Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vuoi dare un'occhiata a questo ... gli italiani stanno giocando con l'elettricità
(Will you look at this... the Italians are playing with electricity)

Ahhh... the Fiat 500e

Me likes what they have conjured up across the pond! But did you know that they are 'Loosing' money on each one of these. I believe they are making them to off set some carbon issue but hey! at least its here!!! Well here is very limited since as off this blog only Cali will enjoy this zippy 500e electric car.... nuts! You can't win them all... Price? Don't know yet...
 New to this model is the front spoiler and that 500e badge. You have to give it to the design team... almost anything that is touched by Italian car designers looks great.
 Interior... Very Italiano from 1970's. I have sat in the gas model and it is one of those rare cars that always brings a smile to my face!
Plug in!!! I love it. To be honest when Fiat said they where working on an electric version of the 500 I was a bit skeptical. I saw what happened to the Mini electric. They removed the rear seat and replaced it with a massive battery. But luckily the Italians have a bit more sense. First I thought, Oh it will be a 40 miles per charge inner city car... no way they can fit a bigger battery pack... and then they surprised me by announcing that it was going to have a 24kw pack! What? That is the same as a Nissan Leaf! but in a lighter and smaller package. Not only that but it looks like the interior has remained virtually the same! Great news!
Now drum roll please.... (Their numbers of course) 100 miles per charge city, 80 miles per charge highway... this is music to my ears... I can already hear the mandolins... I have always wanted one of these (Abrath anyone) but practicality always won out... again I need five seats, the 500 has four... Ah well you can't win them all. At least I will not suffer that much knowing that it will probably stay in Cali (unless they start selling like hot pizza) One can always dream... and I am glad the Italians dream so well... Great job guys! Now where is the racing stripe?

UPDATE well not really.... Fiat 500L (4 door)

I guess my four seat excuse is out the window... Is it me or is Fiat tring to knock and English chap (german now) off its podium.... So you guys like it? Personally I think they should stick to the Two door... But that's cause I am particular to original Italian Design... Not bad and I am sure the Abarth version will look much better just like it did on the two door...


Mini looks more the part but you also have to realize that the Mini Country man was build as a crossover SUV the Fiat 500L was built as a longer car...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Ford Fusion plug-in 100 mpge?

It is a good looking car...

Well, seems like Ford wants to sprint ahead! This is really great news... well not so great for Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt... Ford has not said what the battery capacity will be but I am willing to bet its around 20 miles electric... better would be 40 miles electric to compete against the Volt.
If it does do the 40 miles electric then both the Leaf and the Volt will be looking over their shoulders. As we all know the Nissan Leaf is all electric so it will always have the 'all electric' buyers, like mua. But the Volt is a different story. The Fusion will compete directly with it. It will not only be the same 'size' but it will have one extra seat!  Which as you all know is the biggest mistake that I think Chevy made in the Volt's design.
I had the opportunity to sit in the Ford fusion Hybrid model (not the plug-in, I am not that well know as of yet ;-).) The car was well put together. It felt like you where in a protective cocoon. The typical Ford plastic was abound, but I expected that. Very comfortable...
One issue that I am not clear on is if it will be a positive one or a non issue that the car looks like all other Fusions minus the badging. Will the people that buy this car want it to be known that they are saving the earth, or do they want to be unknown and just blend in with the crowed... Mr. and Mrs. anonymous? That has yet to be determined.
I do see one really big buyer for this car though... the government. From the local inspectors to maybe the police departments. Just imagine the fuel savings. That alone might raise a few eyebrows, especial in these economic times.
So what do you guys think? I know it will be a hit in the green community, but will it be a hit for the average joe? It sure seems like that is who they are aiming for.

Check out the Ford Fusion web page link. The Hybrid is rated at 47 mpge which is really good for a mid size. I could see myself heading to Disney burning only two gallons on the way up!

Update... Just saw this... I was right on the 20 electric mile battery pack. Looks like Ford is looking to do battle with the volt! the defining factor here will be partly based on that center seat that will cost you around 3 grand since the Fusion does not get the full 7500 credit!

Check out my fav Blog Green car reports...

Here is another update:
This one made me raise an eyebrow cause as Marcellus said to Horatio: 'Something is rotten in the state of Denmark". It seems that the EPA milage numbers are wrong on the Fusion. Owners have been trying to reach the 47 mpg numbers and the closest they have reached is around 37 mpg. So what does all this mean?
Well, here is what I am thinking... clerical mistake... EPA has been a hard nut to crack to get the numbers each company puts out... like Nissan's 120 miles per charge; EPA rating 73. Tesla 300, EPA 265 and so on. So how the heck did they come up with 47 when owners can't even reach 40?
So EPA gives Ford the number 47 Ford publishes the number 47... who is wrong here? the chicken or the egg and did the egg have different numbers before the chicken did its test?
This will be interesting to see... I just hope that the numbers for the plug-in are close to what Ford claims them to be...
Check out this article... the EPA clearly certified 47 mpg rating... was Ford right to put up this number?  I have yet to find any early info on Fords claim prior to the EPA test... but I am still looking...
Stay tuned...

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tesla opens in South Florida

Friday November 23rd, 2012

The day had arrived and I was not going to miss it for the world, but having my wife, three sons, and my best friend and his family with me was not going to make the trek a simple one. I had one goal in mind Friday, to sit in a Tesla Model S.
On the other hand everyone else had other ideas. They knew of my longing but things had to be seen and done before we where to head on out to Lincoln road in Miami beach. First stop on my adventure was the Wynwood art district in upper downtown Miami. I am sure many of us have driven past and not really noticed the treasures that lay within this small enclave. For one, I had the best freaken coffee at Panther Coffee... why Panther? I didn't ask since I was too busy enjoying my latte to care. I will be back there... promise. We took some time to stroll the streets that reminded me of a SoHo type of vibe. The graffiti painted on the walls alone is worth making the trip.
We ended up eating at Joe's pizza... pizza was thin crust (the best type) and I recommend it. As for anything else on the menu I will have to go back and try.
Finally, the cultural  exercise was over and we hopped into our cars and caravanned to South beach. Not only was it one beautiful day, but the night seemed to want to compete for top honors. The cool 68 degree breeze circulated itself down the beautiful Lincoln road mall. The local fauna was out and enjoying the weather, people watching and food. It was a beautiful night to stroll.
As we walked  past the countless stores and the pushy restaurant managers selling their flavors, I thought about what I was to expect. Unfortunately, in life, once expectations don't quite always tend to add up. And I was hoping that tonight would not be one of those days. Luckily, the day before, I caught a glimpse of the model S, but was unable to get my antiquated iPhone 4 to snap the picture in time. But from that brief encounter I had high hopes.
We finally crossed onto 5th street and I stood on the ball of my feet trying to look over the crowds for the Tesla store. And a hundred yards down, to the left and through the palm trees I saw it. The Tesla Store. I quickly accelerated past the family and b-lined it to the front door. And there beyond the glass lay a red Model S with countless people salivating over her. One can read all they want, but reality won't set in until you are there touching what has been praised and given the car of the year award.

So I had my wife snap a picture with my iPhone. Here D7000 was outa batteries, go figure. Heck at least the iPhone worked!

Not my color of choice but I will take what I can get!

But there was much much more to the store than I had anticipated. The fourteen foot tall walls where pasted with their own form of Tesla graffiti... just as beautiful as what I had seen earlier in the day. 

What I loved to see though (apart from the car itself) was the beautifully laid out chassis, giving everyone a great look at the genius of this design.
Best way to think about it is like a skate board. This mechanical design stays the same through production and all Tesla has to do is design a body to place over it. In turn this gives them an infinite amount of possibilities for the future. For example the 2014 Model X, which is an SUV/Crossover type of design with three forward facing rows for a total of seven seats using the same chassis as on the Model S. And will you just look at those fantastic doors! This is the way you design cars!

 Perfect for people like me that have been driving SUV's for quite sometime.

Back to the Chassis. Like they say a picture is worth a thousand words so enjoy the visual candy below! 

Here is a general overview of the chassis. In the middle is the battery tray. Towards the rear are the electric engines. Up front is the front suspension.

And here is what makes this car go 0 to 60 in 5.6 seconds and that is the base model, the sport will get you there in 4.6 seconds! The electric engines a nestled neatly between the rear wheels. Personally I can't wait to drive one of these. The weight ratio must be fantastic thus giving one incredible handling.  

Here is a good shot of the front suspension and steering. All electric of course...

Close up of the suspension/wish bone...

And the battery tray. You can get it with 150, 230, or 300 mile range

Now I am a mechanical geek at heart so I did spend plenty of time looking over the chassis. What a fantastic and simple solution to a complex problem. To explain what I am talking about take two cars: the Chevy volt and the Fisker Karma. Both are extended range cars, meaning that they have an engine that gives the car the ability to run longer distances using the generator (engine) to power the electric systems. But the design mistake of both these cars is the battery placement. There battery runs the center of the car forcing the interior designers to eliminate the rear bench seat. Now this is all fine and dandy if you are a single guy or just have one or two kids, but for the average family of five like me these cars just don't work. I will be honest and say that if the Volt had that rear bench seat I would be driving one by now. 
Tesla did the smart thing and placed the battery in a two inch thick plate allowing the interior designers a blank canvas to design on. Simple, and functional in one package...

So after my initial overwhelmed brain took a break, I decided to walk around the store. The store had some fun 'Tesla' tag clothing line, including some great hats and a jacket that will hopefully be under the tree.

How about a onecy (or however you spell it) for your new born 'Tesla' child? Honey see that jacket top left hand side... yep tell Santa I am a bit cold...

Tesla also gave you (on both walls) a wonderfully simple way to choose the color and interior of your car.

Pick a color, brown. Pick an interior color block and fit it in the hole. Lastly, choose a facia color and you are done.

Another fun piece to play with was the gas calculator touch screen TV. My number came up to be $5000 for gas over 15,000 miles per year... or $490 for the same milage in electric cost. Now I put gas at $3.80 and cost for electricity at 11 cents per kilowatt hour. I believe Florida is around 17 cents but I did not recall at the time. Next time I go down there I will have the right numbers so I can post up the correct cost.

Fun to see how much money I waste on gas!

Yes finally the Model S review. Well here my first impression .... I fit! so it's SOLD!
All kidding aside this car is very well thought out. 

Here is the front view.

And a shot from the back.

Since there were a few people waiting to sit in the drivers seat I took the opportunity to sit in the back seat. Just for size comparison, I am 6 foot 2 inches tall and weigh in at 210. I had plenty of space in the rear. So much so that I could spend a few hours back there in comfort. Only issue I had was that if I sat straight up the last remaining hairs on my bald head tickled the ceiling, but since I never really sit bolt upright it was a non issue.

Plenty of leg room even behind the drivers seat which was put back by my friend who is the same hight as me.

One very cool and geeky thing is the door handles. You press them and they pop out! once you close the door they sink back into the body making the car just a bit more aerodynamic.


Sitting in the back seat also gives one a great view of the dashboard. Which is just sooo cool! This alone lets you know you are finally in the future!

The 17 inch control panel...You just have to sit down and experience it first hand. It is the iPad for the car! Everything is controlled from there. I asked about internet carrier and or if tethering with your iPhone was available. They did not have an answer for me. But if you do get the full $3500 electronic package you will have 7 years of free software downloads. This might not sound like much but let me tell you what this really means. 
In the airplane industry you have the G-1000 by Garmin. It is basically a computer screen for your dash. And every so often you have to upgrade. Now these upgrades ain't cheap and I figure the same will apply to the Tesla. So if you don't want to worry about paying for upgrades then you will be a much happier cat getting the package. This option also gives you LED and Zeon lights plus a rear camera and whole bunch of other goodies. I think it is worth it.
After a bit of time in the back it was my time to sit up front. I climbed in and it fit me like a glove. The seating position was right on, although I would like to test it over long distances, but from what my butt was telling me I would be comfortable. The steering wheel was a good size and thickness. I have big hands so folks with smaller hands might find it a bit thick to wrap their hands around. 
I loved that the speedo and all the information was basically another computer screen. I did not ask if it could be customized but I am sure that option will eventually hit the market.

Now the main touch screen deserves its own blog post. Man this thing is awesome, from car controls to the internet to the rear view camera the programing is flawless. The only draw back I see to this 17 inch screen is that it can be distracting to some when driving. Hopefully this will not be the case. At least it should not be for me since the only time I look at mine (granted it is much much much smaller) is when I change the radio station.

Once I was done playing with the toys I got down to asking a few questions that had me a bit confused about the charging system. So bare with me if you already know what I am talking about. When you order your 60kw Tesla (the 45kw does not apply since it does not come with the super charger option, and in the 85 kw it comes standard) you can order a few different charging options.
You can get it with a single charger or a double, which as guessed, allows you to charge twice as fast, and you can also get the supercharger. So what is the supercharger and why would I get it?
Well, after forking over $2000 for it you will be able to charge up your Tesla up to 80% in 30 minutes at any of the Tesla supercharging stations which are currently being built. So what is so great about this? Are you sitting down? ALL charging at the supercharging stations will be FREE! yep FREE! so once the stations are up and running (Cali already has theirs and LA to Vegas is being built) one will eventually be able to travel across the country, or for me from Miami to New York, for Free! Crazy right? But it is true! So paying an additional $2000 for this option is well worth it especially since my long distance trips will just be from Miami to Mickey Mouse's house (around 500 miles round trip)
My question was if you can get the twin chargers and the supercharger together. The answer is that they are two separate systems so yes you can... 

It was time to remove myself from the passenger seat to let the next potential customer in. I have to give it to the knowledgeable staff at the Lincoln mall Tesla store, those guys really know the product and are extremely proud of the company they work for... keep up the great work! Anyway, I stepped out of the Model S and took a closer look at the overall design.
Up front you have was the Tesla folk call the Frunk (front trunk) this car has plenty of space to put luggage or groceries. Again simple, functional and smart!

Sorry for the bad pictures... time to get the iPhone 5!

And we are left with the trunk... The particular model S on display had what they call jump seats (for kids only) Now the first thing I think of here is my moms old station wagon. Sitting backwards and making funny faces at all the cars and giving the universal 'honk the horn' sign to the truckers that passed us... good times.
Well, you too can give that feeling to your kids for $1500! Now would I really op for this option? Well that depends. Personally if I really needed the two rear seats I would wait for the Model X and get my  seven facing forward seats that can fit adults cause I know that eventually my kids will outgrow these two seats in the Model S. But heck... for the time being I think they would have tons of fun back there!

They fold flat so cargo space remains the same...

A 9 year old and 7 year old, any older and the seats become extra weight...

Not as claustrophobic as you would think, but a 3 hour ride to Disney might be too much for these two...

Well, that is it for now. I will have to say that this car blew me away... and I have yet to drive it. I have now fallen for Tesla and I don't know what I am going to do with myself if I don't get my hands on one. I could pull off the base model but to be honest I should go with the 60kw plus supercharger. I don't think the double chargers will be needed since I have never been in that much of a hurry!
Tesla has finally proven the viability of the electric car. 

I am so excited for what lies in the future. From the model X SUV crossover which is on my short list to the soon to be announced smaller sedan and smaller crossover, and you can bet they will come out with a two door high luxury model based on the Model S chassis architecture. I am guessing that it will have the same type of look (long nose) as the Mercedes gullwing.

Tesla knows its got a great car and word around the net tells us that prices might go up. I understand why, but it will just make it a bit harder for me to take the leap. So I am thinking of grandfathering myself on the waiting list. Place my order and drop my deposit to lock in the price.
Next step for me? To take the Model S on a test drive. Everyone I know has asked me what it sounds like so I have included this link from Blogger Katie Fehrenbacher. But rest assured I will be doing my own video when my day comes!

I highly recommend that you visit the web site. It is very informative and should answer any questions you have about this marvelous machine. You can also play around and build your dream Model S and swing by the Model X page... those doors are just cool!
And if you are lucky enough to be within driving distance of a Tesla store... do yourself a favor and go. You can thank me later! The future is finally here everyone, so: 

I think I just might head back to Lincoln mall today... I just feel like I have to go 'shopping'! Don't text and drive! and have a beautiful Sunday!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I write so much on electric cars that I seem to have ignored another form of electric transportation... the motorcycle. I for one was very into dirt/enduro bikes for a while, and I am a big fan of the Isle of man race (probably the sickest most challenging and dangerous motorcycle race in the world) Check it out on youtube, guaranty to make you sweat. Anyway I got off subject. The electric motorcycle world is slowly making its dent. One of the companies that I have been watching since its inception is Zero motorcycles. They started off with one street/gravel bike and have grown since. Now you can get the Zero in street, dirt, and dual sport with the regular 43 miles per charge highway 76 miles city or the XL battery with 63 miles highway 114 miles city... yes you read right! All 100% electric!
Cost? Street and Dual sport versions are $11,495 and XL battery $13,995. Dirt and technical track (Has head light and the one I would get) $9,495 they both
 give you between 60 to 120 minutes of fun on the trail or around 35 to 40 miles on track. What makes them fun is the instant torque and no gear change so you can concentrate on not eating dirt... 
Only issue here is cost... why would one pay 9K when you can get a gas version for 7K... it really comes down to the type of person buying. If you are into long distance ridding then gas is the way to go, if you like going for a few hours of trail ridding then electric might work for you. here is where a hybrid motorcycle might come into its own. Instant torque, no gear change, and the gas engine is there as a generator so when your battery runs out of juice you can still ride another 250 miles... Come to think of it I am going to see if there is anyone out there building one of these...
When it comes to the street version the cost issue comes up again since there are two kinds of people that buy motorcycles.. those that ride them for fun and thus can afford to buy electric and be green... and those that buy motorcycles because a car is out of range for them. Here a gas motorcycle wins every time.
Either way it is nice to see that these electric motorcycles are out there! And I am sure when the cost of batteries comes down you can bet more will be sold.
Now the only question I have for them is why not come up with a quick battery change? So you take an extra battery with you and swap it out when the other is empty... soooo many ideas!
Happy turkey day everyone!

Man I really got to get on the bolgasphere!
Click below an run through the site... they have great videos!

Wanna Tech?: Wanna Tech?Its turkey time... best time to start ...

Wanna Tech?

Its turkey time... best time to start a blog! so here I go!
I have been told by a few of my friends that I should stop posting on face book and move toward blogging. So I have taken the first step into the blogasphere. What I'll do first is start with a few of my old posts then move forward from there.
I like to talk about all things to do with tech but I mostly concentrate on electric cars. So once in a while you will see me rant on a apple product but most of my words will be about electric things with wheels.
So sit back and enjoy my weekly thoughts....
Happy Turkey day!

So I went on the Tesla site and started to build my car. Stating price of 49K (after $7500 gov kick) with 45kw battery pack or 150 mile range but no supercharger option... so far the price is fine. Color rich chocolate brown $950, interior 
tan leather $1500, electronic package which include 7 free years of data upgrades $3500 so now I am inching up to 55K, then comes the big item: 60KW (230 miles per charge) battery... additional $10,000 plus the $2000 supercharger which allows one to charge up the car in 30 min (up to 80% from 0%) I need this since there will be supercharging stations on the Turnpike so I drive 150 miles, super charge (all supercharging is free) it in less than 30 min, while we all eat, to full and I keep going to Disney. so I am now at 67K.. ouch but still in luxury territory with BMW, Mercedes, Jaguar, Porsche, Land Rover, etc. Then I add the $2500 to hook up my house with the chargers and I am so close to 70K I can taste it! So I add the jump seats ($1500) in the rear and final price 71K! 

So is it worth it... Absolutely! Can I do it? Absolutely not... Well, I guess I have to wait for Tesla to find a Leasing partner!
So with all said above I am still going the way of the Nissan Leaf (Unless I win the lotto!) for a three year lease... this will give me plenty of time to make and save for the model X... Now all I need from all of you, is for you to buy my book when it comes out! Your purchase will go to a great cause! saving the world one Tesla at a time!
Click the link below and go ahead and build your Tesla! Enjoy!!!