Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The EVA/DC 2011 Holiday Party

All are welcome to join in at the 2011 EVA/DC holiday party this Wednesday, 21 December 2011, 19:00 at the Patent Office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Food will be provided and there will be a bowl if you wish to contribute to defray the costs.  You'll also have an opportunity to join the EVA/DC with a tax-deductible donation to the organization, though that isn't required to attend.

I'm especially happy to hear my friend Mahi Reddy will be speaking about his company SemaConnect which now has a contract for 1400 EVSEs in the Washington and Baltimore region thanks to 350Green!  Well done Mahi!

Now here's EVA/DC president Charlie Garlow to tell you more!

We are pleased and privileged to tell you that Mahi Reddy of Semaconnect has accepted our invitation to be our keynote speaker.

Mahi has been a long time EVADC member, and after he joined, formed his new EV Charging Station company, Semaconnect, out of Annapolis.

Mahi will be sharing with us his vision for EV infrastructure roll-out and EV markets, and anything else he wants to talk about!

Please RSVP if you are coming and how many friends you will be bringing.  Can't come?  Time to send some love:

Update: Veggie and meat lasagnas will be the main course.  Beverages of various "octanes".  Salad.  Desserts.  Want to bring a special dish?  RSVP.

Here are the details we sent you earlier for the Holiday Party

Hello everyone,

You are invited to the 2011 EVADC Holiday Party.  I have secured the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum at the Patent and Trademark Office in lovely Alexandria, VA for our party.  The event will be on December 21st, starting sharply at 7:00pm and going until 10:00pm.  The museum is located directly inside the Madison Building located at 600 Dulany St, Alexandria, VA, 22314.  The location is metro accessible from King St. Metro.  There are two Level-2 Chargers located within a short walking distance from the PTO as well as there are plenty of 110 outlets located in the adjacent parking garages.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum features a display of the 460 National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees.  Large panels present the names of all Inductees, and an interactive kiosk allows visitors to learn more about each Inductee.  The Hall of Fame and kiosk shares with visitors the significance of the inductees’ life-changing work and also the importance of their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.  The Museum currently features: Exercising Ingenuity: Inventions in Health and Fitness.  This new exhibition is a tribute to the importance the health, fitness, and nutrition industries have played in American lives over the years.  Exercising Ingenuity highlights the historic advances, current trends, and future technologies relating to a healthier body and mind.

Further details, including food, and detailed maps including location for the meeting and chargers will follow shortly. If anyone has any food ideas they would like to bring please contact me directly.

Mark your calendars and bring friends.  RSVP with the number of people coming.

Have a great week,

Eric Cardwell
Vice President EVADC

Charlie Garlow,
President, EVADC

Dave Goldstein,
President Emeritus, EVADC

and a cast of thousands.

View Patent Office Parking in a larger map

Walking from the King's Street Metro?

We've got you covered:

I hope everyone can make it to the holiday party at the USPTO this Wednesday. I highly recommend taking metro since it is very convenient. The USPTO is about a 7 minute walk from the metro.

When you arrive at King street and exit through the main metro station doors you should be looking at the kiss and ride parking lot and the bus pickup. Across the street you will see the Embassy Suits hotel. When you exit the King street station, just follow the side walk to your right, it will take you up a short hill and from there you will see a red light and main busy intersection of Duke street, just keep walking to the right and follow the side walk through big iron gates, it will lead you down to an underground tunnel that will take you under Duke street so that you don't have to cross that busy intersection. When you come out the other side just continue to follow the side walk (to the right). You will come up on another red light. Continue walking straight across. Follow the side walk straight a block further and you should be within the USPTO Campus with a green grassy middle area surrounded by buildings. Straight a head of you should be a building with a huge glass atrium, that is the madison building, just keep following the side walk until you get to the main entrance of that building. When you enter madison building, turn right and there is the USPTO Museum where the meeting will be held.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Changes for a Better EV Life: Where for art thou, CHADeMO?

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.<  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

What about CHAdeMO?

Granted, the LEAF SL has a TEPCO plug and CHAdeMO support, so it can theoretically be charged from 0% to 80% in twenty-five minutes.  But CHAdeMO stations are few and far between currently and even with with the 350Green announcement of 47 new Charging Stations in the Baltimore and D.C. regions, if I recall only 5 of those will be CHAdeMo.

Fortunately, 350Green chose CHAdeMO as the Level 3 standard they and aren't going with the the odd-ball SAE proposal currently floating with the J1772 plus two prongs below it for the direct current connection of Level 3.  On the one hand, CHAdeMO is the de facto standard because it has the most stations and the most cars that can accept it.  But right now, those numbers aren't big and if the SAE comes up with something cheaper and car manufacturers or EVSE makers decide to take a risk on following the official recommendations, it's possible over time CHAdeMO could be the BetaMax over the SAE's VHS.

Changes for a Better EV Life: Slowest EV Charge Time: LEAF

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

Putting the LEAF Charger in Perspective

The chart above demonstrates how of the most popular EVs today, the LEAF takes the longest to charge from depleted to full:

As can be seen, the LEAF is slower by an hour even over the Tesla Model S and is clearly the slowest to charge of all; it's even twice as slow as the Focus Electric and Chevy Volt.  Of course, in terms of the amount of mileage you get from charging any of these cars can differ greatly so to be fair, compare them to the total pack size:

Obviously, the Model S has a lot more battery than the Nissan LEAF but still only takes about 6½ hours to charge.  And since most cars in the sample range in capacity from about 16 kWh to the LEAF's 24 kWh, yet most of these have much shorter charge times, it's clear that Nissan underestimated the competition.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Changes for a Better EV Life: The 6.6kW Charger (Part 1)

Having driven CO2 Fre for over a month now, I feel I can now safely make some recommendations for change that would make my life infinitely easier.  Some of these things I've been writing about long before I purchased my Nissan LEAF; I knew going in some sacrifice would be required for the greater good.  That's not to say there aren't great things like the burgeoning Charging Infrastructure and wonderful LEAF features to help get me through the day!  But there's always room for improvement and if you don't speak up, nothing will get done.

The LEAF Needs a 6.6kW Charger

I've written about this numerous times and even created a Facebook Group for it.  Put simply, there are two basic reasons I would pay a pretty penny for the 6.6kW charger.  The first has to do with situations like the one where I had to spend three hours at Rosenthal's Nissan/Mazda waiting for enough electricity to get home.  With a 6.6kW charger, that would have been a mere ninety minutes.  Put another way, with the 3.3kW charger, you only get about 10–15 miles (15–25 km) of driving per hour of charge.  Since my driving average comes out to 4.0 mikWh (6.4 kmkWh), this comes out to 11.52 mi (18.54 km) for me.  With a 6.6kW you double that!  And that means 45 minutes out at a nice restaurant like the Cracker Barrel in Manassas next to the IBEW Local 26/JATC ChargePoint stations would net about 20 mi (32 km), more than enough to get home on a near-depleted pack; with only 10 mi (16 km), I feel I'd be pushing my luck!

The other reason has to do with the new Dominion Virginia Power Time Of Use rate.  Specifically, by going to a 6.6kW Charger under Schedule EV, I estimate I could be saving $80 per year in electricity costs by limiting my charge time to the hours 1–5 am.  Now, if the 6.6kW charger costs $1,000 to retrofit into a 2011/2012 LEAF, as I once suggested I would still pay it gladly.  Sure, it would be a 12½ year return on investment, assuming current electric rates, but the time I don't have to spend at places like my local Nissan Dealer or Panera waiting for a sufficient charge to my car is quite valuable too.  By some estimates this could be as much as $40 per hour for a skilled software engineer such as myself, and at that rate it doesn't take long to equate an hour wasted waiting here, an hour wasted waiting there and before you know it, you've wasted a grand.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nissan LEAF meetup Today

Come see the array of Washington area LEAFs today at Nissan of Chantilly, noon–4 pm! All are welcome. There will be pizza.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ring out the Old, Ring in the New

This Sunday, Nissan is celebrating Gudy / Olivier Chalouhi's 1 year anniversary of accepting the very first Nissan LEAF.  This momentous occasion none the less brings back a melancholy memory for those of us in the D.C. Area and on the east coast.  It turns out our first Capital LEAFs meetup will be on the 1 year anniversary of, well, let me explain it via the article I published that day: Nah, No LEAF for You.

For the record, we chose 10 December via a poll in the Yahoo! group mainly to make sure we gave time for everyone who could to get their cars before the December holidays so it's quite the coincidence that it falls on the same day of the news from last year.  For those of us in it from the beginning, it's been a long and rocky ride, but most of you either have your LEAFs now or will soon so let's not dwell on the somber past as we celebrate our Electric Future!

But one thing I do ask of everyone, after you return home from our fun celebrations of the comfy, cosy electric that could, at 9pm, Saturday Night, we have 7 seconds of silence for the lost 7 months and all that could have been had we been allowed to order when promised.  Thank you.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bring Out Your LEAF: The Capital LEAFs is meeting this Saturday

Come one, come all and check it out as we gather our LEAFs at Nissan of Chantilly!

Date: Saturday, 10 December 2011
Time: 12:00 to 16:00
Host and Honored Guests:

14840 Stonecroft Center Court
Chantilly, VA 20151

Everyone is invited to check out the plethora of Capital Region LEAFs as we gather to recount stories of our adventures in the world of EV Driving!

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Don't Give Up on the Chevy Volt Just Yet!

With all the bad press the Chevy Volt has been getting recently, I think it's time for some perspective.  We've all heard the stories about how the Lithium Ion battery in the Volt has the potential to catch fire in a severe crash.  And sure GM is now offering to buy back certain Chevy Volts.  But as someone who's invested long hours in the EV world, I feel it needs to be said, if I had a Volt, GM would have to pry the keys out of my cold, dead hands!

In the grand scheme of things, it's amazing how easily we forget that the petroleum tank of a standard Internal Combustion Engine vehicle can also catch fire under the right evaporated temperature and pressure.  In my years of driving, it may be unfair of me to say I've never seen an electric vehicle fire, but I've certainly seen more than one car ablaze on the side of the road.  Sure, Lithium-Ion batteries can get hot, and yes, they can cause fires.  But that's why all EVs, including the Chevy Volt, us a very intelligent battery management system.  These systems monitor battery load and keep them from overheating due to rapid charge or discharge.  The only way you're going to see an EV battery catch fire is if it's in a catastrophic accident, like the one in the NHTSA tests.

That's not to say you shouldn't get your Volt repaired.  There's no sense in being reckless and the Volt will be repaired.  GM, after all, has been long invested in the EV market.  After all, they made the EV1.

And the EV1 is exactly why you need to keep your Volt!  It broke my heart when GM recalled all their EV1 leases; it was such a beautiful car!  This was the subject of a wonderful documentary by director Chris Paine called Who Killed the Electric Car?  Seeing all those electric vehicles crushed, we EV advocates swore never again!

So get your Volts fixed, and then take them home and drive, drive, drive!  Show the world how great a car the Chevy Volt is!  Be a good-will ambassador for we few, we proud, we EV owners!  Don't let them take your electric car away again!

The EV Project in Washington, D.C.

For a number of months as I've read wonderful news about the progress ECOTality has made with The EV Project in terms of both improving the charging infrastructure here in the United States as well as working with we EV owners to try and learn how a typical EV Driver uses his EV.  One of the ways ECOTality is helping EV Owners is by providing them with the free installation and use of an EVSE in their home.  In return, via a networking connection on the EVSE and the car, the EV owner provides The EV Project with detailed statistics on their vehicle's at-home and around town charging pattern.

The EV Project has been very active on the West Coast in California, Oregon, Washington and Arizona as well as Texas and Tennessee.  They've worked closely with both Nissan LEAF and Chevrolet Volt buyers to identify homes which qualify for their program.  In these states, ECOTality contracted Blink to provide the EVSEs for the program.  However, the Washington, D.C. region has been mysteriously absent from all but a handful of press releases.  In fact its hard to find any press release about the capital region beyond the one announcing the region's addition.

For months now I've been trying to get answers from ECOTality as to why there's been no news of installations in the D.C. region.  Yet every inquiry I made was met with silence.  And until recently I thought I was alone in this curiosity, but the topic is now become quite popular in the Capital LEAF Owners Facebook page as well as among the EVA/DC members.  So I was happy to finally hear back from Robert Nowaczewski from the Blink Network Support with some information that can finally shed some light on The EV Project in D.C.

officially only the Chevy Volt qualifies… not even the Nissan LEAF

It turns out that The EV Project won't will be using Blink chargers for the home EVSE program; the SPX EVSE isn't part of the program.  However, they are subcontracting the installation to SPX.  SPX produces the the official EVSE recommended by GM for the Chevy Volt.  What's more, officially only the Chevy Volt qualifies under The EV Project in the D.C. region, not even the Nissan LEAF.

The reason for this is likely due to Nissan's seven month delay in opening up orders for the D.C. region.  But now the LEAFs are popping up like weeds in the D.C. region and there's no excuse why this car can't also be part of the project in the nation's capital.  Unfortunately, this isn't the only injury the LEAF delay has caused.

As for which zip codes qualify for The EV Project, these need to come from SPX.  I've yet to hear from Mr. Nowaczewski or SPX with a list of qualifying codes.  Thus, I'm unable to provide any details for Chevy Volt owners to apply, however I will update this post when new information arises.