Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Big brother sacrifices life for the younger. Near dead Leaf battery revives the Shifeng!

A near spent Leaf battery may have a SOH around 50%, It's range may have gone down below 100km, writings may be on the wall, yet it is still a powerful battery. It may not enough for the power hungry 80kw LEAF motor, but there are plenty other applications out there for those, it is still a very useful and powerful Li battery. 

This reminds us a selfless organ donor, end of one could be a new beginning for another!

In last post, (Here) we have heard about an old warrior who still got fight in him. Even earlier, we
 have posted about Chinese EV Shifeng (Here), which is lead acid battery. Now, today's post is
 about the final sacrifice by the old warrior.  

Used Leaf batteries are still a game changer for the 10kw little motor of Shifeng. This car had 12 lead acid battereis each weigh about 35 kg, a whopping 420kg in total which is about half of the total weight of the car itself! By changing these batteries for Lithium by a used Leaf, little one get several hundred kg of weight removed, a more powerful battery pack, ability to regenerative braking and also the faster L2 charging time. If that's not all, one day it may even enable fast charging!

This type of a converted Shifeng could even reach 200km of a range! not too bad for a small 

country like ours. So, if you are considering of removing your used LEAF battery, may be 
worthwhile talking to folks at Shifeng Owners group on FB, there might be a win-win 

When we visited Shifeng Facttory in Shangdong China, they were actually surprised to hear 

that not only we do lithium conversion in here, but on to Regenerative breaking as well! 

Therefore, this article will not be  complete without mentioning few names of individuals without their contribution, This progress in our country would not be there right now. 

Mr Bulathsinhala who is no stranger to EV owners has done me the conversion for just 
Rs 40 000/=  My friend, professor NK Gunewardena as always helped and encouraged this
transfer so much so that it finally happened even before the time frames I was planning myself

Mr Saman Malagama deserves a big praise for figuring out the regenerative breaking in Shifeng. 

Mr Priyantha Geeganage is another pioneer in providing battery services for both LEAF and Shifeng.

Our dear friends Thiwanka and Pratharshan also deserve some mentioning for all encouragements, help and knowledge sharing. 

Mr Nalaka Kumarapeli is another name which we might hear more in a future post!
Just to show that we have no shortage of expertise, technical know-how and human resources with us, here locally. There is no need to look abroad for solutions!

Next will be about a new battery solution for the LEAF. The Old warrior needs to be 


That may be for another post...

Monday, April 16, 2018

The old warrior who still got a fight in him.. Never say die!

This was brought to Sri Lanka exactly 3 years ago. At the time it said it has done only 7000 km. Fifty-Five thousand more kilometers later, it is now a veteran near 63000 km, with no less than 6 battery bars already gone!

How come 6 battery bars go down in such a low mileage? That's because this may be one of most tormented Nissan Leaf cars in the country.

It has been used to experiment, test, configure and troubleshooting, repair of most of Fast Chargers in the country. When Setec engineers came to meet and install our very first charger back in December 2015, this guy was extensively used to experiment and test it.

When it was charged 100% but the testing is not completed yet, we ran some distance to discharge the battery a bit so the charger can use it again. Whenever a new fast charger is installed or an existing one upgraded, repair, this old friend was obediently there to test it again and again, until the job is completed. We knew that's not the best usage scenario for the car battery but had no other option.
Most of its own battery life was sacrificed in the service of fast charging network in the country. I don't think it will mind it too much. Service definitely was not in vain! As a country, we now have one of best FC coverage in the world (certainly in the region!), not many countries can boast of this many fast chargers per car. (Those whol like to read about my previous experiments with green cars and what happened to them, reviews, You can read from the articles in this blog. Personal experiences on Prius and Shifeng.)

Anyway.. back to the story, I haven't used the car recently for long-term trips since I did not think it is capable of making them as it used to do in the past. After all, the battery is less than half it was used to be. This new year season forced us to use it once again for long-term trips and with great suspense, we started the journey from Galle, on new years day!

I was planning to charge few times along the way since the car was carrying 300kg of people and luggage as well. Yet, it exceeded 100km easily, even with a 6 bar down battery, carrying 300kg!

This guy needs a battery overhaul, I did not have the time to look into it for past few months even though we desperately needed that. Now, will look seriously into it.

That reminds me the first time I was looking for a fast charge for my car. At that time, I was told Rs 25 000 membership fee and then a Rs 70 per unit rate is required. We just decided to bring in 2 fast chargers of our own, break the monopoly, sell the fast chargers back and go on with our lives. At least that was the idea and the rest, as they say, was history. Those two fast chargers still providing service in the network which is now nearing 30 fast chargers. Both memberships and high rates are now a thing of past.

So, what will happen this time, when we try to replace batteries for the first time?

One thing is sure, if the existing solutions are not good/affordable enough, then we will create a new solution for all! Maybe the now battery depleted old warrior still has a part to play in that too. :-)
Only time will tell.....

Friday, June 23, 2017

Few novel ideas about the doctors strike.

First of all, I will be honest and state my standing. I will personally choose and take the side of a professional any day anywhere over a politician! Remaining (without migrating to rich countries) top professionals like doctors, engineers, scientists, lecturers etc are a huge asset to the country. You don't even have to be a top skilled professional to be an asset to rest of the society. Teachers, policeman, military, nurses they too are indispensable professionals we all need.

We all know what politicians (of all color) do in this country and has done to this country. None of us will miss them and none of them is indispensable. So again, if the fight is between working professionals and ripping off politicians, I will take the side of people who put up actual work and contribute, on any day!

As usual, on the SAITM issue as well, politicians of all color were not honest and transparent from the start. Private paid education is a need in the country, that must be there and we will have to get over that fact someday somehow and sooner the better. However, the way politicians were pushing their agenda was dishonest and corrupt. This post is not about SAITM though. So we will turn back to the strike issue.

As far as hearts and minds go, doctors are loosing the battle I think. This was summarised nicely by one of my friends who is a doctor himself, infact a professor as well who is teaching medical students. He said only the poor people get affected by the doctors strike. Rich would anyway go to private hospitals and dispensaries.

It is true, poor people who has to wait on long queues and could even risk their lives and lives of their loved ones need our attention. Lets quantify a bit. This "poor people" mentioned here is actually more than 80% of the population! These people have power only in an election, in all other times these are not the influential people with their own say or people who can change the decision making processes and make their voices heard. Hurting these people and loose their love, comradeship and blessings is not a positive thing at all for the doctors cause, to say the least.

So how to do a better strike and make an effective statement ? It was my wife who suggested this to me first... and it really sound neat! "Work in the general public hospital, give your best to the people and strike in all private hospitals and dispensaries. Do not engage in private practices during the strike"

Idea sounds fascinating! it has following advantages.

1) No one will be able to accuse doctors of being selfish and immoral. Right now, even when there is a strike in the public hospitals doctors do engage in private practices and do work in private hospitals, this does not look good in the eyes of general public. This could also be used by the state media against doctors.

2) Rich and influential people will get affected by the strike. It is more likely to direct towards a solution than hurting people who are powerless and have no say.

3) Support of the general public would be on the side of doctors!

4) Would be a good PR move and can get media and others talking about this in positive light. It is also good for a change!

5) All politicians, their relatives and supporters go to private hospitals!

Open for discussion for all. What do you think ?

Monday, January 23, 2017

Got a New Car - Why I think this (or similar) could change things a lot

Ok, here we go again... another experimental car!

If you are not familiar with this serial craziness of mine, there is enough evidence and past patterns in here : Green Cars, A personal history from Prius to Leaf

I like my LEAF. It's silent, clean, advanced, powerful and yet very comfortable. However I'm much more thrilled and proud to own this little car from China.

why ???

Because, unlike the LEAF (despite it's all the goodness, only very few in Sri Lanka can afford one, hence limiting it's potential of mass adoption and changing the world for the better at least in Sri Lankan roads) this car has a huge potential to change the landscape and get our people to mass migrate to electric vehicles!

Let's elaborate.. (or as some say, let's quantify things a bit :-) )

Shifeng worth about one third of a brand new Nissan LEAF. Used car market should be not much different either.

In brand new condition, this car is expected to do about 130km from a single charge. Not bad at all for a cheap car!

Highest speed is limited to 60km/hour but then again, if we are using the car for city driving (which is what it is best at), then how many meters and how many seconds do we get to drive more than 60km/h on our city roads ?

Like my good friend Thiwanka Wimalasooriya (He is the one who introduced me to this car!) has correctly pointed out, just two solar panels should be enough to neutralise the electricity bill increase that would caused by this car. Meaning a small investment like (Rs 160 000, at Solar Drive prices) should be enough to make one transport energy independent! That investment looks specially comfortable considering that we get to buy a brand new, full option car for much less than a Maruti or an Alto or even a Nano)

Full option.

Battery technology is Lead-Acid (Gel) there are 12 heavy batteries inside which accounts for almost half the weigh of the car. One advantage of Lead Acid is that it is bit more suitable for higher temperatures than Lithium batteries. This might be useful for climates like in here. Another is that Lead - Acid is relatively cheaper, and deep cycle batteries like these tend to last longer.

The particular car I bought has stuck on port for 3 years and hence the battery was degraded, still after 3 years of idleness it still retains, half the power. It remains to be seen whether we can improve the battery capacity with proper charging. My good friend professor NK Gunewardena certainly think so!

Another aspect is the ability to replace Lead-Acid with used lithium battery modules from Nissan Leaf cars. This will create a market for used LEAF batteries as well. At the same time, about 400kg of weight can be shed off from this car which battery capacity is increased. More of that will be covered in future articles, we hope one day a lithium converted Shifeng might beat a LEAF on range!

It's early days yet to write more on this... besides Thiwanka will write a good technical post with figures soon.

If a Shifeng or something similar to it take off, then our roads will become much cleaner, safer and we would harness more sunlight for our transportation and will be less dependent on polluting oil.

It's a worth goal to pursue for!

Friday, April 01, 2016

Poems, Lyrics and Theme Songs

This is a very short poem (if we can call it that) I have read a long time ago. 

The author has seen a proud pigeon walking about like a General, at the same time a hawk was circling above. One day this same hawk may gobble up the pigeon, but it's not this day and the pigeon has no scare or care for the hawk. This inspired the poet :

Let my hawk circle above me
We have still fight in us

-Mikhael Lermentov - 

The fighting spirit of which brings us to this modern classic. This is from the TV series 'firefly'

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black
Tell them I ain't comin' back
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sky from me.

Leave the men where they lay
They'll never see another day
Lost my soul, lost my dream
You can't take the sky from me.

I feel the black reaching out
I hear its song without a doubt
I still hear and I still see
That you can't take the sky from me.

Lost my love, lost my land
Lost the last place I could stand 
There's no place I can be
Since I've found Serenity

And you can't take the sky from me.

This improvisation may sound little political, but it's not. Just take it as humour.. or as motivation because there are similarities.

If it is saving the world and protecting the environment that we choose as our fight, then it so far has being a loosing battle. Electric Vehicles were subjected to a huge and ridiculous tax all of a sudden, no incentive for Solar, forests are being cleared out, even the reserves, coal power plants being designed and built and so on...

Still, there are certain things politicians and big businesses can't take away from us...

Take my love, take my land
Take me where I cannot stand
I don't care, I'm still free
You can't take the sky from me.

Take me out to the black
Cut down trees, build coal plants
Burn the land and boil the sea
You can't take the sun from me.

Take out forests, kill EVs
Bulldoze what we already have
Lost my soul, lost my dream
You can't take the sun from me.

Sell out everything we have
Store paddy in airports
I don't care, I'm still free
And you can't take the sun from me.

Lost our jobs, lost our land
Lost the last place we could stand 
Bring ETCA and ruin it all
But you cant take the sun from me

Politicians, parties and governments come and go. They are not in this for us. 

Get an EV, go solar and never step inside a petrol shed or a CEB/LECO again. 
Save the environment and get your freedom as well while you still can, folks! 
After all, They can't take the sky (sun) from us!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Green Cars - A personal history from Prius to LEAF

Back in 2005 I bought a Toyota Prius car. Which was a time that type of car was rare in here. (1997 model of Prius. The very first commercial version of it intended to sell only in Japan. Prius started to get imported only in 2001) Since people generally were afraid of the new technologies I got a good price so I went for a second car of the same model before long. Those did work well till about 8 more years from that point... I think I did a little bit to promote greener hybrid vehicles. 

Compared to those insane risks, a EV buyer today is not taking much of a risk at all! You can find more about those past fun stories if you are interested, in Toyota Prius Car - Experiences from a long term user , part 2 of that and finally in here : What's Wrong With Prius ? 

Even though hybrids wasn't an end solution to the CO2 emission problem and getting totally away from petroleum, they did a nice transition in preparing peoples minds for what's coming. Thanks to hybrids people learned to appreciate and love greener features as well as getting rid of their fears for newer technologies.

Electric vehicles were a total game changer though. Even I didn't anticipate such progress in EVs in such short time. Credits should go to Nissan and Tesla. However, the first EV I was interested about was Mitsubishi i-miev (due to the example set by a good friend of mine), if not for few stubborn kids who didn't like the looks of that nice little car (kids have strange logic!), I would have bought one of those. As it was, I became a LEAF owner (entire director board at home was firm in this and I was over ruled). This was in April 2015 and once again I got a good price because I was just happened to be ahead by 2-3 months before LEAF started to become the fashion in here.

I always wanted to write a post on wonders of this cool car, tips and tricks, best practices etc but by now there are many forums out there and many people have done that already. People seem to be reasonably familiar with the car, those who are still new, we try our best to get them up to speed at our stations. Model 2012 seems to be the oldest which can be found in here. 2013 model came up with few significant improvements to battery, engine and software. However, 2014 and 2015 have no big differences compared to the 2013 model. 2016 model is supposed to come up with a 25% increase of battery power, so we can expect to increase the range by similar factor. If you are someone who get 160 kms from a fully charged battery, you are expected to get 200km from the coming model.

Nissan Models advertised for far into the future include 300km range, self driving etc. On the other hand Tesla says they will start producing cheap model 3 cars in mass starting from end this year while it is now almost official the silent giant Apple is designing it's own car in secrecy. Future look good!

So why should we get so excited about fully electric vehicles ? because they provide us a way to be totally away from fossil fuels. Once we get power from the grid, we could easily control things and optimize things. A mixture of Solar, Wind, Sea Wave, geo thermal, hydro and even nuclear could power our vehicles.

The mere thought of doing all our transportation using clear, clean sunlight one day.... saving the entire planet from the mess we have created. Isn't that a worthwhile goal to take few risks, to work a little harder and to dream a bit ?

Want to clarify doubts on the logic of arguments and cross check the numbers ? read here.

If you are still having doubts why it is worthwhile to bet your money on and take even a personal risk if needed and go for a EV, you can read this story about venus for motivation! :-)

It will be a much bigger risk for us all to not to go for a green vehicle!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is a Tesla car really a symbol of Green in here ?

In a previous post, we discussed RRR and how to spot fake environmentalists  damages they do and some associated mis conceptions.

That got us thinking....

I am a fan of Elon Musk and Tesla. It's a great car but it's not yet a car for the masses, it's a car for the super rich, even more so in here. It may be a symbol of green in California, but here in Colombo, it's a symbol of luxury, wealth, comfort and general poshness. There may be nothing inherently wrong in that list, however, greenness or environmentalism is certainly not one belong in that category. Remember, the first R, indulgence and luxury is bit far away from that. there has been some discussions in local circles recently about the time a Tesla taking for a full charge in a normal fast charging station here in Sri Lanka.

Here is our take on the matter : if a tesla comes to a GF network station, we would may be take few pictures of it, have a nice chat with the owner and have a good look at the car too, and we would enjoy that time but at the end of it, we will simply have to ask the car to get to it's home. (may be charge it a tiny little bit so it has just enough to reach the nearest park or it's home). We wouldn't block our fast charger which is still a scarce commodity (for the masses) for hours on behalf for someone who can easily afford one at home (if one could afford a Tesla, why not a 20kw personal charger ?)

Good Elon knows this, that's why he is designing the new model 3 which is supposed to be a car for the masses.

Now that one we WILL treat as a symbol of greenness along with other EVs. We are waiting to charge one...

Your thoughts ?

Pretending Environmentalists - Identify friends and foes of EVs

When the CEO of the company I was working in long time ago, was explaining about results of the latest funding round of the company (which was doing good at the moment), we asked who are the people who are in line to fund us so far. 'A flower attracts all sorts of insects, you know.." came the quick and entertaining answer.. we laughed.

If environmentalism is a flower (a fashionable one too these days), it attracts all sorts of insects right now. Some of whom are a help to the flower, some of whom help themselves but their activities either indirectly helping the flower or at least does it no harm. There are another category of insects which are just helping themselves in such greedy fashion that they are actually damaging the flower itself.

This remind us of that lion who said 'I love vegetarians!' False environmentalists are such that when they say they are environmentalists, what they really mean is that they want to make money out of environmentalism and from environmentalists. Unfortunately, some of those do it by so unethical and opportunistic ways that the process can only be described as more or less of a robbery. Taking advantage of, deceiving and robbing of environmentalists, can not be doing much good towards environmentalism.

There are many ways we can identify false environment lovers. One is the triple R. Well, the three good concepts of Reduce, Re-use, Recycle as put forward by Green Peace. Even though it sounds like simplistic, it in fact has a deep philosophy.

We can not  save our planet or the environment without some sort of reducing the consumption, simply because the planet has limited resources against a growing population who needs more and more. It's a philosophy in one end where our instincts of consuming more, going for luxury, more expensive and bigger has to be transformed into much softer and refined form of taste where we learn to appreciate the finer aspects of life and take joy in consuming sparingly. Learning to practice moderation in things against indulgence. It needs wisdom, intellect, education and self restraint. Such shift in mentality will create a long lasting and sure way of saving the planet. For such a society, concepts of re-use and recycle will also come naturally. In a way it's just a matter of being sensitive towards the world and others who live on it.

There can not be an environment lover without a person inside who is practicing reducing/moderation in things. If we are not keen in reducing, what chance we got to combat with carbon emissions, global warming or green house effects for example ? how to protect dwindling forests and habitats of others, depleting resources and fish in seas.. etc.

On the other hand it is very easy to spot businesses which has set up, designed and tuned to opportunistically make money out of environmentalists, EV lovers/owners, people who like to migrate to Solar power etc.

In case of EVs (as an example), cars are relatively new, owners are few and they all need charging options. Once you buy a car you need to rely on someone for fast charging. In developed countries, charging is available for free or at very low cost. In such cases, it is natural to do it via a membership scheme. Now, how are we to identify a business in these parts of the world where charging is not free, not even fair by the rate and still charging memberships as well ? In early days there will be fewer service stations, spare parts vendors etc.. If one is keen on making money at any cost one could use the early monopoly to raise pricing into such levels (knowing that the customers have limited choice) that it becomes almost a day light robbery but still legal and can get away with.

Can such people, organisations and businesses be categorised as green or environment friendly ? only common aspect between them and an environment lover is that they both deal in the same technologies and options. However, one is using those with the intention of helping the planet while the other is with the intention of making money only. A lion who deals with vegetarian animals is not a vegetarian itself! When the lion says he 'loves vegetarians' he means he loves to eat them!

Environmentalists and early adopters into new (green or not) technologies need to be careful of pretending 'environmentalists'. Their activities more often than not are more harmful to the good cause than activities of those who are direct foes themselves. Direct foes like Big Oil, pollutants, companies who defy conservation laws are easier to identify and hence easier to fight with in the long run. However, fake 'friends' who sneak in as environmentalists and then destroy emergence of new technologies and movements are hard to deal with and the amount of damage they do can be high too. Sometimes they may not aware themselves about the harm they do, but we need to.

Lets take another example.  If we consider the EV sector in here, it is a sensitive time. People were (at least before the budget) thinking of switching into but are cautious about charging points, cost of electricity, spare parts etc. Still the brave ones and early adopters along with environment sensitive individuals take the plunge. Imagine this sensitive environment and add a fake environmentalist into this fragile eco system. A one who says he is helping EVs and providing related services but at a very high cost so he can make maximum profits before the real competition sets in.

If the fake 'green' company managed to get it's way you will see high prices for charging, memberships and then higher cost for servicing and equipment. Now the traditional automative industry can easily point out to the high costs EVs have to go through and mathematically prove to the masses that EVs are actually more expensive to operate and own. In addition, lot of potential early adopters getting discouraged and move away from EVs just after having a look at the charging cost, service cost etc. If this goes on for a while and a fake(s) becomes a monopoly, the entire industry will die out before it even see the day light. That would be a nip in the bud even the petroleum industry would be proud of, if they managed to achieve it. Petrol car dealers would be happy too.

This is not an exaggeration. Here are some numbers if we need more proof to convince our selves. Imagine we charge Rs70 for a unit of electricity to charge a EV. Now, a single unit is normally will take us for about 7 kms. So the cost for one km would be Rs 10, and everybody knows a hybrid car and even a good petrol car would beat that. So for whom are we supporting by enforcing such unfair pricing models on EV owners ?

Imagine there is a Rs 5000 annual charging for EV owners. Is this membership fee is to develop the charging infra structure ? if so, what exactly is and where is that infrastructure after all these months ? That money has clearly went on as personal profit for someone. All though we could argue whether that's a fair/ethical business or not, there shouldn't be an argument at all whether that's a environmental friendly business or not. This is the way to kill EVs, not the way to promote it!

How do other countries and communities deal with such fake do gooders ? there is one recent example which comes to mind where a pharmaceutical company tried to raise the cost of a drug in such a huge magnitude that it caused an outcry world wide. Public awareness has resulted in total failure of such evil attempts by that company that they received swift justice. You can follow the story in here. In that example, even though that company was a pharmaceutical company dedicated into that field including research, they were clearly not an asset or a positive for the improvement of healthcare of people.

Martin Shkreli is the founder and chief executive of Turing Pharmaceuticals, 
which raised the price of the drug Daraprim to $750 a tablet from $13.50. 

CrediPaul Taggart/Bloomberg, via Getty Images

Likewise, just because someone is in the EV sector, doesn't make them green. Just because someone has to unwillingly drop their bad habits and pricing models temporarily due to public outcry, doesn't make them green or good all of a sudden. History, is an indication on where the real motives are.