– FREE ACCESS * TO CANBERRA’S LARGEST ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING NETWORK public network access December 2012.pdf?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRonv6zJZKXonjHpfsX56OUpXLHr08Yy0EZ5VunJEUWy2YAGSdQhcOuuEwcWGog8wglMDuWHbIxB+fAP.

AFAIK, this is a first big push by Better Place to promote its public charging network in Canberra.  Put down a deposit on a cable, get 24 months free charging.

UPDATE 17:20 01/12/2012

It really is that simple.  As confirmed by Better Place at the Canberra International EV Festival, put down $400 deposit on the cable and you can use their public charging network around Canberra.

Well… there is one catch.  AFAIK none of the spaces is for the exclusive use of EV (or PHV or ERHV).  For months I’ve seen anything but electric cars parked in the spaces at Belconnen Fresh Food Markets, even as the number of spaces has grown from 2 to 5.  In fact there was a skip parked in one of those spaces until recently.

Now I’m not going to name and shame the drivers of ICE cars who park in those spots; they’re not contravening any restrictions.  In an recent email reply,  Better Place pointed out that the spaces belong to the property owners and they could do with them what they liked.  Better Place also hoped that they would change their mind.

Canberra is not teeming with EV and most drivers I spoke to today said that they don’t expect or rely on charging facilities anywhere but at home.  However, put $400 into the equation and suddenly you’ve paid for the privilege and your expectations change.  Those spaces are going to be used.

What can you do?  Write to Belconnen Fresh Food Markets and ask if they are reviewing the use of the 5 spaces.  Perhaps they could make the spaces:

  • exclusively for EV with no time restriction
  • exclusively for EV with no time restriction, however the charging cable must be plugged in at all times
  • 15 minute spaces for ICE cars and unrestricted for EV
  • valet service only.  With car washing facility.

If not, Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets might put in some EV spaces of its own.

Remember to keep yourself nice when you ask nicely for something that would be nice.

Canberra-Sydney Loop – Better economy

The latest run from Canberra to Sydney and back produced a very good result.  Temperature range was 10°c to 22°c on the way up and 20°c to 13°c on the way back.

I filled up at Sutton Forest, halfway to Sydney.  After 796.5 km, of which about 20% was city driving, I put in 34.49 litres for an average of 4.3l/100km Cost was $1.49.9 for Shell 91 RON.  (The HSI displayed 4.1l/100km.)

L/100km MPG(UK) MPG(US) km/L
4.3 (tank) 65.7 55.0 23.3

From fill-up to Newtown and then the City ended as 132.9km for 3.4l/100km at an average of 86km/h.  Adding 5.8% to the HSI display gives 3.6l/100km.  (Corrected figures shown in italics.)  That’s my best ever run into Sydney, though it doesn’t include the hills between Canberra and Sutton Forest.

L/100km Corrected MPG(UK) MPG(US) km/L
3.4 (HSI) 3.6 78.5 65.7 27.8

Return trip was quite cool.  Sydney didn’t get very warm on Saturday and the temperature dropped steadily as we travelled South.  I used 2/3 lower grill block on the way up, in case I encountered temperatures much above 18°c on the way up.  After a brief stop on the way back, I restored the full grill block.  Upon return, the tank trip was 418.8km, 4.0l/100km (4.2 corrected) at 79km/h.

The Canberra to Sydney loop was 564.0km, 4.1l/100km at 80km/h.

L/100km Corrected MPG(UK) MPG(US) km/L
4.0 (HSI) 4.2 66.8 55.8 23.6
4.1 (HSI) 4.3 65.1 54.5 23.1

Why the improvement from previous loops?

I’d put it down to never using the cruise control.

The beauty of the Prius’ cruise control is that it can regulate speed very well.  If you are coming down a steep hill, it can use regenerative braking to hold your speed.  (If the HV battery is already charged, the engine will be forced to run to “burn off” some of the excess charge.  This is also the only time that you would use the B (Brake) position; to prevent overcharging.)

Steep hills can be easily scaled by changing to the PWR Mode so that the speed doesn’t decrease as much before the acceleration takes over.  Leave it in ECO Mode and the speed will drop so far that all resources will be called upon to leap back to the set speed; a far less economical way to drive.

Radar cruise control in the iTech is even spiffier.  Except that every press of the accelerate or decelerate lever changes speed by 1 km/h and every long press by 10 km/h.  While this is very logical (Mercedes-Benz use this method) and is more accurate than holding until the desired speed is reached, it did catch out Steve “Woz” Wozniak, allegedly.

Freeway Driving without Cruise Control

How can I even suggest such a thing?  Surely CC makes a journey bearable.  Well… the Canberra to Sydney run is not very flat and once you reach the flat sections, the traffic increases.  Neither are ideal conditions for cruise control. And the Prius will allow me to take over from the CC, however results can be mixed.  If I am pushing the accelerator, say to speed up before a steep hill, but the car dips below the set speed, CC will not try to maintain the set speed.  Take my foot off the accelerator, the CC springs back into life.  I expect my foot to complement CC, not override it.

ECO Mode makes the accelerator less sensitive, which in turn makes it easier for the right leg to control speed.  Using Pulse and Glide techniques, long downhills can be used to charge the HV battery, or increase speed.  In short, you can control what the CC can’t see.

Having throttle control allows me to find the Super Highway Mode for very low consumption driving at high speed.  I was able to maintain 2.0 – 3.0 l/100 km at 110km/h for flat and slightly downhill sections by keeping the Ignition Timing (IGN) in the range +12-+16.  In fact, I was merely reading the instantaneous FC figure from the Scangauge-e rather than resorting to maths.

Because the accelerator pedal is quite light in ECO Mode, driving is not a chore.  And since I don’t have radar CC, I find myself cancelling CC when approaching slower traffic anyway.

I’ll use the CC selectively in future.


Early Number Plates – all in one day

Drove the Canberra to Sydney loop today for the dogs’ haircut and some shopping.  I few things were curious about the drive apart from not seeing a police car the whole journey (except for the Random Breath Testing unit off the Goulburn exit at 0730.  But I don’t think that I’ve seen so many early number plates in one day.

  • AAA-009 – This black number on gold (non-reflective) background would have been one of the first plates issued  in NSW under the Federal Numbering Scheme from 1951.  It was on a recent model car, so the plate had probably been repainted and kept in the same family from that time.
  • 549 – Seen on a new Renault.  Number-only plates were issued from 1910 to 1937.  This appeared to be a reproduction, perhaps in black plastic with white writing?  The genuine plates of only 3 digits can sell for $10,000’s.  Here’s one such from Victoria:
  • 517 – on a Toyota Landcruiser 4WD

That’s quite a bundle.  I also saw “BAK2BK” on a Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles number plate.  I don’t follow the Rugby League so I had no idea what “back to back” achievements were being celebrating here.  Take your pick:

  1. Premiership Titles in 1972 and 1973,
  2. Premiership Runners-Up 1982 and 1983,
  3. Sevens Tournaments 1994 and 1995,
  4. KG Cup (?) 1982 and 1983, or
  5. Club Championships 1987 and 1988.

US Presidential Election – Picking winners – Nate Silver and 538

Write these numbers down: 314.6, 50.9% and 52.5.

Nate Silver is a statistician, sabermetrician (baseball analyst), psephologist (election analyst) and writer.  Just like Antony Green, without the baseball.

Nate’s blog is “FiveThirtyEight: Nate Silver’s Political Calculus” and contains the essence of his statistical methods with words to help us along.

I started reading 538 (the name was taken from the number of electoral college votes) before the 2008 presidential elections and Nate was scarily accurate, correctly picking the winners of 49 or the 50 states; only spoilt by Obama’s win 1% in Indiana.

In Australia, the popular vote is sometimes given too much attention since it is the number of seats that determine the parliament.  Similarly, or perhaps more so, the popular vote in the USA has little to do with the result, it is the person who gains the most electoral college votes.  All that you need is a majority of votes from people in the state and you’ll get all of the electoral college votes of that state in most cases.  (Actually, with first-past-the-post you only need more votes than the other guys, not a majority.)

Nate ranks polls by accuracy and bias (by design, by accident or on purpose) assigns weightings and adds his own findings to present  analysis with commentary.  A poll can be biased because it only contacts landlines or only asks “likely voters” (which in Australia would be everybody), both of which may exclude young adults and busy people thereby not polling a cross-section of views.

Also, the sheer number of polls means that Nate Silver can comment put the pundits pronouncements to the test.

538 is predicting a 91.6% chance that Obama will win; it was as low as 61.1% on 12 October.  If Obama is predicted (by 538) to get 50.9% of the popular vote, why does he have such a high probability of winning?  By running a lot of simulations, Nate Silver can see how many times a particular set of results occurs, such as:

  • 0.2% Electoral College tie (269 electoral votes for each candidate)
  • 5.7% Recount (one or more decisive states within 0.5 percentage points)
  • 87.3% Obama wins popular vote
  • 12.7% Romney wins popular vote
  • 0.6% Obama wins popular vote but loses electoral college
  • 4.9% Romney wins popular vote but loses electoral college
  • 0.3% Obama landslide (double-digit popular vote margin)
  • <0.1% Romney landslide (double-digit popular vote margin)
  • 0.1% Map exactly the same as in 2008
  • <0.1% Map exactly the same as in 2004
  • 99.7% Obama loses at least one state he carried in 2008
  • 4.3% Obama wins at least one state he failed to carry in 2008

As at 04:00 ET 6 November (23:00 AEST 6 November) Nate Silver predicts that Obama will win 314.6 electoral college votes, 50.9% of the popular vote and will have 52.5 senators.  We’ll start to see in about 12 hours.

I wonder if he’s met Antony Green?

Breaking: Portland sustainability chief admits ‘Portlandia’ isn’t really a parody

I always said that Portlandia was a documentary.


Being the sustainability director of Portland is a bit like being the oil minister of Saudi Arabia. You don’t exactly run the place, but you do have the region’s chief export on tap. Portland’s public transit system is held up as a model for the country. Per capita carbon emissions are down 26 percent since 1990. Portland consistently tops lists for most bike-friendly city. The city even has an eco-pub.

Of course, you already knew this, thanks to Portlandia. But show creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein should thank sustainability chief Susan Anderson: She’s been pushing the city in this direction since the early ’90s. Anderson started off at the energy office and was a key figure in its first climate action plan in 1993. She’s headed the sustainability department since 2000, and now runs the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the result of the Bureau of Planning merging…

View original post 1,075 more words

Canberra, Sydney, Newcastle – better economy already

I’ll be taking a few more trips to Newcastle over the new few months. My father is recovering well and we’re helping him with a few jobs around the house. So there’s a few chances to baseline the fuel consumption under fairly arduous conditions. Parameters:

  • Tyres at 45psi
  • Lower grill fully blocked
  • Full tank of Caltex 91 RON (ethanol free)
  • Temperature 10 – 20°c

The run from Canberra to Northern Sydney was at night from just after 21:00. Not much traffic and sticking to the limit, even up hills. The mythical Super Highway Mode still eludes me. Rather than cut through Bankstown, Rhodes and Ryde, which is nice but hilly, I took the M7 and M2. I chose that route as I assumed that the roadwork I had encountered on the M2 a few weeks previously would either be finishing or would at the very least be no worse. Boy was I wrong. The entire stretch of the M2 I used was a 40km/h zone (I remembered it as a 60km/h zone!) adding about 30 minutes to an already long journey. Arriving at midnight is not too bad. Arriving after 00:30 seems silly.

Early start to Newcastle on the F3 carrying a niece and nephew as cargo. The F3 is a bit busy and a bit hilly for cruise control. Pleasant drive interrupted by a wanker driving a black Volvo XC90 who overtook in the left hand lane (contravening Rule 141 and common sense) and then cut me off received a good toot from my horn and some choice words from the grown ups. Language warning belatedly given to the young children in the back seats. Obligatory toilet stop at Ourimbah for the youngsters didn’t delay things too much, I thought.

After a highly productive day we returned in 3 cars: Sister and brother-in-law ahead, us in the middle and Dad behind. We managed to maintain this order for the entire journey and for some parts had no other vehicles in between. I thought that I should keep an eye on Dad so I kept a reasonable distance ahead of him. This meant charging up the many steep hills on the F3 at nearly full power. Not great for fuel consumption. Here’s the funny thing; our formation flying was a complete fluke. Dad had left before us but had discovered a new dead end. The two other cars left together, but the superior torque of the Citroën turbo diesel allowed it to overtake on Carnley Avenue. Dad appeared in my rear vision mirror and stayed there for most of the journey. Arrived in Northern Sydney within 2 minutes of each other.

Roundabout way of saying that we travelled 854.6km (about 10km past the DTE=0km mark) using 38.22l of petrol at 4.47l/100km. Considering the flogging I gave the car, it was about 0.5l/100km better than I would have expected a few months ago. The return journey to Canberra was 284.0km at 4.6l/100km (4.2 on the HSI) at an average speed of 92km/h.

So, did the grill blocking help? It’s possible that it helped the aerodynamics at high speed. Just wait until the next tank fill; I’m expecting low 4’s. That’s almost certainly down to the rising temperatures.  And the grill block.

Plug-in Conversion – things to consider

I’m considering a plug-in conversion for the Prius. The factory PiP (Plug-in Prius) is not sold in Australia but conversions by NilCO2 and others have been around for several years. A few thoughts come to mind:

  1. What size of pack should I get?
  2. Should it supplement or replace the HV battery? (Related to size)
  3. How much can I afford?
  4. Does that mean I’ll have to plug the EBH at the front and the battery at the rear?

An engine block heater is a perfect option for a PiP (Plug-in Prius). A warm engine does not need to start at all! Drive on battery without needing to run the engine to heat it.
However, if my DEFA socket is at the front and the plug-in socket is at the rear, which way do I park the car?
Here are my thoughts…

  1. Since the car needs 2 cables, move the DEFA socket closer to the Toyota socket, perhaps to the rear bumper. That would make plugging and unplugging a little more convenient
  2. Following on from 1., add a MultiCharger to the DEFA EBH. Since the 12V battery is in the rear the cable has to run the rear anyway, moving the DEFA socket to the rear bumper makes sense.
  3. If it were a factory Toyota PiP then DEFA could make a special cable that would interface with the Toyota PiP socket. (The PiP socket looks like another fuel cap on the opposite side.). So one cable could power both.
  4. For a retro-fit PiP, the DEFA cable could be connected to the same socket on the rear bumper

A few issues!

  • Do I want the EBH + HV battery charging on at the same time? So I’ll have to add the SmartStart timer or I’ll be warming the engine all night.
  • Will there be enough space in the sills to carry the DEFA cable to the back? There’s a lot of cable in there already. More research needed.

I’m sure that DEFA would love to have an integrated solution to work with the PiP. (Bjørn, are you still reading my blog?)