EV Charging Consideration School
In 2017 I dipped my eager toe into owning an EV and two years after that all our vehicles were somehow amazingly all electric.......
My good wife never knew what hit her with my evil EV scheme which is like crack for car junkies!
The instant response driving joy and all the cost factors involved make it a no brainer at this point in time in my humble opinion, so her resistance to EV tech was entirely futile....
Even my buds in North Wales converted several VW Bugs to 600 Hp Tesla motor monsters that can deliver 0-60 Mph standing quarters in 3.2 seconds flat..
We are not into EV due to environmental tree hugger mind fuckery by the way, we are into electric purely for the raw mind blowing performance.....Period....We do not give a flying fuck about the environment in fact, just about how fast we can accelerate.........
It is also a fact that EV's are 10x more damaging to the environment than any ICE vehicle and that is just a simple fact.
Sure, they do not have an exhaust pipe but the electrons that go into their battery packs come from seriously damaging grid power generation schemes such as coal powered electrical generation plants and such.
In my particular case all my home charging is garnered through wind and solar power but when I go charge from the Grid on the road it is all from dirty power generation, so the story of EV's being environmentally friendly is a total "progressive" pile of Donkey Pox Bullshit.
The EV bug has recently bit one of our oldest kids as well and it struck me the other day while watching their progress and fielding some questions on the subject that some stuff I had just learnt and just took for granted needed explaining to the uneducated at large who are getting into Electric Vehicles.
We no longer have a few cars for me or my wife's sole use anymore, nowadays we have cars that serve totally different purposes entirely.
This situation came about because the Bolt Premier I had leased in January of 2017 and which I had first used as "my" car was very uncomfortable indeed for me to drive around in for long haul stuff where I was sitting in it for more than 3 hours a day.
My wife loved it for the short haul shit and it was her go to Bart car when we bought the Jaguar HSE in March of 2019 to compliment the Bolty's shortcomings .
Back in the pre-covid days I stopped working from home for a period when we sold our house and built another one and we had to go live in an apartment in Fremont while they were finishing the job that ran over the promised date of completion.
In the Audi A3 Premier Diesel I had then, this commute biz was not a problem and I could go as much as 411 miles on a full tank in relative comfort though 4 hours in the thing was a stretch.
What was killing me with the Audi was the servicing and the cost of diesel even though I was getting 40 mpg out of my A3 if I drove it carefully.
Both of us working from the Fremont apartment complex was not ideal and also a tad claustrophobic, so the office it was as it was a mere 18 minutes from our temporary Fremont Apartment complex.
When our new house at the converge point of Brentwood, Antioch and Oakley was finally built I continued the daily commute from Brentwood for reasons that elude me entirely now.
I should have remained home office bound in that time period actually, but that is another story entirely...
We had also won our class action against VW USA, given the fabulous A3 diesel back, been refunded our $43K and I had ordered the Bolt after a lot of homework and chatting about this EV project with the LG folks I knew who were involved in this first all EV mass production pilot for GM.
After examining the electrical stats on the DC charging system et al I got from LG Chem, I made comment on the charging schema that was adopted, feeling it could have a negative owner experience but they kept throwing back "average daily commute" stats at me to counter my feedback.
They were not envisioning the Bolt as a long distance commute car in it's daily use cycle, obviously ...
Now Almond Ridge where we built our new house is very far East Bay and a good 79 or 89 miles each way commute to the Office in Milpitas or San Jose (depending on who I was working for).
I then had to consider customer visits to various customer sites in Palo Alto and Santa Cruz et al that I had to bake into the equation from that Milpitas or San Jose office location.
I think I did these commutes to prove that the charging with the Bolt was a manageable task that required just a few extra considerations to make possible sans painful wait times.
What I had found was that for just going to the office action, the 79 miles each way added up to between 158-170 miles a day and if I charged at each end this was not so terrible to manage but if I could not get a charge I could get home as well no problem but the next day it would not be 100% charged again if I plugged it in at 11 PM.
When my sales guy and I had to visit clients in San Francisco or down Highway 85 we went in his vehicle from the Milpitas office unless I was going home directly afterwards so this was not usually an issue.
If I had to do the driving in the Bolt to these customers across the Bay Area I would not have been able to pull this off though.
The reason had nothing to do with the range the Bolt Battery offered, which I found was a pragmatic and steady 228 miles but was limited by a factor I was surprised to be dealing with and that was the time it actually took to charge the bastard up again.
I had ordered it with DC "Fast" (sic) charging and had asked my LG connections if 50 kWh was all it could do as I saw some challenges with that stat, but it was even worse than that in the real world, once I owned it, of course!
If it did 50 kWh for the entire charge cycle this would not make much bad experience impact but when you plug it in "if" it is under 20% charged, it ramps to 50 kWh for just a very short period of time and then starts ramping it down steeply from about a 42% charged state.
I had found that the car itself offered 8 AMP or 12 AMP charging on it's settings page for Level 2 charging but that it auto selected 8 AMP without giving any reason why even when you select 12A on your electrical charge settings page in the car.
For DC Fast charging though there is no GOM setting, the Bolt tells the DC fast charger what power rate it is happy with and how it wants it and for how long.
A Bolt is pretty "picky" about what DC Fast charger it is working with as well.
This is shit the LG chem guys dictated to GM was gonna be how it wuz but whut I wanna know is why (exactly)!
This was not how they "designed" The Ampera/Bolt to work on paper either, by the way...
Something must have gone wrong somewhere between the design paper and real world production reality.
The only common factor here was the battery tech from LG Chem.
Rumors about some Bolts catching fire started to emerge from Europe in 2017 and then New Jersey started to report a few similar horror incidents through 2018/19 and I started to understand the LG Chem charging cautions a lot more than before...
I was also getting engineering info from Stordot folks in Israel I knew about lithium cell chemistry in relation to fast charging lithium cells which I myself did not apply to the Bolty, but should have as the Israeli folks were making comments in general and poking LG Chem in the eye pretty hard.
These EV fires occur when the lithium cell chemistry runs out of control like a speeding train and breaks the cell barrier with significant cell swelling and lithium spike explosions being reached inside a few affected cells as a consequence of charging too fast.
The Storedot battery tech is self healing by the way which the LG Chem goodies cannot do - yet.
I did have some weird electrical burning smells in mine from time to time but could not find any evidence of spontaneous lithium combustion and am not even sure it was not from outside somewhere drawn into the cabin.
I rarely let the battery go under a 20% charged state and top it up often but I did put 20,000 miles on it rapidly in 2018 and charged it a lot from 30% to 90-100% at home with my Clipper Creek unit or on the road with various DC Fast charging systems.
I myself had developed habits of driving to work with the AC off and just cooling the cabin when it got unbearable.
I also noticed that in bumper to bumper traffic conditions that I could in fact get over 330 miles range out of the Bolt and pre-covid this was my daily commute experience in 2017 through 2018 from San Jose or Fremont back to the East Bay every evening if I left the office after 3:30 PM.
Getting it charged where I was working became a problem as there was no EV charging at the Milpitas office of the company I was working for at the time.
Many of my customers did have the ability with ChargePoint Corporate chargers though and I always got free charges at these up to 2019 at any rate.
After a year of driving it she who must be obeyed realized the hours I was spending in the Bolty was taking a huge toll on my previously 6 foot 4 inch frame.
The Bolt is about as comfortable as a Dromedary camel and if I am honest, the camel might actually be a slight bit more comfy....
I could break this discomfort by parking at a place that had a 50 kWh Fast Charger and charging for 45-65 minutes but that this was not giving me much range at all because the so called DC Fast Chargers were not doing any alleged 50 kWh charging if I was over 42% charge and I usually had more than that juice in the lithium cells when I sought a charge.
I started to notice that not all DC Fast Chargers were the same either and I stopped using Chargepoint Fast Chargers entirely as a result of the lengthy time they took to charge in DC Fast Charge mode (slow enough to really piss me off).
I then came to realize that the car itself was interacting with the DC Fast chargers and dictating charging rates to the DC fast charging machine I was using.
Chargepoint might want to look into that, so far only the Blink chargers in the Bay area are worse.
For long distance stuff up and down Highway 5, Electrify America started to deploy DC Fast charging setups and Chargepoint and EVGo had lesser systems scattered here and there as well usually at Walmarts and other supermarket type setups.
Hotels all had level 2 or Tesla destination chargers which are also level 2 charging systems.
When they were building our new house I had them fit a second 40 Amp dish-washing/dryer outlet so I could plug in my own Level 2 charging system via a NEMA 14-30P plug without having to hard wire my Clipper Creek charger.
Clipper Creek are based in Aubern near Scarymento and they offered such a plug and play beast in their product portfolio and my research also had them as the winner of the most serious charging system for EV owners.
By serious I mean really well built and lacking the mostly stupid electronics add on command monitor circuitry abilities that you can set them for via fancy apps on your phone.
I find EV chargers with these apps and extra electronic circuitry to do what the smartphone app command them to do are the actual weakest link points in these things.
I was lucky enough to have colleagues who worked for these electrical EV charging manufacturers and they all bitched about these apps telling the EV charger to do bad logic stuff which ended up frying the charger or the car they were charging and sometimes both.
Me, I just want an EV charging system that charges the car I plug it into sans dramas and crap and this thing has actually served me faultlessly for 5 years already.
If a charging system is designed properly when the target battery gets full, the charging system should be at zero.
My pals who bought these chargers with the fancy apps replaced theirs every 2 years or so which is not my idea of solid or reliable.
One of them lost his house, the Tesla car that was being charged and the entire charging system that went with it.
What I learnt from their and my own adventures is that this is a 240 Volt 30/40 Amp power system that delivers said AC power into the car and the car itself turns this AC power into DC power that is then stored in the then 60/90 kWh battery packs.
The Bolt is supposed to be able to do 12 Amp charging as well but it keeps switching back to 8 Amp because the Bolt Charging system that manages the AC to DC conversion keeps telling it to slow the fuck down.
This may be related to the 32 AMP limit of my charging system.
Pals of mine with the Clipper Creek 14-50 plug that deliver 240v @ 40 AMP have no issues with the 12 AMP charging on their Bolts like I do with mine but report it ain't that much quicker.
There is a handshake going on between the Clipper Creek system and the Car Charging systems in relation to max amps and voltage.
It takes a long time to charge up the Bolty from under 20% of power on any level II charging system at 8 or 12A though.
Because of the length of time it takes to charge therefore, and mainly due to the fact that we also bought a Jaguar I-Pace HSE EV in 2019, we use the Bolty mainly as the chief runaround vehicle for all the short range needs and other localized shit.
The Bolt also has a vastly better storage transport capability vs the I-Pace in terms of volume by the way.
I take the woofs to doggie day care in it, I do most grocery shopping with it and in general it is our short range runaround.
We sometimes take it to San Francisco and and it does well in the city and we run straight home without a recharge due to crime issues in San Francisco these days.
With the new battery they put in it the other day we now have a car that can do 284 miles sans AC being on while driving it and a brand new 66 kWh battery pack. Full AC on Range is 263 miles by the way.
Charging it DC Fast charge style still sucks though.
The Jaguar can charge to 80% in 37 minutes and it has similar LG batteries to the Bolty but they are rated at 90 kWh and can do a high rate of DC fast charge "if" you can find a DC fast charger that can deliver such 104 kWh charge rate nirvana that it considers to be "ideal".
So far I have only ever found two that can do it and they were both Electrify America systems along highway 5 in Redding and one near Scarymento somewhere on the I5 route.
The trick here is to leave the charging station when they get to 83% and keep the car at 72 Mph on the freeway.
This is part of the art of long route planning with any EV by the way.
I want to buy a Lucid Air because they can go 400 miles plus on a single charge and also DC Fast charge to 80% in about 30 minutes with newer Storedot based lithium cells (made in China sadly).
I actually want one of the new VW ID Buzz buses which are filling up the EU at the moment.
They are making a USA one that is longer than the Eurobuzz...
We will probably see them on sale here in 2025 I am guessing.
These things are selling like hot cakes in Denmark for some reason..
After the Jaguar I-PACE warranty is over I am speaking to some ICE to EV conversion folks about a new battery that will convert my battery pack to Storedot battery power, which will give me a 1000 mile range on a 5 minute charge.
However these 380 kWh charging systems that particular charging system requires are a very rare and a special experimental beast and I see problems getting permission for such a charging setup from Contra Costa officials for home use.
I need to be able to charge it somewhere though!
Stordot use capacitance technology to slow charge the Polymer engineered battery cells which are themselves engineering marvels of modern science.
The Israeli's have engineered out the bad Lithium temperature spike issues that stop EV's from charging rapidly via said Polymer Engineering Science.
With lithium you have to mix the formula of the cell chemistry to match the local conditions, temperatures and such, so that they do not swell too much when being rapidly charged.
This means EV batteries for working in Saudi Arabia will be very different from EV batteries made for Scandinavian countries in terms of lithium cell chemistry.
In the future we will have "smart" cells that will build the exact optimal chemistry they need from chemical reservoirs attached to the cells but these will be for Lithium based cells.
Ideally "if" they spike they also need to self repair.
I want a Polymer Engineered cell that does not use lithium but which has the sought after properties of Lithium - this is what Polymer engineering magic delivers.
A better lithium polymer product without the temperature spike problems of lithium - using cathode and anode polymer engineered materials and an exact polymer engineered electrolysis fluid that is perfect for this EV use case is the holy grail we are seeking here.
They have built such a Polymer Engineered beast in the lab in Israel but mass production would be required to bring the cost nirvana of such concoctions down a tad.
Storedot have also turned to solutions using old school Lithium chemistry techniques to overcome these bad habits of lithium and these cells are being made in China somewhere.
The energy companies are deliberately killing such developments by the way because they do not want immortal battery systems that never need replacing.
Unfortunately for them, this day is coming regardless of their desire for holding the public to their energy control ransom and associated agendas.
I think this is what is fueling modern age anarchy, companies who rip off the population hogs wild with stupid and greedy pricing with no social responsibility at all.
You can see the time it took this Electrify America charging system to charge a 2017 Chevrolet Bolt with the new 66 kWh battery system from 12% to 83% was 73 minutes.
That also costs an outrageous $24 by the way.
The most interesting facet about this is that when the Bolt gets to 42% of DC Fast charging it starts ramping down until it gets to 92% when it spikes to 16 kWh briefly and strolls in to 100% on a steadily decreasing slope to 2 kWh.
This behavior is pretty fucking irksome to say the least.
This means that if you want to drive a Bolty to LA from a 94509 zip code area in the East Bay, that you would plan a stop at Harris Ranch for a long Lunch n Charge session 161 miles away that takes you to some 95% of charge capacity or leave at 83% charge and stop at Stevenson Ranch Plaza and get to 93% there so you can tootle around LA with a lot of electrons in the old battery stack.
This assumes a 100% full charge when you leave home and that the AC is on the whole way and that your max speed will be 75 Mph, set to 72 Mph cruise on the cruise control set stick.
The drive time for such an epic is 6 hours and the charge time is roughly 144 minutes for a total of 8 hours and 24 minutes.
The good thing with a Bolty is it sips electrons in LA traffic and there are a good few charging stations in them parts.
Contrast this with the Jaguar I-Pace HSE which after some software updates has an effective range in Granny mode of 248 miles or 224 if you drive it at 78-90 Mph on this route.
The difference is it takes 37 minutes at a 150 kWh charger to get to your 83% charge but I let it run to whenever lunch is over at Harris Ranch then blast to Stevenson Ranch as fast as I can go with Waze on watch for pigs on the wing.
If I really need to Hustle I grab a sandwich instead of a steak at Harris Ranch and leave after 42 minutes of charge time at Harris Ranch and Stevenson Ranch respectively.
Not all Electrify America charging stations are the same however and I have on occasion found myself experiencing the Bolty charging at 50 kWh and then trickle charging at 23 kWh or less.
Fast and furious calls to the Electrify America folks when this happens has me trying all charging stations at that location but if one is doing it they all usually do it, so I go look for the next closest one in exchange for 35 miles or so of range before I leave.
This sorta shit all wastes time so my advice is just expect to take all daylight hours getting there and just chillax on such journeys in a Bolty.
I even tried driving at 60 Mph a few times with zero AC but I get bored after an hour or so if solo or even worse start getting sleepy in the warmer cabin environs and consider that a pretty dangerous antic.
I find I pay best attention at 78 Mph with the AC keeping me suitably chilled.
The Jaguar has weary driver detection capability but the Bolt has no such features or ability.
You have to guard against things that take your attention on such trips.
It would be useful if Tesla SuperChargers could charge non Tesla vehicles and I think Tesla are missing a huge revenue stream by making it Tesla only.
Tesla SuperCharger stations are mostly completely empty at all of the ones I have ever been to and I marvel at the fact they are just sitting there doing nuthin.
What a waste!
You can charge at Tesla Destination Charging stations if you have the Electron or the TeslaTap doodad that allows you to convert Tesla charging to J1772 level II charging.
There are a few of these convertor doodads you can buy but you need one that is rated at 60-80A and which can be locked and the TeslaTap 80A High Power converter is the one to get for that job for $239 plus taxes IMCO.
DO NOT BUY ONE THAT IS RATED AT LESS THAN 60A OR WHICH CANNOT BE LOCKED!
The 40A and the 48A ones are crap and a waste of time and money as well as bringing serious risk of damage to your EV to the table. Do not try save money with DC Fast charging doodads, trust me on this one.
Tesla Destination chargers by the way are typically found at Hotels, shopping malls and restaurants or parking garages and are just Level 2 charging systems.
When Tesla eventually opens up the SuperCharger network to non-Tesla vehicles you will need to buy the adapter for that pleasure from Tesla so you will have an adapter for both the Tesla SuperCharger network and the Tesla Destination charger network in your vehicle at all times.
284 Miles range after my latest charge!
Tesla are going to allow non-Tesla cars to access their SuperCharging network by the way, they are currently planning it and testing it all right now.
I do have info on this but cannot publish this at this time, so we will have to be patient while this story unfolds.
By the way if you elected not to have a DC Fast charger on your EV, you will never be able to use the Tesla SuperCharger network.
Just in case you did not understand it clearly, your EV has one or two charging systems for your large battery pack if you selected DC Fast charging when you bought it and these two systems are not the same at all, the one is 110-240V AC based level I or II home charger and the other is a high voltage Direct Current (DC) charging system you will have to travel too to use it.
Most EV's also have a regular 12v electrical battery system with a single 12v battery that gets trickle charged from the big battery pack, so you have a thing hanging off a thing and some EV's even have two 12v batteries that get fed from the main battery pack.
My Jaguar HSE has a normal 12v car battery as well as a smaller 12v motorcycle battery and they recently BOTH failed at the same time.
These are also NOT lead acid batteries they are also lithium based battery systems that look like the normal lead acid battery equivalents usually found in standard ICE vehicles.
Bad shit happens to an EV when these conventional 12v systems fail by the way and most of them do not give you health status of these critical battery systems.
You can see from the time to charge graph above that 144 minutes is a big deal that makes trip planning in a Bolty a bit of an art but note that you should never be recharging from a near zero charge situation in any event.
Most EV's go into shutdown or super slow mode when they get to a certain low level point and this is to allow you to pull over to the side of the road safely and park or limp the last mile to a nearby charger location.
I know from first hand experience in both the Bolt and the Jaguar HSE that if this happens, park real fast, no matter how full you think your battery state is when you get these warnings!
As I said earlier, these EV's also have more than one battery system, so do not be lulled like I was that despite your main battery being 100% charged and are getting a battery low charge and poor health warning that you can ignore it, because you can still have a fully charged core EV battery and also have the smaller 12v batteries fail on you.
In addition to the core battery pack for the electrical motor, there are also usually one or two 12v battery systems for normal car operational purposes.
The main DC battery feeds these two battery systems and these batteries are also usually smaller Lithium batteries instead of the lead acid batteries most ICE cars have.
If these smaller batteries fail or stop charging, your emergency brakes and other power that turns the car on so you can drive it could still shut down.
This happened to me in my Jaguar I-PACE EV400 in July and I ended up physically holding it from rolling into the freeway while frantically looking for rocks to anchor the tires to stop the car from rolling into freeway traffic.
Both of my 12v batteries had died and rendered the car completely useless and dangerously stranded on highway 160.
I now have Bluetooth sensors in both the Jaguar I-PACE and the Bolt on my new iPhone that check on the health of these two critical 12v battery systems.
Jaguar saw that the smaller one was a design error and the 2021 I-Pace only has one bigger one now and a far better monitoring system to go with it.
When we eventually replace the Jaguars LG Chem batteries with Storedot fare or whatever the latest EV battery technology will be at that time I will also fix that problem.
The first thing I do when I get in it every time I drive it is run the Battery sense app to check the status of these batteries.
For a town car and 5-8 miles trips four or five times a day or the odd 35 mile each way trip, the Bolt is ideal.
If your commute is longer than 70 miles each way where you do not need to drive around to customer sites on the other end it is doable but if you are over 200 Lbs @ 6ft plus you will have problems with lengthy commutes in a Bolt.
I take my two Golden Retrievers to doggie day care in the Bolt a couple of times a week on the back seat using a Doggie Hammock setup we have and this works well for the woofs.
The rear fold down seat thing was a fail because the flimsy rear floor panel lifts up at the back in certain spots while the woofs move around and I have removed this rear trunk raised panel for bigger luggage space in the last few days and I love it better that way.
This removed the option of folding down the rear seats.
The Bolty is now 5 years old and has a brand new battery guaranteed for 8 years or 100,000 miles.
It will be interesting to see if we keep it forever and find the next gen 3rd party battery for it and how we redo the seats at that time as well...
It will never have to do a smog test as we have no roadworthy checks here in the USA for older Non-ICE cars...
Over here, if it passes a smog test it is deemed roadworthy.....and if it don't need a smog test it is also deemed roadworthy.
I will also need to check on what EV Battery packs would be available for the Bolt in about 2027 or so and the Jag a year or two after that.
In the meantime I am looking at startupsville to be in the business of renewing old EV's with new components and batteries.
Think I can make a nice go of that shit actually!