National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Santa Monica, Long Beach, and a wrap-up

I usually attend two or three of the National Drive Electric Week (formerly National Plug In Day) events a year. I’ve always found them to be fun and key to confirming me as a member of the rEVolution.

This past year’s events in Diamond Bar and Los Angeles were published on this blog pretty much as it happened.  I wanted to cover the other two events that I attended in the same manner, but also wanted to share our Long Way Round Trip with readers two months from when the trip happened (and, intentionally, as a way to celebrate National Drive Electric Week.)  The trip won out and so, here we are with Santa Monica and Long Beach coverage weeks later.

Santa Monica, September 16, 2016

The Santa Monica NDEW2016 event was held on Friday and Saturday (September 16-17, 2016) in conjunction with Alt Car Expo.  I actually went to Santa Monica to attend Alt Car Expo, and was pleasantly surprised by the NDEW2016 event that was being held at the same time.

Drove to Santa Monica in the better half’s Roadster.  We’ve been having some challenges with its charging and I wanted to test the car and see if it faults with the chargers at the parking lot in Santa Monica.  Luckily (and yet frustratingly), for the test, it did not.



The City of Santa Monica is one of the most EV friendly cities and many of the municipal lots have free charging and the one at the civic center is no exception.  Additionally, these Level 2 chargers were also powered by a solar carport.


At 30A, charging was going to take a while, but I’m here for the whole day, so I put my contact information on the EV Hangtag, checked into Plugshare and gave a status on when I expect to be done with charging, and went inside to the Alt Car Expo conference.


The NDEW part of the conference was set up in a cordoned off section of the parking lot.


The check in table for the Alt Car Expo was apparently where one also signs up for the Ride & Drive portion.  Something which I did not fill up at the time, and turns out, I should’ve.


The Santa Monica set-up was a mix between EV owners and drivers demonstrating their EVs to the public (no Ride and Drive.)


The Coda Sedan that was at the site was owned by the same gentleman who owns and operates several Codas and Coda gliders. In talking with the owner, it turns out that he was the same Coda that I spotted at the Los Angeles event as well.


The Corbin Sparrow that was at Santa Monica is also the same exact one that was in the Los Angeles event.  I guess, I’m not the only EVangelist who enjoys talking EVs with the public.


At this location, only the car manufacturers were the only ones providing Ride and Drive events at this location. The participating vehicles were more than just BEVs, there were several hydrogen fuel cell vehicles as well.


The Honda Clarity,


the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell,


and the Toyota Mirai was there too.


I was surprised to spot a Diesel Volkswagen at the site, it was part of the Zipcar car-sharing program and I suppose that Alt Car considers this to be an acceptable solution.  I’m not too keen on any more diesel vehicles.


Personally, I think the service from is a better candidate as it provides car sharing AND an EV (Chevy Spark EVs, to be precise) for no cost for the first two hours is quite an amazing deal.


There were other exhibitors here as well.


It looks like the same Chevy Bolt EV that was in Portland for EV Roadmap 9 was in Santa Monica as well.


The only plug-in that was at the site that I have yet to drive was the Audi A3 E-Tron.  Unfortunately, I did not sign up for the Ride and Drive portion of the event in front, and I wasn’t that thrilled to drive a plug-in hybrid anyway, so I skipped it.  I spent the time at the event talking to and catching up with EV friends and decided to pass on the evening reception for the conference.

Leaving Santa Monica during rush hour is often an exercise in futility.  I decided to take some surface streets South through Venice.  Had an interesting sighting on my drive.  I spotted some manufacturer cars being driven around.   Unfortunately they were not EVs, but still a thrill to spot these camouflaged vehicles on the road.  I’m guessing its a new BMW 7 series, but could be a 5 series, I suppose.




Hard to see, but click and zoom in on the rearview mirror. Can’t mistake the “kidney beans” on the front grill.


I know that BMW is working on further electrification, but it would have been cool to spot a new EV on the road.

Long Beach, September 17, 2016

The following day, Saturday, September 17, I attended the NDEW gathering in Long Beach, CA.  This event was the closest to the traditional NDEW events that I have attended in the past. This one had less manufacturer involvement in it and more public-facing event. It was more traditional in that we were welcomed by some politicians and spent the time just “hanging out” and talking to folks.

NDEW2016 - MF - 1

There were a lot of Teslas at this event because the Tesla Owners Club of Orange County had identified this particular NDEW for its annual NDEW event.




All manners of Teslas were represented.



The red roadster was for sale and is VIN #5.

Of course the Falcon Wing Doors have to go up with the Model X in the crowd.


It is the latest Tesla around.

and we had three Roadsters at this event.


There was representation from members of the EV community as well.

From other vehicles like the Zero Motorcycle and Smart ED.



To several Leafs and a Porsche 912 conversion that gets around 150 miles.



NDEW2016 - MF - 2

NDEW2016 - MF - 3

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There was a Fiat 500e and a Coda (same owner as was in Santa Monica the previous day and Los Angeles the previous week.)


Even the Honda Fit EV made an appearance.  Three times, to be exact.


I don’t believe many of the Tesla owners allowed the public to take a drive in their vehicle.  The owner for the Red Roadster #5 did take a few interested parties out in that car, then again she was also taking the opportunity to see if anyone wanted to buy her car.

The other manufacturer’s car was different.  I saw a few take rides in the converted Porsche and I believe one of the Leafs took a drive around.




Around Southern California, National Drive Electric Week is celebrated in many places and some get a lot of car manufacturer support, whereas others are sparsely attended by the manufacturers. It’s great to see all the participation in these events and I hope that more and more and convinced to go electric as a result of attending these EVents.  As for letting folks drive our EVs, I was a lot more forgiving when I drove the Active E for this event, but when we moved to the Tesla, not so much.  Besides, in California, Tesla does a great job providing folks with a nice long drive at their retail locations. Some of the events seem well attended, whereas others are more sparse. The one in Diamond Bar was much better this year, but the Los Angeles one seemed to have less people. Either way, I hope that we’ve convinced more people to go electric.

I often look forward to September because of this week and am looking forward to when it becomes every day that we celebrate Drive Electric Days.

National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Los Angeles

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

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


So… I had high expectations for 2016.

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

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


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




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


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


It was well attended by the car manufacturers.


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


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




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


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

We caught the vehicles with their lights flashing…



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

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

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




Volvo XC90 T8

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


It has a nice interior.




and the seats were comfy…



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

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

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



There were other choices there as well.


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



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

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



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





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

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



There was a Corbin Sparrow, front and center.


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

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



That’s one rare EV.

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

National Drive Electric Week 2016

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

National Drive Electric Week 2016 – Diamond Bar

For the past few years, I’ve always attended several of the National Drive Electric Week events throughout Southern California.  This year, the first EVent that we visited was in Diamond Bar at the Southern California Air Quality Management District.

Drive Electric Week is happening Internationally now and have started today, September 10, 2016 and continues on until next week.  Our club, Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (formerly OC Tesla Club), will be attending the event in Long Beach on September 17, 2016.  However, we, as a family, try to hit several throughout the week.

You can look up where the nearest one is to you on the site.  With 241 sites worldwide, here’s to hoping that the event grows even more.

We took some great pictures of the event and set up a Flickr album.

National Drive Electric Week 2016

I chose our parking spot today to complete the Red, White, and Blue Classic Tesla Motors Model S parked on the edge of the event.


We’re on the left, have to read it right to left to get Red, White, and Blue.

Previous sessions at Diamond Bar had a lot more EV conversions. This year, I spotted only one EV conversion (parked by the Chevy Volt.)


The owner of the BMW i3 put his car in what he called “presentation mode.”


Some crazy Smart ED owner put a different kind of Range Extender (wind up version…)




Lots of Fiat 500es.



One of the OC Tesla Club member’s Model X participated at this EVent.


We had hoped to bring my wife’s Roadster to the event, but we found a puddle of coolant in the garage and didn’t want to risk it. Glad to see a couple of Roadsters here.


More of the pictures from this event are on the Flickr album.

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

Visiting Faraday Future… Impressions for a hopeful future….

This week is the start of a great EV week for rEVolutionaries. Especially if you’re in Southern California… It was extra special for me, ’cause I got to add one more to the two things happening toward the end of the week.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Dustin Batchelor (on twitter or his blog) on his visit to Faraday Future [updated 2016-04-01, his blog post on his take on the Faraday Future visit] during his family vacation to Southern California to attend Formula E’s second visit to Long Beach this weekend.

Dustin is a fellow rEVolutionary and 2 Electric Vehicle family (Leaf and Volt) from British Columbia and had driven down to Southern California with his family in their Volt. He had hoped to visit Tesla Motors, but didn’t get a response to his requests for a factory tour from Tesla. Apparently he also reached out to Faraday for a visit and was granted one by the folks there. When I heard from him that he was going to drop by and tour Faraday, I asked him if I could “tag along” and he requested and was granted approval by his contact at Faraday to bring me along.

So, step one to the visit was to sign the Mutual Non-Disclosure Agreement from Faraday Future and I wanted to make sure to protect my secrets, so I signed the document (kidding, though the NDA was mutual, I wasn’t working on anything proprietary… 😉 ) and returned it to our contact at Faraday Future.

The NDA guarantees that I won’t be taking any pictures of my visit, so you WON’T be seeing ANY pictures of the visit to Faraday Future, but I can share my thoughts and impressions of this company.

First off, many have wondered whether Faraday Future was producing vaporware. As the secretive company was announcing its sponsorship of Formula E’s stop in Long Beach, one of my staple EV news sites, Transport Evolved published the article “Just Ahead Of Long Beach FIA Formula E Race, Faraday Futures Becomes Surprise Official Sponsor — But Still Has No Car”. The company was criticized by its CES debut by many because they produced a super-car concept (the FFZERO1 Concept) rather than a “real car.” As I tweeted during their big reveal, it’s really their VPA (Variable Platform Architecture) that I felt was important in the announcement and not the FFZERO1. The VPA is basically a base that can be expanded or shrunk down to use as a basis for their entire line of vehicles. Comparing this to Tesla’s Model S and Model X and the skateboard design which is a fixed size to build the platform on top of.

I looked forward to this visit because I had my reservations as to the substance of the firm and its viability. After all, the history of American automotive startups is littered with failure. It is often said that last “successful” American automotive startup was Chrysler.

So, I went to this visit without much expectations and came out of it fully satisfied.

As I mentioned earlier, I was unable to take pictures of the facilities or share what they are working on but I can tell you my impressions.

  1. This is a growing company and it is growing fast.
  2. There was an energy in the air as I walked through their facilities and people were focused on their work. Furthermore, this same energy can be summed up as a “sense of urgency” as these guys realize that they are looking to join a field that is dynamic and filled with awakening giants because of Tesla and its success.
  3. Since I was unable to take photos, I thought to at least share a photo that IS public and here is a photo taken in December 2015 of Faraday Future offices that was part of their CES Press Kit.
    Screenshot 2016-03-29 18.35.00
    I can tell you that this photo is INACCURATE. It is inaccurate because there are SO MUCH MORE PEOPLE in the offices that these pictures were taken in now than there was when it was taken four months ago.
  4. They’re out of parking. I arrived to take the “last spot”.
  5. These guys are working on a lot of systems in parallel with developing their car. We saw “mules” of their technology in other OEM’s vehicles to test their technology on a platform akin to what they would be developing their own vehicles in.
  6. Faraday Future must have bought large-car sized tarp and sheets from Costco… We saw quite a bit of concept cars covered by tarp and sheets.
  7. There is a lot of tech that they are using. We walked by several workstations that reminded me of a space mission control location. Desks buttressed to each other with multiple monitor stations in front of each employee.
  8. They have lofty goals, but ones that would benefit EVeryone in the rEVolution should they execute on their goals.

Lastly, as “parting gifts”, the guys over there provided us with a hard-copy of their CES Press Kit.



Here is a link to the same kit in PDF form.

Apparently, Dustin Batchelor and I were not the only folks to visit Faraday Future this week, I wonder whether Chelsea will be able to share more than I was

Spotted on the freeway… A Scion iQ EV with Michigan manufacturer plates.

And now a pause from our Active E, Model S, and Roadster coverage…

Heading home on the 405 Freeway one fine Sunday afternoon, several weeks ago, I spotted an interesting looking Scion iQ.

Lo and behold, the Scion iQ EV.




Unfortunately, he went behind a really slow vehicle to hide from me, so the ONLY front view I have uses my rearview mirror.


It’s always a thrill to catch an unreleased EV in the wild. Definitely one of the benefits of living in Southern California

Elon Musk is right… At least for the car purchasing experience…

Elon Musk is right, or a review of my bad Ford Focus Electric test drive experience(s).

I’ve test driven the Ford Focus Electric vehicle three times, while visiting FOUR Ford dealers in the span of six months. The car is ok, not really what I would have bought, but if the price is right, who knows.


My first experience was at the dealership at Cerritos Ford. Which is where most of these pictures were taken. I did this test in August of 2012 and the salesman was honest enough to mention that he knew NOTHING of electric cars, but was glad to show me the car anyway.

We took it out for a ride, and the dealership had quite a selection of colors, about four of them in stock with several others of the same trim available. I had hoped that since it looked like a small station wagon, that there would be space in the vehicle, alas, it did not.

The rear storage area closed –


The rear storage area open –


This experience was neutral at best, but it really was because I ended up training the sales rep on some of the virtues of ANY EV, not specific to his model.

Several months later, I found myself around Santa Monica waiting for the better half as she was involved in a business dinner. I took the opportunity to drive Santa Monica Blvd to see if there were any EVs to test, and ended up at the Ford dealership there. This was in December and “deals” were to be had. Once again, the sales representative who approached me was barely trained. This time, the gentleman who initially assisted me just started working in car sales that week. This trip was memorable because the “more experienced” sales person who came up to assist the newbie who initially was with me made it sound as if Ford had dropped the price to $15,000 out the door AFTER all incentives were applied. Needless to say, color me intrigued. Alas, the “more experienced guy” was DOUBLE DIPPING on some of the incentives, and I walked away from the dealership.

Some nice shots of the screens for the Focus Electric –


Another few months later, and I was driving down the 405 and noticed a Giant Worthington Ford advertisement for the Focus Electric. I figured, why not see if the prices have dropped. I got to the dealership and there was ONE Focus Electric on the showroom floor. No one knew how to sell the vehicle and they were not doing any test drives. This was in January or February, not really a HOT sales time of the year, and no one was able to try to sell a vehicle that they were advertising on a BIG sign on the side of the freeway.

My last experience was with the Focus Electric sales was last month. I found myself on the 405, as I often do, and decided to check out South Bay Ford. I had a little bit of time to kill before I had to pick up the better half, so I figured to see the C-Max Plug In or the Ford Fusion Plug In (along with the Focus Electric) and get a small charge on the Active E while I played with the new Ford EVs.

Here’s a quick video I shot, turn up the video because the Leviton charger was making some really weird sounds as I charged on it (I interrupted it and just left it unplugged, it just sounded awful.)

Regardless, the sales person was more adept at the products and the differences between them. However, he really didn’t speak so well of the Focus Electric. He seemed to be more comfortable with either of the plug in hybrids.

I have never owned a Ford. Probably never will, but it’s hard to try to convince someone when a majority of the sales staff don’t know the product. As has been documented in Tesla’s challenge with direct sales in Texas and other states, they purport that the existing dealer model is ill equipped to take on the paradigm shift that EVs make vs their established ICE products. This point was further illustrated to me as I found out SOME features of the Focus Electric that WOULD be of interest to me was recently posted by Michael and Pamela Thwaite on their blog. Their coverage of the ONLINE capabilities of the Focus Electric would’ve scored points with me, had I been properly marketed to by the various Ford sales people that I have been with over the course of the last six months.

Let’s hope that BMW’s establishment of a sub-brand, BMW i, to focus its EV efforts will lead to a world where a predominantly ICE based automobile manufacturer can gain greater traction with its EV platforms. Nissan seems to do well selling its Leaf within one brand, I’m sure that not all strategies fit all organizations. I’m just hoping that BMW’s establishment of BMW i and its insistence on selling its purpose built i3 and i8 with such a radical design departure from the BMW aesthetic that some BMW owners (such as myself and my better half) expect will not be a misstep.