Electric adventures:

  A diary of sorts ...
  Executive summary:   I finally bought a fully electric vehicle in August 2019.
      It is *not* a Tesla.     Two-tone Kona on the lot at the dealership
  The Hyundai Kona EV would be my own introduction to the "range anxiety lifestyle", but maybe not in so acute a way as some owners have, uh, "enjoyed" with vehicles of earlier technologies.  With a stated driving range of 260 miles it was on par with the Model 3, and with gentle driving could easily top 300 miles -- kind of a tipping point in packaging and battery development that had been in my mind for some time.

Taking ownership went hand-in-hand with a deep dive into the car's technology and supporting infrastructure, much the same as happened with the Prius back in the day.  This follows a rough timeline of the process, with several branches into linked subsections.  Most of the content covers technical hacks, discoveries, and some philosophy around EV adoption; and indeed, my story is only one tiny spot on a giant exponential curve.  Nothing is a perfect solution yet, and with the way the EV market keeps exploding the vehicle you buy today will seem primitive and dated in only a couple of years.  But you have to pick *somewhere* to jump in, hopefully with a clear understanding of the balance between advantage and compromise.

While public charging networks and facilities continue popping up like mushrooms all over, we're still not anywhere near the coverage and on-the-road refueling convenience of petrol stations.  This is why I kept the Prius, since it was still in decent shape -- as *the* most reliable vehicle I'd ever owned with almost 15 years of adventure behind us, it would continue on as the long-haul / roadtrip and camping machine with the bigger freight capacity.

  This would be a new phase of car ownership ... or more like two phases and a ground, heh.  The whole experience didn't take long to build into quite the saga, so what follows is a linkfest-style timeline of contents for different subsections.

Some of the sections are NOT completed yet, flagged by   [Not yet].     Check back in a while -- this is an ongoing project, revisited in between times of actually making progress with the vehicle.  That does seem like a lame excuse, but there were certain sections that needed to go live sooner than others.

So, how did all this start?  Read about the leadup and decision process.

I expected that the majority of charging would be done at home, so I needed to research and build my own home fueling infrastructure.  I already had many appropriate parts on hand and more on the way.

Once the actual unit I would buy was located, the purchase process was relatively painless, and a few days and a bit of logistics later, I was able to pick up the car.  It began undergoing some early hacks only a few minutes later.  Once it arrived at home, I was able to make more changes and check out all of my possible charging scenarios, some of which are rather scary.

Of course the big traction battery isn't the only one in the car, and it's worth gaining an understanding about the 12V auxiliary battery and how the car [and the owner!] takes care of it.

Three days into ownership, I drove into town and picked up my first tire problem.  I didn't need to use the donut spare at the time, but it was still annoying.  At least it was a relatively easy fix, and prompted a little more investigation into wheels, tires, and brakes.

In the interest of behavioral research and re-calibrating the battery management system, I was able to run the car *completely* out of energy in the main battery and then do a full recharge from its conceptual "dead".  Here's how that played out, including some minor "rescue charging" games.

While waiting for that big charge-up I was able to start some basic "rip-and-tear" on parts of the car, to look at how it's put together and prepare for more necessary modifications.  The highest priority was installing the Yuppie Button, a road-safety feature I cannot live without any more [and firmly believe that everybody needs one].  Later in the process, I was finally able to take the car dark to the data network and be confidently free of Hyundai's stupid BlueLink system and its intrusive telematics.

Later there was a closer look at the underside of the car in general, and keeping most of that exposed and viewable was a useful state to have it in during events of National Drive Electric Week.  [I had unintentionally acquired the car just at the right time before then, and wound up exhibiting in *two* gatherings/shows that month with lots of stuff still torn apart and documented as a geeky technical display.]  This page received a later update as I revisited the underside to check for various problems that became known over the following winter: leaking coolant pumps, and the condition of the drivetrain.

It was surprisingly easy to remove the instrument cluster for some minor changes.  Several more noises that the car emits were mitigated in the process.

One could easily ask if I was actually *driving* this thing rather than just taking it apart For Science!  The answer is an emphatic yes, I was having plenty of fun driving and discovering, and here's the "lab report" on many of the subtleties found and forum questions answered in the process.  Much of it has to do with how regeneration and integrated braking works, which is one of the least understood topics of electric propulsion.  But even non-technical people often comment on how driving an electric is just so surprisingly *easy*.

Of course that is somewhat dependent on how the manufacturer designs the user experience for driveability and ergonomics.  After about the third time hitting the "Park" button by mistake and being annoyed at the lack of tactile cues around the shifter control, I decided to do something about it and make the chance for error significantly lower.

At some point later I got around to playing with DC fast charging, and brought the oscilloscope along to geek out pretty hard on various observations around that.  That market still has a long way to go as far as sorting out its business model, as billing based on *time* vs *energy* is completely unfair.  The excuse is sometimes offered that pricing by kilowatt-hours delivered is prohibited in some states by utility regulatory rules, but that's rapidly changing.  Unfortunately if we want to recharge quickly and get back to a roadtrip, we have to deal with the present naivete' in several different fledgling fast-charger networks as they sort out their growing pains and politics.

One morning I took a sudden notion to pull the driver-side door apart for a look inside, particularly to learn how much I should worry about water landing on the armrest and window switches.

About six months into ownership I finally found a real spare tire solution, which was a bit of an adventure but not only seems to have worked out well, is something that any other Kona EV owner can order and dispense with the stupid OEM "goop kit".  This gave me more confidence about doing longer roadtrips, but I hadn't thought too much about that when the pandemic hit and roadtrips were out of the question for a while anyway.  With both cars just sitting unused for a long time and risk becoming chipmunk hotels, a project to explore under the wiper cowl and critter-proof various openings was appropriate.  As the summer approached for real and trips became a little more likely, I did come up with a satisfactory sleeper solution to be ready whenever I could hit the road again.

Later in the summer I decided to experiment with LED headlight options, but kept the OEM halogen bulbs handy in case that didn't work out.

In response to the whole flap about battery fires, primarily in Korea ... recall notices started rolling in, but none of the local dealers were prepared to deal with it in the correct fashion.  I sent this letter to one that had been notably vocal about it.  If they were so worried that everyone's running around in a rolling bomb, they need to stop dicking around and fix the problem for real, meaning replacement packs for everyone.

  Chapter Two

In the spring of 2021, my 2019 Kona got rear-ended in a chain collision, due to some dipshit blonde not paying attention.  Despite the middle car absorbing a lot of the causative impact energy, my car was ultimately totaled.  So I got another one, a 2021, almost an exact clone of the first Kona but with a battery pack less likely to explode, and the story continues merrily on from there!

More sections of this are still in the works, such as

  • OBD2 data and app difficulties/triumphs     [Not yet]    
  • Comparisons/geekfests with owners of other EVs   [Not yet],     but many of my
        forum ramblings can be seen here
  • More roadtrip stories?   [Not yet]     Not as glorious as with the Prius, though
  • Warranty/repair issues   [Hopefully never!]     Although there were some early stories of
        motor shaft misalignment in some Konas and Niros, and some people did receive major
        new parts under warranty
and continuing to document whatever else falls out of the experience in a useful way.

_H*   191006, 200219, 210828, ...