What if I forget to plug it in?

You know the feeling. You’re ready to go to work, grab your stuff, grab your phone, only to realize you forgot to recharge its battery overnight. Gone are the days when phones had replaceable batteries, so you’re stuck with a dead weight in your pocket.

Now, imagine if that happens to your car! That’s what I hear over and over from friends. “Electric cars are not for me because I’ll always forget to plug it in.”

So today I got back from work and, on purpose, I did exactly that: I did NOT plug it in. I went inside the house and a few minutes later I heard an email sound on my iPhone. I opened the email and saw the following message:

Folha is our car's name on CARWINGS. It means Leaf in Portuguese.

For a moment, that felt like something out of a science fiction book! The car had just sent me an email basically saying “I’m home and ready to charge but you forgot to plug me in to my charging station!”

It also sent me a text message, just in case.

The Leaf can do this because it is equipped with a GPS and has its own 3G cellular connection. It also “remembers” it was able to charge at this location before and that I configured a timer saying it’s supposed to recharge every night.

This is an awesome example of technology being used in a very smart way to solve a very common problem we have as humans: we forget stuff. The notifications are all configurable of course. I can tell the Leaf to send me just a text message or just an email, or both. I can also tell it to notify me if someone unplugged the car before the charge was completed. I can configure what hours of the day and what days of the week I want it to charge, in order to take advantage of cheaper off-peak rates. And I can tell it how much charge I want every night: 80% to save energy and prolong the lifetime of the battery, or 100% if I really need the full range.

If only phones were that smart…

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8 comments on “What if I forget to plug it in?

  1. CARWINGS is a subscription service and it runs over existing 3G networks (AT&T in the US, not sure if the Canadian carrier was publicly announced). The terms of the contract with the carrier are not disclosed so we don’t know how much Nissan is paying.

    There’s no charge for the service during the first 3 years — it’s included in the price of the car. Nissan hasn’t announced how much it will cost after that but I would expect the same ballpark as GM’s OnStar, or less. The service is optional so you don’t need to renew it if you don’t want it.

  2. Hi Ricardo,
    I work for CBC Radio, and I’d like to hear how it’s going driving around town in the Leaf. Please get in touch as soon as you can at christine dot maki at cbc dot ca.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Christine,

      Only saw your comment today.

      Everything is great so far. Just like a regular car really, but without the trips to the gas stations. I already drove an equivalent of a gas tank (600 Km) for about $10 of electricity. Range hasn’t been an issue, and the charging station is right there in my face when I park in the garage so it just became a habit. And the car will send me a reminder if I ever forget to plug it in, as you saw in the article.

      Ricardo

  3. Hi Ricardo, Silmar again. I notice dyou named your car “Folha”. That’s Portuguese. I speak Brazilian Portuguese… anyway I digress.
    I was also wondering: have you encountered a powerdown failure at home? sometimes in our house we wake up to a blinking alarm clock meaning there was a power surge at nigth – whether it was seconds or minutes we do not know. how does the car react to that? I would hate wakling up to a discharged car because it made the charger malfunction or something like it.

  4. Oi Silmar. Eu sou brasileiro tambem! So, yes. Folha means Leaf in Portuguese. 🙂

    Charging is resumed once the power is restored. We get power outages once in a while and we haven’t had any problems so far.

    Which city is your Leaf going to call home?

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