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).


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


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.


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.)


Love the view of the ocean from this high up.

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


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


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


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

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


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



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.




Additionally, there was only one Chevy Volt.


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.



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.


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.



Filler Doors on both sides…



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.]

[UPDATE 2014-06-15]Well, I guess I was NOT using my spreadsheet properly, I actually did not have an 80/20 first year, it was closer to 81/19… (or exactly 81.20% vs. 18.80%) It would seem that I forgot to calculate in the LAST month, fixed the calculations and it’s now correct.

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.





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.



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.



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


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.




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.


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.


After (Max charge ’cause we’re driving home on checkout)

Apparently the Valet Parking is directly underneath the main casino complex.

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.


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.


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.


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



Our stats at the return stop in Barstow.


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.


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


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.


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)…


Another shot with a driver beside each of their EVs.


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.


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.