EV is just another car?

Check out this new Chevy commercial:

From the still it just looks like its just a sale on their SUVs but watch it; you may glimpse something here and there…

Wait is that a Bolt in there and another? Charging? Interesting.

Did they mean to do that or just grabbed some random footage they had laying around?

If that is intentional it does send a signal that the Bolt is “just another car” and not something separate. Not that it means much but it is possible that some random customer may show up at a Chevy dealer asking to “see that car I saw being plugged-in in the commercial”.

EV is just another car?

Taking the next step

The Mach-E order bank opened this morning (or late last night, not sure). This means that people with reservations (except for GTs) can now convert their reservations to an order.

I had a Select AWD model reserved. The select line was the least expensive version of the Mach-E available but you couldn’t get the larger battery for 300 miles in range. Thus before converting my order I spent some time changing the configuration around until I found the least expensive 300 mile Mach-E.

The version I ended up ordering is a California Route-1. This trim level is only available with the larger battery and rear-wheel drive yielding the 300 mile range figure. This configuration turns out to be around $2k-$3k less than a Premium trim with the big battery and rear-wheel drive (also is missing some of the bells and whistles of the Premium but I can live with what’s not there).

Sadly, however, the payment estimator on the Ford site comes up with a monthly that is out of my range. If I can’t get the monthly down to something a bit more palatable then I may have to ditch the Mach-E and go with the backup…a Plugin Escape (yeah its no Mach-E but its also $20k cheaper). Won’t have to make that decision until November or December, however so I have some time.

Taking the next step

Now here is a trick..

Before I get to the trick: Ford sent out an e-mail to people who have a Mach-E reserved (and of course news and rumors are running rampant). Apparently we can start converting our reservations to orders (at least in the US) next week.

Ok, now on to the trick. The trick here is how do I estimate how well the EV is driving, or rather who well the GOM is calculating my range to go (as a side note kind of related Ford has said the Mach-E is going to crowd source the GOM! interesting). (GOM = Guess-o-meter, or range to empty).

Lets say you have a longish trip, say 85 miles one way, or 170 miles round trip–give or take (oh hey I just happen to have driven this today, hmm). Most of it is highway and you want to estimate if you’re driving more or less efficient than the car thinks you have or will. Bear with me here…lol

Leaving with a full charge the GOM says you have 230 miles available (since this is slightly less than the 238 rated range the car has calculated my recent efficiency a little worse than average). Reset the trip meter upon the full charge so you can watch the trip meter go up as your range decreases.

Now here is the trick: While you’re driving add those two together (yeah ok wait until they get to easy values like 50 miles on the trip meater and 180 miles remaining). If you’re driving about the same efficiency as you were before the total should equal the full range at the start of the trip. If the total has fallen then you’re driving less efficiently and if the total rises you’re driving more efficiently–yeah all this math is hard.

Now for the trip we took today: 170 miles round trip, the car read 230 miles, it was in the mid-80s for temperature, air conditioning set to 70, and my speed ranged from 70-75 using cruise control (and occasionally going faster to pass people). As we were driving I would glance at the miles remaining and the trip and add them up.. 230, 230, 229, 229, 230, 229, 228, etc. By the time I got home (with about 50 miles showing on the GOM) the total was around 220. This means that driving on the highway at 70+ mph caused me to lose 10 miles of range or about 4%–not too shabby.

This is much better than many would expect from driving on the highway as most estimates say you lose about 10% in range from highway driving (or more). I’ve noticed this a few times now in the Bolt but I didn’t have an effective way to quantify it until I thought to add the values together…cool.

Now here is a trick..

New Escape plugin

Ford’s new Escape plugin hybrid is finally here–yeah I haven’t mentioned it much on here since I’ve been focusing more on BEV’s than PHEV’s (Although I’ve mentioned a few times that I thought Ford should make an Escape BEV–why not make a BEV out of one of your best selling vehicles? They did with the Focus: When they made the Focus Electric the Focus was a very popular car.)

Here is a review of the Escape PHEV; sounds pretty compelling, especially with 37 miles of battery only range–my C-Max could only go about 25 miles an extra 10 miles would have made a big difference.

One interesting thing of note is that the Escape will have 4 drive modes:

  • Automatic
  • EV Now
  • EV Later
  • EV Charge

The C-Max only had the first 3. Automatic is just that: you drive the car and let it figure out how to manage all the extra miles in the battery (it will predominantly use the battery but when extra power is needed it will fire up the gas engine). EV Now is similar except that it won’t fire up the gas engine until the battery is depleted (the car will keep a small reserve in the battery to operate in hybrid mode). EV Later will use the gas engine as much as possible to keep the battery charge constant.

The new mode here is EV Charge. I’m guessing that it will run the gas engine a little bit more to charge up the battery. Hmm what will the car do when the battery becomes full? It could switch to automatic, or it could switch to EV Later and hold that charge. I wonder if the owner’s manual is available online?? Why yes, yes it is (PHEV Drive modes start on page 176)!

It would appear that EV Charge will charge up the battery to some level less than 100% and then operate like EV Later in that it will attempt to hold the battery at that level. This leaves room for any long brake regen times.

The 2020 Escape was already a pretty compelling vehicle adding such a capable PHEV option only makes it more attractive.

New Escape plugin

Going on another month

Another month since I’ve last posted and nothing new to post: We’re all still at home, I’ve probably put less than 200 miles on the Bolt over the past month. I’ve left hill-top reserve turned on and simply plug it in after using it each time–this way its always ready to go and not charged to completely full. Occasionally we’ll take it for a “long” drive (in these times long consist of 20 or more miles LOL). Given that no car likes to sit we’ve also had to drive our ICE vehicles from time to time to keep their batteries charged and everything operating properly. Even the RV hasn’t gone anywhere..strange times indeed.

The most used vehicle we have right now is my Rad Power Bike–I’ve probably put more miles on it than any car!

I still have a Mach-E reserved; it looks like Ford is doing everything they can to keep that guy on track for late this year delivery (of course I’m hoping for a 2-3 month delay to push it closer to the Bolt’s lease end date but whatever happens we’ll see…).

Stay safe and healthy out there.

Going on another month

Wow been a month

Yeah been a month now. As you may have guessed I really haven’t had much to post about given that I, like much of the nation, have been at home “staying safe”. So far so good; no one has caught anything.

We have been able to take some drives around (as long as we stay in the car…). As an example here is a drive we took around Ann Arbor, Michigan in the Bolt a few weeks ago:

I hope you all are staying safe and healthy….

Wow been a month

Been a little quiet..

Yeah with all the stuff going around haven’t really had much to post. There was this article a few days ago describing the huge push right now for electric delivery vans.

This makes a lot of sense: Local delivery vans don’t need a lot of range and the stop and go nature of their daily routes is perfect for an electric powertrain using regeneration over brakes. These trucks will also be much quieter than your usual FedEx or UPS truck which will make for happy homeowners (although you may notice deliveries just popping up on your doorstep as you never heard the truck!).

Battery tech will have to get a bit better for long-range trucks to be more viable (including RV’s). They will need a higher power to weight (and power to volume) density to prove effective (kind of like this battery).

In other Ford EV news an exec gave some brief info about Ford’s future plans (not really a lot there, however).

Of course everything is pretty much at a standstill at the moment (although rumor has it that Mach-E orders will be starting on 5/11/20). We’ll see…

Been a little quiet..

What was it?

I’m sure you’ve been waiting on the edge of your seat: What was the issue with my battery? Nothing, no issue with the battery. Just an issue with the coolant pump (which make sense since the battery does rely on that). Took a day or so but here is what they found:

Strangely enough when I googled the e-mail one of the results was a very similar issue to that above. It appears that some wiring chafes a bit and wears through–seems like a good time for a small redesign ! LOL

As far as my dealership experience was: As good as I was expecting. When it was going to take longer than a day they gave me a loaner to drive (a brand new Equinox with 7 miles on the odometer) and called me with updates when they had them. Perfectly satisfactory.

What was it?

An issue with the Li-Ion battery…

Wait, what? Yup, start up the Bolt this morning and I see this:

Dash with check engine light on (lower right red car icon)

Very quickly after that I receive and e-mail from OnStar:

Uh oh! Yikes…now I know that back in 2017 GM built a few Bolts with bad batteries (and updated the software in the Bolts to detect the bad batteries before they left their owners stranded) but I had thought those issues were fixed. Does my Bolt have a bad battery? after only 23,743 miles? (I’m guessing no, but we’ll see–it charged to full just like normally and drove itself to the dealer no differently than before.)

The Bolt is now at the dealership awaiting a fix (googling the above e-mail reveals some owners who have had issues with their cooling system causing the battery fault which were fixed pretty quickly…crossing fingers its that and not a battery).

The good news of all this is that it wasn’t anything like the Focus Electric’s “Stop Safely Now” error which made many people stop, but not very safely.

An issue with the Li-Ion battery…

Better batteries on the horizon?

Well now here is a rather interesting article:

Welcome to the era of supercharged lithium-ion batteries

Now we’ve been hearing of “the next big thing” for EV batteries for a long while now. It seems like every other week there has been another article touting some breakthrough or another promising 2X, 3X, etc. larger batteries. Typically, however, something has been missing–batteries need to last long, charge quickly, have many cycles, scaleable, etc. Usually one or two of those requirements are missing.

All during that time I’ve been hearing about a few technologies that have the promise but have been difficult to get to that point (air batteries, for instance). Silicon anodes have been one of these very promising ideas that have that “if we could just fix X, Y,…”. The above article implies that X, and Y have been fixed (or at least a way to work with X and Y) and we could “soon” LOL! have them (re: within the next decade). Is it more hype? We’ll see.

I wouldn’t stop leasing those EVs just yet…

Better batteries on the horizon?