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.

IMG_20170121_094155

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.

IMG_20170121_094202

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.

IMG_20170121_094152

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

IMG_20170121_094159

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.

IMG_20170121_094404
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.

IMG_20170121_094613

IMG_20170121_094611

IMG_20170121_094603

IMG_20170121_094606

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.

 

IMG_20170121_104735

IMG_20170121_104934

IMG_20170121_104738

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.

My experiences at the Faraday Future FF91 Unveil

A few weeks ago, I got an invite from Faraday Future to join them for the unveiling of the FF91.  The event was going to be at Las Vegas on January 3rd and I excitedly accepted the invitation.

Though much of the content that I have written on this site are Tesla or BMW focused (historically), I have always been a fan of electric vehicle technology and felt that anything to progress the cause further is well worth supporting.

Because, we’re based in Southern California, and Las Vegas is only a few hundred miles away, we took the opportunity to drive to the event. As with other events, we were presented with the choice between self and valet parking. Having waited for extended periods for the valet at Tesla events, I figured to take the self parking option.

I guess there was going to be some media at the event.

IMG_20170103_171553

IMG_3715

And our car had a nice background to it in the self parking lot that Faraday Future provided for us.

IMG_20170103_171600

The thing with the self parking option, is it was on the BACK SIDE of the pavilion that Faraday was using for its reveal.

IMG_20170103_171925

And we had to walk down between two pavilions in the dark to get to the entrance.

While walking toward the entrance, we spotted what looked like the FF car before the reveal, I tried to sneak a picture of it, alas my flash went off and ruined the shot.

IMG_20170103_172008

The next set of doors that we were able to peak into had some of the AV folks, but no car.

IMG_20170103_172306

After a very long walk in the cold, Las Vegas evening, we were rewarded with the entrance to the tent.

IMG_20170103_172626

IMG_20170103_172649

IMG_20170103_172707

The self parking lot was a little bit of a walk from the front and as a result, it took us at least 15 minutes to get to the party.

IMG_20170103_172811

It was the first time to see the skateboard for the Variable Platform Architecture (VPA) that Faraday told us about last year.

IMG_20170103_173023

Though, I must admit, it does not look very VARIABLE in the configuration at the party.

IMG_20170103_173028

The skateboard looks like a solid piece that isn’t really going to be the modular design pitched last year. Furthermore, this skateboard looks handbuilt.

IMG_20170103_173031

IMG_3720

IMG_3719

It was nice to see the adequate seating provided at the event and the holding reception area was well attended.

IMG_20170103_173159

IMG_20170103_173613

We queued up for the entrance to ensure that we got good seats. And Faraday’s first invites were for the members of the broadcast and video media to get themselves set up to get their feeds in.

IMG_20170103_174118

When the doors opened, depending on the color of the wristband issued to guests, seating areas were provided.

IMG_20170103_175152

We got silver seating, so we ended up in Section 3.

IMG_20170103_175248

However, the three roped off sections in front of us were made available to us to move to just before the start of the event, so we were able to occupy the second row from the front of this section.

The first of many speakers started.

IMG_20170103_181347

I have one hand taking pictures and the other on Twitter… And Chelsea decides to scoop FF with this tweet at the beginning of the presentation.

I found out later that evening that she apparently saw the car getting staged around the corner from the entrance of the event, just where she was dropped off by her ride, and decided to take a quick snap.

IMG_20170103_182246

The drama and staging was long and grandiose. And I hope that next time they show the car MUCH sooner.

Four speakers long, and I think my favorite demonstration was the self-parking one.

IMG_20170103_182814

But that’s because I’m all about range and not necessarily speed.

IMG_20170103_182845

I don’t really enjoy the whole “new species” thing when talking about cars. Perhaps it’s watching the Terminator too much and being exposed to the whole Skynet thing.

IMG_20170103_183235

Driverless valet’s other great invention, saving valet parking charges and tips.

IMG_20170103_183235

This demonstration was the first official view of the car.

IMG_20170103_183442

IMG_20170103_183541

Here’s a video of the car using Driverless Valet:

I liked the fact that in this demonstration the car backed into the spot. Because, if you look at how I parked in the beginning of this article, I tend to do the same thing.

However, I snicker at the snark from EW Niedermeyer on twitter.

The next part of the presentation was cool in that we finally get to see the car up front. However, the view was too short for any value to be derived from these timed drag races in front of an audience.

IMG_20170103_183748

I do love the range though.

IMG_20170103_184258

I forgot to take a picture of the first car, but here’s the Ferrari.

IMG_20170103_184847

The Model X.

IMG_20170103_185000

and finally the FF91.

IMG_3733

IMG_3737

IMG_20170103_185155

IMG_20170103_185422

Rather than provide stills…

IMG_20170103_185638

I did shoot a couple of videos…

The first is the initial launch.

The second is the return from that launch

and the third is the launch by the FF/Dragon Racing Formula E Driver

And then they talked design.

IMG_20170103_185810

IMG_20170103_190825

And they pulled their special guest, YT Jia, what happened next was covered in the news, and all I can say is that it was painful to watch while in the audience and even more painful to hear the excuses.

IMG_20170103_191130

Faraday’s primary investor, YT Jia, spoke to the crowd and was undeterred by the failure of the car to perform its self parking task. And kudos for him to continue his speech after that uncomfortable episode.

Eventually, the car did drive itself to the middle of the stage and the media were provided close up access to the car. Not an invitation to sit in it or anything, but definitely a chance to see it closer.

I didn’t have a media pass. However, I do have friends in the media, and one of them lent me his pass so that I could take closer shots of the vehicle.

Here’s a picture of the throng of media covering the event and had access to see the vehicle up close.

IMG_20170103_193148

IMG_3790

On the way to the car, spotted some of the principal Faraday Future speakers being interviewed.

IMG_20170103_193422

Finally, close up pictures of the FF91.

IMG_20170103_193537

IMG_20170103_193617

IMG_20170103_193657

IMG_20170103_193702

IMG_20170103_193707

IMG_20170103_193727

IMG_20170103_193745

While I was checking out the car, I noticed a familiar sight. Alex Roy, Canonball Driver extraordinaire and editor for The Drive.

IMG_20170103_194529

It was around this location of the car that we heard some strange pumping noises. Alex Roy went live on Periscope or FB to try to gather some conversation on what this noise could be. Some of the more skeptical journalists around me thought that it sounded like a diesel. Being married to a Tesla Roadster owner, and as an EV advocate, I proposed that it sounded more like a battery cooling system. It was loud enough to hear in person, but difficult to record, so I gave up trying to record the sound. There was a lot of ambient noise and I decided it wasn’t worth trying to record that.

IMG_3808

I think the noise from the vehicle must have been coming from one of these vents.

IMG_3815

We left the vehicle and proceeded to go to the reception area to see if we can catch up with a few EV friends.

On the way to the reception area, we caught up with a contact at FF and I was able to get a ballpark for prices for the FF91. I was told that $150k to start with lower pricing to be close to $90k after the initial $150k price points. It’s a number that looks realistic with volume, so I hope that they use that VPA platform to build something smaller and less expensive.

    So, what about the car?

I’m intrigued with the interior and infotainment system that they are touting. It would have been good to let us sit in and experience that, if it was truly available. Perhaps at the next reveal.

I like the really long range, but as I’ve often discussed with others, I sometimes have to make stops before I need to charge for “bio” reasons.
During the presentation they bragged about the 200 KW charging system that sounds like a PROPRIETARY charging system. Considering that CCS is already discussing 350 kW and Elon’s latest tweets take aim at beating that 350 kW charging, by the time FF91 is released, 200 kW would have been surpassed. Additionally, who has a charging network built to handle that speed? Perhaps the recent announcement of 400 kW charging stations from Chargepoint would partner with Faraday Future and handle the charging for this. However, that network will need to be built and available after delivery. As it is currently, networks are either the proprietary Tesla Supercharger or some electric corridors that are using CHAdeMO and CCS at a maximum of 50 kW if not 25 kW in some parts.

I really think that FF should have demonstrated the VPA with multiple vehicles rather than just one. If you’re going to tout your ability to have multiple sizes quickly, execute on that.

As for the FF91 itself, the car they showed had four seats. It’s a HUGE car and I would expect there to be at least five, if not seven seats. I thought that the car was going to be a crossover, and thus a competitor to the Model X, not another Model S competitor. At the prices that they are charging for the vehicle, I’d like to see more. The Model X is out, but it’s the only one of its class. By going after the Model S, others have already targeted that vehicle. I think that it was a missed opportunity from FF. By configuring the vehicle with only four seats, it seems that the target market for FF isn’t the United States, but China. It looks like the sort of car that one is chauffeured around in, and not one that an owner drives his or herself in.

I had hoped that there would have been an opportunity to ride in several of the vehicles that were shown at the reveal. Tesla does that at their vehicle reveals, whether the Model 3, the dual motor reveal, and so forth. And I had half-expected FF to do that. Apparently, others got to get a ride in the vehicle several days later.

Either way, it was a good trip. I’m always glad to see future EV choices. The aesthetics were to “space age” for us and we’re probably going to wait for their next vehicle to see if we can be tempted.

Traveling without your EV? Here’s how we do it, most recent stop, Perth, Australia

We love to travel.

Even before our many roadtrips in the Model S, we used to fly all over the place. However, the past few years, we’ve done more driving than flying.

When we went on airplane trips, we always made note of EVs and EV infrastructure wherever we went.

From visiting the BMWi Park Lane store in London when the BMWi brand was still in the concept stage.

IMG_4539

IMG_4559

IMG_4540

IMG_4551

To spotting Nissan Leaf at Hong Kong airport.

IMG_20140502_070120

IMG_20140910_134625

IMG_20140910_134632

To EV charging stations throughout Malta.

IMG_0419

IMG_0428

IMG_0449

One of the things that I tried to do during the past few years was to catch up and have dinner or lunch or whatever with someone that I’ve gotten to know in the International EV community. First it was one-on-one meetups with specific people when I visit a country.  And then, last year I figured that it would be more fun to get together with groups of fellow rEVolutionaries on my International trips.

Last year, while visiting England for Rugby World cup 2015, I figured to send a message out to meet up with the EV community in the UK.  I’m pretty active on the Speak EV forum, even volunteering as a moderator.

Speak EV is a great forum for EV enthusiasts because it is not focused on a specific brand of Electric Vehicle.  Many of the really popular ones are.  But Speak EV is different and that’s what I like about it.  The owner/operator for Speak EV is British and many members are from the UK, the presence outside of the UK is mainly Europeans, though there are quite a few of us from this side of the Pond. I started a thread last year to invite folks for this get together that I called the TransAtlantic EV Social and Drinks.

Here’s a panorama that was taken by Tim Ostler at the event.

TransAtlantic EV Meetup - 2015-October-29

From left to right:   @Sussex Trug , @MikeProcter and Hilary Procter, @Dennis and Carolyn Pascual, @dpeilow , @RickMGoldie

And then one which we asked someone to take our picture (to include Tim)

IMG_0118

It was funny because it was an EV Meetup without the EVs. We all had a great time and I truly enjoy comparing EV experiences with folks in different countries.

So, last month, we decided to take a trip to Perth, Australia. A distance of 9,528 miles from Los Angeles via Sydney, Australia. Now, I started off by reaching out to a few guys on Twitter who happen to be involved with the AEVA West Coast branch (Australian Electric Vehicle Association) I also figured to reach out to the Tesla Owners Club of Australia and via a post on Teslamotorsclub.com. We haven’t been to Perth since 2005 and it was a chance to spend time and visit my godsiblings and the new baby that joined their family.

So, on Thursday, October 20, 2016, we had a meetup at the Odyssea Restaurant at City Beach.

IMG_3470

From left to right:   Antony Day, Christopher Cook, Matt (@MDK on TMC) [partially blocked], Chris Jones, Joseph Law, My better half, Me, and my godbrother Aaron.

Here’s a better picture from Twitter… (Matt’s not blocked on this one.)

My godbrother chose the restaurant for the food and service, but also for the large parking lot so that we can take these sort of shots.

IMG_3472

IMG_3473

IMG_3474

IMG_3477

Not an EV, but a cool vanity plate.

IMG_20161020_135947

Matt with his cool “plate”

IMG_20161020_140643

He was the first EV to cross the Null Arbor part of Australia. Basically, the Outback for thousands of kilometers on his Perth to Brisbane and back trip from earlier in the year. For those of us in the US, that’s like crossing the Us from San Diego to Baltimore and back. Where the only supercharging available would be the original one in California. Luckily, Australia has a lot of three phase power and Matt has an older Model S that can still make use of the 22kW available on dual charging.

Besides, it’s always fun when we visit different places and spot interesting road crossing signs.  Our first trip to Australia in 2003, we had my godparents drive us all over WA to look for a Kangaroo crossing sign and tried to capture a Kookaburra sitting on a gum tree.  We’ve been to visit Oz many times since, so I didn’t go out of my way to spot any of these things…  However, whilst out and about the city, we did spot some interesting signs.

IMG_20161024_110702

IMG_3564

Spotted the ultra aggressive Black Swans that the river in Perth was named after.

IMG_3516

Funny enough, our first trip here over a dozen years ago, we were chased by a Black Swan, so my better half took this shot using the zoom lens on her camera.

Also get to see a magpie… And now I understand why the Collingwood Magpies have them as a mascot. This particular bird was also unperturbed by our presence at the park when we were hanging out and enjoying time with our godsister’s new baby.

IMG_3487

On the Friday of our visit there, we went to catch a basketball game at the Perth Arena.

IMG_3513

IMG_3512

IMG_20161021_174533

We parked in the parking garage across from the arena.  I was impressed that the parking garage had several charging outlets as well as a dedicated EV charging bay.

IMG_20161021_155221

IMG_20161021_155216

IMG_20161021_155209

The one EV charging bay was respected by the ICE drivers and the first-come-first-serve spots that had plugs still had a spot available for another plug-in vehicle to use.

IMG_20161021_155204

Since these are first-come-first-serve and not dedicated to EV charging, it was perfectly fine for ICE cars to be using these spots.

IMG_20161021_155142

IMG_20161021_155141

And many ICE vehicles did take these spots, but at least respected the dedicated EV spot.

IMG_20161021_155225

This means that as EVs proliferate in their city, they can start claiming those outlets for EVs easily.

The basketball game itself was quite fun and the Perth Wildcats won that game.

IMG_0516

It was impressive to see the winning record and staying power of the Perth basketball team in its league.

IMG_3526

It was also quite entertaining seeing the different things that fans do at these games vs. the NBA.

IMG_3529

Those crazy huge head signs would not be allowed in the NBA by the competition committee.

Unfortunately, the Super Rugby and AFL were out of season, but I did get a chance to see their various organizations represented.

IMG-20161020-WA001

The Perth Spirit, which is the division below the Western Force Super Rugby team actually had its players getting ready for their trip to the Grand Finals (which they won as an away game over the weekend of our trip to Perth.)  Perhaps we brought them luck.

IMG_20161020_114254

We also passed by Domain Stadium (which I remember as the Subiaco Oval) (where both the West Coast Eagles and Freemantle Dockers have been playing for years, but apparently both abandoning soon.)

IMG_20161024_105522

IMG_20161024_105516

IMG_20161024_105513

Later that weekend, we took time to speak with some of the same AEVA crew as they did their EV advocacy at the Perth Spring Eco-Fest in Perth’s Central Business District (CBD), or “downtown” as we would call it in LA.

It wasn’t all EVs, got to see a really tiny Joey.

IMG_20161023_112950

IMG_20161023_112955

Which made me a little guilty that I had the kangaroo at lunch the other day with the AEVA.

IMG_20161023_113026

IMG_20161023_113035

I finally got to sit behind the wheel of a RWD Model S…

IMG_20161023_115724

And one that has the same color as our Model S at that.

IMG-20161023-WA006

Got to see all the different charging plugs that the guys in Australia use for their Model S. Especially in Perth, where there is no supercharging network.

IMG_20161023_115528

IMG_20161023_115511

The charging port is on the same side of the car as the US Model S, which means the driver has to walk around to get to it.

IMG_20161023_115406

IMG_20161023_115413

IMG_20161023_115400

EV conversions still have a big presence in the Australian EV scene as is evidenced by this Mazda Miata.

IMG_20161023_113219

IMG_20161023_113201

We took a photo with the fellow rEVolutionaries at the Spring Eco-Fest.

IMG_20161023_115900

From Left to Right: Mitch Bisby, Bruce Armstrong, Robin (or is it Robyn) Dean (Mrs. Blue Heaven on TMC), Me, Better Half, Matt (MDK on TMC), Rob Dean (Mr. Blue Heaven on TMC), and Joseph Law.  Unfortunately we didn’t get to be properly introduced or speak with Mitch and Bruce, but had a great time chatting with the others.

It’s interesting to note that many of these rEVolutionaries in Australia had decided to switch to EVs without any of the incentives available to those of us in other parts of the world. Their cost per kWh is also very expensive and they have a government that does not seem to be too friendly for the EV movement. The reason that Tesla has focused its Tesla Energy sales to Australia and Germany has to do with their ability to compete against the utilities in Australia. Solar and battery storage is “on par” with the cost of energy from the grid.

That being said, hats off to these rEVolutionaries in Australia that have decided to take the plunge without the help that many of us get from our government.

On our last day at Perth we went to King’s Park to take a great picture of the city from its vantage point.

IMG_0517.JPG

IMG_0518.JPG

And on our last night, we enjoyed a night market before we headed off to fly back home.

IMG_20161024_190855

IMG_20161024_190218

IMG_20161024_192737

IMG_20161024_194346

IMG_20161024_185338

All sorts of cuisine and even American food.

IMG_20161024_193851

We enjoyed our visit and meeting with the local rEVolutionaries and discuss their challenges and triumphs as well as bring some of Australia’s, especially Western Australia (the “other WA State”) best home with us is another highlight.

IMG_20161022_194444

So, the next time you travel without your EV, you can always see if you can make it a visit with other rEVolutionaries. There are plenty of friendly EV folks out there.

The Long Way Round – Summary and Lessons

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

Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 13 of this trip.

Looking for the start of the trip, click here to read Day 1 of this trip.

The Long Way Round – Summary and Lessons.

Many readers know that we took the long way round because we got four referrals on the Fourth Tesla Referral Program (May 30, 2016 to July 15, 2016) and we expected to get an invite to the Gigafactory Party.  Rather than just go from Southern California to Reno, we wanted to combine that trip with a trip to the the Pacific Northwest (about a 1600 mile detour) and attend the EV Roadmap 9 Conference in Portland, visit family who was attending camp in Seattle, WA and visit family living in Vancouver, BC before turning back for the party.

So how did this trip look on the map?

Recap_Road Trip Full Map LB to LB (Pacific NW)

It looks like we went pretty far to go someplace a lot closer. That’s the “fun” of driving a Tesla powered EV. The Tesla Supercharger network enables travelers to go, wherever they want to go.

So, how did we do?  Well, as is the goal for any long road trip.  We arrived home still happily married.  So, that’s always Goal #1.

After 13 Days on the road, we’ve made it to all our intermediate goals on this trip.

1) We made it to Portland and attended EV Roadmap 9 Conference.

Even got to ride the BYD e6 and write a quick review of it.

IMG_20160720_142326

2) We made it to Seattle and had spent a day with our niece as she spent time away from home in a camp.

IMG_2129

3) We visited our relatives in Vancouver and got to hang out with them.

Had great dinner at Ask for Luigi.

IMG_20160724_202119

And got to visit Electra Meccanica…

IMG_20160725_110629

And pondered why they didn’t just make an EV version of this little car.

IMG_20160725_112346

4) Met with friends that we made on the Internet who are EVangelists in real life some for the first time, and others as a catch up.

In Washington State…

IMG_2372

In Oregon…

IMG_2437

In Reno at TMC Connect 2016

IMG_20160728_194416

And in Reno at the Gigafactory

IMG_20160729_184040

5) And we attended the Tesla Gigafactory Grand Opening Party.

IMG_2694

IMG_2737

IMG_20160729_193552

IMG_2783

Throughout the journey, we ended up with two other mini-obsessions…

1) Look for that darn PASTA Truck…

After all we saw the Garlic Truck…

IMG_20160718_141702

and the Tomato Truck

IMG_20160718_161447

We felt incomplete and left “hanging” looking around for the pasta truck to complete the set.

AND

2) We looked at the “logging industry” life-cycle…

Starting with those darn bald spots in the mountains…

IMG_2447

Then followed the raw logs

IMG_2042

cut and shaped wood

IMG_2361

IMG_2444

and finished products.

IMG_2459

IMG_2472

So, what are some key takeaways with this journey?

1) It’s good to get food recommendations from a Chef.  The restaurants that we experienced from the recommendations were superb.

IMG_20160721_204758

IMG_2049

1A) It’s also good to listen to locals for their recommendations for such things.  We enjoyed the Dutch Bros. coffee and didn’t know about them before we were introduced (especially the Iced Caramelizer.)

IMG_20160719_144732

Untitled

1B) This one is not always reliable, but give it a try anyway, our sushi in Vancouver area this trip was good, but not spectacular.  Considering the spectacular Dim Sum we had at brunch, we’d forgive this.

IMG_20160725_210055

IMG_20160725_133928

2) Budget lots of time when crossing International Borders.  Try not to schedule anything too tight from when you assume to cross the border. Or at least take the commercial crossing instead.

IMG_20160724_132009

IMG_2251

3) Continue to be fearless with taking off highway routes, you never know what you’ll see and experience

IMG_2390

Considering that the travel is its own reward.

4) Continue to have backup charging identified.  Even when picking hotels that are destination chargers, sometimes it won’t work as expected.  When you have a backup, it’s no big deal to go to the alternate.

Untitled

5) Read up on notes that others have made on the various charging apps, i.e. Plugshare or Teslarati or others.

6) There might be a benefit to reserving your hotel ahead of time (i.e. Our Day 13 plans was extended by our “winging it.”

For example this map on Day 13 should have been a lot shorter…

2016_Day13_Reno to LB

We ended up home at least a day, if not two days sooner than we had hoped.

That being said, what was our final statistics. 3,388 miles driven and 1021.3 kWh consumed and a direct energy cost of $16.82 from one overnight charging session in Bellevue, WA.

Looking at our statistics, the trip average is around 301 Wh per mile (or approximately 3.32 miles per kWh).  That’s below my normal driving of 308 Wh per mile since we bought the car.  The Model S is definitely an EV energy hog compared to some of the other EVs (i3, for example.)

Additionally, the $16.82 that we spent on energy for the trip means that our direct cost was $0.005 per mile directly spent on fueling our car for this trip.  It was cheaper for us to fuel our car on the road than it’s been on the computed $0.008 per mile that we fuel at home on our Solar power.

Thanks for joining us on 2016’s Tesla Roadtrip, The Long Way Round…

…I wonder where next year’s “big” trip will take us. (Perhaps we’ll spot the pasta truck that’s been missing since Day 1!)

Why not subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter to find out…

As for what’s coming up on the blog…

…I still have two National Drive Electric Week stops that I attended in the past month…

…Just got to ride the Bolt EV this weekend, I might have my impressions on that car sometime soon…

…Spoiler Alert… …It’s not a Tesla.

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

The Long Way Round – Day 13

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

Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 12 of this trip.  You’re just joining us on this trip?  Click here for Day 1 and start from the beginning!

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

So, what do we have in store today?  We had no real plans, hang out in Reno to help open the Reno Supercharger with TMC and then head South, our initial plan was to head to Napa Valley area and check out the new Napa Supercharger and possibly do some wine tasting.

Day 13 – Reno, NV – Southbound.  July 30, 2016

We headed to Atlantis Resort to have our final goodbyes at the TMC Connect breakfast. It was an opportunity to say hi and goodbye to friends and join them celebrate the Grand Opening of the Reno Supercharger.

As we headed out of breakfast from TMC Connect, we passed by one of the most NON EV vehicles made and I couldn’t help but take a photo.

IMG_20160730_105035

The Hummer must be the nadir of all personal vehicle production and it is always important to note where we came from to see where we can improve to.

Many of those Teslas that were parked here for the weekend were still around this Saturday.

IMG_20160730_105134

And there were also some new Teslas to join the party.

IMG_20160730_110723

IMG_20160730_111556

IMG_20160730_111408

Some came to Reno from even farther locations than we did…

IMG_20160730_110518

Some Non-Tesla EVs were there to join in the party.

IMG_20160730_113337

And there was a small festival atmosphere.

IMG_20160730_105821

IMG_20160730_105824

All stalls were full and there was a wait in line.

IMG_20160730_105827

IMG_20160730_110018

The Supercharger grand opening in Reno had no official Tesla presence. The closest thing to an official presence is the user community from Tesla Motors Club.

IMG_20160730_110808

IMG_2813

IMG_20160730_111103

IMG_2814

IMG_2815

Nevertheless, it was well attended.

IMG_20160730_110842

One thing to note is how the supercharger in Reno is constructed.

The equipment supporting the superchargers are in a locked shed.

IMG_20160730_113725

This would be a great if the shed was air conditioned. I did not notice any such air conditioning or ventilation in the shed, so I wonder how this would affect the reliability of this site.

IMG_20160730_114234

IMG_20160730_114240

After the Reno Supercharger Grand Opening, we decided to head South and our plan was to see if we can head to Napa for the weekend. We had no hotel reserved at this time, and went on our way.

Before we left Reno, we saw a new icon on a supercharger on the route and decided to check it out.  It was a warning sign to expect reduced service at Tejon Ranch.  The 395 Route through the mountains also had a supercharger with the same warning sign.  Since we were planning to head to Napa, we’re more interested in the US-101 or I-5 route.

IMG_20160730_114502

IMG_20160730_114557

And we head back to California… After all, Napa is the plan of the moment.

IMG_2823

We opted to stop off at the Original Truckee Supercharger for a quick charge and coffee.

Truckee Supercharger (Donner Summit)

Needless to say, it was quite full this afternoon.

IMG_20160730_131440

IMG_20160730_132138

IMG_20160730_132141

We took the last stall.  And quickly marvelled at how clean the car looks from a few days ago.

IMG_20160730_132234

There were still several more in line when we started our charge.

IMG_20160730_132238

I was craving coffee… So, we went to the first Starbucks that we spotted… There was one inside the grocery…

Well, if you don’t care about earning your stars from the Starbucks reward program, or paying more for the coffee, this would be ok… However, there was an actual Starbucks location on the other side of the grocery location.

IMG_20160730_133342

IMG_20160730_133511

IMG_20160730_133542

We get back to our car to see that there is still a line. Welcome to California, we have supercharger congestion.

IMG_20160730_134201

We didn’t really have a destination, but the GPS thinks that we do, and it says to slow down to get there with enough charge.

IMG_2834

Roseville Supercharger

Our third stop today is at the Roseville Supercharger.

IMG_2843

IMG_2841

IMG_2840

IMG_20160730_150055

IMG_20160730_150100

We were a little patriotic with our charge at the Roseville Supercharger.  Heck I think FRANCE would be happy with how those Model S look! (oops, quick Google search and France goes Blue, White, and Red…)

IMG_20160730_151014

The stalls were pretty full here too, but it’s at a shopping mall, so that’s sort of expected on a Saturday.

IMG_20160730_151008

IMG_20160730_151002

It was hot around us, so we made sure to keep the air conditioning cranked up.

IMG_20160730_154239

While charging at Roseville, we tried to see if we can find a place to stay in Napa for the night.  It looks like many of the hotels we would consider were either sold out or very expensive.  (READ: $100 hotel rooms for $450 a night).  Furthermore, the very helpful agent (we decided to call as well) found us a room…  an hour North of where we are now…  We’re not back-tracking…

So, we thought to head South and try our luck with other destinations…  Perhaps San Francisco, or Santa Cruz…

As we headed South, we see another BMWi i3 chasing us…  It seems that we’ve been spotting a lot of these on our West Coast trip.

IMG_2847

We decided to continue the drive and encountered some “excitement on the drive.”  There was a small brush fire started on the other side of the freeway.

IMG_2849

We drove through the smoke and slowed down.

IMG_2850

That looks like the start of a brush fire on a very hot day.

IMG_2851

We decided to head toward the Vacaville Supercharger as we’ve never been there.  So, we took some back roads to get there.

IMG_2856

IMG_2859

Back road routes in California definitely feel a little “dryer” and “dustier” than the ones in Washington State.

IMG_2861

IMG_2862

Vacaville Supercharger

But the handy, dandy GPS in the car directed us well and we find ourselves at the Vacaville Supercharger.

IMG_2863

Untitled

Untitled

This supercharger is also located at a shopping center.  This time at some outlet stores.  Still a pretty full lot, and we were still looking for places to stay.  So far, we’re headed INLAND and away from “fun communities to visit.”  This is one of the drawbacks to “winging it” on a Summer Weekend in California.  Based on what we were seeing at this point of our drive, we consider heading home.

IMG_20160730_181542

IMG_20160730_183452

We were sort of “out of position” to head to Harris Ranch safely that we decided to traverse over to Manteca Supercharger first, and then resume our “usual” Interstate 5 route…

…perhaps we’ll finally catch a Pasta truck on this drive.

IMG_2865

Leaving Vacaville, we can see why the town was named as such when a ton of cows appear on the side of the road.  Though, I suppose from the cow’s perspective, we appeared ON the road.

IMG_2868

The city is full of cows.

IMG_20160730_185116

We’re definitely taking the “back roads” to get to Manteca.

IMG_20160730_185150

IMG_20160730_185304

IMG_20160730_185324

Looks like some sheep or goat join us on this road…

IMG_20160730_185344

Even more cows…

IMG_2873

And what do we spot in the distance?  Are those windmills?

IMG_2874

Yes, they’re windmills, say the cows…

IMG_20160730_190223

The windmills keep getting my attention.

IMG_2881

It’s a good thing that my better half took over this portion of the drive.  I was getting tired and was supposed to take a quick nap between Vacaville and Manteca…  HOWEVER, she said to do so once I get her on the freeway…  umm…  This is a BACKROAD drive, and has been for a while.  I’m not getting that nap on this leg.

IMG_20160730_190422

Here’s one I call windmills and cows…

IMG_2891

And a close-up of both.

IMG_2897

IMG_2907

IMG_20160730_190900

And we leave windmill country and get closer to Manteca.

IMG_20160730_191520

IMG_20160730_191526

IMG_20160730_191545

IMG_20160730_191548

We cross some vineyards…

IMG_2909

IMG_20160730_192236

IMG_20160730_192252

IMG_20160730_192547

IMG_20160730_192810

I really am not getting a nap on this part of the drive. I think we found the parts of California with no freeways.

IMG_20160730_193209

At least it’s not a one lane road.

IMG_20160730_193332

Oh, thank goodness… A freeway sign!

IMG_20160730_193335

Back on the freeway.

IMG_20160730_194402

There’s a port in Stockton… I thought Stockton was inland.

IMG_20160730_194440

A nice, wide freeway…

IMG_20160730_194652

…but the GPS takes us off it again as we near Manteca.

IMG_20160730_195034

IMG_20160730_195107

IMG_20160730_200054

Manteca Supercharger

And back at the Manteca Supercharger. The better half still doesn’t know about my apprehension for this location because of the July 3rd entry on Teslarati, it’s one of a few comments, so could just be a one-time thing.

IMG_20160730_200912

IMG_20160730_200921

Yup, we’re committed to head home now… Better half decided to keep driving to Harris Ranch, and we’re NOW on a freeway, so I can actually take a nap while she drives.

Pretty uneventful drive to Harris Ranch with the exception of the GPS doing some “weird routing”.

Untitled

We decided to just stay on the “usual route” we check our device maps to see if anything pops up that would force us to take the weird route, and just plodded through with no incident.

Untitled

Harris Ranch Supercharger

We’re back at Harris Ranch Supercharger.

IMG_20160730_223542

IMG_20160730_223549

It was pretty lonely here on a Saturday night…

IMG_20160730_231140

Everyone else must have booked their rooms ahead of time.

IMG_20160730_231622

We switch drivers and head to Buttonwillow. Late night driving on Interstate 5 is pretty boring and I’m sure one of those times that one wishes an Auto Pilot version of the Model S. Perhaps when we get our Model 3 our drives will be in that instead.

Buttonwillow Supercharger

IMG_20160731_002447

IMG_20160731_002451

We’re alone at Buttonwillow at nearly 1:00 AM on Sunday morning.

Untitled

This is our last supercharge before we get home.

Untitled

After being on the road for almost two weeks, It’s always good to get home.

IMG_2920

IMG_2927

And that’s why we charge up in Buttonwillow. We get home with 67 miles left “on the tank.”

IMG_20160731_032241

IMG_20160731_032247

There’s a software update available that downloaded while we were driving.

IMG_20160731_032250

Set the update to complete later in the morning…

IMG_20160731_032306

Go to sleep around 3:30 am and wake up to a fully charged car.

Untitled

Oh, with new software too…

Untitled

So how was the trip? Give me a few days to rest and digest and come back tomorrow for the wrap-up, trip statistics, and lessons learned. (one quick one from today, there is a benefit to planning ahead for lodging. It would have been more fun to be in the Wine Country, but am glad to be home in my own bed.)

The next post of this series is the wrap-up and available here.

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

2016_Day13_Reno to LB

The Long Way Round – Day 12

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

Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 11 of this trip.  You’re just joining us on this trip?  Click here for Day 1 and start from the beginning!

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

So, what do we have in store today?  It’s the Tesla Gigafactory Party day!

Day 12 – Reno, NV – Tesla Gigafactory Party – Sparks, NV..  July 29, 2016

We picked the Harrah’s Reno location because we had friends that were staying here and the shuttle bus for the Gigafactory party and the pre-party for those of us with four or more referrals were leaving from the hotel across the street (Whitney Peak Hotel).

We had breakfast with our friends at the Hash House A Go Go.  I haven’t had my coffee yet, so everything was still blurry.

IMG_20160729_105503

IMG_20160729_105520

The meals at the Hash House are filling and tasty.  The portions definitely rival the size of the Cheesecake Factory.

IMG_20160729_112649

The waffles were huge.

IMG_20160729_112754

As were the pancakes.IMG_20160729_113130

We had a great breakfast with our friends, but had to hurry off to the first face to face meetings with the Presidents of the various official Tesla Owners Clubs.  Many of these folks flew in for the Gigafactory party and though some were going to TMC Connect, others were not, so we had a lunch with them at a restaurant close to the Atlantis Hotel.  We found two Model S and decided to take the third spot beside them.  The one in the middle is Greg (ggr) from San Diego’s custom painted Signature Model S.  He had carpooled up to the event with a few of our friends from the TesLA Club (Los Angeles).

IMG_20160729_123715

The lunch meeting was well attended, and there were members there from Australia, Canada, and Europe, (as well as many from all over the US.)  It was more about meeting the folks than lunch for us (you DID see the size of our breakfast portions, right?)

IMG_20160729_124331

IMG_20160729_124832

IMG_20160729_124928

We gathered around outside to take a picture, and look at all the pretty cars.

IMG_20160729_143826

IMG_20160729_143746

IMG_20160729_143920

And on the way back to get ready for the Gigafactory party, we stopped off at the TMC Connect hotel, Atlantis, to drop off our new friends from The Owners Club of Australia (who needed a ride) and to see if we can take better pictures of the cars from last night.

IMG_20160729_144816

Definitely better looking in the sunlight than the dark parking lot from the previous evening.

IMG_20160729_144820

IMG_20160729_144824

IMG_20160729_144827

The supercharger station still had availability.

IMG_20160729_144858

And that’s one SweetEV (with the new R80 badge to denote the 3.0 battery giving approximately 340 miles of range.)

IMG_20160729_145512

On the way to drop the Aussies off at the Atlantis, I spotted Rob N.’s Electronaut inspired Model S striping at the Convention Center, where TMC Connect was being held during the day and I felt compelled to track it down and take photographs.

IMG_20160729_145448

IMG_20160729_145442

California DCPPOWR meet Massachusetts ACPOWR

IMG_20160729_145412

IMG_20160729_145454

IMG_20160729_145428

After taking all the ActiveE like Model S,  we headed back to the hotel. We’re not planning on driving further today, so we park at the hotel and take note of the mileage and range left.

IMG_20160729_151223

IMG_20160729_151229

After getting ready for the party, we cross the street to the Whitney Peak Hotel for the pre-party and shuttle buses to the event.

IMG_20160729_155116

IMG_20160729_155119

The ore-party for the Gigafactory was at the bar in Whitney Peak Hotel.  They served not only drinks, but Ice Cream as well…

IMG_20160729_155624

Gelato, actually.

IMG_20160729_155822

And the toppings were great too.

IMG_20160729_155930

IMG_20160729_155918

That’s one Happy Dennis.  Remember all the Ice Cream stops in last year’s trip, Here, There, and EVerywhere, like the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour.

IMG_2629

So, the pre-party was also full.  Lots of folks to catch up with.

IMG_20160729_162501

I even get my few seconds on Youtube (via Bjorn’s channel)! (around the 27:10 mark if I didn’t embed this right) 😉

I suppose I should check to see if KMan has me on his channel too.

A few of the folks drove here to get in the pre-party and some are using the shuttles to the Gigafactory.

IMG_20160729_162706

IMG_20160729_162748

The drive to the factory from downtown Reno took about 20 minutes.

IMG_20160729_171505

There was a line to get into the parking area.

IMG_2635

IMG_2637

IMG_2638

The factory was hidden until one gets into Tesla’s property.

IMG_2639

And once you catch a glimpse, it just keeps getting bigger.

IMG_20160729_172804

It was a pretty orderly line to get in.

IMG_20160729_172827

And Tesla had a cadre of valet attendants.  I suppose when the cars are fully autonomous these guys will have to do something else.

IMG_2640

The queue to get into the party was pretty orderly.

IMG_20160729_173411

All smiles as we wait in line to get in.

IMG_20160729_173807

IMG_20160729_173824

IMG_2642

Someone just got their party badge!

IMG_2644

And that someone is pretty happy.

IMG_20160729_174201

IMG_20160729_174318

We get into the party tent and it’s nice and cool.

IMG_2786

Here’s a model of the factory on the desert background.

IMG_20160729_174837

Looks like we’ll get a peek inside the factory before many people do.

IMG_20160729_174843

The line to get to the tour.

IMG_0844.JPG

IMG_2651

Tesla needs to hurry up and have electric buses for us to use.

IMG_20160729_181938

No, that’s not our tour guide.  That’s one of the Tesla executives welcoming us to the Gigafactory.

IMG_20160729_182422

IMG_20160729_183335

These kind folks are the employees who will be taking us on the tour.  They have other jobs at the Gigafactory, but for the tour, they’re our tour guides.

IMG_20160729_183344

IMG_2660

We drive around the building and into some uncompleted sections and end up at the start of the tour.

IMG_2662

The hallways are nice, cool, and clean.

IMG_2663

IMG_20160729_183632

We were shown a Tesla battery…  Lots of discussion whether we can tell the difference in mm from the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) format to the new Model 3 (20700) cells.  Some could swear that they can tell the difference…  I lied and said that I could, I’m just NOT THAT GOOD at telling the differences in battery cylinder sizes.

IMG_2664

Here’s a comparison against an iPhone 5. (with a backup battery case hard at work.)

IMG_20160729_183824

Part of me was wondering, what’s the worst that Tesla will do if I make a break for it… Then again…  I decided to continue on with the tour! 😉

IMG_2671

IMG_20160729_183856

Yeah, I don’t know what I’m looking at here.  It’s lots of wires and empty walls.  However, I do remember them saying something about Inputs and Outputs and the ability to drop a wall and continue to expand the building.  Apparently only 12% or so of the factory is complete.  Though it seems to me like a lot of the inside still needs to be filled in.

IMG_20160729_184018

IMG_20160729_184022

It’s good to hang out with friends from faraway and our particular group has Jeffrey Cadman who had a bear of a time flying cross country from the Mid Atlantic States to get to Reno, his airline cancelled the leg from the Bay Area to Reno and had to share a rental car to get here.

Jeff is one of the crazy guys from Tesla Roadtrip whose misadventures inspired me and my better half to get into Tesla LONG DISTANCE Roadtrips, especially last year’s Cross Country adventure, Here, There, and EVerywhere.

IMG_20160729_184040

As you can see, even with the misadventures of airline travel, he’s happy now. But what a mess, unfortunately he reached out to us when we were already on our way to Reno from Sacramento and had to split an ICE rental with two other attendees for TMC Connect and/or Gigafactory who were on the same flight.

IMG_20160729_184027

I could try to lie outright and say what the heck this device is… But, another thing that I remember is many parts of the Gigafactory is actually Panasonic’s section.  The cooperation between Tesla and its suppliers is amazing in that the factory is really demarcated between Tesla and its suppliers from where the raw goods are brought in, processed, and provided to Tesla for its assembly into battery packs.

IMG_2673

The gentlemen presenting were giving a good detailed explanation of what this part of the process is, but I continued to be distracted and just enjoyed “taking it all in.”

IMG_2677

IMG_20160729_185112

Some of the machinery is covered up in tarps whereas others are in plain sight.  One can only imagine at what state the production really is at this point that the general public was allowed the opportunity to photograph the factory.  Understanding the umpteen NDAs and warnings against any photography of Tesla’s Fremont Factory, let’s consider what we see with a “grain of salt.”  It’s impressive what Tesla and its partners have done, but if it was producing things that are proprietary, we would not have been able to photograph things.

IMG_2678

IMG_20160729_185353

It was still pretty cool to walk through.  For crying out loud, there were parts of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour where we were NOT allowed to photograph as well.

IMG_20160729_185357

IMG_2681

More impressive machinery…

IMG_20160729_185803

I seem to recall something about storing some of the finished products in these racks, but as you can see, nothing is stored, yet.

IMG_20160729_190016

IMG_2684

One of the things pointed out to us is the use of automation and robots in the plant and the markings on the ground are the pathways that the robots use to follow and move material from one point to another in the factory.

IMG_2685

Here is a stationary robot that we pass.

IMG_2686

IMG_20160729_190324

And still lots of space to be filled up.

IMG_2687

IMG_2689

IMG_20160729_190409

IMG_20160729_190413

At this junction, I believe that we were nearing the division between Panasonic’s part of the factory with the Tesla assembly portion of it.

IMG_2691

IMG_2692

So, should I make a break for it?

IMG_2693

Move along buddy!

IMG_2694

Off to the Cell Aging Room.  Why we need to age the cells, I don’t know.

IMG_2695

IMG_2697

This should give you a good idea at how tight this room is.

IMG_2698

IMG_20160729_190823

IMG_2701

IMG_2702

Here I am with a robot behind me.

IMG_2705

And here it is photobombing me.

IMG_20160729_190941

It’s a pretty friendly looking industrial robot.  Don’t think we have to worry about Skynet…

IMG_2704

…yet.  Though if Elon and Tesla keep fine tuning the “machine that builds the machine.”  His term for the factories that Tesla uses to get products out there, who knows at what point the machines will decide to skip humans altogether.

IMG_20160729_191047

These trays are where the completed battery cylinders are placed when done being made into the battery format before it is combined to make the battery sheets for vehicles and/or power walls.

IMG_2708

You can see some batteries above standing up waiting to be put into packs.

IMG_2710

IMG_2711

IMG_2713

Once again I don’t remember if these cylinders are for the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) size or Model 3 (20700) size.

IMG_2712

Apparently I mis-wrote earlier.  This is the demarcation between the Tesla side and the Panasonic side.  Either way, the point remains, on one side of a wall is Panasonic and Tesla’s suppliers and on the other side is Tesla.

IMG_20160729_191452

Walking into Tesla’s side, the same cylindrical batteries take the shape that we are familiar with.  The battery packs that go in our cars and the ones that will be put on people’s walls and utility and commercial locations

IMG_20160729_191556

IMG_20160729_191550

IMG_20160729_191601

These red robots look familiar as the X-Men inspired ones in Fremont that help build the cars.

IMG_2719

It must be tempting to hop on a robot, otherwise, why the sign?

IMG_2724

IMG_20160729_191934

Once again, lots of visible assembly line areas and the whole floor looks “clean.”

IMG_20160729_192029

We pause and take a picture of us at the Tesla side of the factory.

IMG_20160729_192034

That looks like a Model X chassis.  Those shock absorbers on the back look much bigger than a Model S.

IMG_2728

Some information on the products from Tesla Energy.

IMG_2731

And it looks like wood pallets of Tesla Powerwalls are all ready to ship.  I presume these are Australia and Germany bound as those markets are more mature than the US for the delivery of home battery storage for power.

IMG_2733

IMG_2736

We pass more battery packs in various states of construction.

IMG_2739

It’s interesting how such a small cylinder can be combined together to give the capacities of storage that we need for our mobility or home or utility electrical storage needs.

IMG_20160729_192702

IMG_2740

Didn’t get the time to count all the completed boxes, but I’m sure now that a BIG commercial account was announced recently, these guys are busier than they were two months ago when we were there for this launch party.

IMG_2742

IMG_2744

Ok, pallets are for Tesla Powerwall (Residential installs)

IMG_2745

and these refrigerator looking boxes are for commercial PowerPack installs.

IMG_2747

We figured to get someone to take our picture with the big Tesla sign behind us.

IMG_2737

It was cool to see the “battery lifecycle” input/output factory tour, but it looks like a lot of work still to get it fully functioning.  Tesla originally were offering a ride to a lookout with a great picture opportunity for the factory.  However, a quick moving thunderstorm entered the area as we completed our tour and we were ushered back to the party quickly.

IMG_20160729_193425

Summer weather in the desert can be quite interesting.

IMG_2750

They offered to possibly restart the overlook process, but muddy feet was not part of the plan for today.

IMG_2751

We had hoped to ride in the Model 3 on Gigafactory party day, but the rides that they were offering were solely for Model S and Model X.  So, I wasn’t really interested.

We did pass the Model 3 in the VIP section of the party as we quickly went back to the party tent.

IMG_20160729_193547

It looks bigger in person.

IMG_20160729_193552

And we had to use zoom lenses to capture shots of it from afar.

IMG_2754

One had to be Elon’s guests to get closer to the red Model 3.  However, as many have pointed out this red one is actually a full size mockup without any working innards, so there’s that.

IMG_2757

It still looks pretty and we would still have enjoyed a chance to look at it.

IMG_2759

IMG_2760

I took a panoramic from the party tent of the 12% of the building that has been completed.  This party tent and parking lot will be demolished as the factory is expanded.

Untitled

On the other side of those lights are Model S and Model X that are being used for the Test Rides.  It’s not even a Test Drive, and since we did drive thousands of miles to get here, a place about 500 miles away from home, I think we’ll let someone else drive and ride while we enjoy the company and the party.

IMG_2769

Some folks had great spots to see and hear Elon and JB welcome us and talk about the Gigafactory.  As with many Tesla events, it was quite full and crowded by the stage, so my better half and I enjoyed hanging out with EV friends and listen to Elon and JB talk in the same room and have the comfort of the AV professionals view.

IMG_20160729_210118

We took the opportunity while Elon and JB were speaking to take a few shots of the models of the Gigafactory and surrounding location.

IMG_2772

It’s incredible what the vision is for the site, once built.  And it is important to note that this Gigafactory is the first of a plan to build more of these worldwide so as to deliver vehicles and energy storage closer to where the demand is.  I’m assuming that means an Asian and European Gigafactory along with future Tesla auto factories at those locations as well.

IMG_2773

No detail was missed in the model with a pair of Model S supercharging factory side.

IMG_2778

IMG_2779

 

IMG_2781

Untitled

We stuck around pretty late to see if we can make it to the Model 3.  We tried different avenues to get an invite to go across to see it.  Alas, here’s a great shot of it via zoom lens later in the evening.

IMG_2794

The test rides have wound down and many have left the party.

IMG_2797

As we exit, we figure to take a picture of the sign welcoming us to this party.

IMG_2788

IMG_2787

And we head back in our shuttle.  We check into our room at the Harrah’s Reno and take a picture of the little city of Reno.  It was great to see the building and Gigafactory in the state that it is in.  It would be better to see it in greater operation.

IMG_20160730_010919

The next day of this series, Day 13, is published here.

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

The Long Way Round – Day 11

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

Missed the previous day’s post, click here to read Day 10 of this trip.  You’re just joining us on this trip?  Click here for Day 1 and start from the beginning!

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

So, what do we have in store today?  Today we head North and East toward Reno for the Gigafactory Party and for TMC Connect 2016. Our first event is the Dinner Reception at TMC Connect 2016 this evening. We’re on I-80 headed East from Sacramento today.

Day 11 – Sacramento, CA to Reno, NV..  July 28, 2016

The Hyatt Regency Sacramento popped up as a Destination charger, but only one J1772 station actually was operational for visitors (during our visit.) Though I was worried about being the only one at the charging station, no one contacted me to move the car overnight so that they can use the charger. We were able to charge up quite a bit of the car and would more than likely stop at Superchargers on this route because we wanted to see them more than actually needing a charge.

IMG_20160728_130720

IMG_20160728_130725

We headed North and East towards Reno, but had plans to visit a few superchargers along the way.

IMG_2580

Our first stop is the Tesla Rocklin Sales, Service, Supercharger, and Delivery Center.

IMG_2586

This location is impressive and looks like it took over an old car dealership location.  The supercharger stalls are pull through and convenient for Model X that may be towing something behind it.

IMG_2587

We plugged in for a short while just to ensure that we have a boost and add the supercharger to the “chargers that I have visited list.”

IMG_20160728_134139

IMG_20160728_134203

It was more photo op than actual needed charge stop…

IMG_20160728_134206

IMG_20160728_134218

Untitled

We even had the other side of our DCPPOWR with the ACPOWRD New fascia Model S that was at this site.

IMG_20160728_134431

IMG_20160728_140612

Lots of great pictures of the charger location, a quick pit stop, met a few more folks who were planning on being at either TMC Connect or the Gigafactory party, and we’re back on the road.

IMG_2588

It’s nice to be back on I-80 going East.  It brings back fond memories of last year’s Here, There, and Everywhere trip.

IMG_2594

Traveling to Lake Tahoe and Reno is a strange sight for me in the Summer.  The past few times that I have done this drive as an adult, it had always been winter and I was on my way to skiing at Lake Tahoe.  I can’t remember a time when Reno was my actual destination.

IMG_2597

IMG_2599

The drive was peaceful, and we were at the summit in relatively short order.

IMG_2601

IMG_2606

Tesla has two locations for supercharger clusters in Truckee, CA.  We opted to go to the newer one on the inbound drive to Reno.  We wanted to get a charge so that we have enough “driving around” range and back.

IMG_20160728_152449

Driving in mountainous areas tend to take energy and though we only drove for approximately 83 miles, we’ve used up over 110 miles of range.

IMG_20160728_152454

We were the first to arrive at this second Truckee stop and promptly chose a stall to charge at.

IMG_20160728_152621

IMG_20160728_152606

We were soon joined by a couple with their new White Model X.

Untitled

We decided to walk around the area and were reminded that there are wildlife that live in Truckee.  These trashcans look secured from bears.

IMG_20160728_154117

IMG_20160728_154138

The center that these chargers are located have very few amenities, but the folks running the sushi bar were gracious enough to let a weary traveler use their facilities.

 

IMG_20160728_154245

IMG_20160728_154250

The fish at the Drunken Monkey looked appetizing, but I was not hungry, so we skipped it and made a mental note, should we be hungry and be in the area in the future.

IMG_20160728_154254

We had a good chat with the couple with the White Model X when more Tesla travelers joined us at the supercharger.

IMG_20160728_154612

IMG_20160728_160747

IMG_20160728_162357

And we had a good amount of charge we decided it was time to head out.

IMG_20160728_162400

We looked at our car and were reminded of our drive through the fields North of Sacramento and all the bugs splat on the car made us seek out a manual car wash that we can use to clean the car and make it presentable to those attending TMC Connect.  We didn’t want to be the only filthy car during any sort of photo sessions that we may be a part of.

IMG_20160728_162413

After a quick wash, we headed into Reno.

Oh look, our nemesis was on this road as well.

IMG_2609

IMG_2610

IMG_2611

We drove along the Truckee River toward Reno.

IMG_2613

IMG_2614

And are welcomed by the Welcome to Nevada sign.

This must be one of those few spots in Nevada where there is a border crossing and yet no casino immediately on the Nevada side of the border.

IMG_2615

IMG_2616

IMG_2617

It would be another few miles before we spot any casinos.

IMG_2618

We’ve decided to stay at the Harrah’s Reno with some friends as it was less expensive than Atlantis, the hotel for TMC Connect.

IMG_2620

IMG_20160728_171437

IMG_20160728_171440

IMG_20160728_171449

IMG_20160728_171451

IMG_20160728_171542

The chargers at Harrah’s Reno is a bit of a challenge to use.  It was short and we had to move the car a few times to get it working.

IMG_20160728_172516

We had a lot of miles, but we’re on a Roadtrip, and ABC rules always apply. Besides, we’re charging for a short amount of time and decided to get some electrons while we check in and get ready for the TMC Connect dinner reception.

IMG_20160728_171607

The Atlantis Resort and Casino in Reno is definitely a newer hotel than the one we ar staying at.

IMG_2622

We thought that the reception was at the hotel, but had to take the long haul over to the Convention Center instead.

IMG_20160728_183605

IMG_20160728_183634

After a long walk, we find ourselves “almost there.”

IMG_20160728_183738

And we made it.  Anytime you see a bunch of Teslas parked inside a building, chances are you’re in an EV conference.  TMC Connect is no exception.

IMG_20160728_184447

I wasn’t even asking why this Model X was turquoise.  Needless to say, these guys can help you if you wanted to do something “different” with your Tesla.

IMG_20160728_184500

There were also manufacturers of some cool two wheeled EVs.

IMG_20160728_184457

The folks that are building hitches for those that want to pull something with their Tesla.

IMG_20160728_184537

Dinner was good, and the company was better.

IMG_20160728_184904

IMG_20160728_184907

One of my favorite things to try to track down at these events are Rob and Andy (aka Woof) from Massachusetts.  Both these guys are ex-Active E guys who now drive Teslas (like that guy in the middle).

IMG_2623

The hallway had some full tables, but some noticeably absent were folks who flew out for the event who got caught in some weather in the middle of the country.  There were a bunch from the Mid Atlantic states who were stuck on their side of the country because of that.

IMG_20160728_202555

We had a great night of conversation, consternation (over the Gigafactory and things) and camaraderie.  And with that we headed over to the Reno Supercharger, not for a charge, though I plugged in for a few minutes (to add it to “the list” again)

IMG_20160728_223001

IMG_20160728_223006

IMG_20160728_223205

But to take lots of Tesla photographs…

Beside us were a couple of guys who drove up for the Gigafactory party and didn’t even realize that TMC was going on. They were in a new fascia Model S.

IMG_20160728_223209

Lots of Model X around.

IMG_20160728_223244

And documented a lot of creative personalized plates.

Long drive out from Virginia.

IMG_20160728_223307

Someone’s smilin’

IMG_20160728_223315

Doug’s car’ Nikola

IMG_20160728_223326

IMG_20160728_223339

I believe this was ChadS’ ride (his wife’s car)

IMG_20160728_223345

IMG_20160728_223400

Our friend from BC, Paul Carter, drives around in this one… He decided NOT to get Model X.

IMG_20160728_223406

A better shot of Zap 2 Zum

IMG_20160728_223414

IMG_20160728_223419

Hard to find that feed for a residential home in North America.

IMG_20160728_223425

Yes please, No ICE

IMG_20160728_223438

California lets us use some fun characters and this person made good use of theirs.

IMG_20160728_223518

Frickin’ Lasers

IMG_20160728_223556

On a Ludicrous P90D Model X…

IMG_20160728_223722

This time the person with the Model X plate installed it on a Model X.

We got back to our hotel to catch some guys trying to charge their Teslas on the charger, (turns out that one of them was Bjorn Nyland and his friend) and so we headed to find a parking spot in the garage.

IMG_20160728_230044

Across the street were also some charging stations.

IMG_2624

Here’s a zoomed in shot of a Model S at one.

IMG_2625

IMG_2627

IMG_2626

We turned in for the night with slightly higher than a 90% charge.

IMG_20160728_225717

IMG_20160728_225722

Now, I’d like to say that whatever happens in Reno, stays in Reno, but I won’t…  I just won’t have pictures of it.

Like I mentioned on the drive in, we chose the hotel because we had friends staying here and we caught up with them.  Turns out that our friend was friends with KMan and while we were hanging with him, got an invite to hang.  We headed up to a room in one of the towers of the hotel only to find ourselves in Bjorn Nyland’s room with Bjorn live-streaming on Youtube or Facebook, we’re not sure, and Kman waiting for his buddy to arrive so that he can check into his hotel.  So, after trying to stay away from being “caught on video” both the better half and I end up on a live stream with folks who follow Bjorn.  It’s a good thing that we’re NOT on witness protection. 😉

We stayed for a short while to shoot the breeze and talk with the guys about all things Tesla and then took our leave to get some rest.

The next day of this series, Day 12, is published here.

2016_Day11_Sacramento to Reno

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