EV Pledge, our New Website

We’ve just put up a new webpage, EV Pledge.

I’m going to try and see how many people I can get to pledge to buy an EV or Plug In for their next vehicle.

I’d like you to help out by taking the pledge. If you already own an EV, take the pledge to never go back!

No, we won’t hold you to it. Only you can do that. But we don’t want anyone to take the pledge lightly. We plan on adding links to help persuade you to take up the pledge.

EV Pledge is a work in progress, be patient. We’d like for it to grow into something big.

Yes Watch Review

 

As a long haul international pilot, I routinely cross multiple time zones. I think in terms of “Universal Time,” or “GMT.” A watch which keeps track of time zones and is easy to change is essential. I’ve used a bunch of digital and analog watches in my career. One of my favorites is the Yes Watch.

Yes Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yes Watch is a unique digital analog hybrid watch. It is the perfect watch for someone who travels a lot and deals with time zones.

 

The Yes Watch is also ideal for someone who is interested in the astronomical cycles of the sun and moon. The Yes Watch displays sunrise, sunset, and the length of the day on the LCD. Moonrise, moonset and the phase of the moon are also displayed. The Yes Watch has a single analog hand which rotates once every 24 hours. I have two bezels with a 24 hour scale on my watch. The outer bezel rotates in either direction without click stops. I set it so the inner bezel shows local time and turn the outer bezel to show GMT.

 

The Yes Watch can be programmed with two time zones “home” and “away.” The zones can be flipped easily. The desired location can be picked quickly from a list of 600 cities. The watch is programmed with all of the current worldwide Daylight Savings Time rules.

 

The Yes Watch case and metal band are brushed titanium. The crystal is sapphire and the case it water resistant to 10 atmospheres~300 feet. It’s a very large watch, but it’s not heavy thanks to the titanium case.

 

Yes Watch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Yes Watch comes in a hardwood presentation box with a link adjustment tool, a rubber bracelet, and a leather  bracelet. While not cheap, it’s quite a value for it’s price. There is no other watch like the Yes Watch available for any price.

 

The user interface on most digital watches is usually horrible, I’m lost without a manual. The Yes Watch’s interface and is the best of the bunch. Four buttons are used to set the digital functions. While not as intuitive as an Apple product, the button logic is consistent and easy to remember. Frequently used functions such as switching “Home” and “Away” are quick and easy.

 

This is my second Yes Watch. I bought a first generation watch eight or nine years ago. I wore it all the time until our former President changed the rules for DST in the United States. Since then I’ve mostly worn an old school Omega GMT mechanical watch. The Omega is at the repair center getting a much needed Clean, Lube and Adjust. I started wearing my old Yes Watch again. Hey, I kind of missed this thing. Checking the interwebs, I saw Yes Watch had a Father’s Day sale with very good prices. I decided to get an updated version.

 

Old vs New

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Compared to the first generation Yes Watch, the new version has a much larger and easier to read digital time display. The new version also added the outer Moon rise/set ring. The original watch’s case was much heavier being made of stainless steel. The original has a mineral glass crystal vs the newer version’s sapphire. All in all, the new version is a much better watch.

Check out their website here:  http://www.yeswatch.com

Tallahassee and back in the Model S

Tesla at McClay Gardens Tallahassee

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen and I have just returned from our first long road trip in the Model S. It was a five day trip to Tallahassee, FL to visit our son, Robert. We drove a total of 812 miles in the Model S with no range anxiety.

Our Route Through Florida

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We did make a few accommodations to the nature of the Model S. In a previous blog post I pointed out that, like aircraft, EV’s require some planning to go cross country. Charging stations are not yet as numerous as gas stations. So EV owners need to have a plan and keep a healthy reserve.

 

We left Gulfport Thursday and deviated from the direct route to Tallahassee. We planned a stop at theTesla Supercharger in St Augustine. The distance to St Augustine is a bit less than the direct distance to Tallahassee and the second leg to Tallahassee is even shorter. This gave Karen a chance to experience a Supercharger for the first time.

 

We took the I4 to I95 and cruised at a steady 65 mph. Keeping an eye on the distance remaining on the Nav and the range display gave me an instant status of how much of a reserve I had at any given time. It originally looked like we’d arrive with about 40 miles of range left. However, we got there with18 miles left. Most of the loss was from highway speeds and a stiff headwind when we turned north on I95.

At the St Augustine Supercharger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Karen Plugs In

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were the only Tesla at the St Augustine Supercharger. We plugged in and the range started climbing rapidly. At one point the Supercharger was charging at a rate of 387 mph! We went to lunch at Sonny’s BBQ and in an hour and fifteen minutes we were back up to 260 miles of range.

 

Charging at 387mph

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We took the back roads to Tallahassee through Green Cove Springs, Starke, Lake City, and Live Oak. It was a relaxing scenic drive and included some beautiful canopy roads with overhanging oak trees.

 

On Country Roads

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling at a slower pace improved our range and we arrived in Tallahassee with 53 miles remaining.

 

Our hotel was able to provide us the use of a 120 volt outlet and we kept the car plugged in while there. We were only adding 3 or 4 miles of range an hour at the hotel. Not the fastest, but it did add up to 30 miles overnight.

 

Before we left, I bought a super heavy duty 10 gage 120 volt extension cord. I’m glad I brought it as we used it at the hotel. I’m not sure that they would have had a proper extension cord available for our use. It was raining Sunday night and it was nice to have a proper grounded extension cord.

 

In Tallahassee we also used J-1772 chargers at the Whole Foods and an FSU parking garage. Both are listed on PlugShare and charged at about 20 mph.

Charging at FSU

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being chauffeured to lunch and dinner by our son while the car charged was a great help.

 

These chargers gave us enough range to use the Model S to take side trips to Wakulla Springs State Park on Friday and Thomasville GA on Saturday.

On the Boat at Wakulla Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Alligator at Wakulla Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Manatee in Wakulla Springs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shortest distance to our home from Tallahassee is roughly 260 miles following US 19. This is too close to the Model S’s maximum range for comfort. We have previously used a level 2 charger in Palm Harbor at the AAA. That charger is only 230 miles from Tallahassee. The charger is also listed on PlugShare.

 

Our plan was to drive direct to the charger at AAA in Palm Harbor and charge there while having lunch at the nearby Outback Steakhouse. This would give us enough of a reserve to feel comfortable.

 

We left at 7 am Monday and to maximize range set the cruise control at 50 mph. Traffic was light. It was raining when we left and the rain continued all the way home. Subjectively, the trip didn’t seem much longer than past trips at higher speeds. We made it to AAA with 31 miles remaining.

 

During lunch the car charged up to 50 miles. We arrived home with 21 miles range remaining. A comfortable reserve given the distance from Palm Harbor.

 

At no point during the trip were we anxious about our range. By now we have over 7000 miles on the car and are very comfortable with it. I’ve become familiar with it’s navigation and range displays. I’ve learned how to drive to maximize range. Being a pilot, preflight planning is natural and it’s easy to apply that thinking to EV road trips.

 

Trip Data Display

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tesla is planning on opening a Supercharger in Gainesville soon. That will make the trip easy with two 150 mile legs on the highway. Tesla is opening up several Superchargers a week in the US. It’s already possible to travel up both coasts and from New York to Los Angeles using Superchargers. Before long it will be possible to go anywhere in the country via Supercharger.

 

Our Model S continues to run without problems or issues. It’s an amazing vehicle and we feel privileged to be able to drive it. It points the way to a possible future. A future where technology works in harmony with the needs of the planet, a sustainable future, and a future without oil.

 

Karen and I are thinking about a more ambitious road trip this summer.

 

 

 

Model S Update

It’s been a while since I’ve posted to this blog. I’m overdue for an update. It’s just been too much fun driving the Model S.

We just passed 5000 miles on the odometer, and the Model S continues to run like a top. There have been no issues, problems or glitches. The car continues to impress us as when it was new.

We’ve attended a few events including Plug-in Day in Tampa, Sarasota, and Cars and Coffee in Clearwater. The Tesla owners we’ve met are a sociable and friendly bunch. Most of them seem to be tech savvy early adopters who bought their car for the same reasons we did.

In Sarasota, FL on Plug in Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There have been three over the air software updates to the car so far. Like an iPhone, the Model S updates it’s software over the built in 3G connection or wifi. Sure beats taking the car to the dealer for a software update. The most recent update lowers the car’s rate of charge if it detects a drop in voltage. This could signify an electrical fault or short in your garage’s wiring.

Update Details

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Efficiency

I’m really amazed at the efficiency of our Tesla. Our Model S has averaged 301 watt hours per mile over 5000 miles. In other words, we go a little over 3 miles per kilowatt hour.  The energy in a gallon of gas is equivalent to 33.7 kilowatt hours of electricity, so our Model S gets the equivalent of 112 miles to the gallon! The EPA rates the Model S at 89 combined mpg.

Why are EV’s so efficient given that they have to drag around heavy batteries? Isn’t gasoline more energy dense?

An EV is over 80% efficient in converting the energy in it’s battery into forward movement. Most of the energy in the battery moves you down the road. An Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) vehicle is only about 20% efficient in converting the energy in it’s fuel into forward movement. Most of the energy in a gallon of gas is wasted as heat or through friction.

An EV also has the advantage of regenerative braking which turns the motor into a generator putting energy back into the battery when slowing down. This increases efficiency in stop and go traffic and saves wear on brake pads/rotors.

 

The Future

In an earlier blog post I said that driving our Volt felt like the future.  That sense is even more powerful in the Model S.

When I was a kid we were promised a future with flying cars and jet packs. Sadly, that hasn’t come to pass. It’s striking how far the automobile hasn’t progressed. You’d think that after over 100 years of development the automobile would be a lot farther evolved.

I’m excited that we seem to be entering an era of rapid automotive evolution. It’s critical to our economy and the environment that we make the automobile more efficient.

 

 

 

Road Trip to Bok Tower in the Model S

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip

Wednesday, we took the Model S on a round trip to Lake Wales to visit Bok Tower Gardens. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Pete and Shorty’s on Gulf to Bay in Clearwater. On the way back, we had dinner in Winter Haven. It was a beautiful day and Karen and I enjoyed walking through the gardens and taking pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving

The round trip distance was 198 miles. We didn’t charge at any of our stops and we made it home with a comfortable 66 miles of Rated Range remaining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To maximize range we took the most direct route, Highway 60, and never exceeded 60 mph. As a backup, we used Plug Share to locate some charging spots near our route. As we had plenty of range before heading back, we didn’t need to charge up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning a trip in an EV is like flying a plane.

Pilots are always aware of their fuel status and are required to plan to land with a minimum amount of fuel on board. Certain routes and weather conditions require one or more “alternate” airports if unable to land at the destination. The goal is not to run out of fuel in flight. Thinking like a pilot when planning a long trip in an EV is a great way to overcome “Range Anxiety.”

  • Before departing on a long trip, you need an alternate, or “plan B. ” Know where you can charge up in a pinch before you leave.
  • Charge up fully just before departing.
  • Bring your charge cord and bag of adapters on long trips. Never-ever leave home without your J1772 adapter.
  • Public charging stations can be “charge blocked” or occupied when you get there. Sometimes they’re broken or offline. Have a second or third option in mind.
  • Campgrounds have “50 Amp” plugs for RVs which fit your 14-50 adapter. Many campgrounds allow EVs to charge, but call first as some do not.
  • Always hold a reserve, don’t plan on using all of your range. Fifteen percent of rated range is the minimum, twenty percent is better.
  • Monitor your energy usage en route. Know when you’re getting behind and do something about it while you still have options.
  • Don’t accelerate quickly and use regen instead of the brakes when possible.
  • Limit your maximum speed. An increase of 10 mph reduces range by about 15% at highway speeds. Don’t go so slow that you create a hazard to others and stay in the right lane.
  • 60 mph on a country road is better than 60 mph on the Interstate when everyone else is doing 80 mph.
  • Start off slow to maximize range. If you beat expectations, you can speed up at the end.
  • Use the cruise control to hold a steady speed in level terrain.
  • Plan the most direct route, every extra mile counts against you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arriving home, it took roughly 6 hours to recharge using our 240 volt outlet.

 

Driving The Future

The Tesla drives like a dream, it’s quiet, powerful, and looks like a supermodel.  At two months we’re still in love with our amazing car. We really are driving the future.

Photos of our Brown Model S

 

We had our Model S detailed and a protective coating applied by Pete at First Impression in Sarasota. We’re very pleased with the way the car turned out.

I’m permanently spoiled, can’t see driving anything else.

Model S First Impressions

On the way home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Here

August 20th finally arrived. After a few weeks of anxious waiting. We Picked up the car at the Tampa Tesla Service Center.

Everyone at the Tampa Service Center was wonderful. We found it interesting that three of the people who work at the Service Center had Volts! One of them unplugged his Volt and plugged ours in to charge while we were there!

Our delivery specialist, Ben, walked us through our car with a patient thoroughness. He took Karen on a short drive to familiarize her with the car’s operation. Together we went over every feature. We never had a sense of being rushed out the door, it was a really pleasant experience. Unlike most car dealers, everyone there was professional and knowledgable. I had the sense that they were all excited to be working for Tesla and believers in not just Tesla, but the wider adoption of the Electric Car.

The car was clean and had been charged to the standard 90% level.

The Car

First impression, Holy smokes, it’s Beautiful! So glad we went with the brown. Just the right balance of contrast between the body and chrome and nose cone. The brown color has a different personality depending on the light. In sunlight you see gold tinted highlights and in the shade the car looks almost black. Calling it “Brown” does the color a disservice, marketing wise. It should be called “Coffee” or “Mocha.”

The interior is spacious and comfortable made of premium materials. It has a minimalist design with very few buttons or controls. Almost everything is controlled with the massive 17 inch touchscreen display mounted in the center of the dash. The display looks and acts like a giant iPad. The user interface is elegant and responsive, obviously a lot of thought went into it’s design. Underway, almost all functions can be controlled by buttons and scroll wheels on the steering wheel. These interface with the forward display in areas to either side of the speedometer. This minimizes the need to look at the center mounted 17 inch display while driving.

There are only two buttons on the dash, the emergency flashers and a button to open the glovebox. Compared to our Volt who’s center console is festooned with touch sensitive buttons, the Tesla’s dash is clean and uncluttered. It’s like the iPhone compared to an old Treo or Blackberry with chicklet keyboards. This is clearly the future of  the automobile user interface.

Driving

The first thing you notice underway is how quiet the Model S is. This car is silent–we’re used to the Volt, which is quiet, but the Model S is much more so. Perhaps having the battery under the floor insulates you from a lot of tire noise. It’s easy to exceed the speed limit because the sound cues in other cars just aren’t there.

Wow, this thing is seriously quick! Instant torque when you put your right foot down. All the more impressive given the Model S’ 4,700 pound weight. There’s no noise or drama under acceleration. No sense of the car spooling up or downshifting, you get pushed back in the seat the instant you push the accelerator. This is addicting.

The Model S rides and handles very well. The combination of an adjustable air suspension and a long wheelbase give it a supple yet controlled ride. Rebound is well damped so there’s no sense of floating or being too soft. My car has the 19 inch all season tires and under aggressive cornering the tires are clearly the limiting factor. The car feels neutral near the limit without excessive understeer. Turn in feels quick and the steering weight is adjustable between comfort, standard, and sport. Stability control is always on while traction control can be turned off if you’d like to shred your rear tires in no time at all.

Road Trip

Saturday, Robert and I took the Model S down to Ft. Myers. It gave us a chance to test the range at highway speeds and check out the new Supercharger there. The longer drive gave us a chance to really explore the navigation, trip, and audio features of the car.

Before leaving, we gave the Model S a full charge. That gave us a rated range of 270 miles.
Interestingly, with a full charge a yellow band shows up on the right side of the speedometer. This limits Regen to prevent overcharging a full battery. After a few miles this bar disappeared.

Limited Regen with a full charge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the way down we stopped in Sarasota to meet some other Model S owners and visit First Impression Premier Auto Detail. Pete, at First Impression gave us lots of tips on how to clean and maintain our car’s finish. We had lunch at Mad Fish Grill before leaving for Ft. Myers.

Three Model S at Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Supercharger locations are built into the Navigation Database. The Ft. Myers Supercharger is located in a shopping center just off of I 75. The Model S Nav’s Turn by Turn took us right to the exact spot within the large parking lot.

We drove conservatively and followed the posted speed limits on the way down to maximize range. On arrival we had 120 miles range remaining!

There were 8 parking spots at the Ft. Myers Supercharger. They’re located far enough from the stores that they’re unlikely to be “ICE’d.” The Supercharger charge cable is about as thick as the hose on a gas pump and very short. We had to back right up to the bump stop for the cable to reach our charge port.

Sharing the Ft Myers Supercharger with a black Model S

After plugging in we checked the charging display and saw that we were charging at 271 miles per hour! The Supercharger fed us 232 amps at 372 volts. I can see why the cable is so thick!

Fast Charging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walked to Dick’s Sporting Goods and then had a glass of iced tea next door at Aurelio’s Pizza. The manager at Aurelio’s was very nice and absolutely refused to charge us for the tea or accept a tip. We can’t wait to try their Pizza next time.

Speaking of free, Tesla does not charge for the use of their Superchargers. They will always be free to owners of the Model S.

After 25 minutes we had added 100 miles of range to the Model S! With 220 miles of range showing, we decided to drive a bit faster on the way home. This would allow us to compare range against the relatively slow trip down. We drove past our exit to have dinner with Karen at Carrabbas, this added about 15 extra miles. On arrival home we had 65 miles remaining.

Range on Arrival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taking out the extra miles, we lost roughly 40 miles of range by driving 10 mph faster on the way home. The moral of the story is, if you need to maximize range–slow down!

Either way, we had plenty of reserve and we never suffered from “range anxiety.” When you buy a Tesla you don’t just get a damn fine car, you get the Supercharger Network. And, when Tesla builds out it’s Supercharger Network, long distance travel in an Electric Vehicle will be a reality.

Disruptive

Every now and then a disruptive technology comes along which completely changes the landscape. Before the iPhone, so called “Smart Phones” had tiny screens, used a stylus, and had tiny tiny keyboards. Overnight those phones were rendered obsolete by the new iPhone. The Tesla Model S is also disruptive. Most auto manufacturers don’t yet realize it, but their product is already obsolete.

 

Production Complete

Production Complete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checking our “My Tesla” page we see that our Model S is “being prepared for pickup or delivery.”

Our pickup day is set for August 20th.

Stay Tuned. . . .

The Charging Network is the Key

I thought I’d expand a bit on my last post where I commented on Tesla’s Supercharging Network.

So far, none of the competition has more than one third of the Model S’ 300 mile range. More importantly, no other manufacturer offers a network of chargers, allowing unlimited travel, like Tesla’s Superchargers. It’s not just about the car, the network is the key to eliminating “range anxiety.”

I think that this is the part of Tesla that the press and other automobile manufacturers miss. Granted, it’s hard to get over the Model S’ great design and exhilarating performance, but let’s look at the Supercharger Network.

Tesla's Supercharger network in 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Range anxiety is one of the biggest obstacles to overcome when selling the concept of the Electric Car. No one wants to be stuck by the side of the road with a dead battery on a dark and stormy night.

 

Overcoming Range Anxiety

There are several ways to overcome range anxiety in an EV. For example, the Chevy Volt has a range extending gasoline generator which comes on when the battery is depleted. This solution adds weight, mechanical complication, and still requires infrequent trips to the gas station. We love our Volt, but we love it a bit less when the gas generator is running.

Another way to deal with range anxiety is to live with limited range and keep a gas powered car for longer trips. This relegates the EV to the status of second car. You could also ditch the gas guzzler altogether and rent a gas car for long trips. Either way requires planning ahead and added expense beyond the cost of owning the EV.

The best way to overcome range anxiety is to have a really big battery. Ideally, an EV would have a thousand mile range, farther than anyone would drive in a day. But today’s battery technology isn’t up to it. A battery that big would be too heavy and expensive to be practical.

Tesla’s battery is the best available today in an EV. The 85 KWH battery has an ideal range of 300 miles and an EPA certified range of 265 miles. The Model S battery weighs over a thousand pounds. The Model S is 97% aluminum to offset the weight of the battery. A heavier battery would be hard to imagine in any car.

Over time, technology will improve and batteries will be smaller, have more range, and be cheaper to manufacture.

Superchargers, Winter 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Super Duper

The other way to overcome range anxiety is to have a network of closely spaced fast charging stations.

Take a map of the US and pick a spot to build your first charging station. Draw a circle around your charger, the radius less than your EV’s maximum range. Pick a spot on a highway within that circle to build another charging station, and repeat until you have the country completely covered.

This is the path that Tesla has chosen.

Tesla’s Superchargers feed high voltage DC directly to the Model S battery. They can add 150 miles of range in a half an hour. Superchargers will be spaced close enough to leap-frog your way across the country. Each Supercharger location has between four and ten bays and can charge multiple cars at a time.

By the end of this year Tesla owners will be able to travel up and down both coasts and drive coast to coast. By 2015 the whole country will be covered by Tesla’s Supercharger Network.

The Superchargers will always be free for owners of the Model S, Tesla pays for the electricity. The Tesla Superchargers only work on the Model S, other manufacturer’s EV’s cannot use them.

The competing fast charging standard is the CHAdeMO, it’s used primarily in the US by the Nissan Leaf. To my knowledge, most CHAdeMO chargers in the US are at Nissan dealers. Nissan has announced plans to have 100 CHAdeMO chargers deployed at “select” Nissan dealers nationwide. I doubt that this will allow long distance travel between populated areas given the Leaf’s limited range.

 

Package Deal

When you buy a Tesla Model S, you aren’t just getting the car, you’re also getting access to the Supercharger Network allowing long distance travel without fuel costs. Assuming that Tesla builds enough Superchargers to keep up with demand, they’re going to be hard to compete against.

It would take a far sighted manufacturer to build an EV with competing range and also provide a network of fast chargers covering the country. It can be done. Existing car manufacturers already have networks–networks of dealers. Building multiple bay fast chargers at dealers would be doable and the only way for them to compete with Tesla’s Supercharger Network.

T-minus 24 Days and Counting

Anticipation

We’ve ordered our Tesla Model S. We have a vin number and are expecting delivery on August, 22.

Model S in Brown

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re getting our Tesla in Brown with the largest 85 KWH battery giving an ideal range of 300 miles. We’ve ordered it with the Panoramic Glass Roof, Tech Package, Upgraded Audio, and Adjustable Suspension. Ours will be the 16,924th Model S built in 2013.

To say we’re excited about it is an understatement.

 

Chevy Volt as a Gateway Drug

Our experience with the Chevy Volt has been eye opening. For the past 19 months it’s felt like living in the future.

The Volt is quiet, it’s quick, and it’s comfortable.

Our Volt's Stats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve just returned from our 3rd trip to Tallahassee in the Volt. It averaged a little over 50 mpg for the trip. Despite burning a lot of gas, our lifetime average is still over 250 mpg!

In fact, the Volt’s gas engine is just getting broken in. We’re averaging over 40 mpg now when using the gas engine as a generator.

The Volt is best, however, when it’s in electric mode and we go out of our way to not burn gas. We’ve turned “range anxiety” into a game. On our regular trips to the Tampa Airport, we usually plug in at an airport charger to avoid going into gas mode on the way home. We use the chargers downtown and at Publix. We’ve added several charger locations to PlugShare.

On those infrequent occasions we get gas for the Volt, it feels different. Now I’m much more aware that gas stations are dirty and smelly places. And gas is expensive!

Charging in our garage we leave home every day with a full battery. A 40 mile charge for the Volt costs about $1.20 in electricity. Last month’s charging added less than $30 to our electric bill. We don’t drive 40 miles nonstop every day, usually less.

Driving an EV is fun. Acceleration is brisk and instant with 100% of torque available at any rpm. Put your foot down and it goes. Regenerative braking, or “regen,” turns the motor into a generator when you take your foot off the accelerator. It’s like downshifting a manual transmission. Regen puts energy back into the battery instead of turning momentum into heat in the brakes. When I drive a non-EV I’m astonished at how much energy is wasted in friction braking. “Why can’t it make gas when I slow down?”

Like the Tesla, the Chevy Volt is American made and uses domestic energy, creating American jobs and energy independence.

We’re keeping the Volt and are adding a 240 volt 14-50 plug for the Tesla.

We’ve had no regrets over getting the Volt. It’s convinced us that EV’s are the future of the automobile and has taught us the value of being ahead of the curve.

 

TESLA, Supercharged

When you buy a Tesla you aren’t just buying the car, you’re also getting access to Tesla’s Supercharger network. Last week Tesla added two of its Supercharger stations to Florida, in Port St. Lucie and Ft. Myers. Superchargers are high voltage charging stations which charge at a rate of 300 miles of range an hour. There are no fees for owners of the Tesla Model S, charging will always be free. Superchargers are proprietary to Tesla and don’t work on other makes of EVs.

By the end of 2013, Model S owners will be able to travel from California to New York and from Miami to Boston using Superchargers. By 2015 almost all of the country will be within range of a supercharger. Long range trips have been the EV’s Achilles’ heel, not any more.

Tesla is also working on battery swapping.

 

Cost vs Value

The first question from most people about Tesla is, “Isn’t it really expensive?”

Short answer: “Yes, it is.”

However, there are a number of factors which bring it’s cost of ownership down.

Cheap Fuel. Electricity for the Tesla is about one quarter the cost, per mile, of  gas in an equivalent car. This could save tens of thousands of dollars over the life of the car.

Low Maintenance. No gas engine, so no oil changes or periodic maintenance. Brake pads and rotors last a lot longer due to regenerative braking.

Tax Incentives. There is a Federal Tax refund of $7500 for purchasing an EV. Some states (not Florida) offer additional incentives.

There are intangibles which put value into the Tesla.

I’m buying from an American company and providing American jobs.

The Tesla uses domestic energy promoting energy independence.

By being an early adopter of EV’s I”m helping to make the next generation of electric cars more affordable.

I’m encouraging the construction of EV infrastructure like Superchargers and public charging stations.

The Tesla is damn sexy.

The Tesla is damn quick.

There is an old saying describing certain types of people, “They know the price of everything but the value of nothing.” Meaning that if you focus on just the bottom line, you miss out on a lot of good stuff.

 

Clean Slate

The Tesla is a complete re-think of the automobile. A clean slate design by some very smart people.

When you approach the car the door handles extend and the car unlocks. Sitting in the seat wakes up the car and pressing the brake pedal starts it, there is no “Start” button. Put it in gear and drive away.

When you’re done driving, put it in park and get out of the car. When you walk away, the car shuts down and locks itself.

The only buttons on the dash are for the emergency flashers and to open the glove box. All other functions are controlled via the steering wheel buttons or the gigantic 17 inch touchscreen. Graphics are crisp and clean and the user interface is fast and responsive–like a giant iPad.

The Model S’ firmware is automatically updated via the car’s always on cellular datalink. Updates and new features are sent out at regular intervals to keep the car up to date.

 

Critical Mass

Tesla’s Model S is out-selling the competition, the Mercedes S Class, the BMW 7 Series, and the Audi A8. Model S is getting rave reviews from the automotive press. Tesla’s stock “TSLA” is doing very very well. They paid off their loan from the Federal Government five years early and are making a profit. Other automobile manufacturers are starting to wake up and produce their own EVs. Electric vehicles are about to reach critical mass and become mainstream.

Nissan’s Leaf is selling very well. The Chevrolet Volt is holding it’s own. BMW just announced the new “i3″ a small electric car with a 100 mile range. Mercedes is coming out with a “B Class” EV next year, also with about a 100 mile range.

 

Range Anxiety

So far, none of the competition has more than one third of the Model S’ 300 mile range. More importantly, no other manufacturer offers a network of chargers, allowing unlimited travel, like Tesla’s Superchargers. It’s not just about the car, the network is the key to eliminating “range anxiety.”

Next year, Tesla is coming out with an electric SUV called the Model X. Tesla is also planning on releasing a mid-sized mass market car priced around $40,000 in about three years time.

 

UPDATE July 30:

I just checked the “My Tesla” web page and we’re “In Production.”

In Production

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s some Video of the Tesla Factory , how the Model S is made.

And  National Geographic’s MegaFactories Tesla.

 

UPDATE July 31:

 

14-50 Plug in our Garage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today the electrician came and installed a NEMA 14-50 outlet in our garage. It will supply 240 volts at 40 amps, on a 50 amp circuit breaker. With it we’ll be able to charge at 31 mph using our Tesla’s mobile connector. We’ll continue to use the SAE J1772 charger for the Volt.