Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A Silver Lining Crossing the Chasm

Seeing that my charging time was going to get the best of me and take me over a day to get to LA if I continued my current driving habits, I thought I would try a practice run on similar terrain that I would expect to experience on my trip. A mixture of flat and hilly highways. I also wanted to test my Tesla Universal Mobile Connector on a NEMA 14-50 outlet, similar to what I would be using at my first stop in Santa Nella. at the KOA RV Park.The practice trip also allowed me to try some of the techniques I noted in the last post. Using Eco Pro mode for more efficient accleration, enovirnment profile and electronics conservation, keep the windows up, only use the vents, use cruise control to maintain the speed limit. Also, it let me look at one other possible route. Charging at the southernmost charging location in Salinas, and see if it would be available as my first stop and attempt to make it 105 miles to next stop in Atascadero.

The Salinas Loop

According to Recargo, the southernmost charging location in Salinas is at a wild animal sanctuary called Wild Things Inc. Vision Quest Ranch. (Point B), I could then drive through the hills near Laguna Seca Raceway and spy some cars leaving the Monterey Historics and then get back home.for a total of 86 miles.

I left the house midday with the temperature in the mid 70s, so not having the AC on was a little stuffy, but it worked. I reset the trip computer to watch the consumption. The first hills out from Aptos to Watsonville were not encouraging, my miles per KwH was only hovering around 2.6 to 2.8. As I proceeded down Highway 1, the mileage steadily climbed as I switched over to cruise control keeping the car at the 65 speed limit. The cruse control provided smooth acceleration and didn't pulse the go pedal like I tend to do. Traffic was light, so it was easy to maintain distance with the cruise control along the two lane highway

Leaving Highway 1 in Castroville towards Salinas is a mixture of small town roads and more flat agricultural highways. The slower speeds were also advantageous to my trip as I kept creeping up to my goal of 3.6 miles per KwH. When I arrived at Wild Things it was a little confusing of where I should actually go. The business is part of a ranch compound, so there were gates and several other businesses in the complex. The pictures on Recargo were helpful to find the building I needed to go to, but the charger was not clearly marked. Luckily I arrived just before a tour group was to start, so the gift shop was open and the tour guide was extremely helpful in finding out where the charging location was. It seems like electrics have been talked about with the staff, but rarely seen. After a few back and forths over the radio, they found someone who new where the connector was and told me to pull alongside. Along an electric panel were two boxes. One was clearly for Level 1 charging and another box with a cover that was the NEMA 14-50 plug. The spider webs over the box made it evident this had not been used for a while. I was a little unfamiliar with how to open the cover, but was able to find a button on the underside to the box, pressed it hard and the cover opened exposing the NEMA 14-50 plug. I then pulled out my Tesla UMC and Adapter and tried it out for the first time.

My Tesla Universal Mobile Connector with a NEMA 14-50 adapter

Tesla UMC to My EVSE Upgrade Roadster-J1772 adpter 

SUCCESS!! The blue light under the rear view mirror (affectionately known as the clown nose) slowly flased blue signalling that the car was accepting the charge. I let the car charge for about 10 minutes to verify no excessive heat build up was occurring on the UMC, again, no issues.

Mission Accomplished!

The other nice thing I found was I averaged 4.0 miles per kWh, something I never thought I could achieve. So far, so good. So I packed up, checked in on Recargo and gave Wild Things charging a good review (although autocorrect mangled it and I have no way of correcting it) and took off down the road. This was a good charging location, but it was only available at certain times and you had to have some knowledge of where to find the connection as the crew was not experienced with anyone using it before. Luckily I got there at the right time and luck guided me through.Unfortunately, if I were to take this route, I would be passing through around 1 in the morning and this charger would be behind two locked gates. But with the 4.0 miles per kWh consumption, things were looking better for my plan B route.

BMW ActiveE E-Drive Battery Status Screen

I then proceeded south on Highway 68 toward Sand City, a little north of Monterey. This was a great area to test for driving through  rolling hills and seeing the impact on consumption. It was also a great rolling car show. I spotted many Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Cobras working their way out of Monterey Car Week and the Laguna Seca Historics. If you are a car lover, this was the week to be in the Monterey Bay area.

Here, my mileage dropped back down to 3.8, still good and no issues all the way into Sand City. I then hopped back on Highway 1 back towards Santa Cruz. About 6 miles into trip back home, I hit a snag. Dead stop traffic. Highway 1 goes from six lanes to two and merges with another highway in Castroville, there are roadside attactions that causes a lot of turns and merges and all this backed up the crowd quite a bit. This is not good for maintaining highway speed, but it skewed my mileage up to 4.0 again. Since an electric vehicle is not working so hard in traffic and isn't idling ilke an internal combustion engine, there is not a lot of things going on in the car consuming energy, the car runs pretty efficiently. After a good half an hour sitting in  stop and go traffic, it finally cleared up near Moss Landing and I could get back to the speed limit again for the rest of the trip home.

Once I got home, I backed it up to my charger and set the timer for the charger to start at 12:05 AM, where I pay a few pennies a kilowatt to buy back what I made with my Photo voltaic (PV) solar panels during the day that I charged PG&E 5 times more to sell to them. I then checked my stats. 86 miles as expected in 2 hours and 21 minutes. Slower than expected, but that came with the weekend traffic.

Average consumption was 4.0, but I understand a few factors skewed it, but it seems as though 3.8 will be a good estimation number and I still had about 21 miles left according to the computer. So it could make the long trek across the chasm, but just barely and with extra weight of my luggage and computer for the trip, that would really require a lot of good fortune.

With this good bit of optimism, this is the result of my estimation spreadsheet.

With the new consumption rate, it will be no issue to make it to LA in under just over 20 hours, my current driving habit according the car's computer were much lower.

Next, what do I take on my 20 hour road trip and once I get to LA, Where am I going to charge it?

More to come.

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