Austin… Or should I say the outskirts of Austin…

So, quick whirlwind trip to Austin this weekend. Arrived Friday, left Sunday morning, but spent a little time in the city and mostly the outskirts of Austin.

I wanted to rent an EV, but there were none available at the airport, so we ended up with a Prius. As we were drove our rental Prius, I commented, to my better half, that there seemed to be a good number of EV charging stations near us on Plugshare, but was disappointed that I haven’t spotted any EVs in our quick trip from L.A..

As we drove toward the wedding around 12:45pm on Saturday, October 26, my wife and I spotted the following Grey P85+ as it turned to 360N, then to 2222, then on North Ranch Road 620…

Spotted my first privately owned Texan EV. Tesla Motors Model S P85+

I posted on to see if I can find the owner. Normally, I wouldn’t track an owner down, but this particular one did something rather peculiar. As we turned into North Ranch Road 620, the driver made a right turn into a gas station (a Shell station, I believe…) I just found it to be an amusing thing.

Aside from the Grey P85+ that was in front of us. We also spotted a Red (not Signature Red) Model S going the other direction on 2222. It’s always fun to see EVs on the road, especially in Texas, where one has to appreciate the hassle that the owners would have gone through to get their Teslas. I really appreciate living in California… I never have to worry about the fact that a car is “only” a compliance car. Heck, it’s a compliance car that got me into EVs in the first place and we’ll be driving at least two EVs in this household from now on.

DIWHFOC… Or… Welcome our Roadster to Telematics enabled EV driving.

So, DIWHFOC… (or Do It with help from online community) project for the Tesla Roadster is the implementation of the OVMS (Open Vehicle Monitoring System).

Had some challenges with the initial install, specifically in getting the SIM card to run on GPRS. Thanks to the folks that have created OVMS it was really quite straightforward.

So, what were my challenges.

First, I picked up a SIM card from AT&T and activated it on the Pay as You Go 10cent per minute plan. I tested on an original iPhone, which was a mistake because it defaults to try to connect as a smartphone, so that doesn’t work.

Second, I forgot to activate the 200 message plan (for configuration). Each command uses TWO text messages as you send a command and the box replies (using two messages), if you forget to buy the $4.99 200 message plan, you end up using $0.40 per command.

Third, the GPRS stops allowing access to the commands when you reach $5 or less. So, the combination of forgetting to activate the 200 text message plan AND finally trying GPRS after the balance fell below $5.00 meant I was stuck sending commands, but NOT being able to use GPRS.

After I recharged again (to go above $5.00), then it started to work.

Any useful hints… Instead of using a cell phone to text commands to the OVMS Module at setup, you might want to consider using Google Voice or some web based SMS program. The reason for this is this will allow you control of the module from your registered number via various devices easily rather than passing along the syntax of COMMAND PW in a text message. There are arguments both ways about whether this is secure or not, the most secure thing would be to unplug OVMS when you don’t want to use it. Then again anyone can text command your Roadster if they know your number and password.

So, a picture IS worth a thousand words.

Here is what it looks like before AND after the install (on the passenger side)


Here is a picture of the box installed at the footwell of the Roadster.

Here is the link to the full set.

I opted to follow the instructions to install the antenna behind the passenger seat. So, I did tuck the antenna wire around the door and up to behind the seat.

Here is where I plug in the DIAG port to the OVMS box.


Tucking in the DIAG port and OVMS cable back in the trough between the driver and passenger.


Ran the antenna cable as decribed in the guide. I installed the antenna behind the seat and ran the cable back to the box through the gasket and door panel. It is a little tough to pull the panels, but it does give way and come back.



Tuck the slack around the space before you plug the antenna into the OVMS bug.


Then tuck it all into place.

Test on the app, and it should all work.

The End is Nigh!

So…As expected, it looks like the end (of the Active E lease and Field Trial) is nigh! I called and spoke to the “specialist” to see what the terms of the lease bridging is and found it to be lacking. I asked to find out when the i3 will be released and was given no information as they purported not to have any information. On an unrelated note, I have been told by a salesperson a month ago that they expect it on March 18. I would be surprised if that was accurate within a week either direction.

Anyway, it’s nice to get the correspondence from BMW, even though it really is a little late and lacking any sort of incentives to go to the i3, I’m unsure of what I will be doing on that front. We are enjoying the Roadster and the mileage that we’ve been driving the Active E continues to decline.

Having never leased prior to this program, I wonder what would be acceptable wear and tear and what would not be.

BMW Active E Lease End Prep email

National Plug in Day 2013… Over 200+ EVs in Long Beach

Been on a trip for a few weeks and finally had the time to do my homage to National Plug in Day… Apparently, this is the third year of the event, so I’ve attended three of these events over the past three years… However, I did TWO events last year, so not really the same, is it.

In 2012, I went to two events in two different locations in the same day. The El Segundo one and the Cypress one. This year, I had a flight to catch to Dubai later in the evening, so I could only attend one event.

So, I picked the one in Long Beach.

They did a really cool thing at this event and had a space in the front of the event to highlight one of each vehicle that came by for the event.

National Plug-in Day 2013 - Long Beach 2013-09-28

National Plug-in Day 2013 - Long Beach 2013-09-28

It was definitely much bigger than either event last year.

The event was well attended and well organized. Adopt-A-Charger was opening a new sponsored charger at the California State University Chancellor’s office in Long Beach. They were demonstrating the Tesla Roadster that was listed on eBay as a donation to Plug In America. It’s a pretty sweet little red Roadster.

National Plug-in Day 2013 - Long Beach 2013-09-28

National Plug-in Day 2013 - Long Beach 2013-09-28

There was also a Nissan Nismo Racing Leaf in attendance. Didn’t get to drive it, but got some cool pictures of it.



There were speakers, including Plug In America’s Paul Scott (also known as the guy who was given his money back when he publicized what he would spend to speak to President Obama).


and EV Advocate Chelsea Sexton


and others (this year, I got to meet the “other” Lowenthal that represents me in Long Beach, Bonnie Lowenthal whose ex-husband, Alan Lowenthal, was at last year’s event in Cypress.)


It’s reassuring to have representatives of my district both in State and Federal level be “EV” friendly. Here’s to hoping that more will represent us in other parts of the country.

The challenge with being in such an EV friendly location is that it skews ones perception of the “challenges” of EV adoption. I suppose, “act locally and think globally” is an appropriate slogan here. However, let’s contrast this once again to the EV situation in the Middle East. It would be foolish to think that we would convince folks in the Middle East to abandon oil. However, there is no reason for the middle of the United States to be as devoid of EVs as the Middle East. However, it is important to note that the challenge will become similar to the Middle East situation as the United States becomes one of the larger net producers of oil and gas with the discoveries of oil reserves throughout the Bakken, Barnett, Eagle Ford, Marcellus Shales and others.

Oh, and for the full flickr set… Click Here

EVs in the Middle East?

So… I was going to post about my Plug In Day 2013 experience in Long Beach this year, but I had a funny thought as I sit in the Club Executive Lounge at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai waiting for my ride (probably a fully kitted out Lincoln Navigator) to the airport to catch my flight to LAX via London.

I was in London for business last week and was disappointed at not seeing any EVs in the Congestion Charging zone and being within a few blocks walk of the Park Lane BMWi dealership. Business does get in the way of my EV obsession.

So what was the funny thought…

I wondered where the nearest “official” Plugshare charging station was from my hotel. I was wondering whether it would be within a BMW Active E, Tesla Roadster, or Tesla Model S range…

Turns out, yes, just not easily!

Plugshare Map of the Middle East ex. Israel

Have to cross borders and find other “un-official” places to charge, but the AC power in the countries in the region would have charged any of the cars as well as any other country, one just needs to carry the EVSE with you. This ability is another thing that Tesla Motors does better than other US EV manufacturers. I say US EV manufacturers because in Europe, they actually carry their plugs with them, so, I suppose that’s similar to the Tesla method.

What do you get when you carry your plug with you? Well, you get to plug in to many different sockets. The Tesla Roadster UMC or Tesla Model S MC are adapters that handle between 110-240v of charging at amperages that go from 12 Amps to 50 Amps continuous. The Active E used to be rated to get 7.2 kw per hour charging from a compatible J1772 station (this has since been hobbled via software to ensure compatibility with more public charging stations.)

So, have I seen any EVs in Dubai. Expectedly not. However, I was disappointed in not seeing any in Central London. My British EV friends really need some help to convince their fellow countrymen to step up.


Nissan Leaf ad inside Dubai International Airport

Saw an Advertisement for Nissan Leaf at the Dubai International Airport Departures Terminal 1… Strange… Then again, they may be advertising CarWings… (does Nissan use Carwings on ICE vehicles?)