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. Continue reading
Yes, 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.
What 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
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.
Our 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
July 16 Wednesday 7 – 9 PM to be held in Virginia.
Rose Wells, long time supporter, has volunteered her wonderful solar home as a location for this month’s meeting. I asked our ExComm what they thought. Everyone who responded thought it was a fine idea to “shake it up” a little bit and do something new, instead of always meeting at a public library in Montgomery County.
MEETING LOCATION: 5909 Calla Drive, McLean, VA 22101 (703) 538-1008
From Fairfax: Route 66 East. Take Exit 66 for Leesburg Pike Route 7. Turn left onto Leesburg Pike, get in the right lane. Take the first right onto Idylwood Road, which turns into Kirby Road. Proceed about 3 ½ miles on Idylwood/Kirby. Turn right at the stop sign at Chesterbrook Road. Proceed .8 miles, then turn left at Forest Lane. Proceed .4 miles, turn right onto Calla Drive to second house on the right.
From Maryland: Beltway toward Virginia; cross American Legion Bridge; Take exit 43-44 for George Washington Memorial Parkway. Take Exit onto Route 123/Dolley Madison Blvd. toward McLean. Take immediate left at the light onto Kirby Road (per the signage, you are not allowed to make this immediate left–you need to proceed a little way to make a U-turn and then turn right on Kirby Road). Proceed 1.5 miles, then turn left at the stop sign at Chesterbrook Road. Proceed .8 miles, then turn left at Forest Lane. Proceed .4 miles, turn right onto Calla Drive to second house on the right.
Charlie 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.
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.
We 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
Thanks to all racers and teams, volunteers and staff, sponsors, and even museumgoers who stopped by and helped. A rain cell aside, it was a great event, hope to see everyone next year.
Don’t forget, we could still use volunteers at the 2014 EV Grand Prix this Saturday (and some setup Friday). Just check off a SignUpGenius entry, and you’re all set.
As cozy as the electric GP racers are, there’s room for improvement. E-bikes, by comparison, can be taken on Metro, or via the front racks of buses. Still, sometimes I just don’t feel like bothering with a regular, 20-lb bike (and a good lock, all my biking gear, etc.); let alone a much heavier e-bike. It is just these situations where a car is the lazy solution, and a huge barrier for urban living and public transportation (or even Zipcar/Car2Go).
Enter the Inventist Solowheel, debuting about a year ago. It’s hardly the first personal-sized, electric-powered, gyrostabilized solution; it’s a competitor to the Focus Designs SBU V3, and a “son-of-the-Segway.” I met Marc Fisher in New York to discuss the Solowheel, and where it’s going; he’s an independent retailer for Inventist. Marc, formerly of the Maryland suburbs, now lives in New Jersey. There, he carries his Solowheel down three stories, rolls to a mass-transit stop, and heads to his day job in New York City… where he rolls the rest of the way, then sticks his EV in a corner. Exactly the sort of thing he could have used to and from his Montgomery County Metro stops. He’s even got the range (7-10 miles) for lunch and errands.
We have been invited out to Passport BMW for this months meeting on Wednesday May 21st, 2014. We will be able to test drive the BMW i3. Passport is located at 4730 Auth Pl, Suitland-Silver Hill, MD 20746 and is only 2 or 3 blocks from the Branch Avenue metro station.
I would suggest people that want to test drive arrive earlier than normal. We plan to do the test drives through out the meeting so as to give everyone a chance to drive the vehicle. Pizza will be provided as usual.
There is one Level 2 Charger with two plugs so people feel free to drive your EVs to the meeting.
Thanks to all who came last weekend for the Science and Engineering Festival/Sustainable Design Expo at the Convention Center. I feel it really got traction and reached a lot of people.
We still have our EV Grand Prix coming up next weekend, May 10 in Dulles. Great volunteer opportunities are available that day and the Friday before, even if you have no experience. Please see our SignUpGenius page. With our reserved volunteer parking, you can drop the family off at the museum beforehand, then watch the race and EV parade together at midday, all for free. There is no downside- the Udvar-Hazy Center is even chipping in lunch for racers and volunteers.