Tag Archives: E-prius

Silent Driving in a LEAF

It’s very difficult for me to understand how the masses continue to drive these dinosaur gas guzzling cars that stink, are noisy, pollute their children’s air and are so terribly expensive to keep in gas and to maintain. In fact, there really are no redeeming factors for a gas guzzling car except that that is what we have been driving for the past 100 years.

However, today we have alternatives:

  • We have Hybrids.
  • We have Plug-in Hybrids.
  • We have Range Extended Electric Cars.
  • And we have Full Electric Cars.

As a general rule, the Hybrids will save you about 50% of your gas bill.  So, if you’re spending some $500 a month on gas in a dinosaur gas guzzler, a typical Hybrid will only cost you some $250 a month and your brakes should last you about the life of the car rather than only some 50,000 Km.

But, if you really want to save that $500 a month gas bill, drive an Electric Car like the Nissan LEAF or the Mitsubishi iMiEV or go the whole 9-yards and drive the best car on the planet, the Tesla Model “S”.  Generally, these cars will cost you about one-tenth the cost of your gas guzzler, or $50 a month with my example. In addition to the saving of some $450 a month, you will

  • NEVER change the oil;
  • NEVER replace spark plugs;
  • NEVER replace the expensive catalytic converter;
  • NEVER replace the exhaust system;
  • NEVER stand outside in the cold pumping smelly gas;

In fact, generally, your maintenance of an Electric Car is limited to tires, windshield wipers and windshield washer. Oh, and plugging your car in very night when you get home. This latter task takes you some 11 seconds. Then you’ll unplug it in the morning for another 11 seconds. And, you’ll relish in the thought that you are driving with clean, renewable over-night Niagara Falls electrons (in Ontario, Canada). However, even if you’re using Carbon generated electrons, they are actually cleaner than your old gas guzzler. And, before long, we will replace these dirty carbon electric generating stations with cleaner alternatives.

Then you will silently drive away in complete silence with so much torque that your neighbors will find it difficult to comprehend how you could so quickly disappear without a sound (other than a bit of tire-on-asphalt sound).

It is difficult for me to emphasize enough how silent and powerful the new Electric Cars of today are. You really have to experience a torque enthused drive yourself to comprehend the silent power. It is something that has no equivalent. It’s something truly new and has to be experienced to be believed. Once you try one, you will not be able to walk away without taking it home with you.

Love that Electric feeling. (The Tesla drivers call it the “Tesla smile”).

First Month with e-LEAF … And counting

Well, it’s been a month now with my silent sweetheart, my 2012, burgundy Nissan e-LEAF.  It has been the most rewarding, enjoyable driving-month that I can remember.  And, ten years ago, I started driving my 2003 Toyota Prius and thought the world of that car.  It was quiet and consumed half the gas of my previous Honda Civic.

Now, this amazing LEAF is absolutely silent and consumes about one-tenth the cost of what my Honda Civic would cost today for fuel.  And, the best part is that I never have to stop at a stinky gas station and stand outside in the cold and wind and wet to gas up a car for $50.  I simply come home and take 10 seconds (not 10 minutes) to plug in my car and 10 seconds to unplug it in the morning.  That’s a total of 20 seconds in the privacy of my own driveway or garage.

So, rather than spending some $200 a month on stinky gas, I spent $16.20 in August on clean, over-night Niagara Falls electricity.

Most of my driving has been around town, including Thornhill and the Toronto GTA.  But, it also included a drive to Milton and my friend’s cottage in Gravenhurst.  This latter drive is exactly the declared morning range of the LEAF, or 160 Km.  So, as “insurance”, we stopped for coffee in Barrie and charged for about an hour at Georgian College at their Solar Charger.  We had a nice coffee in their cafeteria, talked to the installer of the Solar Charger and then went on our way to our destination … all without any hick-up.  While at the cottage, I had no trouble plugging in to the 110V outlet and coming home two days later and stopping again in Barrie for a dinner for us and some electrons for my “watt-LEAF”.

The problems with watt-LEAF?  It’s so powerful and fun to drive that I tend to be a more aggressive driver now.  I’m also concerned that I drive more.  Now, I tend to drive to Toronto when previously I would have taken the subway.  On the other hand, I enjoy driving in the High Occupancy Lanes and driving fast enough to keep up with the other drivers in those lanes.  Am i proud of these latter new driving techniques?  No, not really.  I’m just expressing the potential down-side of driving faster electrically.

Actually, one real down-side of the LEAF is that it lacks the “small” storage compartments in the passenger area.  You can pack lots of stuff in the “trunk” but not up front where you want to keep lots of little things in the glovebox, etc.  Mind you, I’m comparing to the excessive storage capacity of the Prius (that has two glove boxes along with several smaller drawers between the driver and the passenger).

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to enjoy driving my wonderfully silent and powerful watt-LEAF.

100-Mile Club

It took me only 3 weeks to brave the 100-Mile Club, but I did it over this weekend in 3 days of not plugging in my Electric LEAF overnight.  This morning, I headed out with 19 miles of range left and 83 miles into my 100-mile objective. So, my objective appeared to be within sight.  I did a couple of errands and then with 8 miles of range left and 8 miles from home, and having reached my objective of 102 miles,  I headed home. I arrived home with 4 miles of range left, so I started driving around our neighborhood until suddenly the 4 miles went to Zero and the display showed <- – ->.  I was about 1 mile from home.

The car did NOT disintegrate. The LEAF did NOT stop.  It did what I was quite confident that it would do. It kept going quite nicely.

I turned around and headed home again. I gave the accelerator a couple of bursts just to see how much torque I could muster.  It seemed like a bit less than normal but still totally adequate for driving in traffic. I still went around another block until I finally drove into our driveway with a total of 114 miles, zero range and between 1 and 2 miles of driving on “empty”.

I’ll have to go and get a coulomb of electrons in a can so that I’ll feel better about driving until I can’t drive any further and really see what “buffer” we have after hitting zero range. Hey, I’m an electrical engineer … I’m curious … R & D is my middle name!

So, now what happens? Fireworks? A gold key to the 100-Mile Clubhouse?

~ Erik

Turning Over a New LEAF

About 100 years ago (give or take 5 decades), my Electrical Engineer Father told me how inefficient these fossil fuel, dinosaur cars are and that an electric car would be 400% more efficient and so much easier to maintain. So, he had me design an electric car made with two 400-volt electric motors gleaned from an old streetcar and mounted directly on the rear wheels. We’d remove the engine, radiator, gas tank, exhaust system, differential and replace these sub-systems with about 3 tons of Lead-Acid batteries (I’m relating a story from some 100 years ago when we didn’t have Li-Ion batteries, remember?)

Well, the design was perfect but we were Engineers (and an Engineer-wan-a-bee), so the design stayed exactly that — a design.

But, now, 100 years later, and I’ve been driving several Prius’ over the past 10 years. And, now I’ve added a Hymotion L5 Battery Kit to two of these Prius’. This means that we were only stopping at a gas station about once a month. Last year, my wife went from April to October on the same tank of gas! She simply plugged her Prius PHEV (Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle) in every night and unplugged it every morning.

So, I got a brain wave. Since my wife only drives about 30 Km a day and never ventures onto the 400-style highways and never drives in the real cold (January to March), I developed a plan to convert one of these Prius to an All-Electric “e-Prius” (See www.EVAlbum.com/3497). I’d install 11 kWh of Lithium-Ion batteries and remove the engine, gas tank and exhaust system. This would give her a 66 Km range, a bit less if she used some heat. This would be perfect for her typical 30 Km day.

Well, we experimented installing an “Engine Kill Switch” which would prevent the engine from starting and we’d drive using only the 50 kW Electric Motor and the 5 kWh Hymotion Kit for about 30 Km. On the whole, it worked quite well, but, of course, we lacked additional heat and still had the engine installed in case it was needed (or we wanted some heat).

But, then something big happened.

Tesla produced their magnificent, totally electric Roadster … and then their glorious Model “S”, probably the best car on the planet. Then Nissan introduced their all electric LEAF and Mitsubishi started marketing their i-MiEV. Then along came Ford’s Electric Focus and soon we’ll see the All Electric SmartForTwo and BMW’s new i3. So, I chickened out from spending some $10,000 on additional Li-Ion batteries and BMS (Battery Management System) for my e-Prius modification and opted for a proven design from Nissan, a new 2012 Burgundy LEAF, model SL with Navigation, a small Photo Cell and even a fast 400 Volt DC Charger. The big incentive was the $8500 rebate from the Ontario government plus another $8500 discount from Nissan and a special negotiated $1200 “Employee” discount because I’m the organizer of the Toronto Hybrid and Electric Car Club (www.TorontoHybrid.ca) and I’d encourage more of our members to drive better Electrically. So, that’s almost $20,000 off of the List Price. How do you walk away from that kind of incentive?

And, besides, the salesman offered me free oil changes for the life of the car, free exhaust system and even free gas for the life of this all-electric car!!  And, more seriously, I could even plug into their special Level 2 Plug-In whenever I wanted to.

However, my wife wasn’t going to be the main driver of this gorgeous electric car … I was!

So, as a birthday present from me to me, I took delivery of this shiny new 2012 Nissan LEAF.  I drove home in absolute silence … no engine noise; no engine vibration. Just silent power (and instantaneous torque like I’ve never experienced before) from an absolutely silent electric motor. I even turned off the radio, just so that I could hear … nothing.