Monthly Archives: May 2014

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2014 Michigan Electric Vehicle Show

On June 7 is the Michigan Electric Vehicle Show at Schoolcraft college.

Michigan EV Show

 

Click here to see Schoolcraft college on a map.

 

Quiet around these parts…and unplugged? really?

Yeah haven’t posted much lately. Fortunately there hasn’t been much to post about!

Ok here is something to talk about: BMW i3 Road trip. The item I’d like to discuss in that lengthy piece is the fact at the hotel he overnighted at the owner unplugged his car twice without communicating anything to him. I certainly hope he does follow up with Hampton Inn’s national customer service line. He was unplugged even after calling in and asking if he could plug in. That was likely the worst thing the hotel owner could do.

 

Mixing it up a bit a little

For years I’ve had an iPhone, four of them to be exact. Yep I’m a “sheeple” as people like to say. Now I’ve never stood around in line in front of an Apple store to get my iPhone, I have for my iPad (Tip: Stand in line in front of the carriers store on launch day instead of an Apple store: The line is shorter–if there is one at all).

The iPhone and MyFord Touch is an interesting combination which works quite well even though there is some obvious overlap (Sync vs Siri). I even had an engineer working with Ford tell me that when designing Sync Ford makes sure that the iPhone works first and foremost. With each new version of MFT/Sync I’ve seen the performance improve and functionality with the phone get better–aside from Bluetooth capability (the earliest versions would attempt to scan the media on the phone via bluetooth and let you command songs “Play artist xyz”. It wasn’t very reliable, though, and Ford pulled that out).

Fast forward to this past weekend: Now that my 2 years has long been up I was looking for a replacement for my 4S. The current batch of new iPhones really don’t look to be much of an improvement over the old (I must be getting jaded to all the new “features”). In addition, ever since Google introduced “Google Now” I’ve been curious about it–a much better take on “intelligence” than anything in the fruity camp. Hence I’ve now switched over to a Galaxy S5 from my iPhone 4S.

Overall I’m pretty happy with the phone: Since I’ve never had an Android phone some of the quirks people talk about it in comparison with other Android phones I barely notice: Its all new to me. (I’m sure long about the 2nd or 3rd paragraph here you’re thinking “Wait I thought this was an EV blog??” Well it is and it isn’t: Its my EV blog, besides I’m getting to that..sort of–at least with respect to how MFT deals with the new phone).

Now I had to delete my old phone and add my new phone to MyFord Touch. All of that went pretty well. In addition the bluetooth connectivity appears to be the same between the two phones (other than the S5 beeping at me every time that Sync commands it to do something). USB connectivity, on the other hand, is a bit different: When you connect an iPhone up to MFT via USB cable MFT scans the phone for all the media (in my case this would take a good 5-10 minutes) and then allow the full range of voice commands (“Play artist abc”, “Play song xyz”, “Play playlist pdq”, or even better, just “Play <something>” LOL).

For the S5: The first thing MFT said when I plugged it in via USB is “This device isn’t supported….”. Then it started playing some music it found on the device: The S5 appears to MFT like a big flash drive so MFT just scanned the drive and started playing what it found. This included a few ringtones that I had copied over and a podcast I had downloaded–but no music. Even funnier: Running Google’s music app proceeded to play music out of the phone’s speakers while MFT was playing the ringtones out of the car’s speakers LOL! At least I could switch back to bluetooth mode and get Google Music to play out of the car’s speakers.

The above results are just from experimenting a little bit with the phone in the car. Some of this makes sense as the S5 has only been out in the US market for a month or two and MFT hasn’t been updated since last year–it isn’t going to know about any of the new phones. Now its time to start Googling for other people’s experiences…

 

One down two to go….

This week marks one year since I picked up the FFE. I usually don’t lease cars because if I really like the car I don’t want to give it up at the end of the lease (yes there is the option to buy at the end but there still is that decision to make..). It will be a hard decision for the FFE: So far, even after a year, the novelty of the thing has not worn off in the slightest. Its still a dream to drive and as quiet as ever. Its been my most favorite vehicle I’ve ever owned.

I notice a lot of people say that their next car after their first BEV will be the hailed Tesla Model S. I’ve seen them and they are exceptional cars, but I’m not sure I would want one after my FFE. Don’t get me wrong I’d love 200+ miles of range in a BEV but the Model S is something that the FFE isn’t that I don’t care for: Size. Now you’re saying: “How can you say that after driving large pickups for such a long time!” Well here’s the thing: I really love driving small cars around (especially after driving such behemoths around): They are zippy, can fit in just about every parking spot available, etc. As long as I can fit into one I’m happy to drive them around. Thus I’m not sure a Model S would be a good follow on car to the FFE for me (I’m really hoping that the timing works out and I can get whatever the next FFE will be..er that is if Ford decides to put enough thought and resources in it to make it worthwhile.). To be fair there are other factors that would keep me away from the S: Price of course and the fact that I have family members who work for Ford.

In the meantime I’ll just happily drive around in my silent ride with the big BEV grin on my face..

This past week I picked up a Clipper Creek LCS-25 to ride around in the car for when I need a charge and a 240V plug is available (the intent is for this to be the camping charger once we to get a means to bring the FFE along with us camping). So far it has worked well, but I’ve only really charged up the car with it about 3 times.
Clipper Creek LCS-25

 

Whats it like to own a Tesla Model S

Internet comic “The Oatmeal” has written a rather lengthy graphic about what its like to own a Tesla Model S. This is very interesting reading. Many of his points also apply to the FFE:

  • Charge the car by plugging in at home
  • The fact that its different from standard cars
  • Partial: Proximity locks (on the Tesla the door handles extend and retract when you approach, on the FFE the doors unlock when you touch them–I’m calling this a 1/2 point for the FFE LOL)
  • Another 1/2 point: “no ignition”–ok yeah you start the FFE like a car but it does have pushbutton start (yeah I know I’m reaching here)
  • No noise/very quiet drive train
  • A/C Motor (Tesla has an induction A/C motor and the FFE uses a synchronous A/C motor)
  • Don’t stop at gas stations
  • Handles well (I’m not saying the FFE handles like a Tesla but it is known to handle very well with a 50/50 weight distribution–better than the ICE Focus in some respects)
  • Another 1/2 point due to My Ford Touch (some people would say this is a -1 for My Ford Touch. I still like it and find it easy to work with)
  • Can’t install apps on either screen (but rumor has it that we may be able to use applink this year)
  • “Unlockable Achievements”! Something the FFE has (on My Ford Mobile) that the Tesla doesn’t
  • Smartphone interface
  • Full safety ratings–now the FFE didn’t break the testing machine but it crash tested even better than the ICE Focus
  • Zero fires for the FFE–at least I haven’t heard of any

Keep in mind the above is just for fun but it is interesting how many items are in common. It is likely that many of them are common with all of the BEVs and not just the FFE.

 

Melting?

A few days ago I noticed during my car’s preconditioning that the plug to the charger was getting a bit warm to the touch. Our weather has been pretty mild recently which means that the precondition to 72F shouldn’t be using that much current–just a bit to run the fans, especially near the end of the precondition time. This is very odd since the plug wouldn’t get warm at all back in January when it was <0F out and was preconditioning to 85F.

This warmth raised a red flag in my mind: A similar thing had happened to my coworker. I haven’t mentioned him in a while–the same one with the battery problems at the plant before his car was even delivered. What had happened to him: Over the course of a few weeks his EVSE plug would get warmer with each charge until it eventually got so warm he couldn’t touch it and it was melting the connector on the vehicle side. At the time there was no clear indication if the heat was coming from the vehicle side of the connector or the charger plug. His Ford dealer replaced the car side plug under warranty but the heat and melting continued. This lead to the conclusion that the problem was the EVSE’s plug. Replacing the EVSE solved the heat problem.
Melted Vehicle connector

The reason that I’m a bit concerned about my charger is that we both had the Bosch PowerXPress EVSE installed as part of the deal with our electricity supplier. This unit has various current settings and can be setup for 16A (its default setting for the Volt) all the way up to 30A for cars with quicker chargers. We both had ours setup for 30A service. So far to date mine has never exhibited any kind of heat issue. Looks like I’ll be looking for a new EVSE–been looking for a portable solution for a while and that Clipper Creek LCS-25 looks like a really nice solution.

 

National Plug in “Day” has grown…

National Plugin Day has grown: This year it is now National Plugin Week!

If you recall, last years event around here wasn’t that big. Maybe this years will be different.

Perhaps you may even see me there…?

 

10,000 mile service

Having rolled over 10k miles, MyFordMobile started notifying me that I was due for the 10k mile service appointment. On an EV not much, if anything, wears–one of the reasons that the service interval for the FFE is 10k miles. There is no oil, no transmission fluid, no spark plugs, no oil pump, no camshaft, no pistons, and so on. The only two things on the car that even have a possibility of showing any wear over 10k miles are the brake pads and tires.

Given that the regenerative braking reduces brake pad use to next to nothing (the pads only really get used below about 10 mph or so) that leaves the tires as the only item with the possibility of significant wear. Consequently the maintenance schedule in the owners manual states that at 10k miles the tires should be rotated and a vehicle inspection performed (check for damage, look at the CV joints, suspension, etc.). Given our road conditions after last winter a vehicle inspection would provide some peace of mind that the cratered roads haven’t done any damage.

Keeping all of this in mind I stopped by my dealer to get the 10k mile service performed. Exiting the car and standing in front of the drivers door I was greeted by the service adviser: “Hello sir, may we offer the ‘works’ package for you: oil change, tire rotation, inspection, etc.” Stepping away from the door I reply: “What oil? Just the tire rotation please” while pointing to the “Electric” emblem on the side of the door. A crowd soon gathered around my FFE with all of the service advisers asking me many questions about the car (“What kind of range are you getting?”, “What has been your electricity bill?”, “Do you like the car?”, etc.). It was quite an interesting scene as I have not experienced that kind of interest/attention when bringing any of our other cars in for service in the past. (The other advisers were giving my adviser grief for not noticing that it was electric and offering me the oil change LOL.)

The service didn’t take much time (really how long does it take to rotate the tires) and soon I was on my way–I didn’t even have to pay for it: We had enough points on our “frequent service club” (or whatever Ford is calling it) to cover the cost.