On Saturday Oct 26th we had six electric vehicles in the FIT homecoming parade. We had a great spot up near the front and after a special request we were put in front of the MG club so we didn’t have to “breathe their fumes”! We realized about two minutes into it that it was going slow enough where two people could have walked in front of our line of cars with our banner. It’s too bad we had already hung up the banner at our tent in the tailgating area at the end of the parade first thing that morning. But now we know!
After the parade we parked our cars next to each other in a line near our tent and table as usual. We had about 20-30 people come up to ask questions, sit in, and look at our cars. As usual most of the people learned the facts and challenged what they thought they knew about EVs. Some of the attendees let us know they would now consider buying one! Education and proliferation of EVs are two of the main reasons why we do these events so we call this one a success.
Here’s some pictures from the event and we are looking forward to the next events in November so we can show our EVs to even more people in the community and answer their questions with our real-world experience from driving these electric cars every day.
After hearing that Epcot installed two dual Level 2 EV charging stations the SCEV Drivers, being a short hour and twenty minute drive away, decided we needed to head over and check them out.
So last Sunday afternoon we loaded up and took the Chevy Volt over to Orlando, FL to Disney’s Epcot center to test the brand new chargers. Over the past few months there has been a growing number of people contacting WDW pushing for the installation of chargers. Josh and Brenna had tweeted and e-mailed on a few occasions letting them know that they needed to catch up with their California counterpart and get some charging stations installed. We mentioned we were not going to visit the happiest place on earth until they installed some charging stations. Being people of our word as soon as we plugged up we headed over to the guest services counter and purchased two seasonal passes. We let them know that the reason we purchased them was a direct result of the installation of these chargers. This serves as a very good example on how installing charging stations can attract new business.
Details about the charging stations:
They are installed at the very front of the Epcot center parking lot near the monorail station located near the handicapped rows. Unfortunately you still have to pay the $17 to park like normal (unless you have annual passes) in addition to the cost to charge. When headed in they will try to direct you down a row before you get to the spaces. You will have to tell the parking attendant that you drive an EV and need to use the charging station and they will let you pass them. You have to turn down the row before the station and take it all the way up and around to get to the stations due to the one way set up. Once you arrive you will see two, dual J1772 level 2 stations from ChargePoint serving the first four parking spaces with 4 total J1772 plugs.
They charge 35 cents per kWh with a minimum of $1.50 but there’s no limit to how long you can park there. We parked, plugged in, and swiped the ChargePoint card and were on our way. We arrived at 5:30 pm and left after the park closed. It is nice to be able to park there, take a bus or monorail to all the other parks and come back to a fully charged EV.
A full charge on the Volt will cost about $4.50 making it a bit expensive but worth it for the up front parking and not having to use as much gasoline as it would without the charge. Disney World is about 80 miles from home so we were able to go 40 miles there on electric power from home, then use about a gallon of gas to get there. We left with a full battery so we got 40 miles back on electric power from Disney then another gallon of gas to get home. So we spent about $5.75 on electricity and only 2 gallons of gas for the whole trip.
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.
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!
After a short wait we are happy to say that our new EV home charging station is installed! The cost was around $350, the same cost as running a new dryer plug, wire, and breaker.
It took a good two hours to install but most of that time was spent running a new wire up and over the garage ceiling to get it to the side we wanted it on. It took about 20 seconds to actually connect the three wires inside the EVLink charging station and tighten down the set screws. While we didn’t want a portable Level 2 charger at home we did verify that if we were to ever move we could take this with us by turning off the breaker, unscrewing those three set screws, removing the wires, and capping them off with wire nuts and electrical tape.
The difference in charging speed between a 110v outlet at 12 amps vs. a 240v outlet at 30 amps is night and day! The 110v outlet would put back between 4 and 5 miles of range into our electric vehicle every hour it was plugged in. This new 240v “Level 2” charger gives a charge of 10-12 miles every hour! The difference is amazing for at home charging of EVs.
This is extremely helpful for those days when you take the car out for work/errands then come home for an hour or so and head out again. Only now with a Level 2 home charger there will be lots of extra EV only miles to play with. In the short time we have had the Level 2 charger at home it has made a world of difference. If you are considering buying an EV home charging station we have to say it is totally worth it. It took a while for us to decide we wanted an EV home charging station and you can read an earlier post regarding our decision to finally purchase a Level 2 home charger here. For now there will be a lot more “sport mode” going on without worrying too much about running out of EV only miles and using the gasoline backup because while we have the option, we hate to use it if we don’t have to.
For many drivers of Electric Vehicles charging at home is simple, they plug right into a 110V outlet and let it charge in their garage. That’s right the same outlet you plug your blow dryer, vacuum, and power tools into will charge your car. Did we just blow your mind? Boom!
For most drivers charging overnight on a 110V is sufficient for their driving needs. On the Chevy Volt’s 40 (give or take) mile battery we can drive across town, grab food, and still not use gas but on days where we do that trip in the morning and want to head out some where that afternoon and maybe again that evening the slow charging time leaves us wishing we had a faster charge at home.
For drivers of cars with a larger battery installing a Level 2 (L2) charger at home makes sense with increased charging time but for those of us with smaller batteries that get 50 miles and under we wondered if we really needed it. The truth is, once the majority of your driving is done on electricity you never want to use gas if you don’t have to. It’s not just about the environment or moving away from foreign oil it’s about convenience. Never stopping at a gas station, never spilling gas on your shoe or getting it on your hands or clothes, it’s amazing.
At home electric vehicle charging is clean, convenient, and cheap. Not to mention the rate you pay for electricity almost never fluctuates from day to day like gas, meaning there is no shock when you drive by the sign. Actually you won’t even look at those gas price signs for long once you make the switch to an EV. Skipping that weekly fill up and replacing it by charging your electric vehicle at home saves time and money. It’s just that simple.
In the end we decided that even though we have a range extended electric vehicle and we don’t really need to worry about running out of battery we prefer to not use gas. We bit the bullet and bought the Square D EVlink by Schneider Electric, an indoor at home L2 charging station or Electric Vehicle Service Equipment (EVSE) to cut our charge time in half from the 110V. There are plenty of resources online that break down what is currently on the market as far as EVSE but PluginCars has a Guide to Buying Your First Home EV Charger which we think gives a nice overview of what is out there. All that is left for us is waiting for our appointment with the electrician. So much for that old myth that the adoption of EVs will cut jobs! We can’t wait to post our personal review, but with all the five star ratings we are pretty sure we made the right choice.
Have you bought any EVSE for your home yet? Let us know which one you picked and how you like it.
Hopefully by now most electric vehicle drivers, owners, enthusiasts and potential owners have heard of National Drive Electric Week (formally National Plug in Day) hosted by City Captains in towns and cities all over the United States and abroad. National Drive Electric Week began in 2011 as National Plug in Day and is officially sponsored by Plug in America, the Electric Auto Association, and the Sierra Club.
National Drive Electric Week aims to “…Heighten awareness of today’s widespread availability of plug-in vehicles and highlight the benefits of all-electric and plug-in hybrid-electric cars, trucks, motorcycles, and more.” This year National Drive Electric Week will be held from September 15-21, 2014 with events happening across America and beyond through out the week. We are happy to say there will be an event held in Melbourne, Florida and as your city captains Josh and Brenna are working to make this event a great success. Josh and Brenna have hosted two successful National plug in Day events in Huntsville, Alabama with their sister group the Tennessee Valley EV Drivers in 2012 and 2013. Using their experience from these events they hope to make Melbourne’s first National Drive Electric Week a huge success.
Over the next few months we will be looking to area volunteers, sponsors and donors to be a part of this grass roots celebration of electric vehicles. The very first goal is to secure a location and today we pitched our request for sponsorship to the City of Melbourne. In the next few weeks the Space Coast Electric Vehicle Drivers team will work to answer any questions the city has to hopefully secure a city sponsored location and more.
Road Tripping in a extended range electric vehicle for Father’s Day 2014
Here’s the report on how the 2012 Chevy Volt fared on a long road trip from Indialantic, FL to Huntsville, AL and back – with a stop in Oxford, AL both on the way up and on the way back for Father’s Day.
We left Indialantic on Sunday June 8 at 9:45 am Eastern time. We got 33.2 miles and 9.7 kWh from the battery before it switched over to the gasoline generator. Not too bad for mixed city and highway driving.
We arrived in Oxford by 6:30 pm Central time. It was a total of 604.5 miles from home to the hotel.
We spent the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Oxford Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday night. We picked this hotel as we know they are plug in friendly. Every night they allowed us to plug into their outside 110v outlets so we’d have a full charge to drive on each day. Their only restriction is that you can not obstruct a walk way and there are only about 10 spots that do not have a walkway in front of them.
Monday at lunch time the Volt departed on a trip to Birmingham, AL so a mix of city and highway with the first bit on electricity then the range extended gas generator. With some pre-trip research we plugged up at the McWayne Science Center’s free L2 charger in their garage after the $5 parking fee that applies to anyone parked in the garage. It had a good two hours to charge over lunch but didn’t fill up completely. Still it was able to drive a good part of the way back to Oxford on battery power before switching over to the gas generator.
Next we drove from Oxford to Huntsville to stay with a friend in their third floor apartment Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday night. This is where we found the trouble with apartment charging when there are no actual charging stations and limited or no garages. We searched the outside of the building near all the parking spots and couldn’t find an outlet anywhere. We asked the building manager if it was OK to plug in and if they knew of any outside outlets. They didn’t know of any. So we came up with a plan combining an extension cord, a tree, and some masking tape. We are committed to our cause no? We managed to use our “just in case” 50 ft. heavy duty contractor’s extension cord and plugged it up in the outlet near the balcony sliding doors. Then we ran it outside and down the side of the building so it didn’t dangle in front of the downstairs balconies. Then we wrapped it around a tree and through the bushes where we plugged the car up and let it charge. We sealed the sliding door with the masking tape so bugs would not seek the comfort of the pull out couch in the living room with us. We decided to wake up at 5 am so we could unplug it all before the sun came up in the event of lawn care or any anti EV people. To our knowledge no one knew we even did it. Since our friend pays her own power bills we offered to pay her the $1 it used in power but she wouldn’t let us pay her. We did get her an Amazon gift card for letting us stay anyway.
We went to a Pig Roast BBQ fundraiser event held at the Makers Local 256 makerspace and plugged in there twice. We were able to charge up almost 100% each time so we gave them an extra $2 donation to cover the power we used. After everyone had eaten and had started cleaning up and getting ready for the LAN party / video game party that night, someone brought a Tesla Model S to show off! They gave several test rides and let’s just say each and every one of the riders left with the Tesla grin. I had forgotten how fast it is and how it pushes your face and guts back like a roller coaster you can steer!
After two weeks of calling every hotel in Huntsville to see who would let us plug in with no luck we stayed in the brand new Homewood Suites in Downtown Huntsville. Their parking garage is shared by the nearby Publix grocery store and has several 110v outlets directly in front of a few parking spaces. They would be perfect for an overnight charge for guests that stay in the hotel with ZERO cost for installing actual charging stations. We asked the hotel if we could plug in but they said the garage is owned by the city so they can’t give us permission. We would be glad to pay for the power to plug in there but we still need to figure out who owns the parking garage.
We left for Oxford for Father’s Day first thing in the morning at 9 am and with no charge we packed up and headed out on gasoline. We arrived right around lunch time and took Dad out for some good food at his favorite place to eat: The Broiler Room in Lincoln, AL. After a fun fathers day we were back to the same Hilton Garden Inn in Oxford that lets us charge the car in the 110v outlet outside. We charged it up over night and headed back to Florida first thing in the morning on Monday June 16. We were able to get a good ways past the Georgia border and back into the Eastern time zone before it switched over to the gasoline generator. We only had to stop for gas twice on the way back and there’s still plenty left in the tank that should last another two or three months. We arrived home around 8:30 pm eastern time and the Volt is plugged up in its favorite 110v outlet in the garage. It will have 100% charge before we wake up in the morning ready for another few months of gas free driving around town here in FL.
White Springs, FL
Owens CR, AL
Total electricity costs: $3.13. Total gasoline costs: $102.02.
Our Friends over at The Electric Generation are hosting a #EVselfie contest! All you have to do is take a picture or video with an electric vehicle, a charging station, electric vehicle signage, or bumper stickers and post them to Facebook or Twitter with the #EVselfie hashtag @Elecgen.
We know you have been waiting to see where our first community event would be so you can come check out Voltron the Red Chevy Volt! Our “no compromise electric vehicle.” We are happy to announce the wait is over!
This Saturday April 12th 2014 we will be at the Brevard Zoo’s Party for the Planet from 10 AM to 3 PM. Look for our tent, banner, and the red Chevy Volt to be parked directly across from the entrance to the Zoo. We can not wait to see you there.
For more info about the Brevard Zoo’s Party for the Planet event please check out their websites Special Events Page. The Zoo is located at 8825 North Wickham Road, Melbourne, FL 32940