La salute della batteria dei servizi

Auto: Hyundai Kona 64kWh Excellence MY2019

Chi segue questo blog sa che ho avuto una disavventura (felicemente risolta) con la batteria dei servizi della mia auto (è raccontata qui). In quel periodo ho involontariamente sviluppato una certa intima conoscenza con questo umile componente, che oggi vorrei condividere, principalmente a beneficio dell’amico Leonardo ma magari anche di altri.

L’argomento può tornare di qualche utilità in un momento in cui le nostre EV stanno ferme per lunghissimi periodi di tempo.

Durante queste soste, infatti, alcuni dispositivi elettronici mantengono uno stato che potremmo definire di dormiveglia che comunque li porta a consumare un po’ di energia che più avanti calcoleremo insieme.

La batteria dei servizi della Kona ha una capacità di 44Ah o, più correttamente, di 528 Wh ma, come accade per tutte le batterie, la sua graduale scarica può comportare che la tensione diventi insufficiente per l’attivazione dei circuiti elettronici del BMS e dunque, anche se non ha bisogno dello spunto necessario per far ruotare il motorino di accensione come accade per le termiche, in pratica sotto gli 11V l’auto non si accende.

Il primo consiglio che vi dò dunque è quello di acquistare ed installare voi stessi un Battery Monitor (imperdonabile che manchi un accessorio del genere su un’auto che costa 50.000 euro !) come questo, anche se ce ne sono di diverse marche tutte più o meno equivalenti.

L’installazione è cosa banale: il dispositivo ha due morsetti, uno positivo (rosso) e uno di massa (nero). Basta allentare leggermente i morsetti della batteria e collegare il dispositivo in parallelo (positivo su positivo e massa su massa) come si vede nelle foto:

Una volta che il dispositivo è installato, basta caricare sul proprio smartphone l’applicazione di gestione (qui il link per Android), accoppiarla via Bluetooth al dispositivo per leggere la tensione della batteria in tempo reale.

Questo dispositivo è anche un datalogger, cioè registra la tensione anche quando l’auto è spenta: questo è particolarmente utile per capire cosa succede, ad esempio, durante la notte; facendo degli screenshot inoltre si possono ricavare preziose informazioni da passare ai tecnici della manutenzione.

A cosa mi serve sapere la tensione della batteria dei servizi?

Intanto vi dico subito che questa è una domanda da non fare MAI a quelli come me: se è possibile sapere qualcosa di più, non importa quanto inutile possa sembrare, io sono SEMPRE a favore.

Ciò detto, facciamo un esempio:

Leonardo ieri mi chiede se è normale che ogni giorno si accenda la funzione Salvabatteria, cioè il circuito di sicurezza che “legge” la tensione della batteria dei servizi e, se questa scende sotto un certo livello, accende il BMS e trasferisce un po’ di energia dalla batteria di autotrazione a quella dei servizi, per riportarla al livello ideale.

Lo vediamo benissimo in questa schermata che riproduce la tensione della mia batteria in un giorno in cui non ho usato l’auto (uno dei molti, ahimé): come si vede la tensione scende in 24 ore da circa 12.7V a 12.4V, livello a cui si attiva il Salvabatteria per circa 20 minuti riportandola al livello giusto.

Questo ci permette anche di calcolare il consumo di energia per i circuiti elettronici di cui parlavo all’inizio (incluso il Battery Monitor che abbiamo appena installato) che risulta pari a circa 0.3*12=3.6Wh ogni 24 ore; arrotondando possiamo dire che ogni giorno di sosta, dalla batteria di autotrazione vengono prelevati circa 4Wh, il che significa che una Kona 39 lasciata parcheggiata completamente carica si troverà “a terra” dopo 9.750 giorni, mentre una Kona 64 ce ne metterà ben 16.000!

Un’altra ragione per cui una EV è superiore ad una termica

Questo ci permette di confutare una affermazione che spesso viene fatta senza cognizione di causa, e cioè che “come avviene per le vetture termiche, anche le vetture elettriche soffrono se lasciate in sosta a lungo”.

In effetti, soprattutto se la batteria dell’auto termica non è nuovissima, una sosta prolungata può dare inizio ad un processo di solfatazione che la degrada rapidamente fino a rendere necessaria la sua sostituzione: per l’instaurarsi di questo fenomeno può essere sufficiente una sosta di un paio di mesi. Invece in un’auto elettrica, se dotata di circuito Salvabatteria (ma sono moltissime quelle che ce l’hanno) ogni 24 ore la batteria verrà riportata al livello ideale, e un eventuale problema insorgerà solo alla scarica della batterie di autotrazione che come abbiamo visto richiede circa 44 anni di sosta ininterrotta!

One fine Sunday…

…actually not. It rains, but it’s a welcome rain after a very long dry spell, so nobody’s really complaining.

This afternoon we’re all off to see my daughter’s piano essay, on which she’s worked so hard over the last couple of months. Nervous as she is, I know she’s going to pull a great performance, always gives her best under pressure.

Me, I would like to record how I feel on this day, which probably in retrospect I will see as pivotal in my professional life.

The details will come in due course, but for now it’s the feelings that matter, and the best way to capture them is another imaginary interview.

Q: When an opportunity is “the right one”?

A: I always wondered myself and, so far, the answer for me was always: “I will know”. I will know because it will unlock a wave of excitement and unbound energy; because I will sleep short and deep, because I won’t be able to think about anything else. Literally not another thing.

Q: Does serendipity exist?

A: I think it does. Now was exactly the right time for me for this to come about: current client projects concluded, new client projects still on the drawing board. If it wasn’t the case, I would not have been able to do 16hour stretches on developing the concept and the business case, would not have been able to switch day and night without impinging on performance to paying clients.

Q: Is your perception of risk blunted? 

A: It’s not that I am not aware of the risk, right now. It’s more that given the size of the potential reward, I feel appropriate to risk a lot to keep things in balance. If I wasn’t risking anything, I guess it would not feel right that I had the opportunity to be so richly rewarded.

Q: Was this a case of social network harvesting?

A: I hate that buzzword. People who use it sound cold and heartless, and I hope I am not that. I take pride in my social networks being exactly what I wanted them to be. In this case, the network that’s supposed to connect me with the people I know IRL (LinkedIn) brought to my stream a piece of news that did not match what I thought I knew about someone, prompting me to reach out to clarify, closing a key connection.

Q: Is it reasonable that you plunge into start-up mode again at almost 60?

A: “Start-up mode” depends only on energy output. Age has nothing to do with energy output and, besides, western world societies now require their members to be productive until much later than they used to, as they cannot afford to pay them retirement benefits, so I am merely fulfilling what’s expected of my role.

Q: Why an industry segment you have no previous experience about?

A: Industry experience is overrated. Cross-pollinating an industry with best practices coming from another industry is what is really valuable and you cannot do this if you’re not willing to venture into a territory you don’t know. Curiosity is much more important than experience.

Q: What if you fail?

A: Possible, not likely. My unconscious brain has made a thorough assessment and it’s telling me the odds are extremely good; I do not understand how it works, but it served me well in the past, so I’m trusting it.

Q: Is this your life #4?

A: No doubt: it brings to fruition what I have learned about growing a business, focusing on the things that really make a difference, the value of speed, the beauty of Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals, the importance of making sure your dream is understood.

Q: Are you going to change the world?

A: Yes.

[to be continued…]

Cars and computers

It looks like I am busy plugging my clients – and one in particular. Yes, I’m getting double pay this week!

New Scientist reports about an ongoing project at IBM’s Zurich labs where scientists are testing a prototype of a Lithium-Air battery that shows an energy density level similar to that of gasoline, making electric a viable alternative to internal combustion engines.

It turns out we MAY be buying cars like they were computers, after all…

Stupidest thing ever

Facebook on a car‘ dashboard?

SoMe junkie as I am, I am pretty sure FB will stay out of my car for the foreseeable sure, and for two good reasons:

  1. I do need more distractions and certainly I do not need any visual ones; if I absolutely need to check my FB page, I will use a tablet
  2. I do not trust ANY car manufacturer to implement anything related to computers. Last time I did, I bought a Solid State Memory option which I thought was a USB port and instead it turned out to be a PCMCIA slot. In 2010!!

Remember the old but hilarious “If we bought cars like computers” thingy? Perhaps it is time someone wrote “If we bought computers like cars”…

Pump blues

Gas prices shooting through 1.6 euro per liter. Great news!

Especially when one thinks that extracting crude + transporting it to refinery + refining it costs about EUR 3cent per liter – this price then grows to about EUR 53cents per liter when traded on Platts; add distribution company margin and huge tax load (around EUR 80cents per liter).

More data here.

I am a sucker!

I have known this for a long time and, in a way, have learned to live with the realization of this shortcoming.

This morning I collected my car from the service workshop; I took advantage of the lengthy stop to have it fitted with the iPod interface who will finally allow me to do away with CD-swapping on long trips; I will not complain he about the ri-di-cu-lous price tag for an accessory I superficially called “a bit of wire plus the Apple tax”: I knew about it and decided to go ahead of my own mind, so no regrets.

But, Mercedes and Apple, are you perhaps making a point of seeing how much you can piss off a customer before he will switch brands?

1) Why is this thing so big?
I mean, I have owned and used a myriad of iPod accessories, and none is even remotely as bulky as this item; this means its installation options are limited. Not sure the physical size has to do anything with functionality – hell, all it does is hook another music source to the in-dash music system, right? (one would think, but more later)

2) why would a Mercedes-designed accessory not take into account the car it may be installed on?
My car has a perfect recess under the right armrest for housing my iPod safely out of sight or car burglars, except the supplied cable (you’ll love this) ISN’T LONG ENOUGH to get there.

3) integration? what integration??
This car comes with a €3,000+ sound system with a fair degree of bells&whistles; but when it comes to integrating this additional source, the process is so dumb it baffled even the guy who installed it. Navigation is not done through the big display, but from steering wheel remapped dials and buttons; the info feedback is slight to be complimentary. All in all, it feels like a wholly new additional sound system with its own amplifier is being fitted, as there is no trace of my iPod in the peripheral list (yes that’s the one boasting a 9GB hard disk and a PCMCIA card slot, so, I should not really be surprised, should I?)

4) the software, oh, the software!
I will accept that Mercedes is primarily a hardware company; I will accept that they write no software, except the bits that keep the engine going; I will accept that they have no idea about user interfaces; I will accept that, to the best of my knowledge, the sound system is done by Bosch, but isn’t someone at Apple (who is primarily a software company, checks out what these people do? Probably not, they’re busying cashing their check…

With all this said, why do I keep giving money to these people? Because I’m a sucker, that’s why!

Traffic

Returning from St Raph, I knowingly select the stupidest schedule to leave, but there are few or no alternatives. Needless to say, if I walked the stretch between Albenga and Savona I’d go faster, so there’s plenty of time to kill.

Driving a truck I have an unusual viewpoint: a Playboy writer would immediately find two beautiful college students in the car next to him dying to show him the color of their underwear, but I am no Playboy writer…

Pietra, then Finale, approaching Spotorno, the road goes in and out of tunnels; on the other side it’s practically deserted, and I can see clearly all the way to the next tunnel, maybe 1 km away; the tunnel must be amplifying sounds, because I swear I hear the noise way before I see the cars.

It’s like a whine which gets deeper and deeper, until the tunnel vomits a black Lambo spyder, perhaps a Murciélago; metres behind it a Ferrari I don’t recognize – it’s not an Enzo or a Scaglietti which have easily recognizable shapes, maybe a 430 (or the all-new 458?); all I can say is that this is also black, but a with a gorgeous matte finish. As they race out, sound explodes at full blast filling my (and everybody else’s) ears with the scream of the 12+8 cylinders.

The tunnel ahead is slightly higher than where I am, so the view is perfect. Always difficult to judge speeds, especially incoming, but I bet these two are not too worried about speed limits.

Oh well, let me take another sip of ice tea…

Even more pissed

This business of a six-month delivery term for a car drives me nuts. Today I decided I’d write a complaint letter to the good folks at Mercedes-Benz; I therefore went to their site and, with some effort I dug out a form (do people really still use forms? so ’80s !).

The idiot who designed this particular form starts by asking me the registration number of your car – which I don’t have, as I’m here to complain about the fact it’s taking forever to deliver it. I put in the reg no of my old car (yes, the one they took away four months ahead of time)  and proceed to write “my story” (as they call it); obviously the idiot suffers from attention deficit disorder, as he arbitrarily decides I must use at most 480 characters to describe my problem.

After carefully wording my tale to fit (Twitter training helps, no doubt), I try to click “Send”… but the damn friggin’ button is dead!

How do I send this if the "Invio" (Send) button above is dead?

I could write a book about the many things that are wrong on this site (the pointless picture pages, the broken car configurator, the labyrithic navigation), but I think this is the best one. I must admit that this approach is more honest than many others that would accept my form only to route it to the dustbin – Mercedes Benz prefers to talk straight and let me know right away they could not care less about my complaints.

Well done, Mercedes!

(BTW, to the pimplefaced intern monitoring blogs: if you think I was pissed yesterday, you ain’t seen nothing, yet. Today I am so steamin’ pissed, I have asked Finance to cancel the order, penalties nothwithstanding)