Everything about EVs!
The next generation ("200 mile") of EVs is upon us. Updated model list (in order of release):
Chevrolet Bolt - 60kWh usable (64? total), Rated 383km. Expect 300-450 real world.
Tesla 3 - Regular - 50kWh usable (? total), rated 354km. Expect 300-450 real world.
Tesla 3 - Long Range - 75kWh usable (80 total), rated 500km. Expect 400-600 real world.
Only "new" models shown - Tesla S and X are not listed, but they are commonly known to exceed "200mi".
Hyundai Ioniq BEV - 28kWh usable (31 total), rated 200km, expect 160-240 real world.
Ford focus EV (sold out in Canada): ? usable (33.5kWh total), rated 185km, expect 150-220 real world.
Nissan Leaf (2018) - 40kWh, rated 240km. Expect 200-300 real world.
Previous generation or low-range:
Smart Fortwo (all smart are now EV): 16kWh (17.6 total): rated 109km, expect 85-130km.
Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV ("new" for 2018, but 2012 elsewhere in the world): ~9kWh usable (12 total), 35? km rated, expect 25-45km.
Chevrolet Volt (2016+): 14.3kWh usable (18.4 total): 85km rated, expect 70-105km.
Audi e-Tron: 6kwh usable (9 total): Rated 26km, expect 21-31km.
Volvo XC90 T8: 6.7kWh usable (9.2 total): Rated 22km, expect 18-26km.
Toyota Prius Prime: 6kWh usable (8.8 total): Rated 40km, expect 32-48.
Ford Fusion Energi: 5.6kWh? usable (7.6 total): rated 34km, expect 25-40.
As there seem to be a lot of topics for various specific EVs that get way off course (and even more misinformation flying around out there), how about a single thread for all of these miscellaneous questions?
First off, what is an electric vehicle?
Simply put, it’s a vehicle that is propelled by an electric motor and can be charged/’filled up’ with electricity via a plug. So this broader definition includes plug-in hybrids (PHEV) as well as battery electrics (BEV) and extended range electrics (EREV).
Note that this excludes regular hybrids (HEV) – they can only be filled with gasoline, they are a gasoline vehicle. A very efficient one, yes, but ultimately it runs on gas only. The electricity is just a byproduct, and not the source fuel. Of course, one could also (stupidly) buy a plug-in hybrid and never plug it in, in which case it’s just an expensive hybrid. But I think that case is rare. This would also include hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. They’re powered by electric motors, yes, but they don’t fuel up with it. They fuel up on hydrogen, so it’s a hydrogen vehicle, not electric vehicle.
What is ICE?
Internal Combustion Engine – i.e. the gas car technology you’re certainly used to. ICE is much easier to use as shorthand.
What are the benefits?
Instant torque (=fun to drive), vastly more efficient, and reduced running costs over gas vehicles (trade off with higher purchase price, however). For provinces like Quebec, with essentially 100% renewable electricity, you would be driving as clean as possible (for the environmentally cautious). I personally drive EV for the fun factor and the economic factor, but environmental doesn’t hurt either.
What are the different types?
BEV – Battery Electric Vehicle. The simplest of EVs – battery, controller, motor.
PHEV – Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle. These are usually evolutions of existing hybrids, with larger batteries and a plug/charger added resulting in a small all-electric range capability before falling back on the standard hybrid-drive mode of the non-plug in siblings. The range in this category varies greatly by model. Some are rather pitiful (sorry Prius fans, but it’s true) with 10km range to a more decent 32km (nominal rated values).
The key in this category is that these are primarily parallel hybrids, in that the gas engine typically has to work alongside the electric engine for hard acceleration, just like in the normal no-plug hybrid version. The electric motor is not large enough to do all the work of the entire range of the vehicle.
EREV – Extended Range Electric Vehicle. This is where things get more complicated. An EREV has a large electric motor capable of driving the car in all possible scenarios. If you still have charge in the battery, you drive 100% electric, 100% of the time, with max speed and acceleration all coming from the motor. When the battery dies, it is maintained at a certain buffer level by using the gas engine (or theoretically any sort of energy source) as a generator in a series mode. Series mode just means the engine doesn’t turn the wheels, it turns a generator, typically at a fixed speed. The electric motor is still working the same as it would on battery mode, powering the car in response to your pedal. (The generator may running faster or slower than it would if it was actually turning the wheels - all depends on the most efficient mode of operation and power demands of the vehicle)
What are the range ‘YMMV’ considerations?
EV range varies wildly between summer and winter seasons (much like your gas car does, but to a greater extent). In the winter, ICE cars have tons of waste heat (yay, inefficiency!) that can be used to heat the cabin. EVs are so efficient that they don’t have this ‘free’ buffer for wintertime. So you’re using some of your battery to not only drive the car, but also heat the cabin. This would be like having an open flame burner in your ICE using up your gas while also driving. That’s the main reason for the dip in EV range. Fortunately EVs can also pre-condition while plugged into the wall. I.e. use grid electricity to heat the car instead of the battery reserves. Unfortunately this isn’t always enough and you may still need to dip into battery as well as grid electricity, depending on the circumstances. And then of course, batteries give less energy when cold, so you lose a bit there (but realistically not THAT much). This is typically mitigated using thermal conditioning for the battery (a small heater to keep the pack in a certain temperature range). But this uses energy as well, so it’s a trade off between how much is used to heat the batteries vs how much more power comes out with that extra temperature. Some vehicles have liquid thermal management systems (TMS), which slows the loss or gain of heat to the battery, extending life. PHEV/EREVs can use the ICE for excess heat to heat the battery and cabin (yay, inefficiency!), so they tend to have less of a negative in winter, albeit still there. Some models will run the engine for short periods of time purely for heat, even if the battery still has usable energy left (the generated electricity captured and not wasted either, of course).
Summer doesn’t tend to affects EVs very negatively, unless you have the AC cranked while not moving in traffic. But that affects your ICE the same way (perhaps even worse).
More on winter range loss and heating:
The most common models out there are Nissan Leaf (BEV) and Chevrolet Volt (EREV). Fleetcarma has done a very large compilation and analysis of their fleet data on these models and their electric range over various temperatures. More details here:
http://www.fleetcarma.com/nissan-leaf-c ... c-vehicle/
Unfortunately, they don't show Volt data below 4c as that is the threshold when engine assisted heating kicks in (there's a setting in newer volts to bring that threshold value lower, if you prefer to use more battery instead of more gas)
Based on anecdotal evidence from users posting in forums and blogs, it's safe to say you should expect a minimum of 40km on the coldest days (i.e. heat on max the whole time).
You can improve your battery range on any EV by going through pre-conditioning cycles to heat up your car using grid electricity while plugged in and maximize the amount of battery life left when you are on your way. You'll use less energy to maintain cabin temperature vs starting from -25 and heating to + temps as well as maintain that.
Range vs Speed:
Electric drive is more efficient than ICE, and the motors don't care much about spinning at very high RPMs (while ICEs certainly do). The problem with high speeds is all about physics - aerodynamics. Any EV, despite their above average aerodynamic designs, still is most efficient at lower highway speeds, around 90-110. Cruising above 120 will net you a significant drop in range due to aerodynamic losses. Though of course this is no different than an ICE. You can expect about 25% less range at 120km/h vs 100km/h simply due to aerodynamics. Combine high speed driving with max heater and cold weather and you're sure to have a lower than average range that day.
To mitigate this, always pre-condition on very cold days and minimize use of in-cabin heater if you're comfortable. Using heated seats is significantly more energy efficient than heating the entire cabin, and heated seats typically only use <50W compared to 3-6kW for electric heaters and fans.
If you tend to cruise at a high speed, consider slowing down a bit on the really cold days if you're in a BEV and might be cutting it close.
If you're in an EREV, consider using gas mode at the start of your journey to generate heat as well as propel the car, if you are going to go beyond your expected battery range anyway. The heat from the engine will be 'free', and once your car is warmed you can switch back to battery to continue your journey the rest of the way. Some models will do this automatically. PHEVs typically are running in gas hybrid mode anyway at high speeds (and some start gas-only during low temperature operations), so there's no habits to modify.
How to pick an EV.
1. Consider total cost of ownership. You’d be surprised how affordable the car becomes when you factor in ALL of your driving costs.
2. Consider your driving distance and habits. You should pick an EV that can get you to work and back on HALF the stated range, to be safe. For a PHEV/EREV this is obviously less important, it just means you’ll need to use more gas. Also factor in winter driving. Assume you get 2/3 the stated range in the winter. To be absolutely safe, your daily commute should be half that value.
3. If you are one to go on long trips but want a single car, consider a PHEV/EREV. Especially one that can fit your daily commute in the electric range (which makes it a perfect fit for you - only use gas for long trips)
4. Workplace charging is great, but NEVER assume it will always be there and available for you. This should never factor into your purchase decision as a ‘must’. It’s great if it’s there, but the one day it’s not, you’re SOL.
5. Consider available incentives (see below)
6. Purchase vs lease. Canadian lease rates tend to be terrible compared to the US. It is pretty much never worth it to lease.
All electric vehicles sold today include a ‘charger’, which is really an EVSE (electric vehicle supply equipment). An EVSE is really just a complex safety switch, like a GFCI that senses faults, rapid current changes, etc and safely cuts the flow of power in the event of a problem. The actual charging circuitry is on-board the vehicle, and communicates with the EVSE as to how much power to supply and other various details.
The included EVSE with vehicles today is typically 120v, and can run on a standard 15A outlet in your home. Due to loading requirements of an outlet for long periods of time, the most you can safely charge at on 120v is 12A (80% of 15A), or roughly 1.44kW per hour. This is fine for smaller battery vehicles or people who don’t drive much in a day. Typically you plug in over-night for off-peak rates, wake up in the morning fully charged and ready to go. However, for larger batteries and those who drive a full charge in a day, need a bit more power than that. For those, you can get a dedicated 240v unit with much higher ampacity. By doubling the voltage, you cut the charge time in half. So a 240v EVSE @ 12A is twice as fast as the stock one supplied with the vehicle. If you also double the amps to 24, you can charge 4x as fast. And so on.
The only limit is the on-board charger equipment – if you install a 60A EVSE but your car can only charge at 24A, it’s a huge waste.
Some typical stats and charge time. Keep in mind charging is not 100% efficient and that power can be used for other functions at the same time (heating/cooling), so it may take more than 10 hours to charge 14.4 kWh @ 1.44KW, for example.
Nissan Leaf – 80% discharge is 20kWh. Approx 16h @ 120V, 12A or Approx 4 hours @ 240v, 24A. (6.6kW charger)
Chevy volt – 65% discharge is 10-11kWh. Approx 10h @ 120V, 12A or Approx 4 hours @ 240v, 13.75A (note, 2011-2015 limited by 3.3 kW charger), 15A for 2016+
There are other charge possibilities beyond normal plug-in charge. Some models offer very high power quick chargers (Tesla Superchargers are the most well-known). These bypass the AC charging circuitry and provide a high power DC charge directly to the battery. This is much quicker, but at the potential cost of battery longevity (implications unknown at this point - long term data required). However, it is definitely worth it once in a while to be able to have 80% of your charge in just 20 minutes instead of 4+ hours. This method makes road trips possible on today’s EVs.
Of course PHEVs/EREVS typically don’t care, they just switch to gas and carry on. They do not tend to have quick charge capability for this reason.
Cost of a 240v EVSE:
Should you want to go better than 120v @ 12A (as included with your EV), it is not necessarily a cheap operation. However, with incentives and the convenience you get out of it, it may be worth it.
For example, if you come home from work with a near-depleted battery often, having a 240V unit would allow you to quickly top up a few km to get around town if required, up to 4x faster than your 120V could. If you're in a PHEV/EREV this is less important, though it would mean you use less gas, so there are some cost savings over time.
240V EVSEs come in consumer grade (i.e. cheap) and commercial grade (i.e. expensive). The commercial grade tend to be much higher power and designed for outdoor pedestal use, such as in parking lots, etc. They also often include software and management systems for tracking payments and such, and are beyond the needs of a consumer.
Consumer grade units can go anywhere from $400 to $2000 depending on brands, features, and ampacity.
By far the most commonly mentioned unit on the internet is the Clipper Creek LCS-25, a unit that runs off of a 30A breaker (that means 10 gauge wire, minimum) and supplies 24A of power @ 240V. This maxes out the most common EVs out there, with the exception of Tesla, which have much more powerful on-board charger options. Though if you can afford one at current prices, I don't think you will have an issue with having to get a more expensive (but more powerful) EVSE unit.
LCS-25 is sold direct from the manufacturer for $495 USD (+ shipping).
If you are after an incentive from the government, you would be better of purchasing one from the Canadian distributor, Sun Country Highway (rebranded unit, but its made by Clipper Creek) for $629 CAD
https://suncountryhighway.ca/products-p ... vchargers/
Costco.ca sells SCH products and I've found they have the best price.
There is also an LCS-25P product, which includes a prewired 'dryer plug' if you happen to have an available 240v dryer outlet. You can just buy the unit and plug in. This may or may not be to code for ON. Consult an electrician.
To be eligible for a government incentive, your EVSE typically has to be installed by an electrician and inspected/certified.
The cheapest EVSEs out there typically max out at 12-16A @ 240V. This is enough to max out a Volt charger (3.3 kW), but not many of the other common EVs, which have 6.6kW chargers. The LCS-25 seems to be at a happy medium price point to give you the best performance at the best price currently.
In my opinion, EVSEs today are still very expensive, and if you are surviving with overnight charging @ 120V, wait. Prices are bound to come down as more competition happens and more models are available.
“The batteries will have to be changed in 5 years, absolutely not worth it”.
Absolutely false. Some of the first EVs of this generation have now been on the roads nearly 5 years with no significant loss of battery capacity. Some models experienced severe degradation, but that’s more due to individual circumstances and design (for example, Nissan is not looked upon too kindly by some hot-weather customers whose batteries were severely degraded by heat – lithium ion batteries do not like hot Phoenix summers combined with lack of liquid thermal management systems!).
Fortunately, that is not as big a deal here in Canada, with our more temperate climate, not likely to have heat damage. Especially if you select a model with proper thermal management systems.
Another factor in the longevity of a battery is depth of discharge (DOD). A lithium ion battery wears the most when full charged to 100% and depleted to 0%. Smaller depth of discharge (e.g. 10% to 90% increases the life greatly. Some models allow up to the 95-100% discharge, and those are ones that I would be wary of longevity on. Usually the default mode is using 80% of the battery’s true capacity, which is a happy medium and should give long life. Some models (Chevy Volt) use a very conservative DOD at 65%. At this level, I’d be more than confident that the battery will survive for decades with minimal loss.
On top of all of this, manufacturers offer an 8 year battery warranty – so you can be assured a minimum standard of capacity for the first 8 years of ownership.
Also keep in mind that "end of life" for these specs is often 70% of original capacity. It's not like you're dead and useless after this time. Many people could function normally with even 50% of their original battery capacities. PHEV and EREV owners would just find themselves using gas more often than they'd like, but would likely not need to replace the battery for many years after this 'EOL' time.
What will an EV cost me to run?
This answer varies a lot depending on your driving style and your local utility rates (which includes factors of when you charge if TOU is in effect).
In very broad estimates, an electric vehicle costs about 1/2 to 1/5 as much to drive 1 km as an equivalent ICE. (Depends on gas and electricity prices)
Of course if you're comparing a 400HP monster @ 15L/100km to a Tesla S, it's going to be much better than that.
For those in Ontario, you can expect to pay about 2-3c per km to drive electric, assuming you charge off peak. The vast majority of residential charging can and should be done off-peak, overnight while you sleep. The grid has excess power, rates are cheaper, and you're just lying there. Win all around.
Calculator to evaluate costs for different vehicle types:
https://docs.google.com/uc?id=0B6WhhxoJ ... t=download
I think I’ve covered a lot, and will be glad to add more if this discussion is actually picked up.
Hit Character limit. Continued below - see post #4.