Monday, October 24, 2011

New York City National Plug-In Day EVent!

A Chevy Volt, a Nissan LEAF, my MINI-E, a Tesla Roadster & a Plug-in Prius in succession 

Sunday, October 16th, 2011 marked the first National Plug-In day in America. Events were held in 29 different cities across America to celebrate the fact that the OEM's are finally giving us a choice in what fuel we choose to use for our personal transportation. We can finally choose domestically produced electricity over foreign oil and that was reason to celebrate.

The T-shirts made for the event trumpet "Welcome to the Free World"! As someone who drives an electric car and powers it with electricity I produce from my solar array on the roof of my home, I can really appreciate that statement. It's really liberating knowing I drive my car on sunshine, and in doing so I don't send my hard earned money to foreign regimes(many of which hate America), my vehicle is truly a zero emission vehicle, and last but not least, I'm saving a lot of money on fuel.

There were 20 electric vehicles in attendance including Michael Thwaite's Tesla(parked next to my MINI-E), Douglas Stansfield's Plug-in Prius, a LEAF, many volts (including one used by the NYPD), electric motorcycles, a converted Mazda, a Ford Transit Connect electric delivery van, and a few electric trucks. Clipper Creek, an EVSE manufacturer was also there.

Nate Pinsley addresses the crowd
According to Nate Pinsley, the event organizer, we had 1,200 visitors and 38 volunteers(including me) and had five hours of nothing but EV talk and demonstrations. Michael Thwaite had his Tesla Roadster parked next to my MINI-E and we were both barely able to talk by the end of the afternoon. We had talked to so many people all afternoon we were exhausted by the 4:00 end of the event. Michael and I frequently attend EV events so we are quite used to this kind of demonstration, but this was bigger than what we are used to doing and there were more people that had EV questions here, so we really didn't have a break all afternoon.

It was a great day, the first National Plug-in Day ever, with many more to come. In fact, we are going to start planning National Plug-in Day 2012 soon as with more and more EV's on the road, the event will certainly grow each year. I'll be at the 2012 event with my BMW ActiveE, and by then LEAF's will be available in the NY/NJ market as will be Ford Focus EV's and Mitsubishi i's. The electric car movement is certainly gaining ground, and the level of interest from the people that attended the event was really fantastic. Events like this really help the public get over any initial fears they may have about EV's. Talking to people like and Michael and I that have lived with electric cars for over two years really helps people realize that an electric car can work, and maybe is the right choice for them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Montclair Becomes One of The First Municipalities in New Jersey With Public Charging Stations

Montclair New Jersey, the town my restaurant in located in recently installed four public charging stations. Of course I have been advocating this every time I get the chance to talk to anyone in the township government that is willing to listen. However Gray Russell, the township's environmental affairs coordinator, didn't need my prodding, he had applied for a grant for four public charging stations financed by Sustainable Jersey and Walmart and was the recipient of the grant.

Randy Solomon 
This week Gray hosted a Green Fleets Workshop that was coordinated by Sustainable Jersey ( and the NJ Clean Cities Coalition. Participants were municipal, county, and corporate fleet managers from northern NJ.  Randy Solomon works with Sustainable Jersey an he was the event facilitator and Montclair & Gray were the host. Representatives from NJ DEP were also there as presenters.

After the meeting, Gray wanted to show everyone the newly installed chargers and he asked me to stop by with #250 and say a few words. Everything went really well and the guests were already pretty well informed about EV's which is not something I usually encounter. I even let Randy take MINI-E #250 for a spin around the parking lot and he was impressed.

It's really great to see public charging stations slowly becoming available. The EV future really looks bright.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

MINI-E Meetup Attracts Some Other Plug-ins

Today I hosted what will in all likelihood be the final MINI-E meetup on the East Coast. I've done three meetups here at my restaurant during the time the MINI-E program has been ongoing. Now that we only have about two months left I wanted to host one more, kind of like a farewell to the MINI-E. In about 2 1/2 months, the 30 month MINI-E program will come to an end, just as the BMW ActiveE electric car program begins.

MINI-E pioneers Cliff Saunders, Michael Thwaite, Chris Neff, Timothy Schwartz and David Miller were in attendance as was BMW representatives Marian Hawryluk and Hugo VanGeem. Marian has come to every MINI-E meet I have hosted and Hugo has made the past two and their presence is definitely appreciated. It's nice to have people here that can answer questions and provide us with program information. They do this on their own time, it isn't required for their job. They genuinely want to be there to listen to what we have to say about our MINI-E experiences and offer support and they should be commended. My personal experience in the MINI-E program has definitely been enriched by the BMW employees involved in the electric vehicle division. The whole BMW EV team is really working hard to make the 2013 BMW i3 the best EV on the market when it is launched.
Aside from the MINI-E's, the meetup attracted some other plug-ins. We had an awesome black Tesla Roadster stop by as well as a plug-in Prius. After hanging outside in the parking lot for about an hour, we went inside Nauna's and sat down to a nice lunch. We talked a lot about the MINI-E program as well as the BMW ActiveE and other EV related topics.

Cliff Saunders drove 90 miles to get to the meetup so he needed to use my 50amp EVSE to replenish his battery pack. The timing was perfect and just as we were finishing the meeting, his car was fully charged and ready to go. That's the great thing about charging 50 amps at 12 kW, it only takes 3 1/3 hours to fully charge a depleted pack. For comparison, if Cliff had come in a Nissan LEAF, he would have had to wait about seven to eight hours to recharge it, since the fastest the LEAF can charge at is 3.3 kW. 
We finished of the meeting with a MINI-E plug dressed cake(OK it wasn't perfect!) and I think everyone had a great time. The day was a little bittersweet though. The MINI-E is such a wonderful car and we are going to really miss them. I know the BMW ActiveE will be a much more polished EV and I just know I'm going to really love it, but I will always remember my days with #250 fondly. This fantastic little car really proved to me that electric drive is not only possible, but I now believe it will eventually replace internal combustion powered vehicles.