Feature #9

Since early 1998, I have been a subscriber to the Electric Vehicle Discussion List. It is the premiere source of electric vehicle info and discussion on the Internet. I don't post much due to lack of time. In Dec. of 2000, John Wayland, one of the more active members, posted one of his famous stories. I found it so amusing that I saved it, and have thus reproduced it for you here. Enjoy.

Living in the Past, Getting Beat by the Future!
(Reproduced with permission)

From: John Wayland
Sent: December 13, 2000 1:33 PM
To: EV List
Subject: Living in the Past, Getting Beat by the Future!

Hello to All,
I am once again, on the road on business, traveling by air and doing the usual car rental thing, but this trip is a bit more interesting, and I wanted to share a highlightwith all of you. As my travels had me going into Orange County, CA, I had originally madeflight arrangements into John Wayne. As I have made it my policy to rent environmentallyfriendly vehicles whenever possible, I often rent from 'EV Rentals' who is associated withBudget Car Rental. While in Phoenix, I rent Insights as they do not offer pure EVs at thistime, but since I was in southern CA, I looked into flying to LA instead of Orange County,as the EV Rental facility there has the largest choices of EVs and hybrids to choose from,and if possible, I wanted to rent an EV. As it turned out, I also saved my company some money with the less expensive Portland / LA round trip fare, as opposed to the Portland / Orange County trip fare. The plan was, that I would drive the 45 miles or so from LA toOrange County. After my business was completed, the following day I had a meeting set upwith a certain magazine who will be doing a feature story on 'Sniffer', my Honda Insight.

That evening, I was to drive back to LA, return the EV1, hop on a plane to San Diego, and rent an Insight for my travels there (no pure EVs to rent there, either). Next, I would fly back to LA, then fly to Portland. I had made all of the rental plans in advance withGail Lee (she was extremely knowledgable and helpful), so the folks at EV Rental in LA were expecting me.

Arriving at th Budget facility, I was surrounded by EVs and hybrids.....there were Honda EV Pluses, EV1's, Insights, Priuses, and RAV4-EV's...they even had a the space alien green Insight on the lot! I was in EV heaven. I was treated like royalty by the nice folks at EV Rentals, and was even taken out to breakfast by their Director of Operations and Planning, Terry O'Day, where he and I talked about everything from air pollution to EV drag racing. As we talked, Terry suggested that I cancel my flight to San Diego, and instead, just keep the EV1 a few more days and drive it down instead....why not? With NiMH batteries, the EV1 has a 140 mile range!

I was turned over to Joe who walked me throught the orientation proceedure they take all EV renters through, and just like Gail and Terry, he too, was very friendly and well prepared.  He knew I was an EV God, by I asked him to nonetheless, pretend that I was an average consumer who knew nothing about the EV1. The beautiful baby blue EV1 had an estimated driving range of 115 miles displayed on the dash as Joe and I sat in the car. This represents what the car's computer has calculated (based on how previous drivers had driven the car) to be the range the next driver will get, if that next driver operates the car in the same fashion. This then represented 'the game' for me, that is, I HAD to beat that figure and get the estimated range to a higher level. As Joe explained to me, most drivers get from 10-12 miles per bar segment of the 10 segment 'Fuel gauge' display, so I also took this in as part of 'the game', and was determined to better that as well....after all, I am the 'EV God'!

All of the above quickly evaporated from my brain, because as I was being a good boy accelerating gently and driving in my 'range-oriented Clark Kent EV mode', I came to the 405 on-ramp. As I was driving up the ramp and onto the freeway, on my immediate left was a guy who had just rented a white V8 Mustang and he was looking over at my EV1 and smirking as though he thought the EV1 was a joke. The on-ramp has two lanes that squeeze down to one, and after pacing along side me checking out the unusual car, he looked over at me, laughed a bit, and stepped down on the throttle, evidently thinking he was just gonna blow off that pesky, weirdo eeelektric car. I of course, had him all figured out and wasexpecting his macho move, and at the same instant that I heard his mighty V8 growl and dig in, I ripped open my shirt to reveal the big 'S' on my tight fitting under shirt, and punched the throttle hard. It was great, because the pavement was smooth and shiny asphalt, and as the EV1 squealed its front tires at 30+ mph, one of the car's manydash-mounted 'idiot lights' flashed "Loss of Traction" (I kid you not). The 0-20 mph prowess of this AC powered car is just 'OK', but the thing comes alive after that and really gets with the program! No, the EV1 is not a muscle car, but it's 20-70 mph performance is pretty close to that level. With the front end shimmying as the front tires bit in, I rocketed in front and around the idiot on my left with ease.....what fun! I kept the pedal down as the little EV1 pulled hard right to 75 mph or so, then eased off and gently hit the brake pedal just enough to light up the brake lights so that the Mustang dude in hot pursuit could see my intentional slow down. Sheepishly, he came around me on my left, looked over at me again, but this time simply shook his head in disbelief. I smiled, gave him a thumb's up (much better than that other hand gesture), and settled down to reasonable freeway cruising speed.

I saw that the computer had been watching me, and the estimated range had dipped a few notches to 112 miles.....argghh! OK, time to go back into the Clark Kent routine...time to employ my usual high miles per charge techniques. I switched off the coast-down (we EVers call this off-throttle regen) features, so that I could let the EV1 glide along on slight down hill runs without the car trying to slow down putting a small bit of juice back into the batteries (I'd save this feature for later, as when exiting the freeway and for congested traffic stop and go driving). As I cruised along at 58-66 mph, and as the miles went by, the estimated range figure began to grow....115, 116, 118...eventually hitting 125 miles.

Forty some odd miles later, I took my exit, and ending up at my destination, I had traveled 45 miles, and just two of the bars had gone away on the 10 bar fuel gauge! I parked the car and met with my contact people, who after learning I had driven an electric car to the site asked, "Why don't you pull around to the back area and use the electric car chargers?" Man, this was way cool! However, I was in for two surprises when I found the 'chargers'. The first surprise, was when I found that there was another EV1 at one of the stalls, a bright red one, and the second surprise, was when the 'chargers' turned out to simply be dedicated 120 vac outlets lined up on a brick wall with 'Reserved for Electric Vehicles Only' signs above each outlet for each of four stalls. This was true irony....allow me to explain. Those of us in the EV community who have been designing, building, and driving our 'backyard built' EVs for the past 20 years (especially southern California EVers), were pretty excited when we learned that up to 200 EV charging stations were being set up to provide an EV charging infrastructure...what a great idea! We then really felt a rub, when we learned that most all of these sites would have a Magnacharger for the newest breed of EVers driving their GM EV1's and Toyota RAV4-EV's, but that 120 vac and 240 vac standard issue outlets for the rest of us, the EVers who had paved the way and paid their dues for years, had been left out of the picture. Now, here I was, driving an EV1 and thinking how great it would be to find a Magnacharger at this work location waiting to refresh my EV1....imagine my surprise when I found that there were no Magnachargers, but instead, the elusive outlets we had been crying for. To add insult to injury, with the exception of the red EV1, I found three stink'n, gasoline burn'n, air pollute'n cars had hogged the EV spots! I slinked away in defeat and returned to the main parking lot with all the other cars, but this was no big deal since the EV1 still had the bulk of its charge left....thank you, NiMH batteries. Still, it would have been pretty neat to have driven from LA to Newport Beach and to have found a Magnacharger at the worksite. I told my friends in the building what I had found, and we laughed as I told them how I should have been driving a converted EV instead.

Later in the day, I was at my motel and hooking up to the Magnacharger (I booked myself into hotels that had chargers) which displayed a reading that reported 68% of the battery power was left, this, after traveling 47 mostly freeway miles. The EV1's 'Full-Empty' fuel gauge still had just two bars missing out of the ten.

Today I will be putting more miles on the EV1, then after a recharge, will head south to San Diego.

Having more fun than an EVer is allowed to have....

See Ya..........John

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