Author Topic: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?  (Read 2123 times)

BudgetSlasher

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Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« on: August 30, 2019, 05:35:53 PM »
BACKGROUND:

All of this is a thought experiment / planning for the future. 

DW just got a new position with the same organization and will be going from 2-3 days a week to 5 days a week. Before this DW was already averaging 17k/yr.

Her round trip commute is (and will continue to be) 54 miles. (Before anyone comments that we should move closer to her job . . . my 5-day-a-week job has a round trip commute of 18 miles in the exact opposite direction; that mean every mile off of her commute is a mile added to my commute).

Her car is a 2007 with 160k on the odometer and has lived in FL, VA, VT, and ME. So there is all the rust that comes with road salt, plus age related items such as; leaking head gaskets, worn out bushings, still on original dampers, upcoming brake work, and the occasional electrical gremlin. In short, the vehicle has not yet hit the point of repeated and expensive maintenance, but it is, in my experience, rapidly approaching the tipping point.

We are considering replacing the car with an EV (I think a $8k used Leaf makes a lot of sense, she LOVES the more expensive BMW i3). Depending on the online calculator we would save $700 to $1,200 fuel costs on either car.

We would keep my car (2014 with 54k on the odometer and 5k on the motor) for longer distances, bad weather, and when more space is needed.

The longest trip we would need to make with this EV (one way) is 51 miles; multiple DC fast chargers are available there . . . so return charge is not an issue.

QUESTIONS:

How do the batteries hold up in these vehicles over time? We would be looking at 2014-2015 models that new had a range of 80-t-85 miles. The DW does not currently have the opportunity to charge where she works and would need to be able to make the round trip even with battery degradation.

How bad does the mileage suffer in the winter months? For the same reasons as above the range would need to be sufficient to commute any cold winter day without range issues. In bad weather, we would swap cars (as my commute is shorter and all on major well maintained state roads).

If you own one of these do you have anything else you would like to add?

FOLLOW UP COMMENT:

All of this is moot, if her car can make it another 5 years without major incident. This is a two-fold. 1) Given the rate of EV roll outs as of late, I expect that everything EV will be much more robust (charging infrastructure, vehicle offerings, and the like) or 2) her parents are "spendy pants" now when it comes to cars and will not keep a car beyond 5 years; so we would have the opportunity to purchase her mother's current new car (which is an acceptable option to us) for what would amount to a song.



rothwem

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #1 on: August 31, 2019, 06:29:04 AM »
Your wife is driving a car with a bad head gasket?

feelingroovy

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #2 on: August 31, 2019, 07:23:15 AM »
I live in upstate New York and we got a 2015 Leaf in the spring of last year. 84 mile range.  So we have only been through one winter. And I can't really speak to longevity other than the fact that when we were looking we only saw one Leaf whose mileage had degraded.

Turning on the heat definitely lowers the range. You will immediately see an 8 or so mile drop when you turn it on and it goes back up when you turn it off. The seat warmers don't have much of an impact though so you don't need the heat on the whole trip.

The overall cost of running it is so much lower and no one talks about what an incredible convenience it is to never deal with getting gas or oil changes. I love this car and I am not a car person and generally consider cars a hassle.

I would suggest looking at the plugshare app to see if there are any even level 1 chargers near her office. She wouldn't need a fast charge while she's at work just to top it off.

Or she could lobby to get her employer to get one.

Maenad

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #3 on: August 31, 2019, 07:31:41 AM »
We've got a 2012 Leaf with a similar range estimate when it was new. I live in MN with a similar commute as your wife two days a week, and our battery has degraded to the point that I could probably do it in the summer, but once the temps drop below 40 F, no bueno. Your commute of 36 miles round trip would be OK until the highs are below 0 in January. How are your jobs with working from home? DH and I can easily do it almost any time, so when it gets really cold we just check our work calendars and make sure there aren't any difficulties.

I'm not sure what battery improvements there were between 2012 and 2015, but if there weren't many, an older Leaf may not work for you.

gaja

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #4 on: August 31, 2019, 08:08:35 AM »
We've got a 2012 Leaf with a similar range estimate when it was new. I live in MN with a similar commute as your wife two days a week, and our battery has degraded to the point that I could probably do it in the summer, but once the temps drop below 40 F, no bueno. Your commute of 36 miles round trip would be OK until the highs are below 0 in January. How are your jobs with working from home? DH and I can easily do it almost any time, so when it gets really cold we just check our work calendars and make sure there aren't any difficulties.

I'm not sure what battery improvements there were between 2012 and 2015, but if there weren't many, an older Leaf may not work for you.

The first gen leafs (2011-parts of 2012) had battery problems, and some people have seen degradation. This was fixed around 2012, so from 2013 I don't think I've met people who have had battery problems with their leaf. So with a 2014, I would not worry at all. Most of the batteries in today's cars will probably outlast the cars. But do get a battery test done: if it is still at 100 % after 5 years, it is not a lemon, and will keep the range for a long time. If you see degradation in the battery test: steer clear.

The 84 mile range is not realistic, especially in winter time. I have a 2014 eNV200. It has the same battery as the leaf, but is heavier and has loses more to wind resistance. Year round, and regardless of topography, I know I will always be able to get at least 60 miles out of it. I have gotten 80 miles, but that was in the summertime with some tailwind. The only times I haven't been sure of 60 miles range, is if I drive >60mph on the motorway with heat on. The Norwegian EV association has done winter testing of most EVs, and say the winter range of the old leaf is 60 miles, summer range is 77 miles.

It is not the winter/cold weather in itself that eats range, it is the heater. In some of the older evs (pre 2000) it was not uncommon to have a small webasto diesel heater. But if you get one of the leafs that has the so called winter package, you'll get heat in the seat and sterring wheel. That is enough for me down to about 0C. Lower than that, I want some heated air too. And that eats range. But if you switch cars on those days, it is no problem at all.

In your situation, with a 54 miles daily commute, I would have preferred the BMWi3 or the 30 kWh leaf. The Kia Soul is also a great EV with a slightly longer range than the early leaf, or maybe even the Renault Zoe, if you have options for 400V. Just to have that extra little cushion for safety, and not having to charge it to 100% every night. But I have no doubt that the 24 kWh leaf will be able to serve your purpuse for many years.

NorthernMonkey

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #5 on: August 31, 2019, 11:22:08 AM »
Can you charge at work? If so, a 24 leaf will easily make it.

Cadman

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #6 on: August 31, 2019, 12:13:43 PM »
For that kind of range, I'd be looking at a used Bolt. Should be some decent deals, too, as the latest model with even greater range just debuted.

RWD

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #7 on: August 31, 2019, 12:34:34 PM »
plus age related items such as; leaking head gaskets
Head gaskets are supposed to last as long as the rest of the engine (Subaru didn't get the memo). If they are leaking they need to be replaced ASAP or you will be junking the engine very soon.

she LOVES the more expensive BMW i3
The i3 is a really good deal, depreciation has hit them hard. However, before you commit to one make sure you consider the cost of tires. The i3 has a unique tire size that is not shared with any other vehicle and currently TireRack is showing a set of tires at $624.50 (plus installation). And you don't get to choose which tires. I've also read that they wear out somewhat quickly so with your wife's mileage anticipate a set of tires every two years. Tires for the Leaf are roughly half the cost and should last about twice as long. So it's about $26/month (i3) versus $7/month (Leaf) in tire costs.

mschaus

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2019, 01:10:35 PM »
Her round trip commute is (and will continue to be) 54 miles. (Before anyone comments that we should move closer to her job . . . my 5-day-a-week job has a round trip commute of 18 miles in the exact opposite direction; that mean every mile off of her commute is a mile added to my commute).

This is the MMM forum... have you seriously looked into getting a new job for one or both of you? Or at least you might be able to arrange remote work for certain days of the week, reducing total life spent in the car.

For Leaf in winter:
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/10/06/electric-car-vs-winter/

debittogether

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2019, 02:54:11 PM »
My friend and her husband had a leaf in Chicago a few years back but unfortunately I don't know what year the car was.  He had a similar commute as your wife and charging at work. Ended up being a disaster in the winter and they got rid of it after 2 years.  Personally living somewhere this cold I wouldn't touch one as cool an idea as they are.

friedmmj

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2019, 02:26:29 AM »
I disagree that itís just a matter of running the heater in the winter.  Warm temps in the summer increase the range of an EV at lest 15-20% due to the chemistry of the battery although severely high temps also degrade the battery in a Leaf since it has no cooling system.  I would look at one of the newer Leaf models from the past 2-3 years they increased the range about 30 miles or so.

TomTX

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2019, 07:54:28 AM »
I disagree that itís just a matter of running the heater in the winter.  Warm temps in the summer increase the range of an EV at lest 15-20% due to the chemistry of the battery although severely high temps also degrade the battery in a Leaf since it has no cooling system.  I would look at one of the newer Leaf models from the past 2-3 years they increased the range about 30 miles or so.
Some EVs will let you automatically precondition the battery to ideal temperature in the morning while still plugged in. So you leave with a full, warm battery instead of a full, cold battery.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2019, 10:45:54 AM »
Your wife is driving a car with a bad head gasket?

Yes.

It is a known issues with the specific engine. Starts as a minor exterior oil leak/drip and can slowly increase in rate and/or develop into an exterior coolant leak. Due to the design of the specific family of engines the exterior leak is apparent much sooner than other engines. Standard practice at dealers and third party service shops tends to be monitor until the weeping become more pronounced or an exterior coolant leak develops, often that can take years (sometimes up to 5 years).

Typical costs (based on a quick google) appears to be between $2,100 and $3,000 to do gaskets and belts. (For this car it is an engine out service).

Given the range of other issues, and development of rust a head gasket replacement is probably the death knell for this car.

I live in upstate New York and we got a 2015 Leaf in the spring of last year. 84 mile range.  So we have only been through one winter. And I can't really speak to longevity other than the fact that when we were looking we only saw one Leaf whose mileage had degraded.

Turning on the heat definitely lowers the range. You will immediately see an 8 or so mile drop when you turn it on and it goes back up when you turn it off. The seat warmers don't have much of an impact though so you don't need the heat on the whole trip.

The overall cost of running it is so much lower and no one talks about what an incredible convenience it is to never deal with getting gas or oil changes. I love this car and I am not a car person and generally consider cars a hassle.

I would suggest looking at the plugshare app to see if there are any even level 1 chargers near her office. She wouldn't need a fast charge while she's at work just to top it off.

Or she could lobby to get her employer to get one.

Thanks for experience, info, and tips.

Unfortunately, the nearest plug share listed (at a dealership) would be half an hour walk and she would have to leave it there all day. (When working she cannot leave the site during her shift).

You are right she could lobby her employer to get a charger (and then she could get off of the charger during the day).

We've got a 2012 Leaf with a similar range estimate when it was new. I live in MN with a similar commute as your wife two days a week, and our battery has degraded to the point that I could probably do it in the summer, but once the temps drop below 40 F, no bueno. Your commute of 36 miles round trip would be OK until the highs are below 0 in January. How are your jobs with working from home? DH and I can easily do it almost any time, so when it gets really cold we just check our work calendars and make sure there aren't any difficulties.

I'm not sure what battery improvements there were between 2012 and 2015, but if there weren't many, an older Leaf may not work for you.

Thanks! The mileage in the cold is my biggest concern.

My job is (by policy) no work from home period. Her current job (by its nature) cannot be done from home. Her next job will allow work from home, but not for significant stretches and there will be plenty of days that she has to go in.

My round trip is only 18, so we could always switch cars on the coldest day.

Can you charge at work? If so, a 24 leaf will easily make it.

Nope in both of our cases.

Her round trip commute is (and will continue to be) 54 miles. (Before anyone comments that we should move closer to her job . . . my 5-day-a-week job has a round trip commute of 18 miles in the exact opposite direction; that mean every mile off of her commute is a mile added to my commute).

This is the MMM forum... have you seriously looked into getting a new job for one or both of you? Or at least you might be able to arrange remote work for certain days of the week, reducing total life spent in the car.

For Leaf in winter:
https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2017/10/06/electric-car-vs-winter/

We have considered changing jobs, but realistically unless I change sectors/career path I need to be in (or near) the city I currently work in and there is only one possible employer for her in that area, but they have a horrible problem with morale and staff retention. So, we are stuck working in two different cities for now.

Thanks for the link to MMM article (I vaguely recall reading that at one point) the 20% loss in the winter is what worries me.

plus age related items such as; leaking head gaskets
Head gaskets are supposed to last as long as the rest of the engine (Subaru didn't get the memo). If they are leaking they need to be replaced ASAP or you will be junking the engine very soon.

You got it, the engine in question is in fact a Subaru. We are monitoring the leak for the moment (which is the current opinion of our trusted service center). She has a routine maintenance appointment and state inspection next week and if they say the head gasket needs to be done, it will likely be the death knell for the car (given the list of other items from large ticket maintenance, to rust repair, and transmission work that are on the foreseeable horizon).

Hence, we are exploring replacing the car when that time comes. 

she LOVES the more expensive BMW i3
The i3 is a really good deal, depreciation has hit them hard. However, before you commit to one make sure you consider the cost of tires. The i3 has a unique tire size that is not shared with any other vehicle and currently TireRack is showing a set of tires at $624.50 (plus installation). And you don't get to choose which tires. I've also read that they wear out somewhat quickly so with your wife's mileage anticipate a set of tires every two years. Tires for the Leaf are roughly half the cost and should last about twice as long. So it's about $26/month (i3) versus $7/month (Leaf) in tire costs.

Thanks for that, I hadn't read anything about the i3 tire life issues (yet, but I will now).

afox

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #13 on: September 11, 2019, 01:44:10 PM »
lithium battery technology still cannot support charging at sub-freezing temps. Tesla and others use a complicated thermal management system to warm batteries before charging. much better if you have a garage for charging.

J Boogie

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2019, 07:54:27 AM »
I would go for the option of buying your MIL's car.  The day will soon come where an ideal low cost high range EV is available.

sisto

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2019, 09:21:39 AM »
You should look at Hyundai or Kia. Lifetime battery warranty.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #16 on: September 13, 2019, 05:49:51 PM »
lithium battery technology still cannot support charging at sub-freezing temps. Tesla and others use a complicated thermal management system to warm batteries before charging. much better if you have a garage for charging.

We do have a garage and it does stay somewhat warmer than outside; though it is not heated and does drop below freezing.

I would go for the option of buying your MIL's car.  The day will soon come where an ideal low cost high range EV is available.

I'd like to apologize, going back and re-reading the bit about my MIL's car I see I was lacking on details. We would have the opportunity to purchase the MIL's car at the end of her 5 year cycle, but she is currently just entering year two and we do not have that option today (we would need to wait 3-4 years before making that purchase).

Unfortunately, her car just failed the state safety inspection for rear brakes and head gaskets. (as an aside oil leaks are only cause for failing if they result in a safety risk, such as leaking onto hot exhaust and the associated fire risk). It also failed for rear brakes. And we know the dampers are coming due (still on the original dampers and there are signs that they will need to be replaced soon). I know that if we get into suspension work she will want to do all of the top hat, end links, and bushing that are making the old car noises. . . . (she is the more spendy of us).

Between the two of us she is the more spendy pants and has been complaining about here car for some time now (basic old car things). She views this as a beginning of the involved/expensive old car repairs and is using it to justify replacing the car.

At this point all I can do is constructively steer the search for a new car and keep the budget in check.

You should look at Hyundai or Kia. Lifetime battery warranty.

So far she like the Hyundai Kona Electric the best (over the Crosstek, Impreza, Crosstrek Hybrid, and Prius E-awd). To the point I am beginning to plan the wire routing and location for an EV-charger in the garage).

Tomorrow we go to look at several other EV options (Leaf Plus, Bolt, and Kia Niro (well Niro hybrid as a surrogate for the EV cabin layout since it is hundreds of miles to the nearest dealer with and EV in stock)). We will also be looking at several ICE options Forester ( a direct replacement for her current Subaru) and the Mazda CX-3/5 (the 5 would be a direct competitor to the Forester).

PDXTabs

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #17 on: September 13, 2019, 06:18:50 PM »
plus age related items such as; leaking head gaskets
Head gaskets are supposed to last as long as the rest of the engine (Subaru didn't get the memo). If they are leaking they need to be replaced ASAP or you will be junking the engine very soon.

It depends what is leaking where. We put ~40K miles on our 2.5 Suburu Impreza with only an external head gasket oil leak. We finally had it done when we did the clutch. But yes, oil<-->coolant, coolant<-->combustion chamber, etc is bad.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2019, 06:22:33 PM by PDXTabs »

Sjalabais

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2019, 12:45:17 AM »
We're in a pretty similar situation. I commute 23kms into the mountains, my wife only 5kms the other way to a train stop. We live along a Norwegian fjord with only 1 road, so no alternatives to cars. This April, we got a 2012 Leaf with 85% battery capacity left, ca 70k kms on the odometer. Super cheap used car, beating fossil competition by 40% in purchase alone.

Maximum range is, realistically, only about 90 kilometers, as it's the old, 1st gen battery. The thing is, you use the band between 20-80% charge, and that is a bit important to understand, because you won't be driving on the total edge of your capacity every day. Winter range might be halved if it gets really cold, even worse below -20įC. The bigger the battery, the longer the charging time, too. You might want a proper outlet for that in your house. Our ancient Leaf charges at 8A on a 10A granny plug. We use it much more than anticipated, so we charge 3-4 times a week (I can charge for free at work, too).

The 1st gen Leaf has a few huge plusses: "Fuel" running cost here in Norway are 0.24 NOK/km instead of about 1 NOK/km for our gas cars. I'm not translating this because everything is priced differently on your side of the pond anyway, but it's important for our rationale: It's an economical decision way more than ecological one to drive this car. The Leaf is so easy to drive, I had to warn my 6 yo to not joyride, or else... It feels like a modern car in most aspects: Very heavy, no rearward vision at all, simple use. The silent, instant acceleration of EVs is giggly fun.

Downsides are: It's still a Nissan. Sheet metal has the thickness of a soda can. We have had many Volvos, which have 2.5 times thicker sheet metal. This matters especially in regard to rust, but every Leaf around here looks as if it has had akne from being hit with stones and snow. The battery is located halfway in the boot, so this Golf-sized car can only carry stuff akin to a Polo/Yaris. It is a very heavy car and uses up tires quickly. This thing also beeps for something and everything all the time. I'm very close to just cutting off the speakers.

Overall, we are very happy so far. My wife wants to buy the new Honda e now the instant it gets available. A new car in a MM household! That sums up our EV experience.

curiositydriven

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Re: Who has an "inexpensive" EV in a northern climate?
« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2019, 01:27:25 PM »
I recommend getting the 2019 leaf base model, if you can get the right price. I just purchased one for 18k + tax in New England, you can get that price if your electric utility has any incentive rebates to stack on the state and federal tax. At that level, the yearly cost is equivalent to purchasing a used leaf if you're planning to keep it for a while, and you get a vehicle which is guaranteed to have sufficient range for 8 years (8 year battery warranty if the battery life hits 66%, equivalent to 100 mile range). Keep in mind your range is substantially cut by the cold where you live, and specifically for the nissan battery declines 0.01% per day on average (this is better with some other vehicles).

Three comments to make on the used leafs if you go that route, as I considered it also: 1) I thought the sweet spot was 13k for the 2016-2017 leafs with 30kwh battery, 2) buy the LeafSpy app and OBDII connector to measure the health of the used battery before you purchase, 3) mynissanleaf and the NISSAN LEAF owner's USA facebook group are good resources for that specific car.