MarkBC
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My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:06 pm

My suggestions for Nissan to improve the Leaf, ordered from most important to least important. Overall I rate the car 4 stars out of 5. It's amazing what Nissan has done and they deserve the world of credit but inevitably there will be some glitches bringing out a new product:

1) The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER! These could be sold to Leaf owners for a few thousand bucks, or alternatively rented out by Nissan dealerships when people want to go on long trips. This would require that 1) the car will allow driving to occur while accepting a charge, and 2), that the charge port for this be moved to the back of the car somehow, 3) a trailer hitch is made available. Then you could go as far as your heart desires without ANY range limitations. Because every once in a while, you DO want to go longer than 130 km.

2) Charging. I did not get the level 2 charger because the amount of miles I drive daily doesn't justify it. Instead I use the supplied 120 V charger. But this has some irritations. I park outside and plugging it into the front of the car in the rain is a bit iffy IMHO. So I had to rig up a tarp to put over the front of the car when it's raining. The charger sits on a styrofoam box on the ground... Plus, the point of the 120 V charger is to be able to charge the car ANYWHERE. Now, are you really going to want to put that expensive charger on the ground just any old place you want a charge? I don't think so. This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF. Then when you want to charge at a restaurant or your mom's house or wherever, you'd get an extension cord, bring it in to the car through a slot at the bottom of the rear hatch door, and plug it into 2 prongs that stick out of the interior wall somewhere. TOTALLY WEATHER AND THIEF PROOF. SUPER EASY. Done!

3) Heating system. I don't know if I have a faulty unit but my heater only goes down to 18.0 degrees. At 18.0, the heater is totally off. But when I set it at 18.5 degrees it seems to go way warmer than 18.5, more like 22. So what is a person like me to do when I want to drive 100 km on a cold day that's 0 degrees outside and I want to conserve power to maximize my range? If I turn the heater to 18.0 degrees it goes down to zero -- way too cold. If I turn it to 18.5 degrees the car goes up to 22 -- way too warm. Isn't there a happy medium somewhere so I could set it at say 10 C, which is comfortable if you are in your coat, gloves and toque? I don't like heated seats and steering wheels.

4) Propane heater. Nissan should provide the option of buying a propane heater that uses a little camping style canister, for those who want heating on longer trips but don't want to sacrifice range. It may go against the theme of "zero emissions", but how many emissions were released in order to manufacture the car? Some of the rules can be bent a bit because we don't yet have an infrastructure to support EV's.

Other than that it's a great little car, I love it. But if Nissan solves the above issues, then there will no longer be any legitimate reason for anyone to turn down buying a Leaf, other than the higher initial price.

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TonyWilliams
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Sun Feb 05, 2012 8:44 pm

MarkBC wrote:
1) The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER!

2) Charging... This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF. !

3) Heating system... I don't like heated seats and steering wheels.

4) Propane heater.
1. They think 100 miles is "it". Don't look for Nissan to try an expand this anytime soon (like when the battery cost goes down significantly). There's not going to be little old ladies driving around with a trailer while trying to parallel park!

2. The 120v/240v AC charger is in the car, behind the right rear seat. You're talking about the EVSE; a safety device so that there's no power at the connection until everything has checked good. What you're suggesting would likely defeat that.

3. Yes, the heater needs some work. See number 4.

4. Nissan is working on a more efficient heat pump, combined with a resistance heater for 2013.

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Nubo
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:12 pm

MarkBC wrote: 2) ... Now, are you really going to want to put that expensive charger on the ground just any old place you want a charge? I don't think so. This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF. Then when you want to charge at a restaurant or your mom's house or wherever, you'd get an extension cord, bring it in to the car through a slot at the bottom of the rear hatch door, and plug it into 2 prongs that stick out of the interior wall somewhere. TOTALLY WEATHER AND THIEF PROOF. SUPER EASY. Done!...
You've noticed that there's only a few inches of cord between the box and the plug. That's because the box is there to ensure no power goes through the rest of the cord unless a safe connection has been made with the car. That's the reason we don't simply have an extension cord, which is always live along its entire length when it's plugged into an outlet.
I noticed you're still working with polymers.

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TomT
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Sun Feb 05, 2012 10:27 pm

1) The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER!

Nope, I disagree. if someone wants that, they are better off buying something like a Volt...

2) This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF.

I believe that safety and UL regulations would preclude that, all other considerations aside...
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MarkBC
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Mon Feb 06, 2012 1:20 am

TonyWilliams wrote: They think 100 miles is "it". Don't look for Nissan to try an expand this anytime soon (like when the battery cost goes down significantly). There's not going to be little old ladies driving around with a trailer while trying to parallel park!
I'm not a little old lady and I think most people will be able to deal with the trailer. If you recall from 10 years ago AC Propulsion I believe built a self steering genset trailer. 100 miles battery range is fine for me, I want a genset trailer.
TonyWilliams wrote: The 120v/240v AC charger is in the car, behind the right rear seat. You're talking about the EVSE; a safety device so that there's no power at the connection until everything has checked good. What you're suggesting would likely defeat that.
I didn't get a manual yet so I'll look into that. I don't see why the box would only work when placed outside the car, and not inside.
Nubo wrote: You've noticed that there's only a few inches of cord between the box and the plug. That's because the box is there to ensure no power goes through the rest of the cord unless a safe connection has been made with the car. That's the reason we don't simply have an extension cord, which is always live along its entire length when it's plugged into an outlet.
Why can't this box be inside the car? I need an extension cord regardless of whether it plugs into the box sitting outside in the rain on the ground (dangerous) or into the box sitting inside the car (safe).
TomT wrote:1) The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER!

Nope, I disagree. if someone wants that, they are better off buying something like a Volt...
I don't want to cart around the genset 100% of the time when I only need it 1% of the time. I want more than 40 mile electric range. I WANT A GENSET TRAILER! You know the old saying ... "The customer is always .... " Unless there's a technical or legal reason why this can't be done then Nissan should pursue the (easy) steps necessary to alleviate the range limitation issues.
TomT wrote:2) This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF.

I believe that safety and UL regulations would preclude that, all other considerations aside...
Interesting, I hope not. Our electric lawnmower allows the cord to be plugged directly into it...

Regardless, there must be a better way than putting the charger box in puddles on the ground.

jkirkebo
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:55 am

MarkBC wrote: Interesting, I hope not. Our electric lawnmower allows the cord to be plugged directly into it...
Regardless, there must be a better way than putting the charger box in puddles on the ground.
Your lawnmower is not running ("on") when unplug it, unlike the charger in the car. Unplugging the car while charging will produce sparks inside the socket, which in turn will destroy the socket and plug over time. After a while, the socket & plug will have such bad contact area that it will get really hot and melt or catch fire. Try an experiment, unplug your vacuum cleaner while it is running full blast. In a darkened room you should be able to see the sparks clearly.

Unplugging the J1772 plug from the car produces no sparks as it is designed to stop the charger before breaking the power connection.

Why is your EVSE on the ground ? Is your outlet at ground level ? The cord is only a few inches long, so the EVSE usually hangs in the air. Or is the 120V EVSE different to our european 230V EVSEs ?

For range, I believe the next generation of batteries (NMC) that should appear in the Leaf around 2015 will have nearly twice the energy density of the current ones. That would make it possible to produce a ~40kWh battery the same size as todays Leaf battery. Enough for me at least.

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davewill
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Mon Feb 06, 2012 3:17 pm

MarkBC wrote: Why can't this box be inside the car? I need an extension cord regardless of whether it plugs into the box sitting outside in the rain on the ground (dangerous) or into the box sitting inside the car (safe).
Because the the safety part (where it becomes OK to plug it in the rain and so forth) only works AFTER the "box" part of the EVSE. Putting it inside the car would neutralize all benefit.
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Train
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Tue Feb 07, 2012 12:33 am

The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER!
Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of an electric car? If you need to go farther 1% of the time than I would say just get a Plug in Prius or Volt.

Smidge204
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Tue Feb 07, 2012 2:24 am

Train wrote:Doesn't that defeat the whole purpose of an electric car? If you need to go farther 1% of the time than I would say just get a Plug in Prius or Volt.
I would say "no" to defeating the purpose. You would not need to own the trailer, and you certainly would not need to take it with you all the time. The permanently installed components would be pretty insignificant in terms of weight and volume IMHO. Picking up a range extending trailer at the local rental place or borrowing it from a friend / your local EV club would be pretty straightforward and certainly no harder than procuring another vehicle just for that trip, and owning a PiP/Volt for the sake of that 1% does not optimize fuel use.

An EV with range extending trailer would probably get better average fuel economy than either a PiP or Volt if the trailer was efficient enough (given the EV's presumably superior all-electric range), and release fewer emissions depending on the fuel used. The trailer doesn't even need to be a fuel burning appliance, either. It could just be a second battery pack on wheels.
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adric22
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Re: My suggestions / some iritating glitches

Tue Feb 07, 2012 6:57 am

MarkBC wrote: 1) The biggest hurdle to widespread Leaf adoption is RANGE. Fortunately, this could be VERY easily solved by Nissan. MAKE A GENSET TRAILER! These could be sold to Leaf owners for a few thousand bucks, or alternatively rented out by Nissan dealerships when people want to go on long trips.
I can guarantee you that Nissan has already thought of this, and has no intention of making it. I can also guarantee you that range is not an issue for them either. Carlos Ghosn (the CEO of Nissan's) exact words when asked about people who need more range was "We don't care. They aren't they target market." He went on to say that they can't even supply enough Leafs to fill the current demand, so there is no reason to worry about the other segment of the market right now. From a business perspective, it makes perfect sense.
This could be EASILY solved by Nissan by instead building the 120 V charger INTO THE CAR ITSELF.
Actually.. the whole point of the J1772 system was to avoid exactly what you describe and for good reason. I admit it would be convenient sometimes, but it would be a safety hazard.
4) Propane heater. Nissan should provide the option of buying a propane heater that uses a little camping style canister, for those who want heating on longer trips but don't want to sacrifice range. It may go against the theme of "zero emissions", but how many emissions were released in order to manufacture the car? Some of the rules can be bent a bit because we don't yet have an infrastructure to support EV's.
It's been brought up before, many times. In my opinion, going to a heat-pump style system would be a better use of engineering dollars. That would reduce the heating power requirements in half.
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