Long Range Test… planned but not implemented… (or Long Beach to Santa Barbara, but chickened out).

Ok, so I live in Long Beach, the southernmost city in Los Angeles County (and the county’s second largest city).

According to Google Maps, about 135 Mile Trip between home and some of the Chargepoint Public Chargers on Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara.

So, to make it from home to Santa Barbara and back in the same day, I would have to seriously plan this out AND have the time to execute.

Under ideal circumstances I MAY make it there, but after 4 months of driving the ActiveE I know that this is near impossible for the way that I drive, so I needed to PLAN my trip between the two locations AND have the time to charge each way AND midway.

So, what was my plan…

I’ve always attested that the range on the ActiveE is UNLIMITED…  You just have to make sure that you have enough time to charge in between stops.  My destination was 135 miles away, there are chargers about 60 miles away and another around 90 miles away, so I had identified two locations.  Additionally, to charge for the difference, I figured that I would need at least two hours before my appointment to ensure that I feel confident that I would have enough charge to make it to my destination.

So, I identified two possible charging stations.

1) Thousand Oaks – Janss Marketplace, 275 N. Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.  These chargers are on the Blink Network, and showed up as available on the application.  (About 60 miles from home)


2) Ventura, CA – Pacific View Mall, between Sears and Red Robin. These are some non-networked Clipper Creek chargers that I would not have known the status of, until I got there (there are several pay Chargepoint chargers in the City of Ventura (another 5 or so miles further, if I had been more daring).


At the start of the day, I just couldn’t get up early enough to charge for a few hours mid-route, so we ended up ICEing it up to Santa Barbara.  The weather was nice and we at least went convertible, so there was something that the ICE did that the ActiveE did not to minimize my “guilt” over ignoring the ActiveE for the day.

After my lunch in Santa Barbara, I decided to do a survey of a few of the city of Santa Barbara charging stations.  The stations themselves are free, but parking will cost money.  The first 75 minutes are complimentary, and every hour (or fraction thereof is $1.50.  Parking is limited to 72 hours continuously and the lots are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pictures of the two Chargepoints at 1221 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101


Down the street from there are a couple of other Chargepoint stations at 1115 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101.


So, having surveyed a few spots to charge along the way to Santa Barbara.  With enough time to wait in between, a weekend drive to Santa Barbara may well be in the plans for the future…  I just have to get my car back from BMW Service since they’re taken it for its 10,000 mile checkup (and now replacing the e machine…).

Is it just me, or does it look like Blink is expanding in Southern California.

As much as I love using the Chargepoint network from Coulomb and the feedback that their well designed IOS app (as well as the very good BlackBerry App), I find myself thankful that Blink also exists.  It seems to me that the Blink Network is growing in Southern California.  Aside from the chargers in my long drive test to Northern San Diego and the chargers that popped up in L.A. Live that I previously wrote about, it seems that the network just added six more chargers at the Americana at Brand.


and on the other view:


As of today, June 20, 2012.  The spots are not yet complete, but according to the Blink Network App, all six chargers are online. All that seems to be missing is signage on the parking spots to mark them as EV parking spots. Something that the management company on the Grove did not initially do to their chargers (at least according to Recargo/Plugshare) pics that I have looked at before (it does look like the signage at the Grove is now up) Which means that the owners of the Americana are learning from their mistakes from the Grove (same ownership.)  They have 12 spots blocked off and 6 chargers, so it may be ideal for plug-sharing. [Update June 21st, actually parked and charged my ActiveE here today. They shrank down the spots from 12 to six to match the number of chargers.] Works great.


Anyway Bravo to the owner of the Americana and the Grove in installing such a high concentration of EV chargers at their two premiere shopping destinations.  The parking at the Americana is free for the first hour, then $3 for 61 minutes to 90 minutes hours, then $1 for every 30 minutes to a $9 maximum.  So, it costs money to park, but not to charge.  Some restaurants add 2 more hours of free parking to the 1 hour for a total of 3 hours of free parking (and charging.)

Speedometer video test…

There have been numerous reports on the ActiveE forums about the speedometer of the ActiveE (and other German vehicles for that matter) as being grossly overstated.

I wanted to see this for myself, so to test this, I went ahead and installed my portable GPS in the ActiveE and compared the velocity that it showed on the GPS with the speedometer of my ActiveE.

So, the first test was to do this on surface street speeds.

As you can see from the video, there is a discrepancy at lower speeds. So, I figured to try this on the freeway…

It looks like the folks on the BMW ActiveE forums were right. The car does overstate its speed to the tune of 3-5 mph.

Re-Connect California Initiative and Dodger Stadium…

With the Lakers early exit in the 2011-2012 season to the Oklahoma City Thunder, we found ourselves with some time to go to the “other” L.A. sport teams events.  One of the other teams that my wife and I both enjoy is the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So, with some extra time on our hands, we went ahead and picked up a Dodgers Mini Plan.  As part of the EV lifestyle that we’ve embraced, I was very interested in the charger infrastructure at Dodger Stadium and was embarassed by what I’ve found there…  Nothing but legacy SPI chargers.


In Dodger Stadium Lot N, are four legacy chargers. So, the operational Rav4s and their brethren can still charge at Dodger Stadium, but the new breed of ActiveEs, Leaf, and Volts can not.  To their credit, there is ONE 120V charger “available”, but the covered EV pictured here (is that a SmartCar?) is already using that charger.

Well, all is not lost.  Thanks to the Reconnect CA program, public charger facilities with SP1 and other legacy chargers are able to upgrade the chargers at no cost to the charger owners.  They just have to fulfill the requirements, a very good summary was provided at the ActiveE Forums by David Woo.

Basically, as I understand it.

The property owner has to have at least two legacy chargers and Clipper Creek and the State will replace one and leave one legacy behind at no charge to the property owner.  The owner just has to agree to let Clipper Creek gather the usage information on the new charger.

Seems like a no-brainer.  However, our friends at Dodger Stadium ownership have been embattled and just recently completed a change in ownership (thank goodness) and the Agreement to get the replacements in place are stuck on the Dodgers side.  So, if you, like me, are a Dodger fan and would love to use the chargers at Lot N while going to the game.  Contact your Dodger rep (season ticket office – 323-224-1365) and ask them to upgrade the EV chargers and direct them to Clipper Creek before the grant program runs out (now August 1, 2012.)

Now if you find some other qualifying public spots, see if the owner is aware of or interested in applying for the program.  Or contact Stacey at Clipper Creek (info below.)

The Clipper Creek contact’s information is

Stacey Barhydt
ClipperCreek, Inc.
Reconnect CA Program Support
530-887-1674 ex 300

Blink Network Chargers at L.A. Live (Abbreviated re-Post and update to West Lot)

So, it looks like some folks over at the Nissan Forums are not so interested in the Staples Playoff weekend, and in order to get them anyone else who may not be a Sports fan to the Charger information sooner, I’m reposting the sections on the TEN (10) Blink Network chargers at L.A. Live as well as updating some of the information.

[Updated for Kings game West Lot  using a Kings pre-paid ticket, I believe that on game days, the parking at that lot is restricted to those attending the games during the game hours, but open otherwise.]  The main takeaway from the game day update is this.  You need to advise the attendant upon entry that you will be using the chargers.  They will have you proceed forward and DOWN the level where they will then re-direct you to an exit and you will need to exit the garage at ground level and re-enter the same garage in Entry E.  Pull a ticket and keep it on your car.  Charge at the Blink charger as usual and you will need to exit the garage with the ticket that you took to enter the garage AND present your prepaid game parking ticket for Lot W so that they don’t charge you again for parking.  It’s clear as mud.

View Larger Map

Across the street from the Staples Center is L.A. Live. An entertainment, retail, restaurant, office, residential, and hotel complex par excellence. Currently charging is free, but the parking could be free (on non-game days AND with a minimum at one of the restaurants at the complex) to very expensive $30-$40 for the day.

At Staples Center, there lies a total of TEN (10) Blink Network Chargers. Now, I must reiterate that the Blink Network Chargers require two things to operate.

1) You need to have a Blink Card. (If you don’t have one, get one. They’re growing in SoCal, not as many as Chargepoint, but definitely growing.)

2) You need to use your ZIP Code to activate the charging process (like the Gas Stations you used to use when you pumped for gasoline.)

There are four chargers in the East Parking Lot.

Two in Parking Level 2 that are back to back from each other.




The other two are side by side in Parking Level 1.


There are four chargers in the West Parking Lot, these are at GROUND Level, around the corner from handicapped and the entrance. It’s almost adjacent to 11th Street.  This lot is also known as Lot W for those holding a Staples Center tenant pre-paid parking pass.

Three face forward, and the fourth is by itself on a column.


Here is another shot with the ActiveE in the foreground.



And lastly, there are two chargers in Valet Parking at the Ritz Carlton/J.W. Marriott. Though the actual chargers are in L3 of the West Parking Lot.

One word of warning, the Valets at the Ritz are very helpful, but you need to instruct them on how to use your charger and how to check if it is working. The helpful valet that assisted me ALMOST did everything correctly, except he plugged me into a non-working EVSE. I had to move to the operational charger. Remember to give the Valet your Blink Card AND Zip Code to charge the car.

The Valet Parking is $40 for overnight guests. Charging is free. An update to this information is if you’re visiting WP24 (the restaurant and lounge on the 24th floor of the Ritz Carlton), the parking is reduced to $10 for dinner and I believe for 2 or 3 hours if you’re only going to the bar/lounge area, contact the restaurant for further details  Phone is +1-(213) 743-8824.

Here is my ActiveE in one of the valet spots:


and here is the other charger at the hotel Valet Parking.


Here is a photo of the non-working Blink charger at L.A. Live hotel valet parking (it should be fixed by now), it was stuck trying to read the RFID card.  [It took them a week from reporting to get it fixed, but looks like it is now.]


If you’re interested in reading about the Staples Center Playoff Weekend, read the next post that this was abbreviated from.