Monday, February 1, 2016

Electric Bike, Electric BMW i3 & Electric Arcimoto SRK

We're liking the Arcimoto SRK, come join us for a test drive :) 

Arcimoto SRK, Fun open, practical electric mobility

A bit of history, Julie and I are proud to be among the early EV Pioneers ushering in electric mobility. We began in 2007 with Solar PV and in 2009 as Field Trial drivers with BMW in the pre-production prototypes, the BMW MINI-E & the BMW ActiveE, both very important vehicles in the development of the BMW i3 and BMW i8, all driving on electricity produced by harvested sunshine. We are continuing in that electrifying pioneer spirit with our exploration of various classes of electric mobility. 

We're excited to to be hosting along with EVOasis, the San Diego launch event for Arcimoto this Thursday February 4th from 4pm to 7pm. 

If you're in the San Diego County- Orange County area, we invite you to join us after work  on Thursday for a test ride of the Arcimoto SRK & a little woodfired pizza.  Just RSVP at this link if you can make it.

It looks to be a fun and informative night. The CEO of Arcimoto, a Eugene Oregon based company, as well as local San Diego companies in the electric vehicle space will be present. 

Why the Arcimoto SRK? 

There's a huge chasm both in functionality and cost between the 50lbs electric bike and the 2600lbs BMW i3 which is one of the lightest four passenger cars on the market. 

Different forms of electric mobility. Pick the one that's right for you.

We're very interested in this vehicle class slotted between a 300lbs motorcycle and a 3000lbs car.  At a weight of 1000lbs, the SRK is incredible efficient returning approximately 7 miles per kWh used, it's extremely fun to drive, and does not require a helmet or motorcycle license in California.

Several years ago we had a Gem E4 and although severely limited by the top speed, (25mph) the range, (20 miles) and the need to replace the lead acid batteries every three years, we loved the car.  Why?  Because there was a resort like quality when you were tooling around in the Gem E4.   Open air, panoramic windshield, no noise and simple fun. It's the way driving along the California coast is the most enjoyable, open air and quiet, just soaking in all the sights. 

We're looking to recapture that open air feeling of the Gem E4
This is going to be hard for some to understand, as we love our BMW i3 and BMW i8 a great deal,  but the Gem E4, even with all it's shortcomings, had a certain magic and feeling about it, almost like you were on a vacation island in paradise, when you were driving it.   We loved taking the Gem E4 to the beach, the lagoon, out for dinner, to a play, and to the local grocery store.  Neither the i3, or the i8, nor any enclosed vehicle can give you that feeling.  Crazy huh?

Enter the SRK. 

The Arcimoto SRK provides that same sense of openness, quiet driving pleasure while eliminating the downsides of the Gem E4 as far as range and speed.  The SRK is also in my view a great platform to develop for future car share programs and for the future of autonomous driving.

First, it has three wheels and is a very stable platform,  this means that in the future world of autonomous driving,  the SRK will be able to come to you autonomously,  or return to a nearby transit hub by itself once you have finished driving the SRK.  This is simply not going to be possible with most two wheeled bikes and motorcycles.    

Toyota iRoad, the MIT PEV and others are also exploring similar vehicle architecture casting their vision forward in anticipation of shared vehicles and more efficient mobility. 

Toyota iRoad
Second, you can park three of the Arcimoto SRK's in the space of one typical car. In our crowded cities parking is at a premium and vehicles like the SRK if widely adopted would mean that we begin to solve that problem with less real estate devoted to transportation parking.  

Less space for parking lots, more space for people. 

Third,  The freedom and fun of driving. There's a reason Americans are in love with motorcycles and convertibles. With the Arcimoto SRK and its open airy design language (more open air motorcycle, less closed in car,)  the Arcimoto has that freedom and fun in spades.  It's in this important category that the Arcimoto is superior in my view, to those who are trying to enclose and mimic a more car like form with a three wheel option. 

What Arcimoto got spot on right, is keeping the openness and resort fun feel to the SRK while providing  for a semi enclosed cabin that does not require a helmet or motorcycle license in Oregon or California.  It offers more stability and safety than a motorcycle and if the weather's not cooperating,  take a few minutes and attach the optional doors.

Cruising a scenic corridor, in our case the California coastline, the mountains and the desert of the Anza Borrego is best done in an electric, zero emissions, open air vehicle for two.

Depending on your needs, your lifestyle, your vision of the future & where you want to go,  you might be surprised at how much value and functionality the Arcimoto SRK can deliver.

Can't wait to drive the Arcimoto SRK this Thursday February 4th,  Join us if you're in the neighborhood and want to test drive the near future of electric mobility.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

BMW, Tesla... Doors done differently.

A needed disclaimer, I'm an i8 driver and an i3 driver. So bias detection is allowed by the reader. 

Car doors are typically generic & mundane, but doors can be so very "aufregend!"

With the BMW i3, BMW i8 and the Tesla Model X, doors can be downright friggin amazing! Gizmos, gadgets, carbon fiber and lightness.

Tesla Model X

Let me be "Captain Super Obvious" here and point out that an engineering overdose, and an engineering reboot  was required to provide for the Tesla Falcon doors.

Tesla can rightly lay claim to the most incredible structure ever required to get the doors of a car to open. My guess is this is the last time we will see the Falcon door solution on any production car sold due to the cost and complexity of the door.

For Model X owners this rarity could be very valuable and super exclusive....sort of like the third directional headlight of the Tucker 48 "Cyclops" that rotated the headlight in the direction that you turned the car, an innovation that was 60 years ahead of it's time.

Recently at auction a 1948 Tucker 48 sold for $1,567,500

On the other hand, the Falcon doors could be remembered as an unneeded over complicated, over sensored, trouble prone solution to the simple act of opening a door.

Time will tell if the Falcon doors was a "kitschy gadget" partnered with traditional doors for the front seat occupants, to wow us demanding our attention... or... a great piece of engineering, albeit a complicated one including many sensors, situational awareness, springs and struts that provides a solution to a real problem.

BMW i8

Of the three different doors, I like BMW's solution of the Swan door for the BMW i8 the best. Swan or Butterfly doors have heretofore been very hard to do, but with the BMW i8, it's accomplished very simply with a beautiful minimalist approach. Strong fixed attachment points on one plane, Strong and light carbon fiber, and a single strut that's visible, accessible,  easy to inspect and replace if necessary.  Due to this very straight forward simplicity coupled with BMW's increasing use of carbon fiber,  I do expect to see future BMW Coupe and Sports models with Swan doors. 


The Swan door provides great functionality for taller drivers like myself by making it much easier to swing the legs in via the much longer door opening. Getting in and out is remarkably easy for such a small sports car once you find your grove. Yes hitting your head can be an issue on the way out, but you only do it once. 

For tall drivers in a traditionally doored small car or sports cars, contorting your head, sliding down the seat and leg gymnastics are required every time you get in or out of the car. Some cars you simply just can't get in or out of. The long Swan doors also provide great access to the 2+2 back seats, small as they are. When opened the doors project just 18" away from the car. This is a similar or less space than a traditionally operated door requires.

With the BMW i8 Swan doors,  It's a stunning beautiful design that will be easy to maintain through the years.  If you look really closely at the engineering of the Swan doors for the BMW i8, It's a master class of simplicity, lightness and design.

Design matters...

Both the BMW i3 coach doors and the Tesla Falcon doors have some clumsiness associated with them. You must close the rear door in the i3 before you close the front door. You "should"  close the front doors on the Tesla X before you close the Falcon doors. Neither of these actions are required on a traditionally doored car.

There's additional oddities in the BMW i3 coach doors such as the driver and front passengers seatbelt being attached to the rear coach door making it weird dropping off the kids from the rear and having to undo your seatbelt. Parking in tight spaces and using the coach doors can also be problematic.

For the Model X, the Falcon doors are slow to open and close and I can imagine the novelty wearing off quickly as the slow operation of the doors becomes an irritant. Have you ever seen how rough an impatient kid can be on a car door?

Both the BMW i3 coach doors and the Tesla Model X Falcon doors offer greater access to the cabin and ease of entry exit than traditional doors, with the Falcon doors being vastly superior in that important area.

Both Tesla and BMW deserve a lot of credit for giving us innovative, interesting and in the case of the BMW i8, drop dead gorgeous doors.

Doors can be so "aufregend" cool.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The BMW i3 and Solar PV, an enriching relationship at a beautiful scale.

It's just 30 ft.  from the panels to the EV plug. 

We've arrived at zero net cost (-$472 actual) for the energy required to live in our home and drive our two electric BMW i3’s powered by Solar PV.

The utility savings from our Solar PV system installed in 2007 and the gasoline savings from our EV driving beginning in 2009 with the BMW Mini-E, led to our energy plant / Solar PV system being fully paid off in April of 2012.  For our family, we have an ongoing savings of around $8000 a year continuing for the next few decades. 

But there’s another side of the story to tell, a story of design scale and the relationship between the car and the source of fuel that's both surprising and fascinating.


Good design has a natural scale, for example the scale of an object as compared to a person, such as the height of a ceiling.  Or the proximity of an object to another object or person, such as landscaping, that when done well provides a sense of comfortableness, a feeling of beauty.  It works well and fits together nicely.  

When not done well, a poor design scale can seem awkward, weird, and uninviting.  “What the heck were they trying do here” is a typical response resulting from poor design scale.  

Now let’s take a look at the design scale between the car, a parking space, and the space required to power the car a typical 12,000 miles a year.

An average parking space for a car is 9 ft. by 18 ft. for a total of 162 ft. An average residential garage space per car is even greater at more than 200 sq. ft.

From our real world "Driving to Net Zero" experience, we know that our car the BMW i3, requires 2860 kWh to drive 12,000 miles.  We also know that for each kw in system size our Solar PV system located in coastal California produced 1588 kWh.   For our individual situation, a Solar PV system size of 1.8 kw is required to provide the electricity to drive our BMW i3 12,000 miles a year.

For a better comparison, let’s design an average system size that will work for the majority of electric cars in all areas of the USA.   

The efficiency of electric cars range from 3 miles per kWh to 4.2 miles per kWh. Additionally, solar resources vary across the nation.   Factoring in the lowest solar resources and a larger EV,  a 3 kw Solar PV system size  is needed to power the vast majority of eclectic car choices 12,000 miles a year, anywhere in the USA.
Solar resources across the USA.

How large is a 3 kw Solar PV system?   The SunPower X21 panel produces 345 watts and is 17.57 sq. feet in size at 61.4inches by 41.2 inches.  8.7 panels are needed for a 3 kw system size but let's call it 9 panels for 3.1 kw system to keep the math easy for a total of 158 sq. ft.

To recap:

A typical parking space for most cars anywhere in the USA is 162 sq. ft.

A Solar PV system in California, 12,000 miles in a BMW i3 is 92 sq. ft.

A Solar PV system anywhere USA, 12,000 miles in any EV is 158 sq. ft.

That’s a beautiful proportional design scale.  The size of the space required to park a car is larger than the space it takes to provide power for the car.

You're probably thinking to yourself, this will never work, the $9,000 to install the 3 kw Solar PV system for the car over one parking space is too expensive.

Do you ever think about how expensive that parking space is?  A paved parking space can run from from $4,000 to $40,000  (source link)  each depending on location and we've managed to build 4-5 for each car in our cities.  One space at home, one on the curb, one at work, and one or two out in the city for your use as you shop and run errands.

When you add up the multiple parking spaces per car, it's very clear that providing parking for the car is many times more expensive and land intensive, than providing the energy to power the car during a 25-40 year time frame.  It cracks me up that we still refer to it as free parking.

The parking spaces can be more expensive than the Solar PV.

A relationship can be a coupling, cause and effect, harmony between two or more,  the way two or more are connected, a symbiotic reliance on the other.

All cars need an energy relationship to move.

Currently most cars have a required relationship with a gas station. You simply must fuel your car at a gas station.   The gas station stores and dispenses the fuel that arrives by tanker truck from the refinery.  The refinery receives the crude oil from a tanker or oil pipeline.  The oil tanker receives the crude oil from a pipeline or tanker truck that receives it from an oil well or oil source.  

This conveyance chain of hydrocarbons to your car can be thousands of miles long traversing oceans. In this long carbon chain, you are the payer at the end of the chain with all the owners of the pieces of the chain enriched by your payment. 

This long hydrocarbon conveyance chain is also very inefficient, resulting in less than 20% of the original energy contained in the crude oil reaching the wheels of your car where they meet the pavement.   

The electric car also has a required relationship with electricity.  This can be made from many more sources including Solar PV that sits on the roof or carport above one of the parking spaces provided for the car.  The conveyance chain can be as short as 30 feet, from where the sun shines on the Solar panel to your car.  

This electricity harvested from the sunshine supply chain to your car is owned entirely by you.  This conveyance chain supplies the electricity to your car where your car is parked and results in over 85% of the original sourced electricity reaching the wheels of your car where they meet the pavement.

That’s a beautiful relationship between the car, electricity and nature that ultimately enriches you the owner.   We can provide the electricity for our cars in this space with Solar PV at a fixed cost equivalent of $0.50 - $0.75 per gallon of gasoline.

Relationships and design...They matter.

Our BMW Mini-E and our fuel station in 2009.

Friday, December 18, 2015

The Highest EPA Rated Mass Produced Vehicle Off All Time! 500% More Efficient Than The Average New Gasoline Vehicle.

You can live and drive powered by sunshine.

Julie and I are fortunate enough to both own and drive BMW i3 Bev's powered by sunshine. Our BMW i3's are the principal reason along with Solar PV and a very efficient home, that we are able to live and drive with zero net utility or gasoline cost.

The BMW i3 is rated by the EPA at 177.7 combined mpg rating (using unadjusted laboratory figures) according the article, an unbelievable 5 times more efficient than the the average new gasoline vehicle which is rated using the same methodology at 31mpg unadjusted.  (Source NPR)

That directly translates into more wealth for those owners and families who own the car, (or any other electric car) and cleaner air for us all.

Consider this from a San Diego perspective.

If we as San Diegans achieve 50% electrification of our transportation fleet, we would reduce by 30% the overall emissions in San Diego County. 59% is the total emissions created by our transportation choices. Just as importantly, we would also be creating wealth and economic savings for our families and communities by reducing the cost of transportation fuel.

Our sources of emissions in the City and County of San Diego

A shift from oil to electricity in our transportation choices enables efficiency gains of up to 700% thus creating economic wealth. As just one example of this, the EPA rates the average new gasoline vehicle at 31mpg unadjusted and the new BMW i3 at 177.7 combined mpg rating (using unadjusted laboratory figures). This is a greater than 500% improvement in miles traveled using the same amount of energy.  The cost savings,wealth generation and improvement in air quality implications if our experience were replicated in an entire city, state or nation is staggering and incalculable.

Most understand the energy savings of a LED bulb versus an incandescent bulb; the same amount of light for 1/5th of the energy used, electric transportation is similar.   In any energy or emissions strategy, efficiency is always the highest priority in the loading order and is wealth generating at an equal percentage to the savings. 

Using our real world experience gained in the "Driving to Net Zero"
Challenge, as compared to the best utility rate and gasoline.

Our highest priority should be reducing and ultimately eliminating the 59% of our emissions in the County of San Diego that are caused by our transportation choices. We can do this by electrifying our transportation choices coupled with equal effort; land use planning that reduces vehicle miles travelled offering greater mobility choices.

As Americans, a long-standing national goal shared by several Presidents of both political parties, has been to reduce and ultimately eliminate our dependency on foreign oil. In 2014, nine millions barrels of oil daily were imported from 75 countries representing 46% of our total oil consumption. We are currently fighting wars involving cost in both money and blood, because oil is still regrettably a strategic concern.

Focusing on getting to 100% renewables in our San Diego electricity grid does zero to contribute in solving this national problem, as our grid contains zero electricity produced with oil.

Focusing on transitioning to electric transportation choices ultimately solves this national problem as the majority of our oil is used and refined to make gasoline.

Looking regionally, are we really willing to dot our backcountry and uproot farmland with hundreds of 50 to 1000+ acre Solar PV power-plants in order to accomplish the goal of getting to 100% renewable energy? (For the record I have supported with concerns, the first several installations as a San Diego County Planning Commissioner.)

Or is the better strategy at least for the next few decades, something less than a 100% renewable energy electricity grid, with a preponderance of distributed renewable energy installations owned by hundreds of thousands of energy entrepreneurs on our existing buildings, parking lots and garages/carports? Solar PV installations that are focused on reducing the four times greater transportation emissions as well as our building emissions.

There are currently 72,000 energy entrepreneurs with solar PV systems in the SDG&E service area. This number is 50x more than existed 10 years ago. In the next 10 years we can easily predict 10x this number.  The energy grid is evolving into a more equitable grid whereby if you provide a benefit, you'll make money, if you are a net user you'll pay money.  Soon there will be millions of energy entrepreneurs on the energy grid.  Sounds like what happened to our communications grid doesn't it?

We have a lot to think about and plan for, unprecedented changes are happening in our transportation and energy sectors. It’s an exciting time of opportunity on all fronts.

Electricity including renewable energy should be thought of  first and foremost as a transportation fuel. 

That’s both our greatest challenge and our greatest hope. Let’s get to work.

Thank you BMW for making a fantastic car to drive, for enriching our pocket books and for helping clean our air.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The BMW i3 Gives You A Choice

You can choose to not contribute your money to wars and terrorism funded by proceeds from oil.

It just takes a little sunshine...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

I am a fan of Tesla but I can't believe the risk they are taking with the autopilot.
They are one crash involving a fatality away from seriously damaging their company.

This is an area where caution is needed, not brash bravado.

Just my opinion.

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Driving to Net Zero Short Film.

Through dozens of articles and thousands of words, we have told our story of living and driving powered by sunshine.   We've encapsulated this year long story into a brief 90 second short (very short) film. 

To all parties including media interested in sharing this story, please feel free to reproduce, link to or use free of charge the video and any of the writings during the Driving to Net Zero Energy Challenge. 


After 100 years of little change,  revolutionary changes are now underway in our transportation and energy segments. 

The "Thermal Age" is ending.
The "Renewable Age" is beginning.

The transition will take some time... however:

Never before has it been possible for a homeowner to create their own energy for their home and cars.

Never before has it been possible to power a home and cars with carbon free, emission free, energy that is less expensive than fossil fuel sources.

Never before has it been possible to so broadly share the wealth of energy among both individuals and corporations with equity to all reaches of our planet.

I am very optimistic for a wonderful future,  and I believe a new definition for living a healthy and premium life is required.   It simply must include a strong partnership with nature, using the renewable energy provided by nature.

renew your faith,
renew your optimism,