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Winter Tips for Electric Vehicles

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Is your EV ready for snow and ice? It's mid-October in Michigan and the morning school run is made in darkness.  Raindrops reflecting the headlight beams looks like I'm driving through hyperspace.  The trickle of drops hit the windshield ... only they're not drops.  They are flakes.   Those of us who live in colder climates know that as the golden leaves drift gently to the ground, we need to start thinking of winter habits.  Electric vehicles (EVs) have some special considerations. Range The most pronounced effect of colder temperatures on EVs is range.  Depending on your vehicle, temperature, and situation, the range loss may be as much as 30-40% .   While cabin heating does take a toll on range, it's not necessarily the primary range thief, so just wearing extra clothing and leaving the climate control off won't give you summer range.  As most EV drivers know, higher speed means higher air resistance and thus lower range.  This effect is exacerbated by colder den

Electric Motorcycling - Pure Energy

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Arcadia Bluffs Overlook The ignition key turns - a click, then silence. With no clutch to release, all that’s left to do is twist the throttle which is not a throttle at all. The spring-loaded rheostat sends a signal to the motor controller to release the flow of electrons. With a high-frequency whirr of a Star Wars speeder, the bike weaves through the tree-lined city streets scattering a few squirrels that have not encountered this strange beast: a Zero. An electric motorcycle lets me savor not only the sights and smells of my environment when freed from the metal and glass cage, but also the sounds.  Gone is the incessant drone of the engine and the click of the gear shift leaving the crashing of waves on the beach, a laughing seagull, the rush of wind.    Enduro, dual-sport, or adventure bike - whatever the name - the Zero DSR seems to float across pavement, gravel, and dirt to my campsite. With only a standard electrical receptacle next to my tent, the bike gorges on electrons

EV Road Trip Comparison: 2015 Tesla Model S vs. 2015 Chevy Volt

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The Volt waits while the Tesla charges. Image source: Karl Bloss In mid-August our 2015 Chevy Volt discussed in  last month's essay on plug-in hybrids  displayed an "Engine Maintenance" warning.   The message (see below) informs the driver that the car has used so little gasoline that it needs to burn some, presumably to keep the fluids in the internal combustion engine (ICE) moving, seals lubricated, etc.  From June through mid-August, the car was driven about 1,500 miles of local-only trips fueled primarily by electricity and only 0.4 gallons of gas.   The on-screen message startled my daughter who was still getting used to the car.  After some time on Volt forums, I learned that this message is sort of a badge of honor among Volt drivers because it means you're using so little gas. Low gasoline usage maintenance screen Image source: Karl Bloss Time to Burn Some Gas The end of university summer vacation necessitated a return trip to Kansas City.  In the past, we hav

Plug-In Hybrids Need Love Too

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Good-Bye to Gasoline! Our new-to-us 2015 Chevy Volt Image source: Karl Bloss In November 2018, we said farewell to our trusty 2011 Toyota Sienna minivan.  This was the end of an era for our family, not only because our children were grown to the point of a minivan not making sense any more, but also because it was our last vehicle with a combustion engine.  With our garage then including a Nissan LEAF and a Tesla Model S, I told myself that I would never again buy a vehicle that burned gasoline. I was wrong. Daryl Elliott's CleanTechnica article " The PHEV Era Needs to End, Now " makes some compelling arguments that the Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV) bridge technology to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) has run its course and those of us who are in the segment of early adopters should leave this crutch behind. Farewell to our 2011 Toyota Sienna Image source: Karl Bloss ...Or Maybe Not All those arguments are valid except that as of mid-2020, the

Michigan Spring: Daffodils and Public Chargers are Popping Up

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Forget morels!  Let's find public chargers! Image source: Karl Bloss Despite Michigan's quarantine for non-essential travel, Michiganders are still permitted to drive out for essential and even recreational motorcycling is an approved activity.  As such, my Zero DSR electric motorcycle has been a wonderful way to experience some fresh air and even run some essential errands like getting milk from my favorite milk source Country Dairy in New Era, MI.   Another good excuse to get out is to find new public chargers.   Michigan utility Consumers Energy has been running the  PowerMIDrive  program that provides rebates for both at-home* and public charging infrastructure.  That means despite a slowdown in construction due to COVID-19, public chargers are still going in and will continue to pop up during 2020. * For more detail on eligible home chargers, see the Consumers Energy  Home Charger Rebates  page.   ChargePoint station at First and Western in Muskegon I