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  • Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

    http://nlpc.org/stories/2011/12/29/t...d-go-180-miles

    Consumer Reports has painted an ugly picture of the Nissan Leaf, as did an early enthusiast based in Los Angeles, who described his frustrations with the heavily subsidized, all-electric car in a recent column.Now comes what must be the definitive example of the Leaf’s impracticality – this time from a (still) hard-core advocate, whose 180-mile Tennessee trek to visit family over the holidays required four lengthy stops to keep the vehicle moving.

    Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, set out from Knoxville on Monday with his wife and son, headed for the Nashville area. His plan (appropriately) was to follow Interstate 40 West, where a series of Cracker Barrel restaurants – equipped with so-called “fast” vehicle chargers (if you want to call 30 minutes or more “fast”) along the route – would provide an electricity security blanket as the Leaf’s charge diminished.

    Only problem was, the Leaf’s charge dropped more rapidly than promised. In what has to be a public relations disaster for Nissan, Smith’s EV was unable to travel no farther than 55 miles on any leg of the trip – and for the most part, much less. The company, and its government backers, proclaimed the Leaf was “built to go 100 miles on a charge” (large print), with a footnoted disclaimer (small print) that it travels shorter distances (like, 70 miles) if the air conditioning or the heater is used. Turns out even that was an exaggeration.

    It was about 35 degrees in the Volunteer State when Smith departed Knoxville on Monday, and Mrs. Smith and his five-year-old son apparently were not willing to forgo heat in order to make the EV cause look good. A trip that should take – according to map Web sites – less than three hours, ended up lasting six hours for the Smiths because of all the stops they had to make. The approximate intervals where they paused for recharging were as follows:

    • Knoxville to Harriman: 45 miles
    • Harriman to Crossville: 31 miles
    • Crossville to Cookeville: 31 miles
    • Cookeville to Lebanon: 50 miles
    • Lebanon to destination in Antioch, just south of Nashville: 22 miles


    Hence the Smiths required four recharges in order to travel approximately 180 miles. According to the account in The Tennessean, they experienced their first “hair-raiser” range anxiety before they even reached Harriman.

    “The display on the dashboard of their Nissan LEAF showed a drop in available range from 100 miles to about 50, when they had only traveled about 40 miles,” reported the Gannett-owned newspaper, which also owns USA Today, a cheerleader of all “clean” energy projects regardless of viability.

    If the specs promised by Nissan and Leaf advocates were to be believed, the Smiths should have been able to travel about 25-30 miles past Harriman (where it took 20 minutes to boost the battery to 80 percent) before they’d need a recharge, even when using the car heater. But because of the limited availability of so-called “fast chargers” (440 volts, 30 minutes), the intermediate stop was necessary in order to climb the upcoming Cumberland Plateau and reach the next Cracker Barrel “fast charger” in Crossville. The chargers (which, by the way, don’t work for the Chevy Volt and won’t for many future EVs planned for release) are sparse because they cost $40,000 each, and companies like Ecotality apparently can only do so much with the $115 million Department of Energy grant it received to deploy the equipment.

    At Crossville, according to The Tennessean, the Smiths’ battery gauge failed them again. The reading at Harriman said they could go another 70 miles, but after 31 miles, the gauge indicated they only had 20 miles of range remaining. Obviously that wasn’t to be trusted.

    “It was a little nerve wracking,” Stephen Smith told the Nashville-based newspaper. “I’m finding the range is not 100 percent accurate.”

    But heading west from Crossville, according to Smith, would not be as taxing on the Leaf: “Cookeville will be about the same distance but it will be flat or downhill.” It turned out his battery gauge maintained accuracy on that leg of the trip, but when he reached Lebanon (50 miles), he found that the Ecotality “Blink” fast-charger at the Cracker Barrel was, uh, on the blink (he should have known that was possible, if not likely). So instead he had to plug in to another slower charger at the restaurant, which took an hour to boost the battery enough (they hoped) to travel the remaining 22 miles to their destination.

    The Smiths arrived at their destination in Antioch with what the Leaf told them was six miles of range remaining. All that after an anxiety-filled six-hour trip that was more than twice as long as it would take in a gasoline vehicle, which could probably have been accomplished with a single stop for a bathroom break.

    The Smiths’ experience echoed that of a Consumer Reports reviewer and Los Angeles columnist Rob Eshman, who called his Leaf his “2011 Nissan Solyndra.” Eshman, editor-in-chief of The Jewish Journal, experienced the same gauge inaccuracies and range anxiety that came from traversing hills and mountains and the use of his air conditioning in hot, smoggy L.A.

    “My life now revolves around a near-constant calculation of how far I can drive before I’ll have to walk,” Eshman wrote. “The Nissan Leaf, I can report, is perfect if you don’t have enough anxiety in your life.”

    Of course, you won’t hear words like that from the lips of passionate “Green” energy advocate Smith, who chalked up the experience to being an “early adopter” and a pioneer.

    “It’s good knowing we didn’t use a drop of oil getting down here,” he said. He must have had a similar fuzzy feeling on his return trip, which "only" took five hours, since the Lebanon charger was working later in the week.

    As for the heavily coal-generated electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority that powered his trip, well, let’s not go there. Let’s just pretend that windmills and solar panels could have just as easily done the trick, if the EPA and Department of Energy would just do their jobs and eliminate all coal power plants and “invest” billions more taxpayer dollars in “renewables” deployment.

    As for “why Tennessee” as part of this EV system rollout, you might ask? Thanks be to taxpayers there, also, as Nissan has in its back pocket a $1.4 billion federal loan to retrofit a plant in Smyrna – just outside Nashville – to mass-produce the Leaf. As company CEO Carlos Ghosn has said publicly, Nissan will produce EVs wherever government will produce the financial incentives.

    And that’s what it takes in order for the “Green” energy industry swindle to survive.

  • #2
    Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

    You may recall this from the section in my book The Postcatastrophe Economy: Rebuilding America and Avoiding the Next Bubble on pure electric vehicles:

    "Other limitations are heating and cooling the passenger compartment. The passenger compartment of an auto is an especially difficult space to cool: it’s a kind of rolling glass greenhouse with usually dark surfaces inside that collect heat. Car air conditioners have the capacity of home air conditioners. They consume prodigious quantities of energy. For an electric car, that translates into vastly reduced range if the batteries are used to power the A/C in the summer. Heating an electric car in the winter is even worse. It’s equivalent to shorting out the batteries to heat an element to warm the passengers. Having to choose between the heat or running out of power needed to get home from a trip that was not carefully estimated by the driver beforehand is enough to make the electric car a non-starter as a replacement for pure internal combustion or hybrid cars."

    I go on to say:

    "Motorcycle riders are not heated or cooled. Motorcycles are an ideal application of pure electric power. Santa Cruz, California–based Zero Motorcycles, founded by Neal Saiki, makes the only pure electric motorcycles that are true substitutes for gasoline powered bikes. They are quiet and are screaming fast. With a range of only 60 miles and needing four hours to charge, they are not intended to as sole source of personal transportation."

    I bought a Zero S in May 2011. I have gone 60 miles on a charge as advertised but only by avoiding hilly terrain and fast acceleration, and staying on back roads with speed limits of 30MPH or less. Typically I get 40 miles in agressive riding, plenty to get me to meetings in Boston and back from the burbs. The power gauge is highly accurate but the battery recharges in 2.5 not 2 hours with a second charger as advertised.

    The new Zero S shipping next month is more promising as a fossil fuel burning motorcycle replacement. It's 40 lbs heavier but range has more than doubled due to an upgraded battery with twice the power density of the old battery, a new power control system, and a power recovery system that has two benefits. One of the drawbacks of the early Zero models is that all braking has to be done with the brakes. The bike coasts like a bicycle rather than a motorcycle that slows when the throttle is turned down and the drive train works against engine cylinder compression. The new Zero S is more like a real motorcycle with motor braking that additionally recharges the battery. The independently verified range is now 114 miles versus 40, meaning you can likely get as much as 130 and in heavy use around 100. That's four hours of average 50MPH riding, longer than riders will want to do at a stretch on a small 340 lb bike without a break when the battery can be topped off anywhere there's a 15AMP 120VAC plug, laptop style. The battery is rated for 3,000 recharge cycles giving the battery a 300,000 mile lifespan.

    So, pure electric passenger cars, no. Pure electric vehicles are only viable as fleet delivery vehicles that make short range trips from a single location. But pure electric motorcycles will succeed in the market as battery power density, motor efficiency, and energy recovery improves.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

      Many years ago we had a similar experience with Chrysler G-Vans in package delivery service.
      They were advertised as having a 25 mile range, but were dead as a kipper on a cracker after about 8 miles. Came back to base on a tow truck day after day.
      When confronted, advocates finally admitted the max range was only achieved on a test track under highly artificial conditions. Steady speed of about 20 mph, no hills or start-stop, no strong winds...
      In actual real -life city traffic in LA, they got about 1/3 of max range.

      There just is not much energy in a battery, compared to chemical fuels like gasoline.
      Still, a Nissan leaf would do my daily 20 mile commute very nicely.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

        Originally posted by EJ View Post
        The battery is rated for 3,000 recharge cycles giving the battery a 300,000 mile lifespan.

        So, pure electric passenger cars, no. Pure electric vehicles are only viable as fleet delivery vehicles that make short range trips from a single location. But pure electric motorcycles will succeed in the market as battery power density, motor efficiency, and energy recovery improves.
        Cool! We saw electric motorbikes all the time in Asia. They made my head swivel in a constant 360 since they were so quiet (and the owners often ran them up on the sidewalks) you hardly knew they were there until they were literally on top of you.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

          Originally posted by jpatter666 View Post
          ...they were so quiet (and the owners often ran them up on the sidewalks) you hardly knew they were there until they were literally on top of you.
          I've seen this discussed for hybrid and battery autos, they can sneak up on pedestrians. Some advocate little sound makers at the front playing the typical sounds of a standard auto.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

            Originally posted by EJ View Post
            ...So, pure electric passenger cars, no. Pure electric vehicles are only viable as fleet delivery vehicles that make short range trips from a single location. But pure electric motorcycles will succeed in the market as battery power density, motor efficiency, and energy recovery improves.
            I'm more optimistic about pure electric cars. They might succeed in a niche as short-range urban runabouts where public transportation is lousy (that's all the second tier cities in the US ). If petroleum prices take another leg up, they'll near price parity with gasoline cars.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

              Originally posted by thriftyandboringinohio View Post
              Many years ago we had a similar experience with Chrysler G-Vans in package delivery service.
              They were advertised as having a 25 mile range, but were dead as a kipper on a cracker after about 8 miles. Came back to base on a tow truck day after day.
              When confronted, advocates finally admitted the max range was only achieved on a test track under highly artificial conditions. Steady speed of about 20 mph, no hills or start-stop, no strong winds...
              In actual real -life city traffic in LA, they got about 1/3 of max range.

              There just is not much energy in a battery, compared to chemical fuels like gasoline.
              Still, a Nissan leaf would do my daily 20 mile commute very nicely.
              As I mention in my book, moving vehicles long distances cheaply is all about power density and nothing comes close to gasoline and diesel fuel -- not LNG or ethanol and not batteries of any kind. What the "green" movement people won't admit is that petroleum happens to make the perfect transportation fuel, quite aside from the fact that it was conveniently buried in the ground for us to dig up and burn, a pre-charged liquid battery. This is why I never once use the term "green energy" in my book. It's nonsense. When it comes to energy use for transportation, the only green that matters is money. As petroleum becomes more scarce, transportation will consume an ever larger part of both PCE on the consumer balance sheet and profits on the balance sheets of producers as a production input cost. The only question is the rate of increase and whether the transition is smooth or choppy. My Peak Cheap Oil Cycle theory says: choppy.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                Originally posted by EJ View Post
                ..petroleum happens to make the perfect transportation fuel, quite aside from the fact that it was conveniently buried in the ground for us to dig up and burn, a pre-charged liquid battery. ..
                Yup. I spent a few years of my life doing serious technical research on alternative motor fuels and we proved exactly that.
                If you sat down and wrote a functional specification for the perfect vehicle fuel, you would describe diesel.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                  Originally posted by jpatter666 View Post
                  Cool! We saw electric motorbikes all the time in Asia. They made my head swivel in a constant 360 since they were so quiet (and the owners often ran them up on the sidewalks) you hardly knew they were there until they were literally on top of you.
                  The Zero makes enough sound from the drive belt and other components that I've never experienced a startled pedestrian. That said, I'm considerate and don't zip up to pedestrians on crosswalks.

                  Gasoline motorbike riders often tell me that the quiet electrics are dangerous. This is the "Loud Pipes Save Lives" fallacy. The belief is that auto drivers are more likely to avoid hitting a loud motorbike because they are more aware of the presence of a loud bike. Not so. The auto driver may be aware that there is a loud bike somewhere nearby but if they can't see it they might hit it trying to get away from the noise. Worse, the loud motorcycle driver is making so much noise that he can't hear other vehicles around him, only his own vehicle. He is 100% dependent on locating other vehicles by sight. On an electric you can locate other vehicles both by sight and sound as you can on a bicycle.

                  The most common phrase heard after a collision between a car and a motorcycle is the car driver's lament: "I didn't see him!" The most important safety consideration for motorcycle riders is to be seen, not heard. Avoid blind spots and wear bright, even garish clothing. My Zero S additionally has ultra-bright LED strips on the sides that make it hard to not see.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                    Originally posted by thriftyandboringinohio View Post
                    Yup. I spent a few years of my life doing serious technical research on alternative motor fuels and we proved exactly that.
                    If you sat down and wrote a functional specification for the perfect vehicle fuel, you would describe diesel.
                    I drive a BMW 335D (diesel). With a range of 460 miles and real world mileage of 36MPG, BMW 3 Series handling, 0-60 5.6 seconds, is as close a perfect car as I have ever owned.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                      Originally posted by EJ View Post
                      I drive a BMW 335D (diesel). With a range of 460 miles and real world mileage of 36MPG, BMW 3 Series handling, 0-60 5.6 seconds, is as close a perfect car as I have ever owned.
                      Diesel, #2 kerosene, and Jet A are all essentially the same thing. Cars, heavy trucks, jet aircraft and room heaters all run beautifully on this marvelous stuff.
                      If we weren't running out of it worldwide and choking on the exhaust fumes in some places there would be no reason to seek alternatives.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                        Originally posted by EJ View Post
                        -moving vehicles long distances cheaply is all about power density and nothing comes close to gasoline and diesel fuel -- not LNG .


                        http://www.joc.com/suppliers/gas-com...ueling-network
                        Diesel prices exceeding $4 a gallon are renewing and raising interest in natural gas, which currently sells for about $1.50 to $2 less than diesel, Clean Energy said.
                        Economists and energy analysts expect more interest innatural gas in years to come, as increasingly volatile markets lead to spikes in oil and fuel prices.
                        “Natural gas is our ace in the hole,” energy market analyst and University of Calgary professor Philip K. Verleger, Jr., told truckers at the trucking industry SMC3 conference in June.
                        “Natural gas will remain below $40 a barrel for years to come,” said Verleger, who has studied oil and other energy commodity markets since the 1970s.
                        Verleger told SMC3 he expects natural gas to retain its price advantage over diesel for at least a decade.

                        http://www.ngvjournal.com/en/station...ling-stations-
                        To support “America’s Natural Gas Highway”
                        Stations
                        12.07.11

                        Clean Energy and Chesapeake team up to develop 150 LNG truck fuelling stations

                        Through its newly formed subsidiary Chesapeake NG Ventures Corporation (CNGV), Chesapeake Energy Corporation is investing USD 150 million in Clean Energy Fuels initiative, which is focused on building infrastructure to supply heavy-duty vehicles running on LNG. The stations will help bear the growing transition by major shippers and trucking operators from diesel to natural gas fuel.




                        With this major alliance, both Clean Energy and Chesapeake aim to accelerate the development of “America’s Natural Gas Highway”, an important fuelling network that will involve the opening of about 150 LNG stations, located at strategic truck-stop locations along interstate corridors in the United States.

                        “This new initiative is in addition to our growing development program of stations serving local fleets in the refuse, transit, airport, municipal and regional trucking markets around the country,” explained Andrew J. Littlefair, president and CEO of Clean Energy.

                        Many of the fuelling stations will be co-located at Pilot-Flying J Travel Centers already serving goods movement trucking across the country. Clean Energy has an agreement with privately held Pilot Travel Centers LLC of Knoxville (Tennessee) to build, own and operate public access, compressed and liquefied natural gas fuelling facilities at agreed-upon Pilot-Flying J locations.

                        Source: Clean Energy Fuels / Chesapeake Energy Corporation

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                          In one of our studies we ran 10 LNG buses in service in Houston. The engines run very well on LNG and emissions are low. However....
                          It's a cryogenic fluid. Boil-off is an issue if the vehicle stands over a weekend. There is also the practical safety concern that it is a colorless odorless gas.
                          Our little fleet had one explosion, we were lucky and no one was hurt.
                          The energy to refrigerate the gas is substantial and should be considered in any fair accounting of costs. So should fuel taxes, which are today only applied to diesel and gasoline.

                          Despite these drawbacks, I'm supportive of LNG and all the other viable alternate fuels (propane, methanol, ethanol..) because they give us options and can help wean us off petroleum.
                          We must be honest, though, about the true total costs and drawbacks.
                          One should look up the definition of BLEVE and admit the possibility for LNG and propane.

                          Here's a good video of one.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                            My family has a Altima Hybrid - and anyone who drives a Hybrid could tell you that an all electric car just isn't practical

                            The Altima Hybrid required approximately 25,000 miles of use before the Hybrid battery began to work efficiently and deliver 31-35 MPG of performance. The Altima has a 20 gallon tank and will take you 600-700 miles depending on your driving style/terrain/and heating needs.

                            Our Hybrid seems to run an A/C cooling unit without impacting MPG performance. Winter is the challenge for the Hybrid and keeping the cabin heated will negatively impact the Mileage because the source of heat is the engine.

                            Electric cars are a classic demonstration of an illusion presented by Politicians without any care for the facts of science. Until, there is some massive break through in Battery technology - pursuing an all electric car is idiotic. Why can't we society be happy improving the hybrid and crating a Diesel powered hybrid as mentioned in EJ latest book would be a fantastic step. We spend the bulk of our weekend travel in our Hybrid and we love the gas mileage.

                            The Political class loves to get society hooked on impossible goals that defy reality and science.

                            The best part of buying the Altima a $3200 Tax credit - right off the top of our Tax bill for 2010.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Another electric car fail: Nissan Leaf needs 4 charges to go 180 miles

                              Originally posted by EJ
                              You may recall this from the section in my book The Postcatastrophe Economy: Rebuilding America and Avoiding the Next Bubble on pure electric vehicles:
                              Indeed.

                              The conclusions in the PostCatastrophe Economy are quite reasonable, the problem is that actual policy being carried out seems based more on hype and subsidies to lobbying corporations than any coherent objective goal.

                              As time goes by, stories such as the listed electric car experience are only reinforcing points which you, I, and many others have repeated futilely and ad nauseam.

                              I do not expect this situation to change.

                              Originally posted by EJ
                              I bought a Zero S in May 2011. I have gone 60 miles on a charge as advertised but only by avoiding hilly terrain and fast acceleration, and staying on back roads with speed limits of 30MPH or less. Typically I get 40 miles in agressive riding, plenty to get me to meetings in Boston and back from the burbs. The power gauge is highly accurate but the battery recharges in 2.5 not 2 hours with a second charger as advertised.
                              Indeed, I also have a shorter ranged but equally positive experience with an electric scooter.

                              However, the problems with the scooter are very similar to that of electric motorcycles: safety and convenience.

                              Ultimately were either of our vehicles gasoline, the relative economy would just just as pronounced - motorcycles can routinely achieve 100+ mpg. This would fix the convenience aspect while the safety aspect will never go away.

                              Originally posted by EJ
                              As petroleum becomes more scarce, transportation will consume an ever larger part of both PCE on the consumer balance sheet and profits on the balance sheets of producers as a production input cost. The only question is the rate of increase and whether the transition is smooth or choppy. My Peak Cheap Oil Cycle theory says: choppy.
                              Indeed, and the equation in the US is much more disturbing because the sheer distances involved both due to population (lack of) density and the inland transportation network/distribution network mean a very high level of intrinsic transportation fuel consumption irregardless of price.

                              Originally posted by BK
                              The best part of buying the Altima a $3200 Tax credit - right off the top of our Tax bill for 2010.
                              Hybrids are fine vehicles, but even with the tax credit are far from economical.

                              The Altima Hybrid 2011 costs $26,800 of which the tax credit returned a bit under 12%, and has a rated 35/33 mpg.

                              The Altima non-Hybrid 2011 costs $20,270 but is has both a significantly more powerful engine (175 hp vs. hybrid 148 hp) with a worse mpg in city driving (23/33).

                              However, beyond the horsepower, there are significant differences between the 2 vehicles:

                              Gasoline Hybrid
                              * Width 70.7 in. 70.7 in.
                              * Height 58.0 in. 58.3 in.
                              * Length 190.7 in. 190.7 in.
                              * Ground clearance 5.4 in. 5.8 in.
                              * Front track 61.0 in. 61.0 in.
                              * Rear track 61.0 in. 61.0 in.
                              * Wheel base 109.3 in. 109.3 in.
                              * Cargo capacity, all seats in place 15.3 cu.ft.
                              10.1 cu.ft.
                              * EPA interior volume 116.0 cu.ft. 110.8 cu.ft.
                              * Gross weight 4279 lbs.
                              4537 lbs.
                              * Drag Coefficient 0.31 Cd 0.31 Cd
                              * Curb weight 3180 lbs.
                              3470 lbs.
                              The Hybrid is both heavier and less interior volume available, as well as a smaller engine. The smaller engine compensates for the greater weight, presumably.

                              Even taking into account the tax credit, and assuming 100% city driving, the price difference would take more than 64000 miles of city driving in order to equalize out of pocket cost (calculated at $3.5/gallon).

                              In other words, you don't get the value of the extra $3,330 spent via improved mpg until you've driven well over 64000 city miles.

                              California uses a 55 city/45 highway ratio for its calculations - a similar ratio for an average 15000 miles driven per year in the US yields a payback period of 7 years and 8 months.

                              Hardly a slam dunk.

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