Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dufass and the Mini-E. D’OH!

A disclaimer, it’s my fault, not the car, and my family will be “lashing” me for years.

Mini-E #183 and I have had a wonderful relationship the past 33,000 miles and 2.5 years. It’s been a relatively event free time, which is amazing considering the Mini-E is out in the wild in the hands of drivers like me D’OH! with no or little infrastructure to rely on.

I’ve had three driver error events, two in the past. and one this past weekend.

First about two years ago, was the combination of my hard working schedule and a string of appearances at events the same evening. I arrived home at midnight and forgot to plug in the car. The next morning I had a Planning Commission meeting with a roundtrip of 80 miles and only 40 miles of range on the car. I groveled to my brother and borrowed his gas car for the day. He was merciless in his mockery of “Mr. Electricity Was Better.” The Solution to this problem is a simple web interface and smart phone application so that you can check, be alerted by text message, to insure you are plugged in for the night, this is standard on all new electrics. The Mini-E has no such communication so my brother made a plaque as a gift to me. D’OH!

Second, about 1 year ago, My race car cousin was visiting from Denmark (to see an Indy car race and a NASCAR race in the USA) I was down at my parents, an 80 mile roundtrip, and he asked to take the car around the block. About 20 minutes later he brought the car back with a huge grin on his face. I could smell the burnt rubber, he had some serious fun and depleted my battery to 30%. Nonetheless, I thought I could make it home D’OH! I came up about a mile short, (BMW you don’t want to know how I got the car home ) The solution to this problem is not to let your race crazy Danish cousin drive your car!

This past Saturday I made my third mistake D’oh! It was the compound accumulation of three error’s in judgment.

Saturday evening I was to attend my friend Chris’s birthday party, about a 75 mile roundtrip in the Mini-E to a rural area of San Diego County. Earlier that morning I had made a run to Home Depot and another garden store and used about 10% of my battery, no problems, no need to plug in as the 75 miles is a piece of cake with 90% battery. Error #1 D’OH Always recharge when you have the chance!

I rely heavily on the GPS map in my smart phone. I program in the destination and keep the blue dot on the purple line. I arrived at the party about 15 miles east of Hwy 15 and had a great time. As I left the party, I realized I had no cell connection but hey no problem, I’ll just follow the blue dot backwards. I drove about 15 miles expecting to come up on the Hwy 15 and I still had no cell reception thus the blue dot did not move! I pulled over and tried a compass app on the cell phone, It does not work without a connection! I kept driving and 5 miles later I found myself in Ramona, 35 miles east of Hwy 15! I had gone the wrong way over 20 miles! Now I had range anxiety, I was 45 miles from home and only 32 miles of range left. How I missed that 10% of range that I used in the morning. If I had recharged in the morning, I would have had enough range to get home. Error # 2, Don’t rely solely on technology! D’OH! (BMW please tell me there is a compass in the ActiveE and the I-3

So who you gonna call? Mom and Dad. I could make it to their home about 20 miles away. I could charge for a few hours and then drive home. But…..D’OH! I did not carry my 110 cable with me, it was at home. Error # 3 always carry the 110 emergency charging cable with you, you know, just in case you have an emergency. D’OH!

I had to borrow my sisters giant GMC and drive home to get the cable. The next morning I came back with the cord, recharged the car during the Sunday Football games, and suffered endless merciless barbs at the hands of my several siblings. It was awful! At 4pm I drove home, me and my Mini-E, all was good.

The worst part of the whole story, I had to put $80 in gas in the GMC monster SUV. 20 gallons of gas to get from ¼ tank to full. Ouch!

Mini-E # 183  33,000 sunshine powered miles, driven by a Dufass.

Post Script,
Lest you think this post has in any way exposed a weakness in the electric car, be assured that my driving errors in gas cars were equal to the electric car and in some cases were much greater…..like the 350 mile 5 hour driving error by the two smartest guys in the world. That story shall wait :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Supremacy of Electric Cars, the Misguided Tea Party.

It’s been very interesting as a generator of renewable energy (7.5kw solar PV) and as a driver of EV’s powered by the sun, to read about the “Top Ten”…, or the five reasons why…, or the 12 things you need to know…. post’s regarding electric mobility. Most of these writings are focused on the perceived and in fairness, real short comings of today’s electric car, often written by folks who have never experienced the joy of driving an electric car (more than a test drive.)

Not to get too political, but as a lifelong conservative, I am shocked at the Tea Party’s response to these innovations and advancements that offer independence, self reliance, improved health, jobs and wealth creation, as well as military strategic benefits, while ignoring long standing government subsidies to oil, gasoline cars (cash for clunkers) and the related dependencies and cost (protection of oil) that have the net result in the exportation of our nation’s wealth.

Promoting the idea of $2.00 gas for all Americans is in my view promoting the decline of America, the decay of our car companies, the exportation of our wealth and the degradation of the health of our citizens living in major population centers. While the world marches on and innovates with science and technology breakthroughs, those in Tea Party America want to stand still and stand shackled to our dependency on oil in a form of slavery and dependence to foreign nations.

What happened to independence? To self reliance? To conservative principles such as conservation? To wealth creation for individuals and for our nation? To saying “To hell with you if you want us to be dependent on your tea and volatile taxation !”

Let us never forget that the original patriots of the 1773 Tea Party threw overboard the product of an oppressive foreign nation and their East India Tea Company (EITC) who sought to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for tea at any price.

A true modern day equivalent of a Tea Party acting in the spirit of those original patriots of 1773, would be one that threw overboard the product of foreign nations and their Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) who seek to relegate us to their servitude. Who severely misjudged the will of the American people for independence and misjudged their desire for gasoline at any price.

A true Tea Party patriot would “make their own tea” for the equivalent of $0.40 cents a gallon of gas, and not make populist moronic proclamations such as “if you elect me I’ll give you $2.00 a gallon gasoline.” How’s that for a loaded but true paragraph?

Well, deep breath, rant over, a prayer for my fellow conservatives and on to what Gas Cars can’t do.

You’ve heard what the electric car can’t do. I thought it would be fun to flip the tables and talk about what gas car can’t do and why the electric car and electricity will be the motive power of the future.

With 40,000 miles clocked in the drivers seat of EV’s for the past four years, I’m qualified to give you a lay person’s practical experience.

In no special order.

Gas cars are not emission free. They will never be emission free. Our American cities are saturated by emissions and visible particulate matter. 15 million citizens live In Los Angeles and are surrounded by and breath with every breath, toxic visible emissions caused by our transportation fleet. These emissions from transportation account for 70% to 80% of the total emissions and related health issues and cost in our major cities. The electric car is 100% emissions free when powered by renewable energy.

Gas cars rely on a commodity, oil, that is in the hands of the few, desired by many, protected at great cost by superpowers, and is becoming harder, riskier and more expensive to extract. Gas will always increase in price and in my lay person’s opinion, looking at 2-3 billion more consumers educated by facebook and the Internet to what the good life is, will exponentially increase in price in coming years. Electric cars can run on dozens of sources of electricity including hydro, geothermal wind, and solar. With renewable sources of energy, Mother Nature has never raised her price.

Gas cars rely on 100% on Gas Stations, that is simple to understand. What is harder to comprehend is the conveyance system and related cost/pollution to get that oil from Saudi Arabia, Canada, Alaska, the Gulf of Mexico and Venezuela to your gas tank. Electric cars powered by solar energy (generated during the day)have a conveyance system of 30 feet. From the rooftop to your batteries. Electric cars are charged (from the existing grid) primarily in the safety and comfort of your home while you sleep.

Owners of Gas cars can’t make their own gas. Perhaps an asterisk is appropriate here. If you’ve got two acres and want to grow corn, ferment it and then distill it (against the law) to ethanol, perhaps you can make your own ethanol gasoline equivalent. For electric car owners, if they wish, its 100 sq ft of rooftop or backyard and you can make your own solar fuel to drive 12,000 miles a year for the equivalent of $0.40 a gallon of gas.

Gas cars are poisonous. If you disagree, (please don’t try this) roll up your windows and port the exhaust of a gas car to the interior cabin, please change your mind before you die. Electric cars are not poisonous.

Gas cars require the national policy of protection of gasoline supply. America spends untold trillions of dollars to secure the safe stable deliver of gasoline to our population from overseas. Nearly 70% of what you put into gas cars tank is imported. Electric cars run on electricity. No matter the source, electricity is domestically supplied and not imported. The money, the profits, and the jobs stay in America.

Gas cars are inefficient machines. The most efficient gas cars convert gasoline to motive power at less than 33% efficiency. Electric cars convert electricity to motive power at 90% efficiency.

Gas Cars are noise polluters. OK, I admit to being fond of the exhaust notes of a high performance car. I love the sound of being at a Formula One, Indy Car or NASCAR race (I’ve been to all three) But I’m fond of those in the same way I am fond of listening to a P51 Mustang at an air show, or listening to a 1900’s 4-8-2 Baldwin Steam Locomotive pulling out from a rail yard on an exhibition run down the rails. In the city or on the street where I live, I prefer less noise pollution. We’ve moved on past these complicated mechanical marvels. The Eclectic car is quiet.

Gas cars are heavy on maintenance cost. It cost a lot to keep those 400 moving parts in tip top operating condition! Friction brakes are so last decade!

Gas cars evolve slowly. They remain mostly unchanged in their DNA from 100 years ago. We’ve moved from the Radio to the B&W TV, to Color TV, to the LCD TV, to the Internet in less than 50 years. I won’t even pretend to understand how that 10 mega pixel image is transferred to a chip the size of a postage stamp that holds 1000 of images without a moving part. Electric cars are evolving rapidly.

Well, That’s a good start, please feel free to add to my list and to share it broadly. And please don’t diss me for being a conservative. We are all Americans and we are diverse and imaginative of every creed color and belief system… including the Tea Party.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy, Billy Currington



Mini-E #183, 33,000 miles powered by sunshine.