The Start of a Busy Year

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

The Difference an Inch Can Make – Part 2

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

DC Fast Charge Rollout Upsets BMW I3 Owners – But Why?

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.

Autumn Musings!

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

Halloween!

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 I 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?

Charging Up!

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!

End of the Season and High Speed Charging for Everyone

Saturday 3rd October 2015

We are coming to the end of the 2015 Electric Car Event Season. After the quiet-ish summer, we have been to a few events recently, most notably National Drive Electric Week – definitely the biggest of the events. The other recent events have been a couple of Green Fairs and some car shows where we take the Tesla Roadster which fits in just nicely.

Dreary day in Monroe, NJ. Photo: Alexander P. Brown
Dreary day in Monroe NJ Photo: Alexander P. Brown

We still find that people like to see the Electric Cars and ask lots of questions and there is definitely still some educating to do however, I have started to notice that a change is happening. I think that as there are now many more Electric Cars on the road (certainly more than there were 6 years ago, even 6 months ago!) they are not so unique anymore, especially when we hear – ‘Oh, my neighbour has one of those’, as they point at a Nissan LEAF. Which at the end of the day, is one of the things we hoped we’d be hearing. There are definitely events that we attend that we get better exposure. All this has led me to start thinking that we have reached the stage where we need to be more choosy as to which events to attend. We need to be looking at the events that have the greatest impact and reach the most people, particularly those that are not aware of Electric Cars or are not convinced that they could live with one.

One of the best events that we do and ones that are definitely worth organising are the Ride-and-Drive events as these do seem to make the biggest impact. Getting people in the cars to experience them first hand makes such a difference to their opinion of Electric Cars.

One thing that I have noticed most recently, that stands out quite significantly as being asked even more that usual, is the question, ‘What is the battery range?’ closely followed by ‘How long does it take to charge?

It seems that in amongst all the other wonderful aspects of Electric Cars, people are still hung up on these two things and are not able to get past either of these, well not easily anyway. It seems to be the biggest stumbling block to going out and getting an Electric Car. Which is so frustrating to us as, when you actually look at the mileage that you do each day, people are often surprised by how an Electric Car would easily work for them. I think it is just hearing the numbers.

We are still, it seems, stuck with range and charging time as being an issue. People are very interested in Electric Cars and you can see that they would really like to get one but, they are struggling to get past the range and the time it takes to charge, even when fully explained to them, they still seem unsure. Obviously, Tesla’s Models S & X remove the range anxiety and also the charging issue – when using a Supercharger – but, if you cannot afford a Tesla what are you left with? Currently, no other Electric Vehicle matches the S for range or charge time at a Supercharger.

Here on the East Coast we are not as fortunate as our West Coast Electric Vehicle drivers regarding the charging infrastructure, and in particular the DC fast chargers that we so desperately need. They have so many more charging options available to them. Here, we are still struggling and just don’t have that fast charging network that we need to make Electric Vehicles truly viable for the longer journeys that we occasionally take.

But how can we get that infrastructure installed?

Well, here’s a thought, why not make it part of VW’s punishment for passing off dangerous, polluting vehicles as ‘Clean’?

Actually, that was the first thing that my sidekick said when the news broke. After talking to friends during the National Drive Electric Week and sharing the idea, it did seem to take hold with a few articles coming out. I’d like to add my voice to the choir and ask that the EPA seriously consider this as part of the fines that VW are made to pay to restore the harm that was done. After all, what better way to make amends than to make low emission driving easier, more affordable and convenient for those that take the plunge?

National Drive Electric Week Roundup

Saturday 26th September 2015

National Drive Electric Week – Is it time to breathe again yet?!!

I’ve been quiet on the diary front for the last couple of weeks as I have been totally immersed in National Drive Electric Week. It’s a big event week with so much to do and organise.

Now it is behind us, we find ourselves able to breathe for a few days before we start on the planning for next year. Yes, I know It may seem early, but we have found that the earlier we start the better as there is always so much to do.

So, how did our NJEAA events go that we had during National Drive Electric Week?

Madison Farmers Market (image:Bearded Mug Media)
Madison Farmers Market (c) Bearded Mug Media

Our first event was in Madison, New Jersey at their Farmers Market. This is our second year of being at the Farmers Market and after last years successful event we thought it would be good to return. While we did have a really good event with 11 test drives and lots of people to talk to, we did feel it was a bit quieter this year. The Farmers Market changed the venue this year, which for us wasn’t quite so good. But, all in all it was a good event and we talked to plenty of people with some of those now considering purchasing an Electric Car. We had 14 Electric Vehicles at the event – more than would fit into the venue but, that’s a good problem to have!

In the end, we had Tesla Roadsters, Tesla Model S, BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, Smart for two Electric Drive, Zero S Motorcycle, RAV4 EV and a Ford Focus Electric.

Test drives were given by Tesla, Nissan and BMW and the people who went on the test drives were all amazed by the cars. With comments such as ‘What a drive’, ‘Amazing’ and ‘Awesome’. I think a few minds were changed that day.

Here’s the icing on the cake though, I just heard that one of the drivers that took a test drive is seriously considering buying a Nissan LEAF – That’s what we like to hear!

Morristown (image: Bearded Mug)
Morristown (image: Bearded Mug)

Our Second event was in Morristown, New Jersey at the same location as last year. We had over 40 Electric Vehicles attend this event – Tesla Roadsters & Model S (even a P90D!), BMW i3, Nissan LEAF, Smart for two Electric Drive, Zero S Motorcycle, RAV4 EV, VW e-Golf, Mercedes B Class Electric, 1917 Detroit Electric, Mitsubishi i-MiEV, Chevrolet VOLT, Ford C-Max Energi.

We had plenty of people attend to look at the cars and chat with the owners. The 1917 Detroit Electric that joined us this year was a big draw, people were fascinated by the car. A Detroit Electric is definitely on my list of cars to own one day – I hope my sidekick reads this! We had VW attend with an e-Golf for test drives, of which another 11 were given. Some of the comments from these drives were, ‘Lovely ride, great acceleration’, ‘Liked it, quiet‘ and ‘Very impressed, pleasantly surprised’.

Each year we learn more and more about how to put on the best event and If we return to this location next year I would like to see the cars arranged differently, in a circle perhaps, so people can see all the cars that we have in attendance. As I do wonder, if people only saw the first few parked closest to the road.

My i3 captured by Bearded Mug
My i3 captured by Bearded Mug

As always – as well as enjoying showing off our cars, we love getting to catch up with our EV friends and hearing about their adventures with their Electric Vehicles. An added bonus to these events is that we are getting to meet so many new Electric Car drivers too, which is great as that means there are even more EV’s on the road now. But, I have to say hi again to our regular Transport Evolved commenter ‘vdiv‘ who drove up from Virginia in his lovely blue Tesla Model S.

Last week was very busy, lots of last minute things to do, lots of worrying about whether there would be enough people stopping by to see the cars… It always turns out to be just fine but that doesn’t stop the worrying!!

This year we had a professional photographer, Bryan McCarthy of Bearded Mug Media who came to the events to take some photographs for us as, we often get so busy we forget to take any photos. We have got some really good ones and I’ve shared some of those here.

Thanks go to the Madison Farmers Market and to Sustainable Morristown for their help with our events but I’d really like to send out a huge thank you to all the Electric Vehicle drivers for bringing their cars to share with the public. You are all amazing and I thank all of you for giving up your time to share your love of EV’s. These events could not happen without you.

National Drive Electric Week – A Week Full of Electric Vehicles

Saturday 22nd August 2015

This year National Drive Electric Week will take place from the 12th – 20th September 2015 across the US, Canada and even Hong Kong. Most of the events are mainly organised by volunteers like me. This year there are currently 147 events being held during the week – a number that is still climbing.

We partake in National Drive Electric Week as we become part of a nationwide event to highlight the availability of Electric Vehicles. National Drive Electric Week is all about plug in Electric Vehicles, it’s about showing them off to the public, taking the public out for test drives and talking – make that a lot of talking!

Test drives has become ever more important. Plug In America recently reported that 12% of people that took test drives in cars last year went on to purchase an electric car later in the year. That’s huge and, it goes to show that all of our efforts are starting to pay off.

We love talking to people about how much fun Electric Vehicles are to drive, how easy they are to own and how it’s great waking up every morning to a full battery and never having to visit a petrol station – ever.

This year we have two events organised. One in Madison, NJ and one in Morristown, NJ. Should you find yourself in the area then please do stop by and say hello and if you know in advance that you can attend then please sign up here: Madison, NJ or Morristown, NJ

National Drive Electric Week first began in 2011 and was originally called National Plug In Day.
My sidekick attended National Plug in Day back in 2011 with his Tesla Roadster. Back then the closet event was in NYC on Pier 54.

Checking out the EnerTrac Electric Bike
Checking out the EnerTrac Electric Bike

Fast forward to 2015 and the number of events being organised has increased significantly. In 2013 we organised one event and in 2014 two events. I’d actually like to organise more events for the week but my time is, unfortunately limited.

These events do take a lot of work and organisation but they are always fun. We get to talk to a lot of people and hopefully change at least one mind or two on the reasons why their next car purchase should be an electric one. I mean after all why wouldn’t you? They are just so much fun to drive as we zoom, zoom, zoom around town, ever so quietly!

It needs to be Symmetrical

Saturday 15th August 2015

Dear Blogette…

The long, lazy days of summer – Ooh, that does sound like it would be lovely, if only we ever had the opportunity to be lazy!

2015 Smart Electric Drive seats from above AnotatedThis week nothing much is happening at all but, anyway, in amongst the non-laziness, we found ourselves taking the Smart Electric Drive on an errand the other day and unusually my sidekick let me drive!!! While I enjoy driving, I do tend to find him a little annoying as a passenger. This is because he uses being a passenger to investigate the car, opening everything, twisting and turning in his seat, finding things that were obviously not there before. I mean how could they have been? He has only just found them so they surely were not there before. It’s all a little distracting as the car wobbles from side to side and then the sudden proclamations of ‘Look what I just found!’ Yes, yes, that was always there.

Well, anyway the other day as we were driving along he proclaimed that the Smart Electric Drive is not symmetrical. Well – what to say? All of our other cars are symmetrical but not the Smart Electric Drive, apparently, the doors are different on the inside and the grab-handle for the passenger is further back. Hmm, this does seem rather odd.

After a little investigating, it would seem that the car is actually, symmetrical. It would appear that there were two issues that my sidekick was experiencing. The first was the interior handles on the Smart Electric Drive are different which probably also led to him to thinking things were not right. The drivers side handle has been changed slightly compared to the passenger side, which does seem odd even though all it has is an extra button and the twirly whirly knob for the door mirrors. But they do match up position wise on the doors. The second was that the passenger seat was slightly further back than the drivers side. We always have the seats in line with each other, apart from the day my son   passenger and feeling that he needed a bit more leg room, moved the seat back.

2015 Smart Electric Drive Passenger door2015 Smart Electric Drive Drivers doorAll that was needed to fix his ‘problem’ was to move the passenger seat forwards an inch and a half!!

I’m so glad that it’s all sorted and that the car is not wonky!