Several additional vehicles are now promised for the Earth Day Ride-n-drive event at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, 10:00 to 2:00 PM, but the Lucid Air has been delayed until the 2023 Fall Ride-n-drive in Telluride. The models to be added include the Hyundai Ioniq 5, the Kia Niro, and the Porsche Taycan.Read More
Earth Day Ride-n-Drive Saturday April 22, 2023 at La Plata County Fairgrounds
Volunteer owners (and some dealers) are bringing their rides to the fairgrounds to be admired, discussed, and driven by prospective buyers.Read More
A One Year Review: Ford Mustang Mach E, AWD, ER, Living in the 4C!
Or in long form: A One Year Review, Ford Mustang Mach E, All Wheel Drive, Extended Range, Living in the Four Corners Area
Our first EV, a 2017 Nissan Leaf, taught us we loved driving an all electric car, but the Leaf’s range was too short (135 miles). Our second EV, a 2018 Chevy Bolt, confirmed long range road trips were possible, but we wanted a faster fast charging rate. With our third EV, the Mustang described in the title, we’ve found our best fit EV (short of an electric AWD pickup truck or true SUV). The short story – while it’s not the perfect car for us, it’s nice enough that we won’t mind waiting until the perfect EV SUV at the right price point comes to market.
Why the Mustang Mach E?
I’ll start with the short comings of the Bolt which were enough to get us to pay 50% more for a car than we’d ever paid before. The Bolt cost about $40k off the lot. The Mustang cost about $60k. (Both prices not including the still generous state and federal tax credits we were able to benefit from.)
- The Bolt’s EPA range was about 230 miles and the Mustang’s is about 270 miles. This is enough to give a larger margin of safety that you will make it to the next available fast charger on a long road trip. However, it’s not quite large enough that you could skip a fast charger in areas of the country where chargers are sparse.
- The Bolt had a maximum fast charging rate of 50 kW. The Mustang’s max charge rate is 150 kW. This means fast charging stops in the Mustang are 30 – 45 minutes long. In the Bolt, they were 45 – 75 minutes long. Both cars got us from Durango, CO to northern lower Michigan (our longest road trips to date), but the Mustang meant less time sitting in the Walmart parking lots where so many fast chargers are now located.
- The Mustang has more cargo capacity, by just enough that it makes a difference.
- The Mustang, with its higher price point, is just a higher quality car. The cabin is very quiet. The ride is exceptionally smooth. The sound system is better. The seating is more comfortable.
Trotting Around Town and Country Close to Home
As a day to day cross-over, the Mustang does great for active mountain living. The range varies from about 170 miles (at 100%) during the coldest days of Durango area winter. This year and last, that has been low single digits at night and 20-30 degrees F during the day. Even at its lowest range you’ve got enough miles to get to the next fast chargers from Durango to the east (Pagosa Springs, Wolf Creek, Del Norte), the north (Purgatory, Ouray, Montrose), northwest (Telluride), southwest (Gallup) and southeast (Pagosa Springs, then on to Santa Fe.) And if you can get to all those places, you can also get beyond them with the current fast charging infrastructure. The obvious piece missing for those in Durango is Albuquerque. Hopefully New Mexico will find a way to get a fast charger along Hwy 550 soon! For now, the easiest way is to go down through Santa Fe. Or stop at Aztec and have a long lunch at Rubio’s while charging at Aztec’s town level 2 charger.
In summer, our 2021 Mustang gets 240 to 275 miles depending mostly on outdoor temperature and how it’s being driven. Higher speeds and lots of quick accelerations drive range down the most in warmer conditions.
Durango Truck Accessories installed a Curt hitch receiver on the back so we can use our Kuat bike rack to carry two bikes. This has served well for both local and long distance trips. When the rack is on, we have to disable the safety feature which automatically hits the brakes if the car’s cameras see something behind the car when backing up. The disabling is easily done with a couple taps on the touchscreen inside the car. We haven’t noticed any drop in the range with the fully loaded bike rack on the back.
The Mustang’s ground clearance is 5 inches. That’s almost four inches shorter than a Subaru Outback. The ground clearance has been no problem on graded dirt roads. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it on rougher roads if I knew I could drive around the rough spots. However, I wouldn’t take it up anything really rough and rocky.
On snowy days the car has done well on plowed roads and it handles icy conditions really well. I backed it into a bank of heavy snow 6 – 8 inches deep to challenge it and the all-wheel drive kicked in immediately. The front and rear axles quickly alternated to inch the car back on to the snow-packed driveway. This was despite the summer tires the car was delivered with, which are not recommended for use in the snow. I didn’t even know summer tires were a thing! We’ll replace them with all-weather tires as soon as they wear out.
Camping – not Kidding
I took the Mach E to visit friends in Tucson, AZ and then spent a night camping in it on my own down at Patagonia State Park. This is mainly because two people wouldn’t fit in the back for sleeping. I’m 5’10” and on the thin side. I just fit, a little curled up and sideways. The back seats fold down very close to flat. It was actually very nice for one! I’d plugged in at the RV part of the campground because I needed to charge there overnight. I could’ve had the heater on all night if I’d needed it. The AWD extended range Mustang comes with a glass roof. I was lucky to be able to watch a full lunar eclipse through the roof in the middle of the night while lying cozy in my sleeping bag.
The only trouble with camping was I used the key fob to close the rear gate once I got in and to open it to get out. The car would honk once each time I opened the rear gate. I’m sure my RV neighbors didn’t appreciate that when I went for midnight and early morning outings.
Galloping Out on the Open Road
Long distance road tripping in the Mustang is great. The car’s comfort, quiet cabin, super smooth ride and very good climate control help take the suffering out of long hours in the car. Ford’s Trip Planner (which you can use from an app on your phone or through the navigation screen of the big screen on the dashboard) generally does a good job of choosing mapped routes with chargers identified at the right intervals. We’ve driven it twice to northern Michigan, to Flagstaff and Tucson, Arizona, to Santa Fe and Albuquerque and to the Denver area both by way of 160 & 285, and up through Grand Junction then east on I-70. The car’s 2 – 3 hours of driving range and 30 – 45 minutes per fast charge are a perfect balance for us. After 2 – 3 hours we’re both happy to exit the car and walk around a bit, even if it is just at a Walmart!
Clouds on the Horizon?
There has been a recall on our model-year for a problem which has resulted, in a small percentage of cars, “bricking”. In this case that means giving a “Stop safely NOW” message before completely and suddenly losing all power. It was not a comfort to learn of this problem just as we were preparing to leave for our second trip back to Michigan. Since then, a safety recall has been issued, which resulted in a “fix” which consisted of a software update. This isn’t exactly comforting either, because the problem was found to be with the electrical system.
Currently on the Mustang Mach E Forum, they have the following recommendations:
- Back in to all parking spots
- Back in to the garage
- Install tow stickers (see here) (purchase here)
- Keep a tow card in the car (see here)
- Know the procedure for a dead LVB jump (refer to the manual here) – Page 267
- Know how to emergency tow the vehicle. Don’t rely on the tow company. (refer to the manual here) – Page 271
The only place we’ve found these recommendations is on the www.macheforum.com. (See: Stop Safely Now (HVBJB): Mach-E Owners Biggest Fear – Facts and Info Thread.) We never got any official communication from Ford with these recommendations. We also learned it is a real pain in the butt to jump start the low voltage battery (LVB)! It involves first using jump power to just get the frunk open, and then you have to remove these big luggage compartment covers which involve unscrewing a number of awkwardly located screws so you can access the 12 volt (low voltage) battery. And the reason they recommend backing into parking spots is that it’s more expensive and needs a special type of tow truck to tow a Mach E backwards.
So far, no problems with our Mach E, but we remain prepared to deal with it if this problem occurs. We figure it’s part of being early adopters, and Ford has in all other ways treated us well and built a wonderful EV. Recall problems are not uncommon with fossil fuel powered cars either.
Some holiday cheer for Colorado EV drivers
Colorado now has 726 fast-chargers operational, and thousands of regular public charging stations.Read More
EVs can provide energy storage to expand grid use of renewable generation; an example from a private household in Durango, Colorado
Enterprising local family uses their EV to achieve net-zero in their Durango residence.Read More
Worldwide, EV sales are on a tear
EV sales in 2021 soared worldwide. The legacy manufacturers are struggling to catch up.Read More
Denver Electric Vehicle Council – March Newsletter
We’ve gotten out of the habit of posting the Denver Electric Vehicle Council (DEVC) monthly newsletter. We want to get back in it! You’ll find the pdf below.
There are a couple of interesting articles in this month’s DEVC issue on batteries – new advances in energy density, an update on battery recycling, and a new EV (Lucid Air) which touts a battery with higher energy density than Tesla’s (reprinted from ev4corners!)
For a comprehensive overview of why battery recycling and technology improvements are so important, see David Roberts’ (Volts) story on problems related to minerals needed for the clean-energy transition. You don’t have to be a scientist or economist to understand the information provided in this article. Mr. Roberts does a really good job of breaking it down for those not as technically minded, as well as giving plenty of concise information of interest to those who are.
The DEVC newsletter also includes some articles on changes to the schedule in retiring some of the San Juan Generating Station’s coal-fired generation units, which are relevant to us in the Four Corners area (San Juan Generating Station is located not too far west of Farmington, NM.)
Enjoy the newsletter! Better yet, go to www.devc.info and sign up to receive it yourself. DEVC is the Colorado affiliate of the national Electric Vehicle Association. They are one of the oldest national electric vehicle volunteer organizations. “The Electric Vehicle Association educates and advocates for the rapid adoption of electric vehicles.” To join them, and DEVC, to https://www.myeva.org to become a member. When you sign up, you can choose DEVC as your affiliated chapter.
Ford F-150 Lightning and Other EVs: What They Could Give (Part 2)
Part 1 discussed what is required to use the home backup feature sold as an option for the upcoming Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck. While researching that article, I spoke with Dominic May, the Energy Resource Program Architect at the rural electric cooperative (co-op) serving my community in the southwest corner of Colorado, La Plata Electric Association (LPEA).
His answer to the F-150 Lightning question was pretty simple; you can read about it in Part 1 of this post. What was more interesting were the incentives LPEA may make available for all their EV-owning customers. LPEA is now gaining experience with their first-in-the-state electric school bus as a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) source of peak-hour energy. Now they’re turning their attention to possible V2G incentives for all their EV-owning customers.
That’s the dream of V2G, that we can multi-purpose this big fleet of batteries out there in our service area.Dominic May, the Energy Resource Program Architect
What is V2G again?
V2G uses a specific kind of charger, a bi-directional charger. It allows the grid to fill your car’s battery with electricity. It also allows, at pre-set times of the day, the grid to pull electricity out of your car’s battery. Under a V2G program, the electric company doesn’t just provide electricity to you. You also provide electricity back to them at the specific times when it saves them the most money: during peak energy use hours of the day.
How does the little bit of energy my EV can provide save an electric company enough money to make V2G worth it to them or me?
In southwest Colorado, the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association owns and maintains the large power plants and transmission lines that bring electricity to all the area electric co-ops. Tri-State charges LPEA a monthly demand charge of $20 per kW of peak demand. That means every month, Tri-State looks at the one hour of highest demand from the LPEA service area and charges $20 for all the kilowatt hours delivered during that hour. If LPEA as a whole uses 100,000 kW during its highest hour in a month, Tri-State charges them $2,000,000 for that month’s demand charge. That is addition to the price LPEA pays at lesser rates for electricity supplied during all the non-peak hours.
LPEA is a winter peaking, evening peaking utility. It’s pretty much never fully dark until 5 PM, even in the depth of winter. Our peaks usually happen between 6 and 7 PM. It’s about an hour after dark, everything’s gotten quite cold and all the heat is coming on, everybody’s home, dinner starts getting cooked, et cetera. All the devices in the house come on.Dominic May, the Energy Resource Program Architect
If your 80 kWh battery EV rolls into the garage at 5:30 PM with 60 kWh left in the battery and plugs into a V2G charger, it could supply 40 kW to the grid between 6 and 7 PM to allow having 20 kWh left in the battery in case of a night emergency. (Most EVs on the road today could get 60 – 80 miles on 20 kWh.)
The EV could then easily regain the 40 kW it sent out by more slowly pulling it in overnight, when electricity rates are lowest. While you ate dinner, relaxed at home and then slept, you helped save your electricity provider 40 kWh x $20/hr = $800. Since electric co-op members include all your neighbors and everyone in their service area, you’ve helped everyone in your community save money. Your electric co-op or company will want to find a way to make that worth your while.
LPEA recognizes people participating in a future V2G program would need to expend some money to be able to take part. Bi-directional chargers are significantly more expensive than your basic Level 2 home charger. EVs are still more expensive than comparable petroleum-fueled cars.
LPEA is working on creating a battery storage program for customers with home back-up batteries, like Tesla Powerwalls or LG batteries. We hope to learn from that and extend the same incentives to customers who want to participate in a V2G program. The V2G program will need to include an aspect controlling the time the customer is willing to participate, and how much of their battery capacity they are willing to contribute each day.
We want to pass as much of that back to the customer as we can. We’re considering upfront rebates for V2G equipment purchased and annual credits based on energy sent back to the grid, things like that.
Right now, we have the small demand charge of $1.50 per kW we pass through to non-time-of-use rate members, but that’s obviously not reflective of the $20 the whole membership pays. Equity is a big consideration for LPEA. We will need to balance the price signals we offer to the V2G participating members so we don’t punish lower- and fixed-income members with electrified homes.Dominic May, the Energy Resource Program Architect
If you live in LPEA’s service area, keep an eye out for upcoming battery storage programs offerings. If not, contact your local electricity provider and ask them if they have any plans to implement a home battery storage or Vehicle-to-Grid incentive program in their service area. Let them know you’d be interested in participating.
People served by rural electrical co-ops can have a strong influence on the board members of those organizations. Encouraging them to look into these types of programs may be just the push they need. Investor-owned utilities also might be influenced by their customer’s interest in taking part in V2G programs. If you are served by an investor-owned utility, such as Xcel Energy (CO), PNM (NM) or Rocky Mountain Power (UT), check their website or give them a call to find out what their plans are. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) is unique as the largest multi-utility enterprise owned and operated by an American Indian tribe. If you live in their service area, give them a call to find out if they are investigating how they can use distributed battery storage resources to bolster their electricity distribution system.
When a V2G or home battery program might become available in your neighborhood: Two caveats
- Most EVs currently on the market and on the roads don’t have the internal hardware that would enable them to participate in V2G programs, even if they do install a bi-directional charger at their home. While V2G programs are currently operating in Europe with EVs capable to participate, car manufacturers have not provided US models with that functionality yet.
- Administrative hurdles remain to be solved before LPEA can actually implement a V2G program. Tri-State policies may need to modified so both Tri-State and the co-ops it serves can use customer-owned batteries to their full potential.
Finally, if you are unclear about what peak demand is, why it costs so much, and why we should all be doing what we can to reduce it, I recommend reading this article by David Roberts on Canary Media. Rooftop Solar and Home Batteries Make a Clean Grid Vastly More Affordable.
Finally, here’s a nice short video to sum up V2G from Nuvve.
Do you have a few minutes for a UC Denver survey on EV charging and V2G?
The University of Colorado Denver is conducting research on how electric vehicles (EVs) can be fully integrated with power grids. We’d love to hear from you about how you may charge your EV. The results of this survey will inform our recommendations for public policies related to the Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) and Vehicle-to-Building (V2B) technologies.
As a thank you for sharing your input, 10 completed survey respondents will each receive a $50 Amazon gift card. This survey only takes 8 – 13 minutes. The survey is closed on November 12, 2021. You must be 18 or older to participate.
TAKE THE SURVEY: https://ucdenver.co1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_d0ZSdrrhCuwFgN0
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What questions do I expect to be asked?
A: You will be asked where, when, and how you may charge your EV using a bidirectional EV charger, which allows EV users to not only charge the batteries of electric vehicles but to also take energy from cars. Bidirectional charging enables the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) or vehicle-to-building (V2B) capability, allowing EVs to inject energy into the grid or a building.
Q: Who is conducting the study?
A: The University of Colorado Denver is conducting research on how electric vehicles (EVs) can be fully integrated with power grids.
Q: How will my answers be used?
A: Only the aggregated results will be used to create an infographic of the findings, several short reports, and several presentations hosted by the University of Colorado Denver.
Q: Who will see my responses?
A: Privacy is of the utmost concern, and all respondents’ data will be anonymized and de-identified as the first step in the analysis. Only the Principal Investigators (Hilary Haskell and Serena Kim) holding current certification in human subjects research will have access to individual-level survey responses. Individual responses are not shared with any other individuals or groups.
Q: Will any of my information be used for marketing purposes?
A: No. This project is non-commercial — responding will not subject you to any marketing.
Hilary Haskell, University of Colorado Denver
Dr. Serena Kim, University of Colorado Denver
If you have any questions about the survey, please email us: [email protected] or [email protected]
Rural Electric Co-op Will School Colorado On How To Make The Most Of An Electric School Bus
Durango, Colorado’s 9-R school district will soon be the owner of a brand-new, all-electric Bluebird bus. Thanks to a grant from the Regional Air Quality Council’s ALT Fuels Colorado program and southwest Colorado’s La Plata Electric Association (LPEA), the school district is getting the bus entirely for free. This was made possible by the state grant funding, which covered much of the $210,000 difference between the cost of a diesel vs electric bus, but also by LPEA’s initiative in penciling out how both they and the school district could benefit from nascent vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology.
It will be the first use of V2G technology with a school bus in the state of Colorado. LPEA aims to demonstrate how electric school buses can provide benefits and savings to everyone in their service area. I spoke with Dominic May, LPEA’s Energy Resource Program Architect, to learn more about the bus, V2G and the benefits.
V2G gives LPEA a return on their investment
LPEA contributed about $150,000 to cover the remainder of the cost of the bus and to install a 60 kW bidirectional charger at the school district’s bus barn. Bidirectional chargers are at the heart of V2G technology. They take the AC power provided by LPEA’s electrical grid and turn it into DC power which fills the bus battery. They can also go the other way and change the DC power in the bus battery into AC power, which can then be sent back into LPEA’s electric grid.
The bus and the bidirectional charger are now owned by the school district, but they have an operational agreement with LPEA which allows LPEA control of the battery for the coop’s benefit.
V2G is the big reason I got interested, in addition to finding a project that could be entirely free for the school.Dominic May, Energy Resource Program Architect
How can the school district and LPEA both use the same bus?
We have an operational agreement that we will run the battery to perform energy arbitrage in the background. The school district will never notice we’re doing it but will always charge at our cheapest off peak rate.Dominic May, LPEA Energy Resource Program Architect
The bus battery holds about 175 kWh of energy. It will charge overnight and during mid-day when the bus is back at the bus barn. On the commercial time-of-use rate LPEA provides, these are the cheapest times of day to use electricity.
After it returns from its morning route at about 9 AM, the bus will need about 3 hours to refill the battery. It arrives back from its afternoon route at 4:30 or 5:00 PM. LPEA’s evening peaks usually occur at about 6:30 or 7:00 PM. They will recharge the battery up until the evening energy use peak starts ramping up. As the peak 15-minute period approaches, LPEA will signal the bus battery to push 60 kW onto the grid. (60 kW is the maximum rate the bidirectional charger can discharge at.) When the peak is passed and peak rate time is over, the bus will continue recharging into the night.
What’s in it for LPEA?
LPEA’s supplier, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, charges LPEA a monthly demand charge based on their peak monthly usage. For every kilowatt LPEA uses during their peak 15 minutes in each month, Tri-State charges $20/kW. By reducing their peak with the bus battery, LPEA realizes 60 kW x $20/kW = $1,200 savings a month. Says May, 60 kW of demand “that’s like a dozen houses or more coming off the grid during the peak hour.”
Just selling that off-peak energy, we don’t make much more than $0.02 per kWh and it would’ve been close to a 400 year payback period, but doing demand managing with the V2G system turns it into about a five to eight year payback period.Dominic May, LPEA Energy Resource Program Architect
After that, the savings will accrue to LPEA’s membership.
The bus is free to the school district, but is it cheap?
The electric fuel for the bus will be one sixth the cost of diesel. The electric motor and drive train require much less maintenance than gas or diesel buses. No oil or coolant changes, no air filters, no tune-ups. LPEA’s use of the battery doesn’t require any changes to the regular schedule the bus would run. They only use it when it would be sitting at the bus barn anyway.
A diesel bus will have to be sacrificed as a condition of the state grant dollars. The school district’s oldest bus must have its axles broken or its engine cored to ensure it is permanently disabled. The intent of the state grant is to reduce air pollution by taking old diesels, which have very dirty exhaust, off the road.
What else can you do with a school bus full of cheap energy and V2G technology?
Provide mobile electricity sources during blackouts.
Any school or other buildings designated as emergency shelters would need to be outfitted with a bidirectional charger, and the electrical infrastructure to support it, to be able to receive the energy in the event of a blackout. Once installed, these chargers could also be used as fast chargers for any electric vehicle in non-emergency circumstances.
They definitely can serve as an emergency generator. One of the cooler things they could do is come up and power something like a FEMA shelter. However, the caveat is the places have to be wired up to receive this and infrastructure will need to be built to support it.Dominic May, LPEA Energy Resource Program Architect
Demand management is getting bigger and bigger, especially as renewables come on the grid. You have this extremely cheap and clean energy, but it’s intermittent. So, anything you can do for storage is really what this is all about. That’s the dream of V2G – that we would multi-purpose this giant fleet of batteries that are out there to make the grid cheaper, cleaner, and more resilient.Dominic May, LPEA Energy Resource Program Architect
Does the electric school bus help decrease greenhouse gas emissions?
On some grids, the power used at peak times is dirtier than at other times. For example, on a grid which has solar generation, and uses natural gas “peaker” plants to provide energy during the peak evening hours just as solar is waning, energy used at peak times will have higher carbon dioxide emissions per kilowatt. By decreasing the amount of kW used at peak times, those higher emissions are avoided.
On our current fuel mix, the school bus will reduce carbon emissions by about 2 ½ times its weight in carbon dioxide every year.”Dominic May, LPEA Energy Resource Program Architect
When greenhouse gas emissions are decreased, the other pollutants associated with burning petroleum are also decreased. Diesel engines emit particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and numerous toxic volatile organic compounds.
The bus is expected to arrive in Durango by the end of October 2021. It’s now at its final stop, getting outfitted by a company on the front range to the school district’s specifications.