Monday, December 24, 2012

Congratulations [+the rest of the day]

New York Times does it again!

The first section of the Sunday New York Times I reach for is the Automobiles Section.  Forgetabout the other Sections.  There is something fun about finding out about what's new in Automobiles.

I have to congratulate the New York Times.  In 2012 Electric Automobiles have dominated the pages of the Automobiles Section.  Here's is last Sunday's dominating article on EVs: New York Times Sunday Article.

Now for the rest of the day:

I am excited, I get to drive the LEAF first today before the "girls" go off to hairdresser and mall [isn't "hairdresser" a strange name - is a dresser to hair, or is it someone who puts clothes on your head?].

I volunteered to run the morning errands - grocery store, post office, hardware store, bank, and maybe CVS.   Errands are so much more fun when I use the LEAF.

A Memorable EV Test Drive with the 2012 Nissan Leaf


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Nissan LEAF Advert from YouTube


Incognito!

30 days and 900 miles into LEAF ownership and sometimes I just want to roll down my windows and shout "this is an electric car!"

A great thing about the LEAF; to those with no knowledge of the LEAF, it looks similar to many other cars out there on the road.

A bad thing about the LEAF; it looks similar to many other cars out there on the road.

I feel if more people recognize I am driving an electric car, people would become more comfortable knowing EVs are practical everyday vehicles.  And....., I would hope if more people become comfortable with EVs, then more people would choose to own them.

For now, driving incognito, Jim S.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Solstice Wish to all LEAF Owners

On the Eve of Winter Solstice 2012, I wish onto all LEAF Owners that the AMP Hours required to light your way and warm your travels diminish as the days grow longer so your journeys may range farther.

Peace to all during this season of celebrating light.

Jim S.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

This morning's car pool.

Dad, why do we have to take the minivan today?  The exhaust smells so bad!

My children bring tears of joy to my eyes - JS

Regen Envy?

Picture this:

  • You are driving you LEAF in a suburban driving environment with either stop signs or traffic lights every quarter mile, 
  • From a stop you briskly accelerate to 30 MPH using only two or three "Dots" on the power scale, 
  • Now you are forced to stop for a sign or light so you let off the accelerator pedal and coast to the stop allowing your regenerative braking slow you down and put energy back into your batteries.
Now enter the SUV that wants your rear bumper.

  • You beat the SUV off the start because the LEAF accelerates faster (you dust'm!),
  • The SUV catches up to you with a big roar and tries to zap you off the road with their killer high beams while you are coasting to your next stop.
  • Now the LEAF and SUV are stopped and the SUV sounds off with a loud blast of their horn.
  • The light changes or the intersection is clear and you dust the SUV again.
  • You dust the SUV at 8 intersections.
  • The SUV and LEAF get to the same place at the same time.  Hey! We all have to stop as required. Right?
Summary:
  • LEAF eMPG = 110 MPG - SUV 15 MPG on a good day.
  • Who got where first?  Of course my LEAF and I because we were first in line. [NOTE: if they were before me, we would still get to the same place at the same time.]
Conclusion:

EV owner always wins.  SUV owner always frustrated.

 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Range Fear - The Reality

We had a family event earlier today at my sister's home in New Jersey [about 35 miles one-way, and in another State - we live in New York].  While planning the trip, I visited Chargepoint.com and found a free charging station 3 blocks away from my sisters house.  So, we decided to make the trip in our LEAF.

Today was a damp cold day [42 F and rainy], meaning we need heat, windshield wipers, defroster, and headlights.  We pulled out of the driveway with a 100% charge and the displayed range was 100 miles.  We did have to go 10 miles out of our way before we actually started the trip to New Jersey, so we actually traveled 45 miles one-way all at posted highway speeds.

Still 5 miles from our destination the range indicated 18 miles, the meter was in the red, and the range was dropping rapidly.  Here is where everyone in the car started blaming me for such a bad idea to drive the EV to my sister's house.  Deep down I knew the initial plan to take a charge at the ChargePoint station while we were visiting was a good one and that we would make it home without either pushing the LEAF or getting a tow.  The 100 mile range actually turned out to be a 60 mile range at highway speeds using the climate control, wipers, and headlights, this is on target for what Nissan claims for the type of driving we did.

While visiting, we were actually able to get 3 hours on the charger.  I also used the opportunity of using Google maps to find the no-highway route back home.  I picked up the car and it indicated a 55 mile range.  I placed the LEAF in ECO mode and the range quickly popped up to 70 miles (this made the rest of the family feel better).  By travelling local roads (Max. speed 30 MPH) for the first half of the trip in ECO mode, we were able to maintain a 70 mile range (just how does that work???? Regenerative braking and using less energy to travel at slower speeds).

When we got to the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge, the remaining 15 miles to home was traveled by highway.  When we got to the GWB our range indicated 68 miles.  We pulled into the driveway at our house 15 miles later with an indicated range of 30 miles remaining.

We did it!  We beat our range fear!  Because of Sunday night weekend traffic, we actually made better time taking local roads than we would have if we took the highway to the GWB on our way home out of New Jersey.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Four weeks without gasoline.   I look forward to many more without!

Nissan North America called me, yes me!, on November 20th, 2012, with a $0 down, $199.99/mo lease promotion on a brand new Nissan Leaf.  I drove mine home the day after Thanksgiving two days later.

Heidi's 2004 VW convertible Beetle was in need of a transmission, ABS system work, and a catalytic converter.  Perhaps $6k of work for a car only valued at +/- $6k which is only driven about 20 miles/day.  At about $50/wk in gasoline ($200.mo), and knowing the comparable electric use would be about $30/mo., the economics just made plain sense - go with the LEAF and get rid of the VW, that is what we did.

Myself, a professional Environmental Scientist, I have had a life long passion for owning an Electric Vehicle.  Nissan has made my dream come true.  Thank you Nissan!

The wife and two teenage daughters, well they just could not see past the "cuteness" of a red convertible Bug.  Fortunately, Heidi saw the practicality of the economics, and considering the LEAF would be her daily driver, the ultimate decision (with a bunch of pressure from me, and having her get a test drive) to trade in the VW for the LEAF was her's.  We did it, it was traded in and now the experience begins.

"What if I run out of CHARGE!"  Four weeks later, that hasn't happened.  At first, we used the OEM 110V charger to charge us overnight for an 85 mile range (wait, we are only driving an average of 20 miles/day?).  By the end of week two, the 220V charger ($600 from Home Depot) was wired to the side of the house and charging went from 8 hour to 2 hours.  Still, no issues with range.  So far, we have gone the distance (I can't refuse the opportunity for a good pun....).

Now the social aspect of giving up the "hot red convertible New Beetle" and getting the "WOW" new technology "electric car".

  • First, my kids were really disappointed to learn Great Aunt Louise owned a Detroit Electric and we were not actually the first ones in the family to own an EV.  But sticking with the kids, we are not only the first on the block, but one of the first 4 in the city to own an EV.  
  • As for Heidi, she works for an environmental organization and she is the first at work to own an EV.  Now her co-workers are off to Nissan to see if they can get the same deal.
  • Me, an Environmental Scientist who works for a MAJOR electric utility, I too am a first and I can't wait to give the President a ride in my car.
For the long run, literally.  We also own a 2001 Toyota Sienna, a mini van, that serves it duty for twice a week car pool, occasional long trips, and hauling a lot of big stuff all over.  With 108K miles, I plan on it serving 100K+ more.

Oh! What do I do to get to work?  I have a company provided 2009 CNG powered Honda Civic, yes, compressed natural gas.  A great car and I can't wait until Honda, or another car company, produces a CNG electric hybrid vehicle.  When we get our hybrid CNG cars, we can then go the distance without imported oil.  We have the technology.  We have the infrastructure.  Unfortunately profit proceeds sensibility and until big business sees the light, we are stuck in the grip of limited opportunities. 

Tomorrow we have a trip across the George Washington Bridge, I hope chargepoint.com is right about the charging stations or it will be a long push home!

More to come.......