Finally finishing up my 20k service…

  by dennis_p
, a photo by dennis_p on Flickr.

The car went into the shop on Monday, December 3rd to finalize the work from the 20,000 mile service. 21,021 miles… Not bad. Waited a few weeks for the part to (hopefully) fix the spline design issue that’s been reported.I’m hoping that the charging issue that folks have been reporting on Chargepoint/Coulomb chargers don’t affect this vehicle as I have a Coulomb charger at home. Fingers crossed. Still waiting on my dealership to tell me to pick up the car… Though it looks like Thursday, Dec. 6th… as of right now.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #6 in an ongoing series – Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey – Nauna’s Bella Casa and ActiveE #1

I still owe you guys my first National Plug In Day experience.  However, to be a little more timely, I figure to update my Charge It! series.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been writing on a series of great restaurants to go to while you charge. Today’s post is a little different. It’s nowhere to be found in the Los Angeles area. It’s in Northern New Jersey, approximately 30 minutes (with no real traffic) from New York city – Nauna’s Bella Casa. No, I didn’t take several weeks to go from Los Angeles to New Jersey to go to lunch with my ActiveE. For this trip, I rented a Nissan Leaf from Hertz on Demand. Hertz car sharing subsidiary which allows members the opportunity to rent either a Nissan Leaf or SmartEV in the New York city area.

Nauna’s Bella Casa can be found at 148 Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042.  (973) 744-3232.

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So, what takes me from New York City to Montclair, New Jersey. Frankly, I wanted to meet this guy, Tom Moloughney, aka Mini-E #250 and more importantly to me, Mr. ActiveE #1 and the top mileage leader that I foolishly challenged to try to “catch up” on top mileage use for all of the other ActiveE Electronuts.  As of the writing of this posting (in-flight from JFK to LAX) my ActiveE is waiting for me at LAX Lot 6 with 17,902 and Tom’s listed mileage on is 27,795…  Needless to say, this is a TOUGH challenge.

Here’s a picture of Tom Moloughney and me in front of Tom’s New Jersey EF-OPEC (AKA Active E #1).

Had a good lunch and great company with fellow @BMWi evangelist @tommolog Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair NJ

So, how’s the food. It was good, home-style Italian food at a great value. I had the lunch special which was Soup, Entree, soft drink, coffee (or tea, I believe) and dessert for $9.99. As opposed to other posts in this series, I have NO picture of the food. I was too busy enjoying the discussions between Tom and myself on the Active E, EVs, new BMWs, Teslas, Energy Independence, etc.

For my choice of soup, I picked the Pasta Fagioli. There were other choices, but I really like Pasta Fagioli so I had that. For my entree, I went with the Fusilli e Pollo which is the spiral pasta with grilled chicken & spinach. I really enjoyed the Fusilli e Pollo, but since I went out to Nauna’s in Day two of my trip to the East Coast, the meal was biologically breakfast for me, so the portion size was a little larger than I could finish, so I brought the rest to go. I skipped coffee and had ice cream for dessert (chocolate).  The meal was very good and felt home-cooked.

How about the chargers?  Nauna’s has two J1772 chargers, one on Chargepoint and the other on the Blink Network.  If you’re eating here, the charging is gratis, otherwise, the network fees would apply, I believe that the Chargepoint is free, but the Blink is based on your membership plan, so to get that charging at no cost, check in with the restaurant before you plug in.

How did I do getting to Nauna’s.  Well, I picked up the Nissan Leaf (was hoping for a SmartEV, but that will have to be a different post) from Hertz On Demand’s location at 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.   This drive was approximately 20 miles away, but my consumption is closer to 35 miles from the range.  This was my first time driving a Leaf for ANY extended period and I must say that it was not as fun as my Active E, at least it seemed to perform better than the Coda that I test drove a few months ago.

So, if you find yourself anywhere near Montclair, NJ.  Even if it isn’t that near, give Tom a call and see if he’s available and you can enjoy a tasty lunch and have some fun “talking EV and stuff”.  I’ll probably get around to plug in day 2012 (Part 1, Part 2 to follow) and my Hertz on Demand SmartEV rental fiasco.

California EV enthusiasts or soon to be EV enthusiasts, make it easier on yourself! – Free EVSE charger offer

So, I’ve been meaning to post this offer on the ActiveE forum, but several of my fellow Electronuts have already done that…

So, I figure why not post it on the blog!

I received the attached email a week ago and promptly forwarded it to my office manager to forward to our new landlord.  I also sent it to my wife for her people to send it to their landlord.

From: Lynette Mandal <>
Date: September 12, 2012 1:21:25 AM PDT
To: Dennis
Subject: ChargePoint offer to: home charging station owners


Hello Dennis,
We have great news! For a limited time only, ChargePoint is giving away electric vehicle (EV) charging stations for the workplace. ChargePoint is making available one FREE charging station to any workplace location that doesn’t already have a ChargePoint station in their parking lot.

ChargePoint’s ‘JumpStart’ program is designed to assist you with encouraging your employer to install a FREE ChargePoint station. Any California employer with more than 50 employees is eligible! This is the perfect opportunity for anyone with sustainability agendas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) programs, new construction and renovation programs.


To assist your employer in making workplace EV charging prevalent, ChargePoint can also assist in finding a low cost installation provider.


Why are we doing this?

With the ChargePoint JumpStart program, we want to help EV drivers like you get EV charging services at your place of employment. Some of the most progressive and forward-thinking organizations in the world including Google, SAP, 3M, Facebook, Dell and Adobe, provide ChargePoint charging stations for their employees. With ChargePoint JumpStart we’re putting the power to charge in the hands of drivers!

How do you apply?

You can either take the attached offer to the appropriate decision-maker inside your company or apply through the ChargePoint website by October 15, 2012.

Click HERE to apply online.


The free ChargePoint stations are available on a first come first served basis.




Team ChargePoint



This is not a secret. If you know of an employee that needs a free ChargePoint station at their workplace, please let them know about this great offer.




Seems like a pretty straightforward offer, but there is still resistance to installing EV chargers at people’s workplaces.

I am hopeful, but pessimistic that either my office’s landlord or my wife’s employer’s landlord will bite, but why not try.

Some of the concerns that I have heard directly and indirectly through others that folks have over installing public charging stations in their facilities:

  • Concern over the increase in their electric bill
  • The cost of the EVSE and installation of the charging station.
  • Loss of use of parking space
  • Commitment length for some of the “free” public EVSE installation.  i.e. 7 year agreement of exclusivity for any EVSE installs on the property.

Granted this offer only covers concern 2.  As much as you can explain that the cost to charge an EV is only $.10 per kWH (national average), this is still an incremental cost that the landlord/employer currently does not have.  Others have said that an individual could volunteer to pay for this and it may well behoove you to do so, however, the nice thing about the Chargepoint offer is that it’s on network and there IS a way for the landlord to participate in what Chargepoint will cost per hour.

As for concern 3 on the loss of use of parking spaces, that’s just silly.  I know that my EV takes up exactly the same amount of parking space as any other car.  So, that’s an argument that can be discussed.  Additionally, other solutions have been put in place, such as the one at the Electric Lodge in Venice.  Their solution is to restrict EV only parking between certain hours and allow the spots to be ICEd at other times.


Either way, the spots get used and you don’t have to worry about under-utilization of a precious commodity like parking spaces.

As for commitment length.  I would gather that it’s all up to negotiation.

So, if you’re interested in getting a free EVSE for your office and live in California.  Make use of the offer above.

Long Range Test… planned but not implemented… (or Long Beach to Santa Barbara, but chickened out).

Ok, so I live in Long Beach, the southernmost city in Los Angeles County (and the county’s second largest city).

According to Google Maps, about 135 Mile Trip between home and some of the Chargepoint Public Chargers on Anacapa Street in Santa Barbara.

So, to make it from home to Santa Barbara and back in the same day, I would have to seriously plan this out AND have the time to execute.

Under ideal circumstances I MAY make it there, but after 4 months of driving the ActiveE I know that this is near impossible for the way that I drive, so I needed to PLAN my trip between the two locations AND have the time to charge each way AND midway.

So, what was my plan…

I’ve always attested that the range on the ActiveE is UNLIMITED…  You just have to make sure that you have enough time to charge in between stops.  My destination was 135 miles away, there are chargers about 60 miles away and another around 90 miles away, so I had identified two locations.  Additionally, to charge for the difference, I figured that I would need at least two hours before my appointment to ensure that I feel confident that I would have enough charge to make it to my destination.

So, I identified two possible charging stations.

1) Thousand Oaks – Janss Marketplace, 275 N. Moorpark Rd, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360.  These chargers are on the Blink Network, and showed up as available on the application.  (About 60 miles from home)


2) Ventura, CA – Pacific View Mall, between Sears and Red Robin. These are some non-networked Clipper Creek chargers that I would not have known the status of, until I got there (there are several pay Chargepoint chargers in the City of Ventura (another 5 or so miles further, if I had been more daring).


At the start of the day, I just couldn’t get up early enough to charge for a few hours mid-route, so we ended up ICEing it up to Santa Barbara.  The weather was nice and we at least went convertible, so there was something that the ICE did that the ActiveE did not to minimize my “guilt” over ignoring the ActiveE for the day.

After my lunch in Santa Barbara, I decided to do a survey of a few of the city of Santa Barbara charging stations.  The stations themselves are free, but parking will cost money.  The first 75 minutes are complimentary, and every hour (or fraction thereof is $1.50.  Parking is limited to 72 hours continuously and the lots are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pictures of the two Chargepoints at 1221 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101


Down the street from there are a couple of other Chargepoint stations at 1115 Anacapa St, Santa Barbara, California 93101.


So, having surveyed a few spots to charge along the way to Santa Barbara.  With enough time to wait in between, a weekend drive to Santa Barbara may well be in the plans for the future…  I just have to get my car back from BMW Service since they’re taken it for its 10,000 mile checkup (and now replacing the e machine…).

Is it just me, or does it look like Blink is expanding in Southern California.

As much as I love using the Chargepoint network from Coulomb and the feedback that their well designed IOS app (as well as the very good BlackBerry App), I find myself thankful that Blink also exists.  It seems to me that the Blink Network is growing in Southern California.  Aside from the chargers in my long drive test to Northern San Diego and the chargers that popped up in L.A. Live that I previously wrote about, it seems that the network just added six more chargers at the Americana at Brand.


and on the other view:


As of today, June 20, 2012.  The spots are not yet complete, but according to the Blink Network App, all six chargers are online. All that seems to be missing is signage on the parking spots to mark them as EV parking spots. Something that the management company on the Grove did not initially do to their chargers (at least according to Recargo/Plugshare) pics that I have looked at before (it does look like the signage at the Grove is now up) Which means that the owners of the Americana are learning from their mistakes from the Grove (same ownership.)  They have 12 spots blocked off and 6 chargers, so it may be ideal for plug-sharing. [Update June 21st, actually parked and charged my ActiveE here today. They shrank down the spots from 12 to six to match the number of chargers.] Works great.


Anyway Bravo to the owner of the Americana and the Grove in installing such a high concentration of EV chargers at their two premiere shopping destinations.  The parking at the Americana is free for the first hour, then $3 for 61 minutes to 90 minutes hours, then $1 for every 30 minutes to a $9 maximum.  So, it costs money to park, but not to charge.  Some restaurants add 2 more hours of free parking to the 1 hour for a total of 3 hours of free parking (and charging.)