WetEV
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Location: Near Seattle, WA

So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:24 am

Thanks to golfcart and Leftybiker.

So you are thinking about buying or leasing a LEAF? Or perhaps just looking at electric cars and wondering if one might work for you?
The first question is very basic.
"Should you?"

Yes, there are people out there that love their LEAFs. And yes, people that think a LEAF was a mistake. My intent is to encourage those that might do well in an electric, and discourage those that might find it a mistake.

An electric car of any make/model is different from what you have driving all your life, excluding a few people who already own one. There are things you will love, and things that you might hate. My intent is talk those that "Fit The Profile" into buying an electric, perhaps a LEAF, and to talk those that don't FTP out of the buying an electric car now. And to perhaps talk you into buying an electric car in the future.

The capabilities of electric cars have improved a lot in recent years. A very brief history of Nissan's LEAF:
2011-2016. 21kWh battery (called at 24kWh, but 3kWh reserved to protect battery. At least two chemistry changes with significant life improvements. Early cars had poor battery life. Later cars much better battery life)
2016-2017. Top model was a 27kWh battery (called 30kWh)
2018 Top model was a 37kWh battery (called 40kWh)
2019 Top model is expected to be a roughly 60kWh battery.

The first reply will be questions on Fitting The Profile.
The second reply will be on my thoughts about the LEAF specifically.
The third reply will be on other electric cars
The fourth reply will be on buying vs leasing.
The next couple of replies will be reserved for future expansion
Last edited by WetEV on Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:20 am, edited 3 times in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:25 am

Do you fit the profile?

1. Can you charge at home? If you own your home, have a garage that you park your car in, and have at minimum a dedicated 120V outlet and can fairly easily install a 240 V outlet/charging station, then you fit the profile (so far).

OR

If you own your property, and can install an outdoor charging station without too much cost or bother, then you fit the profile (so far).

OR

Or if you rent, and your landlord has either provided an EVSE by contract, or installed in a place reserved for your use, or has provided shared charging stations AND seems likely to continue to add as needed... There is of course a risk that you will need to move due to end of contract, or that the landlord will not support EVs in the future.

OR

If your employer offers charging stations, and has enough for current employees, AND seems likely to continue to have enough, then maybe...There is a risk that more employees with electric cars will overwhelm the charging stations, and the employer will not add more in a timely fashion.


2. How much do you drive?

An EV is convenient if you almost never need to charge away from home (or work). So you want the EV to have enough range on a bad day, when the battery is own to the warranty replacement, to handle your worst daily drive. This is assuming fairly flat country. Hills make a big difference!

Do you drive enough to save enough on gasoline and maintenance to pay back the extra cost of the EV? Or are you OK with a higher cost per mile?


Start with the range of the EV. Depending on your climate, derate to roughly match what the coldest/windiest/wettest/snowest day that you would expect do handle with a normal trip. Take the EPA range, multiply it by 0.8 for a mild climate, and smaller for the harsher climates.

Now, assume that the EV is past the warranty, and the capacity has dropped to the warranty replacement level. Multiply by 0.66 or so. More detail on this: Warranty replacement thresholds vary, some EVs do not have a warranty, and range may drop faster than capacity due to reduced regeneration and increased pack resistance. Even if there isn't a warranty, you should derate at something like this, as batteries lose capacity with time and miles. About 70% is often used as "end of life" for batteries for economic reasons.

Now, let's have a safety factor. Never come home (or work, if that is where you charge) with less range remaining than you would be worried at. Multiply by 0.9 or so. If under 20% scares you, then 0.8.

Compare your longest expected daily distance with the car's EPA range multiplied by the above "No Worries Range" factors. A 2018 LEAF, with an 150 mile EPA range, has a "No Worries Range" closer to 70 miles. A Bolt, with 238 mile EPA range, has a "No Worries Range" closer to 115 miles. An 2012 Leaf comes in at close to 34 miles. Probably less in Manitoba. Even less in Yukon.

If almost every day you will be less than "No Worries Range", and you have alternatives for any days that exceed this (such as a second car, or charging network where you need it), then you fit the profile (so far).
Last edited by WetEV on Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:21 am, edited 5 times in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:25 am

My general review of the LEAF.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:26 am

Mentions of other electric cars, and pointers to discussions and reviews that seem worthwhile.

https://afdc.energy.gov/fuels/electricity_benefits.html
Last edited by WetEV on Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:27 am

So you decided on a LEAF. Should you lease, buy a new LEAF, or buy a used LEAF?

Leasing

If you are buying the LEAF for a business, talk to your accountant. Business use of vehicles can be better handled by a lease. Talk to your accountant, don't listen to me.

If you are likely to want the latest technology every two years, and can afford the higher cost, then leasing might be a lower cost, and is certainly a lower risk, way to buy the latest in cars every two years. However, this is likely to be much higher cost than owning a car for the length of the warranty or longer.

Long term (longer than three year) leases are more risky than buying a car. Getting out of a lease early can be more painful than selling a used car. This is why long term leases, four and five years, are probably bad ideas for most buyers, buying is likely lower risk. Your options vary with market value of the car as when you decide you want out of the lease:

  1. If the car is worth more than total remaining owed including residual amount, you can pay off the lease, buying then selling the car. If the car is worth a little less than remaining payments, this still might be the best choice.
  2. You can return the car early, pay an early termination fee and all remaining lease payments. This can be painful, look below.
  3. You can have someone sublease your car. You are still on the hook for any damage they do to the car. You are likely to need to pay hundreds to thousands of dollars as well.

Suppose you leased a car for $300 a month for five years with a $5,000 residual amount rather than buying for $22,000. Remember that the residual is about what the car will be worth when five years old. At the two year mark, you decide you don't want the car any more. To return the car early you would need to pay the remaining lease payments, $300*12*3 = $10,800 plus a early termination fee typically another $500 or so (likely plus other fees). You are basically selling the car as if it was five years old when it is two years old. Plus paying fees. And turning down buying incentives.

Buying.

Lease to buy. If your income is too low to own enough taxes to qualify for most of the Federal non-refundable tax credit, then you probably will find that leasing a car, even if you pay off the lease the day after getting the car, may well be cheaper than buying as the leasing company gets the tax credit and MIGHT pass some or all of it to you. Notice that this is closer to buying with a loan than leasing, as you are concerned about the total of monthly payments, the residual amount and fees, and a real lease is mostly concerned about the monthly fee, the residual amount isn't of interest.

Buy used. Sometimes the price of a gently used car is low enough that the cost to own is far below the cost to own a new car. If so, and if you are ok with someone elses dents and such, consider buying used.

Buy new. Sometimes the price of a gently used car is almost the same as a new car, after considering the remaining time and miles on the warranty, and expected life after the warranty. Sometimes you want a car with no dings and spots on the carpet.
Last edited by WetEV on Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:09 pm, edited 4 times in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
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Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:27 am

So how long will an EV last?

The battery lifetime is the question that gets asked the most.

The answer is complex. So I'm going to give a simplistic answer:

The battery will outlive the warranty, most of the time. Sometimes by just a little, sometimes by quite a bit more. If you get lucky, you might get a battery replaced near the end of the warranty, and then you get almost twice as long of battery life as the warranty.

Battery warranty for the LEAF was originally none, as are several other EVs.
For the 24kWh nominal batteries (2011-2016) 60k miles and 5 years.
For the 30kWh nominal batteries (2016-2017) 100k miles and 8 years.
For the 40kWh nominal batteries (2018-?) 100k miles and 8 years.
For the 62kWh (real?) batteries (2019-?) 100k miles and 8 years.

Battery chemistry is complex, and loss will vary with lots of factors, some of which are impossible to estimate accurately. Some of these factors are partly in our control, and/or in control of the car's design, and others are only in the control of the makers of the cells.

  1. Chemical formulation and cell construction. Several EVs have had problems with chemistries that failed far earlier than expected. Others have had longer than predicted lifetimes. I don't know enough to talk about this much more.
  2. Temperature. The LEAF and several other EVs do not have active cooling. Some people should care, others shouldn't. More on this later.
  3. Charge levels. Various studies have shown that improved lifetimes come from shallow cycles centered near the middle of the range. Again, more later.
Last edited by WetEV on Mon Jan 28, 2019 7:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:28 am

Temperature, Thermal Management and trade offs.

TLDR: You might not want a LEAF if you live in a very hot place, or if you drive lots of miles compared with the 'average driver', because of passive thermal management. Unlike many other electric cars, the LEAF has a passively cooled battery. This will cause power restrictions if the car is charged when hot to protect the battery, and will lead to faster battery capacity loss with time in hot and very hot places. Not a problem if you live in a cool place, or you live in an average place and do not take many long trips.

Battery life depends on on temperature, roughly following an Arrhenius relationship, with life doubling for about every 10C reduction in temperature. As such there would be nearly a 3:1 ratio between the best (cool) climate life and the worst (hot) climate life in the USA.

http://www.nec.com/en/global/techrep/jo ... 120112.pdf

If Nissan isn't going to be stuck with lots of battery replacements, then 'average' people in USA hot climates should just miss the warranty. And 'average' people in USA average climates should do about twice as good. Nissan is frugal, in case you didn't notice, so this seems likely.

To avoid problems with condensation, battery temperature can't be reduced too much, or condensation will put moisture on surfaces. Condensation leads to corrosion, electronic component failure and battery failures. Condensation puts limits on cooling that vary with climate: very dry or cool places can have more cooling than hot, humid places.

World record high dew point was 35C. 30C is more common. Highest dew point recorded in the USA was 32 C (90F). This took a combination of heavy rain followed by clear skies and stable air, keeping the evaporated moisture close to the ground. 26 C is about the highest reasonably common dew point in most of the USA (78 F).

In order to reduce battery capacity loss, thermal management needs to reduce battery temperatures. So how aggressive of cooling is possible, and what does it give in improved battery life?

Tesla seems to have a threshold around 45C for maximum active cooling, but does cool at least 5 C below that. Chevy Bolt is much more aggressively cooled, which it can be being a USA/Canada only design, and cools to 31 C while on, and to 27 C while plugged in and not charging.

So the LEAF is a world wide design, included some high humidity places, so what temperature threshold(s) might be set for cooling? This is a complex engineering problem, and I'm not going to solve it here. Instead I'll assume something simple, between the Tesla and the Chevy Bolt, a single cooling threshold of 32C or 90F.

How warm does a LEAF battery get? Depends on where you live, how you drive, where you park, when you charge and more. If you mostly commute the US average of 32 miles or less, park in an cool garage during the day and charge at night ideally outdoors or in a fairly cool garage, you might have an average battery temperature near or even below the average between daily high temperature and daily low temperature. If you drive lots more miles, and have a hot garage at home, and park in the sun usually, and DCQC during the day, all things that heat the battery, you might have a battery that is 10C warmer than the average between the daily high temperature and daily low temperature. If you commute morning and evening you will face a different temperature while driving than if you did most of your driving in the hottest hours of the day. To be pessimistic, we might look at days when temperature exceeds a threshold where cooling might have an impact.

So on to comparing some locations to see how much active cooling might improve battery life. Clearly there is a wide range of EV drivers, all with different conditions. So I'll be a pessimist and try to overstate the benefit of active cooling. A slightly pessimistic assumption, the battery is at the temperature of the hottest time of day. We want to know how many days will the peak temperature exceed the cooling threshold of 90F? I'm also going to make the assumption that the Arrhenius relationship is 5.6C or 10 F, which is probably too low. I'm also going to make the pessimistic assumption that exceeding 90F or 100F really means 97F or 107F every time, likely overstating the effective temperatures. The intent here is to overstate the improvement from active cooling, especially in more average locations. It might not(!) overstate the improvement in cooling in Phoenix for driver driving many miles in the heat of the day.

Code: Select all

City         Days per year over 90F       Days over 100F      Possible active cooling improvement (0.5*D90+1.5*D100)
Seattle, WA       2                     ~0               1 day per year          0%
San Jose, CA      16                     1               9.5 days per year       3%
Phoenix, AZ       171                  107               243 days per year       67%
Atlanta, GA      36                     ~0               18 days per year      5%
Orlando, Fl      97                     ~0               46.5 days per year      13%
Buffalo, NY      2                     ~0               1 day per year         0%
Boston, MA   10                     ~0               5 days per year         1%
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Washington/Places/seattle-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/California/Places/san-jose-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Arizona/Places/phoenix-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Georgia/Places/atlanta-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Florida/Places/orlando-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/New-York/Places/buffalo-temperatures-by-month-average.php
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/Massachusetts/Places/boston-temperatures-by-month-average.php

One could easily redo this for different assumptions, with more detail, and perhaps could use LeafSpy logs to generate a personal prediction. The key conclusion is fairly robust. Hot places benefit a lot from active cooling, average places not much, and cooler places not at all.

Drivers with many long trips also will get a benefit in battery lifetime from active cooling, as well as faster DCQC times.


Footnote:
The 2011 and 2012 battery life is modeled in the WIKI.

http://www.electricvehiclewiki.com/wiki ... acity_Loss

While the life predictions are not meaningfull for later batteries, the aging factor is. To have a rough idea about how your location compare, see below. LA city center = 1.0

Code: Select all

Aging factors
"Dubai, UAE "   ,2.17       
"San Juan, Puerto Rico "   ,1.87    
"Phoenix, AZ "   ,1.81
"Mesa, AZ "   ,1.78    
"Palm Springs, CA "   ,1.77    
"Fort Lauderdale, FL "   ,1.68
"Hong Kong Intl Airport"    ,1.67
"Honolulu, HI "   ,1.67
"Las Vegas, NV "   ,1.50    
"Orlando, FL "   ,1.47
"Houston, TX "   ,1.47
"Tucson, AZ "   ,1.45    
"New Orleans, LA "   ,1.42    
"Hilo, HI "   ,1.42
"Ridgecrest, CA "   ,1.37    
"San Antonio, TX "   ,1.37    
"Jacksonville, FL "   ,1.36    
"Austin, TX "   ,1.35    
"Dallas, TX "   ,1.32
"Witchita Falls, TX "   ,1.32
"Waxahachie, TX "   ,1.25    
"Tyler, TX "   ,1.25    
"Bakersfield, CA "   ,1.23    
"Sevilla, Spain "   ,1.18       
"Jackson, MS "   ,1.18    
"Fresno, CA "   ,1.17    
"Memphis, TN "   ,1.16    
"Palmdale, CA "   ,1.12    
"Little Rock, AR "   ,1.12    
"Ontario Intl Airport, CA "    ,1.10    
"Van Nuys, CA "   ,1.10
"Riverside, CA "   ,1.09    
"Visalia, CA "   ,1.09    
"Modesto, CA "   ,1.08    
"Tulsa, OK "   ,1.08    
"Burbank, CA "   ,1.07    
"Atlanta, GA "   ,1.07    
"Oklahoma City, OK "   ,1.07    
"Anaheim, CA "   ,1.06    
"Sydney, Australia "   ,1.03       
"Charlotte, NC "   ,1.02    
"Nashville, TN "   ,1.02
"Norfolk, VA "   ,1.01    
"Raleigh, NC "   ,1.00
"Los Angeles Civic Center, CA"    ,1.00
"Ota, Japan "   ,0.98       
"Santa Ana, CA "   ,0.97    
"San Diego, CA "   ,0.97    
"Kansas City, MO "   ,0.97    
"Knoxville, TN "   ,0.97    
"Sacramento, CA "   ,0.96    
"Lisbon, Portugal "   ,0.95       
"Albuquerque, NM "   ,0.94    
"Santa Monica, CA "   ,0.93    
"Los Angeles Intl Airport, CA "    ,0.92
"Madrid, Spain "   ,0.92       
"Santa Clara, CA "   ,0.90    
"San Jose, CA "   ,0.90    
"Prescott, AZ "   ,0.88    
"Winchester, VA "   ,0.88    
"Philadelphia, PA "   ,0.88    
"Oceanside, CA "   ,0.85    
"Salt Lake City, UT "   ,0.85    
"Indianapolis, IN "   ,0.83    
"Omaha, NE "   ,0.81    
"Columbus, OH "   ,0.81    
"Porto, Portugal "   ,0.81
"Melbourne, Australia "   ,0.80       
"Montclair, NJ "   ,0.80    
"Reno, NV "   ,0.80    
"Chicago, IL "   ,0.78
"Pittsburgh, PA "   ,0.77    
"Detroit, MI "   ,0.76    
"San Francisco, CA "   ,0.76    
"Boston, MA "   ,0.74    
"Denver, CO "   ,0.73
"Portland, OR "   ,0.72    
"Minneapolis, MN "   ,0.70    
"Paris, France "   ,0.69       
"Syracuse, NY "   ,0.69    
"Seattle, WA "   ,0.69    
"Madison, WI "   ,0.69    
"London, England "   ,0.68       
"Vienna, Austria "   ,0.68       
"Toronto, Canada "   ,0.64       
"Montreal, Canada "   ,0.63       
"Olympia, WA "   ,0.63
"Flagstaff, AZ "   ,0.62    
"Vancouver, BC "   ,0.62       
"Shannon, Ireland "   ,0.61
"Bellingham, WA "   ,0.61    
"Warsaw, Poland "   ,0.60       
"Big Bear City, CA "   ,0.59
"Dublin, Ireland "   ,0.58
"Rygge, Norway "   ,0.52       
"Juneau, AK "   ,0.47
Last edited by WetEV on Thu Feb 14, 2019 10:01 am, edited 8 times in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:28 am

Cost of maintenance and repairs

Ideally, we could have an estimate of the first 10 years maintenance and repairs cost. The LEAF, like all cars, needs tires, washer fluid, etc. And the first 5 years should be fairly cheap.

Can't make even a vague guess about 10 year repair cost, as there are not any 10 year old LEAFs yet. But other than those first year batteries, I'm not hearing of many problems.

The closest I could find today is this:
Image

https://www.consumerreports.org/car-mai ... ownership/

Which shows Ford and Toyota at the lowest costs, GM averaging just a bit above that, Nissan in the middle, and spendy cars at the top. I'd expect Tesla up near the top at 10 year cost. But of course, no data, that is just my never humble opinion.
Last edited by WetEV on Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:28 am

Reserved
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

WetEV
Posts: 2512
Joined: Fri May 04, 2012 8:25 am
Delivery Date: 16 Feb 2014
Location: Near Seattle, WA

Re: So you want an electric car, perhaps a LEAF? Read this first.

Thu Jan 24, 2019 9:29 am

Reserved
WetEV
#49
Most everything around here is wet during the rainy season. And the rainy season is long.
2012 Leaf SL Red (Totaled)
2014 Leaf SL Red

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