The challenge is gone..sort of

When the first few EVs came out (Leaf, Focus Electric, etc.) which couldn’t even reach 100 miles some negative nancy pundits coined the phrase “range anxiety” for them (something which has been mentioned on this blog a few times). Having driven one (the Focus Electric, or FFE for short) I can happily say that there really is no such thing. Once you’ve driven it for as little as a week you get to know what the car can and cannot do and plan accordingly–the FFE never left me stranded.

In fact, I always considered driving the FFE more of a challenge than something to be fearful. The challenge was always “where can I go today?” and “how can I figure out to get the FFE to there?”–never “Oh no I’m running out of charge!” LOL. That is the thing here: With the Bolt having a range of 238 (or more, the GOM so far has read 250 miles and more for the first two charges) I have none of those thoughts. In fact, I’m finding I can drive it on my commute for an entire week before needing a recharge (it may turn out to be 4 days–since I’ve only had it just over a week and charged it to full twice I don’t quite have enough data for that).

Thus the immediate challenge is gone: I’ve found myself browsing plugshare.com to see where I would be able to charge but frequently stop when I realize that I don’t need any of the local chargers (even the 3 DC fast chargers (DCFC) within a few miles from my house).

In reality, however, the challenge has just been moved further out. Since my day to day or even weekly needs are met by the range of the Bolt I’ve been browsing plugshare to see: “ok, how far can I get with a Bolt via DCFC’s, Level 2’s, or even campgrounds?” Well take a look at this:

DCFCmap

This is the plugshare map of all CCS DCFC chargers in the US. Hmm looks to me like I could make it all the way across the country–almost (at the least I could make it out East from my base here in the Detroit area, or down to Florida without a problem). There are a few gaps longer than 200 miles or so. Who says there is no DCFC infrastructure to support EVs other than Tesla? Look its there–and growing rather quickly. Instead of just one company trying to build out an infrastructure all on its own here are many companies building out a redundant infrastructure. Companies like Dunkin Donuts, AAA, and Walmart–all of which are starting to add (or have added) chargers at their stores (the 3 DCFC’s near me are two Dunkin Donuts and a AAA).

Ironically I’ll probably never take the Bolt on such a journey–if I’m taking a trip that long I’ll drive the RV and tow the Bolt on a dolly (yeah I realize the irony here using the gas powered RV to take the Bolt for a long distance trip LOL). You never know, however, I may do it at least once….just for the challenge of it 😉 .

 

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The challenge is gone..sort of

2015 Drive Electric Week..er Day

For this year my Drive Electric week event moved from a local mall to a local Whole Foods. The result was that the largely indifferent mall people was replaced by a very into it supermarket (lets face it a gathering of EVs fits into the image that Whole Foods wants to project a lot more then your average mall).

This is the 3rd Drive Electric event I’ve attended. For the first one I just visited, last year I spent the day and contributed my car as one of the “show cars”.

This year I returned to enthusiastic visitor and popped by for a few minutes to chat and take pictures.

A few weeks ago Tesla opened up a new Supercharger station in Ann Arbor–right across the freeway from where this Drive Electric Event is/was being held. Consequently there was about 5 or 6 Model S’s in attendance (last year I think there was 2).
Tesla Model S
Here is the Ford section with 3 C-Max Energie’s and a Focus Electric (there was another C-Max parked elsewhere):
Plug in Ford's
Below you can see the 3 Nissan Leaf’s that showed up:
Leaves
BMW i3, Mitsubishi iMEV, and the white Leaf:
A collection of EVs
The lone Cadillac ELR:
ELR
Wider shot of the cars:
Wide shot
As with any Southeastern Michigan event, many Volts:
Volts
The Human Electric Conversion guys were also here again:
Bikes

From what I could tell this was a much better venue for the Drive Electric event. Much more traffic, and traffic that may be interested in the vehicles on display.

2015 Drive Electric Week..er Day

Driving a 500e

Today I had the opportunity to take a 500e out for a short spin–about 2 miles by its odometer.

Having never driven any Fiat 500 before I was pretty surprised at how small they really are. I knew they were small from seeing them on the road but until you sit behind the wheel you don’t realize how small they are! This smallness does translate into a fun zippy car to drive around. With the short wheelbase combined with the electric acceleration you can really throw the little car around.

I liked the battery and range displays on either side of the “circle” on the dash. I did find it odd that all 4 tire pressures were displayed prominently around the speed. Tire pressure isn’t something that I think I’d need to see all the time–only to check once per drive or so and when they are low (a warning would suffice to let me know to check). Unless, of course, if the car is prone to tire problems.

It does have a lot of similarities to the Focus Electric (probably common to all BEVs): The same quiet ride, the smooth acceleration, the lack of engine vibration, etc. My seat of the pants feel says that its slightly faster than the Focus on initial acceleration–probably mostly due to Ford’s control algorithm limiting the Focus’ power at start.

On the whole its a nice little commuter BEV. I don’t see one in my future, though, simply because it isn’t big enough for my needs (my Focus can fit four in moderate comfort–can’t say the same for the 500e).

Driving a 500e

Drive Electric Week–Ann Arbor

This year the National Plug In Day event, er sorry Drive Electric Week, for Southeastern Michigan took place in Ann Arbor at Briarwood mall. This is a very popular mall with a lot of traffic–a much better location than behind a parking structure at a community college where last year’s event took place.

In addition, this year the timing worked out for me: The event was originally planned for Saturday but there is a U of M football game on Saturday (many people attending the game park at the mall and take the shuttle and traffic near Ann Arbor on game days is a nightmare). I would not have been able to attend the Saturday event with my son’s sports schedule.

Now on to the event; I loaded up the FFE with some EVSE’s and a table to display them all:
Loaded up
Arriving just prior to the official start I setup my display:
All set up
The EVSE table
On display I had the Juicebox, a Clipper Creek LCS-25P, and the Ford Level 1 charger. I was surprised to learn that many of the EV drivers haven’t heard of the Juicebox. This was most likely due to the fact that the majority of cars that showed up were Volts which doesn’t need much more than what came with the car (in fact many of the Volt drivers just used the included Level 1 charger).

The car tally for the event was:

  • 1 C-Max Energi
  • 1 Jet Electrica
  • 3 Tesla Model S
  • 2 Focus Electrics
  • Half dozen or so Volts
  • 3 Battery Scooters
  • Many battery bicycles

Shortly after setting up I was asked to assist with placing the signs around the mall. I only mention this small detail because we used a Tesla Model S to drive around and place the signs–my first and only ride in a Model S. What struck me the most about the Model S was how similar an experience it was to riding around in the Focus Electric. Now before anyone gets all bent out of shape, think about it a little bit. They are both EVs and they both exhibit all the common qualities that makes everyone love an EV: the smooth and quiet ride. As far as acceleration: Yeah the Model S has that in spades (and this was only a 60) over the FFE.

During the show/event I noticed that when people would show up to see the cars they tended to gravitate to my small display first. I’m not sure if that was because I had a lot of stuff to look at with the EVSE’s on display, that I was always by the car, or simply because of my car’s color. I did get a few comments on the color and how striking it looked compared to the other cars on display (most of the other colors: The Ford’s were their Ice Storm color, the Volts and Model S’ were various colors of: Silver, Black, White, etc.).

I would estimate that throughout the day I spoke with about a dozen people. Some happened to be driving by the mall and noticed the cars, some were already going to the mall for other reasons and noticed the cars, the remaining few (about 3 or so) actually looked up the event online and came specifically for the show. All of the discussions were positive–I may have even sold an EV or two (perhaps even an FFE–there was a gentleman and his friend who were really interested in everything about the FFE).

If you’re still reading this far, you’re probably thinking: Enough blabbing already! More pictures. Ok here is the Jet Electrica:
Jet Electrica
Jet Electrica

Here are the converted electric bicycles: (These were very popular with everyone taking at least one for a spin.)
Electric Bicycles

Finally, some wide shots:
That's it
In the lot near Sears
Model S

On the whole everyone seemed to agree that it was a good turnout (given the fact that the date changed only two days ago) and it was much more visible being at a popular mall right by the busiest entrance.

 

Drive Electric Week–Ann Arbor

Drive Electric Week Event

I’m off to the Drive Electric Week event in Ann Arbor. Hopefully I’ll be able to update the post throughout the day as the one or two people show up.
All packed up:

I have a table that I’ll use to display some EVSE’s (The Ford one, a Clipper Creek, and the JuiceBox).

Update 1: sitting here with two FFEs, two Volts, a C-Max Energi, and a Tesla Model S. That’s right FFEs here outnumber Leafs (0) and Teslas!

Update 2: lots of Volts, 3 Tesla Model S’s and about 6 curious passers by (a couple mentioned they showed up specifically for this).

(pictures will be posted later.)

Update 3: Back from the event and well rested now. Time for a proper post about the event. I did learn that:

  • Updating the blog in bright sunshine using a mobile device is near impossible
  • I was much more busy than I had thought I would be and thus didn’t have time for artful blog posts.

 

 

Drive Electric Week Event