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Battery Best Practices

by Sarah Kelly 1 Comment

When I got my first EV (2017 Nissan Leaf), I gathered from various sources there were things you should do and things you should avoid to extend your car’s battery life. Batteries make up about 35% of the cost of an EV, so you want to make them last. However, the owner’s manual was light on advice and the internet was full of conflicting information about what was important.

Nissan Leaf cutaway showing part of battery
By Tennen-Gas – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8249799

An EV-savvy friend told me the simplest rule was to keep your battery between 10% and 90%, and don’t let it sit at 100% charge for long time periods. When you fill it to the top, start drawing it down soon. That is good advice, but I like to know WHY a thing is important and WHO says so.

Finally, University of Michigan researchers have studied the issue and came up with some easy to understand best practices. Why should we care about treating our EV batteries right?

Battery degradation causes premature replacement or product retirement, resulting in environmental burdens from producing and processing new battery materials, as well as early end-of-life burdens.

Center for Sustainable Systems, School for Environment and Sustainability, University of Michigan researchers

Below are eight best practices as summarized by the Electrek.co article cited in the quote below. Follow the link to the article to learn more about the study.

Here are the 8 recommendations that we summarized from the paper. We note which brand of vehicle provided the guidance in its owner’s manual.

Journal of Energy Storage studies EV owner’s manuals, compiles best practices for batteries
  • Every manufacturer includes a warning about high temperatures, though different strategies are suggested. Most companies do not cite a specific high temperature in which to avoid vehicle operation. Those that mention a specific temperature use either 50° C / 122° F [Fiat-Chrysler] or 60 °C / 140° F [Tesla].
  • Plug in the car anytime it is hot, thereby allowing the battery cooling system to run as needed [Tesla and GM].
  • Avoid parking in the sun on hot days [Kia]. When the vehicle is plugged in, the BMS (battery management system) will measure the temperature and take the appropriate warming or cooling action before charging begins [Tesla, Ford, GM, Nissan, Honda], and may disable fast charging capabilities [Kia]. The researchers advise: When the vehicle is running or charging, the BMS will regulate the temperature of the batteries, so it is most important to be aware of high battery temperatures when the vehicle is parked while not charging.
  • Dealing with low temperatures is also cited by almost all EV owner’s manuals. Plugging in the vehicle when it is cold (below 0° C / 32° F) is recommended so that the battery heating system can run on grid power. The battery warmer will automatically activate below a specific temperature unless the battery is both not plugged in and under 15% charge (to avoid over-discharge) [Nissan].
  • Extremely low temperatures for extended periods may cause irreversible damage, necessitating battery replacement [Mercedes-Benz]. The lower temperature limit for batteries is cited as −25° C / -13° F [Nissan, Mercedes-Benz] or −30° C / -22° F [Tesla, Honda].
  • Over-discharging will typically not occur during operation. The BMS will turn off the car and cease operation before severe degradation occurs. However, if the “empty” battery is then left for an extended time without being recharged, the battery can enter an over-discharge state due to the slow self-discharge that occurs even when the battery is not operating. Some manufacturers are concrete, instructing owners not to leave the vehicle parked for more than 2 weeks with a low battery (20% state of charge) [Tesla, Mercedes-Benz].
  • If possible, don’t allow the battery to be run all the way down, or left idle for extended periods [BMW, Hyundai, Kia, and Honda].
  • The majority of manufacturers do not include information in their manuals explaining that fast charging can lead to accelerated battery degradation. Those that say use of fast chargers should be minimized to maintain battery life [Ford, Nissan, Kia, Honda].
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DEVC February Newsletter

by Sarah Kelly 0 Comments

The Denver Electric Vehicle Council’s (DEVC) February newsletter is out! It features a nice shout out to us here at EV4Corners.org. Thanks David and DEVC for your encouragement and EV enthusiasm! Download the newsletter using the button below. It also includes a funny video – Lynette’s Albuquerque test drives a Nissan Leaf.

Lynette! What do we have to do to get a fast charger in Cuba, NM?

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Novel Colorado legislation would allow direct-to-consumer sales of BEVs

Tesla is already doing this, but apparently there is a general prohibition against direct-to-consumer sales of cars that new Colorado legislation would alleviate, but only for BEVs. This may be a response to recent opposition of the car dealers (and support by the car manufacturers) to Colorado’s Zero-emission Vehicle standard. Here’s the message we got today from the Denver EV group:

Last Thursday Senate Bill SB20-167 was introduced and assigned to the Senate Transportation & Energy Committee. The bill is titled: “Electric Motor Vehicle Manufacturer & Dealer” – Concerning increasing consumer access to electric motor vehicles by allowing manufacturers to sell their own electric motor vehicles directly to consumers.

The bill Summary is as follows: “Current law states that, with certain exceptions, a motor vehicle manufacturer may not own, operate, or control any motor vehicle dealer or used motor vehicle dealer in Colorado. The bill creates a new exception that allows the ownership, operation, or control of a motor vehicle dealer that sells electric motor vehicles of a manufacturer’s line-make. An “electric motor vehicle” is a motor vehicle that can operate entirely on electrical power.”

The hearing for this bill will be this Tuesday (2-18) at 2:00 PM in the Old Supreme Court Chambers at the State Capitol. If you can’t testify in person and would like to share your views with the Committee, you may email the five committee members. They are:
Senator Faith Winter, Chair faith.winter.senate@state.co.us
Senator Kerry Donovan, Vice Chair kerry.donovan.senate@state.co.us
Senator Mike Foote mike.foote.senate@state.co.us
Senator Dennis Hisey dennis.hisey.senate@state.co.us
Senator Ray Scott ray.scott.senate@state.co.us

As a courtesy to the committee members, you may want to put “SB20-167 For” or “SB20-167 Against” in the Subject line. Also include a brief reason for your view in the text of the email. This legislation might be especially germane to the Four Corners insofar as so few dealers in the Four Corners are supporting EVs.

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Montezuma County, CO goes EV x 3!

County Administrator Shak Powers and Commissioner Jim Candelaria show off one of three Chevy Bolt electric vehicles the county purchased for Social Services, IT and Health Departments
Photo by Jim Mimiaga/The Journal

Check out this article at the Durango Herald! Montezuma County purchases three electric vehicles. Why would a small, rural county in the Four Corners choose EVs? Read the article to find out. Better yet, send the link to your county’s administrator. “Efficiency, cost savings cited”

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Electrify America – Problems and Solutions for Non-Tesla Fast-Chargers

Grand Junction Fast charger
Electrify America Fast Chargers (for Non-Teslas), Grand Junction, CO

Electrify America (EA) is the organization charged with installing fast chargers along all US Interstate Highways for non-Tesla battery electric vehicles (BEVs). In the Four Corners, we care about them because they will help connect us to the rest of the country. For example, in 2018 I could not drive my Chevy Bolt from Durango, CO to Flagstaff, AZ without making a two day trip of it to allow for overnight charging time. Since May 2019, when an EA charger was installed at Gallup, NM, I can now make the trip in a day with a fast charge in Gallup before continuing west on I-40. As more people begin to feel comfortable in their BEVs, more of us are pushing the limits of our range anxiety. The last thing we need to hear is one of the few fast-chargers available to us might not be working when we arrive at it.

EA’s roll-out has not been smooth. Trouble with credit card readers not working, brand-new chargers not working, and apparently the charge plugs getting locked on to Audi e-tron ports. The website insideevs.com contacted EA about the problems. Instead of providing a “public relations whitewash”, EA invited insideevs.com to their headquarters to talk about the problems, their roots and the work towards solutions. Read the whole story here: Electrify America Talks Charging Network Problems, Has Solutions

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A solution for parking garages lacking chargers

Volkswagen is promoting (https://newatlas.com/automotive/volkswagen-autonomous-electric-vehicle-charging-robots/) a new twist on the problem of building difficult or expensive charging ports into every parking space: robots that bring the juice to the needy cars. We know of apartment complexes in Durango that are flummoxed by the problem that every parking space is assigned to an individual apartment, and there are no extra spaces that could be devoted to charging EVs. Even if there were a few such extra spaces, there would be conflicts over how many dedicated charging spaces to create and who is the reprobate responsible for leaving their fully charged car in the space overnight, preventing others from charging.

VW’s solution is a autonomous charger that, when requested through a car owner’s smartphone, hooks the car up to a battery wagon that the robot guides from needy car to needy car. The wagon can be hooked up to several cars simultaneously, and the robot will switch hookups as needed to ensure that all the cars get charged.

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Federal tax credit reinstated for 2018-2020 EV purchases and chargers

Chevy Bolt taking care of Christmas.

Current EVents (Jan 2020, the magazine of the Electric Auto Association) reported:

Receive a federal tax credit of 30% of the cost of purchasing and installing an EV charging station (up to $1,000 for residential installations and up to $30,000 for commercial installations) with this retroactive credit.

Previously, this federal tax credit expired on December 31, 2017, but is now retroactively extended through December 31, 2020. The full details can be viewed on the U.S. Department of Energy website: https://afdc.energy.gov/laws/10513.

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EV 4 Corners

by newev2019 0 Comments
Another Leaf in Silverton, Colorado

Welcome to the start up of the EV 4 Corners website.

Members of what was formerly the Durango Electric Vehicle Enthusiasts (DEVE) have started this website to share information about buying, owning, and using electric vehicles (EVs) or plug-in hybrid EVs (PHEVs) of all kinds in the Four Corners area. Although we are based in Durango, CO, we plan to present news and information about EV resources throughout the Four Corners, including areas in SE Utah, NE Arizona and NW New Mexico.

Because we are far afield from the nearest interstates, charging infrastructure is arriving more slowly than in densely populated areas. We plan to keep abreast of the Four Corners states’ programs to build charging infrastructure and encourage states to remember our scenic part of the country, home to many of America’s iconic road-trip and scenic routes, in their EV plans.

Buying an EV or PHEV is currently difficult for some makes and models in our area. Since 2017, Nissan of Durango was the first dealership in the area to reliably keep EVs in stock. They continue to do so. Durango’s GM and Toyota dealerships have been less enthusiastic or unable to keep their PHEVs (or the Bolt EV, in GM’s case) in stock. Toyota only sells their Prius Prime Plug-In in a limited number of states, which do not include Colorado, New Mexico or Utah. We’ll include periodic updates about EV/PHEV dealers in the Four Corners, and reviews from local drivers of the commonly available EV/PHEVs.

We will highlight the pleasure of traveling through and within the Four Corners by EV and PHEV through stories about our favorite charger stops, advice about charger stops we find lacking, and information about local businesses which support EV drivers.

Finally, we’ll provide summaries and links to national and global EV/PHEV news relevant to rural owners, drivers and those who are interested in EVs.

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New Public Chargers and free ChargePoint Chargers for Residential LPEA Customers

News from La Plata Electric Association on the charging infrastructure:

  • There will be a new Level 2 charger at the Bayfield, Colorado Town Hall parking lot by Memorial Day, 2020.
  • The locations for the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) Fast-Charging Corridors are still up in the air for Pagosa Springs and Durango.
    • We know the grant money has been awarded by CEO to ChargePoint for these chargers. Hopefully the locations will be settled on SOON!

LPEA’s home charger program has changed in some really positive ways since the description in the ad below:

  • They have removed the requirement that the car be purchased after Jan 1, 2019, so now all cars qualify.
  • They have just this week removed the requirement to be on their time-of-use rate, so now anyone is eligible.
  • LPEA has FREE Chargepoint units that they provide or rebates towards the purchase of your own charger, as well as rebates to help with the electrical cost of installing the appropriate outlet.

By Sarah Kelly

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Denver EV Council’s January Newsletter

Electric Bus on the 16th Street Mall in Denver

Includes:

  • Zero Motorcycles At IMS In Denver, January 17-19
  • Eight Intermountain West Governors Commit to Coordinating on Regional Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure, and Release Voluntary Minimum Standards for Stations (REV West MOU)
  • New Xcel Energy Rate Could Speed RTD’s Purchase of Electric Buses
  • What Does Your Car Know About You?

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