Category Archives: Ownership Story

Public chargers don’t affect EV sales?? what?

Here is some interesting research:

When we account for the relevant factors, our analysis suggests that the relationship between public charger awareness and plug‐in electric vehicle demand is weak or non‐existent,

In short: When people are considering if they want to drive/purchase an EV the availability of public chargers doesn’t factor into their decision. In interesting result. Granted when people are considering a conventional ICE car the availability of local gas stations doesn’t factor either–but this is simply because gas stations are found everywhere. If you are considering a Diesel vehicle, however, you’ll be interested in how many local stations sell Diesel fuel (simply because not all gas stations have Diesel–at least in the U.S.).

When I was considering getting the Focus Electric local public chargers did not factor into my decision process. My main concern was: can I get to and from work on a charge and have sufficient reserve to be able to run errands and/or be able to charge sufficiently at home in order to go out later after work. Obviously the answer to both those questions was yes (I already knew before I got the car that workplace charging was not available and wouldn’t be available to me). Thus my experience fits in with the results of that research.

This makes perfect sense: Your house already has an electric “feed” going to it. You know that if you get an electric car you’ll be able to charge at home. Your main consideration will be: can I get everything I need to do with the EV charge I can get at home on a daily basis. This would lead to some “range anxiety” concerns (a really bad term coined by the media–you get “range anxiety” in a gas car too when the low fuel light turns on). If you’ve done your homework and determined that an EV is the right fit for you; you quickly realize what the EV can and cannot do with the home charge. Its only at that point where you even begin to consider public charging: When you’ve determined it all works for you and then ask “Hey! Where else can I take my EV?” that is when you start looking for public charging which is long after the initial purchase decision.

 

DIY Recall part 2

Yesterday I got a phone call from the electrician about replacing the cable for the Bosch EVSE. It went something like this:

“Hello I’m electrician XYZ calling about that EVSE cable. We can schedule a time for me to come out and swap them out.”

“Oh yeah that cable–I’ve already did the job.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, the instructions were so clear it seemed pretty easy to do. Took me about 15 minutes.”

“It works?”

“Yup right after the swap out I let the car charge for over an hour and nothing blew up.”

“Ok, I may have some paperwork for you to sign.”

Shortly after I got an e-mail from them with the paperwork. The signatures required basically acknowledged that the work was performed to my satisfaction! LOL Sure it was since I did it.

 

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.

 

Can’t catch a break

On any given day at my work you can find two FFE’s. It is rather unusual that we park next to each other like above, though. On that day my coworker’s FFE had just returned from its latest hardship–his FFE has led a much tougher life than mine:

Ironically, in the picture above his is on the left: the cleaner one as it had just returned from being repaired from the accident.

The story gets even more sordid: On the day he picked it up from the dealer after getting the body work repaired he discovered that the 12V battery was dead (for the 2nd time). When he managed to get the car back to the dealership they were out of power: Their transformer had blew. It took a couple of days before the dealer was back up and running before he could get his car back. (On that 12V battery: When we measure the charging voltages between our two FFEs; mine is consistently between 1/2 volt to 1 volt higher.)

Nonetheless he still is pretty happy with his FFE and continues to drive it (when it isn’t being repaired). The funny thing is: When we were both putting our orders in for the car I had warned him about some possible issues (like the Stop Safely Now issue, etc.) and his reply was: “I’m fully aware of what I’m getting into.”!

* During the record rains we got in August of 2014 his area was one of the hardest hit. He said there were several instances when he was driving around where the water level was just below his rear view mirrors. Yet his car never leaked inside and it continued to function normally.

The bad part of preconditioning

Preconditioning: Where you can setup the car to be ready to go at a specific time every day (like during the week and you want the car nice and toasty warm for your commute in to work)–what can be bad about that? The car is warm. The battery is conditioned (heated or cooled for best performance). What could possibly be a negative?

Well its spring; when the mild weather returns, the snow melts, and some of the critters return. In our area one of the harbingers of spring is skunks. Typically we’ll see three or four on the road dead. Each dead one on the road produces that lovely skunky odor for a good mile in radius. What is worse is when the neighbors let their dog out in the morning who gets immediately sprayed and then your car starts to precondition. Yup…that is the bad part: My car was even closed up in a garage but still found a way to grab some of that lovely skunk musk.

Fortunately the car itself didn’t get sprayed and a few minutes with the windows open took care of any lingering essence. Even so this is a minor drawback to the car automatically preconditioning itself (granted any neighbors with their ICE cars outside remote starting them would also subject their cars to the same treatment). Our neighbors got it much worse and were still doing damage control as I left for work–they are a bit experienced at this as their dog has been sprayed a few times now.

 

20,000 leagues under the….er miles under the wheels

This afternoon my FFE will roll over the 20,000 mile mark. This milestone also means I’m approaching the 2/3 point of my lease. My thoughts are more frequently considering what will be the next car (I’ve mentioned before on the blog that the next car will more than likely be a plugin). Given the timing of things I doubt my Ford choices for another plugin will be much different than what they are now (FFE, or one of the two Energi products).

Just today there is a new rumor about Ford producing a 200+ mile car. Even if this rumor is remotely true, it is very unlikely that the 200+ mile EV will be in production before my lease is up. Even the rumored timing of the Chevy Bolt places its sale well after my lease end date. The only new plugins to be available for me in the time frame are cars like the VW Golf or the new Volt. Both of which I may consider if only briefly.

All of these considerations are still more than a year off though. Today I’ll just silently observe the changeover from 19,999 to 20,000 (if I happen to be looking at the odometer) in a bittersweet moment as the novelty hasn’t really worn off about driving a BEV around..

Which reminds me…have to take it in for that $10 20,000 mile service (rotate the tires).

 

Brrrr yup another winter weather post

Hey I haven’t posted a winter weather post for a few months now! LOL I’m due for one.

This morning our thermometer’s are reading -11F which is a record in these parts (official temp this morning -10F, old record was -8F from 1934). In these brutal days I pretty much use all of the battery for my 30 mile commute, arriving home with the <10 mile remaining warning indicator showing. I find my non-symmetric power consumption interesting: In the morning I precondition the car and attempt to use as little electricity is possible on my way in. For the drive home, however, I crank the heat and take the freeway maximizing power consumption. The net result is that I use about 25-30% of the battery in the morning and almost 60% of the battery in the evening.

Another thing that is noticeable about the car in such cold weather: The noise. On a balmy 70F degree day the car is virtually silent with only a slight whrrr noise from the front. In temps this cold things shrink and start rubbing differently, the plastic squeaks, the window creaks, the driver moans, etc. Makes you feel like something is going to break during the commute.

Thankfully this cold spell is happening in the 2nd half of February which means it can’t last too long…right? (Last year the cold spell started in January and thus the light at the end of the tunnel was a lot further off).

 

Range View

Now that I’m really comfortable driving the FFE around (I should be after a year and a half! LOL) I figure it might be a good time to produce a few articles on some of the different displays/gauges available on the FFE.

Today’s gauge is the “Range View” gauge:

This view can be shown on its own or as the left side of the MyView display. For more on MyView watch this Ford video:

Note that the MyView video above is pretty old and does show some “views” that are not currently available on the dash of the FFE’s MyView. In addition here is another Ford video discussing the range view:

A quick discussion on the FFE forums revealed what I had suspected: Almost nobody uses this gauge. The scaling of the numbers seems to enhance range anxiety rather than alleviate it (calling out the last 10 miles of the available range). In addition the view doesn’t seem like it would be very useful unless you frequently drove the car to less than 10 miles remaining. The display does graphically represent the two numbers shown below it (the budget and status, or distance to destination and surplus).

When you program in a destination on the Nav screen the range view switches (like the other displays on the FFE) to distance to destination and surplus. The switch does make the display marginally more effective.

I’ve been driving around with this gauge setup for the past few days. My impression has been that, for my commute where I don’t need Nav and I use less than 50% of the battery, it isn’t that useful. It was rather interesting the one time I used Nav with it watching the graph slide towards zero as I approached the destination (the only place in the car showing such a graph even though the numerical value is shown in 3 different places in the car!).

 

Still around..

just dropping a note here. I’m still around, just taking a little R&R.

A few weeks will bring the Detroit Auto Show. Perhaps there will be some EV news from that!