Third Year’s tracking of Hybrid Garage use.

So, it’s been three years since I’ve started tracking our garage’s EV vs ICE use.

As I previously wrote (three years ago on my Minimizing Gas Use article; on my update two years ago; and the one from last year) we drive a hybrid garage.

For those that need a refresher, a hybrid garage is one where some of our cars are EVs and the others are internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. As a family that is a part of the rEVolution, why do we still have ICE cars, it’s because we’re not as good as those that have gone to an all electric lifestyle. Hats off to them, but there are just times that I like to use vehicles that happen to use gasoline.

This winter” was supposed to be better than any of the previous “winters”, but we did not brave the mountains with our fifteen year old BMW X5. The X5 lets us go to the mountains around LA when there are restrictions to drive when the snow is fresh.  Additionally, when we need to buy large items to move, we’ll use this same workhorse to help us move them.  Granted the Model S does have a LOT of space, but we prefer to beat up the X5 with hauling stuff rather than put the Model S to work.

That being said, I understand the costs of our addiction to oil and gas and we continue to try to minimize our gasoline use.

In preparing for the last article on Celebrating Four Mostly Electric Years, I noticed that I had transposed some statistics and noticed that I had overstated the EV miles by 36,000 miles, so I wanted to make sure to correct that.

Three years ago, I started tracking the number of miles my household used ICE vs. EV to see what percentage of our private car travels are electric and what part are powered by internal combustion engines.  Our methodology was to count the miles driven in rental cars to this spreadsheet and the miles that we’ve lent our ICE vehicles (and EVs) to our friends and family when they visit Southern California.   This is why I created some tracking spreadsheets and tracked mileage for a year.   The results year over year are still impressive even with the mileage transposition error in year 2.

In the first year of the study, we drove EV a total of 81.20% of the time and ICE 18.80% of the time.

In the second year of the study, we drove EV a total of 92.64% (vs. what I thought was 94.78%) of the time and ICE 7.36% (vs. what I thought was 5.22%) of the time.

As a whole, the household (as defined earlier, my wife and I and when we lend the cars to family and friends) drove about 46,000 total miles (both EV and ICE in the previous period) in the first year, about 40,000 miles in the second year, and we drove a total of approximately 41,000 total miles in this third year. That’s approximately the same number of total miles between years one and year two.  Even though a good number of those miles were the 8,245 miles of coast-to-coast driving from our Here, There, and EVerywhere trip in May 2015.

Because of the error in Year Two’s calculation, I thought that we would be close to 150,000 EV miles this year, but still at 126,000 All EV miles since we started driving EVs.  For the study, we’re closer to 112,000 EV miles and 14,000 ICE miles for a study average of 88.7% EV vs 11.3% ICE three year average.  Definitely an upward momentum.

Looking at the monthly figures, for the third year shows a big blip in the ICE use for month 34 and that is mostly December 2015 and my sister and her husband was visiting us and most of those miles on the X5 was because we had lent them our ICE car for that month.  The approximately 1400 miles of ICE that was driven that month is more than half the total ICE miles for the year.  Until we have an EV to lend out to family, we’ll have to take those spikes.

Here’s to hoping that this next year’s study will have a greater EV momentum.  And we continue to look forward to seeing what else we can achieve with our hybrid garage next year.  Perhaps another coast-to-coast EV journey.

Second Year’s tracking of Hybrid Garage use.

So, it’s been two years since I’ve started tracking our garage’s EV vs ICE use. As I previously wrote two years ago on my Minimizing Gas Use article and on my update a year ago, I do drive a hybrid garage. For those that need a refresher, a hybrid garage is one where some of my cars are EVs and the others are internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. As a family that is a part of the rEVolution, why do we still have ICE cars, it’s because we’re not as good as those that have gone to an all electric lifestyle. Hats off to them, but there are just times that I like to use our vehicles that happen to use gasoline.

This past “winter” was better than last year’s “winter”, but we did not brave the mountains with our fourteen year old BMW X5. The X5 lets us go to the mountains around LA when there are restrictions to drive when the snow is fresh.  Additionally, when we need to buy large items to move, we’ll use this same workhorse to help us move them.  Granted the Model S does have a LOT of space, but I’m not one of those brave souls to carry “cargo” in them.

Last year we also had our BMW 328iC Convertible. But we sold that now that we’re more comfortable removing and re-installing the roof on the Tesla Roadster. So, on those days that we feel like driving around Sunny Southern California with the top down, we just use the Roadster.

That being said, I understand the costs of our addiction to oil and gas and we try to minimize it.

Two years ago, I started tracking the number of miles my household used ICE vs. EV to see what percentage of our private car travels are electric and what part are powered by internal combustion engines.  Since we travel a little bit, I’ve decided to count the miles driven in rental cars to this spreadsheet and the miles that we’ve lent our ICE vehicles (and EVs) (ICE is now singular over the course of the second year of this study) to our friends and family when they visit Southern California.   This is why I created some tracking spreadsheets and tracked mileage for a year.   However, the results from last year to this year are impressive.

In the first year of the study, we drove EV a total of 81.20% of the time and ICE 18.80% of the time.

In the second year of the study, we drove EV a total of 92.64% of the time and ICE 7.36% of the time. 94.78% of the time and ICE 5.22% of the time. [Correction from 3/10/2016, discovered transposed number in tracking miles a year later.] We sold our second ICE car in Month 4 of the second year (or 16th Month overall). Additionally, we did try to rent EVs on trips as much as possible, unfortunately, even in areas of the country that have EVs available to rent, the vehicles were rented out ahead of the time of our trip there (specifically Honolulu and Orlando). We tried to rent an EV on a trip to Portland, however, at the time, there was no onsite EV rental at PDX International Airport.

As a whole, the household (as defined earlier, my wife and I and when we lend the cars to family and friends) drove about 46,000 total miles (both EV and ICE in the previous period) and we drove a total of approximately 39,300 55,000 total miles in the second year. That’s an increase of 9,000 decrease of 7,000 more miles of total driving of which 52,500  36,422 of those total miles were EV. That’s nearly 6,000 more miles than ALL the driving that we did during the first year of the hybrid garage study.

Interestingly, I did a quick 31,310 Tesla Model S update the day before the end of the second year of the study period and I had a lifetime Model S efficiency of 308 wH per mile. At the end of the day of the second year of the study, that average went down to a more efficient 307 wH per mile.

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Throughout the past year I’ve been using 308 wH per mile for my calculations. Now going to have to use 307 wH per mile. That achievement is something.

One of the things that I was hoping to announce in this post is, as a family, we’ve reached 100,000 all EV miles across all three EVs that we’ve leased or owned, but sadly at the end of the second year of the period, we’ve been able to get to 99,665 miles on all the EVs that we’ve owned or leased. Now if we were to count our loaners and the few times we’ve been able to rent EVs in this count, I’m sure we’re well over 100,000.

Looking forward to seeing what else we can achieve with our hybrid garage next year.

First Year’s Tracking of Hybrid Garage use.

So, it’s been over a year since I’ve started tracking my garage’s EV vs ICE use. As I previously wrote a year ago on my Minimizing Gas Use article, I do drive a hybrid garage. For those that need a refresher, a hybrid garage is one where some of my cars are EVs and the others are internal combustion engine (ICE) cars. As a member of the rEVolution, why do I still have ICE cars, it’s because I’m not as good as those that have gone to an all electric lifestyle. Hats off to them, but there are just times that I like to use my vehicles that happen to use gasoline.

This past “winter” was not indicative of what we usually use our thirteen year old BMW X5 for, but when it snows, it’s fun to go up to the mountains around LA and play in the snow.  The X5 lets us do that when there are restrictions to get up the mountain when the snow is fresh.  Additionally, when we need to buy large items to move, we’ll use this same workhorse to help us move them.  Granted the Model S does have a LOT of space, but I’m not one of those brave souls to carry “cargo” in them.

Prior to adding the Roadster to the garage, we kept the 328i Convertible for those days that we wanted to drive around with the top down.  We still have it and waiting for the start of summer to sell the vehicle when we expect to have the best demand for them.  (Send me a note around May if you’re interested in buying our 2008 328i Convertible).  Granted the BMW Convertible is a lot easier to take the top down and up on than the Roadster, this will probably be the next ICE to be sold from our garage.

That being said, I understand the costs of my addiction to oil and gas and try to minimize it.

So, about a year ago, I started tracking the number of miles my household used ICE vs. EV to see what percentage of our private car travels are electric and what part are powered by internal combustion engines.  Since we travel a little bit, I’ve decided to count the miles driven in rental cars to this spreadsheet and the miles that we’ve lent our ICE vehicles (and EV) to our friends and family when they visit Southern California.   This is why I created some tracking spreadsheets and tracked mileage for a year.   However, the results were stupefying.  After 365 days of meticulously tracking the mileage consumed by my household for EV vs. ICE for the year, the old 80/20 rule asserted itself with up to two decimal points of the percentages.

We drove a total of 80.05% of the time and ICE 19.95% of the time.  Granted, this sample for the past year included three EVs from November 2013 to March 2014 as well as several long-term (a week or greater) visits from family and friends who we lent our vehicles to.  Furthermore, a majority of this past year’s sample was with the Active E as the only EV in the garage, and as a result we were only constrained by the 80-100 miles of range per charge.  With the Model S and Roadster, our range is at least double that (if not more) as we have ample access to really fast recharge rates with the Model S.

It is interesting to note that the majority of more EV mile percentages for the months occurred in the latter part of the year, when we had taken delivery of our two Teslas.  More importantly where both my wife and I had both driven predominantly EVs for our daily drive.  Whereas in the earlier part of the year, we only had the Active E and one of the ICE vehicles ended up being the other car driven.  As a whole, the household (as defined earlier) drove about 42,000 total miles.

Since, I’m an EV Geek.  I’m wondering what the next year will bring since we’ve given up our Active E and are both driving Teslas that give us at least 170 miles of range on a full charge.  I would hasten to guess that the percentage of EV use vs. ICE use should dramatically increase, but another year will let us know.  In the meantime, bask in the mediocrity of the past year.  [80/20, what a let-down.  Or should I really just celebrate verifying one of those rubrics that we’ve been taught since youth.]

[UPDATE 2014-06-15]Well, I guess I was NOT using my spreadsheet properly, I actually did not have an 80/20 first year, it was closer to 81/19… (or exactly 81.20% vs. 18.80%) It would seem that I forgot to calculate in the LAST month, fixed the calculations and it’s now correct.

Minimizing gas use…

So, about a month ago I was inspired by an article, on Plugincars.com regarding BMW’s plan to allow i3 drivers the ability to rent a traditional gas (internal combustion engine/ICE) BMW when they need it, to figure out how often my family uses ICE vs. EV.

Seeing that there are two of us who use vehicles in the family, I figured to count the FAMILY’s usage of Gas vs. Electric.

So, I decided to log my mileage of use for the period between March 6 and April 5, 2013. It was a rather interesting log. We travelled a total of 2,948 miles in this period of which we did 2,499 miles Electric vs. 449 miles on gasoline. I anticipated a heavier gasoline use this past month as we were going to help our nephew move. Ended up not using the X5 for this and he only needed a few items which fit our ActiveE, so, score 1 for the EV use.

However, as things do tend to go to the mean, the 328i ended up with a recall. Of all things, in the electric wiring of the vehicle. As a result, had to do almost 100 of those miles gasoline and 22 of the approximately 100 miles was using a 5 series loaner.

Good thing the BMW ActiveE folks were not planning on the Morro Bay FB meetup until tomorrow, otherwise, I would be adding another 460 miles on gas as I’m not crazy enough to wait the hours needed to charge the Active E on the drive north and south to the meet.

Hats off to some of my fellow electronauts who live a fully electric life, I’m not sure if I can quite do that yet.

These brave souls all live fully electric, or at least nearly so – check out the blogs of Todd Crook, Peter Norby, and Pamela Thwaite

Todd is impressive because the whole family uses the ActiveE, solely! Peter has both an ActiveE and a Honda Fit EV, and Pamela Thwaite‘s family has 3 Electric cars. A Tesla (roadster, I believe), Active E, and a Mitsubishi iMiev for the kids.

Still, at 85% electric vs. 15% gasoline. I think I’m doing well… Saving a lot of money and enjoying the ride!  Figuring that my 2499 electric miles is closer to $21.64 and my 449 miles of gasoline is closer to $85 (using an inflated approximate $0.19 per mile as I do not have the cost per mile for the 5 series vs. my $0.17 per mile calculated convertible 328i cost.)  If I were to extend $0.17 per mile to the 2499 electric miles, I’m saving about $400 on not buying gas.  (not even factoring in $100/hour per the currently controversial articles on Tesla’s leasing program.)

When we get a Tesla Model S (unless BMW comes out with a more aesthetically pleasing i3 or cheaper i8 BEV, not hybrid) and with that range, we would probably not need to drive as much gas as we do now.

Some significant mileage… 25,000 Miles and counting…

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ActiveE, a photo by dennis_p on Flickr.

Reached 25,000 Miles a few days ago… Seeing that my one year anniversary will be in a few weeks I figure to write more about my experience then.In the meantime.

25,000 miles all electric. Using a blended 1.5 cents per mile figure (just estimating here since it’s closer to 0.8 cents per mile since I’ve gotten solar at home) nets me a $375.00 energy cost for the 25,000 miles. Comparing this with an estimated 15 cents per mile for gasoline (rounding down ’cause it’s easier to do the math…) puts the estimated mileage cost to $3,750.

So looks like we’ve at least saved $3,375 this past year on the miles that we used electricity vs. gasoline.

The savings are compelling.

More Napkin math, OR – Real Goods Solar and BMW’s program is a REAL GOOD deal!

Saving money while saving the environment is an addictive process.  It’s crack for good Karma!  I feel like Michael Corleone in the Godfather III, I try to get away from it, but they keep dragging me back in!

As I had indicated on my Ping! post, I got “unofficial” Permission to Operate (PTO) on August 17, 2012 and finally received official PTO ten days later on August 27, 2012.

So, we’re now running our car on Solar Power…  or are we?  Unless your house is completely disconnected from the electric grid, what you are really doing is netting out generated power from the solar panels on the roof with consumed power from the electric grid.  So, if you’re overproducing power from your solar panels than what you’re consuming, you get money back, otherwise you’re really just netting out what you’ve made with what you’ve used.  As I have published previously, the rate to charge depends a lot on what tariff you’ve chosen.

In my first napkin math post, I charged on the SCE Domestic rate which effectively got me charged at $0.31 per kWh as my usage of electricity had already pushed me to Tier 5 for most of the billing periods.  In order to normalize and compare ICE vs Electric, I calculated that the cost under the first plan was 1.714¢ per mile

By my third napkin math post, I attempt to alleviate that $0.31 per kWh charge by opting for the whole house SCE Electric TOU Tiered rate structure, this pretty much reduced my rate to charge to $0.13 per kWh for my car charging needs (as well as my pool pump as I switched the time of use for that from mid-day to mid-night to 6 am).  As we noted on that post, my cost per mile dropped to about 1.412¢ per mile.

So, the big question is what is my cost per mile under the Real Goods Solar and BMW ActiveE program deal.

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Before I took advantage of this deal, I would like to tell you about my search to save our energy costs further.  Not necessarily the environment, but that’s always a fun side-effect with this accidental environmentalism that I’ve stumbled across.  After signing up for the Active E, I figured to become educated on what my solar options were.  To that end I requested quotes from three solar companies in the Los Angeles County area: Peak Power Solutions (Sunpower reseller), Solar City, and Verengo Solar.  Each solution had its strengths and weaknesses and around the third week of March (between three to four weeks of receiving my ActiveE), I decided to sign a power purchase agreement with Solar City.

A power purchase agreement is basically the right to buy a guaranteed amount of power from a provider for twenty years.  I don’t own the solar array on my roof, someone else does (a finance company) and I agree to pay them a fee for this.  This means at the end of twenty years I get the option to keep buying from them, buy the equipment outright, or have them remove the array from my roof.

So, how did I compare the suppliers.  Ultimately, economics.  So, at the end the Solar City deal that I had originally signed was approximately $0.10344 per kWh.  How did I calculate this?  All the suppliers with the power purchase agreements have a guaranteed rate of production for the 20 years that the system will be produced, so I divided the total guaranteed kWh by the the total prepaid lease amount, and that’s how I got to the $0.10344 per kWh.

So, I thought that was it.  I signed up with Solar City, got a rate that I felt was fair and waited to get installed.  Solar City’s installation process was methodological and professional.  They provided a website to track the progress of the installation and was quite impressive.  However, their process proved to be the opportunity for Real Goods Solar and BMW’s deal to come in and make my costs even less.  Around the beginning of May, during the design and survey process, Solar City notified me that in order to proceed with the installation of the system that I signed in the third week of March (about five to six weeks earlier) my roof would have to be replaced.  This change provided me with an out-clause from completing the agreement that I signed with Solar City.

As I was mulling through a roof quote and setting up more roofers to see what this replacement roof would cost me, Real Goods Solar and the BMW Active E program announced their program.  So, I figured, why not ask them to see what the solution would cost me.  I contacted Real Goods and they had a sales agent contact me within the day.  Their initial quote was 12% less than the Solar City quote and agreement that I went with.  However, I had to bundle in the cost of the replacement roof and needed to get the total project cost to figure out which deal I was going to take.

Figuring that both solar companies would probably be able to get a reliable, professional, licensed roofer at a lower cost than I would have on my own, I went back to both providers to find out what the roof was going to cost from them and go from there.  My assumption was not exactly correct as my independent roofer quote was actually $500 to $1000 cheaper than the lowest quote from either solar provider.  I was at an inflection point.  I was already saving quite a bit on gasoline with the TOU tariff and this would have been the time to quit or cut bait.  I approached both providers to see if there was anything they can do to their quote to make the entire project less expensive (replacement roof and solar).

The dilemma is how do I adequately calculate my cost per kWh based on the various scenarios.  I figured the most conservative thing to do would be to subtract the lowest roofing quote from my total project cost and use that figure to divide my cost per kWh over the guaranteed generation over the life of the system.  Granted, this methodology would provide me with an understatement of cost as the guaranteed rate of production is typically rather conservative of the suppliers, but it IS what they guarantee, that is why I went with that methodology.  When the system has really sunny days it will outperform this guarantee and my actual cost per kWh is less than what I calculated.

With the total system cost, I figure that my cost per kWh is $0.10250, however, if I subtract the roof cost my cost per kWh drops to $0.07970 based on guaranteed power.  Seeing that my energy cost is a 38.7% reduction, mathematically speaking, my cost per mile is approximately .8657¢ per mile ($0.008657) or 73.58 cents per day based on the 85 mile day that I had in the last post on this matter.  Not bad at all.  Of course, the system is currently overproducing and with time of use I actually am paid a rate for the energy I am sending back to the grid during the day and most of my charging occurs between midnight and 6 am, so this is, like my other estimates “napkin math”, so I am certain my actual costs are lower, but the numbers work for me.  Remember, my original calculation of a comparable vehicle costs were approximately 17 cents per mile, so my 0.8657 cents per mile cost is quite a bit less than driving my ICE 328i convertible.

So, there you have it.  My energy costs are a heck of a lot less than it has been.

Want to see what my system is producing, check out the sidebar production information courtesy of Ken Clifton‘s plugin for WordPress or directly from Enlighten’s website.

In a few days, I will follow up this Napkin Math article with pictures and my opinion on the installation from Real Goods.  Let me just say, I recommend them and if you give my name, I get a referral on your system, so contact me if you’re serious and I will recommend them.

Interested in going solar? Get a quote from my solar vendor – Real Goods Solar.

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Second napkin math for those that use an SUV…


In the vein of my earlier post comparing our ActiveE with our 328i.  Since it was time to fill up our 2001 X5 I figured it would be the time to compare the math vs. the math previously computed for the ActiveE.

Here’s the back of the napkin math. The fill up was for super unleaded at $4.239 per gallon (price of gas is dropping from the time I did the 328i comparison) and I filled up with 20.070 gallons for a total of $85.08. The range says 430 miles, since I zero out the odometer after each fill up, I know I did 358.4 miles since the last fill up. This is about 10 gallons of gas more than the last fill up (9.761 gallons previously).

So, I figure that my cost per mile (using Super Unleaded) is approx $0.2374 per mile.

As with the original calculations on the ActiveE, I’m heavily subsidized… I fill up at many locations where the electricity AND parking is free, the only place it costs to fill up is at home. I do about 35 miles each way to/from work and I charge for free 3/4 of a mile from the office, assuming 10 kWh of energy at home that I fill up and pay for on the average (some fill ups more, some less) to get me to full. I have yet to pay my Time of Use Tariff, so I’m defaulting to last month’s Domestic Tariff for Electricity, which tops off at $0.31 per kWh, so that’s $3.10 per day of fill up, 10kWh is about 1 day in 70 miles roundtrip…

So my electric cost per mile last month is approximately $0.0443 per mile.

So, 430 miles would run $21.71 vs. $102.07 on the X5… or 1/5th the cost of energy for the X5.  However, the X5 can fit a LOT of stuff vs. the ActiveE, so, it really is not a fair comparison.  Additionally, I use the two cars quite differently from the other.  However, I’ve found that shopping trips to Costco on the ActiveE is A LOT CHEAPER than with the X5 as it lowers the likelihood of impulse purchases of larger (both size and ticket) items.

Side note, Still waiting on the Time of Use bill, so I’ll update later when that comes up. But as I noted previously, I’m guessing that this new tariff drops my cost per kWh to between $0.10 to $0.16 per kWh (depending on Tier 1 or Tier 2 of usage). So, the next month’s cost will probably be closer to $0.0222 per mile.