Monthly Archives: September 2014

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Go Play on the Freeway they said!

This post is only tangentially related to EVs: The road.

One of the major freeways in the Detroit area is I-96. It runs through the heart of downtown and many of the western suburbs. Completed in 1977 it is heavily used and by the 2010s or so it was in dire need of some repairs (like much of Michigan’s infrastructure). Michigan’s Department of Transportation (MDOT) asked local residents and businesses their opinion on how to proceed with the re-build. The public was given two options: Completely close the freeway for a summer or extend the work over several years (most likely 3) using single lane closures (the work would also include rebuilding many of the bridges over the section being rebuilt). The public overwhelmingly chose the shorter option: complete closure for a season. Thus back in April of this year a 6 mile section of I-96 was closed and work started on the rebuild immediately.

Tomorrow (9/22) the road opens back up bright and early for the morning commute. Before the opening, however, MDOT decided to hold a small “party” out on the road surface and invited everyone in the greater Detroit area to come and join in…and boy did they! (Hence the reason for this post.) We did drive the FFE to the event so I guess it is EV related.
I-96 and all the people!
I-96 and all the people!
I-96 and all the people!
I-96 and all the people!

Happy commuting!


Drive Electric Week–Ann Arbor

This year the National Plug In Day event, er sorry Drive Electric Week, for Southeastern Michigan took place in Ann Arbor at Briarwood mall. This is a very popular mall with a lot of traffic–a much better location than behind a parking structure at a community college where last year’s event took place.

In addition, this year the timing worked out for me: The event was originally planned for Saturday but there is a U of M football game on Saturday (many people attending the game park at the mall and take the shuttle and traffic near Ann Arbor on game days is a nightmare). I would not have been able to attend the Saturday event with my son’s sports schedule.

Now on to the event; I loaded up the FFE with some EVSE’s and a table to display them all:
Loaded up
Arriving just prior to the official start I setup my display:
All set up
The EVSE table
On display I had the Juicebox, a Clipper Creek LCS-25P, and the Ford Level 1 charger. I was surprised to learn that many of the EV drivers haven’t heard of the Juicebox. This was most likely due to the fact that the majority of cars that showed up were Volts which doesn’t need much more than what came with the car (in fact many of the Volt drivers just used the included Level 1 charger).

The car tally for the event was:

  • 1 C-Max Energi
  • 1 Jet Electrica
  • 3 Tesla Model S
  • 2 Focus Electrics
  • Half dozen or so Volts
  • 3 Battery Scooters
  • Many battery bicycles

Shortly after setting up I was asked to assist with placing the signs around the mall. I only mention this small detail because we used a Tesla Model S to drive around and place the signs–my first and only ride in a Model S. What struck me the most about the Model S was how similar an experience it was to riding around in the Focus Electric. Now before anyone gets all bent out of shape, think about it a little bit. They are both EVs and they both exhibit all the common qualities that makes everyone love an EV: the smooth and quiet ride. As far as acceleration: Yeah the Model S has that in spades (and this was only a 60) over the FFE.

During the show/event I noticed that when people would show up to see the cars they tended to gravitate to my small display first. I’m not sure if that was because I had a lot of stuff to look at with the EVSE’s on display, that I was always by the car, or simply because of my car’s color. I did get a few comments on the color and how striking it looked compared to the other cars on display (most of the other colors: The Ford’s were their Ice Storm color, the Volts and Model S’ were various colors of: Silver, Black, White, etc.).

I would estimate that throughout the day I spoke with about a dozen people. Some happened to be driving by the mall and noticed the cars, some were already going to the mall for other reasons and noticed the cars, the remaining few (about 3 or so) actually looked up the event online and came specifically for the show. All of the discussions were positive–I may have even sold an EV or two (perhaps even an FFE–there was a gentleman and his friend who were really interested in everything about the FFE).

If you’re still reading this far, you’re probably thinking: Enough blabbing already! More pictures. Ok here is the Jet Electrica:
Jet Electrica
Jet Electrica

Here are the converted electric bicycles: (These were very popular with everyone taking at least one for a spin.)
Electric Bicycles

Finally, some wide shots:
That's it
In the lot near Sears
Model S

On the whole everyone seemed to agree that it was a good turnout (given the fact that the date changed only two days ago) and it was much more visible being at a popular mall right by the busiest entrance.


Drive Electric Week Event

I’m off to the Drive Electric Week event in Ann Arbor. Hopefully I’ll be able to update the post throughout the day as the one or two people show up.
All packed up:

I have a table that I’ll use to display some EVSE’s (The Ford one, a Clipper Creek, and the JuiceBox).

Update 1: sitting here with two FFEs, two Volts, a C-Max Energi, and a Tesla Model S. That’s right FFEs here outnumber Leafs (0) and Teslas!

Update 2: lots of Volts, 3 Tesla Model S’s and about 6 curious passers by (a couple mentioned they showed up specifically for this).

(pictures will be posted later.)

Update 3: Back from the event and well rested now. Time for a proper post about the event. I did learn that:

  • Updating the blog in bright sunshine using a mobile device is near impossible
  • I was much more busy than I had thought I would be and thus didn’t have time for artful blog posts.



Disco pants and haircuts….Yeah

In an earlier post I mused on how effective it is to have public chargers at motels and hotels. Other optimal locations for public charging are locations where people tend to stay for a few hours. These locations include:

We happen to take advantage of one of these types of locations this past weekend which worked out quite well: A Mall.
At the mall

This mall in particular lies slightly beyond the 1/2 “tank” range from our house and thus a short charge is required to complete the round trip. These chargers were recently added about 6 months ago (four Level 2 chargers to be specific). We took a little over an hour browsing and shopping in which time the car gained about 20% in battery charge (don’t know how many kWh that was because these were simple chargers–no card access required, no 800# to call, just plug in and they charge with just some status LEDs indicating charging, fault, ready, etc.). At the time all four parking spots were available which can be unusual for some areas of the country.

This is great as more and more companies realize the benefits of having a charger (shows a progressive business, encourages those who own EVs to shop there, etc.) we’ll see more of this–especially if EV sales continue to grow.


Ford’s director of electrification

Here is an interesting interview with Ford’s director of electrification.

The tag mentions that he was talking the future of electric vehicles, but there really isn’t much of that in the article. It is more about him, his personality, etc. than it is about anything specific with Ford (which of course makes sense: any announcements come from the press office, not some exec even if they do let things slip now and then).

Heck its probably a good thing that Ford has such a position to begin with–it would indicate that some thought was put into plugins instead of just making a bunch of “one offs” to check the boxes.


Ford to build Michigan’s largest solar array

More news from Inside EV’s: Ford to build Michigan’s largest solar array.

Interesting, to me, of note is this quote:

The project, funded by DTE Energy, will provide employees with 360 covered parking spaces and 30 charging stations for plug-in electric vehicles such as the company’s Ford Fusion Energi and C-MAX Hybrid Energi. A kiosk will also be on site offering general information to visitors about solar power and specific details about the Ford carport.

No mention of the FFE? (It is mentioned later on in the press release when they talk about the solar array at Michigan Assembly where the Focus and C-Max are built.) Was this an oversight, simple error, or does it indicate that the FFE may not have a future? Am I reading too much into this one statement–most likely! LOL


Testing EVSE’s

From Inside EV’s: Testing interoperability of 11 different EVSEs.

This is something to keep an eye on, how well will the EVSE(s) you use stack up against all the others?

When I watched the video I noticed the exact same connectors on the power side of the EVSE’s that I’ve been using in my garage–given that they are in Plymouth, Michigan it wouldn’t surprise me if they purchased them at the same Home Depot that I did! LOL

Here is a link to more details about the study.




September is on us

Now that September has started it won’t be long before my posts veer towards weather and the accompanying range loss that comes with colder temps. Hopefully this winter won’t be nearly as bad as the last one! The last one certainly proved to be a test for the FFE (which came through with flying colors).

This post will probably wander around a bit as I don’t really have much to say on any particular topic. Things have been a bit quiet for two reasons:

  • I’ve been on vacation (which typically means the FFE stays in the garage)
  • There hasn’t been any “exceptions” to talk about with respect to the FFE: It continues to purr right along

In a few months I’ll be 1/2 way through the lease with about 15,000 miles on the car. I’ve already started pondering what the next car will be. It will most likely have a plug since I already have the infrastructure at the house for it. Unfortunately I think my timing may be a bit off as the lease will end in May and any newly redesigned FFE won’t likely come out until Fall of the same year. I’m reasonably sure the next one will be another FFE if possible (or an Energi vehicle).

In the FFE forum’s there has been considerable thought put against the net usable capacity of the 23 kWh battery in the FFE with most calculations settling in on the range of 18.5 kWh to 19.5 kWh. Using the trip meter and the % remaining my calculation comes in around the 19 kWh range (divide the % used into the kWh used shown on the trip meter, for instance: 13.6/69% = 19.71 kWh..a bit on the high side).

Lately I’ve also given some thought to getting an electric motorcycle or scooter. This probably won’t get much past the thought stage as I don’t have any experience with a motorcycle (although with no shifting I’m sure an electric one would be quite simple to drive). The Zero S does look like a sweet ride though.