Friday, July 6, 2012

We rode in the July 4th parade. So many people were surprised that a car could actually be solar powered. Unlike my friend Bob whose Prius has solar panels on the car itself, ours are on the house and the energy goes into the utility and later into the car.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This 150,000 is the first big odometer milestone for the Z3 as an electric car. Steve replaced the motor coupler recently and it's quieter than ever.

Friday, March 2, 2012

First Gas Free Week

A Big Milestone today: I just completed my first week without burning a single drop of gasoline! Yes, the groceries arrived at the store on a truck, but I didn't directly use any gas.

That grocery dependency is sort of symbolic. It really covers the farm equipment needed for crop production, the heavy equipment digging out coal, the train hauling the coal to the plant, the police cruisers maintaining law and order, etc. Pretty much everything. As a nation, we don't have control of our energy… yet. We're headed there, though.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Fun, But Not a Race Car

The electric car is configured to limit the motor to 5,500 RPM. First gear breaks the tires free so fast that it's not really useful.

Starting in second gear is better, but the motor RPM limit means shifting is required just past 40 MPH. It's fun off the line, but the time required for a clutchless shift hurts the 0-60 time.

Starting in third gear works. That goes from 0-60 in 9.4 seconds.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Any TV Footage?

I got a call Thursday night that the Secret Service was checking out the car before President Obama visited the car show again. We don't have a TV subscription. How else would we have time for such projects?!

So if anyone reading this has access to any news footage in the Advanced Technologies section of the Washington Auto Show for today, Feb 3rd, I'd love to see it.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tech Specs and Bargains

I've been asked to post the technical specs of the car now that the conversion is complete. Here is our page on

Another good page is One of the things I've learned is that some real bargains can be found. One common story is that somebody does a conversion and uses lead acid batteries. Five or six years later, the batteries are fading and the car is no longer viewed as very useful. Memories fade and the owner has less appreciation for all the time and money invested in the conversion and offers the car for sale at a huge discount. If someone were to get it and replace the batteries with lithium, it would be a very easy way to acquire an affordable EV.


Monday, January 30, 2012

Local Charging Stations

Most folks, myself included, have assumed that our country will need to build a new infrastructure if electric cars are going to become viable. The truth is that every home already has electricity. There are many other options, too. Many offices and retail locations have an outlet that can be used to charge an electric car. Every 7-11 has an ice machine and a spare outlet. I actually used that once before I felt comfortable that I'd reach my destination.

The nearest Park & Ride in Hamilton has 5 charging stations and each can charge two cars at once. That's $1.44 per "fill up". Every Nissan dealer offers free charging. The local Smart dealer has two free ones. Washington, DC just installed 80 of them. Individual EV (electric vehicle) owners even offer their own home outlets via the PlugShare network. Here are some maps showing availability.



PlugShare (our home is in the upper left corner)

Have You Ever Been Arrested?

I nearly landed on the Group W bench recently. The Hamilton Park & Ride charging stations were never available on weekdays because the spaces were always full of regular cars. So I went out there one Saturday to paint "Electric Only" on one of the ten spaces. We drove right past the police officer and set up. As soon as I began to paint, the officer came over and told me to stop. He was nice enough to overlook the crime so far and suggested I contact the county to request a sign.

That didn't seem very quick, especially considering I had the stencils and paint right there. So I called the next Monday and a left a message, wondering if anyone would ever even hear it. It turns out that officer G. had already gone into the government building and put in a good word.

A big Thank You to county supervisor Andrea McGimsey for working so tirelessly to get the whole Park & Ride + charging stations to happen. Another well-deserved Thank You goes to Loudoun County Energy Manager Najib Salehi who helped get it done and more recently got the signs in place to ensure the charging stations become useful. And I'm very grateful to officer G. for not arresting me and being so helpful.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Power Supply Upgrade

Last summer, I posted a map of our place showing various sources of power that, in one way or another, contribute to the power for the electric car.

The original solar panels are enough for my entire 90 mile commute + 50%.

The windmill is delayed because the original vendor kept our money and delivered nothing. Ouch. The new vendor looks to be more professional. Still, it's more like next year before we take action on that because ...

... in the mean time, the barn just got 2.6KW of peel and stick solar panels. They fit right into the bays of a standard standing seam roof. In the coming weeks, we'll get the trench dug from the house to the barn and install the wiring. They are so inconspicuous, you might not realize they are already installed in this photo:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Washington Auto Show

The show starts tomorrow and runs until February 5th. Our car is in the show, in the advanced technologies section. That section also has some college projects which look very impressive. There are production EV's, too, such as the Volt, Leaf, Fit, Coda and maybe Ford's Focus Electric. No sign of any of the three Tesla models.

I hope that some of the people seeing these firsthand will take the leap and get us one step closer to being free of OPEC.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Heater Working

I've been driving the car most days on local errands or really any excuse to get out. It hasn't been easy, though. There's been no heater. The heated seats are nice and make it bearable. This weekend, I finished building and installing the electric heater. I'll drive it into the office on Tuesday.