Friday, August 17, 2012

Press EVent, Ice Cream, Hot Rods and ActiveEs

Today was going to be the day I drive my ActiveE around 270 miles round trip.  Why?  Well there was going to be another press event announcing new ElectricVehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) in Atlantic City NJ.  I wanted to support the effort, what good is an EVSE press event if you have no real EVs to plug in or actual drivers to talk to.  I just had to be there.

This event was put on by Environment New Jersey, I had joined them at two earlier events, however, those were pretty local.  How was I going to drive 135 miles one way with no public EVSEs along the route between my house and Atlantic City (AC) - my ActiveE gets me around 115 on average, but 135 is really pushing it and leaving no room for error.  I was going to have to get creative, map out my route and see where I could charge up along the way....I knew I would only need one boost to get myself to AC then I could charge up fully there, drive back, get that boost again and make it home.

Fortunately for me the EV community is a tight knit one - we are all happy to provide our own chargers for use with other EV drivers, I had options.  I also found a number of 'private' stations that would most likely be available to EV speak, most likely is good enough.  So I was all set, but still there was something nagging at me, it was this.....why must I have to rely on friends/acquaintances or a friendly business (off the beaten track) to offer me a place to charge up - that's just not right.  Imagine the inexperienced EV driver that does not have an EV friendly network, what are they going to do?  For EVs to succeed we need to be able to drive to other locations easily that are out of our normal range.  From North NJ to Atlantic City it is basically a no EVSE zone which makes it a no EV zone as well accept for those few living in that part of NJ.

Where are those truly public EVSEs along the Garden State Parkway??  So getting down to AC to support this event was more important than ever.

In a way the trip alone was going to be fun, I could push a little harder on range and see how the ActiveE does on long how did I do?  Read on....

Map on left is the first leg of the trip before my 1st charge up - map on right is 2nd leg to AC.  Then I turn around and do the whole thing again in reverse

The Plan: My day would begin on the road at 5am to get to my 11am event...I had already plotted my route, I'd go straight down (instead of East along the GS Parkway) along the back roads which shaved about 20 miles off of my trip.  I could do this because of fellow EV driver Mary who offered me a place to charge up.  She is right in the middle of NJ and I should have power to spare by the time I got their.  I figured I'd need about 3 hrs of Level 2 charge time to get enough juice to go the rest of the way to Atlantic City, charge for an hour in AC and then back to the same mid way point for a final boost (2 hrs) and then home.  I usually get over 100 miles so this should work out just fine.

Mary was not the only one that offered me home chargers - it really is an awesome EV community.  It is so good to know that if I had gotten into a bind I'd have other places I could rely on.  What was also cool was Mary and her husband were going to join me at the event - now we had two ActiveE spreading the word.

The first part of the trip was 73 miles. I rolled out of my drive at 5:06am, it was rainy and cold, deer were everywhere checking me out, headlights were on as well as wipers, but the ActiveE did decently, when I arrived at Mary's just before 7am I still had 36% left on the battery and could go 36 more miles - being that the 'guessometer' is pretty conservative on the miles it was probably more like 40 which means I could have done the expected 115 miles.  Atlantic City was 48 more miles away, 121 total from my home.  I'm not interested in going to the edge with my ActiveE - I may have made it without a stop but not worth the risk to me.  If I had my family with me, which I normally do, I would be looking for a comfortable place to charge up for certain.

Mary and Ben's garage and garage floor - very cool looking WattStation - and Ben even washed my car!!  Don't everyone go down there and line up now.

Onward, after 3hrs of juice from Mary's super cool looking GE WattStation I had 97% on the battery with a computer guessed range of 133 miles....see what a little warmth for the battery can do, as well as no more rain.  The computer obviously remembered my 73 mile trip and readjusted due to the temp change. My range continued to increase to more than I'd ever seen it due to the flatness of this part of NJ. I could keep the power gauge at its minimum and maintain speed....this was awesome!

I followed Mary and Ben, 48 miles later, partly on highway, we were at the garage where the press event was taking place.  I still had 54% on the battery and the 'guessometer' said 56 miles left so if I was unable to use those EVSEs I could still make it back to Mary's easily - that is really good.

Quite flat and pretty down here - speeds around 65 

 We got lots of looks - how often do you see two ActiveEs in a row?

This part of NJ is full of 'Sand Trucks' with a death wish - we were doing 65 and he tries to pass us both.  Thanks for messing with our Eco-Convoy dude

Here is a good spot for a public EVSE - a GS Parkway rest stop - just imagine

We made it easily - the Wave Garage with 6 lovely EVSEs waiting for us
(220 Fairmount Ave, Atlantic City NJ)

Now let me say this has got to be one of the finest public EVSE placements I've ever seen.  You have got to check this place out.  There were 6 spaces each with a level 2 EVSE in their own section, this was VIP EV parking!  It was very well lit, up front near the entrance and very clean.  Even the restrooms were clean!!  Here comes the best part - FREE CHARGING.  Just pay for parking like everyone else.  Casinos, shopping and restaurants are all nearby plus a Jitney service.

Is this the VIP EV section - quite possible is.  The Prius is with the event 

From another angle - when you pull in look left - you have to drive all the way around the 1st level to reach the EV entrance.  But just look at all of that room.  They block it off to ICE cars

So we were here for a press event and an event we did.  For nearly two hours they filmed the cars and interviewed us.  I stressed as much as I could about how important it was to have public stations along our main highways.  Level 3s and Level 2s.

Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey and Kim Butler of CRDA were singing the praises of EVSEs and the importance of zero emission vehicles.  Filming was WMGM-TV and Press of Atlantic City.  Article with video is here WMGM, (video is at the top) and here is the article from Press of Atlantic City

ChargePoint/Leviton Level 2s (6 units).  I was able to charge as high as 5.8 kW with no faults

Mary and I both plugged in.  As you may know ActiveEs have some issues with ChargePoint and Clipper Creek commercial units.  Luckily I had no issues at all (I was on station 3), Mary had a number of ground fault errors.  Fortunately she had enough juice to get back.  Both BMW and ChargePoint are working on a fix - I hear it won't be long now so this will be a non-issue.

We had a 2012 Nissan LEAF join us from a local dealer.  Here was the shocker, the dealer does not have an EVSE.  Nissan, if you are serious about EVs make your dealers get an EVSE or they can't sell the car - come on!

On the way back I was getting some amazing range, I think this time the computer was a tad optimistic but it became clear to me that down along the flats 125 mile range is not out of the question if you take it easy.   Even though the computer was showing me close to 150 miles I'm the one that is going to remain conservative here but I was stoked....this trip was becoming a lot of fun and I was becoming more and more confident in the abilities of my ActiveE.  Anyway - the return trip from AC to Mary's showed after 48 miles I had 54% left on the battery and 67 miles remaining - even better than going down....darn good and that is a solid 115 even though we drove a tad faster and hit a huge rain storm.

I have already done over 40 miles and look at this - flat roads are my friend

Serenity and Joule say their goodbyes - we head North

On the way back I drove past this cool looking Ice Cream stand - I remembered seeing it on the way down - but this time it was full of Hot Rods....I had to stop.  I was thinking to wrap up the day wouldn't it be cool to get a picture of the ActiveE next to a hot rod for contrast - retro and the future.  Well what I thought would be 5 mins turned out to be over an hour.  As soon as I pulled into the lot I was asked to park in the Hot Rod row and the ActiveE was immediately swamped with interest.  The people loved it!!  There were some gorgeous customs and muscle cars (A Camaro SS 396 appeared) there but again the ActiveE had no shortage of fans.  Just like the Cars and Croissants events I attend, car people love cars and an EV is a car.  It is why I think car enthusiasts will make EVs successful.

I pulled in for a quick picture with some retro cars - before I knew it I was part of the show 

The Ice Cream stand is TK's Ice Cream in Cream Ridge NJ (that is not a typo).  Very friendly people and the owner said he would definitively consider installing an EVSE  if it made sense - any EVSE manufacturers out there want to offer some help?  This Ice Cream stand is actually in a perfect spot, right in the middle of NJ.

There were 20 or so people to the right waiting to get a look

This was a very cool car event and Ice Cream stand - lots of fun

One last look from a generation that I'm sure will be driving EVs

Final tally was 248 miles and overall efficiency was 4.0 mls/kWh.  The computer showed me a lot of different range numbers during the trip, so how did I really do?  Well the computer does a pretty decent job of range calculation, up north I found it very conservative but down south I found it is that possible, I have no clue.  My ActiveE gets a solid 115 and where I came from 125 is doable and that is not hypermiling at all and using AC going as fast as 65mph.  I accelerated like anyone else......the car just plain works.   One other thing, I was not fatigued.  That is the beauty of an EV - very little driver fatigue

I'm home - a lot of driving but well worth it

Here are a few things I do to extend range:
  • Windows up - the ActiveE is like a parachute with them down.  You will get better range with them up and A/C on (just make sure if on auto climate control the heat does not kick in)
  • Keep the needle on the eDRIVE indicator within the first main section as much as you can.  The ActiveE accelerates slowly off the line in Eco Pro but the torque wave comes up quick enough - catch it and hold it to gain speed
  • If at a stop and on an incline turn off Eco Pro to launch you a bit faster, once you are moving switch back to Eco Pro - With Eco Pro on it prolongs the climb using more energy.
  • Keep your momentum - it is tempting to regen down a hill but that scrubs speed - just regen slightly, it might not slow you down at all but you will gain a little bit and over a long trip a little bit adds up
  • Plan ahead and read the road - If traffic is slowing back off a bit and coast, it may start up again so you won't have to accelerate as hard.  Coming to a red light take it slow, it probably will turn green before you need to stop.  Read that road...look ahead, is there a hill coming and is there one after it.  Gauge your speed so you have enough to get over the crest while keeping with traffic....catch up on the downhill but do it gradually.  You can give a little extra juice just to get up a hill in most cases, it is all about momentum.

Don't go above 70mph and keep the eDRIVE needle within the first section

So is AC reasonably accessible to me?  Yes.  If I had access to just 1 public EVSE I would need about 1 hr (no more than 1.5 hrs) to charge so I could make it comfortably to AC which is the time it takes for lunch with my family.

I'm more confident than ever in taking 100 mile trips now.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cars and Croissants - Dawn of the EV

I attended my 4th 'Cars and Croissants' this past weekend and so did a few more EVs.  We had some great weather today and other than the amazing cars that turned out - probably 75 cars- we had 3 ActiveEs including mine. They were joined by a Chevy Volt and a Prius plugin.  At this rate we will need our own EV section soon.

I arrived early and the ActiveE is already attracting attention 

Tom Moloughney joined us for the first time, passing 21,000 miles in the process.  Yes you read that correctly, Tom has 21,000 miles on his ActiveE already - not a drop of gas.  We were also joined by Michael and his ActiveE, his first time at Cars and Croissants too.  Mark brought his Chevy Volt and another newcomer drove up with his brand new Prius Plugin.  This was a fantastic EV turn out.

A 2nd ActiveE joined by a Chevy Volt 

As usual people came up to ask us questions.  Cars and Croissants is such a great event because the drivers and guests are all car people, they love them.  They are as interested in the exotics as they are in the EVs.  In fact, many are open to getting an EV and some were even on the list for the ActiveE.

The ActiveE is a 1 series and gets lots of compliments, stripes included, of course I show them pictures of the new i3 and more often than not at this event it gets a luke warm reaction.  I'm usually asked when will BMW build a 1 series EV they can buy....hear that BMW?

Anyway - it was great talking EV talk and cool car talk...check out the pics.

Prius Plugin -  interesting how the EVs all have their hoods up

That is a lotus in the middle - not a Tesla.  No Tesla today

Tom shows up and is immediately swamped with questions - having 3 ActiveEs surprised everyone

 A 1956 Ferrari 250 - the owner told me it took him 10 years to restore it - he did the restoration!

Another look down the row 

I'm a big muscle car fan - used to restore these back in the day 

 This is the 2nd set of cars

A real beauty and for sale

Interesting plates 

You don't see one of these everyday

Nor one of these Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 - only 600 made and 126 in the US

Looking up the line 

There was lots of American muscle today (new and old) - really great to see 

As a couple of EVs left I shifted over to bunch up

The event is winding down - it was so great to see everyone

If you are in the Northern NJ area and you drive an EV please come to the next will be pleasantly surprised at how much interest there will be in your EV as well as the equally amazing cars that surround you.  Since dates and location change often, sometimes the day before, I'll post here and to the ActiveE facebook group when the next one is - but next tentative date is August 25th 8:30 to 11 at the Chatham NJ HS parking lot - they are usually every 2 weeks.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Spreading more EV love - Press EVents

I really like to bring my ActiveE to as many events as I can.....after all it is the best way to let people know how good EVs really are and how important they are for future transportation, especially with the reduction of air and noise pollution.  Yesterday I joined Environment New Jersey's press event announcing Bergen County Community College level 1 and level 2 charging stations (EVSEs) from ChargePoint in Paramus NJ.  The event appeared on WMBCTV and is making its way around the web - wrote about it.

My BMW ActiveE was joined by two 2012 Nissan LEAFs in support.  One LEAFs was driven by state Assemblyman Tim Eustace who had an EVSE installed at the State House for his 70 mile trip to Trenton.  That's a great idea and even better that the 70 mile one way trip costs around $5 in electricity vs. $10 in gas - if you have an economical car.  Oh, and let's not forget the LEAF has no emissions.

Station 1 - the LEAF (driven by Amy) behind me is at station 2

New Jersey Senator Robert Gordon also attended, he is in support of getting more public charging stations installed around New Jersey.  Such as in shopping centers and along the Garden State Parkway.  Did you know there are no public EVSE stations below Rt 78 and along the entire NJ shore route until you reach Atlantic City....that is well over 100 miles which is beyond the reach of many an EV.  I'm not talking about EVSEs that are tucked away at universities, private businesses or public parking lots you need to pay parking rates just to charge, I'm talking about truly accessible EVSEs that I can pull up to and get a boost for an hour or so while I get lunch with my family on our way to vacation at the shore.   I'll talk about this in a later post but I'm getting ready for a 270 mile round trip in my ActiveE - that is a cross country trek along Antarctica in EV speak - next week down along South Jersey.

The college students there were immediately drawn to the ActiveE

The ActiveE attracted a lot of attention among those at the event as most had no idea BMW made an electric car and it's a BMW with some funky looking stripes.  I gave a number of rides, including one to the Senator.  Fortunately I was able to really open up the ActiveE in an empty lot.  Let's just say I got his attention, so much so on our return Senator Gordon told me he knows what kind of car he is going to shop for next time.

NJ Senator Robert Gordon

That really is all it takes, once people ride or drive an EV they realize they are giving up very little when compared to a gas car and gaining a more enjoyable driving experience.

NJ Assemblyman Tim Eustace's LEAF - he gave rides as well

I even had a chance to speak - I usually have my eyes open

I met some cool community leaders at this event and I will be supporting their own events in the near future.  A big kudos to Bergen County Community College for allowing us EV drivers to use those campus EVSEs - that's right, if you find yourself in a jam and need a boost head on over to Lot A - they should be coned off.  You will need a ChargePoint account.

Check out the map to find this EVSEs

View Larger Map

It really is a great time to be driving an EV, not only is it fun but it makes such good sense.  I got my ActiveE on Feb 28th 2012 and I now have 7,400 miles on it, being that my work commute is 33 miles round trip this just goes to show I really enjoy driving the car for pleasure too.  These are the most miles I've ever put on a car where I did not have to - EVs are awesome - period.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

EVents - Cars and Croissants - July

There is one thing I enjoy equally to driving my ActiveE - showing it off.  I've done a number of events and one of my favorites is the Cars and Croissants gatherings.  This is an event set up by car people who gather every other week (time and weather permitting) to show off their exotics or collectibles and just chat it up. The ActiveE always draws a crowd and being that this is a car focused gathering people are genuinely interested in EV technology...being that it is from BMW makes it even better.

I've attended there a few times and each time it is a very welcoming experience - here is a link to my earlier post on Cars and Croissants Father's Day.

That's a spec sheet on the battery I made to answer common questions

 It was a real treat to see an M1 today

 What a beautiful car - timeless

Just another Lamborghini - amazing cars up close

 Today was a bit smaller due to the weather but there were still many visitors

 My Chevy Volt friends - it is great to see how passionate they are about their car - the best advocates

 Each time I tried to leave the event this happened - a good thing

I do not mind being followed by one of these - a beautiful Ferrari going the same route home

It was great to have the Chevy Volt join us for this day...people could look at what options they had in an EV.  Potential buyers really need to feel comfortable with their choices and talking to actual drivers of different EV technologies is a great way to get real world details.

Joining these groups is free and if you are a car nut well worth it.

Cars and Croissants is a local group in North NJ as the more popular Cars and Coffee does not have least for North NJ.  Feel free to join the Cars and Croissants Yahoo group and I hope to see you at one of the events.

Here is the official Cars and Coffee site - East and West coast meet-ups can be found here