Range Anxiety? Not really…

Elon Musk’s tweet (“@elonmuskTesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety … via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet. March 15, 2015“) to end “range anxiety” which has since been deleted, had me thinking not about the disappointing announcements regarding the 6.2 software patches, but about when the last time was that I’ve actually experienced range anxiety.

I must admit that it’s been a while for me. We decided to move to Tesla Motors electric vehicles because we didn’t want to have to worry about range. Both the Model S and Roadster have a range of at least 170 miles. As for recharging, using DC Charging, the Model S can Supercharge at over 300 miles per hour or quick charge using CHAdeMO over 130 miles per hour. Over AC charging, our Model S can go up to 80A (or approximately 58-62 miles per hour) and the Roadster can go up to 70A (or approximately 56 miles per hour). That’s plenty fast recharging. Besides, if you charge overnight, it’s time you’re spending sleeping anyway.

When we first started our adventure with electric vehicles with the Active E, range anxiety was a byproduct of moving from a nearly limitless range to one where each full charge lasted 80-100 miles. However, it wasn’t long that I was making the statement that the range of the Active E was limitless, as long as you can get charge and have the time to wait for a charge.  If a charger was available, I plugged in, even at 110V when no L2 was available.

It was not uncommon for me to do 140 mile days in the Active E. It required charging at multiple places, but L2 at 6.6 kW and later at 5.2 kW is not exactly speedy, but it isn’t slow either, at least at the time. Now that I’m used to Supercharging, quick charging, 40 Amp/10kW charging over a NEMA 14-50 or 6-50 connector, it seems that approximately 20 miles per hour seems so slow. Public charging in 2012 was fairly plentiful and easy to use in Southern California. Rarely did I have to wait, and most of the places that I found to charge at Level 2 were relatively free. Things became relatively harder at 2013. One could say that projecting the pending difficulty in obtaining public charging with shorter range electric vehicles definitely helped contribute to the decision to get Tesla Motors vehicles.

So, Range Anxiety with the Model S? Not really. One of the first things that I did when we first got our Model S and Roadster were to get some of the available charging adapters. Aside from J1772, we got adapters for NEMA 6-50 as well as NEMA 14-50. so that we could charge the car at up to 40A. Though the Model S (with dual chargers) and Roadster can go to 80A and 70A J1772 if presented with that speed. Plus, as I recently wrote, I just got CHAdeMO for our Model S, that’s a really respectable 130 miles per hour.

Which brings me to hyper-miling and Elon’s announcement.

Hyper-miling is a skill that I learned about and learned to do when I first got the Active E. Getting the most miles per kWh was the goal (or consuming the least wH per mile as is the measure on the Model S, which I’ve measured at 307 wH per mile recently). In a nutshell, hyper-miling involves driving at a constant speed, or motor use and using larger vehicles, trucks, etc. ahead of you to lower the wind resistance that impacts your vehicle.  With the Active E and the size of the 1-series that it was adapted from, it was relatively easy to find vehicles that are “larger” than it to “drift” behind and it was noticeable to see the miles per kWh climb.  I’ve even hit a respectable 5.0 kWh (200 Wh per mile) on the Active E, as heavy as it is.

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My most recent trip to San Diego from Los Angeles County gave me a long time to ponder this thought and put a few things to test with the Model S. Since moving to the Model S, I really haven’t given hyper-miling any further thought. Until now.

As more Model S roll off the factory floor in 2015 with Adaptive Cruise Control or Autopilot, I’ve been intrigued with the ability to set the number of car-lengths to the vehicle ahead of you (pictured below from a loaner I had driven a few weeks ago.) Figuring that such a feature really lends itself to hyper-miling.

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However, a more fundamental question presented itself to me. Can I even hyper-mile a Model S? So, during this same trip to San Diego, I followed a smaller delivery truck that was the ideal candidate for my test.

I started the drive making note of my average 30 mile consumption that is constantly graphed on my dash (as a preference that I’ve set.) See the example below.

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After getting my base (which, I did not record on photographs) I was in flowing traffic of around 75 mph at this point.

I decided to see what the effect was if I implememented hyper-miling techniques behind smaller vehicles. As predicted, it didn’t really help much. Too much of the wind resistance was not cut-down by the smaller vehicles.

Which leads me to try the test with the aforementioned small truck. I decided to pace the vehicle for about five miles and my average Wh per mile consumption during that period dropped at least 20 Wh per mile at a driving speed that was constant with the speed I was following smaller vehicles with.  Is that a lot?  Well, every bit counts and this was for five miles.

Physics doesn’t change, it’s just more difficult to find candidate vehicles to drift behind in a Model S. Next time, I’ll see if I can recreate the test using a loaner with Adaptive Cruise Control to see if I’m better than or if the Autopilot is at trying to hyper-mile. Granted, I have yet to set ACC at less than 2 car lengths for any distance, but that’s what I’ll have to do.

Oh and Range Anxiety, not really… I did that San Diego trip and back (220 miles RT) with no anxiety.

100,000 All Electric Miles reached by our household today…

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About 1/3rd of the way home today, we reached 100,000 All Electric miles on all vehicles owned or leased by our family. We reached this landmark mileage figure with the help of our Active E, which we picked up on February 23, 2012 and returned on February 23, 2014, as well as our Roadster and Model S…

One of the side-effects of tracking our hybrid garage (our minimizing gas use post, first year, and recently posted second year) use has been to track the number of all electric miles that we’ve done since we picked up our vehicles. Which means that we deduct the original 2,220 miles on the Roadster when we picked it up CPO, we deduct the 14 miles that we had on the Active E, and the 22 miles that was on our Model S on our acquisition of each vehicle.  That’s how we get to the 100,000 Total EV miles on our family vehicles.

So at 3:29 PM Pacific Time on March 10, 2015, we hit 32,221 miles on the Model S which made our total for the family at 100,000 all electric miles. Additionally, it turned out that we hit that 100,000 EV miles target on day 1,111 of our ownership/lessor of our primary EVs. These totals mean that we averaged about 90 miles of electric driving per day for the past 1,111 days. That’s more than double the US average commute of 40 miles roundtrip. Additionally, 54,321 of those miles are on an EV that averages 80-100 miles of range in the Active E. So to those that say that EVs are for short distances only, need to check on the mileage that we did with our vehicles. Range Anxiety? Not around here.

Ended today at 100,024 total household EV miles. Next target? 10 MWh [corrected from 1 MWh thanks to @grahamparks] of energy consumed on our Tesla Model S. [as was pointed out by @grahamperks on Twitter, I understated myself. 1 MWh=1,000 kWh. So, I’m about to hit 10MWh on the Model S]IMG_20150310_160416

9901.3 kWh consumed for the 32,245 Miles that I ended my commute to home today at a conservative 291 wH per mile for the day (still at 307 wH per mile since we picked up our Model S).

Second Year’s tracking of Hybrid Garage use.

So, it’s been two years since I’ve started tracking our garage’s EV vs ICE use. As I previously wrote two years ago on my Minimizing Gas Use article and on my update a year ago, 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 family that is a part of the rEVolution, why do we still have ICE cars, it’s because we’re 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 our vehicles that happen to use gasoline.

This past “winter” was better than last year’s “winter”, but we did not brave the mountains with our fourteen year old BMW X5. The X5 lets us go to the mountains around LA when there are restrictions to drive 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.

Last year we also had our BMW 328iC Convertible. But we sold that now that we’re more comfortable removing and re-installing the roof on the Tesla Roadster. So, on those days that we feel like driving around Sunny Southern California with the top down, we just use the Roadster.

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

Two years 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 EVs) (ICE is now singular over the course of the second year of this study) 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 from last year to this year are impressive.

In the first year of the study, we drove EV a total of 81.20% of the time and ICE 18.80% of the time.

In the second year of the study, we drove EV a total of 92.64% of the time and ICE 7.36% of the time. 94.78% of the time and ICE 5.22% of the time. [Correction from 3/10/2016, discovered transposed number in tracking miles a year later.] We sold our second ICE car in Month 4 of the second year (or 16th Month overall). Additionally, we did try to rent EVs on trips as much as possible, unfortunately, even in areas of the country that have EVs available to rent, the vehicles were rented out ahead of the time of our trip there (specifically Honolulu and Orlando). We tried to rent an EV on a trip to Portland, however, at the time, there was no onsite EV rental at PDX International Airport.

As a whole, the household (as defined earlier, my wife and I and when we lend the cars to family and friends) drove about 46,000 total miles (both EV and ICE in the previous period) and we drove a total of approximately 39,300 55,000 total miles in the second year. That’s an increase of 9,000 decrease of 7,000 more miles of total driving of which 52,500  36,422 of those total miles were EV. That’s nearly 6,000 more miles than ALL the driving that we did during the first year of the hybrid garage study.

Interestingly, I did a quick 31,310 Tesla Model S update the day before the end of the second year of the study period and I had a lifetime Model S efficiency of 308 wH per mile. At the end of the day of the second year of the study, that average went down to a more efficient 307 wH per mile.

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Throughout the past year I’ve been using 308 wH per mile for my calculations. Now going to have to use 307 wH per mile. That achievement is something.

One of the things that I was hoping to announce in this post is, as a family, we’ve reached 100,000 all EV miles across all three EVs that we’ve leased or owned, but sadly at the end of the second year of the period, we’ve been able to get to 99,665 miles on all the EVs that we’ve owned or leased. Now if we were to count our loaners and the few times we’ve been able to rent EVs in this count, I’m sure we’re well over 100,000.

Looking forward to seeing what else we can achieve with our hybrid garage next year.

So, we got our bill for the second year of Solar usage from SCE.

Year two cumulative Solar PV Bill

It’s been two years since our PTO was approved, and, as opposed to last year, when all we had was the Active E, we pretty much used at LEAST two EVs, if not three EVs over the past year.

In our first year of Solar use, we had a credit. Which, as we found out, we could not claim. Because, it turns out, SCE’s though we’re credited for the production at a $ rate, with net metering, customers are paid out on OVERPRODUCTION and not on the CREDITS earned. What this means is the system has to produce greater kWh of energy than consumed by the end user. If this is the case, the customer is PAID OUT the power times the wholesale rate of production.

Last year, we had a lot of credit as we primarily used energy overnight (at Super Off-Peak) and produced power during the day (the Peak rate). However, we actually used more kWh of energy than we produced. So, even though we had a credit last year, we were not paid out.

This year. We got our Tesla Roadster in the beginning of September, so, when our second year of service started, we were pretty much using TWO EVs. Then we got the Model S, and we were using three EVs during that time until the Active E was turned back in at the end of February. Regardless, the Model S and Roadster consumed energy at a greater rate than the Active E, so we did use more energy than we produced AND totaled a higher amount than we had been credited. Thus, the bill. Even so, at approximately $20 a month for all the driving that we do, and the home power usage. It’s still a win!

Interested in going solar? Get a quote from my solar vendor – Real Goods Solar.

Interesting offer from Audi…

So, I got an interesting offer from Audi last week…  (it was in my Spam folder) but still rather interesting:

Dear DENNIS,Audi is conducting a first ever Luxury Vehicle Conquest Sales Event in your area. Your status as a 2011 BMW Activee owner qualifies you to receive: exclusive incentives from Audi not available to the general public. If you don’t currently own the vehicle noted please see us immediately. Audi is extending this invitation to introduce you to the exceptional value and quality of Audi.

Circle Audi has been selected by Audi to host this exclusive Luxury Vehicle Conquest Sales Event.

This email entitles you up to $5,000 in Conquest Funding.

Please present this letter to Circle Audi for entry. Due to an anticipated high response, we suggest calling (888) 246-9997 to schedule an appointment.

Additionally, thanks to strong market demand for 2011 BMW Activees, Circle Audi is very interested in purchasing your vehicle. It doesn’t matter where you originally purchased your BMW, or which to which bank you make payments. Thanks to this unique program Circle Audi may be able to trade you out of your BMW by paying off your current vehicle or by taking your vehicle in on trade.

I hope you take advantage of this unique opportunity.

Sincerely,

Peter Murphy
General Sales Manager
Circle Audi 1919 N. Lakewood Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90815
(888) 246-9997

I think they need to read the notes I gave the salesperson when I stopped in to see if they had any plug-ins for me to look at.  I know that the E-Tron has been announced, but I’ll believe it when I see it.

Also, being an ’80s Alternative Kinda guy, it’s kinda cool getting an e-mail from Peter Murphy!

Our decision… On the BMW i3 Electronaut Edition…

After a 23 week wait, the Electronaut Edition i3 that we configured (and re-configured) has finally made it to the dealership. Just in time for me to be on a trip, so, I didn’t get to see it until a few days after it arrived at the dealership.

Here are some pictures of it as it arrived from the Port.

Our EE .@BMWi i3 has finally arrived at the dealership as we leave on a trip.  A decision when we return.

The other profile of our EE .@BMWi i3 BEV not REX. No gas for me!  So tempting!

Our special edition .@BMWi i3 from behind looks good too...

The delay wasn’t ALL BMW’s fault. (well… they did delay deliveries, still.) Our original configuration was going to include a REX (Range Extender / basically a motorcycle engine with an anemic almost 2 gallon tank) that gave the car a combine 150-160 miles of range (of which approximately 70-80 miles are Electric). However, as it became evident that California was running out of the initial 40,000 Green HOV Stickers, I proactively requested that the REX be removed as I have access to charging on both ends of my commute anyway. Even after the California Legislature approved an expansion to the program (without much needed adjustments), I stuck with the BEV (battery electric vehicle, no REX).

In the meantime, I got used to driving our Tesla Model S on a daily basis while waiting for the i3 to be built and shipped to us.

Three EVs may seem excessive, but I really enjoy a smaller sized vehicle for LA traffic and have felt that the Model S was just too big a car for me to drive in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Especially since I’ve been conditioned to cut in front of anyone as soon as space in the adjacent lane becomes available (also known as drive like an A**#0!3) and the Active E was the perfect size for that (small, quick, and visible), the Roadster is small and quick, but could be invisible to many.

As the weeks ticked on, the little things that continued to bug me about the Model S became less of an issue, and I learned to adjust to driving the Model S in traffic. And still no i3. Both Tesla vehicles are “energy hogs” relative to my experience with the Active E (and to a lesser degree my mom’s Leaf.) This waste of electricity is a minor nit, but still a nit for the difference between Tesla vehicles and BMW i (and to some extent Nissan) electric vehicles. The Vampire Drain on the Model S is around six miles a night on my Model S when I don’t have it on power saving mode. I do this because I like the convenience of starting the car up and going right away. Battery Saving mode takes a delay to start up the vehicle.

Here are some pictures of the i3 after it was prepped:

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Happy Dennis (test drive) (decided to switch out my Tesla Cap for a Nike one before the drive)

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And the Electronaut Edition badge

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In addition to my nits, there were a few technical things I was looking forward to from the i3. Namely, the self-parking package (which I had originally ordered on the REX version of the car) and the “tractor-beam” feature for cruise control. Additionally, I contend that the entertainment system on the BMWs actually functioned better than the one on the Model S. Especially the Bluetooth (which allows multiple phones to be paired) and the ability to take calls on either of the paired phones (as opposed to the Model S which requires one to “connect” one phone and that’s the only one to take calls on (over the built-in system).)

Additionally, I was having challenges with the AM Radio in my Model S. It’s a good system until one tries to listen to Vin Scully and the Dodgers, in which case it’s hit or miss. Especially with the current issue between Time Warner Cable and other TV network operators, it was hard to catch a Dodger game (outside of AM Radio.) Nevertheless, I live with it. (An 80-100 mile daily commute tends to emphasize in-car infotainment systems more than a short commute).

So, on August 3rd, I got to meet the i3 BEV that was built for us. I got to do a short couple of mile drive through Signal Hill and got to use the regen to descend a good, steep pitch (that originally sold us our X5 back in 2001). Test out the turning radius and other fun stuff on the car.

I liked the badging… It’s so much more understated than the circuit stickers on the Active E.

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However, it was missing a few things…

The BEV version of our order removed the automated parking assistance package. Not sure if it was an oversight or whether we did it because we did encounter some problems with this during one of our test drives.

The other is the AM radio was removed and is not available on any i3. The car has FM Radio, but without AM, no access to News, Talk Radio, and live local games. Living in Earthquake Country, one has to consider the avenues to listen to coverage when a “disaster” strikes and AM Radio continues to be one of the more reliable avenues for such information. My sales person explained (a day later after checking with corporate.)

“The AM band was removed on the I3 this was due to field trials in the Mini E and Active E due to the electric motor interference. The alternative to this is HD radio which offers 168 am stations on FM radio channel or Sat radio with 1 year access or Bmw apps with web radio on connected app and tuneln radio app.”

The car also forces one to rely on the GOM (guess-o-meter) as there is no SOC meter, as was reported months ago.

Lastly, as previously indicated, the strange split sunroof on the US version of the i3 was not provided. Therefore, the car had a different feel from the Solar Orange testers that we got to drive at the Convention Center (and other test drive events.)

Luckily, the tractor beam was still in place, but these two technical things coupled with adjusting to life with the Model S as my daily driver and my better half’s reluctance to garage her Roadster in favor of driving the Model S instead have made it a moot point.

These missing items coupled with some issues I had during the wait with rude members of the sales management of Long Beach BMW, specifically Emilio Roukoz, have made the experience quite a contrast with my experience with Tesla Motors. Granted, I had some issues with Anish from Tesla as well during my pick up at the factory, but the person was NOT the management escalation. Considering that I’ve purchased or leased a couple of cars through my sales person at Long Beach BMW, I would expect better treatment than I received from his management. Does Tesla have the “right” model, I’d say it’s closer to it. Long Beach BMW is one of the better BMW dealerships, but it’s not perfect. They COULD take the extra step with the BMW i vehicles and apply for the HOV stickers on behalf of their purchasers as a dealer, but they don’t and that is an opportunity lost on providing better service than Tesla which could also do the same thing, but chooses not to provide such customer service.

So, after all this wait, I notified our dealer yesterday that we will NOT be purchasing the i3 for us. However, as I publish this post, one of my sisters and her husband is at Long Beach BMW and test driving this i3 and the other ones that are pictured below. Who knows, this i3 might make it to the family after all. Fingers crossed, otherwise, it can join these i3s that I saw at the dealership on Sunday.

Who knows if BMW will get us back as a customer. There are definitely things that I prefer with BMWs over the Teslas.

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More pictures of the almost fully loaded i3 that we configured can be found on my flickr album.

[Post Script, ADDED at 2155/9:55 PM Pacific on 2014-08-07 to answer a question brought up by +Toshi Clark on Google Plus]

For +Toshi Clark and anyone else interested, when the original order was in place, I had requested that the dealership pre-order the HOV stickers (as they were allowed to do so at the time and the stickers were running out) for my original REX as soon as a VIN number is generated. This activity would have hedged my purchase of a REX i3 with HOV access. I provided a link to the dealership showing the procedure, process, and cost to the dealership ($8). The salesman was willing to do this and he was overruled by the “sales” manager. The point was moot as the green HOV stickers originally were suspended from this program about two weeks later to slow down the depletion rate.

It was at that time that I changed the order to BEV and it became a non-issue, but the fact that I’ve bought vehicles from the dealership since 2001 and most recently obtained my Active E from the same location has given me cause to pause.

Really, that’s a response?


So, many of the EV sites that I follow got the attached response from BMW – thanks to the folks at Transport Evolved.

Anyone who has watched BMW’s ongoing development in the electric vehicle space and observed our investment in BMW i, has seen clear evidence of the company’s commitment to sustainable mobility.

BMW has always been clear that the ActiveEs were prototype vehicles and that the program would have a limited timeframe, which is now drawing to a close. Our time with the ActiveE and our Electronauts has been a great learning experience which has prepared us well for the arrival of the BMW i3 electric vehicle which is now in US showrooms at authorized BMW i Centers. As enthusiasts, we understand and appreciate the emotional connection that individuals can make with their cars. The enthusiasm that the Electronauts brought to the BMW ActiveE test program was truly remarkable.

The learning begun with the ActiveE will transition to the next phase with all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects.

As prototypes, the BMW ActiveEs may not be resold. Based on increasing demand, the most well cared for cars have been deployed to bolster the fleet of Drive Now, BMW’s car sharing service in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a limited period. The total number of BMW ActiveEs in the Drive Now Fleet totals 150. Some have also been returned to Munich for additional research markets.

Legal requirements make it impossible to keep these cars on the road in the US indefinitely. Recycling of the vehicles locally is the most sustainably responsible means of handling the cars that are being taken out of service.

Wow… How about just a big “sorry” for being insensitive about parading your much loved ActiveEs crushed on the LA freeways? As I said in yesterday’s post, we understand the eventual fate, just don’t flaunt it. Spend a few bucks covering the cars up.

I would have preferred an apology for the insensitivity, heck you have our email addresses, send the apology via email. To BMW’s credit, it would seem to me (after umpteen views of this sickening picture), that the sequence in spray paint on the sides of the cars are NOT the VIN numbers. I would suspect some sort of list that corresponded these numbers with VINs.

Which means I still have hope that MY ActiveE is in San Francisco somewhere helping some DriveNow user get from point A to point B whilst saving the environment.

Heck, I’d even be happy if the DriveNow driver is taking the car from a San Francisco Giants’ victory (of course, being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I would be even happier with a Giants’ loss). But I digress. How about just covering the darn cars.

Don’t flaunt the eventual fate of our much loved ActiveEs. I’m just glad that I didn’t name the car.