So last Wednesday, I received good news from ESB eCars. They were going to be replacing the intermittently working chargepoint in Citywest (the one I rely on everyday) and one in the Red Cow Luas stop with new CPs. I was pretty happy about this. As such I pulled up Thursday morning and at 9am on the dot, the workers where there to start the work. I drove back at 13:30 to find the unit in place and powered up. There was one guy left (from ESB eCars) and he explained that it would take about 1hr or so for the unit to talk back to the servers and then it should be working. I stopped by at 15:50 and attempted to use it. “Invalid Tag” was what I was greeted with. Still I thought that this was only part of it settling. 9am Friday morning the same thing happens. I called in the issue and also put up a message on the ESB eCars Facebook page. I was nice and polite about it. I explained I was happy to see the unit go in so fast but that there was an issue. I got a reply later on to say that this brand new unit had a software issue, but not just this one. The unit in the Red Cow stop had an issue too. How does 2 brand units get past testing and get sent out with an issue that causes them to be useless after being setup. Also in the message they said they hoped to have it up by Monday. So it still wasnt too bad. I could limp along. So Monday comes, of course, the unit is showing the same issue. I decided to not drive home but to get a quick charge in Topaz (Newland Cross) and then head to Meath. There is no Rapid chargers near Summerhill with the exception of the Topaz stations near Enfield. To use these I would have to enter the motorway (going the opposite way to work) pay a toll then charge at the RC and then exit the motorway to drive back to Citywest. Anyway, I arrived again this morning to the same error. The problem is, arriving this morning I only had 5km left on the car. I rang the issue in again and posted to ESB eCars Facebook page again. This time I was very annoyed and in my annoyance I did use the word ‘fucking’ when asking them to fix the charger. I got a call from Carra, they said they couldn’t fix it as it was a manufacturer issue (fair enough) but they also went out of the their way to help me. They wired up a standard charger. With this I charged enough to then drive to Newlands Cross and fast charge again. It would seem that the best decision ESB eCars ever made was to choose Carra as their maintenance engineers as they always go out of their way to help you. All in All, about 1hr and 30 mins of my work time was gone which I will have to make up. Now, this is the best part about it. I received a message from ESB eCars saying “as was said before the charge point has a software issue which could take days to fix….. our engineers and IT staff are working on it….. please do not use foul language or we will need to remove your comments…” This is amazing, how helpful is that in alleviating my worries of the charging network. We already told you its broke!!! Of course, I also got the very useful suggestion of why don’t I drive further from home to the fast charging points and sit there after (or during) your working hours so that you can continue on your journey back home. Another sterling suggestion I think you’ll agree.

It’s a real pity, the speed and efficiency of putting the charger in was really brilliant. I was gonna be praising the work done. Unfortunately because of lousy decisions with useless CP suppliers it has all turned bad. So to ESB eCars, I am truly sorry for cursing because of my annoyance with be put out repeatedly on a unit I severely rely on. I hope I didn’t upset your sensitive nature. Anyway, I’m to fill in the hours I missed from today. I might even do some spare ones as I will probably need them for the rest of the week as electromotive half heartedly try to work out why there products don’t work.

I hate to have to write this after the last post that was so good but it is now getting to a point were it’s infuriating.

By ignorance I mean the fact that ESB eCars constantly ignore the EV drivers when we ask for information. Oh yes, you can get some information from them but is usually ambiguous and has to be dragged out of them or else a pre-canned response. Couple with the fact we have an inept Department of Transport that also ignores us just makes the situation worse. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but let me give a few examples.

Repeatedly many on the Irish EV Owners Group have asked for information on when chargepoints are going in and timelines. Occasionally you will get a reply but it is usually the same old answer about how multiple different things can affect the installation times and that they will update us later on. We used to get a fairly regular group email about chargepoint updates but this has all but dried up, with only a mail every now and again. We have asked for a simple twitter account that could give us updates on chargepoints status but this is made out as being really tough to do. Live Drive has a twitter account with updates, so does the Garda, surely these are busier. I can’t see the ESB eCars hotline ringing off the hooks any time soon. It would not take fuck all to have an operator send out a tweet on this account once a chargepoint has been reported as down or back up. The Hotline, why do I have to pay to report your service is down, 1890 numbers do not come under most people’s phone packages and usually end up costing an average of 52c per call (you might have to ring a few times to see if anything is being done about the chargepoint). And why do I have to keep giving my details each time, a simple database that can be accessed by the operators is not difficult (if you are stuck on using a PricipalID, use the registration plate number, these are unique).  A few weeks back I asked about a chargepoint in Port Laoise, I was told fairly promptly it would be up by the end of the week. When it wasn’t I repeatedly had to send emails asking when it would be up and only got an email back weeks later when they had an engineer actually at it. For the last few days the charger in Citywest has been stopping after an hour or 2 and then becomes unusable until the next day. Carra quickly looked at it but can’t find an issue and are waiting on the manufacturers. I then placed a message on the ESB eCars Facebook page complaining about this chargepoint and fact they seem to have no SLA or ability to hold manufacturers responsible for their products (shown in the past with the abysmal Chargemaster systems,  SGTE near the start and now followed on by EVVO, whose chargepoint has been in Mayfield for months and is still not on) only to find it disappeared from the front page instantly.  I guess this page is only for good news. Will I receive a reply about this soon, who knows. I mean the fact that ESB eCars is not even an actual member of the groups Facebook page shows a lot. The annoyance I and a lot of the EV owners are feeling in not because of chargers being down, it’s because of the lack of communication about the infrastructure that we are receiving from ESB eCars. Other than ESB & the Dept of Transport, all other parties are extremely prompt in keeping use in the loop, such as Carra, Nissan, DRD NI etc…

As has been raised before I would suggest that ESB eCars appoints someone to liaise with us. Someone that will actually chase after the information and will keep us up to date on the progress of things. This person could use the twitter account & group email (for those without twitter) to tell us of new chargepoints and timelines. Also the hotline could inform this person of reported downed chargepoints and Carra could inform them of the chargepoints being back up or if they need to be replaced/repaired. This would alleviate the considerable frustration we the EV Owners feel. We don’t care if it’s bad news, just tell us the news. Not knowing and feeling ignored only adds to the tension.

Gimme More

Posted: June 11, 2013 in Nissan Leaf Diary

So the other week I passed the 40000 km mark, (I’m over 41k now).

After reaching 40000 km

After reaching 40000 km

I’m glad to say that I have had no real issues with the only exceptions, a few broken CPs and also the more frequent and more annoying CPs blocked by ICE cars. Of course, Leo Varadkar could do something about the latter but as yet still seems to not care at all. Obviously after having such a good experience of having the Leaf, I want more (hence the title). Not just more mileage but more CPs, data, updates etc. Luckily enough I have been getting my wish, recently the CP in St Agnes Road, Crumlin (which I have long complained about) was changed out and is up and running. I’m delighted about this as I can use it when I have my boy and need to pick up from or drop off to school (and I suppose it only took 1 & 1/2 years to get replaced :p)  More importantly the CP outside the ESB building in Portlaoise is up. I’m a bit peeved at being told it would be up some weeks ago then being ignored every time I sent an email asking for an update on why it was not (finally got a reply to say it was running last thursday) but am genuinely delighted with it being there. It is a great location, close enough to the shops and also it is a location that would generally never get ICE’d except on exceptional occasions. There has also been a number of other CPs popping up (standard & fast) which is making it easier to get around. In fact, in Northern Ireland they are going up at a fantastic rate, only a little while ago there was a few, no there are loads (as can bee seen on this map). Also I wanted more data so about a month ago I bought a bluetooth ODBII connector (model ELM 327). It can be bought for about 20 euro on eBay or other online retailers.

ELM327

You simply plug this little baby in and download an app from this call Leaf Battery. Once you have paired the 2 up the information on the batteries is amazing. It will tell you the state of charge, battery temps, battery voltages, kWh amount, Wh used during journey as well as expected DTE (distance to empty). DTE depends on you setting your average kms per kWh. Plus much more info.

So what have I found out. Well a few things.

SOC depends on the heat: @5°C 93.0 SOC, @8°C 93.8 SOC, @12°C 95.5 SOC, @15°C 96 SOC.

The highest kWh I have noticed on my Leaf is 23.3kWh after a charge, I guess this is relative to the temperature/SOC.

These are the averages of SOC vs bar disappearance (i.e whats left on battery as the 12 battery charge bars disappear)

Bars lost / SOC %

1 / 87.2%, 2 / 80.9%, 3 / 75.4%, 4 / 68.8%, 5 / 62.7%, 6 / 56.5%, 7 / 50.4%, 8 / 44.8%, 9 / 38.9%, 10 / 33.5%, 11 / ?%, 12 / ?%

All numbers are rounded down. Also there was less data points to work with after 8 bars as I often have 3 bars left whether I am travelling up or down. This is why there is none for 11 or 12. I did once get the car to go to – - – on the dash but didnt have my phone with me. When I got home I went back out to the car and check the remaining SOC, it showed 14%. I am not sure if this is because Nissan leave a certain amount of reserve (there last software update increased this) for you to get to a CP when the dashs appear. I believe there is about 5 mile left after the dashs but don’t quote me on that. I will do some more research and try and find the remaining numbers to have a complete set, including the important – - – / SOC% number and also what is left when it goes into turtle mode (although this will mean purposefully running out of power).  Anyway, for those who like even more data, here are copies of some logs the app stores on the phone. They can be opened in Excel as a csv files. No data has been changed with the exception of the GPS locations removed. BatLog2 BatLog1

Finally, the last more, I have been informed at the end of July the new Nissan Leaf will be coming out. Increased range, better safety (with the 4-way view while reversing), more luggage space, faster charging, heated seats & steering wheel. I am already looking at how I can get my hands on this model by trade-in or sale etc… (but thats just because I’m greedy I guess :p  )

Some Clarifications

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Nissan Leaf Diary

I have not put up a post in a while now. The reason is as I have said before if I have nothing new to bring then there is no point in posting for the sake of it. Since my last post, I have happily travelled to and from work everyday without any complications to stop me.

In saying that, I need to clarify a few points.

After reading multiple posts lately on sites such as boards.ie, it has become very apparent that my blog is being used by people in their utterly ridiculous arguments on whether EV’s or ICE’s are better, practical, useful etc… These arguments are entirely based on people’s own opinions and likes. So for fuck sake stop using my words to try to justify your own agendas. I don’t care whether you want to buy an EV or not, I don’t care if you think they are the future or not, I don’t care if you think they are more or less fun than a conventional ICE and I especially do not give a fuck whether you think they are ready for the mainstream/ready take over ICEs/are better than ICEs.

If you don’t like EV’s, then stay the fuck away from them and the forums about them. Stop pushing your bullshit arguments and dislikes on the users who are happy with them, the users who it does work for. If you don’t like eating garlic, don’t eat it but also don’t go on to every veg growing website or garlic loving website spouting about the “evils” of it.

After that rant, I’ll get on to the clarifications. I will do this in points:

  1. The reason I started driving the Leaf at 85kph on the motorway was because I drove the Peugeot diesel at this speed (I done this because diesel at the time and even more so now costs a huge amount of money)
  2. I drove it this way for 3 or 4 sets of 7000km. This was so I could show the difference between the 2 cars, at the same speeds, doing the same journey and be able to give accurate fuel cost differences.
  3. I drive to work and back (105km each way) nearly every day, I rarely had an issue at the start when I needed to use the Rapid Charger and I have never had an issue getting to or from work since they put the charge point in Citywest. (Please stop taking the few times in the past when I had issues as arguments to completely degrade EV’s as a useful option for others).
  4. Know that my testing period is over and I have produced the cost savings a number of times, I drive to and from work at approximately 105kph. It takes about 1 hour 15 mins, as I do the last 30km on smaller roads and finally back roads.
  5. I usually have between 20-45km left on the car on my way up to Dublin, and between 13-25km left when I get back home (this is after the 105km drive and depends on multiple fators such as temperature, traffic conditions etc.)
  6. I have done this drive in Winter and Summer, in temperatures between -6 and +24c. I have never ran out of power on these journeys and even with the cold winter this year I have not had to use the RC to help me get home since the charger in Citywest was put in.
  7. I have never gotten less than 120km from a full charge. That’s me. I differ from you. You may get other results. You may prefer to be roasting in the car all the time, you may have a heavier foot and like to speed up to the arse of cars in front only to have go down to 80/90kph until they move over and then race back up to the next car. I don’t know. I  have never gotten less than 120km on a charge in the car.
  8. I have only run out of power 1 time. This was about 2 months after I got the car (in the 2 months you can include 3 weeks when it was off the road). This was my own fault. In my impatience I didn’t allow the car to finish charging. I also chose to go over the mountains as it was shorter. Unfortunately it’s also has very steep hills, and no matter how good the Regen is you won’t get back what you use to get up the hills. In saying that, I ran out of power 100 metres from my destination. If I had have been more experienced in driving the car I would have made it.
  9. I have now driven over 35000km with no issues in the car. Last time I checked my fuel costs was at 30000 km. I had made a saving of over 2000 euro. This is on fuel alone and I have not included the saving on tax from the old car to the new car.
  10. All my calculations are based on my old car to my new car and not on a new petrol/diesel car. The reason for this is that, I could not have afforded to buy a new car and pay the extreme high prices on petrol/diesel as well. So the calculations are specific to replacing an old vehicle with an EV not against the difference between buying a new EV or a new ICE.
  11. Range anxiety does not affect me anymore. It has not affected since about 2 months of driving the vehicle. I do get charging anxiety though. This is the anxiety that I will not be able to charge my car when I arrive after a long journey because an ICE vehicle is parked in front of the charge point. Although the ICE drivers in this situation are being inconsiderate, it is not fully their fault. There is no rules to says they can’t park there, the minister for transport hasn’t done anything to help this as of yet. Also they may say “I parked there because I never see them in use”. It is true that there is not an over abundance of EV’s yet but the real reason you generally don’t see them used is because we have to drive past them as an ICE vehicle is parked in them. If they were free more often you would see them used more often. As the vehicles become prevalent I am sure you will see them more often being used.
  12. Finally, in reference to the idea that EV owners want too many subsidies and such. The point in subsidies is to help increase the uptake of an idea. Stop whingeing about the 5k we get off buying the car. Considerably more cars were bought on the scrappage scheme (which you could not put an EV against) than was on the EV grant. I’d say the number is 100x times more. Try to remember that. Also I don’t want to be allowed to drive my EV in the bus lane. These are for public transport and should stay that way. I (myself) am not even asking for free parking (other EV owners will differ on this), if an ICE that drives from Maynooth to Dublin has to pay so will I. I am asking for the spot to be clear though. There’s no point in having the CPs there if they are blocked out on inconsideration, ignorance of them or just because someone has a gripe big enough with EV’s they choose to park at them. (Believe me I have seen people park in them plenty of times even though there are spaces all around). As to any other benefits, that is the idea; the government gets enough people buying and using an EV then they will hit them with charges. Don’t believe me! The smaller green cars had lower tax than any of the bigger CO2 emitting cars a few years back. Now they are the ones getting the highest motor tax hikes.

This blog was made for people to see what it was like for me to use an EV instead of my old diesel car.

I am extremely happy with it. It does everything I need…. everything I need. That’s because in 17 years of driving I have never ever suddenly needed to drop everything and drive to Cork. I could in the EV if I wanted, it would take a little longer but I could do it. Of course as a fully licensed driver I could rent a car for the day, that way I still wouldn’t have to spend all the extra money on petrol/diesel on my day-to-day drives for that once-in-a-blue-moon time I might need to drive out of the range in an emergency.

Please do not use my experiences to fuel your prejudices (pun intended).

If you want an EV/can afford the upfront price (or on payment like me)/are within a safe range/and don’t need to do Le Mans 24hour at 150mph all the way – Then buy one or at least try one.

If you don’t like them/can’t afford one/aren’t within range/need to drive at stop speeds for long periods of time – Then don’t buy one.

Either way, whether you are for or against the EV. Stop trying to push other people into your way of thinking. Let them do their own thing.

Rant over.

Tomorrow I finish my current job and head back to an old company. This works out well for me as the distance is shorter and there is a charger across the way. Although the new charger in the Hilton hotel is brilliant at the moment. So I am moving backwards to an old job. Of course, it also seems like the infrastructure is starting to move backwards. More and more, new charge points are coming online (like Walkinstown and Glasnevin) but more and more the spots are getting worse. Like the charge points at Crumlin Shopping Centre and Stillorgan Shopping Centre, these locations are useless. You will almost never get the spot, unless you are lucky enough to be passing at 4am in the morning and need it (I passed both Walkinstown and Crumlin everyday this week at 6:15am and they are always full of ICE cars). This is not the only thing that seems to be going backwards, last year as the infrastructure improved so did the response times on getting units fixed. Now it seems to have slid again, I was informed in January that St. Agnes Road charge point would be replaced in 4-6 weeks & 11 weeks later, no change. Making this CP down for more than 15months now (1Year & 3 months). The excuses for this must be running out by now. Also 1 side of the CP at Citywest has been down for quite a long time and has been reported repeatedly, it’s still down. With the added bonus of the other side going down for me yesterday when I tried to use it. The constant repetitiveness of giving the same details over and over again to the eCars Fault Line everytime you wish to log a fault with them, coupled with the fact you are charged approximately 35c per minute to tell them their service is down is truly frustrating. The most annoying thing that seems to be moving backwards though is information. We (Irish EV Owners) used to be kept up to date once a month with new CPs and changes that was coming on stream or being changed. This seems to have nearly dried up as it is few and far between updates (we have suggested twitter updates but no luck so far). It would seem the only freely available regular update is from the eCars Ambassador blogs (a truly unbiased report I’m sure :s). With that said, it’s not all bad news. There is to be a roll-out of a number of FCP/RCs in the near future as a part of the EU funding project. Places like Castlebellingham and the service stations on the M1 will be usable very soon (let’s hope they are marked for us to use only). This roll-out should allow for a much improved cross country infrastructure for driving your EV. Again, more information on them going in and dates for going live would be appreciated. Below is pic of what I had to do to use the CP at Stillorgan the other evening. Please note this is nothing to do with ESB eCars, its all Leo Varadkar and his complete disregard for the EV community by not pushing forward the smarter transport bill.

The only possible way I could get to use this CP at Stillorgan. Park on the path.

The only possible way I could get to use this CP at Stillorgan. Park on the path.

Summit Came Up’

Posted: February 8, 2013 in Nissan Leaf Diary

It’s been a while but as I had promised here’s the results of the Battery Capacity Check. I got it done on the 10/01/2013.

Battery Test Report

As can be seen from the report, all’s good in battery town. Considering I fast charge my car quite often I was pretty happy with the 3/5 stars I got.

Also this month, I was at the Smart Transport Summit & the Nations Electric Vehicles Summit (as a guest speaker). The summit’s were both very good with lots of different parties from all different industries representing. I got to question the Minister for the Environment on why he wasn’t pressing the Minister for Transport on the Smarter Transport bill. As long as this is not in place the Environment Minster’s remit of getting more CPs and EVs on the road is being seriously delayed. He informed us all that he will push the Transport Minister on this (I won’t hold my breathe). My own speech was fairly slapdash, as it wasn’t well prepared and mostly was just statements and stories from my experiences and opinions on having and EV. We had members of the press there too. I asked one why they compare the CO2 levels from the petrol car exhausts to the levels created in making the electricity for EVs; instead of comparing the CO2 levels from the full extraction/production/refining/shipping/transport of the oil all the way to the exhausts, to the amount used in making the electricity. I didn’t get a reply on this (to be honest there was a lot of questions bouncing around at this time). One journalist made the statement that EVs would be good as a second vehicle and based this on the fact they don’t have a high enough range. I queried him on why he consider this secondary when the primary use of vehicle to date is to drive to/from work or shops etc (all things of a very close range) and secondary use was to go on once- or twice-off long journeys and Sunday drives (no reply on this again, but like I said there were lots of questions at this time and they couldn’t answer all).

Some side events to the summit were; I got to try out Carra’s new web-based app for controlling charging in public charge points (keep your eye out for it) but even more exciting for me was to get a quick journey in a fully electric truck. Celtic Linen is the company that have this. It was surprisingly nippy even for a truck weighing 10ton loaded.

Celtic Linen EV Truck

 

Continuing with the good fortune, I was informed that with the help of MCC Controls, the Hilton Hotel in Kilmainham is putting in a charge point in the next few weeks. This is excellent news for me as it will cut my RC charging by quite a bit as I wont need to use it when traveling up or down from work. I also was asked to test out one of the MCC units and it is a real good choice for hotels. The reason I say this is because it comes with a tethering connection (so no messing in the boot to find your cable), but more importantly the cable is 5 metres long (making it easily accessible from side parking spots even if some Muppet has parked in the designated spot) and finally it has a reset trip switch (excellent for if there is a problem with it and you want to reset as a quick fix). So all going good I shall be using this soon.

Finally, I will be attempting to head up to Strabane, Co. Tyrone in a couple of weeks time. This is a 241km journey each way and am planning on doing this with a friend of mine. If all goes well we will make it with no issues and I will report that, if it doesn’t I will report that. It will all depend on a few RCs along the way (Navan, Monaghan & Lifford) to make sure we get there and back. There is a new RC going in at Castlebellingham which if up at the time could be an alternative way instead of Navan. Well wish me luck.

Slower Is Quicker

Posted: January 3, 2013 in Nissan Leaf Diary

It’s nice to see I can still be surprised by the car. Today I was a little tired heading to work so instead of the usual 85kph on the cruise control, I set it to 75kph and headed off. I first noticed something up when the 1st bar on the battery range indicator disappeared at 14.3km into the journey (I’d usually get about 11km). By the time I got to my midway point (Junction 14 on the M7) the car had only 4 bars gone, this is 54km into the journey. I watched the 5th bar disappear at 61.7km. I continued on at this speed all the way to Newlands Cross where I cancelled the CC and continue at the speed limits (as I usually do). I was amazed when I arrived into work. The car’s tripometer had 110km on it but with 3 bars to go it showed a range of 59km still. If I’d kept driving would I have got the fabled “160km” out of a charge :p The temperature this morning was 10°C but even at this, it’s a large increase in range just because I drove that bit slower. Also I drove the entire journey in D mode, not in Eco mode. I usually quick charge on my way up so I have enough to reach the quick charger again on the way home. This is because (as of yet) there is no charge point within an acceptable walking distance from Kilmainham, where I work. I believe there is one going to be placed at Kilmainham Gaol, but I won’t hold my breath. What made going slower quicker was that with the not having to stop and with keeping the steady pace I arrived in work 15-20 mins earlier than normal. So that was a nice surprise to start the new year, I wonder would it get better again if done in Eco mode?

Amount left after arriving at work

Amount left after arriving at work