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.
Speaking 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.
Prices on EVSEs (“chargers”) are also falling. Sean, a licensed electrician, brought up new Clipper Creek EVSEs, including a new one for $395. I’ll note, however, that plenty of people (including myself) do fine with the regular NEMA 5-15 socket (“Level 1”). On top of that, Maryland just passed a rebate on EVSEs- an actual rebate now, not a tax break next April. You can get 50% back, up to $900, if you submit your installer’s electrical permit. There are now Do-It-Yourself kits for even less, but you won’t get the MD rebate, and of course now you’re doing your own electrical work.
Tom and Caroline presented their Leaf road trip- DC to Boston and back (Bethesda). The charging infrastructure is now more than sufficient to do the trip, and cheaper than gas. What’s holding people back, literally, is the Leaf’s lack of a powerful cooling system for the battery. The faster it’s charged, the more heat accumulates, so quick charging can only be done a limited number of times in a row before the computer cuts the power. Club members also shared their experiences with Leaf battery temperature. Nevertheless, Tom was able to tour numerous charging sites (both Level 2 and Level 3) along the East Coast, and even skip some when he was going perfectly fine. A loss of range occurred as the battery heated, but they report much of that was temporary. The battery rebounded just days later after doing local driving again.
Members with Honda Fit EVs compared their experiences. The “range meter” is surprisingly accurate, and members are getting good distances. Though of course, the Fit has no quick charging options and could not try a Boston run.
Well within Leaf and Fit ranges are the 2014 Drive Electric showings (formerly National Plug-In Day)- probably our biggest publicity event of the year. It’s not called National Plug-In Day anymore because it takes place throughout that week. Member Jeff kicks off with a car show at a Virginia military facility, then Mosaic Center in Annandale September 16. This is near the MOM’s grocery charging, 11 am to 4 pm; come by to show your EV or just greet people and answer questions.
Saturday will be big. Paul leads an Annapolis Drive Electric site at the City Dock; nearby, Rommel Harley-Davidson will also be showing the Project Livewire electric motorcycle (starting that Friday). They will loan helmets, but better come early if you even hope to get a test ride. Mark and Jeff will lead the Poolesville, MD Drive Electric event, on the 20th. Their parade will start at 10 am, then turn into a car show afterward in the nearby school. Bowie will also have an event that Saturday, at the SemaConnect headquarters, noon. Show your EV and your appreciation- they were great hosts at our previous Holiday parties. I’m told there will also be Bethesda and Baltimore events. All this is building up to a Sunday, Sept. 21 event in DC.
After a break for pizza, member Curt discussed his meeting in Delaware. Sun Country Highway has installed (free!) EVSEs across Canada, and is looking to expand in the US. Right now Sun Country has three installations in Harrisburg, PA, Wilmington, Delaware, and Virginia. They are seeking more host sites; in Canada, sites are mostly Best Westerns trying to draw more (and more educated, affluent) customers. Sun Country uses 80-amp, J1772-standard EVSEs, more than powerful enough for anything but a Tesla Model S with the optional second charger.
Back in Maryland, Paul attended the meeting of the state Public Service Commission. Households with net metering (i. e., enough solar panels to feed back into the grid) are now eligible for an EV tariff, where they had not been under PEPCO’s pilot program. One member reports time-of-use rates as low as 3 cents/kilowatt-hour at night- that’s good. Meanwhile, Baltimore Gas and Electric hasn’t been doing much.
After the Drive Electric events will be the unrelated but similar Tour of Solar Homes, the weekend of October 4 and 5. Member Ron Kaltenbaugh’s house, with a 15.1 kW array, is on the Western Tour. There will also be an Eastern Tour, as there are about ninety homes; odds are good that there’s a house near you. Some have geothermal too; one will have an electric lawn tractor. More volunteers are needed, to park their EVs at more Tour homes, and answer questions from curious tour-goers. Contact Ron to match EVers with the non-EV tour houses.
Workplace charging at the USPTO is now live; member and USPTO staffer Scott shared his experiences. Both the USPTO’s east and west parking structures have 6 slots with regular NEMA 5-20 sockets. EV owners must buy a hang tag from the garage contractor, for $20 a month; then a slot will be assigned to them. These are prime locations; ICErs were even offering to pay just to get those spots. Management seems happy with the plan so far, and might possibly expand to J1772 charging. So far, Scott has seen 2 Volts, a Prius Plug-In, a Ford Energi model, and a Tesla S.
Unfortunately, NIH and the USPTO are the exceptions, not the rule, and only because the charging is sold through a contractor. If you want charging at your Federal workplace, contact your legislator and support the EV COMUTE Act.
Closing items: Still looking for interest in an SCCA racing event; we held one a few years ago and it’s about time for another. EVADC officers are also being solicited, for November’s club elections. The University of Maryland’s flagship campus has installed more Level 1, 120V sockets, but appears to be installing parking meters at some of its Level 2, J1772s. Our club’s Aztec EV has been sold; now we’re looking to sell the trailer too, as well as the smaller trailer for the Bug-E. See the Takoma Park Green Commuter e-bike store. Alternative Race Technology magazine is out, covering Formula E racing among others. The first event on the circuit is a few weeks from now in Beijing.