Are you still here?

Yes, I’m still here. Not much to post about lately..catching up:

  • Ford announced a 300 mile SUV EV (something I posted about).
  • Then Ford sacked their CEO.
  • Since then no news from Ford either good or bad (e.g. have the plans changed, will the EV come sooner or later–don’t know…)

Other things: I’ve been able to take the C-Max Energi camping some more: 

Here it is with us at the Nashville KOA. It really is a great car for a “toad” (car towed along with the RV). Its small but not too small (same size as an Escape), with a small EVSE like my LCS-20P you can charge it up at the campground and be ready for any adventures/sightseeing/etc. and it can be towed 4-wheels down (we use a dolly so we can take any FWD car). About the only drawback to the C-Max Energi is its weight: at 3900+ lbs it is a bit heavy; enough so that some RV’s may not be able to tow it (the Hybrid version comes in at 3600+ lbs..those 200 lbs fewer may make all the difference).

So, yes, I’m still here and still posting (looks like I’m at a one a month give or take clip)…

 

Are you still here?

OK yeah yeah another Bolt post

But its the only 200+ mile non-Tesla EV around lately.

So what is it now??

Now the Bolt’s owner’s manual is online(pdf) so you can peruse all its features at your leisure. Since we have an RV I searched around for towing–not if the Bolt can tow anything, but if it can be towed. There it is on page 300: Can’t tow it 4 wheels down (I kind of expected that) but it can be towed on a dolly.

For those of you with RVs looking for a green toad here you go, get a Bolt–granted it probably costs a bit more than what you’d be looking for in a toad. Still charge up at the campground on the 50A plugs overnight and you’re ready to go (as long as you don’t trip the breaker LOL).

 

OK yeah yeah another Bolt post

You get electricity and you get electricity…woops

My 2nd post about combining two of my “hobbies”: EV Enthusiasm, and camping:

Since Ford forbids you from towing the FFE with even a single wheel on the ground I was never able to take it camping–except for one trip where the campground was within the FFE’s range (kind of boring).

The C-Max can be flat towed (we don’t have it setup for that) but that also means you can tow it on a dolly (what looks like the C-Max’s front wheel in this picture is really the dolly’s wheel–the C-Max is parked immediately behind the dolly).

What this also means is I finally get to try out my LCS-20p at a campground. Waaaay back when I first got the FFE I picked up the LCS-20p and made an adapter to work with the 50 amp plugs at campgrounds. (Our only camping trip with the FFE was before I wired up the adapter.)

Once we were all setup (as you see above) with everything plugged in and up and running I dug out the LCS-20p and plugged it in. It flashed all its LEDs as it went through the power on diagnostics and indicated everything was good–yaay that cable I wired up myself was correct.

With the car happily charging we went on with our business. Then about 30-40 minutes later…poof! No power. Uh oh? Was that me? Looking around all the breakers in the camper and out–nope they are all good. Hmmm. Then a neighbor pops their head up: “Do you have power?” “Nope” Wow multiple campsites are down? I don’t think its my cable? The car would not have been drawing much current (the C-Max only has a 3.3 kW charger, unlike the FFE with its 6.6 kW charger now that would have really brought down the system LOL).

A little while later the campground gets the power back up and running: A larger breaker blew for the entire lane we were on–right across the street from us. At this point I’m thinking: Ok it probably wasn’t me charging that caused it with it being a very hot & humid day but it is possible that my car was the little bit that pushed the breaker over the edge. So I decided to forgo any further charging on the car (it got up to 92% anyway more than enough for the weekend).

The next morning as we were getting ready to go out….pop! The breaker blew again. Ah ha! It wasn’t the car (wasn’t plugged in) LOL Knowing what was wrong I waited a few minutes for the breaker to cool, walked over and reset the breaker. A few minutes later a puzzled looking maintenance worker was asking everyone if they had power?? LOL

Now I’m ready for the next C-Max’ing camping trip… 🙂

 

 

You get electricity and you get electricity…woops

Extending the range of your EV

The BMW i3 has a cool REX option where they include a small motorcycle engine to extend the range by a hundred miles or so. There is another way to extend the range of your i3, if you have the cash:
Charge Plot

(Click on the image to see more of the RV)
This form of range extension was featured on the Travel Channel’s “Extreme RV” show.

That’s right: simply build in a garage into your RV. They even wired an outlet into the compartment so that the car can charge while the RV drives down the road (no mention on the website or during the show if the EVSE is a Level 1 or Level 2). The neat thing here is that the ramps extend: You don’t drive the car up into the RV; you just drive it up onto the ramps and then retract the ramps.

The cost of this is completely on another level. There are people who could afford a Tesla Model S at $100k+ but could not afford this combination ($250k+ for just the camper alone, then you still have to pick up the i3). Not to mention that you’ll be burning a lot of Diesel going from city to city.

Comparing the dimensions of the i3 vs the FFE we find that the Focus might be a better fit in there: The i3 is about 5″ taller and 15″ shorter than the FFE. Thus the “garage” could be a little shorter (and longer) to fit the FFE. Here the important thing is shorter–this makes more standing room in the bedroom above the garage. The steep rake on the FFE’s front windshield may also help out since the car is stored on an angle which may allow for an even shorter garage.

Extending the range of your EV

Quiet around here again…

Haven’t had much EV to post about lately as I’ve been out of town on vacation. If you’ve read some of my other posts about attempting to bring the EV with us camping..this was the trip I was targeting. Unfortunately for the EV it sat at home (it was far cheaper to simply rent a car at the destination than it was to purchase an aluminum car trailer not to mention that the FFE + Camper combo would have been even less efficient than the Camper alone).

It would have been pretty sweet though to post pictures of my Michigan plated FFE in different states!

 

Quiet around here again…

The maiden voyage…

Maiden voyage? “Hey wait a sec, you’ve had this EV for a while now?” Yes I have (in fact I’m only about 30 miles from 10,000 miles on the odometer and will probably be making a post about the 10k mark soon). The maiden voyage was in our new camper. Typically when you purchase a new camper you take a short camping trip to someplace close by just to make sure everything works (and if you get stuck you aren’t so far away, etc.). Now my 3 readers are also thinking: “Hey this is an EV blog and now you’re talking about camping..stick to what the blog is supposed to be about!” (I read this comment on many people’s blogs when they stray off of their core subject. Frankly this opinion is absurd: The blog is theirs/mine not yours to regulate and thus they and I can post on whatever topic we want to. Do you complain when visiting someone’s house when they ask you to remove your shoes at the door? Or do you loudly shout: “This is a free country I can wear my shoes around your house if I want to!” Ok I’m digressing here.)

Like I said above, this first trip is typically near by..not too far away that we couldn’t take a particular vehicle with us…
The Two Vehicles

There we are with both the EV and the camper at Harbortown RV Resort just outside Monroe, Michigan. This is a pretty decent campground if you have kids. There is two go-kart tracks, a mini-golf, and a batting cage out front. It is just over 10 years old so the trees they planted haven’t grown enough for shade. Every campsite is paved (which is how we ended up here since our first choice of campground in Frankenmuth, Mi wasn’t accepting reservations as all the snow we’ve had has made their grounds all soft and muddy).

A word on our new camper: A Thor Axis. This is a brand new model for 2014: A “Class A in Class C clothing” (small as a Class C but looks like a Class A). It looks large in the picture, but at only 25 feet long it really is a smaller camper. The small size makes it very easy to maneuver around. Backing into a campsite, driveway, parking spot, etc. is as easy as backing in a van (easier: a van doesn’t have 3 external cameras). The interior is laid out very well–a lot of thought went into what to put where. So far after one camping weekend with it we can say: We’re going to have a lot of fun with it.

As far as camping with an EV: I can’t think of a more perfect vehicle to accompany you on your camping trips (and it means you don’t have to rent that golf cart at the campground). You can simply plug in your car to the electric at the site and charge up. In our case I haven’t made any adapters for our Level 2 charger yet so I just used some standard camping adapters to plug the Level 1 charger included with the car into one of the spare plugs. The slow Level 1 charge didn’t pose any problems since we’re camping–you’re not really in any hurry when you’re camping. By the time we needed the car on Saturday it had more than enough time to charge back up to 100% from the commute to the campground.

Speaking of the ride to the campground, on the way there the car “complained” that we were passing the 1/2 way point and may not be able to return home. This warning got me thinking: If we eventually get that car trailer and haul the car somewhere a few hundred miles away from home will the car freak out? “Um yeah you’re like 300 miles from home there is NO way you’re going to get there on any charge level!”

The limited range of the EV doesn’t really pose a problem here: You can charge all you want (even better if you can get a 50A plug and use Level 2), and usually you select the campground to be in a central spot near all of the points of interest you wish to see. As a bonus you really only camp when its warm out: optimal weather for humans is also optimal weather for EVs: The maximum range will be available in the car.

By the way, ever wonder what it looks like camping in Michigan in early April?
The Campground

Yeah, we were one of only about 4 campers there getting that early start on the season!

 

The maiden voyage…