Been quiet around here… Orlando EVs? Not so much. I did spot a Zenith Electric Van!

I was a little bummed when the teslamotorsclub.com announced that TMC Connect was going to be this past weekend. You see, we’ve planned an extended family trip with my in-laws and nieces and nephew to Orlando prior to this announcement and it’s hard to coordinate several families to begin with that I was forced to enjoy the festivities with the coverage by @BonnieNorman, Joe Pasqua, @Lanny, Teslarati, @TeslaRoadtrip, and others on Twitter…

The only saving grace was I thought I would be able to reserve and use an EV from @DriveElecOrl, but that turned out to be a bust. I randomly checked their website for the few months leading up to the trip to see if a vehicle had made itself available. Alas, that didn’t happen and I was forced to ICE the trip.

Now, we chose a location that was close to our destinations around the park so as to minimize our driving. Ended up with only 126 ICE miles for the seven days that we were in Orlando, easily doable by an EV with Level 1 (120V) charging. In fact, I was disappointed to having taken until the last day at the airport before I saw an EV (either BEV or PHEV). Luckily it was an interesting one.

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Finally spotted an #EV in Orlando... at the airport! has a J1772 port in the rear, passenger side!

Kudos to Doubletree Orlando Airport on using Zenith Motors Electric Vans for at least one hotel shuttle. I’ll have to read more about these vans, but it looks like it had a J1772 port on the rear passenger side [confirmed: J1772 port and published 90-100 mile range per Zenith Motors website]. I will update this post with more pictures when I land as I am currently drafting this post on an airplane. [UPDATED with all my photos 7/23 8:15 PM Pacific / 7/24 03:15 UTC.]

If I ever have to stay by MCO, I now have a hotel to choose… Besides, I’m partial to Hilton family of hotels. Because EV Supporting hotels should be supported, their website and their phone number is 407-856-0100

First Tesla Roadster range test in standard mode, July 9-July 12, 2014.

I was advised by the Service Center to have my wife do her normal drive and not plug the car in until about ten miles.

So, over the course of several days (from July 9th to July 12th) we did just that. Thank goodness we have OVMS, since I use that to let me know when the SOC has dropped to around 25% and have a good gauge of how much more driving we can do. I used to have it set at 50%, but decided to lower the threshhold since we’re not planning on plugging it in until it’s closer to ten (ideal) miles in standard driving mode. This was just a matter of sending a text message “FEATURE 9 25″ to OVMS to configure the SMS Alert when the state of charge drops to 25%. OVMS will send a text back saying “Feature has been set.”

I created a log file to track what the miles would be overnight to see what sort of vampire loss the Roadster had in comparison to the Model S and was pleasantly surprised to see that the car lost 1% over the course of almost 1.64 days from the time I parked the car at home.

Date Park at Home Leave Home SOC CAC
July 9, 2014 at 6:00 PM 142 81% 145.73
July 11, 2014 at 9:23 AM 142 80% 145.74
July 11, 2014 at 9:10 PM 76 44% 145.66
July 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM 76 44% 145.66
July 12, 2014 at 1:07 PM 13 7% 145.66
July 13, 2014 at 12:00 AM 234V/40A 325 Minutes 5.416666667 hours
July 13, 2014 at 6:30 AM 175 97% 145.66

 

As you can see from the spreadsheet above, I actually had the car at the Service Center and back home the first day, July 9th. I parked the car around 6pm with 142 Ideal Miles of Range left and the car sat unplugged at home for a little over a day and a half, before my wife took the car out on Friday. Per OVMS readings, it had lost about 1% SOC (and no ideal miles). She drove the car for about 66 ideal miles (closer to 60 actual miles) and got home on Friday night with 76 ideal miles (and 44% SOC) of range left in the car.

Overnight, the car did not lose either ideal miles or % SOC and we drove off. Around 20 ideal miles left (and on the way home) on Saturday, we got the following error:

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Though it mentions that power is limited, I was on the freeway, and the power seemed to be fine.

We finally plugged in with 13 ideal miles of range last night. Interesting, the rated range was down to 12 miles.

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So, after 158.4 miles for the past few days, we recharged at standard mode.

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7% SOC in Standard mode left, and the CAC values dropped to 145.66. We recharged overnight and ended up with 175 ideal miles at 6:30 AM. Basically, I checked the status when I woke up, and wrote it down. Because by the time I rolled out earlier today I already lost a mile of range. We will have to do this again for a few more times this next month, but that didn’t seem to have helped any. It’s going to be a long month.

We the People Petition on Tesla Motors email received…

So, I, like many other supporters of the Free Market filled out a petition several months ago to the White House to assist in lifting the arcane dealership laws that limit Tesla Motors from selling directly to consumers.  Granted these sort of things are legislation and regulation that is often taken on by States and not at the Federal level, but I wanted to see what the White House had to say about it, and here it is…  presented with no edits…  I’ll probably write a response about it later, but wanted to show what I got on email yesterday.

A whole lot of politicking… But, what did I expect.

[update 2014-07-06 - My reaction... Meh... A whole lot of nothing. So, guess what, no need to post more about it.]

Response to We the People Petition on Tesla Motors

By Dan Utech, Special Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Thanks for your We the People petition. We’re excited about the next generation of transportation choices, including the kind of electric vehicles that Tesla and others have developed. These companies are taking steps to help spur innovation in the promising area of advanced batteries and electric automobiles. Vehicle electrification and other advanced technologies are vital components of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and his commitment to addressing climate change and reducing carbon pollution, in addition to reducing our dependence on oil.

But as you know, laws regulating auto sales are issues that have traditionally sat with lawmakers at the state level.

We believe in the goal of improving consumer choice for American families, including more vehicles that provide savings at the pump for consumers. However, we understand that pre-empting current state laws on direct-to-consumer auto sales would require an act of Congress.

We are already making significant progress in promoting vehicle efficiency: new vehicle fuel economy has increased by 12% since 2008 and consumers now can choose from five times more car models with a combined city/highway fuel economy of 30 mpg or more, compared to just five years ago. In December 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that model year 2012 vehicles achieved an all-time high fuel economy, after increasing seven of the last eight years.

The President has taken historic action to spur more consumer choice — saving consumers money at the pump and reducing our dependence on oil. Here are some of the ways we’re helping to encourage the future generation of energy-efficient cars:

  • In 2012, the Obama Administration finalized groundbreaking standards that will increase fuel economy to the equivalent of 54.5 mpg for cars and light-duty trucks by Model Year 2025. These standards will save consumers more than $1.7 trillion at the gas pump and reduce U.S. oil consumption by 12 billion barrels. And this spring, we also released standards for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, a move that will save vehicle owners and operators an estimated $50 billion in fuel, and save a projected 530 million barrels of oil. You can learn more about that here.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) has a loan program to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to create the future of transportation. In fact, Tesla’s electric car won the 2013 Motor Trend Car of the Year while repaying its DOE loan 9 years early and earning the taxpayers about $17 million in profit. And DOE’s loan to Ford Motor Company to upgrade 13 factories across six states and to upgrade the fuel efficiency of a dozen popular vehicles has supported 33,000 jobs across the United States.
  • In September 2013, DOE awarded $45 million in funding for 38 new projects that to improve fuel efficiency, lower transportation costs, and protect the environment. The 38 new projects support the goals of the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge, a public-private initiative to make EVs as affordable and convenient to own and drive as gasoline-powered vehicles within 10 years. Also as part of EV Everywhere, DOE has launched the Workplace Charging Challenge , with a goal of achieving a tenfold increase in the number of U.S. employers offering workplace charging for plug-in electric vehicles in the next five years.

As these initiatives show, the Administration is in favor of fostering competition in the market to help spur the kinds of innovation needed to support ongoing U.S. leadership in vehicle manufacturing and a potential range of new technologies.

Again, thank you for your petition.

Update on Tesla Roadster CAC and Ideal Miles testing

So, I started a new thread at teslamotorsclub.com on this issue which has helped me a lot on figuring out what I can and can’t see on the vehicle.

So, I’ve followed some of the advice and used VMSParser and the Tesla Graphical Log Parser (Tesla GLoP) to copy the logs down from the Roadster and see what values are generated from it. Aside from OVMS, my favorite telematics product, providing me with realtime statistics on the vehicle. I love the nearly six years of user experience that are the long-time Roadster owners/community. They’ve created tools such as the two log parsing programs to extract knowledge about the vehicle.

I posted a sample of the last month:

timestamp, brickahmin, brickahave, bricknumber
6/9/2014 14:29:11 143.26 148.67 74
6/10/2014 14:29:09 143.14 148.62 74
6/11/2014 14:29:11 142.8 148.39 74
6/12/2014 14:29:12 142.63 148.05 74
6/13/2014 14:29:11 142.4 147.7 74
6/14/2014 14:29:11 142.63 147.88 74
6/15/2014 14:29:11 142.69 147.88 74
6/16/2014 14:29:11 142.97 148.16 74
6/17/2014 14:29:12 142.92 148.27 74
6/18/2014 14:29:11 143.2 148.62 74
6/19/2014 14:29:12 143.03 148.22 74
6/20/2014 14:29:11 142.8 148.1 74
6/21/2014 14:29:11 142.46 147.76 74
6/22/2014 14:29:12 142.63 147.88 74
6/23/2014 14:29:12 142.8 147.99 74
6/24/2014 14:29:13 142.75 148.1 74
6/25/2014 14:29:13 142.52 147.76 74
6/26/2014 14:29:13 142.46 147.42 74
6/27/2014 14:29:13 142.57 147.19 74
6/28/2014 17:09:38 143.03 147.59 74
6/29/2014 17:09:38 142.8 147.08 54
6/30/2014 17:09:38 143.2 147.36 54
7/1/2014 17:09:36 143.37 147.65 54
7/2/2014 17:20:32 144.17 148.39 54
7/3/2014 17:20:32 145.03 148.67 54
7/4/2014 17:20:31 145.03 148.67 54
7/5/2014 17:20:31 145.14 148.79 54
7/6/2014 17:20:33 145.14 148.79 54
7/7/2014 17:20:33 145.31 148.9 54
7/8/2014 17:20:34 145.65 149.3 54

And was advised that if the last value does not change for a while that it could be the issue (a bad brick that is dragging the whole sheet down.). The fact that the brick has changed throughout the month, shows that I probably don’t have a single deficient brick. In the thread, Kevin Sharpe showed his Roadster log values and shows what a bad brick problem looks like.

Aside from the self-help stuff, one of the advantages of purchasing a Roadster under the Certified Pre-Owned program, is the access to the SC at no additional charge (for warranty issues). I was already scheduled to bring the car into service for an issue with fogging in the headlights, so I had them look into the loss of Ideal Miles and CAC values.

So, the Service Technician/Shop Foreman for the Southern California Service Center that I took my car too have provided the following plan of attack after they’ve looked at the car (and did the bleed test, updated the firmware (to support the >70A bug)) considering that our annual maintenance for the Roadster is upcoming.

Since my better half’s daily drive is approximately 60 miles a day, he suggested that we drive the vehicle in Standard Mode and run the car down to about 10 Ideal miles for at least three times over the next month and charge back up in Standard Mode. On those evenings that the car has NOT been driven down to the 10 Ideal miles, we were advised to park it, but do not plug it in overnight. I’d like to track the vampire loss for the vehicle as we do this.

During an extended period of non-use, the tech suggested that we plug in the Roadster using storage mode during that time.

After the month, and possibly during the annual maintenance, they’ll look at what happened to the pack after these tests.

I did see some improvement in minimum CAC values over the past week since I did my test on July 2nd and July 3rd… So, we’ll see. Will report here (as well as on teslamotorsclub.com).

First Daily “Standard” charge after the weekend’s Range charge test

No pictures, ’cause I had to head to work quickly…

Step two of the Range Test Days and Tesla Roadster pack rebalancing that I was doing was to get to my first daily “standard” charge to see if it made a difference.

Following Michael Thwaite’s suggestion to maintain the charge (and not drain too low) we plugged in the Roadster on Saturday night with about 102 Ideal Miles on Storage mode.

On Sunday, drove the car out for some further errands, etc. and ended up home with 21% SOC/37 Ideal Miles/34 Rated Miles left (thanks to OVMS again).

This time, I plugged it in and performed a STANDARD charge starting at midnight… (a few hours earlier than I normally set the car to charge. To maximize the amount of 40A/240V charging that I will do at super-off-peak EV rates.

When I rolled out at 9am, the car had 174 Ideal Miles on it and the CAC values were at 145.44. It was a slight improvement to the 171 Ideal Miles that I observed last week, but definitely nothing to write home about.

I guess we’ll have to see if we can change my better half’s behavior and see if she can plug it in every other day so that we can drain the battery down 120 miles in two days of driving vs. the 60 miles a day that she normally charges under to see if that will do something to improve the CAC values and ideal miles after a full charge.

I cross posted questions on these tests to teslamotors.com, so wanted to put the CAC values here –

Values from October 2013, when I first started to use OVMS.
Standard – Charging Done SOC: 96% Ideal Range: 183 mi Est. Range: 173 mi ODO: 3,578.8 mi CAC: 154.38

Values from today overnight charged in Standard mode and 174 miles (the CAC value is the same from the evening before it started to charge.) (unfortunately after my wife drove about 30 miles)

Not charging SOC: 82% Ideal Range: 147 mi Est. Range: 144 mi ODO: 10,901.2 mi CAC: 145.44.

Rebalancing the Telsa Roadster battery pack

One of the things that one should be concerned with when buying a used Electric Vehicle is battery health. We were confident with purchasing our 2008 Signature 100 Tesla Roadster from Tesla Motors because they warranted the vehicle for 37 months or 37,000 miles, whichever comes first. Additionally, the vehicle we purchased only had 2,220 miles when we bought it, so it would seem that the previous owner took good care of the vehicle. When we first picked up the car, its daily charge was around 185-186 miles. At the actual day that we picked it up, we range charged it for the first time the numbers were closer to 240 miles (don’t remember exactly what it was)

However, since September 2013, the car’s daily range has gone down to around 172 ideal miles. That’s about a 7.5% drop in ideal miles since we acquired the vehicle. Understanding that a 2008 vehicle isn’t that new and I should expect some loss, the question is how much loss is acceptable for something that has a warranty. Is the loss even real? There have been reports to indicate that a Tesla Roadster’s algorithm for range calculation isn’t very good.

Apparently an approximately 60 mile daily roundtrip is too short and could also lead to an “artificial” loss of range. So, I’m unsure whether there is a real loss or whether it is unreal.

To combat this challenge, I’ve looked at some sources to see what I can do to rebalance the pack. The first method I tried to do was several months ago at teslamotorsclub.com. Having followed the process gained a few miles temporarily, but the decline still occurred. So, this week, I figured to go ahead and see what else I can do.

I spoke with some of the Tesla Service Advisors and I was told by one of the advisors who uses a Roadster to try something different. Range charge and drain the battery down to at least 30% SOC and then do another range charge. Then repeat. So, the pictures will be what I’ve done on July 2nd and July 3rd.

So, my first range charge was done from the evening of July 1st to July 2nd. Started at 219 miles of range and decided to do a long drive to the desert.

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Here is the car with the top-down. After all, it’s the summer in Southern California.

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So, after 165.5 miles of driving, I encountered the following error:

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Now, I’m not sure if the second half of my drive was in Range Mode or Standard mode, but I did drain the battery, so I miscalculated and ended up back home at 10% SOC.

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Range was estimated at zero, because it couldn’t calculate things, luckily I use OVMS, and that told me that I had 10% SOC left. So, I wasn’t nervous.

So, after the first day, I charged the car all the way back in Range Mode and got the following the next day:

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That’s 222 ideal miles and 201 rated miles. Ideal miles are based on the ideal 55mph in flat terrain vs what I actually drove the previous drive. Granted, another reason I had really low range was because I was “inspired” to drive a little faster than the speed limit for quite some distance.

So, in day two, I tried to drive with a lot more restraint, and after 162.2 miles of driving, I decided to go home.

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Using OVMS, I could see that I still had 16% SOC left and a rating of 38 ideal miles left.

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So, did that do it? Well, day two ended, and this morning, I saw that the car charged at 222 ideal miles again. The CAC values was higher than before the test, but not much more. So, I guess we’ll have to see what happens after the Fourth of July Holiday weekend.

To see if the theory that charging the car less will help, the next trick is to drive the car down before plugging it in rather than plugging the car in on a daily basis. This would also mean we’ll have to pay attention to any vampire drain and plug in the vehicle as soon as it needs it. Fingers crossed, hope that works. In the meantime, Tesla’s downloaded the logs, and if they see something there, then we get it fixed or validated. The Service Center guys were talking a bleed test, so, who knows. Either way, 172 miles daily range is still almost double what we got from the Active E.

And lastly, it does help to drive conservatively to get closer to ideal range than driving with a heavy foot… But it’s a Tesla Roadster for crying out loud, it just screams to be driven with a lot of speed, especially when the top is down in beautiful weather.

Forget the One Percent, Opinions on the 3.1 Percent…

I’m not writing to defend the “One Percent”, but to question the “3.1 Percent.” (I’ve been ornery lately, several “Soap Box” posts for the past week. Must be the Summer…)

Several weeks ago there have been various tweets and write-ups regarding one of the latest findings from Pluginsights Managing Director and current Guinness World Record Holder for longest EV drive (non solar), Norman Hajjar.

Per articles reported on torquenews.com and electricvehicleparade.com on May 23rd, and even one on CleanTechnica today, 96.9% of EV and PHEV drivers would buy an EV or PHEV again. The number that would return to an internal combustion engine was 1.9%. So, the question to me is not the 96.9%, but the 3.1%, and by extension the 1.9%, what the heck?

On Twitter –

I’ve replied to one of the tweets, with questioning why the 3.1% still have drivers licenses.

After driving an EV or PHEV, why is the number that would go back to a conventional ICE vehicle so high? The only thing I can think of is insanity, and I believe that the privilege to have a drivers license requires one to pass certain tests and I would hope that sanity is one of those measures.

So, an explanation, albeit a facetious one, for this dissatisfied group could be insanity.

If they’re not insane, perhaps another reason would be these people purchased or leased vehicles that were “oversold” to them by their various “independent” dealers. Perhaps at purchase, the dealers promised the customer that the vehicle recharges in 10% of the time that it actually takes to charge the car. Perhaps the purchaser did not understand that batteries degrade and that weather affects it. Aside from Tesla, which does not have dealers, all the other car manufacturers sell through dealers. There have been numerous articles on the failures of these same dealers in understanding the basic functions of their vehicles. Even the Federal Trade Commission supports Tesla and its direct sales model.

Another guess on why people might move off EVs might be because they really would prefer to drive all eletric between 100-200 miles and don’t want to buy a Tesla (or Model S based Electric Mercedes B-Class or Toyota RAV4EV 2nd Generation) and perhaps move to an ICE car in the short-run until the 100-200 mile vehicle is available. Now, this is not quite insane, just illogical. Some solutions others have done include getting a lower range 80-100 mile EV for daily use and then an ICE rental car for when they need to travel further than the range that their EV can travel. Now this is a solution that requires a little bit more dedication, but should work with most.

Additionally, it would seem that it is exactly this group that PHEVs have gained greater acceptance, after all, if we look at PHEVs as transitional vehicles, when used properly, it truly does enable the owners to travel on electric most of the time. There was even a report of a particular individual traveling over 80 miles on EV mode in a Chevy Volt. Now, this is NOT the norm, but kudos to them. The BMW i3 with REX can go 72 miles on electric before switching on the gasoline engine to get a few more miles.

Some might point out that am I being a BMW “Homer” or “Fanboy” in picking the 60 mile limit since the BMW i3 with REX with its 72 mile all electric range is the only existing PHEV that satisfies the limit I propose. Perhaps, however, as I’ve explained earlier, I am compromising a bit in that the stretch here is a 50% bump above the purported 40 mile average American commute figure that is often used as the basis for the glut in pure EVs at the 70-100 mile range.

Perhaps you have ideas on why the 3.1 percent exist? I’m tapped out.

[ADDED 2014-06-03 7:15 AM Pacific Time]

A fellow EV supporter (whose permission to use his comments) on Google Plus commented on my cross-post over there with the following very good point –

Case in point: There is a user on the [Full Electric] forums that leased a [Full Electric] and hates it. Every time they post its about how [Full Electric] aren’t for everyone, have sucky range, have no room, etc. They live in an apartment complex which won’t let them install a Level 2 charger and thus have to find ways of charging at public stations every day. Seems to me that would lead someone to not get a plugin car again!

[All great points, I wonder how the lessors of this [Full Electric] were convinced to get the car to begin with. Why did they feel empowered enough to do it without researching charging options in their housing location. This just stresses the need to provide support for folks in multi-unit/family locations with EV charging. There are efforts and laws either proposed or passed that allows people to do this. That’s another Soap Box for the future.]

HOV Lanes and the Green Sticker… AB2013 (another Soap Box)

Regular readers of this blog would know of my intent to migrate from the ActiveE to an i3 for a daily commuter vehicle. The Model S is just too large for this purpose and the Roadster is, as my wife puts it, “like wearing your little black dress to work”.

Since I drive so much, my initial order was for an i3 with REX. However, as the Green Sticker’s initial 40,000 car limit was reached, I switched to the BEV version of the i3. HOV access was the benefit for early adopters of PHEVs. The California legislature allowed the first 40,000 in the state to apply for and receive Green Stickers to access the HOV access.

EV advocate Chelsea Sexton took a position against AB2013 in her blog post. Being a self-interested individual, I supported the early adopters of PHEVs privilege of using a the HOV solo. However, since the 40,000 limit has been reached, I did what the law intended to do, switch to a BEV for solo HOV access. Now, whether I actually get an i3 still holds at the 5% probability that I’ve been giving it lately.

IMG_5958
Behind the wheel of an i8, a car that looks great, but it only has 20 miles of range, if that.

So, what does this have to do with AB2013. What is MY position on this. I am against the amendment as it is currently written. After rewarding the 40,000 early adopters of PHEVs, I think that it is ridiculous to give subsequent PHEVs solo HOV access without any minimum limits on all electric range. The Toyota Plug-In Prius gets about 9 miles of all EV range and the upcoming Porsche Plug-In and BMW i8 both have about 20 miles of range, in the best cases. This is just wrong. I propose that PHEVs should have a minimum of sixty (60) miles of all EV range before it is eligible to ride in the HOV lane by itself. Now, how did I come up with 60 miles. I figured, why not provide a stretch goal. If the average commute is 40 miles roundtrip, most EV drivers know that there will be battery degradation with their vehicles and I wanted to ensure that the 40 miles will continue to be reached for the next 5 or so years. Additionally, why settle for average? The BEVx category was created for a reason, let’s actually make it “worth” something.

In fact, I am willing to share the text of what I wrote to my Assemblywoman and State Senator regarding this proposal.

Dear (CA legislator):

I am writing to you about my opposition to AB2013 on the expansion of the “Green Sticker” program for HOV access as it is currently written.

Though it is commendable to provide 40,000 PHEV into the HOV lane for trying to do the proper thing. To do so without limits on a MINIMUM number of kWh of battery capacity / or Electric range is impractical. Thousands of Californians have proven that EVs work and should not be penalized by those that only “partially commit”. I oppose PHEVs for Green Sticker expansion as long as there is not a minimum range required. I would support that a minimum 60 mile EV range be set as the guideline for any further expansion of “Green Sticker” eligibility. Otherwise, let the 40,000 that made it into the HOV lanes under the current law be the maximum for this privilege.

Adding a minimum EV mileage limit would incentivize fellow Californians to do the right thing and pick a vehicle that truly moves the needle. The current release of the Prius Plug In with its 9 mile range and the pending release of 20 mile range vehicles like the Porsche Plug In or the BMW i8 is a mockery of the efforts that we are doing to stop Global Warming/Climate Change.

Thank you,

(Your Name)

If you’re a California voter and want to contact either, do so here.

If you’re an interested party and wish to contact the Assemblymembers’ offices, please click here. If you’re looking for the State Senators, please click here.

What do you think?

Ok off my Soap Box now.

Lucky #13(,000 miles that is…)

IMG_20140530_085953

It seems just a few months ago that we picked up our Model S from the factory in Fremont. It’s been three months and a week since we’ve had to return the ActiveE to BMW. And I’ve already made it to 13,000 miles.

Thirteen thousand is significant because that means that I’ve just completed my first recommended service at 12,500 (closer to 12,450 in my case) and I’ve made full use of the Model S during this time. It’s been a month and a half and we’ve put in 3,000 miles on the car. And I guess the latest thing to update is the probability of getting an i3 for the daily drive is diminishing. I had marked it down to 5% chance of happening.

As much as I complain about the “>AM Radio problem of the Model S, at least it has an AM Radio. The latest thing to affect me on the BMW i3 is the removal of AM Radio from the features of the vehicle. Let me reiterate, AM Radio is no longer included. I wonder if the good folks at BMW are getting a kickback from Sirius XM or some other entity to remove access to the most common part of the radio dial for News, Sports, and Talk. Living in California, when an earthquake hits, if one is not near a TV, you can pretty much guarantee that the News stations will cover the latest earthquake. The FM part of the dial does not include ANY of that coverage in any sort of meaningful way. Not to mention my obsession with listening to local sports teams play. It’s barely comprehensible on the Model S, but it’s just not available on the i3.

But I digress, to paraphrase Marc Antony, I’ve come to praise the Model S and not bury the i3 (or specifically BMWi). I’ve grown accustomed to the size of the Model S, as large as it is and as many blind spots as the car has, it’s a fun car to drive. The continual improvements in firmware keeps improving the vehicle. The latest version of firmware has reintroduced the LOW setting for the Air Suspension and coupled with the installation of the Titanium Undershield in the vehicle has made me more confident in setting the vehicle to automatically lower to this setting at less than the recommended 100MPH+ that the system is automatically set for. I’ve been playing with it and currently have it set at higher than the speed limit, but intend on lowering that closer to the flow of traffic in Los Angeles (on a GOOD DAY and not crawling at bumper-to-bumper speed.)

Additionally, the addition of the Hill Hold feature has been an unexpected blessing. The Hill Hold feature allows a Tesla Driver that does not use Creep mode (creep is when you simulate the Model S like an ICE car by forcing it to move forward when the driver’s foot is not on the brake) to take their foot off the brake and have the car hold in place before hitting the accelerator to move forward when stopped at an incline. Prior to the implementation of this setting, the car would roll backwards the moment that the driver released the brake. This seemingly minor improvement in the way the car performs has increased the ease of driving the Model S noticeably.

Aside from the constant improvement on the vehicle, the Model S Annual Service was trouble free and completed in very much a “no hassle” manner. I prepaid the Annual Maintenance with Ranger Service option. What this means is that Tesla will perform some of the maintenance and fixes at my location. I’ve had great service relationships with several BMW dealerships and I’ve often been lucky enough to get a nice loaner every time that I’ve brought a BMW in for service. Regardless of whether it is during the warranty (or as is the case with the very old vehicles) considerably past its warranty. The Tesla service is exceptional. Granted, my normal service center in Costa Mesa is often overbooked and a month out, but the beauty of the Ranger service in Southern California is that between my home and office, I have access to at least four more service centers. So, I found one that will drive out to me and either perform the service or drive it back and forth to me while I’m in the office.

In the case of my two Ranger calls for my annual service, Tesla came out for the first one (my 12,500 mile service) and dropped off a Model S 60kWh, standard suspension car while they worked on my car. The car had to be brought back to their service center because they were installing the Titanium Shield as well as other things that required them to use the tools in the shop. They picked up the car a little later than we set up and got the car back to me a little later but this was all understandable as the service was performed the Friday before the Memorial Day Holiday and there is no way to get around the LA area in a reasonable time that Friday.

The one deficiency from the original call was they forgot to do one minor fix regarding the door seal to the driver side that required them to come back out with a Ranger. The second time around the Ranger arrived thirty minutes earlier than our appointment and promptly met me in my office garage when I got in. He was able to fix the problem in the promised time and left. Needless to say, as much as I’ve had great service from BMW, the Tesla one exceeded that.

So, I guess things are working out with the Model S. At 13,000 miles, I would say so, the most telling thing is the diminishing chance of picking up an i3 for this BMW loyalist. I rated it down to 5% chance and that’s from a mixture of Tesla Execution and BMW/BMWi acting like “Keystone Cops” on the launch of the i3 and providing me with enough time to drive our Model S from the time that I was forced to relinquish my beloved ActiveE, literally CRUSHING my dream, and the constant removal of things that I want or need in my seemingly endless commute in Los Angeles traffic (Sun Roof, AM Radio, EV batteries that they could have put instead of a stupid REX). My i3 should be built by the time I publish this post, and another few weeks before it lands on our shores. Who knows, I might still forgive the BMW guys, or I might just tell them no thanks.

Memorial Day 2014… (as much a soapbox as you’ll ever see from me)


I’ve never really given much thought to our addiction to Oil and Gas.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I joined the rEVolution because I had a few goals initially:

  • I wanted to get on the HOV lane by myself. After all, time is money.
  • The EVs that we’ve chosen for our garage are all pretty fun to drive.
  • and lastly, I save a lot of money on my cost per mile. (and maintenance).
  • That was it… Not really anything “enlightened” about it. All pretty much self interest and lots of it.

    I haven’t fundamentally changed. I am still pretty much the same self-interested, profit minded person that I have been. However, after all the years being involved with my many new environmental friends, I’ve grown from being a “Climate Agnostic” to someone who accepts it and helps a little.

    I had called myself a Climate Agnostic because, I didn’t really care. At the end of it all, it didn’t matter to me whether or not Climate Change was occurring. Now, I do care and am doing a little to help stop the change. Driving electric and installing solar are a few of the things, and trying to convince others to do the same is another. I have always taken the economic route, because that is the route that got me here.

    Spolier alert, I’ve figured driving electric after installing my solar panels that it costs me approximately a penny a mile vs. fifteen to eighteen cents a mile or even a quarter to thirty cents a mile depending on which of my ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars I’m driving.

    But why am I posting today, well, it’s to refer you to a post that made me stop and think. This post is from about two years ago, very early on my journey in the rEVolution. At that time, I kept up on things regarding my Active E by reading Tom Moloughney’s blog and his Memorial Day post was one that helped me think about the effects of our addiction to Oil and Gas. I try not to be political on my blog because it’s not really me. I prefer a laissez-faire attitude between government and business… And you can guess where I lie in that process. However, it is often not the case that the government leaves business alone, and I, these past two years, around Memorial Day, think of Tom’s post and thought that I’d do my part in having my reader’s look at something that moved me.

    And if you, dear reader, served in protecting my freedom to express myself, I appreciate that which you did and do. Furthermore I hope that we don’t have to send you in harms way just to feed our addiction to oil and gas.

    And Tesla made me a rEVolutionary

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