Saturday, October 24, 2015

Jerks all around us: ICED, Leafed, Leafrackers

NOTE: It came to attention that "Leaf**k" is not safe for work (NSFW). Taking cues from Battlestar Galactica, all instances of "Leaf**k" has been replaced with Leafrack.

We sometimes think that we're a small community of EV drivers. If you ride a motorcycle, you know the feeling; we wave to each other, knowing that death may fall on us the very next minute by an errant douche, and genuinely glad to see a fellow motorcyclist. For EV, some Dicks (Richards?) may decide to cut all EV programs. When EV drivers meet at fast charger, where we sometimes stick around since it often only takes 10 or 15 minutes (except Leaf), we make a friendly chat as kindred spirits. But the world is not as such. There are plenty of jerks around.

Leafed and Leafracked

If you are unable to charge, because there's Leaf charging at rate slower than 6 times L2 rate (6*6.6kW = 40kW), then you're getting Leafed. Why 6 times? Because DCFC is 6 times more expensive than L2, and people who have to pay for charging would disconnect if DCFC gets slower than 6 time L2 rate. But hold on. You might ask, "why do you call it getting Leafed when all EV slow down charging as the battery fill up?"

First reason to calling it Leafed is that Leaf's fast charging is not very fast compared to SparkEV (and probably all other EV since only Leaf lacks thermal management). It starts out fast enough, but it slows down very quickly. Since Leaf gets below 40kW even when they have 60% state of charge, you're probably getting Leafed any time there's a Leaf in fast charge spot. Some Leaf slow down to as low as 2kW from 50kW charger!

Let me pause here and tell Leaf drivers how DCFC pricing works, because I've heard comment that "it's the same thing at 1kW or 100kW, because electricity is charged per kWh." eVgo charges electricity by time, not energy: $0.10/minute ($0.20/min for non-OTG plan). The longer you're plugged into the charger, regardless of kWh of energy used, the more money you pay. Therefore, the slower you charge, the more expensive it gets for energy. Meanwhile, L2 is $1/hr, 1/6 as expensive per time as DCFC.

How expensive can DCFC get? At 6kW (Leaf DCFC at 88%, which almost all Leaf I've seen go beyond), you'd be paying about $1/kWh (or $2/kWh for non-OTG plan). With $2.60/gal gas prices these days, you'd be paying more than 10.5MPG gas car (or 5.25MPG gas car for non-OTG plan). At 2kW (some Leaf at 95%), you'd be paying more than 3.5MPG gas car (or 1.75MPG gas car for non-OTG plan). Those are using SparkEV efficiency figures; Leaf could pay even more due to lower efficiency.

Which brings to second reason to calling it Leafed. Leaf drivers use fast charger to charge slower than their 6.6kW L2, because Nissan gives out free charge for 2 years. They call it "no charge to charge" program. I call it "no charge to take up fast charge spot and have everyone wait while slow charging" program, because Leaf charges so slowly. Since it's free, Leaf drivers don't care that they're charging slower than L2 or plug in when they already have 90% charge in battery to take up full 30 minutes and charge at 2kW (worse than 1.75MPG gas car). After all, why bother spending the time to move the car to L2 when it slows down when fast charge is free for them?

We have various degrees that we can distinguish for getting Leafed as follows. The percentage numbers are from few observations I made of Leaf battery state of charge and corresponding charging speed. Percentages will vary depending on ambient temperature and how hard Leaf was driven before plugging into fast charger and other factors.

Greater than 40kW (0% to 60%) = A OK, Normal charging.
40kW to 6.6kW (60% to 88%) = Getting Leafed.
6.6kW to 1kW (88% to 100%) = Getting Leafracked (Leafed and fracked)

Almost all Leaf I've encountered at DCFC Leafracked others to some degree, including other Leaf.

SparkEVed not likely, i3ed but never fracked

Since all EV slow down as the battery is filled, the problem is not unique to Leaf. But Leaf is most abundant source of the problem due to its slow charge and free charge. For example, getting SparkEVed would entail the following. SparkEV has 3.3kW L2, so the thresholds would be 20kW and 3.3kW.

Greater than 20kW (0% to 92%) = A OK. Normal charging.
20kW to 3.3kW (92% to 100%) = Getting SparkEVed.
SparkEV charges at 9kW at 99%, so there's no way to get SparkEVed and fracked.

Since it gets more expensive as it gets slower than 40kW, SparkEV driver would disconnect as close to that as possible (about 85%), so one isn't likely to ever get SparkEVed. However, BMW gives free charge, so one may encounter "i3ed", although not likely to get fracked at the same time since they charge fast enough. Getting regularly Leafracked can only come from Leaf. 

Getting Leafracked is bad for all EV, including Leafs. If a Leaf driver is waiting to charge, and there's a Leaf already there, chances are he's getting Leafed, and probably getting Leafracked half the time. Basically, getting Leafed sucks the life out of all of EV community, including Leaf.


I mentioned in previous posts about Leaf taking a dual head CCS-Chademo charger while perfectly good Chademo charger is next to it. I call them Leafrackers. You can read about my first encounter with a Leafracker. Scroll down in the link below.

It is not the same as finding a Leaf charging from dual head while Chademo charger is empty; it could be that when the Leaf first pulled up, Chademo was being used. Since the driver wouldn't be around, there would be no way to move it after Chademo freed up, so that would be a legitimate use of the charger. Even if the driver is around after Chademo subsequently became empty, not moving the car is acceptable; I mean, if the driver had gone to eat while charging, you wouldn't expect to drag him out of the restaurant to move the car. It would be nice for him to move the car (LeafSaint?), but not bad if he doesn't.

The specific incident when you find a Leafracker is when you observe someone pulling into dual head charger when the working Chademo charger is empty. As such, finding Leafracker is rare, since you must witness it.

Or is it? Was that really the first time I encounter a Leafracker in my post? I've seen many Leaf charging from dual charger while Chademo was empty, but I always assumed that there was another using Chademo when they pulled up. After all, why would they purposely use dual head and block CCS when perfectly good Chademo is available? I mean, EV people are nicer than that, right? Don't we meet the nicest people in EV?

Just today (Oct 24, 2015) as I was charging, a Leaf pulled up and tried to use the dual head charger when Chademo was empty. Now I'm not so sure if Leaf people are as nice as rest of EV people. Based on this, I suspect there are many more Leafrackers than we realize. Maybe even most of those incidents when I saw Leaf using dual head chargers were Leafrackers, not merely having Chademo already taken when they pulled up. Of course, there is no way to know; I'm just getting paranoid.

Leafrackers are most damaging to CCS cars such as SparkEV and eGolf. But the wait caused by CCS can lead to waits for subsequent EV, including other Leaf. That actually happened in the case I mention in my first encounter with Leafracker. My 30 minutes of getting Leafracked by Leafracker resulted in 16 minutes of wait for another Leaf. Besides, when you have EVs needlessly waiting around to charge, it's bad for entire EV community reputation. Gas bags would say, "EVs will never work. Just look at them waiting to charge even when EV is tiny percentage of gas cars."

Not only Leafracker

You might say that Leaf isn't the only Chademo charging car. That is true. One can theoretically encounter iMievfrackers or SoulEVfrackers. But in reality, Leaf is the only Chademo car that gives free charging, and they are far more likely to plug into the fast charger at high state of charge and keep it plugged in due to Leaf's slow charging.

When iMiev or SoulEV plug in, they are likely to do so only when absolutely necessary since they must pay. They are also likely to reduce their time at the charger since slowing charging as battery accumulates more energy means far more money out of pocket. It's like the sound falling tree makes in the forest when no one's around; there may be iMievfrackers and SoulEVfrackers, but if you don't encounter them, their impact is irrelevant. Meanwhile, I've encountered real life Leafrackers, maybe many, many of them.


If a car is parked in EV charging spot while it's not charging, and you are unable to charge, then you have been "ICED". ICE stands for Internal Combustion Engine. In the early days of EV (circa 2011), there were very few EV public charging, and most of those blocking EV charging spots were (are) gas cars (ICE cars). That's where the term comes from. Obviously, if a gas car parks in EV charging spot, you cannot charge, so you would be ICED.

But today, there are many EV (in SoCal). Some who drive EV treat EV charging spots as privileged EV parking spots instead of charging spots. I have been ICED by TeslaS parked in CCS charger spot. I waited about 30 minutes until he came out, and I told him not to park at charging spot since he cannot use CCS charger. His response? He just went in the mall to get something quick, and there was no other parking. Bull! There were plenty of parking, but CCS spot happened to be closest to the shop he wanted to visit. Yes, you can get ICED by Tesla. Those with expensive cars shouldn't piss off those who drive cheap cars.

I was told by a BMW i3 driver that a Volt was parked in fast charger spot. I presume Volt was not charging, because she said she was ICED by Volt. If Volt was not plugged in, it would be ICED. But if Volt was plugged in, but full and taking spot to prevent others from charging, would that be ICED? I think it would be. But if Volt is charging at L2, but taking fast charge spot making others unable to fast charge, would that be ICED? No, because he is charging. But I'd call him a Voltfracker.

In another incident, there was Fiat500e using L2 charger at fast charger spot with the L2 cord stretched out far. It's impossible to know why she did that, but I suspect she just got the car, and didn't know what parking stall to use. She had dealer temporary tag made on the previous day. I think she'll learn to use proper spot in the future; I mean, there's no point in charging farther away from the charger than necessary when all she can use is L2. Still, if one cannot use the fast charger, because someone is using L2 at fast charger spot, would that be ICED? That would be similar as Volt case above: Fiatfracker (Sergio is a special kind of Fiatfracker).

L2 EV purposely preventing fast chargers while themselves are charging at L2 is rare. I've never encountered it. However, I have seen them ICE the spot (ie, they're not charging).

State of the jerks address

New York Times had an article on just this topic: EV jerks. They did not explain what chargers were having issues, but it sounded like all of them were L2 at workplace or other form of free charging. Getting Leafracked and Leafrackers are rare since there are fewer DCFC relative to L2, although I seem to be getting Leafracked every time I have to wait for a charger.

Frankly, I'm surprised that there aren't fist fights or even gun fights breaking out over public L2 and free charging. If someone unplugs public L2, that could mean hours of lost time; may even have to spend the night at the office, call a cab, or, heaven forbid, ride the bus! In a world where people drive half way across town to save $0.01/gal of gas, they'll go to even more extremes when it's free.

The problem with public L2 will only get worse. There is no way to meet the demand no matter how many are put in, especially when it's free, because not everyone uses assigned charging spots. As such, some locations will have more EV than public L2 during certain times, and others will be left empty. If they can get off the charger quickly, problem is less. But L2 takes hours.

Combined this with more jerks adopting EV, and the problem will be severe. Gun fight will break out. And no, banning guns won't work. By the way, definition of assault weapon is "scary looking gun, typically used in movies", and not much to do with its function.

The solution? DCFC, but with penalty for using it for longer time. But for now, we have to deal with jerks. Maybe there's few, maybe there's many, but what is certain is that more will be adopting EV. Hopefully, this post illuminates the problems facing us, and solutions will be implemented in the future to prevent jerks from EV getting ICED, Leafed, Leafracked, and Leafrackers.

Edit Oct. 26, 2015

As I was perusing comments section in Plugshare for a place I charged, I came across comments from a 2014 Leaf owner. Apparently, he is aware of the problem, though i don't know if he links it to free charging or if he'd appreciate those bad behaviors being called "getting Leafed / Leafracked". He also had to use dual head charger few times when his card did not work in Chademo only unit; that doesn't make him Leafracker; he at least tried to use Chademo but failed.

Knowing that there's at least one like him, I have some hope. I wish there are more like him. I also wish he's a she, not a he. :-)  Following are some of his comments out of several dozen of them.

"Oh my god! Same guy from before who plugs and charge for 30mins on the Chademo,comes back to his car and replugs his car again even if he is already above 95%. White SL leaf with no license plate yr 2012."

"Have to wait for this guy for 20 mins before his 2nd session on the chademo terminal is over. He should have just plugged in to the lvl 2 port instead if he wanted to top off."

"Lvl 2 charger can deliver 3.95kWh in 30 minutes. For a 2014 SL LEAF that's 16%. Please use it as a guide especially if you're close to 80% charge already and wanted to get close to fully charge. Instead of using the DC fast charge."

Edit Nov. 9, 2015

After getting heavily Leafracked (waiting 20 minutes for a Leaf at > 90% charging slower than cold molasses in Arctic winter), I wasn't in any chipper mood for another Leaf. After about 5 minutes into my charging, another Leaf pulled up and said in chipper voice, "it's a busy night" to which all I grunted out was "it sure is". Well heck, if it weren't for getting Leafracked by the first Leaf, it wouldn't be that busy!

Another few minutes later, a BMW i3 pulls up. Since there were only 2 fast chargers, he had to wait. Few minutes later, the Leaf driver comes out and unplugs his car and tells the i3 driver "I'm at 70%, and I can come back later. Why don't you charge your car now?" WOW! This guy is LeafSaint placing the need of others above his!

Or is he? Maybe he knows that Leaf charges slower after 70%, so he decided to unplug to save his time. Or maybe he read / heard that some guy writing SparkEV UNOFFICIAL Blog has been nagging about getting Leafed and Leafracked.

Actually, it doesn't matter why he did that, but that he did give up his charging as it's slowing down. He is LeafSaint whichever way you look at it. A huge thank you, and the very first LeafSaint award of the month goes to you!


  1. Ok, we get it now. The Leaf is not so good in quick charging. But what you don't mention: nissan has contracts with charge point owners to enable the "no Charge to charge"-programm and guess what, i am sure they pay money to the other side of the contract. So without this programm there would be a lot less charger standing around today and you would complain about the lack of chargers. Please think about it for a minute.

    1. If all you got from this post is that Leaf DCFC is not so good, you're missing the point. This post was made to bring to light the bad behaviors, and hopefully fix them if they can, and avoid them in the future. The last sentence explicitly states "Hopefully, this post illuminates the problems facing us, ..."

      Of course I understand that Nissan paid charger folks. I don't mention this often, but i do applaud Nissan for taking initiatives in EV. But the way they implemented fast charging just promotes more bad behavior, and detrimental to entire EV. Even something as simple as "free to 40kW" would've solved much of the problems, although that would let Leaf owners become aware how bad their fast charging can be.

      In CA, it's mainly the CA lawsuit against NRG that brought us CCS chargers, not due to Nissan. In fact, I think Nissan doesn't like CCS. Heck, even I don't like CCS much.

  2. Problem solved! At least at my nearest DCFC location. I was unable to copy/paste so you'll have to look it up to confirm. Cost: 13c/KWh + $.50 1st hour. $12.00/hour after that.!!! See on PlugShare, Hartford, CT