A little over a week ago, we returned home from a day trip to the Bay Area and back. We didn’t set out on Thursday morning to go on a 22 hour road trip. We figured to find a place to stop overnight once we got to the Bay Area. However, we did end up on a 22 hour drive and this is the post of that particular trip. After our 808 mile day on our Here, There, and EVerywhere series, a drive of approximately 400 miles isn’t “too bad.”
We started our trip on Thursday morning after an overnight charge in our garage. Figuring to head to the Bay Area using the I-5 route means driving through the Grapevine and since I haven’t driven that route in years, I didn’t remember if the climb was both ways or if it was just one way, so we range charged.
One question that is often asked by folks waiting for delivery of their Model S is whether to purchase the HPWC and dual chargers. As you can see below, the Model S was drawing 20 miles per hour on 30A. At the time we were faced with that decision the HPWC was over $1000 (was it $1500? I don’t remember) for the device alone. Additionally, because our garage is the furthest point from our Main Electrical Panel, a 100A circuit was prohibitively expensive. So, we opted to use an existing Chargepoint EVSE that I had installed for the Active E. We opted to install 2 NEMA 14-50s and a NEMA 6-50 throughout the garage and outside to accomodate up to 4 EVs charging at the same time.
We rolled out of the garage just a tad under “full” but with enough range to tackle the drive from home to Tejon Ranch.
Moving the car out of the garage requires a bit of a maneuver and takes a lot of going back and forth.
Southern California Traffic
One of the challenges of leaving Southern California during the rush hour is the amount of time spent in traffic. The navigation does an adequate job of routing us through traffic, but it doesn’t calculate “potential frustration” with certain routes and though I-5 is the most direct route to Tejon Ranch, we opted to go I-605 to I-210 (less immediate traffic) and more. Note the estimate below of a 10:31 AM arrival to the destination through the original route.
The other benefit of the longer route that we took was access to the HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle or carpool) lanes. In some parts these lanes can be as congested as other lanes, whereas in many they are still beneficial for drivers. In many of the routes, an HOV only requires two passengers or an HOV eligible vehicle with a sticker (such as an EV, PHEV, Hydrogen, or CNG.) Though I have some opinions on PHEV eligibility, unfortunately the legislature is fairly lenient about that.
Visitors to Southern California freeways might get confused by the on ramp stoplights. One of my close friends, who is British and was visiting from England, was pulled over when he just passed through one of these many years ago. The one in the photograph is between I-605 and I-210 and requires all lanes to stop and proceed with 2 cars per green. There are many on ramps in the Los Angeles area that actually only uses the on ramp stoplight for one of the lanes, the other lane is an HOV lane and does not use the stoplight. This is not the case in the one below.
As we were driving along, I noticed that we passed 44,000 miles early on this drive, 44,008 miles.
And we are thankfully out of SoCal traffic. The folks going the other direction, however, are heading into it. There is a reason that California is called the Golden State. And part of me wonders if that’s more because of the Golden Brown that the hills take rather than the “Gold Rush” of the 1800s.
In the Winter, this route can be closed to traffic when it snows. Which happens occasionally. But, we’re in a drought and it’s Summer, so, that’s not a worry.
Ooh a water tower. We have to build them lower to the ground in “earthquake country.” I do wonder how much water Gorman actually has in that water tower, we’re in the fourth year of the drought, after all.
Apparently, the Grapevine drive is downhill when heading North. So, I guess we’ll have to pay attention to what we charge on the way back for that climb.
Peering West from the car during the descent we capture this view with our camera. The landscape scene is quite stunning and in looking at the picture now, we wonder whether we can pass it off as a painting.
The exit for the Tejon Ranch Supercharger is ahead, away from the outlet mall on the East Side of the road.
Take the West exit from the Northbound 5.
Believe the sign, that’s one weird curve coming up.
There looks to be two Starbucks in this exit, one East (probably in the mall) and one West, a free standing one with a drive through. We opted for the one up the street from the superchargers on the East side. We futilely waited in the drive through, but the line was just too long (wasted 20 minutes and gave up.) I figured that we would probably see another one on the I-5 drive.
We would have actually beat the original estimate to arrive at the charger by at least five minutes had we not decided to waste time at the Starbucks line.
Sharing the same parking lot as the chargers is a Yogurtland and Chipotle. I went to see about using their “facilities” the Yogurtland doesn’t open until 11:00 am, but the Chipotle was open.
These guys in the pickup truck did ICE the SC, but only for a few minutes. They were so excited to see us charging and had questions that he drove right up, jumped out and started to fire away. We had a good conversation and they drove off soon after we were done talking.
On the next leg of the drive to Harris Ranch, we swapped drivers, so it was my turn to take pictures of the view outside.
It’s amazing what farmers in the Central Valley are able to grow in such an arid place. Not really sure what they’re planting and my wife and I spent the time guessing what they are.
The cows that we saw on this drive were all penned up and had shade that were installed over them. They were carport like structures.
Since I wasn’t driving, I took the opportunity to play with Periscope and Twitter again. The first attempt at Periscope was about a minute.
The second video was a little longer, I didn’t get to archive the questions that folks were asking on the drive.
Is that Corn being planted outside of our window?
I wonder what those trees are? I was guessing almonds for some reason. I’m not really very attuned to farms and such.
We passed some kind of processing plant, I was guessing for the trees that we just passed.
It would seem that farming in California is a lot of water politics. I can’t verify it, but I think these signs have been around before the current drought. I swear that these were here the last time I did this drive on I-5, which is longer than the current drought.
I really wonder how old those signs are.
Harris Ranch Supercharger and Battery Swap
And just like that we’re at the Harris Ranch Supercharger. There were already two other Model S parked and charging when we got there. Luckily there are six stalls and we took one of the ones that was not paired with either of the other two Model S.
Each Model S at the Harris Ranch Supercharger was charging at one of the pairs. Reading the notes on this location, apparently we were very lucky because these stalls are often full of other Model S with many waiting for a charge.
The view in front of the superchargers is a restaurant that we ended up skipping.
We were getting quite a fast charge at the location. When one doesn’t have to share the feed with another Model S, the speed of charge is even greater than when it is split.
Harris Ranch is also the site of the Tesla Battery Swap Station. I tried contacting the station to see if we can get an invite to use it early. At $80 for the roundtrip, it’s not cheap, but it will also help save time for a very boring stop in Harris Ranch. Unfortunately I was told that there was no way to get an invite early and that I would just have to wait. So, I took pictures of the signage for the swap station instead.
Here’s a picture of the entrance or is it the exit of the Swap station. We enviously took a picture and drove off. Maybe next time.
We got enough charge to skip Gilroy and head to the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory as our first stop in the Bay Area was in Oakland.
One of the things about the Harris Ranch location is its proximity to a lot of cattle. If the wind blows a particular way, you will smell the cows from miles away. We were somewhat fortunate at Harris Ranch in the daytime as the winds were in our favor. Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter because the drive through I-5 will have you pass by these cattle pens. And the cabin air filter on the Model S is no match for the smell of cow just North of the Harris Ranch supercharger.
There were lots of cows for miles.
The drive toward Gilroy has us go through a reservoir area that truly reflects the sorry state of the California drought.
The Golden hue of the dry brush is quite stunning.
The reservoir on the other side of the hill climb shows how really low the water levels have gotten. If you look at the striations on the shore-side, you will notice rings. Those rings are where the water should be. On a positive note, there seems to be an abundance of windmils on that mountain ridge.
This shot shows the water as it buttresses up on the dam on the other side.
Better shots of the windmills, why don’t we also have a solar farm out there California? Readers from our Here, There, and EVerywhere series will note a change of tone here. Since I’m a California resident, I have higher expectations of my own state. So, there.
This route is pretty well traveled.
My wife captured the scene below and it’s another that leads us to wonder, photograph or painting.
We ended up passing Gilroy, as planned and was on the 101 North going toward the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory. I was quite excited when we spotted our first Volkswagen E-Golf in the US. Had to fumble for a camera, but my wife was able to catch the E-Golf as it took the exit. (Note the white sticker on the rear bumper.)
Tesla Motors Fremont Factory Supercharger
We arrived at the supercharger at the Tesla Fremont Factory at 4:25 pm, a few minutes passed eight hours from our departure. All stalls were full when we arrived and we had to wait about two minutes before one freed up.
At this point of the drive, we’ve driven about 400 miles and have to drive another 20 miles North and then back across the Bay to make it to Sparky’s Garage in San Carlos, CA for the party this evening.
It was on the drive that we decided to see if we can just make this drive a “day” trip and head back home today as well. Our decision was solidified by the very expensive options for lodging in the Bay Area that we were seeing as we looked for places to stay while charging at the Tesla Motors Fremont Factory, so we figured to skip any alcoholic refreshments at the party.
I attached the car to the open Tesla Supercharger network that I saw while charging, the result was a strong signal, but no connection. Had to reboot the main display again and disconnect from that network.
We made it to our destination in Oakland. Turned back around and headed to the party in San Carlos. Since we were on the other side of the bay, we decided to take the San Mateo Bridge (CA-92) across the bay. One thing about traveling in our own state is we are able to use the same transponder as we do at home, so it was a lot more convenient to cross the bridge. Additionally, it seems that the bridge toll of $5.00 is half-price for carpools, so we were only charged $2.50 for this crossing.
My wife took a photo of what looks to be “old windmills” on the side of the low-tide entering the bay. I wonder if that’s what they are.
It is wildly disconcerting to have water on both sides of us at such a low point. It felt as if it won’t take that much for the water to go over the side of the San Mateo Bridge.
Sparky’s Garage, San Carlos, CA
So, the trip up to the Bay Area was two-fold. The first part involved our quick stop at Oakland, and the second was to attend a party that eMotorwerks and Wattime.org was holding to announce the launch of the first EVSE that plans its charge based upon “cleaner” energy supply.
The party was well attended. It seems that I find myself behind Jack Brown at many events, and he’s the tall guy right in front of me at this event as well. I need to either get taller, or find a place off to the side of him instead. 🙂
Jack’s Take Charge and Go tags were the giveaway at the party and it’s a great improvement over the free Plug In America EV Card that I usually use. The hang tags are attached to the charging nozzle with a red and green side to say whether it’s “ok” to unplug the car, provide the operator’s contact information, and an estimate of the time that the operator would be done charging (provided the operator carries a dry-erase pen with them). I think that I will probably be moving toward this method at charging stations, as soon as I get a dry-erase pen.
The product announcement itself was quite interesting. As the title of the blog is quick to point out, I am accidentally environmental. We didn’t join the rEVolution to be green, we just ended up being environmental as we became more involved in electric vehicles. I am sure there are more things that we can do to be better and we’ll get there. The folks at Green Car Reports had a good write-up on the product launch and I suppose that it’s a good compromise for those that don’t have solar panels or their own windmill to try to minimize their use of “dirtier” sources of electricity.
Wattime’s Executive Director, Gavin McCormick can be seen on the shot below discussing what it is that Wattime is doing. They provide manufacturers with a method to enable the device to know whether drawing power at a certain time will force the utility to source power from power plants that were not using renewable energy. He was saying that a five minute delay could be the difference between dirty or clean power sources being on or offline.
As commendable as the goal of Watttime,org is, it is a “guess.” Granted, it’s an educated guess and it’s better than what is out there, in terms of the environmental concern. But I am also a capitalist. I am perfectly willing to use the structures in place that motivate me to charge my EV at the lowest rates available. Rather than use an algorithm to see whether we’re carbon neutral or the like, we installed solar panels on the roof of our home to ensure that we offset our usage with as much clean energy as our roof can generate (with summer peaks around 40 kWh of production.)
I suppose the next step for the manufacturer is to allow users of this algorithm to set guidelines of how much they are willing to subsidize others in order to delay their charge for “cleaner” grid power. As with most things, it’s a complicated decision and it’s at least commendable to have this information available to those that wish to make use of it. I wonder how many people will take them up on it. We have enough EVSE and plugs at home to charge four vehicles at the same time, so I wasn’t really in the market for another one.
So, after enjoying the company of fellow EV enthusiasts, and many Electronuts (former BMW Active E Electronauts), who were at the party. We headed South toward home. Our first stop was to supercharge again at Mountain View so that we can check out the new liquid cooled superchargers and range charge to skip Gilroy, again.
Mountain View Supercharger
The Mountain View Supercharger is the first new supercharger with the liquid cooled cables. Tesla announced this improvement in supercharger technology during the 2014 Annual shareholder meeting the previous month. Transport Evolved wrote an article and covered a video that was filmed at the location by another Tesla owner and I wanted to see it first-hand.
We initially picked stall 3A to charge because it and its partner stall 3B were open.
However, we saw that stall 3A had a blue note saying that it was designed for disabled access and to use it last. So we moved. Now, to ensure that we get the fastest charge, we moved to 3B, the stall paired with this one, figuring that it we were supposed to use it last, then it should stay free the longest, and thus not need to split its feed with another car until all other paired stalls were full.
I took photos of the other stalls around us.
I wanted to capture photos of the thinner/liquid-cooled charging cables.
Has the new circular proximity button for charge door and cable release.
Since the cable is thinner, it is more flexible than previous generations of superchargers.
To show the thickness of the new cable, I figured to compare it to a quarter. (A 25 cent coin for those non Americans and unaware of our terms.)
Though the first photograph of the charging showed a 197 mile per hour rate, this actually sped up to close to 340 miles per hour. It would seem that the chargers in Mountain View are faster than others and we were planning on skipping Gilroy again to get to Harris Ranch directly, we decided to range charge the car again.
So, while waiting for the charge to complete, I did another Periscope session that we archived on Youtube.
As I continue to note, Periscope doesn’t do a good job of saving the chat comments from folks, so I transcribed it below.
@Tim61588: Is that an Eaton supercharger?
@Tim61588: or roush
@Legibly: How long does that last on full?
@ThaddiusT: Insane mode!
@Tim61588: how long to charge from near empty?
[Unknown]: Is that the new P85D?
@ThaddiusT: Meh. Still cool tho. Love tesla
@Tim61588: can it do a burnout
@torfn: and your happy with it?
@DspkMsn: Please show the centre display
@ThaddiusT: Damn. That’s ridiculous. Never seen the display
@Tim61588: Have you done the battery swap program
@Legibly: Pretty badasa
@JeremyHolleb: Does A/C use really destroy battery life???
@BradlyBurgundy: This thing have insane mode?
[Unknown]: [missed question]
@DspkMsn: Does it get 400 mi range?
@ThaddiusT: I see model s’ all day around Sunnyvale
@JeremyHolleb: 2.7 seconds
@Tim61588: Have you raced anything yet
[Unknown]: [missed question]
@BradlyBurgundy: How long to charge?
@STenczynski: Doesn’t one of the tesla model drive by itself?
@Legibly: Does it take gas too?
@ThaddiusT: There should be a burger joint there too. Make a killing.
@Legibly: So if you were to go for a cross country drive you’d have to find a charger station?
@STenczynski: @trprevett yes
@ThaddiusT: Meh. Starbucks. All about Philz.
@Legibly: Alright I’ll check it out cool
@tprevett: You tesla employee?
@ThaddiusT: You from around here?
@ThaddiusT: You check out the plant while your here today?
@tprevett: Gonna get a 3 when they come out
@Legibly: How long have you had it?
@ThaddiusT: Nice. Good drive
@tprevett: Any problems with it?
@ThaddiusT: Mind if I ask the final cost?
@Legibly: He said any problems with it?
[Unknown]: What’s your opinion on the bmw i8?
@ThaddiusT: I hear the i3 engine was optional
@ArguablyDefined: Talk about the gaskets. Please.
@ThaddiusT: Chassis flex?
@ArguablyDefined: That’s unusual. Thanks.
@Legibly: Can you show us outside the car please?
@ThaddiusT: They look sexy
We got a full charge and left Mountain View to head to Harris Ranch directly. Seeing that we were planning on making it all the way home from the Bay Area, my wife, and co-driver, went to take a nap as I drove us to the next supercharger.
On our way to Gilroy, the car hit a repetitive, significant mileage of 44,444 miles. We’re really racking the miles on this car with all the “short range” driving we’ve done. 😉
After passing the Gilroy superchargers and on the way to Harris Ranch, crews were doing overnight construction with only one lane open on a two-lane road.
So we found ourselves stopped for what I would estimate to be 20 to 30 minutes. We were parked on our side of the road waiting for the other side to complete their drive through the construction zone.
When it became our turn to go ahead, we were led through the construction site slowly by a pilot vehicle.
It was a dark drive, but still not as dark as what we encountered in other parts of the country. Additionally, there were no “Deer Crossing” signs to worry about.
Harris Ranch Supercharger and Battery Swap (part deux.)
And a few hours later, we find ourselves back in Harris Ranch Supercharger again. We joined another Model S charging here. The Model S was a family from Napa on the way to San Diego for vacation. They told us of pending overnight construction and possible detour. They had spoken with the CHP earlier. So, we decided to fill up the car with at least 40 miles additional rated range.
When not sharing a charger, the rates can get really fast. The one in Harris Ranch was going around 315 miles per hour. The Tesla battery swap station is closed and only available from 9 am to 5 pm local time, so that would not have helped on the return journey this evening.
I wanted to compare the Mountain View supercharger cable that we photographed earlier, so, here is the Harris Ranch one.
I wanted to give two views of the cable with the quarter, so the older cables really are that much thicker than the new ones at Mountain View.
I wonder how much faster the liquid cooled cables will be able to charge. I saw it them peak around 340 miles per hour when I was charging. The original cables are quite bulky and others have found them harder to work with.
Had my wife continue to rest while I went over to grab some “gas station coffee” from the station close to the supercharger and proceeded South to Tejon Ranch.
The construction zone that we were warned about ended up being a non-event, though at times, we found ourselves on the “other” side of I-5 at times as they were working on the Southbound side of the freeway.
You know what happens when we show blurry pictures. Normally, it’s time to stop and find a place to sleep for the night, but we were so close to home from Tejon Ranch. We plugged in and charged up. We only need to go a little under 120 miles to home.
My wife felt rested from our drive from Mountain View to Tejon Ranch, so we swapped drivers and she proceeded to take us home, after we got a charge. She took the tough climb up the Grapevine and decided to just drive all the way home, skipping all three superchargers on the West Side, Culver City, Hawthorne, and Redondo Beach.
At that time of the morning, if we had stopped at any of the superchargers, we could have gotten stuck in traffic on the freeway, besides our bed was calling us home.
After nearly 22 hours on the road, we were home. That was a LONG DAY. Of course, we did do a few things, attended a party, and such. And another interesting mileage pattern in our garage – 44,800 miles. The 852.9 mile journey actually felt shorter than Day One of our Here, There, and EVerywhere trip, perhaps it was the long break in between each half of the drive. Either way, it’s good preparation for next week’s TMC Connect 2015.