Monthly Archives: April 2015

You are browsing the site archives by month.

DIY Recall

Yesterday my Bosch replacement cables arrived for the Power Xpress EVSE. To my surprise the kit included detailed, clear instructions on how to replace the cables so I did…

The first step was to remove the sticker covering the screws:
Power Xpress panel
The screws are the same square head screws that just about every RV in the world uses which meant that I already had the tool for the job.
Behind the Power Xpress panel
From there its loosen the terminal block screws to pull out the wires, remove the nut to disconnect the ground wire, remove the cable stay, and remove the tension nut at the very bottom.
Once the old cable is out you simply reverse the process to install the new one.
New Cable installed
Finally, plug in the car to test.
New Cable installed
I let the car charge for a good hour to ensure the connections were solid with no ill effects to the EVSE or the car (then I unplugged it and reconnected up the Juicebox LOL since that is my main EVSE).
Total time: about 20 minutes which included trips to/from the basement to retrieve various tools.
Now I await an interesting conversation with the electrician when they call: “Hello we’re calling to perform the cable swap out for your charger.” “Ok I’ve already performed the task, do you need the old cable back?” “What?” “Well the kit came with very clearly illustrated instructions and there was nothing indicating I should wait for the electrician…”

The next chapter in the melting saga

If you’ve been reading this blog a while you may recall one of the stories of my coworker’s car when his charge plug melted. For a refresher here is a picture of the plug:
Melted Vehicle connector

After getting the vehicle side connector replaced twice he finally had Bosch come out and replace the vehicle side wiring of his Power Xpress EVSE. Since then we’ve both been contacted about a recall of the Power Xpress unit. Since then I’ve received a phone call from Bosch stating that parts are finally available and I’ll be contacted by an electrician to swap out the cables.

The funny thing is that last week I received an e-mail with a tracking number from Bosch. Today that package was delivered:
Power Xpress harness

A shiny new wiring harness for my Power Xpress unit (Note that I have not been charging my FFE with the Power Xpress since my coworkers problems with it and about the same time I had noticed that the handle was starting to get a little warm in the morning after a charge. I’ve been making due with either the Juicebox or the Clipper Creek EVSE’s that I have).

What is more interesting about this shipment is that it comes with very clear instructions on how to swap out the wiring harness. I may just do the swap myself and when the electrician calls just tell them that I’ve already performed the task. (The procedure is pretty simple: remove a panel, disconnect the old wires, unscrew the strain relief, remove the old wire, insert the new wire, connect wires, tighten strain relief, and replace the panel.)

Taking a close look at the plug:
Power Xpress plug
Oooh all shiny: These contacts are silver coated. Silver coated contacts don’t corrode. The old plug is all copper which can oxidize and introduce some resistance. Given that 240V at ~30A goes through there even a small amount of resistance here will generate some heat.

Now I’m awaiting a phone call…LOL.

 

EV’s losing their buzz?

If you know the general rule to headlines asking questions then you know the answer to the one I posted (hint: No). My headline question is from a Detroit News article of a similar title. Go read it and come back, I’ll wait (yeah ok its an often used blogging joke but it works).

Lets pick this one apart shall we: some points from the article:

Sales of new electric cars and hybrids, according to automotive research and shopping site Edmunds.com, are at their lowest level since 2011

According to Inside EVs total Plug-In sales for the first 3 months of 2015 are 23339 units, for the first 3 months of 2014 they are 22671, for 2013 they are 17963, for 2012 they are 6698 and finally for 2011 we get 1662 total units. I do see a trend here but it isn’t what the News article says it is…where did Edmunds get its numbers? (Now it is possible that plug-in sales in the first few weeks of April have taken a complete nose dive but that would have to be a huge nose-dive to see the results they are implying above.) I did search around the Edmunds website but found no news article that could have been the source for the News one. I did find this, however, interesting.

The above statement is qualified by talking about the Leaf and Volt. If we look at just the Leaf and Volt numbers we see a similar trend overall that we saw with the total yearly numbers: 5959 (2015), 8790 (2014), 7783 (2013), 5648 (2012). Note the lower number for 2015–perhaps this is the whole reason for the News article? Not stated at all in the news article is the fact that Chevrolet will be selling an all new version of the Volt later in 2015 and thus the current Volt’s sales are depressed due to people waiting for the new one (and hence there are a ton of sales going on for the old Volt to clear it off of dealer lots).

Lets continue on with deconstructing the article:

Furthermore, motorists who leased those first-generation cars, and have decided not to buy them, are turning them in. They’re on dealer lots with still relatively low mileage, and at prices considerably cheaper than the new ones.

Of course they have decided not to buy them..they leased the cars for a reason! Its well known in the EV industry that the residuals of the cars coming off lease are far more expensive than the used car market simply because EVs are becoming cheaper and cheaper. This is due to battery prices dropping (to which the article doesn’t mention). Less expensive batteries means the automakers can drop the car prices to more competitive levels which means people coming off leases are much more likely to lease another car at far less cost than it would be to purchase the lease. In addition they are getting newer technology.

Even with $7,500 federal tax credits and other incentives, automakers such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Nissan have dropped prices in an attempt to move their new hybrids and electrics. Cadillac became the most recent to reduce the sticker on an electric car, when it whacked $9,000 off its ELR plug-in hybrid last week.

Note how this is framed: That the manufacturers have to cut prices to make sales. As I mentioned above, though, costs to producing EVs are dropping and thus the manufacturers are reducing vehicle prices accordingly.

It’s no mystery why these cars aren’t moving at a brisker pace. Stable gas prices, fuel-efficient internal combustion engines, continued uncertainty about electrics by some motorists and the availability of relatively cheap used electrics and hybrids make new ones a hard sell. Yet automakers offer them as part of their effort to meet fleet-wide fuel efficiency standards set by the U.S. government.

Really? Lower gas prices means less EV sales? Well given the sales charts above we already know: “No” but here is more information refuting that myth. The paragraph above (and pretty much the whole article) also simply lumps in EVs with plug-ins to provide a dim view of sales as a whole (the link I just provided separates them to point out that EV sales have been unaffected by low gas prices) but even looking at the sales charts on the first link of the article shows that EV sales have risen year over year.

The rest of the article is pretty much more of the same and then concludes with a discussion the used EV market and the fear of battery replacement costs (One funny aspect is discussing what to do with a 10 year old car and perhaps replacing the battery may not make sense because the car might not make it another 10 years! If any car is going to last 20 years–or longer–it will be an EV: Much less maintenance and less vibrations. The drive train alone will still be good 20 years on; the car body may not be there but the mechanicals will be good.).

Seems to be more of the same from a Detroit area newspaper and will likely just confirm to most of the gearheads in Detroit: “Why are we making EVs again??”

A few critical articles on the report from Edmunds:

Green Car Reports, Clean Technica

 

La La Land

You may have noticed that I’ve been absent this past week (well perhaps not as my postings haven’t been that regular lately and missing a week has happened a few times). This past week was, for us, spring break. For several years now our son has requested that our vacations take place in cities with MLB ball parks in them (and that they take place during baseball season). This years spring break was the greater Los Angeles area to catch Dodgers (his favorite team), Angels, and Padres games (which brings us up to 13 of the 30 MLB ball parks we’ve visited).

The three games constitutes 3 days of the 9 day vacation, what to do for some of the other days? Imagine my surprise when I find out that the Formula E race was going on the very Saturday after we arrive? (Yeah this post was going to get to EVs eventually.)

If you are not familiar with Formula E: The FIA guys (the ones responsible for the Grand Prix races world wide) started this year a shorter Grand Prix style race with electric race cars. They are going to introduce it in stages: This year each car is identical: Identical batteries, identical motors, etc. Next year the races can customize the motors all using the same batteries. In the third year its all custom: custom batteries and motors. The interesting thing is that during the race they limit the power from the batteries. On the website you can vote for your favorite car/driver. The top 3 drivers get a power boost for a minute or two.  Are you curious yet? What do these things look like?

Since they are electric cars you’re probably wondering what they sound like going around the track?

Well they sound like electric cars: Very quiet with only some gear noise/whine (they simply replaced the engine with an electric motor and thus they still have a transmission with a few speeds). No ear plugs are necessary for this race! Unfortunately, though, I wasn’t able to stay for the race itself–only for the time trials and for the school race.

They invited 10 local high schools to spend a few days building these racers and then had them race on the same track as “the big boys”. Unfortunately for them all of the cars went about as fast as someone can run. Watching this race was like watching paint dry. The electric go-karts they had setup in the infield for anyone to drive went at least twice as fast as these guys!

Watching the schools race was about all we could handle (and we had other things to do) so we left prior to “the big race”.

This was an interesting experience, though, watching the Formula E cars quietly zip by..those of you who really enjoy the sound (and the feel) of car racing will be very disappointed by Formula E. If, however, the thrill of the race and speed are your thing then you’ll love it: just another form of car racing.