Category Archives: Experience

Over range drive…

So what would be a good term to use when you go for a long drive that is longer than a typical charge (in the FFE’s case that would be 70+ miles)? Over range? Simply “long drive”? On a car with such a short range this is a novelty, on ICE cars its a daily occurrence.

Nevertheless these summer weeks have provided plenty of opportunities to take our FFE on trips longer than my usual daily drive (30, sometimes 45 miles). Two recent instances of this include:

  • Going to a graduation party about 30 miles from home
  • Going to a Detroit Tigers game after coming home from my commute to work

With the graduation party being on a weekend it was easy to start out with a full charge and make the round trip on a single charge. I was even able to drive conservatively enough to have 30% of the battery remaining when I completed the trip (including taking the highway most of the way).

The Tigers game, however, was a bit more of a challenge: Comerica Park is also 30 miles away from my house but those 60 miles would be in addition to my daily commute of 30 miles (totaling 90 miles if you’re paying attention). I didn’t want to attempt all those 90 miles on a single charge as the last few miles would involve returning home late at night–didn’t want to have to stop somewhere and charge since I did have to go to work the next day. The solution, in this case, is to use a public charger near my work to top off at work and then topping off again at home before departing for the game. The 15 miles in to work typically requires just under an hour refill, and thus the 15 miles to home also took just under an hour at home. If I was not able to charge up at work I don’t think I would have been able to make this trip–at least not within the allotted time.

As you can see, driving an EV sometimes requires a little bit more planning than driving your average ICE vehicle simply due to the limited range. If my FFE had an operational range just double what it does now (increasing the range to 150 miles or so) then this additional charging would not have been needed.

In the coming weeks I’ll have a few more opportunities to try these long drives..more grad parties across town, more Tiger games, more….

 

How much electricity does the Go Times use on a mild day?

A couple of weeks ago I had noticed that when I had the Go Times set (even with the climate control set to off) there was a very slight reduction in battery usage for my morning commute (like 1%-2% or so). My thinking at the time was that the Go Time was doing something before unplugging that would be happening while driving if the Go Time wasn’t set. Apparently someone else was thinking similar thoughts in the forums. This morning I setup a test:

  • Car fully charged, parked in the garage
  • Garage ambient temperature 72F as measured by the opener (got me why my opener can read the temperature)
  • Set up a Go Time for 6:15 am with climate off
  • When I walked out to check on the car at 6:10am or so the Juicebox relays had already clicked on but it was showing no power draw from the car
  • At about 6:12am (or ~3 minutes to go) the car’s fan turned on and the Juicebox read 7A draw (1.7kW)
  • At the Go Time of 6:15am the car shut off
  • The ending Juicebox display was showing 0.0 kWh of power consumption

If we do a little math using the 3 minutes of 7A power draw (3 minutes is 0.05 hours, and the car was using 1680 Watts–7A * 240V) we can conclude that the car used roughly 84 Wh during that 3 minutes. 84 Wh is really not that much power–on a really good day it can take 200 Wh just to go a mile but it is non-zero. Over the course of a summer it could add up to a “tank” or two (only summer because as the temperatures get colder using the Go Times gets more important).

Update: I’ve left the Go Times setup for the week configured the same: Climate off. I noticed the cooling fan on high this morning so I glanced over at the Juicebox just before unplugging the car: 24A! for 4 minutes, 0.3kWh consumed (Doing the same math as above: 384 Wh). The only weather differences: Slightly warmer at 77F but the humidity is much higher (very foggy out). Interesting, I’ll have to continue watching it…

 

In the event of an emergency…use public charging

Well ok, not exactly an emergency but: This afternoon we had some heavy storms come through. Enough to knock out power to the house. Now normally this would be a minor inconvenience, but with an EV with limited range: If the power stays out, I can’t work from home and may not have enough charge for another round-trip to work on the battery.

Well thank AAA for installing those two chargers near our house not just weeks ago!
AAA To the rescue

At the time I made the post above I didn’t think I’d be using this charger much. Now I’m happy its there. I never thought of the case where we didn’t have power–we lose it maybe once per year for very short times.

(Other alternatives exist: Like bringing the RV home and using the genny, but I could only Level 1 charge off of the RV’s genny–its only 4kW. If the power is out long enough we may end up using the RV for powering the refer’s and/or the sump pump anyway..we’ll see.)

You may be asking: How did you make this post if your power is out? WiFi hotspot from my phone to my laptop–at least until these batteries deplete…

Update: Just as My Ford Mobile indicated that the car was charged…the power came back on. Funny how that works.

I saw another..

Today I saw another FFE on the road but this encounter was slightly different..backing up a bit:

On any given day I usually see a few plugin cars: Lots of Volts–like one every two or three miles–a couple of Leafs (I see two in my city all the time with the same people driving them), the rare Tesla (there is a gray one near my work and just saw a red one near my home last week), and occasionally an FFE. You’d think I’d see more FFE’s being that I live only a few miles from the plant where they are built (I see more C-Maxes than FFE’s). In fact I do see the odd manufacturer plated FFE from time to time.

Today, however, was slightly different. Typically the other plugin cars I see are going in the opposite direction to me, or are on an intersecting street. This morning I was stopped at a light all by myself when I noticed a distinctive grile approaching me in the rear-view mirror. A black one. He pulled up next to me in the adjacent lane at the red light and looked over when I gave him the thumbs up. My gesture was met with a smile and a brief period of puzzlement until he noticed the “Electric” emblem on my door. It would seem that the FFE is so stealthy that even other FFE drivers don’t notice it! (Giving him the benefit of the doubt: It was early and from the back it is very hard to distinguish the FFE from any other Focus. The “electric” emblem back there is in the same spot as “Titanium”, “ST”, “SE” or any of the other trim line emblems thus if you are not specifically looking for it then you wouldn’t notice that its another FFE. It was easier for me as the front grille is a dead giveaway.)

 

 

Chargers are us…or rather EVSEs

I seem to be collecting EVSE’s lately! A year ago when I picked up the FFE–my first plugin car of any kind–I didn’t know what EVSE to get and just got the one the power company recommended as part of their installation deal. Now today I have a small collection of them:
EVSE Collection
On the left is my original Bosch/SPX PowerXPress unit which is proving to be a little troublesome. In the middle is a Clipper Creek LCS-25P. The far right is the newest of my four EVSEs (4th is the 120V one included with the car): An EMW Juicebox.

Now I didn’t really pay for all of them:

  • The Ford EVSE comes with the car (so yeah its cost is baked into the car)
  • The Bosch/SPX unit had a tax deal where my power company paid for almost all of it
  • I did purchase the LCS-25P as a Level 2 backup to the Ford EVSE
  • The EWM Juicebox I won right here for this blog!

Yes you read that right: I’m the winner of the myevblog contest from September/October last year. The Juicebox only just arrived today–I had expected it to take some time given that it is a Kickstarter project. So I finally have something to write about other than “I won!”.

(A note about the wiring in the picture above: The Juicebox is rated for 60A and thus its two cables are quite beefy. To get it to plug into my outlet and be “compatible” with some of my options I removed the 14-50P end of the cable and put a L6-30 plug on it. Since the cable was so thick I wasn’t able to put the strain relief on–yet. With the L6-30 plug it uses the same pigtail that the LCS-25 does. I only have it set for 27A.)

Lets take a look at the vehicle connectors for the four EVSEs:
EVSE Plugs
EVSE Plugs

Left to right the connectors are: Bosch/SPX, Clipper Creek LCS-25, Juicebox, and finally the Ford “convenience cable”. A few remarks about each:

  • Bosch/SPX: This one seems to be the cheapest design. A rubber overmold over some plastic with a small hole for drainage.
  • Clipper Creek: This is a very nice connector. In the second picture you can see the green O-ring used to seal the plug against the car. The cable has a Delphi tag and part number on it.
  • Juicebox: This connector seems to be the best of all four, similar sealing to the LCS-25 and a bit more solid feeling. It even includes a rubber dust cap.
  • Ford: The Ford plug is very similar to the LCS-25 plug in design and about the same quality.

On the whole they all get the job done, some quicker than others of course. The Juicebox stands out, though, because it has some extra features:
Juicebox display

The display shows the current power consumption and charge rate (above I’m charging at 240V, 27A and the Juicebox has put in 0.1 kWh into the car for the past minute).

You can set the max current level via a menu item (even adjust it while the car is charging–the “outC+” and “outC-” shown on the display above). If I had the WiFi adapter I could also setup a charge schedule in it similar to the Value Charge schedule in the FFE.

So far after about two hours of using the Juicebox it appears to be a very nice unit–albeit a little large case but does look cool like an AA battery.

More to come after I’ve used it a while…

 

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.

 

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

 

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.

 

Quick post: I’m not dead! LOL

Yeah haven’t posted much in a while. Just got back from a spring break vacation in Manhattan. About the only EV related news there is: I noticed quite a few charge stations on the plug share map, most of the cabs are hybrids with quite a few being C-Max hybrids, and I saw exactly one Tesla Model S driving around.

 

Just another weather post….

Just as we appear to be on the cusp of spring…bam! we get another blast of winter weather (this blast of winter gave us just enough snow to make this year the snowiest winter on record).

How would this affect an EV? (If you’ve been reading my blog all along you’ll probably guess! LOL) Yesterday our temperatures were in the 70s F, this morning the low was about 27F. Consequently my power consumption average for yesterday was 211 wH/mile and I was greeted with a 90+ range to empty on the guess-O-meter this morning. Today’s power consumption–at least for the commute in–was as high as 270 wH/mile for the exact same route as yesterday (which translates to a guess-O-meter reading of about 70 miles).

Now that I have almost 12 months of driving the car under my belt I had expected this drop. Its becoming easier and easier to predict what tomorrow’s range will be simply based on the predicted high and low temperatures.