Saturday, January 19, 2013

Two years of ditching the pump

Has it really been a year since I last posted? I've no doubt lost any readers I may have had, so this will be an exercise in discipline rather than communication.

Sparkii - 2 years in

Total miles16,202
Fuel cost$626.75
CO2 emissions2,750 lbs
Average daily use22.2 miles

Relative to the car it replaced (Toyota Echo), we saved almost $1,300 in direct fuel costs, plus another $150-250 in maintenance (oil changes). We also "saved" almost 7,000 lbs of CO2 emissions.

We still charge most nights to 80% capacity. That gets my wife to and from work, and a trip to the grocery store/mall/church. Our longest trip to date was 65 miles up to Whidbey Island last summer.

We have had (knock on wood) zero maintenance issues. None. It's a new car, of course, but it's also a brand-new model. I was expecting at least a few first-run manufacturing issues, but have been very pleasantly surprised at the quality of the car.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

A Year of Driving with Electrons

Actually, it hasn't been quite a full year since took delivery on January 18th, but it's easier to keep records on a calendar year basis. Here's the data for 2011:

  • 8,302 miles
  • 2,693 kWh of electricity
  • 1,130 lbs CO2
  • $312 operating expense
  • 2 low-battery warnings
  • 0 strandings

Compared to the car we were previously using, we saved approximately $700 and 3,500 lbs of CO2.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Memory Hole entry #1 - Ivar Giaever

"I am a skeptic. Global warming has become a new religion. I am Norwegian, should I really worry about a little bit of warming? I am unfortunately becoming an old man. We have heard many similar warnings about the acid rain 30 years ago and the ozone hole 10 years ago or deforestation but the humanity is still around. The ozone hole width has peaked in 1993." --Ivar Giaever, WSJ, 2008

Dr. Giaever is a Nobel laureate. He is a global warming "skeptic". He is also a deceiver. We did, in fact, have warnings about acid rain 30 years ago. The EPA responded by creating a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide. Sulfur dioxide emissions have dropped 40% as a result of this and other actions. The ozone hole did not peak in 1993. Production of CFCs peaked in 1993, with the adoption of the Montreal Protocol. Unfortunately, CFCs persist in the atmosphere for decades. The ozone hole continued to increase in size, with the peak occurring in 2006.

I have no doubts of Dr. Giaever's qualifications in the field of superconductivity. He should leave climate science to others.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Haven't updated on the Leaf recently. Sparkii continues to plug along, doing duty as our primary vehicle. He takes my wife to work, my son to school, all of us to the store. Power consumption is beginning to climb as the temperature begins to drop. Here's a chart showing how driving range has varied with temperature over the past 11 months:

So what's going on? Is the cold affecting the battery? Are EVs a failure in freezing temperatures? Not really. Thinking outside the box just a bit, cold storage facilities use electric forklifts. And it gets a lot colder inside a meat locker (-35C) than it does around here. So what is it? It's the heater:

Internal combustion engines are notoriously inefficient. Only 20-25% of the energy from gasoline goes into moving the car forward. The rest is turned into heat. As I'm fond of saying, "gas engines are an 80% efficient furnace that provide locomotion as a by-product".

Not so with electric motors, I'm afraid. On the plus side, a typical electric motor converts 90% of input energy into motion. On the minus side, there is almost no waste heat to keep us comfortable on frosty mornings. So we have to dip into our precious stored electrical energy to heat the car. You can see from the chart above that as the temperature has dropped, our accessory (non-motor) consumption has climbed from the low single-digits to nearly 25% of the total.

Still, I prefer having an efficient electric motor and being in control of our energy/comfort trade-off. We can always follow President Carter's advice and put on a sweater.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Leaf update

Odometer Miles Kwh Mi/KWh Cost Per mile MPGe Temp(F)
March 2011 2118 650 208 3.1 $24.13 $0.037 105.3 45.1
April 2011 2958 840 272 3.1 $31.55 $0.038 104.1 45.5
May 2011 3570 612 185 3.3 $21.46 $0.035 111.5 52.3
June 2011 4259 689 177 3.9 $20.53 $0.030 131.2 59.4
July 2011 4911 652 173 3.8 $20.07 $0.031 127.0 64.2
August 2011 5664 753 194 3.9 $22.50 $0.030 130.8 66.0

This will probably be the last Leaf-focused update for a while. Owning the first mass-market electric vehicle has been far less dramatic than anticipated. Another month gone by without stalling out on the highway, exploding in flames, or blacking out the neighborhood. I keep looking for an excuse to visit the dealership, just to say "Hi". But our first scheduled service isn't for another 5 months, and that's to rotate the tires and change the cabin air filter.

So, is the Leaf the perfect car? Any vehicle is a compromise. We're limited to 100 miles before a lengthy recharge, we can't tow a boat, or haul 20 bags of compost home from the nursery. But we can do pretty much all of our everyday driving without burning fossil fuels. Think about that as information about the Keystone pipeline and the Alberta tar sands begins to hit the mainstream media. Do you want to continue to be part of the problem, or do you want to be part of the solution?