A few thoughts and reactions on today’s Tesla’s impressive re-commitment to charging infrastructure

Impressive supercharger expansion plans were published on Tesla’s blog today.

Concept Tesla Supercharging station from 2017-04-24 Blog Post
Concept Tesla Supercharging station from 2017-04-24 Blog Post

In the first couple of sentences of this latest blog,  Tesla reaffirms its commitment to charging for its customers.

As Tesla prepares for our first mass-market vehicle and continues to increase our Model S and Model X fleet, we’re making charging an even greater priority. It is extremely important to us and our mission that charging is convenient, abundant, and reliable for all owners, current and future.

Well, supercharging does that for almost ALL the models of cars that Tesla has sold.  Just not ALL the cars that they have sold.

The Roadster and Model S 40 both do not have access to supercharging, but have ample range to make it the distances that are set up between MOST of the North American Supercharger network.  I have not traveled on any of the other Tesla Supercharger networks, so I am unsure of the distances between their sites, but would presume that this statement also holds true for those distances.

We have been blessed to have our Model S available for us to travel these distances, but we know of several Roadster owners who would prefer to travel these distances and I would like to try to do that, one of these days.

To that end, if Tesla’s blog-post is any indication, it would seem that Tesla’s next iteration of supercharging might indicate a LOT more space and dedicated Tesla lounges in the locations that would be dedicated to this activity.  If this is what Tesla is planning to do, why not provide a couple of stalls with Tesla dedicated Level 2 for those that are not in need of a supercharge.  They can even fit these devices with a credit card or other payment system so that those opting for the slower charge can pay for the energy and/or stall that they are using for this travel.  This allocation will then provide for Tesla to follow through on the statements that introduced this latest blog post.

Besides, in terms of costs, it would seem such a high density supercharging location would be more vulnerable to higher utility costs than current density supercharger locations.  Things like demand charges and the like will definitely be a challenge toward the execution of this vision, therefore the costs associated with a couple High Power Wall Chargers (HPWCs) is really quite negligible.

Concept Tesla Supercharging station from 2017-04-24 Blog Post
Concept Tesla Supercharging station from 2017-04-24 Blog Post

The other thought I had with this concept release was a feeling of “deja vu…” and I realized as I was writing this article that it reminded me of the Rocklin, CA Sales, Service, Delivery, and Supercharger location from Day 11 of 2016’s Long Way Round Trip to the Gigafactory.

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Which actually is a further case for this proposal to add High Power Wall Charger (for Roadsters, Dual Charger, or High Amp charger Teslas) at these new conceptual Supercharger locations.  At this stop in 2016, we met with a couple who were also taking their Roadster up I-80 to Reno for the Gigafactory and TMC event.

The direct costs for a stall or two of High Power Level 2 (keep it on Tesla proprietary plug if they must) covers all Teslas built.  Most of the Roadster owners that I know have already purchased my recommended accessories for the Roadster, i.e. Henry Sharp’s The CAN SR/JR, etc. and can therefore work with the Model S/X North American Proprietary plug.

The more analytical may counter that the opportunity cost for two stalls on HPWC vs another pair of Supercharging stalls outweighs the benefits of covering ALL Tesla vehicles, but I say that the goodwill created by such a program is more important than that.  Tesla should execute on its statement today, but for ALL Teslas, not just the ones that can supercharge.

Tesla Solar EVent

On Friday, October 28, 2016, approximately a year and a half since the original Tesla Energy launch EVent on April 30, 2015, Tesla improved upon the PowerWall and PowerPack, Tesla revisited Tesla Energy with the launch of the Tesla/Solar City product launch for the Solar Shingles.

Tesla Energy 2015 Launch

I did a bunch of tweets during the original Tesla Energy, PowerWall and PowerPack launch event from April 30, 2015…

(Here’s a link to the Flickr album from the Tesla Energy event.)

Tesla PowerWall

Some selected tweets from the original Tesla Energy Event:

 

 

 

 

Tesla Solar Event

The focus of the event held by Tesla this past Friday, October 28, 2016, at Universal Studios Hollywood was on the newly unveiled Solar Roofing products that were developed in conjunction with Solar City.  As impressive as this product line is, the Solar Roof is definitely not a financial fit in our current configuration.  Many who follow this blog will note that we just achieved our break-even point this past year (the fourth year of our twenty year agreement for Solar power) and paid less than $20 for all of the fourth year of energy (not counting taxes.)

One could say that neither the PowerWall nor its succeeding product, the PowerWall2 really makes economic sense for our use case either.  With net-metering still in effect in California, the economics of the PowerWall2 is not the reason to go ahead and purchase one.  However, coupled with time-of-use, and the whole-house backup capabilities of the PowerWall2, it looks like a great solution for a whole-house backup system.  With our summer peaks generating power at 40 kWh, two units may be all we’ll ever need.  I intend to recharge the system during the super off-peak time of day and get more bang for our buck by feeding back our solar production to the grid at a higher rate. Southern California is known to be very seismically active, and a whole-house backup system might just be something that would be really cool to have.

I was involved in tweeting out details for the event this past Friday through both my own account and my friends at Teslarati’s as well.  The guys at Teslarati had family commitments to attend to during the event and I was approached to see if I could possibly cover their Twitter feed for them, so I embed those tweets that I sent out here.  Hope those of you that follow Teslarati and my Twitter accounts enjoyed the coverage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since I committed to cover the event for Teslarati, I figured that we should arrive a little early.  No press pass for me, but covering it as an owner was fine for them.

The valet at this event provided sent us a text with a mobile website to handle the request and retrieval of our vehicle, it’s a lot more greeen than handing us a paper voucher.  I don’t remember whether they had this system at the last event we drove in for. It’s been a while that we valet parked a vehicle at a Tesla EVent since the last Tesla event for us was the Gigafactory Party that was the subject of our Long Way Round Round trip.  However, we took a loaner to the event. So, I photographed the vehicle and key to ensure that I know what I’m looking for.  Just in case this SMS ticket method were to fail.

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We were among the first ten cars through the valet and had been asked to wait in a lounge area to the right of the check in desk until they opened the “neighborhood” area.

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I think that the folks were unprepared for the number of people forced to wait in this area. It was standing room only.

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Luckily, the wait was not too long before the “neighborhood” was opened for us to enjoy. Fans of the old “Desperate Housewives” set will recognize the set as “Wisteria Lane.”

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Tesla’s catering services were the best that we’ve had in the various parties that we’ve attended. The neighborhood setting had enough seating, the food and drink was plentiful and did not run out as they have in the past.  There was a mix of self-serve sections as well as server provided locations.

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The bar lines were manageable and had a good selection of wine and other drinks.

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A few panoramics of the first neighborhood, before the section with the four remodeled houses was opened for the presentation.

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And right around 5:30pm, they let us into the neighborhood with the new Solar Tiles.

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Here’s the stage with the sun shining brightly on it.

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I was able to take one panoramic shot of the stage and the two closest houses to it.  On the left side of the stage is the house that the Model 3 prototype will emerge from later in the presentation.  I didn’t actually notice it emerge as I was closer to the right side of the stage.

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Here’s a closer shot of the house with the Model 3 in the garage before it emerged during Elon’s presentation.

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The house on the right’s shingles was more obviously solar shingles.  However, aesthetically they were quite pleasing.

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While waiting for the event to start, we were looking at the two houses on our left and were wondering whether they were solar shingles.  Something that Elon revealed as fact during the presentation.  The Tuscan Solar Tile, as this model was revealed later, is ideal for many homes in Southern California.

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I even tweeted my suspicions just prior to Elon’s talk.

 

The Presentation

Since the presentation was a joint Solar City/Tesla Event, it started off with a few minutes with Lyndon Rive, Solar City’s CEO and Elon Musk’s first cousin.

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Afterwards, Elon spoke.

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Here’s Tesla’s official YouTube video of the event:

Needless to say… The Solar Tiles are impressive. However, as I previously mentioned, we recently re-roofed when we installed our Solar Panels four years ago. So, that’s just not going to happen. We paid less than $20 for last year’s power and have recently hit our break-even point for our solar panels.

We did take a few good close ups, but a lot of the pictures can be seen on our Flickr Album of the event.

Tesla Solar Roof

Here are some of the pictures on the album above.

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Even though we’re probably not going with the cool solar tiles, the whole house backup thing though is VERY tempting. So tempting that we put in a deposit for a few of them.

How many you may ask? Probably more than we needed… But here’s a hint.

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Especially since the new version can be more efficiently mounted and stacked this way.

The original PowerWall had to be installed side by side and mounted on the wall.

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Looks really cool, but I think it’s probably more efficient to install it stacked.

One other thing about that Powerwall… It’s capacity is doubled in the same amount of space at less than double the price, considering the fact that the AC-DC Inverters are included. I also did the iPhone 4 width test that I did with PowerWall 1 with PowerWall 2.

PowerWall 1 compared to an iPhone 4.

The Home solution is slightly wider than an iPhone 4s #TEatTesla

PowerWall 2 compared to an iPhone 4.

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Color me impressed.

Model 3

The surprise for me was the appearance of the Prototype Model 3 at such close proximity.

The album for the event has a lot more pictures of the Model 3, but here are a few more shots.

It’s bigger than I had hoped.  It is smaller than the Model S, but bigger than the Active E. We got a few great shots in before security cordoned off the vehicle from closer inspection.

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Still a great shot that the better half took of me with the Model 3 in the background.

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We didn’t get any good interior shots, but this was the best shot of the Model 3 interior… Security was starting to cordon off and was kicking us out.

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It may be bigger than what I expected, but I still like the Model 3.

A multi-Tesla neighborhood… Sounds like a nice, clean environment.

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There was also a nice, blue Roadster there.

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There were a few Xs there, but just didn’t take pictures. There’s just so many of them around now. 😉

It was a fun event. The food and drink was the best service of the ones that I’ve been to. The valet had a wait, but I think that it was better than previous events that I used valet in. Take that last sentiment with a “grain of salt” since I used the bus at the Gigafactory Party, and I found that to be the most relaxing way in and out of a Tesla Party. The party may have been free to attend, but I walked away with a very expensive deposit for some batteries for the house. We’ll have to see how long before we get these installed.

Home Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions

We had the opportunity to upgrade and make some changes to our home Electric Vehicle (EV) charging setup and thought to share that with you.

I went back to look at my posts to see if I could update what I thought I had written about in the past.  It turns out that I must have shared this information to the public via forum posts and not on the blog, so I figured to go over home charging today.

As a long-time multi-EV owner, one of the things that we’ve setup at our home is the ability to charge our EVs at the same time. This can be as simple as running several 120V plugs, but when you drive the miles that we had on our daily commute, 120V service is just not enough.  As a result, we’ve made accommodations to upgrade our EV charging to varying grades of 240V service.

So, to explain what I mean by varying grades of 240V service, I need to go off on a short tangent, I’m not an electrician, but having been involved with EVs for over four years has made me understand some EV basics.

1) Battery capacity and EV range is measured in kWh of storage (your consumption rate determines what that range is in miles or kilometers.)  This is why the Model S and Model X is sold with differing models corresponding with battery size.

2) The speed to re-fill this battery capacity is measured in several ways, but basically in kW of power.  The higher the number, the faster that a car can charge. So, this kW maximum for a charger is the amount of Volts multiplied by the Amps of the service.  Furthermore, an EV charges at 80% of the total Amperage that the circuit is rated for, so a 40A circuit can use a maximum of 32A to charge.

On a basic, common North American plug outlet, 120 Volt x 15 Amp service, an EV driver can use 120V x 12A = 1.44 kW of power.  (On Model S, this is a maximum of 4 miles per hour charge rate, under ideal conditions.)  It is interesting to note that many early EVs of this current generation (2011 and 2012 Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volts) had a 3.3 kW charger.  Even though, I believe, previous generations of EVs (GM EV-1, RAV4 1st gen, etc.) had 6.6 kW charging.  Many current EVs now provide at least a 6.6 kW charger.

Our old ActiveE was rated at 7.2 kW (originally, but by the end this was de-rated closer to 5.5 kW by software because of some issues.)  My wife’s Roadster has a 16.8 kW charger and our Model S is equipped with dual chargers for a total of 20 kW charging capability.

That being said, the higher the voltage one uses the amperage of the wire has to increase to give you a quicker charge.  So, to get a 16.8 kW service for the Roadster to run at full speed the Electric Vehicle Supply equipment (EVSE/i.e. electric vehicle charger) has to have a 90 Amp circuit to run at 70 Amps continuously over 240V.  (Remember the 80% rule for charging.)  So, to get the 20 kW charger to work on a Model S, a 100 Amp wire and breaker needs to run to get that going (19.2 kW, but who’s counting.)

I digress… Back to the point…  The higher the amperage for the circuit installed, the thicker AND more expensive the wire will be.

I am sure that for my North American EV readers, many have one EV plug to provide 240V service charge their car. How many places to charge 240V do you have at home? When we first took delivery of our BMW Active E in 2012, we didn’t have a single 240V service installed in our garage.

We actually spent a few weeks charging the car on 120V.  Something that those of us that follow Thomas J. Thias (the Amazing Chevy Volt) on Twitter see him espouse the greater than 1.5 Billion charging locations at this voltage in North America – 120V regular outlets (at 1-4 miles per hour, not normally relevant to me, but as Thomas reminds us, it’s a “good enough” solution for 80% of the drivers on their average commute.)

Just this evening, September 27, 2016, Thomas Tweeted the following out (in reply to a ZeroMC tweet)

New BMW ActiveE first night at home 2/23. 5

New BMW ActiveE first night at home 2/23. 4

We’ve even used the same Level 1 charger when we visited family…

Visiting family with our new @BMWActiveE and using the included Level 1 charger stretched to the limit!

Needless to say, that got old FAST…

So, two weeks later, we took advantage of a grant in 2012 and got a Chargepoint CT-500 (back when the company known as Chargepoint was called Coulomb Technologies.)

There was a grant program available for new EV owners/lessors to take advantage of that covered the cost of the EVSE and some of the installation.  The Chargepoint CT-500 was an intelligent/networked EVSE that connected to the Internet over a mobile network (2G?!?) connection and part of the bargain was that the government and researchers can glean the information about the habits of the participants in the grant program.

Since EVSEs in 2012 were over a thousand dollars, we opted to participate in this program and had our first charger installed.  We expected it to be a 32A EVSE, (80% of the 40A circuit that was installed) but it was actually a 30A Level 2 station. The total cost of the EVSE and Installation was $1,640. However, there was a state program that covered $1,200. Which meant that we were liable for $440 (plus $150 permit) for a total of $590 for the cost of our hardwired Level 2 station (plus the loss of privacy by participating in this monitored program.)

Here is the CT-500 when it was first installed.

CT500 EVSE Install 1

To install the units, we had to use Clean Fuel Connection and their sub-contractors for the work and it was a pretty painless program. After signing the contract they were at our house two days later with the EVSE and our days of charging Level 1 was put in the back burner.

The charger was hardwired and the installers did a great job.

CT500 EVSE Install 5

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Here it is on the day we first installed the EVSE and we charged the Active E on that first Level 2 charger.

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With this Level 2 setup and public Level 2 charging we were able to drive the Active E 54,321 total miles during the two years of the lease.  Several years later, the intelligent features of this charger became unsupported because the mobile network that the signals rode on was being decommissioned by AT&T.  So, today, we’ve lost the “smart” functionality of the charger, but it still works great with the Model S.  So, our first dedicated EV charger was installed in March 2012.

A year and a half after we started driving the Active E, we purchased my wife’s Roadster and finalized the order for our Model S.  Since we were already “experienced” rEVolutionaries.  We had a good idea of what it takes to charge a car and how long it took to do so.  We decided to install several NEMA outlets in the house, two NEMA 14-50 outlets and one NEMA 6-50.  We picked the NEMA 6-50 because, in 2013, the first “plug” ready non-Tesla EVSEs were being produced and we wanted to be able to charge “anything” off that and didn’t feel the need to recover miles faster than a 50 Amp feed on either the Roadster that we took or the Model S that was soon to arrive in November 2013.  The approximately 25 miles per hour that we anticipated to recover on a 50 Amp circuit (40 Amps usable) was going to be enough for our drive.

When we originally ordered our Roadster, we were unsure as to what sort of charging we would get with it that we ordered a Leviton 40A EVSE to deliver the wire speed of the NEMA 6-50 at full speed.  Here is that Leviton being installed for the Roadster to use on its side of the garage.  At the time of the purchase, this EVSE was selling for approximately $1200 elsewhere and Amazon sold the same model for $1050.  In 2016, this same EVSE is now $699.

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The EVSE powered up.  However, we ended up returning the Leviton EVSE as it was incompatible with the BMW Active E and made some WEIRD noises and sounded like it was having a BAD time, electrically speaking.  Furthermore, it turned out that we were going to get a Roadster MC240 with my wife’s car, so that can take full use of the NEMA 6-50 that we installed for the Leviton EVSE.  (We just needed an adapter to go from NEMA 14-50 to NEMA 6-50 that we had made for us.)  We charged the car on this MC240 for a short while (Tesla actually stepped down the charge from 40A to 30A on the MC240 on a 50A circuit) because we wanted a faster recharge time, so we found another Roadster owner selling their Roadster UMC and purchased that unit with a 6-50 Adapter to fit directly onto the circuit that our electrician installed for the Leviton.  And used that equipment to continue to charge the Roadster until today.

Here is a photo of the NEMA 14-50 outlet on the other side of the garage from the NEMA 6-50 installed for the Roadster.

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We wanted to makes sure to protect it from the elements.

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When we were having our electrician wire up the outlet for the Roadster, we wanted to future-proof  that location and asked to have 70A service pulled in.  To maximize the 70A breaker, we split that wire to two NEMA connectors the one (NEMA 6-50) in the garage for the Roadster and another one on the outside wall of the garage (a NEMA 14-50.)  This sharing of the one breaker is not really the “code” for these connections.  However, as long as we manually manage the Amperage on the line when using two different vehicles on each of the NEMA connectors, we should be fine.  (Remember the 80% rule, so a 70 Amp breaker means that we don’t draw more than 56A continuously on the circuit.) One of the benefits of driving any Tesla is its ability to be managed “downward” on the amount of current to draw from a circuit.  So, if a newer 6.6 kW Leaf were to be plugged into that receptacle and draw 32A, we still have 24A to use for the Roadster or the Model S.

As I mentioned earlier, we lucked out when we took delivery of our Roadster, we were provided with an original MC240 (which works only with the 1.5 Roadster) and we shortly thereafter got the Roadster UMC which is the pre-cursor for the Model S Mobile Connector (MC) and its replaceable terminals.  The Roadster one continues to be more flexible than the Model S MC in that it still has ten choices for different terminals for the product, we bought the NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 adapters to work with the plugs that we have in our garage.

We also ordered Quick Charge Power’s Jesla, however this was before it was even a QCP product.  Tony Williams worked with me to customize a Model S MC to be a Jesla. I wanted something that would work with ANY EV out there and the Jesla would plug into any of the other outlets in the garage and in the exterior of the house for when we have visitors, like my mom and her Nissan Leaf.

Here’s a picture of the Roadster charging on one of our exterior NEMA 14-50 outlets.

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We had the same protective enclosure for the NEMA 14-50 that we installed on the exterior side of the house.  Additionally, should we ever decide to get an RV, we can plug an RV on the side of the house as well since this plug is dedicated to its own 50 Amp circuit.

Here is that outlet without the Roadster plugged into it.

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That is the MC240 that the Roadster originally came with.  It has a hardwired NEMA 14-50 plug on the end of it.

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It’s just on our driveway, but away from blocking the garage. This was convenient, but not the ideal place for the Roadster, the noisiest that a Roadster gets is when it is CHARGING, so we make sure, in the interest of keeping the peace with our neighbor, to have an outlet ready for the Roadster in the garage.

During the months between November 2013 and February 2014, we kicked the Active E out of the garage and it ended up charging on the driveway.

Here are a couple of pictures I took when we used to have all three cars, all plugged in and charging.

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The J1772 EVSE that is plugged into the Active E during this duty cycle is the Jesla that I had asked Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power make for me.  It is great to see all the business that he has since built from the time that he made this product for me.

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So, for several years we’ve had a great set-up at the house that allowed us to charge four EVs at once and not sure if we’ve ever have needed to do this… I do remember my mom visiting with her Leaf and charging it. The Model S was already charged, so I could just plug her Leaf into that J1772 (the original Chargepoint CT-500 from 2012). This photo was from Thanksgiving 2014, and the Active E was already back with BMW for at least 9 months at this point.  You can see the Roadster UMC plugged to the wall beside the Roadster (using a NEMA 6-50 at this point.)

Looks like the Family is complete... we can start Thanksgiving lunch! (3 EVs in our garage/driveway)

That’s a long way to catch you up to what we just had done this past weekend… in 2016.

Well, a short while ago, we’ve had some charger challenges with the Roadster.  During testing, we kept swapping chargers to see the effects, and as a result of one of these tests, the MC240 that came with our car died and was not repairable.  Our service center provided us a replacement as a result of this failure because we still had our CPO warranty in effect. The MC240 is quite rare, so the service center provided us with a second Roadster UMCs.

When we took the “new” UMC home and plugged it in, it turned out that the new one was “flaky” (or, I suspect that there’s something with the Roadster, but we’re still figuring that out.)

Now, it has been difficult for Tesla to track down the UMC to begin with, and they are quite pricey, so, instead of trying to find ANOTHER Roadster UMC, I asked if they could just replace the dead MC240/flaky Roadster UMC with a new Model S/Model X High Power Wall Connector (HPWC.)

My point was that they were producing more of these HPWCs, the price for the unit has dropped significantly and is about a third the cost of another replacement Roadster UMC. The retail price for the Roadster UMC is $1,500 without a NEMA 14-50 connector, and adding that connector is an additional $100 for a total of $1,600, and the Model S/Model X HPWC is now $550 for the 24 foot model. Luckily, my logic was deemed to be a sound one, and we were able to get a 24 foot Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC (ver 2? (the one that can be daisy-chained)).  I figure that between the Roadster UMC, the Jesla, and our CAN SR and CAN JR, we have enough portable Level 2 capability for the vehicle.

Several weeks later, mid-last week, we get word that the replacement Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC was at the service center ready for pick up.

We went to pick up the box from the service center and take it home.  It wasn’t going to fit in the Roadster, so we took an S (the service center’s loaner as the Roadster is in the shop for its annual service) to bring this box home.

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One thing about the Model S/X High Power Wall Connector is it is glorious and aesthetically pleasing EVSE.

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Unboxing the HPWC…

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In order to install the unit, it had to be hardwired, and I’m not an electrician, remember.  I scheduled our electrician to do the work this past Sunday, September 25.

As I mentioned earlier, we ran 70A service to the garage for the Roadster and the two shared NEMA outlets (the NEMA 6-50 and NEMA 14-50). I figured to have him use that feed for the HPWC.  Since it seems that we’re now predominantly a Tesla family, I also had one other change that I requested.  Between our Tesla bias and the fact that there are now more EVSE providers that are selling NEMA 14-50 plug-in EVSEs, not just NEMA 6-50 ones, I went ahead and asked our electrician to replace the NEMA 6-50 outlet for the Roadster with a NEMA 14-50 one.

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The new HPWC can go to 80A on a 100A wire, but it was cost prohibitive to run that wire three years ago.  I was glad that we ran 70A because we are now able to take advantage of 56A power for charging (when we’re not using the NEMA 14-50 outlets) we’re able to charge a Model S (with dual chargers, or enabled for greater than 48A for the newer ones) at 34 miles per hour.  The Model S normally uses the old reliable Chargepoint CT-500 at 30A and approximately 18 miles per hour of charging.  So, if we’re in a hurry or if the Chargepoint “misbehaves” we now have the means to “charge quicker.”

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Besides, the nearest supercharger to us is Fountain Valley and though it is a supercharger, it is easily the busiest one in the area as is evidenced by this photo around 1pm on 9/27/2016.

That’s six cars waiting and eight charging (there were seven cars waiting just before I took this picture.)

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Additionally, we still have the NEMA outlets (now all 14-50s). We just have to manage the load effectively, and safely. I could use the advanced features of the new HPWC and daisy chain them in the future, but I think we’re OK with the way we’re set up for now. In the meantime, we just have to do the math and run a total of 56A on the feed. One requirement currently is that all these vehicles will have to be Teslas because it’s difficult to limit each feed to only 16A…  We can, conceivably charge two Teslas at 20A and a Chevy Spark, Chevy Volt, or 2011/2012 Nissan Leaf on 16A of power.  As we mentioned earlier, many EVs now run at 6.6kW or higher and that’s 32A of power on 240V.

So, in 2016, we are now able to plug in five vehicles to charge at 240V service in our home…

Looks like we’re ready for the rEVolution and hosting an EV meetup…

Or to have family visit us…  My sister and her husband just added a Volkswagen E-Golf to their garage a few months ago and, as expected, my gearhead brother-in-law has been “digging” driving electric. (I think that he’s garaged his Porsche ICE and taken to driving the E-Golf places.)

Furthermore, once we get our Model 3 reservations delivered, we’re ready for those as well.  We might need a bigger driveway and garage!

Long-term Tesla Motors Battery Study from Plug in America

One of the things to consider when making the switch to an Electric Vehicle (EV) is the combination of the battery and electricity IS the fuel that is consumed to power an EV. As such, batteries and range degrade and may eventually need to be replaced. Therefore, one of the questions that these new Model 3 reservation holders ask is “how resilient is the Tesla battery?” or phrased another way, “how long will the battery last?”

The Model 3 announcement did not really cover how different or similar the battery technology in the Model 3 will be from predecessor vehicles from them. The Roadster has a different pack than the Model S and Model X. So, how does one get the comfort of knowing that “Tesla knows what they’re doing with batteries.” I suppose we can just trust them.

Fortunately, that is not our only option. Over the past few years, long-time Electric Vehicle advocate, Plug in America Chief Science Officer, and Tesla Motors Roadster owner Tom Saxton has been conducting several long-term battery studies hosted on the Plug in America site.

For those unfamiliar with Plug in America, they’re the folks that formed out of the advocates that tried to stop the “murder” of the GM EV1 and other Electric Vehicles of that era that was documented in the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?”  Or, as they describe themselves in their webpage:

Our Mission

Plug In America drives change to accelerate the shift to plug-in vehicles powered by clean, affordable, domestic electricity to reduce our nation’s dependence on petroleum, improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Our History

Plug In America is a coalition of early adopters. We’re the EV trailblazers – RAV4‐EV drivers, former lessees of Honda EV+, GM EV1, Ford Ranger and Ford Th!nk City electric cars – that passionately advocate for energy independence and clean air. Before 2008, we functioned as a loose network of individuals organized around various websites like dontcrush.com and saveEV1.com. We then coalesced into a chapter of the Electric Auto Association. On January 2, 2008, Plug In America became a separate California non‐profit corporation. On August 18, 2008, we became an official 501(c)(3) public charity!

The battery studies that Tom Saxton have been running for years rely on nearly semi-annual updates from respondents that drive Tesla Roadsters and Tesla Model S as well as the Nissan Leaf and the first generation Toyota RAV4 EV.  In email correspondence with Tom, he has indicated that he is looking to expand the study  in the near future to include the Model X as well.

Tom’s long-term battery study has been invaluable not only to the greater EV community but specifically to Tesla fans as well.  The take rate for participants for the Tesla Roadster study is close to a 7% sample, from what I gather and the Tesla Model S one had a healthy start, but could use more participants.

With the new range numbers from the redesigned front fascia of the vehicle, I am sure I’m not the only one to wonder what the long-term differences would be between a 90D classic fascia vs a 90D new fascia.

Providing a third party study of the effects of long-term battery health enables all concerned with a greater understanding and comfort to know “that Tesla knows what they’re doing.” Furthermore, it gives current non EV drivers a sense of comfort when making the switch to electrically fueled car ownership.

So, if you own a Tesla Roadster and haven’t participated in the study. Or perhaps you’re one of the lucky few to have upgraded to the new 3.0 battery from Tesla, please fill out the Tesla Roadster battery survey.

Perhaps you’re a Model S owner and you’d like to help add to the number of respondents to this study, fill out for the Tesla Model S battery survey.

What has Tom been able to share with the public so far.

Well, for the Roadster, he’s published an entire study three years ago including a paper entitled “Plug in America’s Tesla Roadster Battery Study.” The advent of the 3.0 battery upgrade may require a new study and the addition of almost another three years since the publication of that study might give more information to the study, but that’s entirely up to Tom and his cohorts at PiA.

The Model S Results page is more dynamic than the Roadster results publication.

I have taken screenshots as of April 27, 2016 of a few of the dynamic charts that are provided on the results charts page.

The first chart that caught my eye is the chart on the battery capacity vs. the miles that particular Model S iterations. With new EPA numbers with the launch of the new fascia should further complicate this chart.

Battery Survey - Model S Battery Capacity-Miles

This same chart can be used to also track how a particular respondent’s vehicle matches with the universe of respondents. The Vehicle in black on the chart below shows the performance of my vehicle in relation to other respondents’ cars.

Battery Survey - Model S Battery Capacity-Miles - Specific Vehicle

The third chart that was of interest is the reliability of certain components, namely the Drive Unit, battery, and chargers on the Model S. I wonder if the increased reported failures on chargers for 2014 vehicles resulted in the movement from the old chargers to the new 48A charger.

Battery Survey - Model S Major Maintenance - Model Year

Lastly, the inspiration to my exhorting fellow owners to participate in this survey was the chart of participant vehicles.

Battery Survey - Model S Survey Vehicles

For as many Model S are on the road now, I wonder as to the ability of this study, in its current count, to fully report on the vehicle with a small sample size. The Model S battery survey form is fairly straight forward and serves our common purpose. Tesla has been great, but it’s also good to have interested third parties run a check against what they claim and provide.

What’s the big deal with the Model 3 trunk (boot)?

I was surprised to hear about all the turmoil regarding the PROTOTYPE Model 3 trunk (boot.) One of the first places I heard about this complaint was on Jalopnik’s article This is the Tesla Model 3’s Biggest Design Fail.

In the article, Jalopnik’s Jason Torchinsky showed the following photographs:

Tesla Model 3 Trunk picture 1 - Jalopnik 4/1/2016 article

Tesla Model 3 Trunk picture 2 - Jalopnik 4/1/2016 article
Model3Ownersclub.com‘s owner/administrator TrevP (also on Twitter at @model3owners.)

Posted on the thread – The Trunk the following photo:

Wider Trunk photo from Model3Ownersclub.com

Electrek also talked about the Model 3’s Frunk titled “Opinion: Tesla’s Model 3 AWD ‘frunk’, as shown in prototypes, is just a glorified glovebox”.

Tesla Model 3 Frunk picture - Electrek 4/3/2016 article

As previously mentioned, the Model 3 designs that everyone has been discussing are prototypes. As such, I expect them to be close to what will be released, but don’t expect the cars to be exact. Remember, the Model X prototypes had cameras rather than side mirrors.  Additionally, the Model X prototypes also had the same front nose as the now classic Model S design. (black nosecone).

The prototype for the Model 3 shows a smaller car than the Model S and Model X.

Long-time readers will remember that I preferred the Active E to the Model S.  It was all about the size of the car.  I have since gotten used to the size of the Model S and it doesn’t bother me anymore.  However, I still prefer a smaller format vehicle.  My wife’s Roadster is great, but it’s her car, and it is smaller than I’m comfortable driving regularly (should she even let me borrow it to drive.)  Though I haven’t seen the Model 3 in person, I surmise based on the pictures and information that this Tesla will be closer to the BMW Active E size and definitely outperform my old, beloved BMW Active E.

So, is the trunk and frunk too small for me?  Well…  Let’s see.

I drove the BMW Active E for two years.  It was a great little car, full battery electric and a range between 80-100 miles.  As for the trunk, there was a reason that I used to drive the car to do our Costco Wholesale shopping.

Here is a picture of the BMW Active E Trunk.  The Active E labeled portion of the trunk is the motor for the car.  Beside the motor is a full laptop/briefcase and that was pretty much it for space.  So, when I shop at Costco, I saved money.

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The trunk had a little more space and there are two shelves under the floor.  One fits several tools and the like and below that is space for the emergency Level One EVSE (110V.)

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Here’s the one for the Level 1 EVSE.

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Though the car seems to have minimal space, I proved that back in 2012… Looks can be deceiving.  So, a “small” Model 3 trunk, probably not an issue for me.

Just to remind folks, the Model 3 isn’t the only Tesla with a small trunk.  Check out the Tesla Roadster trunk below, it’s big enough to carry a set of golf clubs… For the driver OR the passenger.

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Folks are disappointed in the Model 3 trunk size because they have the Model S to compare it to.

Here’s a loaner we had during our charging disaster with the Roadster.

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Here is the Model S from Quicksilver Car Service that we used when we picked up our Model S at the factory.

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It had plenty of room for luggage.

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With the classic Model S with a single motor that we have, the frunk has a LOT of room as well.  So much so that we now carry a spare tire in it when we do our roadtrips.

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For a comparison, the Dual Drive Frunk on a Model S 70D loaner that I used in September 2015 is markedly smaller than the frunk on our classic Model S.

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Since we didn’t opt for the Premium Sound package, we get side storage on both sides of the trunk.  I’ve always found it the best place to bring home some flowers for the better half.

The space in the back of the .@TeslaMotors Model S is perfect to make my wife smile with some roses... Just because!

So, yes. I can see both sides of this. Tesla knows how to make a hatchback, but should they make the Model 3 a hatchback? Perhaps they will, perhaps they won’t. At the end of the day, it’s a PROTOTYPE, so Tesla can still change things. Personally, I’m fine with the trunk space. It’s not what attracted me to the car anyway. Besides, if they keep the trunk as is. I would probably save a lot of money at Costco. 😉

Now, if they can make the Model 3 a Coupe… Or better yet, a hardtop convertible… That’s an option I would love.

Was our line the slowest during Model 3 Release Day

It’s been exactly a week since we placed our reservation for a Tesla Model 3 (the wonders of scheduling the publication of a blog post.)  Since we already drive Teslas, the long wait is bearable.  The wait in line to reserve one, however…  Let me share our experience and you can decide for yourself.

Before the stores were even open to take reservations, I tried to give Tesla our money…

There were many who camped overnight, like the ones in Rocklin, CA.

Not too many had to endure what the hardy souls in Montreal had to with the rain and cold.

Still, we left home early for a 10:00 AM launch, but later than many.

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My mom has decided to upgrade her recently replaced Leaf (the original one was totaled by an SUV) by the time the Model 3 is launched and we were not going to have her camp overnight.

We arrived at our first nearest Tesla sales center – Buena Park.  The Buena Park location is one that took over a former auto dealership location and is a consolidated, Sales, Service, and Delivery (and soon a Supercharger.)

The line at this location was long and was out the door and down the street.  As we drove up to it, we estimated it to be closer to 120+ people in line. The parking lot was full and all the street parking near it was taken.  The nearest place to park was quite a ways from the location and I had my mom with us.  So, we proceeded to our backup store – Brea Mall.

We arrived at Brea Mall and found parking and walked throughout the mall, past the Apple Store which was having its iPhone 5SE launch.

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The line at Starbucks was longer than the one for Apple:

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And then there is the Model 3 line:

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(thanks to Mark Z for this next picture)

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Here’s mom with the LONG line that we stood in:

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We walked past the Tesla store and start of the line and got to the end of the line by 9:15 AM. We didn’t know what number we were in line until about 30 minutes later when our friend Mark Z swung by and was counting people in line and notified us that we were 240-242 in line.  

Here’s Mark Z catching me in line at 242… (thanks to Mark Z for this next picture)

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On his loop back on his way to another store,  he had completed his count at 320, many more added to the total as he left.

We spoke with the folks immediately before and after us in line for the Model 3 and found out that everyone around us are new to EVs and currently in ICE cars. We got to know them as we ended up spending many hours with them. The Brea location started the order process on time at 10:00 AM Pacific. During the wait and before the start of the order process my mom asked the guy in the front of the line what time he got there and he said he arrived around 3:00 AM Around 12:15 PM, we were still pretty far from the store and I shot this video:

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Around 1:30 PM we finally have the store and the roped part of the line in sight.

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We still had a ways to go, but at least we can see the store.

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Remember our friend Mark Z? He returned to our location after driving from Brea to the Costa Mesa Delivery and Sales Center (up the block from the Service Center.)

He took this picture of the line around 2:00 PM.

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Apparently, he was 220 in line in Costa Mesa when he arrived at that location at 10:15 AM and was done with his reservation in time to catch us as we continued to stand in line.

Near the front of the line, Tesla provided some FAQs (thanks again to Mark Z):

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Here we are finally in the front of the line:

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And Mark Z taking the picture as we were being called into the store…

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When we got back into the store we were sent to another line. Apparently this store had three employees taking orders for those in line. We sat in the same line as my mom as I was there to assist her if she needed some clarification.

If you squint you can see us on the right side.

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While waiting in the store for our turn, three more Tesla employees showed up with computers and iPads to take orders, they were augmenting this store from the Buena Park location that we had originally skipped in the morning. We were among the first of three in-store folks that “got the benefit” of a 100% increase in order takers. 😉

And so, we’re finally taking mom’s order (picture courtesy of Mark Z again).

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and this next one too.

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We were all set to order one Model 3 each. But when mom was filling hers out, she figured to reserve for two. Not sure what she’ll do with two, but that was good. Perhaps she might just gift a Model 3 for each of my nephews (her grandsons) or perhaps she’ll cycle through three EVs.

Rather than have the employee have to go through my long Tesla email, I asked if I can just go ahead and fill out the web page quickly and he let me go at it. So, I started filling out the form, and the drop down said 1 or 2 Model 3. I looked over to my wife, and she said to go for two. Who am I to argue?

Finally… success:

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From the time we jumped in line at 9:15 AM and from the time that the doors opened at 10:00 AM, we didn’t complete our last reservation until 2:16 PM. That means for the approximately 4.25 hours since the line opened, this store was processing 1 order every 1.06 minute.

The email to confirm our order popped up in our emails (my mom’s and mine) approximately 18 hours and 20 minutes later. And for those of us who are already Tesla owners, it was in our My Tesla account another day later. People have been tracking what Reservation Numbers they’ve been getting to see if there is any pattern (on teslamotors.com forum and for UK ones at SpeakEV.) For the sake of privacy folks have been deleting the last few digits for the RN and I have provided the following information:

Pacific Timezone 3/31/2016 14:16:00 Dennis RN10792
Pacific Timezone 3/31/2016 14:16:00 Dennis RN10884
Pacific Timezone 3/31/2016 14:14:00 Mom RN10892
Pacific Timezone 3/31/2016 14:14:00 Mom RN10892

Folks around the forums are trying to figure out a pattern. I can share that Mom’s two reservations are about 4200 apart from each other.

Having a week between the reservation for two Model 3 and over a year and a half (at least) wait for taking delivery of one or two Model 3s, I’ve justified to myself what a second 3 would be equal to. It’s roughly the same cost as upgrading the Roadster to 3.0. However, unlike the Roadster 3.0 battery, if we’re early enough, we could apply for the Tax Credit for the Model 3.

It was a long wait in line and an even longer wait for the “configure your Model 3 email.” I guess the blog content is going to increase from Model S and Roadster to include Model 3 (unless we happen to pick up a CPO Model X in the meantime.)

So, last week’s EV Week has gotten to be pretty epic.

I wonder if our 4.25 hours since store opening is the longest for someone who was 240-242nd in line.