Friday, January 8, 2016

eL Blue Goes to Asheville or Maybe Gatlinburg...a fact-finding mission...

Of Course It Can Be Done...Can't It?

Day 2, New Year's Day, 2016

Day 2 began overcast and chilly, temps in the 40ºF range.  My goal this day was to reach Asheville.  I figured it would not be too difficult, seeing as how there is DC fast charging available along the way, and Plugshare says it's functional.  So, off we go...

Fully charged battery, free "continental breakfast" imbibed, time to move north.  I started paying less attention to the trip meter on the dash, so you'll see it's value change a couple of times, then I stopped resetting it.  I didn't really care how far I was going, and I knew that I could recalculate distances if necessary, because Torque Pro keeps a log of the data.

I decided that I would have lunch in Waynesville, N.C. today (54 miles) so that became my next stop.  Since this was going to be on New Year's Day, I was pretty sure my "backup emergency charging stop" in Franklin, N.C. at Smoky Mtn. Chevrolet (16 miles) was going to be unavailable, but I was also pretty sure I could make Waynesville on one charge.  So, let's go!

One concern was elevation changes.  Temperature, not so much.  It would be cold, but mostly at night, and it would only go below freezing for 2 nights, and pop right back up into the 40s and 50s during the day.  However, the elevation changes caused me to be acutely aware of my range and SOC, thus the "emergency backup charging stop" only 16 miles from my Day 2 start point.

In the end, elevation changes had little negative impact.  But I didn't know this initially, so I proceeded with caution.  I drove at the speed limits and used every opportunity to hypermile.  Going downhills can gain back significant amounts of energy, especially when modulating between coasting (Neutral or N), light regen (Drive or D), and heavy regen (Low or L).  I found myself rarely touching the brake pedal.

At Smoky Mountain Chevrolet, as I expected, the gates to the lot were closed, so I was unable to charge or even see the Level 2 charging station.  No worries.  On to Waynesville we go!

Arrived at the DC fast charging station in Waynesville with plenty of range remaining, so I plugged-in to the nearby Chargepoint Level 2 charging station so that I could go in search of food and drink.  I figured I would DC fast charge after I eat. Small benefit of a 3.3 kW AC charger.

I remembered to snap a photo of Torque Pro whilst the car was charging.  3 kW. Not fast enough, but I'll have plenty of time to eat and stroll about Waynesville...

I ended up at Boojum Brewery Taproom and had a tasty Pequino Diablo Jalepeno IPA washed down with a lovely burger called "The Old Faithful". Nice.
Left on park bench.  There is hope for our species.  But it's not Donald Trump.
Thought this was kinda cool...

After lunch, I walked around for a bit, an overcast and dreary day, not much foot traffic in town.  Waynesville seems to be a neat place to visit again.  There are nice shops, restaurants and clubs for live music that might be worth checking out.

Back to the car after about 81 min.  Gained 36% SOC and added 16 miles range.  Gah!  C'mon, GM!  You gotta do better!

Officially, Chargepoint says I was plugged-in for 01:26:13, cost $2.05.

Plugged-in to the DC fast charge unit and let 'er rip...

This charging station got up to the 34 kW range.  Officially, Greenlots says I took on 9.20 kWh in 22:29, cost $4.50.  Onward to Asheville...

Arriving in Asheville, had only a little trouble finding the DC fast charging station on Charlotte St.  Plugged-in...

Notice the big difference, here.  Reported mi/kWh has jumped from 4.4 to 6.1! Though I went 28.1 miles, the GOM is quite optimistic, going from 84 mi range indicated to 77 mi.  The random element, in this case, is not Leonard's going down the mountain!

I also snapped a couple photos of the displays during active DC charging to compare what Torque Pro said and what the DIC said.  Close, well within normal error correction factors.  This, however, is not the case when the charge rate is higher, but for now, it will suffice.

Well, then!  Seems that this little car gets quite the kick out of going downhill.  My original plan was to just go to Asheville, get a hotel room, walk around and see the sights...if the car could make it.  Once I saw the impact of the downhill ride on range and SOC, I couldn't resist doing it again and again!

So, instead of doing the la tourista routine, I decided to see if I could it make from Asheville to Gatlinburg.

Let's go!

Full battery.  Greenlots says I took on 5.80 kWh in 18:50, cost $2.51...and notice that the mi/kWh has come back down to earth... :)

Arriving at the Oconaluftee Visitor's Center in Cherokee, N.C., where a DC fast charge station resides.

Traveled 54 miles, and the GOM has recovered somewhat from its freakout.  Honeymoon is over, right?

Well, just outside of Gatlinburg is another DC fast charging station.  Nice.  Bookends the mountains.  Charge up before you go up; enjoy the ride down the other side!

Full battery, now, and Greenlots says I took on 13.40 kWh in 27:46, cost $11.51.  Yes, you read that right.  $11.51.  That's $5.55 for the electricity and $5.96 transaction fee.

$5.96 transaction fee.  Every.  Transaction.  It's written right there on the charging station, and it even includes the reason for the fee:

Okay.  Um, well...except the sign says "$5.95 for access".  My Greenlots account statement says "$5.96".  Guess I'll have to call about that.

Moving right along...charged up and ready to go to Gatlinburg.  Will I need to stop at Sugarlands Visitor's Center to DC fast charge (just outside Gatlinburg)?

Arrived at Sugarlands Visitor's Center with...wait, just look at this for a moment...

Okay, where were we...?  Oh, yes.  EV road trip.  Right.
Arrived at Sugarlands Visitor's Center with...wait...92 miles range remaining...?  But, that's what we started with!  That's impossible!...

Whoa, here.  What happened?  Have the laws of physics just gone awry?  Well, not really.  The devil, as is said, is in the details.  I don't know if I can offer much of an explanation in terms of the programming of the software or in terms of the engineering. Still, this is just so interesting!

Notice the time of day, the ODO and the SOC.  They corroborate.  However, in the next picture, taken whilst the car is actively DC fast charging, the GOM suddenly resets itself to a lower value.  Chugging along at 44kW...

Greenlots says I took on 6 kWh of electricity in 13:47; cost, $8.72.  The GOM has regained its composure, it seems, and is ready for another assault.

Scratching my chin for a bit, I decided to call it a day and holed up in a Hampton Inn in Cherokee, N.C., 38 miles away...

Damn, this is getting interesting....

End of Day 2

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