Posts about life as an electric vehicle driver.
I drive a Tesla Roadster. For full disclosure, I own stock in Tesla because I put my money where my mouth is.
Lots more pics from #TeslaModelX event
It’s amazing to me to see an article appear on a reputable site like Motly Fool that has completely backwards facts on critical points that are so easily checkable.
The article starts with “The main problem with the electric vehicle is the battery. They are heavy, expensive, and — when depleted of their value and tossed aside — quite toxic to the environment. Owners of electric-only vehicles, like those from Tesla (Nasdaq: TSLA ) or Nissan, for example, will eventually be donating their cars’ batteries to some EPA Super Fund site.”
This is completely untrue. These cars, unlike almost all hybrids, use Litium Ion batteries. The main ingredient is plentiful and extracted from brine lakes without environmental damage, instead of being mined like for NiCad. Also unlike NiCad, they are non-toxic, and are fully recyclable into new batteries.
I stay in hotels a lot. Part of the job, and my family and I have a joy of traveling.
The other night I stayed at the Sofitel near West Hollywood. As I arrived in the Tesla, I noticed a blue “Electric Vehicle Charging Station” sign pointing directly at the valet stand shown in the first pic.
I pulled up to the valet and excitedly asked how I could use the electric charger (even though I already had close to a full charge—but there are times where it would be great to have this at a hotel so I wanted to find out it’s real status and encourage them to maintain it). He looked dumfounded and said “What electric car charger?” I pointed to the sign standing only a few feet away—identical to that shown in the 2nd pic.
After asking around the valet captain sent me down with another valet to the spot where the charger was. I so wish I took a picture: It must have been 10 years old, the cable was not the J1772 standard that all modern EVs (Leaf, Volt, Tesla) use, and the electrical hookup had been cut—there were literally bare cut wires pulled out of the conduit running to the charger that had been sliced.
Too bad. Hotels are the best places for these chargers in my opinion. I will actively pick a hotel because it has a charger I can use—but so far no luck in finding them. It’s not really a big deal for me given the Roadster’s range and that I have plugs at work, but hotels having these would make long trips a lot easier for most EV drivers. The best I’ve found is most hotels will let you plug into a 110volt outlet. (By the way, the J.W. Marriott in downtown LA wouldn’t even allow that!).
After driving this car for more than a year, I can honestly say I have no doubt that electric cars are the future. Lithium Ion will only get cheaper, ranges are getting ever longer, the cars are getting nicer and bigger, and charge times are dropping fast. I look forward to sharing more about what it’s really like with an EV here and welcome any questions or comments.
It’s a lot of fun driving an EV. There are minor challenges, but they are frankly part of what makes it interesting. In my case I drive a Tesla Roadster. Of course this isn’t a car in reach for most people. The what the Roadster really is is a glimpse into the future. So this blog will be about the experience of driving an EV—the good and the frustrating.
So to get started, here is the answer to the #1 question I hear: “How far can it go?”
The Roadster’s stated range is 245 miles. They call this “ideal” miles. So the next question is ‘How far does it really go?’ Actually, I’ve gone 245 miles on a charge. But to do that you have to drive at 60mph or less. That’s not that hard actually if you’re cruising down the coast, on the 405 in LA traffic, or taking surface streets (stopping and going is not a problem—almost all the energy use is only when you actually move). It’s only a challenge if you’re taking the freeway and traffic is light.
To get 245 you have to do a “range” charge. You see the car normally doesn’t use the top 15% or so or the bottom 15% or so in order to preserve the battery life. (Those are not the exact numbers but you can look this up if you’re interested.) A regular daily charge gives about 185 ideal miles.
But what people are really asking here is whether I am limited by the range. A related question is “Have you ever run out of charge?” The answer to both is no. And not because I’m vigilant, but because you’d have to be brain dead to run out of charge:
- You simply plug in the car at night. Every morning you have a full battery. It’s like if someone came to your house in the middle of the night and topped off your gas tank. Imagine never having to worry about stopping at a gas station! (That’s another point—people wonder about the “trouble” of charging. Ha! It’s a dream—and stopping to get gas now seems so archaic!)
- There’s a little count down mileage meter on the dash that shows how many miles you have left. Actually, there are two: One for “ideal” miles and one for the estimated range based on the way you have been driving. So when I’m going 80mph on the freeway (CHP: I’m talking hypothetically of course!) it shows how many miles I can keep going at that speed, which is about 75% of the ideal. I am never surprised.
- About once a week I drive 125 miles from my home to one of my company’s offices, and then 125 miles back. I usually stay overnight so it’s not a problem to simply plug into a 110 outlet and get enough charge by the time I leave to get back home. But the office there recently (thank you!) put in a 208v outlet for me, and now I can charge the car all the way back up in about 3 hours.
- The nice thing is that at least here in California, there are chargers popping up everywhere. But fact is that in almost 19,000 miles I’ve only used these public stations twice. Once my wife and I drove 200 miles to a friend’s anniversary party. We stopped at a public station nearby the next morning and had breakfast, and at another in LA and had lunch and we were good to get back home. Another time I drove 50 miles to join other Tesla drivers for a 120 mile road rally, then drove another 40 miles to join the rest of my family at Disneyland. I knew how far the trip was going to be, so with a quick look at a charging map app on my iphone (Recargo is a good one) I found that there was a charge station at the Anaheim City Hall a mile or so from the park. (I also knew where plenty of closer stations were if I had used more battery than I expected on the rally.) I parked there (free) and plugged in and took a $7 cab ride to the park (where parking is $15). When I came back the car was fully charged and I actually got home before the rest of my family since getting to the regular Disneyland lot took them longer!