One of my favorite National Drive Electric Week events last year was the one in Los Angeles. Mainly because almost all the EVs and PHEVs available on the market were represented by the OEMs for test drives at that event.
I was able to test drive the new, larger battery Nissan Leaf last year and we saw one of the early Bolt EVs at the same event.
The particular lawn on Expo Park that the event is located was just behind the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
We arrived just before 11:00 AM, about two hours after the event started. As opposed to the Diamond Bar event where EV and PHEV drivers park separately from ICE vehicles, the LA event has OEMs provide the Ride and Drive event, so all public attendees have to park in the parking lots nearby.
We headed to the sign-in tent and got some giveaways from the organizers.
This year’s event did not seem to have as many people as the previous year’s event.
It was well attended by the car manufacturers.
The Bolt EV was there, alas, Chevy was only letting folks drive the new Volt.
One of the cool things that is at this carnival-like atmosphere were the creative games that some of the exhibitors allowed the public to play with, and I had a good time playing Chevy’s Plinko game. I ended up winning some “flip-flops” by pairing the token with its corresponding Chevy color.
Around the driveway where the ride and drive events were being held, was an interesting solar powered Level 2 charger. I didn’t see anyone use these chargers, but it was cool to spot it. It’s not permanently installed, so I’m sure it’s meant to be portable.
Looks like LAPD still kept the Tesla Motors Model S and BMW i3, but the i8 from last year was nowhere to be found.
We caught the vehicles with their lights flashing…
…about the only time I like to see the flashing lights.
I signed up to ride the Volve PHEV, the Volvo XC90 T8 as it was the ONLY one of the plug in cars that was available to test drive that I have not driven yet. I went to the Volvo tent to fill out all the information to get a test drive. The wait was a few minutes, but as my turn was up, the panel regarding EV Storytelling with Chris Paine, Dean Devlin, and Chelsea Sexton was about to start. So, I paused my drive to go and listen to the panel.
I figured to stream the event, so I set it up my iPad for a Periscope session. (I also uploaded the same content on Youtube for those that prefer that.)
Volvo XC90 T8
So, how was the drive for the Volvo XC90 T8? Well…
It has a nice interior.
and the seats were comfy…
However, I never did get to experience it in EV mode. For the very short amount of time that I did drive it, the representative and the car wouldn’t let me experience it without the ICE engaged. So, it was quite disappointing.
I think Volvo has a lot to learn of why folks do drive events at National Drive Electric Week.
As a reward for doing a test drive, we got vouchers to get food from the food trucks at the event. We used ours for Border Grill and Coolhaus.
There were other choices there as well.
One of the interesting exhibitors at the event was Greencommuter.org and one of their Tesla Model X.
Had a good few minutes to talk to their representatives about their business and their plans to assist area commuters to swap their vanpools for clean EVs (such as the Model X.)
Additionally, the guys from Tesla Club LA had a tent at the event and had a few of their cars there.
Out of the six games this past weekend, we decided to try to make it to all six initially, but was too late to make it to the Thursday Night LA Kings victory.
So, we started our Downtown LA long weekend with the Fleming’s Steak House on Thursday night. A very good national steak house with a very good wine list. However, if you find yourself in the area, I prefer the Palm.
The Lakers in-game production is quite a spectacle and it always starts with an awesome tip-off video like below –
At this point in the series, the Lakers were down 2-0 and needed a victory to regain the momentum of the series. We sat in our regular Section 216 seats for this game.
This was the playoffs, and the Lakers came in and executed in this game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder put long-time Lakers favorite Derek Fisher on Kobe Bryant in this game and my better half had some good shots of them together:
It does look like they gave each other high-fives here!
As with all Lakers games, we had our celebrities out as well
Denzel in his understated New York Yankees Hat.
Jack Nicholson in shades and Andy Garcia, not in his usual seats in Section 113, but courtside.
AC Green spotted in the crowd.
Penny Marshall with Denzel.
Thank goodness for a very hot shooting night from the free-throw line, the Lakers won this game and the series became 2-1.
So, game one of five of our weekend was complete…
Next up, was a 12:30 pm Saturday Clippers game against the San Antonio Spurs.
We sat in Section 210 for this game and there are some stark difference between Lakers and Clippers games. First, Staples Center is darkened for all but the court for Lakers games. The crowd sits in darkness, much like a boxing match, whereas the Clippers crowd is bathed in gymnasium lighting. Second, Clippers fans are a LOT louder than Lakers fans (side note, I AM A LAKER FAN.) That being said, I always root for the Clippers when they are not playing against my Lakers. However, I was not as emotionally invested in this game and the Clippers ended up blowing a rather sizable early lead to lose to the Spurs.
Here is an interesting crowd photo of our weekend, note the Clipper, Laker, and Kings attire in the crowd.
A photo from the seats to show what the view was like.
Not being familiar with who attends these games, I believe Billy Crystal is the big Clipper Celebrity fan, no shots of any celebs.
Game two of our weekend ended in a loss, so we were rather subdued, but had to take figure out what to do in downtown L.A. for four hours in between Clippers and Lakers games, so we decided to take in a movie at the Regal 14 at L.A. Live. We saw Battleship, which was a BAD movie with not enough explosions to redeem itself.
However, it did keep us cool and entertained while we get ourselves ready for the 7:30 pm tip of the first of two Staples Center doubleheaders that weekend.
Game three of five for us was the Los Angeles Lakers Game Four of the Second Round. This was a hard one to take for Lakers fans. The team lost this game on the home floor and had the victory in hand, before it was lost. We were in our regular Section 216 seats that evening.
Ashton Kutcher was courtside for game four. (I blame him for the loss ;-))
Andy Garcia was in his regular Section 113 seats. Maybe it is HIS fault, since he changed seats for this game versus Game 3 of the series! Perhaps he should’ve sat courtside again.
Either way, I and a few of my closest fellow Lakers fans were disappointed that evening.
Thus Game Three of our Five Games at Staples Center ended in a massive disappointment with the Lakers trailing the series 3-1. Still better than their Staples Center neighbors at 3-0, but Lakers fans don’t compare the team against other teams, they compare them against past Lakers Championship teams.
Another disappointing game, so we headed back home for some respite and hopeful that the Kings and Clippers can do better on Sunday… Boy were we wrong.
Sunday was an interesting day in this weekend of sports in that the Final leg of the AMGEN Tour of California bike race was ending at Staples Center/L.A. Live before the start of the Kings game.
So, I guess one could count the last leg as the Finals for this race.
Either way, we were back to Staples Center on Sunday for a 12 noon L.A. Kings Game 4 of the NHL Western Conference Finals versus the Phoenix Coyotes. The L.A. Kings, at this point were hoping to close out Phoenix and find themselves in the Stanley Cup for only the second time in their history.
Game Four of our Five Game Staples Playoff weekend was fun, however, the real Kings fans would’ve picked us up to be “new” fans. I was at the game with a short-sleeved shirt and was promptly chilly throughout the whole game. We sat at the San Manuel Club Restaurant above Section 215 for the game and enjoyed a bountiful and tasty brunch buffet as well as a good view of the game.
Our flickr stream has more photos, but I think video will give you a better feel.
Needless to say, Game Four of Five ended in a disappointment with the Kings ending up being shut out at home. At least we got a good meal, and great service at the San Manuel Club Restaurant at Staples Center.
Sunday was easier than the previous two days in that we got ourselves a room for Sunday night to Monday morning at the Ritz Carlton, L.A. Live. Parking is $40 valet only with in and out privileges.
Here is a panoramic shot of our room (on Monday morning).
The view from room 2358 for that weekend was quite nice.
So, after some rest at the Ritz, we went ahead and attended Game Five of our Five Playoff game Staycation in Downtown Los Angeles with our last game of the series with the Los Angeles Clippers hoping to stave off elimination against the San Antonio Spurs. Alas it was not meant to be…
We had great seats in Section 114 for this last game of the Clippers 2011-2012 season.
Once again, hats off to Clippers fans who seem to be louder than my fellow Lakers fans. And they really have a talented kid in Blake Griffin (pictured here defending Tim Duncan)
This is a nice panoramic crowd shot from my seat at Section 114.
Nice shot of the nearby basket.
At the end of the night, the Clippers succumbed to the San Antonio Spurs and were swept off the playoffs 4-0. Our weekend at Staples Center was a resounding thud with the Los Angeles home teams going 1-4. With the Lakers eventually losing Monday night in Oklahoma City and the Kings getting in the Stanley Cup with a road victory in Glendale, AZ versus the Phoenix Coyotes.
This conversion video from Youtube is rather impressive –
So. You may be asking yourself. Aside from four Los Angeles team losses, how does this past weekend relate to my ActiveE and EVs in general.
Well, it so happens that across the street from the Staples Center is L.A. Live. An entertainment, retail, restaurant, office, residential, and hotel complex par excellence. Currently charging is free, but the parking could be free (on non-game days AND with a minimum at one of the restaurants at the complex) to very expensive $30-$40 for the day.
At Staples Center, there lies a total of TEN (10) Blink Network Chargers. Now, I must reiterate that the Blink Network Chargers require two things to operate.
1) You need to have a Blink Card. (If you don’t have one, get one. They’re growing in SoCal, not as many as Chargepoint, but definitely growing.)
2) You need to use your ZIP Code to activate the charging process (like the Gas Stations you used to use when you pumped for gasoline.)
There are four chargers in the East Parking Lot.
Two in Parking Level 2 that are back to back from each other.
The other two are side by side in Parking Level 1.
There are four chargers in the West Parking Lot, these are at GROUND Level, around the corner from handicapped and the entrance. It’s almost adjacent to 11th Street.
Three face forward, and the fourth is by itself on a column.
And lastly, there are two chargers in Valet Parking at the Ritz Carlton/J.W. Marriott. Though the actual chargers are in L3 of the West Parking Lot.
One word of warning, the Valets at the Ritz are very helpful, but you need to instruct them on how to use your charger and how to check if it is working. The helpful valet that assisted me ALMOST did everything correctly, except he plugged me into a non-working EVSE. I had to move to the operational charger. Remember to give the Valet your Blink Card AND Zip Code to charge the car.
The Valet Parking is $40 for overnight guests. I don’t know what it is if you’re just visiting. Charging is free, however.
Here is my ActiveE in one of the valet spots:
and here is the other charger at the hotel Valet Parking.
Here is a photo of the non-working Blink charger at L.A. Live hotel valet parking (it should be fixed by now), it was stuck trying to read the RFID card.
It was an emotionally draining weekend and we were glad to have been able to get a room at the Ritz on Sunday night. Los Angeles home victories would’ve been sweeter, alas, one of the three teams are still playing in their playoffs and were looking ahead to the next season.