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 Waivecar.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
With a hat-tip to the 2004 TV mini-series from Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman. This is the twelfth day in a series of posts written about our 2016 EV Roadtrip written in the same manner as our 2015 trip. Here, There, and EVerywhere Trip – Day 01, i.e. summaries written for each day of the trip, published each day, this time two months from the day of the trip. It may seem funny to some to have a summer trip published at the start of the Fall, think of it as some daily entertainment for those that are back in their offices thinking about their past summer trips that could have been or thinking about their next trip.
So, why the long way round? Well… We got four referrals on the Fourth Tesla Referral Program (May 30, 2016 to July 15, 2016) and we expected to get an invite to the Gigafactory Party, so we thought to start our trip and go to Reno (a nearly 500 mile direct drive from home) via the Pacific Northwest (about a 1600 mile detour) with the intermediate goal of attending the EV Roadmap 9 Conference in Portland, visiting family who were spending time in Seattle, WA and family in Vancouver, BC before turning back for the party.
So, what do we have in store today? It’s the Tesla Gigafactory Party day!
Day 12 – Reno, NV – Tesla Gigafactory Party – Sparks, NV.. July 29, 2016
We picked the Harrah’s Reno location because we had friends that were staying here and the shuttle bus for the Gigafactory party and the pre-party for those of us with four or more referrals were leaving from the hotel across the street (Whitney Peak Hotel).
We had breakfast with our friends at the Hash House A Go Go. I haven’t had my coffee yet, so everything was still blurry.
The meals at the Hash House are filling and tasty. The portions definitely rival the size of the Cheesecake Factory.
The waffles were huge.
As were the pancakes.
We had a great breakfast with our friends, but had to hurry off to the first face to face meetings with the Presidents of the various official Tesla Owners Clubs. Many of these folks flew in for the Gigafactory party and though some were going to TMC Connect, others were not, so we had a lunch with them at a restaurant close to the Atlantis Hotel. We found two Model S and decided to take the third spot beside them. The one in the middle is Greg (ggr) from San Diego’s custom painted Signature Model S. He had carpooled up to the event with a few of our friends from the TesLA Club (Los Angeles).
The lunch meeting was well attended, and there were members there from Australia, Canada, and Europe, (as well as many from all over the US.) It was more about meeting the folks than lunch for us (you DID see the size of our breakfast portions, right?)
We gathered around outside to take a picture, and look at all the pretty cars.
And on the way back to get ready for the Gigafactory party, we stopped off at the TMC Connect hotel, Atlantis, to drop off our new friends from The Owners Club of Australia (who needed a ride) and to see if we can take better pictures of the cars from last night.
Definitely better looking in the sunlight than the dark parking lot from the previous evening.
The supercharger station still had availability.
And that’s one SweetEV (with the new R80 badge to denote the 3.0 battery giving approximately 340 miles of range.)
On the way to drop the Aussies off at the Atlantis, I spotted Rob N.’s Electronaut inspired Model S striping at the Convention Center, where TMC Connect was being held during the day and I felt compelled to track it down and take photographs.
California DCPPOWR meet Massachusetts ACPOWR
After taking all the ActiveE like Model S, we headed back to the hotel. We’re not planning on driving further today, so we park at the hotel and take note of the mileage and range left.
After getting ready for the party, we cross the street to the Whitney Peak Hotel for the pre-party and shuttle buses to the event.
The ore-party for the Gigafactory was at the bar in Whitney Peak Hotel. They served not only drinks, but Ice Cream as well…
So, the pre-party was also full. Lots of folks to catch up with.
I even get my few seconds on Youtube (via Bjorn’s channel)! (around the 27:10 mark if I didn’t embed this right) 😉
I suppose I should check to see if KMan has me on his channel too.
A few of the folks drove here to get in the pre-party and some are using the shuttles to the Gigafactory.
The drive to the factory from downtown Reno took about 20 minutes.
There was a line to get into the parking area.
The factory was hidden until one gets into Tesla’s property.
And once you catch a glimpse, it just keeps getting bigger.
It was a pretty orderly line to get in.
And Tesla had a cadre of valet attendants. I suppose when the cars are fully autonomous these guys will have to do something else.
The queue to get into the party was pretty orderly.
All smiles as we wait in line to get in.
Someone just got their party badge!
And that someone is pretty happy.
We get into the party tent and it’s nice and cool.
Here’s a model of the factory on the desert background.
Looks like we’ll get a peek inside the factory before many people do.
The line to get to the tour.
Tesla needs to hurry up and have electric buses for us to use.
No, that’s not our tour guide. That’s one of the Tesla executives welcoming us to the Gigafactory.
These kind folks are the employees who will be taking us on the tour. They have other jobs at the Gigafactory, but for the tour, they’re our tour guides.
We drive around the building and into some uncompleted sections and end up at the start of the tour.
The hallways are nice, cool, and clean.
We were shown a Tesla battery… Lots of discussion whether we can tell the difference in mm from the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) format to the new Model 3 (20700) cells. Some could swear that they can tell the difference… I lied and said that I could, I’m just NOT THAT GOOD at telling the differences in battery cylinder sizes.
Here’s a comparison against an iPhone 5. (with a backup battery case hard at work.)
Part of me was wondering, what’s the worst that Tesla will do if I make a break for it… Then again… I decided to continue on with the tour! 😉
Yeah, I don’t know what I’m looking at here. It’s lots of wires and empty walls. However, I do remember them saying something about Inputs and Outputs and the ability to drop a wall and continue to expand the building. Apparently only 12% or so of the factory is complete. Though it seems to me like a lot of the inside still needs to be filled in.
It’s good to hang out with friends from faraway and our particular group has Jeffrey Cadman who had a bear of a time flying cross country from the Mid Atlantic States to get to Reno, his airline cancelled the leg from the Bay Area to Reno and had to share a rental car to get here.
As you can see, even with the misadventures of airline travel, he’s happy now. But what a mess, unfortunately he reached out to us when we were already on our way to Reno from Sacramento and had to split an ICE rental with two other attendees for TMC Connect and/or Gigafactory who were on the same flight.
I could try to lie outright and say what the heck this device is… But, another thing that I remember is many parts of the Gigafactory is actually Panasonic’s section. The cooperation between Tesla and its suppliers is amazing in that the factory is really demarcated between Tesla and its suppliers from where the raw goods are brought in, processed, and provided to Tesla for its assembly into battery packs.
The gentlemen presenting were giving a good detailed explanation of what this part of the process is, but I continued to be distracted and just enjoyed “taking it all in.”
Some of the machinery is covered up in tarps whereas others are in plain sight. One can only imagine at what state the production really is at this point that the general public was allowed the opportunity to photograph the factory. Understanding the umpteen NDAs and warnings against any photography of Tesla’s Fremont Factory, let’s consider what we see with a “grain of salt.” It’s impressive what Tesla and its partners have done, but if it was producing things that are proprietary, we would not have been able to photograph things.
It was still pretty cool to walk through. For crying out loud, there were parts of the Ben and Jerry’s Factory Tour where we were NOT allowed to photograph as well.
More impressive machinery…
I seem to recall something about storing some of the finished products in these racks, but as you can see, nothing is stored, yet.
One of the things pointed out to us is the use of automation and robots in the plant and the markings on the ground are the pathways that the robots use to follow and move material from one point to another in the factory.
Here is a stationary robot that we pass.
And still lots of space to be filled up.
At this junction, I believe that we were nearing the division between Panasonic’s part of the factory with the Tesla assembly portion of it.
So, should I make a break for it?
Move along buddy!
Off to the Cell Aging Room. Why we need to age the cells, I don’t know.
This should give you a good idea at how tight this room is.
Here I am with a robot behind me.
And here it is photobombing me.
It’s a pretty friendly looking industrial robot. Don’t think we have to worry about Skynet…
…yet. Though if Elon and Tesla keep fine tuning the “machine that builds the machine.” His term for the factories that Tesla uses to get products out there, who knows at what point the machines will decide to skip humans altogether.
These trays are where the completed battery cylinders are placed when done being made into the battery format before it is combined to make the battery sheets for vehicles and/or power walls.
You can see some batteries above standing up waiting to be put into packs.
Once again I don’t remember if these cylinders are for the Roadster/Model S/Model X (18650) size or Model 3 (20700) size.
Apparently I mis-wrote earlier. This is the demarcation between the Tesla side and the Panasonic side. Either way, the point remains, on one side of a wall is Panasonic and Tesla’s suppliers and on the other side is Tesla.
Walking into Tesla’s side, the same cylindrical batteries take the shape that we are familiar with. The battery packs that go in our cars and the ones that will be put on people’s walls and utility and commercial locations
These red robots look familiar as the X-Men inspired ones in Fremont that help build the cars.
It must be tempting to hop on a robot, otherwise, why the sign?
Once again, lots of visible assembly line areas and the whole floor looks “clean.”
We pause and take a picture of us at the Tesla side of the factory.
That looks like a Model X chassis. Those shock absorbers on the back look much bigger than a Model S.
Some information on the products from Tesla Energy.
And it looks like wood pallets of Tesla Powerwalls are all ready to ship. I presume these are Australia and Germany bound as those markets are more mature than the US for the delivery of home battery storage for power.
We pass more battery packs in various states of construction.
It’s interesting how such a small cylinder can be combined together to give the capacities of storage that we need for our mobility or home or utility electrical storage needs.
Ok, pallets are for Tesla Powerwall (Residential installs)
and these refrigerator looking boxes are for commercial PowerPack installs.
We figured to get someone to take our picture with the big Tesla sign behind us.
It was cool to see the “battery lifecycle” input/output factory tour, but it looks like a lot of work still to get it fully functioning. Tesla originally were offering a ride to a lookout with a great picture opportunity for the factory. However, a quick moving thunderstorm entered the area as we completed our tour and we were ushered back to the party quickly.
Summer weather in the desert can be quite interesting.
They offered to possibly restart the overlook process, but muddy feet was not part of the plan for today.
We had hoped to ride in the Model 3 on Gigafactory party day, but the rides that they were offering were solely for Model S and Model X. So, I wasn’t really interested.
We did pass the Model 3 in the VIP section of the party as we quickly went back to the party tent.
It looks bigger in person.
And we had to use zoom lenses to capture shots of it from afar.
One had to be Elon’s guests to get closer to the red Model 3. However, as many have pointed out this red one is actually a full size mockup without any working innards, so there’s that.
It still looks pretty and we would still have enjoyed a chance to look at it.
I took a panoramic from the party tent of the 12% of the building that has been completed. This party tent and parking lot will be demolished as the factory is expanded.
On the other side of those lights are Model S and Model X that are being used for the Test Rides. It’s not even a Test Drive, and since we did drive thousands of miles to get here, a place about 500 miles away from home, I think we’ll let someone else drive and ride while we enjoy the company and the party.
Some folks had great spots to see and hear Elon and JB welcome us and talk about the Gigafactory. As with many Tesla events, it was quite full and crowded by the stage, so my better half and I enjoyed hanging out with EV friends and listen to Elon and JB talk in the same room and have the comfort of the AV professionals view.
We took the opportunity while Elon and JB were speaking to take a few shots of the models of the Gigafactory and surrounding location.
It’s incredible what the vision is for the site, once built. And it is important to note that this Gigafactory is the first of a plan to build more of these worldwide so as to deliver vehicles and energy storage closer to where the demand is. I’m assuming that means an Asian and European Gigafactory along with future Tesla auto factories at those locations as well.
No detail was missed in the model with a pair of Model S supercharging factory side.
We stuck around pretty late to see if we can make it to the Model 3. We tried different avenues to get an invite to go across to see it. Alas, here’s a great shot of it via zoom lens later in the evening.
The test rides have wound down and many have left the party.
As we exit, we figure to take a picture of the sign welcoming us to this party.
And we head back in our shuttle. We check into our room at the Harrah’s Reno and take a picture of the little city of Reno. It was great to see the building and Gigafactory in the state that it is in. It would be better to see it in greater operation.
It’s important to note that our Gigafactory invite would not have been possible had folks not used our referral code. So, I have to thank those that were convinced to pick up a Tesla Model S or Model X and decided to save some money by using our referral code. So, if you’re as inclined as those that took us up on the offer, and in the market for a Tesla Model S or Model X, you can save $1,000 USD/$1,200 CAD/£750 GBP (and whatever the equivalent is in your market) if you use our referral code – http://ts.la/dennis5317.
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.
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.
You can look up where the nearest one is to you on the driveelectricweek.org 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.
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.
So, after a longer than normal drive with several hours in bumper to bumper traffic, we awoke from the second day of our trip refreshed and eager to get to the Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) annual meeting. As we’ve normally virtually attended these meetings in the past (here’s a link to the 2016 meeting,) we didn’t know what the processes and procedures were to attend. The meeting was scheduled on May 31, 2016, 2:00 PM Pacific, at the Computer History Museum located at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View, CA 94043.
When we went checked in to the hotel on Day One, we had 202 miles of range left. More than enough to travel the few miles between our hotel and the meeting.
Based on our start of day statistics, it looks like we only lost two miles overnight and the distance between Gilroy and our hotel was fairly close.
We wanted to give ourselves the option of skipping Gilroy on the drive home. So we knew that we wanted to be “near maximum” when we leave on our drive back to Atascadero or to Harris Ranch as we haven’t decided our Southbound route yet. If we were to leave the Annual Meeting fairly early in the day, we contemplated the same route that we drove Northbound. However, at this point in our journey, we didn’t know what we were in for at the annual meeting.
Here are the pictures that I took last year to show the difference in cables:
The first two pictures are of the supercharger at Mountain View.
and these are the standard ones at Harris Ranch that I used to compare them to.
I took pictures of our statistics from the hotel to Mountain View Supercharger.
And figured to fill it up so that we can be close to 90% when we roll off. I wanted to charge the car enough to run the preconditioning intermittently as it was a hot day and the car was unplugged. The stalls were relatively empty for the area (meaning there were at least two stalls available at all times.)
We went to line up for the meeting and joined our friends from the OC Tesla Club around 12:15 PM for the 2:00 PM meeting. I estimated our place in line to be 30-40. Since our wait for the Model 3 was in the slowest line ever and took five hours, waiting almost two hours for the start of the annual meeting would be a piece of cake.
We had good company and we spent the time chatting about Tesla and other things with our friends.
In the parking lot directly in front of the line were two Teslas with the current design aesthetic. I was hoping for a Model 3 to be at the meeting, but none were there.
Still, the new fascia on the Model S does grow on me.
I don’t remember what time they had us go into the building, but I suspect it was around 1:00 PM, if not 1:15 PM. I took the photo of the display with the welcome to Tesla Annual Meeting around 1:25 PM and that’s after we’ve been in for a little while.
The process of checking in was quite orderly.
The Tesla employees checking in attendees required proof of Stock ownership for the relevant period, so if one had the proxy to vote their shares with them and/or holdings statement for the shares for the relevant period then they let you in.
There were two stamps that they used to identify people. One for shareholders (which got you into the room for the meeting) and another for guests (which got you to a different room that looked like it had a closed circuit feed of the shareholder room.)
We both had stamps to get into the shareholder room and proceeded there. We took a seat on the left side four rows from the front. The “best seats” up front and center was reserved for the board members, but the rest of the room was pretty much “first come first serve”. We were glad to get there with early with our friends because the room filled up quickly and we had a great view of the meeting.
Here’s what it looked like when it was still relatively early:
I grabbed a physical copy of the Annual Report and ballots so that we can vote our holdings. One of the things I don’t normally carry with me is a pen. Luckily my wife carries one in her purse because voting at the Annual Meeting actually requires a pen to fill out the ballot. I know, so wasteful with all the paper, but give us a break. It’s how it’s done.
I was a little “shy” to take pictures of the early parts of the meeting because the procedures to the meeting emphasized a “no recordings” line and the like. However, everyone else was snapping away. So, I ended up taking pictures at the meeting with my phone. (Yes, I know, peer pressure! 😉 If my friends jumped off the cliff, I might just follow them. 🙂 )
Here is Elon and JB talking about AC Propulsion:
Covering Daimler’s investment and life raft to Tesla.
Tesla Energy and the Power Wall
Getting all the long term talent to join them on stage.
It was a long meeting and that really provided us with clarity on our route and plan. We originally skipped lunch because we had breakfast at the hotel and were not ready for an early lunch. We were tempted to try to join the TMC group, but we weren’t done with the meeting until early dinner time and we needed to head South. So, we ended up just going on the road and determined to take the I-5 route.
Before we exited the building, we did stop by to check out a display on the Google Autonomous Car.
Here’s a quick shot on the inside:
So, we decided to roll-out and see if we can make it to Harris Ranch for dinner.
However, we hit a lot of traffic and I couldn’t make it all the way to Harris Ranch and proposed we stop off at one of at In-N-Out instead. Luckily enough, there’s one just around the corner from the Gilroy Supercharger. Even though we could’ve skipped Gilroy to make it to Harris Ranch, we decided to plug in while we had dinner.
The thing about traffic is it’s very efficient for the consumption of energy as we averaged 279 Wh/mile, lately it’s been the passenger’s needs that ends up motivating usto stop on these drives. This time, it was for hunger.
It was interesting to do this drive between Gilroy and Harris Ranch after finally getting some rains this past year. However, the effects of the drought are still evident.
This little duck pond by the side of the road in Gilroy showed up on the GPS last year and was dry. And it looks like it’s back now.
I wonder if that pond will be there throughout the summer, or whether it will evaporate again.
We left a lot later than we thought so much of the drive for day two will be in darkness, but we’ll at least have light for some of the more interesting parts of the I-5 route.
We got to the area of the reservoir between Gilroy and I-5 at dusk, so my wife tried to take as many pictures as she can so we can see if it received strong relief from the rains this past winter or not.
I think it looks better, but not much relief.
And just before we reached Interstate 5, we descend upon darkness.
Since we filled up at Gilroy, we had enough charge to drive all the way to Tejon Ranch and skip Harris Ranch and Buttonwillow to make it all the way home. However, we’ve never been to the Buttonwillow Supercharger and I wanted to check those out.
Harris Ranch Supercharger
Remember what I said about having enough charge…
That’s what the navigation is saying when you end up at a supercharger that you can skip.
We had to stop, ’cause of other needs, and it’s not because the car needed a charge.
The temporary superchargers have been removed and replaced by augmented by more superchargers. Interestingly enough, there are 13 superchargers at Harris Ranch. Which means, folks should try to grab 7A as it is not paired with any other stall. It was pretty empty when we got there, so I skipped that choice.
I was able to capture a pretty cool dark red glow of Tesla Superchargers in the darkness. If you couldn’t tell from the panoramic, stall 7A (#13) is at the far right of the picture, and we’re parked at stall 6A (#11).
With the travelers needs taken care off, we took our leave and proceeded toward Buttonwillow supercharger. Granted we had enough energy to skip that and get to Tejon Ranch (40 miles further) comfortably, I wanted to see Buttonwillow and “add a supercharger” to my visited list.
The last time we stopped off at Buttonwillow, we were actually there to use the truck stop across from where Tesla eventually added the Buttonwillow supercharger. It was also at this stop where we noticed a trailer full of Teslas being sent from the factory.
This time, we were across the street by the Starbucks.
I think the official sponsor for the parking lot might be the hotel next door, otherwise it’s a big, empty parking lot. What is disconcerting regarding this supercharger location is one has to park with your back to the street. This is normally not a problem, but when one stops at 11:00 PM, one can get paranoid. Granted, the location was well lit, but the lighting made one feel like a spotlight was on one’s self.
As previously mentioned, we didn’t have to stop here, the trip planner was recommending that we stop at Tejon Ranch, so we had to estimate our own “fill up” at the location. We stopped for about thirty minutes before we proceeded to drive straight home. Since we were at the location after 11:00 PM, none of the nearby businesses were open. The truck stop across the street was open 24 hours a day seven days a week, if one needed to use any facilities while charging here. This is a situation similar to the Tejon Ranch stop, so if traversing through the area during “off-hours” and facilities are a consideration, I would suggest the Buttonwillow one anyway. The truck stop is closer to the Buttonwillow one than the ones at Tejon Ranch.
Purposely skipping the Tejon Ranch location can “play with one’s head” because the toughest incline of the drive (aka the “Grapevine”) starts just South of Tejon Ranch and there was always something comforting starting that incline with a “full” tank. We’ve often measured a 40 mile loss in the ten mile ascension in that drive. (Granted the next twenty miles barely consume any mileage at highway speeds, but it’s that initial climb that throws me off.) Working off previous experience and mental note taking that we had from Tejon Ranch, we saw that “starting off with momentum” for the climb, i.e. from driving from highway speeds for 40 miles before making that climb up the “Grapevine”, means that what used to cost us 40 miles in range only cost 35 miles based until we hit the summit and had the downhill and regeneration for the remaining 20 mile descent into the Los Angeles area.
Interestingly, the longest part between stops on today’s drive was the one between Buttonwillow and home. Additionally, I drove at my vehicle average in consumption during that portion of the drive 308 Wh/mile.
Now, those not familiar with California geography might think that this is a quick drive down the corner, but Mountain View is in Silicon Valley and we live in Southern California, so, it’s the opportunity for another Tesla Roadtrip.
As with other Roadtrips, we start with tracking the miles and energy use of our drive. We started the trip at 57,372 miles on the odometer and a 90% charge at 228 miles.
Not quite the energy use at ZERO, we used a little bit of energy to stage our car in our driveway.
It was worth it… Considering this will be the cleanest our Model S will look after this drive.
One of the big challenges is the annual meeting is held at 2:00 PM and we would have to leave very early on the 31st to make that drive versus the drive last year where the event we were attending was later in the day. Besides, it was the opportunity for us to take the “longer and more scenic” route to the Bay Area, the US 101 drive. The last time that we took our car through that route was on our Factory Pickup weekend in 2013.
Since it was a Holiday, the traffic around town was relatively light.
A lot of the traffic was on the other side of us, and this is the part of the 405 where we have to make our final decision on staying on going on US 101 or go to I-5. We opted to stay with the plan.
One of the reasons we decided to take the US 101 route is because we’re driving up to Silicon Valley on the Monday day of the Memorial Day weekend. We anticipated a lot more traffic on I-5 and figure that the route will be a wash. Not sure whether or not this ended up being the case, but that was my internal justification for taking this route.
The great part of taking a different route is you get different views for this long drive.
When we did this drive in 2013, the only supercharger in the Los Angeles area was the one at the Hawthorne Design Center. As mentioned earlier, we rolled out of home with a 90% daily charge at 228 miles of range, more than enough to make it to the superchargers at Buelton. However, we rolled off without grabbing any coffee, so we opted to stop off at the Oxnard Supercharger.
This was not our first time at the Oxnard Supercharger. The in-car Tesla trip planner had us originally skipping this supercharger, but we’ve been in the car for an hour and a half when we got to the area and I wanted to stretch my legs and grab coffee. So, we stopped.
Figured to go grab some coffee at Starbucks and get some electrons and stretch my legs. The Starbucks for this charging station is not directly beside the location (It’s at the corner of Portico Way and Town Center Drive.) It’s a short five minute walk from the charging station, but we figured to get enough of a charge to skip the Buelton Supercharger instead by stopping at Oxnard.
This particular charging station was relatively free when we got there, but it seems that many that needed to use it started arriving as we rolled off. As we were preparing to leave, I noticed that one of the vehicles that pulled up had Indiana plates that I figured to strike a conversation with the “out of towner.” It turned out that the owner of the Indiana plate Model S just moved to the area over a month ago and was on his way to Santa Barbara Wine Country. With the the driver and passenger fueled up, we headed North.
The next supercharger was Buelton and we had enough to skip that supercharger and head to Atascadero instead. The Buelton supercharger is the first supercharger North of Santa Barbara and on a holiday weekend, we expected traffic to hit us in Santa Barbara.
Normally we would expect to see some nice sunny beach pictures off to the side of the drive, but we were pretty much overcast on the beginning part of the drive, so here’s a beach shot.
Not much to brag about.
And that traffic that we expected in Santa Barbara, we were not disappointed.
We were pleasantly surprised because they were headed back to the Los Angeles area and not joining us on our drive North.
And, sure enough as we clear the beach portion of this part of the drive, the sun decided to show.
So, we were planning on skipping the Buelton Supercharger, but I really should have just ordered a Tall Latte at Starbucks and not a Grande. Though we had plenty of charge left to make it to Atascadero, I figured to do a quick pit-stop at Buelton.
We only traveled about 80 miles from Oxnard, and the car can outlast me, but I always figure if I need to stop, I might as well make it a multi-purpose stop.
The Buelton Supercharger is located at a Marriott and they are in the middle of renovations at this location that is expected to last a few months in 2016. Buelton is right beside the Santa Barbara County wine region and as such we get treated to some nice views of grapes that are growing.
Though, I was teasing the better half at this point and discussing with her whether these were the “raisin” farms. Come to think of it, if someone can plant grapes to make wine, why would you plant grapes to make raisins? Or sell grapes for food instead? The thoughts that pop up on a drive.
At least in California, our BEAR signs are a LOT more cute.
And another 80 miles later, we’re at Atascadero.
The Atascadero Supercharger stop is another legacy stop for Roadster owners. When one walks from the Supercharger to the Rabobank there is an EVSE there (now converted to J1772) that was originally configured for Roadsters.
When we were there charging, a Honda Fit EV was there charging at full 6.6kW speed. The Roadster is capable of charging at 70A (not sure if that means 16.8kW or 17.5kW) and many of the Roadster owners donated HPWCs to form the precursor to the Supercharging network. There are still some of these chargers out in the wild (the one in Harris Ranch, for example is still there and set up for Roadster charging) though many have been converted to J1772.
This particular location was the busiest of the ones on the drive North so far.
And we decided to stop here because there was a very imposing string of red on our route ahead. I contend that this is the holiday traffic headed home and wanted to ensure that we topped up to be able to drive in comfort and maximize cooling. The temperatures outside were in the 90s and sunny now that our drive was more inland. Go figure.
As long as this drive has been relative to our usual I-5 route, it was a little refreshing because there were lots to see.
Even things that we are hopefully shutting down as we move to a more EV centric transportation network.
Such orderly plants.
Of course, more and more fellow Tesla travelers on this route.
It’s not all solar either. Wind is there too.
At first, I had designs on “going off-route” and checking out the supercharger in Monterey Bay, but the traffic on this Holiday weekend had something to do with changing my mind.
We spent a lot of time in traffic because I did not want to follow the GPS which kept trying to re-route us around the traffic and onto “less traveled” routes. We spent the time entertaining ourselves with interesting visual clues.
Like the multi-colored “cow”.
Or the “Cell tower Trees”
The traffic was relentless and accompanied us through the trees…
and open spaces
It wasn’t until we were near Gilroy when traffic lightened up.
We could have skipped Gilroy and checked into our hotel, but I wanted to take a break because of all the time we spent in bumper to bumper traffic. Besides, a strategy that we often use for visiting the Bay Area is to supercharge enough “driving around” charge once we hit Gilroy, so we decided to do that.
Because of the elevation differences and the heat, our consumption on the Atascadero to Gilroy stage of the drive was pretty wasteful. I have averaged between 307 to 309 Wh per mile for as long as we’ve owned the Model S and the leg between Atascadero and Gilroy we used 346 Wh per mile. I wonder what the readings would have been if we were rolling along rather than stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. I would surmise that it would be even worse consumption figures.
Gilroy was packed.
If in a pinch, however, there are two NRG EVgo CHAdeMO/CCS combo chargers across from the Superchargers.
or one just waits.
Either way, we waited and charged up. As packed as the location was, no one had to wait. As we were nearing time for us to go, we actually ran into a couple of Tesla Owners Club of Orange County (OC Tesla (meetup group and our group page on TMC) members who were also headed to the annual meeting. We spent a few minutes catching up and making plans to meet the next day. Before it got dark, we rolled off to our hotel.
We grabbed some dinner and then headed to our hotel.
So after 438 miles of driving, we checked in for the night.
What wonders will we see tomorrow at the Annual Meeting Day?
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.
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.
This is a growing company and it is growing fast.
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.
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.
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.
They’re out of parking. I arrived to take the “last spot”.
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.
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.
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.
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.