It looks like there’s more people getting into the electric car game every day. Today is no exception. Here’s the latest offering from Renovo Motors in Silicon Valley, California. They’ve built a BEAST of an electrified Shelby. 1000 lb. ft. of INSTANT torque, 0-60 in just 3.4 seconds, and a super fast recharge time of 30 minutes. Watch the video and tell us if it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up or not. http://www.carswithcords.com/renovo-motors-debuts-electrified-shelby/
It seems that Silicon Valley is definitely becoming the Detroit of the electric car revolution. It looks like Tesla Motors is finally starting to see some sort of competition. We’ll wait until we see the price and final specs before we can really compare it to something like the Tesla Roadster. The Tesla Roadster’s base price was somewhere around $109,000 so we’ll see if the Renovo Coupe comes in close to this price.
As most of you know if you are lucky enough to live on Florida’s Space Coast Saturday was beautiful. Not one afternoon shower or storm, a rare thing for the summer months. Josh and I were out and about and we figured it was as good a time as any for a BMW i3 test drive. Since we are due for a new vehicle in December and it has to be electric we wanted to compare the i3 with the 2012 Volt.
When we arrived we were able to plug up the Chevy Volt in BMW’s Chargepoint Level 2 charger for free while we talked with the client advisor and drove the i3REX around the block.
At first sight the i3 looks great on the outside but on the inside we quickly noticed the exposed fiberglass interior trim.
It is very “eco” looking, and while it goes with the other fabrics it seems like they could have put some kind of gloss or light resin over it. Immediately I was poked in the hand by a stray fiber while getting into the back seat, a minus for the i3. The back seat area was roomy, but the lack of center arm rest left me wanting and getting in and out was a bit uncomfortable due to the position of the door handles.
The interior electronics are quite advanced and they kind of make you feel like you are driving a space ship.
If you have ever had a BMW with iDrive the “puck” controller is the same. If not, it’s pretty easy to navigate the screen and go through all the options like radio, navigation, Bluetooth audio, satellite radio, and selecting “profiles” for different drivers. But it’s not on the same level as a touch screen like most of us are used to.
Our advisor didn’t know much about the i3 as it was only her third month on the job so in true enthusiast fashion we took the opportunity to educate her. We compared it to the Volt in the way it drove and how it felt during stop and go traffic. The big difference we noticed immediately when starting the drive was the high regenerative braking that slowed the car down as soon as you let off the gas pedal. It was very similar to the Tesla Model S. In the Volt you have to shift from D to L on the “gear” selector to get that kind of regen and I think even in L the i3 is a bit stronger. We asked if that was a selectable option on the i3, like the Tesla but she didn’t know.
The on site i3 specialist was busy with other clients at the time so we were unable to get that question answered as well as some maintenance questions. Specifically we wanted to know if the BMW i3REX was as smart as the Volt in the areas of automatic maintenance. In terms of space the Volt has a bit more “trunk”. Given that, with the back seats folded down we have hauled a 24 inch wall oven on one occasion, two large dogs on another, and two fully assembled beach cruisers on yet another and were still able to shut the hatch. Even with the back seats folded down i3 is short on that kind of space. This leaves the volt the clear choice over the i3 if you need more room for storage/hauling.
Since the i3 weighs so much less than the Volt (i3 = ~2500lbs Volt = ~3800lbs) the i3 had a much quicker 0-60 time. It also seemed to handle bumps in the road much smoother as well, but given it is more of an SUV that was not surprising. Overall it had a very sporty and nimble ride. We couldn’t hear how quiet the ride was since we had the A/C on full fan but from what we could tell it on par to most other EVs. There were still 28 miles left on the battery after our test drive so we couldn’t test out the range extender mode though we heard through other reviews that range extender engine sounds like a weed eater or dirt bike.
The main drawback of the i3REX and the one that would keep us from switching from the Volt is the road trips we take once or twice a year. The range extension on the i3 is in one word, pathetic. The battery lasts about 80-100 miles and there is a 2 gallon range extending gas tank that will get you another 80 or so miles. So on an 800 mile road trip you would do the first 80 miles on battery leaving 720 miles, then 720 / 80 = 9. That’s right you would stop for gas nine times and you haven’t even driven 1000 miles. This would get annoying and add significant time to a road trip. While the Volt only gets 40 miles or so on the battery you can go another 340 miles on its 9 gallon tank. So you’d only have to stop for gas two to three times, much better for road trips. Depending on how often you take long road trips the Volt might be better. If you RARELY take crazy long road trips then the BMW i3 would still be a good choice.
In the end the pros of the BMW i3 for us are larger EV range, heavy regen for one pedal driving, fast 0-60 time, smooth ride (sits higher and handles bumps better.) The cons from our perspective are the scratchy feel of the fiberglass interior, the lack of a back arm rest, no touch screen for controls, small about of storage space even including the frunk and the real killer for us insignificant gas extended range.
Each month the Space Coast Electric Vehicle drivers host an informal Electric Vehicle drivers meet up at Brevard County area establishments located within walking distance of a public charging station. These events usually take place the first Sunday of each month, with the exception of months with holidays falling on or close to the date (such as July 4th). For those who couldn’t make it we post an event recap for each month to keep you all up to date!
This past Sunday we held our July EV Event at the Panera Bread in Palm Bay, FL’s Hammock Landing shopping area.
The Kohl’s, which is walking distance to Panera has two designated EV parking spaces with a single J1772 Level 2 charger and a 110V outlet. Unfortunately the charger was giving some of our members a hard time and it took quite a while to switch it from one car to another. Luckily one of our members who frequents this charger gave it a little tough love and solved the problem.
We welcomed one new local member with a Chevy Volt and had the pleasure of meeting Al Lococo and his wife, of the Central Florida and Sun Coast EAA who drove their Toyota RAV 4 EV all the way from Winter Haven, FL to attend July’s EV event.
If you are counting rare EVs in central Florida this is the second 2nd generation RAV 4 EV to attend a Space Coast Electric Vehicle Drivers meet up. Pretty impressive when you consider they were never sold in the state of Florida, Toyota has only sold 1,594 of the 2,600 2nd generation RAV4 EVs produced and Toyota has announced they will not be producing any more of these SUVs in favor of other technologies.
At the meet up we discussed efforts to place more local charging stations in and around Brevard, Melbourne BMW’s new dual level 2 dealership charger as well as handy, printable window displays for your EV. Brenna discussed the early development stages of an official SCEV Drivers logo for the use on future signage, business cards, t-shirts and more. Brenna and Josh gave an overview of progress for Melbourne’s National Drive Electric Week (NDEW) event which will take place September 20th 2014. Please make sure to register to attend or volunteer at the NDEW event! But one of the highlights of the afternoon was that event attendees were able to take home copies of Al’s book Turning Point in History an “exploration into the subject of Energy and Transportation and how they affect our lives, our economy, our politics and our future.”
Overall it was a great meet up and we are looking forward to next month! The next meet up will take place on Sunday August 3rd from 2-4 PM in Downtown Melbourne. We will be meeting and parking at The Mansion located at 1218 E New Haven Ave Melbourne, FL 32901. Those with a L3 compatible car that need a charge are welcome to park at the charger at City Hall which is just a short 7 minute walk (.3 miles)
We look forward to seeing you there and thanks for supporting the Space Coast EV Drivers!
After a short wait we are happy to say that our new EV home charging station is installed! The cost was around $350, the same cost as running a new dryer plug, wire, and breaker.
It took a good two hours to install but most of that time was spent running a new wire up and over the garage ceiling to get it to the side we wanted it on. It took about 20 seconds to actually connect the three wires inside the EVLink charging station and tighten down the set screws. While we didn’t want a portable Level 2 charger at home we did verify that if we were to ever move we could take this with us by turning off the breaker, unscrewing those three set screws, removing the wires, and capping them off with wire nuts and electrical tape.
The difference in charging speed between a 110v outlet at 12 amps vs. a 240v outlet at 30 amps is night and day! The 110v outlet would put back between 4 and 5 miles of range into our electric vehicle every hour it was plugged in. This new 240v “Level 2” charger gives a charge of 10-12 miles every hour! The difference is amazing for at home charging of EVs.
This is extremely helpful for those days when you take the car out for work/errands then come home for an hour or so and head out again. Only now with a Level 2 home charger there will be lots of extra EV only miles to play with. In the short time we have had the Level 2 charger at home it has made a world of difference. If you are considering buying an EV home charging station we have to say it is totally worth it. It took a while for us to decide we wanted an EV home charging station and you can read an earlier post regarding our decision to finally purchase a Level 2 home charger here. For now there will be a lot more “sport mode” going on without worrying too much about running out of EV only miles and using the gasoline backup because while we have the option, we hate to use it if we don’t have to.
If you’ve ever wondered about or had questions about exactly what it might be like to own the all electric Tesla Model S this comic from The Oatmeal will explain everything you need to know from the point of view of an actual owner. Except this owner is a hilarious web cartoonist. And he explains things in a very funny but serious way. You’ll have your questions answered and you’ll also be left in stiches from all the laughing! Read all about his “magical space car” and how the seven months he’s owned has worked out so far. Leave a comment and tell us what you think.
Here’s a great visualization of all the charging stations that have been installed since 2009. It’s a lot more than you think and the rate they are getting installed is getting even faster. Watching this makes it seem like this EV thing is catching on…
The new downtown Melbourne, FL CHAdeMO DC fast charger for electric vehicles is getting a lot of use! Out of the first 16 days of it being put into service since Earth Day 2014 it has been used 14 times. Now that we know there’s plenty of demand for charging stations we just need to know where we should put in the next charging station. Leave us a comment on where you would like to see the next charger and what EV you drive.
The 3D printed J1772 inlet is now in use. We simply bolted it to the block wall in the garage with some concrete anchor screws. Now there’s a place to put the plug to keep it clean, dry and out of harm’s way. Instead of draping the plug over the charger or hanging it loosely it can stay in its perfectly shaped home similar to a public charging station. What do you think?
Watch Jay Leno take a look at the new VIA Motors VTrux – and love them! If you’ve been wanting a gas saving SUV or pickup truck this is the best of all possible worlds. It uses the same idea that makes the Chevrolet Volt save so much gas and even adds a power export option so you can run power tools or your house with the batteries and onboard, range-extender generator. Take a look and let us know what you think in the comments.
Here’s a sneak peek at the ribbon cutting event that took place at downtown Melbourne’s newest EV charging station. The first DC fast charger in Brevard County, FL. The Space Coast EV Drivers were invited to do Q & A with attendees at the ribbon cutting. Stay tuned for photos and videos from the event. Lots of electric vehicle drivers were on hand to celebrate the unveiling.