The Long Way Round – Day 03

With a hat-tip to the 2004 TV mini-series from Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. This is the third day in a series of posts written about our 2016 EV Roadtrip written in the same manner as our 2015 trip.  Here, There, and EVerywhere Trip – Day 01, i.e. summaries written for each day of the trip, published each day, this time two months from the day of the trip. It may seem funny to some to have a summer trip published at the start of the Fall, think of it as some daily entertainment for those that are back in their offices thinking about their past summer trips that could have been or thinking about their next trip.

Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 2 of this trip.  You’re just joining us on this trip?  Click here for Day 1 and start from the beginning!

So, why the long way round? Well… We got four referrals on the Fourth Tesla Referral Program (May 30, 2016 to July 15, 2016) and we expected to get an invite to the Gigafactory Party, so we thought to start our trip and go to Reno (a nearly 500 mile direct drive from home) via the Pacific Northwest (about a 1600 mile detour) with the intermediate goal of attending the EV Roadmap 9 Conference in Portland, visiting family who were spending time in Seattle, WA and family in Vancouver, BC before turning back for the party.

So, what do we have in store today? We’re in Portland attending the EV Roadmap 9 conference at Portland’s World Trade Center.  So, intermediate goal started.

Day 3 – EV Roadmap 9, Portland OR.  July 20, 2016

Though we have In and Out privileges for our car at the hotel for the conference, I opted to use other means to get from our hotel to the EV Roadmap 9 conference.  As with many cities, downtown areas parking costs can get expensive and thanks to T-Mobile and its various T-Mobile Tuesday promotions, I had a few $15 Lyft credits on my account to use.  So, I opted to do that instead.

So, for day one of the conference (or day two, depending on how you look at the agenda, considering the previous day was “by invitation only”, I’m counting that as zero.) I ordered a Lyft at my hotel and waited to be driven over to the World Trade Center complex in Portland.  In a ironic twist, the Lyft driver that took to the premiere North American EV conference drove up in a Cadillac Escalade.  A very non-EV, gas burning ICE SUV.  At least I was “rolling in style” (if it were a decade earlier or so…)

The Lyft would have cost about $10.00, but with the credit from T-Mobile, the cost was a $2.00 tip for the ride. (as well as some guilt over burning dead dinosaurs for the transport, but it’s only 2 miles attributable to MY use of Lyft.) The driver dropped me on the other side of the street and I passed an almost full Electric Avenue on my way to join the conference.

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As this conference was for the EV industry, there were several auto manufacturers with their EVs on display and some even provided a Drive event during the first day.

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Not the bus, however,

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that was going to serve as the transport for the activity through the Willamette Valley wine tasting for day three that we’re opting to skip.

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The conference itself was very informative with a focus on the current state of the industry as well as what is coming up next.  There were discussions and presentations on what the best practices are as well as what the leaders in the industry are doing.

I focused on areas of interest and attended sessions on public charging network deployment and regulatory challenges and solutions.

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It would seem that many of the sessions I attended were filled up and some were standing room only for some.

At lunch, there was a demonstration of Vehicle to Grid using a Leaf to power an Ice Machine and Ice Shaver to make Hawaiian Shaved Ice.

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I expected cold and rain in Portland, but apparently they get nice sunny summers up there too. Aside from the vehicles available to drive, there were some that were just sitting around.

Here’s a nice red Chevy Bolt EV that looks like it’s ready for release.

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Additionally, there was also a plug-in mini-van (PHEV) (a Chrysler Pacifica, I believe)

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Nice to see these improvements by a couple of the manufacturers for their offerings.

I got the pleasure of having lunch with John Voelcker (Editor in Chief of Green Car Reports) and Bengt Halvorson (of Car and Driver). We were also joined by Chelsea Sexton. In conversation, I was alerted by Bengt of an opportunity to actually drive a car that has so far eluded me: the BYD e6.

BYD e6

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On the side of the car is some marketing of what makes the e6 an attractive car (to some).  Of course, a lot of these items can also be found in other manufacturers that we know.

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The BYD e6 is not a pretty car, nor would it ever be a car that would appeal to us I am intrigued about it because part of the strategy implemented by BYD is a lot like the one that Elon espouses with Master Plan #2.  BYD is further along on the mass-transit portion of that plan than Elon (as is evidenced by the EV Bus that will be taking folks from Portland to the Willamette Valley for wine-tasting on Friday.) Not to say that BYD is Tesla or that Tesla is BYD only to say that they are playing in each others’ space.  BYD is only providing the e6 in for fleet use in the US.  As such, they aren’t even equipping the cars with J1772.

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I believe that is a Mennekes connection or something that looks like it. The BYD representative basically said that fleets that deploy the car will install BYD chargers because it is a fleet application, they expect users to go back to a central depot to charge. The car itself did have an adapter on it to use J1772, but this was for the demonstration vehicle only and not provided to North American fleets.

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A strange decision, if I say so myself.

That being said, how does it drive? I would sum it up in one word: Sluggish. The plan for the test drive included being in the first of two modes, Eco Plus, which is the mode with the most range and slowest acceleration (if you could call it that.) I drove first and Bengt joined me as a passenger in the back. We did a loop around Downtown Portland and I was unimpressed with the acceleration. I’ve been in ICE vehicles that accelerated better. Even when the representative took the car off Eco Plus mode to the Eco mode, it was still a lumbering beast.  I tried to change lanes ahead of another car and was shocked at how slow the e6 was in accelerating.  I felt like an iMiEV would have been quicker.

After completing my circuit, I got to go to the back and took some interior pictures.

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The controls, fit, and finish of the vehicle was acceptable.  What I really did not like was the lack of “Zip” that one typically gets in an EV.  This car did not have any of that.

I did not get pricing information or the like, but it does seem like a car with a lot of heavy batteries and an unmatched motor is how this car gets its range. Not being able to take it too far may not give it justice on how serious a threat they can be, but I can honestly say that I can check off BYD e6 from my list of cars that I’ve “driven.”

Back to the conference.

Here’s a picture from above to show the expo area.

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(And yes, there was a BMW i8, new Chevy Volt, and Prius Plug-In (or whatever they’re calling those nowadays) there too.)

After several more sessions in the afternoon, including a very interesting live look in to a focus group of Portland public to discuss electric cars, it was time for the conference’s cocktail hour.  Met a few more folks throughout the day like writer (and some would say outspoken Tesla critic) Ed Niedermeyer of the Daily Kanban and Matt Teske of Drive, known for his Chevy Jolt EV fan site.

Rather than have my better half putting about town, we bought tickets for her to join the cocktail hour for the conference.  There were several firms at the expo during the cocktail hour and the illustration below hearkened back to some illustrations that I was familiar with during Active E days about four years ago.  At the time BMW were postulating using lamp posts for EV charging and lo and behold, Eluminocity was at the expo.

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A demonstration unit was shown mounted on a pole.

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We spent the time at the cocktail hour exchanging information, and getting to know some of the folks that we met that day. It is fascinating to speak to some of these writers whose work I have followed over the years of getting into the rEVolution and hearing their thoughts and hopes for the industry and society. It was interesting to hear varied opinions on the challenges facing EV adoption and appreciated the candid and respectful exchange of ideas.

Though some finger food was provided at the cocktail hour, I’ve always found it difficult to fill up when I go to these things that I find that I often have to go to a restaurant to have a proper meal. The sushi from the night before was fine, but was not quite the quality that I expected, so we opted to go to another sushi bar for dinner that evening. We took Lyft back to the hotel and took our car out to go to Bamboo Sushi in Portland.

Dinner at Bamboo Sushi

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When I don’t know what to get at a sushi bar, I often will start with the Chirashi. A Chirashi is basically sashimi on a bed of sushi rice. It’s a good way to have a sample of how good a sushi restaurant is in its product.

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I then supplement with individual orders, if I am still hungry.

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The sushi at Bamboo Sushi was very good quality. It hit the spot and I was glad to find hiqh quality sushi. The drive from our hotel to the restaurant and back was a very short 3 miles and we parked the Model S with 215 miles left on the range.

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We lost more from vampire drain than we did for the 2.2 miles of driving. (226 was the range when we parked it the previous night.)

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I guess it’s a sign of EV maturation when you don’t sweat the small stuff. We’re only a few miles from the Electric Avenue DCFC and we have a CHAdeMO adapter, should we need it.

Either way, went back to bed looking forward to the second day of the EV Roadmap 9 conference.

The next day of this series, Day 4, is here.

It’s important to note that our Gigafactory invite would not have been possible had folks not used our referral code.  So, I have to thank those that were convinced to pick up a Tesla Model S or Model X and decided to save some money by using our referral code. So, if you’re as inclined as those that took us up on the offer, and in the market for a Tesla Model S or Model X, you can save $1,000 USD/$1,200 CAD/£750 GBP (and whatever the equivalent is in your market) if you use our referral code – http://ts.la/dennis5317.

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Dennis

rEVolutionary armed with a Tesla Model S S85 and a Tesla Roadster, when his wife let's him borrow it. Formerly driving a BMW Active E (2012-Feb to 2014-Feb). Dennis has been driving EVs since he found himself on the BMW Active E trials on February 2012. As a result of his involvement in the Active E program, he became Accidentally Environmental. Aside from this blog, he often tweets @dennis_p. When not driving, he can be found on the following Tesla/EV forums - teslamotorsclub.com, teslamotors.com, and model3ownersclub.com as AEdennis or on speakev.com as Dennis. In the interest of full disclosure, Dennis has an inherent bias toward electric vehicles and has an investment in and is LONG Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA).

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