AAA recharging trucks underused

The American Automobile Association (AAA) decided it would be a good idea to introduce electric car charging trucks in areas where EVs were proving more popular. This service was rolled out in 2011 taking in the likes of Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, Phoenix and Orlando. Even competitors of the AAA readily acknowledged that the business model behind this service made perfect sense and it would eventually be a winner. So, five years later how has the service been received by electric car owners?

Surprisingly low call out numbers

The AAA has around 54 million members and is called out around 32 million times each year, the majority of time to motorists who have run out of fuel. Again, even these statistics seem to back up the idea of a mobile electric car recharging service but so far the take-up has been minimal to say the least. When you bear in mind that this particular service included adapters to fit each and every electric vehicle on the road, what more could the AAA do? (more…)

Are we fast approaching the end of free charging for electric vehicles?

There is no doubt that the worldwide electric car recharging network is playing catch-up with the industry. As we mentioned in some of our earlier articles, the battery element and the recharging element of the sector have in the past been neglected in favour of actual mainstream electric car technology. Thankfully, in recent times this has changed, and while governments around the world are investing heavily in recharging networks, we may be approaching the end of free charging for electric vehicles.

Is this a major blow?

Sceptics of the industry, and there are many, will suggest that charging for the use of electric car charging stations will make EVs more expensive but this is a flawed arguement in reality. On the surface it may look as though this argument is acceptable but if you dig a little deeper the cost comparison between the electric car charging and traditional gasoline/diesel are still heavily skewed in favour of electric cars. So while the negative press regarding the potential ending of free charging across the globe may surprise many, this is not necessarily a problem going forward. (more…)

Improving range and life of your EV battery pack

Improving range and life of your EV battery pack

Changing your driving style to improve the range of your Electric Vehicle and other battery management tips.

As promised in the blog “My first date with an Electric Vehicle (EV)” I will give a few pointers on efficient driving and battery management to increase range and battery life.

There is nothing more satisfying than leaving home with a range of 150 miles (240km) available, arriving at work 50 minutes later and 35km further with the available range still being the same as when you left. How is this possible you might ask? Well, it is a combination of the engineering and adapting your driving style to suit the battery system. On the engineering front, the reactive braking system charges the battery when you take your foot off the accelerator or when braking. It takes about a day to get used to this style of driving, but once you have mastered the art of anticipating the stop-start traffic you can add (or save) about 15% on the range available from your battery (figures based on my own experience). Not only do you charge your battery during reactive breaking, the engine also serves as a brake instead of you having to use the braking system. All in all the past week’s experience proved to me that an EV is the perfect vehicle for someone who spends a lot of time in traffic.

Changing one’s driving style to suit the battery system is slightly more difficult for most of us. EV’s certainly punishes aggressive driving styles, you can literarily see your battery being drained when accelerating, which is a pity. There is nothing more fun than leaving all the gas-guzzlers in your wake, especially on the pull-away at a robot. To really understand the power of an EV at a pull-away you just have to Google for YouTube clips “Tesla vs. …“ to see how a whole host of supercars struggles against an EV. My favorite is the 2016 Tesla Model X against the 2017 Bentley Bentayga. Make sure to watch the clip to the end. The BMW ConnectedDrive app certainly helps you to change your habits by informing you how efficiently you have completed each trip. My best was 82% and, dare I say it, my worst was 16%.

Here are some pointers on how changing your driving style will increase your range and improve battery life.

  1. Don’t cut corners. A recent study by MIT and the University of Birmingham concluded that taking shortcuts is ineffective. Not only does it add 5 to 8 minutes in your own driving time it also adds to congestion which increases driving time during rush hour on average with 33% for all commuters.
  2. Stick to the Highway. EV’s prefer smooth driving conditions. Stop-start driving, accelerating and driving up hills obviously take more out of your battery.
  3. Use your car comforts sparingly. Heating and cooling drains battery power, I experienced a 15% decrease in range by just changing the heating from 21 °C to 28 °C. Higher end technically spec’d vehicles like the BMW i3 enables you to set your departure time, allowing the cabin to be heated while still on charge. Most EV’s also comes with different drive settings, whereby for instance the heating system could be disabled.
  4. Temperature has an effect on battery discharge. Excessive heat or cold will influence battery life. Lithium-Ion batteries prefer charging and operating in cool temperatures. Normal lab testing and benchmarking is done at around 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit). Battery operation above or below the laboratory conditions will differ from the manufacturer’s stated range. Apart from changing your driving times away from the midday heat or morning cold, which is not practical in most cases, there is nothing you can do here except to take note that temperature will impact your range. Some EV’s include liquid cooling to protect the battery pack.
  5. State of Charge (SOC) is a big influence on the battery’s life. A battery should not be charged to full and does not like to be at 100% SOC for longer than an hour or two. You will get the most out of your battery pack by keeping the SOC between 30% and 80%.

Although its sounds restrictive but in reality driving style has a bigger impact on a gas-guzzler from a financial perspective. Apart from the fuel cost, parts need to be serviced and replaced much more frequently than that of EV’s. In the end, it’s all just a mindset change of which you will reap the benefits of both the value of the battery and charging cost.

Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen


Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification, and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is an energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time, Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.

Quick Guide to Charging your EV

Quick Guide to Charging your EV

A quick guide to charging to charging your electric vehicle.

Charging your EV will remain the single most considered factor when owning or buying an EV. You can use to see what your EV’s mileage cost is depending on the electricity rate in your state.

There are 3 levels of charging your EV:

1.      Level 1 – Which essentially is plugging your EV into the mains. Depending on the EV’s battery specifications it can take up to 24 hours to fully charge your EV. Apart from the electricity rate paid to your utility, there is now additional cost involved for Level 1 charging. To fully charge a Nissan Leaf with a battery capacity of 24kW and a 2.3kW charge rate would take over 10 hours (24/2.3). Charging would put your electric system at risk in the long term as it would constantly be under full strain.

2.      Level 2 – Consist of a fast charger that can be bought extra with your EV. Different EV’s support different charging levels. The Leaf, for instance, has 3.3kW (or 6.6kW depending on country) onboard charger, the Ford Focus 6.6kW, and the Tesla Roadster 16.8kW. Again you will divide your battery capacity by the charging capacity to find the time to fully charge. Level 1 and 2 are ideal for city traveling and Level 2 charging stations are fairly cheap to install compared to DC fast charging stations.

3.      DC fast Charging (DCQC)– This charging station infrastructure is developed to deal with range anxiety and to support the use of EV’s over long distances. The DCQC charging option could add up to $700 on the purchase price of your EV. Various EV makes have various standard’s and therefore various adaptors. The standards are:

·        CHAdeMO, normally have a charge speed of between 40kW and 60kW. So charging a Nissan Leaf of 24kW/40kW = 36 minutes for a full charge.

·        Combined Charging System (CCS), a new standard with little penetration but an ultra fast charging speed of above 300kW in theory. Operational they only provide 60kW currently.

·        Tesla Supercharger is the company’s own improved DC fast charging standard with 120kW capability.

Map to Charging Stations

In the USA

Tesla DCQC network



Wynand Goosen

Wynand Goosen


Wynand studied his MBA in San Francisco where he was exposed to the fields of Service Science, Gamification and Renewables, which he combined to create wattEV2buy and the award winning web app Ekoguru. Wynand is a energy storage expert and has modeled, designed and presented various solutions utilizing lithium-ion and other electrochemical technologies. In his spare time Wynand is the author of a children’s book series and started a new project called “Career 180”.