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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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

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

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

June 2014 Minutes

emnptCharlie began the meet at 7:13, with introductions (several new faces and new EVs) including our first speaker: Ty Robinson of Environment Maryland.  Ty briefed the club on that state’s policies on EV adoption and renewable power, and Environment Maryland’s efforts for more aggressive rollouts on both.  (Virginia signatures are welcome too!).  The nonprofit claims Heather Mizeur and Alonzo Washington as supporters; it is then offering (unpaid) internships.  The club floor also held forth on related energy questions.

A Skype conference with Ben Rich in Centerville began at 7:31.  Ben, owner of a Zero Motorcycle among other EVs, recounted the cross-country tour seen in Kick Gas.  (EAA members can watch this documentary at a discount.)  Organized by Susan Jones of Nashville, the tour went from Charleston, SC to San Francisco, via public charging and RV/camping sites.  EVs spanned from a Nissan Leaf, through the motorcycle and 2 scooters, to an e-bike which was swapping batteries.  Ben’s now continuing across other areas, and into Canada; he plans on a Mt Washington climb and a Tail of the Dragon run.  This began a discussion of several club members’ Zero motorcycles and Vectrix scooters.

We then broke for refreshments and conversation, and re-convened at 8:06.  The Crystal City Fathers’ Day Car Show drew pretty much the gamut of (4-wheel) EVs; there was no Fiat 500e on display, but there was a Smart and a Honda Fit, plus an old Ford Ranger EV.  Our treasurer Scott reminded the club that Maryland EVADC license plates are still available for $25; you can do all the forms by mail, or walk into the Glen Burnie MVA.

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May 2014 Minutes

It’s field-trip time.  We held this month’s meeting at Passport BMW in Marlow Heights, MD.  Unfortunately, the dealership only had a corporate-owned display model of the new i3, and headquarters says it can’t be test-driven.  Test-drive i3s with the range-extender engine (“REx”) were due the next day, held up at port by final stickering of the hybrid variant.  (Full-BEV i3s are already in customer hands.)  Still, the club checked out the elegant interior and surprising back seat.
241dWe were met by Sean, Passport’s i3 point man.  After plenty of tire-kicking, we kicked off the meeting proper at 7:12.  General Manager Joe welcomed us and gave a quick brief… we then gave him an earful that was anything but brief.  Passport, like other dealers branching out from gassers, is willing to learn, and admitted “everything’s going to have to evolve.”  Even their body shop is onboard. Club members shared their war stories of clueless or simply inexperienced dealers, and some outright haters.  This is why Tesla starts their own showrooms.  We also offered our suggestions for talking to both the current, educated EV base, and the coming buyers who haven’t done their own research.  Passport was quite receptive to all this, in addition to their hospitality.

Phan from BMW Corporate then gave a fuller presentation.  Although the i3 can out-handle a MINI and beat every other BMW, 0-30 (yes, EVERY other), it’s not some design exercise or track-day ringer.  It’s a fully-fleshed-out system for the future, with the materials and factories also engineered for sustainability.  The Leipzig factory is powered by wind; the cloth fiber is harvested from what was considered a weed.  That it’s a blast on track day is then an added bonus; yes, it’s a real BMW.  Phan has been to BMW track events around the country, and shared the “EV grin” with folks accustomed to ICE lag, backlash, and windup, not instant EV torque.  And this is all before the i8. Continue reading

April 2014 Minutes

So the big “news” is that the 2014 EV Grand Prix will be May 10- really, we’ve been planning this for most of a year now.  Nabih Bedewi wasn’t present, but plenty of people were there to brief the crowd.  (We were in Davis Library, Democracy Blvd.  Trying to cover more of the metro area, apologies if you missed it.)1138d

Bruce Cohen gave a general call for volunteers.  We need setup and teardown volunteers (including the Friday before), course workers, people for greeting and working an EVADC table, crowd control, etc.  See our SignUpGenius page.  All volunteers will receive a T-shirt and cap, pizza lunch courtesy of the venue, and free parking (through the guardhouse, off Rt. 50, for volunteers on our list) instead of the high Udvar-Hazy rate.  Anyone with specialized skills like sound, music, video are especially welcome.  We are also looking for publicity, both via high schools for later EVGPs, and anyone with media and sponsor contacts (this year and in the future).  Heck, tell your school-aged friends and neighbors, any educators you know, and “like” our Facebook page if nothing else.  The U-H Center will have its final Super Science Saturday going on while the race has downtime- you’ve got nothing to lose.

Another opportunity is to show your ride at the 1:00 parade of EVs.  Bill Elliott continued: there will be 120V charging for racers courtesy of the venue, but we’re still looking into guest EV charging.  Northern Virginia has resources, including area stores and auto dealerships; Dulles Airport has a site, but you’d have to pay the daily parking rate.

In other business… after a pizza break, Ron stated that the National Science and Engineering Festival, plus National Sustainable Design Expo (both free, at the Washington Convention Center) also need (fewer) volunteers, April 26-27, plus some Friday work and loading Thursday.  We have table space in both; we plan on having a Tesla and a homebuilt on display, hopefully an EVGP racer too.  While we’ve updated our brochures and have a banner incoming, this event also needs audio/video work.  We are looking into multimedia and interactive displays for the crowd.  Does anyone have any video of their EV, or any related business? Continue reading

March 2014 Minutes

The meeting (White Oak Library again) convened at 7:11 with pizza and drinks.  Our president, Charlie, polled the room for their EVs, and any newcomers to the group.  Again, several new faces.  Two were Chip and Craig from Eurostar Autos in Randallstown, MD, with the remaining Think EVs (of which club members own several), plus Forrest from Passport Nissan.
Your club officers were introduced, per custom.

Barbara Gonzales from Pepco spoke again, with an update on the utility’s EV pilot program.  She has already begun outreach to dealerships, to spread the word on the program and EVs in general.  Though she claims Pepco’s terms are as good as California or anywhere else, several members had big questions remaining.  The website isn’t as clear as it could have been.

Bruce then introduced Drew and John from Prospect Solar.  Prospect is pioneering distributed, fungible ownership of panels and power (“community solar“), with variants.  For instance, despite Virginia’s legislative foot-dragging, Catoctin Creek Distilling is almost entirely solar.  The obvious benefit is the ability to go solar even with a shaded house (/condo/apartment), by investing in someone else’s site.  You then get a lower monthly bill, via net metering- your home appears to have virtual panels.  Multiple renewable incentives are also virtualized among stakeholders; if you move to a different utility company, you can sell your stake.  If you move within your utility, you do… nothing at all. Continue reading