Category Archives: Social Responsibility

Our city to get it’s first public EV charging station

Even though our small city, Temple Terrace, was the host of 2 EV events, we have never had a public charging station.   There are lots of them around our area, but nothing in the city limits.  With the leadership of one of our City Council members, Grant Rimbey, there is going to be a new one put in Temple Terrace.

plugshare-hole-with-no-chargersI was able to talk for a few minutes at a city meeting a month or so ago, about the need for this.  It is not just for the public good – it also is a way to boost the economy.  I passed out a screen-grab of a Plugshare map to everyone  on the council showing the ‘hole’ with no chargers.

I explain to every business owner I talk to that people like me really do look at online charging station maps before starting on a drive or errand. If a restaurant or some other place has a station, it can often  influence me to go there.

Well, there was an article in the Tampa Tribune today that talks about this whole subject.  There is even a little bit about Kim and I and our cars, as well as some of our friends. Kim even has her picture (I took) in the paper!

I was a little bit bummed that it did not link back to us here, or to my app!  Oh well, on the cutting room floor. But at least we are doing our little bit toward helping with climate change.   I just know now that after driving our cars for over 10 months, that everyone could be driving an EV.  So one public charging station in Temple Terrace is just another bit of the infrastructure needed to blossom the EV movement.  It is not only coming… it is here now :)

Here is the link to the online version of the article: http://tbo.com/northeast-tampa/temple-terrace-to-get-first-ev-charging-station-20141029/

 

EVs on the Radio

WMNF - Kim was a natural on the radioKim and I had the great privilege this week of being guests at WMNF 88.5 Radio.  We were invited by Tom Krumreich, and the hosts were John Butts and the stations News Director Rob Lorei.  Phil Compton, from the Sierra Club, was also a guest on the show.  They are sponsoring an EV event this Saturday 9/21/2014 from 11am-3pm)  in Oldsmar, called the Drive Electric Tampa Bay.

WMNF-showing Leaf to host John ButtsThe topic of the radio program were EVs and their role in sustainability (you can listen here).  It was great hearing from callers, who asked various practical questions about what it is like to own and drive an EV.  Kim was able to give her perspective, both as a driver and a psychologist, while I focused more of the technology side.

WMNF - Our host Rob Lorei on the right and Sierra Clubs Phil Compton on leftWe were able to discuss our blog on the program.  I was also able to explain the web app I developed for EV owners – evgram.me – so this was also a launch of that in a bigger way.  Kim and I will have bith our cars at the Drive Electric Tampa Bay event, where we plan on answer people’s questions and also show other EV drivers how the app could help them.  I hope that it can be spread to as many people nationally as possible, to help with ‘charge rage’ and other communication issues.

WMNF- in the studio with host John ButtsAgain, EVs are a terrific technology, but we will have to adapt how we think and act in order to capitalize on the environmental benefits.  This is critically important as part of the huge effort needed to reduce green house gas emissions. Kim and I consider this blog, the evgram.me app, and our EV outreach efforts as  our way of helping us take ownership of the climate change disaster – and take action.  Everyone can do something, no matter how big or small.  We are not powerless.

Thanks again to everyone at WMNF.  The tour John Butts gave Kim and I of the green facility was most impressive.  The grounds out front were a beautiful example of native plants too.  WMNF is full of empowered, motivated people!

Resources:

You can listen to the whole hour long show here at WMNF 88.5 : http://www.wmnf.org/news_stories/sustainable-living-show-discusses-the-use-of-electric-cars-and-the-drive-electric-tampa-bay-event

The link to the EV event is : http://www.driveelectb.com/

evgram.me app is here: http://evgram.me/

I just realized WMNF has a car donation program to raise funds, so if anyone out there is dumping their old ICE vehicle for an EV, you might consider donating it: http://www.wmnf.org/car_donations

Sierra Club of Florida: http://florida.sierraclub.org/

 

evgram.me – my app to help with the human side of EV ownership

I am a computer engineer who programs web apps and websites, so naturally I had an idea early on for a mobile web app about EVs.  There are already apps from Chargepoint and Plugshare that help you locate charging stations (you can also do it on google maps).  But I had an experience about two weeks into driving an EV that opened my eyes to an issue that I think most of us will experience a little culture shock … sharing!  Specifically, sharing public EV charging stations.

I am pretty religious about monitoring my EV charging sessions.  I use both the built-in apps for the Volt and Leaf – as well as the various charging station websites.  So I was surprised one day when I got an alarm that my car had been unplugged.  Turns out someone had driven up and unplugged my car!!!!!!

I did some reading online about different EV drivers experiences with this happening.  What to do when you are desperate for a charge and all the plugs are taken?????

So I decided that this was something that was a real issue, one that will only grown in importance as the number of EVs on the road grow and grow.

The following are some of the graphics I developed to explain my mobile friendly web app evgram.me – if you are an EV driver I invite you to help me beta test the app.  All you need to do to get started is to join evgram.me, and then print out little cards with your unique evgram.me code on it (or a hang tag).  So join up for free and let me know what you think.

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Tesla opens up its patents to everyone to use

As a Computer Engineer who loves to program in open source languages and use open source software, this news from Tesla sounds terrific!  They are in effect open sourcing the technology they are using to make the Tesla EVs.  Here is the link to the press release: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/all-our-patent-are-belong-you

That means that other people can build upon their technology base, just like programmers can build apps for Android on your cellphone or tablet.  We are truly entering a new stage in the new information revolution!  Moving from the industrial/factory model to an emerging open source/creative model.  If you want to find out more about open source, it is a fascinating concept that has altered the world of computer technology for a long time – now moving into EVs.

We will have to wait and see what the other EV companies do – or maybe it will be up to a new crowd to take EVs to a new level.  In any effect, it is exciting!

 

My Life In Cars

People covet many things: beautiful homes, designer clothing, jewelry, etc. For me, cars have never been one of them. I always viewed cars as a depreciating asset and a necessary evil. My ideal was to pay cash for a gently used vehicle you bought from a private individual. EVs were exotic creatures only glimpsed at green themed conventions – out of reach and out of my price range. So, it’s pretty weird to now have an EV only household.

We Are A Two EV HouseholdFor me, the important thing about EVs is lowering my carbon footprint and saying “sayonara” to the gas station. Those are no brainers. The obstacle was simply price. The tipping point came when Jamie located first the Volt, and then the Leaf, both available for lease for about $300 and $200, respectively. It’s hard to argue with that math. The cost of leasing is equivalent to my gas bill. Yes, there was an initial investment of a down payment, but we are also free of the constant stream of repairs and maintenance that went with our used cars. With leasing everything is under warranty.

So, the real question is how is it going? Well, I can assure everyone that I am possibly as untech savvy, as Jamie is tech savvy, and I don’t plan to change. I’m honestly having no trouble. My only challenge is keeping my hands and eyes off the controls for my new sirius radio, while I’m driving. Most of my trips are about 20 miles, so I don’t experience “range anxiety”, and of course the Volt does have a gas tank as well if you choose to use it. It’s way quieter than a conventional vehicle, so I’m extra paranoid about going slow in my neighborhood where there are plenty of people and pets on foot and paw. Also, the Volt has a special pedestrian horn to help make its presence known. It is extremely luxurious inside and I have a big case of “imposter syndrome”, as I feel like I don’t belong in this super fancy vehicle, but I expect that will fade quickly. Love, love, love not going to gas station!

Why we Are Doing This…

To put this blog into context, it is important to understand what Kim and I are trying to.  Essentially, this blog is an experiment – at 4 levels.

Technical: What is it really like to drive 100% on electric power - commuting to work, driving kids to school, shopping, vacation trips, charging at home and in public?
Environmental: Can we really figure out ways, as individuals and as a society, to save our planet from the climate change disaster. Are EVs part of  that equation?
Financial: Does upgrading older vehicles to new EVs make economic sense, including the cost of buying vs leasing, the cost of charging vs buying gasoline, the costs of normal gas car repairs vs EV maintenance?
Psychological: Does doing something we both feel strongly about to help the environment also help our relationship? Are there any EV related stresses or anxieties to deal with, such a range anxiety or charger sharing?

We both talked about it and each of us felt it was worth the effort to chronicle this adventure, so that others might get inspired to make the leap as well, to a practical and more sustainable future.

We have decided to try to field questions from anyone who is thinking about driving an EV or who might be having some sort of issues holding them back.  If we feel it is useful for the larger community, we will post the question and our answer.  Use this contact form to communicate with us.