The Truth About Cars » Chademo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 03 Aug 2015 22:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Chademo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Review: 2015 Kia Soul EV (With Video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-kia-soul-ev-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-kia-soul-ev-video/#comments Thu, 16 Apr 2015 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1042177   EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 […]

The post Review: 2015 Kia Soul EV (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

IMG_7070

EV “conversions” make for strange bedfellows when it comes to competition. There is no gasoline Kia Soul that competed even slightly with Mercedes or BMW. Oddly enough however, when you electrify one of the least expensive cars in America, you end up with with a Kia on the same cross-shop list as the i3 and B-Class Electric. Obviously a Kia Soul EV vs i3 vs B-Class comparison table is at the extreme end, but I am surprised how many folks wanted to hear that comparison. It isn’t just the luxury-cross shops that become possible however, comparisons normally considered to be “one-tier up” and “one-tier down” become more reasonable as well. For instance, the gasoline Soul isn’t a direct competitor to the Fiat 500 or the Ford Focus, but in EV form they are head to head.

Exterior

The Soul’s boxy profile causes shoppers to frequently overestimate its size. At 163 inches long, the Soul is 16-inches shorter than a Honda Civic and just three inches longer than a Honda Fit. The relative size and the low $15,190 starting price (in gasoline form) are the key to understanding the Soul in general terms. You must also keep that low starting price in mind when thinking of the Soul EV.

Click Here to Subscribe to the TTAC YouTube Channel

Although the boxy Kia isn’t very long, it is fairly wide. At 70.9 inches wide, the Soul is three critical inches broader than a Honda Fit. This extra width helps keep the Soul from looking too upright (like the Honda Fit) and, from a practical standpoint, it gives rear passengers a wider bench seat than many compact vehicles on the market.

To set the EV apart, Kia crafted unique paint options which include the two-tone blue/white model we tested. Aside from the desire to differentiate the product, the white roof actually reduces heat loads in hotter climates. Kia is a brand known for cutting corners. Last century Kia famously cut all the wrong corners, but lately they started cutting all the right ones. In order to keep the EV’s price, low Kia skipped fancy LED or HID headlamps and used that cash to give upper level trims front and rear parking sensors and power folding mirrors. That’s a worthy trade in my book since many EVs end up being city commuter cars where parallel parking is a way of life.

I have to admit I find the Soul’s boxy form attractive. Maybe it’s my love of station wagons, but the practical profile made me smile. The tweaked front end which ditches a true grille due to reduced cooling requirements makes the Soul look more elegant than in base form as well. While I wouldn’t call it a luxury look, the Soul EV is certainly better looking than the Spark EV or LEAF and it’s a more traditional alternative to the BMW i3.

IMG_7122

Interior

I found the Soul’s interior to be more polarizing than the exterior, but style and not quality is where people were mixed in opinion. With the latest redesign, all Soul models get a soft-touch injection molded dashboard but the feel of the cabin does change from the base gasoline model to the top end trims. The difference seems to be that rather than swapping nicer bits into the higher end cabins, Kia designed a $25,000 cabin and then subtracted to create the base models. Things like the fabric headliner, stitched instrument cluster cover, sort touch door panels and leather wrapped wheel get swapped for lower rent parts in that base $15,190 model. The result is a high-end Soul interior that looks cohesive and a low end Soul interior where interior parts look out of place. Surprised? Then you haven’t driven mid-range or upper trim levels of the latest generation Soul. Kia brought the cheeky box notably up-market in this generation and all EV models use the nicer interior parts.

For EV duty the Soul is available in two trims with essentially no options to choose. The “Base” model is $33,700 (before tax incentives) and the “+” is $35,700. You should know that both trims actually fit into the Soul’s hierarchy between the gasoline + and ! models in terms of features. The $2,000 bump buys you leather seats that are heated/ventilated up front and heated in the rear, heated steering wheel, front and rear parking sensors, fog lamps, power folding mirrors, auto-dimming rear view mirror and leatherette inserts in the doors. The ventilated seats are unique in the EV segment and they are more practical than you might think. We have all heard that it consumes less power to heat the seats and steering wheel than heat the air, but the same goes in hot weather: ventilating the seat consumes less energy than cooling the cabin to a lower temperature. Having the Soul EV back to back with the VW e-Golf made this more obvious than I had expected. Although the Soul EV isn’t as aerodynamic as the e-Golf I was able to get similar highway economy figures by using the ventilated seats instead of the A/C.

IMG_7080

Speaking of air conditioning, Kia decided to use a more expensive heat pump in the Soul EV instead of a standard air conditioning and resistive heater setup that you find in most EVs. Heat pumps are becoming more and more common because they drastically reduce the energy consumed in heating the cabin. If you live in a colder climate, the reduction in energy consumption can potentially mean 5-10 miles more EV range.

The Soul’s front seats are upright and comfortable, but not as adjustable as the gasoline Soul ! which has a 10-way power seat and adjustable lumbar support. This is a shame because it would have made the Soul’s cabin more welcoming than any of the other EVs on the market save Tesla’s new seat design. Headroom and legroom are surprisingly generous thanks to the upright seats and tall roofline. With the front seats adjusted for a 6-foot 5-inch friend, I had no troubles sitting in the back seat. Because the Soul is wider than your average subcompact it has three snug seats in the rear, one more than you’ll find in the 500e, Spark EV or i3. Because most EVs are weight conscious (read: full of hard plastics), only the Mercedes and Tesla offer interiors that feel overtly higher rent. The i3’s interior is difficult to compare as parts are high quality, but the kneaf/plastic blended door and dash panels don’t feel particularly expensive

Infotainment

Perhaps the most attractive feature in the Soul, aside from the ventilated seats, is the 8-inch UVO infotainment and navigation system that is standard on both trims. Kia builds on their easy-to-use software with perhaps the most EV specific information available in a car this side of a Model S. In addition to the standard fare of range and nearby charging stations, the UVO software will let you see where your power is going, score your driving, tell you how much farther you could go if you turned off the AC, and give you charging time estimates. None of these features are unique to the Soul, but not every EV out there gives you ALL of this information in one unit. In addition Kia has a smartphone connected app that will do much of this from afar.

On the downside, UVO still lacks voice command of your media library like you’ll find in most of the mass-market competition from Chrysler, GM, Toyota, Ford and to some extent Honda, but the is the only serious omission in this software. Again however the EV comparisons make even this contrast difficult since the EV’s from those companies don’t include this feature either. The UVO interface is snappy, supports scrolling/drag motions with your fingers, includes a built in cell modem for connectivity features and the voice recognition software is intuitive. The display is large and easy to read in strong daylight and the user interface is sleek and modern. BMW’s iDrive is still the most elegant entry, but only in top end trims as the base i3 gets a less elegant iDrive implementation. Mercedes COMAND is pretty, but lacks UVO’s feature set. Sadly EV owners cannot get Kia’s up-level Infiniti sound system with a center channel speaker, subwoofer and color-changing speaker grills that beat in time with the music. Rocking hamsters need not apply.

IMG_7118

Drivetrain

Powering the electrified Soul is a 109 horsepower AC electric motor capable of 210 lb-ft of torque.  The motor sends power to the front wheels via a single-speed automatic transaxle. (Many of you asked why we call it a “transmission” when it is little more than a reduction gear set with a differential. I don’t have a good answer for you, I call it a transmission because the company that made it calls it a transmission.) Although the curb weight of the Soul EV is a hair lower than the e-Golf (3,286 vs 3,391) and the motor isn’t really much more powerful, 0-60 performance was inexplicably better at 8.5 seconds vs 10.03 seconds. Perplexed by the fast sprint to highway speed? So was I. Many publications have simply quoted Kia’s vague 10-11 second range for the acceleration run, but we tested it several times with the same 20Hz GPS based accelerometer and got the same numbers. The difference is likely due to the gearing and hopefully we’ll be able to get some 0-60 comparisons on other models soon to confirm this, or not.

BMW’s i3 is one of the lightest EVs, tipping the scales 751lbs lighter than the Soul. However, not all the weight difference is explained in the ultra-modern carbon fiber and aluminum BMW construction, the Soul EV carries a battery that is a whopping 44% larger in usable capacity. At 27kWh the Soul’s battery is (at the moment) only outclassed by the B-Class and Model S. Sadly, the laws of physics don’t allow the Kia to have 44% more range than the i3 thanks to considerably wider tires, the heftier curb weight and less aerodynamic profile. For 2015 the EPA says the Soul will cover 93 miles depending on your driving style, about 12 more than the i3. BMW’s numbers were about right, getting around 83 milesin my tests but the Soul EV is rated conservatively (likely due to the brick-like aerodynamics) but I averaged 4.2 miles per kWh which translates to a 113 mile range on my daily commute. Not willing to push things, I did manage a 90 mile trip with about 16% of the battery left.

IMG_7063

Kia’s balancing act between features and keeping costs in check can be seen in the drivetrain as well. The trade-off for the hefty battery capacity is a standard 6.6kW charger which is not slow, but it is slower than the 7.2kW in the e-Golf, 7.4kW in the i3 and 10kW in the Mercedes. Thankfully all Soul models come standard with the CHAdeMO DC fast charge connector up front (the large connector on the right in the picture above). The new SAE (aka CCS) connector may be slimmer and newer, but CHAdeMO outnumbers the newer stations by more than 4:1 in the SF Bay Area and the charging rate is essentially the same. Charging at 120V will take you over 24 hours, at 6.6kW 240V that drops to 4 hours and the little blue box will race from 5% to 80% in under 30 minutes at a coffee shop with a CHAdeMO station.

IMG_7127

Drive

The Soul has never been a driver’s car. The prime reason is Kia’s decision to use a semi-independent suspension in the rear to improve cargo room and load capacity. This means the rear of the gasoline Soul gets upset over heavily broken pavement when driving in a straight line, and in corners rough pavement leaves it unsettled. By adding 500lbs to the vehicle and shifting the weight balance nearer to 50/50 to the rear, the Soul EV delivers improved feel without any major mechanical changes. Because the Soul’s wheelbase is still fairly short the ride can feel slightly choppy on freeway expansion joints, but the added weight brings added polish with it and actually helps settle the rear in corners.

There isn’t an EV out there that excels at handling (even Model S tests on the skidpad yields lower numbers than the gasoline competition) and the Soul is no different. The EV Soul has unquestionably better balance than the gasoline model, and that is obvious on winding roads, but the 205-width low rolling resistance tires and extra weight mean that handling comes in just above the base Soul model (which wears even skinnier tires.) I found the Kia more engaging than the Nissan Leaf, but less engaging than the Focus Electric and e-Golf. In sheer road holding numbersm the Soul and i3 are quite close according to independent metrics, but the the i3’s RWD layout makes it more fun. The Soul’s steering wheel gives precious little feedback but the effort level is adjustable in three levels and no EV’s steering is a “team player” anyway.

Driving dynamics aren’t the Soul’s Forte (see what I did there?) but then again, no EV on the market today does terribly well in this area either. Instead, the Soul EV checks all the practicality and usability boxes from a large and practical cargo area to energy saving features like the standard heat pump and available ventilated leather seats which you don’t find on even the i3 or B-Class. Making the Soul EV perhaps more compelling is Kia’s long standard warranty and the bottom line. If you qualify for the maximum in incentives, the Soul EV ends up being only $1,000 more than a comparable gasoline Soul while costing $800 less to operate on a yearly basis. It may be a low bar, but the Soul EV is easily the best all-around EV on the market today. The more surprising takeaway however is how well the Soul actually stacks up against the high-end competition despite being based on a $15,190 econo-box.

Kia provide the vehicle, insurance and one battery charge for this review. Nissan provided a free charge via one of the Nissan CHAdeMO charging stations in Redwood City.

Specifications as tested:

0-30: 3.3 Seconds

0-60: 8.5 Seconds

1/4 Mile: 16.8 Seconds @ 82 MPH

 

IMG_7060 IMG_7061 IMG_7062 IMG_7063 IMG_7064 IMG_7065 IMG_7066 IMG_7067 IMG_7068 IMG_7069 IMG_7070 IMG_7075 IMG_7076 IMG_7077 IMG_7080 IMG_7081 IMG_7086 IMG_7097 IMG_7098 IMG_7099 IMG_7100 IMG_7102 IMG_7103 IMG_7103-2 IMG_7104 IMG_7105 IMG_7107 IMG_7109 IMG_7110 IMG_7112 IMG_7117 IMG_7118 IMG_7120 IMG_7122 IMG_7123 IMG_7125 IMG_7127 IMG_7128 IMG_7129 IMG_7131 IMG_7132 IMG_7133 IMG_7134 IMG_7135 IMG_7145 IMG_7146

The post Review: 2015 Kia Soul EV (With Video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/review-2015-kia-soul-ev-video/feed/ 21
Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=858009 Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013. Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that […]

The post Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
nissan-leaf-using-chademo-fast-charger_100457004_l

Just in time for the Fourth of July travel weekend, Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MIEV owners will have access to 633 CHAdeMO fast chargers, up from 160 stations in January 2013.

Green Car Reports says back then, the majority of those chargers were along the West Coast and Texas, with Nissan promising to triple that number within 18 months. Nissan North America senior manager of corporate communications Brian Brockman announced last week that his employer had gone above and beyond by bringing online nearly 500 units in the time period, with all listed on PlugShare.

As for the rest of FY 2014, Nissan will push forward to bring more CHAdeMO stations online, from its network of dealerships, to top Leaf markets such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Houston. Meanwhile, another vehicle will be able to make use of the chargers when the 2015 Kia Soul EV goes on sale later on this summer.

The post Nissan: 633 CHAdeMO Fast Chargers Available For Use Today, More Coming appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/nissan-633-chademo-fast-chargers-available-for-use-today-more-coming/feed/ 5
Nissan UK: Leaf Dominated EV Sales In 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-uk-leaf-dominated-ev-sales-in-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-uk-leaf-dominated-ev-sales-in-2013/#comments Fri, 20 Jun 2014 12:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=847961 Though consumers in the United Kingdom may not have been too interested in electric vehicles last year, Nissan says the majority of those sold belong to the automaker. Just-Auto reports out of the 2,507 EVs sold in the U.K. in 2013, 73 percent — 1,830 — belonged to the Nissan Leaf. The automaker added that […]

The post Nissan UK: Leaf Dominated EV Sales In 2013 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2013 Nissan Leaf. Photo courtesy Nissan.

Though consumers in the United Kingdom may not have been too interested in electric vehicles last year, Nissan says the majority of those sold belong to the automaker.

Just-Auto reports out of the 2,507 EVs sold in the U.K. in 2013, 73 percent — 1,830 — belonged to the Nissan Leaf. The automaker added that the nation’s EV market continues to be “well-supported” by incentives and breaks on taxes and congestion pricing.

Meanwhile, charging the Leafs continues to be made easier thanks to expansion of the charging network. In 2011, only 752 units were available along the roadway; today, 5,731 thus far. Fast-charging Chademo stations also are on the rise, beginning with 60 in 2013 and growing to 232 currently. Nissan expects 500 of the fast-charging stations to be available all over the country by 2015, with 90 percent of all service areas in possession of a Chademo.

The post Nissan UK: Leaf Dominated EV Sales In 2013 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/nissan-uk-leaf-dominated-ev-sales-in-2013/feed/ 6
Living With an EV for a Week – Day Four (can we get a charging standard please?) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-four-can-we-get-a-charging-standard-please/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-four-can-we-get-a-charging-standard-please/#comments Sun, 02 Jun 2013 19:18:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490456 If you’re just now reading this series, here’s what’s going on. Because reviews of electric vehicles (my own included) seem to be 1/4 review and 3/4 whining about EV related issues, I decided to divorce the review from the “EV experience” and post daily about driving a car with an 80-95 mile range. You can […]

The post Living With an EV for a Week – Day Four (can we get a charging standard please?) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2014 Fiat 500e Under The Hood, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

If you’re just now reading this series, here’s what’s going on. Because reviews of electric vehicles (my own included) seem to be 1/4 review and 3/4 whining about EV related issues, I decided to divorce the review from the “EV experience” and post daily about driving a car with an 80-95 mile range. You can catch up by going to Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 before coming back to the saga. Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you. Day three ended with my battery at 15% because I drove the orange creamsicle Fiat we have named “Zippy Zappy” over 175 miles. I don’t have a 240V charging cable at home so the car told me it would be 24 hours until the car was charged at 120V. Good thing day four was a Saturday.I woke up and debated whether I should shirk my weekend chores and head to the beach. After all, I had discovered the beach was equipped with a 240V station. No dice, I looked up the station online and it was occupied, probably because charging is free in Capitola By The Sea. Looking at the ChargePoint station map it’s obvious to see how the landscape has changed in a year. The SF Bay Area now has 781 public charging stations on the ChargePoint network,  172 on the Blink network, 23 DC “Fast Charge” stations that deliver 90 kW (nearly 14x faster than the onboard charger in Zippy Zappy or the 2014 LEAF). Of course Fiat hasn’t signed onto the CHAdeMO bandwagon yet leaving the LEAF and iMiEV the only cars capable of sucking down electrons at such a speed. No, I haven’t forgotten about Tesla, we’ll talk about that later.

In addition to those stations there another 980 private 240V chargers in the Bay Area that are part of PlugShare, a deal where you let random EV people charge at your home using your juice. Last time I had a LEAF, I decided to use a PlugShare station, so I looked one up and followed the directions. I texted the guy who was sharing his station and he told me to just drive up and plug my car into his station in his driveway. I was so blown away by thig I interviewed him. He told me he thought of PlugShare as”EV random acts of kindness.” How sweet. Let me ask you all a question to put this in perspective. How many of you would sign up for “GasShare.com” a place where you keep a 5-gallon gasoline can in your driveway so you can share it with your fellow neighbors? Anyone? I suspect that as EVs become more popular and the charge rate increases fewer people will be willing to let strangers park in their driveway and suck down $10 worth of electricity.

2012 Nissan Leaf, Exterior, charging connector, Photography Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

About that Tesla. The charging standard situation  is like a VHS/Betamax battle with only one player on the Beta side: Tesla. I do understand the logic with the new charging connector, it is without a doubt superior into the J1772 that every other EV and plug-in hybrid uses. It is also better than the CHAdeMO DC charging plugs on Mitsubishi and Nissan EVs. Finally it’s way, way more attractive than that funky SAE combo connector the society is pushing.

How is Tesla’s cord better? First off the connector is smaller. I’m not convinced this is a big deal since every car has a fuel door and so far nobody has  told me they hated their fuel door because it was too big. But the electrical side of the connector? Tesla rocks. J1772 started out with a 30A max draw, later amended to 80A in 2009 (although I have yet to see an 80A capable station). If your car supports J1772 AC charging and CHAdeMO quick charging, you have the ginormous connector above shown above ( on the left of the J1772 connector). It’s HUGE. Now we really do have a size problem because  you can’t hide the two of them together behind a normal fuel door. Tesla went another way and (we can only guess at some of this because they haven’t shared their charging standard with anyone) and combined the AC and DC charging onto the same pins. (You can see the Tesla connector below.)Even though the Tesla connector is smaller it’s just as beefy with a Model S drawing 80A if you buy the 20kW charging option. That’s over 330% faster than a LEAF, Focus EV or Fiat 500e. The only problem being that your home needs to support that and my home has only a 100A service so I would have to choose between charging my car and using the oven. If that’s not fast enough you can stop by a Tesla “Supercharger” station and suck down power at 100kW (400 volts at 250 amps) 10kW faster than CHAdeMO.

The problem with this charging superiority is that it’s exclusive to Tesla. With the adapter that comes with every Tesla model S, you can use the 1,933 J1772 charging stations in the Bay Area, but you can’t share your home station with a LEAF driver. If you’re a multi EV family with a Model S and a 2013 Toyota RAV4 EV (powered by Tesla ironically), you will need to either use a J1772 station and deal with the slower charge in your Tesla or have two stations at home. (You know, aside from the fact that you’re going to be nearly maxing out your 200A service.) More vexing than that is DC quick charging your Tesla. Yes, I freely admit CHAdeMO is an enormous chunky plug, but there are already 23 CHAdeMO stations in the Bay, 28 in Tennessee, 18 in Portland, 6 in Seattle, 19 in Phoenix and several in Southern California. (Not to mention hundreds in Japan.) Right now there are only eight Tesla Supercharger stations in the USA growing to some 50+ stations by the end of the year. Great. But as of now you can’t charge your Tesla from the existing CHAdeMO stations and you can’t charge your CHAdeMO car from a Tesla station. If we cared about the EV landscape and wanted EVs to succeed, we need to use the same connector. How would it go down if Honda came up with a new Accord and used an all-new and all-sexy fuel filler neck that was incompatible with anything but a Honda gas station unless you used a funnel? A comparison to Apple is usually drawn here, but even Apple has always used industry standard NEMA power cords.

socket4, Image from blog.widodh.nl

This this is all about Tesla vs Nissan? Think again. There is so much indecision in the industry over what charging standard to support that most manufacturers do nothing, which is probably worse. That means you can’t fast charge your RAV4 EV, a car that really needs it, or your Focus, 500e, Fit EV, Mini e, A3, Active e, iQ EV, fortwo, Spark EV, or Transit Connect Electric. What do the car companies say? “We are waiting for a standard to emerge.” Funny, I’d call the hundreds of DC stations already installed in America a standard that has emerged.

After 15 hours of charging, the wee Fiat was ready for a trip to civilization as we had a party to attend. We pre-planned and carpooled with some friends so we could leave Zippy Zappy plugged into their garage outlet for a few hours. There was zero range anxiety this time with an 84% charge. The EV Fiat proved amusing to drive quickly on the winding mountain roads we traversed. EVs add a fair amount of weight to any conversion like this, but because the battery pack is positioned low in the vehicle, it improves the centre of gravity and weight balance when compared to the gasoline 500. Four hours of partying later, the 500e was a minor celebrity with all manner of people wanting to see it/sit in it/ride in it. Even though you see EVs driving around all over the place in N. CA, they still have a novelty factor that makes people interested. Saturday was a slow day with only 49 miles going on the Fiat and an estimated time to a full charge when we rolled in of 9 hours even at 120V.

Looking for the other installments? Here you go:

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 5

Day 6

Day 7

The post Living With an EV for a Week – Day Four (can we get a charging standard please?) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/living-with-an-ev-for-a-week-day-four-can-we-get-a-charging-standard-please/feed/ 100
SAE Approves New EV Charger Standard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/sae-approves-new-ev-charger-standard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/sae-approves-new-ev-charger-standard/#comments Wed, 17 Oct 2012 13:00:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463937 The SAE unveiled their latest standard for quick-charging electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that could cut charging times to as short as 20 minutes. The new standard, called “Combo” combines Level 2 charging (using 220 volts, with a charge time of 3 hours) and Level 3 charging, which should support 480 volts or higher (known […]

The post SAE Approves New EV Charger Standard appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

The SAE unveiled their latest standard for quick-charging electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids that could cut charging times to as short as 20 minutes.

The new standard, called “Combo” combines Level 2 charging (using 220 volts, with a charge time of 3 hours) and Level 3 charging, which should support 480 volts or higher (known as “fast charging”). The ultimate goal for Level 3 charging is that it will take 10 minutes.

The big issue is the rival CHAdeMO standard, supported by Japanese auto makers like Nissan and Mitsubishi.The physical connectors are different shapes, and the “protocols” used to control the charging appliances are not compatible either, so a plug adapter will not allow motorists to use both systems.  Think of the two standards as VHS and Betamax.

While CHAdeMo is in use already on cars like the Mitsubishi i and Nissan Leaf, Combo has the backing of the American and European OEMs. Either way, the consumer has the most exposure to the downside on this one.

The post SAE Approves New EV Charger Standard appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/sae-approves-new-ev-charger-standard/feed/ 27
The Truth About Tesla’s Charging Stations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/#comments Tue, 25 Sep 2012 16:52:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=451848 Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? […]

The post The Truth About Tesla’s Charging Stations appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Tesla has officially launched their long-awaited “Supercharging” network last night to a star-studded crowd in Southern California. (We assume it was star-studded since our invitation got lost in the mail.) The EV network promises to enable Model S and Model X owners to charge 150 miles of range in 30 minutes. What about your Roadster? Sorry, you aren’t invited to this charging party. Have a Tesla and a LEAF? You’ll have to be satisfied with separate but equal charging facilities as the Tesla proprietary charging connector restricts access to Tesla shoppers only. Is this class warfare or do we parallel the computer industry where connectors come and go with the seasons?

What’s the big deal with charging? Let’s go over the Model S’s charging time chart and you’ll understand. From a regular 120V wall outlet the Model S will gain 4-5 miles per hour of charging and consumes about the same amount of power as a space heater. Charging at 41 amps, the car gains 31 miles per hour and consumes as much power as TWO average electric clothes dryers. Charging at 81 amps (a service that many homes with older wiring or smaller services cannot support) the Model S gains 62 miles an hour and consumes more power than an average home’s A/C, dryer, washer, stove, oven, lights and small appliances put together. With a range of 300 miles and a 10 hour charge time at the 41A rate, it’s easy to see why fast charging stations are appealing. Tesla’s Supercharger’s specs are yet to be revealed, but by the numbers it is apparent the system is delivering a massive 90kWh charge which is likely 440V DC at around 200A. An hour of charging at that rate is 70% of the power that my home uses in an entire month.

Is this a Tesla issue? No, it’s an EV issue. If you expect your EV to drive like a regular car, modern EVs are a delight. If you expect your EV to refuel like a regular car, we’ve hit a snag. But it’s more complex than that, you see, only three of the four Model S trims support DC fast charging and the only other EVs on the market with a DC charge port are the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-MiEV. Except they don’t use the same connector or the same standard. Oops. Adding more complications to the mix are the EVs with no DC charge connector like the RAV4 EV, Volt, Prius Plug-In, Accord Plug-In, Focus, Active E and Coda while the new Chevy Spark is rumored to début a third standard: the SAE combo plug.

Of course, if you think of your car like you think of your cell phone, this makes sense as the phone you bought last year wont use the same charger as the phone you buy today. If you think of this in car terms however it’s like buying a new car and finding out that most of the gas stations have a nozzle that won’t fit your car.

Back to those Tesla charging stations. Tesla opened the first four in Southern California and announced two more stations will go online in October with stations in Las Vegas, Northern California and Oregon by summer 2013 with the 100 station network being complete by 2015. If that network sounds familiar then it should, because the recent settlement in the California vs NRG lawsuit means there will be 200 new CHAdeMO stations in California over the same time frame in addition to the 8 already installed and the 75 commercial stations planned or under construction. It isn’t just California on the CHAdeMO bandwagon however, the Department of Energy claims there are over 113 CHAdeMO stations in the USA and a 1,200+ unit installed base in Japan.

What does this mean to Tesla owners? Until Tesla creates a CHAdeMO to Tesla charging adapter cable (much like they have a J1772 to Tesla cable for use at public AC charging stations), Tesla owners will be restricted to regular AC charging or the smaller Tesla only charging network. On the flip side, Tesla is promising the Tesla charging stations will be free to Tesla owners, positioned next to trendy restaurants and you won’t have to mix with the Leaf owning rabble. You can also feel superior because Tesla’s newer standard charges 80% faster than the 50kWh CHAdeMO connector.

What does this mean to LEAF and i-MiEV owners? It means this is just the beginning of a standards battle. If you bought an EV before this raft of new J1772-connector-toting models, you know what I’m talking about. While CHAdeMO has the lead now, depending on what standard the rest of the industry supports this could change rapidly.

What about the rest of us? If we continue to build more battery electric vehicles and continue to develop batteries that are more and more power dense, you can expect even the snazzy Tesla charging connector to be outdated on a few years. If you expect an EV SUV to deliver 300 miles of electric range, AWD, decent performance, mild off-road ability and Range Rover quality luxury trappings, then expect it to have a battery that is 50-100% larger than the Model S’ massive 85kWh pack. This means you have to either take all the charging rates and nearly double them, or you have to develop a charging method that charges 50-100% faster to keep the same performance.

Of course, just like LEAF owners experience battery degradation caused by repeated use of DC quick charge stations, Tesla owners should be mindful that batteries don’t last forever and the faster you charge them the shorter their life will be.

 

The post The Truth About Tesla’s Charging Stations appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/09/the-truth-about-teslas-charging-stations/feed/ 48
The War Of The Plugs: The Japanese Empire Talks Back http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/the-war-of-the-plugs-the-japanese-empire-talks-back/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/the-war-of-the-plugs-the-japanese-empire-talks-back/#comments Tue, 22 May 2012 12:48:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=445521 Today, members of CHAdeMO congregated in the 7th floor auditorium of Tokyo’s Big Sight for CHAdeMO’s  General Assembly 2012. CHAdeMO is a consortium of mostly Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. Also in the room was an invisible, but giant Godzilla. They called him “The Combo.” The […]

The post The War Of The Plugs: The Japanese Empire Talks Back appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Today, members of CHAdeMO congregated in the 7th floor auditorium of Tokyo’s Big Sight for CHAdeMO’s  General Assembly 2012. CHAdeMO is a consortium of mostly Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. Also in the room was an invisible, but giant Godzilla. They called him “The Combo.” The combo is the product of (in Japanese views) an unholy alliance between U.S. and German OEMs which agreed on their own plug. The CHAdeMO and The Combo are utterly incompatible. Sparks are already flying.

CHAdeMO president Toshiyuki Shiga, normally COO of Leaf-producer Nissan, sets the tone of the meeting by saying that “in the U.S. and in Europe there is a movement to eliminate the CHAdeMO by making the combo a regional standard.” That snub probably is too subtle for American ears, but the Germans will get it and will be appropriately outraged.

The war of the plugs is on. Currently, it is only a war of words. “The Combo” was repeatedly derided today as “the plug without the cars.” This not-so-subtle putdown hints at the fact that the combo is still a nascent standard (the SAE is supposed to declare it a real one,) while CHAdeMO has been adopted by the tens of thousands who bought Nissan’s Leaf and some of Mitsubishi’s iMIEV.

When listening to proponents of either standard, one gets the impression that the plug is a matter of life and death, and fitting the wrong plug can mean the end of the EV as we know it.

Others don’t think so. CHAdeMO had invited Mariana Gerzanych, CEO of 350green, a company that builds electric car charging stations across America.

Allegedly, 350green will use the CHAdeMO plug. I ask Mariana Gerzanych what she thinks of the combo, and she thinks it is “good technology.” Asked which side of the plug wars 350green will be on, Gerzanych answers: “None. We will put both plugs on our fast chargers.”

Doing this is no big deal, various techies at the meeting tell me. The plug represents less than five percent of the cost of the system. Having two different plugs until the dust settles won’t be cost prohibitive. Technical differences of the battling chargers can be settled. CHAdeMO Europe’s Ronald de Haas and various others suggest that CHAdeMO should adopt The Combo’s “power level change during the session” and its narrower, but lower cost “voltage window.” This may sound like Greek to most of us, but at the conference, it did sound like a done deal.

CHAdeMO’s peace initiative does not sit too well with General Motors. At a public hearing convened last week by California Senate Majority Leader Ellen Corbett, GM’s Manager of Environment & Energy Policy, Shad Balch, asked for an embargo of the CHAdeMO. Balch said that “we need to make sure, especially because we’re talking about taxpayer money,” that ONLY the upcoming SAE combo standard is installed going forward. Balch was boooo’d at the hearing, and Torquenews notes that “the SAE committee is dominated by automakers who are fighting Nissan for electric vehicle dominance.”

Asking to leave California’s many Leaf owners stranded, and to favor still non-existent owners of still non-existent EVs that comply with a still non-existent SAE standard, amounts to a real declaration of war, and a rather hamfisted one.

PS: While a spiky-haired President of Japan’s EV Club is on stage selling the idea of a massive round Japan EV rally, a source that requested anonymity whispers in my ear: “Forget it. This is Japan and the charging stations are closed at night.”

The post The War Of The Plugs: The Japanese Empire Talks Back appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/the-war-of-the-plugs-the-japanese-empire-talks-back/feed/ 22
American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/american-german-automakers-show-off-rival-fast-charging-standard/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/american-german-automakers-show-off-rival-fast-charging-standard/#comments Mon, 07 May 2012 17:25:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=443220   Even though the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i already have their own standard for “quick-charge” stations  – known as CHAdeMO, a standard supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru) – the SAE is apparently pitching its own standard of quick-charger outlets (pictured above), creating a situation that would be akin […]

The post American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

Even though the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i already have their own standard for “quick-charge” stations  – known as CHAdeMO, a standard supported by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Fuji Heavy Industries (parent company of Subaru) – the SAE is apparently pitching its own standard of quick-charger outlets (pictured above), creating a situation that would be akin to having certain cars only compatible with certain gas pumps.

Supported by  BMW, Chrysler, Daimler, Ford, GM, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, the new plug (above) is supposed to standardize charging across the world – even though CHAdeMO is already being used in significant numbers. While there is only one CHAdeMO station in the United States, Japan has adopted CHAdeMO as a standard, with 130 stations in Japan. The Nissan Leaf can be had with a standard plug and an optional CHAdeMO plug. The SAE system is being debuted at the May 6-9 EV Symposium – perhaps the opening salvo in the newest “VHS vs Betamax” spat.

The post American, German Automakers Show Off Rival Fast-Charging Standard appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/american-german-automakers-show-off-rival-fast-charging-standard/feed/ 11
CHAdeMO Disconnects TEPCO Man As President, Plugs Nissan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chademo-disconnects-tepco-man-as-president-plugs-nissan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chademo-disconnects-tepco-man-as-president-plugs-nissan/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 13:57:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=409245 Autocorrect-adverse CHAdeMO is a consortium of Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. According to the fountain of knowledge, “CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve”, equivalent to “charge for moving”, and is a pun for O cha demo ikaga desuka in Japanese, meaning “How about some […]

The post CHAdeMO Disconnects TEPCO Man As President, Plugs Nissan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>

Autocorrect-adverse CHAdeMO is a consortium of Japanese companies with the target of establishing a standard for the charging of EVs. According to the fountain of knowledge, “CHAdeMO is an abbreviation of “CHArge de MOve”, equivalent to “charge for moving”, and is a pun for O cha demo ikaga desuka in Japanese, meaning “How about some tea” (while charging) in English. CHAdeMO was founded at the instigation of TEPCO. The power giant wanted a safe market for its quick-charge connector, it was hitherto known as “the CHAdeMO plug.” TEPCO is Tokyo’s disgraced power company, drop its name, and you will trigger a stream of invectives coming from otherwise composed Japanese. Which is probably what happened in a boardroom.

The presidency of CHAdeMO was in the hands of Tsunehisa Katsumata, a former TEPCO President who is still chairman of TEPCO and who holds the dubious title of Chairman of TEPCO’s Corporate Ethics Committee. Someone pulled the plug on Katsumata. In a terse statement, TEPCO announced that Katsumata will resign “in order to focus on the restoration efforts connected to the nuclear accident at Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant.” (Rub it in, boys.)

The CHAdeMO helm will be taken by Toshiyuki Shiga, COO of Nissan and Chairman of Japan’s influential auto manufacturers association JAMA. Shiga’s company probably is the largest customer of CHAdeMO plugs. As of August 22, 2011, Nissan had sold 12,087 Leafs worldwide, 5,287 of those in the U.S., 5,933 in Japan, 781 in Europe and 86 in the rest of the world. Plug-wise, Shiga has his hands full. The CHAdeMO plug dukes it out with the similar, but different SAE J1772 plug, which, ironically, is also a Japanese invention.

 

 

The post CHAdeMO Disconnects TEPCO Man As President, Plugs Nissan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/chademo-disconnects-tepco-man-as-president-plugs-nissan/feed/ 6