What’s charging at Rivian?

Yup Rivian, that Rivian (LOL as if there is more than one).

My daily commute takes me past their Michigan office. Out in front of said office is a row of (at least) 6 Level 2 charge stations (which are not listed on plugshare–I’ve seen a few charge stations disappear from there recently like the companies where they are at didn’t want them “visible” hmmm).

Nonetheless I often see a car or two charging there in the morning when I pass–sadly none of them have been their R1T or R1S–but then I hear they have only one “production intent” copy of each and those are usually off at shows (until production gets going sometime in 2021). Lately, however, the car or two have been all different and varied but today was quite the collection: A 500e, Jaguar I-Pace, Chevy Bolt, and a Tesla Model 3 a veritable smorgasbord of EVs available in the market (only needed an S and X LOL).

The office’s location doesn’t lend itself to just parking your car and walking somewhere (like a mall or something to do) thus I have to conclude that these are likely all employee cars that they left there overnight to charge (I’d guess that since Rivian is an “EV manufacturer” they would also encourage employees to drive electric)–they also could be “competitive evaluation vehicles”; company cars they use to see the competition (although since they make trucks and these are all cars how much competition is there??).

We’ll see what tomorrow brings, maybe there will be a model S or X, perhaps a Kona electric, an eTron, etc. Who knows LOL.

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What’s charging at Rivian?

As winter goes by

Its so easy to not post–much like anything I suppose. Probably why many blogs (and podcasts) don’t last long. You get back to living life and forget to post and suddenly its 3 weeks (months, years, ahh forget it) later…

We recently took another ~90 mile trip, but this time we used one of the gas cars instead of the Bolt. The trip was similar in distance to our Frankenmuth trip we took the Bolt on. Being in the middle of winter, however, makes a difference on if we can EV it or not.

Even though this particular trip was to the south it wasn’t near far enough to get to warm weather. Right now the GOM is showing about 130 miles of range (hill top reserve mode on so I probably could cram another 10-15 miles in to “full”). Thus we would need to charge at the destination and since we weren’t going to be there long enough (I’d estimated the trip would take 40+ kWh to get there meaning we would need somewhere around 30 kWh charge to get back which would take about 4 hours on a Level 2).

The funny thing was: Once we got there the parking lots were quite full, requiring us to park far away from where we were going. While driving around looking for a spot to park we discovered a charge station really close with no EV charging ! LOL So we could have taken the Bolt and just stayed a bit longer. In addition there are at least two CCS stations on the way home that we could have stopped at and not had to wait as long. Sadly, however, the family isn’t as adventurous as I am and didn’t want to try.

I keep reading in articles that “EV’s aren’t quite there yet” for everyone. Given my experience I would kind of agree but I would also add that everyone isn’t there yet for EV’s either.

As winter goes by

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.

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…