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Daily Driving

(April 7, 2013) It’s been almost a year since I first started driving my Boxster EV, and I’ve only taken our alternate hybrid car a handful of times for longer duration trips. I’m driving approximately 9,000 kms per year, based on mileage to date. My energy costs are approximately $30 per month at a 10¢ per kWh (BC Hydro), as opposed to approximately $350 per month premium fuel costs ($1.55 per litre). In BC we have a 10:1 energy cost advantage by driving electric.

My typical commute takes me 20kms one way, about 8 of those at freeway speeds. At work, I can be fully recharged using level 1 (120VAC standard outlet) in about 3 or 4 hours. I’ve still retained a NEMA inlet port to my car so I have a collection of “pigtails” to ensure I can plug in to the most optimal charging receptacle available: regular 120VAC, or 208/220 dryer, oven or welding receptacles.

I’ve only run low on charge once, which was in mid March 2013. I knew I was running low, and not wanting to exceed a 20% state of charge minimum limit, I began searching for a place to plug in. Level 1 is last resort, as it will only provide you with about 5-7km of range per hour of charging. On this day, I was driving down a commercial road with a string of commercial/industrial buildings. After not seeing any obvious potential I simply pulled off into one of these commercial complexes, and saw a gentlemen outside his automotive shop, with no cars on the lifts. It was a slow day. I asked him if I could plug in, and he said sure. “Is that a hybrid?” I explained that it was fully battery electric. The next thing I noticed was that he had a welding receptacle next to one of his bays. I had the correct pigtail. He let me plug in, and in 90 minutes I had enough range for the final 20km to go, made a new friend, and explained the ins and outs of my conversion project. Ironically, he explained that his performance upgrade business had virtually dropped to nothing, and now, most of his business is just repairs. Yes, that is what happens with ICE cars and high fuel prices.

The electric drive system has worked perfectly, or more accurately predictably. I haven’t been into my component software systems for a while, but fine tuning an electric car is basically an exercise in settings adjustments via laptop. Battery management is probably the most critical thing for longevity of performance, and I did get some help in having that set up properly during the winter months when the effects of cold weather noticeably reduced range and the importance of battery management. Some professional assistance paid off, and since then the pack has been performing well. I have a short list of adjustments to make. Fine tuning my charging program, and … turning up the acceleration rate for the car. Spring is here… it won’t be long before I get around to that adjustment.

Driving Experience

I’ve driven lots of contemporary electric cars, but I love my Boxster EV. As a convertible sports car, you can’t beat it for that wide open feeling and handling ability. While a Tesla Roadster will easily outperform my conversion, it doesn’t have the cache of Porsche, or the fit and finish of a larger open roadster. My fingertip controlled regen braking combined with a manual 5 speed gearbox raises the driving experience to the next level of human/auto interaction. Every time I brake for the next set of lights, or roll down hills, there is that great satisfaction of recovering energy back into my pack, and keeping my four wheel disc brakes “polished, not punished”. There is this great feeling of being green, not only by zero emissions, but also by reducing significant amounts of harmful brake pad dust, and not polluting our cities with the noise, rattle and rumble of reciprocating engines and loud mufflers.

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