Home Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions

We had the opportunity to upgrade and make some changes to our home Electric Vehicle (EV) charging setup and thought to share that with you.

I went back to look at my posts to see if I could update what I thought I had written about in the past.  It turns out that I must have shared this information to the public via forum posts and not on the blog, so I figured to go over home charging today.

As a long-time multi-EV owner, one of the things that we’ve setup at our home is the ability to charge our EVs at the same time. This can be as simple as running several 120V plugs, but when you drive the miles that we had on our daily commute, 120V service is just not enough.  As a result, we’ve made accommodations to upgrade our EV charging to varying grades of 240V service.

So, to explain what I mean by varying grades of 240V service, I need to go off on a short tangent, I’m not an electrician, but having been involved with EVs for over four years has made me understand some EV basics.

1) Battery capacity and EV range is measured in kWh of storage (your consumption rate determines what that range is in miles or kilometers.)  This is why the Model S and Model X is sold with differing models corresponding with battery size.

2) The speed to re-fill this battery capacity is measured in several ways, but basically in kW of power.  The higher the number, the faster that a car can charge. So, this kW maximum for a charger is the amount of Volts multiplied by the Amps of the service.  Furthermore, an EV charges at 80% of the total Amperage that the circuit is rated for, so a 40A circuit can use a maximum of 32A to charge.

On a basic, common North American plug outlet, 120 Volt x 15 Amp service, an EV driver can use 120V x 12A = 1.44 kW of power.  (On Model S, this is a maximum of 4 miles per hour charge rate, under ideal conditions.)  It is interesting to note that many early EVs of this current generation (2011 and 2012 Nissan LEAF and Chevy Volts) had a 3.3 kW charger.  Even though, I believe, previous generations of EVs (GM EV-1, RAV4 1st gen, etc.) had 6.6 kW charging.  Many current EVs now provide at least a 6.6 kW charger.

Our old ActiveE was rated at 7.2 kW (originally, but by the end this was de-rated closer to 5.5 kW by software because of some issues.)  My wife’s Roadster has a 16.8 kW charger and our Model S is equipped with dual chargers for a total of 20 kW charging capability.

That being said, the higher the voltage one uses the amperage of the wire has to increase to give you a quicker charge.  So, to get a 16.8 kW service for the Roadster to run at full speed the Electric Vehicle Supply equipment (EVSE/i.e. electric vehicle charger) has to have a 90 Amp circuit to run at 70 Amps continuously over 240V.  (Remember the 80% rule for charging.)  So, to get the 20 kW charger to work on a Model S, a 100 Amp wire and breaker needs to run to get that going (19.2 kW, but who’s counting.)

I digress… Back to the point…  The higher the amperage for the circuit installed, the thicker AND more expensive the wire will be.

I am sure that for my North American EV readers, many have one EV plug to provide 240V service charge their car. How many places to charge 240V do you have at home? When we first took delivery of our BMW Active E in 2012, we didn’t have a single 240V service installed in our garage.

We actually spent a few weeks charging the car on 120V.  Something that those of us that follow Thomas J. Thias (the Amazing Chevy Volt) on Twitter see him espouse the greater than 1.5 Billion charging locations at this voltage in North America – 120V regular outlets (at 1-4 miles per hour, not normally relevant to me, but as Thomas reminds us, it’s a “good enough” solution for 80% of the drivers on their average commute.)

Just this evening, September 27, 2016, Thomas Tweeted the following out (in reply to a ZeroMC tweet)

New BMW ActiveE first night at home 2/23. 5

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

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

Needless to say, that got old FAST…

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

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

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

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

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To install the units, we had to use Clean Fuel Connection and their sub-contractors for the work and it was a pretty painless program. After signing the contract they were at our house two days later with the EVSE and our days of charging Level 1 was put in the back burner.

The charger was hardwired and the installers did a great job.

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Here it is on the day we first installed the EVSE and we charged the Active E on that first Level 2 charger.

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With this Level 2 setup and public Level 2 charging we were able to drive the Active E 54,321 total miles during the two years of the lease.  Several years later, the intelligent features of this charger became unsupported because the mobile network that the signals rode on was being decommissioned by AT&T.  So, today, we’ve lost the “smart” functionality of the charger, but it still works great with the Model S.  So, our first dedicated EV charger was installed in March 2012.

A year and a half after we started driving the Active E, we purchased my wife’s Roadster and finalized the order for our Model S.  Since we were already “experienced” rEVolutionaries.  We had a good idea of what it takes to charge a car and how long it took to do so.  We decided to install several NEMA outlets in the house, two NEMA 14-50 outlets and one NEMA 6-50.  We picked the NEMA 6-50 because, in 2013, the first “plug” ready non-Tesla EVSEs were being produced and we wanted to be able to charge “anything” off that and didn’t feel the need to recover miles faster than a 50 Amp feed on either the Roadster that we took or the Model S that was soon to arrive in November 2013.  The approximately 25 miles per hour that we anticipated to recover on a 50 Amp circuit (40 Amps usable) was going to be enough for our drive.

When we originally ordered our Roadster, we were unsure as to what sort of charging we would get with it that we ordered a Leviton 40A EVSE to deliver the wire speed of the NEMA 6-50 at full speed.  Here is that Leviton being installed for the Roadster to use on its side of the garage.  At the time of the purchase, this EVSE was selling for approximately $1200 elsewhere and Amazon sold the same model for $1050.  In 2016, this same EVSE is now $699.

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The EVSE powered up.  However, we ended up returning the Leviton EVSE as it was incompatible with the BMW Active E and made some WEIRD noises and sounded like it was having a BAD time, electrically speaking.  Furthermore, it turned out that we were going to get a Roadster MC240 with my wife’s car, so that can take full use of the NEMA 6-50 that we installed for the Leviton EVSE.  (We just needed an adapter to go from NEMA 14-50 to NEMA 6-50 that we had made for us.)  We charged the car on this MC240 for a short while (Tesla actually stepped down the charge from 40A to 30A on the MC240 on a 50A circuit) because we wanted a faster recharge time, so we found another Roadster owner selling their Roadster UMC and purchased that unit with a 6-50 Adapter to fit directly onto the circuit that our electrician installed for the Leviton.  And used that equipment to continue to charge the Roadster until today.

Here is a photo of the NEMA 14-50 outlet on the other side of the garage from the NEMA 6-50 installed for the Roadster.

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We wanted to makes sure to protect it from the elements.

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When we were having our electrician wire up the outlet for the Roadster, we wanted to future-proof  that location and asked to have 70A service pulled in.  To maximize the 70A breaker, we split that wire to two NEMA connectors the one (NEMA 6-50) in the garage for the Roadster and another one on the outside wall of the garage (a NEMA 14-50.)  This sharing of the one breaker is not really the “code” for these connections.  However, as long as we manually manage the Amperage on the line when using two different vehicles on each of the NEMA connectors, we should be fine.  (Remember the 80% rule, so a 70 Amp breaker means that we don’t draw more than 56A continuously on the circuit.) One of the benefits of driving any Tesla is its ability to be managed “downward” on the amount of current to draw from a circuit.  So, if a newer 6.6 kW Leaf were to be plugged into that receptacle and draw 32A, we still have 24A to use for the Roadster or the Model S.

As I mentioned earlier, we lucked out when we took delivery of our Roadster, we were provided with an original MC240 (which works only with the 1.5 Roadster) and we shortly thereafter got the Roadster UMC which is the pre-cursor for the Model S Mobile Connector (MC) and its replaceable terminals.  The Roadster one continues to be more flexible than the Model S MC in that it still has ten choices for different terminals for the product, we bought the NEMA 14-50 and NEMA 6-50 adapters to work with the plugs that we have in our garage.

We also ordered Quick Charge Power’s Jesla, however this was before it was even a QCP product.  Tony Williams worked with me to customize a Model S MC to be a Jesla. I wanted something that would work with ANY EV out there and the Jesla would plug into any of the other outlets in the garage and in the exterior of the house for when we have visitors, like my mom and her Nissan Leaf.

Here’s a picture of the Roadster charging on one of our exterior NEMA 14-50 outlets.

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We had the same protective enclosure for the NEMA 14-50 that we installed on the exterior side of the house.  Additionally, should we ever decide to get an RV, we can plug an RV on the side of the house as well since this plug is dedicated to its own 50 Amp circuit.

Here is that outlet without the Roadster plugged into it.

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That is the MC240 that the Roadster originally came with.  It has a hardwired NEMA 14-50 plug on the end of it.

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It’s just on our driveway, but away from blocking the garage. This was convenient, but not the ideal place for the Roadster, the noisiest that a Roadster gets is when it is CHARGING, so we make sure, in the interest of keeping the peace with our neighbor, to have an outlet ready for the Roadster in the garage.

During the months between November 2013 and February 2014, we kicked the Active E out of the garage and it ended up charging on the driveway.

Here are a couple of pictures I took when we used to have all three cars, all plugged in and charging.

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The J1772 EVSE that is plugged into the Active E during this duty cycle is the Jesla that I had asked Tony Williams of Quick Charge Power make for me.  It is great to see all the business that he has since built from the time that he made this product for me.

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So, for several years we’ve had a great set-up at the house that allowed us to charge four EVs at once and not sure if we’ve ever have needed to do this… I do remember my mom visiting with her Leaf and charging it. The Model S was already charged, so I could just plug her Leaf into that J1772 (the original Chargepoint CT-500 from 2012). This photo was from Thanksgiving 2014, and the Active E was already back with BMW for at least 9 months at this point.  You can see the Roadster UMC plugged to the wall beside the Roadster (using a NEMA 6-50 at this point.)

Looks like the Family is complete... we can start Thanksgiving lunch! (3 EVs in our garage/driveway)

That’s a long way to catch you up to what we just had done this past weekend… in 2016.

Well, a short while ago, we’ve had some charger challenges with the Roadster.  During testing, we kept swapping chargers to see the effects, and as a result of one of these tests, the MC240 that came with our car died and was not repairable.  Our service center provided us a replacement as a result of this failure because we still had our CPO warranty in effect. The MC240 is quite rare, so the service center provided us with a second Roadster UMCs.

When we took the “new” UMC home and plugged it in, it turned out that the new one was “flaky” (or, I suspect that there’s something with the Roadster, but we’re still figuring that out.)

Now, it has been difficult for Tesla to track down the UMC to begin with, and they are quite pricey, so, instead of trying to find ANOTHER Roadster UMC, I asked if they could just replace the dead MC240/flaky Roadster UMC with a new Model S/Model X High Power Wall Connector (HPWC.)

My point was that they were producing more of these HPWCs, the price for the unit has dropped significantly and is about a third the cost of another replacement Roadster UMC. The retail price for the Roadster UMC is $1,500 without a NEMA 14-50 connector, and adding that connector is an additional $100 for a total of $1,600, and the Model S/Model X HPWC is now $550 for the 24 foot model. Luckily, my logic was deemed to be a sound one, and we were able to get a 24 foot Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC (ver 2? (the one that can be daisy-chained)).  I figure that between the Roadster UMC, the Jesla, and our CAN SR and CAN JR, we have enough portable Level 2 capability for the vehicle.

Several weeks later, mid-last week, we get word that the replacement Tesla Model S/Model X HPWC was at the service center ready for pick up.

We went to pick up the box from the service center and take it home.  It wasn’t going to fit in the Roadster, so we took an S (the service center’s loaner as the Roadster is in the shop for its annual service) to bring this box home.

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One thing about the Model S/X High Power Wall Connector is it is glorious and aesthetically pleasing EVSE.

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Unboxing the HPWC…

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In order to install the unit, it had to be hardwired, and I’m not an electrician, remember.  I scheduled our electrician to do the work this past Sunday, September 25.

As I mentioned earlier, we ran 70A service to the garage for the Roadster and the two shared NEMA outlets (the NEMA 6-50 and NEMA 14-50). I figured to have him use that feed for the HPWC.  Since it seems that we’re now predominantly a Tesla family, I also had one other change that I requested.  Between our Tesla bias and the fact that there are now more EVSE providers that are selling NEMA 14-50 plug-in EVSEs, not just NEMA 6-50 ones, I went ahead and asked our electrician to replace the NEMA 6-50 outlet for the Roadster with a NEMA 14-50 one.

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The new HPWC can go to 80A on a 100A wire, but it was cost prohibitive to run that wire three years ago.  I was glad that we ran 70A because we are now able to take advantage of 56A power for charging (when we’re not using the NEMA 14-50 outlets) we’re able to charge a Model S (with dual chargers, or enabled for greater than 48A for the newer ones) at 34 miles per hour.  The Model S normally uses the old reliable Chargepoint CT-500 at 30A and approximately 18 miles per hour of charging.  So, if we’re in a hurry or if the Chargepoint “misbehaves” we now have the means to “charge quicker.”

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Besides, the nearest supercharger to us is Fountain Valley and though it is a supercharger, it is easily the busiest one in the area as is evidenced by this photo around 1pm on 9/27/2016.

That’s six cars waiting and eight charging (there were seven cars waiting just before I took this picture.)

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Additionally, we still have the NEMA outlets (now all 14-50s). We just have to manage the load effectively, and safely. I could use the advanced features of the new HPWC and daisy chain them in the future, but I think we’re OK with the way we’re set up for now. In the meantime, we just have to do the math and run a total of 56A on the feed. One requirement currently is that all these vehicles will have to be Teslas because it’s difficult to limit each feed to only 16A…  We can, conceivably charge two Teslas at 20A and a Chevy Spark, Chevy Volt, or 2011/2012 Nissan Leaf on 16A of power.  As we mentioned earlier, many EVs now run at 6.6kW or higher and that’s 32A of power on 240V.

So, in 2016, we are now able to plug in five vehicles to charge at 240V service in our home…

Looks like we’re ready for the rEVolution and hosting an EV meetup…

Or to have family visit us…  My sister and her husband just added a Volkswagen E-Golf to their garage a few months ago and, as expected, my gearhead brother-in-law has been “digging” driving electric. (I think that he’s garaged his Porsche ICE and taken to driving the E-Golf places.)

Furthermore, once we get our Model 3 reservations delivered, we’re ready for those as well.  We might need a bigger driveway and garage!

To the Bay Area and Back in One Day

A little over a week ago, we returned home from a day trip to the Bay Area and back. We didn’t set out on Thursday morning to go on a 22 hour road trip. We figured to find a place to stop overnight once we got to the Bay Area.  However, we did end up on a 22 hour drive and this is the post of that particular trip.  After our 808 mile day on our Here, There, and EVerywhere series, a drive of approximately 400 miles isn’t “too bad.”

We started our trip on Thursday morning after an overnight charge in our garage.  Figuring to head to the Bay Area using the I-5 route means driving through the Grapevine and since I haven’t driven that route in years, I didn’t remember if the climb was both ways or if it was just one way, so we range charged.

One question that is often asked by folks waiting for delivery of their Model S is whether to purchase the HPWC and dual chargers.  As you can see below, the Model S was drawing 20 miles per hour on 30A.  At the time we were faced with that decision the HPWC was over $1000 (was it $1500? I don’t remember) for the device alone.  Additionally, because our garage is the furthest point from our Main Electrical Panel, a 100A circuit was prohibitively expensive.  So, we opted to use an existing Chargepoint EVSE that I had installed for the Active E.  We opted to install 2 NEMA 14-50s and a NEMA 6-50 throughout the garage and outside to accomodate up to 4 EVs charging at the same time.

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We rolled out of the garage just a tad under “full” but with enough range to tackle the drive from home to Tejon Ranch.

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Moving the car out of the garage requires a bit of a maneuver and takes a lot of going back and forth.

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Southern California Traffic

One of the challenges of leaving Southern California during the rush hour is the amount of time spent in traffic.  The navigation does an adequate job of routing us through traffic, but it doesn’t calculate “potential frustration” with certain routes and though I-5 is the most direct route to Tejon Ranch, we opted to go I-605 to I-210 (less immediate traffic) and more.  Note the estimate below of a 10:31 AM arrival to the destination through the original route.

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The other benefit of the longer route that we took was access to the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle or carpool) lanes.  In some parts these lanes can be as congested as other lanes, whereas in many they are still beneficial for drivers.  In many of the routes, an HOV only requires two passengers or an HOV eligible vehicle with a sticker (such as an EV, PHEV, Hydrogen, or CNG.)  Though I have some opinions on PHEV eligibility, unfortunately the legislature is fairly lenient about that.

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Visitors to Southern California freeways might get confused by the on ramp stoplights. One of my close friends, who is British and was visiting from England, was pulled over when he just passed through one of these many years ago.  The one in the photograph is between I-605 and I-210 and requires all lanes to stop and proceed with 2 cars per green. There are many on ramps in the Los Angeles area that actually only uses the on ramp stoplight for one of the lanes, the other lane is an HOV lane and does not use the stoplight.  This is not the case in the one below.

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As we were driving along, I noticed that we passed 44,000 miles early on this drive, 44,008 miles.

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Grapevine

And we are thankfully out of SoCal traffic.  The folks going the other direction, however, are heading into it.  There is a reason that California is called the Golden State. And part of me wonders if that’s more because of the Golden Brown that the hills take rather than the “Gold Rush” of the 1800s.

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In the Winter, this route can be closed to traffic when it snows.  Which happens occasionally.  But, we’re in a drought and it’s Summer, so, that’s not a worry.

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Ooh a water tower.  We have to build them lower to the ground in “earthquake country.”  I do wonder how much water Gorman actually has in that water tower, we’re in the fourth year of the drought, after all.

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Apparently, the Grapevine drive is downhill when heading North. So, I guess we’ll have to pay attention to what we charge on the way back for that climb.

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Peering West from the car during the descent we capture this view with our camera. The landscape scene is quite stunning and in looking at the picture now, we wonder whether we can pass it off as a painting.

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Tejon Ranch

The exit for the Tejon Ranch Supercharger is ahead, away from the outlet mall on the East Side of the road.

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Take the West exit from the Northbound 5.

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Believe the sign, that’s one weird curve coming up.

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There looks to be two Starbucks in this exit, one East (probably in the mall) and one West, a free standing one with a drive through. We opted for the one up the street from the superchargers on the East side.  We futilely waited in the drive through, but the line was just too long (wasted 20 minutes and gave up.)  I figured that we would probably see another one on the I-5 drive.

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We would have actually beat the original estimate to arrive at the charger by at least five minutes had we not decided to waste time at the Starbucks line.

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Sharing the same parking lot as the chargers is a Yogurtland and Chipotle.  I went to see about using their “facilities” the Yogurtland doesn’t open until 11:00 am, but the Chipotle was open.

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These guys in the pickup truck did ICE the SC, but only for a few minutes. They were so excited to see us charging and had questions that he drove right up, jumped out and started to fire away.  We had a good conversation and they drove off soon after we were done talking.

Supercharging at Tejon. These guys were excited to see a @TeslaMotors Model S, that they stopped by to ask questions

On the next leg of the drive to Harris Ranch, we swapped drivers, so it was my turn to take pictures of the view outside.

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It’s amazing what farmers in the Central Valley are able to grow in such an arid place. Not really sure what they’re planting and my wife and I spent the time guessing what they are.

The cows that we saw on this drive were all penned up and had shade that were installed over them.  They were carport like structures.

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Since I wasn’t driving, I took the opportunity to play with Periscope and Twitter again. The first attempt at Periscope was about a minute.

The second video was a little longer, I didn’t get to archive the questions that folks were asking on the drive.

Is that Corn being planted outside of our window?

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I wonder what those trees are? I was guessing almonds for some reason. I’m not really very attuned to farms and such.

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We passed some kind of processing plant, I was guessing for the trees that we just passed.

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It would seem that farming in California is a lot of water politics. I can’t verify it, but I think these signs have been around before the current drought. I swear that these were here the last time I did this drive on I-5, which is longer than the current drought.

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I really wonder how old those signs are.

Harris Ranch Supercharger and Battery Swap

And just like that we’re at the Harris Ranch Supercharger.  There were already two other Model S parked and charging when we got there. Luckily there are six stalls and we took one of the ones that was not paired with either of the other two Model S.

Each Model S at the Harris Ranch Supercharger was charging at one of the pairs. Reading the notes on this location, apparently we were very lucky because these stalls are often full of other Model S with many waiting for a charge.

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The view in front of the superchargers is a restaurant that we ended up skipping.

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We were getting quite a fast charge at the location. When one doesn’t have to share the feed with another Model S, the speed of charge is even greater than when it is split.

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Harris Ranch is also the site of the Tesla Battery Swap Station. I tried contacting the station to see if we can get an invite to use it early. At $80 for the roundtrip, it’s not cheap, but it will also help save time for a very boring stop in Harris Ranch. Unfortunately I was told that there was no way to get an invite early and that I would just have to wait. So, I took pictures of the signage for the swap station instead.

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Here’s a picture of the entrance or is it the exit of the Swap station. We enviously took a picture and drove off. Maybe next time.

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We got enough charge to skip Gilroy and head to the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory as our first stop in the Bay Area was in Oakland.

One of the things about the Harris Ranch location is its proximity to a lot of cattle. If the wind blows a particular way, you will smell the cows from miles away. We were somewhat fortunate at Harris Ranch in the daytime as the winds were in our favor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter because the drive through I-5 will have you pass by these cattle pens. And the cabin air filter on the Model S is no match for the smell of cow just North of the Harris Ranch supercharger.

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There were lots of cows for miles.

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The drive toward Gilroy has us go through a reservoir area that truly reflects the sorry state of the California drought.

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The Golden hue of the dry brush is quite stunning.

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The reservoir on the other side of the hill climb shows how really low the water levels have gotten.  If you look at the striations on the shore-side, you will notice rings.  Those rings are where the water should be.  On a positive note, there seems to be an abundance of windmils on that mountain ridge.

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This shot shows the water as it buttresses up on the dam on the other side.

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Better shots of the windmills, why don’t we also have a solar farm out there California? Readers from our Here, There, and EVerywhere series will note a change of tone here.  Since I’m a California resident,  I have higher expectations of my own state.  So, there.

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This route is pretty well traveled.

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My wife captured the scene below and it’s another that leads us to wonder, photograph or painting.

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We ended up passing Gilroy, as planned and was on the 101 North going toward the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory.  I was quite excited when we spotted our first Volkswagen E-Golf in the US.  Had to fumble for a camera, but my wife was able to catch the E-Golf as it took the exit. (Note the white sticker on the rear bumper.)

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Tesla Motors Fremont Factory Supercharger

We arrived at the supercharger at the Tesla Fremont Factory at 4:25 pm, a few minutes passed eight hours from our departure. All stalls were full when we arrived and we had to wait about two minutes before one freed up.

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At this point of the drive, we’ve driven about 400 miles and have to drive another 20 miles North and then back across the Bay to make it to Sparky’s Garage in San Carlos, CA for the party this evening.

It was on the drive that we decided to see if we can just make this drive a “day” trip and head back home today as well.  Our decision was solidified by the very expensive options for lodging in the Bay Area that we were seeing as we looked for places to stay while charging at the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory, so we figured to skip any alcoholic refreshments at the party.

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I attached the car to the open Tesla Supercharger network that I saw while charging, the result was a strong signal, but no connection.  Had to reboot the main display again and disconnect from that network.

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We made it to our destination in Oakland.  Turned back around and headed to the party in San Carlos.  Since we were on the other side of the bay, we decided to take the San Mateo Bridge (CA-92) across the bay. One thing about traveling in our own state is we are able to use the same transponder as we do at home, so it was a lot more convenient to cross the bridge. Additionally, it seems that the bridge toll of $5.00 is half-price for carpools, so we were only charged $2.50 for this crossing.

My wife took a photo of what looks to be “old windmills” on the side of the low-tide entering the bay.  I wonder if that’s what they are.

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It is wildly disconcerting to have water on both sides of us at such a low point.  It felt as if it won’t take that much for the water to go over the side of the San Mateo Bridge.

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Sparky’s Garage, San Carlos, CA

So, the trip up to the Bay Area was two-fold.  The first part involved our quick stop at Oakland, and the second was to attend a party that eMotorwerks and Wattime.org was holding to announce the launch of the first EVSE that plans its charge based upon “cleaner” energy supply.

Thanks for the party @eMotorWerks, great product launch to have folks be able to decide to charge from renewable sources.

 

The party was well attended.  It seems that I find myself behind Jack Brown at many events, and he’s the tall guy right in front of me at this event as well. I need to either get taller, or find a place off to the side of him instead. 🙂

Jack’s Take Charge and Go tags were the giveaway at the party and it’s a great improvement over the free Plug In America EV Card that I usually use.  The hang tags are attached to the charging nozzle with a red and green side to say whether it’s “ok” to unplug the car, provide the operator’s contact information, and an estimate of the time that the operator would be done charging (provided the operator carries a dry-erase pen with them).  I think that I will probably be moving toward this method at charging stations, as soon as I get a dry-erase pen.

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The product announcement itself was quite interesting. As the title of the blog is quick to point out, I am accidentally environmental. We didn’t join the rEVolution to be green, we just ended up being environmental as we became more involved in electric vehicles. I am sure there are more things that we can do to be better and we’ll get there. The folks at Green Car Reports had a good write-up on the product launch and I suppose that it’s a good compromise for those that don’t have solar panels or their own windmill to try to minimize their use of “dirtier” sources of electricity.

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Wattime’s Executive Director, Gavin McCormick can be seen on the shot below discussing what it is that Wattime is doing. They provide manufacturers with a method to enable the device to know whether drawing power at a certain time will force the utility to source power from power plants that were not using renewable energy.  He was saying that a five minute delay could be the difference between dirty or clean power sources being on or offline.

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As commendable as the goal of Watttime,org is, it is a “guess.”  Granted, it’s an educated guess and it’s better than what is out there, in terms of the environmental concern.  But I am also a capitalist. I am perfectly willing to use the structures in place that motivate me to charge my EV at the lowest rates available. Rather than use an algorithm to see whether we’re carbon neutral or the like, we installed solar panels on the roof of our home to ensure that we offset our usage with as much clean energy as our roof can generate (with summer peaks around 40 kWh of production.)

I suppose the next step for the manufacturer is to allow users of this algorithm to set guidelines of how much they are willing to subsidize others in order to delay their charge for “cleaner” grid power. As with most things, it’s a complicated decision and it’s at least commendable to have this information available to those that wish to make use of it. I wonder how many people will take them up on it. We have enough EVSE and plugs at home to charge four vehicles at the same time, so I wasn’t really in the market for another one.

So, after enjoying the company of fellow EV enthusiasts, and many Electronuts (former BMW Active E Electronauts), who were at the party. We headed South toward home.  Our first stop was to supercharge again at Mountain View so that we can check out the new liquid cooled superchargers and range charge to skip Gilroy, again.

Mountain View Supercharger

The Mountain View Supercharger is the first new supercharger with the liquid cooled cables.  Tesla announced this improvement in supercharger technology during the 2014 Annual shareholder meeting the previous month.  Transport Evolved wrote an article and covered a video that was filmed at the location by another Tesla owner and I wanted to see it first-hand.

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We initially picked stall 3A to charge because it and its partner stall 3B were open.

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However, we saw that stall 3A had a blue note saying that it was designed for disabled access and to use it last. So we moved. Now, to ensure that we get the fastest charge, we moved to 3B, the stall paired with this one, figuring that it we were supposed to use it last, then it should stay free the longest, and thus not need to split its feed with another car until all other paired stalls were full.

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I took photos of the other stalls around us.

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I wanted to capture photos of the thinner/liquid-cooled charging cables.

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Has the new circular proximity button for charge door and cable release.

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Since the cable is thinner, it is more flexible than previous generations of superchargers.

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To show the thickness of the new cable, I figured to compare it to a quarter. (A 25 cent coin for those non Americans and unaware of our terms.)

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Though the first photograph of the charging showed a 197 mile per hour rate, this actually sped up to close to 340 miles per hour.  It would seem that the chargers in Mountain View are faster than others and we were planning on skipping Gilroy again to get to Harris Ranch directly, we decided to range charge the car again.

So, while waiting for the charge to complete, I did another Periscope session that we archived on Youtube.

As I continue to note, Periscope doesn’t do a good job of saving the chat comments from folks, so I transcribed it below.

@Tim61588: Is that an Eaton supercharger?
@Tim61588: or roush
@Legibly: How long does that last on full?
@ThaddiusT: Insane mode!
@Tim61588: how long to charge from near empty?
[Unknown]: Is that the new P85D?
@ThaddiusT: Meh. Still cool tho. Love tesla
@Tim61588: can it do a burnout
@torfn: and your happy with it?
@DspkMsn: Please show the centre display
@ThaddiusT: Damn. That’s ridiculous. Never seen the display
@Tim61588: Have you done the battery swap program
@DspkMsn: Wow
@STenczynski: Tesla?
@Legibly: Pretty badasa
@JeremyHolleb: Does A/C use really destroy battery life???
@Legibly: Badass
@BradlyBurgundy: This thing have insane mode?
[Unknown]: [missed question]
@DspkMsn: Does it get 400 mi range?
@ThaddiusT: I see model s’ all day around Sunnyvale
@JeremyHolleb: 2.7 seconds
@Tim61588: Have you raced anything yet
[Unknown]: [missed question]
@BradlyBurgundy: How long to charge?
@STenczynski: Doesn’t one of the tesla model drive by itself?
@Legibly: Does it take gas too?
@ThaddiusT: There should be a burger joint there too. Make a killing.
@trprevett: Autopilot
@Legibly: So if you were to go for a cross country drive you’d have to find a charger station?
@STenczynski: @trprevett yes
@ThaddiusT: Meh. Starbucks. All about Philz.
@Legibly: Alright I’ll check it out cool
@tprevett: You tesla employee?
@ThaddiusT: You from around here?
[Unknown]: P85d?
@ThaddiusT: You check out the plant while your here today?
@tprevett: Gonna get a 3 when they come out
@Legibly: How long have you had it?
@ThaddiusT: Nice. Good drive
@tprevett: Any problems with it?
@ThaddiusT: Mind if I ask the final cost?
@Legibly: He said any problems with it?
[Unknown]: What’s your opinion on the bmw i8?
@ThaddiusT: I hear the i3 engine was optional
@ArguablyDefined: Talk about the gaskets. Please.
@ThaddiusT: Chassis flex?
@ArguablyDefined: That’s unusual. Thanks.
@Legibly: Can you show us outside the car please?
@ThaddiusT: They look sexy

We got a full charge and left Mountain View to head to Harris Ranch directly.  Seeing that we were planning on making it all the way home from the Bay Area, my wife, and co-driver, went to take a nap as I drove us to the next supercharger.

On our way to Gilroy, the car hit a repetitive, significant mileage of 44,444 miles.  We’re really racking the miles on this car with all the “short range” driving we’ve done.  😉

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After passing the Gilroy superchargers and on the way to Harris Ranch, crews were doing overnight construction with only one lane open on a two-lane road.

So we found ourselves stopped for what I would estimate to be 20 to 30 minutes.  We were parked on our side of the road waiting for the other side to complete their drive through the construction zone.

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When it became our turn to go ahead, we were led through the construction site slowly by a pilot vehicle.

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It was a dark drive, but still not as dark as what we encountered in other parts of the country.  Additionally, there were no “Deer Crossing” signs to worry about.

Harris Ranch Supercharger and Battery Swap (part deux.)

And a few hours later, we find ourselves back in Harris Ranch Supercharger again.  We joined another Model S charging here.  The Model S was a family from Napa on the way to San Diego for vacation. They told us of pending overnight construction and possible detour. They had spoken with the CHP earlier. So, we decided to fill up the car with at least 40 miles additional rated range.

When not sharing a charger, the rates can get really fast.  The one in Harris Ranch was going around 315 miles per hour.  The Tesla battery swap station is closed and only available from 9 am to 5 pm local time, so that would not have helped on the return journey this evening.

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I wanted to compare the Mountain View supercharger cable that we photographed earlier, so, here is the Harris Ranch one.

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I wanted to give two views of the cable with the quarter, so the older cables really are that much thicker than the new ones at Mountain View.

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I wonder how much faster the liquid cooled cables will be able to charge. I saw it them peak around 340 miles per hour when I was charging.  The original cables are quite bulky and others have found them harder to work with.

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Had my wife continue to rest while I went over to grab some “gas station coffee” from the station close to the supercharger and proceeded South to Tejon Ranch.

The construction zone that we were warned about ended up being a non-event, though at times, we found ourselves on the “other” side of I-5 at times as they were working on the Southbound side of the freeway.

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Tejon Ranch

You know what happens when we show blurry pictures.  Normally, it’s time to stop and find a place to sleep for the night, but we were so close to home from Tejon Ranch.  We plugged in and charged up. We only need to go a little under 120 miles to home.

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My wife felt rested from our drive from Mountain View to Tejon Ranch, so we swapped drivers and she proceeded to take us home, after we got a charge. She took the tough climb up the Grapevine and decided to just drive all the way home, skipping all three superchargers on the West Side, Culver City, Hawthorne, and Redondo Beach.

At that time of the morning, if we had stopped at any of the superchargers, we could have gotten stuck in traffic on the freeway, besides our bed was calling us home.

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After nearly 22 hours on the road, we were home. That was a LONG DAY. Of course, we did do a few things, attended a party, and such. And another interesting mileage pattern in our garage – 44,800 miles. The 852.9 mile journey actually felt shorter than Day One of our Here, There, and EVerywhere trip, perhaps it was the long break in between each half of the drive.  Either way, it’s good preparation for next week’s TMC Connect 2015.

Appreciating the past and hopeful for the future of EVs.

This past weekend, my wife and I joined our fellow members of the Orange County Tesla Club on a visit to the Nethercutt Museum and Collection in Sylmar (Los Angeles), CA. [SIDE NOTE: For those not from Southern California, the city of Los Angeles is the largest city in Los Angeles County and within the city there are distinct neighborhoods that have their own identities, but are part of the city of Los Angeles. Hollywood is an example of such a neighborhood, as is Sylmar. West Hollywood, on the other hand, is its own city. As is Long Beach, where the Formula E race will be held on Saturday, April 4, 2015. (which is why I wrote Sylmar with (Los Angeles) in parentheses, that’s my own editorial on it, and not convention.) Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.]

The Nethercutt family are the founders and heirs to the Merle Norman cosmetic company and have built an impressive collection of automobiles and other “mechanical art”. The OC Tesla Club has been itching to have longer drives for our group outings and this venture into Los Angeles (City and County) was just one such drive.

So, the day was meant to appreciate the company of fellow Tesla enthusiasts and appreciate the Nethercutt Museum and Collection. As with most automobile museums, I was prepared to view beautiful and restored relics of the past… ICE cars.

Well, I was in for a surprise and a treat. (The benefits of not really paying attention to the marketing brochures and online information about what was in store for me at the Museum and Collection. The only thing that stuck to my head from the materials was the restored locomotive and Private Train Car in the back, and that was pretty much it.)

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As was pointed out by some of my fellow OC Tesla Club members, as impressive as the car collection is, the automated music collection was even more impressive. Unfortunately they didn’t allow us to record the audio or video of the event, but here are a few photos from that

This piano entertained us while we strolled the car collection:

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and the piece de resistance was this automated/programmable pipe organ that came from a movie theater (for silent films) from Denver

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You can see the rest of the visit in my flickr album.

But what does the Nethercutt have to do with EVs? Well…

I love to play “EV Spotting” and in the guided tour portion of our visit (at the Collection this time, and not at the self-guided museum section) in the ground level of the visit were TWO EVs!

Front view

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Back view

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Most EV junkies would recognize the more modern EV as the pre-cursor to this generation of EVs and focus of the documentary, “Who Killed the Electric Car?” (and the movement which spawned Plug in America, the 1997 GM EV1. The other one is older and not as well known. The 1914 Rauch & Lang Model B4 Electric Brougham.

Both vehicles were shown with their respective chargers connected to the vehicle in the Collection.

Rauch & Lang

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Charger information

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Interior

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1997 GM EV1

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Interior

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One of the things that I noticed and would like to draw our attention to is the price of the GM EV1 at the time it was being leased out. Interesting that the price of the GM EV1 was $43,995 and the average car price in the US at the time was $14,000. That means that the EV1 is about 3.14 times the price of the average car.

So, the average car price in 2012 is around $31,000 and the Model S average is around $100,000, that means that the Model S is about 3.22 times the price of the average car. However, considering what you get in a Model S vs. an EV1. However, as was pointed out to me by David Peilow in my post at Speakev.com, “Just shows the jump with the Leaf or Volt in terms of value for money. I wonder how much of that is a reduction in the design price vs benefits of economies of scale, though.”

David’s point is made even clearer when one looks to see what the 2012 Nissan Leaf sold for in 2012. It started at $35,200 before the Federal Tax Credit of $7,500 for the purchase of a battery electric vehicle. So, that’s 1.13 times the amount of the average car without the application of the Federal Tax Credit. If the purchaser in 2012 was eligible for the whole credit, it also means that the Nissan Leaf at that point is 0.89 of the average car price. Food for thought.

The 2012 Chevrolet Volt had a MSRP starting at $39,145 when purchased new. I don’t remember whether it was eligible for the whole $7,500 Federal Credit, but let’s assume that it was. So, looking at the same ratios again. The Volt was 1.26 times the average car before the credit and 1.02 times the average car after the tax credit.

I used 2012 as my figure to compare as it was the easiest recent year for me to find the average car price for. Assuming mild inflation in the averages, it’s even more dramatic to see the drop in MSRP for the 2015 model years of the same two cars that I used for my example. The 2015 Nissan Leaf can now be purchased around $29,010 and the 2015 Chevrolet Volt starts at $34,185 before the tax credit.

It’s interesting that when one looks to the past, it really makes one appreciate what the future holds for us.

Range Anxiety? Not really…

Elon Musk’s tweet (“@elonmuskTesla press conf at 9am on Thurs. About to end range anxiety … via OTA software update. Affects entire Model S fleet. March 15, 2015“) to end “range anxiety” which has since been deleted, had me thinking not about the disappointing announcements regarding the 6.2 software patches, but about when the last time was that I’ve actually experienced range anxiety.

I must admit that it’s been a while for me. We decided to move to Tesla Motors electric vehicles because we didn’t want to have to worry about range. Both the Model S and Roadster have a range of at least 170 miles. As for recharging, using DC Charging, the Model S can Supercharge at over 300 miles per hour or quick charge using CHAdeMO over 130 miles per hour. Over AC charging, our Model S can go up to 80A (or approximately 58-62 miles per hour) and the Roadster can go up to 70A (or approximately 56 miles per hour). That’s plenty fast recharging. Besides, if you charge overnight, it’s time you’re spending sleeping anyway.

When we first started our adventure with electric vehicles with the Active E, range anxiety was a byproduct of moving from a nearly limitless range to one where each full charge lasted 80-100 miles. However, it wasn’t long that I was making the statement that the range of the Active E was limitless, as long as you can get charge and have the time to wait for a charge.  If a charger was available, I plugged in, even at 110V when no L2 was available.

It was not uncommon for me to do 140 mile days in the Active E. It required charging at multiple places, but L2 at 6.6 kW and later at 5.2 kW is not exactly speedy, but it isn’t slow either, at least at the time. Now that I’m used to Supercharging, quick charging, 40 Amp/10kW charging over a NEMA 14-50 or 6-50 connector, it seems that approximately 20 miles per hour seems so slow. Public charging in 2012 was fairly plentiful and easy to use in Southern California. Rarely did I have to wait, and most of the places that I found to charge at Level 2 were relatively free. Things became relatively harder at 2013. One could say that projecting the pending difficulty in obtaining public charging with shorter range electric vehicles definitely helped contribute to the decision to get Tesla Motors vehicles.

So, Range Anxiety with the Model S? Not really. One of the first things that I did when we first got our Model S and Roadster were to get some of the available charging adapters. Aside from J1772, we got adapters for NEMA 6-50 as well as NEMA 14-50. so that we could charge the car at up to 40A. Though the Model S (with dual chargers) and Roadster can go to 80A and 70A J1772 if presented with that speed. Plus, as I recently wrote, I just got CHAdeMO for our Model S, that’s a really respectable 130 miles per hour.

Which brings me to hyper-miling and Elon’s announcement.

Hyper-miling is a skill that I learned about and learned to do when I first got the Active E. Getting the most miles per kWh was the goal (or consuming the least wH per mile as is the measure on the Model S, which I’ve measured at 307 wH per mile recently). In a nutshell, hyper-miling involves driving at a constant speed, or motor use and using larger vehicles, trucks, etc. ahead of you to lower the wind resistance that impacts your vehicle.  With the Active E and the size of the 1-series that it was adapted from, it was relatively easy to find vehicles that are “larger” than it to “drift” behind and it was noticeable to see the miles per kWh climb.  I’ve even hit a respectable 5.0 kWh (200 Wh per mile) on the Active E, as heavy as it is.

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My most recent trip to San Diego from Los Angeles County gave me a long time to ponder this thought and put a few things to test with the Model S. Since moving to the Model S, I really haven’t given hyper-miling any further thought. Until now.

As more Model S roll off the factory floor in 2015 with Adaptive Cruise Control or Autopilot, I’ve been intrigued with the ability to set the number of car-lengths to the vehicle ahead of you (pictured below from a loaner I had driven a few weeks ago.) Figuring that such a feature really lends itself to hyper-miling.

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However, a more fundamental question presented itself to me. Can I even hyper-mile a Model S? So, during this same trip to San Diego, I followed a smaller delivery truck that was the ideal candidate for my test.

I started the drive making note of my average 30 mile consumption that is constantly graphed on my dash (as a preference that I’ve set.) See the example below.

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After getting my base (which, I did not record on photographs) I was in flowing traffic of around 75 mph at this point.

I decided to see what the effect was if I implememented hyper-miling techniques behind smaller vehicles. As predicted, it didn’t really help much. Too much of the wind resistance was not cut-down by the smaller vehicles.

Which leads me to try the test with the aforementioned small truck. I decided to pace the vehicle for about five miles and my average Wh per mile consumption during that period dropped at least 20 Wh per mile at a driving speed that was constant with the speed I was following smaller vehicles with.  Is that a lot?  Well, every bit counts and this was for five miles.

Physics doesn’t change, it’s just more difficult to find candidate vehicles to drift behind in a Model S. Next time, I’ll see if I can recreate the test using a loaner with Adaptive Cruise Control to see if I’m better than or if the Autopilot is at trying to hyper-mile. Granted, I have yet to set ACC at less than 2 car lengths for any distance, but that’s what I’ll have to do.

Oh and Range Anxiety, not really… I did that San Diego trip and back (220 miles RT) with no anxiety.

I guess BMWi has not forgotten about the Active E Electronuts

So, even though the ActiveE forums are still down…

At least BMW i has started to communicate with us again –

Probably better a little late than never…

 

BMW

BMW ActiveE Field Trial Updates.     View Online
BMW
ActiveE FIELD TRIAL DEVELOPMENTS.
Dear Electronaut,

With the recent worldwide announcement of the BMW i3, we would like to update you on some of the advances that have been made during the BMW ActiveE Field Trial. Your valued collective inputs have resulted in lessons which can only be learned by doing and driving.

You may be aware of some technical challenges encountered during the field trial and we want to assure you that each instance has been an experience where we have learned and applied change, either to the ActiveE or toward the development of BMW i vehicles. Such beneficial experiences are not restricted to the vehicles themselves, but also pertain to the systems and processes which support them and to the knowledge of those who implement them. As an Electronaut, you are an integral part of this knowledge chain.

As we approach the final months of the ActiveE Field Trial, we have gained the ability to extract the most from the vehicles. Some of you have encountered issues and have patiently collaborated with us to achieve solutions. For example, a number of problems were encountered with variations in charging equipment and related vehicle functions. Your feedback and creativity in helping us resolve some of these issues have been genuinely inspiring.

In the environment of the field trial, changes have been made to certain ActiveE components, software, and also in the support processes. At this stage in the field trial, we are moving forward with the refinement of our support structure for electric drive vehicles and continue to implement software updates. Such an update is currently being rolled out to BMW ActiveE Centers and will be uploaded on your next service visit. Enhancements are primarily centered on charging and other functions used to prepare the ActiveE for driving. Notable revisions include:

    • Preconditioning: Previously limited to 60 minutes while connected to a Level 2 charging station, this update will enable 90 minutes of preconditioning: 60 minutes for the HV (High Voltage) battery in order to better prepare it for colder weather and 30 minutes for the passenger cabin, compared to the previous 30 minutes for each function. The ability to cool the passenger cabin during preconditioning has also been made more reliable.

 

    • Energy Recovery Indicator: When driving off at 100% SOC (State of Charge), the Energy Recovery Indicator in the instrument panel might illuminate when releasing the accelerator pedal, warning that Energy Recovery or “Regeneration” is not possible. Also, the SOC indicator should now show 100% when fully charged, particularly in cold weather.

 

    • Charging: Optimization of the active thermal management system for the HV system improves performance in high ambient temperatures; for instance, you may notice the underhood cooling fan operating more frequently. Additionally, the charging rate has been revised to reduce heat levels in the onboard charger. This may result in extended charging times for the ActiveE, depending on the charging station being used and its available electrical supply. Finally, the HV system has been reprogrammed to “stay awake” for a longer period, to help alleviate reset issues with various charging equipment systems.

 

  • Service Maintenance Interval: Lastly, the maintenance interval for the ActiveE has been revised from once every three months or 5,000 miles, to every six months or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. This feature should coincide with your next scheduled maintenance reset.

Should you have any concerns, please contact your local BMW ActiveE Center, or the BMW ActiveE Customer Relations Team at 855.236.1025 or ActiveECustomerRelations@bmwusa.com. Thank you once again for your invaluable cooperation in the BMW ActiveE Field Trial. Together, we have made remarkable progress toward an exciting future.

Best regards,

The BMW ActiveE Team

Efficient Dynamics

 

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I’m pretty sure that I’ve already noticed the change in the charging behavior. I haven’t noticed the near 100% SOC regen note (warning). The change in the maintenance schedule won’t affect us. With the number of miles that we drive in our Active E, we’re still at the every 5,000 mile intervals rather than the monthly intervals. In fact, our Active E is in the shop right now with the front tires being replaced…

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18 months of the 24 month program and about 43,251 miles (which is as jumbled up as 12345 can get)… It was time to replace them.

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All I know is BMW i needs to step up. It’s BMW i’s move to keep on the 700 of us that participated in the Active E program.

We would’ve been such an easy sale for them. Now, it looks like Tesla will be winning us over for the immediate future. It’s nice to see that they have learned a lot from our trials and I am happy to have paid for the privilege to help. It was a good symbiosis. If only I had participated in the Mini E trials sooner, perhaps they would not have assumed that 80-100 mile range would be “ideal.” I still propose a 200 mile range vehicle (at 80% of 160 miles for better battery life, etc.)…

Instead of the i3, I still propose to BMW i that they should just sell me our Active E. There is an emotional attachment that was formed between driver and vehicle. The folks at Tesla have been really friendly and some have been quite empowered to provide top-notch service. The Model S does feel like a luxury car, just not as luxurious as other makes that it competes with.

The Roadster is a driver’s car. It matches well with the drive of many a small BMW that we’ve driven in the past (and frankly blows away the ActiveE in performance.) But, it has even less usable space. But, boy is it fun to drive. There is a certain joy in driving it and hopefully, we’ll be welcoming the Tesla Roadster home tomorrow.

Leviton EVSEs and BMW Active E

Regular readers may note that I reported a video many months ago regarding some weird grinding noises when I plug my Active E to a Ford branded Leviton charger at a dealership.  It would start the charge, but this really unnerving grinding sound occurs.  The first time this happened, I unplugged my Active E and left the dealership without much of a fuss.

I experienced the same grinding sounds months later at ANOTHER Ford dealership.  This time, it was during the process of assisting my mother look for her first EV.  Which resulted in her choice of the 2013 Nissan Leaf SV in Ocean Blue.  This time, I needed the charge, so I left it in while we did our test drive and negotiations.  Apart from the grinding noise, the car did take a charge and that was that.

In preparation for the pending removal of access to BMW’s EVSE when the i3 is launched, I have started looking at several “transportable” EVSEs and decided on purchasing a Leviton EVB40-PST.  This is a 40Amp 9.6kw EVSE that uses a NEMA 6-50 plug to deliver 40 Amps and was a good way to future protect from chargers that are up to 9.6kw and greater than the 6.6kw chargers out there.  The Active E was rated at 7.2kw and I wanted to make use of that and the i3 is supposed to be at 7.4kw and I wanted to be ready.  So, I had my electrician wire up another EVSE location a few days ago.

Well, it looks like there is an incompatibility between the Leviton and ActiveE.  The symptoms are similar to the ones found at Ford.  However, this time right after the grinding sound starts, the fault light comes on and the EVSE stops charging.

So, I guess I’m returning this one to Amazon.

So, the i3 was finally launched…

BMW i, the sub-brand “Born Electric” that I’ve been flying all over the world to visit in both New York and London had a simultaneous three city simulcast launch of the i3 on Youtube that included Beijing to the aforementioned New York and London to its production.

It was attended by some of the automotive press, though not by one of my favorite EV writers and primary host to one of my favorite weekly video podcasts, Transport Evolved, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield nor by respected EV advocate Chelsea Sexton. Not many of the seven hundred other Active E Electronuts got in with the exception of Tom Moloughney. I am sure Tom did a great job representing the rest of us, as he always does. [Update 4:55pm Pacific – Tom’s i3 blogpost pics]

I was hoping to get to the event, however, after watching it at the wee hours of 5:25 am Pacific time, I’m glad I didn’t. Nothing earth shattering about the announcement. BMW i has done a good job of previously communicating everything else about the car that the big “to do” was really, eh… Or since I’m writing this on the Internet. Meh.

Nikki wrote this on Twitter:

Frankly, I think that BMW i did fine, considering its cultural roots at BMW. The fact that BMW had the foresight to set up a different sub-brand in BMW i to pursue electrification, etc. is commendable but it still belabors the challenge it faces inherent to its culture (both as a major producer of ICE vehicles AND being German.) Tesla is borne of the Silicon Valley. Tesla does not have the legacy of ICE and decades of automotive culture to shackle itself to. BMW i does. It’s a good start at trying to re-make its parent into the rEVolution. I’ve been relatively happy with the service that I get as an Active E Electronut, but can’t say that I get that much more than being a regular BMW owner.

The holistic approach that BMW i proposes in its 360 Electric program seems intriguing, the GPS that directs a person to take public transportation, or the loaner ICE fleet for longer drives, or any of the other “enhancements” does take into account the concept of having an 80-100 mile EV range vehicle and building upon an external infrastructure to integrate it into. At the end of the day, I’m a Southern California driver, and it still won’t get me out of my car. I want my car to get me from point A to point B and don’t really care to use most of these enhancements. I already run a hybrid garage, so that other stuff sounds cool, but who knows if I’ll end up using it.

I just wonder if this announcement of the i3 is the start of getting Active E Electronuts ignored. It’s been over a week and change since the Active E forum has been operational. And I’m wondering if it’s a sign of things to come. The @BMWiUSA Twitter feed has thanked me for being patient, but seeing that these i3 announcements would’ve been ideal times to have discussions going on in those forums make me wonder whether it’s time for me to join FB and just see what the Active E FB crowd thinks. I’d like to hear what my fellow Electronuts are thinking as well.  I see @Acevedo_Airton tweets, but wonder what others are thinking.  I’m hoping for a flurry of posts on the blogs of fellow Electronuts, specifically, Mr. BMW, Gerald Belton, with as much BMW experience as he has, I’d like to hear what he thinks of the i3!

As for the presentation itself, it is a tell-tale sign when the production of the i3 launch features a bunch of BMW Board Members that frankly I would not be able to tell from a crowd versus Tesla’s announcements with Tony Stark Elon Musk. Having been lucky enough to attend the Tesla Model S Battery Swap event (which I suppose I should’ve posted on my blog, but here’s some pictures on Flickr), I can compare the productions head to head and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money flying to the bore that was the early morning announcement of the i3. Twitter and others were abuzz about the Battery Swap event. It was a jeans and nice shirt event with a club-like atmosphere and flair and the i3 event was staged and button down.

All these folks comparing the i3 with the Model S are missing the point.  BMW i should’ve made the aesthetics of the i3 closer to the BMW design and gone after the space abdicated by Tesla abandoning the 40kwh Model S (not counting the Toyota RAV4 EV 2nd Gen as that vehicle here.).  The i3 Coupe concept looks sleeker than the regular i3, but they really need better aesthetics for traditional BMW drivers to go for it.

All I have to say is that it was a good thing that I had to take the better half for an early morning flight out of LAX today, otherwise I would be cranky for waking up early for a live simulcast that was a whole lot of “meh”. And I’m a BIG BMW fan!

[The following was added 4:55pm Pacific]

So, it looks like it was a LOT more hands on than the initial presentation that we saw online approximately 12 hours ago.

Now, I’m jealous.  Not as jealous as I would’ve been had folks been able to drive the darn cars.  But actually check it out and get in and sit in the car as wrll as see the frunk (front trunk) and finally open the back to see the space in the car.  It does look spacious, especially compared to the Active E.

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Still, the presentation itself still rated the same meh as earlier, but the after presentation stuff ranked higher for me. Especially since the Tesla event only allowed attendees to look, but not touch the Model X.

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