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.

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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.



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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.

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.)


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




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.”



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.


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


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.


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!