The month is warming up, and so are the E-vents:

  • The Solar Impulse all-electric plane has begun its round-the-world flight.  As I write, they're on leg 2 over the Middle East... with not a drop of fuel.
  • Author Levi Tillemann will discuss his book, The Great Race: The Global Quest for the Car of the Future, at the Takoma Park location of Busboys & Poets this Tuesday, March 10 at 6:30 pm.  Actually, it's within DC, 234 Carroll St NW.
  • In Formula E racing, the series will charge up Miami on March 14.
  • Our next club meeting will be March 18, at Rockville Library again.
  • The first Montgomery County Green Festival will be March 26, rain or shine.  We have a representation of cars to show, but more cars- and more enthusiastic owners and e-thusiasts- are always welcome.
  • Another "car show" will be in Bowie, April 11.  The Bowie Green Expo will be at the Kenhill Center, 2614 Kenhill Dr.
  • Then, of course, no shortage of E-vents on and around April 22...

How Big is the Tesla Gigafactory – Washington DC edition


As I write this, the Tesla Gigafactory is currently being built in the Nevada desert, near Reno.  In case you haven’t been following this remarkable project, it is to be an enormous factory for manufacturing lithium ion batteries, entirely in the 18650 cell format, which will be used in upcoming Tesla models.  In fact, by 2020, the Gigafactory alone will produce 50 GWh/year of batteries, equivalent to all current 18650 production worldwide.  I’ve also read that additional Gigafactories may be in the works.

The enormous scale of this project is one aspect that makes it so fascinating.  People all over the place are noting the factory’s gargantuan size.  In fact, when I comment on it in online articles (under the handle Leptoquark), I’ve taken to calling it the “River Rouge of batteries”, in homage to the famous Ford River Rouge factory complex in Dearborn.  When the history of our transition away from gasoline and back to electricity is written, the Gigafactory will likely have a prominent place in that history.

Recently, Zach at EVObsession wrote a piece[1] summarizing size comparisons of the Gigafactory with other large structures, including Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the US Capitol building, which got me to thinking: since so many tourists visit Washington DC every year, the spacing of the iconic landmarks on the Mall would make a good way to understand the scale of this project.

So, using Zach’s estimates of about 1100 m by 430 m for the dimensions of the building, and allowing for a surrounding parking apron matching the Tesla simulation, I created two images.  The first is a map of the Western end of the Mall, showing that the Gigafactory would fit neatly between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  It would cover the Reflecting Pool, Constitution Gardens and the National World War II Memorial.  The green boundary is the parking apron.

The second image is the view to the West looking out of the top of the Washington Monument, which I took on a recent visit.  I’ve added the Gigafactory building outline in a perspective view.  Note especially the size of the people in the foreground.  This matches the scale of people in recent pictures[2] from Bob Tregilus of the construction site itself.

Hopefully, these images can add some perspective on what is now under way in the Nevada desert.  Or, as Dr. Morbius put it in Forbidden Planet,

“Prepare your minds for a new scale of physical scientific values, Gentlemen”.



Scott Wilson


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. Continue reading

Feb 18 EVADC Meeting at Rockville Memorial Library

The Feb meeting of EVADC will be at the Rockville Memorial Library:

Our meeting room is on the ground floor.  Walk in the front door by the skating rink, and the room is to your immediate right.

As for parking, there are meters on the street, a shopping center parking lot north of Beall Ave (free, but signed as shopping center use only, use at your own risk), or paid parking garages A and B.

The 240V charger is in Garage A (so labeled on Plugshare  This is the green garage.  If you're not charging, use either green garage A or red garage B.  There is one J1772 in garage A and two marked spaces, so people may possibly switch the charger between cars during the meeting.  It's only a 60 second walk to the garages from the Library.

The main meeting officially goes from 7 to 9.  People usually start gathering about 6:30 and hang around till 9:30.  The garage is $4 for up to 3 hours, unless you get validated, in which case it's $2.  To get validated, walk into the front door of the library, and continue into the main library.  To the left before you get to the circulation desk is the validation machine.  You must get validated before 9pm when the main library closes.  It's probably best to do before you enter our meeting room.

There are also two nearby eVgo DC fast chargers.  Darcars Nissan has one: .  This is an official eVgo site.  The other site is at Woodley Gardens shopping center .  This place has dining, so you could eat either before or after the meeting, while charging.

January 2014 Minutes

The big news, is, of course, the DC Auto Show, now underway.  Ron got us underway at seven, with immediate pizza and drinks.  We then put out the call for volunteers- now through Feb. 1, including (especially) weekdays.  Sign up at the link we've already posted.  If you volunteer for more than a four-hour shift, we get you in for wasfree (for the whole show) as an exhibitor.  No, you don't have to have an EV, we could use warm bodies to hand out flyers.

We introduced new faces (hi again) and recapped the Baltimore Auto Show.  Our area was well-placed and high-traffic; we had display EVSEs and plenty of literature.  We had representation from the Maryland Department of the Environment and EVIC (EV Infrastructure Council).  Lots of Volt owners in Baltimore, apparently.  All our stuff is now in the DC Show.

Charlie and others attended the Montgomery County Council meeting, discussing charging in multi-unit developments.  California already has legislation prohibiting EVSE bans or excessive restrictions, though of course you would supply your own EVSE.  Even an ordinary 120-volt outlet would be great, though of course 240 volts would be better.  We're still waiting; neither the state nor counties and municipalities want to take the lead.

Last Sunday's Washington Post had an article that was surprisingly pro-EV.  Club members wrote back, and agreed that there's a lot more to electric vehicles than just the savings at the pump... though we're STILL saving versus the pump. Continue reading

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."

Continue reading

NDEW’14: Sunday Sunday Sunday






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.






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