November 2014 Minutes

News, more big news, and even bigger news.  And annual elections too.  We had some new faces to start with, over pizza and snacks.

wcclThe Workplace Charging Challenge held one of its updates in Alexandria on Tuesday; several club members were in attendance.  This is very significant, because workplace charging has been a consistent and major enticement to EV adoption.  Yet, there are still major issues to be tackled, and not just at Federal offices.  So far, 150 employers are officially signed up to the program (though of course there are others below the radar).  These large companies claim over three thousand EVSEs, both Level 1 and Level 2; L2 at 240V seems to be on the rise.  Utilities attended too, including Pepco (hi Barbara!).

Vehicle rotation and allocation is clearly an issue; Jill from EVI suggests we establish an etiquette while the problem is still fresh.  Some companies have a system for rotation, while some simply demand their employees work it out themselves.  An option already on the table is a card in your window, with scheduling information.  Some people have been doing this for a while; some have their contact info on the card, or for privacy a QR code (there’s a Kickstarter project for this).  One option for EVSEs that charge a fee is a massive increase after a few hours, to force vehicle rotation.  All the while, free L1 outlets for engine block heaters still exist; this is taken for granted in Alaska, with no assignment or cost issues.  Meanwhile, ‘peak power’ and brownouts are largely not an issue; it was reported that demand spikes are only a few hours, a few times a year.  A breakout session discussed leased properties; Alan from the Virginia Clean Cities Coalition is seeking liaisons, for recruiting more workplaces.

On a related note, we discussed shops and hotels allowing charging, to attract and retain customers- it’s just good business.  Member Dennis reported on the new MOM’s location on New York Avenue, with charging included from the start.  DC has a policy, ‘for all modes of transport.’  Developers must consider bike parking and Metro accessibility as well as handicapped access, and now EVs.  The airport parking/charging question was floated, with many similar possibilities.

asbAuto show season is fast approaching.  We’ve certainly had great outreach at the DC show, for decades now.  This time, the Baltimore Auto Show in the Convention Center has a receptive leader.  Volunteers are needed, both for DC (Jan 23-Feb 1) and now Baltimore too (Jan 1-4).  Display EVs are certainly appreciated (limited charging is available near both venues).  At least as important are enthusiastic e-vangelizers to answer questions, particularly on weekdays- see Dennis to volunteer. Continue reading

October 2014 Minutes

Charlie, our president, opened with pizza and drinks right away; the weather dampened our attendance at first but not our mission.  White Flint dried up, and White Flint Library eventually filled up.

nslRoll call brought new e-thusiasts, and a few returning after absences.  It also brought us two industry reps, Emmerich from Chevy Chase Nissan, and Jean from Nissan corporate.  Emmerich is graciously hosting our annual holiday party this Dec. 17, in Bethesda at Wisconsin and East-West Highway.  Yes, there will be two EVSEs available for people coming in from a ways.  (The dealership also offered charging to a Leaf driver who lives behind the site.)  We’re looking into demo drives too; family members are also welcome at the party.

ndewJean, with Nissan USA, is now back in the metro area, after having worked around the East Coast promoting clean, domestic driving.  She gave highlights of National Drive Electric Week, as Nissan was a nationwide co-sponsor.  There were 152 NDEW e-vents, in 5 countries.  That’s 39 states, 6 Canadian provinces, Italy, the Netherlands, and the UK.  150 cities were NDEW sites, including Cupertino, CA hosting a world-record EV parade (507 BEVs, no hybrids).  Three thousand total EV owners showed their vehicles to 90,000 visitors, nearly triple last year’s worldwide attendance.  Over one hundred articles covering NDEW made the press.  Jean expects next year to be- and this is a quote- “drinking out of a fire hose.”

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NDEW’14: Sunday Sunday Sunday

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And a lovely day was had- we were hoping for sunny skies, maybe a bit too sunny.  Spilling onto both sides of 3rd St. again, we showcased clean, domestic energy for plenty of passersby.  Nissan had representation and schwag; a Fiat 500e made a rare East Coast appearance.  Even smaller was Bob’s e-bike, charged by the Sun.

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Simultaneously, the Annapolis EVent was taking place at City Dock.  What a selection: a Think, Smart, Mitsubishi i, the new Mercedes, and a Porsche EV conversion. Continue reading

National Drive Electric Week 2014

i1852d…or at least, several local Drive Electric days.  A great time was had all around our area.  The Frederick EVent, on Friday by MOM’s Grocery, had man cars rotating through the day.  Besides the usual Volts, Leafs, and Teslas, there was a Smart ED and Honda Fit EV.  A Nissan dealer also made an appearance, and gave test drives.  Thanks, Ron!

110512522dSaturday saw EVents in Baltimore and Bethesda.  In Baltimore, at the Maryland Science Center, there were not only owner cars for show, and test rides in our overflow area, by the three solar arrays.  Delegations from GM, BG&E, and the Maryland Energy Administration also came along.  The Chevy Spark EV and Cadillac ELR were not on the list for test rides, though.

One vendor even had his “son-of-segway” personal EV!  Mark was brave enough to hop on.  Thanks, Mark!  520d

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September 2014 Minutes

Again, so much news this month.  So much we had to bone up on pizza and snacks immediately.

Charlie then called the meeting to order, with introductions.  We welcomed several new EV owners, such as Dylan, from Capital News Service, and Jacob, from a car dealership.  He’s trying to spread word among customers and other dealers alike… and colleges, and housing developers.

ndewJoyce reminded us of the Poolesville Drive Electric Event/Poolesville Day this Saturday; she was later joined by co-organizer Jeff.  It’s going to be big- Route 107 will be blocked off through the whole town, for an EV parade, a car show in the nearby school lot, demo drives, plus the usual fair stuff like rides, booths, and a petting zoo.  EVs registered so far include Teslas, a BMW, a Zero motorcycle, and possibly even the new Mercedes and Mitsubishi.  Even Echo electric lawn equipment will be there.  The parade will start at 10, be there before if you want in.  The Baltimore Drive Electric event is also Saturday, if Poolesville’s a bit far for you.

Then we have Drive Electric events this Sunday, in Annapolis and downtown DC.  The Annapolis show, at the City Dock, is being wrangled by Paul; Elvia also gave us info.  The showing officially starts at 11, but people will be there 9-10 to stake out spaces.  There will be a BMW i3, Mercedes, and a Think City, plus at least 13 others; does anyone have a Ford C-Max plug-in to round out the representation?  Baltimore Gas & Electric will send someone, and we hear the Department of Energy too; the Maryland Energy Administration only has a flyer for us.  Similarly, the DC event on the Mall (3rd Street) now spills over onto both sides of the street.  Come on down, 10 am to 4. Continue reading

Mini Maker Faire, Silver Spring

Great outing, great weather, great crowd.  We showed several EVs at the packed Mini Maker Faire this Sunday, at the Silver Spring Civic Center.  Attendees were tech-savvy, or at least tech-curious, and very eager to see the latest advances.11502d

Amber and Jeff from Riide even gave an e-bike presentation, inside the Civic Center on their stage.504d

Let’s hope our streak continues through National Drive Electric Week- EVents all around the metro area (multiple Virginia and Maryland locations) and around the country, leading up to the EVADC one on the Mall next Sunday the 21st.

September EVents…

And a fun Labor Day Parade was had by all, September 1.  The Greenbelt outing had two Volts, a Plug-In Prius, a Leaf, a Ford C-Max Energi, and an e-bike, plus wind power representatives.

709dDon’t forget, we’ve also got the Mini Maker Faire in Silver Spring this Sunday, followed by the Monthly Meeting Wednesday Sep. 17, and then The Big One- our multiple Drive Electric Week events around the Metro area.  See you there! Continue reading

August 2014 Minutes

Lots of news and events this meeting.  In order of appearance, not importance:

President Charlie called the meeting to order at 7:16.  We began with introductions, including many new faces (new BMW i3!).  This includes people looking to upgrade from their hybrids.  Debra brought up the August issue of Consumer Reports, bringing attention to dealer misinformation about EVs and, in some cases, active hostility to them.  Later, members shared their recommendations on good, EV-aware dealerships.

cpbssgbSpeaking of EV awareness, the annual Greenbelt Labor Day Parade is coming up fast, this September 1.  We’ve seen great turnouts and enthusiasm in our previous runnings.  Bring your EV (well before 10 am) if you have one, check it out if you want one.  After that (Sept. 14, 12-5 pm) is the Mini Maker Faire, downtown Silver Spring’s local edition of the tech hobbyists’ powwows.  We have brought EVs before; anyone have any cool mods, or entire homebuilts they’d like to show off?  Charlie’s crowd-pleasing Porsche 914 conversion won’t be ready, though- still upgrading from NiCd cells to Lithium chemistry.

For non-tinkerers, we mentioned Nissan Leafs can now be found under $20k with deals.  Possibly near $15k if you’re good.  Meanwhile the first Leafs, Volts, and Prius Plug-Ins are going off leases and on the used market, for good prices.  Member Rob sold his Tesla S, anticipating a Tesla III in a few years.  He’s now using his Think City, though it needs a paint job.  We heard the issues with various Think finishes. Continue reading

“LiveWire” Electric Harley

9172dYes, 100% electric- Forbes’ headline was “Hell Freezes Over.”  For angels and devils alike, Saturday was time for some good clean fun, at least briefly.  Project LiveWire is, currently, not Product LiveWire.  The Harley-Davidson Motor Company is taking the rideable demonstrator bikes on tour, officially to gauge interest and get rider feedback (though see below).  I caught the caravan at Brian’s Harley-Davidson, between Philadelphia and Trenton (thanks Brian!).

Anyone familiar with Harley-Davidson knows that, if nothing else, they’re experts at brand management and promotion; this tour date was no exception.  It had to be; LiveWire is both a leading-edge technology and “wedge technology,” in a wedge demographic.  I’ve already seen a call for a boycott from Harley hardliners.  Hardliners created, in part, by prior successes at branding.

9177dWhat you’d notice right away- even before stepping in the canopy- is the sound of the “Jumpstart” test stand doing a run.  Previously, Harley-Davidson brought static motorcycles to events, with the rears on dummy dynamometers.  Bike novices could twist a real, working throttle for the first time, and be introduced to Harley’s hallmark growl and rumble without actually knowing how to ride.  For the LiveWire tour, the Jumpstart version lets people experience near-ideal “throttle” response, with little or no spool-up lag, clutch losses, or other drivetrain slop.  Just realtime torque, throughout a near-ideal powerband too.  EV enthusiasts know that shifting and clutches/torque converters are actually bug fixes, not features.  Now the Jumpstart “riders” do, too.  In any case, the throttle curve could be reprogrammed arbitrarily by someone with access. Continue reading

July 2014 Minutes

We held this month’s meeting at Rose’s house in McLean (thanks Rose!).  Aside from solar electricity and heating, Rose provided us with fresh baked bread, and a meeting room normally used for bluegrass and such.  Anyway, on to the vehicles- even the pizza guy was using an Insight.

Charlie called the meeting to order at 7:25, with a roll of club officers, then honored guests.  Boris and Stanley, employees of ASUS, were visiting for an EV study and dissertation.  The two will make recommendations to the Taiwanese government.  Others in the meeting introduced themselves, including some new faces due to the Virginia location this time.

hdr3Our featured guest was Brandon, from the University of Delaware.  Brandon arrived in a UDel AC Propulsion EV, a converted 5-door based on a Scion.  Brandon’s project will suggest policies for DNREC (Delaware Natural Resources and Environmental Control).  This is in part based on a survey he gve us.  One aspect of the survey was extender batteries- the concept of add-on modules for longer trips.

Brandon then spoke at length on V2G- “Vehicle to Grid” power and billing.  Yes, getting paid for having an electric vehicle.  At the moment, the University of Delaware is running longer-term programs on frequency regulation of the grid using parked EVs.  Minor amounts of charge capacity are either supplied or drawn as needed, to keep the AC frequency at 60 Hertz.  In exchange, the grid pays the EV owners for the priviledge.  The UDel fleet includes cars parked on campus, as well as participants at home.  More owners and EVs are wanted, though you must be a Delmarva Power customer for this particular program. Continue reading