Home Electric Vehicle Charging Solutions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Needless to say, that got old FAST…

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

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

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

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

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

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

CT500 EVSE Install 5

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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!

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.

The CAN JR and The CAN SR… Must have accessories for the Tesla Roadster

Elon Musk and Tesla Motors tweets regarding the upcoming demonstration of upgrading the Tesla Roadster to a 400 Mile Range has increased the interest in Roadster ownership. To continue further the previous post upon receipt of the CAN SR a few days back. Each version of the CAN is sold for $695 each and is well worth it.

What makes the CAN from Henry Sharp a valuable accesory is that it allows Roadster owners a nicer/smaller adapter to standard J1772. The Tesla produced product is rather bulky and a car like the Roadster space truly is a premium.

Here is a photo from Tesla (from their shop) of the Tesla produced adapter.

Tesla Roadster to J1772 adapter from Tesla

Whereas the CAN from Henry Sharp is rather compact.

This first picture is the J1772 side that the Roadster driver uses to plug the J1772 into.

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This second picture is the Roadster side that the Roadster driver uses to connect to the Car.

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You can see that the CAN is not much larger than a Blackberry Curve Telephone.

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And here is the CAN attached and charging a Roadster. To ensure that the CAN does NOT walk away at public stations, there are slots in place to place a small padlock into it.

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It works great with the JESLA from Tony Williams of QuickChargePower.

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Henry’s been making the CAN JR for a while and have just released the CAN SR. The naming convention of JR and SR means that he’s converting J1772 to Roadster (for the JR) and SR is converting Tesla Model S to Roadster. Henry reluctantly released the SR because the testing showed a 95% success factor for Roadster 2.x and 99% success with Roadster 1.5 between Model S Chargers and Roadsters. (you can read the SR thread on teslamotorsclub.com)

Before purchasing the CAN SR, I would highly recommend that Roadster owners get the latest Firmware upgrade. There is a known bug between unpatched Roadsters and EVSEs that charge greater than 70 Amps. A fully configured Tesla Model S HPC is configured to run at 80 Amps and the Roadster, if unpatched, would be confused by that issue. The patch for this error has the Roadster understand an 80 Amp signal and drop the rate to 70 Amps, which is the maximum speed that a Roadster can handle.

This next picture is the Model S side that the Roadster driver uses to plug the Model S nozzle into.

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This once again is the side that plugs into the Roadster.

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Henry sends each CAN with a neoprene bag to protect and store the adapters into as pictured.

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Here is the CAN SR plugged in and getting ready to charge in our garage.

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Lastly you can see the detail of the construction of the CAN SR. It’s a great accesory.

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So, how do I use these adapters.

For the CAN JR

1) Attach the CAN JR to the Roadster
2) Plug the J1772 into the CAN.

IF in a public charging spot

3) I insert the padlock into the slot for the CAN to lock it in place.

4) If I need to interrupt charging to leave, I press the stop charging button on the VDI of the Roadster OR stop on the charger, otherwise, if it IS stopped, then proceed to the next steps.

IF in a public charging spot

5) I take the padlock off.

6) Unplug the J1772
7) Unplug the CAN, put can in the bag, and put the bag in the Roadster.

For the CAN SR

1) Attach the CAN SR to the Roadster
2) Plug the Model S nozzle into the CAN.

IF in a public charging spot

3) I insert the padlock into the slot for the CAN to lock it in place.

4) If I need to interrupt charging to leave, I press the stop charging button on the VDI of the Roadster OR stop on the charger, otherwise, if it IS stopped, then proceed to the next steps. I have not yet tried this, but according to Henry, I can pull the ring around the Model S nozzle to stop charging as well.

IF in a public charging spot

5) I take the padlock off.

6) Unplug the Model S adapter.
7) Unplug the CAN, put can in the bag, and put the bag in the Roadster.

There are very few “must haves” for the Roadster, and the CAN JR and SR are two of the things Roadster owners should consider owning.

Vegas Baby, Vegas


In honor of Swingers… Vegas Baby, Vegas.

A week ago was a rite of passage for my EV ownership experience.  (Not that I’ve driven any longer than my first weekend with the Model S  that I wrote about on my blog a few months ago (start here).)   The first was our Model S just passed our Roadster for total miles on the odometer and the second is the somewhat of a Southern California driver tradition to “drive to Vegas” as a young adult.  The Sin City drive is one that a lot of my contemporaries did as they turned 21 and most still do.  As I’m not nearly as young as I have been, this was a trip I normally would have taken an airplane to, after all I’m about 300 miles from home to Las Vegas.

With some published reports of all these new chargers installed on the Las Vegas Strip coupled with hanging out with more environmentally conscious folks have provided me with a little bit of eco-conscience, so, I figured to try driving EV all the way to Vegas for this conference.  Besides’ there is nothing that convinces a Southern California driver more that a vehicle is a worthy one than a positive answer to the question “can I take the car to Vegas”.

Basically, yes… You can take it to Vegas, and refuel in Barstow (like most do). However, your “fuel” is free, courtesy of the Tesla Supercharger installed there. So, drove about 120 miles to Barstow with some wicked elevation changes that was the draining part on the battery.

Barstow supercharger pictures in a beautiful sunny day in the California desert.

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The location in Barstow, was tough to find, it’s behind the Chili’s Restaurant and beside a hotel. So, if you arrive there during a meal service, pop in and have something to eat.

Since we did this drive during the day, we got to see the new Solar Plant that was installed on the California side of the border with Nevada. It’s a cool side-note to see the installation of this facility. The last time I did this drive was approximately two years ago and did not notice these plants the last time.

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We arrived in Vegas after another 160 mile drive with even more wicked ascents (with consumption above 530 wh/mile) with corresponding descents that recovered some of the charge back with the regenerative braking.  My back of the napkin calculation had me lose about 30 miles of range on the ascent and recover about 10 miles on the regenerative braking.

The superchargers in Downtown Las Vegas was in a covered garage in a commercial part of the city.  No casinos close by, so saved money by not gambling.

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Here are the stats for the LA to Vegas portion of the trip.

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We decided to supercharge in Downtown Las Vegas because we arrived in town with only eighty miles on the tank and several days of Vampire Load ahead of us, figured to get some charge back into the car and let park the Model S unplugged at self parking.

On the first day of check in, I didn’t notice that I walked by a construction site that was installing two Chargepoint J1772 EVSEs at my hotel.  I was aware that Valet Parking had NEMA 14-50 outlets installed which are ideal for Tesla Roadsters and Model S to charge with (as well as any standard EV that decided to purchase a portable EVSE with this capability).  However, I decided to park in self parking when we first checked into the hotel.

On the second day, I had to get something from the car, and noticed the construction site  that I obliviously walked right beside the previous day and took some quick snapshots of the installation of some new Chargepoint CT-4023 dual head/single circuit 6.67kw shared J1772 chargers.

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I remember reading about these new chargers from Chargepoint and this display clued me into the fact that these newer Chargepoint CT4000 series EVSEs split the power from 32A to 16A when both ports are used.   In my experience, the older dual head Chargepoints, the power is 30-32A to each port.

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The next day, I decided to contact Aria Guest Services to see if I would be able to use the chargers and were told that I may.  On my way to move my Model S and plug in, I met with the Manager for High Voltage services (in their Facilities group) and was in charge of all the EV facilities for the resort and he mentioned that he had a lot of NEMA 14-50 installed in Valet Parking for EVs to use.   Most folks that pack their own NEMA 14-50 drive Teslas (Roadsters and Model S use the same port) or use the modified ones from Tony Williams (the JESLA) and now with the release of the Clipper Creek portable EVSEs, other EV drivers can as well.

Since I’m a geek, and more importantly an EV geek, I figured to provide some assistance with testing out these Chargepoint stations.  I first plugged into one of the units at full 30A draw and got GFCI a few minutes later.  I moved the vehicle and plugged into the other one, and got the same error.

I decided to do something that Teslas do well, but other EVs don’t seem to have readily available and drew down my Amperage request from less than what the pilot was sending.  I started the draw at 16A and the EVSE began to work.  It projected an eight hour charging session.  So, I decided to kick it up to 24A and that continued to work.  After I had successfully started the charge at 16A-24A, I did what any responsible EV driver should do and added the station on Plugshare.

After my last meeting, but before the end of my charge station, I decided that I’ve had enough of being in one resort for a few days that I took the car out to see the rest of Vegas for my third evening in town.  When I got back to the car I noticed that the car stopped charging and had a Red Fault on the unit and not just a soft GFCI fault (as was earlier) so I reported the fault to the Aria Facilities Manager.  I gave him my telephone number.  I also gave him as much detail as I could and went to the rest of the town.

One of my other stops in my Vegas trip was to have dinner at the Wynn Hotel and Casino because I figured that the food would be good.  Additionally, it was reported that the Wynn Valet would also charge any EV as long as it had a J1772 outlet.  Luckily the Model S has an adapter for this and I decided to try them out.  One of my favorite games to play with the Model S that the Active E didn’t do was collect “charging spots” on the Navigation.  The Model S will put a dot on your Navigation map in all the spots that the car has stopped to charge.  It also will store the profile of the type/speed of charge that it encountered at that location.  I wanted to populate my Model S visited chargers map with multiple locations in Las Vegas and the Wynn did not disappoint.  Though the chargers were J1772, they were full speed 40A ones that would help higher charge vehicles such as the Model S, Roadster, and 2nd Generation Toyota RAV 4 EVs.

While I was out and about in Las Vegas, the Aria Facilities Manager called and told me that both he and Chargepoint needed to do some further testing and repair of the J1772 chargers in Self Parking, and advised that I should use the Valet parking facilities instead.  On the wire side of the chargers, he was seeing some “noise” and needed to isolate and clear it so that the Chargepoint chargers would be fully operational.  Since we were leaving for home the next day, and wanted to maximize my charge, I did as he requested and parked the vehicle at Valet Parking.  The attendants at the Main Valet knew of the Model S and asked if I had my charging bag in the car and I replied affirmatively.  I didn’t actually park and charge the car myself, so I took screen shots of what my Tesla App showed.

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After (Max charge ’cause we’re driving home on checkout)
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Apparently the Valet Parking is directly underneath the main casino complex.
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The last day of the conference was just a morning session, so around noon we left the resort and headed out of town.  Since this was a travel Wednesday, decided to take a slower pace home.  Stopped off at a few casinos that had no chargers (and thus won’t get a mention here) then made the “run to the border.”  Both Chargepoint and Plugshare identified a 30A charger at Whiskey Pete’s at Primm, NV.

It was a legacy CT2000 Series dual head J1772 charger at 30A a side with the B side as constantly reported as “failed.”  I was lucky enough to have been the only EV around, so I took the port and charged up the car for the drive home.

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The irony of having a Chargepoint charger located right beside the gasoline (petrol) station was not lost on me, and I took this shot because it illustrated this best.

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It was interesting to note that our rated range was within five miles of our home from the time that we left the border. Understanding the elevation changes ahead of us in our trip coupled with my lead foot we made the decision to stop at the Barstow Supercharger again.

The speed of the charge was enough for us to do a quick stop so that we can continue quickly.

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I tweeted this picture commenting how nicely the darkness makes the Model S look a lot cleaner than it actually was.

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Our stats at the return stop in Barstow.

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We headed back home from Barstow and the descents were definitely more than the ascents on the way to Vegas.

Our ending stats for the entire trip.

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So, the Southern California native typical question of “Can you take the car to Vegas?” is a resounding “YES!” and the fuel cost is $0.

End of year and EV tax credits…


So…

One of the negatives of the end of year is that a lot of folks who have procrastinated are trying to fit as much stuff in before the new year hits.

One of the things that affect Tesla owners during this time of year is the probability of being provided a nice P85 Tesla Model S for a loaner is less than at other times of the year.  Why is that?  Well.  Tesla has provided the top of the line Model S for its loaner fleet in the explanation that they did not want any Tesla customer to be deprived of a vehicle that is less capable than the vehicle that they bought from Tesla.  (of course the car they do provide is limited to 80 mph, but that’s a small point.)  As a result, when the Roadster or Model S is in service, I have gotten a P85 loaner vehicle from Tesla.

However, the last time I’ve had service done on my Model S, I was provided with an Enterprise Rental Car ICE Chrysler 200 or was it a Chrysler 300.  Either way, it was no Model S.  Now this was expected as we’re nearing the end of the year and Tesla makes its loaner fleet available for near immediate purchase from interested parties.  When we finalized our Model S order in the summer, we could’ve picked up something similar to our configuration a week out from the time we finalized.  I was, at the time, complaining about the increase in accessory prices and my contacts at the Tesla store in Costa Mesa could have provided a loaner purchase at a discount.  Additionally, to cover the mileage that the loaner vehicles would’ve endured, Tesla credits so many cents per mile from the sales price.

We decided against it, and thus I did not get the vehicle.

Surprisingly, since Tesla is the manufacturer of said vehicles and the loaner fleet have manufacturer tags, they are all eligible for the new purchase benefits.  These benefits are the Federal Tax Credit and whatever State incentives you may be eligible for.  (in California, this is a rebate for $2,500 for the purchase of a pure Battery Electric Vehicle of a certain kwh capacity.)

So, back to the procrastinators and Tesla’s loaner fleet.  People that want the full tax incentives and obviously won’t have their vehicles built and delivered by 12/31 still have an option to get into a Tesla and get the benefits due to a new EV purchaser.

On a different note, other tax credits are set to expire this year.  Namely the installation of an EV charging station.  In the past, it would seem that Congress would renew the $1,000 residential credit for installing an EV charging station in one’s home.  This year, apparently they did not extend this and as a result, if you, dear US based reader, are planning on purchasing an EV soon and need to install a charging station anyway, go ahead and do so prior to December 31, 2013.  You may be eligible to have up to $1,000 credited back to you.   If you’re a COMMERCIAL location, the credit is even more generous.  It is 30% of the costs up to $30,000.  However, it is now December 19, 2013 and seeing that commercial locations tend to get bogged down by such things as building permits, etc. I wonder how probable it would be to install these things by the end of 2013.

Even grandmothers can be rEVolutionary! (or Welcome mom to the rEVolution!)

As long-time readers have noticed, I’ve been testing a lot of other EVs in preparation of for being forced to handing in my Active E at the end of the two year close end lease.

Aside from the Tesla Model S, which is the current front-runner, I have driven a Chevy Spark EV, Chevy Volt, Coda (no longer being made), Fisker Karma (no longer being made), Ford Focus EV, Honda Fit EV, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and Nissan Leaf.   Well, it would seem that my many other test drives have given way to being used for something other than eliminating other EVs in contention of being my “next” EV.

Let me present you with the latest member to the rEVolution…  My mother…  She’s in her really late 60s (not really, she’s older than that) and was convinced by the cost of gas and the recent Honda Fit EV promotion to consider moving to an EV for her primary vehicle. She will still be keeping her ICE minivan so that she can run a hybrid garage (like we do) and in the off chance that she has to shuttle her clients with larger families, she can still fit them in her minivan. I fully expect that she will do the thing that most EV drivers do once they get used to their EVs and user her minivan less and less.

Here she is signing taking delivery of OB-8 (Not Obi-Wan, but OB-8), she likes the number eight and OB for Ocean Blue (as well as the rather oblique Star Wars reference.)

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The guys at Nissan of Duarte, specifically Jeb Loberiza Martinez (He can be reached directly at (626) 710-8445 or at the dealership at (626) 305-3000), took great care of us on top of getting us the car we wanted at the deal that made sense for us. Though the trim level we originally specified was not at the lot, they were able to trade for it and get us OB-8 with all the important things that we desired. They even delivered the vehicle to her house the next day (as the car had to be brought back from another dealership.) The current lease models that are available for Californians and the lucky few states that these vehicles are available in make it a bargain to jump in and go EV. I am of the belief that folks that are considering jumping into their first EV and are somewhat reluctant should consider a lease to ensure that the lifestyle is for them, if one is fearless OR getting a Model S, then jump right in, the water is fine!

She was committed to getting an EV that on Tuesday of last week, a full two days before we were set to go pick up an EV, we went ahead and ordered an EVSE for her home so that she can charge at 240V (30A) when we get her car. We decided to get her the Aerovironment 30A with removable plug from Amazon because they have a local presence in the Los Angeles area, on the off chance that we would require service in the future.

What were the other candidates for her first EV? We had originally desired the Honda Fit EV. However, as anyone else on these waiting lists can tell you, the chances are slim to none to get the “killer” $259 unlimited mile three year close end lease. With that option practically out, we narrowed down the choice between the Ford Focus EV and the Nissan Leaf SV. Interestingly enough, the evening before we would go and finalize the acquisition of her EV, I got a call from several dealers of the renewed availability of the Chevy Spark EV, and we decided to go ahead and give that a try.

Here is the Spark EV that she tried out

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She had a great time driving the Spark EV. She liked the availability of Quick Charging in the future, but we could not get a straight answer from most folks regarding what Chevy meant by “Future Availability” on the 2LT model she was considering. Whether this meant it is because there are no J1772 Frankenplug chargers deployed or whether this is an add-on that would need the car to be brought back to add when the faster J1772 Frankenplug becomes deployed. In the end, this lack of certainty, the charger at 3.3 kw vs. 6.6 kw for the two top contenders, and the lack of a fifth seat eliminated the Chevy Spark EV. All was not lost however as we found a very helpful gentleman from the Glendora Chevrolet Internet Sales Department, Roy Schafhuizen (909) 636-6700. He was very attentive and communicative. He would be a good person to see if one is in the market for a Chevy Spark EV or a Chevy Volt. He was not an expert on the Spark EV, but he was ready, and willing to help us.

With that welcome distraction out of the way, we soldiered on and had to decide between our two finalists. In the discussions with my mom, it seems that the access to a faster charger is very important. My mother is a realtor and she also requires seating for at least five, so that eliminated the Mitsubishi i-MiEV, though out of all the models that we drove, she was most comfortable in its simplicity and seats. It reminded her of the minivans that she has been driving for decades. She actually is rather nervous and does not like proximity keys. She would much rather have a physical key to insert and turn in place of the start button. So this desire for a “standard” key would’ve eliminated both the Focus EV and the Leaf. Luckily, this factor came to pass.

The aesthetics of the Focus EV appealed to mom because it looked “like a normal car.”

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Additionally, she enjoyed the storage space in the Focus EV and “felt” that it held more cargo than the Leaf, though I would think that this is actually not the case.

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Lastly, Ford was a brand that she was very comfortable with. She felt that they are trustworthy. Additionally, even with all the problems that I’ve had with MY Ford Focus EV experience, we finally found a Ford dealership in Southern California to recommend to potential EV buyers. The Internet sales team at Advantage Ford in Duarte were knowledgeable and helpful. I especially appreciate both Tom Grossman (626) 358-5171 and Sarah Ocampo at (626) 305-9188 and both can be reached at (626) 359-9689. The team was very easy to work with and nothing is more telling on how a car dealership treats is customers than when one brings in a 60+ year old woman to the dealership lot to purchase a vehicle. They were a pleasure to work with, and had mom decided on the Ford Focus EV, they would’ve won our business. Alas it was not the case and they get honorable mention and our recommendation should you be in the Southern California area shopping for a Ford Focus EV.

What was against the Nissan Leaf for mom. She didn’t like the “Christmas Tree” rear light set-up. She felt the car was too futuristic looking. In the end, those things didn’t matter, because to off-set the aesthetic things she didn’t like, she really liked the Ocean Blue color of OB-8.

So, how did mom choose her 2013 Nissan Leaf SV. Aside from price. It really had to do with several items.

1) The Nissan Leaf has been produced for three years and she felt more comfortable with the track record that Nissan has had in its EV sales leadership. The Chevy Volt was eliminated earlier on as this was going to be one of two cars and she can choose to go ICE on an as needed basis (also the seating for four is a deal breaker.) She remembered that over two decades ago we had good experience with a Nissan Sentra hatchback in the family and was made more comfortable in this knowledge.

2) Nissan’s recent upgrade to 6.6kw in the 2013 model made it a “push” vs. the Ford Focus Electric. (This 6.6kw base charge was also the reason for the Nissan Leaf SV vs. the Nissan Leaf S.)

3) The increasing availability of CHAdeMO chargers in the Southern California basin (even at Blink’s expensive $5 proposition) gives her the comfort of being able to get to the required charge quickly.

4) The storage for the Leaf is less than her minivan, but still felt like she can carry enough of what she would do so on a daily basis.

5) She loves how quiet and smooth the ride was (then again she noticed this on ALL the EVs that she test drove.)

6) For me, I wanted to ensure that she got Carwings with her EV.  She uses an Android phone and is quite technical, so it is important for me that she is able to communicate with her car on state of charge and the cabin cooling features that are available only on Carwings enabled Nissans.

So, why did we go to Nissan of Duarte. Quite simply, the customer service and attentiveness of Jep Loberiza Martinez (who can be reached directly at (626) 710-8445 or at the dealership at (626) 305-3000). As far as the pricing went, they also beat the prices of about three other dealerships that we had visited AND they went to look for the specific trim that we wanted. I can only mention the relative displeasure I’ve had in dealing with Glendale Nissan and Puente Hills Nissan. It is a pity that she does not commute to Los Angeles from the City of Industry Metrolink station, otherwise we could have used the rebate and other items that folks get from that specific location. The folks at Hooman Nissan in Long Beach were very good, but did not have the trim that we wanted and the price was higher than Duarte.

Nissan of Duarte found us the all important Ocean Blue color and the SV with the Quick Charge and LED Headlights without the Premium Package (Mom did not need, nor want the 360 view camera and upgraded stereo system (and thus the expense of such an option.)) Additionally, as of the writing of this post, several days later, Jeb not only delivered the car to her at her home, he also came back to give her some valuable training to familiarize her with specific relating to her car.

So, please welcome my mom and OB-8 to the EV community.

Here’s a link to more photos

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Since she intends on using public charging, I gave my mother some quick EV training tips, including setting her up on a Chargepoint account, requesting a Blink Network account, as well as train her on Plugshare. We drove around having her plug into a Chargepoint chargers with her Fob as well as the Clipper Creek and Aerovironment fob-less chargers that are around as well. We visited the nearest Quick Charger to her home (less than six miles away) and showed her the difference in the two ports, as we were close to 90% at the time, we opted not to throw $5 to Blink to get use the CHAdeMO, but intend to have her get a quick charge at some point. Most importantly, I have also armed her with the requisite EV card from Plug-In America and explained to her the protocol that we all use for that as well as teach her how to check into Plugshare when one is using a public charger.

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So, hopefully you will give her a friendly welcome as she and OB-8 drive around Southern California with the smooth, silent drive of an EV and to prove that even grandmothers can be rEVolutionary!

Follow up to the City of Industry Metrolink charging stations, and uncovering a hidden EV benefit for a select few.

So, it would seem that the 32 charging stations at the City of Industry Metrolink station is a great benefit for some Metrolink commuters around the City of Industry.

Sure, the station is closed on the weekends (from 7:30 pm Friday until approximately 5:00am Monday) which is a schedule that I have found to be irksome.  But apparently, after digging through some articles and being made aware of a program by Puente Hills Nissan’s Internet Sales Director specifically geared for Metrolink commuters of that same station.  The City of Industry and Metrolink are looking to support some folks into switching their vehicles to some Nissan Leafs.

A parking lot of EV chargers on a late Friday afternoon (closes at 7:30 pm)

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These chargers were announced (and looked to be available) about a year ago as evidenced by a couple of articles on altenerg.com from last year as well as a related article on the local paper, San Gabriel Valley Tribune.  It’s a rather impressive PV installation and the Accidentally Environmental in me commends them on it.  However, what really is striking is the incentive that Metrolink and the City of Industry has done since installing the PVs last year.

What is the incentive?  An additional subsidy on top of the Federal and California rebates directly available to 28 commuters (initially) from the City of Industry station.  Additionally, these 28 commuters will receive RESERVED parking at the station (the EV chargers will then be charging each of their Leafs whilst they commute onward in the Metrolink Trains.  The article from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune does a better job than I in writing this subsidy.  Additionally, the direct program information can be found at their website http://www.industryev.com/.

For the financial aspects of the program, this is what I gleamed.  There is an initial purchase rebate for $2,000 toward the initial capital reduction of the lease PLUS $125 a month for 24 months off the lease price for a Nissan Leaf from three participating dealers (so if you use the station to commute to Los Angeles for 24 months, you get $3,000 over the whole 24 months as Metrolink and the City of Industry will pay for a good chunk of your lease.)  This is a total $5,000 savings in addition to the Federal and State incentives (if you lease for 3 years.)  I suggest that those that travel to Los Angeles from the City of Industry apply for this program and join the rEVolution!  (I did not factor in the approximately $220 per month price for a monthly pass from the City of Industry to Los Angeles that an eligible commuter is ALREADY PAYING FOR as that is still required to participate in this program.)

If you are eligible for this program, I can tell you that in my experience – AVOID Puente Hills Nissan.  Their pricing and tactics more than make up for this $125 difference and you’re better off trying to get the vehicle elsewhere.  I went to Puente Hills Nissan under the AAA (American Automobile Association) program and found their prices to be grossly inflated compared to others that participate in the AAA program.  Additionally, the gentleman that I worked with (the Assistant Internet Director) was constrained by “dealership policy” into including a $1,995 “”Multi-Shield Protection Package”” that is NOT optional for vehicles obtained at this dealership (oh, I was lucky, as an AAA member, I got a discount off this unnecessary ad-on that dropped the price to $1,495.)  Even if they did not add this “Multi-Shield Protection Package”, their pricing would have still been over $2,000 for the car.  Guess what, this option DOES eat into whatever savings you would have had with this rebate by getting a Leaf from any other location.  There are two other dealerships listed for this Metrolink program and I have no experience with either of them (Empire Nissan and Fontana Nissan).  Since we were not eligible for this program, we did get a deal from Nissan of Duarte that was approximately $4,000 less than the aforementioned dealer with less attitude.  Additionally, looking through the eligibility for the program, it looks like an individual CAN choose a different dealership and the program will reimburse the $2,000 down-payment that they would have provided to the three dealerships.

Now, if only Metrolink and the City of Industry would leave the parking lot available to the EV community over the weekend for those that need a Level 2 charge when the trains are not running.  Luckily the Diamond Bar SCAQMD is open, but that’s up a hill and further from the freeway.