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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An EV in the mountains – Our first Volt vacation


IMG_20140717_095125939_HDRWe made a long vacation trip this summer to North Carolina, driving our Volt. We had a lot of fun on the trip and all of us in our family found the Volt a very very good touring car.  We had always had a minivan or SUV on past trips, so driving any car was a different experience.  But I must say IMG_20140715_165100964that the Volt feels so solid and safe, and it handles super well in all the driving conditions we experienced.  Long segments on the Interstates were not bad at all – the seats were comfortable and the cruise control and voice controls made the trip easy when driving. 

Mountain Experience:

IMG_20140717_100909421In the mountains itself, the EV drive better than any vehicle I have ever driving there.  There was superior power in climbing, and the regen brakes were fantastic going down. Not only did the car recharge the battery pack on the way downhill, the ‘engine braking’ also meant that I hardly had to use the brakes at all.

IMG_20140718_105655914There is a mountain mode program that you can select as the driver that helps use the battery and ICE to boost power on really steep grades.  I did test it, but the normal power of the car was super!  I went up gravel driveways IMG_20140713_181221232where people in normal ICE powered trucks, cars, and SUVs have to rev up the engine to climb, building up speed to take on a steep grade.  The Volt could climb those at any speed.  In fact, an EV electric motor has maximum torque at zero RPM, so climbing at 5 MPH of whatever is as good as any speed.  I was very impressed with the over all performance.

If you do want to use mountain mode, you need to use the hold mode to save a little battery power. We usually switched to hold mode anyway, when driving for long distances on the Interstate.  Saving the battery for in-town driving makes for better energy stewardship.

Places to charge:

IMG_20140713_205817398We were able to make reservations at the Hotel Indigo in Athens for the trip up.  It is a ‘green’ hotel and was itself fantastic.  I had selected it though, because it had EV charging stations.  In fact, they had 3 rental EVs (a Volt, a Leaf, and one other type).  Very cool place.

IIMG_20140714_083300953 IMG_20140714_093544761t was nice to have a full charge every morning. Even though we used some gas on this trip, the charging helped with our overall MPG.

IMG_20140715_165125702 IMG_20140715_164200727 IMG_20140717_095125939_HDR IMG_20140718_105705494While in the mountains, I was able to recharge at our cabin using the Level 1 cord.  So every day we had a full charge.

On the way back, we stayed at a B&B that had advertised it had a charging stations.  It was a great place as well, but the staff had to work hard to make the Blink charging station work properly.  It was my first experience with Blink, as here in Tampa Bay we seem to have mostly Chargepoint.  I did get a full charge by the next morning.

IMG_20140714_142557227_HDRIMG_20140718_200230269 IMG_20140718_200212528 IMG_20140718_200205339 IMG_20140718_200253328We did also charge at an odd place – a Burger King (honestly we hadn’t been at one in a decade ) on the Interstate in South Carolina. It was like 100F that day (we eventually had temps as cool as 53F in the mountains).  I had seen from my smartphone app that there was this fast food place ahead of us that had a charger, so we did stop there.  It was in a parking spot with no EV sign – a level 2 charger just sitting there.  I don’t think anyone had ever charged there in recent memory – a staff person ended up moving their car to a different spot so I could charge (that was really appreciated by us).  So maybe we educated a few more people on that stop about what an EV is, etc.  That is part of the adventure. Oh yeah, they had vegi burgers – which I commend Burger King for doing.

Conclusion:

 

IMG_20140713_210142059Everywhere we go in one of the EVs, we meet people who are interested in the cars.  If you are willing to take a little time to map out your charging opportunities and just like to do something a little bit different, I highly recommend an EV :)