Props to Nissan (Champaign)

Public charger is public, available with courtesy and openness. Asked to charge my Volt (not a Nissan Leaf of course) and am charging now (Nissan dealership is across the street from my hotel). Will start tomorrow with a full charge.

Thanks guys.

A Brand New Car

So back years ago, I had an Honda Insight (2 actually) which I got used. They subsequently were damaged in accidents and lost to us. One was automatic one manual. To the manual tranmission one (2000 model year) I added a 3rd party home built control card to give me “joystick” control either direct or programmed in “modes” to control the IMA electric engine. Anyhow I’d promised myself when a car that “exceeds” the capabilities (mpg wise) and only then, I’d get that. Finally I think I might have found one.

Last December, I (by “I” I mean my wife and I) purchased a Chevrolet Volt (new, … 2nd generation). Some neat things about the Volt can be found here (a description of the transmission and modes) and here (the battery cooling system  and compared to the Telsa). Here is what it looked like when I brought it home.


2017 Volt

So far I’m liking it a lot. If I had gone full EV, it might not have worked so well as a “work” car because charging can be iffy. With the Volt, absent charging you just have a standard hybrid running on gas with regeneration. With charging in evenings if you manage to keep up with the charging, then basically you get a half price gallon (plus a little)  gas (filled at home). And if you burn less than that gallon, no actual gasoline gets burned. Now that the weather is warming up, my range is extending to a little over 60 miles per charge. When the temps are down that 60 is more like 40. Today for example, driving around on Saturday I was reportedly getting “120 MPGe”. The MPGe is a value I don’t quite trust. Basically the EPA defined the MPGe, for electrics, so that 36 kw-hour is equal to a gallon of gas. The Volt has an approx 18 kw-hr battery, which would be a half gallon. But at the same time they (GM)  claim the range on that to be 53 miles … which would be about 110 MPGe).

An example, a few weeks ago my daughter and I went downtown to the opera. I hadn’t gotten a full charge the night before, but the 25 miles to, the opera, we were “on gas” (or the ICE -> Internal Combustion Engine) for the last mile. We parked in a garage with a charging station, and during the show got about a 90% charge and subsequently drove all the way home with about 30% battery to spare.

When on EV, the car is very responsive (more so than ICE cars I’ve driven with automatic transmission) and fun. It has more pickup than I’ve ever tried to use so far.

Anyhow, if you’re looking, I’d recommend looking at a Volt.

Some Housekeeping

Of a personal nature. OK. Remember the “emergency car” thing, having to replace the MIMA enhanced Honda Insight (typical mileage 70/85 when the temp was above 50). Well, I got used Nissan Versa 6 speed manual. It gets somewhat crappy mileage, i.e., about 30 city and 38 highway (it’s listed as 24/29  but that’s what I get). Our family will be receiving a hand-me-down VW Jetta TDI from my parents later this year … both are likely destined to be passed to my girls who are both in High School. Someday, somewhere regulatory barriers keeping out that 2 seater that gets 150-200 mpg highway will drop and it will be on the market, and then I’ll be able to drive the car I want. And on the car subject, if you drive a car without real-time MPG readout (average and instant) and you think conservation is important … there is a word for people like that, we call that being a hypocrite. You can get a inexpensive gauge like the ScanGauge or EcoGauge for about $150/100 respectively … which means the price of the gadget is not an excuse.

Also, I haven’t been biking so much. I want to get back into it but other time constraints make this difficult. Right now I’ve gotten back into lifting weights as an interim sport for the last 9 months or so … in part because the time constraints are more flexible. My bench-press (one metric … and fun lift) has gone up from 145 or so at the beginning to a one rep max about two weeks ago of 215. Back in college I lifted weights semi-seriously for a few years. My lifetime one rep bench max is 230. I’m getting close … and should be able to eclipse that by the end of the summer.

And while I’m not a fan of CFLs, as I don’t think they last very long and their mercury content is problematic. LED tech is more promising. However, my family on the other hand, doesn’t like the four Phillips 10W 800 (60W incandescent equiv) lumen dimmable LEDs I just put in the kitchen chandelier. Allegedly they will last 22 years … although judging by the CFL lifetime claims that means 5 … but we shall see. If they do last that long, I’ll be replacing them when I’m somewhat over 70.

Honda News

Mima (here) is now installed in my Insight. I expect there’ll be a few weeks on the learning curve and I’ll be getting improved gas mileage over my stock ~65mpg that I get now. 10% is apparently about what I can expect, which is substantial. 

And given that the instantaneous mpg readout (2hz update) is the “video game” I play when driving … seeking that higher score, now that I’ve got a 2-d joystick and not just throttle pressure to play with … the cerebral aspects of increasing mileage just became more involved.