Something else for the EV

Owning an EV can sometimes be like owning an RV in that you collect various accessories for it. You’ll find yourself in that odd situation where your RV is too far from the water spigot so you pick up that extra 25ft reel of hose, or you notice a cool new gadget that makes it easier to level, or hey I could add a WiFi extender and cell phone booster…

With the EV you have to pick up at least one EVSE if you intend to Level 2 charge at all (although some of the Level 1 EVSE’s that come with the cars can be modded to work with 240V–but they still wouldn’t charge at the fastest rate).

In my case I collected a few EVSE’s for the Focus Electric (FFE) that have now been employed for use with the Bolt (initially got a Bosch/SPX EVSE, won the Juicebox EVSE, and picked up a Clipper Creek Level 2 for portable charging mostly at campgrounds).

Now our city is telling us the replace some concrete on our driveway–pretty much the whole apron (We have a “sidewalk repair program” here where the city marks sections of concrete that need to be fixed. You have until a certain date to fix them or the city will come along, fix them, and send you a bill–how nice of them).

In the process of getting quotes and details and such I come to find that the new concrete will take up to a month to cure. A month of time where we can’t drive on it. Uh oh..how/where to charge? (yup this is an issue conventional cars don’t have to deal with LOL but then how often do you get your driveway rebuilt?)

Now I could make use of the many local public chargers (both near home, and one within walking distance of work). I get the impression that the one near work is only for guests of that business (since I’ve noticed it, there has been a C-Max (yeah not mine) charging there daily. Now all of the sudden the stations have disappeared from plugshare and the C-Max isn’t there hmm). Just about every Level 2 charger in the area is free so this would actually be the cheaper option LOL but I’m not all about that when I can get some fancy accessory:

What is that? Its a 40ft 40amp J1772 extension cable of course. Now I can park the car in the street while we have no driveway and still be able to charge. It even comes with a handy lock so people won’t steal it.

Here is what that will look like:

I let the car charge up like that for a few minutes to make sure everything worked (one of the reviews for it said it does get a little warm).

I will still have a use for it once the driveway has cured as well. When taking the Bolt along camping sometimes the electrical access is too far for the Clipper Creek to reach–now they won’t be.

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Something else for the EV

Power from the car wash?

What? Oh yeah and Happy New year.

The Bolt is the first EV/plugin that I’ve had that has had a “one pedal” driving mode. In short: “one pedal” mode is where the car will use regen to come to a complete stop if you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal. This means you can drive with just the accelerator as the top few percent of the pedal position will actually slow the car and stop it. This also means that if you move the car slowly without your foot on the pedal you’ll put some electrons back into the battery.

Now, curious minds inquire: What happens if you take your one pedal car to the car wash and leave it in one pedal mode there? (By car wash, I mean ones that you put a wheel in a track and a roller drags the front wheel down past brushes, curtains, and, finally, a bunch of blowers.) Will the car wash error out by the braking of the car? Will you get any power out of regen? (ooh electricity from the car wash! LOL) Does this even deserve a blog post? (why yes I was curious)

Well I’ve done it twice now and: Yes the car wash pushes the car along in L (one pedal mode), the car wash doesn’t error out or stop, and it looked like I got a little power out of it (less than a kW of course). Now I didn’t try this through the whole car wash–yeah I was chicken, I may try that once. I waited until the last little bit through the blowers (and no one behind me) before shifting to L from neutral. It makes sense that it would work: the car wash runs slow enough and should be powerful enough to pull through a bunch of cars and pickups. With just me there it was happy to push me along giving me some amps at the same time.

Of course this was just an experiment: I don’t think it would be cost effective to try to charge up using car washes! (Perhaps I should submit this as a question for XKCD’s what if to see “how many car washes to charge my battery”? LOL I’m sure my electricity rates are much much cheaper.)

This also brings another question to mind: Chevy/GM says not to flat tow the Bolt at all. If you want to tow the Bolt it must be on the dolly (and you have to do some 12V battery stuff to disable everything). What if you were to flat tow it, but just leave it in L/one pedal mode. Sure it would put some drag on the towing vehicle (er RV! LOL). Would it reduce the RV’s mpg a lot? Am I willing to try this? (well no because adding the equipment to flat tow a car to the car is more expensive than the dolly we use and just for an experiment..sigh nope) Another issue with this is what the car will do once the battery is full–presumably regen would stop and the car would reduce the rolling resistance (kind of like descending a tall mountain).

Power from the car wash?

New Charging strategy

Yeah ok its a cold weather post..got ya! Well not entirely…

A few things changed the past week to alter how I’m going to be charging the Bolt. To recap: Since I picked up the Bolt I was able to get about 250 miles or so per full charge. Of course this was all during the EV friendly summer months. This meant that I could charge up overnight and drive it for 3 or 4 days without having to charge again. A bonus since our C-Max would need to be charged every night.

Now that we’ve turned in the C-Max as its lease was ending and the weather has been consistently freezing overnight I’ve changed things up. Once again the Bolt can have exclusive access to our plug. The new/winter strategy is now: turn on the “Hilltop reserve” so that it only charges up to 85%-90% and plug in nightly. This will do two things: 1. Not charge to full preserving the battery a little bit (by getting a 2018 Bolt and not a 2019 Bolt I missed the nifty “charge to” selection on the dash), and 2. Allow the car to maintain the battery overnight (e.g. heat it) for those cold nights which is especially important for the Bolt as it spends its time outside of the garage (we’re still a 3-car family and I like to keep the Bolt accessible since its the car we drive the most).

I’ve been getting just about 200 miles a charge in this weather, well at least according to the Guess-O-Meter on the Bolt (which seems to be quite a bit more accurate than the one on the Focus Electric). I really only need about 50 miles or so a day of that which means I can run the heater all I want and still have range to spare. By plugging it in daily I’ll have all that for every day during the winter, and if the range drops further (which I would expect as our temps head relentlessly towards 0F) I’ll still have a significant buffer for my daily commute. Gone are the days of driving with the heater off, wearing a blanket, a sweater+winter coat, and cracking the window to keep the windows defrosted.

 

 

New Charging strategy

A Ford EV Recall–sort of

Ford is recalling 2012-2015 Focus Electrics, 2013-2015 Fusion and C-Max Energi vehicles. This is due to the 120V EVSE included with the vehicles doesn’t have a sensor (thermistor) in the plug to reduce the charge rate if it detects that the plug (the wall side plug) is overheating. The idea is that not all households/buildings have the capacity to handle a sustained 12 amp draw from a standard outlet. In those cases the outlet may overheat and cause a fire. By including a thermistor in the plug the EVSE can detect this situation and instruct the car to reduce the charge rate down to 8 amps. This is a nice automatic safety feature in the EVSE (at least it is in the ones that have the thermistor).

GM handles this a little differently with the Bolt: When you use the included 120V EVSE the car will default to charging at 8 amps. If you wish to charge at 12 amps you have to go into a menu setting on the car and turn on 12 amp charging. Thus it takes manual intervention on the driver’s part to charge at the higher rate (in either case charging a Bolt to full on 120V Level 1 EVSE takes a looooong time–even Chevy’s charging guide doesn’t give you a value, only says 4 miles per hour–because it would take a whopping 60 hours–2.5 days–to charge!).

The recommended home charger for the Bolt is the Level 2 EVSE which brings the charge time down to something a little more reasonable 9.5 hours or “overnight”. For my usage I’ve been charging the car overnight when it hits the 1/4 tick mark. From there to “full” takes a little bit over 6 hours.

If you’re driving one of the recalled vehicles take the EVSE back to the dealer you’ll get a new one. Drive safe everyone.

 

A Ford EV Recall–sort of

Fill ‘er up…

Its about time I see if the CCS charger in the car works, right?

fastcharge3

Here we are at a local EVgo fast charger. Looks like this one is only 35kW (100A @ 350V). I know the Bolt is capable of fast charging a bit faster. Hmm take a look at this blog post about tapering (reducing charge rate) while charging. It is possible that the 35kW value was limited by the car and not the charger.

Lets look at something else: I only charged for a bit over 6 minutes (really didn’t need a fast charge, just trying it out in the car). Here is what EVgo charged me:

fastcharge4

So 3.46 kWh and currently the car says I’m getting about 4.5 miles/kWh so this means that in 6 minutes 23 seconds I gained 15.6 miles or so for $2.23 (I’m on the “pay as you go” EVgo plan as I don’t plan on using that often so don’t really want to pay the monthly flat rate when I can go months without charging from them at all). That is rather expensive and more expensive than gas in our C-Max (closer to the cost of gas in our Escape). No wonder that charge station remains unused most of the time! (Right next to it are two ChargePoint J-1772 chargers which are free and get more use.)

If we do some wild extrapolation: Had I sat there for an hour (and the car continued to charge at that rate) I would have driven away with an additional 140 miles of range…not to shabby considering the snails pace of J-1772 charging ! (Yeah I’m aware its nowhere near as fast as a Tesla Supercharger, but since the car only has a 60 kWh battery charging at 100 kW isn’t really necessary.)

 

 

Fill ‘er up…

Bolt report two months in

Wow its been almost a month since my last post–time flies if you don’t pay attention!

I guess you could call this my first “long term test report” LOL–unless you don’t think two months could be considered “long term”. (Mid-term?)

I’ve settled on a 1/4 tank charging pattern: When the car gets down to about 1/4 “full” I’ll recharge it. This comes out to about every 4 days (depending on how much I’ve driven on the weekend). It also makes for an interesting situation on that 4th day because we still have the C-Max (my wife has been driving it) and it also needs to be charged up. Since the C-Max can be fully charged in about two hours I’ll put that on “Charge Now” and let it charge up after she gets home, then I’ll switch the plug to the Bolt and let it charge overnight. Typically if its at 1/4 “tank” or less it will need to start charging by 9 or 10pm in order to be completely charged in the morning (even then a few times the app said “full” but the car didn’t think it was full as some of its stats on full charge didn’t reset).

The funny thing about that pattern is: At 1/4 “full” the Bolt says it has about 70 miles of range left in it–about the same as the Focus Electric did on a full charge. In the Focus’ case I would often drive it down to 10 miles or less before charging it up. What a difference having 200+ miles means!

I’ve been playing around with Google’s voice commands when using Android Auto. It seems to be a limited set of what you can ask the phone–for instance: you can do general web searches when talking to your phone, in the car with Android Auto that doesn’t work. I’ve found that only navigation commands (“where am i”, “find pizza place”, etc.) and cell phone commands (“call xxx on mobile”) reliably work. (On the Ford’s most of the voice commands are handled by Sync unless you have Sync 3 which is compatible with Android Auto or Apple Carplay.)

One interesting thing I’ve noticed: If the HVAC fan is blasting away and you trigger Google’s voice input the car automatically lowers the fan setting so it can hear you–a nice subtle touch. None of our Ford cars with Sync ever did that; instead you’d get “I cannot understand you…” prompts.

Since we live in “Ford country” more than a few of our neighbors work for Ford so I’ve gotten more than one funny looks with “Why the Chevy?” questions ! LOL (Um can’t get a Ford EV at the moment–why don’t you go work on that LOL.)

 

Bolt report two months in

Bugs, we’ve got bugs

I was hoping that once I used a different OEM’s mobile app I would be free of all the bugs that Ford’s MyFordMobile app had. To some extent that is true, but the myChevrolet app comes with its own set of bugs. Here is a good example of one:

2018-06-12 05.51.00

Note that the battery level is at 98% showing 252 miles to go (yup more than the EPA rated 238 on the Bolt–at 100% charge it read 265 miles on the GOM). Tapping “Ok” shows a map with the current location in the middle of the ocean somewhere (didn’t think to zoom out enough to see where in the ocean).

Not sure where the app is reading the location from (the phone, or the car) but in either case it doesn’t have the proper one. I’m guessing its the car because when I used the “save parking location” feature to grab the car’s location the above range warning stopped.

You’d also think that they would disable this message whenever the car is plugged in (it was charging at the time).

 

Bugs, we’ve got bugs