Monday, July 23, 2012

Fifteen Months in Our Nissan LEAF, Let's Discuss Battery Capacity

Another month of smooth, reliable electric motoring and almost 900 mostly solar powered miles in June.  Our LEAF continues to hum along and we continue to love the car.  We have had no mechanical issues for the life of the car and it continues to offer a great combination of space for our family of five, no fuel cost in combination with our home's solar roof panels and our utility's Time of Use rates, and a fun, quiet and rather luxurious driving experience.

Black Nissan LEAF, Pasadena, CA

I don't often mention how great it feels to drive a LEAF, and it is something that often goes unmentioned when folks talk about the merits of electric cars.  Because all of the electric motor's torque is available as soon as the accelerator is pressed, EVs are impressive at moving away from a stop light.  This rush of quiet acceleration becomes addictive, and when we switch to a gasoline (ICE) car, we miss that smooth, calm and quiet push in the back.  It really adds to the fun of owning the car, and it makes an otherwise fairly ordinary car feel more luxurious. This is part of the reason why many who drive electric cars really don't look forward to driving gas cars again.

White Nissan LEAF Testing Against Honda Fit EV, June 2012, Pasadena, CA

Good News from Edison
Our monthly fuel "bill" for June came in as a credit of $75.78 even though we used a net 94 kWh more than our solar PV system generated and we charged the LEAF with 230 kWh of night time power.  That is because days are longer, the sun is shining, summer rates have kicked in and we get a full retail credit of about 20 cents for every kWh we generate in Tier 1 and 56 cents in Tier 2 during Peak hours. These credits strongly offset our Off Peak household usage and our Super Off Peak (midnight to 6 am) EV charging, so that we end up with a substantial credit at the end of the month.  June was month #4 of our net metering year, and we now have a credit balance of $14.53 for the year to date.  That credit balance will grow over the summer months, through the end of September, and will help us to end the year on March 6 with another net bill of around zero for the year.  Note that we do not air condition our home, so we have no heavy electrical usage during the daytime hours, beyond a bit of cooking.  Homeowners who do use a lot of daytime summer power for air conditioning, pool heating or electronic equipment would have different results with Southern Cal Edison's Time of Use rates, so study your own situation carefully before trying to copy our plan.  It may help to consider moving some of that power usage to evenings or better still, late at night.

We also finally got our check from SCE for the excess net solar power generation that we logged for our net metering year that ended in March of 2011.  Fifteen months later, SCE sent us a check for $72 for the 2200 kWh surplus with which we ended that year.  We were paid at a rate of about three cents per kWh, similar to the wholesale rates that SCE pays to their other energy suppliers, but a far cry lower than the retail rates that SCE charges.  I'm not unhappy with this amount, though, since I do feel that our neighbors shouldn't pay more for the power that their utility buys from us than they pay for the power that SCE buys from other suppliers.  That said, I'd like to think that the power that we sell to SCE is worth more to our neighbors because it is clean, green solar power that only has to travel next door to our neighbor's house rather than hundreds of miles through SCE's grid.

Our LEAF's Dash. The 12 Bars on the Far Right Indicate Battery Capacity. The Adjacent Scale Showing 11 bars Indicates Approximate Current Charge State

Let's Talk About LEAF Battery Capacity
I mentioned last month that reports have started to appear on the My Nissan LEAF online forum and in online blogs Link of battery capacity loss from LEAF owners in the hot summer regions of Arizona, Texas and one in the Mojave Desert town of Ridgecrest, California, who have been driving their cars for about a year.  Some of these folks say that the reduced driving range keeps them from being able to use their LEAFs for the longer trips that they need to make.  The service departments of Nissan dealers have told these customers that their batteries are healthy and that the loss of capacity bars is normal.  Link

When asked in June by Green Car Reports about this issue, Nissan's spokesperson responded that all batteries lose capacity and that most capacity loss will occur early in the car's life and then level out in the remaining years.  She stated that Nissan's internal tests show that under normal use, Nissan expects owners to have 80% of the battery's usable capacity remaining after five years. Link  But some of the Arizona LEAF owners say that they have already lost this much capacity or more.  At the time of this writing, Nissan has responded by asking all LEAF owners who are having apparent heat related battery capacity loss to contact their NOGASEV 800 number and get a case number.  In addition, we now hear that Nissan is planning to take about six of the cars to Nissan's testing facility in Arizona for testing.  Owners will be given loaner cars and compensation for gasoline usage.

To put this in perspective, there have been no reports of battery capacity bar loss on the forum from owners in any state other than Arizona, Texas and one in the high desert of Southern California.  It is important not to generalize this situation and worry that because sometimes it gets hot where we live that our LEAF's battery might behave like the ones in these very hot summer areas.  Compare your city's average summer temperatures to those in Phoenix and Dallas using a web site like or other more precise sources. You'll probably see quite a difference.  Drivers in the Northwest and in Northern California are reporting very little, if any loss of range or capacity.  

As for our LEAF here in Southern California, though we haven't lost a battery capacity bar, I've kept careful records and I believe that we are seeing a reduction in driving range of about 13% compared with our LEAF's range when it was new. I determined this by logging the car's range after driving the LEAF from a full charge to empty.  I did this when the car was only two weeks old and again after fifteen months of driving on July 7, 2012 when the car had over 14,000 miles on the odometer.  I carefully controlled my driving so that the indicated energy economy on the dash was 4.0 to 4.1 mi/kWh for both test runs.  My driving range was 86.5 miles when the car was new, in April of 2011, and 75 miles in July.  We have no way to know whether some of this range will return as the weather gets cooler this autumn, but I hope that it will.  Note that driving economy is not affected when battery capacity drops, it just means that each charge, whether it be a full charge or a charge to 80%, puts a bit less energy into the battery pack than it did when the car was new.  

Our LEAF's Dash on Delivery Day

At this point, I'm inclined to assume that this is the early loss of capacity that Nissan is referring to when they talk about the normal aging of lithium batteries.  For us, frankly, this range reduction makes very little difference in our enjoyment of the car and its usefulness to us.  It is important not to lose sight of the fact that the LEAF still has that 75 miles of range every morning after it is fully charged.  Our average day's driving amounts to 28 to 40 miles and we don't even notice a reduction in range of this magnitude.  It's true that we occasionally drive the car several times on some days and that our total mileage can add up to perhaps 60 miles, but this is still within the current range of our car, even on an 80 percent charge.  I'll admit that I'd prefer to still have the full range of the car for another couple of years, when our lease expires, but I have to accept the physics of battery aging and understand that some of it occurs early in the car's life.  I'm still hopeful that Nissan is correct and that we will still have 80% or more of our car's range available when our lease ends in 2014.  I realize that others will have different reactions to this depending on whether they bought or leased the car, the region they live in, and the length of their commutes.

My take on all of this is that this story is still developing and there is much left to be learned.  These reports began to be seen in early May of this year, just about two months ago.  Nissan likely has not had time to study the issue fully and to determine a response.  Nissan's recently announced plan to take some of the affected cars to a testing center is a hopeful sign.  Until we know more, I think that it is premature to draw any conclusions about the LEAF's quality or durability.  But in my opinion, while battery capacity and range loss aren't covered in the LEAF's warranty, Nissan needs to show its early adopter customers and the car buying public that they will take care of them if their cars lose much of their usefulness over a short period of time.  It's the right thing to do and it is in the best interests of the future success of Nissan's EV business, in which the company has made a very large investment.

The Numbers:
2011 Nissan LEAF SL Placed in Service: March 30, 2011
All Home Charging Done Using: 240 Volt Aerovironment/Nissan Level 2 EVSE
Home Solar PV System: 24 Sunpower 215W panels totaling 5.16 kW DC mounted on a 20 degree South facing roof.
Total Solar PV Power Generated for Net Metering Year Ended February 2012:  8,568 kWh
Our LEAF's Longest Range Full Charge to Empty ("Turtle"): 86.5 miles (at 4.0 mi/kWh on dash), April 2011.
Our LEAF's Most Recent Range, Full Charge to Turtle: 75 miles (at 4.1 mi/kWh on dash), July 2012
NOTE: Longer maximum range is possible if the LEAF is driven more conservatively. Many LEAF owners have achieved range of well over 100 miles.

Month:  June 2012
Total Miles at Month End: 14,100 
Miles Driven in Month:  853 miles
Electric Power Used for Charging in Month: 248.4 kWh (measured at wall power source, includes public charging)
Public Charging in Month, Power Use:
 18.8 kWh 

Charging at Home in Month, Power Use: 229.6 kWh
Energy Efficiency, Month of June 3.43 miles/kWh (wall to wheels)

Energy Efficiency, Month of June:   4.20 miles/kWh (in car main dash display, battery to wheels)
Efficiency Wall to Wheels in Month at 240 Volts: (3.43/4.2) = 81.7%
Total Charging Energy Used, Lifetime:  4,357.9 kWh (Includes public charging)
Energy Efficiency, Lifetime:  3.24 miles/kWh (wall to wheels)
Energy Efficiency, Lifetime:  30.9 kWh/100 mi (wall to wheels)
Number of Home Charging Days in Month: 25
Most Electric Energy Used for Charging in a Day in June:  22.4 kWh  (6.1 charging hours, includes 12 kWh public charging)
Most Electric Energy Used for Charging AT HOME in a Day in June: 17.6 kWh (4.8 charging hours)
Least Electric Energy Used at Home for Charging in a Charging Day in June  4.1 kWh (1.1charging hours)
Average Electric Energy Used for Home Charging in a Charging Day in June
9.2 kWh  (2.48 charging hours)
Household Power Used for Month:  722 kWh (without car charging)
Total Power Used for Month:  952 kWh (includes car charging)
Solar PV Power Generated for Month:  858 kWh
Net Power Used or Sent to Grid for Month:  94 kWh net used
June Electric Bill, So Cal Edison, Schedule TOU-D-TEV:  $-75.78 
 (A credit in this amount will be added to our net metering total charge for the year.)
Solar Net Metering Year Total Cumulative kWh Used at Month #4:  818 kWh (Total kWh net used for the net metering year. This is total household and EV charging usage minus solar PV generation.)

Solar Net Metering Year Total Cumulative Cost at Month #4 -$14.53 (Total energy and delivery costs for all power usage for the net metering year.)
Cost for Charging Car in June:  $0.00
Cost per Mile:  $0.00
Cost for Charging Car, Lifetime: $0.00
Cost per Mile, Lifetime: $0.00  

(If We Didn't Have Solar Power, Est Cost for Charging Car in June: $29.85)
(If We Didn't Have Solar Power, Est Cost per Mile in June: $0.035) 
Average (Mean) Miles per Driving Day in June:  28.4 miles

Average (Median) Miles per Driving Day in June:  24 miles
Longest Day's Driving in June:  102 miles (charging mid-trip)
Longest Day's Driving in June Without Mid-Trip Charging: 58 miles
Shortest Day's Driving in June:  5 miles
Number of Times we Took the Prius Instead of the LEAF Due to Low Charge: 2
Unexpected Low Charge and Unable to Reach Destination:  Never

Follow-up: The Audi A8 is understated, not boring

Audi A8
I inadvertently sparked heated debate in a few Audi forums when I included the A8 on my list of 10 boring cars, so I wanted to clarify my position. Click through for my take:

First off, I like the Audi A8 a lot, but I think it is stylistically less engaging than some of its competitors...and I mean that in a very good way. Anyone, including myself, will agree that the A8 is an technological and engineering masterpiece, probably drives spectacularly (although I haven't driven it), and has Audi's consistently beautiful interior. But overall - and some readers may disagree - its understated styling does not get my heart pumping, and I don't think it's intended to. I admire the Audi A8 for its subdued elegance and conservatism. Buying an A8 is a low risk, sure thing.

Audi A6
Believe it or not, the car above is an A6, even though it looks almost identical to the A8 at first glance. Both cars are attractive, but an A8 driver has to be cognizant that the car he/she is driving could easily be mistaken for a car that costs $30k less. Obviously, Audi fanatics and car enthusiasts would be able to tell the two cars apart, but the general public? Less likely. An exercise of restraint, the A8 blends into the sea of other luxury cars on the highway, keeping passengers relatively incognito.

Mercedes S-Class
In my opinion, the S-Class has curves, bends, and creases that are more expressive than those on the A8. Some people don't like the S-Class's design elements (matter of preference), but I do. The S-Class is more muscular and wedge-shaped than the A8, and is clearly differentiated from the more angular E-Class (below).
Mercedes E-Class

BMW 7-Series
I'm not a huge fan of the 7-Series' styling (although it is better than the previous generation), but the sedan is undeniably polarizing - something that cannot be said of the Audi A8. Some people "love" the 7-Series, other people "despise" it, but everyone "likes" the A8.

Jaguar XJ
The Jaguar XJ: here's a car that would NEVER be included in a list of boring cars. It is anything but. While roughly the same size and price of an A8, the XJ is full of personality and expression, whereas the A8 is much more subdued.

Audi A7
Even though it's not technically a competitor to the A8, I just wanted to mention: having actually driven the A7, I can attest that it is NOT boring :)

Just because I included the A8 on a list of "boring" cars doesn't mean it's bad. Obviously, when I included the A8 in the same list as a Corolla and Forte, they are not meant to be compared...they are clearly apples and oranges. The only point I was trying to make is - from someone who hasn't actually driven the cars - that of the super luxury sedans out there, the Audi A8 has the most subdued, restrained personality.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

10 boring cars: neither attractive nor ugly

Acura RL / RLX
When Acura released images of the new RLX, I was disappointed. I think the swoopy character line on the sides is homely, and the rest of car is undifferentiated from a lot of the other midsize luxury cars on the market. The RLX made me think of some other cars that are neither good looking or unattractive, but rather boring. Click through for 10 examples.

Acura RL
1. Acura RL: As mentioned in the intro, I've never understood where the RL fits in. The design is completely dated, and could have potentially looked cutting edge 10 years ago. It's a perfectly capable car, but probably not what Acura executives would prefer to be their flagship offering.

Lexus ES
2. Lexus ES: Yawn...the ES is soooo boring. The first-generation model had cool taillights that looked like a baby LS, but the current model looks more like a tarted-up Camry than ever. The average ES-owner is probably well into retirement age (not that there's anything wrong with that!), and reviewers consistently describe how bland the ES's performance and handling are.

Audi A8
3. Audi A8: The Audi A8 is by no means ugly; in fact, it is quite handsome. However, it does not have the excitement that the S-Class or 7-Series have. The A8 is actually a fairly boxy design if you think about it. What makes the A8 work are the subtle curves, technology, and, frankly, the Audi logo. I would love to own an A8, but it is not the first car that comes to mind when I think "excitement".

Honda Pilot
4. Honda Pilot: My guess is that Honda saw the success of the Jeep, Hummer, and wanted in on the action. While the resulting Pilot is similarly boxy, it is by no means rugged or cool. It is extremely bland and devoid of character. Not ugly, just boring.

Toyota Corolla
5. Toyota Corolla: Ugh. Renting a compact car and winding up with the Corolla is like drawing the short straw. Everyone knows someone with a Corolla. They are endlessly reliable, last forever, and capable enough to handle the average person's daily commute. However, that makes the Corolla ubiquitous, and it happens to be a boring design as well! When the current generation first came out, it was stylish, but Toyota hasn't made enough changes over the years to substantially update the car, and the competition has certainly caught up.

Dodge Journey
6. Dodge Journey: Everyone's heard of the Dodge Durango, but most people haven't heard of the Journey. The interior was never up to par, but there is something too "dainty" about the exterior. I don't know what it is...maybe the chrome accents? Taking a step back, the design looks more like a minivan than a rugged SUV. It's not ugly, but falls through the cracks because of its run-of-the-mill style.

Kia Forte
7. Kia Forte: Most of Kia's current lineup is, dare I say, exciting. Cars like the Optima, Elantra, and Sportage have brought Kia's reputation to a new level. The Forte was the first car to preview Kia's new design language, but compared to the others cars I just mentioned, the Forte looks tame in comparison. It is a good design, but there is not enough going on for the Forte to resonate in people's minds. Hopefully the next model will inject some more uniqueness.

Nissan Altima
8. Nissan Altima: As I mentioned in a previous post, I don't understand the Nissan Altima. Unlike the Fusion and Sonata, both of which are beautiful designs, the Altima is blobby and disproportioned. In 5 years time, it will blend in on the highway, just like every other previous Altima has.

Scion xD
9. Scion xD: The Scion xB has always had a cult following for its boxiness. The tC is a cool coupe with lots of standard features. However, the xD makes no sense. It costs about as much as the xB, but is smaller and isn't as distinct looking. The xD replaced the xA, which also prompted the question, "what's the point?"
Subaru Forester
10. Subaru Forester: I understand why people - especially in the Northeast - get Foresters. They are good in the snow and have plenty of room to store things in the back. However, it is so nondescript. Some people call it an SUV, others (like me) call it a wagon, so it's stuck somewhere in the middle and suffers from weird proportionality.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fourteen Months in Our Nissan LEAF, I Drive the Honda Fit EV, and Reports of LEAF Battery Capacity Loss in Some Arizona and Texas Areas

Another month and almost 1,000 more miles of trouble-free driving.  The LEAF has been a remarkably reliable car for us.  We haven't had an ounce of trouble with the car, and after an overnight charge in our garage, it is ready every morning for 70 to 80 miles of smooth and quiet driving.  Since we do an average of less than 40 miles of driving per day, our LEAF serves us very well as our primary car.

Costs of driving remain extremely low.  We have paid nothing so far in maintenance costs for over 13,000 miles of driving and we have had essentially no fuel cost in the more than 13,000 miles that we've driven the LEAF.  This is due to our home's solar PV panels that make more power than we usually use for our home, and Time of Use (TOU) rates available from our utility, SCE, for charging our EV at night.  As I reported earlier, we ended our solar net metering year this past March 7 with a bill for the entire year of less than seven dollars!  Of course, we did spend money to install the solar panels in early 2007, but that was a sunk cost over four years before we got our LEAF.  Driving on electric power and eliminating gasoline costs for the LEAF, we are covering the cost of that solar installation much faster.  Between savings on our home electric bills of at least $1500 per year and a similar amount on gasoline costs, we're saving at least $3,000 per year due to our solar PV system.  The combination of driving an EV with a home solar PV system is an amazingly great fit.

We've just completed month #3 of our solar net metering year 2012/13. Our meter read is actually a few days after the beginning of each month, but I include the monthly billings in the previous month for reporting here.  Our May/June bill was a credit of five dollars, so with the summer rate schedule kicking in, we have already started seeing dollars credited back to our account.  Our cumulative bill now stands at $61.25 for the three months for all electricity use, including car charging.  By the end of September, the last "summer" month on the TOU rate plan, we will have a credit balance of perhaps $300.  This credit balance will cover some of the billings for the winter months to follow, so that we should end this net metering year with a bill actually payable of close to zero again.  That's for our entire electric usage for our home and for charging an electric car for close to 12,000 miles!

If we didn't have solar power, we would have spent about 3.7 cents per mile this month on charging costs, or about $35 for electricity to drive the car 938 miles.  If you compare that to even the most fuel efficient gasoline cars that get 40 mpg combined, at $4 per gallon, you'd spend about $94 to drive that distance, almost three times the cost!

We're Starting to See Reports of Battery Capacity Loss in Arizona and Texas
Since early May, 2012, LEAF owners in Arizona and Texas have begun to report the loss of battery capacity as shown by a reduction from twelve to eleven bars, and even a few down to ten bars, on their dashboard capacity displays.  At the time of this writing, about 19 LEAF owners on the MyNissanLEAF forum (Link) have directly reported that the battery capacity reading on their LEAF's dash has shown this reduction in capacity bars, three of them having lost two bars (Link).  All of these owners live in Arizona or Texas. Some of these cars have been checked out by Nissan dealers, and the owners have been told that the capacity loss is normal. A Nissan spokesperson told Green Car Reports “In general, all batteries exhibit a higher loss of capacity early in life, but then the curve flattens over time,”.  “Our internal results indicate that the battery will have 80 percent of its capacity under normal use after 5 years, and 70 percent after 10 years.”   “We can confirm that the state of charge [sic] is depicted as a non-linear scale but are not able to confirm the specific totals that each ‘bar’ represents,” Nissan’s official statement says. “Battery life is contingent upon many variables related to driving habits and conditions. We are confident that if owners care for their vehicles properly, they will experience many years of enjoyable driving!” Link  

Battery Capacity Gauge is the 12 bar scale at the far right. This one shows 12 bars, full capacity.

To put this into perspective, there have been no reports of LEAFs losing battery capacity bars in other states than Arizona and Texas.  We are certainly in a learning phase about this issue, and much is yet to be understood about it.  Until more is known for certain about how these batteries behave, I won't repeat details that are reported elsewhere.  I plan to do some driving tests to obtain some clear data on our LEAF's current driving range.

Honda Fit EV

Honda Fit EV Press Introduction and Test Drive
Though I usually save the reporting of events for the blog post about the month when those events took place, I am going to include a recent event from the month of June in this May blog post, because the information is timely and may be useful to some readers.

Honda Fit EV

I was very fortunate to be invited through my MNL friend Mike Walsh to attend the press introduction of the Honda Fit EV this past week.  The Honda Fit EV is the first commercially available electric car from Honda, at least it is the first of this current generation of EVs.  As I reported a few months ago, Honda has chosen to take a careful approach with the introduction of this car by making a small number of them, only 1,100 cars for the US over the 2013 and 2014 model years, by offering the cars for lease only rather than for sale, and by closely limiting the regional markets where the cars will be available. 

Honda Fit EV Interior

The Fit EV is a surprisingly capable car and a well done effort.  Rather than contracting the job out to a partner to modify an existing ICE platform with batteries that encroach on the rear luggage space, as one maker has done, Honda has internally designed and built the car and they have fundamentally changed the Fit platform to make it an excellent EV.  They have changed the rear suspension from a torsion beam to an independent design to better handle the weight of the batteries and to fit the battery box.  And they have revised the body structure so that the heavy lithium ion batteries are placed in an air cooled box located beneath the floor and the rear seats for better weight distribution in a placement similar to the Nissan LEAF's.  Honda has also recognized that an advantage of EVs is that they can be fun to drive, so they have made the Fit EV the most fun to drive of the most recent crop of EVs in this price range.  They have included a Sport mode that gives the driver more power for acceleration, and they have customized the Fit's already good suspension to create a car with good steering feel and handling.

Honda Fit EV Dashboard in Sport Mode

In making the Fit EV a successful and fun car to drive, Honda has done the seemingly impossible and also made it the most fuel efficient of the new crop of EVs.  The Fit EV recently attained an MPG equivalent in the EPA's tests of 118 MPGe, better than the LEAF, Ford Focus EV and the Mitsubishi i (note that this superior energy economy was attained in Normal mode, not in the more aggressive Sport mode, which Honda says drains power ten percent more quickly than Normal mode).  And with a smallish battery pack of only 20 kWh capacity, 4 kWh smaller than the LEAF's, the Fit EV attained an EPA driving range of 82 miles as compared with the LEAF's 73 miles. What's more, Honda has equipped the Fit EV with a 6.6 kW on board charger.  Connected to a 240 Volt supply with the appropriate Amperage circuit breaker, the Fit EV can put twice as much electrical power into the batteries per hour of charging as the LEAF's 3.3 kW charger can.  This 6.6 kW charger is the same size as the one found in the Ford Focus EV and the Coda.

Honda Fit EV

I truly enjoyed driving the Fit EV on closed parking lot courses and on Pasadena's streets and freeways a few days ago.  In Normal mode, the car accelerates very similarly to the LEAF, but it handles better with much better steering feel.  In Sport mode, the car is much more enjoyable, with really good throttle response and what feels like 0 to 60 mph acceleration that might be in the under 8 second range.  We'll have to wait for properly documented acceleration tests from the car magazines to substantiate that feeling.

The Honda Fit EV is a smaller car than the LEAF, with a wheelbase of only 98.4 inches compared with the LEAF's 106.3 inches.  But Honda has made the most of interior space, actually providing a bit more rear seat leg room than the larger LEAF.  That does steal some space from the luggage area, though, and cargo capacity is smaller than the LEAF's, at least with the rear seats up.  The Fit EV is also narrower than the LEAF, with rear seat hip room of five inches less, so three adults or more than two child car seats would probably not fit.  What all of this means is that the LEAF is a better family EV with a more open and airy cabin, while the Fit EV is a more sporty and better handling car for a couple or a smaller family.  The LEAF also offers a more sophisticated and better looking instrument panel, with displays that are more informative. The Fit EV skimps on instruments by providing only a warning light for battery temperature, and no gauge at all for battery capacity.  The Fit EV's mobile phone app, however, is far more capable than the one provided for the LEAF, with the ability to plan and map out trips and send the information to the car.  The Fit EV also has a handheld key fob that allows you to start and stop charging and climate control from up to 100 feet away from the car.

Honda Fit EV Drive Mode Selector Buttons

And the Fit EV's lease is more affordable than the competition, with zero down (aside from the first month's payment), $389/month plus tax and maintenance except for tires, and collision insurance coverage are included.  There is no purchase option at the end of the 3 year, 36,000 mile lease.  Unfortunately, after getting us so excited with its specifications and performance, the Fit EV will only be available for lease and not for purchase, and only in selected more populated regions of California, and in Portland, Oregon, beginning in mid-July this year.  In 2013, Honda will introduce the car to several cities in the Northeast.  Information and lease pre-qualification can be obtained at Honda's Fit EV web site: Honda Fit EV Site

The Numbers:
2011 Nissan LEAF SL Placed in Service: March 30, 2011
All Home Charging Done Using: 240 Volt Aerovironment/Nissan Level 2 EVSE
Home Solar PV System: 24 Sunpower 215W panels totaling 5.16 kW DC mounted on a 20 degree South facing roof.
Total Solar PV Power Generated for Net Metering Year Ended February 2012:  8,568 kWh

Month:  May 2012
Total Miles at Month End: 13,248 
Miles Driven in Month:  938 miles
Electric Power Used for Charging in Month: 271.5 kWh (measured at wall power source, includes public charging)
Public Charging in Month, Power Use:
 4 kWh 

Charging at Home in Month, Power Use: 267.5 kWh
Energy Efficiency, Month of May 3.45 miles/kWh (wall to wheels)

Energy Efficiency, Month of May:   4.14 miles/kWh (in car main dash display, battery to wheels)
Efficiency Wall to Wheels in Month at 240 Volts: (3.45/4.14) = 83.3%
Total Charging Energy Used, Lifetime:  4,109.5 kWh (Includes public charging)
Energy Efficiency, Lifetime:  3.22 miles/kWh (wall to wheels)
Energy Efficiency, Lifetime:  31.06 kWh/100 mi (wall to wheels)
Number of Home Charging Days in Month: 23
Most Electric Energy Used for Charging in a Day in May:  19.8 kWh  (5.2 charging hours, includes 9.8 kWh public charging)
Most Electric Energy Used for Charging AT HOME in a Day in May: 19.8 kWh (5.2 charging hours)
Least Electric Energy Used at Home for Charging in a Charging Day in May  5.2 kWh  (1.4 charging hours)
Average Electric Energy Used for Home Charging in a Charging Day in
 May : 11.6 kWh  (3.05 charging hours)
Household Power Used for Month:  730.5 kWh (without car charging)
Total Power Used for Month:  998 kWh (includes car charging)
Solar PV Power Generated for Month:  843 kWh
Net Power Used or Sent to Grid for Month:  155 kWh net used
May Electric Bill, So Cal Edison, Schedule TOU-D-TEV:  $-5.01 
 (A credit in this amount will be added to our net metering total charge for the year.)
Solar Net Metering Year Total Cumulative kWh Used at Month #3:  758 kWh (Total kWh net used for the net metering year. This is total household and EV charging usage minus solar PV generation.)

Solar Net Metering Year Total Cumulative Cost at Month #3 $61.25 (Total energy and delivery costs for all power usage for the net metering year.)
Cost for Charging Car in May:  $0.00
Cost per Mile:  $0.00
Cost for Charging Car, Lifetime: $0.00
Cost per Mile, Lifetime: $0.00  

(If We Didn't Have Solar Power, Est Cost for Charging Car in May: $34.78)
(If We Didn't Have Solar Power, Est Cost per Mile in May: $0.037) 
Average (Mean) Miles per Driving Day in May:  36.1 miles

Average (Median) Miles per Driving Day in May:  35 miles
Longest Day's Driving in May:  95 miles (charging mid-trip)
Longest Day's Driving in May Without Mid-Trip Charging: 62 miles
Shortest Day's Driving in May:  7 miles
Number of Times we Took the Prius Instead of the LEAF Due to Low Charge: 0
Unexpected Low Charge and Unable to Reach Destination:  Never

Monday, July 2, 2012


"Taking responsibility for ones own discourse since 1989"

Available November 2012

the lyric is like a fly
arriving out of plain sight
suddenly persistent, insisting
or not, like a gnat vanishes
comes back sometimes
12 years on to finish a line

a lost dog that answers to George,
here boy or the merest nod -
pat on the thigh have you seen my

lyric is a bride in wait
eye ever over shouldering
a dwindling stack of pages
perhaps 2.3 billion seconds
is time to name all of the tree I loved
naming is better than ice cream
for life is lived longer in song


The Photographic Sunset

in the beginning
next to portions of four bricks
a filthy thumbnail weights a napkin

chats about waiting in chairs at a reading to hear

then, turning the page a door slams
eardrum pulsing last cigaret looks
these are real corners
close at the scale of napkins
inside and out
accordion wave forms

lunar lighting. stubble of stucco -

I could tell you plenty about stucco but
Corners and Napkins
is not concerned with stucco
some corners trap,
some corners - we do not know
some corners we do
for they Deify light
lime says cool
orange invites lizards to cross
green on the produce sign says notice
napkin relieves, assures
napkin will take a bullet for the Boss
napkin signed verifies invention
napkin tapped at corners of mouth
formulates the lie and emphasizes,

cloud billow sail

perfection can be achieved in the photography of napkins
the actual size colored papers are satisfying to compile
resin coated a thumb likes to sooth
for the napkin photograph solicits its surface as one to write on
napkin worship
perfection to ruin

some of these corners are severe
to promise it is a cold cruel world
edges you'd not choose in a prison guard

we like the corner that wanders for god

that cant, that wiggle, is ours

in the end a pen takes to brick and flails


Corners and Napkins
32 pages, published 9/12/2012
(almost) All of these Corners were imported from the Art Department at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. These Napkins are from Clement Street in San Francisco. 32 pages by Chris Sullivan, 2003 32 pages

HSCA Mug Book      JPD #4
94 pages, published 9/5/2012
Journal of Public Domain # 4HSCA Mug Book

DIY Couch Demo & Disposal
56 pages, published 8/27/2012
I bought a brand new couch once when I was 28. It cost $700.00 and was cantaloupe colored, replacing the couch on this books cover. That couch cost $40.00 from a thrift store and I never felt good about it. It had the aura of invisible bugs, dirt and undetectable smells. I was taking it to the dump, going slow on a dirt road along a lonely alfalfa field when I saw the grave. Rest in Peace, I thought, and grinned, always of a mind to make a…

Journal of Public Domain
56 pages, published 8/5/2012

Reprint of the 1999 first issue

click image for preview

The healthy mind uses more energy acting as a filter to remove unnecessary or unintelligible stimuli that it does feeding you the processed data. Sanity is selectivity. We live in a world sanitized behind our eyes, muted between our ears, dulling the roar and avalanche of information so that we can stay "tuned in" into the world and our place in it. Funes, afflicted with terrible memory - the aching inability to fail to see and store even the smallest detail of his sensorium- could not comprehend the concept of "dog", for each movement of the simple beast produced a new constellation of muscle and hair and breathing and odor that could not be linked by a single irreducible syllable. Your world teems with such a mass of endless possibilities that you cannot but become deaf and blind, senseless but for the small window etched by familiarity.

The rest becomes the public domain...

About the Author

32 pages, published 6/23/2012

"…a collection of authorial squibs emphasizing the arbitrary… if notably less insipid than the earlier edition…a shameless face dropper, though Margaret Thatcher appears about to vomit…ably portrays the physiognometric stresses of plexiglass, shrink-wrap, and Jack Daniels…while the picture of a foot behind his head appears authentic…novelty in the sight of a basketball player wearing eye black…not a complete package…unlike the Carpenter Pencil Poems, About the Author can at least be opened without a screwdriver…flawed as it is, it cannot be improved. Stop. "
Hardly Able, Earlimart Jimson Weed Gazette

Underperforming Billboard Dreams in New Orleans
72 pages, published 6/11/2012

All billboards in New Orleans in the fall of 2005 were underperforming; if not rendered absurd or irrelevant by catastrophe, erased by the hurricane to blither like old TV screens muted to grey noise. Many would stay that way for months and years as advertisers had no interest targeting a much depopulated city beset and preoccupied with basic concerns. Closer to the ground, language sprouted. Ugly plastic mass produced signs advertising recovery services proliferated and many took matters into their own hands: with a can of spray paint, shard of plywood and a useful service to proclaim, a person was in business. This book promotes those efforts and imagines the billboard as a site of civic witness, memorial, reflection and marquee for stories from an extraordinary time.

26 pages, published 7/5/2012
The life of Queenie, 1978-1994 of Rosedale, Pozo and Vacaville Ca. remembered with 23 photographs taken between 1982 and 1986
by Chris Sullivan.

"Queenie was born on Coffee Road in Bakersfield in November 1978.

To Lorq, the strange and regal, friendly but spooky Black Lab long past

the notion of pet. She was part of the 10 acres with a 3 bedroom house

our family bought in 1976 when I was 18. There was one other residence

on Coffee, owned by a farmer named Rueben Bartell, who had a male

German Shepherd that was free to roam...

from Amazon -

Mere Nola,

Telephone Mp3's from the Web-log 2003-5