

Average cost/day to charge/operate the Leaf: $0.77

Average cost/mile/day to drive Leaf: $0.03/mile

The next histogram shows distance traveled and energy economy tracking as recorded by the Carwings EV monitoring system over the last 10.5 months

energy.distance

Comparisons Before Leaf/After Leaf 

Before Leaf estimated cost to operate/maintain/repair our previous cars,  a 1999 Toyota 4Runner and 1998 Honda CRV, for the same 10.5 month time period: $4200 ($400/month x 10.5. (Toyota 250/month and Honda $150/month (fuel + maintenance + repairs)

Before Leaf Toyota/Honda average cost/day to operate: $ 13.33 ($400/30)

From this point on I will focus on the before and after Leaf cost to operate only the Toyota 4runner.  This is due to the fact that we purchased the Leaf to replace many of the miles driven in the Honda CRV and the Toyota 4runner.

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 1357.14 (1357.14/19mpg = 71.42 gallons x $3.50 per gal. = $250)

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/week: 339.28

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/day: 48.46

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $250

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.33

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.17

thedealisdone

Enter August 2013.  

Traded in 1998 Honda CRV for 2012 Nissan Leaf SL

After Leaf total Toyota 4Runner miles driven (10.5 months): 9210

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 877.14

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/week: 219.26

After Leaf average Toyota miles driven/day: 31.32

After Leaf Toyota fuel cost from August 26 2013-July 13, 2014

$1911.00

After Leaf Toyota maintenance costs: $750 (new water pump, new hoses, antifreeze, timing belt, oil and filter x2.)

After Leaf 10.5 month Toyota total operational costs: $2661.00

After Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $253.42

After Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.45

After Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.26

Fuel savings

Total fuel saved during 10.5 month period: 546 gallons/$1911.00

After subtracting power cost for Leaf: $1434.52

(Fuel $1911.00 – $245.48 Electric Cost ) =

$1665.52 saved!

Car payment offset: $350.67 x 10 months = $3682.35 payments – $1665.52 savings = $2016.51 out of pocket!

NOTE: If you find that any of my calculations are off please do email me because I am only human and I will be the first to admit that I do, can, and will make mistakes.

fastchargingDRIVING ELECTRIC IS A “NO BRAINER!”

The numbers show that the cost of operating our Toyota 4Runner has gone up a bit.  This is due to an expensive repair and several long distance trips out of state on family issues that were out of the range of the Leaf.  However, even with those factors considered and because we are only driving one gasoline powered vehicle, and the fact that we use the Leaf for almost all of the local trips within its range (unless the trip involves hauling a load or pulling a trailer), we have already saved almost $2000 in fuel costs in 10.5 months of EV ownership and applied that extra $$ to our Leaf car payment!

After the Leaf is paid off we will be saving even more!

leafteslaSharing a level 2 charging station with a Tesla Model S

Had we continued driving the ageing Honda CRV and Toyota 4Runner together we would have burned around 725 gallons of gasoline, spent over $2530 more in gas, possibly incurred several hundred dollars in repairs and belched out ~13,700 lbs of CO2* and other toxic greenhouse gasses into our shared atmosphere!

*1 gallon of gasoline burned emits 19 lbs of CO2. Source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm

By going fully EV we have saved money, reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating over 7000 lbs** of CO2 from being eliminated into the atmosphere and gained a maintenance free car that is fun to drive and seems to be very well thought out and well constructed…and we have more time to “stop and smell the roses***” while our EV charges.

 **Based on the Carwings telemetric data collected by the Leaf’s on-board efficiency monitoring system that compares the size of the Leaf to a comparable sized ICE cars tailpipe emissions.

***Go to the movies, out to dinner, shopping, have a pint a the pub…and/or have a pint while dressed like a pirate…

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Wow! All great reasons to love the Nissan Leaf EV be ye a scurvy EV driving pirate or a regular person!

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EV Note: How did we calculate our Leaf’s energy costs?

We use a Kill-a-Watt Meter!

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More good points about the Leaf!

Acceleration.  While it may not have the speed of a Tesla, the Leaf does take off from a standstill with amazing quickness.  As a friend once said “wow, it really sets you back in your seat!”

Handling: We continue to love the way the Leaf drives! It is quiet, smooth and very responsive on and off the pavement–and it is really surprising how well it continues to drive on gravel roads and ford shallow creeks.  Speaking of creek fording check out this video form an Leaf driver in England–all I can say is WOW!

And another one from Nissan

Cruse Control: I love the cruise! I consistently use the cruise to squeeze as much range and efficiency out of the Leaf.  Using the cruise lets the computer decide how much power to apply from the battery to the motor or, to the battery from the motor/generator when while coasting downhill so the car operates more efficiently.  The cruise also allows a set speed with more regen on downhill runs–this is not possible without using the cruise due to the increased drag from the generator unless the grade is very steep.  I have noticed that when the computer “drives” I always come out with more range at the end of the day.

Appearance: The quirky, cool, futuristic look of the leaf really lets me get my geek on and I love the Blue Ocean paint!

Sound: Or lack thereof…the Leaf is so quiet!  Other than the sound of the Leaf piercing the wind and the tires on the road the only sound it makes is a distant high pitched whine similar to a jet taking off in the distance.  This sound is not obtrusive in any way with the windows up or down.  In fact it is a unique and pleasant sound that I enjoy hearing because I know that the sound of the Leaf is the sound of the future.

Check out this video of what the Leaf really sounds like under the hood–very cool!

Ease of use: The Leaf is as easy to use as your smartphone…actually it is easier to use than most smartphones.  It is as simple as unplug, drive, plug in, sleep, repeat.

Winter: Heated seats and steering wheel. I love these features about the Leaf–I hardly ever turn on the heater!

Summer: I usually drive with the windows down but when I do use the air conditioning it works quietly and perfectly. Even on the hottest/coldest days I keep the temperature set at 70F and the AC draws very little power yet cools the interior nicely.

Climate control timer: a truly wonderful feature that pre-heats/cools the car while plugged in to mains power before leaving for work in the morning. I use this primarily in the winter to warm up the car before heading to work.

Stereo system: Great stereo sound that you can truly hear because the car is soooo quiet! The system perfectly syncs via Bluetooth, to my Samsung Galaxy Note 2 where I am able to access over 2000 songs that play in a truly random order.

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Well done Nissan and Carlos Ghosn–the visionary behind the Leaf!

More on Ghosn and the Leaf here.

Backup camera: what an amazing feature–I use it every time I put the car in reverse. The 2014-15 Leaf LE has a 360 degree camera that shows everything around the vehicle–a great safety feature for sure!

Regenerative braking: This system allows the car’s electric motor to act as a generator when the car is braking or coasting with the power generated feeding back into the battery for extended range–amazing!

Over the last 10.5 months I have regenerated a total of 23,437 Watt Hours! (according to the Carwings monitoring system)

At first that sounds like a stupendous amount of free power however, Watt Hours are not Kilowatt hours. Once we see that 1Wh = 1000 KWh we discover that although the Leaf did generate 23437 WH that then converts to 23.4 KWh of electricity for a whopping savings of $2.11. When we then divide that by the Leaf’s cost/mile to operate of we find that the Leaf gave back just over 70 miles of gravity assisted free Leaf produced power. Although at first that does not seem like much, it is $2.11 and 70 miles more than the Toyota (or any ICE vehicle) has ever or will ever give back in its entire lifespan. If this trend continues then I estimate that at the end of one year the Leaf will generate over 80 miles free range and close to $3.00 in electricity savings and that is good news for sure! EV’s give something back–internal combustion vehicles engine (ICE) vehicles only take giving nothing back but a very expensive ride, loads of waste heat, leaking fluids and toxic, life poisoning emissions.

On one particular excursion I made a documentary of my travels through the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina. On this journey I travel through remote areas of the mountains where not an EV charger, or gas station for that matter, can be found. Watch the journey below !

Leaf Improvements?

I can think of a few for Nissan to contemplate:

Audio system: While the stock stereo system is excellent, the new Bose sound system is truly incredible! I have also changed my opinion on the Leaf’s Bluetooth audio sync system that I reported on in the three month Leaf Report. At first I believed it was an issue of the car but now that my Samsung phone syncs perfectly, I believe it was an error in the Droid Razr, not the sync capabilities of the car.

Carwings: an interesting and informative system but it could be more accurate and user friendly.  If you have or are planning on acquiring a Leaf and you are a techie who loves data and knowing all there is to know about your Leaf’s health then you should consider picking up the Mycarma myEV datalogger that I blogged about a few weeks ago.  I will have one on my Leaf as soon as it is produced! The myEV was recently funded on Indiegogo and will be available this fall!    

Navigation system: overall well done but it does need some updating as well.

Charging system: I believe that the Leaf would benefit from an optional rooftop solar array covering the entire roof of the vehicle and possibly even the hood as in my badly Photo-shopped concept idea below.

solarleaf

With the current advances in lightweight, flexible, high output solar technology and even solar paints, this would be a great addition especially on vehicles used in sunny areas. Imagine the loads of free power you could generate with this feature while your Leaf just sat in the sun drenched parking space all day while you were at work. Obviously it would not charge the Leaf’s battery to full capacity but it could only help just as the regenerative braking system does and both systems working together would be able to supply the vehicle with even more clean, renewable, free energy! In cars equipped with the rooftop solar option Nissan could also add USB charging/AC power ports inside the vehicle so that a person could charge their USB powered phones, tablets, cameras and other devices while the car was charging on solar power. I believe this should be an optional feature because some people would not be interested in it aesthetically–but other “geeky tree huggin’ dirt worshipers” like myself would jump on it in a heartbeat. Also, for Leaf owners who park in garages or under trees or live in areas where it rains a lot or is often overcast this feature would not be of much use.

More adjustable driver’s seat: as mentioned before it would be nice if the driver’s seat had a lumbar adjustment and the head rest could be adjusted fore and aft for more comfort.

Battery pack: obviously the battery of the Leaf needs improvement–the day the range of EVs pass the 300 mile mark they will be in all thinking people’s garages. This is the single most limiting factor of this otherwise wonderful vehicle. I have recently seen reports of a possible 150 mile range battery pack option for 2016 LEAF–now that would be a great improvement!

Wind noise:  Due to the aerodynamics and associated pressure differentials created when driving with the windows down, the Leaf can generate some rather unpleasant buffeting sounds that only seem to go away when the windows are up or at lower speeds.  This is not that big of an issue if you have just the front windows down or the front down and back down halfway or all the way…but sometimes, for whatever reason, it gets really annoying.

Tires: The seem rather thin and weak.  Some improvements would be nice.

Conclusions: even with the limited range and other little issues we still love our Nissan Leaf–it is a truly amazing car that has saved us thousands of dollars in fuel and repair costs and we do not regret our EV decision in any way. We are loving our pioneering decision and look forward to many years of EV adventure and savings!

Real world driving in the Nissan Leaf

Below are some graphic representations of some of my usual driving routes.

Home to work and back.  This is the route I drive most frequently.  Note that the last 3rd of the route is all uphill.  One way of this daily commute uses close to 1/2 of my Leaf’s range.  However, on the return trip I regenerate an average of 15 miles of range for most of that decent so that when I arrive back home I have the same or more driving range than I did when I departed work for home 🙂  This is a round trip of 27.46 miles.  No additional charge needed.

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On one of my other frequently driven routes I will drive to work, a nearby town on family business, then return home for a round trip of 49.47 miles.

No additional charge needed.

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This next route takes me to work, then on to one of my wildlife conservation study areas, and back home again.  It is a round trip of 60.75 miles and I usually do charge up to at least 80% while at work for that extra margin of safety.  However, I have driven the entire route without charging because the last third of the route is almost all downhill so I made it home with about 10 miles of range to spare…but that’s a bit too close for comfort.

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Another one of my wildlife conservation projects takes me to the top of a mountain and back down the other side on a twisty, gravel road complete with a small creek ford! I do not need to charge on this route due to the insane amount of regen I garner from the loads of downhill on the second half of the route.

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I often visit Asheville on business and pleasure after work.  This is a round trip of 98.81 miles.   It requires me to charge to 100% the night before and then to at least 80% in Asheville before returning home but this is not a problem because there are many level 2 charging stations (and soon a few DC fast chargers!) all around the city so I have never had an issue getting a charge.

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Long day.  One day in June 2014 my travels took me to work, then my wife and I took a trip to a brewpub in south Asheville for a pint and brats while the car charged at a level 2 station nearby, we then drove a 50 mile bat conservation route after dark in remote, mountainous–and very foggy terrain (video will be posted on this blog soon.)  The total mileage for the route was: 117.04 and I had to charge the car three times that day due to the mileage and terrain.  Note: at the top of the route the car was down to 11 miles of range but from that point on the route was almost all downhill so I regenerated over 25 miles of range and pulled into the driveway at midnight with about 25 miles remaining on the “guess-o-meter.”

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Longest distance driven in one day: 126.5 miles one way (not on one charge). This was an epic journey over two 4500 foot mountain ranges with two charging station visits, an overnight trickle charging episode while staying with a friend, a flat tire, a visit to a casino (for the food), a movie, and a total round trip mileage of over 300 miles!  Read all about it in a previous post and watch the video documentary of this epic EV adventure.

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(all route maps from mapmyride.com)

Public charging stations we have used.

BrightfieldTS (1.50/hr and free) Asheville, NC – Solar charging stations

Chargepoint (1.50/hr) Asheville, NC

Blink (DC fast chargers $5.00/charge) Tennessee

Eaton (free) Asheville, Hendersonville and Clyde, NC

Schenider (free) Cherokee, NC

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Interesting and unusual places I have charged my Leaf!

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Beside a Tesla Model S

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In the Anderson Nissan service department.

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At the beer and ice shack at the LEAF festival. *Note-the Leaf festival has nothing to do with the Nissan Leaf and in fact my Leaf may have been the only one there.

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Another view from the Leaf festival

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At the barn at Earthshine Discovery Center.  If you are looking for a great place to spend a mountain vacation, visit with your school, have your wedding or corporate retreat then look no further–Earthshine Discovery Center is your place!

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Again at Earthshine Discovery Center.  I plug into an outlet located in an Eastern Box Turtle rehabilitation enclosure operated by my company

Earthshine Nature Programs!

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Again at the Anderson Nissan dealership in Asheville, NC.

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Alongside a Chevy Volt while at the movies.

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Trickle charging at a LOVE’S somewhere in Tennessee on my first day of EV ownership. We drained the battery down to 6 miles of range due to highway speeds, high atmospheric and battery temperatures…I had to stop and charge here because I was only about 9 miles from a DC fast charger.

It was truly an epic adventure 🙂

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Trickle charging while watching people scurry about pumping their petrol powered vehicles full of expensive, toxic, dirty gasoline.  My cost: a hour of my time and a $5 donation to a local charity for access to the wall outlet.

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A local equestrian center.

The outlet is free standing beside the pasture…

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At a Hampton Inn in Cashiers, NC–yes, I am plugged into the outdoor lighting pole’s 110 volt outlet.  The Manager of the Inn did not have any issue with my use of the outlet.

hamptoninn714At another location at Hampton Inn.

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The future?

Maybe a solar powered house and car…

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Leaf Notes of note…

Once I was speaking to an individual about my Leaf and he said “You know, that thing burns coal and is dirtier than a gasoline powered vehicle.”  He said it in a snarky way as if to downgrade my EV and my choice–I believe he was just secretly envious and wanted a Leaf for himself.  I take his comment as a challenge to defend my decision to drive EV.  While it is true that the majority of the electricity I use to charge my EV is generated primarily by the burning of coal and natural gas and the splitting of atoms at centralized power stations, (and a small percentage of hydroelectricity, solar and wind generated electrons) that coal, unlike petroleum products, is locally sourced in the USA–not in Canada, in the arctic, or overseas, as with close to half of all petroleum products used in the USA.  Therefore much less energy is required in the extraction, shipping and refining to make it into a usable product.  So just where does our electricity come from…

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 Furthermore, the electricity grid continues to get cleaner as new wind, solar farms and solar EV charging stations are going online daily…

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…so the longer I drive the Leaf, the cleaner it becomes!  In the future I hope to install a grid-tied solar array on my roof which will make my car and home solar powered thereby allowing me to run my car on energy generated on my property–you can not get closer to the source than that (well, maybe if you are in orbit you could). This just cannot be done with a gasoline powered vehicle.

This same person went on to say that the production and operation of electric vehicles is far more energy consumptive and therefore less sustainable that driving a gasoline powered vehicle.  Well, I would say that he may have gotten his information from the linked article below (the author of said article may or may not have been funded by either: the big petroleum powered automakers, the coal and oil industries, and anyone who stands to loose big money when millions of drivers switch to EV’s) :

http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/unclean-at-any-speed/

I do understand that many of the components that go into electric vehicles may be initially more expensive to mine, process and fabricate for use in an BEV or PHEV however, when those same components reach the end of their usefulness they can then be recycled many times over in succeeding generations of vehicles and other electronic components which will lower their cost and carbon footprint.  Couple that fact with the continued greening of the energy grid and the gloomy anti-EV picture painted by the previous author starts to look much brighter.  EV production also means JOBS!

Nissan Leaf production in Smyrna Tennessee!

Let’s face it, our society is a technological one, addicted to state of the art technology that is based on plug in electronic devices.  The  resources for these devices will need to be sourced somewhere so lets focus our energy on recycling existing resources, rebuilding the energy grid into a smart, clean grid and then lets plug in our phones, pads and our cars and charge onward into the future…

…it is the smart thing to do.

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The following articles and commentary’s stand up for EV’s as we do.

http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

http://www.technologyreview.com/view/517146/are-electric-vehicles-better-for-the-environment-than-gas-powered-ones/

http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml

http://www.pluginamerica.org/

http://www.electricauto.org/

http://content.sierraclub.org/evguide/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_vehicle

Here’s George Takei’s take on EV’s

To recap: we love our EV and fully support the EV industry and we believe that a much cleaner, greener, future rides on plug in electric vehicles and we will support it 100%.

Blue Ridge Mountain Expedition

A few weeks ago I took my 2012 Leaf SL on a ~300 mile road trip to visit a friend.  My friend lives on the other side of two mountain ranges in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina USA. Take a look at the route (one way) with charging station locations* and elevation change profile that I calculated using www.mapmyride.com

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Chargers were few and far between but the Leaf performed admirably and had no issues that were the fault of the vehicle although I did have a leak in a tire due to a bit of road debris.  Totals for the adventure follow:

Total Miles driven on entire weekend trip: 319

Total Miles driven R/T: 220

Charging Time total for 319 mile trip: 22 hours (includes Lvl 2 and Lvl 1 overnight)

Charging Time total for R/T: 8.5 hours (Lvl 2 x 4)

Charging Time totals for entire 319 mile/3 day trip: 30.5 hours (includes Lvl 2 (8.5) x 5 and overnight/day Lvl 1 (22) x 3)

Maximum sustained speed: ~65 mph

Minimum sustained speed: ~30 mph

Time spent behind the wheel during R/T: ~7 hours

Time spent behind the wheel for entire trip: ~9 hours

Lowest Elevation: 1702 feet above sea level

Highest Elevation: 4563 feet

Total Elevation gain: 11,602 feet

Total miles regenerated for 218 mile R/T:~100!

Total cost of electricity for entire 319 mile route: ~$2.00!!

If I had driven my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the trip would have taken less time but it would have cost me ~$70 in gas and I would not have had so much fun!

I filmed the entire trek then compressed it down into the hour long documentary video linked below so sit back and enjoy an epic mountain adventure in a Nissan Leaf.

 

*Charging station information added to mapmyride map using Photoshop.

 

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First Service Visit

A few days ago I took my Leaf to the local Nissan Dealership–Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC–to have it’s tires rotated and a systems “check up.”

Here is how it played out.

After a quiet and petrol free morning drive of around 15 miles, I rolled up to the big service department door and it quietly opened admitting me into the cavernous and spotless bay that is somewhat reminiscent of a hanger bay on a futuristic spaceship from the mind of Lucas or Roddenberry.

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I eased up behind a ICE powered Nissan and then a pretty young attendant standing at a nearby computer station logged me into her system.

Se then told me it would be a few hours while they serviced the Leaf but that she would be glad to shuttle me to a nearby store while I waited.  I needed new boots so I took her up on the offer.  Before we departed I gained access into the service bays and snapped a pic of the Leaf before the servicing began.

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I was very impressed with the cleanliness, tidiness and brightness of the service department.  In my many years of auto ownership I have visited and worked in many auto shops that were the exact opposite–dirty, greasy and dark–kudos to Nissan for keeping such a clean, bright service department–it truly does make a difference!

The Nissan rep also plugged in my Leaf and charged it to 80% for free–a great service for EV owners that you will not see any ICE powered service departments offering.  Just imagine driving your land Rover or Corvette in to have it serviced and when you pick it up they have filled up the tank for free–it would be nice but it is not ever going to happen.

A couple of hours later I had a new pair of boots, my Leaf was finished, the tires were rotated and all systems were a go with a 100% score and I drove off in my Leaf with an 80% charge and smile on my face.

Thank you Anderson Nissan for a wonderful Leaf owners experience!

Thank you Nissan and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn for making the Leaf a reality!

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Photo of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn and a Leaf from Wikipedia

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Three Month Leaf Report

We have owned our Nissan Leaf now for just over 3 months and you are probably asking: Do we still like it? What do we like about it? What don’t we like about it? Has it saved us any money?

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(Photo taken at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute http://www.pari.org)

Here are the answers.

Do we still like it and why?  Absolutely, wholeheartedly and positively: YES!

What do we like about the Nissan Leaf:

So far it has been a wonderful vehicle that gets us from point A to point B quickly, quietly and cleanly. It continues to be a joy to drive and I always look forward to driving it because it is fast, fun and easy to drive.  When I have to drive Godzilla, my 1999 Toyota 4Runner, it seems like an archaic, sluggish, noisy, smelly old fossil compared to the smooth, responsive, clean, green leaf.

I love the fact that the Leaf needs virtually no maintenance.  Since I have had it I have only had to check the air in the tires and wash it a couple of times.  As far as the old Toyota–I have had to change the oil/filter once (I use fully synthetic, bio-based, American made GOil) and that cost me almost as much as it has cost to power the Leaf for half the time we have been driving it!  (more on that later).  Once, on a long distance camping excursion in the Toyota deep in the mountains of North Carolina, the upper radiator hose blew off due to a faulty clamp.  This sprayed hot, toxic antifreeze all over my engine and paint causing a real mess.  I was able to patch it together using the tools and parts I had on hand and limp slowly to my destination.  The next day I was able to repair it for under $5.00.

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Issues: The Leaf has had no problems related to the mechanics and systems of the car.  The only mishap being the tire incident on day 3 and that was out of my or Nissan’s control.  The one major complaint I have about the Leaf is the design of the drivers seat–I do not find it to be comfortable. The position of the head rest is too far forward so I had to turn it around so that I did not feel like my head was forced forward all the time.  It would also be nice if the seat had a lumbar adjustment as well.  This is more than likely my problem because no one else that has driven it has had any issue with the seat.

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(Photo taken at the Dogwood parking lot level 2 charging station in Hendersonville, NC)

Has owning the Leaf saved us any money?

Let’s look at the totals for a clearer picture.

Mileage driven from Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Total electric miles: 3939 miles

Average miles/month: 1313

Average miles/week: 109

Average miles/day: 34.7

Average max miles/day: 54.2 (average of miles driven above 35 miles/day)

Longest distance driven in one day: 92 miles (not on one charge)

Electricity Usage Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Total KWh electricity used: 887.7 (sources: 842.7 KWh mains trickle charge at home, 45 KWh  outside home with 25 KWh from commercial charging stations and 20 KWh from 120 volt outlets at work and friends’ houses)

Average KWh used/month: 295.9

Average KWh used/mile: 3.9

Cost/KWh:  $.09

Total three month cost to operate Leaf: $ 79.89 (887.7KWh x .09/Kwh)

Average cost/month to charge Leaf:$26.63

Average cost/day to charge the Leaf: $0.89

Average cost/mile/day to drive Leaf: $0.03/mile

Comparisons Sept. 01-Nov. 30

Before Leaf estimated cost to operate/maintain/repair 1999 Toyota 4Runner and 1998 Honda CRV: $1200 ($400/month x 3. (~Toyota 250/month and Honda $150/month (fuel + maintenance + repairs)

Before Leaf Toyota/Honda average cost/day: $ 13.33 ($400/30)

Before Leaf average Toyota miles driven/month: 1357.14 (1357.14/19mpg=71.42 gallons x $3.50 per gal. = $250)

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $250

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 8.33 (250/30)

Before Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.24 (8.33/34.7)

Traded in 1998 Honda CRV for 2012 Nissan Leaf SL

After Leaf total Toyota 4Runner miles driven (90 days): 2965.03

After Leaf average/month Toyota 4Runner miles driven: 988.34

After Leaf average miles driven/week: 247.08 (988.34/4)

After Leaf average miles driven/day: 32.94 (988.34/30)

After Leaf Toyota fuel used from Sept 1-Nov 30: $546.19 ($546.19/$3.50 per gal = 156.05 gal x 19mpg = 2965.03 miles)

Toyota maintenance costs: $60 oil and filter.

After Leaf Total cost in gas/maint: $606.19 ($546.19 + $60 oil/filter)

After Leaf 90 day Toyota total operational costs: $606.19

After Leaf Toyota average cost/month: $202.06 (606.19/3)

After Leaf Toyota average cost/day: $ 6.73 (202.06/30)

After Leaf Toyota average cost/mile: $ 0.20 (6.73/32.94)

Total fuel saved during 90 day period:  $593.81 (1200-606.19)

Fuel savings after power cost: $ 593.81 Fuel – $79.89 Electric Cost= $513.92 saved

Car payment offset: $350.67 x 3 months =  $1052.01 payments – $513.92 savings = $538.09 out of pocket!

We have already saved over $500 in fuel costs in just three months of EV ownership and applied that to our car payment!   After the Leaf is paid off we will be saving even more!

Had we continued driving the Honda CRV and the Toyota 4Runner together we would have burned ~209 gallons of gasoline, spent over $730 in gas and belched out ~3971 lbs of CO2* and other toxic gasses into our shared atmosphere!  (4389 miles driven / 21 mpg av. of both cars  = 209 gallons of gas x $3.50/gal. = a total of $731.50 just for gasoline costs for three months!

*1 gallon of gasoline burned emits 19 lbs of CO2 source: http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/contentIncludes/co2_inc.htm

By buying the Leaf we have saved money, reduced our carbon footprint by eliminating almost 952.95 lbs** of CO2 from being eliminated into the atmosphere and gained a maintenance free car that is fun to drive and seems to be very well thought out and well constructed.

**(156.05 gal x 19 lbs CO2/gal = 2964.95 lbs CO2 – 2012 lbs CO2***= 952.95 lbs CO2 saved) ***Based on the Carwings telemetric data collected by the Leaf’s on-board efficiency monitoring system that compares the size of the Leaf to a comparable sized ICE cars tailpipe emissions.

Wow! All great reasons to love the Nissan Leaf EV!

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(Photo taken at the BrightfieldTS solar charging station at UNCA Asheville)

More good points about the Leaf!

Handling: We love the way the Leaf drives!  It is quiet, smooth and very responsive on and off the pavement–it is really surprising how well it drives on gravel roads.

Heated seats and steering wheel:  I love these features about the Leaf–I hardly ever turn on the heater!

Climate control timer: a truly wonderful feature that pre-heats/cools the car while plugged in to pains power before leaving for work in the morning.

Stereo system: Great stereo sound that you can truly hear because the car is soooo quiet!

Backup camera: what an amazing feature–I use it every time I put the car in reverse.  The 2014 Leaf LE has a 360 degree camera that shows everything around the vehicle–a great safety feature for sure!

Regenerative braking: This system allows the car’s electric motor to act as a generator when the car is braking or coasting with the power generated feeding back into the battery for extended range–amazing!

Over the last three months I have regenerated a total of 6979.4 Watt Hours! (according to the Carwings monitoring system)

At first that sounds like a stupendous amount of free power however, Watt Hours are not Kilowatt hours.  Once we see that one watt hour = 1000 KWh we discover that although the Leaf did generate 6979.4 WH that then converts to 7 KWh of electricity for a whopping savings of $0.63.  When we then take .63 and divide that by the Leaf’s cost/mile to operate of $~0.3/mile we find that the Leaf gave back ~21 miles of gravity assisted free Leaf produced power.  Although at first that does not seem like much, it is $0.63 and 21 miles more than the Toyota (or any ICE vehicle) has ever or will ever give back in its entire lifespan.  If this trend continues then I estimate that at the end of one year the Leaf will generate ~84 miles free range and ~$2.52 in electricity savings and that is good news for sure!  EV’s give something back–internal combustion vehicles engine (ICE) vehicles only take giving nothing back but a very expensive ride, loads of waste heat, leaking fluids and toxic life poisoning emissions.

On one particular wildlife conservation field excursion (I work with reptile conservation) I had to drive uphill all the way to my destination near the top of a forest covered mountain to radio track two wild Timber rattlesnakes.  Upon arrival at the site I had only around 41 miles of range remaining on the GOM. After I completed my work several hours later and set out for home I decided to take several miles of steep, downhill, winding, dirt forest roads–which included a shallow creek crossing–to get to the mostly level highway at the bottom of the mountain.  When I arrived at the highway I noted that I had regenerated ~23 miles of range and then later, when I pulled into my driveway I was astonished to have 41 miles of range remaining–the same amount as when I started on top of the mountain! The Leaf’s regenerative braking system had provided power for almost 2/3 of the entire trip home–amazing!

Watch the video of the excursion below!

And check out another fun Leaf video I produced on my 2013 National Plug In Day adventure in Asheville, North Carolina.

Leaf Improvements? 

I can think of a few for Nissan to contemplate:

Audio system: While the stock stereo system and new Bose sound system sounds amazing I still believe that the audio operating system could use an upgrade (this may have been updated in the 2014).  In my opinion the search and filing system for the USB feature is not very well designed and could use some attention.  The connectivity between the audio system and Bluetooth devices also needs work.  The system has trouble when connecting to my Droid so I have since stopped using the Droid and use only the USB with a flash drive.

Carwings: an interesting and informative system but it could be more accurate.

Navigation system: overall well done but it does need some updating as well.

(I have not seen the 2014 model year Leaf–hopefully the last three points have been updated for the better.)

Charging system: I believe that the Leaf would benefit from an optional rooftop solar panel covering the entire roof of the vehicle and possibly even the hood as in my badly Photo-shopped concept idea below.

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With the current advances in lightweight, flexible, high output solar technology and even solar paints,  this would be a great addition especially on vehicles used in sunny areas. Imagine the loads of free power you could generate with this feature while your Leaf just sat in the sun drenched parking space all day while you were at work.  Obviously it would not charge the Leaf’s battery to full capacity but it could only help just as the regenerative braking system does and both systems working together would be able to supply the vehicle with even more clean, green, free energy!  In cars equipped with the rooftop solar option Nissan could also add USB charging/AC power ports inside the vehicle so that a person could charge their USB powered phones, tablets, cameras and other devices while the car was charging on solar power. I believe this should be an optional feature because some people would not be interested in it aesthetically–but others like myself would jump on it in a heartbeat.  Also, for Leaf owners who park in garages or under trees or live in areas where it rains a lot or is often overcast  this feature would not be of much use.

More adjustable driver’s seat: as mentioned before it would be nice if the driver’s seat had a lumbar adjustment and the head rest could be adjusted fore and aft for more comfort.

Battery pack: obviously the battery of the Leaf needs improvement–the day the range of EVs pass the 300 mile mark they will be in everyone’s garage.  This is the single most limiting factor of this otherwise wonderful vehicle.

Conclusions: even with the limited range and other little issues we still love our Nissan Leaf–it is a truly amazing car and we do not regret our EV decision in any way.  We are loving our pioneering decision and look forward to many years of EV adventure and savings!

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(Photo taken on day one on the Barr Nissan lot in Columbia, TN)

Notes

Public charging stations we have used.

BrightfieldTS (1.50/hr and free) Asheville, NC

Chargepoint (1.50/hr) Asheville, NC

Blink (DC fast chargers $5.00/charge) Tennessee

 Eaton (free) Asheville and Hendersonville, NC

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Sharing a free charge along side a Chevy Volt.

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