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Happy 2019! Happy February! Wait, we vaguely remember something we needed to do in January...
After the last newsletter, we went into delivery preparation mode and ended up finding 3 people on our pre-order list who lived close by and were willing to have their cars modified with a "beta" MUXSAN extender battery. Unfortunately, what we did not know at the time was how time-consuming the battery box production process really was. Drying times for the resin were much longer than we expected and the amount of steps in the mold making process ended up being quite a lot more due to our molds not being single-piece, but 3-piece molds. This meant that as January progressed and the deadline for our first official conversion loomed ever closer, we decided to delay the first conversions until somewhere in February.
With the realization that there was much more work to be done on that than we expected, we switched gears and have been working full-time (sometimes even on Sundays) on the molds. As Emile does most of the video and communication work, that meant much less time was available for that, thus the lull in updates over January. As work on the battery box is finished up, video and blog updates should pick up again!
The original Leaf generation is not a very good car for driving long distances; as you may know from your own experience and people like Teslabjorn, the size of your battery is not that important for long distances. The quick charging speed is! The 24kWh Leaf battery, however, is really slow to charge. As you can see in the graph below, you can only get maximum charging speed up to about 25% SoC. Beyond that, the charging speed quickly drops, meaning it takes about 50 minutes to charge from empty to 80%, or well over an hour to get beyond 90%. By contrast, the 30kWh Leaf can charge at full speed up to about 80%, meaning that even though it has 30% more effective capacity, it can charge from empty to 80% in just over half an hour. If you do not charge from absolutely empty, the 30kWh Leaf is almost twice as fast as the 24kWh.
One of the promises we made with the announcement of the MUXSAN extender is to fix this. And we have! In the graph, the blue line represents a 24kWh Leaf with the large MUXSAN extender - and it maintains full charging speed up to about 65%! Note that with an extended battery, the MUXSAN Leaf has a usable capacity of approx. 32-37kWh, so charging up to 65% is equivalent to charging 20-24kWh, or about 150km. The graph shows Emile"s 2011 Leaf with 16.1kWh usable capacity main battery charging at a Fastned 50kW charger at 3 degrees centigrade outside temperature and 7 degrees C battery temperature. The maximum fast charging speed will continue up to approx. 75% at warmer temperatures.
Not only that, but the old 24kWh pack throttles charging speed at low temperatures to as low as 50% of normal speed (below approx. 5 deg C). And if you are familiar with your car on longer trips - the battery gets very warm on long distances too; often up to 30C even though outside it is close to freezing temperatures. In warmer weather, it will even rapidgate like the 40kWh Leaf! With the extender battery taking up most of the peak loads during driving, the MUXSAN extended Leaf keeps both batteries cool.
All of this makes it possible to travel long distances in winter in a modified 24kWh Leaf. To test this, we recently tried this out; we traveled from Rotterdam to Oude Pekela (Groningen) and back, around the IJsselmeer - about 600km with lots of headwind in a single day with 6 charging stops (charging between 15-65% every time). The battery started at around 6 degrees C in the morning, and in the early evening after a day of driving, it was only 20 degrees C.
For 24kWh Leaf owners on the pre-order list, this is a big improvement. Of course, 30kWh Leafs already charge very quickly up to 80%, which will not be improved much with the extended battery.
As the battery in the Nissan Leaf degrades over time, you will find out that the car will not use regenerative braking as well anymore, especially at low temperatures. For instance, our 2011 Leaf with more than 145000km driven would only brake at low speed and below approx. 60% SoC - and full regenerative braking power (30kW) was only possible when the battery was almost completely empty. Of course, this makes the car less efficient in city driving and causes the driving characteristics of the car to change from empty to full. Well, we fixed this too.
The car can now access full regenerative braking power at any state of charge - even when the car is completely full. To be more precise; the car will enable regenerative braking up to 100% state of charge. When the car charges the battery, it will typically charge to about 95%, keeping 5% reserve. This means that with a full battery, you will be able to do short bursts of regenerative braking, but you will e.g. not be able to fully regeneratively descend from a hill - that would overcharge and damage the batteries. You will still need to enable a charge timer and limit the charge to 80% if you wish to do that.
Something that may not be as technically interesting but has been a big timesink is our admin - specifically our bank account and insurance. After more than 3 months of waiting and communication, we finally have a bank account with Triodos Bank. They are currently the only bank that does not invest in weapons or fossil fuels AND accepts cooperative companies, so we had no real other choice - but their service has been awful so far. We sincerely hope other banks will soon enter the market of sustainable business bank accounts.
We are also in the process of getting full liability and customer insurance via Bovemij. In this case, we are much more positive about their service, with a recent visit from the insurance agent who seemed to mostly be interested in the technology and projects in our shared workspace with EV Europe.
We do not expect regular extender installs to take more than a day; our process is set up so we can receive you in the morning and you can leave with a better car in the evening. However, things do not necessarily always go as planned. Or maybe things do go as planned, but you really don’t feel like sitting around at EV Europe or taking transit to one of the surrounding city centers. In short, you would like a loaner car like you get at any other car dealership or garage.
Well, we are currently hashing out the details of a loaner car, courtesy of one of the only pure electric car dealerships in the Netherlands: Auto Bleeker BV in Purmerend. As a dealership for predominantly Leafs and Zoes, they are very interested in what we are doing and are happy to help - and their help will help our customers in turn! We will be converting their car with a MUXSAN extender and using it both for testing purposes and loaning it to customers whenever needed.
In the last company update video, we showed our iron-on badges, which will be affixed to the upholstry on the extender battery inside your car. But of course, you want to flex that extender battery when you are out and about to show your friends how cool your car is! All joking aside, we have found reasonable-looking metal-like stick on letters for cars, and have outfitted Emile"s car with MUXSAN branding on the back. We will keep a stock of these letters in the workshop and if you want, we can change - ahem, *improve* the branding of your car.