Hey, drivers! It’s been a while! This year has been a little crazy, as we all know and we haven’t been able to host our normal monthly luncheon meetings. We know everyone was getting a bit restless so we decided to host a driver meet up to close out National Drive Electric Week. This is in addition to the content we’ve been putting out on YouTube which we launched during National Drive Electric Week. We had 13 EVs join us for our BYO coffee and donut socially distant drive in. We’re also happy to report that everybody brought their mask to ensure that we could have a safe event. One of the biggest suprises of the morning was a driver who joined us his brand new Porsche Taycan. As most EV drivers know whenever a new model or make shows up it’s a big deal. They are an instant celebrity. Everyone was very excited to check out the new ride. All in all our first event for 2020 was a success. Thanks to everyone who made it out and we hope to be brining you more outdoor events throughout the rest of the year.
We’ve created a playlist of videos specifically for National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) 2020. You can also search social media for hashtag #NDEW2020 to see more from around the nation (and the world). Since we couldn’t come out in person with our personal electric vehicles to show to the public and give test rides like we normally do every year, we decided to create a few videos instead. We always get the same set of questions from the public so one of the videos explains answers to our top five frequently asked questions. We also made a few personal videos from the founders about their adventures in public charging and fast charging as well as a video about the different EVs they have owned and driven over the past 9 years. You can go to the official NDEW website and see all the virtual event recordings and learn even more about EVs, charging stations, infrastructure expansion, solar power and renewable energy like solar and wind to charge EVs, and more. Stay tuned to our YouTube channel and subscribe to learn more about driving on electricity as we post more videos throughout the year. We’re aiming for a weekly video so make sure you subscribe to the channel and share with everyone you know. See you at Drive Electric Earth Day in April 2021!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
It’s time for the big event we look forward to every year: National Drive Electric Week! This is the time for everyone in and around the Space Coast of Florida to come out and take a ride in a Tesla and every other available make and model electric vehicle. These are our personal cars we drive every day to work and school and have driven them for many years and almost a million combine miles. Every car on display or available for ride and drives will be able to plug in and drive on pure electricity. This does include plug in hybrids like the Chevy Volt and Ford CMax Energi that have built in gas generators for long trips in addition to 100% electric only cars like the Tesla and Nissan Leaf. There will be at least 14 different makes and models to see and take for a ride around the block to get the full EV experience. To show everyone just how easy and convenient it is to plug in your car every day, we’ll have some charging stations and portable chargers on site to let attendees plug and unplug our cars! We’ll have a big tent set up for water and shade for public Q&A. Since we drive these cars every day we are definitely the people to answer your burning EV questions. We’ll have food trucks, music and raffles for small prizes! There will be environmental exhibitors such as solar power installers, the Marine Resources Council, and the Turtle Coast Sierra Club. We’ll also have the new Electric Fun Rides right next door with electric bicycles, scooters, skateboards, and hoverboards ready for you to take a spin. So come on out, check out all the different makes and models of electric vehicles, take a ride around the block in some others and enter the raffle for prizes. This day is all about electric vehicles and how fun and easy they are to drive and to spread the word on all the savings on fuel and maintenance and their environmental benefits of clean air. We’ll have our members on hand that can show you how they installed solar panels on their house and now charge their electric car with pure sunlight! Make sure to register to attend right now, today! Go here for our official event page and click the Register button: https://driveelectricweek.org/event.php?eventid=917
SCEV Drivers are coming to support Florida Tech Residence Life event in Southgate titled R.A.A.D.D (Resident Assistants Against Drunk Driving).
Florida Institute of Technology 2800 Albemarle St, Melbourne, FL 32901
October 1, 2016 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm at Southgate on the Florida Tech campus.
Tonight we accepted the signed proclamation from the vice mayor, Dominick P. Montanaro, of the city of Satellite Beach at the city council meeting. He stood with us at the podium in front of everyone and read the entire thing before thanking us and letting us know he will see us at the National Drive Electric Week event on September 19 from 10 am to 4 pm. Now the event is very official and shaping up to be a great event with 16 electric cars signed up to be there with even more signing up soon. Don’t forget to go register to attend the event today and tell everyone you know to sign up as well! Click here to go sign up at our official event page.
You can also watch the NDEW 2015 Proclamation Acceptance on video!
National Drive Electric Week – Melbourne, FL 2014 was a great success!
It looks like there’s more people getting into the electric car game every day. Today is no exception. Here’s the latest offering from Renovo Motors in Silicon Valley, California. They’ve built a BEAST of an electrified Shelby. 1000 lb. ft. of INSTANT torque, 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds, and a super fast recharge time of 30 minutes. Watch the video and tell us if it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up or not. http://www.carswithcords.com/renovo-motors-debuts-electrified-shelby/
It seems that Silicon Valley is definitely becoming the Detroit of the electric car revolution. It looks like Tesla Motors is finally starting to see some sort of competition. We’ll wait until we see the price and final specs before we can really compare it to something like the Tesla Roadster. The Tesla Roadster’s base price was somewhere around $109,000 so we’ll see if the Renovo Coupe comes in close to this price.
As most of you know if you are lucky enough to live on Florida’s Space Coast Saturday was beautiful. Not one afternoon shower or storm, a rare thing for the summer months. Josh and I were out and about and we figured it was as good a time as any for a BMW i3 test drive. Since we are due for a new vehicle in December and it has to be electric we wanted to compare the i3 with the 2012 Volt.
When we arrived we were able to plug up the Chevy Volt in BMW’s Chargepoint Level 2 charger for free while we talked with the client advisor and drove the i3REX around the block.
At first sight the i3 looks great on the outside but on the inside we quickly noticed the exposed fiberglass interior trim.
It is very “eco” looking, and while it goes with the other fabrics it seems like they could have put some kind of gloss or light resin over it. Immediately I was poked in the hand by a stray fiber while getting into the back seat, a minus for the i3. The back seat area was roomy, but the lack of center arm rest left me wanting and getting in and out was a bit uncomfortable due to the position of the door handles.
The interior electronics are quite advanced and they kind of make you feel like you are driving a space ship.
If you have ever had a BMW with iDrive the “puck” controller is the same. If not, it’s pretty easy to navigate the screen and go through all the options like radio, navigation, Bluetooth audio, satellite radio, and selecting “profiles” for different drivers. But it’s not on the same level as a touch screen like most of us are used to.
Our advisor didn’t know much about the i3 as it was only her third month on the job so in true enthusiast fashion we took the opportunity to educate her. We compared it to the Volt in the way it drove and how it felt during stop and go traffic. The big difference we noticed immediately when starting the drive was the high regenerative braking that slowed the car down as soon as you let off the gas pedal. It was very similar to the Tesla Model S. In the Volt you have to shift from D to L on the “gear” selector to get that kind of regen and I think even in L the i3 is a bit stronger. We asked if that was a selectable option on the i3, like the Tesla but she didn’t know.
The on site i3 specialist was busy with other clients at the time so we were unable to get that question answered as well as some maintenance questions. Specifically we wanted to know if the BMW i3REX was as smart as the Volt in the areas of automatic maintenance. In terms of space the Volt has a bit more “trunk”. Given that, with the back seats folded down we have hauled a 24 inch wall oven on one occasion, two large dogs on another, and two fully assembled beach cruisers on yet another and were still able to shut the hatch. Even with the back seats folded down i3 is short on that kind of space. This leaves the volt the clear choice over the i3 if you need more room for storage/hauling.
Since the i3 weighs so much less than the Volt (i3 = ~2500lbs Volt = ~3800lbs) the i3 had a much quicker 0-60 time. It also seemed to handle bumps in the road much smoother as well, but given it is more of an SUV that was not surprising. Overall it had a very sporty and nimble ride. We couldn’t hear how quiet the ride was since we had the A/C on full fan but from what we could tell it on par to most other EVs. There were still 28 miles left on the battery after our test drive so we couldn’t test out the range extender mode though we heard through other reviews that range extender engine sounds like a weed eater or dirt bike.
The main drawback of the i3REX and the one that would keep us from switching from the Volt is the road trips we take once or twice a year. The range extension on the i3 is in one word, pathetic. The battery lasts about 80-100 miles and there is a 2 gallon range extending gas tank that will get you another 80 or so miles. So on an 800 mile road trip you would do the first 80 miles on battery leaving 720 miles, then 720 / 80 = 9. That’s right you would stop for gas nine times and you haven’t even driven 1000 miles. This would get annoying and add significant time to a road trip. While the Volt only gets 40 miles or so on the battery you can go another 340 miles on its 9 gallon tank. So you’d only have to stop for gas two to three times, much better for road trips. Depending on how often you take long road trips the Volt might be better. If you RARELY take crazy long road trips then the BMW i3 would still be a good choice.
In the end the pros of the BMW i3 for us are larger EV range, heavy regen for one pedal driving, fast 0-60 time, smooth ride (sits higher and handles bumps better.) The cons from our perspective are the scratchy feel of the fiberglass interior, the lack of a back arm rest, no touch screen for controls, small about of storage space even including the frunk and the real killer for us insignificant gas extended range.
July’s EV Event Recap
Each month the Space Coast Electric Vehicle drivers host an informal Electric Vehicle drivers meet up at Brevard County area establishments located within walking distance of a public charging station. These events usually take place the first Sunday of each month, with the exception of months with holidays falling on or close to the date (such as July 4th). For those who couldn’t make it we post an event recap for each month to keep you all up to date!
This past Sunday we held our July EV Event at the Panera Bread in Palm Bay, FL’s Hammock Landing shopping area.
The Kohl’s, which is walking distance to Panera has two designated EV parking spaces with a single J1772 Level 2 charger and a 110V outlet. Unfortunately the charger was giving some of our members a hard time and it took quite a while to switch it from one car to another. Luckily one of our members who frequents this charger gave it a little tough love and solved the problem.
We welcomed one new local member with a Chevy Volt and had the pleasure of meeting Al Lococo and his wife, of the Central Florida and Sun Coast EAA who drove their Toyota RAV 4 EV all the way from Winter Haven, FL to attend July’s EV event.
If you are counting rare EVs in central Florida this is the second 2nd generation RAV 4 EV to attend a Space Coast Electric Vehicle Drivers meet up. Pretty impressive when you consider they were never sold in the state of Florida, Toyota has only sold 1,594 of the 2,600 2nd generation RAV4 EVs produced and Toyota has announced they will not be producing any more of these SUVs in favor of other technologies.
At the meet up we discussed efforts to place more local charging stations in and around Brevard, Melbourne BMW’s new dual level 2 dealership charger as well as handy, printable window displays for your EV. Brenna discussed the early development stages of an official SCEV Drivers logo for the use on future signage, business cards, t-shirts and more. Brenna and Josh gave an overview of progress for Melbourne’s National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) event which will take place September 20th 2014. Please make sure to register to attend or volunteer at the NDEW event! But one of the highlights of the afternoon was that event attendees were able to take home copies of Al’s book Turning Point in History an “exploration into the subject of Energy and Transportation and how they affect our lives, our economy, our politics and our future.”
Overall it was a great meet up and we are looking forward to next month! The next meet up will take place on Sunday August 3rd from 2-4 PM in Downtown Melbourne. We will be meeting and parking at The Mansion located at 1218 E New Haven Ave Melbourne, FL 32901. Those with a L3 compatible car that need a charge are welcome to park at the charger at City Hall which is just a short 7 minute walk (.3 miles)
We look forward to seeing you there and thanks for supporting the Space Coast EV Drivers!