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Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 7:08 am
by plenzen
Does Washington State offer any incentives for you to install charging station at your home with preferred electricity rates etc ? I know that some of the provinces in Canada do, BC for instance does and the Vancouver Metro area offers more as well.
There was a guy that worked where my dad worked and he had a LEAF. He got all kinds of rebates and perks when he bought it. Had a quick charging station installed at his house and the municipal gvt. rebated him a good portion of it, as well as it has it's own meter on it and he gets different price on electricity for it. Plus, Nissan has "their" charging stations pop up on his nav system as well. He made a charging station/plug in at the shop where he could plug in to a yard light pole, but it was only 120, but he said it was enough to replace about 1/2 of what he used on the morning commute.
I test drove it and was actually surprised it did as well as it did. On the down side he said that he was close to having it dead on one winters commute home where traffic was really heavy and slow, it was cold enough that he had to run the heater and dark enough he needed headlights.
To add to the drama, the breaker at work charging station had blown for some reason and the car did not recover at all from his morning commute which was cold, and dark and slow as well.
The last 20 km he turned the heater off but was still blinking red on the dash board when he got home. He says that you learn the limitations pretty quick and plan your routes accordingly.

Since it's basically Tesla power are there any of these stations around you ?

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:46 pm
by Carimbo
Thinking the time has come for me also to switch to an EV. Most of my driving is in-city, and this city's streets have become so congested, with lowered speed limits and "road diets," "curb bulbs," and other impediments to smooth flow that I rarely surpass 30MPH, and often spend about 50% of the time just idling at a standstill. I have a friend who has a new platform RAV4 Hybrid. She had to wait quite a while for delivery as it apparently as the demand-to-production qty. ratio was quite high. I didn't know they made a (previous) EV version.
asavage wrote:Now a bunch of them are coming off lease and migrating around the world -- seriously, there are several in Norway, Spain, and the UK.
Very interesting. How did you find out about this? What was the purchase price? I know you have been a diesel and biodiesel fan for some time (not sure fan was the right word)-- was it difficult to make the paradigm shift?

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sat Oct 21, 2017 3:46 pm
by asavage
Forum email notifications are not working, so I didn't get notified of your replies.

Paul, although the RAV4 EV drivetrain and batteries are Tesla Model S, it's a Toyota and is not allowed to use the Tesla Supercharger network. I don't need it anyway, because I never plan to use this car for distance driving. I drive ~15k miles/year just commuting to/from Seattle (58 miles/day), and the EPA range is 105? miles for the RAV4 EV.

In August/September when I bought it, even with the A/C coming home in the afternoons, I could just about do two days' commute on a single "normal" charge. The RAV4 EV has an "extended" charge mode which I've never used, and which adds another ~15-25 miles range.

(A Leaf's range is closer to 80 miles.)

However, now that it's darker & colder, and I'm running the lousy/inefficient Denso 6kw heater on at least the morning run to work, the GOM (Guess-O-Meter, dash range display that guesses your range based on your previous driving habits) says that instead of August's 115 miles, now I have 90 miles range. So, the range is very dependent on whether you use the heater. The A/C is pretty efficient but the heater isn't.

(The Leafs through 2012 used the same heater. The 2014-on Leafs went to a heat pump, which uses a lot less juice. Toyota didn't go that route.)

California and PGE (the electric power company for around half the state) offered all kinds of incentives. Washington offered use of the HOV lanes for single-occupant EVs for a while, but that's expired. PSE, the local power company, was rebating part of the cost of home EVSEs ("chargers", although that's not at all what they are!*) through about April of 2017, but I bought in August. That might have been worth around $500. And, as an EV I pay $150 every year to the State in lieu of the gasoline tax I'm not paying.

I'm not complaining, as I'm not really an early adopter. I could never afford an EV until recently, but I've been on an EV mail list for almost a decade.

Carimbo: I was seriously looking for a Leaf to buy. I can't stand a black interior, and most of the Leafs built after 2013 are black inside, so I was looking at a LOT of Leafs online at dealerships, trying to find one I liked. I like to research the cars I buy, and since I knew nothing about the Leaf I was reading a forum like this one, one devoted to the Leaf. It turns out that a lot of EV forums are managed by a single entity, and while reading about Leafs I clicked on a link that took me out of the Leaf forum and to the RAV4 EV forum, where my eyes were opened to this niche EV.

Next, I searched on RAV4 EV and found that a lot of them were just now coming off-lease and that Paramount Motors NW in Seattle buys them and ships them to Seattle to resell (they currently have four on offer). Within about five days of reading about the 2nd Gen RAV4 EV (they had a 1st Gen EV back around the turn of the century), I had convinced myself I could live with its quirks and just about afford one. I looked at one on a Sunday afternoon, did NOT drive it, left a deposit, then took a bus (three of them, actually) to work the next day, another two buses to the dealer, and bought it and drove it home on Monday.

It was $19k; around $21k out the door with 10% Seattle/Washington tax and other fees. The four listed in their inventory right now are all priced the same (though none are blue, and all have ~35k miles to mine which had 49k).

Also, due to the nature of this car being a sort of low-volume prototype, and the very expensive parts cost of the non-shared parts with gasser RAV4s, I knew that the extended Toyota warranty was absolutely necessary, and that ran another $3k. And the EVSE I chose (see below) was $600, and then I had to add a breaker to my existing subpanel in the garage and run 20' of 6 gauge wire to a new receptacle on the side of the garage (I park outside). I had half a spool of 6 gauge left over from adding a holiday-baking oven to the garage a couple of years ago (it's cheaper to buy a CraigsList $100 oven and $150 of wire/breaker/receptacle and put the second oven in the garage, than to remodel the kitchen to accept a double oven! And we only use it twice a year.).

A decent Leaf, OTOH, could be had for half that cost. But a leaf doesn't have the huge-ish rear hauling area, and the Leaf doesn't have active battery temperature management, so battery life on the Leaf is not as reliably long as the Tesla's. Tesla has a battery heater for when it's under 60°F, and it uses the electric A/C compressor to cool the pack as it begins to get above 120°. The Leaf, OTOH, does not do either of those. Sunbelt Leafs suffered with heavy battery deterioration, esp. on the earlier (pre-2014) models. Battery degradation on the Tesla and RAV4 batteries is well under 10% at 100k, which I like a lot.

What I like about the RAV4 EV:

Noise. The A/C compressor is the noisiest thing I hear at a stoplight. My Tesla transaxle is getting noisy (a common problem, covered under warranty; I will have it replaced before the 60k std. warranty expires) so I do hear "gear noise" at ~63 MPH, but around town is is close to silent. All I hear is the tire noise (and the VPNS at low speeds).

No more gas stations! I had to fill up the Aerostar yesterday, and it was the first time I'd been to a gas station in months. It felt . . . weird.

Always full: Every morning my "fuel tank" is full.

Acceleration: limited by traction, the RAV4 EV is a lot faster to 30 MPH than I need, and certainly a big difference from my diesels. Even the MB, which is no slug and was the fastest passenger diesel in the world in 1999, feels sluggish when I drive it now. And because it makes no noise as it pushes you into the seat, it's even more impressive. You can zip around like a boy racer, and unless you make the tires squeal, nobody turns a head. High launch speeds just do not make a fuss and are therefore socially acceptable.

Handling: for a mid-range SUV, it corners flat. A lot flatter than you'd expect. The battery pack is ~800 lbs and it's all under the floor. This thing does not want to lean. It weighs as much as my AWD Aerostar.

Regenerative braking: in "B" mode of the "shifter", one-pedal driving is practical with some practice. When you lift your foot from the accelerator, the regen braking begins. And in either "D" or "B" modes, using the brake pedal triggers regen braking (from the front wheels only, of course). One long hill I have on my commute gains me range: I show one more mile on the GOM when I've gone to the bottom of the hill. Doesn't sound like much, but cumulatively the regen braking adds up.

What I don't like about the RAV4 EV:

Traction. I put new Michelins on it two weeks ago, which is an improvement over the Goodyear Assurance that were on the front (and the worn-out OEM Yokos on the back), but wheelspin is still a problem. I leave the traction control on and the Sport Mode off whenever the pavement's wet. Cornering is no problem, though.

Ride: it's fine for what it is, a mid-range SUV, but it is not as comfy as my Aerostar nor my MB E300, and I do miss that. Until I press the not-loud pedal!

* EV "chargers": Level 1 (L1, 120v) and Level 2 (L2, 208v-277v) charging uses a vehicle's onboard charger and an EVSE (Electric Vehicle Suppy Equipment) to safely get electricity from a receptacle to the onboard charger.

An EVSE is a very fancy extension cord. What is is not is a charger, but it's common for people to call it one. What it does is communicate with the vehicle's own charger the status of the line (dead or live) and the ampacity of the circuit (ie tells the onboard charger how many amps it is safe to draw without overloading the circuit and tripping a breaker). On modern EVs, the act of plugging the EVSE to the car also disables the cars from being driven: safety measure.

Per SAE J1772, the EVSE sends a PWM +-12v signal 1khz square-wave signal to the vehicle; status (ready to charge, begin charge, charge complete, etc.) is signaled by the voltage on the wave; ampacity available (1A to 80A) is signaled by the pulse width.

Both the vehicle and EVSE sockets's HV pins are electrically dead when disconnected. When mated, the signal pins connect, the EVSE tells the vehicle how much ampacity is available and the vehicle signals it needs a charge and to send juice. Contactors in the EVSE and contactors in the vehicle close, and the onboard charger begins to draw juice; on the RAV4, this starts low and ramps up quickly to ~38A on my L2 EVSE at home.

L1 = charging with a cord plugged to a 120v outlet. Limited typically to 120v/16A, it would take like four days to charge my RAV4 from "empty". It's not very useful. Most EVs come with an "emergency" portable EVSE equipped for L1 charging ie at any typical receptacle. It looks like a extension cord, with a typical NEMA 1-20P plug on one end, and a J1772 connector on the other.

L2 = charging is usually 240v (in the US) with the EVSE dedicated (bolted down) to a charging area, although they make, and I bought, a portable L2 EVSE that I keep in the RAV4 in case I want to charge somewhere where I can find an RV hookup or a friend's dryer receptacle. The RAV4's onboard charger is ~10kw (the early Leafs were 3.3kw; the later ones 7.7kw) so it can draw ~38A @ 240v max. I drive about two hours a day on my commute, 58 miles, and it takes about 2.5 hours to charge to normal full.

L3 = completely different. In this scenario, the charger truly is outside the vehicle and supplied HV DC to the vehicle. This is DCFC (DC Fast Charging). The Leaf and most modern EVs have a connector to accept DC from an external charger. Typically, you can get a 20% to 80% charge in around 30-45 minutes; the charge rate is much slower above 80%. The Tesla Supercharger network is all DCFC but proprietary and only Tesla vehicles are allowed to use them.

My drive scenario is mostly commuting, and charging at home fits my life. I used a public L2 charge station last week at my barbershop (within a multi-business building) for the first time ever, because I'd signed up for a couple of charging networks and had the accounts and wanted to try it out. I charged L2 during my haircut, about a half-hour and was billed $1.25. I didn't need the charge, I just wanted to go through the motions to see how it worked.

So far, I've never seen the GOM below 20 miles left. I've been to junkyards, side-trips, shopping, and taking coworkers home, and just haven't ever gotten enough miles to feel uncomfortable about getting home or needing to find a public charging spot, but I am prepared with the accounts set up and the charging station locating apps on my phone.

The RAV4 EV does not have a L3 connector. There's a third-party kit to add it. It's $3k. I have a gasser vehicle to back up the RAV4, and that's what we plan to use for trips to Oregon etc. I don't know that I'll add the L3 kit, because I bought the car as a commuter vehicle, not my sole vehicle, and I don't see the need. From what I can see, 99% of my miles will be charged at home.

I was burning ~$220/mo. of gasoline (or $170/mo. of B100) commuting. I haven't looked hard at the electric bill, but I expect it to be around $80/mo. more than previous. That's a guess.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 2:43 pm
by Carimbo
Great info, thanks Al.

I may find myself following your EV path in the near future.

Are you considering keeping the Rav4 past its warranty expiration? If so, would you do the wrenching on it?

As I have roomates, I wonder if there is some type of Kill-a-watt device (measures kWh) that could be connected to the EVSE feed that would give a better calculation of the electrical consumption for charging the vehicle.

I have a friend that fabbed a similar 2nd oven project in his garage. Not for holiday baking, but for powdercoating.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:58 pm
by asavage
Home solar panels are becoming almost affordable for house owners. Our site is a bit too wooded to take full advantage of solar, but that's what I'd really like to do.

This RAV4 EV just turned over 53k miles today; the Toyota used car extended warranty runs until 110k miles or Sep2022. By that time, the EV tech will have moved on and if I'm still commuting, I'll want semi-autonomous driving (and I'll be 60) so I will likely not be keeping it. Modern cars are somewhat disposable and aren't designed to be kept in service decades anymore :(

There are a lot of EVSEs that tally consumption. I bought an OpenEVSE with wifi (about $600 assembled; also available as a DIY assembly kit, but I didn't have time); if configured, it'll connect to a remote server via wifi and update stats, including consumption. It can be configured to do Time of Use (TOU) charging (so can the car itself) where you tell it to charge only between 11pm and 5am, for example, to take advantage of reduced power rates at those hours. The Seattle area's PSE and Seattle City Light do not currently bill using TOU tiers, but it's common in other areas of the country and I assume it's coming our way.

The JuiceBox is another non-UL-listed EVSE (you need UL-listing if you apply for a rebate for the EVSE and/or installation; PSE doesn't have such an incentive running right now, but they might again in future). It's built around an Arduino and has similar capabilities to my OpenEVSE.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Tue Nov 14, 2017 5:28 am
by asavage
asavage wrote:The JuiceBox is another non-UL-listed EVSE (you need UL-listing if you apply for a rebate for the EVSE and/or installation; PSE doesn't have such an incentive running right now, but they might again in future). It's built around an Arduino and has similar capabilities to my OpenEVSE.
Correction: the JuiceBox is now UL-listed.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:26 pm
by Carimbo
A little over a year later-- how has the RAV4 EV been holding up? I would expect good battery performance for quite a few more years. Had a chance to use any more non-home charging stations?

I have not been seeing any at Paramount Motors.

Re: Al Savage's 1999 MB E300

Posted: Tue Feb 19, 2019 6:25 pm
by asavage
Paramount Motors NW seems to not have RAV4EVs in stock anymore. I assume the flood of them going off-lease was what they selling. There are lots available in California though, and it costs $1200 to have one shipped north. I was seriously considering buying a second one for a while . . .

My partner's 2006 Infiniti got up to near 200k miles, was using oil, and I warned him that I would not be replacing a failed transmission; he needed to figure out what his next vehicle would be.

In Jul2017, I had plunked down $1k to Tesla and got a reservation on a Model 3. But, after I'd bought the RAV4EV, I realized I didn't really need a new car anymore. The deposit was refundable, but the partner decided to use my reservation and get a Model 3, so that's what he did. He bought the AWD long range model, in dark blue. After tax, it was $62k which was way more than I was willing to spend anyway, but he really likes it, and it gets around in the snow great. I drove it all last week, when Seattle was buried in snow and he worked from home, and it was a snap, until the snow got to over a foot in our driveway, and then it became difficult to get in and out of the driveway and garage; the street was plowed (meaning it only had 4" of snow) but I had to shovel the driveway a bit to get in and out. It became easier to drive the 2010 Sienna AWD that I bought to replace the '97 Aerostar that kind of wore out.

So, we have TWO EVs, plus the Sienna AWD which is our dog-hauler (we have two black labs, one-year-olds).

The RAV4EV remains my commuter. At 59k miles (the powertrain warranty is 60k) I took it to the dealer and had them replace the drive unit (motor, transaxle, and inverter) for the noise, under warranty, and now it's pretty much silent. They put a rebuilt drive unit in. Because it was covered under the original warranty, it doesn't eat into extended warranty. I've got almost 70k on it now. In the winter, using the heater, the range is down to about 80 if I run the heat to be nice & toasty, when the temp is down into the 20s. Still plenty of range for my 60 mile commute.

One trip to visit my mother on south Whidbey Island this winter, I took one of the dogs with me and the weather was very rainy & cold, and I took a side-trip to the beach to let the dog run. When I got off the ferry coming back, I realized that I didn't have quite enough range to get home, so I whipped out the phone with the charger finder app, and it let me to a nearby pizza place on Mukilteo Speedway, it had two charging spots with a car using one. I plugged in for 45 minutes, read my phone, the dog & I just hung out, and then I had plenty of range to get home. Cost me like $3 for the session.

Almost all modern EVs are equipped with L3 DCFC and they can charge a lot faster, but I am limited to L2 charging, and most L2 chargers are pretty low capacity (3.3kw to 7kw) whereas the RAV4EV can draw up to around 10kw, so the upshot is that my RAV4EV can actually charge faster at home than at a lot of public chargers. But, yeah, I've used a public charger a couple of times in the past year. I don't ever really need to, though.