Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sharing the “Plug-Love”

In any healthy relationship, sharing is a must.

As more and more Americans begin to venture into the plug-in world, Julie and I thought it would be worthwhile and educational to share with you our two EV one EVSE experience. After all, most American families have no idea what it’s like to have their own personal fueling station and to forego the fun, shared, community experience of getting gas at the gas station and handing over $450 a month for the love of that experience.   

For Julie and I, watching the daily price changes at the gas station is now like watching a very slow version of an old slot machine ever changing the numbers, with the knowledge that the casino will ultimately win.  Have you seen Dubai and the Arab Emirates? Do you know or care why their “Vegas lights” shine so brightly?

Once you have your first L2 charging station at home as part of your first EV or PHEV  purchase or lease, you begin to enrich your family and now have a private, secure and personal fueling station for the rest of your life. Community gas stations begin to resemble a third world way of living akin to community soup kitchens, both  with occasionally long lines when times are tough.

Julie is the driver of our BMW ActiveE and she puts about 18,000 miles a year on her car. Her commute to work and back is 45 miles.   I am the driver of our Honda Fit EV, I drive 12,000 miles a year and my commute to work and back is 25 miles.   We often drive hundreds of miles in a day and we often travel with our EV’s on camping and hotel vacation several hundred miles per trip.   Once every two  years or so,  we take a long drive up to Napa or out to Taos and for that trip we will rent a car or swap with my daughter.   Other than that one trip every couple of years, there is zero difference in our lives (on the negative side) between gas cars or electric cars.  On the positive side the benefits of electric cars are many and great.

On to sharing the “Plug-Love”

When we first became a two EV family 6 months ago, we thought about having a second L2 EVSE installed, one for each car.  The more we thought about it, we came to the conclusion that we could easily share the single EVSE that we have had for a few years.   We devised a trial system to let us try two different charging combinations for three months each, to see which one was more convenient for us. 

Trial 1.  Flapper language.   Think sign language for cars.  Julie as the high mileage driver would have plug priority.  This means that she could unplug me whenever.   When I pulled into the garage (usually with only 25% depleted on the battery) I would simple leave my flap open.  Julie knew this was a sign that when she unplugged at 6:30 am to go to work, she would pull the plug from the Active E and plug in the Honda. When I left for work around 9am the Honda is fully charged.   This system works just fine.  We have never had a “forgot to plug you in moment” and we can both see what each car is doing on our cell phones at any moment if we are curious or want to confirm for sure that we are charged.  

Trial 2.  Private charging for each car adding the 110 EVSE.    In our garage we have a 110 volt 15 amp circuit.  We mounted the 110 convenience charger that came with the Honda next to the EVSE for the BMW.   Julie uses the 220 charger andI use the 110 charger.   When I get home in the Honda I plug in and when I leave in the morning it’s fully charged.  On the once in a month occasion that I need a quicker 6.6khw charge, I’ll use the 220 charger.  This system also works fine and has the added ease of not being responsible for the other persons car.  If we take a long trip, it’s usually in the BMW and we have the 110 charger for that car with us in case of emergency.

Living with one EVSE and two EV’s is a piece of cake and far easier than going to community gas stations.  We prefer the private charging for each car adding the 110 EVSE scenario slightly over the flapper language scenario.  If we were in a garage with no 110 flapper language would work great.

As we drive into the future, most American families will find that one EVSE will suffice for multiple EVs or PHEVs. Either way, the purchase of an EVSE is like buying a fueling station for life.  It may appear to be costly when you buy your first car, but for every car then on it’s a supreme bargain and you'll be hard pressed to buy a private gasoline pump for that price.  I  have no doubt that the future entrepreneurs will invent  EVSE's that will tailor to the two or three car families.  Think larger surge protector multiple plugs for cars.

Julie and I charge our BMW and Honda with the electricity generated by the sun via our six year old 7.5kw Solar PV system. This system was 100% paid off in full in June of 2012 with the utility and fuel savings of the prior 5 years.  Our savings in gasoline is $5000 a year and growing as gasoline increases in price, our savings in our utility bill is $3600 a year for a total annual savings of $8600 a year.   The annual savings  will go on for the rest of our lives.  Our price of energy and fuel for our cars is fixed at near zero for life.  Let's hope they never start taxing sunshine.

Peder & Julie
70,000 sunshine powered miles.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

BMW ActiveE "Sungas" One Year Anniversary!

Thank you BMW.
After 30 years of generic gasoline blah.... I have once again fallen in love, or is it lust, with an automobile.
Our BMW one year anniversary, our journey in pictures.
Solar & Sungas forever.

2007, Solar PV installation on our home

Our first EV to drive on sunshine  "Woody"
2009 Additional 3kw Solar PV to power our Mini-E "Buzz".  "Sungas" Station

A home and a car 100% solar powered

Woody shares the garage with Buzz for a year. Our version of Toy Story

Buzz is one handsome dude!

BMW cast Buzz, Buzz and I, in a four part documentary film on the future of mobility. 

Buzz in the vineyard in Temecula

Buzz parking only
Our first public charging. Pre-J1772 at South Coast Plaza

Buzz at the beach

Buzz camping in Borrego Springs

Buzz, with 38,000 miles meets Sungas

Julie claims/steals Sungas as her car

Julie and Sungas. Beautiful and Beautiful.

Sungas and solar, beautiful and beautiful

Sungas at 5400 ft above sea level, a 104 mile ride up and down the mountain

Sungas in Idyllwild Ca on a 550 mile vacation
Sungas enjoying a sunset

Sungas in the vineyards
Sungas  dropping into Palm Springs 

Sungas in the Anza Borrego Desert

Sungas at a dead dino juice station

The last gas car I ever owned, Good Bye Plastic Car.

EVangelizing at Plug in America Day

Two ev's sharing the plug love
Today is our one year anniversary with Sungas.
Julie and I will never buy gasoline again for the rest of our lives.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

GAStro 2020, "The Mother Of All Dinners" with my host, John Voelcker

I know John,,,When Pigs Fly....

I posted in the BMW ActiveE Facebook page that I thought the traditional gasoline car would become a niche vehicle, less than 50%, in the USA by 2020.
One of my electric car heroes (yes I think highly of his work)  John Voelcker, responded, err, took the bait, and challenged me to a “GAStro” dinner bet at the winners chosen eatery.

Here’s the good part of the bet….I get 50% of the winnings either way. As a goodwill gesture, I’m throwing in a 2007 Napa Silver Oak Cabernet that has his name on it.  It will be just peaking and a joy to drink in 2020 assuming John shares a glass with me.

Now I freely admit that the bean counters, auto execs, and Journo’s  pretty much think this is a safe bet for John. The same auto execs that are not afraid of Tesla but watch over their shoulder for every move that Tesla makes. Vegas would probably sends me off as a 20-1 underdog,  sort of like the Ravens against the Broncos in last weeks AFC divisional game.

However,  my clan is the clan of dreamers and doers, entrepreneurs and visionaries.   A 20-1 bet is a pretty sure bet to my clan.   I opened my first business when I was 20, 1000 folks told me no and two (my parents) told me yes. Odds were 500 to I,  and a made a few million.  I spent three years of my life going after the site selection of LEGOLAND for Carlsbad Ca.  The odds were 700-1. LEGOLAND is here and the city and county has made tens of millions.  I spent ten years restoring a commercial district when it was cast off as lost and relegated to serve as a petting zoo for old buildings. The odds were 100 to 1. Last year the district had $200 million in sales and property is now north of $10 mil an acre.

The point that I make here is that there are tens of thousands of folks in my clan who share the same dysfunctional wiring. Who simple don’t care what the odds are, they experience and create disruptive technology and can “see-dream” of the future.

But on to some facts and thoughts that bode well for those rooting for my side.

In Europe, my bet is already won with more than 50% of the cars sold being diesels in 2012.  Diesels will make good headway into  the US in the next decade.   They will establish a strong foothold by 2016 and then begin to take off. Look for Volkswagen to lead.

Light and heavy hybrids are projected to make up the majority of several automakers lineup by 2020.  The big reason here is regulatory mileage and strict emissions requirements.  In California the Hybrid uptake is currently at 8-9% I predict in 2020 it will be close to 50% in California and 10-20% across the nation.

While I’m not a big fan of fracking and cracking the earths crust, Natural Gas will emerge as a huge cheap player in the heavy and light vehicle segment. CNG cars and trucks will increase in sales due to the availability, low cost and relatively clean (80%+ cleaner than gasoline) natural gas supplies.

Computational power, energy storage and the reducing cost of Solar PV will combine to offer an alternative to gasoline that is already  less than 10% of the cost of Gasoline in 2013.  Only plug in cars will be able to access that fuel source.  It’s so cheap (I know as I am solar powered) that in 2013 Tesla is giving it away free.  The people of the US discovers this amazing fact around 2015 and the S as in Model S hits the fans.  Plug in Hybrids and electrics take off from there with exponential disruptive growth in 2017.  The energy to drive your car is sold when you buy your car for less than one year of buying gasoline, the energy sits on the roof of your garage or in a virtual net meeting solar PV field miles away.

China and India become gross consumers as the world emerges from its economic slumber. Gasoline goes to $6.00 a gallon.  The plug in electric car now runs at 5% of the cost of gasoline.  The cost of plug ins reach parity with gasoline cars.

Instability in the Mideast in the next seven years.  Thousands of years of history are on my side here.  Once again for the umptennth time our nation rallies to  get of oil.  This time there is a viable option and it works.

Battery densities accelerate from a current average of 8% increase a year to 12% increase a year.  By 2020 the 200 mile battery is common place at $200 per KW of storage.   Cycle life is in the 3000-5000 cycle range or 200K to 300K in miles (just as in my Honda Fit EV today.)

I could go on and on but the post is already too long. All of these don’t need to happen but a few of these will happen.  I’m pretty confident that by 2020 more that 50% of our sales will include hybrids, plug ins, electrics, CNG, diesal, dare I say fuel cell or flux capacitors.

Thanks for reading, thanks for being a good sport John. I look forward to our dinner together and to you picking up the tab.
The pragmatist and the dreamer….an epic battle is on.
What do you say?    What are the odds?

65,000 miles on sunshine power.