I will drive 10000 miles and I will drive 10000 more (and more)…

Hats off to the Proclaimers song 500 miles… But I figure this was as good as any to update on the status of the Model S as a daily driver.

Happy Tax Day… I’m glad that I filed our taxes and am expecting my refund from the Federal Government for the purchase of the Model S in 2013.

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that’s 9999…

Here’s 10,000

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It grows on me.

I’ve found workarounds for some of the things that bugged me about the car from my comparison and deep dive amongst our three EVs when we had the Active E.

The Bluetooth is still irritating, but I’ve found a way to check emails while I’m on my commute. Luckily OWA can be accessed on the browser. No solution on text messages being sent to me and displayed, but that would be awesome.

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with the additional bonus of catching up on my Twitter feed

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I’ve also been impressed with how they’ve handled the “recall” for the charging fire issue and the titanium underbody plate (which I have yet to schedule).

Easiest way to tell if the NEMA 14-50 that you have is the “good” one, a Grey Faceplate. Now, this particular set pictures a “bad” one on the left and a “good” one on the right.

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You will also note that the one on the right has a “green” dot on this side of the picture (on the top left quadrant.) This was the original solution to the “good” NEMA 14-50s.

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Tesla also replaced an older “good” one that did not have a grey faceplate, but had the “green” dot for my JESLA bag.

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Apparently there were several fixes deployed earlier that had the fuse in the connector that had a black faceplate (as seen here) but had the green dot on the side that attaches to the outlet.

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The over the air firmware patch with the addition of a replacement module that they can just send via overnight mail/Fedex is a lot more convenient than having to schedule time at a dealership/service center for the work.

However, the AM Radio problem is getting to me. It is quite unusable.

It is still a large car, but I am more familiar with it and enjoy the ability to cut in front of others, I just have to be more cognizant of how much space the S takes. Additionally, I enjoy the changes in Air Suspension that the car can do with firmware 5.9, being able to drive faster in High and Super High mode. The navigation changes have made it easier to get frequently used locations on the screen faster. And I enjoy the color change between visited and supercharger locations. I would like to have a third color for the chargers that were visited at LOW Amperages (user define? 24A and below perhaps?)

Some thoughts on how to get some Tesla growth… Others have mentioned it, and I’d champion it, a Tesla App Store. Open up development for the center console for Apps that owners can purchase for their respective vehicles. I’d love to use Sirius Internet streaming natively rather than pair an iOS or Android device over Bluetooth. Since the Bluetooth only connects to one device at a time, it would be difficult for those of us that don’t use Android or iOS for their main phone (I use a Blackberry).

Pictures from an EVeryday commute…


Most of this post’s observations were from the same day… One of the fun things about being a rEVolutionary in Southern California is the variety of EVs that I get to encounter.

Nissan Leaf, Chevy Volt, and Tesla Model S are by far the most common on my drives and I tend not to take photos of those… However, here are some of the few that are “Honarable Mentions”

In traffic on Thursday, March 20, 2014. This one was on Interstate 405 in the carpool lane (I was trying to get in the carpool lane).

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At my local BMW dealer also on Thursday, March 20, 2014. It’s a pre-release for an i3 drive event…

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At a public charging station a little later, this was on March 25th, 2014. I went for a random charge station check (I like to try to populate my Model S map with charging stations). I only stopped for a few minutes, enough for the software to register the charging station as “good”. But I was excited to see this Coda Electric Sedan.

Hanging out at a Charging station with a rare Coda Electric Sedan...

On Friday, March 28th on my way to the office after dropping my wife of at her work. Their parking lot now has at least one Leaf and a Volt that I’ve seen (aside from her Roadster when she drives it in.) It’s a cute little Chevy Spark EV.

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Since we carpooled that Friday, I decided to wait at Santa Monica Parking Lot 6. Basically, a charging mecca filled with 30A J1772 Clipper Creek chargers and I thought to see how filled the parking lot gets with EVs. The last time I was at this garage was on my penultimate day with my Active E (and yes, I still pout when I think of my Active E.)

Here’s my Model S parked on the sixth floor of the garage. The spots closest to the external staircase are where the EV chargers are for each floor (except for the first two floors, where they are all grouped together.)

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Love the view of the ocean from this high up.

On the Fifth Floor, there was a Ford Focus EV parked.

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A little of the confusion in this lot is the spots set aside for EVs.

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and for “Clean Air vehicles”, Hydrogen? Natural Gas? Regular Hybrids?

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This is pretty confusing labeling and I wonder how Santa Monica enforces this.

The second Chevy Spark EV that I’ve seen today.

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It was parked beside a red Model S, with the Fusion PHEV and Prius Plug In parked around the corner from it.

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Aside from a few Model S in the garage, it would seem that the Fiat 500e count in this particular garage was quite skewed and interestingly enough, there were no Nissan Leafs parked at the lot. I did see one when I was exiting the lot.

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Additionally, there was only one Chevy Volt.

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Things have definitely picked up around Southern California. I remember when I would run into people that I know at charging stations. More often than not, they’re mainly strangers nowadays. I guess that’s a good thing.

First CHAdeMO quick charge


Regular readers will be stunned to see the term CHAdeMO pop up in a post on is site. After all, neither the Active E, Tesla Roadster, and, currently, the Model S have no CHAdeMO enabled. However, those aren’t the only electric vehicles in the family.

So, this past Satuday, my mom came over to visit us in her 2013 Nissan Leaf SV. Aside from Familial bonding and her visit to her favorite (son she would say, child I would say) this was a weekend of EV training and getting the information needed to see if she should go Solar at her home.

Step one in any decision to go Solar is to gather your bills to get an idea of what your consuming in energy. And we’re definitely still on the first phase of her Solar journey. We’ll revisit that later.

When we got her 2013 Nissan Leaf SV last year, one of the main drivers for her was the availability of the DC Quick Charging for the car. However, after over eight months of driving her OB-8, she has yet to use the CHAdeMO in her car. As I’ve mentioned before, for a Granny her age, she’s fairly technical. She carries an Android phone, uses some Apps and is quite adept at some of the things that she has on her Android (this is actually her second Android phone. Her first was the G1.)

So, why has she not charged via CHAdeMO? Well, it’s because most of her driving in her Leaf has been well within the range of a J1772 outlet. She hasn’t been in a rush to get charged up. She still has her ICE minivan and is quite comfortable living with a hybrid garage. Additionally, many of the CHAdeMO stations in the LA area have converted from being free to use to a minimum of $5 usage (for the Blink Network ones).

Luckily, we live near the Mitsubishi North American Headquarters and were able to train her on how to use the CHAdeMO charger there.

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Granted that this unit is not the most common one out there, but it served its purpose and was free to use. In order to maximize the time spent charging her Leaf. We spent the day drawing the range down until we went to use the station.

This particular location usually has a wait and there was a gentleman finishing up his Leaf charge as we arrived and it provided a good amount of time to re-initiate my mom on charging etiquette and Plugshare. So, checked into the location and proceeded to train the use of the CHAdeMO station.

This was the first time I’ve used CHAdeMO and have to say that it is rather straight-forward, however we had to make sure certain things “clicked” in place rather than the relative ease that Tesla Superchargers work. But nothing that was critically flawed. I was confused, at first, with having to pull the lever down to lock the port in place, but it was good exercise to do so and the unit was smart enough to tell me when it was properly connected.

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While waiting for the car to charge, I spotted the Plug-In Hybrid Mitsubishi Outlander that Nicolas Zart had written about. Based on the color of the one I saw at the Mitsubishi parking lot, I’m certain it is the same one.

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Filler Doors on both sides…

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One nit about the Leaf Charging under CHAdeMO is the fact that the only indicator I have on the car that told me how long is the three blue dots on the dashboard. Luckily, the Eaton L3 CHAdeMO station has a screen in front that pretty much gives the user an idea of what percentage of the battery has been filled. It’s definitely not as fast as the Tesla Supercharger, but then again, nothing really is. It’s my understanding that CHAdeMO is actually going to be faster than CCS, so, why again are the other manufacturers installing a whole different standard than one that is already widely deployed? Would I have paid $5 for CHAdeMO? If I was travelling, probably, but being so close to home and having solar on the roof, it’s cheaper for me to just plug in L2. However, for the insurance it provides to have my mother with the ability to recover energy quickly, it’s definitely an option that’s been worth it. Even though it took eight months before we finally used one for her Leaf.

First Year’s Tracking of Hybrid Garage use.


So, it’s been over a year since I’ve started tracking my garage’s EV vs ICE use. As I previously wrote a year ago on my Minimizing Gas Use article, I do drive a hybrid garage. For those that need a refresher, a hybrid garage is one where some of my cars are EVs and the others are internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. As a member of the rEVolution, why do I still have ICE cars, it’s because I’m not as good as those that have gone to an all electric lifestyle. Hats off to them, but there are just times that I like to use my vehicles that happen to use gasoline.

This past “winter” was not indicative of what we usually use our thirteen year old BMW X5 for, but when it snows, it’s fun to go up to the mountains around LA and play in the snow.  The X5 lets us do that when there are restrictions to get up the mountain when the snow is fresh.  Additionally, when we need to buy large items to move, we’ll use this same workhorse to help us move them.  Granted the Model S does have a LOT of space, but I’m not one of those brave souls to carry “cargo” in them.

Prior to adding the Roadster to the garage, we kept the 328i Convertible for those days that we wanted to drive around with the top down.  We still have it and waiting for the start of summer to sell the vehicle when we expect to have the best demand for them.  (Send me a note around May if you’re interested in buying our 2008 328i Convertible).  Granted the BMW Convertible is a lot easier to take the top down and up on than the Roadster, this will probably be the next ICE to be sold from our garage.

That being said, I understand the costs of my addiction to oil and gas and try to minimize it.

So, about a year ago, I started tracking the number of miles my household used ICE vs. EV to see what percentage of our private car travels are electric and what part are powered by internal combustion engines.  Since we travel a little bit, I’ve decided to count the miles driven in rental cars to this spreadsheet and the miles that we’ve lent our ICE vehicles (and EV) to our friends and family when they visit Southern California.   This is why I created some tracking spreadsheets and tracked mileage for a year.   However, the results were stupefying.  After 365 days of meticulously tracking the mileage consumed by my household for EV vs. ICE for the year, the old 80/20 rule asserted itself with up to two decimal points of the percentages.

We drove a total of 80.05% of the time and ICE 19.95% of the time.  Granted, this sample for the past year included three EVs from November 2013 to March 2014 as well as several long-term (a week or greater) visits from family and friends who we lent our vehicles to.  Furthermore, a majority of this past year’s sample was with the Active E as the only EV in the garage, and as a result we were only constrained by the 80-100 miles of range per charge.  With the Model S and Roadster, our range is at least double that (if not more) as we have ample access to really fast recharge rates with the Model S.

It is interesting to note that the majority of more EV mile percentages for the months occurred in the latter part of the year, when we had taken delivery of our two Teslas.  More importantly where both my wife and I had both driven predominantly EVs for our daily drive.  Whereas in the earlier part of the year, we only had the Active E and one of the ICE vehicles ended up being the other car driven.  As a whole, the household (as defined earlier) drove about 42,000 total miles.

Since, I’m an EV Geek.  I’m wondering what the next year will bring since we’ve given up our Active E and are both driving Teslas that give us at least 170 miles of range on a full charge.  I would hasten to guess that the percentage of EV use vs. ICE use should dramatically increase, but another year will let us know.  In the meantime, bask in the mediocrity of the past year.  [80/20, what a let-down.  Or should I really just celebrate verifying one of those rubrics that we've been taught since youth.]

Vegas Baby, Vegas


In honor of Swingers… Vegas Baby, Vegas.

A week ago was a rite of passage for my EV ownership experience.  (Not that I’ve driven any longer than my first weekend with the Model S  that I wrote about on my blog a few months ago (start here).)   The first was our Model S just passed our Roadster for total miles on the odometer and the second is the somewhat of a Southern California driver tradition to “drive to Vegas” as a young adult.  The Sin City drive is one that a lot of my contemporaries did as they turned 21 and most still do.  As I’m not nearly as young as I have been, this was a trip I normally would have taken an airplane to, after all I’m about 300 miles from home to Las Vegas.

With some published reports of all these new chargers installed on the Las Vegas Strip coupled with hanging out with more environmentally conscious folks have provided me with a little bit of eco-conscience, so, I figured to try driving EV all the way to Vegas for this conference.  Besides’ there is nothing that convinces a Southern California driver more that a vehicle is a worthy one than a positive answer to the question “can I take the car to Vegas”.

Basically, yes… You can take it to Vegas, and refuel in Barstow (like most do). However, your “fuel” is free, courtesy of the Tesla Supercharger installed there. So, drove about 120 miles to Barstow with some wicked elevation changes that was the draining part on the battery.

Barstow supercharger pictures in a beautiful sunny day in the California desert.

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The location in Barstow, was tough to find, it’s behind the Chili’s Restaurant and beside a hotel. So, if you arrive there during a meal service, pop in and have something to eat.

Since we did this drive during the day, we got to see the new Solar Plant that was installed on the California side of the border with Nevada. It’s a cool side-note to see the installation of this facility. The last time I did this drive was approximately two years ago and did not notice these plants the last time.

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We arrived in Vegas after another 160 mile drive with even more wicked ascents (with consumption above 530 wh/mile) with corresponding descents that recovered some of the charge back with the regenerative braking.  My back of the napkin calculation had me lose about 30 miles of range on the ascent and recover about 10 miles on the regenerative braking.

The superchargers in Downtown Las Vegas was in a covered garage in a commercial part of the city.  No casinos close by, so saved money by not gambling.

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Here are the stats for the LA to Vegas portion of the trip.

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We decided to supercharge in Downtown Las Vegas because we arrived in town with only eighty miles on the tank and several days of Vampire Load ahead of us, figured to get some charge back into the car and let park the Model S unplugged at self parking.

On the first day of check in, I didn’t notice that I walked by a construction site that was installing two Chargepoint J1772 EVSEs at my hotel.  I was aware that Valet Parking had NEMA 14-50 outlets installed which are ideal for Tesla Roadsters and Model S to charge with (as well as any standard EV that decided to purchase a portable EVSE with this capability).  However, I decided to park in self parking when we first checked into the hotel.

On the second day, I had to get something from the car, and noticed the construction site  that I obliviously walked right beside the previous day and took some quick snapshots of the installation of some new Chargepoint CT-4023 dual head/single circuit 6.67kw shared J1772 chargers.

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I remember reading about these new chargers from Chargepoint and this display clued me into the fact that these newer Chargepoint CT4000 series EVSEs split the power from 32A to 16A when both ports are used.   In my experience, the older dual head Chargepoints, the power is 30-32A to each port.

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The next day, I decided to contact Aria Guest Services to see if I would be able to use the chargers and were told that I may.  On my way to move my Model S and plug in, I met with the Manager for High Voltage services (in their Facilities group) and was in charge of all the EV facilities for the resort and he mentioned that he had a lot of NEMA 14-50 installed in Valet Parking for EVs to use.   Most folks that pack their own NEMA 14-50 drive Teslas (Roadsters and Model S use the same port) or use the modified ones from Tony Williams (the JESLA) and now with the release of the Clipper Creek portable EVSEs, other EV drivers can as well.

Since I’m a geek, and more importantly an EV geek, I figured to provide some assistance with testing out these Chargepoint stations.  I first plugged into one of the units at full 30A draw and got GFCI a few minutes later.  I moved the vehicle and plugged into the other one, and got the same error.

I decided to do something that Teslas do well, but other EVs don’t seem to have readily available and drew down my Amperage request from less than what the pilot was sending.  I started the draw at 16A and the EVSE began to work.  It projected an eight hour charging session.  So, I decided to kick it up to 24A and that continued to work.  After I had successfully started the charge at 16A-24A, I did what any responsible EV driver should do and added the station on Plugshare.

After my last meeting, but before the end of my charge station, I decided that I’ve had enough of being in one resort for a few days that I took the car out to see the rest of Vegas for my third evening in town.  When I got back to the car I noticed that the car stopped charging and had a Red Fault on the unit and not just a soft GFCI fault (as was earlier) so I reported the fault to the Aria Facilities Manager.  I gave him my telephone number.  I also gave him as much detail as I could and went to the rest of the town.

One of my other stops in my Vegas trip was to have dinner at the Wynn Hotel and Casino because I figured that the food would be good.  Additionally, it was reported that the Wynn Valet would also charge any EV as long as it had a J1772 outlet.  Luckily the Model S has an adapter for this and I decided to try them out.  One of my favorite games to play with the Model S that the Active E didn’t do was collect “charging spots” on the Navigation.  The Model S will put a dot on your Navigation map in all the spots that the car has stopped to charge.  It also will store the profile of the type/speed of charge that it encountered at that location.  I wanted to populate my Model S visited chargers map with multiple locations in Las Vegas and the Wynn did not disappoint.  Though the chargers were J1772, they were full speed 40A ones that would help higher charge vehicles such as the Model S, Roadster, and 2nd Generation Toyota RAV 4 EVs.

While I was out and about in Las Vegas, the Aria Facilities Manager called and told me that both he and Chargepoint needed to do some further testing and repair of the J1772 chargers in Self Parking, and advised that I should use the Valet parking facilities instead.  On the wire side of the chargers, he was seeing some “noise” and needed to isolate and clear it so that the Chargepoint chargers would be fully operational.  Since we were leaving for home the next day, and wanted to maximize my charge, I did as he requested and parked the vehicle at Valet Parking.  The attendants at the Main Valet knew of the Model S and asked if I had my charging bag in the car and I replied affirmatively.  I didn’t actually park and charge the car myself, so I took screen shots of what my Tesla App showed.

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After (Max charge ’cause we’re driving home on checkout)
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Apparently the Valet Parking is directly underneath the main casino complex.
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The last day of the conference was just a morning session, so around noon we left the resort and headed out of town.  Since this was a travel Wednesday, decided to take a slower pace home.  Stopped off at a few casinos that had no chargers (and thus won’t get a mention here) then made the “run to the border.”  Both Chargepoint and Plugshare identified a 30A charger at Whiskey Pete’s at Primm, NV.

It was a legacy CT2000 Series dual head J1772 charger at 30A a side with the B side as constantly reported as “failed.”  I was lucky enough to have been the only EV around, so I took the port and charged up the car for the drive home.

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The irony of having a Chargepoint charger located right beside the gasoline (petrol) station was not lost on me, and I took this shot because it illustrated this best.

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It was interesting to note that our rated range was within five miles of our home from the time that we left the border. Understanding the elevation changes ahead of us in our trip coupled with my lead foot we made the decision to stop at the Barstow Supercharger again.

The speed of the charge was enough for us to do a quick stop so that we can continue quickly.

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I tweeted this picture commenting how nicely the darkness makes the Model S look a lot cleaner than it actually was.

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Our stats at the return stop in Barstow.

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We headed back home from Barstow and the descents were definitely more than the ascents on the way to Vegas.

Our ending stats for the entire trip.

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So, the Southern California native typical question of “Can you take the car to Vegas?” is a resounding “YES!” and the fuel cost is $0.

The Morro Bay West Coast Active E Wake


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On Sunday, March 2, 2014, I joined fellow Electronauts in Morro Bay, CA for the meetup of Active E Electronauts from Northern and Southern California to hold a wake for the departure of our beloved Active Es. This was the same drive that I alluded to in the previous year and ended up driving in an ICE because it was range “insane”.

This year, saying goodbye and commiserating about the departure of the Active E was done in all EV mode thanks to the Tesla Motors Model S and Supercharging at Buelton, CA. Basically the Active E Wake served two purposes for me.

1) Provided me with a way to channel my “grief” by commiserating with other Active E drivers and honor the Active E at the same time.

2) Provided me with a good excuse to go on a long, supercharger enabled trip and really get used to the Model S.

One could say that it was the perfect way to bridge my EV experience from an Active E for my daily driver to a Tesla Model S.

The first leg of the trip was from home to the Buelton Supercharger and the car performed well. I had several changes in elevation as there were several passes to navigate, so even though the trip was approximately 166 miles and I was charged to 264 miles… I arrived at the Buelton Supercharger with 55 miles left. The overall statistics were 165.8 mile trip at 351 Wh/mi (2.85 mi/KwH). A good chunk of that trip was sitting on the cruise control trying to do “my version” of trying to hyper-mile. However, as I mentioned earlier, there was a lot of elevation, and the road was just too open that early in the morning. In the end, there were quite a few stretches where I “enjoyed” the Model S too much.

On the way to the West Coast Active E Wake

On the way to the West Coast Active E Wake

The weather was appropriately overcast for such a solemn occasion.

On the way to the West Coast Active E Wake

We supercharged for approximately 40-45 minutes and left with 225 miles on the range and a 150 mile roundtrip to and from Morro Bay ahead of us.

Having driven this same route the “other way” from our Tesla Pickup Weekend (see lots of posts starting here), it was a comfortable trip to do to Buelton and having driven more than halfway to Morro Bay with the stop in Buelton it was important to have enough charge to get there, back and some buffer.

We met at the Blue Skye Coastal Cafe in Morro Bay. As with most of my photo hosting, check out flickr for photos. There will be photos at breakfast and shots by the “Rock”.

BMW Active E Wake at Morro Bay, CA

Even an homage to the Mini-E can be found on the hood of the Active E that served as stand in for all the Active Es out there.

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Here’s a shot of all the cars with their drivers. The truck is NOT with us, but one of the Active Es drove down with a Model S as well (the white one)…

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Another shot with a driver beside each of their EVs.

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One of the many residents of Morro Bay that was wondering what the heck we were up to, this one was having seafood for lunch.

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I didn’t log my drive statistics to Morro Bay from Buelton, but made sure to catch it on the Roundtrip to the Supercharger…

So, returned to the Buelton Supercharger with 56 miles left after 155.7 mile roundtrip to/from Morro Bay at 310 wh/mi (3.229 miles/kWh), drove more efficiently than the trip to Buelton from home. We left Buelton with 225 miles of range, so the “spoilage” was close to 19 miles of estimated miles.

Back at the Tesla Buelton Supercharger on the way home from the BMW Active E West Coast Wake

Back at the Tesla Buelton Supercharger on the way home from the BMW Active E West Coast Wake

This time around, I wasn’t alone at the Supercharger station. We had an homage to USA with a Red, White, and Blue Model S supercharging.

Back at the Tesla Buelton Supercharger on the way home from the BMW Active E West Coast Wake

For my readers outside of Southern California, this is an overcast day… Just to prove that it ISN’T always hot and sunny in California. Another shot of the Red, White, and Blue Tesla Model S at Buelton.

Back at the Tesla Buelton Supercharger on the way home from the BMW Active E West Coast Wake

This trip was somewhat therapeutic for the sense of loss for the Active E and reassuring that the EV future really is quite well represented by all the brands that fellow Active E Electronauts have decided to go to rather than wait for BMW to release the i3. Several still were deciding whether to get an i3 either in addition to the other EV that they may have also obtained.

BMW Active E Wake at Morro Bay, CA

This time, I figured to charge as close to full as possible, so we went to around 240 on the mileage gauge before we headed South at a more leisurely pace. We got home having consumed 48.7kwh in 170.6 miles of travel with an average of 286 Wh/mile (or 3.50 miles per KWh) amazingly close to what I would do on the Active E on an average day. The entire 492 mile trip was accomplished using 155.1 KWh of energy for an average of 315 Wh/mile (or 3.17 miles per KWh).

Final leg stats of trip to Morro Bay for West Coast ActiveE Wake

Amazing to think that about a year prior, I chickened out and decided to use an ICE car to do this same drive and took about the same amount of time to travel. The cost to “fuel” up this drive… $0.

54321…. Goodbye Active E.


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Many have seen my tweet that included the following photograph.

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My wife says that I still pout when I say the words Active E… I swear that it’s a subconscious reflex. I suppose time will heal all wounds. I’ve started to drive the Model S as my daily driver, but had to go ICE on Monday and Wednesday with the X5. Apparently, aside from killing its battery last year, I have not brought it in for its service in the past two years (whoops)… So, I dropped off the X5 on Monday and picked it up on Wednesday.

The Model S performed admirably (as it is prone to do) on Tuesday. A rather uneventful 170 mile day. I’ve done several days of 170+ days in the Active E before, but not nearly as uneventful as it is on a Model S. I can get used to this. I’m still getting used to the size of the S, but expect that to be fine after a few days. As many of you have previously read, I did a comparison of all three EVs a few weeks ago.

Anyway. I’ve confirmed to drive 230 miles and join my fellow Electronauts in Morro Bay this Sunday for the West Coast Wake for the Active E and look forward to meeting up with fellow California Active E drivers and would like to thank Mariel Knoll for remembering to invite me since I’m not on Facebook and for George Betak, Jack Brown, and Tom Moloughney for organizing it. We’ll be commiserating and honoring our Active E at the event. Some will still be lucky enough to be driving their Active Es and some will be coming in with their next EVs. Anyway, hopefully the camaraderie will help ease the pain. I wonder when the East Coasters will be doing their Wake.

Hopefully I hold onto the lead in the West Coast wotnogas.com with my 54,321 miles. If not, at least I’ll have a nice countdown to my predominantly Tesla EV experience at this point. I’m planning on analyzing what the two years had cost me on the Active E, but need some time to heal until then.

At least as of the 27th of February I have the lead on the BMW Electronaut site and the West Coast lead on wotnogas.com.

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BMW never did explain how they tracked the miles…

The wotnogas.com ones were all self-reported…

wotnogas 2013-02-27

Penultimate day of Active E “ownership”


Not technically the owner of “my” Active E, but, the past 2 years (less 1 day) I sure have made the car mine. When I started this adventure almost two years ago there were two other choices of EVs readily available brand new. The Nissan Leaf and the Chevolet Volt, neither one appealed to me and I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to lease the BMW Active E. The Tesla Roadster was too expensive, small, and unattainable. Even in the used markets.

Several months prior to taking delivery of my Active E, I was looking for a vehicle to replace my commuter car – a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid that I bought for e sole purpose of driving the HOV lane by myself. The ARB and California legislature had expired the privilege for hybrid vehicles (yellow sticker eligible) and I was figuring out what vehicle to get. I was looking at the Volt and the Natural Gas Civic and ran across an article on USA today for the Active E and the result has been my accidentally environmental life.

So, I became an Electonaut when BMW dubbed me one. I’ve enjoyed every mile and look forward to the launch of the i3. Still unsure whether we will exercise our right to purchase one, but my dealership has made it easy to wait until it arrives to decide. They figure they can sell my vehicle if I decide against it and refuse the delivery. So, I still have a configuration on order. BMW continues to make it difficult to pull the trigger with the varying levels of disappointment that they place in the way of moving from the Active E to the i3. The latest silliness involves the lack of “Green Sticker” eligibility for the i3 with REX. It so happens that I have made my initial configurations with the idea that the Electronaut production will be fast tracked and I should receive my vehicle before all 40,000 stickers are handed out. Alas, my feeling on this plan has become more pessimistic.

I’ve enjoyed the many friends that I have made over the past two years of joining the rEVolution. Michael Thwaite’s wotnogas.com ranking site has made it quite fun to compare myself against others and I had tried as hard as possible to catch up to Tom Moloughney. The wind on that contest was knocked out when Tom suffered the loss of Active E #1 in August 2013. Luckily he was able to get a replacement Active E to eternally torment those of us who have tried to catch him.

Here I am matching Tom’s mileage for Active E #1 (stopped to honor his lost vehicle) then proceeded to drive again.
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I’m fairly sure that those that will be bridging their Active E lease until the i3 is delivered will pass my mileage. But for a while, I led the West Coast. If we calculate it for the two years of the lease, I hope to still have been the West Coast leader. I still have less than twenty four hours until I have to return the vehicle tomorrow.

Here’s a shot of my Active E hanging out in Santa Monica Lot 6. A mecca of EV charging in the West Side of Los Angeles County.
Santa Monica Lot 6

I’m not sure if I can still call myself an Electronaut after I return my vehicle to BMW tomorrow, but I’m definitely an Electronut. It’s kind of fitting that I’m meeting with the OC Tesla Group tomorrow with my wife for this meeting using both our Model S and Roadster for the meetup. Definitely still nuts about EVs.

Comparing the Active E, Model S, and the Roadster, a deep dive from an owner (Electronaut in the case of the Active E)

Almost ALL EVs are fun to drive. You can’t say the same for all ICE (gas) cars.

However, there is obviously a pecking order and this is obviously one man’s opinion (and ONLY one man’s opinion, I’m sure that my better half will have her own opinion of all three vehicles). The models being compared are a 2008 Tesla Roadster 1.5, 2011 BMW Active E, 2013 Tesla Model S S85 (firmware as of today’s publication February 2014 v5.8.4 (1.49.57)).

However, I found one of the best analogies of the differences between driving a Model S and a Roadster through a Retweet by J-C St-Pô

So… What does that make the Active E… I would put that closer to a Tie Fighter. Needs a Star Destroyer or Death Star to get from place to place and no long range flight or warp capabilities.

Aside from the SF analogies, how do we compare three vehicles that continue to be near and dear to my heart.

Let’s look at the three vehicles in eight categories. Range, Speed, Maneuverability, Telematics, Infotainment, Integration with Work, EV Efficiency, and Cost.

Range

With just the raw range, the Model S is the hands down winner for this category as the expansion of the Supercharger Network and the speed with which one can recharge at these Supercharger stations makes it a moot point, for long distance charging. Living thirty miles from the Hawthorne Superchargers makes this a potential refill before topping off at home for the fastest recharge of the 265 miles that the Model S can go. At home I have NEMA 14-50 and 6-50 outlets that provide me with 40 Amp charging for either the Model S and the Roadster and the car can turn around quick enough to make range a non issue.

The Roadster with its 170+ miles of range is also rather easy to fill up. Living near several Tesla Stores and Service Centers that still have the 70A Roadster High Power Wall Chargers (HPWC) give me the public option to top off rather quickly. Furthermore the NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 outlets at home will let me recover faster than my 30A J1772 EVSE from Chargepoint.

So, the Active E must be the loser in the range battle, right. Well, not really, with a 240V plug at both ends of a daily commute, living in Southern California with ready access to many public J1772 stations, the Active E is a solid contender for this title for traveling within the Los Angeles Basin. I have done several 140 mile days with no real problem and even a few 300+ mile days.

Though the Model S is the clear winner, the other two vehicles do a decent showing in my garage. As I’ve said about the Active E in the early days of “ownership”. The range of the Active E is unlimited, as long as you have access to electricity AND the time to wait for it to recharge.

The Model S has 3 points, Roadster with 2 points, and the Active E with a point.

Speed

Well, how do we measure speed? Top Speed? 0-60 MPH (0-100 KPH)? Yes and Yes.

So, the Roadster is built for speed and though the P85+ will challenge the Roadster, our S85 is NOT a P85 or P85+. The Active E is quicker than MANY vehicles on the road, but not as fast as either the Roadster and S85.

So, Roadster 3 points, Model S 2 points, and Active E has a point.

Maneuverability

Maneuverability is a function of size and handling. The Model S is a great car. It’s just too big for me. It’s nimble and everything, but, so are both the other two cars. The Roadster is small, nimble, and quick. But it’s tiny and hard to see. It makes driving the Roadster harder to drive day-to-day. The Active E is just right. It’s quick. small, but easy to see and spot.

When driving in traffic, the Active E is the best one of the three. The Roadster is in the middle and the Model S is in last place.

So, Active E 3 points, Roadster 2 points, and Model S has a point.

Telematics

The Telematics of the vehicles become a more complicated calculation because the Roadster, as originally equipped had no Telematics. However, thanks to our friends at openvehicles.com and the development of OVMS, the Roadster is comparable to other modern EVs. You can read my original post on telematics to compare the Active E, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Roadster. So, how do we score the Roadster. It’s my blog and post, so I say that we rate the Roadster WITH OVMS as that’s the only way to really get the most out of this category for the car.

Telematics on the Roadster equipped with OVMS is top-notch. Once configured properly and the correct SIM card plan is purchased from AT&T, it works great, however, it costs $100 a year to keep the service going. The Active E included the Telematics for the entire two year program and the Model S has yet to determine whether Tesla will begin to charge for that.

The Active E has had its problems with the iOS My BMW Remote App in the past and just recently took out support on iPads. (Now, the car is going back to BMW NA on the 23rd, so I can forgive them for that.)

The Model S has an API that has allowed folks to control the car better with the VisibleTesla project (as well as the github for it here) and the GlassTesla App for the Google Glass that pretty much gives the Model S owner multiple avenues to control and view the status of the vehicle.

This is a hard one for me to score as it is such a critical feature for the car and one of the Telematics feature that I often use has been the SEND TO CAR feature that Google Maps supports. The big car manufacturers have allowed end users to send a destination to their vehicle. Tesla does not currently support this, but all current BMWs with BMW Assist have access to this and therefore the Active E has this capability as well. However, the new version of Maps has this feature currently disabled, so it’s a non-issue.

Here is a picture of the Active E receiving destinations from Google Maps
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All three iOS versions of the Telematics Application overlays the vehicle location on a map. Both OVMS and Tesla’s Model S will show you the vehicle location anywhere that you have Internet access. The Active E application limits one to view the location of the vehicle when you are about a mile away from the vehicle. Once you are further, the vehicle will not be displayed on a map. This deficiency is a drag on the capability of the Active E Telematics.

The preconditioning controls and remote charge start/stop of the Active E is better than either of the iOS versions of the Tesla Controls. However, the Roadster can be configured to chargestart and the like via SMS and the Model S can be schedule charged using the VisibleTesla application. The Active E allows one to schedule a delayed charge start as well as start to precondition the car. The difference in Active E preconditioning from Tesla Model S preconditioning is the Active E one actually warms up (or cools down) the battery to ensure that it gets to an ideal temperature and then takes care of the cabin. Whereas the Model S one just takes care of the cabin. The Roadster does not allow for either preconditioning cases,since I live in mostly ideal weather part of the country, where it is rarely too cold or too hot, it’s a non issue. One of the drawbacks to the Active E is its lack of community support it for App development, so in totum, it’s a wash.

So, as configured, Roadster 3 points, Model S 2 points, Active E 1 point.

Infotainment

With the big touch screen we should just hand the Model S the top score.

Not so fast. One thing that we can count on is the fact that the Roadster does hold the bottom part of this section. How could the Active E score better than the Model S in THIS section?

1) iPod integration.

The Active E has one USB port, the Model S has two USB ports, and the Roadster has a solo iPod 15 PIN connector. The Model S port only allows for music to be played on a USB drive on it OR use the port to charge an iPod/iPhone on either USB port. The Active E port can read music from a USB Drive or support an iOS device to play from its directories. Playlists and everything. The Roadster will allow an iOS device to play, but it will not support charging a modern 15 pin device. Score one for the Active E.

2) Auxiliary port connection.

If you don’t have an iPod or music on a USB drive, can you connect any audio device via an analog connection. Both the Model S and Roadster is a no. However, the Active E includes that in its package. This means that you can even bring a cassette player in the car… Not that I ever did, but I could have.

3) Sirius Radio.

The Model S can get Sirius XM on it. However, you have to spend $2,500 to have the capability added to your build. (This is a $1,550 increase over the original price for the package). Both the Roadster and Active E have this built in and works just fine.

Am I just ignoring all the cool Internet Radio things that the Model S has? Not really, I just feel that all that cool Internet Radio gets eliminated by the practically nonfunctional AM Radio in the vehicle. I live in a major metropolitan area and like to listen to AM Radio for my Local Sports Talk and when the Lakers are playing. That station AM 710 KSPN Los Angeles does have a streaming feed that works fine for talk radio. However, because of their licensing, they do NOT broadcast the Laker game. Granted the Lakers have not been playing well this season. But it still is content that I wish to receive that I have difficulty doing so on the Model S. Additionally, we’ve been living under the threat of losing the cool Internet Radio stuff, so don’t really feel like counting on that.

So, surprisingly, the Active E takes the lead here and the Model S takes the second spot with the Roadster third.

Integration with Work

This is a funny section for most people that are comparing vehicles, but when you drive as I do and commute as far as I do, it is important that I am able to conduct business calls, etc. while I drive. A critical first feature to this integration is Bluetooth.

All three cars can connect to a bluetooth source and play music from a bluetooth source. Both Teslas can only connect and stream to one bluetooth device, whereas the Active E can have MULTIPLE bluetooth devices connected to the car. A primary and secondary telephone as well as identify one of these sources for bluetooth audio streaming. When using Siri on an iPhone 4s, the audio will play through the vehicle. I don’t have that happening on either Tesla. Granted, I may not be doing this correctly on the Model S, in which case the Model S still fails BECAUSE of the requirement to only connect one device at a time via bluetooth, instead of having a standby device be recognized and paired. Therefore, on a long commute, when I need to make a call, there is a delay for me to get back to my entertainment when my call disconnects. Especially since I may be streaming my iPod through the same connection that I am making calls with it.

Here is the Active E set up to connect to two bluetooth devices at the same time.
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The BMW allows me to see my text messages, emails, and service messages on the screen while I drive. Additionally, I can have the vehicle read these out loud for me.

Emails on the BMW Active E
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Granted, the Model S does have that large browser on the screen, but it really isn’t safe to load Outlook Web Access while driving.

Internet access is obviously much better on the Model S, but the Active E is no slouch either. The Model S Internet is currently free, but this is under threat of changing “any time” so, the Active E can hold its own under these conditions.

Internet Apps on the Active E
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Reading the news on the Active E
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And on a last note, bluetooth audio calls are best on the Active E, not so great on the Model S, and downright poor on the Roadster, which is also how I ranked them on this section.

EV Efficiency

How do I measure EV efficiency? Vampire Drain and how well the car does sitting idly and plugged in waiting for me to drive. My driving style isn’t the most Eco Friendly in the world, but I’ve been able to sustain 4.1 Miles per kwh (or 244 Wh per mile) for a 50 mile commute on the Active E and yet to do that on either Tesla. The Model S is just too heavy and the Roadster is too fun. So, Active E on top, Roadster in the middle, and Model S at the bottom. Though it was a tough one between the Roadster and the Model S as the Roadster sounds like a racket and quite inefficient when it is charging itself and the energy losses when it is parked is greater than any vampire drain for the Model S (and I’m currently on 5.8)

Cost

This is an unfair competition as we received our gently used Roadster as part of Tesla’s Certified Pre-Owned program and with the 37,000 mile and 37 month warranty that goes with it it makes the Roadster the hands down winner in the cost department. The Active E with the unlimited mileage lease could have taken the lead, but I discounted it because it is a lease. The Model S was definitely the most expensive of the three vehicles to own and operate… Though after three years, perhaps the Roadster would be more expensive. We shall see.

Winner

If we tally up the points, the Model S is at the bottom with fourteen points and we have the Active E and Roadster tied at seventeen points each. How do I pick a winner?

That’s easy… It’s me… I get to choose which car to drive depending on what I’m doing that day (unless it’s the Roadster, in which case, I have to borrow it from the better half.)

Seriously, the three points that the Model S is deficient in can easily be fixed with a Software Update after the 5.8 that it currently has in firmware. A software patch can be sent out to that vehicle to give it better Bluetooth handling or be able to read the file system of a connected iPod to the USB port. These sort of things can easily bridge the three point gap between itself AND either the Active E or the Roadster. That’s what makes the Model S amazing.

I’ve already voted for these vehicles with my pocket book. We’ve purchased the two Teslas and committed to the Active E for the two years that we’ve been fortunate enough to lease it.

Now, if only Tesla added coat hooks to these vehicles, they would be perfect.

Going to miss my Active E…


So…  a little less than sixteen days until I return the Active E to BMW.

I had a great commute on the way into work today, which usually means that the commute home this afternoon will be heck…

You know that the freeways were good when you’re average speed for your journey is 55MPH…

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Mine was a very good day…

Granted, that meant that I used up a bit of battery getting to the office

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However, I was surprisingly efficient for someone averaging as fast as I was going today.

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That’s equivalent to 333.33 Watt Hours per Mile. Still pretty efficient.

Especially for a car that has

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a lot of miles…

Then again, I did use 68% SOC just to travel about fifty miles…

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There’s that.

I said it before… I’m going to miss my Active E.

And Tesla made me a rEVolutionary

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