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.

EV Thanks on Thanksgiving 2013… 50,000 all electric miles!


So, my favorite EV News site at transportevolved.com asked what do you have to be EV Thankful for… (Interestingly they’re based in the UK, but with a LARGE audience of the American EV Community)

After over 21 months of EV driving and meticulous postings of my electric mileage, it’s finally happened. Sometime in the past few weeks I’ve passed 50,000 all electric miles of driving!

I would have been more precise, however. Sharing EVs with my wife, I can’t tell which are her driving miles versus my driving miles. I do know that I drive 95-98% of the time, so I can claim most of the miles.

So… What does that mean… Well, I’ve calculated a cost of approximately $0.008 per mile since I’ve moved to Solar power on my roof. Well, let’s assume that with the addition of the Tesla Roadster and Model S to the fleet, my costs have gone up to $0.012 per mile. I’m using this figure because both the Roadster and Model S exhibits more Vampire Drain (defined as the energy consumed by the EV while idle) than the Active E has in its approximately 48,000 miles of service. So, using this figure, let’s say that we’ve spent approximately $600 during these 50,000 miles. Well, I’ve used paid EV Charging Networks as well. Not too often, but enough to approximate an additonal $50, let’s double this figure to be really conservative. So, we’re talking $700 for the 50,000 miles. Now, if we had driven all those miles in our least expensive ICE (Internal Combustion Engine (gasoline engine)) car was at $0.15 per mile. These same miles would have been $7,500 in energy costs.

So, I guess after 50,000 miles, I have at least $6,800 to be thankful for.

What else do I have to be EV Thankful for… Frankly, living in Southern California has given me the ability to choose amongst the widest selection of Electric and Plug-in Hybrid vehicles on the market. I’ve been lucky enough to have been able to drive this gallery of electric vehicles.

Ranging from failures like the Coda (which I reviewed early on the blog’s existence) and Fisker Karma.

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Fisker Karma
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To California Compliance limited production run EVs such as the Honda Fit EV and Fiat 500e.

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Fiat 500E
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Is the Spark EV a compliance car or production?

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To hand converted beauties like the ZElectricbug.

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To full production EVs, like the Mitsubishi iMiEV, Ford Focus EV, Nissan Leaf, Smart 3rd Gen ED, and my latest temptation the BMW i3. Not pictured are the Chevy Volt, 2nd Gen Toyota RAV4 EV, and the Plug-in Prius.

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Ford Focus EV
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Nissan Leaf
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Smart 3rd Gen ED
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BMW i3
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And of course, our EV fleet… The Tesla Roadster, Tesla Model S, and the one that got me hooked on EVs our BMW Active E.

Our Tesla Roadster
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Our Model S
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Our BMW ActiveE
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So… EVeryone in the EV world. From rEVolutionaries and those that are curious (join us, the water is fine)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Announcing… The new blog title


Since I first started publishing my thoughts on this blog, I had chosen the title

My ActiveE made me Accidentally Environmental

The trials and tribulations of a BMW ActiveE driver in Southern California

Well…

As I indicated in a previous post, we’re adding to our focus…  I would have been happy to pursue more experiences with the Active E, solely, alas, I am finally letting go of the idea that I may be able to keep my Active E.  The i3 is launched and scheduled for delivery in the United States (if my source at one of the local LA dealerships is to be trusted) on March 18, 2014.  (Yes, the day after Saint Patrick’s Day.)

So…  Without further delay…

My ActiveE made me Accidentally Environmental

And Tesla made me a rEVolutionary!

It was either that or

And Tesla Model S is the vehicle that BMW should have made

Pictures of our Model S getting the Glistening Perfection treatment!


The second stage of taking delivery of the vehicle was to protect the aesthetics of the vehicle.

So, click here [warning, not for the faint of heart], to see some of the work that’s being done on the Model S.

Glistening Perfection is doing their thing, but man it’s a little strange to see the car in this state as it gets taken care of.

So… Just had one full day of S getting the “treatment”


Today is the start of the second day of no Model S… And it’s going fine…

Instead of opting for the factory installed Paint Armor, we decided to follow Mark and Anna‘s example with their Model S and had Moe Mistry of Glistening Perfection apply the Xpel Ultimate wrap on our car.

Here are our cars, side by side at Glistening Perfection on Sunday…

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Theirs is the one with the plates…

We opted for the whole car wrap and tint.

What that means is that we wait for the car to be serviced, then we get it all nicely detailed, wrapped, etc. No worries of paint chips for at least the ten year warranty of the Xpel Utlimate.

One of the cool things that I found out is that Moe removes the badges from the car, wraps it, then reattaches brand new ones to the car. This then provides the best protection as the film does not bunch up around the badges.

It also provides an opportunity…

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I’m thinking of removing the 85 on the bottom right of the rear. I figure, no need to really advertise what model of the S that we’re driving. It’s an S. If one isn’t driving the P85 or P85+, no real need to have any other badge than Model S and the Tesla logo.

What do you think?

Second Day of Tesla Model S Pickup Weekend – 1740. First Supercharge

Ok…

Made it back down to the Fremont Factory and Supercharging…

One word – AWESOME.

We arrived with 70ish miles and Supercharging here because I figure that Gilroy would have greater demand.

Decided on a 101 Route, so next Supercharge stop should be Altascadero.

On the Flickr Tesla Model S Delivery Weekend set are pics around Sonoma area.

[updated 2013-11-10 22:05 for photos and additional content on where we went in Sonoma. The following pictures and content are all new.]

So, first are some Sonoma pictures.

First stop for me was the Sonoma Country Drive for a quicker J1772 charge than the 110V at the Hotel. Sonoma County Drive was less than two miles from the hotel. It has a few CONVERTED Prius to Plug-in as well as a current Plug-in Prius.

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I drove over there to plug in while the better half took time to do some work and get ready. Was able to get some additional miles buffer.

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If you want to see more, go to Flickr Tesla Model S Delivery Weekend Set.

We then went to the Peay Vineyards Open House.

The Wine was great but no charger.

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Lunch was the order of the day at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery, where there was a 30A Chargepoint Charger (minimum $3 at $2.50 per hour) and the food was good, but the Wine does not agree with us. Great building and views… The home of two of my favorite Model S shots this weekend.

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and

The one with two of my favorite things…

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And lastly, the Fremont Factory…

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Once again, if you want to see more, go to Flickr Tesla Model S Delivery Weekend Set.

The importance of Telematics…

After over twenty months of driving electric vehicles (EVs). I was thinking of advantages that EVs have over internal combustion engine (ICE) cars.

One of the things that I feel is critical to have in a production Electric Vehicle is proper telematics. Telematics is the intersection of telecommunications and information. The ability to monitor and get feedback as to the status of the vehicle is a feature that I think should be supported by all EVs.

What are some baseline features of Telematics that I would like to see from EV manufacturers.

1) Support for Multiple Mobile devices as well as the Web.

2) Near real-time status updates of the vehicle and its current state.
A) Battery Charge Level
B) Charging/Not Charging (Plugged/Not Plugged)
C) Estimate of how long charging will take

3) At least several years of access to the systems should be included with the price of the car.

Granted, this post is occurring before we’ve picked up our Tesla Model S, so I’ll have to provide an update with that one later.

As many of you know, I recently installed the Open Vehicle Monitoring System on my wife’s Roadster. So, I can now compare BMW’s My Remote with the OVMS system on a Tesla Roadster 1.5. Additionally, I have been experienced with the Nissan Leaf Carwings system as a function of being “tech support” for my 60+ mother in her 2013 Ocean Blue Nissan Leaf SV (OB-8).

First, I will be using the iOS version running on an iPod Touch and/or iPad, unless I specify otherwise.

So, how do they compare?

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First, the My BMW Remote Application and Active E.

1) BMW has an application for iOS and Android. No access via the web or Blackberry.

2) Near real-time status updates of the vehicle and its current state.
the My BMW Remote provides good feedback of this status on the iPod Touch version by giving the user the “Status from: Date and Time” on the upper right of the application. The iPad version only gives the “Status from: Date” on the same location. It makes the iPod Touch version an edge even between the same mobile OS.

As above, the iPod version

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and the iPad version [NOTE: I edited out the map on the left corner for the location]

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A) Battery Charge Level

BMW does provide this, but it’s been somewhat unreliable. For example, most recently, I was unable to get any of this status on the iOS application from October 23, 2013 to October 29, 2013. It finally started working again.

if the status is frozen, have to hit the refresh button to get a refresh. And it’s hit or miss whether that works.

B) Charging/Not Charging (Plugged/Not Plugged)

The My BMW Remote does show this status and enable one to change the scheduled time of charge as well as initiate a charge directly. It also monitors whether or not the car is plugged in at the location.

C) Estimate of how long charging will take

The My BMW Remote does a good job of providing this feedback in the same manner as the vehicle does as far as when it expects to complete the charge to 100%. It Actually provides the hour:minute estimate of how much time is left to complete the charge. However, this algorithm is actually toward 99% charge and not full stop as the slow down for the last few minutes can last a while if the user wants to unplug when the car is completely stopped its charge.

3) At least several years of access to the systems should be included with the price of the car.

This is not an issue on the Active E as the close end lease from BMW will run out before access to these systems are in place.

OTHER FEATURES AND OBSERVATIONS.

The My BMW Remote App requires the end user to enter a PIN code every time the application is launched. This can be annoying, but the more paranoid would enjoy the security of such a feature.

Additionally, the vehicle’s GPS coordinates will be provided ONLY if the vehicle and the mobile device are “close” to each other (

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Older versions of the application allowed the end user to unlock the vehicle, this has since been removed. [added 2013-11-07 The feature still shows up but directs users to CALL BMW Assist]

The end user can start preconditioning of the vehicle remotely, once again the challenge is the actual connection between App and vehicle can be unreliable. [added 2013-11-07 The end user can also SCHEDULE the preconditioning and charging behavior through the App, but it is somewhat unreliable, I personally set these before I leave the vehicle which is why I had an oversight.]

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It’s nice that the Application tells the end user the battery temperature, the outside temperature, and the inside temperature of the vehicle. In SoCal, this is used to COOL the cabin down before picking up the car, I’m sure in other parts of the country it is used to HEAT the cabin before getting to the car.

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[added 2013-11-07 The user can also link their vehicle to their Google account and send Map destinations to the vehicle via the registered email address of the car. I believe this is a capability of newer BMWs, not just Active Es. I use this feature sporadically, as the others which is why I had the oversight. The Address is received by the vehicle as a “Service Message”]

Lastly, the end user has the option of loading the office and home locations and the application automatically computes whether the end user has enough range to get to either location with the SOC of the vehicle.

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Second, the OVMS Application and the Tesla Roadster

The Open Vehicle Monitoring System was launched approximately two years ago (November 2011) and constant improvements have been occuring. In fact, there is a thread on Teslamotorsclub.com that discusses the Technical improvements to OVMS.

I recently chronicled my install of OVMS on the blog.

I installed the formerly current release I believe it was 2.3.2 (prior to the release of 2.5.5 on October 28, 2013) of OVMS firmware in our Roadster 1.5. The behavior and features available to each instance of OVMS is constrained by the vehicle that you connect it to and the firmware release of OVMS.

More information on OVMS can be found on openvehicles.com.

1) Support for Multiple Mobile devices as well as the Web.

OVMS has Apps for iOS and Android. Additionally, it can be configured, controlled, and monitored using SMS.

2) Near real-time status updates of the vehicle and its current state.

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OVMS tells you on the upper right hand the status of the data. Live means within a minute of looking at the app. The product updates to a server graciously donated by the teslamotorsclub.com for folks to host their OVMS status. When the antenna is green and lit up, it’s good.

A) Battery Charge Level
B) Charging/Not Charging (Plugged/Not Plugged)
C) Estimate of how long charging will take

OVMS does a great job on A) and B) but C) is constrained. This is probably a vehicle by vehicle challenge as I don’t remember seeing whether our Roadster tells us how long it will take to charge to “full” (i.e. based on the mode that you have the Roadster set to (Storage, Standard, Range, or Performance).)

3) At least several years of access to the systems should be included with the price of the car.

Nothing is free on OVMS except for the development effort (which one should really support AFTER purchasing the necessary pieces, etc.) Give what you can to the guys. They really made the Roadster a more modern EV with the Telematics that was added.

I’m still discovering what we can do with it and I do enjoy the difference in the interface between the iPod and iPad. In the iPod, the screens are paged to three different pages. On the iPad, it uses the whole screen.

iPod screens –

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and on the iPad

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Showing progress on the better half’s drive on the way home…

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Note that the car icon shows that her lights were on while she was driving in the evening (on the iPad version.)

OVMS also uses the feedback available on the connection to the vehicle to alert the user via text message or the app when the car stops charging unexpectedly. This is useful when one needs to ensure that one gets a full charge. The BMW My Remote does not do this and I often rely on Chargepoint or Blink’s networked EVSE to provide this intelligence rather than the vehicle’s feedback.

The support on teslamotorsclub.com by markwj is top notch. He single-handedly beats out BMW on the Telematics support. As I mentioned between October 23-29th the App was inoperative without a peep to the user community and Mark replies within several hours (the guy is in Hong Kong, so please be cognizant of when he “should” be sleeping.) Recently, we had a connectivity issue that was reported [starting with my post here and resolved in subsequent posts] on teslamotorsclub.com and the user community was able to give feedback to each other to ascertain that the problem was NOT to our individual instance, but something “in the cloud.”

Top notch product and service. Yay user community!

We still have not taken delivery of the Model S, so I’ll have to update on that when we do (coming soon…)

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Third, CarWings and Nissan Leaf.

1) Support for Multiple Mobile devices as well as the Web.

Carwings is deployed on iOS, Android, AND Blackberry. It’s kind of cool in that. However, the command structure seems to employ either SMS or a query/response system between the user App, a server, and finally the vehicle.

2) Near real-time status updates of the vehicle and its current state.

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As a result of this query system, one must be cognizant of the Updated field in the middle of the application to see when the status was polled from the vehicle.

If you do not set the Application for auto-poll at start up, you need to initiate one.

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Then wait for the response to get the update.

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A) Battery Charge Level
B) Charging/Not Charging (Plugged/Not Plugged)
C) Estimate of how long charging will take

Aside from the pause, stop, start, nature of a manually requested polling system, the Leaf and Carwings knock A – C out of the park. It gives a status on what speed the vehicle is charging at, an estimate of how long it will take to charge over differing conditions, it lets you know easily whether the car is plugged in or not, whether it is charging, or not, etc.

3) At least several years of access to the systems should be included with the price of the car.

At time of lease (this is my mom’s vehicle that we’re reviewing.) CarWings was included for three years. Nissan has announced that European ones will be free past their initial period, I have not really paid attention to the US Nissan program, so I really shouldn’t comment on that.

I really enjoy the configurations for Carwings to NOTIFY the user via email and text messaging of the charge status whether the charge was interrupted or not. Additionally, the user can configure the vehicle to recognize (via GPS) when the vehicle is near a preferred parking location that it should plug in at. For example, since my mother is >60 years old, we have it set to notify her (and me) when she’s home and forgot to plug in.

This particular feature combined with the stopped charging notifications that we set up on the car enabled me to remotely diagnose when my mother’s 2013 Nissan Leaf started to exhibit the 6.6kw charger problems that was reported with earlier batches of the vehicle. This then enabled her to take the time to get the vehicle back to Nissan for service.

My mother loves the ability to remotely engage the cooling (warming) features of CarWings so that she can initiate cabin control when she is a few minutes away from her vehicle.

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Telematics is an important part of the EV experience. It is this feedback experience that enables EV drivers to be more “in tune” with their vehicles than their ICE counterparts and allow EV drivers with a superior experience on the road.

[added 2013-11-07 In the interest of covering other EVs, here are links to Jamie Mueller’s Ford Focus EV blog for what Ford allows its EV drivers to do:

It’s refreshing to see such capabilities demonstrated on so many vehicles.]