New Nissan Leaf Owner

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davew
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We traded in our last internal combustion car for a Nissan Leaf last week. We got off to a rocky start when during the first charging cycle something went very wrong. The information on the CAN bus was garbage so the car wouldn't run or charge or provide meaningful diagnostics. After trying everything they could think of and making slow progress with Nissan corporate the dealer replaced our Leaf with a new one. This was after only three days of trying to diagnose the first car. Kudos to Boulder Nissan!

We don't have many miles on it yet, but here are my first impressions:

- I love it. When you press your foot on the gas it goes. Take your foot off the gas it slows. Put your foot on the brake and it goes into regeneration mode and slowly stops. Best of all when you are sitting at a stop light it is utterly quiet. Not idling. Just quiet. Everything is smooth and efficient. No gear changes. No vroom-vroom. No tail smog.

- Eco-mode is a trip. Both my wife and I have tried to calm our driving styles over the years. Eco-mode enforces this. During acceleration I am just keeping up with traffic. There is no top speed limit in eco-mode, of course. It just takes longer to get there. If for some reason you are in a hurry non-eco-mode is always available.

- Running the climate controls does put a load on the battery. I needed defogging during a snow storm yesterday and as soon as I turned on the heating unit the range dropped from 90 to 70 miles. This tells me two things: to be judicious with the use of these accessories and the unbelievable waste of gas cars that they can warm the interior of the car to tropical temperatures on cold days with just waste energy. Argh!

My life style doesn't involve much driving. I do a lot of walking and bicycling both because I enjoy it and because we all need regular exercise and this is the easiest way for me to get it. I'll probably drive only a little more now, but when I do it will be a delight to do it in a vehicle such as this.

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pcarlson1979
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Ok. It's official....I'm jelous.

I only got to "see" a Nissan leaf earlier this year. I had a sit in the driver seat and it felt about the same size as my Prius so I'm happy with that. But living in Australia we seem to be living in the stone age down here. It looks like we won't get these cars until 2013. The US govt give incentives to buy EV's but the Australian govt actually put on an extra EV tax to make them more expensive. It's estimated to cost around $75,000 here when it comes. Now considering the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar, you would think it would be cheaper.

Out of interest, where do you live and how much did you pay for it?

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MikeB
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Very nice, dude. I've got a co-worker with a Volt, but haven't seen a Leaf up close yet. Hope it works out well for ya.

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MEroller
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

pcarlson1979 wrote:

The US govt give incentives to buy EV's but the Australian govt actually put on an extra EV tax to make them more expensive.

Now THAT sounds like a whole truckload of sh1t, that of the bull kind ?!&%§$!
There is no need at all to make EV's even MORE expensive, they already ARE far more expensive than comparable vehicles, at least to buy. Another thing would be taxation, as all sorts of taxes that can be put on things like fuel, oil and the likes just won't work with an EV...

Congrats to the new owner on the now working specimen of a Nissan Leaf :-)

As for availability, the Leaf was not offered for sale last year here in Germany either - for two reasons, maybe three:
1. The German government also offers no incentives for EV's, but at least throws no logs in the way for those who still want to buy one - in contrast to Down Under
2. Nissan needed another year of development to put together a working thermal management system for the battery, without which it would have been pounced on by local media in the winter... And both those reasons could also be the explanation for no sales in Australia yet. The latter also for limited heat resistance of a not thermally managed battery pack.
3. Maybe Nissan simply is not up to production speed yet, given the Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear catastrophy in Japan, and possibly also having to first sort out some quriks and problems like that CAN-bus muddle...

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davew
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

pcarlson1979 wrote:

Ok. It's official....I'm jelous.

The US govt give incentives to buy EV's but the Australian govt actually put on an extra EV tax to make them more expensive. It's estimated to cost around $75,000 here when it comes. Now considering the Australian dollar is worth more than the US dollar, you would think it would be cheaper.

You'd think. This really sucks because Australia has a much better climate for electrics than much of the US. I think I've heard somethings about your current government that explains this. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back and you can fix some of the current anti-environmental policies.

pcarlson1979 wrote:

Out of interest, where do you live and how much did you pay for it?

I live in the US (Colorado). The sticker price was $36,000. There are state and federal incentives, but I haven't added them up yet. I think I get about $10,000 off my taxes next year.

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davew
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

MEroller wrote:

2. Nissan needed another year of development to put together a working thermal management system for the battery, without which it would have been pounced on by local media in the winter... And both those reasons could also be the explanation for no sales in Australia yet. The latter also for limited heat resistance of a not thermally managed battery pack.

This was a problem for many states here, too. Nissan rolled out the 2011 models in the warmer ones like California for just this reason. The 2012 like mine has the battery heater. As I understand it only kicks on at -4F and the intention is to prevent damage to the pack. The dealer didn't know anything about warming the battery pack for better performance. It might warm itself sufficiently once you start using it. I am very curious about this, however.

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LeftieBiker
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

I think that manufacturers are going to have to offer bottled-gas-powered heating systems for cold areas. VW did it for their campers with air-cooled engines decades ago, IIRC. The system could be catalytic rather than direct combustion, and it would solve a lot of these issues, even though the vehicles would no longer be "pure" EVs, at least when they were in use. I thought about this years ago, and considered using inboard braking systems to generate heat for a liquid 'heatant' system, but that was before regenerative braking was implemented. The catalytic heaters could similarly heat a working fluid that could then be used for both cabin heat and battery warming. In hot climates it could function, minus the heater, as a Prius-type battery and motor coolant system...

davew
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

LeftieBiker wrote:

I think that manufacturers are going to have to offer bottled-gas-powered heating systems for cold areas.

I don't agree. I'm on a bicycle most of the time and I certainly don't have a heating system on it. The only reason I turned on the heat already was that particular day it was very wet and the temperature was right at freezing making fog a real problem. Any warmer or colder and I wouldn't have used it at all.

I'll just dress for the weather like I always do and I'll be fine. Bear in mind these are not long-range vehicles. No one is going to try to cross the Yukon in the Leaf.

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pcarlson1979
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Just to clarify, when I registered my electric scooter I was given a $19 ev subsidy discount and then I had to pay $297 carbon neutrality tax (or something like that). I've been told that$297 fee would be close to $15,000 if I bought an electric car.

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LeftieBiker
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

davew wrote:
LeftieBiker wrote:

I think that manufacturers are going to have to offer bottled-gas-powered heating systems for cold areas.

I don't agree. I'm on a bicycle most of the time and I certainly don't have a heating system on it. The only reason I turned on the heat already was that particular day it was very wet and the temperature was right at freezing making fog a real problem. Any warmer or colder and I wouldn't have used it at all.

I'll just dress for the weather like I always do and I'll be fine. Bear in mind these are not long-range vehicles. No one is going to try to cross the Yukon in the Leaf.

Most of the target market for the Leaf isn't die-hard bicyclists, though. There are two reasons heating systems are needed: most people will demand them as a basic amenity, and they are needed for windshield defrosting. Having the option to pre-heat the car while it's charging will work for short trips, but not for people with 25 mile commutes in frigid weather.

pcarlson1979
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

davew wrote:

The sticker price was $36,000. There are state and federal incentives, but I haven't added them up yet. I think I get about $10,000 off my taxes next year.

Well I just checked and Nissan Australia have decided to screw us over again. They have set the RRP price at $51,500. Mind you no one will sell it for that, all sellers add about $4000 on top so it'll be about $55,000. After your $10,000 rebate that makes the car HALF the price than if I were to buy it here in Australia. Dammit. I was looking forward to this car being released for $25,000 like we have been told since 2009. It was supposed to be comparibly priced to a petrol version. Damn you Nissan, damn you Australian Government!!

http://www.caradvice.com.au/152116/nissan-leaf-australian-pricing-announced/

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antiscab
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

pcarlson1979 wrote:

Just to clarify, when I registered my electric scooter I was given a $19 ev subsidy discount and then I had to pay $297 carbon neutrality tax (or something like that). I've been told that$297 fee would be close to $15,000 if I bought an electric car.

How curious, I haven't encountered anything like that, maybe it's just the ACT?

Re Heating:
With an Electric car, it use reverse cycle air conditioning to provide the bulk of the interior heat rather than the resistance heater the Leaf presently uses

It's probable Nissan wanted to sell a few in the easy areas before committing more R&D to upgrade the aircon

Matt

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LeftieBiker
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

"Re Heating: With an Electric car, it use reverse cycle air conditioning to provide the bulk of the interior heat rather than the resistance heater the Leaf presently uses"

That's a heat pump. Heat pumps can only provide usable heat down to about 40-45 degrees F. Below that they also use resistance heaters in the air or working fluid flow. It may be that the solution for longer trips *is* to use a specially built brake that transfers heat from some of the braking to a working fluid, which would in turn heat the interior and the batteries, after a few miles of driving/braking. Those first few miles could make use of resistance pre-heating powered from the charging input.

jdh2550_1
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Congrats David! Like my MikeB I've only come across the Volt in the wild - not the Leaf yet.

And I agree - isn't it amazing the amount of waste heat is generated by the ICE?

As far as heating and cooling goes:

1) For the windscreen I like the front defrosters that they put on European cars in the 90's. However, I think they stopped doing that? Not sure why - and I never saw them at all in the US. It's a fine mesh and operates just like the rear defrost.

2) For passenger/driver comfort I think we'll see some interesting solutions spring up. Already high-end cars have heated and cooled seats - they don't do it for efficiency but the more you can localize the temperature changes the better, right?

3) I wonder when we'll see the first "double glazed" car? Think about how much heat you must loose through all the glass (they address solar gain with tinting).

Enjoy your Leaf. Like many others - color me jealous! ;-)

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

jdh2550_1 wrote:

2) For passenger/driver comfort I think we'll see some interesting solutions spring up. Already high-end cars have heated and cooled seats - they don't do it for efficiency but the more you can localize the temperature changes the better, right?

Indeed. The Leaf comes with heated seats and steering wheel which they strongly advise you use instead of the cabin heater. They work in seconds and a make a large difference.

jdh2550_1 wrote:

Enjoy your Leaf. Like many others - color me jealous! ;-)

Aw, thanks. Now in the interest of full disclosure it is mostly my wife's car. I told her a long time ago I had little interest in cars so as punishment I have to beg her to drive it.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

A couple weeks ago I wrote up an article about winter driving tips for the Nissan Leaf, basing it on some discussion I found on another forum. What I recall is they found ... while the car is still plugged in, use the smart phone app to tell the Leaf to precondition to warm up the battery and the cabin ... use the seat & steering wheel heaters rather than cabin heaters ... then also practice hypermiling such as using gentle acceleration and coasting to a stop.

Reading the Leaf has steering wheel heaters made me jealous - my 1971 Karmann Ghia, well, it's a wholly different universe than the one which has heated steering wheels.

Quote:

Now in the interest of full disclosure it is mostly my wife's car. I told her a long time ago I had little interest in cars so as punishment I have to beg her to drive it.

Grin

In my case - I can get all logical with all the reasons why electric cargo bicycles could save the world, are better for my health, are wonderful to ride, etc .. but then having the electric car, I drive the electric car to events I used to ride the bicycle.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

jdh2550_1 wrote:

1) For the windscreen I like the front defrosters that they put on European cars in the 90's. However, I think they stopped doing that? Not sure why - and I never saw them at all in the US. It's a fine mesh and operates just like the rear defrost.

I believe to remember that was a Ford thing. It was a very fine hexagonal mesh, yet readily visible and at times even irritating in back lighting conditions. The eyes where distracted to focus on the close mesh instead of the road further away. That will be the reason why it was dropped again. It should work better with resistive transparent foil, if such a thing exists :-)

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Congratulations on your new Leaf. I have put 4300 miles on my Leaf in 6 months. Being in SoCal, I have only used the heater twice. The AC is very efficient, once the car is cooled down, it only uses about 500 watts. I have averaged 4.8 miles/kwh, charging between Midnight and 6 am, my fuel cost is 1.67 cents per mile.

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pcarlson1979
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

pchilds wrote:

I have averaged 4.8 miles/kwh

As a comparison my 8Kw electric scooter gets about 11.36 miles/kwh
As a comparison my Prius gets about 5.5L/100km (42.8 MPG)

pchilds wrote:

my fuel cost is 1.67 cents per mile.

As a comparison my 8Kw electric scooter costs about 1.24 cents per mile (my power is 15.1c / kwh)
As a comparison my Prius costs about 8.4 cents/km or 5.3 cents/mile (Petrol is currently 151.9c/L or $5.75/Gal for the cheap E10 stuff in Australia)

So the Leaf uses a bit more than twice as much power as a scooter, but it can carry 5 people and luggage. Sounds like a good deal to me. But when compared to a similar sized car (Prius) it is about a QUARTER the running cost of a Prius.

But I wonder what are the scheduled service intervals? 10,000km? If so, what are they doing at those intervals? Swap tires and check the battery voltage?

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davew
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

pcarlson1979 wrote:

But I wonder what are the scheduled service intervals? 10,000km? If so, what are they doing at those intervals? Swap tires and check the battery voltage?

It is easily googleable. They want to check the brakes, tires, and a couple of other details. I bet they also scan the CAN bus. I think the first year or two of service is covered under the purchase price of the car. You're right, however. Other than the tires there should be no expected routine maintenance. Reading the user's manual I got the feeling that Nissan was just making up a few reasons to get you back in on a regular basis so they can monitor their new technology.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

reikiman wrote:

In my case - I can get all logical with all the reasons why electric cargo bicycles could save the world, are better for my health, are wonderful to ride, etc .. but then having the electric car, I drive the electric car to events I used to ride the bicycle.

I sense this coming as well, and am going to attempt to fight it. I strongly believe that for our own emotional and physical health those that are able need to rely more on their own power than anything else. When we use power we need to use the most intelligent form available which is usually electric.

I'm glad to say that since we've had the EV my pattern of walking for most errands and occasionally riding my bicycle is unchanged. We have taken two extra trips in the EV: one to a nearby B&B and one to a restaurant that just isn't safe to bike to. Because of my dislike for gas cars we hadn't been to that restaurant in a few years. If this trend continues I'll be okay with it. I'll still use human power for most things and we'll put a couple of thousand miles on the EV each year for reasons both indulgent and practical.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

MEroller wrote:

those reasons could also be the explanation for no sales in Australia yet

No, the reason for no sales in Australia yet is because it isn't offered for sale yet. I call nissan and they just keep saying, "coming soon, Dunno when? You're better off with a petrol car until this electric car stuff gets sorted out. Electric is just a fad anyway." Nice advertising NATIONAL CAPITAL MOTORS in CANBERRA.

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24km: Delivered - 24 September 2011
2490km: Installed dual 35w HID lights Bi-Xenon Projectors - 27 November 2011
8313km: Installed BMS - 13 October 2012

"Scrappy" - Custom 48v Electric Dirtbike Conversion
20 Feb 2012: Bought 2005 Suzuki DRZ-400SM Motorcross Bike for $100
Motor: MARS ME0708
Controller: Alltrax AXE4844 400A controller
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Congrats and Kudos. Interesting discussion, too. We can't help but get excited, even though we understand it's only a miniscule step in the needed changes which we as a society are NOT making. Still, one takes one's pleasures where one can.

I'm chiming in to comment on the change in driving pattern. I was always an aggressive driver--never rude, but loved to be efficient and avoid getting caught behind slowpokes, etc. Then with the Prius, I used the dashboard feedback and made a challenge out of avoiding pegging the meter. It is amazing how completely my driving habits changed in a very short time, and there is no loss. The previous driving challenges have been completely replaced with my new challenge of anticipating slowdowns and stops, accelerating slowly, even slowing down up steep hills. It now is strange to watch people accelerate so much for no reason. I'm having just as much fun driving as ever. It is amazing, really, what a difference mere habit changes could make in energy usage. I've been thinking one thing we pretty much politically unempowered eco "nuts" could accomplish is to do trainings to teach people to do more than "recycle."

Anyway, I love my Vectrix but it has kept me from being on the bicycle. Still, the Leaf ain't a Ford Explorer.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

geomoo wrote:

I'm chiming in to comment on the change in driving pattern. I was always an aggressive driver--never rude, but loved to be efficient and avoid getting caught behind slowpokes, etc. Then with the Prius, I used the dashboard feedback and made a challenge out of avoiding pegging the meter. It is amazing how completely my driving habits changed in a very short time, and there is no loss.

Me, too. I've always been a fairly conservative driver, but the Leaf has made me even more so. Having continuous feedback on your energy usage makes for subtle but powerful behavior modification.

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geomoo
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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

Yep, behavior mod. Amazing how powerful.

This thread must have been what caused me to half-dream the following last night:
Newton's Last Law "acceleration = climate change" goes like this

climate change = fuel burned = energy consumed = work = force x distance = m a x distance
Therefore, climate change is directly proportional to acceleration. Q.E.D.

In some ways, it's all very simple. We are paying a steep price for the thrill of steep acceleration.

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

geomoo wrote:

Yep, behavior mod. Amazing how powerful.

This thread must have been what caused me to half-dream the following last night:
Newton's Last Law "acceleration = climate change" goes like this

climate change = fuel burned = energy consumed = work = force x distance = m a x distance
Therefore, climate change is directly proportional to acceleration. Q.E.D.

In some ways, it's all very simple. We are paying a steep price for the thrill of steep acceleration.

Hey, I like this thinking. Cool analysis... :-)

Unfortunately it also highlights why it's a difficult marketing effort to sell economy vs. power. Power speaks to the heart and economy speaks to the head.

Sigh...

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

davew wrote:

Having continuous feedback on your energy usage makes for subtle but powerful behavior modification.

I think what academics would say is that what you're responding to is the "gamification of economic driving". The "game" is keeping the needle in the green (or whatever indicator you like). People of all sorts of background respond well to abstract games (Angry Birds!). So, in a way this counteracts the concern put forth in my last post.

We need to strengthen the "reward" system in the "game of economic driving".

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Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

We need to strengthen the "reward" system in the "game of economic driving".

This is it in a nutshell. I'm just finishing a terrific book about just this thing. It's called Super Cooperators. The author has spent his distinguished career studying what evolutionary forces lead to cooperation. Cooperation would be the opposite of the behavior first described by Garrett Hardin called the tragedy of the commons. It refers to "our inability to sustain a resource that everybody is free to use and, alas, is just as free to abuse."

To address your point, the element of games which causes cooperation to emerge is "reputation," or the ability for the players to be aware of who cooperated, who defected, and who punished. The feeling of being seen is a powerful, unconscious motivator of human behavior. The experiments in this regard are unequivocal. If we managed to make it a wide-spread notion that excessive acceleration is crass, it would drastically change driving behaviors. In the words of the author: "The Tragedy of the Commons can be solved by linking the public goods game to games with targeted interactions. By this I mean that, rather than withdraw your cooperation, which affects all players in a traditional public goods game, you withdraw it only from those that defect and, even better, reward those that cooperate." Little green lights is a terrific way. Targeted interactions are even better.

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jdh2550_1
jdh2550_1's picture
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Joined: 07/17/2007
Points: 2338
Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

geomoo wrote:

We need to strengthen the "reward" system in the "game of economic driving".

This is it in a nutshell.

....

Little green lights is a terrific way. Targeted interactions are even better.

Well, I founded an EV company and you have interest and knowledge in this area. How about some cooperation? ;-)

What would be a good system (for a two wheeled EV)?

Feel free to start a thread on this topic or email me and we can take it off line.

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John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas. No Worries." - JDH, CuMoCo || "Make Volts Not War" - anon.

geomoo
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Joined: 03/31/2012
Points: 41
Re: New Nissan Leaf Owner

I would love to help, but I'm afraid I'm better at theory than at practice. Don't think I would be much use in designing a feedback system. I can definitely give feedback, however, on relative merit of ideas.

As to the "targeted interactions," this website is an excellent example of that. On this site, users develop "reputations," which is the essential characteristic of indirect reciprocity lying at the heart of Nowak's theories of how cooperation evolved. Look at all the work people do here in large part in order to enjoy stellar reputations among others they respect, and how easy it is, in this small community, to punish the defectors, who are known as "trolls", without withdrawing support from the community in general. The effect on me has been enormous. Now I am strongly committed to developing the skills to keep my VX 1 on the road.

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Hanging on by my fingernails, technically speaking.

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