Stuck Fast In The Past – Stuck Up – Or Both?

Over the last few weeks, there have been several reported instances from all over the USA of a minority of pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharger stations (aka Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)/Electric Vehicle charging stations.  This relatively small number of incidents has generated much attention on various social media outlets and from EV owners groups/clubs and other automotive-focused news outlets and on YouTube.

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At first, I was hesitant to write anything about any of these instances because, in a way, writing about them is drawing attention to the small number of individuals who commit these crimes. However, I decided that – as a previous truck, 4WD, and current sport-utility vehicle and EV owner – it is my obligation to report on these thoughtless incidents and put these narrow-minded knuckle-dragging dunderheads in their places with the facts before they destroy the reputations of respectable pickup truck owners everywhere.

The Problem

For background I will share a few of these incidents below;

This is the first high profile incident that gathered nation-wide media attention – and from my home state no less.

This incident made it into a popular EV blog Electrek:
https://electrek.co/2018/12/24/tesla-supercharger-anti-tesla-pickup-truck-drivers/

Then this one…

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More non-random acts of stupidity.

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Really people?

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…even more madness…

Photo from Heniz Baumann of the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club on Facebook

…and this…

From the I’ve Been ICED twitter account.

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The revealing thing is that the entire parking lot was practically empty…

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It seems obvious to me this was an intentional act directed at Tesla and/or EV’s in general.  The other obvious thing is the driver of the truck either did not care or was possibly not aware they were openly advertising who they were with the conspicuous company magnetic sign on the truck door – what a great invitation by EV owners (and others) to report their team member’s thoughtless EV charger blocking action to the company…oh and what a great reason to NEVER use the services of that company in any way.  Good work Navarro & Wright, what a great way to make a name for yourself…

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In another thread on Twitter, Nascar driver and Tesla owner Leilani Munter garnered some notice when Elon Musk and many others spoke up about this issue;

@LeilaniMunter careful charging in Hickory. The ignorant people are aware of us https://t.co/pqgc3uLsLY— Mike Hoffman (@McHoffa) December 23, 2018

This is scary. I’ve been coal-rolled in my Tesla by several trucks in NC, the drivers were hostile. If you don’t know what it is google “Stephen Colbert Coal Rolling.” One day these conflicts will end very badly. @Tesla @hickorypd @StephenAtHome @cleanairNC @cleanenergyorg @CMPD https://t.co/Gd6S6SOhNB— Leilani Münter (@LeilaniMunter) December 23, 2018

Yet another good example of what not to do.

From this blogger’s point of view these actions do not appear to be accidents since the Tesla Supercharger stations are;

1 – Very visible being lit up with red lights on a white background.

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2 – Well marked as TESLA charging stations.

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3 – They are most often located in remote parts of the parking areas so as not to take up available parking spots for all other vehicles near the entrances of the nearby establishments where they are found.

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In other words – in order for you to block a Tesla Supercharger charging station with your vehicle you would need to either;

1. Drive a Tesla and know where the station is because you have been there before – or allow your Tesla’s navigation system to guide you to it for a charge.

or

2. You do not own a Tesla and have made a premeditated decision to locate the Supercharger station for the purpose of blocking it with your non-electric vehicle for whatever bizarre load of jollies that action would give you and/or your childish comrades.

or

3. You are a new Tesla owner/driver/borrower/renter who is unfamiliar with Tesla/EV charging etiquette and are unaware that after the car finishes charging you should kindly move it to a nearby standard parking space so the next person will have access to the charging infrastructure.

or

4. You are a Tesla owner on the bleeding edge of the lunatic fringe of Tesla/EV ownership. Perhaps you feel that – because you have the means to own a Tesla, that you are somehow above/better than everyone around and you now have the right to park your car in the charging space for as long as you like.  If this is your reasoning – then you, my friend, are an entitled little bully and are no better than those who block access with their garish toy trucks. In my experience this type of Tesla/EV owner is rare, yet I have heard reports that they do exist.

So, aside from the occasional parking accident by the un-observant or uneducated – there is no real reason and no real excuse for parking a non-Tesla vehicle in a Tesla charging station.

Misunderstandings Do Happen

As stated earlier, sometimes EV owners who are new to the world of EV’s and have not learned the appropriate EV charging etiquette might mistakenly leave their EV parked in an EV charging space for much longer than needed after the car’s charge is complete – I did this a few times early on and quickly learned my lesson.  Most of these infractions are innocent mistakes that can easily be remedied with gentle education of the new EV driver either with a few words or an informational card/flyer left for when the driver returns.

However, some entitled EV drivers seem to be treating EV spaces as a pass to free parking, not at all caring about the other EV drivers who need to stop and fill up their “electron tanks” so they can get on down the road. In the following photo, we see a Tesla parked and not charging in an EV only charging space – how rude.

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This is the same as filling up your gas tank, hanging up the nozzle, and walking off.

I have observed this practice on several occasions and when I do I always leave a nice note in the hopes of educating the parking perpetrator on the errors of their ways. In the above case, part of the error may be in the wording of the signage on the wall beyond the Tesla and it reads – “Electric Vehicle Parking Only.” This wordage may give some EV newbies the idea that they are able to park their EV here even when it is not charging. That is just not the case. and is bad planning on those who chose the signs for this site. Luckily, many charging stations now have signs that read “EV Parking only while charging.” Along with this fact many EVSE units will continue to charge you money if your car remains plugged in after the charging session has ended as an expensive reminder to be courteous and move your car so the next person will be able to charge.

Most EV’s and EVSE come standard with internet connectivity.  This allows them to be easily configured to send a text to your mobile device when your vehicle has finished charging, therefore, you have no excuse not to move your car thereby opening the space up for the next EV needing a charge.

Bad Parking Planning

On several occasions, I have encountered non-EV’s blocking charging stations – most frequently (in my experience) at this downtown EV charge point supplemented with solar power.

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While these non-EV vehicles are directly blocking one of the chargers, at least they are following the directions printed on the pavement that state “EV Only.” In reality, this type of EVSE blocking will not limit the ability to charge an EV since the power leads are usually long enough to reach an EV parked nearby.  However, the limiting factor here would be available parking.  There are three EV chargers and only two marked EV parking spaces so only 2 EV’s would be able to charge when ICE vehicles are parked in the non-EV marked parking spaces.  It seems that common sense would dictate that if you install an EVSE for EV’s, then the number of charge points and parking spaces should be equal.

How some Tesla owners may choose to handle EVSE blocking situations – but it is not at all recommended by this blogger…unless there is no other option I suppose.

Obviously, Teslas do have more than enough power and torque to handle any situation.


The Question

So, what do I, as a previous truck/SUV owner and current Electric Vehicle owner and driver of over 5 years, what do I think of this recent practice of some truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Superchargers with their pickup trucks?

Before I get into my answer I must first note that it is in my humble opinion, based on over 35 years of driving and over 50 years of life experience, that the perpetrators of these thoughtless acts are a very small percentage of overall truck owners.

So let’s call them the: lunatic fringe.

The vast majority of pickup truck owners I know and have met are good, respectable people that own and drive pickup trucks because they serve a utilitarian purpose in their lives – you know, hauling stuff, pulling stuff, doing work, and having fun outdoors.

These good, respectable truck owners would never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source and would never think to use their vehicle as a bullying tool/weapon in the attempt to make some sort of misguided personal, political, or anti-environment statement.  They just drive their trucks and use their trucks – and that’s it.

I say this because not only is it common sense and fully supported by evidence – but I also have a bit of experience in this area.  In my over 35 years of driving, I have owned, driven, and used the following vehicles:

My first truck – a 1978 Chevrolet C-10 step side.

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My first 4WD vehicle – a 1965 Land Rover Series 2a 88″ – before the restoration.

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After I personally restored it.

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On the trail with friends.

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It was a wonderful 4×4, and my favorite, that I drove daily and used for the purpose it was intended – an all-terrain, go anywhere utility vehicle – truly the world’s best 4x4xfar (that may change when  Bollinger Motors starts selling their game-changing B1 and B2 SUT’s to eagerly awaiting truck-o-philes everywhere 🙂

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I sold my first Land Rover as it was just too nice to drive on a daily basis and then purchased a very well used 1966 Land Rover Series 2a 109″ ExMoD Field Ambulance.  I modified this classic old aluminum workhorse into an overland camper and drove it for several years as my daily driver and on many on and off road-trip adventures, wildlife study and conservation expeditions. When gas prices started to climb I was forced to sell it to continue paying for my college education…

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…then came the 1987 Suzuki Samurai – a wonderful little 4×4 that took me into remote areas for my wildlife conservation work and more.

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It was a great little 4×4 that served me well for almost a decade.  It was my daily driver, my wildlife study and conservation vehicle, and my firewood acquisition vehicle making use of the custom winch and bumper to often pull trees weighing more than the vehicle out of the woods for later processing into firewood.

And it was fun, fuel efficient, and reliable off-road…but after over 250,000 miles it began to show serious signs of age so it found a new home and along came…

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…a 1999 Toyota 4Runner – a great 4×4 that served me well.

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And finally, my most recent 4WD is a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV (random internet photo) that we use for hauling the family around and hauling/pulling loads.

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As you can see I love the utility of trucks and 4WD vehicles and I would love to have another one day to make my life and my job easier and more productive.  As soon as the all-electric trucks, vans, and 4WD’s hit the market – I will be driving one daily as my company/commuting and utility/wildlife conservation outreach vehicle – and that day is approaching faster than you may think.

Back to the Question

With all that out of the way, let’s get back to the original question:

What do I, a seasoned truck/4×4 owner, driver and aficionado of many years AND an Electric Vehicle driver of over 5 years think of the recent practice of some pickup truck owners intentionally blocking Tesla Supercharging stations?

Tesla’s at a Supercharger – photo credit Tesla.com

I could relate to you how unbelievably childish, small-minded, knuckle-dragging, infantile, non-sensical and stupid it is while tossing out many colorful metaphors, however, I will refrain from that level of thinking and offer my answer in the form of the following thought experiment:

What would YOU do, as a gas/diesel vehicle driver looking to fill up your vehicle’s fuel tank with refined hydrocarbons, if you arrived at your filling station of choice only to find an EV driver intentionally blocking your gas/diesel fuel pump with their electric vehicle?

Hopefully, you would think the same way I would: either they had made a mistake or…they may be potentially unstable and may even be dangerous – especially if they insulted and taunted you with vulgar language and gestures as some of the perpetrators are being reported to have done.

Why would you think these things?

The common sense answer:

The evidence is blocking the fuel pump.

Due to the obvious fact that the owner of the pump blocking vehicle is driving a vehicle that does not ever need access to the fuel source it is blocking, then evidence and common sense would dictate the following:

1: They may have blocked the pump accidentally.  After they have been respectfully informed of their error, they should not hesitate to move their vehicle to the correct nearby charging point.  However, being an EV driver I would highly doubt that this would be the usual scenario as EV drivers do not often make the mistake of blocking petroleum-based fuel pumps if the vehicle they are driving is theirs and if they are at all familiar with it.
(If you are driving a vehicle of any kind you had better take some time to read the instructions and become familiar with it – all the more so if it is a state of the art high-speed low drag Tesla aka: Intergalactic SpaceBoat of Light and Wonder  or any other EV.)

Similarly, the vast majority of respectable gas/diesel vehicle drivers would never think to intentionally park their vehicles in front of EVSE stations and/or intentionally vandalize EVSE units and/or intentionally taunt/insult drivers whose vehicles operate on fuels other than gas/diesel…until recently that is…

2: They may have committed this pump blocking act intentionally.  Furthermore, if they were taunting/insulting you or your vehicle/fuel of choice with rude and/or hateful colorful metaphors, it would be even more evidence that their actions were not accidental and they might not be entirely stable individuals – you know, those on the lunatic fringe.

How should you respond?

The safe approach would be to er on the side of caution and be very wary of their actions because no thinking, rational person with even a gram of common sense and decency would ever commit such a blatant act of intentional bullying unless they had an over-sized, unstable, reactionary chip on their shoulder and/or were intentionally looking for a dangerous confrontation.

Suggestion: before you take matters into your own hands in regards to option 2 you should be absolutely sure the situation was not an accident by a person unfamiliar with driving an electric vehicle – possibly something like in the video below where the driver may have  borrowed the car from a friend and/or the owner of the car was playing a joke on them.

Once you rule out an accidental parking maneuver, the next step would be to report the thoughtless, possibly intentional fuel pump blocking action to the nearest authorities, step back to a safe location, and wait for the police/tow truck to arrive to remove the disruptive perpetrator(s) – be they blocking a gas, diesel, or an electric fuel pump.

ICEing

Those of us that drive plug-in electric vehicles refer to the act of accidentally or intentionally blocking charging stations with Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles – “ICEing” or being “ICEd.”   

For clarity: ICE = Internal Combustion Engine

Most of the time, when an ICE driver blocks an EV charging station it is an honest mistake made by someone either in a hurry or simply not being observant enough to see all the signs denoting the space as EV use only.

These innocent people should be excused from their mistake and politely educated either in person if possible, or if they are not available, with an informational flyer placed under the windshield wiper – many EV drivers carry these for events such as these.

This winter I encountered yet another form of ICEing…with real ice.

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The evidence at hand suggested that the snow removal crew responsible for scraping the snow/ice off the parking area chose to pile up the snow in both of the marked EV charging spaces.  This is as irresponsible as blocking the spaces with an ICE vehicle especially since there was ample space nearby on the grass surrounding the parking area to pile the snow where ALL drivers – no matter the fuel that powers their vehicles – would then have access to parking. Yes, it may have been an accident, but due to the perfect blocking of the only two EV charging spaces in the parking area – I cannot help but wonder if the individual(s) that did this, did it on purpose possibly as some sort of statement against EV’s, their charging infrastructure and/or the people that drive them.  Hmmm, I wonder if these snow pushers also block “handicap” spaces with huge piles of snow…

Accidental ICEing aside, the thoughtless act of intentionally blocking electric vehicle charging stations with ICE vehicles (or blocking gas pumps with EV’s for that matter) should never be excused and should always be reported to the authorities as soon as possible in the attempt to stop the madness before it gets out of hand.

Before reporting the perpetrators, it is probably a good idea to attempt to covertly get a photograph(s) of the perp’s vehicles/license plates and the perp’s themselves so you will have evidence to hand over to the authorities. In my opinion, it is not ever a good idea to confront these types of people as they are often aggressive and volatile and may even be intoxicated and/or have dangerous or deadly weapons in their vehicles or on their persons.

The best bet in these situations is to just step back to a safe place and watch the action happen when the police,  tow trucks, and news crews arrive.

EVSE Vandalism Issues 

EVSE blocking is not the only issue.  Most recently a Tesla Supercharger in Utah was vandalized when some lowlife intentionally tried to drill out the charge connector and cut the charging cable – WTF, really people?  How would you like it if I intentionally tried to cut your gas/diesel hose or intentionally vandalized the fuel pump handle that you needed to fuel your vehicle? Grow up people – or crawl back under your rock and stay there.

Source: https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-supercharger-attack-vandalism-drilled-charging-plugs-cut-cables/

I have encountered EVSE vandalism on a few occasions in my area.  This is one of the most recent – a quick charger’s screen was damaged by an unknown assailant.  The crack pattern of the glass suggests a blow from what may have been a hard object such as possibly a rock or hammer or maybe even a fist.  The height of the screen from the ground and distance from the parking space places the EVSE’s screen too far out of range for this to be an unfortunate parking accident.  This suggests to me that this may have been a deliberate act of vandalism.

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Help is on the horizon. Tesla vehicles now come equipped with “Sentry Mode*” that uses many of the vehicle’s external/internal cameras to record all goings on in the vicinity of the vehicle.  I am sure this feature will be very useful in capturing many perpetrators in action be they EVSE blocking lunatic fringe pickup truck drivers, would be thieves, or vandals with a misplaced score to settle with an inanimate object and the progress it represents.   *Read more about sentry mode:  https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/14/sentry-mode-keeps-watch-over-your-tesla-while-it-is-parked/?fbclid=IwAR2QlxVG6ggeQuqotvx88D-tHBwtSm1Mtjhx0kPkA3z3tnrDDvAQYdkhYEQ


The Law

It is unlawful to block an EVSE charging station in at least 8 States and many more cities/towns.  For the details visit: https://pluginsites.org/plug-in-vehicle-parking-legislation-reference/

In many of these places, those ICE drivers who block an EVSE will receive a hefty fine. Raleigh, NC is a great example where EVSE ICEr’s are fined $50 for blocking a charge point – thank you Raleigh!  In my opinion, this should be the rule everywhere and any fines collected could be used to improve roads and infrastructure for everyone no matter what they choose to drive.

Source:  https://insideevs.com/one-charging-spot-generated-27000-fines-ice-drivers/

And now, from one of my favorite YouTube personalities, Robert Llewellyn of Fully Charged Show , comes this great video illustrating that the phenomenon of ICEing EVSE stations is not just a quandary in the States…

Hmmmmm….all this EV charging station blocking makes me wonder if – way back in the early day s of the internal combustion engine – did some horse and wagon owners who felt threatened by the gas-powered future, seek out and block fuel pumps?

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horse and gas

I seriously doubt it because I am pretty sure they had something called common sense and morals.

A bit of a tangent for a bit of a comparison.

Blocking EV charging points is similar to the uncaring, malignant practice that some call “coal rolling.” This is a practice where some truck owners – a very small percentage overall and yet another lunatic fringe group – illegally modify their diesel pickup trucks to – on-demand – emit clouds of black diesel smoke through over-sized exhaust pipes.

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These “coal rollers” then often use their illegally modified vehicles to intentionally target pedestrians, police officers, bicyclists, runners, groups of people on the sidewalk, and people who drive hybrid and electric vehicles.  They intentionally align their vehicle’s often grossly over-sized exhaust orifice in the direction of their target and flip the switch vomiting copious amounts of dirty diesel smoke all over their innocent targets. If you are interested in seeing evidence of this stupidity – just input “coal rolling” or “rolling coal” into a YouTube/Google search and you will find the video evidence shared by the polluting perpetrators…and you will also find some great memes revealing just how ridiculous the act of coal rolling truly is, such as this one.

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What is a Darwin Award?

For whatever bizarre reasons, this small number of fringe dwellers seem to be proud of their illegal atmospheric littering escapades and wish to share their madness with the world.

If a combination of common sense, the law, and natural selection have their way (and they will), then their actions suggest that it will not be long before these polluted perpetrators will be weeded out of the population and the bones of their illegally modified machines will soon be covered in rust fossilizing in the junkyard – or better yet, melted down and recycled into a Tesla, Bollinger, Atlis or any other EV, a bicycle, wind turbine, or solar array.

The act of intentionally modifying one’s vehicle with a driver operated “defeat device” thereby allowing it to bypass the factory emission controls for the purpose of emitting visible clouds of smoke, and then intentionally targeting people with that hazardous particulate-laden smoke (diesel exhaust is a documented carcinogen by the CDC, the  WHO, and the ACA*) is not only illegal in many areas but is an uncaring, thoughtless act of bullying that should not go unpunished. Recently, I was instructed by a State Patrol officer that targeting and “rolling coal” on a person(s) is considered a form of assault and should be reported to the authorities by calling 911 and reporting the incident making sure to get the make, model and, if possible, the license plate number, road name and direction of travel of the offending vehicle.

*Sources:
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/nioshtic-2/20000266.html
https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/topics/cancer/npotocca.html
https://www.iarc.fr/media-centre-iarc-news-58/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5352477/
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-causes/diesel-exhaust-and-cancer.html

Read my earlier post about the time I was almost “coal rolled” in my Nissan Leaf EV.

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Possible Motives Behind The Madness

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Insecurity.

It is possible that these intentional charging station blockers (and “coal rollers”) may suffer from personal or peer group driven insecurities such as toxic masculinity and possibly even what some may call “short man syndrome” – or both.  They may be using their huge, overly modified, often garishly loud, black smoke vomiting toy trucks as an attempt to compensate for some emotional or even physical quality in which they perceive themselves to be lacking.

Machismo/hormones.

Another good possibility is that many of these pickup truck drivers are simply just children.  Children who have only recently felt the call of their surging primal hormones driving them to make a place for themselves within their world and to seek out a mate in the only way they know how.

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In their world, all the other young males (and some young females) in their tribal cliques drive large, noisy, dirty pickup trucks.  This being the only courting technique their childish minds can interpret must mean that it must be the preferred and accepted way to entice a mate into their arms.  In other words – driving a large, loud, jacked up, overly modified, polluting truck and insulting others with your venomous vitriol might just be the mating call of your sub-species.

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I speak from some short-lived experience in this area. When I was a teenager I briefly fell into a similar clique where I tried to fit in and impress by modifying my first truck with a roll bar, light bar, lift kit, loud stereo, and “glasspack.” Needless to say, it did not work for me – in any way. This was primarily because of my extreme nerdiness that was of such an outward and obvious magnitude that no amount of expensive modifications to my vehicle, myself, piles of money, or purchased trinkets would have ever made me “cool” and popular with the “in” crowd.  At the time I was just trying very hard to fit in – somewhere – anywhere – and I had fallen to peer pressure.  Lucky for me, after about 6 weeks my brain won the fight and I grew out of my fitting in phase.  The glasspack came off and the stock muffler went back on in favor of the stereo because enjoying my music was more important to me than the garishly flatulent exhaust noise.  I also removed the lift kit as it ruined the truck’s handling and fuel mileage and then later sold the roll bar since all it really did was take up space in the bed. Some people grow up, some never do.

Envy

It is also possible, although remote, that many of these folks are just envious and jealous of the awesome Tesla’s and other EV’s and they secretly want one really, really bad but they could never admit that fact to their fellow pickup truck driving tribe members. To do so would mean ridicule and possibly even exile from their tribe. So to save face they take out their misplaced frustrations in the only way they know how – they block Tesla charging stations and insult the very thing they are secretly in love with and pining away for. It is very much like the jealous little bully in the sandbox breaking the other children’s toys because they are not his.

Don’t be the bully.

Tribalism aka Us vs. Them

Another motive that may drive these individuals to act is simple tribalism. Related and intertwined with the previous motives, tribalism is like the proverbial tick – dug in deeply.  Like the tick, they may be so “dug in” to their tribe and their us vs. them outlook on life that nothing will ever be able to tear them out of their ancient tribal tendencies to do a thing.  All the others in their tribe are doing that thing so that obviously must mean that thing is the correct and acceptable thing to do – even if all the evidence is against it. You know the type: “My people have always done it this way and I do not believe all the evidence against it so I’m just going to do it anyway!”

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Fear of Change.

Also tied to the previously mentioned topics, the fear of change is very powerful and it keeps many from ever progressing.  Some of these individuals may do these things out of fear of inevitable change, fear that their comfort zone will be violated. Fear that the status quo will be disturbed. Fear they will lose their toy trucks, or maybe fear that “the government” will take them away and force them to drive electric cars. The fact is that no one, especially the government – is going to force anyone to drive an electric car – it is more the opposite. The way the system is currently set up favors and promotes the status quo. It promotes vehicles that run on fossil fuels even though all of the available evidence suggests the continued use of fossil fuels harms the very environment that we all rely on for our very survival – but that is another story for a different day.

Your Vehicle Is A Tool – Not A Weapon.

A rock, a stick, a knife, a gun, a snowball, a brick, a spoon, a ham bone, a sack of ‘taters, and yes, a car or pickup truck – are only as dangerous and/or potentially harmful as the person controlling them.

Hopefully, if that person has been lucky enough to receive the following;

  • good and positive moral training as a child from parents and mentors
  • respect and trust of their elders – but not blind trust or blind faith – those are very dangerous
  • an unbiased and well-rounded education with a focus on the importance of facts, evidence and critical thinking skills
  • quality time outdoors in nature learning how all things are connected and developing a respect for all living things and for the environment that gives us all life
  • an understanding of the scientific method and how to use it
  • a purposeful separation from lunatic fringe extremist hate, religious, and political groups and training in how to recognize them
  • training into how to use the internet appropriately in order to take advantage of the powerful research tool that it is, while intentionally avoiding the deep quagmire of dead-ends, lies, filth, misinformation, manufactured FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) and divisive hate that is also the internet
  • the appropriate science-backed training in the appropriate use of their chosen tool(s)
  • the appropriate licenses and certifications to operate that tool or tools in accordance with the laws set by their state/national governments
  • a good dose of common sense

Then hopefully, that person, when they are released into the wild to wield any of the before mentioned tools – including pickup trucks – will use them wisely for the purpose intended and not ever as weapons of hate or malice to be directed at others – even if they do not agree with their driving, energy or life choices.

No matter the motive, the truth of the matter is this: electric trucks (and cars, sport utility vehicles, airplanes, helicopters, motorcycles, buses, boats, bicycles) are here and more are coming fast – and they will eventually replace the majority of fossil burners simply because they are better, faster, safer, stronger, more reliable, less expensive to fuel and maintain, and more convenient than the old smoke spewing, oil leaking, dinosaur juice burners of yesteryear. Yet, even with all those facts we still must deal with human nature, and brains that evolved during the stone age. With human nature and stone age brains, we are forced to contend with all of the above factors which work together to slow the forward march of progress…

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Luddites and complacency aside, nobody will ever take your beloved truck (or car) away from you (unless you intentionally break the law – then you deserve to have your vehicle impounded and your license revoked). 

Your favorite old car and truck and all the previously produced petroleum burners will always be around (if you take care of them) and will always be available for you if you want them – just like horses, buggies, and wagons are still available – nobody took them away.  These beautiful, classic cars and trucks of yesteryear will always have a place in history and they should as they are a beautiful part of the complex story that brought all of us to this day in time.  They are a testament and a tribute to all the inventors, engineers, makers, scientists, doers and adventurers who had an idea for something better, worked hard to make it happen – and then changed the world.  Yes, their creations were based upon and relied upon the internal combustion engine and petroleum-based fuels – back then they were the only viable power-plant option. It is a fact that these fuels and these machines have allowed the human species to expand across the globe at an unbelievable pace, light our homes, farms and cities, grow more food to meet the needs of a rapidly growing population, develop better health care, science, and systems that allow us to live longer than ever before, explore the depths of the oceans, and the far reaches of outer space. In many unique ways, these creations and these ancient fossil-based fuels may be the very reason – or at least have played a key part – in the very existence of many of us alive today. We owe a great debt of thanks to fossil fuels and to the old vehicles of yesteryear.


However, as with all things, as with all seasons, change is the way of things. Now is the time for change, the time for growth, the time for progress – it is time to stop burning things for fuel. Like the horse and wagon before them, the majority of these beautiful, earlier modes of transportation worked well for a time, but eventually faded away because something better, faster, stronger, lower maintenance, less stinky and less visibly polluting, was invented – think how fast the Ford Model T displaced the horse – and how the majority of the population quickly accepted the change and adopted it because it was the best option.

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Photo source: https://www.icis.com/asian-chemical-connections/2018/12/internal-combustion-engines-car-ownership-to-quickly-head-the-way-of-horses-and-carts/

The transition from internal combustion to electric transportation will be very similar.

More Ponderings

Another thing to ponder is this; how long before our gas/diesel burners (if you are still driving one by ~2025) become a wonderful weekend novelty like the horse and wagon/buggy/Ford Model T is today?

How long before they become a cherished piece in a museum collection…or worthless rusting, forgotten hulks covered in weeds in backyards?

oldcarsinkudzu

How long before ICE drivers are treated the same way litterbugs (and smokers) are often treated today and end up catching all sorts of flack from those around them every time they drive their old fossil burner because everyone around them is aware, accepts, and understands that toxic emissions from driving fossil fuel powered vehicles harm all life forms and nature – the very life support system that gives all of us life?

Before some of you start ranting in the comment section about how much pollution is emitted from building/charging/driving EV’s – watch the below video for the facts:

More sources: https://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

and

https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/attach/2015/11/Cleaner-Cars-from-Cradle-to-Grave-full-report.pdf

How many years will it be before insurance companies start raising their rates on older vehicles because those older vehicles lack any modern autonomous safety features – such as automatic emergency braking, back up cameras, “Autopilot” and “Sentry Mode” – features that make newer vehicles so much safer to drive for the driver and for everyone else on the roads – thereby making older vehicles a dangerous liability to drive – for the driver and others around them – which therefore means it is now much more expensive to insure and to drive?

If you do not believe autonomous “autopilot” safety features will become popular on vehicles or if you do not trust them – think again and watch this amazing video of the evidence.

Video source: https://insideevs.com/video-tesla-stop-itself-avoid-horrific-crash/?fbclid=IwAR0wOlo6oIudLjlfdZCEoaI3KP0W0bQYWULDWuY3cPZg9-19ECRqO8p5Fbg

And yet another one…

Video source: https://electrek.co/2019/02/05/tesla-owner-autopilot-saves-life-swerving/

Insurance companies are starting to offer discounts for autonomous features on vehicles: https://futurism.com/insurance-companies-offering-discounts-tesla-drive-itself

A very smart and enlightening commentary from Answers with Joe on the automotive autonomy/EV revolution:

When will ICE vehicles become stranded assets we are unable to sell because nobody wants them anymore as their fuel source, maintenance, and insurance costs are so expensive?

When will our old gas burners be converted to electric drive and achieve a second life as an electrified classic…or…become as obsolete as the slide rule, the film camera, the 8 track, VHS, and cassette tapes, Blockbuster video, Kodak, phone booths, CRT computer monitors and console TV’s…in other words – when will they go the way of the dinosaurs that power them?

It will not be long dear reader, it will not be very long….

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…this is not a question of if, it is a question of when.

More evidence of the EV revolution that is upon us: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/03/hints-of-ev-revolution-rising/?fbclid=IwAR2r9YZ7Mo9Yhh3RwoivSF1VzCE4x7EjCoMUlGw3_fXcANXoZNEYxRvSpiU 

…and even more evidence: https://www.npr.org/2019/02/16/694303169/as-more-electric-cars-arrive-whats-the-future-for-gas-powered-engines?fbclid=IwAR2V6ePb1qnq8a9VSuWwbLYqEUFfa3xWXkc3PpVEKBWAYA5Zu6crVxh0kdE

…and yet more powerful evidence: https://seekingalpha.com/article/4225153-evs-oil-ice-impact-2023-beyond

A great example of the fast-growing trend in vehicle electrification is the simple fact that many young, forward-thinking companies (and even the legacy auto-makers) are working hard to bring more than capable fully electric and hybrid-electric cars and now trucks and 4×4’s to market including but not limited to…

Bollinger Motors

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Rivian

rivian-r1t-driving-forest.jpg

Atlis

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Tesla

Little is known about the upcoming Tesla Pickup…but they are working on something big….is this a teaser image of what it may be?

Photo credit: Mike Hoffman EV Network

…only time and Tesla and some interesting tweets from Elon may tell.

FORD

That’s right, Ford has confirmed that is will offer fully electric and hybrid versions of the F-150 for the 2020-21 model years. Below is a concept of what it may look like.

ford-f-150-ev-lead-1547759088

Source: https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a25933730/ford-f-150-electric-pickup-truck-confirmed/

As I wrap up I discover that GM is considering electrifying its trucks as well…looks like the days of the dirty ICE powered pick-up trucks blocking charging stations may soon be a thing of the past.

GMC

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/23/pickups-ready-to-plug-in.html?fbclid=IwAR3SQgZvfFEeq4qNusj4oux17xysgg9SQQFNkWGUtM81FPxH2j8YmeNp3mE

and

Even more possibilities: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/02/12/scoop-gm-working-on-electric-pickup-truck-with-tesla-powertrain/?fbclid=IwAR3WA20t4MHHcnZaII9kgVIESAco599xmqHNOUeuGYwsMDR29bJgAE52TiQ

Even More Ponderings

Erroneously enough, it seems that some of these EVSE blocking folk may be committing these acts as some form of misguided political statement. There is evidence suggesting some of these individuals may feel that owning Tesla and other electric vehicles are somehow anti-American. If this is true, then it is obvious – these people have not done the simple online research revealing Tesla as an American car company. Tesla’s vehicle and battery factories, parts suppliers, shops, and service facilities create a manufacturing, delivery, and customer care chain employing tens of thousands of hard-working Americans in hundreds of cities, towns, communities, and truckers on the roads (soon to be driving Tesla electric Semi trucks.)

You may also be surprised to learn that Tesla now rates as the

MOST AMERICAN car company.

Furthermore, all of Tesla’s cars (in this country) and all other EV’s in this country – run on American generated electricity produced on our soil by Americans operating American power generating facilities.

Many EV drivers, including this blogger, charge their EV’s at home/work with “homegrown” renewable energy sources such as rooftop solar arrays thereby making them 100% energy secure and practically free to drive. Read my last post about how I power my EV with solar and came to the conclusion that my EV (a 2012 Nissan Leaf) costs me one cent/mile to power and drive!

teslas

In other words – any electric vehicle used in this country – no matter it’s manufacturer – is charged by electricity produced from fuels primarily sourced within this country by hard working Americans. 

The same cannot be said of fossil fuel powered vehicles whose fuels of choice were – as of 2017 – around 19% sourced from foreign lands* at great cost to our country and our future. 

*Source: https://www.eia.gov/tools/faqs/faq.php?id=32&t=6

All that evidence suggests that driving a Tesla, or any EV  (factory, converted classic, or home built unit) powered by electrical energy sourced in the USA, would be a great act of patriotism that would only support the energy security/self-sufficiency goals of our country.  More on this here: https://cleantechnica.com/2017/05/31/national-security-bulldogs-electric-cars/

tesla-model-s-raffle

Meanwhile

The bullying bozos blatantly blocking Battery-Electric Vehicle charging stations and rolling coal on EV’s and innocent pedestrians with their garishly modified vehicular dinosaurs while attempting to make some sort of macho, tribal, hateful, nationalistic, political, and/or anti-environmental statement against “anti-American electric cars” – are powering their toy trucks on fuels that a percentage of has been procured in faraway lands with governments and policies often hostile toward our way of life.

crazyredneckinpickuptruck

Seems like someone did not do their research.

On top of all this madness – just keeping the fuel flowing into the tanks of their stinky little trucks (and all of our fossil fuel powered vehicles and systems for that matter) has required decades of war*. It has required the sacrifice and the deaths of tens of thousands of our brave and beloved children, brothers, fathers, mothers, and lovers who were often fighting to protect oil rights and resources to keep your (and my) fuel tanks topped off with petroleum-based fuels because, for the last 100 years there has been no other option – but that is about to change. 

*Sources: http://priceofoil.org/thepriceofoil/war-terror/ *https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_war *https://energypost.eu/twenty-first-century-energy-wars-oil-gas-fuelling-global-conflicts/

While I will always 100% support our brave servicemen and women in the military, and all of my friends and family members who are serving and have honorably served – and some who have paid the ultimate price – I am not at all OK with, and will never support sacrificing my loved ones and friends lives just to protect the flow of oil so I can think I am free when in fact I, and all of us, remain addicted to the fossil fuel machine.

IMHO – to be truly free one must be as self-sufficient as possible. If we are relying on imported energy sources while sacrificing our loved ones to acquire and protect that energy – we are not self-sufficient and we will never be truly free.

To be self-sufficient and truly free, our country needs to work toward the ultimate goal of sourcing all of our energy needs from our home soil.

Being self-sufficient also means to respect and care for that which gives you life. To me, this means using energy resources that do as little harm as possible to the very environment that provides all of us with all of our survival needs. To me, this means we need to focus on developing the amazing untapped potential of ALL available renewable energy sources and keep fossil fuels as a strategic reserve and a backup power source for the lean times. If the USA continues burning through almost 20 million barrels of petroleum per day not only will we quickly exhaust these finite fossil fuels and be forced to scramble to get renewable energy sources online and operational while millions suffer, but we will also speed up the destruction of our health and shared environment with fossil fuel pollution speeding up atmospheric pollution, planetary warming and weather weirding due to anthropogenic climate change.

Common sense and scientific evidence say that now is the time to start making a system-wide switch to renewable energy sources.

We need to move toward 100% renewable energy now.

We know what we need to do.

We have the technology.

We have science on our side.

But do we have the personal and political will power to do it?

Which future will we choose?

Sadly, to keep the costs at the pumps down so the fossil fuel addiction can continue to flow to consumers unabated, and to keep EV and domestically produced renewable energy adoption low – the fossil fuel supported powers and bribed politicians in government keep funneling our hard earned money into supporting the fossil fuel producers and pushers with massive subsidies to the tune of $20 billion annually*! The massively powerful and insanely wealthy fossil fuel machine, working with uncaring, bribed politicians and policymakers on both sides of the political fence, are funneling loads of money into organizations that work to manufacture loads of FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt – in the peer-reviewed scientific evidence presented to us by the vast majority of the planet’s climate and environmental scientists. Evidence that has collectively revealed that we humans are changing the climate, the natural processes, and the stability of our atmosphere – thereby bringing about anthropogenic climate change and the sixth mass extinction of life on planet earth – and we just let this happen. Why? What is wrong with us?

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*Source: https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/10/6/16428458/us-energy-coal-oil-subsidies   and http://priceofoil.org/2017/10/03/dirty-energy-dominance-us-subsidies/

Furthermore, the acquisition, shipment, refining, distribution, and use of petroleum-based fuels has resulted in countless oil, gas, and fuel leaks, spills and other accidents that have created massive impacts to our shared environmental life support system, loss of human life and wildlife, loss of health and livelihoods for countless people and families, oh and those nagging and worsening air pollution and climate change issues…just to keep the oil and gas flowing to feed the status quo so the cash can continue to flow into the bank accounts of the filthy mega-rich oil barons and corrupt politicians who are working together to enrichen themselves while destroying our shared futures.

All this madness trickles down and the lunatic fringe – in petroleum production, government, and those in their charging station bocking little toy trucks – who remain free to target and assault those of us working to make good and lasting changes in the world by adopting and promoting the following;

  • promoting and using “homegrown” renewable energy
  • promoting domestic energy security through the adoption of renewable energy resources
  • teaching preparedness and self-reliance through the scientific method
  • accepting science supported evidence and expert guided change
  • driving a much more energy secure, less polluting, lower maintenance, cheaper to drive, electric vehicle built in the USA and powered by American electrons.

Conclusion

The problem with the small number of fringe-dwelling, macho-driven, small-minded individuals that choose to intentionally block and vandalize charging stations, insult EV drivers for childish thoughtless “reasons,” (and roll coal) is that they do not think – they just act on their primal, fear-driven, toxically tribal emotions without any actual evidence or reason to back up their childish actions.

I could go on but I believe you now know what I think about this issue.

In closing – I have offered examples and explained
ad nauseum the many reasons why the thoughtless practice of intentionally ICEing/blocking/vandalizing Tesla and other EV charging stations is ill-advised. However – while I may have explained it, I cannot understand it for you.  That challenge is up to you and I hope you have the intellect and the common sense to do so…and to never intentionally block access to another person’s fuel source.

Knowledge is power.

Knowledge conquers fear.

Get some knowledge.

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

GREEN LEAF!

One of my oldest childhood dreams is now a reality – and more!

That dream was to one day drive an electric vehicle that was charged with electricity provided by the sun.

solarcarhouse

After originally dreaming up the idea in Mr. Jackson’s 6th grade science class way back in 1980*, then pondering, dreaming, and researching the idea for many decades until recently, with the convergence of technologies over the last few years,  and by working with great friends, nonprofit supporters, patrons and my amazing students – I have finally made that boyhood dream come true for me and, most importantly, for my students – who are the next generation.  Our children are the generation that will benefit the most from these coming of age technologies – technologies that they will soon come to see as normal and as every day as we kids of the last generation viewed the internal combustion engine, land-line telephone, film camera, CD, and MTV.  *Read all about my 6th-grade epiphany in this blog post I penned on my nonprofit blog.

Now, over 35 years later, I am finally daily driving an electrically driven vehicle whose battery is charged with locally grown electricity from the sun – and a good chunk of water and wind produced renewably generated electricity!  I use this renewable energy fueled electric vehicle for commuting to and from work, as an outreach vehicle for my nonprofit environmental education organization – Earthshine Nature Programs – and as a teaching tool in my middle and high school science classes where I work to demonstrate working models of the “new normal” of these now off-the-shelf technologies to the young minds who will lead us forward into a clean, renewable energy powered, and electrically driven future!

How did all this happen?

It all started in the late summer of 2012 when my wife and I purchased a slightly used 2012 Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle (EV).  I wrote all about that misadventure in this previous blog post.

wejustboughtaleaf

We quickly came to dearly love the little electric car, and for the first 4 years of EV ownership, we charged the vehicle using the local grid provided energy mix.  In 2017 this all changed when my classroom’s new 4.8 kW photovoltaic solar array went online.

Now I charge my EV almost every day with sunlight!

The data I have outlined below reveal that 48% of the power I used to charge EV’s drive battery over the period of this study came directly from solar produced, renewably generated, clean electricity produced by the 4.8 kWh photovoltaic solar array at my classroom/office where I charge on weekdays.

Read more about the construction of our student-built solar array.

Due to the logistics of driving an early, short range, EV – the other 52% of the power needed to get me around during the time of this study came from the local power grid’s energy mix.

That energy mix is not perfect but it could be much worse.  As of only about a decade or so ago it was provided by electricity generated primarily by burning coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels.  As it stands today our local energy mix is a blend of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, solar, nuclear, and wind (more or less in that order).

This 52% of my electric vehicle’s electron fuel originates from the local energy mix which I source from various 120 volt standard electrical outlets at my private residence and at the homes of friends, and the readily available Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)  – aka car chargers – network located all around my “home range.” (Home range = the area in which I spend the majority of my time.)

When on the road I always try my best to use EVSE that are in close association with, or not far from solar or other renewable energy power sources in the attempt to keep my car’s electric fuel as clean as possible.

But how does all this work you may ask?

First, let us look at the solar side of things.

It all starts with our nearest star – the sun.  Sunlight, which is made up of photons – that can take up to as long as one million years to be produced inside the sun – is produced by our nearest star then zip through space at the speed of light and around 8 minutes later strike my classroom’s photovoltaic solar array – that’s my classroom in the below photo taken by the ENP solar charged camera drone.

DCIM104GOPRO

The photons are then converted into direct current (DC) electricity by an almost magical process that takes place within in the blue semi-conducting solar cells contained within the 20 solar modules that currently* make up the array.  After the electricity is produced in the solar modules it travels (again at the speed of light) via wires to the SMA Sunny Boy inverter where it is modified from DC current into AC current and sent into the building’s power grid.  From the there it travels via more wiring to a Clipper Creek Level 2 EVSE.    *I say currently because we are now working on raising funds to complete Phase Two which will add 10 more solar modules to our classroom solar array powering the entire building and the EV with solar!  Learn more about how you can help us make this happen for our classroom and nonprofit on our Patreon page or on our GoFundMe page.

Read all about our very special EVSE – donated by Pine Shore Energy

From the EVSE the energy then travels along a cable into my 2012 Nissan Leaf and charges the car’s battery with clean, locally produced, renewable solar electricity.

ENPEVSE

No dirty, toxic, life-destroying fossil fuels needed for this configuration.

just

Sunshine + Science + EV + Willpower + Determination + Generosity +Hard Work = a Solar Driven Electric Vehicle!

sunflowersolargarden1

Renewable energy + EV’s are the “new normal” and they offer all of us freedom from the subscription to dependency that is fossil fuels.

Although I have been daily charging my 2012 Nissan Leaf in this manner since mid-July 2017, this report will only cover a 4-month time-frame between August and November of 2017. At the end of 1 year, I will recalculate and we will take a look at the changes.

I only live about a dozen miles from my classroom/office and during the week I always charge my Leaf at work. After work and on weekends I often travel around the area for work and play so I must occasionally plug my Leaf into a standard power outlet on my carport at home or use the many conveniently located community Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) public charging stations* that are powered by other local energy sources – and some of these energy sources are not as clean as our favorite neighborhood star.  For these logistical reasons, my Leaf is not entirely powered by the sun – at least not yet. *see map below and visit Plugshare to learn where there are EVSE near you.

The local charging station network as of the writing of this post.  The blue dot is approximately (but nowhere near exactly for security reasons) where I live.

plugmap

So, how do I know my Leaf is 48% solar powered?

To answer to that question I took a deep look at my “Leaf Log” – a charging status and usage journal that I have been keeping of my daily charging/driving activities since day one of EV ownership.

I compared my Leaf Log with the daily power production logs from my classroom’s SMA Sunny Boy Inverter and cross-referenced those with the power usage records from Duke Energy – my grid power provider.

The Data.

Time period covered: August 01- November 30, 2017.

Total solar array production to November 30th: 1.36 MWh

Average monthly solar production over the time period: 280.45 kWh

Average daily solar production over the time period: 9.34 kWh

Total number of times the Leaf was fully charged* using solar produced electricity over the time period: 65

*I only recorded data for days where solar production equaled or was greater than the kWh needed to fully charge my Leaf EV.

Total number of times the Leaf was charged at home over the time period: 47

Total number of times the Leaf was charged with local energy mix* over the time period: 53  *Our local energy mix includes a mix of Coal, Natural gas, Hydroelectric, Solar, Nuclear, and wind more or less in that order.  From:   https://www.eia.gov/electricity/monthly/#tabs_unit-1

energysourcesnew

Number of kWh from the cleanest solar produced electricity (my classroom solar array) over the time period: 535.19 kWh

Number of kWh from the local energy mix over the time period (home+other local EVSE): 687.3 kWh

Number of kWh sourced from Level 1 home charging: 357.3 kWh

Number of kWh from all other sources outside of solar/home: 330 kWh

Total kWh used by EV over time frame: 1222.49

Leafenergy17kWh

It is important to note that my home energy mix is supported by wind power carbon offsets through Arcadia Power.  This is significant because when I charge my Leaf at home, the energy used to charge its battery, while being physically generated by the local energy mix, has its carbon pollution offset by the construction and operation of wind farms which serve to lower my EV’s carbon footprint even more!

Number of kWh from wind energy offsets used to charge my Leaf at home over the time period = 357.3 kWh

Now let’s take a look at the local energy mix.

The total kWh sourced from the grid mix over the time period = 330 kWh.

Total kWh electricity sourced from EVSE in close proximity to renewably produced energy from home range grid mix over the time period = 97.3 kWh

Number of kWh from known renewable energy augmented EVSE stations*: 51.9 kWh * Solar BrightfieldTS EVSE at UNCA/Asheville Public Works BrightfieldTS solar EVSE/EarthFare BrightfieldTS EVSE/Sierra Nevada Brewery/WCU BrightfieldTS EVSE/Cherokee Welcome Center solar/wind EVSE

Total kWh used from charging the Leaf adjacent to the dirtiest EVSE* in our local energy grid over the time period = 27.2 kWh *Note: I refer to this as the dirtiest EVSE in the area as it is less than a mile from and within sight of the largest local fossil fuel-fired electricity power plant in the area – as you can see from this image.

 

energymixother17

FINAL ANALASYS 

Total energy used by EV over time period: 1,221.77 kWh 

1041.69 + 180.08 = 1221.77

Total kWh from known clean energy sources over the time period: 1,041.69 kWh 

535.19(classroom solar) + 51.9(RE EVSE) + 357.3(home wind offests) + 97.3 (near RE)  = 1041.69 kWh

Total kWh from fossil fuel generation sources:  180.8 kWh

153.6 + 27.2 (fossil fuels) = 180.8

 

leafenergypercents

CONCLUSIONS

My calculations suggest that, over the time period in question, the LEAF received 85.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources via either local sources or via carbon offsets.  The remaining 14.7% of its energy came from local fossil fuel-fired generation sources.

leaffinalenergy

So it seems that if my maths are correct (and please do correct me if you find an error) that my data and calculations suggest that during the time period in question my Leaf was 48% solar charged and 52% grid mix charged with 37.3% of that grid mix being sourced from renewable energy sources.

During the 48% of the time my Leaf was solar charging at my classroom – it was, in fact, receiving its electrons from the sun.

The other 52% of the time, while it is reasonable to deduce that my EV received 37.3% of its energy from renewable energy sources – it is more complicated to pinpoint the exact energy sources for my vehicles electron fuel.  This is due to the nature of nature, the nature of the electric grid, the loads on the grid at any given time, the nature of electrons, and my varied locations when charging.

Nonetheless, if the numbers and my calculations are accurate then it is reasonable to say that my little EV is truly a “green” Leaf and, for its specific situation and use – it is as clean as it can possibly be when compared to vehicles powered solely by internal combustion engines that receive all of their energy from carbon-based fossil fuel sources.  These results make me very happy by giving me the knowledge that I am doing as much as I am able to do to shrink my carbon footprint and I am working to share my findings with the next generation.

I am also fully and acutely aware that everything we do has an impact on our shared earth – from the manufacturing process of the vehicle, EVSE, solar array, and all the parts that tie it all together – these all have their own unique carbon footprints.  I am also fully aware that all grid-based energy supply networks – from the dirtiest coal or diesel-fired power plant to the cleanest hydro, wind or solar sourced renewable energy installation also have their own areas of inefficiency and loss that compounds to lower their carbon footprints – so no, there is no such thing as a 100% carbon-free human-made energy source and there will always be some losses in the manufacturing processes, in the power delivery along the way to you, and in the final use of that power by you, the user.  I am not here to debate those things nor am I hear to claim that I have all the answers.  What I am here to do is share with you the ways I have discovered that you can make use of to lower your personal carbon footprint by using renewable energy and electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf in your everyday lives.  Those other, larger issues – we common folk have little control over – but those issues will improve as our technology improves.  For those improvements to happen we need to vote strong scientific minds into offices of power and we need to vote with our money in support of renewable energy projects, electric vehicles and their support infrastructure, and better efficiency in our homes, schools and workplaces and maybe then, by working together, we can work to make our collective impacts on our fragile ecosystem as low as possible for the benefit of us all and for the benefit of everything moving forward.

MORE PONDERINGS

The 149.2 kWh of RE generated/augmented electricity sources used to charge my EV varied depending upon where I plugged into the grid, was it sunny, overcast, windy, what was the ambient temperature etc.  Although I am not 100% sure on any of the following I will take a stab at hazarding an educated guess.

Looking at the below map you will see two polygons.  These represent my daily home range and the electricity generation sources located therein.  I spend around 90% of my time within the area of the yellow polygon while the green polygon represents the extended home range that I visit around 10% of the time.  Note: the Duke Energy power plant located just north of center of my primary home range is listed on the map as a Natural Gas Power Plant – however, that listing is misleading as it is, in reality, a “Conventional Steam Coal; Natural Gas Fired Combustion Turbine with Net Summer Capacity by Energy Source: Coal = 378 MW, Natural Gas = 320 MW.” – so it is currently not as “clean” as it is reported.  The Oconee Nuclear power station, the closest one to my location, is just off the southern edge of the map to the left of Liberty, SC.

ncenergymap1

On the next map, we see all of the locations where I frequently charge my car and their locations in relation to the local power grid’s energy production sources.

homerangemap1

The L1 and L2 EVSE in the lower left of the yellow polygon are clustered around my home and office.  My home is located midway between the Duke energy coal/gas plant and a large clustering of hydroelectric power plants to the west.  At first glance it appears that around 50% of my home’s electricity may be provided from this renewably generated clean hydroelectricity – however, those hydroelectric generation stations are on a different circuit so I am therefore unable to take advantage of their much cleaner hydroelectricity.  Although my home circuit’s power grid is fed mostly by a mix of coal, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, and solar more or less in that order – however, when we take into account the renewable energy offsets I receive from Arcadia Power my home energy mix becomes MUCH cleaner!

When I am in the northern part of my most frequented home range I usually charge at solar assisted EVSE locations located in downtown Asheville at the BrightfieldTS solar assisted EVSE stations located on College St., on the campus of UNCA, at the Sierra Nevada Brewery, or at the Earthfare Grocery store in South Asheville.  These EVSE stations receive a large portion of their power from solar energy so, if an EV is charging during the day it is solar charged.  When an EV is not charging, these EVSE then feed clean solar produced electricity back into the power grid.  I can, therefore, hypothesize that when I charge at these locations (on sunny days) I am driving on sunshine and my car’s electron fuel is potentially as clean as when I solar charge at my classroom.

solarcharging714UNCA

Charging on sunshine on the campus of UNCA

When I drive out of my most frequented home range area and into my extended home range (the area within the green polygon) not only is the majority of the electricity in that area provided by clean hydroelectric generating stations, but on top of that,  whenever possible I charge at EVSE locations that are relatively close to hydroelectric, solar/wind* augmented generating stations.  It is interesting to note that the EVSE on the campus of  Western Carolina University is also fueled by a solar canopy as seen below.

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This EVSE is also very close to the nearby Electron Garden , a small campus solar farm seen in the following photo,  as well as being located “downstream” from several hydroelectric power generating facilities that produce close to 50 MW of clean hydro-generated electricity – so these facts suggest that this is indeed a very clean EVSE!22279717_10213086155961288_6919179988762042057_n-1.jpg

Another EVSE I use frequently is located at the Cherokee, NC welcome center in Cherokee, NC.  This EVSE is powered by a mix of hydroelectric, solar, and wind generated electricity.  The building (pictured below) is attached to a hydroelectrically energized power grid and it has two solar “trees” plus a small-scale wind turbine on site that generates even more clean energy from the sun and wind.

cherokee-visitor-s-center

This clean energy is then fed directly into the building’s grid and the three EVSE located in the parking area.  If an EV is charging then its batteries will be solar, wind, and water power charged.

EVsolarwind

My Leaf charging at the Cherokee Welcome Center.

On a few occasions, I am forced, due to my Leaf’s limited range, to charge at EVSE located very close to coal-fired generating facilities.  On these occasions, my car is fueled with clean electrons produced by dirty energy generation stations.  The good thing is that these occurrences are rare and totaled only 27.2 kWh of my total energy usage during the time period under study.

Follow Up

I have arrived at my conclusions based on data from my home range map, charging history data from the “Leaf Log,” and knowledge of the local electricity providers power generating facilities and their service areas.

Even with the gray areas in the numbers this 85.3% renewable energy provided fuel is far and above cleaner and more energy secure and has a significantly lower carbon footprint than anything out there on the roads that runs on any liquid petroleum fuel.

In fact, even if I did not have a solar generating station at my classroom/office, or use Arcadia Power for carbon offsets, or charge at renewable energy powered EVSE – my Leaf would still average around 73 mpg equivalent*.   This is due to our country’s grid mix continuing to get cleaner every day with the retirement of aging coal fired power plants and their replacement with cleaner natural gas and much cleaner renewable energy power stations! *From the Union of Concerned Scientists EV Emissions Calculator found here: http://www.ucsusa.org/clean-vehicles/electric-vehicles/ev-emissions-tool#z/28768/2012/Nissan/LEAF (24 kWh)

This data is based on the following chart of the US energy mix as of March 2017.

2014-map_blog_5.19-1024x749 Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

North Carolina’s Energy Mix

Now let’s look take a deeper look at my local energy mix.  The energy mix is just that – a mix of different energy sources all working together to provide us with reliable power for our homes, businesses, schools, and for a growing number of us – our electric transportation choices.

Traditionally, North Carolina was powered mostly by mostly coal but over the last couple of decades, we have seen a slow but steady growth in renewable power –  especially since 2010.  Since then NC has gone from near the back of the parade to #2 in the country for installed solar power!  Solar now provides NC residents with ~3.57% of our energy mix coming from the sun as well as over 3000 MWh of installed capacity – enough to power over 341,000 homes – and on top of that solar provides over 7,100 North Carolinians with great jobs and in the process, our energy mix just keeps getting cleaner!

Evidence of this can be seen in the below map image of NC’s current solar  (hydroelectric and nuclear) situation! (Note: yellow stars=grid scale solar power generation facilities, Blue=hydroelectric, purple=nuclear.)

solarhydronukeNCSC

This trend is happening all over the country as evidenced by this amazing graphic from this UCS article.

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As of May 2016, the USA had installed 1 million solar installations – including around 950,000 rooftop solar arrays! (Source: http://blog.ucsusa.org/mike-jacobs/one-million-solar-energy-systems-now-turned-on-in-us )

Many more solar and wind generating facilities are planned for the 2018 year as can be seen in the map below.

planned RE generating facilities 2018

It is wonderful to see the fall of dirty “King Coal” with no new coal-fired power stations going in and the rapid growth of renewable power generation nationwide.  What this means is cleaner air, cleaner water, and a cleaner future for all of us, for nature, for wildlife, for our children, and for the children of the future.

It also means that even when we charge our EV’s on only local grid power they will  ALWAYS be cleaner and have less of an impact on our environment than ANYTHING powered by petroleum products (source).  Furthermore, with more and more new grid scale and private renewable energy generation facilities going online, the grid just continues to get cleaner – so every time we charge our EV’s anywhere – the electrons fueling our vehicles also just continue to get cleaner.

This is a win-win situation for all of us…well, unless you are still driving around in an old fossil burner because, as we all know, their fuel source can never be made clean and on top of that as they age their efficiency drops as their multitudes of moving parts wear out with use only causing them to pollute more and more.

Below a wonderful sign of the times from the Sunday funny papers 🙂

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I almost forgot to mention that when I looked at how the numbers have changed when it comes to my fuel costs to push my Nissan Leaf EV down the road – the new solar array has lowered my costs by,  you guessed it, almost half of what I was paying in the past.  My previous costs of operation for my EV’s electric fuel were around $30/month and now, with my classroom solar array online and charging my car with sunshine, I can now drive my average 1200 miles/month for about $15 – that works out to a little more than 1 cent per mile to fuel my EV!!!

OUTRAGEOUS!!!

That my friends is the ultimate smackdown to petroleum-based fuels.

I could not be happier.

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!THANK YOU!

Thank you to everyone who worked with me to make this dream a reality!

You are all HEROES!

 

 

 

 

 

NEW VIDEO LOG

Check out my latest extended length video log (is VLog still a thing?).

Ride along with me on drive through the Blue Ridge mountains of Western North Carolina in my 2012 Nissan Leaf SL. This is a re-visit of the first long range excursion undertaken in my Nissan Leaf almost 4 years prior.

In this video I investigate how the car has changed as it has aged and how the EV charging infrastructure along the route has changed as well. I also find “Turtle Mode.”

Watch part one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36BlE…

I do not work for Nissan, I just love my Leaf and want to educate others that are interested in EV ownership about life with a 100% electric vehicle.

A big SHOUT OUT and THANK YOU to all my supporters on PATREON! and GoFundMe!

Music by Narayanaya used with permission.

Ads that appear below this line are not promoted or endorsed by ENP.

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Tesla Road Trip

Guest post by Bill Wilkens

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I took a Tesla Model S 90D road trip to New Jersey recently from North Carolina. As you can probably tell, I enjoy talking about it. I used Autopilot about 90% of the time. It worked well on Interstate, but can’t be trusted in construction zones, on secondary roads or anywhere there are not clearly visible lane markings on both sides of the road. Just like traditional cruise control, there is a time and place to use it — or not.

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Charging was not an issue. I just stopped at the Tesla Superchargers that were indicated by the on-board computer (two stops/day, four stops for the entire 750 mile trip to NJ). There were more superchargers along the way than needed so I even passed up a few. The biggest change was to my stomach. After a free breakfast one morning at my hotel, the car needed a 40 minute charge about an hour later. So I had another light breakfast while waiting. Next trip I can eliminate double eating by staying at a hotel with a “destination charger” so the car starts the day with a full charge or at a hotel that doesn’t offer free breakfast!

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While at my son’s home, we converted an unused 30A/240V dryer outlet to the outlet used by Tesla (identical to outlets installed for electric ranges). I used it to charge the Model S as a test even though there is a supercharger only 10 miles away. I set the Tesla to charge at 24 amps which is 80% of the 30 amp breaker on the circuit as recommended by the National Electrical Code.

The car is fun to drive. I gave my daughter-in-law, Sibel, and grand daughter, Isobel, their first ride in an electric car. When I “stepped on it”, Sibel let out a short scream and 5-year old Isobel said “do it again, grandpa!”

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The only strange car behavior was that the computer locked up once while driving. The car continued to drive normally, but I was without navigation and radio for a couple of minutes so I could have missed a turn if there had been one. The computer automatically rebooted itself and returned to normal. I plan to ask Tesla about that. Perhaps car computers need rebooting occasionally just like desktops. I also thought the A/C was a little weak compared to my old Acura, but that might just be a learning curve on the way I use the controls. Outside temperature was 90+ most of the time I was driving.

All in all, I really enjoy the car. The more I learn to use the features, the more I like it. I haven’t yet dared try Autopark and Summon. I don’t want to ding up the car prematurely!

Editor: When Bill finally gets around to testing out Autopark and Summon I hope he decides to write about it and post it here :-

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The biggest adjustment for me has been the the feel of the regenerative braking and the accelerator pedal. It feels a little like driving a golf cart. When you let up on the pedal, the car starts braking immediately, so you only have to use the brake to fully stop the car after it has already slowed to a crawl. After 3000 miles, it is finally beginning to feel “normal”. I suspect next time I rent a gas car, that car will feel strange.

The below photo of my Model S was taken at an SAE J1772 charger normally used by Leafs and Volts but which can also be used to charge a Tesla with a supplied adapter. It charges more slowly than a supercharger, but is a good backup if I ever need it. I was trying it out to make sure I knew how to use it.

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Editor: Just last night I had the privilege to meet with Bill and several other members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club at a planning meeting for the upcoming National Drive Electric Week EV car show we will be hosting in Asheville, NC. (Read more about it and sign up here).  At this meeting we all parked our EV’s around the recently installed BrightfieldTS solar EV charging station at Earthfare in south Asheville for some truly electrifying photos – take a look at this one with Bill’s Tesla front and center below!

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Thank you Bill for your exciting story of Tesla ownership!  I hope to join you one day with a Model 3 🙂

 

Ads that fall below this line are not supported or endorsed by Bluewater Leaf or the owner of this blog.

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The cost of driving an Electric Vehicle

Many critics of electric vehicles will tell you that owning an Electric Vehicle (EV) is very expensive.

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The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV w/200+ mile driving range.

The way I see the relationship of debt to owning a car – petroleum or electric powered – is, simply put:

Either one is a subscription to dependency

No matter the car, just the act of buying the thing means you will have to pay weekly, monthly and yearly “subscriptions” for the fuel, repairs, tax, insurance etc…just for the privilege of owning and driving the thing.

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To me the logical choice is to buy the one that fits your needs and is more, well…logical.

spock

When buying a vehicle I take a scientific approach and try to leave emotion out of the decision so as not to be swayed by peer pressure (from friends, coworkers and the myriad of flashy automotive ads that saturate the mass media) or manufactured conformity (buy this car to be cool, look good, or “fit in” to some imaginary status caste) or manufactured demand (you need this-you need that–because without it you will be nothing so buy,buy,buy!).

carsalesguy

Nor do I listen to annoying, obnoxious, car salespersons like this guy.  I listen more to owners who post their stories and experiences on automotive blogs such as this one 🙂 and then I do all of my own extensive research and crunch my own numbers before making a final decision based on my findings.

sherlock

So, in my rationale I could either;

Buy a gas powered car and pay the (higher) subscription fee for the gas, oil and tune-ups and resulting environmental damage cost caused by the cradle to grave environmental and human cost of the mining, shipment, refining, and distribution of those petroleum products that the vehicle requires to operate.

1970OldsVistaCruiser_01_700

A blast from the past a 1970 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser 

Also, when I drive a petroleum powered vehicle I am willingly but not happily forced to accept the sad but true fact that the actual end use of all petroleum based fuels requires much less time to actually burn the fuel to propel the vehicle down the road from point A to point B…than the entire complicated and precarious supply chain that has been constructed to bring that fuel to my car’s fuel tank.

OilSupplyChain

Source

In other words depending on the country of origin of the crude oil it can take weeks to months to explore, deal, mine, protect, trade, ship, refine, store, and transport the fuel to the station where I finally pump it into my tank and then burn it up in only a few days or even a few hours.  Then there is the sad facts that it takes 44 gallons of water and around 15 kilowatts of energy to mine, ship and refine just one gallon of gasoline–ONE GALLON!  That is about half of the amount of water I use in a day and that 15kw of electricity would push my Nissan Leaf EV about 50 miles down the road!  Now if you really want a shocker multiply the above numbers times how many gallons of gas your car holds and if that does not make you furious with the oil companies I do not know what will?  I did the math for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner and the results are shocking: the amount of water required to produce just one tank of gas is: 814 gallons!!!  The electricity needed: 277.5 kW!!!  WOW!  By my calculations that amount of water and electricity would supply my wife and I, our house and EV for over 2 weeks (with my car going an average of 200 miles/week)!! Now, figure that for a month…a year…or a decade…of petroleum powered vehicle ownership…it just makes me want to cry.

bpdeepwater The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon incident 

My rather long-winded but valid point here is that the amount of energy and waste required just to get us down the road in gasoline powered vehicles is just incredible!

There is also the huge cost in human damage, suffering, pain and death caused by the fact that the acquisition of a portion of those petroleum products come from powers and factions that may support terrorism with some of that money.  These powers and factions often become involved in wars that drag us into the melee because we are addicted to their product for which many of us cannot live without due to our societal dictated and manufactured purchasing choices so we are forced to fight in their wars in order to keep the oil flowing to feed our sickening dependency.

AddictedUncleSam

We are shamefully and totally hooked on oil.

Last but not least there is the environmental damage and degradation caused by the mining, shipping, refining and burning of petroleum (and all) fossil fuels.  We have been burning petroleum as our primary liquid fuel and coal as our primary solid fuel for a little over a century and in that very short time we have polluted our planet’s oh so very fragile atmosphere, oceans and wildlife with toxic compounds from oil spills and copious amounts of carbon dioxide–a naturally occurring and harmless gas when in “normal levels” but when in excessive levels it becomes a potent “greenhouse gas” with disastrous effects on life on earth.   It is true that CO2 has positive properties when in “normal levels.”   If you think back you learned of this in your high school biology class.  You will remember that it’s positive properties are;   1. It allows plants to grow and via photosynthesis create oxygen as a byproduct so animals like puppies and kittens, bunnies and whales, and you and me get to live.     2. Another one of its positive properties is that when it is in the form of atmospheric CO2 it traps heat like a blanket on a bed.  This heat trapping ability allows the atmosphere of the earth to stay warm enough for life to exist and that my dear reader is a good thing in every way.

earthmoonmillionmilesout

Source NASA

However, due to the continued and rapid burning of fossil fuels (petroleum, coal, and natural gas) what we are doing to the planet is so far above anything that could be ever considered “normal levels” that the planet’s ecosystems are unable to cope with the influx of high levels of carbon pollution and in turn it the climate has begun to heat up.  It is as if we are adding more blankets to our bed without thinking about how hot it is going to get and how hard it will be to remove the blankets.  This process has often been called “global warming” but a more accurate term that better describes the problem would be anthropogenic climate change.  This is climate change caused by things we humans do to the planet such as burning fossil fuels.  If you would like a good visual of how this works consider the following video by one of my heroes – Bill Nye “The Science Guy.”

It is time for a big change. 

Enter the Electric Vehicle

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A Tesla Model S

Or, on the other hand I could drive an EV and pay the much lower cost for the electricity subscription, support the hard working Americans that build the cars (in the case of Nissan, Chevy, Ford, Tesla, Apple, Faraday Future and more) mine the coal, install and maintain the solar arrays, wind turbines, hydro-electric and nuclear power plants that provide my car with power to move down the road. The simple fact is that the electricity supply chain is much shorter and more efficient than the petroleum supply chain. In the area where I live, the mountains of western North Carolina, the power used to fuel an EV (and a house) is produced locally by a combination of coal, gas, solar, wind and hydro power plants so is therefore MUCH cleaner than any petroleum product will ever be.  (Read the true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

KUWAIT. US soldiers and helicopters in front of burning oil fields. 1991.

The human cost of driving EV is also MUCH more positive in that foreign wars do not need to be fought over their fuel source–electricity–since it is produced domestically, locally and in some cases on your own property!  If you have the means to install solar panels or some other form of renewable energy on your property you could easily power your home and EV(s) with clean, unlimited, renewable energy for free (after the cost of the system).

That my friend is brilliant!

solarcharging714UNCA

Charging up my Leaf at a local solar-electric EV charging station on the campus of UNCA in Asheville, NC. 

The sad fact is that now, in many states such as Florida and in my home state of North Carolina, our state government is hell bent on destroying renewable energy development despite the fact that NC is near the top in the nation for new solar installations which, if allowed to continue to grow, our energy grid would continue to get cleaner with each renewable energy installation and in turn the carbon footprint of our homes and our EV’s would just get smaller.  There is absolutely no logical reason this kind of backward action should ever be allowed to happen yet our lawmakers and politicians seem to be simply backward thinking Luddites who fear anything new and fear positive change especially when it means good paying jobs, a cleaner environment, and equal rights for all people.  If we ever want to progress and if we ever want to break our addiction to fossil fuels we MUST get the fossil fuel fired old fossils out of office and replace them with science minded, educated, caring people who think toward the future and want to make good and lasting change happen for everyone.  That change will only happen if we do our research,  speak out, vote, and get active.

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The BMW i3 EV

Either way and whatever car I choose to drive I will always have to pay the subscription to dependency to drive and power the thing…however, I choose the EV because it has a much lower subscription cost* and a much smaller environmental, human and future impact cost and that is as important to me as is the money. *I drive an average of 200 miles/week and my Nissan Leaf EV costs me only about $7-10/week in electricity!!

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However, something else to consider is that the EV may initially cost a bit more than the gas car so therefore I may need to finance the EV and go into debt. Yuck…yet another subscription to dependency. However, by buying the EV I would, from day one, have more money in my pocket since I have no gas, oil or maintenance costs typically associated with gas powered vehicles (especially used cars) so…all that money that I would have pumped into the gas tank and crankcase and then burned up and spewed into our shared atmosphere (to the determent of my loved ones, wildlife, the earth and future generations) can now be used to pay off the car loan 🙂

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In conclusion; my sleuthing, science and number crunching all allow me to come to the conclusion that I would rather pay for the financing on the EV than drive a lower initial cost yet high operational, high environmental cost, petroleum powered car…but that is my logic, and everyone’s logic is colored and molded by their knowledge, research and experiences so you can take it with a grain of salt if you wish.

eNV200

The Nissan eNV200 100% electric small van.

The Roadblocks

Do not believe the fossil fuel fed naysayers who have spent millions on manufactured lies, false advertising through mainstream media outlets and propaganda campaigns (online and on TV) that try to say electric vehicles are dirtier to operate than their petroleum powered counterparts–none of these stories are true.

kochdenial

The oil soaked Koch brothers are some of the worst EV bashers who are spending millions in the attempt to make EV’s and renewable energy look bad.  We must do all in our power to end their assault of outright lies against science.  

Even in the dirtiest states with the blackest, coal fired grids, an EV powered by 100% coal produced electricity (which is rare now with all the new wind and solar farms going online all the time) is still much cleaner than any gasoline powered vehicle ever will be (especially Volkswagen’s “clean diesels” or any diesel for that matter) and, because the electricity it uses to push it down the road is generated domestically by Americans – it supports American jobs and does not support foreign wars and terrorism…and that is a really good thing.  Furthermore, there are those who will say “what happens to the battery when it reaches the end of its life? It must be toxic waste and more dangerous than the emissions generated over the life of a gas powered car?!?!  Answer,  this is simply more lies and fabrications designed by those who want to keep you addicted to petroleum fuels.  The truth is that the lithium-ion batteries that drive an EV are 100% recyclable.  Before they are recycled they are often used as back up power supplies for computer data centers and soon even houses just like a back up generator.   (Learn more true facts about EV’s here: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2016/01/05/just-the-facts/ )

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The 215 mile range Tesla Model 3 will be hitting the roads very soon!

The future

With Chevrolet and Tesla soon to be releasing new EV’s with a 200+ mile driving range, and Nissan releasing their plans to release a redesigned Leaf with 200+ mile range but they have not revealed the release date, (and hopefully they will also release a 200 mile range small van that would be a game-changer!  Check out the story I wrote about it here on this blog: https://bluewaterleaf.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/the-env200-nissan-electric-van-where-and-when-is-it-for-the-usa-market/ ) all with prices in the $30-35k range (before the $7500 government tax incentive) Soon, the issue of “range anxiety” is going to be a thing of the past and we will all have no logical excuse to keep driving our dirty old gas guzzlers.  16volt

The 2016 Chevrolet Volt

I truly believe the day is coming very soon when kids will look to their parents and say “Mom, dad – why are you driving that dirty old gas guzzler when you could save so much money, have a great car, and protect my health and future by driving an EV?”  and ” I want my first car to be all electric!” ( I already hear that from students in my middle and high school science classes all the time 🙂  Then there’s this very encouraging article from England:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

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The Nissan IDS concept…is this the new Leaf or something more!?

Soon, I believe within 3-5 years, the choice will be ours to go electric and support a clean, healthy war-free future for us all or…digress and remain in the past while denying the science and refusing to accept the inevitable truth that driving EV is just a better and more economical way to drive for everyone, for the planet and for the future.

What path will you choose?

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

 

Just the Brakes

 

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In the fall of 2015 I noticed the Leaf’s brakes acting unusual at low speeds.  As I was slowing down at speeds below 30 mph the brakes would grab and slow the car in an inconsistent manner.  It was as if there was a sticky substance on the brake rotors causing them to grab intermittently and very briefly, slowing the rotation of the brake rotors making for an uncomfortable ride.  This problem came and went at random- the only factors that were consistent were;

it always happened at speeds below 30 mph

it was more frequent in cold or wet weather

it was always random

When the issue first started I promptly called Jennifer in the service department of Anderson Nissan in Asheville, NC where I regularly have my car serviced, to get the issue investigated…unfortunately, she informed me that the service department was closed for a day or so while they were having their floors resurfaced so my only option was to take the Leaf to the Hunter Nissan service department in nearby Hendersonville, NC for the check up.  Upon arrival at Hunter I dropped my Leaf off in the service department and browsed the lot while I waited for a report.

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My Leaf at Hunter waiting to be checked out…it is very dirty due to the constant rains associated with the powerful 2015-16 ElNino

Soon, I found myself checking out the details of an NV200 small cargo van and shortly thereafter a wonderful sales associate ( I wish I could remember his name) introduced himself and we were off taking a test drive in the NV200.

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The test drive and conversation with the salesman was wonderful but obviously I had no intention on buying an NV200 because it is powered by the wrong fuel for my needs…gasoline.

12190057_10207024051892475_5148828535035350589_n The reason I test drove it was to try to get an idea what the electric version of this small van might be like to drive.   Th electric version is the eNV200 and it is powered by the very same battery-electric drive-train found in the Leaf.  My test drive was wonderful, with the NV200 driving surprisingly well for a small van…it really felt like I was driving a car.  However, I do not believe it is a good comparison with the eNV200 because truthfully, from my point of view as an EV owner – it was noisy, vibrated, and smelled a bit odd.  Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking down the NV200 at all, it is a very capable vehicle and all those things I mentioned are status quo for gas powered vehicles.  In my defense I suppose I am a bit more sensitive to these things because I have been driving electric almost every day now for 2.5 years so I guess you could say I’m a bit biased since my conversion to the wonderful all electric Nissan Leaf.  In fact, thanks to Nissan who is leading the way in the world of electric vehicles, I’m a total convert to driving electric.  So much so in fact that I will eventually divest from gasoline totally and the path to make that happen for me is the eNV200.  If Nissan ever decides to bring it to the USA I will be the first to own one and will use it as the company vehicle in my nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation and conservation and renewable energy education organization Earthshine Nature Programs.  I’m sure the eNV200 is an even capable vehicle than the NV200 due to its lower center of gravity, higher low end torque, virtually silent drive-train, and much lower operating costs.

eNV200

Sadly however, the game changing all electric version of this wonderful small van is currently only available in Europe and Japan and there is no word from Nissan when or if they have plans to bring it to the USA.

I feel so passionate about this vehicle becoming a reality in the USA that I recently authored a blog post on this amazing van and how I believe Nissan should get to work on bringing it to the USA as soon as possible.  In my opinion, if they do not, they are missing out on a really great opportunity found in the thousands of large and small business owners, Uber, Lyft and taxi drivers that would jump at the chance to lower their overhead, make a difference, and drive clean, green, EV vans on their daily routes in cities, towns, and in the countryside of the USA.

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Maybe one day soon, Nissan will decide to bring the eNV200 to the USA and offer it for sale alongside the best selling EV on the planet –

the 100% electric, zero emission Nissan Leaf.

Until that time I will continue to drive my Leaf and love every gas free mile.

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Charging up at a BrightfieldTS solar charging station in Asheville, NC. 

After the test drive I had a nice chat with some of the Nissan employees about the eNV200, Leaf, IDS concept and the future of EV’s in general.

Then I received the message that my car was ready and I was told that they could not duplicate the problem…interesting?

I knew the problem was there because I had experienced it but Nissan’s own service technicians could not find any issues…and apparently their diagnostics did not reveal any issues either…reminds me of when you finally get in to see the doctor…and the symptoms are gone.  Murphy’s law.

I drove off the lot a bit frustrated with the situation but since there was nothing I could do about it I went on with my day.

A few weeks later I found myself in Asheville, NC pulling up to a CHAdeMO DCQC to grab a charge when out of the blue the car exhibited the odd braking symptoms again!  This time I was ready for it and had installed a LeafSpy Pro app on my smartphone coupled with a Konnwei KW902 OBDII Bluetooth adapter (read more about it on the Electric Vehicle Wiki.) This device allows me to monitor the Leaf’s systems at a glance and, at the push of a button, scan all of the car’s systems for error codes (see below photo for an example of how LeafSpy Pro reads Diagnostic Trouble Codes. Note, these codes are not from my car, I found this photo on the LeafSpyPro app page in the Google Play Store.)

spy2

As soon as the Leaf’s brakes started acting up I rolled to a stop and hit the Leaf Spy only to discover all systems were green and operating perfectly – save for the BCM that was throwing out an error code.  I promptly called Anderson Nissan and informed Jennifer of the issue.  She said that I should get the Leaf to her ASAP.  I agreed with her because as I see it – if there is a both a physically detectable and technologically documented problem in the braking system of you car, putting things off is never a safe option.

I was only about 5 miles from Anderson Nissan so off I went and soon I was rolling through the big bay doors and onto the beautiful, newly finished service room floor.  Jennifer was there to greet me and after she gathered the required information she informed me that the 3 year/36k mile basic warranty on the car had expired within the last few days and that the braking system was no longer covered by the warranty…bummer.

She said however that since I had documented the problem almost two months before and had been a loyal customer of the Anderson Nissan Service Department since I had purchased the Leaf, that she would contact corporate and see about getting the part covered in “good faith” but the only catch was that it may take several days to get an answer from Nissan HQ.  I had no issues with waiting because Jennifer and team quickly had me a loaner car – the pretty, new Nissan Altima in the photo below.

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I drove off leaving the Leaf behind thinking I would see it again in a few days…but that was not the case because Mr. Murphy is always ready and waiting to pull out his law and make life a bit more complicated for us all.

A few days later I spoke with Jennifer and learned that Nissan had agreed to cover the cost of the brake master cylinder and booster assembly as well as the Intelligent Brake Control Module (IBCM) under a good faith agreement.  The only cost to me was going to be for the use of the loaner car that had now become a rental.  This was great news to me especially when I found out the cost of the OEM components would have been $2000!!  Ouch!!

THANK YOU NISSAN and THANK YOU JENNIFER!!  

Later, I did some quick research online and found a used OEM unit for $265 which I would have opted for had Nissan not been able to cover the parts under warranty.  I’m a teacher and do it yourself mechanic and would find covering a $2000 repair bill out of the question unless there was absolutely no other way.  Luckily, that was not needed as Nissan agreed to cover the parts…whew!  I am very glad I did not need to install used parts in my Leaf just yet because the car is still covered under its 5yr/60k mile power-train and 96 month/100k mile drive battery warranty so during that time I do not want to use anything but new OEM parts if possible for fear of voiding any part of the warranty.  I may be overly cautious with this but I feel it is better to err on the side of caution in these matters.

Jennifer then said that the parts needed to fix Elektra were not going to be in for several more days. I was fine with this as I had the now rental car but the issue was that I needed to go out of town on important family business and had no other option but drive the Altima.  She said I could take the rental car out of town so on the road I went…WOW!  Nissan and Jennifer are even more AWESOME!!

A week later I returned from my out of town trip, borrowed a car and, and returned the Altima – which by the way gets amazing fuel economy – it averaged around 40 mpg for the entire time I had it!  When I dropped off the Altima I learned from Jennifer that the parts were in transit and should be installed by the end of the week.  At the same time I snapped this pic of Elektra looking lonely in a parking lot full of gas powered cars.

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A few days later I spoke with Jennifer again and she said the parts were going to be installed on Saturday!  Woo Hoo!! Below is a pictorial timeline of the removal of Elektra’s faulty braking system components and the installation of the new parts.

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In the middle of surgery to remove the defective parts

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The defective parts removed. Note the hole in the top center looking into the cabin of the car.  This is where the brake master cylinder/booster assembly bolts to the bulkhead. 

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The defective components 

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The shiny new components

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The surgery is complete!

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On the road again! (Yes, the little Nissan Leaf is surprisingly agile in the snow!)  

A huge thank you NissanHQ, Anderson Nissan, Jennifer, Marlon, the Leaf technician that performed the “surgery,” and the other players behind the scenes that all worked together to get my Leaf back on the road as painlessly and as fast as possible and for helping me make this blog posting happen for all those out there that are interested in learning about driving the all electric Nissan Leaf (and hopefully one day soon, the eNV200 van!)

20160118_175001   Awesome, friendly, service from Jennifer, Marlon and crew!

Very well done!

(…they even washed it and fully charged it!!!)

Until next time…

“Plug into the future!”

Blue water leaf is not affiliated or responsible for any ads that may appear below this line.

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A Nissan Leaf Misadventure

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Part One: Setting the Stage

In mid November 2015 I was faced with a situation.

I had the opportunity to attend a science education workshop at the SciWorks science museum north of Winston Salem, NC almost 200 miles from my home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina.

This workshop was important to me for not only the knowledge I would gain but also in the hours that I could use to further the completion of my North Carolina Environmental Educator’s Certification.

The only issue was that my wife was out of town with our long range ICE powered vehicle so I was forced to make a decision – miss the class or drive the Leaf on the almost 400 mile round trip.

It was an easy decision – I like a challenge so I decided to drive the Leaf.

But first I would need to do some research to be sure that I would be able to make the trip without much difficulty.

Factor One – The Route

After comparing the charging station map on Plugshare.com with the distance and elevation maps on mapmyride.com I came up with this map…

winstonEVadventureElevations

Green = Level 1&2 EVSE and Orange=level 3 EVSE 

As you can see there would be no issues getting from Brevard to Black Mountain – I have done it many times when I have attended the Leaf Festival (it has nothing to do with the Nissan Leaf).  However, between Black Mountain and Hickory there is not a single EV charging station to be found so I dubbed this section of the route – “The Wasteland.”  I felt almost positive that I could make the crossing of this stretch of highway without any issues and then continue on to my destination.  My resolve to attempt this run was strengthened after my friend and fellow Leaf owner Rudy completed this same route in his Nissan Leaf a few weeks prior.  In fact, Rudy’s adventure took him much further than I was going to go – all the way to Chapel Hill – so his accomplishment gave me inspiration to tackle the shorter drive to Winston Salem.

What I failed to factor into my calculations was that “Murphy’s Law” always has a way of throwing unforeseen factors into the mix that often result in undesirable outcomes of which you will read all about in the play-by-play I have outlined for you below…

Factor Number Two – The Car

I drive a 2012 Nissan Leaf SL.  It measures available range only in mileage, not in percent of charge remaining as all newer Leaf’s so nicely do. Many owners of this, and earlier model Leaf’s, refer to the estimated mileage range meter as the Guess-O-Meter or GOM which calculates potential range remaining based on many constantly changing factors such as speed, elevation, temperature, accessories being used, and more.

I routinely drive my Leaf in ECO mode in order to conserve as much power as possible so all mileage reports in this document will be for ECO mode unless otherwise noted.

My Leaf has 31k miles on the odometer and it has recently lost its first battery capacity bar.

Factor Three – The Driver

Remember Melville’s story about the white whale…well, in the past I have often looked at driving long distances in my leaf as sort of my “white whale” so to speak.  In all other instances I have defeated my whale and always made it to my chosen destination and back using meticulous research, planning, knowledge, driving skills, and a bit of luck I suppose…and fortunately without the undesirable consequences Captain Ahab encountered fighting his whale.  On this trip however, due to errors of miscalculation on my part – the whale almost wins.

The Drive

Day one 11/13/15

Home. 8:30 am. o miles driven. I left home with  a full charge and  77 miles on the GOM.

Mills River. 9:00 am.  I stopped for a car wash to remove the dirt and grime built up from the last week and a half of constant rains.  Not only would the car look nice for the trip but the clean, shiny, paint would hopefully help the car slip through the air a little bit better thereby lowering my drag coefficient resulting in a bit better energy economy…that was my theory anyway.

Asheville. 10:20 am.   26 miles driven,  41 miles remaining on GOM. I made it to my first charging location of the DCQC CHAdeMO unit on the campus of Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College where I plugged into the massive Eaton Level 3 charging unit and filled up the Leaf up to 80% and 82 miles of range on the GOM before heading out to Black Mountain.

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DCQC View

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Leaf View

Black Mountain.  12:37 am.   17 miles driven, 44 miles remaining on GOM. At this point I was farther east that I had ever been in my little electric car.  I plugged into the Level 2 GE Watt station and waked about a block into the middle of the quaint little mountain town and found a bar and grille style restaurant called the Ale House where I had a great lunch.  After lunch I headed back to a fully charged Leaf with 72 miles of range so I pointed the car to the east.

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The only way to get out of the mountains from Black Mountain,  without undue difficulty and copious amounts of time, is to take interstate 40 east over the eastern edge of the Blue Ridge escarpment –  a massive wall of a mountain that drops from around 2800 feet above sea level to around  1400  feet in just  a few miles.

2:00pm. After leaving Black Mountain with a full charge and getting on interstate 40 I headed up to the gap in the ridge where I found that had only 54 miles of range remaining due to the high speed climb up from Black Mountain.  54 miles of range was nowhere near enough to cross “The Wasteland” – that close to 70 mile gap from Black Mountain to Hickory where not a single EV charging station can be found… but I threw caution to the four winds, trusted the science and the car’s technology and my “hyper-mileing” skills…and down I plunged off the edge of the mountains and into the foothills bound for the Piedmont. Then, after dropping over the escarpment – gravity, mass, and momentum coupled with the ingenious science of the regenerative breaking system in the little EV worked together to totally top off the car’s battery upon reaching the bottom!! Wow! The Leaf’s regenerative breaking system had filled the battery all the way back up to full even though the cruise control was set to 60 mph for the entire run down the escarpment–amazing!  I then set my sights on Hickory in the distance, set the cruise to 65mph,  turned up the stereo, and off I went.

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Hickory.   3:58pm.    63 miles driven,  3 miles remaining on GOM!!  WOO HOO!!  I made it across the wasteland without stopping!!! I rolled into Hickory with only 3 miles of range remaining on the Leaf—now that was close, the lowest I have ever drawn down the Leaf….but I made it across “The Wasteland” at 65 mph!

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Now I’m sitting here at Crossroads Nissan plugged into their CHAdeMO quick charger and will be getting back on the road soon to Statesville. I love my car!!

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Statesville.  4:58pm.   35  miles driven.  25 miles remaining on GOM!! Made it with no issues. Going to go find food while Elektra suckles the grid from the Level 2 charger at Classic Nissan.  Wandered inside to talk to the friendly sales staff and drool over the NV200 delivery van (hopefully soon to be sold in the USA as the eNV200 fully electric small van of which I will one day have for my nonprofit company’s education outreach and wildlife rescue vehicle–read all about it in one of my recent postings.)

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Statesville. 7:15pm.  Still in Statesville…walked a few blocks down the street for some carnitas and chorizo tacos…car still charging…slowly…seems like this L2 is a bit under-powered…

After an 8:00 departure with around 60 miles available range I headed east on I-40 bound for SciWorks science museum north of Winston Salem where I planned to camp for the night.

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West Winston-Salem.  9:00pm.  46 miles driven.   12 miles remaining on GOM!!  Made it as far as a Microtel…only about 12 miles short of my destination…just too tired to keep going…been a long day and the Leaf was down to 12 miles of range…and it was dark…and the territory was unfamiliar…so I didn’t want to try to push the envelope like I did earlier crossing the “Wasteland” so I found a hotel on Plugshare where a user stated that they had successfully charged via a 110 outlet on the back of the building…so I booked a room and plugged into the outlet for the night. All in all it has been a successful but long day. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

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My outlet for the night…I hope nobody unplugs the Leaf!

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Day 2

8:29 am.  Had a decent nights rest at the Microtel and the Leaf charged at L1 for the entire night but only made it to around 75% charge. No problem however since my destination for this morning is the CHAdeMO DCQC at Modern Nissan just a few miles north of the city.

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North Winston-Salem.  7:20am.    12 miles driven.   37 miles remaining on GOM!! The drive to Modern Nissan was short and uneventful. I decided to feed the car first but had to squeeze my Leaf into the space that was partially ICE’d (blocked by a gas powered vehicle).

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It is charging now so I have some time to ponder the insanity of my surroundings – several older Nissan gas powered vehicles sit in various stages of repair from decades old to shiny new…almost all of them ICE powered… here I sit, charging my all electric intergalactic spacepod of light and wonder (not to be confused with the Intergalactic Spaceboat of Light and Wonder) from yet another technological wonder, the charger…that is unflatteringly installed on top of several wooden pallets and hidden in a remote corner as if they really couldn’t care any less. The people running this establishment and reading these words may not see as I do but as far as I am concerned, the future of passenger transportation is, no, must be the fully electric car powered by renewably generated electricity. There is no other way to get us out of this fossil fired mess we are in.  If I was Nissan I would have the DCQC installed prominently out in front of their facility for all to see and would be promoting their EV’s with more gusto….then again, there is the 2nd generation Leaf, the eNV200, and this to look forward to.
Meanwhile, the maintenance staff that has just arrived seems to not share my views as they were all driving large, noisy, modified ICE vehicles that looked like they either had just driven off the set of one of those childish fossil fired Fast and Furious movies or were built to survive an apocalyptic  zombie hoard…the one sad thing they all had in common was the huge and loud exhaust pipes. Do they even have any clue about the brilliance of driving electric? I doubt it.

8:15am Even with the range limitations I still love my car….it just finished charging so time for me to go get some fuel for myself now…off to the Waffle House.

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Sci-Works. 8:59am.  3 miles driven. After a great Waffle House breakfast I made it to my destination of SCI-WORKS with 66 miles remaining on the GOM.

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Modern Nissan. 5:04pm. After a great day of science education I departed SciWorks and headed back to Modern Nissan to top off the battery before   heading west to Hickory where I will flop at my sister’s place for the night!

Salisbury.  6:57pm.   41 miles driven.   15 miles remaining on GOM!!  I decided to detour to the newly installed Greenlots DCQC in Salisbury for a quick charge while I forage for sustenance on main street… salisbury11.15.15

8:52pm.  While the Leaf was fast charging I wandered down a nearby alley to main street, turned left, and found a great Italian restaurant where I had a wonderful vegetarian calzone before getting underway once again.

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Statesville. 9:50pm.  25miles driven,  31 miles remaining on GOM!!  I made the short run to Statesville where I was not planning to stop but once I hit the city limits and saw the 30 miles of range remaining on the GOM I felt that it was prudent to grab a short charge before pushing on to my sisters place in the backwoods north of Hickory.

Naptime…

10:15pm. The L2 has brought the estimated range up to 60 miles.  Time to set out on the 41 mile trek to my sisters home north of Hickory.  It will all be secondary roads so the drive should be easy and uneventful…

11:00 pm. My sister’s house somewhere north of Hickory.  41 miles driven, 6 miles remaining on GOM!!!  Made it to my sister’s house around 11pm…with 6 miles of range remaining!!  Good thing I decided to charge in Statesville!  During the charge and subsequent non stop 60 mph 41 mile drive in the country, the temperatures bottomed out around 28f so it is possible that temperature+speed+headlight use+hilly terrain may have been the combined factors that drained the leaf’s battery so fast on this leg of the journey…but I did make it.

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I pulled out the extension cord and plugged into a 110v outlet beside the porch and quickly fell asleep on the couch…

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The next morning

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Day three.

9am. This morning the sun cracked over a frosty morning with temps around 25F and a Leaf charged up only to around 65%. I set out on the 14 mile run to the CHAdeMO unit at the Hickory Nissan dealership that I visited on Friday…

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Hickory Nissan dealership.   9:45am.  14 miles driven.   35  miles remaining on GOM!  At the dealership now charging up as much as possible and planning my route back across “The Wasteland” and then up, up, up the escarpment to my mountain home.

Truthfully, I’m more worried about this leg than any other part of the journey due to the cold temps last night and gradual elevation gain possibly forcing me to stop and trickle charge somewhere in “The “Wasteland”…only time will tell.

10:15am – This quick charge seems to be slower than usual…must be the cold…

Marion. 12:30 pm.   45 miles driven.    7 miles remaining on GOM!

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I rolled into Marion around 12:30 pm…with only 7 miles of range remaining! I feared this might happen and here I am – that damn Murphy again.  After driving around looking for an outlet and not having much luck and then being turned down by two different small business owners-despite offering to pay them for the electricity – I finally found a place to trickle charge–at the Smokey Que BBQ restaurant.  I plugged in and let my car trickle charge while I filled up on a nice lunch of grilled catfish and veggies.

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As I ate I calculated just how long it would take to charge the car enough to make the climb up the steep escarpment. At level 1 trickle charge, since there are no L2 charging stations in “The Wasteland,” the remaining distance to the L2 charger in Black Mountain was only about 18 miles away but I needed to factor in not only the distance but the elevation gain up the escarpment and increased speed of interstate driving, so by my rough calculations I would need around a 75% charge to safely get me there with some juice to spare…and to do that in my current charging situation (or lack thereof) I would need to wait for the car to charge for about 8 hours…!

CRIKEY!!

I thought about all of my options and there were only two.

Option 1. Wait for 8 hours then drive to Black Mountain, charge at L2 for about an hour, then make for the DCQC at AB and charge up to 80% and then head home – this option would take me the most time putting me home at probably 1am…but it would also allow me to do the entire trip on electricity so I would have again killed the “white whale” and have some really awesome bragging rights 🙂

or

Option 2. I could forget my pride and let the whale win for once.  Nissan offers, with all EV purchases (at least for now), the option of calling roadside assistance for a tow in the event an EV owner cannot make it to their destination due to either running out of a charge or a lack of charging station infrastructure…my current situation definitely qualified as lack of charging station infrastructure and would have been both had I continued without plugging into the restaurant.  I decided to make the decision that I never thought I would need to make – I called Nissan’s roadside assistance and asked for a lift.  The operator was very helpful and professional and soon the driver called me back and said it would take him 2 hours before he could get to my location so I pulled out my new Bill Nye book and read a few chapters while I waited.

After reading for awhile I took a walk and soon found myself chatting with the restaurant’s owner who seemed very open and interested in the possibility of installing a Level 2 charging station at his business.  If he did so he would not only put his business and town on the navigation systems of every EV in the region but he would also remove “The Wasteland” from the maps and make the drive to the “High country” that much more open to electric vehicles.  My challenge to all local EV drivers that are reading this – please, if you ever find yourselves in Marion, make it a point to stop by the Smokey Que BBQ and let the manager know how much an electric vehicle charging station would open up his business and his town to the future–and maybe he will see fit to be the first to do so.

About 1.5 hours later I decided I had enough juice to make the 12 mile drive to Old Fort where it would be easier to meet the tow closer to the interstate so I called the driver to let him know I was moving a few miles up the road.

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He soon met me in Old Fort and I snapped this pic of the Leaf being loaded onto the flatbed with Black Mountain looming overhead in the background.  At first I regretted having to make the call but later decided that it was a a good test of Nissan’s roadside assistance and I soon discovered that Nissan’s service was smooth, seamless and well orchestrated and if you are an EV owner it is there to help you should you ever need it.  Well done Nissan!  However, with proper planning you should never need to call for a tow.

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The view from the cab of the flatbed as we made our way up the escarpment…

While Nissan’s roadside assistance for EV owners is a complimentary service and my piggyback ride up the mountain was 100 free of cost to me –it was not free of fossil fuel due to the rollback being diesel powered.  So this one heavy hauler diesel fired trip most likely negated most if not all the electric driving I had done over the last three days – what a total let down 😦  

Live an learn.

The driver soon dropped us off at the AB Technical Community College’s DCQC – the first and last charging stop of the trip.  I plugged in and charged up to 80% in 22 minuets and headed home.

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Home.  8:15pm. Finally, back at the old home place after an epic 427 mile EV driving and charging adventure that I do not want to repeat anytime soon.

FINAL NOTES

-I only spent $6 on electricity for this entire 427 mile round trip while driving the Leaf.  Try that in a gas/diesel vehicle.  Had I completed the entire trip without the help from the tow the trip would have been closer to 450 miles…but that is water under the bridge.

-Most of the greenhouse gasses saved by driving the Leaf on this journey were most likely negated by calling for the diesel powered ride up the mountain.

-Detailed trip planning is very important.

-The 2012 Leaf is a wonderful machine in almost every way but it is just not a long-range-at-highway-speeds vehicle.  However, if you have access to EVSE charging infrastructure including DC quick chargers spaced about every 50 miles…then it would be doable…although a bit more time consuming.

-Level 1 “trickle” charging is unbelievably, painfully, SLOW!  Do it at night while you are sleeping or while you are working.

-Electric cars will often force you to slow down and stop and smell the roses, taste the food, drink the ale, and generally enjoy life a little bit more.  This can be very good for business in towns that have charging infrastructure located at or near local businesses.

-Some see an adventure like this as just that–a grand, forward thinking adventure–even with the anxiety that is often inherent with new technologies.  Others see it as an impractical waste of time or a massive hindrance–I would be in the former.

-EV battery technology needs to be drastically improved so that EV’s can regularly go over 200 miles on one charge.

-From my experience on this and other long range EV adventures in my Nissan Leaf, as far as I am concerned – even with their limitations (and there are not many) – battery electric EV’s are going to play a major role in the future of automotive transportation.

When will plug in battery electric vehicles begin to dominate the roads?  I believe it will happen when all of the factors listed below fall into place;

Battery technology develops to increase range to around 200-300miles/charge.

Charging stations get fast enough to charge an EV to 80% in 10 minuets.

Fast charging infrastructure is more widely developed to fill in the gaps on the maps.

A wider variety of makes and models of BEV’s are offered that appeal to a wider range of buyers.  This should include passenger cars, pick-up trucks, delivery vans, motorcycles and luxury super-cars.

More people take a ride in or drive an EV and experience the freedom and joy of driving electric.

From all the hype it looks like 2018 may be the year of the EV if all of the rumors hold true.  I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

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In the meantime – watch out for white whales.

 

Chapel Hill and Back Without a Drop of Gas. By Guest blogger Rudy Singh

“Chapel Hill and back without a drop of gas,” I exclaimed, walking through the door, after traveling from Asheville to Chapel Hill in the electric vehicle.   With a “range” of only 85 miles, traversing 500 miles in two days was a significant good achievement.   Gone were the days of “range anxiety” as I had mapped out the trip to the last mile.

Two days earlier, after dropping my child to school I headed to Black Mountain. Opposite the visitor center there are two J1772 chargers. Attached to one charger was a red Model S from Georgia. No doubt they were on a road trip. It looked like they had left it there overnight as the screen on the unit indicated “charge complete” with a charge time of 10 hours. I had a mind to pull out the charger from their car in case someone else needed to charge, but decided not to lest they were offended.

Knowing the car would require a few hours on the Level 2, I needed something to do. I strolled downtown Black Mountain and found a café where I grabbed a coffee and bagel while settling into The Martian, by Andy Weir.   A friend recommended the story to me after hearing of my adventures on the trip to Atlanta!

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After 1 hour and 50 minutes, I returned to the chargers. The red Tesla was gone. My car had 98% charge and 90 miles. I then headed to Ridgecrest – the top of the grade.   Regenerative Braking is an aspect of EVs that is unparalleled in gas counterparts.   At Ridgecrest the meter read 80% and 77 miles.   By the time the car had wound down the 6% grade to Old Fort, the meter was at 83% and 85 miles – a gain of 3% in battery energy – more than 700 watt-hours of energy (about 2400 Btu). Tell me of a gas car that can gain fuel while driving!

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The next stop was Hickory, 62 miles from Black Mountain.

One of the disadvantages of electric cars (or me) is that on long trips I tend to drive the speed limit or less, attempting to maximize the range.     Thus, it seemed everyone on the highway was passing me. I drifted into strange thought patterns wondering why we were always in a hurry to get somewhere. I drifted to the past: The distance from Toronto to Montreal is about 550 km. In my college days I would boast: “It took me four and half hours” an average speed of 122 km/hour, way above the speed limit of 100km – and never a ticket!

Finally, I pulled into the Hickory dealership with 25% battery. I charged for 30 minutes (CHAdeMO) and left with 91% and 78 miles.

Leaf 2

By noon, I was in Statesville with 47% charge and 50 miles. I could have tried to venture to Winston Salem without charging, but the distance from Hickory to Winston Salem is 78 miles, plus the dive to the chargers. I felt this might have been stretching it somewhat since one wrong turn it would be trouble!

The dealership in Statesville had only Level 2 chargers.   A friendly sales girl told me where they were and tried to sell me a new Leaf as wellJ One hour later, Watney had almost destroyed the HAB and I left Statesville with the range meter read 77% SOC and 77 miles.

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The Winston Salem dealership is far off I40 to the north of the city on University Drive.   The CHAdeMO is located behind the service area. When I arrived a car was blocking the unit, but a nice worker noticed I wanted to charge and moved the car. Arriving with 25 miles and 27% charge, I left with 91% charge and 95 miles.   NASA had discovered Watney was alive.

Burlington was 53 miles away, however I entered the dealership with 40 miles and 40% SOC.   When I plugged into the CHAdemo, the unit showed an error. One of the employees tripped the unit off waited a few minutes and then put it back in.   I re-attached the vacuum plug and hit start. It worked! However, I noticed the battery was hot – 1 bar away from the critical zone.   Perhaps, the continuous draining and charging to over 80% SOC was heating it up. I hoped it would not hit the critical heat zone which could potentially damage the battery. I was tempted to take the vehicle through an underbody car wash to cool the pack, but luckily the “air cooled” system on the car worked keeping it below critical.   I finally arrived at Chapel Hill with 50 miles and 59% SOC. Watney had found the Pathfinder!

The trip back was a retrace of the forward journey with the exception of climbing the mountain at Old Fort. I had planned to charge at a campsite there and had travelled with my Level 2 charger from home to do so.

But, after leaving Hickory, 9 miles out of Old Fort, the sign read “Black Mountain 19 miles”. The car had 37 miles. Sure, a no-brainer, I could make it up without charging. As I entered the grade the meter read 25 miles. Up and up, the car made the hill admirable, but every mile of the 6% grade took away 2 from the meter. By the time I reached the top of the 5 mile grade the meter read 14 miles. Yes, Hickory to Black Mountain was possible using this EV with energy to spare! Having left Chapel Hill at 8:30 am, I arrived home at 5:30 pm, travelling 240 miles with 5 stops and not a drop of gas!   Did I mention that even the energy was free on this trip!   Tell me gas car that can do as much?

So there you have it. Long distance travel is possible with limited range electric vehicles. All it takes is patience and thought. If anyone tells you about the range of electric cars, you know what to tell them as Watney would: “&* &%(+ & $%^&$#%^!”

The reason for narrating this otherwise routine trip as a story is to being attention to a function what we all take for granted – travelling. Our addiction to oil over the last century and a half, while bringing a lot of positive growth has not been without extreme negative environmental and political consequences. While politicians clamor about spending and national debt, they tap into the non-renewable oil bank at alarming rates. In fact, if the US were to use only its reserves for our consumption, we would run dry within 3 to 5 years!   http://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/

 

It seems that the advent of the electric car will revolutionize transportation and you all are all pioneers of this technology. I apologize to those of you who have not read or seen the Martian for some “spoiler” effect, but the novel seemed to fit well with this narrative.J

A Leaf Trip to Atlanta

By Guest Author Rudy Singh

“I think we have enough miles to reach Cornelia…” said Dad – were the words used by my daughter to start off her story about our trip to Atlanta with the Nissan Leaf.     Paying no attention to my wife’s warnings about heavy rain in Northeast Georgia, I left the Kia dealership Chademo in Gainesville with 77% charge. For some reason, the charger had shut down after twenty minutes, so I decided to venture on to Cornelia, about 22 miles away – a decision, I would somewhat regret later.

The trip down to Atlanta, GA two days previous had been long. However, we made it safely with only one anxious low battery moment – saved by the charger at a grocery store in north Gainesville, some 60 miles downhill from Clayton. Clayton was the weak link.   The Blink Chademo in Clayton, while looking beautiful was off line!   Instead, we relied on the adjacent Level 2 to bring us back up to 79% charge, while we ate dinner.

They say if you want to test the durability of something, give it the harshest conditions and see how it responds.   This was my motto as we left Asheville on a very stormy weekend. After picking up my daughter from school, with dog and stuff packed in we headed west for Waynesville, NC.   At the Greenlots Chademo on Depot Street, I topped off the Leaf to 90% and then headed on to Franklin, NC. I had estimated that there was enough battery energy to reach Clayton, GA. However, I had noticed a Level 2 charger on the Plug Share app at a Chevy dealership in Franklin. Perhaps we could pick a few more miles at the dealership just in case… The people at the dealership were very friendly. As I picked up a few more miles on the car, we chatted about the new Volt and GM’s electric truck.

The car drove like a dream the whole way, but we were relieved to reach Gainesville after a close call. We spent 40 minutes at the grocery charger and then headed 6 miles down the road to the Kia dealership where we bombarded the battery pack with fast moving electrons from the Chademo! After having to sit many hours at several Level 2 chargers, I sure appreciated these super fast chargers.

Hoping that the roads had not flooded, in pitch darkness we drove across Lake Lanier and entered Alpharetta around 11:30 pm. The trip had taken 9 hours – twice the time that it would usually take with an ICE car.   However, we had not used a drop of gas!

Atlanta is a hub of electric cars and charging stations – many more networks than I thought existed! For example, within a mile of our hotel, there was an nrg EVgo Chademo station at a AAA service station. The cost is high at $9 per half hour, but it was easy enough for me to go “gas up” to above 80% and come back for breakfast.

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With an 85 mile range (according to EPA), Leafs are not designed to travel long distances. But the purpose of this trip was two fold – to see if I could get to Atlanta and to visit the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, just north of Atlanta.   The museum was great!   The Dinosaur exhibit was incredible. But of special note was this:

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I had to touch the body of the great ancestor EV1! It was exhilarating!

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On the way back from Cartersville, we stopped at a pharmacy and took a few hours on yet another network: Sema Charge, while we perused the adjacent hardware store.

The weather projections for Sunday were heavy rain and wind – a perfect day to drive back home in an electric car! The trip back to Gainesville was uneventful and I thought we would make it back home pretty quickly – no problem. There were two Level 2 stations in Cornelia and if I needed to top off, I could do it there while we looked at the shops by the train depot.   At the Kia dealership in Gainesville, I lost signal on my phone and could not call Greenlots after the Chademo stopped charging.   With 77% charge, I was sure we could reach Cornelia to recharge enough for the trip to Clayton.

As we drove up Hwy 23 towards Cornelia, the rain was constant, but not heavy.   However, I did see some downed trees on the side of the highway.   As we exited onto Hwy 105 in Cornelia, there was spooky feeling.   The lights at the intersection were not working!   I started to drive towards the train depot and noticed that all of the lights were not working! Oh no! I needed to top off and there was no electricity. Even the big box store had closed its doors. Then there was Walt, the ex-Nissan salesman that I met in the parking lot. He informed me that two places down the road had power.   Perhaps they would share some – Not! They were operating on generator back-up and would not share an amp.

Thus, with rain pouring down and 30 miles left on the meter, we headed for Clayton, which was about 34 miles away. 10 miles further up, we saw a gas station with the sign, “last gas for 22 miles”. The car read 19 miles, but Clayton was 24 miles away. “We do not have any plugs outside” said the owner after I had seen a juicy 110 volt in the back of the station. Incidentally at the same gas station I met two students from the college. “Hi Professor” one student chirped. “What are you doing here?” I nonchalantly replied, not wanting to be obvious about my precarious situation. Boy, I was tempted to ask them to stay close and tow us to Clayton if necessary.   Instead I carped “Oh I drove my electric car to Atlanta and it was great!” Yeah right! I was about to run out of power and be stranded in the rain – in the middle of nowhere.

Range anxiety is not a myth and for a brief period on Sunday, I experienced this terrible feeling.   Driving much below the limit of 55mph, we chugged slowly up past Toccoa, which was out of power and then to Tallulah Falls. I vaguely remember seeing a station at the Tallulah Falls state park when my phone was working. Thus, with the blank lines across the range-meter on the dash, we entered the park not knowing how many miles were left. “We’re out of power as well.” said the Park Ranger. Crap – the drive up to the highway was at least a mile and I had about 2% charge left, having captured some energy on the way down. “But there is a private resort park close by that may have power. It’s about a mile down the road on the right and they just opened to the public!” On our way up the long state park driveway, we met a white Leaf. They were from Clayton, 10 miles away, the driver assured us. At the highway, we turned right and headed towards Clayton.

A mile down the road on the right we entered the resort campground.   “How much power do you need?” The nice lady at the desk enquired.   “There’s an outlet right behind the cabin.”

“Hallelujah”, she was our savior! Sure it was only 110 volt , but it was better than being stranded.   We thanked her plugged in and took a stroll through the park:

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The weather cleared up slightly and the campground was great place to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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Just after 4 o’clock we unplugged, and after promising to come back camping headed to Clayton 8 miles away. The range-meter read 15 miles and 12% SOC. However, the drive to Clayton was mostly uphill and that can really draw down the battery! Those were the longest 8 miles I have ever driven.   As we climbed, the meter kept dropping… We were not going make it. The first set of traffic lights into Clayton were far ahead and then the last bar disappeared! 0 and 0 – I was waiting for turtle mode!

We inched into Clayton still in green mode, hoping I remembered where to turn off to go to the station. Left on Savannah, right on Main, left by the restaurant – Ah! We had reached the Blink god in the parking lot!   Never again would I charge the car to less than 100%

It took 4 hours and twenty minutes to bring us back up to 99%. In the meantime, we ate dinner, had dessert and walked around the town. For the last few hours, my wife read her book, my daughter finished her homework and I reviewed some differential equations!  I also had a chance to fix the error with the Greenlots card, courtesy of wifi at the restaurant. An extreme sense of guilt overcame me for torturing my family with this EV obsession. Maybe a gas back up was not such a bad thing. No never – I am a purist!

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Out of “gas” in Clayton.

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A nice town to spend 4 hours in…

We left Clayton at about 8:50pm and with 99% charge, I was confident we could get back to Waynesville.

There are two main climbs on the way to Waynesville, Cowee Mountain between Franklin and Sylva and Balsam Mountain that takes you into Waynesville. Although, Cowee is a bear to climb, the Leaf handled it nicely and the car almost gained as much coming back down as it had lost going up. However, Balsam was a terror.   The rain started to pour and the road work made it hard to see — it seemed to never end! Finally, we passed under the Parkway and were home free.

Back to Depot Street in Waynesville, NC.   Unfortunately, the Chademo would not work. There was an error code.   Oh no – so close to home and yet so far!   The car had 29 miles, but we needed more to make it back to the north of Asheville.   Would we have to stay in Waynesville overnight?

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Depot Street in Waynesville.

Luckily, I was able to call the company this time.   The problem was the emergency stop button on the charger – somebody had pushed it in and forgot to reset it.   Thank goodness!

Around midnight we waltzed into our home having completed our maiden trip to Atlanta.   Yes, it was trying at times, but we had just completed a 400+ mile ride in 2 days though hostile gas country, with an 85 mile range electric car.   Not bad I say, not bad at all! Next trip: Chapel Hill:)

Life in a Leaf – a Nissan Leaf Adventure

In July of 2015 I documented a full weekend of travels in my 2012 Nissan Leaf.

I did this to show anyone and everyone interested in the Nissan Leaf, or in driving electric, just how I use this remarkable plug-in electric vehicle on a daily basis.

What you will see in the video is a typical summer weekend for me driving my Nissan Leaf EV.

All video footage was recorded by myself and friend Pierce Curren as we traveled between Brevard and Asheville North Carolina over July 4th weekend 2015.

Lengthy travel segments have been compressed using time-lapse techniques.

Enjoy.

Please visit Pierce’s Scaly Adventures and learn more about Pierce and his families mission to educate the world about the truth of wildlife, animals and the people that are working to conserve, protect and understand them via his true reality TV show Pierce’s Scaly Adventures.

Music by The Steep Canyon Rangers and Narayanaya used with permission.

Video by Steve O’Neil and Pierce Curren of Pierce’s Scaly Adventures.

Editing by Steve O’Neil of Earthshine Nature Programs.