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 🙂

 

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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 facts

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The author’s 2012 Nissan Leaf EV “plugged in” at a local solar farm.

In response to a recent, somewhat negatively pitched report by WLOS News 13 in Asheville, North Carolina (see the article here http://www.wlos.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/Electric-car-sales-don-t-hit-initial-goal-246626.shtml#.VofUP_krJhF  ) and the ensuing wave of negative public comments in regards to the technology…

I offer just the facts on EV’s from the point of view of an EV owner of 2.5 years.

FACT: In 2013 I purchased a one year old 2012 Nissan Leaf (100% electric car) with 1,200 miles on the odometer. I have now driven the Leaf over 33,000 gas free miles.  UPDATE as of 6/21/17: I have now driven the Leaf over 50,000 miles.

FACT: I drive it daily to work and back in all weather, on paved and gravel roads, and up and down the mountains we call home. I drive it an average of 40-45 miles/day and more on weekends. Due to the wonderful and growing EV charging network that continues to expand and open the roads to EV drivers – I can go almost anywhere in the WNC/Upstate SC/East Tennessee areas with no problems.

A GE charging station in Black Mountain, NC. 

MYTH: It is very expensive to charge an EV.

FACT: Just the opposite. It costs me an average of $.89/day – close to $7/week in electricity to drive the EV around 300 miles/week. When charging at community EV charging stations (level 2 and 3) I usually pay around $2 – $6 to fully charge my Leaf and many of these stations are in fact…free. Many of these stations are also solar powered so some of my electric fuel is solar generated and my EV is then solar driven and fully zero emission! Learn more at www.brightfieldts.com

FACT: Even when I account for the cost of electricity over the last 2.5 years – I have still saved close to $3000 that I would have spent on gas and oil had we continued to drive two gas powered cars.

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Charging the Leaf in downtown Salisbury, NC on a recent road trip.

MYTH: EV’s have very short range, will run out of “juice” and leave you stranded.

FACT: While the currently available EV’s do have limited ranges varying from around 70 to 300 miles on one charge – like most newer Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) powered vehicles they have alert systems to let you know when your fuel level is getting low. They also have sophisticated GPS connected navigation systems that allow you to plan your trip ahead of time taking into account stops at charging stations along the way.

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The Tesla Model S interior

While it is understandable that this lifestyle is not for everyone, advances are being made daily in the EV, battery, and charging infrastructure that, within a few years time, will put 200 to 300+ mile range capable EV’s on the roads from start-ups to most of the world’s major auto makers that are now revealing some incredible new transportation technologies to the world such as the Nissan IDS concept, Tesla Model X, Model 3, Model Y, Tesla Pickup and SemiChevrolet Bolt, Workhorse pickup, Via motors, and the incredible and out of this world Faraday Future and many others that will hopefully lead to who knows what kind of amazing EV’s, and maybe one day an Apple EV and even an Electric-Corvette!

No matter if you run out of a charge or if you run out of gas – it is your fault for not planning ahead as I found out recently in the blog post just before this one.

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A Tesla Model S charging.

MYTH: “Electric Vehicles are not zero emissions, they run on coal, and are dirtier and more polluting than internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicles that run on gas/diesel fuel.”

Let’s break it down…get ready because this is detailed.

FACT: Battery Electric Vehicles BEV’s (the focus of this report) do not run on anything but electricity and are themselves – zero emission. That being said, depending on how that electricity is generated– the place it gets its electricity–could be “dirty” (coal) or “clean” (renewable energy) but in most places it is a combination of both so let’s dig deeper.

FACT: A small ICE car emits ~390 grams of Carbon Dioxide CO2/mile.

FACT: The average power consumed by a small EV is ~.25 KWh/mile.

FACT: ~907 grams of CO2/KWh is emitted from coal fired power plants in the dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas.

FACT: 907 (g) x .25 (KWh) = 226 grams/mile in dirtiest 100% coal-based electricity generation areas, which remains lower than the 390 grams from the small ICE car so in reality, even if your EV is charged in an area that gets all of its electricity from coal, EV’s are still cleaner than a comparable ICE powered vehicle.

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The amazing BMW i3 EV

MYTH: Building more EV’s will require us to build many more power plants to provide all the electricity to operate all of them.

FACT: EV’s are charged from the same utility grid that your mobile devices use. Like your devices, EV’s come with their own charging cable that plugs into a standard electrical outlet found on the outside of your house. Like most of your mobile electronic devices they are usually charged at night, while you are sleeping, and when electricity generated from emissions free wind and hydro power is in low demand, lower in cost, and goes mostly unused – so there is ample supply to power your EV. For those opposed to plugging in (or the busy, lazy and/or forgetful types) now in development are inductive charging highway lanes that, when you need a charge, you will just simply drive in the lane and your car will charge while moving at speed! There are also currently available inductive charging pads  (just like you can buy for mobile devices) but made for select EV’s. This will eliminate the need to plug in your EV at home and possibly one day you will even be able to just park in an EV charging parking space and your car will automatically start charging as you walk away.

FACT: The US power grid is getting cleaner every day as more fossil fuel fired power plants are retired and more renewable energy power systems go online – so in these areas especially, EV’s are much cleaner.

FACT: Due to the fuel mix of the grid getting cleaner, EV’s get cleaner as they age. This is never a fact with ICE cars that constantly loose efficiency as they age due to wear and tear.
Learn more here:
www.greencarreports.com/news/1086927_coal-makes-electric-cars-bad-no-plug-ins-show-coal-as-worse

and from the Union of Concerned Scientists

www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/legacy/assets/documents/clean_vehicles/electric-car-global-warming-emissions-report.pdf

The updated numbers as of May 2017 reveal that, as predicted, EV’s are getting cleaner in response to a greening power grid; http://blog.ucsusa.org/dave-reichmuth/new-numbers-are-in-and-evs-are-cleaner-than-ever

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Three Nissan Leafs, A Chevy Volt, and a Tesla Model S charging at the BrightfieldTS solar canopy charger in downtown Asheville, NC.

FACT: One parking space covered with a canopy of photovoltaic solar panels (2.5KW) in the southeast would produce around 3,292 KWh/year. This will operate an EV for around 13-16K miles of 100% emissions free driving on clean, sunshine generated electricity!

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The owner’s Leaf on the right and another local Leaf charging at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s solar powered EV charging station in Mills River, NC.

FACT: EV’s produce a portion of their own fuel via the process known as regenerative breaking – try to find an ICE powered vehicle that does that!

FACT: The average EV travels an average of 4 miles/Kilowatt hour (KWh) of electricity.

FACT: It takes 6 KWh of electricity to refine one gallon of gasoline (source US DOE).

FACT: The average EV can travel 24 miles on the power that it takes to refine just one gallon of gasoline!

FACT: It takes ~9 KWh of energy to extract and transport the crude oil that will be refined into that gasoline.

FACT: An EV could travel an additional 36 miles on this energy.

So, no new power plants are needed, especially if we do not produce the gallon of gas. So…get an EV, and drive 60 all-electric miles on the same amount of energy we are generating today to refine all that dirty gasoline…

And…

Save the 44 gallons of water that it takes to refine that one gallon of gasoline! It is a no-brainer.

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The extention cord is the new “jerrycan.”

While anyone with a purely electric vehicle will tell you that good trip planning is essential for anyone owning a fully electric vehicle,  you just never know what may happen out there on the road.  Back in the days before electric vehicles I would always carry a small plastic “jerrycan” just in case I ran out of gas.  Today,  I always carry a 100′ heavy duty extention cord in my EV for the very same purpose.  Good thing for those of us that drive 100% electric vehicles, there are thousands of dedicated charging stations in most cities across the USA and the world however, in between those EV chargers there are also millions of standard 110v electric outlets everywhere you will find people and their buildings.

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Charging at Earthshine Discovery Center in rather remote (for EV’s) Lake Toxaway, NC

These outlets and their electricity can be accessed in emergencies…with permission of course.  That said, I have only had to plug into a handfull of outlets due to a low battery charge since owning the Leaf–one of the first being on day one of Leaf ownership…I was such a greenhorn :-)…and most recently on a road trip I covered in this blog posting.

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Trickle charging at the SmokyQ BBQ in Marion, NC. 

When I have had to do so, most of the people that have granted me access to their outlets have been very friendly, very interested in EV technology, and have freely offered some of their electricity.  In return I have always left them a generous tip for the use of their electricity and their time.  In almost every instance the most valuable thing I have driven away with is not the electricity, but the friendly conversation with an individual I would have never met if not for my EV.  I offer the below recent video as an example.

In fact, many EV owners including myself, list their homes and businesses on Plugshare.com as residential EV charging locations.  They do this in support of other EV drivers that may be close to the end of their vehicle’s range and need a charge to get to the next high power charging station and they do this to be part of the rapidly growing community of like-minded, forward thinking EV owners who see a brighter, cleaner, fossil fuel free future on the horizon for us all.

MYTH: It is very expensive to power an EV.

FACT: The average cost of electricity in the US is 12 cents/kWh. Therefore the average person driving an average EV 15,000 miles per year will pay about $540.00 per year to charge it. Personally I spend less than $300/year on electricity to fuel my Leaf…how much did you pay for gasoline/diesel last year?
I bet it was much more than that.
Think about what could you have done with all that extra money you spent on gas and oil? Just think about it…or remain in denial of the facts. It is your choice.

FACT: Believe it or not – five 100 watt light bulbs left on continuously for a year use nearly the same amount of energy as it takes to power an electric car 15,000 miles! Here’s how: Five 100 watt light bulbs use 500 watts. In 24 hours they use 12,000 watt-hours or 12kWh. In 365 days they use 4,380kWh. A typical EV that uses 30 kWh for every 100 miles will use 4,500 kWh to drive 15,000 miles! Simply by turning unnecessary lighting off at your home, you can drastically reduce or completely eliminate your annual transportation fuel cost. Try doing that with an ICE powered vehicle! (The cost of LED lighting products has dropped recently so we have replaced almost all of our light bulbs in our house with LED’s. This has not only saved us money but we have also totally offset the cost of driving our Leaf EV!)
Learn more here: www.pluginamerica.org/drivers-seat/how-much-does-it-cost-charge-electric-car

Cars are not the only way you can reduce emissions by switching to EV’s

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Coal Rolling” photo found online…cough, cough…

FACT: One piece of gas burning lawn equipment emits more hydrocarbon pollution into our shared atmosphere than a gasoline-guzzling crew-cab pickup truck! You would have to drive a 6.2L V8 truck almost 4000 miles to equal the emissions produced in 30 minuets of use by a gas powered 2-cycle engine such as a string trimmer (weed-eater). Why not use an all electric string trimmer or lawn mower—there are many available now and they all can even be fueled with renewable energy you can generate at home!

UPDATE 6/21/17: Since I wrote this article many companies have introduced all electric lawn equipment such as the Ego backpack leaf blower and the  Husqvarna Auto Mower and many others.  Electric vehicles are quickly and quietly taking over the world and that is a very good thing!

MYTH: EV’s, solar, wind, and other renewable power sources are not American because they do not create jobs or use the oil/gas that we fight deadly wars to acquire.

FACT: The Nissan Leaf EV is made in Smyrna Tennessee and provides over 300 American workers with excellent jobs. Tesla provides around 6000 Americans jobs now and will employ 12,000 after the Gigafactory goes online.  The number of employees working in the solar industry has more than doubled in five years and today there are now over 200,000 Americans working in solar.  Believe it or not, there are now more people working in solar than in gas and oil fields and that’s almost three times the size of the entire coal mining industry…the carbon bubble is bursting.  The wind energy industry provides great jobs to over 70,000 Americans and clean power to over 18 million homes. And that’s just for starters…companies like Solar City and Arcadia Power are changing the way we acquire our energy at home from renewable energy providers.

FACT: Sourcing our energy domestically (be it solar, wind, hydro, coal—whatever the source) provides many good jobs to Americans and is much more efficient and much safer than traveling thousands of miles, dealing with foreign governments that are often hostile and feed terrorism groups, extracting the crude oil, then finally bringing it back home to be refined and used…often at great cost and loss of life due to the wars that often must be fought to keep it flowing.

FACT: It is more American to be self sufficient and produce your own energy at home, than it is to rely an outside source to provide you with that energy.

FACT: You can power your home and your EV with off-the-shelf renewable energy (solar, wind, hydro, etc ) that you produce at home…and even make a profit from the excess!

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A solar powered home in Asheville with a monthly power bill of less than $20!

MYTH: EV’s are expensive to work on.

FACT: While it is no secret that EV’s have many similar systems as ICE powered vehicles such as braking, steering, suspention, heating etc. However, EV’s rarely need major servicing on their drive systems due to the simple fact that they have far fewer moving parts in their power plant whereas the average ICE engine has thousands! Therefore, EV’s require far less maintenance to keep them “healthy” and are therefore much more economical to drive.

I have been driving my Leaf now for over 33k miles and the little EV has required no specialized routine maintenance by me other than the occasional washing and vacuuming, a set of new windshield wiper blades, adding a little air to the tires, and the occasional topping off of the washer fluid – you know, the things you would need to do to any type of vehicular construct no matter its fuel source.

Recently, I had to replace the cabin air filter. By replacing the filter myself I saved around $50 labor cost (as quoted by my local Nissan dealership)!

Costs: $35 for the filter and about an hour of my time. This is not that bad considering this is the first in-depth preventative maintenance (that was not covered in the warranty*) that I have completed on the car…in 33k miles! Had this been a gasoline/diesel powered vehicle I would have had to spend far more time and money over the same 30K mile time-frame. For example, to keep my 1999 Toyota 4Runner “Godzilla”, my only remaining ICE vehicle that I keep only for long range trips and hauling large loads, running in an efficient as possible manner (for a machine with so many miles – 200+k – and so many moving parts that can and will wear out due to constant use thereby lowering the fuel economy of the vehicle and lowering the amount of money in my bank account) I use G-Oil, a bio-based fully synthetic American made motor oil, and I change the oil filter when I change the oil. Just the oil/filter changes for my 1999 Toyota 4Runner have cost me $230** over the last 30k miles! Operational costs for user replaceable parts and non warranty covered parts for the Leaf during this same period of time = $55 (wiper blades and cabin air filter)!

FACT: The simple fact that EV’s do not have as many moving parts as petroleum powered vehicles makes them much more reliable and cost effective to operate than their fossil fuel powered counterparts. The do not have or need any of the parts that commonly wear out in gas/diesel vehicles such as: belts, chains, hoses, air/fuel filters, water pump, spark plugs, glow plugs, oil, filter, clutch, transmission, muffler, catalytic converter, exhaust pipe…they do not even have an engine.

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The Tesla Model S

MYTH: EV’s are new…scary…future technology and cannot be trusted.

FACT: Electric vehicles are anything but scary and nothing new. The electric motor that moves them has only a few long lived moving parts and is a proven technology that has been used to make our lives easier since the mid-late 19 century.
They pre-date ICE powered vehicles and were hitting the roads of the world in the late 1800’s – see the timeline here: www.energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car

FACT: New technologies often have bugs that need to be worked out and then an adoption period before becoming mainstream.  Examples: the light bulb, the toilet, the automobile, the air plane, the microwave, the personal computer, the cellular phone, the rocket ship…the electric car is no different and will see some setbacks but it is here to stay.

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FACT: If your house or business is connected to the grid, and you or your company pays a power bill, then your, and most everyone’s houses/businesses are electric. Washer, dryer, refrigerator, freezer, stove and range, heating and cooling, lighting, entertainment systems, kitchen and many bathroom appliances, computers, mobile devices…electric…with many of these systems relying on electric motors and systems that quietly work in the background keeping our lives and the lives of our devices comfortable and functional.   Why is it then that we continue to use outdated, noisy, toxic, leaky, high maintenance, complicated, petroleum powered transportation systems to get around on earth, in the water, and in the sky?

Part of the answer to the above question may be fear of change driven by a inate and often handed down complacency that many feel when they get set in their ways and comfortably used to any form of technology they have grown up with.  To some, anything new, especially if it upsets the comfortable status quo, is seen as an invader that must be ignored and even stopped at all costs. I suppose not everyone can be an early adopter and game changer like Elon Musk. The final parts to the answer are the simply complicated politics and lots and lots of dirty money.  In this recent article by Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club president Rudy Beharrysingh he states: The political implications of oil and gas are huge. Currently, the U.S. imports about 9.5 million barrels per day of oil. About 30 percent of this is from OPEC, with half of this from the Persian Gulf. That’s about 1.4 million barrels per day coming from the Persian Gulf. At a cost of $35 per barrel that is $50 million per day that we (consumers) send to the Middle East (on the order of $20 billion per year). And, that’s low compared to what it used to be. Need I say more…?

An eye opening Nissan Leaf commercial  from a few years ago

The link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCs8B-TlylY

MYTH: “EV’s are slow like golf carts, dangerous, and I heard that they catch on fire and burn to the ground all the time.”

FACT: EV’s are anything but slow. The little Nissan Leaf EV will go 0-60 in around 10 seconds. The BMW i3 EV will do it in 7.2 and the Tesla Model S P85DL 100% electric car has the world record for the fastest accelerating production four-door car ever! It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in a brain melting 2.6 seconds! Dangerous, totally the opposite – the Tesla Model S was rated by the NHTSA as the safest car ever tested…in history! If you want to see a Tesla Model S EV go against a Holden supercar take a look here:

 Or if you would like to follow the link:  www.youtube.com/embed/6eGhjhx8O9M?rel=0

Fires.  According to the NFPA, cars catch fire on American highways once every two minutes. There were an average of 184,333 vehicle fires per year from 2008 to 2013.  (I went back only to 2008 since it was the first year a highway-capable all-electric vehicle in serial production was available in the United States.  That vehicle was the Tesla Roadster).  Out of those 184,333 fires, less than a dozen of involved electric vehicles…ALL of the others were liquid fuel powered vehicles.  There were an average of 1651 car fire injury and death victims every year from 2008-2013. In fact, due to fires involving liquid fueled vehicles 1765 people lost their lives during that timeframe.  “The risk of a car or vehicle fire is even greater than the risk of an apartment fire. More people die in vehicle fires than in apartment fires each year in the United States,” said AAA President Robert Darblenet.  

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Burning Tesla Model S from 

FACT: Electric vehicle fires are not a common occurence in any way yet news agencies just love to manufacture drama.  The fact that gas powered cars burn all the time is nothing new, it is not dramatic anymore…but let an EV catch fire (like one did recently in Norway – see: www.teslarati.com/tesla-model-s-burns-fire-supercharger-norway/ ) and it is all over the headlines because sensationalist drama centered around anything new and possibly politically controvercial feeds the weak minded. Note: I am not saying anyone reading this is weak minded because if you have read this far you obviously are interested in the facts and not the drama 🙂

More info on fires related to electric powered vehicles and other devices and systems can be found in this article and in this Wikipedia article. 

Fact: electric vehicles present far less of a fire hazard than ICE powered vehicles.

Think of it like this: if everyone had been driving clean, fast, safe, low maintenance electric vehicles for the last century, and someone tried to get you to drive or even ride in a vehicle powered by an incredibly toxic, flammable, explosive, liquid fuel—what would you do? Personally, I would R.U.N.N.O.F.T!

Observation: Back before I drove an EV I was forced to periodically visit gas stations to fuel the subscription to dependency I had opted for when I purchased my gasoline powered vehicle.  While filling up I often encountered people fueling their vehicle with the engines running, or even more astonishing – smoking while pumping gas. On these occasions I wanted to sit the people down and calmly warn them of the errors of their ways. I wanted to describe in detail the science behind their potentially very hazardous actions and the three times that I have had close calls with gasoline fueled vehicle fires that I offer up to you below –

Situation #1. Year 1986.  My old Chevy truck would not start so I continued to give the engine more gas, the engine flooded, fuel leaked out of carbureator,  a spark from a cracked spark plug wire ignited the fuel leak sending flames up and out of the engine bay melting all the rubber and plastic items under the hood.  I put out the fire with a small fire extinguisher I kept under the seat and when it ran out I had to toss a jacket on the fire to finally put it out.  If not for my fast thinking the vehicle would have burned to the ground and this would have caused me great peril.

Situation #2. Year 1991. Although not a road vehicle incident, I believe under the circumstances it still applies. My old lawn tractor was running rough. I took off the air filter housing and adjusted the carbureator to richen the mixture and it started running better. I then failed to replace air filter assembly. A few moments later the engine backfired through the carbuerator sending a saber of flame straight up and into the old plastic fuel tank (that was soaked with fuel residue) which subsequently ignited into a ball of flame.  This melted the fuel tank causing raw gasoline to cascade down onto engine and tractor like a flaming waterfall of peril. The tractor quickly began to burn to the ground.  A passing off duty firetruck stopped to extinguish the tractor as it sat burning in middle of a field.

Situation #3.  Year 2000. While my driving 1966 Land Rover up a steep highway grade, the vehicle’s cab suddenly filled with thick, acrid, white smoke and at the same time I smelled an intense gasoline smell!! I quickly pulled the vehicle off the road and bailed out running about 100 feet away leaving the engine running and door open for fear of meeting my ultimate demise!  I watched from a distance as the smokle cleared from the cab of the still running vehicle and then a few seconds later the vehicle shut itself off as the fuel in the carbuerator ran out.  I did not want to get near it for fear of whatever caused the issue possibly igniting a gas vapor explosion, fuel fire, and loads of deadly peril.  After about 20 minutes of watching I decided that it was safe and carefully approached the vehicle.  I soon discovered that the issue had been caused by faulty wiring.  A wire had been routed around the fuel line and normal vehicle vibrations had caused the wire to abrade against the metal frame of vehicle creating an electrical short which burned all the insulation off of the wire causing the acrid smoke.  The exposed red hot wire then melted through the plastic fuel line cutting it totally in half. Gasoline then poured out of the fuel line and all over the top of the fuel tank – yet somehow, no ignition had occured.  Talk about the luck of the Irish–it was with me that day.  I would not be writing this if the gas fumes had ignited.  If that had happened, the cab would have become an instant inferno, and both fuel tanks, that were 1/2 full or less and located under the driver and passenger seats, would have possibly ignited killing me in a flaming fuel fire worthy of dramatic news worthy sensationalism.

So you might say I am somewhat qualified, or at least have some life experience in the area of what can happen when gasoline and an ignition source are brought together.  You could also say that I have the obligation to inform people of the error of their ways when I see them ignoring common sense and the warning labels posted all over the gasoline and diesel fueling station’s liquid fuel pumping machines.  However, I also know from past experience that when I try to help others by offering friendly advice on the subject, I have always been met by rude comments like “mind your own business”, “it’s a free country” or “#!@! off!!”…so, since these people apparently either are; totally ignorant and/or do not understand the science behind the reality of the situation, have a death wish, or just do not care at all about their own safety or the safety of the other human beings that may be nearby.  So, now whenever I encounter these situations I always report these individuals to the fueling station attendants and then I get away from the area as fast as possible because highly flammable liquid fuels + the increased potential for static/spark/flame induced fuel vapor ignition + careless, know-it-all or ignorant humans = loads of peril and Darwin awards just waiting to happen.

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New kid on the block – the Chevrolet Bolt 200 mile range EV

MYTH: Electric vehicles are expensive.

FACT: While it is true that a new Tesla Model S P85D will set you back over 100K, you can get into a new EV such as the Nissan Leaf and soon to be avaliable Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 for less than $35k. You must also remember to factor in that you will NEVER pay for gas/diesel and oil again and that in itself adds up to thousands of dollars/year…even when you account for the cost of the electricity used to fuel your EV! Then, when then you factor in all the money spent on tune-ups and engine/transmission/exhaust system repairs for most ICE powered vehicles – all the savings add up to reveal that most EV’s are much more economical to own and drive than your average ICE powered vehicle.

MYTH: When the battery wears out a new battery will cost more than the car is worth.

nissan leaf battery

Nissan Leaf battery photo from InsideEV’s

FACT: When an EV’s battery degrades to the point where it is no longer able to store enough energy to propel you in your daily commute, the battery can be easily replaced with a new one-it is as plug and play as the battery in your mobile device or cordless tool…only larger. Currently the cost for the Nissan Leaf battery is around $5500 so it is about the same as having a new engine and transmission replaced in a standard ICE vehicle. After the battery is replaced you essentially have a new car. I admit that price is a bit high (especially if you are a do-it-yourself mechanic) but when Tesla’s Gigafactory (goes online in a few years they will start turning out lithium ion battery packs that will drastically lower the costs of EV batteries across the board. ( Learn more here www.teslamotors.com/gigafactory )

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The Tesla Gigafactory: Source Tesla

Note: all EV manufactures have excellent battery warranties/leasing options that serve to help new EV drivers “ease into” a better way to drive and are great incentives for adopting a this technology. Nissan for example, offers a battery warranty of 8 years/100,000 miles against defects and 5 years/60,000 miles against capacity loss – whichever comes first.

MYTH: A used EV battery cannot be used for anything and is toxic waste.

FACT: Used EV batteries can be recycled just like any battery but before that time comes they can be used in stationary power storage facilities, as back up generators when connected to the energy grid, homes, and businesses, and off-grid power stations especially when connected to renewable energy power systems. Nissan has recently partnered with Green Charge to repurpose Nissan Leaf batteries for stationary energy storage Learn more here:

And more here:

www.nytimes.com/2015/06/17/business/gm-and-nissan-reusing-old-electric-car-batteries.html?_r=0
and here
www.greencarreports.com/news/1093810_electric-car-batteries-what-happens-to-them-after-coming-out-of-the-car

MYTH: There is nowhere to charge an EV?

FACT: Most EV drivers charge their cars at home overnight with the dealer supplied standard equipment charging cord that allows the car to be plugged into any 110v outlet.  Many drivers have faster Level 2 charging units installed in their homes so they can charge up even faster.

earthshinebarncharging

Plugged in and charging at a friend’s barn.

When out on the road there are over 25 thousand EV charging stations in the USA alone and the number is growing every day. To find out how many are near you just take a look at www.plugshare.com.

plugshare

A screen capture of the close to 100 public charging stations in the WNC area from www.Plugshare.com

MYTH: Charging an EV is SLOW!

FACT: While not as fast as filling up the fuel tank EV charging is getting faster every day. Currently there are three levels of charging for most EV’s.

Level 1. AKA Trickle Charge.  This is the method of charging that most EV owners use to fuel their vehicles while they sleep.  The car comes with a charging cable with J1772 SAE plug that will fill the battery at the rate of 5-7 miles of range added per hour.

Level 2.  This method of charging, that also uses the J1772 SAE plug, can be found at most of the publicly avaliable charging stations in cities and towns.  These units are often found near shopping centers, movie theatres, resturants and downtown areas and will fill up an EV in 1-4 hours depending on how low the vehicle’s battery was upon plugging in.  These units can be installed in your garage at home and there are some portable models as well.

Level 3. The fastest method of charging a fast charge capable EV.  Using dedicated fast charging equipment and CHAdeMO or CCS equipped EV can be charged to 80% capacity in as little as 20 minutes!

DCQCPlugged into a fast charger

FACT: Most EV owners love their cars so much that they have become “crusaders” of the technology and promote them every chance they get because they know from experience that that they are a much better way to drive.

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The Bluewater Leaf in the Blue Ridge Mountains of WNC far from any charging outlet

CONCLUSION

OPINION supported by SCIENCE, RESEARCH, and EXPERIENCE: All of these reasons and more are why EV’s are superior to everything else on the road and one day in the near future gas/diesel will go the way of the old fossils that power them. (this is not only my honest opinion proven by science, research and experience but it is also been documented by the owners of EV’s everywhere in articles like these and more:

www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/tesla-model-s-p85d-earns-top-road-test-score

www.news.discovery.com/autos/fuel-and-alternative-fuel-technologies/electric-car-drivers-say-theyll-never-go-back-150811.htm

www.ibtimes.co.uk/most-british-teenagers-expect-their-first-car-be-electric-1524811

FACT: Quoted from this Clean Technica article writen by Mike Barnard.”A tipping point has been reached in the last two years for electric cars. Almost half of all fully or partially electric vehicles sold in the past decade were sold in 2014. In addition to the standard-bearing Tesla, every car manufacturer in the world has fully or partially electric cars in their lineups. The most exciting cars in the world are now electric.”

FACT supported OPINION: Driving ICE powered vehicles is like purchasing a subscription to dependency on a highly toxic, highly addictive drug that shortens your life while constantly draining your bank account and damaging everything it comes in contact with.

Be the change you wish to see in the world and the world will change….or do nothing and nothing will ever change…it is your choice.
————————————————————

Special Thanks to Bob Harris of Black Bear Solar Institute for compiling many of the facts in this document! Learn more at: blackbearsolarinstitute.org

Special Thanks to the members of the Blue Ridge Electric Vehicle Club for supporting the future of transportation and renewable energy technologies.

* Parts replaced under warranty included one shock absorber, 1 strut, grease for the power window actuators, and two suspension bushings – all of these things are not EV specific and are commonly replaced/repaired items on all road vehicles. Non-warranty covered and non-user replaceable parts that needed replacement due to age/wear = Tires and brake fluid. Total cost = $610.
** Oil change only parts I have purchased for the 4Runner over the last 30k miles – several gallons of GOil and several Oil Filters = $230. Had I included all of the other parts I have replaced myself on the 4Runner over the same time-frame – the costs would have been well over $800! (If I had included the non-user replaceable parts and labor I have given to Larry at the auto repair shop then add another $1200!!!)
Total parts cost to operate Nissan Leaf for $30k miles = $665
Total parts cost to operate 4Runner for 30K miles = $2000
While I am aware that the 4Runner has over 6 times the mileage as the Leaf, the point remains that I have spent over 3X as much money on just parts to keep it on the road during the same period of time so…
After “Godzilla” the 4Runner dies, I will never go back to gas.

sunleaf

Plug into the future!

Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette 101

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Drivers of EV’s everywhere are beginning to see issues crop up around public charging station etiquette.  This is happening for several reasons, some of which are listed below;

1. More people are buying EV’s or PHEV’s or EV REx ( for the remainder of this article collectively called EV’s) than ever before.  In many areas there is just not enough charging station infrastructure to cover all the EV’s that need to charge, especially on busy days.

2. Some uninformed or inconsiderate EV drivers are treating EV charging spaces as a right not a privilege.  They park in the space, plug in their car and walk off, sometimes leaving it there or many hours even after it is fully charged.  It is as if they believe that they are entitled to park in that space simply because they have an EV or that they perceive the spot to be a standard parking space to be used as long as they like.

3. The space has been ICE’d by an inconsiderate or unobservant gasoline powered auto driver.

4. Plug In Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEV) and Range Extended Electric Vehicles (EVREx) drivers that have a gasoline back up, are plugging in at charging stations when they just want to top off their battery to save gas and ignoring battery electric vehicles that may need to charge.

SNB

How can we stop this madness?

If you drive an EV please follow these 12 simple rules of charging station etiquette (see sources at end of article) and all of us–from the pioneering early adopters, forward thinkers and tree hugging earth worshipers to the EV tech geeks and and those just out to save some money on gas–will be able to work together in helping to promote the future of EV’s and their associated charging infrastructure.

NDEW9

1. Pure Electric Before Plug In Hybrids and Range Extended EVs

If your EV is fully electric and runs on battery power 100% of the time, common sense and good etiquette says you should have priority over EV’s with internal combustion powered range extending technologies such as the Chevrolet Volt or BMW i3 REx.

If you are the driver of a Plug In Hybrid or Range Extended EV, and any of the below conditions apply, please do not hog the charging station.

-There is a small number of charging stations.

-You see battery-electric EV’s waiting nearby to charge.

-Your vehicle has enough of a charge/fuel to get you to your destination.

– Your car has a gasoline engine to fall back on if you run out of charge.

Please do the right thing, be courteous, and let the battery electric EV’s charge first. Remember that some of them may have come a great distance and need a charge just to get home.

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However…

Owners of fully electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf, BMW i3Tesla Model S  or Zero motorcycle do not have the right to unplug extended-range EV’s such as BMW i3 REx or Chevrolet Volt, simply because those vehicles have backup gasoline engines…

…unless they are fully charged.  See #2 below.

2. Do Not Unplug Someone Else’s Vehicle – Unless They Are Finished Charging

If you arrive at a charging station and another EV is charging, please do not unplug it. You have no idea how far they have to go and how much power they will need to get there. However, if their car has finished charging as indicated by the blinking charge indicator lights on the car’s dash, or as indicated on the charging station’s screen, then you may unplug it, close their charge port, and plug in your car.  In this event, the driver of the EV in need of a charge should leave a note explaining why it was unplugged. The note should be full of gratitude and should always include your cell number and/or a business card.

Be aware that on some later model EV’s the charging cord cannot be removed without being unlocked by the driver.  In this case it is entirely up to the driver of the plugged in vehicle to be aware of his car’s status and unplug and move it when its charging cycle is complete or when he has enough charge to get to his next destination.

fastcharging

3. Be Courteous, Charge Up, and Move On

Please occupy a charging station only while your EV is actively charging. As soon as the charging session is completed, no matter if your battery is full or when you have enough range to reach your destination, please unplug your car and move it to allow access for another driver in need. Please remember that these are charging spots, not standard parking spots. Using a charging space as a standard parking space is really not cool.  Would you leave your gas car parked at the pump for several hours after its tank was full and if you did so, what would happen?

Brammo_Empulse_at_charging_station,_August_2012

Brammo Empulse Electric Motorcycle charging

Most EV’s, or EV networks such as Chargepoint, will text you when the vehicle is full. If your vehicle/network texts you to say “I’m full!” then please, free up the charger for another driver.

In some areas with pay to charge access, the charging network will continue to charge you a fee for as long as your vehicle is plugged in and in and even after it is fully charged.  This is a great motivator for the vehicle owner to get unplugged and moved as soon as it is charged in order to avoid overage fees.

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4. Charge Only When Really Necessary and Share and Share Alike. 

Just because you drive an EV does not mean you’re entitled to an EV charging spot–remember it is not a parking spot for those with the most expensive EV’s, or perceived higher social status, it is meant to be equally shared by all Plug In Electric Vehicle drivers. If you do not need the extra juice, please leave the spot open so another driver can use it.

EV Charging Station - Biltmore Square

Personal Observation: I have noted on several occasions, at one particular charging station in the south Asheville, NC area, that certain repeat offenders treat the only two available free charging stations in front of a certain Hilton Hotel as regular parking spots.  These owners will often leave their vehicles, of various manufacturers, in these spots for many hours at a time thereby blocking assess to other EV owners in need.  I noted this once again on January 03, 2015 when I arrived to view a movie at 2:30 pm.  Two Chevy Volts occupied both charging stations and were actively charging.  There was no way to park beside them and wait to charge as the only other available parking spot was handicapped access only.  My Leaf was low on juice and needed a charge to get home after the movie.  Since I had 45 min until the movie started, I parked nearby and decided to have a beer at a nearby restaurant in order to keep an eye on the cars in the hopes that one of them would leave and I could therefore get a charge during the movie.  When it was almost time for the movie to start I checked both cars’ charging status and noted that one was fully charged and the other was still charging.  I could not wait any longer so went on to the movie.  After the movie I found that the Volt that was still charging before the movie, almost three hours earlier, was gone and had been replaced by a Leaf that was actively charging.  The other car, the same volt that I noted to be fully charged before the movie, remained, still plugged in and still fully charged just like I found it over 3.5 hours previous.  According to this information from Chevy it takes around 4 hours to fully charge a Volt, and since the Volt in question was fully charged before I entered the movie theater and remained plugged in over three hours later, it seems that that the volt owner was using this spot as a privileged parking spot rather than an EV charging station.  This is just totally uncool and very bad charging station etiquette and, as I have said before, please do not hog charging stations and always share with other EV owners in need.  Anything less makes you and other EV drivers look bad.

solarcharging714UNCA

 

I know it goes without saying but please, never park like I did in this well composed photo that illustrates really bad parking etiquette no matter what you are driving.  

5. Drivers Must Follow The Rules 

This goes without saying but simply because you drive an EV does not mean you can park in a handicap space or on a curb just to be closer to a charging station. Do not do it unless you enjoy having your car towed.

EVparking

6. Do Not Leave Nasty Notes…But Do Leave Notes

If the charging spot you counted on using has been occupied by another EV for an extended period of time or has been ICEd—in other words, a gasoline powered Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicle is taking up the spot—the EV driver should leave a polite note on the vehicle explaining the predicament. The note should be viewed as a good-will gesture that will hopefully work to convince the offender not to make the mistake again.  Please also note that in some areas such as Raleigh, NC, drivers of internal combustion engine powered vehicles that park in spaces reserved for EV charging are subject to high fines.

7. First Come, First Served

It doesn’t matter what you drive, how much money you make, where you live, or who you are, or if someone else was in the charging spot before you, then that is your tough luck and you are going to have to play be the rules and the etiquette, be nice, and wait your turn.

leafvoltcharge

8. It’s Okay to Ask for a Charge

If you are really in need of a charge and the spot you need is occupied, and you are able to park next to the car that is currently charging, you can signal the other driver that you would like them to plug you in when they are finished charging by opening your charging port/door.  It is also a good idea to carry in your car “charge” cards like these from Pluginamerica.com.  You can put them on your dash when you are in need of a charge as a signal to the other driver to plug you in when they leave.  Another really cool high tech option is to use a myEV datalogger *  not only to keep track of your vehicle’s stats and health, but it also allows you to ask other EV drivers if you can unplug their vehicle via a text message, wherever they may be. See an example image from the app below.

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* This option requires that both EV owners have a myEV datalogger and it’s associated QR code window sticker installed in/on their vehicle.  NOTE: The myEV datalogger is currently in the beta testing phase and will be available soon for all EV owners everywhere.  I am a beta tester for the unit so if anyone in the Blue Ridge EV Club wants to learn more about it just ask me at the next club meeting and I will be glad to show it off 🙂

9: Register With A Charging Network.

If you are a frequent charging station user then it will benefit you to register with the charging networks that serve your area.  It will also greatly assist you to download the charging station locator apps (such as Chargepoint and Plugshare) to your smartphone.  With these you will be able to pull up all nearby stations and, depending on the app, see which stations are occupied and you will also be able to comment on if the station was functional or not or any other issues other station users need to be aware of.

The map below is from the Plugshare.com website/App showing charging stations in Asheville, NC USA.

asheville charging map

If you are a local business owner/operator and have installed an EV charging station that is not on any of the charging station networks and/or you live in an area that does not have a strong charging station infrastructure, then you should really consider registering your charging station with one of the charging networks and put your station on the map.  This will not only let other EV drivers know you are out there via their cars navigation system and/or app, but it will also give more people access to your business and more money in your pocket if you decide to charge a fee for the use of your station.

sierranevadaEV

 

10. Safety First

Watch that cord!  While your car is plugged in, make sure the charging cord is either flat on the ground and/or tucked under your car so pedestrians do not accidentally trip or drive over it. You would not want to have the surprise of a nasty lawsuit thrown in your face because someone tripped over your charging cord and was injured.  Once your car has finished charging, remember to wind the charging cord back up onto its holder if the station is so equipped, to keep it neat and out of the way of others.

11: Charging Is A Privilege, Not A Right

As stated previously in Rule #4, just because you drive an EV does not mean you’re entitled to an EV charging spot.  Remember, it is not a parking spot for those with the most expensive EV’s or perceived high social status, it is meant to be equally shared by all EV drivers and it is a privilege, not a right.

Remember this: You are the future of clean transportation,  you are helping an entire new industry get off the ground and at the same time lowering the nation’s consumption of fossil fuels by driving electric.  However, owning and driving an EV is a personal choice and as a direct consequence of that choice, any charging stations out there are there for your convenience, especially the ones that are offered free of charge.

Many of these charging stations are offered by nearby businesses so please be courteous to those who have provided it, take care to look after the chargers and report any issues to the owners.

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Lastly, if you are in need of a charge from somewhere in between charging stations or at an even more remote location without EV charging station infrastructure, such as a barn, gas station wall outlet (as I wrote about on day one when we drove our new Leaf across half of Tennessee), or a beer and ice shack at a festival (as seen in this article ), do not assume that access to the power is free.  Be courteous, positively represent all EV owners everywhere, offer to pay for any power used, or at least give the business/outlet owner a tip.

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Charging my Leaf at the Earthshine Discovery Center barn in Lake Toxaway, NC.  The good folks at Earthshine will let you charge if you are in dire need of some juice–please be sure to tip them for the charge.  While charging take a walk around the farm and see what this wonderful place has to offer–you will be glad you did.  Hopefully soon I will have this location on Plugshare as a residential emergency charge point.  If you do not see it there please contact me for more information on how to access it when you are in need of a charge.

We do not want to in any way be known as rogues, bums, or moochers and give a bad name to the EV community as a whole.

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I gladly donated $5 to a children’s charity for one hour’s access to this gas stations’ outdoor wall outlet.

12. EV Owners Are Ambassadors For A Better Future For Everyone

Being an EV owner and driver means you are also an ambassador for a gas-free future. Help make that future an even brighter reality by spending time talking with people who stop to ask questions when you are plugged in at public charging stations or parking your EV in a public parking lot.  Be nice and genuine to those who ask questions, do not be in a hurry and always spread the word about the joys of driving electric electric in any way you are able.

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I know that is a lot of information to process but I believe you will see that these “rules” of EV charging etiquette are really just basic common sense that when applied, will make your EV ownership experience better for you and for those you share the roads of the future with.

chargingleleaf

Sources:

http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1050431_your-ultimate-guide-to-electric-car-charging-etiquette

http://www.pluginamerica.org/evcard

http://gmauthority.com/blog/2014/06/general-motors-offers-ev-drivers-10-workplace-charging-etiquette-tips/

http://www.chevrolet.com/volt-electric-car/faq.html

http://www.chargepoint.com/

http://www.plugshare.com/

http://www.plugincars.com/eight-rules-electric-vehicle-etiquette-127513.html

http://www.recargo.com/

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

The Wonders of Regeneration

SNB

It is a known fact among EV owners that their cars use regenerative breaking systems to help charge the car’s battery and extend its range.  Regenerative breaking is defined as:

“In a battery-powered electric vehicle, regenerative braking (also called regen) is the conversion of the vehicle’s kinetic energy into chemical energy stored in the battery, where it can be used later to drive the vehicle. It is braking because it also serves to slow the vehicle. It is regenerative because the energy is recaptured in the battery where it can be used again.” Source Firmware Engineer Tesla Motors.  Read more of Greg’s great article on regen here.

“Vehicles driven by electric motors use the motor as a generator when using regenerative braking: it is operated as a generator during braking and its output is supplied to an electrical load; the transfer of energy to the load provides the braking effect. Regenerative braking is used on hybrid gas/electric automobiles to recoup some of the energy lost during stopping. This energy is saved in a storage battery and used later to power the motor whenever the car is in electric mode.” Source Wikipedia

Regenerative Breaking mechanisms have been used for over a century, have a very fascinating history, have many very interesting applications including early experimentation with the Amitron and Voltswagon concept cars by AMC.  Regenerative systems developed by are now used on the worlds best selling electric vehicle, the Nissan Leaf and all other EV’s and hybrids on the roads today.

An interesting video on how the Nissan Leaf’s power/regen system works:

I have owned my 2012 Nissan Leaf now for 13 months and have been keeping detailed daily notes on SOC, distance driven, temperature and other data points of interest. Recently I started taking notes on the regeneration that my car produces during my daily commute. Specifically a the 3.4 mile section of my commute that is almost all downhill (see a graphic representation of the route below).

regenroute1

 

Map from www.mapmyride.com

The question

Recently I began to wonder just how far per day this 3.4 mile descent with 845 feet of elevation loss would take me on braking and gravity produced free fuel.  In the hopes of answering that question with some degree of accuracy I developed an experiment with the procedure listed below.

Every day I used in the experiment I drove as I do on a normal day; in ECO mode and with all possible environmental variables such as road conditions, traffic conditions, different routes*, elevation loss or gain, temperature, humidity, wind resistance, tire resistance, speed, accessories used, and others variables in order to keep it as real world as possible.  *I do not drive the same route every day due to errands I often to run after work.

UPDATE 1/25/15; Speaking of environmental variables effecting regeneration, on one recent occasion I had to drive the 3.4 miles section of route immediately after a motor-grader had scraped the road.  The road surface was the consistency of something like thick beach sand mixed with damp oatmeal.  The car bogged down a bit but powered through it but the regenerative breaking system was practically useless since I had to keep gently accelerating in order to keep moving forward.  At the bottom of the 3.4 mile route I had regenerated only 1 mile of range.  I am sure this will lower my overall average just a bit once I recalculate the numbers at some point this spring but science can be a harsh mistress.

The data (so far)

Regenerated potential range at the end of the route for seven days during November 2014

16.0, 14.0, 11.0,13.0, 7.0,14.0,15.0

= 90/7 = 12.85 average miles of potential range regenerated per day.

However, as we EV drivers know, this potential driving range is not an accurate representation of real world driving range due to the variables mentioned previously. In the attempt to deduce just how far in reality the car would go on the regenerated power from the 3.4 mile daily descent, I needed to calculate the distance the car would travel before reaching the pre-route SOC on the GOM (my Leaf is a 2012 so it does not show battery state of charge as a percent–it is a calculated guess by the on-board computer of mileage remaining based on vehicle system health, environmental conditions and driving style.)

The procedure

I first recorded the SOC from the GOM at the top of the route, drove the 3.4 mile route, stopped at the bottom and recorded the number of regenerated miles, reset the trip odometer to 0 and drove until I had reached the first recorded SOC from the top of the route.

The results

The resulting number is the real world miles driven on Leaf regenerated free fuel.  The 7 day adjusted test results are listed below:

16.5, 9.0, 13.1, 7.5, 8.0, 8.7, 9.3

= 72.1/7 = 10.3* average miles of potential range regenerated per day!

*I continue to keep a daily record of regeneration on this route, so this number will change as I average in those numbers.  In the spring of 2015, I will post an update to this story with the updated findings.

Based on the data for the short time period in question, the results seem to indicate that during this 3.4 mile descent my car generates an average of 10.5 miles of potential real world range per work day when driving this route. This data also suggests that the Leaf often powers itself home for free since the route is only 9.3 miles in length from the bottom of the descent to my home.  I have documented this fact many times when upon reaching home the SOC is at or above the starting SOC when I left work.

This ads up to a substantial amount of Leaf produced free fuel, but how much in a year is possible?

10.3 miles per day!

10.3 x 5=51.5 miles per week.

51.5 x 4 = 206 miles per month.

206 x 12 = 2472 miles of Leaf generated free electric fuel per year.

If these numbers are accurate, then my car, simply by rolling downhill on the same 3.4 mile route described above, for 5 days each week, regenerates enough power in a year to power itself for the equivalent of two months worth of driving*, all freely powered by the Nissan Leaf!  *I drive an average of 300 miles per week (300 x 8 = 2400)

killawatt

I use a Kill A Watt meter to keep track of my Leaf’s power consumption.

How much has this potentially saved me in power costs for the Leaf?

Driving my leaf costs an average of .03 per mile so .03 x 2472 = 74.16

$74.16 potentially saved each year just driving home from work every day!

And this is only for this one route.  I drive several other routes where I pull a good amount of regeneration from long descents so I wonder how much am I saving in power costs from those routes?

zerogas

In a rough comparison, if I had to drive my 1999 Toyota 4Runner the same distance that my Leaf has driven on freely produced regenerative power, it would have taken me around 8 tanks of gas and cost me around $360.00 in gas at current fuel prices of $2.84/gal!  (2472 miles at 2.84 (per gallon) x 16 gallons = $45.44 x 8 (tanks) = $363.52)

WOW!

Let’s just think about this fact – is there a consumer available, stock built, gasoline or diesel powered vehicle anywhere that will produce it’s own fuel. No. The facts are in: petroleum powered vehicles only take hard earned money from the owner, give nothing back but a ride, require lots of expensive fuel and maintenance, are often noisy, contribute to a polluted environment, enable the continued destruction of the Earth’s ecosystems through oil drilling/strip mining and pipeline construction in fragile environments, are not energy secure, and even fund terrorism.  EV’s give so much back, have very low maintenance costs, are quiet and fun to drive, can be fueled on domestically generated energy and renewable energy generated at home or work and are therefore energy secure, do not fund terrorism, and produce a portion of their own fuel…for free!  It is no wonder that some automakers, fossil fuel corporations and their supporters, and certain oil soaked politicians, are afraid of EV’s and will stop at nothing to ruin their image with negative ad campaigns and tactics.

NDEW9

The simple reality is this; while the currently available electric vehicles do have some range limitations, they are far better in so many ways than petroleum powered vehicles.  Given time, advancements in battery technology, expanded charging infrastructure, and the support from the people and our purchasing power, the EV will one day dominate the roads. Once a person drives an EV and experiences the joy of driving electric, freedom from the gas pump and from years of costly maintenance, more money in their pocket, the resulting cleaner air and environment that comes from driving EV, and with the ever growing option of powering their EV from home generated renewable energy such as solar, wind and micro-hydro–they will see that driving electric is the better choice and will hopefully trade in or recycle their old gas guzzler in favor of the future of transportation, the EV.

NDEW

 DRIVE ELECTRIC!

The Blue Ridge EV Club meeting at the BrightfieldTS solar charging canopy on Charlotte St. in Asheville, NC.

 

 

 

 

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

The Blue Ridge EV Club Presents

NATIONAL DRIVE ELECTRIC WEEK ASHEVILLE

solarcharging714UNCA

Join us for an electrifying experience on

Sunday afternoon, September 21, 1-4 pm.

Asheville’s premier solar powered electric vehicle charging hub will be abuzz with free opportunities to:

  • Talk with owners about their electric cars and see these marvels up close
  • Talk with dealers about new production electric vehicles (EV’s)
  • Drive or Ride in one or more electric cars (10-minute city/highway loop)
  • See the operation of several BrightFieldTS electric vehicle charging stations which produce power for your electric vehicle from the sun
  • Get answers to all your questions on cost of operation, savings, available cars, area charging locations, home charging options, rebates and tax incentives
  • See some specialty electric vehicles
  • Meet members of the Blue Ridge EV Club & join up!
  • EV Parade

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Come out and ride in or drive an EV! Learn for yourself why Electric Vehicle sales have doubled in each of the last three years.

If you would like to reserve a spot for ride/driving an EV or volunteer to help with our event:

First, you will need to “Register” to attend the main event by following this URL:

https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=157

Once on the site just fill out some information and click the “Contact” button to give the organizers your request.

During the weeks leading up to the main event, there will be other local learning opportunities:

  •       Wednesday Aug 20, 6-7:30pm, Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Thursday Aug 28, 6-7:30pm, Southern Appalachian Brewery in Hendersonville, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday Aug 30, 8am-12 pm, Transylvania farmers Market – Farm Fair in Brevard, NC.  Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 13, 8 – 1 pm, North Asheville Tailgate Market, UNC-Asheville Campus. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 2:30-6:30 pm, Weaverville Tailgate Market, Weaverville, NC Community Center overlooking Lake Louise. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Wednesday, Sept 17, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Who Killed the Electric Car? followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Thursday, Sept 18, 6:30 pm, UNC Asheville Physics Lecture Hall (Rhoades/Robinson 125), Screening of Chris Paine’s documentary Revenge of the Electric Car followed by audience discussion, hosted by the UNC Asheville Mechatronics Engineering Program. For more information, contact Dave Erb 828-258-7659

 

  •       Friday, Sept 19, am, Workplace Charging Workshop at  Asheville Chamber of Commerce/Visitor  Center.  Businesses learning about providing charging at their sites (Register for this workshop by contacting Bill Eaker, bill@landofsky.org)

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 10 am-6 pm, Weaverville Arts ‘N Autumn Festival, 30 S. Main Street, Weaverville, NC outside of the Town Hall. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

 

  •       Saturday, Sept 20, 8 am-1 pm, Asheville City Market at the Asheville Public Works Parking Lot, 161 S. Charlotte St, Asheville, NC. Talk with owners, see cars & sign-up for 9/21 event.

      These events are organized by the Blue Ridge EV Club (https://www.facebook.com/groups/blueridgeevclub/) and Land Of Sky Clean Vehicles Coalition (www.cleanvehiclescoalition.org) with help from NC Department of Environment & Natural Resources.

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