February 2014 Minutes

Our new digs in the Rockville Public Library are great! They’re right off the ice rink on Maryland Ave. in Rockville Town Center. Hope to see you there for the next few meetings, even if you missed February (brrr). Member Deborah lives just 1/3 of a mile from the Library, in case the charger in Garage A isn’t enough. The Library also validates Garage parking at a discount. We started with pizza, drinks, and cake, then introduced everyone. Welcome to new e-thusiasts of domestic, clean, and quite snappy transport. New and existing members are encouraged tomcplr sign up with our umbrella organization, EAA, which offers us a discount.

We recapped our Auto Show(s!) outreach. The DC Show had club members’ cars, an electric racer and a spare chassis, Phelps High School’s EV Grand Prix racer, and a pedal/electric Elf enclosed recumbent, quite the draw. We were also next to EVs from Chevy and Cadillac, VW, BMW, Kia, and a Hyundai hybrid. This included the Chevy Spark (now coming to Maryland) and 2016 Volt. Toyota unfortunately chose to promote a fuel cell car, sticking the Prius Plug-In in a corner. However, GM did invite Volt owners to a presentation with news and developments. The Baltimore show also placed us well. We had a Think City on display; unlike DC, Baltimore had electrics from Ford and Mercedes. Thanks to all who volunteered their EVs, time, and effort.

A little more exclusive was an EV charging summit on Capitol Hill; senators Merkley and Carper attended. California utility PG&E announced an initiative for thousands of EVSE sites, including plans for multiunit housing. This had members discuss charge networks with only one or two sites in driving distance, or odd membership terms.

In state news, Maryland’s EV Infrastructure Council announced a deployment. After a settlement with Constellation Energy, 3 firms bid to install EVSEs with the money, including fast DC chargers. Both CHAdeMO and SAE CCS chargers will run from Hagerstown to Ocean City, Elkton to Waldorf. Ground’s already been broken on some, with October openings; no word on if sites will also have J1772.

The next Formula E electric race will be March 14 in Miami. Anyone interested in a road trip?

Other Maryland news includes Senate Bill 0762, allowing charging spaces despite Homeowners’ Associations. It’s still early, with the bill in committee; the bill may only include assigned spaces, not general lots. Meanwhile, House Bill 235 would allow direct Tesla sales, without official dealerships. The dealers’ association spoke, and was apparently okay with Tesla direct sale but not “regular” (ICE) automakers. Hey, progress.

We discussed the ongoing Tesla Gigafactory developments. Scott reckoned that “Giga-” is literal; if placed on the Mall, the building would run almost from the Lincoln to Washington Monuments, almost from the Tidal Basin to the Constitution Garden Pond. It will also produce stationary storage; Tesla and/or SolarCity will sell 10-20 kWh batteries that will fit on your wall. Other manufacturers may include Bosch and Honda, and we know GM, Nissan, and BMW are doing experiments in stationary batteries. Third-party groups have done Prius-to-home hookups. Still, Florida mandates a grid connection, even if you can completely satisfy your own power needs. On the other hand, two Pennsylvania legislators want electric vehicles to include home backup capability.

Joyce Breiner from Poolesville Green spoke. The first Montgomery County Green Festival will be March 28, rain or shine. There will be discussion panels, vendor tables, and EV panels and displays. The site will be Montgomery College’s Takoma Park campus, in Jessup Blair Park at Jessup Blair and Georgia Avenues. Nissan will have a table, and may allow test drives. We already have volunteers with a Volt, Leaf, Tesla Model S, and Ford Fusion Energi for display; can anyone else show or volunteer? Load-in time will be 10:30 am.

There will be an auction for lightly-used Think City EVs February 24. Assuming they haven’t been abused, the Think batteries per se are pretty durable. Member Rob mentions the bigger issue is abnormal cases frying a controller circuit. A Baltimore shop still services Thinks.

The issue of weird startup behavior led to a discussion of 12V batteries. Yes, most electric vehicles still have a little lead-acid battery, like a regular ICE car but smaller. This accessory battery runs the 12V electronics, separately from the traction battery and motor. In some use cases, like letting the vehicle sit too long, the accessory battery can run down, just like in a regular car. This does no harm to the main battery, but won’t let the computer (and thus, the car) start up. The EV community has found workarounds in cigarette lighter voltmeters, jumpstarters, and mini-solar panels.

In closing, we mentioned Tony Seba’s book, Clean Disruption, and Levi Tillemann’s The Great Race. The Solar Impulse plane will make its round-the-world flight soon. And when you see construction, you should ask the owner to install charging, because it’s really hard when the concrete’s already finished.

See you in Rockville next month!

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  1. Pingback: September 2015 Minutes | Electric Vehicle Association of Greater Washington, DC

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