November 2015 Minutes

We started with Ron, mentioning Nabih’s middle school robotics competition.  Electrics of a different sort.  Rob described his Think City for sale- 30k miles.  Outside the club, Silver Spring’s Thanksgiving parade (November 28) was seeking an EV, says councilmember Tom Hucker.  It’s never too early- next year’s National Drive Electric Week will be Sep 10-18.  More recently, Chip got 1st place in the Aspen Hill car show, special interest category; Scott got 2nd.  Pat’s Volt was in the running too, and Charlie’s Porsche is converted.  Chip described the system; its battery capacity increase is huge.

In more everyday news, there’s some progress in Federal workplace charging.  We know Congress has installed and uses charging for itself; the EV-COMUTE Act would allow the GSA to decide on installations without micromanagement.  The House version of the big transportation bill passed EV-COMUTE language, the Senate version didn’t; they must reconcile.  No Maryland or Virginia senators are on the bill’s committee.

Elvia went to climate communications training in Florida, and has short and long versions to give.  Karsten sold solar panels to a former Exxon Mobil engineer.  Also in Florida, Greenshed Conversions is helping a member finish an electric Camaro.

Then the night’s guest: Certified Nissan mechanic Jose shared his accumulated wisdom.114243c

As a Nissan tech in general, Jose has to keep up with other models for decades while certifying on the Leaf.  In general, it’s low maintenance like you’d expect; the friction brakes still need work like a regular car, and tire rotation may be more important since regenerative braking is so strong.  One quirk of the Leaf is the parking brake, since there’s little engine and transmission drag; the Tesla Model S also needed a new parking brake design.

Working on the Leaf requires some different tools but nothing a handy person couldn’t learn.  There are no electric hazards that electricians aren’t already dealing with every day, they’re just in a car now.  Jose showed us some of his work equipment, and old Leaf parts.  Safety is largely a matter of following official company procedures.  For the ’13 model year, some stuff got moved and simplified, and the battery got sealed up.  Other than a battery zapped by an electrical fault, Jose has not done much pack maintenance or replacement; the next worst pack he’s seen was secondhand, from Arizona, and still got 60,000 miles on it.  The battery management computer will give a star rating for good charging habits, and identify any bad cells.  If anything, the little 12V accessory battery has caused more trouble, since the car computers can’t boot up without it.  Jose shared a trick to start the car with a dead key fob battery.  One of the few issues he’s seen is letting dead leaves accumulate in places, causing moisture damage which Nissan won’t cover.  114251c

Jose recommends not DC charging to 100%; the last bit of charging is slowest, and generates the most heat.  Switching to Level 2 for topping off is easier on the battery, and not much slower.  Members shared a tip- keep a straw or coffee stirrer around, to unlatch a stuck CHAdeMO connector.  If buying used, Jose recommends ’13 or newer, due to the under-the-hood changes.  He suggests a tow, then a tire repair over the can of tire sealant- mechanics never liked flat sealant.  Nissan does not recommend using a Leaf for emergency power without their factory interface unit, of course.

Ron showed three reports: the DoE’s 2015 update on solar, LEDs and EVs.  The UCS lifecycle report, again showing EVs beat piston cars even including full lifetime processes.  And “Charging Up,” a report on EV adoption in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.114253c

Ford, like Nissan and Tesla, now has a free charging program for Ford CMax buyers.

wasThe auto shows will arrive again with the new year.  Dave has a 20-point checklist; we’ll definitely need lots of volunteers as always, possibly a vice-trail-boss.  A full steering subcommittee might be worth considering; we will hold a conference call.  Our EV info sheet could use checking and updating for 2016; even if nothing changed we’d still need reprints.  The same for our three-sided display, and the club membership flyer.  There may now be enough vehicles to break the info sheet into BEV and PHEV sheets.

The annual party and December meeting will be Dec. 16, the usual time, in Rockville- the waiting area of the Tesla service center.  There will be chargers, sales staff, and test rides.  We must supply everything from tables and chairs to food and drink; options from potluck to catering were brought up.  Two club members live close by, and might be able to heat things; Rob also has a portable oven.  We want a head count if nothing else; the floor had a show of hands.  rv_tsc

At 9:07, the nominations closed and we held the club elections.  Jill had to decline the secretary position, but Ron ran as incumbent president, and Scott as VP; Bob was nominated for treasurer.  Put to a floor vote, the slate passed.

Just a few short weeks to the Dec. 16 party- hope to see you there!

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