Bolt EV – Meet and Ride EVent with @OCTeslaClub owners

Motor Trend was interested in gauging Tesla owner feedback on a just released Chevy Bolt EV article they just published.  A few weeks prior to this EVent, Motor Trend, along with other members of the automotive media got a chance to take the Chevy Bolt EV on some impressive long distance driving from Monterey to Santa Barbara along PCH.

As one of the organizers of the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County, I know a LOT of local Tesla owners and membership interest is a mix between those that enjoy Tesla for all the Eco and Green things and those that enjoy it for all the performance things and some for the luxury things.  It’s a mixed bag, but members range the gamut from either or all of these interests.  So, with short notice, I sent a note for our members on a Thursday to see how many would be interested in possibly seeing and riding in the Chevy Bolt EV in exchange for being interviewed by Motor Trend for their opinion on the car.

We got a few “takers”, including this writer.  (A chance to check out a new EV that can go 236 miles on a full charge? No way am I turning THAT down.)

So, a few things we learned of the crowd that was there.  Most were Tesla owners and had reservations for a Model 3.  There was one person that joined us who is an i3 (with REX) owner who also had two Model 3 reservations.  Of the Tesla owners, we had mostly Model S owners, one Model X owner, and several Roadster owners.

So, how does it look?  Here it is among some classic Model S

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And a nice Roadster joined the party.  Our Model X member was here early and took off before we can get the picture.

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I have a bias for Tesla and most things Tesla.  However, I root for all EVs, but we’ve put our money behind Tesla.  Both as a customer as well and an investor.  I believe in what Tesla stands for and as much as it pains me that Elon has stated that he would like to see more EVs, even if it means that Tesla stock takes a hit.

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Well, the Chevy Bolt EV is a good swing at Tesla and the Model 3.  It’s a solid car. Not a luxury car by any definition, but it’s a long-range EV with seating for five (or four and a half if you look at how small the back seat is.)

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But the back seat is definitely big enough for your author and one and a half more people.

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The seats may not be that big, but the USB charging in the back is a nice touch.

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One of our participants showed up with his baby and we tested the baby seat in there.

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It’s a pre-production car, so the anchors were not there and the baby carrier was strapped in “old school” using the seatbelts.

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I’m guessing she’s the only baby to have taken a ride in the Bolt EV at this time.

So the key to the Chevy Bolt EV looks like a regular key, not nearly as playful as Tesla’s “car shaped keys.”

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The interior of the car isn’t what I would call luxurious, but it definitely is functional and solid.  And for those that want to run a CD or even a cassette deck in the car, you can.  There is an AUX port in the one delivered for the testers.  (Yes, this is a concern.  Check out this thread on Model3Ownersclub.com)

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The trim level that was brought out was the higher trim level and I wonder what one loses with the lower trim level.  At the same time, I wonder how much higher than the $37,495 base trim price this one is.  The front of the Bolt EV is pretty comfortable.  I don’t think that the seats were leather, they were probably “leatherette”, not sure if they’re vegan friendly though.

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The controls and displays in the Bolt EV is a mix of modern and traditional.  The infotainment display is slightly larger than the Leaf SV or SL (Acenta or Tekna in the UK), I believe.  And there are many traditional controls for many of the functions.  One thing missing is a built-in GPS and navigation controls.  The vehicle uses the Apple and Google solutions (Carplay and Auto) to project the latest smartphone’s offering to the display rather than use one independent of your mobile device.  So, keep those phones current, charged, and in those ecosystems.  This is not the first time I’ve experienced this behavior.  It seems that my sister’s new Volkswagen E-Golf does the same thing. Considering your author’s primary mobile device is a Blackberry, this is not a preferred method of navigation for my vehicles.  I do carry an oft-photographed older iPhone, but I don’t believe that is CarPlay compatible.

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The driver’s front display is similar to the Model S in that it is also just a big screen.

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On this view from the driver’s seat, you can see that rated miles for the driver and what the car estimates is your current range.  This is a function of both the driver’s style and current conditions and the charge on the battery.  I don’t remember how many miles of driving conditions it uses to predict for remaining range.  As I’ve experienced in many other EVs, the manufacturers algorithms can improve with each iteration and the more one drives the car, the better this algorithm is at predicting its own range.

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I’ve grown to like the touchscreen controls on the S, but there is something to be said about physical buttons.  Remember, I still carry a Blackberry.  😲

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Here is the infotainment screen on the car.

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Your shifter.

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A regular sized glove compartment.  With no gloves (I wonder how many people actually carry gloves in their glove compartments?) (Sheldon Cooper of Big Bang Theory doesn’t count anymore as is evidenced by recent episodes in 2016.)

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There doesn’t seem to be much space in the trunk, so it’s good that the car is a hatchback.  Another thing that people looking at Model 3’s had an issue with originally. (Size of the trunk/that it’s not a hatchback.)

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However, like the Active E or Model S, the Bolt EV has a shelf underneath the rear floor.  That’s a good place to carry cables and adapters.  Something that is more critical for ex-North American market.  In North America, we’ve standardized on J1772 for public Level 2 charging and the cables are attached to public chargers.  In other parts of the globe, the charging posts have outlets that the EV driver has to use their own cables to attach to and the standards are not nearly as defined.  So, a European driving the Opel Amper-E (their version of the Bolt EV) will need to have a different L2 cable depending on the outlet that they’re plugging into.

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It’s a pretty solid build. Close the hatch, and it closed nicely.  The whole thing seems fit and finished.

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Here’s a picture of the wheel and tires that came with this trim.

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So, what’s in the front?  Because there isn’t a frunk. The motor is in the front, not in the back like single motor Teslas.

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Let’s take a look under the hood (bonnet for our friends that speak the Queen’s English.)

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Ooh, aah…  I don’t know what that is, but lots of stuff.

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I know what that one is…  I have that in the front of the Model S…  (washer fluid.)

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The fuse box is in the front, and inside the hood.  That’s interesting.  This fuse box was closed, someone opened it and exposed the fuses, so I took a picture.)  Looks like the 12V is a standard one too.

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As we mentioned earlier, the Bolt EV we looked at had a higher trim, so it includes the CCS charging.

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Now, our group of owners all were asked AFTER seeing the car, but before riding in it if we would cancel our Model 3 reservations and get a Bolt EV instead. Not one of the Tesla owners that had a Model 3 reservation raised our hand. The i3 owner, who has two Model 3 reservations, might consider cancelling one of his reservations and his reason was because he likes hatchbacks and the Model 3, as it was announced, does not have a hatchback and instead has a controversial trunk.

Here’s a picture of most of the members that attended this pop-up Orange County Tesla EVent. We have several Roadster and Model S owners in this shot. The one Model X owner who showed up had left earlier.

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The folks that participated in this activity had a good time, and you can see me laughing when I was talking to our folks.  (That’s me, the brown guy in the Aloha shirt.)

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We shot a few videos during the event.  I unfortunately forgot to save the videos locally when I did it on Periscope, so here’s hoping that those guys don’t delete it.

Periscope Video 1

https://www.periscope.tv/dennis_p/1lPKqqLzQgZKb

Here is Motor Trend getting the Bolt EV ready for the drive and recording the folks riding in them.

Periscope Video 2

https://www.periscope.tv/dennis_p/1OdKrYWwLYVxX?

Here is a view of me in the car riding off with the writer.

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And here is the view from within the car for the ride.

Periscope Video 3

https://www.periscope.tv/dennis_p/1djGXYoXbzVJZ?

View from the backseat of the Bolt EV

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One of the cool things that the car has is this switch in the rear-view mirror.  This switch toggles between acting as a mirror and a rear-view camera monitor to provide the driver with a wider view of the rear.  Watch the video above to see it placed in action.

We’ve compared the Bolt EV beside the Tesla Roadster and Model S…  But, it’s really better to compare the size of the Bolt EV to a BMW i3.  It was good to get a BMW i3 owner to come out and join us on this event as those two cars really look about the same size.

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However, I always feel like I’m “riding high” on an i3 and I didn’t feel this so much on the Bolt EV.

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So, someone with an i3 in their garage can easily move from their i3 to the Bolt EV, just have to remember that the plugs are on opposite ends of the car.  The Bolt EV’s plug is in the front driver side and the i3 has it in the rear of the car.

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Both of those EVs are still bigger than a Roadster.

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Though you wouldn’t be able to tell from this angle.

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So, what do I think of the Bolt EV?  I actually think that it’s a better fit for my mom and her lifestyle.  I tried to convince her to change her Model 3 reservation, or at least one of her Model 3 reservations to a Bolt EV.  She quickly rebuffed me and said, “I’ll keep my Tesla.”

The challenge is those that want a Tesla Model 3 are doing so not just to drive a long-distance EV.  It’s because the Tesla has become an aspirational brand.  The Model 3 is to Tesla as the 1 or 3 series is to BMW.  It is the “entry-level” car to get folks into the “luxury” car segment.  Granted, there is a certain “relativism” in how one defines luxury, but to many in the public, Tesla is it.  How many of the 300k+ reservations are going to move to GM and the Bolt EV?  I believe some, just not sure “how many.”

Here’s another link to the Motor Trend article of the event.

To see more pictures of the Bolt EV that I have taken, including the shots from this day, head to my flickr album look for the same colored Bolt EV for this event.

Chevy Bolt EV

Tesla Solar EVent

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

Tesla Energy 2015 Launch

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

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

Tesla PowerWall

Some selected tweets from the original Tesla Energy Event:

 

 

 

 

Tesla Solar Event

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Presentation

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

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Afterwards, Elon spoke.

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

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

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

Tesla Solar Roof

Here are some of the pictures on the album above.

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

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

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

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

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

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

PowerWall 1 compared to an iPhone 4.

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

PowerWall 2 compared to an iPhone 4.

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Color me impressed.

Model 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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There was also a nice, blue Roadster there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needless to say, that got old FAST…

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

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

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

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

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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!

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.

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

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

Had great dinner at Ask for Luigi.

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And got to visit Electra Meccanica…

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

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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…

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In Oregon…

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In Reno at TMC Connect 2016

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And in Reno at the Gigafactory

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

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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…

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and the Tomato Truck

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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…

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Then followed the raw logs

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cut and shaped wood

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and finished products.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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

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

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

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And there was a small festival atmosphere.

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

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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.

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Nevertheless, it was well attended.

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

The equipment supporting the superchargers are in a locked shed.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

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Roseville Supercharger

Our third stop today is at the Roseville Supercharger.

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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…)

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

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

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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.

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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.

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We drove through the smoke and slowed down.

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

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

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

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Vacaville Supercharger

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The city is full of cows.

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

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

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Even more cows…

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

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Yes, they’re windmills, say the cows…

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The windmills keep getting my attention.

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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.

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Here’s one I call windmills and cows…

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And a close-up of both.

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And we leave windmill country and get closer to Manteca.

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We cross some vineyards…

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

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At least it’s not a one lane road.

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Oh, thank goodness… A freeway sign!

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Back on the freeway.

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

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A nice, wide freeway…

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

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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Harris Ranch Supercharger

We’re back at Harris Ranch Supercharger.

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It was pretty lonely here on a Saturday night…

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Everyone else must have booked their rooms ahead of time.

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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

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

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This is our last supercharge before we get home.

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

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

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

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Set the update to complete later in the morning…

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

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Oh, with new software too…

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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.

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

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The waffles were huge.

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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).

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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?)

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

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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.

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

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The supercharger station still had availability.

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

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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.

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California DCPPOWR meet Massachusetts ACPOWR

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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.

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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.

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

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Gelato, actually.

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And the toppings were great too.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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There was a line to get into the parking area.

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

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

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It was a pretty orderly line to get in.

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

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The queue to get into the party was pretty orderly.

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All smiles as we wait in line to get in.

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Someone just got their party badge!

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And that someone is pretty happy.

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

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

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

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The line to get to the tour.

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

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

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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.

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

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The hallways are nice, cool, and clean.

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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.

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

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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! 😉

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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More impressive machinery…

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

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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.

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Here is a stationary robot that we pass.

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And still lots of space to be filled up.

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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.

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So, should I make a break for it?

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Move along buddy!

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

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

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Here I am with a robot behind me.

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And here it is photobombing me.

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

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…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.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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Some information on the products from Tesla Energy.

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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.

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We pass more battery packs in various states of construction.

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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.

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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.

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Ok, pallets are for Tesla Powerwall (Residential installs)

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and these refrigerator looking boxes are for commercial PowerPack installs.

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

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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.

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Summer weather in the desert can be quite interesting.

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

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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.

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It looks bigger in person.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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.