Dear Test Driver,
We are gathering momentum
Wow, thanks! Slowly the word is spreading and more people are enrolling as test drivers. You are now one of 22 volunteers, collectively driving 12 Nissan Leafs, 2 eNV200 vans, 4 Mitsubishi Outlanders, 3 EV conversion vehicles and an iMiEV. That’s enough to knock the corners off the software and test it on a variety of models. We won’t go public until we have made some essential software modifications, but neither will we turn away new volunteers to test drive in the meantime.
Your persistence is heartening
Hats off to you: All but one of the 22 test drivers filled in their monthly data, our second test data cycle.
Five gifted us historical runs of data which will make a tremendous difference if and when we go public with the tool. Some of you have magnificent records back to the day your ‘battery-powered electric vehicle’ (BEV) hit the NZ roads.
We expect this whole process to get more rewarding and much faster as time goes on, so we hope you will upload data for October in the 1st – 3rd November slot when you receive the automatic Email reminders. Just clock into the portal anytime using the link emailed to you to see what the gathering data reports look like, or to retrospectively add historical data if you have any. You can also correct earlier data or fill the gaps you left when you first uploaded.
This month’s improvements
Two of you found a process error with the Legal Agreement sequence – thanks – and some input errors and missing values exposed ways that we can incorporate safeguards to minimise these problems in the future.
The data input sequences are still clunky and require you to enter some of the vehicle registration details (‘static variables’) as well as the latest month’s figures (‘accumulating and fluctuating variables’). We’ll get rid of this added work for you just as soon as we can modify the software. One example was that you need to re-enter the odometer reading at first registration each month – some of you didn’t do that, and therefore many of your car’s performance indicators could not be calculated instantly for your graphs. We patched up the hole manually as soon as we noticed it happening, so if you were one of those drivers, you might like to log into the portal again and have a look at the refreshed and extended graphs now available.
We added a request for the distance and reason for your last trip taken in the month, and whether you charged along the way. This will be very helpful to demonstrate the practical uses of BEVs
We have started gathering data on EV and PHEV imports sitting in sales yards and before they are sold. Naturally the new owners may not wish to participate in Flip The Fleet so the data will sit silent in the background until an owner makes their own approach to join – but then we will have the vehicle’s foundation records before it is driven here as a baseline to track how it then performs in NZ conditions.
A few results so far
Of course we can just provide a glimmer of what can be done with the database that we are all co-creating, but we figured it would be nice to at least illustrate how your trust and time will help flip the national fleet. Here are a few examples.
- Monthly travel varies enormously –test drivers travelled between 155 and 2,486 per month. The average was 1397 km per month. These sorts of simple stats can be used in regular press releases to dispel the myth that BEV owners don’t travel far. We also use the averages to project how many GHGs etc. are saved each month by each of you, and nationally by all BEV owners.
- Similarly, individual trips have varied from 1 to 400 km, with a median of 34km. The frequency distribution of trip distances will help bust the myth that people with BEVs don’t venture far from home base. It will also be interesting to see how far PHEVs travel compared to EVs (do people really need a PHEV rather than an EV?).
- Efficiency (Km/kWh) for the Nissan Leafs varied from 4.9 to 7.8, and averaged 6.2. This probably reflects terrain, % urban driving, season, whether you normally have the car loaded with passengers and gear, and your own driving styles. Efficiency is an important variable in calculations that will compare your performance and costs with equivalent ICE vehicles, and to predict range contractions as battery health decays.
- Battery State of Health (for those of you with LeafSpy or EVBatMon apps) varied from 79 to 100%, and averaged 87.6%. There is considerable variation, even after taking into account year, odometer and charging cycles – see the scatter of points around the trend line in the attached graph. This will partly reflect age of the car and use before second hand cars came to NZ. FtF will track rates of battery degradation from now on in NZ to pinpoint what causes this variation and what can be done to minimise it. We need data in NZ conditions to make our case.
Remember, these, are very early snapshots that are mainly intended to illustrate how we can all use our collected data in the longer run. Once we have 200 BEV owners uploading their data each month, we can counter misinformation and advocate more strongly for driving electric.
We will keep modifying and improving the software and reports as fast as we can manage, paying particular attention to making it work better for Mitsubishi Outlanders and EV conversions. We are also preparing a tender for EECA’s Low Emission Vehicle Contestable Fund to fund the necessary software development and mount a public recruitment drive. Our application will be lodged on 14 October and outcomes announced around mid-December. We’ll keep you posted.
Thanks from all the EV community,
Henrik & Dima