Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Why SparkEV by SparkEV Blogspot

As of Sep. 2015, these are my reasons for SparkEV.

Look! Out on the road! It's quick! It's quiet! It's SparkEV!
Yes, it's SparkEV. A fantastic EV that's risen from the ashes of crushed EV1. SparkEV, which can out accelerate any new car under $20,000 in 0-60 mph and more efficient than any EV in its class. And who, disguised as a mild mannered five door subcompact car with safety of 10 air bags, fights a never ending battle to reduce importing oil from ISIS, Russia, Venezuela, and EV stereotype of over-priced, under-powered glorified golf cart that can only drive 80 miles a day.

1. SparkEV costs as low as $13,500, which is cheaper than Spark gas version.
Spark EV MSRP = $25,000 - $7500 (federal tax credit) - $4000 (CA rebate) = $13,500
Spark gas MSRP with automatic transmission = $15,100
*note: Income greater than 3 times poverty level qualify for only $2500 CA rebate. 3X poverty level is about $45,000/yr for single, bit over $60,000 for family of 3. Income greater than $250,000/yr do not qualify for CA rebate.

2. SparkEV lease could cost less than $1,500 used car.
SparkEV GM factory lease of $139/mo for 39 months with zero down = $5421
CA rebate = up to -$4000 (-$2500)
Total lease cost = $1421 ($2921)
*note: New car insurance is higher, but that's offset by fuel savings and practically zero repair and maintenance of SparkEV. Individual savings will vary depending on used car's condition, insurance premium, driving habits, and subsidy eligibility.

3. SparkEV is quickest new car under $20,000 in 0-60 mph, EV, gas, diesel or anything else.
SparkEV = 7.2 seconds ($13,500)
Mazda 3 with 2L engine / automatic = 7.7 seconds ($19,995)
VW Jetta with 1.8L Turbo / automatic = 7.4 seconds ($22,815)

4. SparkEV is quickest EV under $30,000 in 0-60 mph.
SparkEV = 7.2 seconds ($13,500)
Mitsubishi i-Miev = 13.0 seconds ($23,000-$11,500=$11,500)
Fiat 500e = 8.7 seconds ($32,600-$11,500=$21,100)
Nissan Leaf = 9.4 seconds ($32,950-$11,500=$21,450)
BMW i3 = 6.5 seconds ($43,395-$11,500=$31,895)
Tesla P90D = 2.8 seconds ($119,200-$11,500=$107,700)

5. SparkEV is most efficient EV under $30,000 (lowest use of imported oil) .
SparkEV = 119 MPGe ($13,500)
Mitsubishi i-Miev = 112 MPGe ($23,000-$11,500=$11,500)
Fiat 500e = 116 MPGe ($32,600-$11,500=$21,100)
Nissan Leaf = 115 MPGe ($32,950-$11,500=$21,450)
BMW i3 = 124 MPGe ($43,395-$11,500=$31,895)
Tesla 70D = 101 MPGe ($75,000(?)-$11,500=$63,500)
*note: US electric grid is energy independent in that it uses virtually no imported energy. Oil is up to 60% from imported sources (in 2006) such as Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, and "blame" Canada.

6. SparkEV can fast charge 80% in 20 minutes (able to drive over 1,000 miles in single day).
SparkEV with fast charge option = Combined charging system fast charge (CCS)
Fiat 500e = no fast charge available
Mercedes B class = no fast charge available
Nissan Leaf with fast charge option = Chademo fast charge
BMW i3 = Combined charging system fast charge (CCS)
Tesla Model S = Tesla Super charger
*note: 65 mph driving for 1 hour and 10 minutes to get off/on highway and 20 minutes to charge, get food/coffee, use bathroom would result in 44 mph average speed. 24 hours would result in theoretical 1056 miles. Without fast charge, even 130 miles would take upwards of 8 hours. Fast charge is a must for any EV.

7. SparkEV uses smallest battery in EV that gets over 80 miles range per charge.
SparkEV = 19.5 kWh, 82 miles range
Fiat 500e = 24 kWh, 87 miles range
Nissan Leaf = 24 kWh, 84 miles range
BMW i3 = 22 kWh, 81 miles range
Tesla P90D = 90 kWh, 300 miles range
Chevy Bolt = ??? (50kWh? 200 miles range?)
*note: Small battery means potentially lower replacement cost after warranty period of 8 years. It is estimated that Lithium battery raw material prices are around $100/kWh, an eventual lowest cost for battery.

8. SparkEV uses thermal management (liquid cooling) for battery.
SparkEV = liquid cooled thermal management
Nissan Leaf = blow hot air
Tesla P90D = liquid cooled thermal management
*note: Liquid cooled thermal management increases battery longevity and faster charging by better dissipating heat generated by charging and discharging process.

9. SparkEV is safe, practical, and works well with fostering homeless dogs.
SparkEV = 5 doors, 10 air bags (think of Pathfinder landing on Mars), high head room
Fiat 500e = 3 doors, difficult rear seat access when used with doggie barrier
Tesla P90D = would you want to have its leather interior covered with dog hair, windows splattered with drool, and sand on floor/seats from dog beach?
*note: Volunteer to foster homeless dogs and/or adopt foster dogs. It's a rewarding experience for humans and saves dogs' lives. SparkyV will thank you.

10. SparkEV has been sold out in much of So Cal since about mid May 2015. Reason is obvious; it's the best car for the money, EV or gas. Grab'em if you can before they sell out again!

If you want to see how SparkEV stacks up against other EV, see

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Imported oil geo-politics: SparkEV, the car that will save the world

Not all oil is the same. One crucial aspect is that imported oil can come from ISIS, Russia, Venezuela, and, heaven forbid, "blame" Canada. While overall imported oil is about 30% in 2014, it was as high as 60% in 2006. But as an individual, we use particular type of oil for our vehicles. Since refineries can't use any oil (ie, light sweet vs tar sand), they use about 60% from imported sources. What this means is that you're directly paying ISIS and "Terence and Philip eh? eh?" Canadians with up to 60% of what you pay at the pump. Yes, the ISIS bullet that killed Syrian kids probably came from your pocket if you pumped gas.

Oil wars are not for oil

Often I hear undeclared subsidy for oil are US wars in middle east. That's nonsense. Oil is secondary pretext for war (primary being democracy, human rights, what have you). Far more plausible underlying reason for war is duping the public into fear and to collect more taxes. If some entity is demonized and we are at war with them, people are more likely to cough up the dough. Follow the money for wars and see who benefits: oil companies or war department?

About 20% of US budget is for war department (let's call it what it is instead of "defense" department). A budget monster of $650,000,000,000.00 (or much more?) isn't likely to go down without a fight. There's only so much BS they can give during peace time to keep up their budget.

One way to keep funding during peace time is to demonize another country that we are at peace with at the moment. Now that the cold war is over, we need another. How often do you read about evil China and their military build up? While we spend $650 Billion, China spends $120 Billion, less than 1/4 of what we spend. And why would China go to war with US when US is their largest economic partner? Do they want to commit suicide? If they go to war with US and win, presumably to take over US, then what? Are they going to "manage" US as well as they're doing now with China having 1/8th the per capita GDP of US? This is complete nonsense, but many seem to believe it.

If boogeyman fear isn't enough, a far more effective way to keep/boost war funding is to have some convenient wars here and there to remind the population that boogeyman is still out there and real. Of course, the pretext has to be something like human rights and other nonsense. Occasionally, they slip up, like George H.W. Bush said about the first gulf war being about oil. But if oil did not matter, we'd still have wars, whether it's North Korea or Cuba (before 2015) or Congo or where-ever else we deem convenient to keep the war funding increased. As such, war for oil is false pretext, and oil means nothing when it comes to wars.

But hypothetically, let's assume war was for oil. Shouldn't US benefit from those wars? Why import when we can simply take over the oil fields? Some argue that is happening and all the profits are going to oil companies. As public company, they have to release their books, and you're free to examine them. Then some say those books are cooked. So then the question for them would be, "what would convince you that the wars are not due to oil?" Typically they say, NOTHING could convince them that war's not for oil! Yes, this is straw-man argument, but I haven't heard any good argument for the reason for war is oil while actual beneficiaries are war department cronies.

Most recent war is "war on terror", not oil. When does this war end? When all terrorists are killed? Well, no. This war will go on FOREVER! Pretext for war against terrorist is complete nonsense, just like war for oil is nonsense. The real reason for war is to keep the public in fear so they can collect more taxes.

In a related note, if you think more taxes will help schools and roads, think again. Schools and roads take tiniest of tiny chunk of the tax money compared to war department. Far better idea is to fight to reduce taxes while changing the budget for more productive use. While I dislike subsidies, EV subsidy to get off importing oil is worthwhile endeavor. Economic war on importing oil via subsidy is something I don't mind fighting; nobody dies in this war. In fact, it will save lives via reduced pollution in populated areas as electric generators tend to be in less populated areas.

If war isn't for oil, then why do we care about oil? I might as well drive a Ferrarri that gets 8 MPG, right? No, we care, at least a little, because what's done with the money we pay at the pump. 9/11 was the result of using oil; if we did not give so much money to Saudis for oil, bin Laden probably wouldn't have so much money to fund terrorists, let alone buy a camel for himself. If not for oil, they'd have to do something more productive; with vast Saudi desert, could they be the leader in solar technology today? It's hard to say.

9/11 is just the recent past, but what of the future? As we pour more money into cleptocracies and crazies (ie, Venezuela), we're just inviting more nut jobs. Will one of them take the oil money that you gave at gas station and buy asmall nuclear bomb or plutonium dust and explode it in middle of Manhattan? If we continue to fund wackos, that will happen, not if but when. It doesn't guarantee that won't happen if we don't use oil. However, it is far more likely when they have the money but without much else to do other than digging holes in the ground for oil.

I only touched on this topic. As you look around the world, you will see that oil exporting countries generally lack intelligence (Norway is a rare exception with Qatar trying but failing). They don't produce much other than oil. Who could blame them? Money is pouring in from all corners of the world just by digging holes in the ground. Why should they risk technological development and risk making less money?

That, of course, doesn't mean their population fare well. One only has to look to Venezuela, one of the most oil-rich nation in the world and how poor the people are; as with other oil rich nut jobs they blame other countries for their ills. And finally, one can't forget Canada, a morally corrupt country that gave us "Terence and Philip" along with their tar sands.

Peak oil and scarcity

A very important fact to remember is that fossil fuel, including oil, should be considered virtually unlimited resource in free market economics. While this may seem obvious to econ (homo-economicus), this fact is lost on many, so I'll try to explain it.

Oil is the result of millions of years of dead organic material. Earth had organic matter for roughly a billion years while humans have been using it for about 100 years. Yes, not all of that billion years' worth is available as fossil fuel. But as simple estimation, it's hard to say that we've used many, many orders of magnitude of production in such short time. Indeed, we haven't used much in grand scheme of things, and we're not likely to run out any time soon.

Oil is only scarce due to its price. The so-called "peak oil" is only with respect to technology and cost of exploration, not necessarily due to physical scarcity. If oil cost $1000/gallon, and people must use as much as they do now, companies will find lots of oil, even in so-called no-oil countries like Japan and Korea. If oil is free, not much oil will be found; there's no reason to do so, but there will be constant shortages due to everyone clamoring for freebie oil. In the real world, if oil cost goes up to $1000/gallon, people will simply not use oil. Instead, companies will invent alternatives. Heck, even at $3/gal for gasoline, people like me are driving EV primarily as cost cutting measure.

Fossil fuel Politics

Politics play a huge role in oil pricing, which is another way of saying how much oil is available, so one must discuss politics when discussing availability of oil. Gas is sold with heavy taxes, but producing oil is done with subsidy. This keeps oil exploration and production cheap while artificially keeping the price high at the pump. Overall effect on price compared to free market without subsidy and taxes, according to wikipedia, is probably not much. Since overall effect on price would be about the same without subsidy and tax, they are promoting oil exploration without increasing pump prices. But think about it. Government is subsidizing BP, Exxon, etc. while taxing you and me. While the effect on price to you and me may be benign, there's something distasteful about taking money from individuals to give to multinational corporations. This is a rare moment when I'm not a homo-economicus.

Now let's assume there's no subsidy for production, but the tax for consumption (you and me) is kept. Prices will go up due to lower production, although it's hard to tell if other nations will boost production and to what degree. But more importantly, this will result in less oil exploration in US and more imported oil. Worse, higher prices may lead to less demand, but that extra money will go to foreign sources. Do you feel comfortable giving more money to ISIS and Putin when you pump gas? As distasteful as subsidy is, I prefer subsidy over more imported oil.

Now let's assume there's subsidy for production and no tax for consumption. In CA, tax alone could lower the gas price by almost $1/gal. People will simply use more. Eventually, the price will stabilize, but it will again increase imported oil to meet the demand at least for short term, if not forever. Once again, more money to ISIS and Putin. As much as I hate taxes, it might be worse without it in case of oil.

But what if both subsidy and tax are cut? Will it really result in roughly similar pump prices? It's hard to say, but as wikipedia states, "probably". Trying to cut through the tangled mess of regulation is "probably" impossible, but it's probable that there will be less domestic oil. Yes, they can sell for higher prices, but it'll probably cost less to simply import oil than to explore for more domestic sources. Again, more money to ISIS and Putin.

As an extreme measure, the government can put price control (like in socialist countries) on selling oil. This actually happened during oil crisis in 1970's. As with most (all?) price controls, results were shortages and long line. Combine long lines / shortages with tariff on imported oil and higher taxes for oil production could reduce oil use. There's only so many times one would wait 2 hours to get gas before saying "fuck you. I'm getting a SparkEV which is ready to go in 20 minutes". But there are inevitably unforeseen consequences to price control and shortages: "fuck you. I'm going to steal gas from you." (ie, black market).

You can also try increasing the subsidy and/or increasing the tax. But they inevitably could (COULD!) result in more imported oil. One measure could be tariffs on imported oil, but that could spark a whole new can of worms as demonstrated by 1930's great world-wide depression. (Nazi Germany had almost 0% unemployment during this time, but that means little in terms of quality of life) So no matter what we do in terms of subsidy and tax, it's bad? Damned if we do, damned if don't? What do we do?

Answer to world peace

One possible solution would be to use less oil while keeping both the subsidy and tax the same. According to, while 30% of oil is from imported source (60% in 2006), refineries use roughly 60% of oil from imported source. In other words, gas and diesel at the pump are made with 60% from imported oil, and paying at the pump is the same as directly giving lots of money to ISIS. This is due to inability to refine light-sweet-crude and thick tar at the same time, and they must optimize for one or the other. This doesn't mean driving 60% more efficient car (ie, 70 MPG) will eliminate imported oil as the cut in demand will also impact domestic producers. But it will reduce the amount of imported oil. Whether the refineries will remain at 60%, go up or down is impossible to say. What matters is the amount of money paid to foreign producers is reduced. Hugo Chavez would be turning over in his grave if US could do this.

Of course, cutting oil is easier said than done. How? EV, of course! Unlike gas/diesel, US electricity production is from domestic sources (US electric grid is energy independent). Even with dirty coal, natural gas, nuclear, EV is far more benign to the world geopolitics than oil. A side benefit to this is that 10% to 60% of electricity comes from renewables sources such as solar and wind. While I don't think pollution benefits of renewables are major selling point, not importing oil and technology behind them that add to collective human intelligence is certainly more desirable than digging holes in the ground.

SparkEV, the car that saved the world

We narrowed it down to EV as the solution. But not just any EV will do. One can pay $135,000 and drive Tesla P90D, but not many have that much money laying around. Far better is to have something low cost that's affordable by the masses and desired by them by better performing than comparable cars. Even Nissan leaf fails in this regard due to higher price and poorer performance than comparably priced gas cars. I'm afraid upcoming Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 will suffer similar deficiencies.

There's only one at this time, and that is SparkEV. It's cheaper, quicker, and more economical to operate than any comparably priced car, gas, diesel, or EV. With fast charging, it's a practical car that can be driven hundreds of miles in a day if needed. GM should crank out millions of SparkEV like VW did with their 60+ years production run with their beetle while continually cutting costs using economy of scale.

If GM wants to be patriotic American company, the best thing they can do is build and market more SparkEV and make it easier for people to drive it (ie, DCFC in all their dealers, but not free). If GM wants to be known as a company that saved the world, they should sell SparkEV throughout the world that are energy independent in electricity. Imagine what history would say if everyone drove SparkEV: SparkEV, the car that saved the world.

EV ranking

As with all engineering projects, EV is a matter of trade off. Any old fool can make an EV that gets 1000 miles range per charge or 0-60 mph time of 2 seconds with enough money. EV that cost millions of dollars each is not a good EV. You can't just look at single metric and say that's good (or bad) EV.

SparkEV does well in individual rating, such as second most efficient EV behind BMW i3, and third quickest EV from 0-60 mph behind Tesla S and i3. It is also lowest cost EV that gets 80 miles or more range. But how good is it with respect to cost? What we need is an objective metric to determine what good EV means with pricing as a factor. How objective are these? It's my blog, I can make up whatever I want. But I'll try to be fair.

Range-cost metric

Like stock price P/E ratio, range per dollar is helpful. I use post subsidy cost. Since most EV buyers take full subsidy, I call this the real world cost. Indeed, Tesla falls to the bottom half when measured this way. There are few web sites that discuss pre-subsidy range/$ that show Tesla to be the top followed by SparkEV. Such is nonsense, of course. Why wouldn't you take the subsidy? Buying EV without subsidy makes no sense when they are currently available.

To clarify such rampant misinformation, here's a ranking of some popular EV based on range/$ metric post subsidy. Subsidy is assumed to be $10K ($7.5K fed, $2.5K CA, although it could be as high as $4K for low income CA and $2250 out of $3K in MD). Only cars with DC fast charging are on this list. I consider EV without DCFC as toys, not serious vehicles. Yellow (jersey as in bicycle race) highlights the best.

"Toys" not worth considering

Fiat 500e
Ford Focus Electric: 76 miles / $20K = 3.8
Leaf S without DCFC option
Mercedes B class
Smart ForTwo EV
SparkEV without DCFC option: 82 miles / $15K = 5.47
Toyota Rav4EV: 113 miles / $40K = 2.83
Golf cart: 10 miles / $5K = 2.00
Used Golf cart with new battery: 10 miles / $2K = 5.00
Really beat up old golf cart with new battery: 5 miles / $1K = 5.00

Few interesting observations can be made.

1. SparkEV is clearly on top of the pack with good margin. SparkEV is even better than low cost golf cart in range-cost metric. Golf courses should just let people drive SparkEV instead of golf carts. Maybe GM could add "golf-cart mode" for just such purpose to limit speed and acceleration, although marketing might be problematic given how "sporty" SparkEV is.

2. 2016 Leaf SV/SL with longer range is something to behold. It's the first EV under $30K to break the 100 miles per charge barrier. With widespread Chademo DCFC, it's probably second best EV on the market today (SparkEV being top). If you're not in moderate weather areas (eg. AZ), Kia Soul EV would be a better choice due to its thermal management.

3. Which brings to attention Kia Soul EV. I test drove it in Drive Electric event, and it is ok. Being used to mashing the accelerator in SparkEV and feeling the rush, Soul EV lacked soul. If it's not for Leaf SV/SL 110 miles range, Kia Soul EV would take the second place.

4. Tesla S70 is a surprise. I had expected it to be in top half, but it's in bottom half. In that regard, it doesn't make sense to get base model S. Either go for P90D for performance or skip Tesla altogether.

5. BMW i3 is a huge surprise to me. It's a great car with good performance and features similar to SparkEV. Alas, its high price makes it, well, high priced. Long ago, I had considered BMW i3 to be better version of SparkEV, but it seems that's not the case; SparkEV is leagues ahead of BMW i3.

6. At the bottom, I add Bolt / Model 3, both of which are vaporware for now. I mean, Chevy won't even let you sit in one at autoshow. Still, this shows how SparkEV would hold up in the future: not as good, but that's expected.

Clearly Bolt/Model 3 wins over SparkEV, right? But hold on. While exact spec isn't known, one can guess that battery will be bigger (50kWh?), hence the replacement cost to be at least $5,000 after warranty expires after 10 years. This assumes battery prices have come down to $100/kWh (from about $300/kWh today) after 10 years, probably the best case scenario considering that raw material prices are around $100/kWh. One can look today to see how many people spend $5,000 to fix a broken down 10 year old car: not many, if at all. In comparison, SparkEV with 19.5 kWh battery could cost less than $2,000. Lots of people spend $2000 to fix 10 year old car.

What this comes down to is the resale value of 10 year old car. In case of Bolt/Model 3, car is basically junk. Entire cost is sunk. But in case of SparkEV, car would be fixable with reasonable cost and re-sold as used and driven for another 10 years. One can play the game that used battery could cost less or that shorter range could still be sold as used car. Well, I guess we'll have to wait and see: definite lower practical cost of SparkEV or some nebulous hocus pocus for much bigger battery EV. In my opinion, bird-in-hand wins even over vaporware promise, so SparkEV still wins the crown as best EV, even against 200 miles range per charge EV.

Performance-cost metric

One can also try another cost metric, such as $ to 0-60 mph time. Again, one can put 9999 horsepower motor with 1 kWh battery and get 0-60 mph in 2.2 seconds, but that probably won't cost $16K. As expected, SparkEV wins this one hands down, too. At this point in time, only SparkEV and Tesla P90D are worth discussing as they are only two that can compete (and beat) other cars in their price range, but let's see few others. BMW comes close, but there are other cars in its price range that are quicker. I also add Corvette in the mix, a decent gas car with limited utility. Metric is time-$ product where smaller is better. Yellow (jersey as in bicycle race) highlights the best. Let the battle begin!

As I was putting together the data, I noticed SparkEV is far above anything else as shown in 0-60 time-cost product (almost 2.6 times more bang for the buck than P90D and Corvette!). I decided to square the time to give advantage to P90D. Hey, it's my blog, I'll tweak the figure to favor another vehicle if I want to! But even then, SparkEV comes out ahead. Only when you cube the time does P90D gets better than SparkEV.


Let's try something little more convoluted by combining 3 metrics. EV with longer range, short 0-60 time, low cost is good. Then the equation used is 

R / (t * $) where R=range, t=0 to 60 time in seconds, $ is real cost post subsidy.

where resulting larger number is better EV.

This formula produces result that I like. SparkEV, like other cost metrics, comes out on top. Yawn; what else is new? But Tesla P90D is close second. (This was when I erroneously used $145K for P90D. Despite being second fiddle to P90D, it's nipping at its heels!)

Other popular EV are clustered around 400 mark. A surprise is VW eGolf worse than i-MiEV. Maybe it's not a huge surprise given that it's very similar to Leaf with higher cost.

Another interesting bit is Bolt/Model3. While specs aren't out, it could be roughly on par with P90D. (Again, when I wrongly had P90D at $135K) If they can bring the price down (not likely) or quicker 0-60, it could be competitive to SparkEV. How quick? 9.3 seconds. That should be doable. But even that won't compare to SparkEV single metric of 7.2 seconds. Would you buy $30K car that performs poorer than $16K car? I think I'm going to be keeping my SparkEV even after Bolt/Model3 comes out.


As discussed before, smaller battery is better due to potential for lower replacement cost. While it doesn't impact the car when new, it will have large effect when it comes time to replace it 10 years later. This also affects whether the car will end up in the junk yard (more pollution and energy use) or repaired and continue to drive.

R / (t * B * $) where R=range, t=0 to 60 time in seconds, B is battery capacity in kWh, $ is real cost post subsidy.

Yet again, SparkEV wins. Not surprisingly, Tesla P90D is at the bottom due to its large battery. The question for P90D owners is if they're willing to spend $9000+ for a 10 year old car? Of course, Tesla offers optional battery replacement plan, but I don't know how many take up on their offer and continue to pay for 10 years. Given that P90D is not a typical consumer car, I suspect many will opt to keep it running by spending $9000+, and not throw it in the junk yard.

In case of SparkEV, like P90D, it can out accelerate comparable cost gas cars, so spending $2000 to replace the battery may be worth it. I have a feeling SparkEV will become collector's car if it's not mass produced by Chevy.

But what about other EV that are inferior performing to comparable gas cars like SoulEV and Leaf SV/SL or even i3? Would you spend $3000 for a 10 year old car that's slower than gas car counterparts and doesn't even have liquid cooled thermal management in case of Leaf, especially when there will be new EV with 200+ miles range that perform better? I have a feeling they will end up in junk yard, causing more pollution and energy waste than comparable gas car where you can spend couple of thousand dollars incrementally to drive another 10 years rather than one lump sum battery replacement.

Other-cost metrics to consider

Another comparison could be efficiency-cost metric, and one can see SparkEV wins this hands down due to being second most efficient EV (119 MPGe) behind BMW i3 (124 MPGe) while costing less than half.

Unfortunately, I don't have ready source of information on other metrics such as skid pad and slalom data. Considering SparkEV battery weighs less than 500lb and sitting low (typical EV), I suspect it would handle well, too, although stock tires would have to be changed.

Still, I'm curious what legitimate cost metric SparkEV would be less than another EV. Taking the cube of 0-60 mph time doesn't count. 3.3kW charger vs 6.6kW charger would be one, but that means little when DCFC is available. 4 hours for 24kWh Leaf at 6.6kW vs 6 hours for 19kWh SparkEV at 3.3kW makes virtually no difference when they are used at work (8 hours) or home (12 hours). In fact, it would be better if there's 2.2kW charger for SparkEV so that I can leave the car plugged in while at work rather than moving it half way through the work day.

Actually, there is one metric where SparkEV definitely lose. It's been sold out for many months! Maybe it's a sign that SparkEV is destined to become a collector's car.

Edit Oct. 28, 2015

Nissan Leaf (even 2016 with 110 miles range) does not have thermal mangement. That results in poor battery longevity, and very poor DC fast charge performance. I've seen several Leaf charging at 2kW out of 50kW fast chargers! Such slow charging is bad for Leaf drivers, but also bad for all EV who have to wait for Leaf to charge. I've harped on this many times in my blog.

It has come to my attention that VW eGolf also  does not have thermal management. While I don't know if their DCFC would be as slow as Leaf since I've only seen one. But what I know is that lack of thermal management is a risk, not onlyb to battery longevity, but also wasted time at fast chargers both for the eGolf driver and everyone else. One should weigh this "problem" appropriately. If it's up to me, it doesn't make sense to get eGolf with similar specs as Leaf S for $3000 more, but then again, no other EV makes sense for me other than SparkEV.

Below are some links to eGolf's lack of thermal management.

Edit Jan. 31, 2016

While Rav4EV was considered a "toy" above due to lack of DCFC, someone thought it doesn't have to be that way. Tony Williams of offers Chademo charging modification to Rav4EV for $3000.

That would make Rav4EV pretty compelling. It has small SUV form, range of 113 miles using 42 kWh battery, 0-60 in 7.2 seconds (some say even quicker). While Toyota discontinued Rav4EV at 2014 model year, used Rav4EV are selling for about $25K to $30K. Assuming $30K for used price including Chademo mod, some scores can be given.

Range / price = 113 / 30 = 3.77 (roughly Tesla S70)

Performance * price = 7.2 * 30 = 216 (7.2*7.2*30 = 1555, roughly BMW i3)

Range / (Performance * price) = 113 / 216 * 1000 = 523 (worse than SparkEV, but significantly better than  110 mile range 2016 Leaf SV/SL)

Range / (Performance * price * battery) = 523 / 42 = 12.5 (roughly eGolf)

Unfortunately, there are many forum posts (including Tony's) that state Rav4EV suffers from multiple problems, and it may have reliability issues. Since Toyota seem to be abandoning battery EV in favor of other (fuel cell for now), few drivers with Rav4EV seem to be left out in the cold.

More unfortunately, website seem to be out of order. However, I have seen some recent plugshare posts showing success with Rav4EV modified to use Chademo. The user name was Tony, so maybe it was Tony Williams? In any case, used Rav4EV under knowledgeable driver could make it a decent EV with's Chademo mod.

Bolt news

Chevy announced Bolt as 60 kWh battery, 0-60 under 7 seconds, about $30K. One has to guess what "under 7 seconds" means, but SparkEV was promised under 8 seconds to be 7.5 seconds in 2014 model. Let's guess 6.5 seconds for Bolt. That would make the scores as follows.

Range / price = 200 / 30 = 6.66 (same as my guess)

Performance * price = 6.5 * 30 = 192 (6.5*6.5*27 = 1268, roughly BMW i3)

Range / (Performance * price) = 200 / 192 * 1000 = 1042 (the best among EV)

Range / (Performance * price * battery) = 1042 / 60 = 17.4 (roughly BMW i3)

Of course, these are just guesses. But something that I did not include in the metric is DCFC time. SparkEV is quickest charging EV in the world with 0-80% in 20 minutes. By contrast, Tesla takes nearly 45 minutes for 0-80%. While one might poo-poo percentage as meaningless, that isn't the case when human psychology is involved.

Chevy announced that they have no intention of helping expand the DCFC network. Then existing 50kW DCFC chargers are to be used with 60 kWh battery Bolt, which would need close to an hour for DCFC. This would make Bolt the slowest fast charging EV in the world. This is not good.

For people who are looking to buy EV and only EV (no gas car) regardless of lack of performance, Bolt will be very good. Bolt will surely take market share away from Leaf, BMW i3, eGolf that cost similar as Bolt with far less range.

But for general public (mass market), Bolt isn't very good. With $30K, there are far better options. For example, Subaru WRX is quicker to 60 MPH AND it comes with AWD. Bolt falls way short.

Therefore, SparkEV is still the best, not only as EV, but as a car. We'll revisit this when Model 3 is released. In theory, Model 3 could have all the advantages of SparkEV (quicker than comparable cost gas cars, charge in 20 minutes or less) while also having 200 miles range.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

MPGe fraud

This issue has been bothering for a long time, even before I got an EV. In fact, I tried to establish true out of pocket cost MPGe pretty early in my blog. When gas cars list MPG, the consumer typically expects it to correlate to amount of money they pay to drive it with current $ per gallon at local gas station. With MPGe, it has very little to do with the amount of money one pays to drive the EV. When you use similar terminology that most people are familiar that relate to money and change the meaning completely to something else, that is fraud. It's like VW claiming their emission numbers were only meant for testing, but not for actual driving. Actual MPGe based on cost is described in the table in my previous blog.

I had long winded discussion in SparkEV forum to get to the bottom of this matter. What we found, with help from those in the forum, was that EPA uses "well to wheel" for MPG of gas cars while "tank to wheel" for EV. Simply put, MPGe assumes (somewhat correct under ideal conditions) that a gallon of gas has 33.7kWh of energy, and using that as a metric. For example, if a car uses 33.7 kWh of energy to drive 100 miles, that would be 100 MPGe. More popular example might be 16.85 kWh to drive 60 miles to yield 120 MPGe. Since SparkEV gets 119 MPGe EPA rating, this would be close to what SparkEV is doing.

But this is problematic. How does one relate EPA MPGe to out of pocket cost to drive an EV? You can't. It is related to efficiency of the car, but that means little to most people; if it costs $1,000,000 to drive 1 mile while it's 99.99% efficient is meaningless. But costing $1 to drive 1,000,000 miles while it's 1% or 0.000001% efficient (maybe Mr. Fusion?) is meaningful.

Far better number would've been miles/kWh (or kWh per 100 miles). But EPA being a bureaucratic nightmare government agency, they conducted a poll that showed miles/kWh "confused" the consumers when such metric was discussed. Instead, poll indicated MPG was better understood. Instead of applying MPGe in the sense that consumers understand (ie, $ to drive X miles) and can test for themselves, they applied it as completely nonsensical fashion. But since it relates to energy efficiency, EV drivers should be able to replicate EPA MPGe numbers at home, right? WRONG!

I analyze various EV to see what I can find. Only fast charge capable cars are considered as I consider non fast charge EV as toys. Given the battery capacity and the range, the formula to compute EPA MPGe should be

EPA MPGe = R / B * 33.7 * e

where R is range in miles, B is battery capacity in kWh, 33.7 is kWh per gallon of gasoline, e is EV efficiency (must be less than 100%). As you can see from the table, it gives some radical numbers for efficiency, far more than 90% in many cases. Knowing that motors and controllers are 90% or less efficient, these are probably not true.

An interesting observation is VW eGolf. The number is suspiciously close to EPA number. Did they actually test the car or did they simply take the range and battery capacity and do the math? It's VW, guys who faked EPA testing with the "clean" diesel, so questioning such conincidental number is warranted.

Keen observer will note that modern EV do not use 100% of their battery capacity for stated range. Then how much do they use? This information is not readily available; it seems to be a "secret sauce" for many EV. For Volt, it was speculated to be about 50%, for SparkEV 80%, but the exact number is hard to come by. Without knowing this number, we can only guess, and I use 85% as guesstimate.

We seem to get more reasonable numbers, but there is a problem. SparkEV (119 MPGe) is only 71% efficient while VW eGolf (116 MPGe) is 85% efficient. Given that SparkEV has one of the highest head room, even more than Tesla, one would expect more air resistance by being taller (more frontal area) and may be lower efficiency than others. But to show VW eGolf to be more efficient than any other EV is questionable. Once again, remember the fraud VW committed with their "clean" diesel.

Basically, what it shows is that without knowing the actual battery used for given range, one cannot replicate EPA MPGe number. Since actual battery capacity for range is not published, EPA MPGe is a meaningless number (it's a religion, not science). One may argue that this number can be used to compare one EV to another, but if cannot be replicated by the consumer, it's a dubious comparison at best.

mi/kWh to MPGe

Here's another angle one can take. Take the EPA MPGe number and convert to mi/kWh.

mi/kWh = MPGe / 33.7kWh/gal

Then multiply that number by full battery capacity to figure out the range. Since not all battery is used, resulting range should be more than EPA range estimate. But that's not the case. If one uses EPA MPGe number, one gets far less range than the EPA estimated range (except eGolf). Inconsistency? You betcha!

Again, far better metric would be mi/kWh. But that number varies with different charging methods as shown in my previous blog posts (80% efficient with L1, 90%+ efficient for DCFC). But taking some conservative figure as described in my SparkEV efficiency blog post, SparkEV gets 4 mi/kWh. This is taking into consideration L1 charging loss (80% efficient), which is total energy from outlet to wheels not just energy from battery to wheels.

This corresponds to

4 mi/kWh * 33.7kWh/gal = 134.8 MPGe

If one considers battery to wheels per EPA, then the figure is 20% higher, or 161.76 MPGe.

The real-world MPGe for SparkEV is far more than EPA MPGe even from "well to wheels". Then how the heck did EPA get 119 MPGe for SparkEV? Is it time to say "Who's John Galt?"

Honest MPGe

To solve this confusion, better would be to qualify MPGe with various subscripts (or superscripts). For example, MPGe$ would correspond to equivalent $ to some particular $/gal of gas and $/kWh of energy. This is what the consumer is expecting to see with MPGe. It won't be a number, but a table like I show in my blog post. If it's a number, it must be qualified with $/gal AND $/kWh. For most consumers, this is the only MPGe that matters. Once again, here's the link to MPGe table.

Another would be MPGeEGG which would correspond to equivalent energy in gallon of gasoline. This is probably what EPA is getting, although it's impossible to compute at this time with given information. It's easy to remember, too; its a meaningless number of EGGheads.

Another would be MPGeEFF which would correspond to equivalent energy in fossil fuel used compared to gas car's gallon of gas use. Electricity for most parts come from fossil fuel, primarily natural gas and coal. Since electricity generation is far more efficient than gas cars, especially the combined cycle generators, one would need less fossil fuel to drive EV. This becomes especially important when non-fossil fuel is used to generate electricity. It's also easy to remember, EFF as in F as in we're fracked when we have to import oil. I will explore this in more detail in future blog post.

Another would be MPGeP which would correspond to equivalent in pollution compared to gas car's gallon of gas use. If coal is used for this calculation, EV would be worse (or awful if one considers coal ash). Radioactive pollution would be bad, too. This is more nebulous merit which must assign somewhat subjective weight to pollution from each source of energy. It may be discussed further in future blog post, but it'll be messy.


In science, an experiment must be replicated by independent sources and reasonably close result obtained. Asking people to believe in something without such scrutiny is religion. As an EV advocate and science advocate, EV should not be a religion, although many people seem to treat it this way (ie, EV is NOT zero pollution, despite what Nissan Leaf prints on its doors). That means MPGe number must be something meaningful and derived from experiments from independent parties, not a  number handed down by the EPA. I hope true out of pocket cost MPGe$ as table will be printed on windows of EV and educate the public rather than continuing with the religion that it is now.

VW fraud, Tesla P85D fraud

Popular news these days are VW diesel car emission fraud and Tesla P85D "fraud".

VW fraud

VW "clean" diesel engines were programmed to operate in reduced emission mode by turning on the emission controls when they detected they're being tested. But when the software detected the car was driven normally, it would turn off or reduce emission controls, creating up to 40 times higher emissions than test conditions. Since the lab testing involves fairly constant parameter in steering angle deviation, throttle, speed, and so on, it was relatively easy to detect when the car was being tested.

This was discovered, in part, by an organization that tested modern diesel passenger cars to show that diesel cars are indeed clean in various driving conditions. The "anomaly" was published in 2014, yet it took about a year before VW finally admit to selective (aka, fraudulent) software in about 11 million "clean" diesel engines in Sep. 2015. Fallout range from almost 50% dive in VW stock prices and the resignation of their CEO.

Why did they do this? There are many speculations, but basically boils down to lower performance, higher fuel use, and less reliability with emission controls turned on. Until the fix is in and cars retested, it's hard to know if they are true. But it's certainly possible. At the very least, I can believe lower performance due to emission controls as countless other cars, diesel or gas, faced similar trade offs. One only has to look at big 3 cars from early 1980's to see how awful emission control can be.

Some good may come out of this. For one, gas cars hopefully will learn the lesson and be more honest about their performance and testing. But seeing how large diesel trucks pulled the same trick to fool emission testing while turning off the emission controls in normal driving, gas car testing should be vigilant about keeping car makers honest.

Second good may be potential for more EV adoption. Modern emission controls when implemented correctly is very effective, resulting in very little pollution (still more than EV; will cover this in another post). But this costs performance, fuel efficiency, reliability, and most importantly, higher manufacturing cost. When gas car companies find that keeping zippy and efficient car while keeping the price low is more and more difficult, they may switch to EV. Indeed, VW unveiled several "Tesla fighter" EV in Frankfurt auto show in 2015. Maybe they'll focus more on EV (eGolf sucks!) than throwing more money into now untrust-worthy diesel.

Tesla P85D fraud

Just like VW fiasco was discovered by diesel enthusiasts, some proud Tesla owners tested (raced?) their P85D against gas cars with similar horsepower, and noticed they were not as quick. While 0-60 mph time felt quick enough, 60-90 mph were less than gas cars of much lower horsepower. Supposedly, about 70 P85D owners signed a letter to Tesla regarding the matter, and included such information that P85D should have 7 lb/hp, but it was slower than others that had 8 lb/hp and felt P85D is more like 9 lb/hp car. For comparison, sports motorcycles typically have 5 lb/hp or less.

CTO of Tesla wrote a blog post trying to address the matter. He started off with difference between horsepower and kiloWatt and that EV should be measured with kW instead of HP. This is nonsense deflection of the question at hand. Both are units of power. In fact, if they want to invent a new unit called TMP (Tesla Motors Power), it makes no difference from horsepower.

Then he talks about dual motor set up and how more power is delivered to rear wheel motor under heavy acceleration to get more traction. Fine, fine. But that doesn't address the core issue, which is why is it slower than cars with more weight to power ratio even when traction is not an issue?

Finally, he gets to the meat of the matter which basically boils down to two related facts with third unexpected fact.

1. Unlike other Tesla and cars in general, P85D power rating was simple sum of front motor and rear motor power rating, not the actual power that is delivered by the car when driven. Found on some other posts (not Tesla), their other models reflect the actual power delivered.

2. Although the motors could theoretically deliver the power (I assume some SW tweak would be needed), the battery may not deliver the power. Again found in posts other than Tesla, their other models reflect actual the power delivered, including the battery.

3. This third point is a huge surprise to me, but P85D 0-60 mph time was measured with about 1 ft of start slack, contributing to about 0.2 seconds of faster time compared to standing start. That means instead of P85D insane mode being 3.1 seconds, it would be 3.3 seconds.

While points 1 and 2 are bad enough in that power delivered is not what they claimed, point 3 that directly address the performance is much bigger issue. If this is also true for P90D ludicrous mode, it would put 0-60mph time at 3.0 seconds, slower than Corvette Z06 while costing over $40,000 $14,000 (P90D=$119.2K-$10K=$109.2K, Vette Z06=$95K from Edmunds) more. I advocated for P90D due to it being quicker than any comparably priced gas car (only other car to claim that is SparkEV), but this fact would take that claim away. P90D is just another overpriced, under performing EV in terms of price-performance measure. Then SparkEV is the only EV that can claim to be quicker than any comparably priced gas car. It must feel lonely at the top.

Edit Oct. 2015

Since this post went on-line, I've got some negative responses. Since I rarely get any response on any of my post, this is quite extraordinary. I want to clarify why I consider Tesla claim as fraud, if it wasn't obvious already.

Suppose I take kid's Barbie power wheel and put two electric motors rated at 500HP each, would that be considered 1000HP EV? Obviously not. But if I mounted the motor so that they can drive the wheels while keeping the controller the same power wheel parts, would it qualify? Of course not! Claiming such power wheel as 1000HP EV is fraud. And that is my point behind #1; adding up motor power without regard to anything else is wrong!

But suppose that power wheel upgraded the controller so that it can deliver 1000HP while keeping the battery the same (12V sealed lead acid). I won't bother asking the ridiculous question if it's fraud. And that is my second point; without considering what the battery can deliver, claiming sum of motor power is wrong!

But I'm a realist. Regardless of horsepower, if my power wheel can drive 0-60 mph in 2.8 seconds, the acceleration that matters in the real world, then I could care less about 1000HP or 1HP. That's why I harped on this third point with more weight. I thought I worded it as "if this is the case", but that seems lost on Tesla zealots. As I was researching that almost all cars use rollout, I got "hate mail". Well, fine. I'm stopping research into the matter, and keeping the wording as is. Read it as you like, but "if this is the case" still stand.

I consider myself a Tesla fanboy; I've liked their products since Roadster. In fact, I was reluctant to call fraud, so I put quotes around it for Tesla. But I call them out when they need calling out. Zealots, on the other hand, would protect their belief beyond reason. Putting blinders on does nothing positive for anyone.

Edit Nov 2, 2015

Well, I just can't seem to leave it alone. It seems Tesla has released revised power figures for P85D that reflect the actual power output in addition to individual motor outputs:

P85D = 463HP
P85DL = 532HP
Front motor = 259HP
Rear motor = 503HP

But far more important 0-60mph figures are as follows: 3.1 (P85D), 2.9 (P85DL). It seems P85DL increased by 0.1 sec. No big deal. It still beats Corvette Z06 by a whopping 0.05 sec!

What's odd is rear motor horsepower is greater than P85D combined horsepower. Battery limitation?!-Tesla-announces-REAL-HP-numbers-for-P85D-and-P90L

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

SOLUTION: SparkEV's problem with DC fast charge

If your SparkEV is having intermittent DC fast charge problems, take the car to the dealer and ask them to perform GM service bulletin PI1382. It's basically filing down the charging connector to better connect with fast charger.

When I first attempted DCFC in Mission Viejo "Shops", I had some problems, and it was "resolved" by tugging on the connector handle. Since then, I had various issues with charging, many attributed to NRG eVgo station made by ABB. At least I thought the charger was the problem.

As summer rolled around and temperature rise, I was having more and more issues. I was able to charge with jiggling the connector handle and restart charging 6 times in about 90% of the cases before summer, although very few were charging without errors. With higher temperature, I wasn't able to charge in over 50% of the chargers! I was about ready to return the car to Chevy and tell them to F-OFF when I was almost stranded after having 3 DCFC failures on the way to Drive Electric Event in Los Angeles. Stranded at EV event with 8 hours to wait before being able to drive home is pretty sad for EV.

Then I remembered a forum discussions on this very problem. At the time, I was able to charge most of the time, albeit with several errors and restarts. Now that the situation is desperate that I decided to look into it further. Thanks to, I was able to find some information on GM service bulletin regarding "Intermittent Unable to Charge from DC Fast Charge – 2014-2015 Chevrolet Spark EV" by "Vitaly". It's basically GM service bulletin PI1382.

The crux of the problem is that SparkEV charging connector is almost 90 degrees and rectangular whereas fast charger is expecting roughly 45 degrees and trapezoidal shape. I suggest everyone with SparkEV to have this done if DCFC is not 100% (or 99%) success. Most failures are SparkEV issue, not eVgo / ABB.

Below is charging port expected by charger.
cropped from

But below is connector on SparkEV. Note the shaded area that need to be removed described by Vitaly. "Starting at point “1” as shown above, measure 6 mm to point “2” and 3 mm to point “4.” The material above that mark (shown in red above) will be the material removed. Repeat on second receptacle guide."

To remove, it's best to have the dealer perform the work. But if you insist on doing it yourself, use a file and mask off areas so you don't accidentally file other stuff and drop shaving into the connector. End of the file is taped with masking tape to avoid filing other stuff by accident.
How well does this work? I was able to DCFC on FIRST TRY at DCFC station that didn't work at all before. First time success never happened, even when the car was new.

Why would poor fitting connector cause the problem? Since there's no way to track down the exact problem without equipment, these are my guesses. I doubt it's the high current contacts getting loose. Rather, it's probably the tiny signal pins that were getting poor contact. Following are some problems and plausible explanations.

Jiggling handle: Many people, including myself, jiggled the connector handle to connect and allowed it to charge. Jiggling might have given it just enough contact time for signals to be transceived.

Errors after 10 to 12 seconds: Often, DCFC would error out within 12 seconds. This could be the time that contact was broken after initially made when handle was first inserted and the internal timeout error occurred.

Random errors after minutes into charging: As the contacts heat up, especially the high current contacts, there would be thermal expansion of the mechanics, which could have made poorer contact for the signal pins and cause error.

Problem more severe in hot weather: The problem wasn't as severe during Spring and early summer with milder temperatures. With temperature rise, the expansion of various parts of the connector probably made the poorly fitting contacts even worse, often times making it impossible to charge as was in my case.

Turning off Bluetooth of cell phone "fixes" problem: Signal pins not making good contact could be capacitively coupled. This would allow more electromagnetic interference in signal. Many people have reported that turning off Bluetooth allowed them to charge, and this could explain it.

But then, it's not important why it's not working, just that it's not working. One should get it fixed ASAP.