The cost of driving an Electric Vehicle

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

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

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

Either one is a subscription to dependency

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

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

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

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

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So, in my rationale I could either;

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

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A blast from the past a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 

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

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Source

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

bpdeepwater The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident 

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

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

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We are shamefully and totally hooked on oil.

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

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Source NASA

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

It is time for a big change. 

Enter the Electric Vehicle

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A Tesla Model S

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

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

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

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

That my friend is brilliant!

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

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

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The BMW i3 EV

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

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

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

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The Nissan eNV200 100% electric small van.

The Roadblocks

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

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

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

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

The future

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

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

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

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

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

What path will you choose?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

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Asheville Outlets throws switch on new EV charging stations!

On Saturday May 18, 2015, in honor of Earthday, the new Asheville Outlets held a grand opening ceremony for two new electric vehicle charging stations.

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These two new Chargepoint charging stations are located in the front parking area of the Asheville Outlets shopping complex at  800 Brevard Road in Asheville, NC.

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The event was hosted by Asheville Outlets management with several members of the Blue Ridge EV Club in attendance to mark this groundbreaking occasion.

Watch a video of the inauguration ceremony below.

Asheville Outlets will be opening to the public on May 01, 2015 and at that time they will be powering up two more Chargepoint Level 2 charging stations for EV drivers to use while visiting this beautiful new outlet mall.  All four charging stations will be free for use however, drivers will need a Chargepoint card to activate them.

This forward thinking move by Asheville Outlets reflects a growing trend among business owners, cities and towns all across the country. ¬†This trend, as discovered by¬†ChargePoint, is “the installation of an EV charging stations increases customer “dwell-time” significantly -by an average of 50 minutes per customer according to one business customer.” ¬†The Sierra Club also recently reported that Small Businesses are Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations¬†as a way to attract new and loyal customers. ¬†It seems that the studies are showing that by installing EV charging stations customers will have¬†more time to visit businesses and spend money in the local community and what is good for local businesses is good for the local community. ¬†If you are a small business owner, local city planner, or official, you may want to consider the benefits of opening your businesses and your communities doors to EV drivers¬†because it can only be good for business.

The next time you are passing through the Asheville area, please stop in and charge your EV at this new Chargepoint linked charging station and take the time to visit, shop, and dine at the new Asheville Outlets ūüôā

Read more: Asheville Outlets to Unveil Electric Car Charging Station

Watch on the local news.

 

 

Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette 101

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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.

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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.

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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.

РYour 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.

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However…

Owners of fully electric vehicles¬†such as¬†the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3,¬†Tesla 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‚Äôs 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.

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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 ‚ÄúI‚Äôm full!‚ÄĚ 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.

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

Just because you drive¬†an EV does not mean you‚Äôre 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.

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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‚ÄĒin other words, a gasoline powered Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicle is taking up the spot‚ÄĒthe 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.

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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 ūüôā

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.

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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‚Äôre 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.

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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.

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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.

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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/

The Wonders of Regeneration

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It is a known fact among EV owners that their cars use regenerative breaking systems to help charge the car’s battery and extend its range. ¬†Regenerative breaking is defined as:

“In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle‚Äôs kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.” Source Firmware Engineer¬†Tesla Motors. ¬†Read more of Greg’s great article on regen here.

“Vehicles driven by electric motors use the motor as a generator when using regenerative braking: it is operated as a generator during braking and its output is supplied to an electrical load; the transfer of energy to the load provides the braking effect. Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.” Source Wikipedia

Regenerative Breaking mechanisms have been used for over a century, have a¬†very fascinating history,¬†have¬†many very interesting applications including early experimentation with the Amitron¬†and Voltswagon concept cars by AMC. ¬†Regenerative systems developed by are¬†now used on the worlds best selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and all other EV’s and hybrids on the roads today.

An interesting video on how the Nissan Leaf’s power/regen system works:

I have owned my 2012 Nissan Leaf now for 13 months and have been keeping detailed daily notes on SOC, distance driven, temperature and other data points of interest. Recently I started taking notes on the regeneration that my car produces during my daily commute. Specifically a the 3.4 mile section of my commute that is almost all downhill (see a graphic representation of the route below).

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Map from www.mapmyride.com

The question

Recently I began to wonder just how far per day this 3.4 mile descent with 845 feet of elevation loss would take me on braking and gravity produced free fuel.  In the hopes of answering that question with some degree of accuracy I developed an experiment with the procedure listed below.

Every day I used in the experiment I drove as I do on a normal day; in ECO mode and with all possible environmental variables such as road conditions, traffic conditions, different routes*, elevation loss or gain, temperature, humidity, wind resistance, tire resistance, speed, accessories used, and others variables in order to keep it as real world as possible.  *I do not drive the same route every day due to errands I often to run after work.

UPDATE 1/25/15; Speaking of environmental variables effecting regeneration, on one recent occasion I had to drive the 3.4 miles section of route immediately after a motor-grader had scraped the road.  The road surface was the consistency of something like thick beach sand mixed with damp oatmeal.  The car bogged down a bit but powered through it but the regenerative breaking system was practically useless since I had to keep gently accelerating in order to keep moving forward.  At the bottom of the 3.4 mile route I had regenerated only 1 mile of range.  I am sure this will lower my overall average just a bit once I recalculate the numbers at some point this spring but science can be a harsh mistress.

The data (so far)

Regenerated potential range at the end of the route for seven days during November 2014

16.0, 14.0, 11.0,13.0, 7.0,14.0,15.0

= 90/7 = 12.85 average miles of potential range regenerated per day.

However, as we EV drivers know, this potential driving range is not an accurate representation of real world driving range due to the variables mentioned previously. In the attempt to deduce just how far in reality the car would go on the regenerated power from the 3.4 mile daily descent, I needed to calculate¬†the distance the car would travel before reaching the pre-route SOC on the GOM (my Leaf is a 2012 so it does not show battery state of charge as a percent–it is a calculated guess by the on-board computer of mileage remaining based on vehicle system health, environmental conditions and driving style.)

The procedure

I first recorded the SOC from the GOM at the top of the route, drove the 3.4 mile route, stopped at the bottom and recorded the number of regenerated miles, reset the trip odometer to 0 and drove until I had reached the first recorded SOC from the top of the route.

The results

The resulting number is the real world miles driven on Leaf regenerated free fuel.  The 7 day adjusted test results are listed below:

16.5, 9.0, 13.1, 7.5, 8.0, 8.7, 9.3

= 72.1/7 = 10.3* average miles of potential range regenerated per day!

*I continue to keep a daily record of regeneration on this route, so this number will change as I average in those numbers.  In the spring of 2015, I will post an update to this story with the updated findings.

Based on the data for the short time period in question, the results seem to indicate that during this 3.4 mile descent my car generates an average of 10.5 miles of potential real world range per work day when driving this route. This data also suggests that the Leaf often powers itself home for free since the route is only 9.3 miles in length from the bottom of the descent to my home.  I have documented this fact many times when upon reaching home the SOC is at or above the starting SOC when I left work.

This ads up to a substantial amount of Leaf produced free fuel, but how much in a year is possible?

10.3 miles per day!

10.3 x 5=51.5 miles per week.

51.5 x 4 = 206 miles per month.

206 x 12 = 2472 miles of Leaf generated free electric fuel per year.

If these numbers are accurate, then my car, simply by rolling downhill on the same 3.4 mile route described above, for 5 days each week, regenerates enough power in a year to power itself for the equivalent of two months worth of driving*, all freely powered by the Nissan Leaf!  *I drive an average of 300 miles per week (300 x 8 = 2400)

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I use a Kill A Watt meter to keep track of my Leaf’s power consumption.

How much has this potentially saved me in power costs for the Leaf?

Driving my leaf costs an average of .03 per mile so .03 x 2472 = 74.16

$74.16 potentially saved each year just driving home from work every day!

And this is only for this one route.  I drive several other routes where I pull a good amount of regeneration from long descents so I wonder how much am I saving in power costs from those routes?

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In a rough comparison, if I had to drive my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the same distance that my Leaf has driven on freely produced regenerative power, it would have taken me around 8 tanks of gas and cost me around $360.00 in gas at current fuel prices of $2.84/gal!  (2472 miles at 2.84 (per gallon) x 16 gallons = $45.44 x 8 (tanks) = $363.52)

WOW!

Let’s just think about this fact –¬†is there a consumer available, stock built, gasoline or diesel powered vehicle anywhere that will produce it’s own fuel. No. The facts are in: petroleum powered vehicles only take hard earned money from the owner, give nothing back but a ride, require lots of expensive fuel and maintenance, are often noisy, contribute to a polluted environment, enable the continued destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems through oil drilling/strip mining and pipeline construction in fragile environments, are not energy secure, and even fund terrorism. ¬†EV’s give so much back, have very low maintenance costs, are quiet and fun to drive, can be fueled on domestically generated energy and renewable energy generated at home or work and are therefore energy secure, do not fund terrorism, and produce a portion of their own fuel…for free! ¬†It is no wonder that some automakers, fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, and certain oil soaked politicians, are afraid of EV’s¬†and will stop at nothing to ruin their image with negative ad campaigns and tactics.

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The simple reality is this; while the currently available electric vehicles do have some range limitations, they are far better in so many ways than petroleum powered vehicles. ¬†Given time, advancements in battery technology, expanded charging infrastructure, and the support from the people and our purchasing power, the EV will one day dominate the roads. Once a person drives an EV and experiences the joy of driving electric, freedom from the gas pump and from years of costly maintenance, more money in their pocket, the resulting cleaner air and environment that comes from driving EV, and with the ever growing option of powering their EV from home generated renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro-hydro–they will see that driving electric¬†is the better choice and will hopefully trade in or recycle their old gas guzzler in favor of the future of transportation, the EV.

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 DRIVE ELECTRIC!

The Blue Ridge EV Club meeting at the BrightfieldTS solar charging canopy on Charlotte St. in Asheville, NC.

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

The Blue Ridge EV Club Presents

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

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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‚Äôs)
  • 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 ‚ÄúRegister‚ÄĚ 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 ‚ÄúContact‚ÄĚ 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 ‚Äď 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 ‚ÄėN 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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Track your EV’s performance with the myEV by MyCarma: electric vehicle logger & app

This is one of the greatest ideas in EV data monitoring I have seen yet!

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“The world’s first electric vehicle logger for individuals that can track energy consumption and State-of-Charge on (nearly all) production plug-in vehicles.”

–MyCarma

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If all EV drivers had one of these vehicle data loggers we could all keep better track of the health of our EV’s battery, monitor our energy usage, and communicate and compare results with other EV drivers across the region!

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But why would an EV driver want to log data from their EV?

According to MyCarma

“Here are the top 5 reasons we’ve heard from fellow EV owners:

  1. I want more data than what the dash shows me (ie. % SOC, not bars)
  2. I want to keep an eye on the health of my battery.
  3. I want to track my range throughout the year to see the impact of the weather, and to compare this to other EV owners in my area.
  4. The other data system you use went down. Again.
  5. I love my car and want to share my results with others that are in the EV community, and those that are considering becoming EV owners!

We’ve been listening. ¬†And by adapting our fleet hardware and decodes (ability to log EV signals) we can give the community what it’s looking for. “

It gets better!  The myEV APP and window sticker.

myEVapp

The APP allows you to track your EV’s info in real time and from anywhere as well as compare your results with the rest of your “team.”

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And then there is the window sticker.

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When you display the window sticker it tells other EV drivers that you are a member of a MyCarma myEV “team” consisting of a number of local EV’s. ¬†When you encounter another EV “out there,” you can then scan the QR code on the sticker and either send the driver of the EV an “electric fist bump” for driving electric or, if they are charging and their EV’s SOC (State of Charge) ¬†is higher than yours, you can text to request to unplug their car so you can get a charge.

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 Amazing!

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And there is even more!

Just read on to compare the myEV to the competition and see the benefits.

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So where can you get one of these remarkable new high tech toys that actually are not a toy but a useful high tech tool for helping you monitor the health of your EV?

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That is the catch…the myEV it has not been produced and offered for sale to the public just yet.

MyCarma, The company that makes the myEV data logger is running a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to fund the units creation.

mycarma-logo

You can be a part of the creation of this wonderful new tool by contributing to the cause and help get this project funded and then one day you can have your own myEV!

Watch this short video about the myEV and learn why you should help make this amazing tool a reality.

Learn more about the myEV on their Indiegogo crowdfunding page and consider becoming a part of something amazing!

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NOTE: If you live in the Western North Carolina/Upstate South Carolina or East Tennessee area and drive an EV, please consider joining The Blue Ridge EV Club where we share EV information, news, stories and pictures as well as promote our EV’s and amazing new future tech like our EV’s and the new¬†myEV!

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Bluewaterleaf is not affiliated or responsible for any adds that may appear below this line.

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The Future is NOW–Please consider helping crowdfund Solar Roadways

Yes, that’s right, Solar Roadways–driveways, parking lots, airports, tracks, and roads, paved with solar panels that convert solar energy into electricity that then power your house, electric vehicle, school, church, business…our entire society!

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It is a great idea that is happening now.

Solar-Roadway-Applications

Today is the time to be thinking about tomorrow.

Interstate at Dusk - small

Today is the time to be making the future of clean energy generation and energy security a reality.

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I firmly believe that one of the answers to powering the future with clean, renewable, domestically generated, job producing energy is Solar Roadways.

Snow melt

The Solar Roadways crew is not a huge corporate¬†mega-monopoly¬†hell bent on making power in the dirtiest way then pocketing your money and trying to shut down all the renewable energy companies…no.

Parking lot east

Solar roadways is Scott and Julie Brusaw.

Solar-Roadways

They are “normal” people just like you.

brusaws

With a cute dog named Chantilly that has no idea that it is walking on the future of clean energy generation.

Chantilly

They are normal people with a vision of a future powered by clean solar energy generated from the thousands of miles or driveways, parking lots, airports, and roads that are just sitting out there cooking in the sun.

solar-road-proto-630

The Brusaws are about to wrap up a crowdfunding campaign on Indegogo  that has so far generated over 2 million dollars that will go toward making Solar roadways happen!

If you are at all concerned about the future of anything good then please, consider helping the Brusaws fund their amazing idea.

Contribute and be part of positive change.

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Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Watch this incredible video that explains all the benefits of Solar Roadways.

All photos from Solar Roadways

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Bluewaterleaf is not affiliated with Solar Roadways–we just think it is a great idea that needs to happen.

Bluewaterleaf and Solar Roadways is not affiliated or responsible for adds that may appear below this line.

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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?

leafpari13

(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.

leafzero

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.

leafhville13

(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 Р$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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Wildlife Conservation in a Nissan Leaf

A few days ago I drove my Nissan Leaf deep into the forest on a one lane dirt road in search of Zoe–Zoe is an adult Timber Rattlesnake! ¬†I am following Zoe’s movements in order to learn more about the natural movements of a wild Timber rattlesnake in it’s natural habitat. ¬†I bring my experiences and knowledge to the world via my Youtube chanel, nature blog and facebook page. ¬†

This is probably the first time a Nissan Leaf has been used as a Timber rattlesnake tracking vehicle and possibly the first time a Leaf has been used in wildlife conservation.  

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After driving to the top of a steep mountain, parking at the end of a gravel road on a foggy, darkening mountainside I located Zoe and collected the vital biometric data and got ready to head home. ¬†I noticed that my GOM said that I had ~41 miles of range remaining so I decided to take a remote, steep, one lane gravel road through the deep forest in order to benefit from the most regenerative braking and gravity assist (downhill) as possible to extend my range. ¬†The only issue was a creek crossing–yes, a creek crossing. ¬†It was a small creek but it must be crossed in order to make it back to the pavement. ¬†Like any true pioneer I turned off the safety of the pavement and into the dark forest I plunged with LED headlights cutting ¬†laser-like paths in the foggy blackness of the night. ¬†Down and down the narrow, steep road wound until I came to the creek. ¬†Would I tear out the bottom panels of the leaf on the rocks in the creek? ¬†Would the leaf flounder and get stuck? Would it short out? ¬†Like electrons through a wire all these questions and more went through my mind at warp speed…but I could not go back or turn around because the road was to narrow to do so…I was committed so I plunged into the creek…slowly…and the Leaf charged across with no apparent ill¬†effects–woo hoo!! ¬†Without so much as a¬†wheel¬†spin or¬†slippage¬†the Leaf negotiated the creek and the entire journey with no problems at all. While it may not be a 4×4 it is a very¬†sure¬†footed and¬†capable¬†car for steep, mountainous, gravel roads…and yes, even shallow creek crossings.

I must say that the car performed¬†admirably while quietly climbing steep, wet mountain gravel roads without issue. ¬†When I reached the bottom of the trek I realized that I had regenerated over 23 miles of range just by rolling downhill–amazing! Free power means more range, less money out of my pocket and less power I have to suck from the outlet and therefore a cleaner, greener ride!

When I arrived at home I glanced at the GOM and noticed that it was sitting on 41 miles range–the same range I had when I was at the top of the mountain at the start of the trek–truly amazing–the 12 mile drive home was powered by the car for free!

Watch the video of the adventure below!

The Leaf is an amazing vehicle!

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A few days after my snake tracking adventure I found myself in the city charging my Leaf alongside a Chevy Volt.

Premium parking + Free power = Bliss.

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Snake Tracks is a Timber Rattlesnake conservation and research project occurring near Earthshine Discovery Center in the mountains of western North Carolina, USA. Through the magic of modern technology and allot of hard volunteer work by a wildlife conservationist and his small crew of volunteers, glimpse into the lives of two wild Timber rattlesnakes in their natural habitats. For more detailed info on the project please take a look at the website at: http://www.earthshinenature.com

Follow us on our blog at: www.earthshinenature.wordpress.com

It is our goal at ENP to promote wildlife conservation through our unique, exciting, citizen science based, hands-on education, out-reach programs, and online with our nature videos, blog and website.

We are not paid to operate ENP or to conduct wildlife conservation activities. ENP is a 100% volunteer operated and donation funded organization. It is our mission to educate you about these beautiful but greatly misunderstood animals and hopefully, to impart to you their beauty, uniqueness and intrinsic value to a healthy Earth, healthy wildlife and healthy humans.

THANK YOU to all of you who have donated to ENP over the years!! Without you this important reptile conservation and education work would not happen. If you would like to support Earthshine Nature Programs please feel free to donate by visiting

www.earthshinenature.com/donate

You may also donate supplies such as animal foods, medical supplies, vitamins and habitat supplies just contact us for more information on what supplies we are in need of and how to donate.

Visit www.earthshinediscovery.com to learn how you and your family, school, scout, corporate or camp group, can visit the Earthshine Discovery Center and have a wonderful fun and educational retreat!

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers www.steepcanyon.com used with permission.

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National Plug In Day Asheville, NC A Charging Adventure

On September 29, 2013 I made a trip to Asheville, North Carolina on business.  The day also happened to be National Plug In Day and since I drive a Nissan Leaf EV I decided to visit a few of the charging options in the Asheville area.

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The first station I visited was the BrightfieldTS/Chargepoint solar charging canopy off of South Charlotte Street at the Asheville Public Works parking lot. It was easy to use but while I was there I had several non-EV drivers park in the EV only spaces–how rude. ¬†Lucky for me I was able to get a slot and fully charge up the Leaf with no issues at all.

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The second station that I attempted to visit ended in charging failure–however, it was not the fault of the charger. ¬†I had planned to visit the charging station on Aston Street at the Buncombe County DSS parking lot. ¬†Upon arrival I was greeted with an empty lot with cables across the entryway and two unused charging stations sitting idle in the distance. ¬†It seems that the parking lot is closed on the weekend so I was unable to access the chargers–what a bummer. ¬†It seems like a waste to put two perfectly good charging station in a place where nobody can access them on the weekend when people are out and about wanting to spend money in town. ¬†But trying to figure out why government does what it does is a losing battle so I drove on.

The third charging station I visited was the Chargepoint station at 81 Coxe Avenue. ¬†This is a nicely located station if you are fond of one of Asheville’s claims to fame–local micro-brewed beer. ¬†The charger worked flawlessly and while you wait for your charge you can take a few steps north to Asheville Brewing company–famous for its varied beers and wonderful pizza. ¬†Or, only a few steps west of the station is Ben’s Tune Up Shop–a wonderful new restaurant and pub with great atmosphere and food–don’t miss it!

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The last station I visited was the BrightfieldTS charger on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Asheville at the Reuters Center.  This station is also Solar powered and worked flawlessly.

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On the way to the last charging station I followed one of Asheville’s newest attractions–the Amazing Pubcycle–a pedal powered bar! What a cool concept, check it out in my video below and at¬†www.amazingpubcycle.com

My Plug In Day adventure was a great success, I only wish I had seen more EV’s on the road–I saw not a one. Maybe next year I will organize a Plug In Day event in the WNC area, anyone want to join me?

Watch a video of my adventure below.

This is a map of the charging stations that are currently available and operational (but not always accessible as I found out) in the downtown Asheville, NC area.  Get yourself to Asheville and plug it in! Click the map for a larger view and more information.

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