The beginning of EV Winter

Today marked the beginning of EV winter, or FFE winter if you will. Yeah another cold weather post–I know move south already LOL.

The momentous occasion to mark this event is that today was the first day, for me, when the car complained that its cold outside and should be plugged in. This morning our outside temps are about 24F–about two weeks ahead of “normal” for us.

Even though I’ve been through this once already I’m still experimenting. This week I bumped the precondition temps back up to 85F so the car would be nice and toasty again. The experimentation this time: Many people on the forums have mentioned that to prevent the windows from fogging up simply crack a window. Hmm if this works effectively and I still stay warm it could be the best way to drive in with the lowest power consumption in the dead of winter. This morning I had the drivers window cracked about 1/2″ and HVAC off for my 15 mile commute in. The window never fogged up and the temperature remained quite reasonable. I’ll have to try 1/4″ next week….

 

 

What is Ford’s next EV move?

If you are expecting some insider information here you’ll be sorely disappointed! LOL

That’s the rub though: We’ve heard rumors and speculation about what Ford will do in the past but nothing concrete. There have been rumors of an EV MKS, “insider info” about a Focus Energi, many have postulated that an EV MKZ would be perfect from Ford. What have we heard from Ford itself? Crickets..

Even though Ford’s people have said stuff like “We could make a Model S” and “We could make an electric Mustang” the implied statement following both of those would be “but we won’t” (otherwise why say something like that..you’d just do it).

Another point is the fact that Ford did announce the Focus Electric waaay back in 2011 at the Consumer Electronics Show. It wasn’t released to purchase until December 2012–that is almost two years. Granted this was a brand new powertrain for Ford to tackle. For contrast: Ford announced the all aluminum new 2015 F-150 back in January 2014 at the Detroit auto show and it is already “on sale” (you can order one now but can’t take delivery until early 2015). This is only a years timeframe.

This means that a new EV from Ford will be 1 or 2 years out from any announcements they make..and they haven’t said a peep. So all you get now is empty speculation.. and the fear that Ford won’t say anything about EVs for the foreseeable future…

Of course I could be a bit impatient here as well since we are heading into “auto show season” (LA Auto show is next week and it would make sense for Ford to announce any EV news there… we’ll see.)

 

Another novel use for the FFE

Found another novel use for the FFE:
Another novel use

What am I doing here? It would appear that I’m charging the FFE off of a covered RV. The novel use here is to provide a load for the generator in the RV. While in extended storage (say over winter) the engines have to be run about once a month or so. For the generator the Onan people told me that when you do run it you have to provide a load. I don’t think I could provide a better load to the generator than having the FFE charge with its Level 1 EVSE (which will draw about 12 amps).

Other options for drawing a load would be the A/C (which shouldn’t be run in cold weather), or a ceramic heater (which would have the benefit of heating the interior of the RV). In both of those cases, though, the electricity produced will simply vanish into the air. With the FFE the electricity goes to good use charging the battery (granted only using Level 1 for about 20 minutes I’ll be lucky enough to get a mile…maybe).

 

 

 

Contradictory article contradicts itself!

In the Detroit News today there is an article with the headline: “Buyers, electric cars slow to connect“.

I do realize that, in many cases, the headline is written by a different person than the article. The first section of the article would seem to confirm the headline saying things such as:

But four years after the Volt went on sale in late 2010 to enormous fanfare, sales haven’t met early optimistic predictions

Then later on, though, the items such as this are mentioned:

Still, EV sales overall are growing — with EVs up 25 percent and plug-in hybrid sales up 35 percent — but they still account for a minuscule .7 percent of U.S. car and truck sales. Some 20 models come in EV versions in the U.S.

What isn’t mentioned is that plug-in sales are increasing at a rate faster than hybrids did (source). The article, to me, just confirms that people are being overly critical of plug-ins in general and that if they aren’t a sales smash (e.g. in the top ten sales list) then they are a failure. This is completely unreasonable; no new technology was a sales leader when it was first introduced (Apple iPhone notwithstanding).

I have another nitpick with the article:

Automakers have spent billions to introduce the vehicles. They repeatedly cut prices in an effort to juice sales. Just this month, Ford Motor Co. cut — again — the price of its slow-selling Ford Focus EV. Its price tag is $29,995 — down $6,000 since last year and down $10,000 since the Dearborn automaker put the vehicle on sale in late 2011.

Price alone isn’t why the FFE hasn’t sold that many (all along its price structure has been in-line with its competitors). Ford itself has said many times “We don’t expect to sell many of them” and, given how much effort they’ve put into selling them, sales have born that out. The FFE is a great implementation of an EV and Ford would sell many more if they simply marketed the thing…

In contrast the Detroit Free press has published an article helping people decide what kind of alternative vehicle they should get.

Here we go again…

Here it is late-October and the chill of fall is on us. Thus begins another six months or so of winter driving posts. I’ll try to keep it to a minimum (especially if this winter is much milder than last year..sheesh!).

Here in southeastern Michigan we’re getting frost almost every morning with milder afternoons–pretty typical for this time of year. This means that the morning drive is starting to become the power drive: Even after a precondition you still have to use some heat to stay comfortable. Long gone are the days of summer when I would wake up to the guess-o-meter saying the car had 100 miles of range.

Now that I’ve had the car for over a year I pretty much know what to expect from it in just about any condition (kind of also why I’ve been posting less here because there have been fewer “exceptions” to talk about). I feel a bit more comfortable with the guess-o-meter and the blue-cup on the dash and thus feel like I have a bit more freedom to do things like use the heat on the way in fully knowing that I’ll still be able to make it home without having to charge somewhere.

Just like owning any other car: once you’ve had it for a while you know what to expect out of it. With the FFE (or any EV), though, even if I barely make it home I can let it charge up over dinner and have it ready for most errands the night may bring.

 

MyFordMobile freaking out..!?

Now this is something I haven’t seen from My Ford Mobile(MFM):

Last night while out I went to check on my car via the mobile app. The app showed a popup that said: “Your vehicle has been removed due to Master reset recovery”!? Hmm the last time I did a master reset (last week) went well: I reset the MFT display and re-entered everything into MFM all seemed to be working fine.

After I returned home I re-added the car to MFM. This morning I awoke to an e-mail stating the same thing: car removed due to Master reset recovery. That’s odd. For the 3rd time I re-entered the car and immediately received the e-mail: car removed… what? Later in the day I figured: what the heck I’ll do another master reset and see if that clears the condition…Nope! After the master reset enter in the data and boom immediate e-mail: car removed…

This is getting a bit frustrating!

Lets see what else can I try? Ahha! I’ll create a new MFM account and try to register the car to that (don’t really care much about the “history” in the old account since MFM didn’t record any meaningful values for the car to begin with!). So far (knock on wood) that has stuck and the car *and* MFM are both waiting the 24 hours for the 2nd confirmation..crossing fingers..

Isn’t technology fun!

Update: After the 24 hour period the car did indeed ask the 2nd confirmation and my MFM access is now restored to its previously partially working status (partially because some data from the car never gets to the website like the Wh/mile value in the trip and charge log).

 

 

Whats next, part II?

In my first Whats Next post I described some things that would be nice to have with the next generation of the Focus Electric.

Now I’m approaching my 1/2 point of my lease and have started considering what I may get following the FFE. I still really love the FFE as much as I did when I picked it up, and it still is my most favorite car that I’ve driven. Thus my personal preference would be to either pick up another FFE or just purchase the one I already have. That decision is highly dependent upon what Ford will be doing with the FFE over the next 18 months. I have a feeling that my timing will not be right: My lease will be up in May 2016. I don’t think any new next generation FFE will be available before fall of 2016… On the other hand, that may mean the deals for the 2016 FFEs at the time will be really good? or not?

Other possibilities include (in decreasing order of preference):

  • C-Max Energi
  • Fusion Energi
  • Tesla Model 3 (If available)
  • Another manufacturer’s EV

I kind of have two conflicting “requirements” here: I’d like to stay with Ford if possible, and I’d like to stay with a BEV if possible. If Ford drops the FFE completely that kills one or the other requirement. Nonetheless the next car will have a plug on it.

Of course I also have other considerations: Family. My son will be getting his license over the course of my next car’s ownership (can’t think of an easier car to drive/learn on than an EV. In addition a limited range EV may be perfect for a teen driver.)

So decisions, decisions…fortunately I still have 1.5 years to let all this roll around in my brain. We’ll see what falls out….

 

Hmm this is new

Well now this is something new that the car has decided to do.

The MyFord Touch system has had a very rocky history. Many people can’t stand it (with good reason), some people like it (I’m one of them). Regardless of where you stand it can get maddening from time to time when it doesn’t exactly work.

Recently the MFT in my FFE has started acting up. For some reason it just decides that I shouldn’t be listening to the radio so it shuts it off on me. It behaves exactly like I hit the power button: The display switches to the power off screen showing the button and the audio cuts out. I can hit the power button to turn it back on again but sure enough within a couple of minutes it shuts off again. So far in the 4 vehicles we have had with MFT we’ve never seen this kind of behavior.

To try to rectify the situation I’ve attempted:

  • Pulling fuse 67 (the sync module/MFT fuse) to reset it
  • Performed the master reset
  • Tried out every audio source to make sure it isn’t isolated to one

So far nothing has worked (switching to FM seemed to work but sure enough after about 10 minutes–long enough to make me think that it might work–it shut off). Sigh..I may now have my first issue with the car that I have to take it in for service… oh joy.

This doesn’t appear to be a mechanical thing like a loose wire: It has happened at stoplights when the car wasn’t moving, and it only turns off the radio (if there was a loose wire in the power button I’d expect it to also power the radio on when it is off).

Update: Radio heal thyself. From what I’ve heard the issue was with a local radio station’s HD equipment and affected quite a few vehicles. They have apparently fixed their broadcast equipment. So no trips to the dealer for me.

 

Kirk and Spock for VW!

Now this is interesting: http://insideevs.com/vw-commercial-kirk-spock-e-golf-xl1-cant-great/

William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy in a rather interesting Star Trek VW eGolf commercial.

Funny, they seem to be making the rounds lately in commercials…as Nimoy and Zachary Quinto were in a Audi commercial not to long ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPkByAkAdZs ) also interesting there as Audi is owned by VW.

 

One of those days…

Yesterday I had one of those days. It was the kind of day that ICE drivers use as an excuse for why they don’t want to drive an EV. A busy Saturday starting out running some short errands which turn into longer errands, then out to dinner, and finally the local department of transportation decided that now would be a good time to close off that entrance ramp to the freeway that you were going to take thus adding another 10 miles to your drive…and so on.

At the end of the day the trip meter showed a total of 65 miles driven with 20 miles of range left (I managed to get a quick 1/2 hour charge at home between trips). Had I known the day would have turned out that way from the beginning I would have had the car charge all the time at home (taken off value charge for you FFE owners). Here is the thing, though: the car made it all day, it never left us stuck at the side of the road with no juice. They don’t just suddenly run out of power, there is a gauge telling you how much you have to go. If at any one time I had thought that the trip was longer than what the car could do we would have taken the other car (or waited on the charge). Its as simple as that..