New limited time clean fuel rebate for Southern California Edison customers

I was made aware of a program offered yesterday for new, existing owners of electric vehicles in Southern California Edison territories.  This is an interesting rebate in that participating vehicles need not be purchased new.  A particular vehicle and household can use the rebate once, but up to two more subsequent owners of that same EV are also eligible.  (If the owner that applied for the rebate re-sells the car, the buyer, can apply for another rebate in the SCE territory for up to two more subsequent owners.)  This applicability for used and currently owned vehicles is fundamentally different than the original California state program which was limited to brand new EVs only.  Furthermore, providing for future resale to other SCE utility customers, shows a commitment to the future for this program.

So, what exactly does this rebate offer.  In a nutshell, $450 a car (as of the writing of this article on May 23, 2017.)  Considering that the program is for SCE customers, it means that your address and utility matters for this. This whole process should take most people less than fifteen minutes to complete, assuming they have ready access to the documents on hand and that their car registration is scanned or photographed for the evidence requested by the Center for Sustainable Energy (who I assume are the same administrators for this program.)

Where to start, well, the SCE “special” website that is gathering all applications for this website is https://www.scecleanfuel.com/.  Understanding that you may have some additional questions, here are the FAQshttps://www.scecleanfuel.com/faqs.

So, what do you need to prepare for filing.

In my case, I had to create a login for scecleanfuel.com (this is different than your regular service account) and is a rather straight forward process that took longer to read all the disclosures than actually click and accept the terms.

Second, I had to find and obtain my service number (which is readily available on the PDF bill (or paper bill)) from SCE.  Without the bill, it’s available on sce.com if you have a registered account on THAT system.

Example:

Find your Service Number Here

Next, you fill out the online form on scecleanfuel.com.

Here are the screens to fill out, in reality, it’s one long one.

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In total after clicking submit, the next page (which I forgot to get a screenshot of) will require you to upload a scan of your registration. Luckily, I typically scan my registration for my records, so this is good.

Once you upload your registration, your application should show the status of the application and you wait.

Here is a screenshot of the page for our application for our two EVs.

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We filed yesterday afternoon (May 22, 2017) and our applications were already in the mid-hundreds. About 22 hours later, my mom (assisted by my sister) filed hers and her application was in the one thousand applications… I’m not sure how many applications will be accepted for this, but I always feel that these are almost always first come, first serve, so get your paperwork ready and apply.

If we sell an EV and there are still funds in the program, subsequent purchasers (up to two more times) of an EV that is placed in service at SCE territory may be eligible for this rebate again. The amounts may change in subsequent years, but it’s a nice little benefit for being a customer of Southern California Edison.

On the confirmation email for this program:

Once we receive a copy of your permanent vehicle registration we will review your application for completeness and accuracy. This process may take up to 30 calendar days. Delays beyond normal processing times may occur. If your application is approved, we typically issue rebate checks within 90 days of application approval date. All status updates are communicated through your email. As we cannot guarantee our emails will not be blocked by your email server, we highly recommend periodically visiting scecleanfuel.com/login to check the status of your application.

So, now, we wait.

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 Weekend Social 2017, a visit to Paramus, NJ

A week ago, January 21, 2017, my wife and I were on a trip to New York and planned to visit my cousin and the new addition to his family in Randolph, NJ for the day.  This is one of my cousins who had kindly housed us both heading to Maine and back from Maine during our Here, There, EVerywhere cross-country trip of 2015.   We were staying in Manhattan the night before and had some time before we were scheduled to see them on January 21st, so it was a welcome surprise when we received an invite to the first Tesla Weekend Social of 2017. We wanted to see what has changed since the first social that we attended last year.

We received the following email on the 14th of January.

TESLA
Weekend Social
Please join us for a Weekend Social New Year celebration at your nearest Tesla location.

Kick off 2017 alongside fellow owners, enthusiasts and Tesla staff. Family and friends are also welcome. Seasonal refreshments will be provided.

To attend an upcoming event near you, please RSVP below. We look forward to celebrating with you

After some challenges obtaining a confirmation (apparently there were some back-end issues that was communicated to us and eventually fixed,) we were able to get a confirmation to be added to the attendee list at the Paramus, NJ Sales, Service, Delivery Center and Supercharger location.  Since our family commitments were not until the afternoon, we decided to head over to Paramus, NJ to attend the first Tesla Social of the year and to spend a few hours with some New Jersey Tesla folks.

To provide ourselves with the most flexibility for this visit, we rented a car from Hertz.  Unfortunately, unlike our experience renting with Hertz’s On-Demand 24×7 product from a few years ago, there are no longer any electric vehicles in Hertz New York locations (nor is the 24×7 product being offered in the USA.)  So, we had to rely on driving an ICE vehicle for this trip, a Ford Focus.

We arrived at the location about 15 minutes before the scheduled 10:00 am program and secured a spot near the front of the store.  Here is a photograph of the area by the entrance of the store that we parked our rental car in.  We were originally parked right beside the HUGE ICE SUV on the right of the photograph.

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Upon exiting our rental, one of the employees requested my keys to move the vehicle to the back of the store. It’s a rental and I had some items in the car that I didn’t feel comfortable to be in a section that I can’t see the car in, so I asked if he needed to move it, that he move it somewhere closer. He decided to move it to the other side of the parking lot, away from the entrance and across the superchargers at the location.

This location was not nearly as convenient as the customer parking spot that I originally used, but I figured there must be a reason why he needed to move my rental.  However, as you can see from the first photograph, this was a strange request as our original parking spot was right beside a large ICE SUV and another ICE vehicle.

We checked in and signed into the paper sign-in sheet that the store had placed at the entrance.  Here is the walkway to the entrance and the sign in is to the left of the photo.

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Directly ahead of the entrance is your typical Tesla Service Center entrance reception desk. (This is not normally situated in a Tesla Store). Remember, Paramus is a combination Sales, Service, Deliver Center and Supercharger location.

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For the event, the store personnel provided coffee, bagels and other breakfast items along the credenza under the apparel, beside the Design Studio wall.

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I walked around the area to get my bearings and took a peek at the Delivery Center part of the store and saw an X and an S awaiting their new owners.  It seems that the New Jersey folks were not one of the stores that cover the vehicles in some sort of drop-cloth as I’ve seen in other Delivery Centers.

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Not being used to weather, we originally walked in with our winter travel coats and realized that there was no place to keep our jackets.  Rather than wear our jackets the whole time, I decided to return them to the car.  I had to look for the employee who took our rental key to get access to the rental car and place our jackets in there. Once I located that employee, who is nameless, not to protect the guilty, but because he never took the time to introduce himself to me. I found the car tucked in between several inventory Model S that they have on the lot, and not by any customer vehicles.

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The rental car was nicely surrounded by Teslas, but I did not ever notice any other customers vehicles being collected in the same manner as our rental car.

It appears that we were particularly targeted for this as when I walked by my original parking spot.  Another monstrous ICE SUV was parked there and not another Tesla or anything related to the event.  I was a little miffed at this considering the fact that all other customers were able to park in the customer section and our little rental car was summarily moved.  Either way, that’s a section of improvement for Tesla Paramus.  Either valet park all cars, or leave them be.

This particular event at Paramus seemed to be more casual than the other Tesla Social events that we have attended in the past. There did not seem to be an agenda and we spent a long time talking to the Tesla employees and fellow owners before we were brought into the lounge for the group discussion portion of the event.

Prior to being brought into the lounge for the group discussion, we spent a lot of time with two members of the staff who were very attentive and we wanted to commend them. Monica and Joey (didn’t catch last names). Monica moved to Paramus, NJ from Pasadena, CA and Joey who just started a few weeks ago.  They were very eager and helpful.  Monica has been with Tesla for a while and we discussed her move to New Jersey from California as well as my wife’s Roadster and Joey, as a new employee, was effectively being trained by us as long-time owners of Tesla.

Don’t get me wrong, I can spend HOURS talking Tesla with people, it’s just strange to invite a group of owners without seeming to have a plan for their time.

We waited until about 10:45 am before the program started.  However, program might be a generous word for this event.  It seems that it was meant to be very free-flow and I suspect that an agenda and some structure could have helped make the event better. The format was very open and thus had a hard time maintaining a flow.  There were many owners there.

 

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Topics ranged all over the place and it was interesting to hear information that was directly contradictory to advice that I have received in Southern California regarding tire rotations and the like from Tesla Service personnel in New Jersey. Perhaps the difference can be attributed to the difference in climate and weather between the states.  In hearing from those involved at the location, it seems that folks around New Jersey have to go through a lot more tires than I do in Southern California.  I didn’t want to be the cause of ire from other owners, so I politely kept this information to myself.

Another subject that was brought up was regarding the $0.40 per minute supercharger idle fee that was recently enacted by Tesla.  It seems that these concerns are quite universal and the discussion around this was interesting.

After the group discussion wrapped up, a few of the New Jersey owners joined us in conversation as they were intrigued by visitors from California attending their session.  It seems that there is currently not an official Tesla Owners club for the New Jersey area and I spent some time explaining how the Orange County, CA club operates versus its other brethren in other parts of the world.  Several of the New Jersey owners seemed interested in forming one for their area and I handed out club cards for them to reach out for more information.

We also discussed Roadster ownership versus Model S as well as our visit to their state from our trip cross-country and how relatively easy and enjoyable that trip had been.

In the end, it was just as advertised, it was a Tesla Social, but one without an agenda.  I felt that an opportunity was missed in that this was the first social after some drastic changes in ownership for those that take delivery of a Tesla after the removal of the included supercharging for the life of the vehicle policy was replaced with the new pay as you go system.  Additionally, it’s been a few days since the release of the Tesla Model S and Model X 100D top range versions of those vehicles and it would have been good to have been provided some sort of presentation on those.  Alas, this was not the plan for the day.

We spent some time with yet another early Model S owner discussing growing pains and we took our leave so that we can head out to visit my cousin and his family.  We said our farewell to the two Tesla staff members, Monica and Joey, who provided such good company and service and left for the day.  These two counterbalanced the unnamed employee who saw it fit to move our Ford Focus rental while leaving all other vehicles unmolested.

A few things about those Tesla Referral Links…

Some of you may be getting tired of all the Tesla Referral codes being published by Tesla Owners for $1000 USD / £750 GBP (or whatever it is in your currency) off the purchase of a new Model S or Model X. (In case you’re not, here’s our referral code – http://ts.la/dennis5317)

Well, it’s because Tesla has a referral program for owners to get their friends and acquaintances into a Tesla Model S or Model X.  The original iteration of the program had provided cash rewards (service credits and the like) for each referral that purchases a Model S or Model X.  That was cool, but felt kinda “funny” and it was actually a disincentive for me to participate when the reward program was for cash.  Here is a link to the current program.

Subsequent programs provided a prize pool for each referral and the one that has been the most successful for me had been the referral program that led us to an invite to the gigafactory party and our main 2016 Roadtrip that took us the Long Way Round to the Gigafactory.

Aside from the party, we got a few other items…

What did we get here?

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Whatever it is, it comes in the nice Tesla bag.

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It’s the Tesla Moab Leather Weekender.

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The bag is supposed to be for a weekend, but it was pretty full for the overnight trip we took to try it out.

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And here it is in the trunk of our Model S.

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So, we took the weekender bag on a trip and caught a nice sunset at the Barstow supercharger.

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A week after the trip, we got something else in the mail from Tesla.

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It was the personalized Tesla Owners jacket.  They even put our last name on the jacket.

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The back has a nice standard logo on it.  So, beware when wearing this jacket at a company event, folks might think that you’re an employee.

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Your author now ready for a Southern California winter…

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Or as others call it… Summer.

Now, this current program that runs until January 15 is actually pretty cool.  After seven referrals, Tesla will provide the referrer with a Signature Red Powerwall 2 that is signed by Elon, JB Straubel, and Franz von Holzhausen.  That’s my goal and need a LOT of help before then.

So, if you’re looking to order a Tesla Model S or Model X before the end of the year, you get $1000 USD or £750 GBP off (or equivalent currency) AND be eligible for free supercharging for the life of your vehicle. Our Referral code – http://ts.la/dennis5317.

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.

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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.

National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Santa Monica, Long Beach, and a wrap-up

I usually attend two or three of the National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day) events a year. I’ve always found them to be fun and key to confirming me as a member of the rEVolution.

This past year’s events in Diamond Bar and Los Angeles were published on this blog pretty much as it happened.  I wanted to cover the other two events that I attended in the same manner, but also wanted to share our Long Way Round Trip with readers two months from when the trip happened (and, intentionally, as a way to celebrate National Drive Electric Week.)  The trip won out and so, here we are with Santa Monica and Long Beach coverage weeks later.

Santa Monica, September 16, 2016

The Santa Monica NDEW2016 event was held on Friday and Saturday (September 16-17, 2016) in conjunction with Alt Car Expo.  I actually went to Santa Monica to attend Alt Car Expo, and was pleasantly surprised by the NDEW2016 event that was being held at the same time.

Drove to Santa Monica in the better half’s Roadster.  We’ve been having some challenges with its charging and I wanted to test the car and see if it faults with the chargers at the parking lot in Santa Monica.  Luckily (and yet frustratingly), for the test, it did not.

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The City of Santa Monica is one of the most EV friendly cities and many of the municipal lots have free charging and the one at the civic center is no exception.  Additionally, these Level 2 chargers were also powered by a solar carport.

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At 30A, charging was going to take a while, but I’m here for the whole day, so I put my contact information on the EV Hangtag, checked into Plugshare and gave a status on when I expect to be done with charging, and went inside to the Alt Car Expo conference.

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The NDEW part of the conference was set up in a cordoned off section of the parking lot.

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The check in table for the Alt Car Expo was apparently where one also signs up for the Ride & Drive portion.  Something which I did not fill up at the time, and turns out, I should’ve.

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The Santa Monica set-up was a mix between EV owners and drivers demonstrating their EVs to the public (no Ride and Drive.)

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The Coda Sedan that was at the site was owned by the same gentleman who owns and operates several Codas and Coda gliders. In talking with the owner, it turns out that he was the same Coda that I spotted at the Los Angeles event as well.

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The Corbin Sparrow that was at Santa Monica is also the same exact one that was in the Los Angeles event.  I guess, I’m not the only EVangelist who enjoys talking EVs with the public.

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At this location, only the car manufacturers were the only ones providing Ride and Drive events at this location. The participating vehicles were more than just BEVs, there were several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well.

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The Honda Clarity,

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the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell,

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and the Toyota Mirai was there too.

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I was surprised to spot a Diesel Volkswagen at the site, it was part of the Zipcar car-sharing program and I suppose that Alt Car considers this to be an acceptable solution.  I’m not too keen on any more diesel vehicles.

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Personally, I think the service from Waivecar.com is a better candidate as it provides car sharing AND an EV (Chevy Spark EVs, to be precise) for no cost for the first two hours is quite an amazing deal.

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There were other exhibitors here as well.

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It looks like the same Chevy Bolt EV that was in Portland for EV Roadmap 9 was in Santa Monica as well.

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The only plug-in that was at the site that I have yet to drive was the Audi A3 E-Tron.  Unfortunately, I did not sign up for the Ride and Drive portion of the event in front, and I wasn’t that thrilled to drive a plug-in hybrid anyway, so I skipped it.  I spent the time at the event talking to and catching up with EV friends and decided to pass on the evening reception for the conference.

Leaving Santa Monica during rush hour is often an exercise in futility.  I decided to take some surface streets South through Venice.  Had an interesting sighting on my drive.  I spotted some manufacturer cars being driven around.   Unfortunately they were not EVs, but still a thrill to spot these camouflaged vehicles on the road.  I’m guessing its a new BMW 7 series, but could be a 5 series, I suppose.

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Hard to see, but click and zoom in on the rearview mirror. Can’t mistake the “kidney beans” on the front grill.

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I know that BMW is working on further electrification, but it would have been cool to spot a new EV on the road.

Long Beach, September 17, 2016

The following day, Saturday, September 17, I attended the NDEW gathering in Long Beach, CA.  This event was the closest to the traditional NDEW events that I have attended in the past. This one had less manufacturer involvement in it and more public-facing event. It was more traditional in that we were welcomed by some politicians and spent the time just “hanging out” and talking to folks.

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There were a lot of Teslas at this event because the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County had identified this particular NDEW for its annual NDEW event.

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All manners of Teslas were represented.

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The red roadster was for sale and is VIN #5.

Of course the Falcon Wing Doors have to go up with the Model X in the crowd.

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It is the latest Tesla around.

and we had three Roadsters at this event.

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There was representation from members of the EV community as well.

From other vehicles like the Zero Motorcycle and Smart ED.

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To several Leafs and a Porsche 912 conversion that gets around 150 miles.

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There was a Fiat 500e and a Coda (same owner as was in Santa Monica the previous day and Los Angeles the previous week.)

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Even the Honda Fit EV made an appearance.  Three times, to be exact.

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I don’t believe many of the Tesla owners allowed the public to take a drive in their vehicle.  The owner for the Red Roadster #5 did take a few interested parties out in that car, then again she was also taking the opportunity to see if anyone wanted to buy her car.

The other manufacturer’s car was different.  I saw a few take rides in the converted Porsche and I believe one of the Leafs took a drive around.

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Conclusion

Around Southern California, National Drive Electric Week is celebrated in many places and some get a lot of car manufacturer support, whereas others are sparsely attended by the manufacturers. It’s great to see all the participation in these events and I hope that more and more and convinced to go electric as a result of attending these EVents.  As for letting folks drive our EVs, I was a lot more forgiving when I drove the Active E for this event, but when we moved to the Tesla, not so much.  Besides, in California, Tesla does a great job providing folks with a nice long drive at their retail locations. Some of the events seem well attended, whereas others are more sparse. The one in Diamond Bar was much better this year, but the Los Angeles one seemed to have less people. Either way, I hope that we’ve convinced more people to go electric.

I often look forward to September because of this week and am looking forward to when it becomes every day that we celebrate Drive Electric Days.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!