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Customer service?

By , July 2, 2013

eLIMO is having some problems in its 12 volt system. We needed to replace the old 12 v battery, so I took the old battery to the Batteries Plus store on Grandview in Waukesha. I asked for a replacement battery. Instead of giving me what I asked for, they began asking questions about how the battery was being used. I told them a little, then a little bit more. They explained that a standard auto battery is designed to deliver high current for a short time. We were using a low current over a long time, so we needed a deep discharge battery.
I was impressed. By digging beyond my initial request, they were able to supply what I REALLY needed. THAT is customer service. It did not hurt them, as they sold me a battery costing 3x what I had asked for. — George Corliss, George.Corliss@Marquette.edu

Driving hints – By the numbers

By , May 10, 2013

Let me share some driving thoughts after my May 6-8 trip to Madison for the Wisconsin Clean Transportation Program Partner Vehicle Showcase. Within a 38 hour period, I drove 180 miles to Madison and back on 243% charge (with 3 recharges) at an average speed of about 28 mph. That represents an estimated 85 KWH, or about 2.1 mi / KwH, on a 5000 lb. vehicle. Each of the four legs had an expected range on 90% charge of at least 62 miles. The eLIMO performed very well, and I loved every minute of it, at least after I felt sure I had the range to get to Madison.

I drive with several (conflicting) goals, including:
Arrive safely at my destination
Maximize range
Fit in with traffic
Usability
Enjoy the trip

eLIMO has three driving settings, [Max Range], [Normal], and [Max Power]. As far as we can tell, they function only to limit the maximum current draw to about 50 amps, 110 amps, and ??? amps, respectively. I almost never use the [Max Power] setting on my test drives.

I THOUGHT I was pretty good at using the accelerator very gently. I thought that under normal cruising using [Normal], I rarely used much current. Watching the amp meter showed I was wrong. I was shocked at how often the amp meter pegged at 110 amps when I did not think I was pressing the accelerator.

On the leg from Oconomowoc to Madison (4:30 – 7:00 A.M., almost no traffic until about 6:15), I used the [Max Range] setting except for 3-4 times when traffic conditions suggested (e.g., 1/2 mile on the Beltway, hitting 58 mph). Mostly, I drove 25 – 30 mph, trying hard to avoid pegging the amp meter at 50 amps. In [Max Range], eLIMO often slows to 15 mph going up even modest hills. With no traffic, I accepted that. At 50 degrees, I drove 55 miles on 70% charge (range, 72.4 mi.). On the return trip, I used mostly the [Max Range] setting to limit current for routine cruising, usually keeping the amp meter pegged at 50 amp, mostly going as fast as the [Max Range] setting allowed (mostly 40-50 mph, higher going down hills). However, I often switched to [Normal] to accelerate in traffic or to climb hills. Accordingly, I drove quite a bit faster than the outbound trip, averaging 36 mph. At 70-75 degrees, I drove 55 miles on 78% charge (range, 62.7 mi.).

On the leg Monday from Marquette to Oconomowoc, I used the [Normal] setting, and I did my best to drive efficiently, although at least 15 of the 34 miles was in relatively heavy city traffic (mostly Bluemound Rd., 4 – 5:00 P.M.). At 70-75 degrees, I drove 34 miles on 50% charge (range, 61.9). On the return of that leg on Tuesday morning, I drove probably 90% in [Max Range], almost always going as fast as it would go. In traffic or on hills, I switched to [Normal]. I drove on Bluemound Road from Gerkes Corners to Marquette, but at about 5:40 – 6:10, so there was very little traffic, and the lights were favorable. At 45-50 degrees, I drove 34 miles in 48% charge. It seemed I drove faster, but with far fewer traffic interruptions, at 20 degrees lower temperature, and used less power by letting the [Max Range] setting limit the current draw.

Here, I am careful to give the ambient temperature. Generating electricity from a battery is a chemical process, and we know chemical reactions accelerate as temperature increases. There are too many variables and not enough data to say with much confidence, but my sense is that a 10 degree increase in temperature is good for about 5 miles in increased range, other things being equal.

If that is so, I would expect at 90 degrees, using the [Max Range] setting very cautiously, driving 25 – 30 mph, on smooth, level, dry, traffic-free country roads, I might achieve a range exceeding 90 miles. If I also assume a strong tailwind, perhaps 100 mile range? Of course, those conditions never happen, but we might hit 100 mile range if we programmed a smart controller.

Most of the time, I accelerated gently. However, twice, when there were cars behind me at a light, I accelerated harder and experience the “stalling” problem. If I let up on the accelerator, paused a second or so, and re-applied the accelerator, eLIMO accelerated just fine. I think that happened once in [Max Range] setting and once in [Normal] setting. I did not attempt to replicate the problem at will. I suspect either the motor controller of the battery controller thinks we have requested more current than some threshold and trips. We need to fix that.

I do not believe the headlights represent enough load to detect. Both morning runs used the headlights for most of the trip.

Almost all my eLIMO driving experience is with a light load. Usually with no passengers at all. Its properties loaded surely are quite different.

Oh, and I always unplug the power steering, although I have no idea how much power that saves.

Lessons learned:

The [Max Range] setting is significantly more efficient than my best efforts using the [Normal] setting, but [Max Range] does not provide enough power to fit into normal traffic, if there is any.

Use the [Max Range] setting whenever you can.

Switch to the [Normal] setting to accelerate in traffic or when approaching a hill. Switch back to [Max Range] as soon as the need is past.

If that is not enough power (e.g., loaded, steeper hills), switch to the [Max Power] setting. Switch back to [Normal] as soon as the need is past.

If that is too much effort, use [Max Power] when loaded and [Normal] when empty.

George Corliss, George.Corliss@Marquette.edu

Ben Nelson’s blog: Charging the eLIMO

By , May 9, 2013

Ben Nelson, an EV enthusiast from Oconomowoc, WI, wrote a very nice blog entry with videos about the visit of the eLIMO to his house on the way to/from Madison. Thanks for the kind words, Ben.

5/8/2013 300MPG’s Blog Entry on the Marquette eLIMO

By , May 8, 2013

Ben Nelson, of 300MPG.org, details the eLIMO as well as what was done to drive an electric vehicle with a 72 mile range to a destination that is over 80 miles away!

For details, read the entry and watch the videos on 300MPG.org!

About 300MPG.org

300MPG.org is a web page and blog dedicated to people who take positive action to improve their own transportation options. From electric vehicles charged from the sun to just making sure you have the right amount of air in your tires, we can all make a difference to create a a better future, while still gettin’ around.

The site is administered by Ben Nelson, a self-professed tinkerer, who once almost accidentally built a motorcycle that gets the equivalent of over 300 miles per gallon.

eLIMO is HOME

By , May 8, 2013

The eLIMO is safely back home in its spot in the parking structure from our visit to the Wisconsin Clean Transportation Program Vehicle Showcase in Madison on May 7.

Since Monday afternoon, I have driven 180 miles to Madison and back on 246% charge (with 3 recharges) at an average speed of about 28 mph. That represents an estimated 85 KWH, or about 2.1 mi / KwH, on a 5000 lb. vehicle. Each of the four legs had an expected range on 90% charge of at least 62 miles.

The eLIMO performed very well, and I learned a few things about high-efficiency driving :-)

I loved every minute of it, at least after I felt sure I had the range to get to Madison.

Route: Madison to Oconomowoc: http://runkeeper.com/user/corlissg/activity/177128468

Route, Oconomowoc to Marquette: http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=2123072

George Corliss
George.Corliss@Marquette.edu

5/6/2013 eLIMO Preparing for Madison

By , May 6, 2013

The eLIMO will be displayed at the Wisconsin Clean Cities event this week in Madison. There are approximately 80 miles between Milwaukee and Madison. Today the team prepared the eLIMO for its journey.

For more information about the event, visit WICleanCities.org!

05/01/2013 Presentation to the College of Engineering

By , May 1, 2013

eLIMO rides were available at the event

The eLIMO carrying a full load of passengers while emitting zero emissions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team eLIMO presented their work to the College of Engineering today. The presentation was followed by a demonstration of the eLIMO’s new features. Rides were offered to anyone that wished to experience the eLIMO’s capabilities. Soon the eLIMO will be ready to be returned to DPS’s fleet and all Marquette students will have a chance to ride in it across campus.

UPDATE 05/16/2013: Wisconsin Clean Cities has uploaded our presentation to YouTube and SlideShare!

Also, they are planning to feature the eLIMO in an upcoming article in their monthly newsletter. For more information about Wisconsin Clean Cities, visit WICleanCities.org!

4/25/2013 DPS Input

By , April 25, 2013

DPS drivers are key stakeholders

The team met with key stakeholders this afternoon to gather input about their needs. DPS drivers will be directly interfacing with the eLIMO when it returns to the university’s LIMO fleet in a few weeks. They are pleased with the progress we have made refining the eLIMO and offered many valuable suggestions on what they’d like to see from our new and improved user interface.

 

4/24/2013 Wisconsin Clean Cities: Green Vehicles Showcase

By , April 24, 2013

Team eLIMO represented Marquette University at the 10th Annual Green Vehicles Workshop at Milwaukee Area Technical College. We shared the display area with the latest alternative fuel and advanced technology vehicles. Among the vehicles displayed were all-electrics, hybrids, CNG, and propane-powered vehicles.

For more information visit WICleanCities.org!

4/23/2013 eLIMO Controller Installed in Dash

By , April 23, 2013

The eLIMO controller has been mounted under the dash and coding is nearly ready for demonstration to the Department of Public Safety this Thursday, April 25th!