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

…Regarding e-EVerything

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.33y
Continue reading

May meeting update! Meeting to be held at Passport BMW

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 designstation.

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.

We’ve Got EVents…

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.

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

February 2014 Minutes

Good meeting turnout… despite being bumped from the Silver Spring Library, and having to head up to White Oak.  Apologies to any who had to dash, or missed it completely.  Started at ~7:30 with pizza and drinks, then introductions.  Several new faces!

77cSkipping the agenda a bit, we went straight to Tommy Heyboer and the Montgomery County legislative agenda.  Montgomery is well-represented in EVs/charge locations and isn’t waiting for Annapolis action; the committee meets Monday.  Proposals include 32-13, ticketing drivers who ICE our charging sites; stalls would be equal to handicapped ones.  Another is requiring new/redeveloped lots to have charging in at least 1 in 50 stalls.  The club floor brought up signage, homeowners’ associations, enforcement for EV conversions, and whether you actually have to be charging.  Continue reading

Tesla Road Trip 2014

…and a great DC Auto Show was had by all.  Thanks to all volunteers who helped.

Next, even before February’s meeting, will host a Presidents’ Day weekend (Feb. 15-17) event.  Enthusiasts from all directions will meet at Hagerstown MD, Wilmington DE, and Glen Allyn VA in “All Superchargers Lead to DC.”  The same planners drove from DC to CT last year, to debunk John Broder.  scm

This year, they’re simply celebrating a Supercharger network, down both coasts and across the nation.  A dinner, speakers, and a party will ensue in Arlington; discounted hotel rooms may still be available.  Registrants will then enjoy a tour, outings, etc.  Check, @teslaroadtrip on Twitter, or #TeslaRoadTrip2014.