Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Nissan LEAF and Coulomb Technology Charging Stations in Lexington MA

Sometimes, something only becomes real to you when you experience yourself.  Now matter how many times people tell you something, you don't really get it until much later.  So it was with me today, but more on that later.

An acquaintance and neighbor here in Lexington MA (Gray Watson), who helped inspire my solar PV purchase, recently purchased a Nissan LEAF.  He graciously invited me over to see it, ride in it, and best of all, drive it!!

Firstly, let me say that I enjoy the look of the LEAF from the inside more than the outside.  The inside is filled with a clean interior, heated seats, heated steering wheel and nice built in navigation system.  The outside...well... the picture is below and I will let you be the judge.

Also, to provide a complete solution, Gray has a 5KW solar array on the roof of his house to free himself not only from oil, but from fossil fuel based electricity as well.  Very nice.

And where does one go when test driving an electric car? To check out the local charging stations in town.  These Coulomb Technologies charging stations were recently installed in Lexington MA and you can be directed to them from the CarWings navigation system that shows all the charging points in the USA.  There are three charging stations.  At the moment, the stations are behind barricades because new parking meters have yet to be installed.  Fortunately the barricades were not to heavy and we moved them.

 Gray unlocked the charging station by passing a Charge Point America card in front of the unit.  This released the J1772 electrical connector which he plugged into the nose of the LEAF.  The LEAF responded with a very satisfied audio tone.
Interestingly, the parking meters are not yet installed because someone decided to increase the maximum parking time from 2 hours to 4 hours for the new EV charging spots.  That is a good call because it could take the LEAF 4 hours to fully charge.  Anyone for a relaxed slow dinner in town?   Charging is free, but you will still have to feed the meter.

Next we headed over to the Element hotel on the other side of town.  This also had a charging station but unfortunately that one didn't appear to be working.  So that hybrid drivers didn't feel left out, the hotel created some dedicated hybrid parking spots.  However, I suspect the low sports car under the yellow cover is not really a hybrid (but I didn't peek).


 On the way home, a black Chevy Volt passed directly in front of our car.  This is only the second time I have seen one here in the wild and I felt is was a good sign.

On the way home, I was appreciating the huge torque of the electric motor, the lack of any transmission (or shifting), and the surprising quiet of electric drive.  It really struck me how luxurious driving an electric car feels.  This is really driving as it should be.  No repeated up-shifting of the transmission as you accelerate.  No starter motor sounds when you begin your journey.  No additional noise when you step on the accelerator pedal.  So nice.

 As I said goodbye to the happy new owner of the LEAF and climbed back into my 2004 Corolla with manual shift, I experienced a real Epiphany.  The Corolla required all this senseless shifting and generated all this unnecessary noise and I want to return to the LEAF and drive it home instead.

People have told me for years about EVs being a better driving experience, but only now do I feel like I really get it.  Next consideration, can I really afford the $35,000 for such a vehicle.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Volt Battery Only $2400, See, I told you so.

UPDATE: As for the $2400 Volt battery.  Chelsea Sexton contacted GM and they said this was some sort of warranty only price for the dealer and not available to the general public.
So we are still left to guess the price of the Volt battery.

Well, so much for all those people saying that the Volt battery costs $12,000 or more.  You can buy it directly from GM for $2400.  Nice.
But I suspect there is more to the story.