Electric cars - UK.

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The usual. As I have two large solar PV systems here, and my lab assistant just put one in, and others are interested in things like this, here's where that stuff goes. This is mostly for things that work now, not "gee someday a fusor will do this" -- we know that, but it's not someday yet.
The hope is to save anyone embarking on this sort of thing a lot of wasted time and money, as at least I have been off the grid since 1980 and have had a lot of practice (and made mistakes you won't have to).

Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby chrismb » Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:24 pm

I went for blue!...

Here's some photos in this write-up showing the exact model/colour I've signed up for, today! :-

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/11/10 ... ctric_car/

Phew. 'O brave new world, That has such EVs in't!'
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby Doug Coulter » Wed Jul 17, 2013 3:00 pm

Indeed a new world. So I'm guessing from the writeup that this is more or less a Nissan Leaf? I have a friend with one who loves his - but he doesn't live in the desert, as I assume you don't.

My gloat is that for this year, since Jan1, I just hit the mpg report limit (250) on my Volt, despite burning about 8 gal of gas this year. Since Jan 1 last year, it's 196. Lifetime is only 113, since I drove it 4 months at first on pure gasoline. It seems to get about 40 mpg on gas if you drive it on gas long enough for the engine to get to temperature, and some more miles to "even out" the fact that it was running rich whilst cold. The kicker on that of course is that I'm not paying for the kWh directly - it's all pure solar, which is a multi-use install. I've got plenty of extra power now when not charging the car - it's the big dog as far as power use goes. But if I was, at the local prevailing rate of 14c/kwh - it's like having dollar a gallon gas at 40mpg, more or less. Still not shabby. What do you guys pay for electricity?

One thing most don't figure in - lower other maintenance. I'm still showing 78% lifetime left on my oil...of course, yours will be different, since it doesn't even have an IC engine and all the maintenance woes of IC engines generally.

You'll find yourself driving a little slower to get more range. Pro Tip - keep your tires pumped up high. GM reccomends 36 psi for mine - I run 40, and it's a few percent difference. Tires are also important, but I assume you'll run with the ones on there - I got goodyear low rolling resistance tires (assurance model), and they are really nice for traction as well. Not quite OMG supercar performance - "only" around .87 gees measured on the skidpad - but enough to handle spritely driving in any legal situation.

Here's Bob Nagy's take on his Leaf - I know this guy from a lot of talks on G+ - he belongs on this board himself. Bigtime tech/radio type.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvSVOghVYZU
Posting as just me, not as the forum owner. Everything I say is "in my opinion" and YMMV -- which should go for everyone without saying.
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby chrismb » Wed Jul 17, 2013 7:20 pm

Oh, I always run tyres at between 15 to 10% under their max inflation pressure. I've run multiple sets of tyres, wearing them down from fitment to throw-away at 3mm of tread, and anyone who says it'll end up with uneven tyre wear in the centre is talking out of their hat. Makes no difference with modern tyres. If anything, they wear more evenly because there is less compression as the wheel tilts on its castor angle, so less wear on the shoulder blocks.

Electricity is 14p/kWh here (after taxes), ~20c/kWh. We have various flavours of 'off peak' type tarrifs where you get a lower rate at night, but a higher one in the day time. I looked through the general nature of these pricing options some time ago when previously pondering EVs, and I came to the conclusion that it makes such little difference as to make it more hassle than it's worth, especially when it may well prove to be more convenient to control the charging by doing it earlier in the evening, rather than charge in the small hours and find it is pouring with rain in the morning and all you want to do is run to the car and jump in! I think the flexibility of not having to worry about charging up at particular times of the day probably pays for itself in terms of any 'loss' in relation to what small amount might be possibly saved.

That'll come out in the wash, of course, when I actually see the electricity bills come in. Should be adding no more than GBP15 to 20 per month. If it ends up more than that then I'll have to do some investigations as to the best way forward with the options available.

Yes, this is a product of the Renault-Nissan effort, and will be using the same motor (but this one is derated compared to the Leaf) and the same battery tech [Edit: Not true!!! - see my update below]. The Fluence is based on an existing vehicle, so the non-traction bits are all mainstream stuff. Obviously, to be removable it is a vertical single block battery pack in the Fluence whereas it is spread out in the Leaf.

Interestingly, so far as I have heard, with the motor/inverter stuff in the front and batteries in the back, the Fluence has been designed to give an even 50/50 weight distribution front-back axle. Not that this will necessarily make it 'agile', but it should be good for general comfort and stability dynamics. It is a significantly longer car than the Volt or Leaf, with bigger overhangs, - not that this necessarily means more space (the battery takes up some of that length, rather than being 'under' the occupant space) but it would mean a slower and 'bigger car' type of suspension experience. That suits me down to the ground, because I just like quiet, gentle plodding. My high-speed antics are a good and over part of my youth (now I recognise how much that actually costs, both financially and safety)! The Fluence is the heaviest EV I know of - of course the Volt is heavier because it is carrying around an extra engine, but likewise it can put down both the motor and the engine's power. So overall, the Fluence will be slowest!

Remarkably, for such a large car, I'm lead to believe the Fluence's aerodynamics are actually better than the Volt and Leaf. It has a CDx figure of 0.67m^2, which appears to translate into a Cd of 0.26 (cf. Leaf 0.29, Volt 0.28, Prius 0.25). The smaller Renault Zoe EV, just released, has a CDx of 0.75m^2!

So, aerodynamically, it seems fairly clear that putting the battery within the length of the vehicle, rather than underneath it (thus raising the height of the vehicle), is a good thing. But overall, for relative weight it makes the car heavier (if simply because of the extra length of the chassis), which is generally a bigger disadvantage overall than the aerodynamics are a benefit.
Last edited by chrismb on Thu Jul 18, 2013 1:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby solar_dave » Wed Jul 17, 2013 9:57 pm

Welcome to the world of electric driving. Our pair of Volts has gotten us to the point we really don't care about OPEC or gasoline in general. Ours are pretty much charged off our grid tie solar systems as well so our driving costs have gone down considerably. Our first oil changes just happened at 2 years and 18 months.

Here are some stats for our Volts:
http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/63
http://www.voltstats.net/Stats/Details/323

Needless to say that with our longer distance running here in the USA the EREV of the Volt makes perfect sense.
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby chrismb » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:04 am

OK, so I got the motor bit wrong.

Apparently, the Leaf it is a permanent magnet, whereas in the Renault ZE cars ('Zero Emission') they currently use an externally excited synchronous motor. I thought the Leaf had the same. The motor is currently made by Continental, but due to be made by Renault themselves in the future (at lower cost... hmmm!).

The battery tech isn't that clear either, but I believe they are the same cell technology. The only complication being that I suspect that both Nissan and Renault have had a number of different suppliers over the course of the 'wind up' to 'full' production, so it is not simply that they have the same as each other, they may not even have the same between themselves!!

Dave/Doug - in your data logging, do you monitor the distances travelled? Obviously, for pure EV range becomes all-important. I suppose in a way my 'average' will be likewise high, but simply that I will have two cars to do it, instead of one. I guess that adds up to the same number of engines as the Volt, though!! :)

I am currently planning on keeping my GM Vectra going for the 18 month of the initial lease I have on this Fluence, for whatever reason I may have to hand it back at the end of the term. If I use it once a fortnight to keep all the bits in working order than rusting over, that'd mean I'd use it for 10% of the shared mileage, Fluence/Vectra. As the Vectra does 60mpg, that's make the combined pair 600mpg! Any >100 miles trips would, obviously, necessitate wheeling out the Vectra for the job.

I think of having a 'collection' of cars (we'll now have 4 cars!! :? ) as having a tool box. In this case, I have two tools to perform the job I need of them, whereas you guys have one tool that can do all the jobs you need. There are pros and cons to both scenarios.
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby chrismb » Thu Jul 18, 2013 2:08 am

Here's how the battery sits:

fluence_innards.jpg
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby solar_dave » Thu Jul 18, 2013 11:05 am

One of those tabs on the Voltstats site does show the daily usage patterns. In both gas and electric modes. I have had some 100+ mile EV only days where the car was charged in between runs.

On good thing about the Volt is I don't have to worry about the wife getting stranded with a dead battery. I would never hear the end of it. But really she is the one with "gas anxiety" and tries like hell to NOT use any fuel at all. You should have heard the whining when the Fuel Maintenance mode came up and forced a burn of the old fuel to prevent issues with year old fuel in the tank. :D

THis weekend we are going up the the Grand Canyon Railroad in Williams to ride the train for an overnight stay in a lodge there, mostly just to get out of the heat for a few days, but she is a picture taker supreme. That would not be possible in a pure BEV except for maybe a Tesla.
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby chrismb » Thu Jul 18, 2013 4:33 pm

Some tid-bits I just came across on the Renault UK website:

"Lithium-ion batteries do not suffer from the so-called memory effect resulting from incomplete charge cycles which can ultimately lead to a drop-off in capacity in conventional batteries. These compact, innovative lithium-ion batteries are produced by AESC (Automotive Electric Supply Corporation), a Nissan-NEC joint venture. They are maintenance-free and expected to deliver between 80 and 100 per cent of their original capacity for an average duration of six years. As the power output from the battery is capped at 80% of capacity anyway the customer(s) should not experience any reduction in power over the period of ownership."


An answer to the question; "Why did you not choose iron phosphate technology?"

"If li-ion manganese technology enjoys an overwhelming preference across the automotive, this cannot be the result of mere coincidence. Only the Chinese automaker BYD and the US battery manufacturer A123 have opted for the iron phosphate alternative. Manganese technology offers the best trade-off between performance and service life, (the two key characteristics for the successful take-off of electric vehicles) without compromising safety Iron phosphate technology gives lower energy density, and thus a shorter service life."


So looks like we're talking LMO for the Leaf/Fluence (same as Volt).
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Re: Electric cars - UK.

Postby Doug Coulter » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:16 pm

Well, that's good news about the battery - because in two years of Volting, if anything, it looks like it's doing better as it wears in. I regularly see 50 more miles range predicted after my first 8 miles (it cuts off at 50 for whatever reason). I don't really quite get that all the time - my first 8 miles are average downhill a few hundred feet - but I really can do 50 mi round trips in the summer. It's a lot less in winter (35-40 last winter), even with the heater off. I preheat the car, not the Volt-approved way, since it's heater is such a hog, but with a 1kw ceramic floor foot heater strapped between the back seats, since I can do that on shore power without running the battery down at all....the "approved way" is to turn on the car and heater while plugged in, but the heater draws twice (5.9kw) what the 240v charger can do (3.3kw), and so you run down the battery without even moving! Don't know what they were thinking on that one. Maybe they are heating the batteries too - which I'm not doing with my little heater, just the cabin.
The heated seats in this thing rock, only use 10's of watts, and can blister your butt if left on high - but I'd almost kill for a heated wheel, I'd never really need any other heat in my climate.

Seems these batteries just don't do as well in low temperatures. That's no suprise in electrochemistry. What it means to me is that one of my rarer errand loops will always use gasoline in winter - and never in summer. I wish I had the 2013 "feature" of a mode that can force battery "hold" eg run the gasoline engine at will - at the beginning of the drive instead of the end, because that way, you get the waste heat of the gas engine to heat with during the trip, not at the very end of it.
I might hack that in, since there's a mode that forces the engine to run when the temperature is below 20f, as measured by a thermistor tboult on GM-Volt showed us. All we need to do is hook in some series R to fool the car into thinking it's that cold, even when it's not. The automation on this thing works out well for cases like that - if the engine is running, it'll be charging the batteries, running the heater loop etc, independent of *why* it's on anyway. I can't believe they left this fefature out of 2012's and won't provide the required software-only update for it - it's the one time you really get 100% of the energy in gasoline, since you get the waste heat too.

Looks like they are giving your car a bigger window of the battery capacity than in the Volt. That's probably fine, since the Volt seems overly conservative (and GM says it is, and has since enlarged the window on later models for more range).

I've hit the 250mpg reporting limit on the Volt for 2013 since Jan 1. Since Jan 1 of 2012 it's about 198 mpg, and lifetime is "only" about 114 mpg, since I drove it about 5 months gas-only as I didn't have enough power here to really charge the thing, and quickly discovered that charging it off a gasoline generator not only used more gas/mile, but is a lot more trouble than just driving the car - unlike the generator, it can take itself to the gas station, and you don't have spills like you do with gas cans.

Of course that gas stuff won't apply to you anyway...
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