Wednesday, September 19, 2018

EV Musings

The previous two entries about my visits to Fairfield and MUM (here and here) mentioned opportunities for electric vehicles (EVs) to charge in town. So you've probably gathered that I'm curious about electric vehicles, of which there are two types: plug-in hybrids (PHEVs), which can go a certain distance on electricity before switching over to the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine), and battery-only EVs. Because I live in Columbus, Ohio, any potential for all-electric travel to Fairfield faces the question of recharging the car along the way, and that's what this blog post is about.

The Long-Distance Competitors
As of this writing, the candidates for extended EV drives are the Chevy Bolt, a Tesla, the soon-to-be-released 2019 Nissan Leaf, and the soon-to-be-released 2019 Hyundai Kona EV. The EPA ranges are 238 miles for the Bolt, 220 or 310 miles for the Tesla Model 3, depending on the battery size, and expectations are for 225 miles for the 2019 Leaf and 258 for the 2019 Kona EV. Other manufacturers promise vehicles with similar ranges, such as the Jaguar I-Pace and the Audi e-tronThus, the EPA range of all these EVs falls within the 220-250 band, except for the long-range Tesla at 310.

The actual range will be more or less, depending on the your speed, headwinds, hills, hot or cold temperatures, and so forth. For example, the Bolt is rated at 255 miles in the city, and 217 on the highway. Stress it by driving at 75 mph with the A/C set on 72ยบ on a warm day, and the range is about 190 miles. My drive to Fairfield is 98% highway miles.

Charging and Range
Charging speed slows down as the battery becomes more charged, rather like pouring water into a glass without spilling it: you have to slow way down for that last bit. It's usually better to head off again after reaching 80% than to wait a long time for the last 20%.

Daytime quick charging is the focus of this post. We'll consider charging to take the battery to 80% of its EPA range, and we'd better deduct another 10% as a safety margin and buffer against adverse conditions, among which the driver can control only one, speed. Thus, after a fast charge, your next charge should be within 70% of the EPA range. That's 154/217 miles for the Model 3, 157 for the 2019 Leaf, and 167 for the Bolt, and 180 for the Kona. If you prefer to drive at the speed limit plus five or ten, knock off another 5-10%.

Fast Charging Standards
There are three different connectors used for fast charging: the Bolt and Kona use the CCS/SAE standard, the Leaf the CHAdeMO connector, and Teslas use the Tesla Supercharger.

Both the Bolt and Leaf advertise 90 miles of range gained in 30 minutes of charging, but there are caveats. The Bolt can take up to 80 kilowatts of charging power, and the Kona 70 kw, but most CCS/SAE charging stations in the U.S. top out at 50kw, and not all will deliver that much. The new Leaf may charge at 100kw, but most CHAdeMO charging stations are, again, 50kw. The Tesla Superchargers are rated at 120kw, but like all the others, the charge rate slows down as the battery fills; Tesla owners see a "tapering-off" begin when the battery reaches 30% charged, however, the charge power doesn't drop to 50kw until the battery is 70% charged.

Headed for Fairfield
The distance from my place to Fairfield on a direct route is 550 miles, plus any small detours for lunch, etc. Here's a map from the crowdsourced site PlugShare showing the CCS/SAE fast chargers along the route. It's a screen grab, so always check for updates. Click on the image to enlarge; Fairfield, in the upper left, is marked by a yellow circle.
There's not much between Indianapolis and Fairfield, is there? You'll need to stay someplace where the Bolt can get a 100% recharge overnight, which I do anyway if driving by myself.

If you overnight in Champaign, then it's ~185 miles to the Catfish Bend Casino in Burlington (one CCS/SAE charger). If you overnight in Bloomington instead, that reduces the next day's distance to Catfish Bend to ~130 miles, but Bloomington is ~175 miles from Indianapolis. Remember, for the Bolt the 70% range is 167 miles and the Kona 180 miles.

Many of these chargers belong to a commercial network, such as ChargePoint, while others are free. Consult PlugShare or individual network websites, and set up an account with the dominant network(s) on your route.

A CHAdeMO map:
Again, it's ~175 miles between downtown Indianapolis and Bloomington, IL, where there is one CHAdeMO charger. Burlington, IA (Catfish Bend again) also has one CHAdeMO charger. Some CHAdeMO stations are at Nissan dealerships, some of which don't allow a vehicle to charge there if you didn't buy it there. Call ahead to verify.

A Tesla Supercharger map:
The stations are more evenly distributed. In particular, note that the Iowa City superchargers are only ~60 miles from Fairfield, and both Champaign and Bloomington host superchargers. All the Tesla supercharging stops on this route have eight stations.

Biting your nails yet? Consider possible contrary circumstances: the stations with only one or two connections may be busy, or blocked by a gasoline car parked in the charging spot, or out of service.

Level 2 Chargers
Slower "Level 2" chargers, a standard called J1772, are sprinkled along the route, typically offering charging rates between 6.6 and 9.6 kilowatts. Most vehicles will accept J1772 charging between 3.3 kw and 7.2 kw.
Tesla vehicles can use the J1772 stations, with an adapter, but there are also Tesla Destination Chargers, which offer charging rates between 6.6 and 17.2 kilowatts. Here's a map of those:
These chargers are suitable for the necessary overnight full charge, but many are located at parking garages, restaurants, or shopping malls. Those places can be useful for a modest bump in range over lunch, say, but are not where you'd leave your car overnight. It'll be necessary to consult PlugShare or other resources to find your overnight charging spot at a hotel, campground, or RV park.

SuperCharger Pics
I've taken photos of several Tesla Supercharger stations on my Fairfield route. The Bloomington, IL superchargers are inconveniently located (in an urban parking garage several miles off the freeway), so I skipped those.

Here is Dayton, Ohio lineup, on the edge of a Meijer parking lot.
Dayton, Ohio closeup.
Indianapolis, next to La Quinta.
Champaign, Illinois, Meijer parking lot.

Davenport, Iowa. Now we're in HyVee territory instead of Meijer.
Davenport closeup.
Iowa City, Iowa. Another HyVee location, only ~60 miles left to Fairfield.

Taking the direct route from Bloomington to Fairfield, along I-74 and US 34, the longest leg is ~185 miles. The 310 mile version of the Model 3 has no problem with that route, and the 220 mile version could work with an overnight in Bloomington, likely plus a stopover at the destination charger in Peoria, or at a J1772 charger in Burlington, to add a bit of range. If we accept adding 75 miles of driving to swing through the Davenport and Iowa City superchargers, the longest leg is reduced to ~140 miles, Bloomington to Davenport, and the last hop to Fairfield is just 60 miles.

And that's my take on it!  Long-distance EV travel is still for early adopters, the second stage after pioneers. Those who bought the first Tesla Model S sedans in 2012 were true pioneers!