Monday, December 31, 2012

An end to last EVSE scavenger hunt

Last post for 2012. I've enjoyed my Leaf for the last 6 months + 8 days. It is a wonderful car. I have had the opportunity to meet a number of enthusiastic EV owners and curious members of the public. This has been an awesome time for me. I've got the electric car that I've wanted for so long and it does absolutely everything I want. I charged it up Sunday to 100% and headed out into the wild.

The first stop was at the new device at the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers. I was there a couple months ago for a Boy Scout dinner and was thinking it would be appropriate to have a device there. Now there is. It appears to be supported by 24 solar panels and potentially 2 vertical wind turbines.

After a 30 minute charge it was off to find some Walgreens stores. The first stop was not quite over the river but it was through the woods of Loose Park. I had to wait for the deer to cross the road. Eventually I arrived at the device on Gregory Blvd. I arrived just in time for a breakfast snack of Snickers and Pepsi. I only charged long enough to eat. Even though there are plenty of areas to visit, the traffic is fast enough that it makes walking along the road dangerous. Now it was time for the longest single leg of the journey and this would literally be over the river and through the wood as I took more back roads to the north side of Kansas City and arrived at the Walgreens in Claycomo.
I was just plugged in long enough to step into the store and thank them for putting the devices up. Interestingly in the navigation map for the Leaf they left off the "H" in Chouteau Trafficway and on the ChargePoint map they list the device as being in Claycono instead of Claycomo. The next Walgreens is on Vivion Road and there's a huge Metro park 'n ride area there as well. 
And just down the street in the City of Fountains (nickname for KCMO) you can see that someone left the water running.

From north of the river I drove back into the heart of the city. I was planning on stopping and using the device at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. Unfortunately that device is in their parking garage. I say unfortunate because that's a $5 parking fee. If I wanted to visit the Nelson or take the family I would gladly pay the fee because it's a very nice structure and access to the museum is free. However, this was just opportunity charging and a drive around town. That's not worth $5. So I continued on across Brush Creek to UMKC because I knew there were plenty of devices there. They are up to six devices each with dual handles so 12 cars can charge at any one time. In other words, all the Leaf's in KC at once...ok that's a little exaggeration. I was disappointed that for the second weekend in a row the device in the Rockhill garage was blocked by construction barriers. 
The device is active on the ChargePoint network but I guess there are signs and painting still to do. I was going to pull in and charge anyway figuring the lot was empty but there was a car to the right of the picture so I couldn't pull through. So instead I went down the street to the Cherry Street Garage with its access off Oak Street. I'm still trying to figure that one out. I thought about charging over at the Atterbury Student Success Center like I did last weekend but I was happy where I was.

All in all it was an enjoyable trip. It's fun to get around in the city and see parts that you've forgotten about or never visited. Searching for EVSE's is a lot of fun. It's great to see the support for the cars growing and the "Oh you have an electric car? Neat." comments are also growing in frequency.

**I just got an email from the IBEW, that's a 5kWh solar array. With the winter angle of the sun they're pulling 3.5 instead of 5 they get during the summer. Neat, I want one.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

EVSE Scavenger Hunt --update

Welcome back readers. This is an update to the post Thanksgiving EVSE scavenger hunt. As I mentioned in the original post the device at MRIGlobal was confusing. I contacted their Media Relations department. They requested a phone conversation with me to discuss their EVSE solution.

We had a very pleasant conversation that afternoon. One of their concerns is that they have to maintain security for the facility. The reason for the public parking prohibited is their need to maintain the security of their environment. They do want the EVSE to be public but they need to maintain the security of their environment.

They are going to work on public signage to ensure that we know the device is available and the best process to reach them to use it. One thing I suggested to them was to enable the reservation option for ChargePoint. Thanks again to Pam and her director for encouraging public charging and EV's in KC.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Aighh... it's SNOWING run away

Sheesh, more snowpacalypse terror warnings from the news media. I don't mean to dismiss the real danger of winter storms but the way the news media is presenting the information is not the way to disseminate information. It is a method for generating fear.

Having said all of that my Leaf performed flawlessly in this morning's snow/ice. It was very easy to operate. My Leaf wasn't the car stuck alongside the road.

I would say the first foray into the winter wonderland that is the Kansas City streets with snow was quite successful.

Unfortunately the destination was less successful. For some reason, as yet unknown, the EV System Warning Light was flashing last night. So my snow drive this morning was to the dealer to have it evaluated. Low and behold, the snow and ice blew a transformer down south and probably also dropped some lines so they had no power.

Yes, that means no power to raise the door to the garage, no power for the computers, and worse, no power for the diagnostic equipment. Fortunately the salesman offered to bring me to the office while they wait for power to come on so they can diagnose the trouble with the system.

Here we sit like birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness
Here we site like birds in the wilderness waiting for the power to come on....

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Why not drive 55?

A couple months ago we saw where Texas raised the speed limit on an interstate to 85 mph.

Now I've driven through the Great Plains. I get it. I know there's nothing but farms and ranches as far as the eye can see. I get it that driving 30 mph over 55 gets you to point B 50% faster.

The question is at what cost? If you set the way back machine to 1983 you can meet Klaus. As you might assume Klaus is a German name and it's the name of my friend's father when they were visiting from Germany. One of the things that I remember quite clearly when he discussed driving from Florida to Kansas was that he wasn't tired at the end of the day. He said when he drove the Autobahn in Germany for any extended time he was exhausted when he was finished because of the stress travelling at high speeds caused.

Keep going back in the way back machine to the Carter Presidency and the establishment of the 55 mph interstate speed limit. The goal at the time was to reduce the amount of gasoline required for extended highway travel. The flipside of this radical effort was reduction in traffic fatalities.

Keep the way back machine going until you reach 1945. At the end of World War II we find that the United States military had enough tires in stock for the war to last another TEN years. Why did we have such a massive surplus of tires? Because people were driving less. Why were they driving less? Because gasoline was rationed. If you examine the WWII rationing of gasoline you find that the reason it was limited wasn't to keep the gasoline supply available for the military. It did accomplish that goal but it was a side effect. The goal was to reduce the dependence on external sources of rubber required for the tires. The American oil supply at that time was almost 100% domestic but rubber was an import and therefore threatened by the ongoing conflict.

As we return to the 21st century we are no longer troubled by the availability of rubber for tires. However, gasoline has become, oh..shall we say, just a little pricey. Now we need a return of lower speeds not to save rubber or even lives because technology is helping with that but we need to reduce our dependence on not only domestic oil but we need to dramatically reduce our foreign oil imports even if that import is from the Canadian tar sands.

To paraphrase Necron99 in Wizards - oil bad, go around

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

EVSE Scavenger Hunt

While Electric Avenue is still not a reality it is refreshing to see the number of electric vehicle charging stations popping up all over town. I spent some of my spare time over the Thanksgiving holiday investigating many of the stations I hadn't visited yet. The weekend before the holiday I started off with a trip down to the DMV and Roeland Park City Hall.

The Roeland Park City Hall has nice signage directing people to the device. It's a double Coulomb device with 120/240. However, they have a fatal "while charging" caveat posted as well. Since this also doubles as the patrol parking lot for the PD, be careful parking.

The DMV meter is handy to the rear doors of the building. While I wouldn't want to spend hours at the DMV at least you can charge there if you had to spend too much time there.

That was enough EVSE scavenger hunt for the day as I had a customer meeting to attend.

The day after Thanksgiving I expanded my scavenger hunt. This was a great day to be indoors as the 70* temps from the day before changed to 30* temps for the day after. The interesting aspect of this hunt was the fact that while I knew the general location of the EVSE's, I didn't know the exact locations. I decided it was time to break out the GPS and navigation instructions for the car. Fortunately for me I knew the most energy efficient way to get near the EVSE's. Unfortunately for me I drove the GPS into a catatonic coma by forcing it to recalculate the drive every few blocks. If it was a real woman instead of just a female voice I'm sure the instructions would have changed to "I don't know why I'm telling you anything, you won't do what I say and go your own way anyway".

As I coasted down Wornal and recaptured energy from the long hill, I started to actually pay attention to the instructions. I knew approximately where 4725 Tracy was located but not exactly. As it turns out it was quite easy to find and the GPS was right on the money. There were two unfortunate experiences with this plug. The first is that it's still not operational. An email to KCP&L (Kansas City Power and Light) generated a response of "we're having problems getting the billing set up but it should be available soon". Given that this is part of their urban green experience and a "one off" set up compared to the rest they sponsor, that problem is understandable. The other unfortunate experience you can see above. One hour parking limit. You would not want to stop here needing a long charge. The flipside is there are only two things to do around here. You can check out the electric park where they put up with solar panels or walk around the corner for some Gate's BBQ.

In the background of the park you can see Paseo High School. This was once a vibrant educational establishment in Kansas City. Hopefully the urban renewal will bring it positive experiences again.

The next stop on the hunt was further up the street and around the corner. This sounds very short but in reality the trip from 47th Street to 50th is much further than it sounds. MRIGlobal has a device located in their parking lot. The lot is accessed not from Volker Blvd as the address would indicate but rather off Oak St. Just like the device on Tracy; this device had a problem as well.
The device is listed on ChargePoint and on PlugShare. Both networks indicate it's available for use. I contacted MRIGlobal before posting and received a very polite response from their media contact who is investigating if the plug is actually open to the public or not. I hope to hear from her this week and I will post an update with the details. But as you can see, they have it posted as public parking prohibited under threat of towing.

The next stop was the brand new University of Missouri, Kansas City parking garage. This is right next door to MRIGlobabl. Interestingly the garage is labelled the Cherry Street Garage but the EV access is off Oak. The EVSE's here are some of the best located devices around town in my opinion. They are within (long) walking distance of the Plaza. They are covered. They are right next to the Missouri Repertory Theater which is part of the University. I checked with the University police who share the garage and they confirmed that it was open parking on the weekends. Needless to say this is starting to sound like a broken record but there were problems here as well. But there is also hope. The really neat thing about this location is they already have signs up where they
expect to have future EVSE's located. You can even see where the electrical caps are located at the end of the wires where new devices could easily be added. I even forwarded a copy of the picture to our realty team that is building the new office for us so they can see a good way to build expansion capabilities into an EV solution. The disappointing aspect was the signage. "Reserved for Plug In Hybrid Vehicles". When I contacted the University for additional information they replied that the garage is under University parking control starting Monday's at 0700 until Friday's at 1900 and guest parking is $7/day. When I also mentioned that their signs were quite specific and didn't cover battery only vehicles they didn't seem to care and said not to worry that I wouldn't get a ticket.

 Across the street is actually the plug I would be using during the business day if I was in the area and needed a charge. It's a metered lot at $1/hour regardless if the car is an EV or ICE.

Just like the Cherry Street Garage, this is not a monitored lot on the weekends.

Fortunately for me I was able to set the climate control and preheat the car while it was in the Cherry Street garage because by the time my 30 minute walk around campus and to the top of the parking garage was complete, I was freezing and a warm, toasty car was calling to me. The next stage of my trip took me from the university campus across Midtown to Hospital Hill where Children's Mercy, UMKC Medical Center, and Truman Medical Center were located. Again, free open parking on the weekend but UMKC monitored parking during the week and the same $7/day parking fee for guests.

This device was actually the most difficult to find out of all the ones over the weekend. When I checked the networks I couldn't tell who owned the device. It could have been any of the three hospitals and there were no signs directing me to its location. As I noted above, it's owned by UMKC. Regarding all of their devices "The charging stations are available 24/7. UMKC has no plans to start charging for the use of the stations in the foreseeable future."

The final leg of any trip should always be a party. With that thought in mind I headed down to "the Boulevard" to find the last plug of the night. Unbeknownst to me, I was heading into conflict.
The device was in use! Very cool! The first Leaf I've ever seen except when meeting friends. Unfortunately this particular device is one of the 120/240 devices. While it has two plugs, only one is the standard L2 J1772 that is preferred. The other plug is a 120 volt that the Leaf portable EVSE can plug into. The problem is that there is a fatal design flaw in the 120. The lid on the station must make a complete connection with the magnets. When this happens the brick on the portable EVSE has to hang down. The hanging forces the plug to come out of the jack just enough to cause it to fault and not charge so even though it's advertised as a 2 location device it really only has one usable plug. Still it was a nice day to get out and about. The really nice thing about this location is that it's just down the street from two of KC's most notable Mexican restaurants, Margarita's and Ponak's.  There are also many other less well known restaurants along Southwest Boulevard. This particular plug is just off 25th Street. It's in the parking lot of the appropriately named Boulevard Brewery.

The next round of the EVSE scavenger hunt was took place the next day. This plug is at the Commerce Bank location on the northeast corner of 135th and State Line Road. Yes, this is on the Missouri side. The nice thing about this plug is that it is within walking distance of over 10 different restaurants, Lowe's, WalMart and over a dozen other shops. This is a very good location for an EVSE. It's not quite as good as the two at Town Center but it comes in a close second or third for the best in town.

Since I was already on the extreme south side of town I thought I should check out the county library at 151st and Metcalf (just west). I think having an EVSE at the libraries is a great way to educate the public, encourage EV adoption, and increase traffic at the library. I know that I will be going to either one of the two with EVSE's instead of the one around the corner from now on.
Unfortunately they still don't have signs up for this device. I need to write a letter to the county. The devices at 87th Street are properly marked but this one isn't. And boy did I get an ugly glare when I was plugged in this time. A lady in a gas guzzling minivan just glared at me for a couple minutes as I sat reading on my Kindle while the Leaf was plugged in. Well, you can't please everyone and if I were driving a 15 mpg minivan I'd be jealous of an EV too.

Overall it was a great weekend to go out tripping around town and find the plugs. There are fewer than 10 devices south of the river that I haven't checked out yet. Currently on the list is a writing campaign to get some up at the Legends. With NASCAR, T-Bones Baseball, Sporting KC soccer club, and tons of restaurants, shopping stores, and entertainment, this location would be a great one to have multiple plugs.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday and are prepared to enjoy the seasonal religious festivities of your culture with your friends and families.  =)

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Experience at Olathe Ford dealership

A few days ago we were searching the internet. We = a couple guys at the office who are mildly to very interested in electric cars and yours truly. We were looking because there were all sorts of Black November car ads.

On the website for Olathe Ford there was listed a Ford Focus Electric. Wow, really? One of the guys was really, really wanting to get the FFE instead of a Leaf.

Below is directly from their website as it stands today:

Ok, not for sale but for ordering. That makes a whole lot of sense. The FFE is not nationally available for sale but maybe they just want to get a demo out there to get a jump on sales. Very cool we were all thinking.   I wasn't planning on buying a new car right now as I've only had the Leaf for 6 months but I will need another car in a couple years when the kids are older. Plus with the experience I have with my Leaf the office guys are willing to accept my expertise in the EV field.

I was excited at the posting and with high expectations ran down there after work to see what I hoped would be an incredible car.

So let me preface the rest with a disclaimer. I hope that what I'm presenting is a simple explanation and not a judgement so the reader will come to his/her own conclusions and opinions.

Now admittedly it's the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Maybe they weren't fully staffed. Maybe they thought I had already been helped. But the reality is that when I arrived and parked there was no one on the lot to greet me. When I went into the showroom and walked around the 3-4 cars in the showroom, none of the people there greeted me. When I went back out to the lot and looked for the distinctive plug location on the driver side front fender, no one greeted me as I wandered between about 100+ different cars and trucks. When I went back into the showroom, a man who would later be introduced as the New Car Sales Manager proceeded to remove advertisements from the cars in the showroom and walk right by me several times.

Right when I was about to get fed up and leave, one salesman came over to ask if I needed help. I explained that I was here to research the FFE and that I was not prepared to buy one but I had some questions and would like to test drive it based on the information they had on the web. He was quite friendly and openly admitted he didn't know anything about the car but would get me someone who did. I quickly reminded him that I wasn't buying and not to interrupt anyone's deal. He thanked me and returned shortly with another salesman. Now with two salesmen about to talk to me; the Sales Manager came over to be introduced. Before either of the salesmen could say anything other than their names he quickly informed me the car wasn't there. He didn't know where it was and it was only there about half the time as it was at car shows or at nearby towns frequently and was I looking to add FFE's to my company fleet?

I explained I was there to see the car and test drive it as it was posted on their website and he said it's not available for test drives. "You can only look at it".

Needless to say I left fairly quickly after that as a test drive was the only reason I went down there. I know what my opinion is of the experience and I know what I will be doing later.

I also know that when I stopped at Bob Allen Ford (about 6 miles away) back in October and spoke with the sales team there they expressed a keen interest in my Leaf. They wanted to know a lot about it and asked if I was happy with it. Of course I'm very happy with my Leaf and I was encouraged by their intelligent questions. They said they expected to get more training on the FFE and have it available in their lot this spring. "They" in this case happened to be 4-6 different salespeople as they filtered in and out around my Leaf and the main guy I was talking to.

Given the experience I had at Shawnee Mission Ford, where a salesman refused to talk to be about a minivan without having a lead sheet filled out (this was years ago and I walked off the lot) and the experience I had with Olathe Ford when I compare that experience to Bob Allen Ford and McCarthy Nissan (where I got my Leaf and where I stop by monthly to say hi), I know where my next car will be purchased and I know where it won't be purchased.

As car owners my wife and I have owned:

1979 Ford Pinto - (gifted from Dad in '85)
1985 Lincoln Mercury - (aka Ford Escort) for graduating high school '87
1992 Ford Ranger- traded in Merc in '94
1998 Saturn SL - traded in Ranger in '98
1995 Ford Escort (gifted from Dad in '99)
2000 Saturn LS - traded '98 Saturn in '00
2002 Saturn SL - (mine) traded Escort
2002 Saturn SL - (wife's, bought on same day) traded Saturn LS in '02
2010 Toyota Corolla - wife's Saturn transmission died Dec '10 so traded dead car
2002 Ford Escort (purchased from Dad Oct 2010), sold my Saturn in '10 to Carmax
2012 Toyota Prius - traded Corolla
2012 Nissan Leaf - traded Escort

It's worth noting that all four Saturns were purchased at the same dealer and the Prius was deliberately not purchased at the same dealer as the Corolla. I will still not go back to Shawnee Mission Ford because of shopping experience in 2000.

The point of this long winded rant? Customer service matters.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thank you

Well it's been just over two months here at blog central for ksnogas. I wanted to take the time to say thank you.

Thank you to the friends who have stopped by to read the random thoughts that I've posted to the ether.

Thank you to the followers on Twitter.

Thank you to all the techy followers following the blog via readers who are missing the Link of the Day options.

Thank you to the two commenters who've posted comments back.

It does my ego a lot of good to review the statistics and realize that I'm not just shouting out to the darkness. Someone out there actually is listening.

So again, thank you. I hope to continue to provide thoughtful and interesting posts.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Monday, November 12, 2012

trip addendum

And now I remember the last point I wanted to include on my trip blog and thanks to Dave for triggering my memory.

Things that ran out of juice:

1. Car - while I had enough power everywhere the VLB warning in Manhattan was an 'almost out of juice'
2. Phone - the wife was concerned that I didn't know what I was doing and so she turned on the locator on the phone to track me. That means the phone used more juice than normal and had to be recharged. I recharged it by plugging into the usb jack of the car.
3. DVD player - the portable dvd player lasted for all of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer Stone and part of the Prisoner of Azkaban. Fortunately when the first one died under warranty they didn't ask for the battery back so we had a spare battery to finish off the trip.
4. Laptop - co-pilot brought his laptop to play FTL and it ran out of juice and I wasn't going to plug that energy hog into the cigarette lighter so it was down for the count.

Things that didn't run out:

1. My tablet - my Nexus 7 powered through Men In Black and still had plenty of juice but wasn't used after that movie.
2. My Kindle - my third gen Kindle never even got close to running out of battery. Of course I didn't use it either I used my phone since it was handy and the Kindle was at the bottom of the bag underneath the dvd's.
3. Good weather - the good weather stayed all day long. And it was awesome.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Over hill, over dale, and it was a dusty trail

Well, I'm back. The advertised trip to Abilene required modification. We had to abort the final destination of Abilene and stop heading west in Manhattan. We also started a little late because I wanted a car wash and donuts before leaving Lenexa. The trip covered a total of 237.7 miles and approximately 18 hours.

The first stop was Lawrence, KS, the home of the University of Kansas. I took old K-10 because the speed limit was 55 mph which meant going 45-50 mph on what was essentially an abandoned road was not a problem. That early in the morning I passed exactly 1 car once I got outside the 'burbs and into the more rural area of the county.

It's really hard to see in the picture but that is KU in the far background. This is about 10 miles east of Lawrence. As you can see, yes Kansas is indeed flat. KU is on the top of Mt. Oread ( or ee add ) and you can see the dorms and Fraiser Hall from quite a distance away.

The first charge of the day was at the University of Kansas Center for Design. It's a standard public 240 volt Schneider EVSE.  The parking around it was not what I expected. Gravel drive up to two concrete pads is not what you typically find. Off to the west of the building was a wind turbine spinning like crazy. This would be the second time that I know of where the electric supply to the EVSE was provided by a wind turbine. <<edit -I've been informed there are also solar panels on the actual Design Building to the west of the barn.>> During the trip the wind would blow almost exclusively from the south around 25 mph sustained and 40 mph gusts and yes, there were small dust storms created as we passed farms and construction areas. It was also about 68* that morning and the forecast was for a beautiful day.

We arrived in Lawrence after travelling 36.5 miles. The miles per Kilowatt hour were 5.0. The car said that a 100% charge would take 3 hours and our average speed for this leg of the trip was 45 mph. I have to say average because I didn't set the cruise control.

After we plugged in we started hiking from the far west side up campus up to the dorms. I regaled my co-pilot (youngest son) with my experiences as a student there in the late 80's and early 90's. We crossed campus and ended up at the student union. This killed about an hour and started a really nice set of blisters on the balls of my feet that would last all day. We headed back to the car and I estimated that we had enough charge to get to Topeka and beyond. But there was no Pepsi on campus. I guess Coke got a campus-wide concession and I wanted Pepsi. So on the way out we stopped at the Hy-Vee nearby and plugged in again and got some drinks. Even though it was only 10 minutes of charge, this would later prove to be fortuitous.

We headed out west again along US HWY 40 from Lawrence to Topeka. Again due to the lower maximum speed limit I was able to go slower than nearby I-70 which paralleled my route. I also saved the $.75 toll. Of course as fate would have it, we ran through a localized rain shower. It was so localized that it didn't rain on the interstate less than half a mile from where we were driving. Talk about a waste of car wash.

We arrived a short time later at the Kansas capitol. Westar Energy has EVSE's at their offices to charge their fleet Volts and they are mostly publicly available. In the case of this device they even worked with the city to provide unmetered parking.

If you look closely enough in the picture and get out your magnifying glass you can see my reflection in the windows.

Around the corner is the Kansas Capitol Building. You can clearly see our tax dollars at work. What you can't clearly see is the blue port-a-john at the top of the scaffolding where they're working on the dome.

Near the Capitol there was a sculpture of a Meadowlark, our state bird. There was also a sculpture dedicated to the pioneer women who helped shape our state.

The time spent charging here was about an hour and a half. We arrived after a trip of 26.2 miles and the miles/Kwh were 4.7. I drove at 50 mph with the cruise control and the car said it was a 3 hour time to charge to get to 100%. This is where the extra 10 minutes spend at Hy-Vee in Lawrence are going to come into play.

We left the middle of Topeka and headed out the north side of town. Down along the train tracks there is an industrial park. This park is near the US HWY 75 and I-70 interchanges. I decided to check the charging station here during the day to ensure I could find it later that night. I felt this was a better place to charge in the middle of the night than in the middle of town where there are bars and problems.

So it was about 12/1230pm and we're on our way to Manhattan. As before I avoided I-70 and it's 70 mph speed limit for US HWY 24 and it's 65 mph limit but limited traffic so going 50 mph wasn't a problem. Passing through St. Mary's was no problem. Passing through Wamego was no problem. Doing math and getting an actual % state of charge of the Leaf, now that was a bit of a problem. The stretch from Wamego to the Nissan dealer in Manhattan is 17 miles long. When we passed through Wamego the GOM registered 24 miles. When we got halfway between Wamego and Manhattan, 8 miles, the GOM registered 17 miles and 2 battery bars. Now I'm really starting to get worried. The wife chastised me for not having a back up plan in case I ran out of energy. I explained I had roadside assistance and that I was not silly enough to leave without enough energy to reach the destination. Well hubris had other ideas. I did some quick math and felt that my earlier calculations were inaccurate and I slowed from 50 mph to 40 mph and paid attention to what was going on behind me so I could put the emergency blinkers on to alert the drivers coming up behind me. However, due to silent running I didn't want them on all the time because the constant click click was already annoying me. As we got closer to the outskirts of Manhattan  the anticipated Low Battery warning and light were activated. The GOM indicated 8 miles and the battery was down to one energy bar. I didn't have a perfect address for the Nissan dealer so I couldn't get the miles to go. I just knew where it was. Fortunately we got into Manhattan and I was able to slow down to 30 mph and no annoy too many other drivers and that also allowed me to hit the traffic lights green so there was limited start/stop. The GOM was now down to 4 miles and I was starting to get a whiff of the impending Very Low Battery warning. But, in the distance there was a large sign. NISSAN. Yeah, I was there....almost. I had to drive past the dealership to get to the turn off and pass under the road. At the end of the off ramp the Very Low Battery warning appeared and the GOM started flashing --- . This was the third Low Battery and the very first Very Low Battery warning I've experienced but I felt sure I could go the quarter mile to the dealership and you know what? I was right.

Remember that extra 10 minutes I spent at Hy-Vee? Those extra 2 miles were the difference between arriving or not arriving and calling roadside assistance.

Anyway, we made it. We were now 59.2 miles from Topeka and the car said it needed 6.5 hours to charge to full. I achieved 4.7 miles/Kwh and drove 50 mph most of the way there. It was now about 1:45. I introduced myself and my son to Cole Bachamp the Leaf salesman at Briggs Nissan in Manhattan. He assured me they would leave the power to the EVSE as long as I needed it and offered the hospitality of their waiting room complete with donuts, granola bars, and soda. I explained my son wanted to catch a movie and we needed a place to eat as well. He recommended Willie's bar and grill which was right next to the theater.

So we made it to the theater in time for all but the first minute of Hotel Transylvania. It was a really good movie. We both enjoyed it. That was followed with lunch/dinner at Willie's. I had the John Madden Burger and my son had the Muss Burger. We then went shopping at Home Depot and watched the Christmas displays. After that we went back to the dealership and killed time until 7pm at which point we left for Topeka.

I made sure we left Manhattan with more charge than we left Topeka with so arrival in Topeka was uneventful if with only two battery bars left and about 10 miles on the GOM. That leg was 52.4 miles long at 50 mph and 4.5 m/Kwh. We charged in the industrial park for 2.5 hours, watched Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and took a nap. This was also the third wind powered charge. Ironically there is a nice sized wind turbine in the back yard of Governor Brownback who wants more coal electric plants in the state instead of more wind power.

After that charge it was off again to Lawrence and a trip of 34.7 miles at 50 mph at 4.6 m/Kwh. We grabbed burgers at Freddy's Steakburgers and then charged at the Westar office on the east side of Lawrence. This was a one and a half hour charge. We killed time by watching a dvd of The Animaniacs Season 2.

The weather for the trip was beyond awesome. It was still 68*F at 1230am when we were in Lawrence. We also kept a family tradition of being chased across the plains by a severe weather front. In the rear view mirror I could see the lightning and when I woke up this morning I could see the freezing rain collect on the back deck. So I had 6 bars of battery heat at 0100 and it was 68* F. When I woke up at 0800 it was 40* and raining. When I got back from getting stuff for breakfast it was freezing rain.

The final numbers when we got home at 0130 this morning were a leg distance of 28.7 miles and another Low Battery Warning, 4.2 m/Kwh and I drove 55 mph. The CarWings telematics when we left in the morning my month-long miles/Kwh was 5.1. Upon our return it was 4.9. The whole trip made a small impact in my monthly statistics so I get a new high score of distance but I'll be lucky if I can get my m/Kwh up to my minimum desired results of 5.0+ m/Kwh.

It was a fun trip. I enjoyed spending time with my youngest son and we both enjoyed the movie. But I don't think I'll make a trip like this again. It was a very long day and a very long night.

Edit - 11/12
For those who may be interested this is a picture of the elevation changes between Lenexa and Abilene. There was one other thing I meant to include in this post and I keep remembering when I'm away from a pc but forget when I sit down. Sigh.....

Lenexa is on the left of the chart and Abilene is on the right. I used to generate the information.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kansas City...Kansas City here I .... go??

The advertised trip to Abilene has arrived. Tomorrow at oh dark thirty...well it will be a little light, we leave for Abilene. "We" because I drafted my youngest son as a co-pilot. Co-pilot defined as the person in the car with the tablet and dvd player for his entertainment. The general itinerary is:

0700 Leave Lenexa and drive to Lawrence using "old K-10" which parallels (mostly) K-10 but instead of 70 mph and arriving with a drained battery we'll be driving 45 mph.
0800 Arrive in Lawrence and charge at the KU Center for Design Research building.
0800-0930 Show my youngest around the KU campus since he may be going to school there in 5 years.
0930 Leave Lawrence via US 40, again using back roads instead of the interstate which takes a little longer but uses less energy.
1030 Arrive in Topeka and charge at one of the Westart Energy offices. I'm planning on using the one by the capitol  building so we can walk around and maybe through the capitol.
1200 Noon leave Topeka and head out to the Little Apple, Manhattan KS via US 24.
1330 Arrive in Manhattan and charge at Briggs Nissan in Manhattan. Thanks to Cole Bachamp who was pleased to provide the plug.
1330-1500+ Lunch for sure. We were planning on watching a movie but the theater only does afternoon and evening shows.
1500-1600 Leave Manhattan for Abilene via old US 40. Still bypassing the high speed interstates for better energy economy. I also checked the three routes, state highway, US highway, and interstate and the elevation changes along US 40 for that stretch are less than the other two options.

1630/1700 Arrive in Abilene. Unfortunately this will be after the Eisenhower Presidential Library closes. If the charging times are less than expected we might be able to make a tour of the library which would be awesome. The Truman Presidential Libary in Independence is great and it would make a neat bookend to follow the 2010 visit to Truman with a 2012 visit to Eisenhower.

Historical note for those who may not know, President Eisenhower was the president to follow President Truman. Interestingly the libraries are separated by less than 200 miles from each other.

After dinner in Abilene we will return to Manhattan for a charge then off to Topeka. I don't know the timing on the rest of the trip so stay tuned to Twitter for updates. It will be very interesting to see how the charge times line up with the expected times and hopefully home before 10pm.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And Now Tweetable

Google+, E-mail, Blogger, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, RSS, blah blah blah...

Ok so maybe not the best way to insert a blog post but the truth is there are so many ways to make a connection it seems you can spend all day just keeping everything updated. However, I did make the leap and in my old age set up a Twitter account. So those of you who would like the satisfaction of instant EV gratification can follow my gas free Twitter comments @ksnogas. I would also like to thank my friend Shawna for being my first Twitter follower.

Thanks Shawna.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It carries a lot

Sometimes buying a car is as much about what it can hold/carry/haul. Since this is my only car I prefer to drive it everywhere. I don't like it when I have to switch cars with my wife although I think she likes the Silent Running (see future post). So if you're concerned that a hatchback is not large enough to hold your stuff, below is a list of the items I took on our last weekend campout. The round trip drive was 65 miles so I could have done it without recharge but plugging into the parking lot light provided a nice buffer for the ride home @75 mph.

1 Folding tent cot
1  Tent
1 Folding chair
1 Adult
2 Teenagers
2 Medium sized ice chests
3 Sleeping bags
3 Over night bags
4 Sleeping mats (I'm old and need 2)

So it's a tight fit but it does fit. I might add that it's not as tight a fit as it was in the Escort Zx2 that I traded in on the Leaf. On the to-do list is the purchase and installation of a trailer hitch and bike rack to be able to easily take the bikes to ride the trails.

The daily load for the commute:

1 Adult
1 Trumpet
2 Teenagers
2 Art projects
3 Laptop backpacks/school bags

Everything fits just fine into the "trunk" space. Everyone is comfortable and the kids enjoy the heated seats. SUV's are not required for weekend trips or daily commutes but they are nice for the family vacation. Let's see, the trip to Yellowstone in 2009 with a minivan was only $35/day+gas. No need to drive 20 mpg for 1 week events. Just rent for the rare times the electric just doesn't work.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience

Monday, October 22, 2012

Around town again...

So the frequent check of the ChargePoint and PlugShare maps show an increasing number of electric vehicle charging stations. I've mentioned on the mynissanleaf forum that as far as I can tell there are three main supporters/implementors of EV charging points. KCPL put in 10 which I understand was assisted in support by federal funds. Walgreens put in around a dozen at various stores around the metro. The Johnson County government has also been adding their support. Even better both the network maps are starting to cross reference each other so both maps are becoming more accurate.

Below are the pictures taken at the Johnson County offices built back in 2006. I also looked inside and was pleased to see the building acquired a LEED Gold standard. It is nice to see tax dollars at work for both business, environmental, and constituent use. The two stations in the complex plus the libraries, DMV (highly appropriate), Health and Human Services, and shared with Olathe bring the county count up to 8.

One note, the 15 minute parking sign is for the space next to mine. It goes 15 minute parking, then EV parking, and then motorcycle parking.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A trip around town

Today's post is all about my car. Well so most of the posts are about my car but today is about my car at the charging stations around town and include the pictures.

In the Kansas City metro area there are approximately 40 different charging locations. Here are pictures of my visits to some of them. Here we see ...we see...well when I signed up at the Nissan owner portal I had to pick a nickname for my car. Below is Prince By-Tor, Centurion of Evil, the Devil's Prince as he's being charged at the Westar office at 83rd and K-7.

The employees at the office were genuinely curious and polite the first time I plugged in and were glad to see that EV's were out and about. They explained that their company policy is to only purchase Chevrolet vehicles and had several Volt electric-hybrid vehicles in their fleet. I checked the web more and found that all Westar offices have public EV charging stations. Thanks Westar. I would like to reciprocate but the local utility for me is KCPL but the office where I work is a Westar customer.

About six miles south of here there are a pair of charging stations at the county Youth and Family Services building. It's a beautiful new building and the parking lot is very interesting. There are signs in the lot for car/van pool parking, handicapped parking, low emitting and fuel efficient vehicles and also the two electric vehicle charging stations. The median is filled with native plants which gives it a slight over grown weedy look but the more I looked at it the more it grew on me. Really the only problem with the lot was the SUV parked in the low emitting and fuel efficient vehicle parking.

In what universe would any SUV be considered a low emitting or fuel efficient vehicle? I guess compared to an M1 tank it's fuel efficient (1.5 gallons to the mile).

My oldest son even commented that there was a special parking icon on the asphalt just for me.

Around the corner and down the street a couple miles is the Olathe City Hall with its parking garage. The first time I visited this station one of the stalls was ICE'd (filled with internal combustion engine vehicle). The second trip both stalls were empty and I pulled right in to place.

Then around the corner and further down the street on Santa Fe is one of the several Walgreens Pharmacy stores around town with electric charging stations. They definitely have me sold as a customer from now on except the one by us doesn't have a station. I checked with the manager at the location in Olathe asking what she felt a reasonable purchase in the store would be for a person to charge from their stations while eating at the surrounding locations. She said 'anything' even a pack of gum. I found her attitude refreshing and she was genuinely curious about the vehicle. On the flip side they do need to repaint the asphalt.

The last trip of the day was across town from Olathe into the heart of Overland Park and the county library on 87th Street. The parking here is different from everywhere else that I've seen in that the parking stalls are nose to nose instead of side by side. I'll have to get down to the library out south to see how they're doing on adding signage.

Note...I checked a few days after I started this draft and the signs were still not up on the library out south on 151st Street.

These spots are not only near the library but are within easy walking distance (aka same parking lot) of a McDonald's and an Arby's.

Signing off for today
Try reading a book, it's a novel experience.