All posts by Space Coast EV Drivers Team

National Drive Electric Week is Sept 15

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It’s that time again. Time for the annual, nationwide, grassroots event known as National Drive Electric Week.  Electric Vehicle (EV) owners all over the USA are organizing events at shopping centers, civic centers, city halls, and public parks where real owners bring their personal cars, motorcycles, bicycles, and even electric skateboards to show to the public.  The events are free and open to everyone curious about electric transportation to come out and ask every question they can and get answers from actual EV owners that drive electric to work and school every day.  Not only can you ask questions but there will be many different makes and models ready for anyone to take a ride or sometimes drive (if the owner is comfortable allowing others to drive their car) around the block so everyone can see just how great the experience of quiet, smooth, and fun to drive can be in an electric vehicle.  We should have several of the brand new Tesla Model 3 for everyone to see as well.

Our event hosted in partnership with the City of Satellite Beach will be Saturday, September 15 from 10 am – 5 pm.  We will have food trucks and free raffle prizes drawn every 15 minutes – you must be present to win.  Please register to attend at our official event page here: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=1235

Email us if you have any other questions.

Here’s the Coastal Connections interview we did with Terri Wright at WFIT:

 

August EV Meetup Recap

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We met this month at the Crafty Crab at Hammock Landing and went over everything needed to get ready for National Drive Electric Week.  The main idea is we are in SERIOUS PUSH MODE for getting the word out.  Tell everyone you know to sign up to attend at our official event page here: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=1235

We also printed some flyers for everyone to hand out at every place you visit and also ask if you can hang them up.  You can download and print the flyer from here if you want to print a few of them yourself to help get the word out: 

Next, two of our members will record the radio spot at WFIT to play the two weeks before the event.  So look for a post about that in our September monthly meetup post.

We also talked about setting up a weekly meeting every Thursday for the planning of NDEW.  This will be a meeting to make sure tasks are getting taken care of and we are all on the same page.

We had a visitor join us with questions about getting their very first car – and to get the best deal on an electric one!  The advice was to go to cars.com or carvana and search for used EVs with the search terms to get the newest car within your budget to get the most bells and whistles.  The battery tech is evolving with every update such as the 2016 Chevy Volt and 2018 Nissan Leaf so that’s important to research.  It’s also good to measure your daily drive to see how much range you need to cover your driving habits.  A plug in hybrid is always a good choice since it can use gasoline if the battery ever runs out for those that just can’t get over their range anxiety.  We can tell you that range anxiety isn’t a real thing since everyone in our club that drives a pure electric car never worries about their range except in very rare cases.

Don’t forget to sign up to attend if you haven’t already on our main event page here:  https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=1235

One of our members finally remembered to take a picture of the Tesla Supercharger voltage/electric info label for the actual voltage/amps rating.  It’s 410 volts and 270 amps.  That’s a lot of juice!  No wonder the Superchargers are the fastest chargers out there today.

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July Monthly EV Meetup Recap

For the first Sunday of July we decided to meet at the old Moon Hut, now La Fiesta in Cape Canaveral.  Since the city has decided to install FREE to use charging stations at City Hall, the Public Library, and Manatee Park, we wanted to take some photos to show them just how much extra business they are bringing into town.  This is one of the main ideas every business and apartment/condo owner needs to know.  If you install charging stations you will attract more customers.  These customers will also end up spending more money at your business/restaurant because they will wait around a little longer than others to wait for their car to charge.  This means they might buy an extra coffee or get dessert where other customers would have normally left already.  Then, once your competitors are also installing charging stations then you can install FREE to use stations to attract more customers than your competitors.  Even if a car was plugged in for 4 hours it would only use about $2 of electricity.  So by giving away that $2 you would get back much more than that in extra business.  This is way better than the money you would spend for advertising and marketing and get even better results!  Once you put your charger on plugshare.com EV drivers will find you and single you out over your competitors – especially if planning a trip and need to stay at your hotel.  They will always pick one with a place to charge while they sleep.  For more information about charging stations check our info page here.

The other big thing to talk about was to get started on advertising and getting the word out on National Drive Electric Week!  Don’t forget to sign up to attend and tell everyone you know to sign up to attend as well.  We have almost 100 EVs in our club so it would be awesome if we could break 80 cars this year.  Go to our official event page to sign up today!

Here’s a link to the full photo album showing all the different EVs we had that day.

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June Monthly EV Meetup

This month we came back to the bistro/cafe inside the Courtyard by Marriott in Cocoa Beach.  We like to show them how much extra business the free charging stations they have in their parking lot attracts by having some of our meetings there.  That’s  one of the main ideas behind our monthly meetups.  Not only do we get to meet any new members and talk electric vehicle tech, we also get to show local businesses the growing number of electric vehicles that are waiting to charge up while parked and spend money at their business.  Each month we meet at a different location with charging stations so contact us to get added to the email list or check our upcoming events page.  Not only will installing a charging station at your business attract extra EV-driving customers, but it will also increase the time we stay there.  This normally turns into extra sales or in the case of a restaurant, a dessert or extra coffee.  Read more about the different types of charging stations and reasons to install them at your business on our charging station info page.

We are starting our planning for this year’s National Drive Electric Week event in Satellite Beach so make sure to register to attend or volunteer to help and most of all tell your friends!  We are going to try to get well over 50 electric vehicles this year or as close to 100 as possible.  We have almost 100 EVs just in our group alone!  As of this last meeting, here’s our membership numbers:

Total EVs:
95
Total Members:
108
EV Models:
RAV 4 EV 1
Nissan Leaf 23
Mitsubishi iMiEV 2
Ford Fusion Energi 0
Chevy Volt 25
Ford Focus EV 2
Tesla Roadster 1
Tesla Model S 13
Ford CMax Energi 2
Plug in Prius 2
BMW i3 2
BMW i8 1
Tesla Model X 3
Zero S Motorcycle 1
Chevy Spark EV 2
Toyota Celica Conversion 1
Austin Healey Conversion 1
Fiat 500e 1
Kia Soul EV 1
Zero FXS Motorcycle 1
GotWay MCM2s 1
Chevy Bolt 4
Ford Escape Plug in 1
Honda Clarity Plug in Hybrid 1
Zero DS Motorcycle 1
Tesla Model 3 2

Did You Know? You Can Buy A Used EV

If you are like me, you would consider buying an electric vehicle (EV), but the price of a new one is just not in the cards.  You like the low cost of operation, but not the price of a new vehicle.

So we share the desire to save money and own an EV.  So let me share how we purchased a 2014 Nissan Leaf S with 35K for $6750 in November 2017, a 2012 Chevrolet Volt Premium with 112K for $6,200 in March 2018, and then sold our last gas car in May 2018.

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Why The Leaf?

Research, Research, Research.  We did a lot of research. You can study on the web, or reach out to any EV club and begin discussing your thoughts and needs.  EV club members can share their stories, and give you insight and questions to help determine which car is for you. I do not think a dealer is a good place to go for accurate information — yet.

We wanted an all electric commuter car with enough range to get us to and from work for the next 3-5 years. By then more cars and battery options will be available to get another car or extend this one. We wanted 35 miles a day.  The Nissan Leaf fit the bill nicely. We learned the models prior to 2013 had battery issues in hot climates like Florida. The 2013 was the oldest car with a reasonable battery. The older the car, the lower the price — something we needed.  We searched cars.com and craigslist daily to get a sense for the condition and pricing of our target cars until we settled in on a target of about 7K for a Leaf S with about 35-45K miles with 11 of 12 battery strength bars.

The Leaf did not get a battery heating/cooling system until 2018 (for a power price), but in Florida this causes battery degradation. It was not likely to lose 50% capacity over the 3-5 years we wanted the car. The 2013 has 83 miles on the full 12 bars of battery capacity, so even at one half we are still good. By then, technology and pricing should allow for other options to fix or get another car. This is a commuter car, so we would use our gas car if we wanted to go on a long trip. In October 2017, the 2013 used Leaf S provided the lowest priced used EV which became our target car.

How We Bought The Leaf

We search cars.com and craiglist to record and visit any potentially good cars.  Owners of a private sale are good because you can get a feel for how they took care of the car and what maintenance was done. If you and the seller agree on a target price, run a carfax.com on the VIN# and/or take the care into a dealership for a complete checkup. You can agree in advance to lower the price of the car by the dollar amount of repairs needed. If you like the car after all this, buy it.

Private sales are fairly easy. Cash or cashiers checks work well for fast transactions. We did cash. Have them sign over the paper title and both of you fill out a bill of sale (Google it for your state).  Call your insurance to get the car covered, then go to the Department Of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to do the tax, title, and registration. You can even do the entire transaction at the DMV to be sure it is all good before literally handing over the cash.

A dealer sale is even easier, but you will pay about $850 more in dealer fees (in Florida). We prefer the private sales, but the dealers are easier.

We were about to buy a 2013 Leaf from a dealer, when we saw a 2014 on craigslist with 35K for $7,500. We targeted 7K for the car, got the cash, and visited the owner to see the car. It was well cared for, but it was their last car and their family of 3 kids was moving out of the country in 2 weeks.  He had an electronic title and it was the weekend. The electronic title requires both parties to go to the DMV to complete the transaction. We agreed on 7K, put money down on it, and wrote up an agreement to buy the car at a DMV a few days before they were to leave the US. The owner later discounted the car to $6,750 to pay for the rental car he did not have to rent.  The DMV transaction was smooth and efficient. If you always treat the seller and the DMV with respect and understanding, you will get the best results. Be honest, share with the buyer your situation and needs. Listen and empathize with their situation and needs. Try to meet between both of your needs and theirs. Help each other to achieve both your goals.

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Why The Volt?

About 4 months after buying the Leaf, we were completely hooked on driving electric. Owning a gas car seemed to be more and more silly over time. All the additional costs of maintaining a late model gas car compared to an EV was becoming very obvious.  In fact, just to be absurd, try to sell a gas car to an EV owner. They would say, why would I buy something with so many moving parts that is so expensive to operate and maintain? Are you nuts?

In talking with members of our local EV club, it appeared that a first generation Chevy Volt was a good fit for our long distance needs. It drives like a pure EV for the first 35 to 40 miles (depending on how you drive), and then a gas generator kicks in for the next 350 miles (Range Extended EV). It has less moving parts than a gas car, but more than a pure EV (like our Leaf). The Volt will need oil changes and transmission fluid, but not as often when you run in pure EV mode as we do. At the time we looked, the only other option was the BMW I3, but it was still too expensive for us. We decided the Volt was our next car.

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How We Bought The Volt

We began researching cars.com and craigslist for pricing and condition. We decided that a 2012 with just over 100K miles (warranty expires) would have the lowest price and still have quality.  The Volt has examples of going over 400K miles on original brakes and no battery degradation (unlike the Leaf). If distance beyond the EV miles is an issue for you, consider the Volt over the pure EV Leaf.  If distance is not an issue, the added maintenance of Volt (or similar range extended EV) may not be worth it. For us, the 2012 was the first year with one touch door unlock. Great for when your hands are full.  We discovered that about 7K to 8K for a good car was possible, but in short supply. We wanted a 6K car, and that was difficult to impossible. It was clear we were going to be looking for a while.

We planned a trip for spring break that was over 800 miles and hoped to find a Volt before the trip. We settled on seeing a car in south Florida, and the night before that visit, I received an email responding to my craigslist (Wanted 2012 Volt) ad that I posted throughout the state.  The young Navy man was about to be deployed for 6 months and wanted to sell the car before that. His target date and ours were the same. I called him, and the car was in better overall condition than the one in south Florida. I cancelled the south Florida visit and the dealership checkout.

The Navy man’s Volt was an immaculate 2012 Volt Premium with every amenity and 112K miles for 7,000. He knew my target was 6K and said we would likely be able to work something out. The test drive was excellent, and we negitated to $6,500 minus anything the vehicle checkup found. It turned out it needed about $300 of maintenance, so the price was agreed at $6,200.

He had a loan on the car with a bank, and as it turned out we both had deposit accounts with that bank, so we completed the transaction at the bank as follows. We filled out a bill of sale, I paid the bank officer the purchase price of the car. They paid off the loan and deposit the rest into his account. The bank gave me a letter showing I was the next owner of the car that I could used at the DMV to get a temp tag to drive it home. I called my insurance to get the car insured and get a proof of insurance for the DMV. The bank mailed the title to his wife (who could legally sign the title) and overnight it to us. Once it arrived, we went to the DMV to handle the taxes, title, and registration.

Summary

If you are looking to buy an EV (new or used), I recommend you find your local EV club and begin talking with them to help determine what car or cars are best for you. Many clubs let you join (often for free) even if you do not have an EV. This is a great way to immerse yourself in EVs without the pressure or inaccuracies often found at dealerships.  At the end of the EV club meetings, almost every EV car may be in the parking lot. Sadly, as of the writing of this article, our local dealers have virtually no one who understands EVs.

We bought the Leaf as a commuter car, not a long distance car.  We already had a second car that could be used for long trips. Since we do long distance trips 3 to 5 times a year, having a distance car was important. If you only go on one trip a year, consider renting a car just for that trip. We could not afford a newer EV with a 250 or 350 mile range. If you can, explore a long range EV. If you can’t afford a pure EV with the range you need, consider a range extended EV (like the Volt). Again, use your local EV club members to guide you, and use cars.com or craigslist to help you. They are not there to sell you anything, just share their experiences and let that inform you. Knowledge will help you.

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Tips

  • Research to find which car is best for you, then determine the year and features desired.
  • Scan craigslist and cars.com daily.
  • Contact the seller and ask questions (including the VIN)
  • If reasonable, get the carfax using the VIN
  • Do more research if carfax shows something.
  • Get a KBB value for this car to bring to the seller
  • Print your state’s bill-of-sale form to bring with you
  • Bring cash (if reasonable and possible). They are more willing to negotiate when they see you have cash.
  • Visit the car and seller
  • Agree to a price to buy the car and the deductions if issue are found by the dealer
  • Have it checked by a dealer
  • Discuss the findings with the seller and agree to the deducted price.
  • Fill out the bill of sale
  • On paper title, have them sign over the title
  • On electronic title, visit the DMV together to finish the sale.
  • Get insurance before you drive it home or visit the DMV.

City of Satellite Beach Earth Day Celebration

The City of Satellite Beach invited us back to the Schechter Center to display our EVs along with the other earth friendly exhibitors.  Most of the stuff was inside but we braved the rain and set up our tent and table with our cars just outside the front door with our cars.  Every time we set up at an event it’s always random which cars will be there depending on our schedules.  This time we laughed because we had 5 Chevy Volts all lined up on one side and they were all white!  We hoped no one would ask us if white was the only color they came in.  The other side had a Nissan Leaf and two Tesla Model S sedans.  As the event opened it was very cloudy and raining on a off so everyone was worried that no one would show up.  But right around lunch time the clouds opened up and the sun came out – and so did the people!  There were plenty of questions asked by the public and we were there to answer them all.  There was a couple of people that said they were thinking about getting an electric car as their next one and said they would contact us with more questions.  If you have questions about electric cars we are the ones to ask.  We drive them every day and there’s almost every make and model represented in our club.  From 100% electric to plug in hybrids with gasoline range extenders, we are happy to clear up the confusion and tell you all the differences from our daily driving collective wisdom.

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Earth Day at Enchanted Forest

We were invited back for the fourth time this year to the big earth day event at the Enchanted Forest Sanctuary in Titusville. Instead of just two EVs this year we had six! Again, all the visitors that passed by our tent had lots of good questions and really liked the fact that they were our personal cars instead of show cars. It sprinkled rain on and off between bouts of sunshine. A heavy downpour came later after noon but everyone agreed it wasn’t enough to scare us away and stayed to the end.

 

March EV Meetup Recap

We had our March 2018 meetup at the old Moon Hut in Cape Canaveral, now called La Fiesta.  Real astronauts ate here!  We had a special guest from the city of Cape Canaveral join us and talk about all the new charging stations installed by the city.  We asked how they got the city to install the FREE to use charging stations instead of the more expensive to purchase and operate ones that require you to swipe an RFID card to pay.  He explained that the city understands that by giving away the 50 cents or a few bucks of electricity they will bring many times that in economic bonuses since EV owners will visit the local shops and restaurants while they wait for their car to charge.  We urged the city to spread word to every other city as that is the way to go!  We all agreed that we will all be spending more time in Cape Canaveral because of those free chargers.  He said that we could talk to other cities and send them their way and they would explain it all to them.  So if you’re listening, Melbourne, Satellite Beach, Palm Bay, and every other city out there – talk to Cape Canaveral!  We have over 100 members now and growing every month.  These electric vehicles are the way of the future so it would help to get started now instead of waiting to catch up with your charging infrastructure!  You can use our Charging Station Info page on our website to help answer most of your questions.  You can also contact us and use us as a resource to help answer all of your questions about driving electric.  We do it every day and love it!20180304_153824

Another great meet up for February

We had another great meetup for our first Sunday of the month in February.  We not only went over our newest members, we added a new one right then during the meeting!  He found us by our event posted on Facebook.  So we think we’ll be posting our events on Facebook as often as possible from now on.  We talked about ways to celebrate our 100th member even though we are now at 104 members and 90 electric vehicles.  Perhaps waiting until we hit 100 EVs would be a better milestone?  We loved eating at Tely’s Chinese Restaurant as the food was great and right across the street from the Medical City Complex with charging stations for the cars that came from further away.  Here’s our new numbers as of Feb 5, 2018:

Total EVs:
91
Total Members:
104
EV Models:
RAV 4 EV 1
Nissan Leaf 23
Mitsubishi iMiEV 2
Ford Fusion Energi 0
Chevy Volt 25
Ford Focus EV 2
Tesla Roadster 1
Tesla Model S 15
Ford CMax Energi 2
Plug in Prius 1
BMW i3 2
BMW i8 1
Tesla Model X 3
Zero S Motorcycle 1
Chevy Spark EV 2
Toyota Celica Conversion 1
Austin Healey Conversion 1
Fiat 500e 1
Kia Soul EV 1
Zero FXS Motorcycle 1
GotWay MCM2s 1
Chevy Bolt 2
Ford Escape Plug in 1
Honda Clarity Plug in Hybrid 1

Satellite Beach Founders Day

We had a great time talking to hundreds of people about electric vehicles at the Satellite Beach Founders Day event.  There were vendors, crafts and food all inside the Schechter Center and in the whole parking lot.  We had four EVs on display today (out of 86 total cars in our club).  We didn’t have enough to roll quietly in the parade around town like we did last time, but it was still a successful event.

Everyone was pleasantly surprised to hear how the Chevy Volt can drive on $18 per month of electricity and about 4 gallons of gas every 3 months (if you take longer trips).  They also were delighted when we showed them just how many charging stations there are on the plugshare.com map.  Zero people knew that West Melbourne was getting a Tesla Supercharger as we spoke.  Hopefully, we can get the local news to cover a grand opening and really explain how much extra business it will bring to the city from out of town Tesla drivers as they shop and eat while waiting for a charge.  Remember to check our upcoming events page to see where we’ll be next to see our cars and ask us questions.  Or just email us directly with your questions!

Here’s a link to the full photo album with pictures from the event: https://photos.app.goo.gl/RIQmfYVAUv7qdsoN2

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