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My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:43 pm
by mattcarr
I thought that I would start a blog about my little Citroen C1 Ev'ie, as I know some people would be interested to see how I get on with it. To share, as an owner, how pratical a car it is considering it's real world limitations.

This is the opening post, and I know I have owned the car for more than a year, but I will start the first few posts with what I can remember from the last year.



Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:54 pm
by mattcarr
I have been interested in electric cars for a fair few years now. It really stemmed from my days of having a long commute and the big fuel bill I had that went with the commute. I worked at Sony and back in 2005 or so I got an internal new letter stating how Sony had partnered up with a Japanese car company to trial Sony's new Lithium batteries. I managed to get in touch with a person about the batteries to find out more information - but alas - a non disclosure contract meant that even I couldn't get much information about the batteries in use. I only got told that the car was meant to have about a 120 miles range. I can't remember the car maker - but I think the model was a sentra ( or something similiar - google has proved a bit fruitless in my searches ).

This got me interested in EV's and from there the seed was planted. I joined lots of forums and read lots about electric cars. Once of the interesting forums was the EVDL - Elctric Vehicle Distribution List - where the like of John Wayland and Rich Rudman and Otmar lived. I enjoyed reading the posts and storied about their cars and works. In fact - I still enjoy reading about others ventures in to the EV world of things.

It was several years before I decided to take the leap in to being and EV owner. in 2008 I bought a second hand GWIZ. I know, I know - but I had to get a fix for the bug I had on EV's. By now I had left Sony and was working much closer to home. Fortuntely the company I work for allowed me to charge my car at work. Thus began my electric car driving. I have my GWIZ for over a year and then unfortunately the pack started to wear out and I had to stump up the dosh to get it replaced - much to my disgust. I wanted a battery pack that would last forever and let me drive a million miles before it needed replacing. My circumstances changed and I was put into a position where I had to sell the car and go back to using fossile fuel.

This was the way it was for a few years. I was still reading about electric cars - saw the Nissan Leaf appear - but that was just a bit too rich for my pocket. Then one day I saw my Citroen C1 Ev'ie for sale - and my missues told me to go for it. And thus - my relationship with my beloved C1 Ev'ie started in September 2011.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 7:19 am
by mattcarr
When we first got the car we were using it to go everywhere - and making excuses to just use it. Nearly all of our mileage is local stuff with the odd longer run.

One of the first things I noticed was that the heater wasn't working. After a call to ECCPLC they basically told me to turn the heater on and wait 10 minutes to see if it is warm - nope, it did not get warm. So they tolad me it would be £1100 to change out the heater. I thought what a con so I decided to try and see if I could find a replcement and fit it myself. So on a fine sunny day I starter to remove the front of the car to get to the heater. Once I had the front of my car apart all over the drive I noticed that the nice big red wire coming out of the heater was not connected !!!! So I decided to open up the box of electrics to see what else i could discover. After lots of tracing wires and reading voltages I soon discovered that the 12v feed for the heater pump was also disconnected and that the main live wire was also disconnected. I found the big solenoid that was powered on when the heather switch was powered on in the car. It had a 12 volt out on it that the heater pump connected to and it also had the main pack voltage out on it - and it just so happened that the live wire to the heater was exactly the right length to be fitted. So after fitting the wires, checking and double checking them I turned on the ignition and then turned the heater on. From inside the car I could hear the small hum from the heaters circulation pump - great. I also noticed that the voltage dropped a bit when the heater was turned on. It must be drawing current if there is a voltage drop being seen. After a few minutes the air coming from the vents in the car was getting warm. I had success - the heater was working. Now I wanted to make sure that there wasn't a good reason as to why the heater was disconnected. I made sure that the solenoid was definitly turning off and on and I left the heater running for a long time to make sure all was well. Once I was happy with it all I put the car back together.

I now had a working heater back in the car - which was great - saved myself a potential £1100 bill. !!!!!

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:05 pm
by mattcarr
Well is wasn't too long before I decided to take the car apart to get some more pictures of the electronics. I remember is was a lovely warm sunny day when I started to take the front of the car apart again. I managed to get everything off the car in an hour or so and started to dig around the electronics.

When I had finished playing I started to put the car back together and one of the first things to be done is to plug the main connector back in to the BMS. This is the connector that contains all of the wires from each individual cell in the battery pack. Now I pushed the connector block back in an heard a phizz and then got that horrible smell of burnt electronics !!!!!! I had let the magic smoke out of the BMS. I am sure that if the neighbours were in, they were looking out of the windows wondering why I was swearing profusly. !!!!! I quickly remove the connector and opened up the BMS. I saw a couple of burnt things and realised that I had probably killed it. I had pushed in the connector the wrong way 180 degrees wrong. I left the connector unplugged and just put the car back together as it was - all the time with that sickening feeling in my stomach that I had just made a very expensive mistake.

Later that day I needed to go out so I thought I would see if the car would drive. I jumped in the car, turned on the ignition and the car seemed to power on okay. So I put the selector in reverse and gently pressed the go pedal. Nothing, well the car tried to roll back slightly on the drive, so I changed the 820 spy glass to show the current draw and the car was only drawing 4 amps - barely enough to make the car move. I managed to roll it down the drive. I selected forwards and the car barely crawled back along the drive - again inly taking 4 amps maximum to move. Realising that I was not going anywhere in the car I decided to take the car apart again to see what I could do. I began to take the front of the car apart again. Now once I had got access to the black box of magical electronics again I decided to try to plug in the other connector to the BMS. It has got 2 plugs that connect in to it. One contains all of the tiny leads from the individual cells and the other one has a few leads from only knows where. I plugged this one in, got back in the car and tried to move it up the drive. Once again, I got behind the wheel, selected reverse, pushed the accelarator and the car moved with what I thought was full power down the drive. From this I concluded that the controller was being given the okay signal from the BMS. I decided to secure the cables on the front of the car and take it for a quick spin around the close. The car seemed to drive okay in this state. It is okay to drive the car but I wnated to make sure I could charge it as well. Know I knew I had killed the BMS but I wanted to see if it at least let the car charge. I unplugged the second connector from the BMS and plugged the car in to the mains. Nothing - that charger just beeped at me. So it looks like the BMS controlled the charger. I unplugged the charging cord and decided to do a bit or reasearch on the charger. It is a Zivan NG3 - the sitcker on it says it is rated at 96 volts and 18 amps. After a bit of searching on the web I decided to connec the second connector on the BMS and then plug in the charger. Still nothing from the charger - again lots of googling and I soon leanrt that the charger was a smart charger and would need the nod from the BMS to allow charging. I noticed that the second plug connected to the BMS had 4 wires that went off directly to the charger. So I got out my trusty voltmeter and read the voltage across these 2 pairs of wires. One pair read 5 volts and the other read nothing. I decided to disconnect the pair that a zero voltage reading as I had read that the charge rate was controlled by applying a voltage to the charger. So, this pair of wires was disconnected and I again gingerly plugged the car back in to the mains Hurrah - I got the nice whirr of charger fans as it span to life. I Had my volt meter to hand and quickly took a reading of the pack voltage and watched it jump a bit as the charger current started to go in to the pack. I knew I could charge the car with the second connector in and one pair of cables disconnected.

So once again the car was put back together and I made my trip out in the car. When I got home I plugged it back in. I knew that I had driven a fair few miles and it would take a couple of hours to put back the power in to the battery pack that I had taken out.

I decided to get on the phone to ECCPL and arrange to get the car to them to get the BMS Changed. They told me that they did not have the part in stock and would haveto make a special order for it. They could not give me a lead time to get the part. Typical. But what could I do - I asked them to order the part and let me know when it could be replaced.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sat Oct 27, 2012 10:24 pm
by mattcarr
So, without a working BMS I knew that I could not leave the car plugged in all the time as it would probably cook the battery pack.

I knew the lead I had plugged in the wrong way in to the BMS had leads from each of the cells in the pack - so I used this lead to measure the cells voltages when I charged the car. I knew that the charging rate worked out to the equivalant of about 6 mph - so I used this as a rule of thumb when guessing the charging time. If I drove 6 miles I would put the car on charge for about an hour. Using this method, and watching the cell voltage during charge it seemed to be okay.

We went out one evening and I was fairly confident that I would have enough charge to get back home after being out. Well I got it wrong. On the way back I noticed that the battery voltage was really starting to sag - so much that the low voltage alert showed up on the 820 spyglass display. So I started driving the car very gently and we started going slower and slower. Eventually the car went in to a limp mode so I decided to just pull over and make arrangements to get it home. I was tempted to get my leads out and start knocking on doors to see if I could plug it in - but, as my missus pointed out it was a bit too late to be knocking on doors asking if I could plug in my car !!!!. So we called a taxi so the missus and my daughter could head off home and I called the AA, and an interesting call it was. Trying to explain that my battery was flat just got the response - "so you require a jump start sir". eventually I just said yes - and was told a van was on it's way to me. 20 minutes or so later an AA van pulled up. I got out to greet the man and explain that my battery was flat. I was offered a jump start - but I explained to the man that the car was purely electric and the mani pack was flat. After a show and tell of the car to the AA man he offered to tow me the few miles home. So he hooked up the car and after giving me instructions on how to be towed we set off. Now I thought I would keep my foot off the accelarator so the car could get some good regen current in to the battery pack - after a mile or so the pack voltage was back up to a good level. When we got home the AA man realised that he would not be able to manover my car up on to my drive with his van. I told him no worries - I'll drive it on. I explained that on the way home my car had been regenerating power back in to the battery pack. He said that would explain why it seemed like his van was struggling to tow me !!!!. So he unhooked my car and I drove it on to the drive and bid the AA man farewell. I put the car on charge. Now I knew the car would need some time on charge but I did not want to leave it charging while I went to bed. So I sat down to a film while the car charged for a couple of hours. I checked the voltage and it looked okay. So I unplugged the car and went to bed. First thing the next morning I went and put the car on charge. I made a point of watching not only the pack voltage but the voltage of each cell as well. So this is what was done for most of the day as the car charged. I ended the charge when I saw the pack voltage start to rise. I baby sat it until it got to 85 volts. I knew that the cells voltages were begining to rise as they were nearing a fuller charge.

I took the car for a test spin and it seemed to be okay.

ECC eventually came back to me and said they could order the part put I need to pay for it first - 950 + vat for a small circuit board !!!!. A week or so later they told me they had the part - so I asked them to send it to me so I could fit it. No can do I was told, as I was not trained to change the part. So I relented, and arranged to get my car to them. Grrr they couldn't say any particular day so I agreed to get my car there and leave it with them. So my car was taken up around the middle of december and I eventually got to get the car back in January. It was a very interesting visit to their workshop to collect the car. I got the see a complete battery pack, with controller, charger and motor on a workbench. The motor was hooked up to what looked like a big type of resistive mechanical load. There was a converted smart car there also. I was told that this was hardly used anymore and had been parked in the workshop for some time. I got shown the BMS wokring, There was a laptop hooked to my car showing all of the voltages of the cells. We plugged in the car and watched them all climb up slowly as the car charged - then I saw the screen telling me that the resistive loads for some cells were being turned on to keep the cell voltages inline with each other and I could hear the charger being ramped back by the BMS - and I watched the pack come to a full charge of 102 volts and the charger shut off. Perfect - my car was useable again. One word of warning from the technition - my pack had one cell in it that was slightly weaker then the rest. When he was test driving the car he noticed that the BMS performed a cutback. He explained that when a call went below a certain voltage under load the BMS would tell the controller to cut back the power. He explained that it would feel like a gentle surging if I ever noticed it happen. Of course they recommended that I get the cell in question changed out. He did say that when he experience the cutback that he was driving fast in the car - it was at a low SOC and he had been drawing a high current for a few minutes while climbing a long steep hill. He said it was a good test and the car would probably be okay - but that one cell was slightly weaker then the rest.

After a rather uneventful drive home in the car transported I had my Ev'ie back on the drive - and I was considerably poorer.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 6:45 pm
by mattcarr
For the next few months things were pretty uneventful. Now when I drive I like to watch the voltage of the battery pack, and the small 820 spyglass connector is not the easiest of things to read. So i decided to fit a nice big red voltage display in the car. So I had a search around and ordered myself a nice display. The next part was to get it wired to the main pack so it could read the voltage. I knew that the gear lever was just a switch and that the wires from it must make their way to the controller or the big of of electrinics in the front of the car - so from inside the car to the outside. I soon had the center console in the car apart and was feeding a pair of wires down a small gap to the outside. I then managed to get the wires up to the battery pack. I wanted to fit some fuses inline in the wiring so I bought a small fuse holder and ensured it was wired in place.

The display I bought required a 5 volt supply. Luckily enough I have a few dozen 12v - 5v dc - dc convertors. So I made a lead for the dc -dc that had a cigarette plug on it so that I could power the display via the 12v socket in the car. Then I wired the 5v side to the display. I then connected the wires from the battery pack to the display. I then plugged the lead in to the 12v socket and got a display reading 0 volts. Good, it was working so far. With the power off, I inserted the 2 fuses in to the fuse box, and then turned the power back on. It was now reading the pack voltage. Perfect. I now have a display in the car showing me the pack voltage. I have got the display just above the 12v sokcet in the car and it is very easy to read with just a glance. I now like to have the 820 spyglass displaying the current draw - and my meter showing the voltage at the same time.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:17 pm
by mattcarr
I regularly take my daughter to singing practice in Portsmouth one evening a week and one week back in July I decided to take a visit to GunWarf Quays as I knew they had charing points fitted recently. So I after dropping of the daughter I headed in to Gunwarf. I drove in to the massive car park but could not see any charing points so I stopped and asked an attendant. He told me they were right by the exit - to drive all the way around the car park and I would see them. And right he was. 2 nice double Polar ChargeMaster points offering charging for 4 parking bays. Now I was a nit annoyed as I was not a member of this charging network and I knew I wouldn't be able to access them, but as I drove closer I noticed a nice double 13amp socket on the wall next to the offical Chargemaster points. Now I thought that it would be rude to not use these to grab a quick charge. So I got about 40 minutes charging in before I had to go and collect my daughter and head home. All in all - it is nice to see charging points available to grab a top up charge.

I have since discovered that I can grab about 20 minutes top up charge for free from here. If I enter the car park and go straight to the points and plug in. Then I go and put my ticket in the machine within 10 minutes of the time it was issued then I get free parking. You then have about 10 minutes or so to got out of the car park.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:30 pm
by mattcarr
I finally got round to applying for my Polar Charging membership. I think the fact that they had reduced it to £10 helped alot. It didn't take to long to get my card through the post. In viewing the carging point list they said they had points in the NCP carpark in Portsmouth. So one saturday we headed off in to portsmouth to do some shopping, and I took my car so I could find the points and make use of them.

Not an exciting day - but I got to use the charging points. They are located not far from the entrance - which is very handy as this car park does tend to get quite busy.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:36 pm
by mattcarr
I had heard that there were charging point at Eastleigh - so one morning I found myself heading that way in my car so I thought I would go and have a look for them. I headed to the NCP car park in eastleigh and entered. I drove all the way around the car park but could not locate any charging points. Now there was a ground floor section car part that was council run and it was a pay and display one, unlike the NCP which gives you a ticket that you have to validate and pay for when you leave. I drove slowly around the pay and display carpark. Now I noticed several 3 pin double sockets on the walls and decided to seeif any were live. Hey presto before I knew it I was on charge. Not an offical charging point but it would do for me. I only stayed 10 minutes before heading home, but this is handy to know incase I ever was in need of a charge out this way.

Re: My Citroen C1 Ev'ie blog

Posted: Sun Oct 28, 2012 7:39 pm
by mattcarr
I try to attend the BVS southern meetings as often as I can. And a couple of months ago Terry wanted to get dates in our calendars for the Winchester Drive electric day - so the 29th September was penciled in for the day.

Last years Drive electric day saw lovely weather, and this year was much the same. The morning came and I got read to make the drive to the part and ride car park in Winchester. Roughly 20 miles for me, up the M27 then north up the M3 to Winchester. Now my car had been sat unused for a few days and the weather had turned cold. So I knew my battery pack would be cold. I was wondering weather to take it easy up the back roads or to chance the motorway. I decided I wanted to give the pack a bit of a push and decided to take the motorway. So I headed off towards the M27. The battery voltage was fairly soft in that it was sagging an extra volt or 2 than normal, but I was on the motorway now and thought just get the car there. So, from J5 west bound on the M27 there is quite a long uphill section of motorway and this is where I felt the first cut back ation in the car. So I eased off the throttle and let the car loose a bit of speed up the incline. Thing was the car was slowly loosing speed and I had a fair way to go before I was on a downhill section of motorway. By the time I got up round the bend for the M3 North the car had slowed down to about 45mph - and if I gace it full throttle within a few seconds I could feel the "surging" as the BMS told the controller to cut back power. I was soon going downhill on the M3 and the car got up to top speed of 65mph. The car then cuts power and won't let the car past 65mph. So I was zipping along at 65 and the car was using about 10 amps to maintain the speed. But I knew that it wouldn't be too long before I came to the last long uphill climb to the Winchester turnoff. So at full speed I commenced the last long uphill section. I could feel the speed slowly bleeding off the car as I kept the throttle at the maximum I could before the BMS would trim back the power automatically. Luckily enough I slowly caught up with an HGV going up the hill and I was soon caught in it's drag and it felt like the car was being sucked up the hill.

I arrived at the Winchester car park at about half 9 ish to see that Terry was already. I reversed in to the parking bay reserved for electric cars and soon had my car on charge. The trip up the motorway was just shy of 20 miles. It wasn't long before John arrived in his Nissan Leaf and he too was soon on charge.

Now the weather soon warmed up and it became a beautiful sunny day. Plentry of people were interested in the cars and often stopped to ask questions. Later in the afternoon the Winchester Council carpark attendants arrived in their Mitsubishi Imiev. Nice to see 3 electric cars all using the charging bays ( even if the council guys had to use our key to access the charging port. )

Just after lunch we did a short drive in to Winchester and back. I noticed that the voltage in my car was rock solid - it barely sagged under full load. So I knew that the nice long charge and the warm weather had warmed up my pack nicely.

The end of the day came and before I knew it I was on the road home. I decided to take the motorway to see how my warm fully charged pack would fare. So off I set - and I didn;t hold back - I just kept my foot all the way down on the throttle and the car zipped away. The voltage only sagged down to about 78 volts which is about 3-4 volts higher than it normally went down to. The car performed flawlessly with a warmer pack. The miles slipped by and the pack voltage just held up. My junction was the next one, but I wanted just to see how the pack kept up so I decided to come of at the next junction and take the back roads home. The car did well and when I finally got home I had covered 25 miles on the return journey. End of a nice day.