Okay so those of you who know me, know its highly unlikely that I will be able to resist tinkering with this car. Here are a few of the things I am looking at doing, not all of these are car modifications:
- Having a home charger called an EVSE, installed, which is free at the moment as there is a grant going about for improving electric vehicle infrastructure. Going to opt for a socketed 32amp type 2 charger. This means it has no cable (you buy a cable to go between it and the car offering more flexibility), it runs the higher 32A current which my car cannot fully use (mine has a 16A built in charge circuit) but future cars will be able to (or I might upgrade my charger or car). And opting for type 2 as previously mentioned which is the new standard plug for regular charging.
- Changing my garage door for a roller door so that I can do away with the door frame, widening the door by 6 inches. My car only just squeezes past the garage door as it is now, and I’ve scraped it once already.
- Changing the bulbs on the front running lights to LED, oddly a lot of the bulbs on the car are regular incandescent bulbs which draw much more power and look quite old-fashioned on such a technologically advanced car. In reality they use so little power compared to the traction motor that drives the car it will make no difference but its a style thing and they are cheap.
- Changing the lead acid battery. The what??? I hear you ask – yes the ultra-modern leaf has a good old, lead-acid, clunky car battery under the bonnet. This battery basically powers the on board computers/stereo/windows etc… just like a regular car, but it charges from the traction battery instead of an alternator. Nissan did this so that you can safely, physically-disconnect the main (traction) battery pack and leave it disconnected. To connect it you need an auxiliary battery to operate the electrical interlocks. What’s odd is that they chose a heavy clunky old-school battery rather than another lithium ion. Perhaps it was to save a few $$$ or perhaps it was another feature to make the leaf feel and look more like a regular car so as not to unnerve potential buyers too much. (In the same way the traction motor and inverter look like a regular engine). Anyway I intend to replace this battery which is prone to failing anyway, with a Lithium Iron Phosphate battery of half the capacity (since they can be almost completely discharged safely unlike lead acid which only tolerate 50% discharge) which should be about 10kg’s lighter and last 5 times longer. Albeit its not cheap but then I’m saving a lot of money on fuel driving this car.
- Changing the wheels for the lightest, practically affordable wheels. Wheels are heavy and take a lot of energy to spin up. The lighter they are, the more range will be on offer, especially coupled with other mods to lighten the car. Costs have to be borne in mind though, racing magnesium wheels could be 2-4kgs instead of 10kgs, so saving 24-32kgs overall but cost £1000 each! I’m aiming a little lower in cost than this. A diet could also be a good idea.
- I am currently discussing with and helping an independent engineer who works on EV projects to design an adapter to connect type 2 to the Leaf more easily, this should solve some of the charging lead issues we have already discussed. It will look like a box with 2xtype 2 sockets on it, enabling type 2 to type 1 cables which most leaf owners already have to be connected to tethered type 2 chargers.
More later – possibly with photos – when I have done some of these things.