Sunday, June 26, 2011

New York Times Link

The opinion pages of the New York Times had a decent commentary on the Volt this morning, called "Is This Our Future?".

The Volt is an amazing accomplishment. It's about time people started hearing more about it. I had to add my own comment to the Times article, as quoted below:
Some commenters don't quite seem to get it. Is the Volt a perfect solution? No, but it's a great solution for TODAY.

A pure electric car is not practical right now. Lack of infrastructure, lack of range, charge time... You have to carefully manage your energy usage while driving. Volt has enough range that it can be all electric for most people most of the time. After that, it will operate in extended range mode just like any other car. Driving more conservatively will get you more miles of all electric range, but if you don't, you can still drive anywhere (even without ever plugging it in) at a very tidy 36 MPG estimate.

Using electricity to fuel up the car does transfer the pollution from the car to the electric plant, but generators run day and night whether the electricity they produce is used or not. Most people will charge their car at night when much of that power is not being utilized.

To the commenter who is waiting to see the plug-in version of the Prius... That's great, but it will reportedly get you only 10 to 13 miles on pure electric. That tells me they did not put the thought into their design that GM did. Their plug-in part was grafted onto the old Prius design. The Volt, by comparison, is a clean sheet of paper. They looked at how people use their cars and designed the electric range to fit into 80% of use patterns. Then they added the generator to fill in the gap. So most people can drive gasoline-free five days out of the week. But they can drive further whenever the need arises. And the beauty is the seamlessness when switching from electric to gas.

And yes, I drive a Volt. I've used 1/2 a gallon of gas in 700 miles of driving.
There is so much more that could be said. The little details they thought of that never get mentioned... like the fact that, if you open the hood while the car is powered on, the engine will start up and run until you close the hood. Why? Because what if you had the hood open, stuck your hand into some crevice somewhere, and then the electric management system decided it needed to use the generator? Suddenly, with no warning, you might loose a part of your body you would prefer to keep. But if the engine starts as soon as you open the hood, you are forewarned that stuff in there has the potential to hurt you. That's just one small example. There are many, many more.

Friday, June 24, 2011

It Passes!

OK, DWP is happy with the little red sign now and Juno has signed off so that the DWP techs can come out and "heat up the can" which I guess means put the meter in the socket and splice the wires from the weatherhead into the overhead lines coming from the pole, making the meter box live. They may or may not turn on the breakers so when I get home I may see the charger is lit up or not. If it's not live by next Friday, Juno wants me to call him. He did apologize for the delay. This is all new stuff and the program has only been in place for two months. "LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa just announced a new pilot program this week that will provide rebates of "up to $2,000" on home EV charging stations -- to the first 1,000 applicants, that is." Well they did expand it to cover at least 5000 charger applicants. I've submitted my paperwork for the rebate so we'll see how fast that happens.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Will It Pass?

Yesterday, the electrician put the requisite red sign on the breaker box for the EV line... he didn't get out til something like 7:30 pm, but that was fine. I went out later and took a couple of pictures to send to the DWP Rep.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Ah The Joy of Working With the City

So a few days have passed since the charger has been installed and electrically inspected. I thought I'd give the Electric Service Representative (ESR) a call at DWP and see where we are. Well, someone checked a wrong box or something so Juno didn't know we were ready for the finishing bits he needs to do. But my call alerted him so he said he'd come by today or tomorrow. And he did come by today, only to find that a little red sign that is supposed to be on the box is not there.

Naturally,I had pointed this out to the electrician when he was here but something fell through the cracks. Anyway, I wasn't home but Bob got an earful from Juno about the sign not being there, and then Bob called me later to pass the earful along. :-) I did my part by calling SPX who knew nothing about it but then called the electrical subcontractor. So Scott, the electrician, calls me later this afternoon and he says he doesn't know anything about it. He had talked to Juno's boss, Walter, before starting the work and he said Walter never mentioned it... probably because Juno had left a freakin diagram and description right here with me... I mean, OK, it got overlooked. But I did give Scott the clipboard and showed him the pages. Anyway. Scott was going to call Walter and I imagine I will hear some further news tomorrow. Gee, and it was all going so smoothly up until now! Whoopie!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Volt Spotting!

I was at the Buena Vista offramp of the 134 freeway tonight when in my rear-view mirror I spotted a red Volt coming up the lane to my left. A red one like mine! He honked as he went by and I waved. I would have liked to chat but, you know, just not possible with traffic. Still, cool to know there is another Volt in town. Another red one, no less!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Inspection and a Surprise!

So today the inspection happened, as planned. Scott called me a bit after 8 am to tell me the inspection was scheduled for between 11 am and 1 pm. Scott got here a bit before 11 and had to hang out til the inspector showed up, but that happened before 12 I think. Easy peasy, everything looked good so there were no corrections to make. I got Scott to show me how to get the permit info from the LA Department of Building and Safety web site, so I can cover that requirement for the rebate. (I sent an email off to SPX for the other two items I need.)

So DWP will need to connect the wires to the line coming to the pole and install the meter in the meter box. That should happen within a few days. (I think no later than the 21st.)

BUT... then a FedEx delivery arrived completely unexpectedly... I got this Thank You package from GM with some informationals and stuff, also a bitchin book on the Volt from concept to production, and also... wait for it... a High Definition FLIP video camera to record my trips near and far in my new Volt. And these guys took care of the details... fresh batteries already loaded (Duracell, no less). Just turn it on, enter the language and date, and start taking HD video. All in a nice display box with magnetic latch you could set on your coffee table... if we had one. I knew at one time they were giving out FLIPs, but had heard they had stopped the offer. Apparently not!



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Charging Station Installation

This morning the electrician showed up bright and early at about 8 AM and started setting up my charger. There was paperwork to fill out and there was some confusion at first because at one time the chargers were being sent directly to the home, but now they are sent to the installer. So someone from the office had to bring the charger over but there were things they could start on without it so they didn't loose any time.These guys were great to deal with. On time, friendly, and the work looks good.

The electrician told me that I was going to get a visit from GM, and I thought he was kidding. But before too long, a GM rep, Margarita, *did* show up and spent about 4 hours here watching over the installation and talking with me. She was great! She had driven a Hydrogen Fuel Cell powered Chevy Equinox to get here, and she insisted I take it for a spin. I was really impressed! It's a nice van/crossover/whatever, but it had a lot of power and it uses hydrogen to directly power an electric motor that drives the front wheels... I am going to have to read up on the exact technology... very nice! Bob to came out and checked it out too and he was impressed as well. Meanwhile, she took lots of pictures of the installation to take back to GM with her.

So it was about 2:15 or so when all was finished. They said they could jumper it so I could use it without the meter but I didn't see a reason to. The inspection will be tomorrow and I should be able to use the charger within 5 days.

I spent the rest of the afternoon putting together the LADWP rebate paperwork. Long form to fill out and copies of things like the lease contract, the work order for the electrical contract, the permit and inspection sign off... some of which I don't have yet. But I put together what I do have and made a quick list of what I don't. Fun stuff!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

New Way to Wash!

I tried out a waterless car wash product today for the first time and WOW! I am really impressed. It's called AQUANIL-X.

I thought it might be something I'd use like a quick detailer product but no, this stuff really works even on a fairly dirty car. I think if I had really heavy dirt and mud, I'd want to spray that stuff off a bit, but otherwise just spray, wipe, then follow up with a buff  when it dries. It works pretty much like a spray wax product only it doesn't leave white crap in the cracks and crevices. I don't know if it can be used on glass, but I used Invisible Glass with rain repellent to do that. Now I just need an easy to use car vac.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Hybrid Drive

My salesman, Oscar, let me know my accessories* were in and this morning I went to Culver City to get them. I missed the cutover from the 101 to the 405 due to traffic, so I took the next exit and ended up on the scenic route back to the 405. But I missed the traffic jam, which was good. I used up a lot of range going up hills on the way to the freeway, but once I was coasting down the Sepluvenda Pass, it was funny to watch the range increase again, putting about 15 more miles back in the battery. Oscar was not at the dealership but I got the goodies from Juan and I proceeded home. Traffic was slow but steady coming home and I thought I would quickly see the range drop going back up the Pass, but it wasn't until I got back on the 101 between Van Nuys and Woodman that the green battery on my instrument panel was replaced by the blue gas tank and the gas engine started up.

It was interesting because I couldn't really hear or feel any difference. And when I came to a stop sign after exiting at Vineland, the engine was off. I realized it shuts off after you go below a few miles an hour and doesn't start again until you are going something like 5 or 10 miles an hour. Did that at each stop so it never uses gas at an idle, apparently. Idling wastes a lot of gas so this is a good thing. But strange when you aren't used to it.

*[The car was supposed to have a cargo net, a barrier between the rear seat backs and the cargo area, and a sunshade as "dealer installed" accessories. They were listed on the invoice but were not with the car at the time of delivery. Oscar followed through and made sure they were on order.]

Friday, June 3, 2011

Electrician Scheduled

So looks like Tuesday the 14th is when the Level 2 charger gets installed. They seemed to think it might take 2 days since a meter is being put in too. Will be interesting to see how it all works out.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Engine Startup!

Hey! This morning I got in the car and booted up like usual. Right away a message popped up saying that since the gasoline engine has not been used, it needed to run a bit for maintenance. It offered to let me defer the maintenance, but I said yes and it started right up. I think the coolest part was, it popped up a little percentage indicator on the speedo and counted up to 100% complete. Lasted about 5 minutes or so. Hearing an engine run should have seemed normal in a car, but it was out of place after 2 weeks of silent running. Then too, when accelerating, the engine speed didn't change... as you would expect when you know the engine doesn't drive the car directly. But still odd when you are used to a conventional gasoline powered car. Fun!