National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Los Angeles

One of my favorite National Drive Electric Week events last year was the one in Los Angeles.  Mainly because almost all the EVs and PHEVs available on the market were represented by the OEMs for test drives at that event.

I was able to test drive the new, larger battery Nissan Leaf last year and we saw one of the early Bolt EVs at the same event.


So… I had high expectations for 2016.

The location for this event this year was at the same place as the previous year, so it was easy to find. (Interestingly enough, all three of the locations that I intend to visit this year are all being held in the same, exact location as 2015. This is also true of the Long Beach event that our Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (formerly OC Tesla Club) will be attending as a club on September 17, 2016.

The particular lawn on Expo Park that the event is located was just behind the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


We arrived just before 11:00 AM, about two hours after the event started.  As opposed to the Diamond Bar event where EV and PHEV drivers park separately from ICE vehicles, the LA event has OEMs provide the Ride and Drive event, so all public attendees have to park in the parking lots nearby.




We headed to the sign-in tent and got some giveaways from the organizers.


This year’s event did not seem to have as many people as the previous year’s event.


It was well attended by the car manufacturers.


The Bolt EV was there, alas, Chevy was only letting folks drive the new Volt.


One of the cool things that is at this carnival-like atmosphere were the creative games that some of the exhibitors allowed the public to play with, and I had a good time playing Chevy’s Plinko game. I ended up winning some “flip-flops” by pairing the token with its corresponding Chevy color.




Around the driveway where the ride and drive events were being held, was an interesting solar powered Level 2 charger.  I didn’t see anyone use these chargers, but it was cool to spot it.  It’s not permanently installed, so I’m sure it’s meant to be portable.


Looks like LAPD still kept the Tesla Motors Model S and BMW i3, but the i8 from last year was nowhere to be found.

We caught the vehicles with their lights flashing…



…about the only time I like to see the flashing lights.

I signed up to ride the Volve PHEV, the Volvo XC90 T8 as it was the ONLY one of the plug in cars that was available to test drive that I have not driven yet.  I went to the Volvo tent to fill out all the information to get a test drive.  The wait was a few minutes, but as my turn was up, the panel regarding EV Storytelling with Chris Paine, Dean Devlin, and Chelsea Sexton was about to start.  So, I paused my drive to go and listen to the panel.

I figured to stream the event, so I set it up my iPad for a Periscope session. (I also uploaded the same content on Youtube for those that prefer that.)




Volvo XC90 T8

So, how was the drive for the Volvo XC90 T8? Well…


It has a nice interior.




and the seats were comfy…



However, I never did get to experience it in EV mode. For the very short amount of time that I did drive it, the representative and the car wouldn’t let me experience it without the ICE engaged. So, it was quite disappointing.

I think Volvo has a lot to learn of why folks do drive events at National Drive Electric Week.

As a reward for doing a test drive, we got vouchers to get food from the food trucks at the event. We used ours for Border Grill and Coolhaus.



There were other choices there as well.


One of the interesting exhibitors at the event was and one of their Tesla Model X.



Had a good few minutes to talk to their representatives about their business and their plans to assist area commuters to swap their vanpools for clean EVs (such as the Model X.)

Additionally, the guys from Tesla Club LA had a tent at the event and had a few of their cars there.



(one of our OC members’, Jamie had his Black Roadster there (as well as at Diamond Bar, the previous day.)





One of the cool things about California National Drive Electric Week is to play “rare” EV spotting.

So, I did pretty good today. Saw a few RAV4EV (both first and second generation)



There was a Corbin Sparrow, front and center.


However, even more rare than the RAV4EV, possibly as rare as a Corbin Sparrow, is spotting a Coda Sedan…

…and we spotted one on the way back to our car.



That’s one rare EV.

Either way, we added today’s photos on the same Flickr album as yesterday’s Diamond Bar event.  Starts about 23 photos in…

National Drive Electric Week 2016

As I mentioned yesterday, since one of the many questions that the public often ask at these events is “how far can you go with your EV.” Last year we went from Southern California to Maine, this summer, we went to the Tesla Gigafactory Party, The Long Way Round via Vancouver, BC.

Tesla’s “non-automotive” announcement tonight.

So, the day is here. April 30, 2015.

In about three hours, Tesla’s event starts, which means the announcement will probably be about 30 minutes to an hour later.

I am assisting a couple of my favorite EV and Tesla places with coverage of the event via Twitter.

I am joining a group tweet with folks from via the hashtag (at the time of the planning of) #TeslaEnergy (though that might change.)

I will also be representing the good folks of Transport Evolved at the event via the hashtag #TEatTesla.

It seems that energy storage is on a lot of minds. So, who else is in this space? Well. I did cover the Green Charge Networks folks in my article on the Shore Hotel for So, they have an interesting model regarding demand management.

Additionally, the remnants of what had been the Coda Automotive has reformed to be Coda Energy. I have yet to study what Coda Energy does, but it really does look like there is something there. After all, this is the first month that my home is on the 2015 TOU-D-A rate on Southern California Edison. Our previous tariff of TOU-D-T-EV or something like that, used to define the PEAK hours for electricity between 10am-6pm M-F which lent itself to being optimized for Solar Photovoltaic rates. This change in tariff now defines the peak hours as between 2pm-8pm M-F. Considering that most times of the year, the hours between 6pm-8pm are in darkness, this nearly guarantees that the Utility company will be able to charge me for some peak usage, while netting out the energy that I produce at an Off Peak rate.

I’ll have to see what the effect is at a later post.

Either way, if you have access to Twitter, you might want to just follow me there.

Space… the Final Frontier. The difference between built Electric and a converted ICE Electric

This weekend, I was challenged by my better half to fit everything we needed to haul up to my sister-in-law’s house for our niece’s Fourth Birthday party.  She thought that we needed to use our ever reliable X5 to do it’s hauling duty and I asserted that I thought we could take the ActiveE.  Figuring that after many years of marriage, the worst that could happen was that I would have to accept defeat, I decided to prove it.

So, as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother would say, “Challenge Accepted.”  In retrospect, I should’ve taken pictures of all the items that I had to pack into the ActiveE, but we had a kid’s birthday party to help get set up, and didn’t really have the time to dawdle.  So the picturess are of the stuff IN the car…

To remind everyone… This is what I had to work with:


I also have a backseat where the seats fold down to carry stuff with, which I used, but the electric motor hump really does take the space.  (that’s the section that has the ActiveE written on the carpet.)

These next three shots are what was packed behind the front seats with the passenger seats folded down.



Here it is closed:


Right side of the trunk:


Close up –


Left side of the trunk:


Needless to say, we packed a lot of stuff.

Distributed throughout the back are 8 bottles of wine (for the adults, not the 4 year old kids, of course.) The rolled up dusty thing is a rug that we use to lay outdoors. You would’ve also noted a 3 course buffet server in the backseat.

So, not only was the challenge accepted, I was also able to accomplish the task.  Being an Electronut means being very motivated to try to stay away from driving any ICE, EVEN something as fun to drive as a BMW X5.

The balloons, were for a giant popcorn display that my better half made for the party (it was a Princess party with a movie at the end of the night, Beauty and the Beast, if you must know.)


If you’re paying close attention, you may have noticed that we DID lose a couple of balloons, but these were lost AT the destination, and thus not in the transport or difference between traveling with the X5 vs. the ActiveE.

So, what did this exercise prove. The ActiveE can make a quick stand-in for the X5, in a pinch, but it’s definitely one of the reasons that my Costco trips have gotten cheaper. I really can’t carry much there. Just more than I initially thought.

Which leads me to the second part of the thesis. These challenges occurred because we’re using a converted 1 series BMW. The hump does not exist in the Coda or the Tesla Model S.

Here are two shots from the Coda’s cavernous trunk:



or the Tesla Model S



I am sure that neither one will haul as much as the X5, however, I would guess the upcoming Tesla Model X will.  I am sure that either the Coda or the Tesla Model S CAN haul more than the ActiveE.

I would think that the upcoming BMW i3 will ALSO have more hauling capacity than the ActiveE.

i3 Concept Trunk

More i3 Pictures here.

So, as much as I really enjoy the ActiveE, the only positive of having to give it back to BMW at the end of the two years is I have something to look forward to with the NEXT generation of EVs.

Checking out the lower end of the electric car range… Introducing the Coda

Active E and Coda parked side by side 1


Active E and Coda parked side by side 4

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking the Century City Shopping Center –

View Larger Map

And ran across the Coda Experience Center… Having only driven my ActiveE, I wanted to have a frame of reference on what makes the ActiveE a fun electric car versus other electric cars. Granted this is like comparing a 328i with a Honda Civic…  But I thought what the heck.  I’d like to check it out.

Before I did the behind the wheel test.  One of the things that I noticed at Coda was the price – $37,500 USD without any incentives.  The other was the included battery pack – 31 KwH…  That’s 4 more than the ActiveE’s usable charge, this means a longer range…  They claim 125 miles on the current model whereas a previous model was 150 miles… Lastly, trunk space – it has it!



So, I went out on a test drive with one of the Coda Associates and it drives ok.  The regenerative braking felt non-existent.  My Civic Hybrid felt stronger on the regen.  The power was akin to a Civic and it definitely does not fall into the “fun to drive” category that the ActiveE and other BMWs fall into.

Seeing that this vehicle really wasn’t targeted to the BMW or Tesla pricepoints, it took time to have to keep my biases from clouding my test.  One of the positives that was touted for this car was that it charges at 6.6kWh not 3.3kWh as the Leaf.  Of course, the AE goes at least as fast as this car, if not faster to charge, but the pricepoint is also much cheaper for the Coda.

The picture below shows why this car charges at twice the speed as the Leaf, it has two of these things vs 1 on the Leaf

IMGP6069One shortcoming of the demonstration vehicles that I tested was the GPS/Battery management system on the vehicles were non-functioning, and thus had to rely on testing it at the “experience center”.  Looks nice below, but couldn’t tell while I was driving the demo.

Needless to say, I wasn’t overly impressed.  The car has an old stlying, perhaps in the 80s, so as not to be so old as to be classic a la re-tooled Thunderbird or Mustang.  I like the range in the vehicle and the faster L2 charging than the Leaf, but it is just too plain for me to want.


During my test drive, my sales associate mentioned that the batteries are a different chemical composition than other electric car manufacturers and that the company sells the cars with a 10 year warranty on the batteries.  This is impressive, but I can’t really see myself wanting to drive this car for 10 years, whereas the 2 year lease on my ActiveE just seems TOO SHORT.

The Coda seems very smart to target a more “affordable” electric car segment than Tesla or Fisker, so in that manner I feel that they are smart to target that segment.  However, the equivalent trim in an ICE vehicle would probably be less than half the $38k that Coda is asking for, so I don’t know how many folks would cough up the $38k for a utilitarian vehicle like the Coda.  Frankly if they styled the car to be less utilitarian and more stylish, folks might like it better.

Just my opinion.

If you find yourself near the Century City Shopping Mall and have the time to take your own test drive, I suggest you do.  It was definitely useful in reinforcing my love of my ActiveE and my continuing quest to figure out what my “next” electric will be.

For more pictures, click on the link to the Flickr photostream.

Link to Coda’s corporate website