ElectraGirl

Living with electric cars – my perspective

Saturday 2nd April 2016

Tesla-Model-3-3-938x535

 

Well the decision has been made! It was definitely the right decision and in fact it was the only decision that made sense.

There has been so much publicity around the launch of the Tesla Model 3 this past week, in fact it has been somewhat crazy. People trying to speculate what the car would look like, what its range would be, how much it would cost, whether Supercharger access would be included, and… The list goes on.

We’ve spent all week going back and forth on the decision as to whether to put down a deposit or not. Shall we, shan’t we, shall we, shan’t we, oh who knows?

Well, the 31st March arrived and my sidekick decided to go to the local Tesla Store in Short Hills Mall to see what was happening and how many people were there queuing up.

The store opened at 10am and he got there at 8:35am and by that time there was already 50 plus people in the queue. A friend of ours Sal, had arrived before 7am and he was number 8 in the queue. Apparently, you had to be in line before Casey and Soji who arrived at 2:30am if you wanted to be first in line.

By the time I arrived at 10:05am there were over 200 people queuing. This is all very interesting as no one has any idea what this car is even going to look like. They are all happy to put down at $1,000 deposit for a car they haven’t seen and a car that they are unlikely to get until late 2017 at the earliest. In the queue were some familiar faces from our EV circle.

Canvassing the crowd

Canvassing the crowd

My sidekick had been chatting to people in the queue and what turned out to be the most interesting fact was that 90% were totally new to Electric Cars. The Model 3 was to be their first Electric Car – This is all very exciting! Tesla are definitely doing something right, with all these people happy to put a deposit down on something unseen.

The queue was moving but there was still a lot of people so, after an hour we decided to leave. Neither of us were interested in waiting in the queue and figured we’d just wait until the online reservations opened later in the day. After all, as current Tesla owners, that did push us up the queue a little bit anyway.

However, as the day wore on, we both decided that we might head back to Short Hills Mall as word was the queue had disappeared.

We arrived at the Tesla Store a little before 3pm and there was no one there, it was eerily quiet compared to the morning. We just walked straight into the store, like you would on any other day! We were greeted by Dan, who we already knew, and he was very happy that we were there to put down a reservation. All he had to do was take down our details and take our credit card details and after checking all was correct, that was it.

We had made the decision and we now have a reservation in place for a Tesla Model 3! I hope we made the right decision – Oh, who am I kidding, of course we did!

We watched the Tesla Model 3 unveiling on Friday evening, there was no way I could stay up until 11:30pm on Thursday to watch it. It was really good to hear Elon Musk not just talking about EV’s but also talking about the amount of pollution coming out of the back of all the petrol cars that are on the road today. Hopefully, this will help to make people question why they would want to drive one when they could have a nice quiet Electric Car instead. It’s that on the ground pollution that is really bad for all of us – it’s increasing Asthma and lung related problems – it’s silently killing us and our planet Earth.

It was also nice to hear him acknowledge the Roadster owners contribution to getting the company started; we do feel a little left out sometimes. After all, we are the ones that believed in Tesla Motors all those years ago.

Then came the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3… Oh my goodness after all this, will I like it? Oh, I do hope so… And… yes, I definitely like it. Phew!! Although to be honest it was rather unlikely that I wouldn’t like it. I mean Tesla really do not make horrid looking cars, do they now? The Model 3 does look like a smaller version of the Model S and X combined. The only thing I am currently not sure about is the glass roof, I’m not keen on sunroofs to begin with so really not sure on that design. But, you can get the Model S without a sunroof so there may be options for the Model 3 too. I like the 200+ mile range – that is going to be great and, combined with the Supercharger network – the world will be my oyster! I’m pleased to hear about the increase in Superchargers instead of any limitations on use and, I hope this will get the likes of ChargePoint, NRG and others to get a move on and get their DC charging networks rolled out.

I am looking forward to seeing what the colour options will be, although I am already pretty sure I know what I will go for and also, what the interior options will be, oh and of course the wheels – very important.

It’s very hard to remain balanced and fair when talking about different manufacturers electric offerings when Tesla announces a car that will be affordable, have the range we’ve always called for, will drive like an electric car (regen on the accelerator) and include the DC fast charging network we know we need. If Tesla can deliver on this promise and, as of today, that means delivering over 290,000 cars, what can the other manufacturers possibly do to compete?

Happy Reservaton Holders

Happy Reservaton Holders

Saturday 25th March 2016

Next-Tesla-938x535

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – Again!

What am I trying to decide on this time? Well, that would be whether or not to put down a deposit on the Tesla Model 3.

I am rather undecided at the moment. The reason for my indecision is that I am not convinced, at the moment, that I would really like one. I always thought that I would definitely be putting down the deposit and would definitely be getting one, but recently I have started to have my doubts. I can’t quite put my finger on the reason, but I think it might be down to the fact that I always like to have something that is a little different to what other people have. I’m hearing more and more that there will be a lot of people putting down deposits and, if the numbers are to be believed, there are going to be an awful lot of people driving a Tesla Model 3 – which is a good thing – but, I’m really not sure I want the same car as everyone else.

I have gone to great lengths to change my BMW i3 so it looks different. I started with putting the stickers on the car and then added the lowering springs and then the wheel spacers. I just like something that looks that bit different, which is why I ended up with the i3 that I have.

If I did decide to put down a deposit for the Tesla Model 3 I would likely opt for all those options which reflect my preferences and style, and which do seem to be quite different to what others would choose, so then maybe my Model 3 would look different to all the others.

Tesla-Model-S-teaser from Autospies

Possible sneak pic from Auto Spies

Right now, we do not even know what the Model 3 will look like, I am thinking a smaller version of the Model S though we east coast people won’t get to find out until the very early hours of April 1st. Am I happy to put a deposit down on a car I haven’t even seen yet? Well, quite likely yes, actually. I can’t possibly imagine that Tesla will make a horrid looking car! I am hoping it will be nicely finished and the fact that it is priced lower than the Model S will not mean that Tesla skimps on the finishing touches, they had better not anyway!

There is the fact that, as a current Tesla owner, we get to jump up the queue. Not totally sure at this stage what that will mean to delivery times but, as we usually go for the top spec cars it’s likely those will be delivered first if previous models are any indication but, of course, California will get the first cars off the line anyway. It was nice being the first in NJ with an i3, but of course now, they are quite literally everywhere!! Which is what lead me to make changes to my car.

Maybe I’ll put the deposit down and then just wait and see like so many others, I’ll spec it to my liking and then wait and see a bit more. After all, that is what I did with the i3 and I never ever had any intention of ever getting an i3 – ever!!

If I do decide to put a deposit down, do I go and join the queue at the local Tesla Store, which could be short or long – I mean who knows what it will be like? If all the stories are to be believed it could be really busy, I am thinking anywhere between 25 and 75 people. But it could be fun to be surrounded by other Electric Vehicle enthusiasts. Or do I wait until April 1st and put down a deposit online? Oh no – more decisions!!!

Or, maybe I will just go for the Ford Focus Electric as that has butterflies on the side!!

Transport Evolved 2016 Ford Focus EV NYIAS 1

2016 Ford Focus Electric with Butterflies

2014-BMW-i3-Suspension-lower-and-widened

 

Saturday 5th March 2016

After the success of putting the lowering springs on our i3, we started thinking about wheel spacers, then the bad weather arrived and we put that thought to one side for a couple of months. But now the weather is mostly getting better, we started to think about them again.

2014 BMW i3 Suspension lower and widened Transport Evolved _2037

15mm Wheel Spacers and 43mm bolts

Wheel spacers are disks placed between the wheel and the hub to push the wheel out a little. They can look a bit silly when too big but when done just right, they give the car a broader stance filling the wheel arch looking good and improving handling. Getting the right thickness led me to asking a couple of questions about sizes of spacers to some owners that had already fitted them. Within a couple of hours of the response the spacers and bolts were ordered and we sat back and waited for them to be delivered.

We chose to go with 15mm spaces on all four wheels and we got 43mm bolts for the wheels to compensate for the extra reach.

We didn’t have long to wait, they were ordered on Wednesday 24th February and they were here in two days, on Friday 26th, so we knew what we would be doing on the coming Sunday.

Sunday arrived and my sidekick said that this was going to be an easy job to do, did that mean he expected me to do it?!! I’m not sure about that, won’t my hands get dirty?! Anyway, apparently I wasn’t expected to do it – phew!! I was just being told it was an easy job.

2014 BMW i3 Suspension lower and widened Transport Evolved _2048

43mm bolts

Installed

Spacer on hub

With

With

2014 BMW i3 Suspension lower and widened Transport Evolved _2047

Without

So – with the spacers and bolts unpacked, it was time to head outside. First task was to jack the car up on one side and remove the wheels. Oh no! My lovely lowering springs are all grubby from the winter weather – should I clean them?  Apparently not as when I turned around the spacers were on and being aligned with the bolt holes and the wheels were already being put back on. Then the new longer bolts were put in and tightened a little; the car was lowered and the bolts tightened up so the wheels don’t fall off – because that might be a problem! And – Viola! That’s one side done. Now repeat on the other side. I didn’t get to clean the springs on the other side ether. It did indeed turn out to be a simple job! Maybe I could have done it – maybe, hmm maybe not! Turns out that when asked to release the jack on the back whilst my sidekick lowered the front, I couldn’t even get the jack to lower slowly – Oops!

Wow – the car does look different, it’s not a huge difference just a subtle difference but a really good difference.

Next up was the test drive. Oh my goodness, what a difference. You can feel that the car is sat more firmly on the road, it feels more squatted, like there really is a wheel on all four corners. Because, you know, it really didn’t feel like that before. With the lowering springs and now the wheel spacers on it has made a real difference to the i3. A really good difference – I like it – A lot.

My sidekick will now write his little piece as I had to get out of the car for this. I got stuck in the car for one turn but not again – no way.

2014 BMW i3 Suspension lower and widened Transport Evolved _6488

Results recorded on my iPhone

So, it’s not just vanity that drove us to add the wheel spacers but, they do look good! The extra 30mm of track has again lowered the center of gravity. To test it, I pulled out my test kit and headed to open flat tarmac.

The results speak well of the i3’s tires and suspension setup, the result was a healthy 0.91G of lateral acceleration, on a warmer day, Edmunds managed 0.78G by comparison.

Safety first

What dos that mean? Well, they say that the best way to survive an accident is to avoid getting into one in the first place. The extra lateral grip means that our i3 can now corner faster than almost any 70’s super car and comes close to a modern day Porsche 911 – only 0.04G short and, on super-efficient wheels and tires.

Thanks to Shaun Wooten, Marcus Pugh and the i3 community for their recommendations and help on selecting the perfect solution.

Saturday 13th February 2016

2015-Smart-Electric-Drive-in-the-snow-938x535

Snowy Smart

It has been a year, nearly 9,000 miles, and we are still having fun – Our Smart Electric Drive has been with us for one whole year. I have to say that it is one fun little car. Whatever you ask of the Smart Electric Drive it will do and, it will do it to the very best of its abilities. It is a little on the bouncy side, which seems more noticeable now after installing the lowering springs on the BMW i3. But it is compact and so easy to manoeuvre and park anywhere; which is why it is great to take to the supermarket and, the best part is that it fits a weeks’ worth of shopping in the back with ease. It is still by far the easiest car to wash and dry, mainly due to its size but it doesn’t have all the nooks and crannies that the i3 has.

Summertime Smart

We have had 110 miles of range available in the Smart Electric Drive through summer, but now the weather is chilly and we need to use the heater so we are looking at between 60 and 70 miles of range. This, of course, is always dependent on who is driving the car!

Okay here comes my rant – The eco-meter on the Smart Electric Drive still bugs me. It bugs me because, the first part of the journey when I leave home in a morning, and I have a full charge, is all downhill, so I do not use any power. As I am going downhill to the junction at the bottom, my only course of action is to use the brakes – I don’t even use the accelerator, I just cruise down the hill under the cars own momentum, gently applying the brakes. I then get penalised for that and have the eco-ness taken away from me and the gauge drops. As far as I am concerned that is really unfair, the car should know that I haven’t used any power and that, if I didn’t apply the brakes – which I am doing so nice and gently all the way down the hill so as not to have press them really hard just before the stop sign or – I would end up plopping out into the junction! I really don’t expect to lose percents just because I have 100% State of Charge and I have to stop at the stop sign and use the brakes. This is my biggest annoyance with this car so you get an idea of how I feel about it otherwise.

Interior space is generous for two

Interior space is generous for two

While over in the UK recently I saw a lot of Smarts – unfortunately they were mostly of the petrol variety. They are definitely very popular over there and I think that is down to the size and the ease of using them in the town centres, especially for parking, where spaces are on the smaller side.

The Smart Electric Drive definitely lends itself to town centre driving, in fact it is absolutely perfect for that. You can easily fit two Smart Electric Drives in the space that one ‘regular’ car would fit into.

Back in New Jersey and the deep snow, the Smart has excelled at getting about. After clearing 24″ of snow from the driveway, it leapt into the snow covered road and roared off without a hint of wheel-spin, well, not too much anyway. Being so short, and truly having a wheel at each corner inspires a lot of confidence.

I like the Smart Electric Drive, its range is more than enough for the around town driving that we do. I’m not sure that I would take it on a long drive – Hmm, maybe I would. But, I think it works best for commuting and around town. It would benefit from having more regenerative braking and that being more on the accelerator. It could use DC fast charging as an option – not sure it is a necessity though. It could do with a little firmer suspension too!

Fully loaded

Fully loaded

Sunday 31st January 2016

Happy New Year everyone!

I haven’t forgotten about you all but work has been very busy, which is a good thing, but has left with me little time to write, which is not such a good thing!

I also have been enjoying my newly lowered BMW i3. It has been so much fun to drive! It has been nearly two months since we had the suspension lowered and I’m still so impressed with the difference. I’d highly recommend installing the lowering springs to all. I’m definitely thinking about installing wheel spacers next.

So besides driving my i3 and working, I popped over to the UK to see family. It seems everytime we go over there someone is always moving house which means we always end up being very busy. I did, however, get to ride on the Electric Buses in York again. They have been increasing the number of Electric Buses that they have in operation and it does make a huge difference. Even my niece could tell the difference, how it didn’t lurch around as there are no gear changes. It is, at the end of the day still a bus but at least it’s a smooth bus. I’ve been reading more articles in the UK about more Electric Buses on the way in different areas. It’s all good news. It’s all helping to clean up the air. It is just a shame that there are still too many stinky, cronky, diesel buses out there. It’s time to persuade all the bus companies to go Electric.

What else has happened? Well, as the temperature has started to drop my i3’s steering wheel or something around that area is making scraping and squeaking noises. We had the issue last winter and it was supposed to have been lubricated and after that there was no sound at all. But as soon as the temperature dropped, it is back again. It’s most frustrating as everytime you turn the steering wheel a certain amount it’s there. It’s taking away my fun times as it sounds like there is a gerbil running around its squeaky wheel. I am waiting to hear if there is another fix for that. My range has gone down a bit with the colder weather and the need to use the heater. Yes, even I need to use the heater when it’s -9℃!! BUT, if the sun is shining on the car I turn off the heater as the solar heat is more than sufficient with just a little seat heat thrown in. I’m still getting 5.3miles/kWh average on my i3, which I think is pretty good, especially considering that the temperature is dropping.

The i3 has definitely become my car of choice since the suspension was lowered. Who’d have ever thought that making such a small change would make such a big difference?

We recently had a huge snowstorm and we ended up with 24 inches of snow. That meant that no cars were going out anywhere. We had made sure that all the cars were fully charged just in case we lost power, which fortunately we didn’t. The day after the storm we dug out the drive but only a cars width – there was just too much snow to move all of it. As the township didn’t clear our roads properly for a couple of days that meant we couldn’t get out. But, I was okay with that and I am more than happy to keep off the roads when they are slippy and to give the township time to clear the roads properly.

Here is our new addition to our Electric Family, that arrived two days after the snowstorm!!

snow blower

with the

Michael

Saturday 5th December 2015

I am so excited! Christmas has arrived early! Oh my gosh, I didn’t know it would have such a huge effect! It’s amazing, it looks awesome, why did I wait so long? What on earth am I talking about?

Day One

Day One

Well a little background first. As much as I like my BMW i3, there has always been something just not quite right about it. I’ve never really been able to say exactly what it is until this week.

Now, while I am not the biggest of car enthusiasts, I know what I do and do not like. I know that I prefer a firmer ride, I cannot stand soft suspensions, I like a car that looks nice and one that is the correct colour inside and out. I know when I see the correct car that it is the one I should have. Whilst the i3 has been perfectly okay, it has always being missing something for me. Is it that it sits too high maybe? Is it that is looks a bit too SUV like?

Well, yes, it does sit too high for me and does remind me of an SUV, albeit a small SUV but still. I do prefer something that sits lower and is more ‘car’ like.

Anyway, I will get to the point in a minute… A while ago, over on that ‘Facebook thing’, I saw that a couple of i3 owners had put lowering springs on their cars. While I thought they looked good, I didn’t pay a huge amount of attention to them at that time. Then a month or so later, I saw that a couple more had also done theirs which made me start to look a bit closer and I thought the car looked an awfully lot better sitting that bit lower. I happened to mention to my sidekick that they looked quite good.

A few minutes later I had purchased some H&R springs for my BMW i3. You know, like you do!

It took a few weeks for them to arrive and then a bit longer trying to decide whether my sidekick should try to change the springs himself or just take the car somewhere. If we were to take the car somewhere, where would that be?

Whilst we were still in the deciding phase we happened one weekend to be at a Cars and Croissants meet up and nearby were some lowered BMW’s so we sauntered over to their owners to ask them if they had any recommendations. Well, of course they did, they mentioned two places, one quite north of us and the other place just 10 minutes away. After I did some internet research my sidekick rang the place that was closet to us, Redline Speed Worxs in Greenbrook NJ. After a good chat with them, and liking what he heard, the i3 was booked in for Monday 30th November. It was all very exciting and I couldn’t wait to see what the car would look like.

The weekend before the car was due to have it’s springs changed, I did have a couple of doubts… what if it all goes wrong? Do they really know what they are doing? And the biggest of all – What if I don’t like it?

But then, on the other hand, I was rather excited to see what it would be like.

2014 BMW i3 Suspension Lowering On the lift Transport Evolved

My i3 up on the lift – No wheels!

Monday morning arrived and my sidekick took the car in. We were expecting it would take around 4 hours and that I would have to pick him up in an hour or so – so he wasn’t stuck there all morning. Turns out he didn’t want to come home, he was more than happy to stay there. He was enjoying watching what the guys were doing and chatting with them. Turns out we made the right choice about where to go. This place really knows what they are doing, their place is immaculate and they really care about your car.

It ended up taking them about 3 hours to do all four springs. When my sidekick arrived back home I was slightly nervous as to what I would think. But, heading outside to see the car and oh my goodness, what a difference. The car looks so much lower and it definitely looks so much better. Sitting in the car you feel so much lower down. I like it – A LOT!

It is amazing, it’s awesome, it’s brilliant, it’s super duper and all the rest. I never expected it would make such a difference. Driving out in the car, it now has a nice firm suspension, it’s so much better for me, not bouncy like it was before. Yes, I am so amazed at the difference. I can’t get over how much better the car looks – this is how I’d have liked it from the beginning. The car is actually only an inch lower, but it looks and feels like more. It’s great! What a difference an inch can make!

And that is why Christmas arrived early and I was so excited and well, actually, I still am!!

Hmm, now what shall I do next?

2014 BMW i3 Suspension Lowering Work Done Transport Evolved

The finished result

Saturday 21st November 2015

On the 18th November BMW announced that along with EVgo it will be adding an additional 500 DC Fast Charging Combo units across 25 major US markets.

This is fantastic news and will hopefully make journeys a lot more doable for us and all the other i3 drivers. They hope to have almost 50 up and running by the end of 2015, and the rest by the end of 2018 – that seems like such a long time away. I guess I am a little impatient and would really like to see all these charging stations up and running sooner. After all I have already had my i3 for over 18 months and have yet to use it at a CCS charger as there are none that we can make use of for a journey right now – the only ones are quite close.

Ample opportunities to charge

Ample opportunities to charge is great

When the news broke, the Internet went wild but not, good wild, the news upset an awful lot of the i3 owners – But why?

Let’s just take a step back for a second and consider the landscape. As we know (we being the owners, not the manufacturers), owning an EV is a special thing, be it environmental, political or just for the fun of it, we’re all swimming against the tide and doing something different. We put up with the problems and celebrate the good things about EV ownership. Our payback is two-fold, we feel good about our cars and, we feel good about being different. The whole ownership experience is so different from the traditional petrol or diesel car and one manufacturer gets that whilst the rest seem to be missing the opportunity. Of course, the one that gets it is Tesla. Whether you love them or hate them, Tesla is changing the way we think about the experience of owning a car. ‘Tesla’ cars don’t go to petrol stations or drink any oil. They are cleaner than regular cars, some are so different that they even drive themselves. But, the biggest difference is that, when you buy one, it doesn’t stay the same. Like a smartphone, it actually gets better the longer you own it (up to a point). Tesla owners are living in a perpetual state of excitement just waiting to see what’s coming next! And, they are telling their friends about it… a lot!

Let’s contrast that to the old school petrol car vendors. They, instead, sell you a product and, that’s that. It’s normal and ordinary. Next years model will probably have some new features added so, if you were on the fence this year, maybe you’ll buy next years model.

So that’s how it works, and has done for decades. A steady raft of updates and ‘Special Editions’ that can be sold to test options and entice new owners.

So where did it go wrong?

Charging at WholeFoods Market in Cupertino

Charging at WholeFoods Market in Cupertino

BMW added to the announcement that new owners would be entitled to free charging at these stations. Oh dear, out with the pitchforks. BMW just upset its most hard working sales team – the ones that have paid top price for their cars, the ones that quietly put up with with drive-train malfunctions, the ones waiting patiently for the DC fast chargers that plug into that extra-cost plug on the side. So, my friends and me then!

Hang on! I’m only half done – it gets worse or better, I don’t know!

I am more than happy to pay for my charging needs and certainly don’t expect to get free charging – that’d be nice of course, but I certainly don’t feel that I am entitled to free charging. I do expect the cost for charging to be a reasonable amount and I’d be more than happy if BMW had done the same as Tesla and offered the option to pay an upfront amount to be able to use the charging network. After all, paying around $2,000 as the Tesla S owners did for the Supercharger network usage is less than adding a REx to an i3.

There are two, bigger problems though:

The first problem I have is a concern that with offering free charging to new i3 drivers, they will be sat hogging the chargers and less likely to move on when they have enough charge or, leave their car connected whilst they have lunch because they are not paying for it and therefore have no incentive to do so – they don’t know about charging etiquette yet and, guess who’s behind them in the queue? Yes, my friends and me – the ones that helped get this going.

The second problem is the biggest of all. We need to encourage companies to install fast chargers and the only way is by paying for it – they’re in business to make money and, if we teach new drivers that fast charging is free, how will we persuade them to pay to install new stations as we need them?

If there is a cost involved in charging then people will charge up for only as long as they need and then move on, business owners will see the benefit of installing fast chargers, petrol stations and motorway rest stops will see the benefit – we will see the charging stations that we need.

What should we have done?

I don’t mind incentives to encourage new drivers but why not turn the whole of the existing i3 owner group into one big excited bunch of sales people and have them telling their friends that owning an i3 means owning a car that gets better with age, not worse. How about offering one or two 15 minutes free charging sessions for everyone at a DCFC unit, that’s enough to top your car up and then move on. If you need more that 15 minutes then a charge would be levied to pay for the next lot of charging. Most of the time 15 minutes will be enough to get people charged up enough and on their way to tell their friends about how convenient it was.

If we want DC fast charging to go away, we just have to give them away for free.

Saturday 7th November 2015

We are well and truly in the middle of Autumn, the leaves are all changing colour and falling constantly. It’s nice driving along in my Electric Car with the colourful trees on either side of the road and hearing the leaves rustle as I drive by.

Sticky Leaves

Sticky Leaves

Although once the leaves get wet, I always seem to have them stuck to my wheels, I guess they are attracted to it being environmental friendly. My garage floor is covered in leaves that have hitched a ride home with us. The amount of leaves that I removed from the wheel arches when washing the car last week was quite ridiculous. The leaves also seem to mange to sneak their way in under the bonnet too, I really do not know how they manage it. It’s a dangerous time of year – I find myself frequently dodging falling acorns, although I wasn’t quite so lucky the other day when one landed on the car – with such a thud as well!

It’s getting close to that time of year when I have to start thinking of using the heating system in the car and watching those miles go down. I have been enjoying my regular 95 miles of estimated range, often going up to 100 and I’m quite happy with my 5.7miles/kWh average consumption.

So far I have resisted the temptation to put on the heating as it hasn’t really gotten cold enough – just yet, although a couple of mornings it has been close! One thing I do find in the BMW i3 is that it is very well sealed so the need for a lot of heating isn’t necessary and often just the seat heater is enough to keep me warm. Although, some might say that just using the seat heaters goes back to the MINI E days and the need to conserve the battery power. As back then in the good old days, the charging infrastructure was somewhat missing. It was charge at home, at a MINI E friends house or turn off the heating to be sure you could make it back home. Ah, those were the fun days – it might have chilly on some days but you knew you were paving the way for the future EV’ers, we were being Pioneers!

Still a little fading sun

Fading sun & long shadows

I think the reason I am most loathe to turn on the heating is that I do not like to see my estimated range go down, it reminds me that I only have an 80 mile range Electric Car and that I cannot travel as far on one charge once the temperature starts to go down. Here on the East Coast we still do not have the charging infrastructure that we need to make the 80 mile range EV more viable. Big sigh!

I am still prepared to wrap up warm and not use the heater though in order to make my miles go further. I know I am in the minority of EV drivers in this regard but, until there is a good charging infrastructure that is reliable and I feel that this is what I have to do. It can actually be quite cosy, wrapped up warm with a blanket and the seat heater on – just ask my sidekick.

The only downside to driving with out the heater on in the BMW i3 is the fact that, as the car is so well sealed, it steams up very quickly. This means I have to put on some ventilation just so I can see where I am going, or open the window a little teeny, tiny bit. I usually opt for the widow option. That little bit of fresh air feels so nice at this time of year especially now the humidity is so low and the sound of the crunching leaves is so appealing.

What’s you favourite aspect of this time of year?

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Saturday 31st October 2015

It’s Halloween – this is the one day where I turn into a witch and take my black cat and go flying on my broomstick! Don’t believe my sidekick who would tell you that I am actually a witch everyday!

ElectraGirl with cable 1 Transport EvolvedBefore dusk falls and I take flight for the night I once again have found myself in the garage on a Saturday. This is getting to be somewhat of a habit, and it is not one that I am keen to see continue.

ElectraGirl with cable 3 Transport EvolvedAfter the installation of the ChargePoint unit, we are now onto the Clipper Creek and the GE unit. Oh, did I mention that Clipper Creek were also sending us a unit to test?

With this amount of charging units to test, I think I do need to go out and buy some more Electric Cars – Hmm, now which one shall I get first?

Anyway, back to the installation of the Clipper Creek and the new GE unit while keeping one eye out for the creepy crawlies. But first I do have to say…

I cannot believe I am stuck in the garage again and within the space of a week I see webs which means that some of the spiders found a way back in – I guess they didn’t get my text messages letting them know not to come back again, ever! Ugh!

Okay, enough of the bugs – I hope, lets get back to the installation – First up is the Clipper Creek, this is going to be placed on the same wall as the Aerovironment unit and with a nice long cable we’ll be able to choose which unit to use for which car on any given day. Oh, what a life we do lead! The Clipper Creak unit is not as small as the ChargePoint or the Aerovironment but is smaller than the GE unit. Personally, I don’t think it is as nice looking as the ChargePoint unit. It just looks a bit more industrial. Installing it is fairly straightforward but the ChargePoint wins on ease of installation and they get bonus points as they also send you drill bits to use – there are none in the Clipper Creek box. Fortunately, one’s sidekick has all that he needs.

GE WattStation internals

GE WattStation internals

Next the GE unit, that is going where the broken GE unit was – might as well make some part of our life easy! That installation is not complicated or difficult as all the wiring is in place already, so all that is needed is to take the broken one off the wall and put up the new one. Then it’s time to open up the broken GE unit to see if it is all webbed over… And, disappointingly, I think, it isn’t! I really thought that was the reason it had broken. For now, we don’t know why but one thing can be said and that is, it is incredibly clean inside, there is nothing in there at all. It turned out to be a very well sealed up unit, not even a tiny nook for a spider to creep in.

What is a girl to do now I have all these charging units and all these connectors?! Oh I know, I’ll open up my own charging station!!

** Look out for a full and in depth article on the installation of all the different units from ones very own sidekick, you know an article with all that technical stuff in.**

Pedestrian warning failure

Pedestrian warning failure

Collision warning failure

Collision warning failure

Whilst I don’t believe in ghosts and ghouls but something has upset my i3 today – I can’t tell if there’s something out there but, on All Hallows Eve we saw a new error – one that we’ve never seen before… Is there something out there that we can’t see?

Is there something out there?

Is there something out there?

Saturday 17th October 2015

We’ve had a few wall charging units in our house, from the Tesla Roadster with its proprietary made-in-a-shed connector, the MINI E with its 50A Clipper Creek box (that’s 12kW!) to slick Aerovironment and GE WattStation units from Amazon.

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5722 Transport Evolved

Bare wall with faulty GE unit in place

Well, after three years of continuous use the GE just stopped working the other day and started flashing red lights at us. It was as if the unit was trying to tell us something. Now if only The Doctor were here I am sure he could figure it out!

Personally, I think the spiders got in and webbed the insides!! Just the thought of that makes my skin crawl!

After a call to GE they said “No problem we will send you out a replacement and no need to return the faulty one, just dispose of it.” Oh, okay then, thanks for sending out a new one, most kind of them.

In the meantime ChargePoint have sent us one of their new home units to test out. That means we now have seven charging units – well you can never have too many charging units, can you? It’s always good to have the odd spare one or two or three. Or, I guess it’s time to buy more Electric Cars.

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5745 Transport Evolved

Tools included

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5746 Transport Evolved

Just there

Which leads me to being stuck in the garage – my least favourite place to be – and on a Saturday afternoon! Ugh.

I am here watching, and helping of course, my sidekick install the two new charging units.

Was that a spider that just ran across the floor? It was huge with huge legs – Yuk, yuk and more yuk. I am so creeped out! Spiders and I have somewhat of an understanding – I don’t like them and they need to keep away from me, unfortunately they do not always remember that.

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5748 Transport Evolved

Wire clips

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5749 Transport Evolved

Wires clipped

Maybe I’l do a quick sweep of the garage and remove all those webs and things and all the leaves that seem to make their way in. Oh yukity yuk, there are spiders running everywhere now, well they are going to be leaving the garage and going to have to find a home somewhere else, maybe in the leaves that are leaving too! Oh you know what, I’ll just vacuum the garage as well – well why not?

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5752 Transport Evolved

Cat

Really 32A

Really 32A

Anyway back to the installing. The ChargePoint unit comes very nicely packaged, I do like the cat on the box, rather a nice little touch there, obviously done just for me. It all looks quite small, nice and compact so it won’t take up too much space on the wall. It all looks quite straightforward but the electrical side will definitely be left to those that know what they are doing – off you go sidekick! While he is pulling wires and cutting and connecting I’ve got my eyes peeled for anymore lurking spiders. The installation goes quite quickly and well. In no time the unit is on the wall and all connected. Next is to test that it actually works. And …. Yes it does! It says it is a 32A 7.7kW unit and it actually is.

One’s sidekick is rather proud of himself, I’m just glad he knows what he is doing as I have no idea. But I am good at holding things in place while they are screwed down and handing the necessary parts when needed, and very good at tidying up afterwards.

Installing the unit was, probably the simplest I’ve ever done. In total, it took me about 30 mins to install the outlet but the unit itself went up on the wall with three bolts in ten minutes. ChargePoint includes drill bits, bolts and even a bolt driver to fit a typical drill in the box. One big difference with this unit is that the cord is sold separately – you buy the unit, 16A or 32A then choose the cable 12′, 18′ or 25′ to meet your needs. To attach the cable to the unit you just slide it in the bottom and clip in place – it’s a pleasure to install!

The unit requires a wifi connection and is located using bluetooth from the existing ChargePoint smartphone app – it was detected in seconds and, but for a quirk on my age-old ChargePoint account, can be up and running on your account in moments. It really is a very well thought out process, I was honestly taken aback at just how carefully everything had been prepared and executed. Even when troubleshooting my wonky old account, reseting the unit to re-activate it, was done by holding my iPhone next to the unit where the rear-facing flash was switched on and off repeatedly, to tap out the code to a light sensor on the unit – seriously, who thinks of that stuff? That’s really lateral stuff.

Out unit came with the 25′ cord which is, long. It’s also made from a nice flexible rubber so, we’ll see how that holds up as the winter approaches.

In summary, my initial impressions were beyond expectations.

— MPT

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5773 Transport Evolved

It works!

I think the ChargePoint unit is fairly easy to use, although I do find it a little awkward putting the plug back into the unit when I have finished charging the car. When you plug it into the car it does click in nicely and starts charging straight away. I’ll have to wait and see how it holds up on a daily basis.

ChargePoint Home EVSE 5792 Transport EvolvedChargePoint Home EVSE 5793 Transport EvolvedThe ChargePoint unit has an app that can be used to set charging times. It connects to our home WiFi and on to the Internet to gather information about where it’s installed and what power company it’s connected to. Using that information, it makes suggestions about when to enable charging to maximize off-peak use. It also includes an alarm feature that alerts you at a selected time of the day if your car isn’t plugged in.

Matching blue lights

Matching blue lights

The ChargePoint unit is being used for the BMW i3 so we’ll monitor its performance and report back.

Next up installing the GE unit but that will have to wait until another day as it’s getting late and creatures are stirring!