Visiting Faraday Future… Impressions for a hopeful future….

This week is the start of a great EV week for rEVolutionaries. Especially if you’re in Southern California… It was extra special for me, ’cause I got to add one more to the two things happening toward the end of the week.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Dustin Batchelor (on twitter or his blog) on his visit to Faraday Future [updated 2016-04-01, his blog post on his take on the Faraday Future visit] during his family vacation to Southern California to attend Formula E’s second visit to Long Beach this weekend.

Dustin is a fellow rEVolutionary and 2 Electric Vehicle family (Leaf and Volt) from British Columbia and had driven down to Southern California with his family in their Volt. He had hoped to visit Tesla Motors, but didn’t get a response to his requests for a factory tour from Tesla. Apparently he also reached out to Faraday for a visit and was granted one by the folks there. When I heard from him that he was going to drop by and tour Faraday, I asked him if I could “tag along” and he requested and was granted approval by his contact at Faraday to bring me along.

So, step one to the visit was to sign the Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement from Faraday Future and I wanted to make sure to protect my secrets, so I signed the document (kidding, though the NDA was mutual, I wasn’t working on anything proprietary… 😉 ) and returned it to our contact at Faraday Future.

The NDA guarantees that I won’t be taking any pictures of my visit, so you WON’T be seeing ANY pictures of the visit to Faraday Future, but I can share my thoughts and impressions of this company.

First off, many have wondered whether Faraday Future was producing vaporware. As the secretive company was announcing its sponsorship of Formula E’s stop in Long Beach, one of my staple EV news sites, Transport Evolved published the article “Just Ahead Of Long Beach FIA Formula E Race, Faraday Futures Becomes Surprise Official Sponsor — But Still Has No Car”. The company was criticized by its CES debut by many because they produced a super-car concept (the FFZERO1 Concept) rather than a “real car.” As I tweeted during their big reveal, it’s really their VPA (Variable Platform Architecture) that I felt was important in the announcement and not the FFZERO1. The VPA is basically a base that can be expanded or shrunk down to use as a basis for their entire line of vehicles. Comparing this to Tesla’s Model S and Model X and the skateboard design which is a fixed size to build the platform on top of.

I looked forward to this visit because I had my reservations as to the substance of the firm and its viability. After all, the history of American automotive startups is littered with failure. It is often said that last “successful” American automotive startup was Chrysler.

So, I went to this visit without much expectations and came out of it fully satisfied.

As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to take pictures of the facilities or share what they are working on but I can tell you my impressions.

  1. This is a growing company and it is growing fast.
  2. There was an energy in the air as I walked through their facilities and people were focused on their work. Furthermore, this same energy can be summed up as a “sense of urgency” as these guys realize that they are looking to join a field that is dynamic and filled with awakening giants because of Tesla and its success.
  3. Since I was unable to take photos, I thought to at least share a photo that IS public and here is a photo taken in December 2015 of Faraday Future offices that was part of their CES Press Kit.
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    I can tell you that this photo is INACCURATE. It is inaccurate because there are SO MUCH MORE PEOPLE in the offices that these pictures were taken in now than there was when it was taken four months ago.
  4. They’re out of parking. I arrived to take the “last spot”.
  5. These guys are working on a lot of systems in parallel with developing their car. We saw “mules” of their technology in other OEM’s vehicles to test their technology on a platform akin to what they would be developing their own vehicles in.
  6. Faraday Future must have bought large-car sized tarp and sheets from Costco… We saw quite a bit of concept cars covered by tarp and sheets.
  7. There is a lot of tech that they are using. We walked by several workstations that reminded me of a space mission control location. Desks buttressed to each other with multiple monitor stations in front of each employee.
  8. They have lofty goals, but ones that would benefit EVeryone in the rEVolution should they execute on their goals.

Lastly, as “parting gifts”, the guys over there provided us with a hard-copy of their CES Press Kit.

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Here is a link to the same kit in PDF form.

Apparently, Dustin Batchelor and I were not the only folks to visit Faraday Future this week, I wonder whether Chelsea will be able to share more than I was

The untimely end of OB-8

On Saturday, September 26th my mom was driving her little blue 2013 Nissan Leaf (OB-8) that she leased on July 2013. An SUV didn’t see her and decided to merge into her lane. The most important part of OB-8’s job was to keep her safe and it did just that.

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She was unhurt from the accident, she was sad for her little blue Leaf, but in good spirits at her getting through the accident physically unscathed.

Longtime readers of the blog remember welcoming mom to the rEVolution. And like many EV drivers, once you go EV, it’s hard to go back.

On initial review, The damage did not look that bad.

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The wheel and tire looked like goners, but looks like it could be repaired or replaced.

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The passenger side looked relatively unscathed. However, between the damage to the car and the depreciated value of the 2013 Leaf, the insurance company declared the car a total loss.

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More shots of the car from the passenger side.

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The charge port door was stuck.

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Close up of the charge port door.

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The battery is still in good condition, or at least it still kept its charge.

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Thus, with 17,893 miles in a little over 2 years, we had to say goodbye to OB-8, Mom’s Ocean Blue 2013 Leaf.

Mom leased OB-8 and the residual value on the statement was about $6,300 more than what the adjuster had valued the car for. We initially were wondering whether Nissan would allow us to apply the $5,000 price reductions that 2013 Leaf lessors were offered a few months ago as a totaled car is effectively bought out.

Luckily, Nissan had Gap Insurance on the car, so she just had to pay her deductible and was able to walk away from the car. Had she purchased the car and not purchased this insurance, she would have been liable for this shortfall on a loan.

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The 2016 Leaf with 6 kWh more in the SV and SL packages seem to be a no brainier, but there are definitely more options. Though mom originally wanted to be able to DC fast charge she only did one DCFC and that was when I trained her on using the CHAdeMO.

So, what’s next? Stay tuned. We’re checking out alternates for her, too bad the Model 3 or Bolt EV isn’t out yet. However, it’s a good thing I started test driving new EV choices during National Drive Electric Week 2015, but that’s another post.

Here, There, and EVerywhere – Day 16

A quick note of thanks to the Beatles for inspiring the title for this series of posts. This is the sixteenth in a series of posts written about our trip that will be published four weeks to the day of the trip.

Missed Day 15, click here.

Day 16 – EV Advocacy at Sustainable Morristown Sunday, May 17, 2015

Today’s plan is simple, hang out with my cousin in the morning and join the NJEAA guys at the Sustainable Morristown event in the afternoon.

The previous day, we took the time to figure out what the optimal rate of charge was for the Model S on my cousin’s 110V outlet. We placed it at 8A and the charge held.  As I previously mentioned, the Model S will reduce the speed that it charges when it senses stress on the wire, and here is a picture of the Model S automatically reducing speed of charge (see the “Charge Speed Reduced” message on the dash below.)

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To prepare for the Sustainable Morristown event, we decided to go ahead and wash the car.  After all, NJ is not in a drought, so took the opportunity to clean the car and present it in the best possible light (if you want to see how I usually wash the car @ home, you can see my first Periscope (by Twitter) attempt to instruct folks on how to do a car wash of the Model S.)

In the meantime, before we went to the EVent, we found the communities near Morristown, NJ to be a Random Model S spotting bonanza.

The first one we spotted was at the church parking lot.

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We spotted the LKTRFYD NJ plates parked across from us.

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On the way to the Sustainable Morristown event, we spotted a blue Model S on Speedwell Avenue heading the opposite direction from us.

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The event was held at the U Driveway of the Vail Mansion. The driveway was barricaded, but we were let in by Airton Azevedo. As soon as we parked the car, Chris Neff introduced me to a reporter covering the event for the Daily Record.

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Unfortunately my comments didn’t make the reporter’s article. But darn, I was good. I wonder if she didn’t like my answer to the question regarding range anxiety. (I don’t really have it, notice the California license plate?)

Got a few good panoramics of the cars that participated in the event. Most of the NJEAA folks that was at the EV Meetup the previous Monday were here. Unfortunately, I missed Tom Moloughney’s “red” i3.

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Pay attention to the 10 x 10 Green Tent that is at the left edge of the picture below. Michael and Pamela Thwaite do a lot of EV advocacy, and they were smart enough to set up some “shelter” from the sun as they interact and educate with the public.

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While we were hanging out at the EVent and talking to the public, I spotted a third Silver Model S that drove by on the street.  This car wasn’t participating on the EVent, it seemed to be a Model S that is just passing by.

At the EVent, I was fielding a lot of questions about range.  Hopefully, bringing a California Model S to a New Jersey event hopefully helps hammer home the point that electric vehicles are not only limited to “short trips.”  My wife and I met with a lot of people, both locals and folks from further away, like Westchester County, New York.  People were intrigued by the cross-country travel aspect of the car as soon as they realized that we were there from California.

We were the “go-to” folks to field the question of range anxiety, which [Spoiler Alert] we don’t have.  We had a lot of folks that approached us because, for a while, we were the only Model S at the event and they had questions for that, before they notice the California plates.  To which many first thought that we worked for Tesla (to clarify, again, we don’t.)

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Where’s the engine is another common question at these EVents, so we like to open the frunk and show the lack of an “engine.”  Additionally, people really enjoyed seeing the little 18650 Panasonic battery (see below comparing it to a pen, AA, and AAA batteries, it’s the green one) that we carry around for these types of EVents.

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My cousin and his wife hung out with us a little, since they had an event in the evening, we walked them back to where their car was parked.

The fourth Random Model S sighting. Though with the California Manufacturer’s plates, that tells me that it’s a Service Center Loaner.

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The Sustainable Morristown event wasn’t all just cars.

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Some great chalk art at the entrance of the event.

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But, you know me, I’m kind of an EVaholic and Andrea Giangone and his blue Model S joined the EVent. Andrea’s Model S has a cool little mod.

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There were some blue accents on the Tesla logo on the trunk of his Model S.

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Ben Rich showed up later with his modified 2014 Zero Motorcycle.

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This one is modified to have faster charging. Notice the two chargers on the side of the motorcycle.  He obtained and installed two Elcon 2.5kW chargers from Hollywood Electrics.  So, adding 5 more kW of charging to the built in 1.3kW charger of the motorcycle yields him 6.3 kW of charging speed.  Not bad.

Many were quick to point out how sharp the mounts were that Ben installed to connect the chargers to his motorcycle. We guess he doesn’t need to carry a passenger with him.

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Remember the 10 x 10 tent that Michael and Pamela Thwaite use for their EV advocacy, it’s even more impressive how they carry it.  The trunk of a Tesla Roadster is one of the smallest trunks that I’ve ever seen.  It’s design is such that people can fit one set of golf clubs in it.  The Thwaites, however, are expert at packing things and their chairs and tent fit in the back of the roadster.

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Aside from the ZeroMC, there was also a Fit EV that was parked beside our Model S.  Airton’s 2nd Generation RAV4EV and then the Andrea’s Model S.

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Sal Cameli‘s Nissan Leaf has a URL for his www.ubuygas.com website.

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We spotted a second Ford Focus EV of the trip.

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A great shot of the rears of the EVs.

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A better shot of the second Ford Focus EV of our trip.

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Michael Thwaite’s Roadster.

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Chris Neff’s BMW i3.

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Another shot of Ben’s Zero MC.  Like we previously mentioned, watch out for those metal blades that he mounted those two chargers on.

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Airton bidding us farewell until next time.  Perhaps Tony Williams will figure out how to enable the 2nd Generation Toyota RAV4EV for supercharging.  He’s already on his way to getting it running on CHAdeMO (or as he calls it the JdeMO).

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Randolph, NJ

It was a full day and we plugged in for the night and started charging at 8A again.

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Go on to Day 17. Click here.

16_Randolph to Morristown to Randolph

Appreciating the past and hopeful for the future of EVs.

This past weekend, my wife and I joined our fellow members of the Orange County Tesla Club on a visit to the Nethercutt Museum and Collection in Sylmar (Los Angeles), CA. [SIDE NOTE: For those not from Southern California, the city of Los Angeles is the largest city in Los Angeles County and within the city there are distinct neighborhoods that have their own identities, but are part of the city of Los Angeles. Hollywood is an example of such a neighborhood, as is Sylmar. West Hollywood, on the other hand, is its own city. As is Long Beach, where the Formula E race will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2015. (which is why I wrote Sylmar with (Los Angeles) in parentheses, that’s my own editorial on it, and not convention.) Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.]

The Nethercutt family are the founders and heirs to the Merle Norman cosmetic company and have built an impressive collection of automobiles and other “mechanical art”. The OC Tesla Club has been itching to have longer drives for our group outings and this venture into Los Angeles (City and County) was just one such drive.

So, the day was meant to appreciate the company of fellow Tesla enthusiasts and appreciate the Nethercutt Museum and Collection. As with most automobile museums, I was prepared to view beautiful and restored relics of the past… ICE cars.

Well, I was in for a surprise and a treat. (The benefits of not really paying attention to the marketing brochures and online information about what was in store for me at the Museum and Collection. The only thing that stuck to my head from the materials was the restored locomotive and Private Train Car in the back, and that was pretty much it.)

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As was pointed out by some of my fellow OC Tesla Club members, as impressive as the car collection is, the automated music collection was even more impressive. Unfortunately they didn’t allow us to record the audio or video of the event, but here are a few photos from that

This piano entertained us while we strolled the car collection:

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and the piece de resistance was this automated/programmable pipe organ that came from a movie theater (for silent films) from Denver

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You can see the rest of the visit in my flickr album.

But what does the Nethercutt have to do with EVs? Well…

I love to play “EV Spotting” and in the guided tour portion of our visit (at the Collection this time, and not at the self-guided museum section) in the ground level of the visit were TWO EVs!

Front view

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Back view

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Most EV junkies would recognize the more modern EV as the pre-cursor to this generation of EVs and focus of the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (and the movement which spawned Plug in America, the 1997 GM EV1. The other one is older and not as well known. The 1914 Rauch & Lang Model B4 Electric Brougham.

Both vehicles were shown with their respective chargers connected to the vehicle in the Collection.

Rauch & Lang

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Charger information

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Interior

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1997 GM EV1

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Interior

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One of the things that I noticed and would like to draw our attention to is the price of the GM EV1 at the time it was being leased out. Interesting that the price of the GM EV1 was $43,995 and the average car price in the US at the time was $14,000. That means that the EV1 is about 3.14 times the price of the average car.

So, the average car price in 2012 is around $31,000 and the Model S average is around $100,000, that means that the Model S is about 3.22 times the price of the average car. However, considering what you get in a Model S vs. an EV1. However, as was pointed out to me by David Peilow in my post at Speakev.com, “Just shows the jump with the Leaf or Volt in terms of value for money. I wonder how much of that is a reduction in the design price vs benefits of economies of scale, though.”

David’s point is made even clearer when one looks to see what the 2012 Nissan Leaf sold for in 2012. It started at $35,200 before the Federal Tax Credit of $7,500 for the purchase of a battery electric vehicle. So, that’s 1.13 times the amount of the average car without the application of the Federal Tax Credit. If the purchaser in 2012 was eligible for the whole credit, it also means that the Nissan Leaf at that point is 0.89 of the average car price. Food for thought.

The 2012 Chevrolet Volt had a MSRP starting at $39,145 when purchased new. I don’t remember whether it was eligible for the whole $7,500 Federal Credit, but let’s assume that it was. So, looking at the same ratios again. The Volt was 1.26 times the average car before the credit and 1.02 times the average car after the tax credit.

I used 2012 as my figure to compare as it was the easiest recent year for me to find the average car price for. Assuming mild inflation in the averages, it’s even more dramatic to see the drop in MSRP for the 2015 model years of the same two cars that I used for my example. The 2015 Nissan Leaf can now be purchased around $29,010 and the 2015 Chevrolet Volt starts at $34,185 before the tax credit.

It’s interesting that when one looks to the past, it really makes one appreciate what the future holds for us.

EV Spotting on trips… Hong Kong International Airport and Nissan Leaf

I have a problem.

I’m an EV Geek.

Around May 2014, I took a trip to Malaysia for a deeply personal reason and this trip from Southern California required a stop at Hong Kong Airport. At that time, our layover enroute to Kuala Lumpur was a few hours and after a brutal fourteen hour flight from LAX in last minute booked Economy seats on Cathay Pacific, I was pleasantly awoken by the site of a Nissan Leaf just outside the transfer security for in transit passengers.

I enjoyed it so much that I tweeted the following picture giving credit to EVa Air (pun intended.)

Spotted a Leaf at HKG Airport. Well done EVa Air! #EV

These two particular photos that I shot with my Blackberry had garnered hundreds of hits on my Flickr stream which were still unaccounted for.

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That was back in May.

This September, I found myself back in Hong Kong enroute to a more fun reason (vacation) and spotted a fleet of the same colored Leaf by the Taxi Rank at Arrival level.

So, I tweeted the following picture out. We were heading into the city, so it was not the best picture in the world… You basically have to blow the picture up and look in the horizon of the background.

Nissan Leaf fleet charging at Hong Kong International, by the taxi rank

Well, today was payback time. We got to the airport early for our onward journey and I was able to take some cool pictures of the Silver Nissan Leaf EV Fleet in Hong Kong.

So, first set of pictures are from the Lantau Island Taxi Line (across from the lot)

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Then, I figured to see if I can actually go to the lot that the EVs park at (then thought I better haul out of here, ’cause it wasn’t really “accessible”)

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There are a few more pictures on flickr (just click on any of the pictures and click around…)

Either way… Kudos to Hong Kong International Airport for using Nissan Leafs.

[update from the plane… Spotted outside the window as we were preparing to leave HKG]

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Been quiet around here… Orlando EVs? Not so much. I did spot a Zenith Electric Van!

I was a little bummed when the teslamotorsclub.com announced that TMC Connect was going to be this past weekend. You see, we’ve planned an extended family trip with my in-laws and nieces and nephew to Orlando prior to this announcement and it’s hard to coordinate several families to begin with that I was forced to enjoy the festivities with the coverage by @BonnieNorman, Joe Pasqua, @Lanny, Teslarati, @TeslaRoadtrip, and others on Twitter…

The only saving grace was I thought I would be able to reserve and use an EV from @DriveElecOrl, but that turned out to be a bust. I randomly checked their website for the few months leading up to the trip to see if a vehicle had made itself available. Alas, that didn’t happen and I was forced to ICE the trip.

Now, we chose a location that was close to our destinations around the park so as to minimize our driving. Ended up with only 126 ICE miles for the seven days that we were in Orlando, easily doable by an EV with Level 1 (120V) charging. In fact, I was disappointed to having taken until the last day at the airport before I saw an EV (either BEV or PHEV). Luckily it was an interesting one.

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Finally spotted an #EV in Orlando... at the airport! has a J1772 port in the rear, passenger side!

Kudos to Doubletree Orlando Airport on using Zenith Motors Electric Vans for at least one hotel shuttle. I’ll have to read more about these vans, but it looks like it had a J1772 port on the rear passenger side [confirmed: J1772 port and published 90-100 mile range per Zenith Motors website]. I will update this post with more pictures when I land as I am currently drafting this post on an airplane. [UPDATED with all my photos 7/23 8:15 PM Pacific / 7/24 03:15 UTC.]

If I ever have to stay by MCO, I now have a hotel to choose… Besides, I’m partial to Hilton family of hotels. Because EV Supporting hotels should be supported, their website and their phone number is 407-856-0100

If Tom is correct about BMW, I guess they’ll just lose me as a customer…


I like to read what my fellow BMW EV guy Tom Moloughney has to write and his most recent post has me thinking…

What category would I be from the categories he wrote about a few days ago:

“Basically there are four main groups of perspective i3 purchasers:

1) They are interested in the i3 but the 81 mile EPA rating is just too low for them and the range extender is out of the question. They walk away from the car and consider their other electric vehicle offerings.

2) The 81 mile range works for them. They get the BEV i3 and understand its limitations.

3) They really wanted the BEV i3 but the range rating was too low for their comfort so they reluctantly ordered the i3 REx. (I fit in this box)

4) They really liked the idea of the range extender from the start and wouldn’t have bought an i3 without it. The ability to drive primarily on electric but have the range extender there for the few times they need more range is perfect for them. Not ever worrying about getting stuck on the road because they ran out of charge or a public charger was broken or blocked is paramount for these people.”

For most of the time, I’ve felt that I’ve been category 3 and begrudgingly have to go with an i3 REX because I am not so comfortable driving my Model S on a daily basis and really enjoyed my ActiveE. With the addition of a NEMA 14-50 in my parking spot at the office and my JESLA, I could go category 2. However, this was completed after the deadline from BMW for Electronauts to place their orders, my order was for the i3 is with a REX. I would’ve preferred that BMW offered a larger battery pack option, if my experience with the Active E is any indication, sometime between my 2nd and 3rd years of driving, I would probably have lost a good chunk of range because of the miles that I drive (54,321 miles for 2 years of the ActiveE program).

The Model S as a daily driver still has some of the nits that I’ve written about previously when I compared the three EVs that were in our garage at the time. The Model S is still larger than the vehicles I’ve been driving on a daily basis over the past few years, but I have gotten used to it. Additionally, the firmware upgrades that the Model S has been receiving has provided constant improvement in the experience.

However, all these compromises and constant reduction in i3 published capabilities, my overwhelming desire to stick with driving in all electric mode, and my adjustment to using my Model S on a daily basis has lead me to determine that I don’t really need to compromise. I’m about 95% sure that I’m just sticking with Tesla and move to category 1 with regard to the i3. And as I’ve written before, this would be a shame. Now, I’m sure not the only participant in the Electronaut program to feel this way, that last 5% could still swing to the i3. Look at what Pamela and Michael Thwaite went through last week. It could still happen, but if you ask me right now… Probably not. There are a lot of other things we can use i3 money for. (Like a Fiat 500e and some money left over…). If BMW loses me as a customer for the i3, hopefully they improve the next generation of i cars to try to win us back. (Besides, our dirty not so secret X5 will be with us for a while longer)