A stranger knocked on our door…

This event was too unbelievable, I had to share it. This evening a stranger knocked on our door:

“Sorry to bother you, but I saw your Tesla and was wondering if you were satisfied with the vehicle”.

She was interested in reserving a Model 3. I said I was very satisfied and will definitely put down the 1000$ on March 31st to get another one.  

I warned her that 35k might not include the biggest battery pack.

Stranger: “I do not need the biggest battery, I want to use it for city driving.”

Well I said, for city driving, you could buy a Nissan Leaf today… Here is the punch:  

Stranger: “A Nissan what? I have never heard of it”

A Nissan Leaf I said, like a leaf from a tree.

Stranger: “I have a Toyota Rav 4 and a Honda Civic, I am looking for a good reliable car”

She is probably one of the many individuals in the same situation that will reserve a Model 3!

Nissan, a well established car company. The first company that produced a mass market electric car. It is hard to believe that she did not know about the electric model!  She knew about Tesla, a company that was not even on the media map 4 years ago.

With the best product, word of mouth and social media you can go far, very far.

Once again, you nailed it. All your hard work is getting recognized by the whole planet, good job Tesla!

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Enthusiastic but realistic view of an electric car owner’s life in Québec, Canada.

En françaisrange

After driving an electric car for almost 2 years (it will be 2 years in march 2015) I decided to give an enthusiastic, but realistic view of the life of an electric car owner these days in Canada, Québec. Let’s proceed with an executive summary in a few bullet points:

  • There are no disadvantages to using an electric car for short to medium driving distances. It is just great and I am 110% satisfied, it is pure joy.
  • Depending on your battery chemistry and battery size, you might lose up to 50 km of driving range in the first 2 years.
  • All car companies support a globally agreed standard for slow charging vehicles and you can have an adaptor for any 110 or 220 volt outlet type.
  • There are 3 “standards” for DC fast charging electric cars and that is less than ideal.
  • In Quebec, we do not have enough (slow and fast) charging stations for the amount of electric cars in circulation and that is unfortunate.
  • With a warmed up vehicle & battery pack, you lose about 30% of range when it is -25℃ while driving for a long distance at regular highway speed (Tesla Model S has an ingenious system that uses the heat of the motor to keep the battery pack warm while driving).
  • You can’t charge on 110 volt when the car is outside at -25℃.
  • The maintenance cost so far is pretty low.

Driving to work with your electric car is the best part: no noise, no vibration. You never leave with an empty “tank”. You can heat or cool down your car before you leave to work with your favorite internet connected device. I can definitely say that I am 110% satisfied. I would be very sad to go back to a gas car.  I was not able to find any disadvantages of owning an electric car for city or suburb driving.

Let’s talk about long distance driving.Long_Drive After 2.5 years of delivering the first Model S, Tesla is still the only car company in the world that offers over 400 km of range. I would have expected the other companies to follow but it takes time to build and finetune any new product.

For me, driving 435 km in an electric car was absolutely priceless but it did not last long. The first year, my battery pack “stabilised” and by the end of the year, I had lost about 30 km of range. Recently, I lost a another 17km. I learned the hard way by discussing with other Tesla customers and reading forums: Battery pack degradation varies a lot from one battery pack to another. Even if, you really take care of the battery pack and follow Tesla recommendations to the letter the result will be the same.

Plus or minus 50 km of range may not be a big deal for some but it made a huge difference for me. I can’t drive to Sherbrooke from Gatineau on a single charge anymore. This was actually one of the main reasons I bought this car in the first place.  The problem with batteries is that you might be lucky and get very good battery chemistry or be less lucky and have a less good batch.  On 85kwh battery packs, Tesla gives an 8 year unlimited mileage warranty but range loss is not covered.

Before you buy a long range electric-only vehicle, ensure your long drive will still be covered by a 10% to 20% range loss or else you might be very disappointed like me. Check the available fast charging stations and make sure you have at least one on your regular long trip drives. For me alas, no super chargers on my travel path and none planned in the near future. One super charger is coming downtown is now opened in Montréal soon but that will not help me because I want to avoid Montréal traffic.

toSherbrooke

That brings me to talk about the current charging station network in my province. For slow charging, we have an agreed standard, the SAE J1772. This is ideal when stopping at a Hotel for the night to get a full charge.

j1772

  • SAE J1772:
  • 6 to 20 kilowatts: 28 to 80 km / hour of charge
  • Supported by: All car companies

The charger that gives you 80km per hour of charge is a good way to extend a drive during lunch or dinner. This allows me to get from Gatineau/Ottawa to Quebec city with a small stop in Montréal to recharge our car and fill our stomach. Only SunCountry, a privately own company offers that power and they cover the whole country, good job! The Circuit électric network in Quebec is limited to 28 to 32 km/ hour of charge, which is only good for overnight charging but strange enough, they do not offer it in hotels.  They are available at restaurants and malls.

Now, what about longer drives? Here comes fast chargers to the rescue but sadly, many “standards” exist.  Remember the following?

blu-ray beta

For rapid electric vehicle charging we actually have 3 standards:

CHAdeMO

  • CHAdeMo
  • 50 kilowatts: up to 136 km /30 minutes
  • Used by Nissan, Mitsubishi, Kia, supported by Tesla with additional adaptor

combo

  • SAE Combo 
  • 50 to 90 kilowatts: Up to 200 km / 30 minutes
  • Used by GM, Ford Motor, VW & BMW

tesla

  • Super Charger
  • 90 to 120 kilowatts: Up to 270 km /30 minutes
  • Used by Tesla

On the Quebec side, the Circuit électric network decided to support CHAdeMO & SAE Combo but not the SuperCharger. Tesla owners in Quebec will have to rely on Tesla Motors and on the upcoming CHAdeMO adaptor for fast charging. In 2014, Tesla opened all its patents, but it might be too late for its technology to become the standard. It has a nicer design, it is faster, but beta lost the battle even if it was better than VHS. The difference is that Sony did not open its technology at the time.

When you are an early adopter, you accept these small issues and know that things will only get better with time.  Not having enough charging stations for the number of electric cars is a temporary problem. On PlugShare, there are new charging stations registered daily! Look at the map if you are not convinced. That is not even showing them all. http://www.plugshare.com/ (Slow charging in green and fast charger in orange.)

plugsharemap

More and more people are buying electric cars and the revolution will not stop. Range will increase (There is a an upcoming upgrade package for the Tesla Roaster with an almost 400 mile range) and many rapid chargers are being installed on a regular basis.

Would I spend so much money on an electric car with the experience I have now? Putting aside my worst then average battery range loss, Yes I would. One thing for sure, the conditions are not ready for the mass at the moment for long distance drives. In a few more years, I am positive that we will have reasonably priced electric cars and a decent charging network.

A devoted and passionate company attracts devoted and passionate people.

After such a great service, I could not remain silent and had to share my experience. A TESLA ranger came from Montréal to the Ottawa/Gatineau area to help out a few Model S owners including me. He came to my place at around 19h00.

My 3 issues:

  1. Little noise, sometimes coming from the direction when turning at low speed (while parking for example).
  2. Unstable high power wall charger cable connection.
  3. A Little rusted signal light from the passenger side.

At 19h00 pm, I was expecting him to only fix the cable connection. Marcin said: “I drove a long distance, might as well do as much as I possibly can”. He left our place past 22h30! He totally exceeded my expectations by fixing all three of the issues. While he was disassembling the car to fix the direction noise, he took the time to explain to me what the problem was while still remaining efficient during the repair.

Image

Marcin is very professional, meticulous and passionate about his work. He also did a courtesy check of the car’s fluid and filled up my windshield washer tank. 🙂

Having the chance to see a live expert taking good care of your car as if it was his own is priceless. When I see people like Marcin, I feel in good hands and happy they are in line with the company’s philosophy. Thank you for such an outstanding service TESLA.

Facing the Coldest Winter in 20 Years With My Model S

At last, I take time to write about my experience with my Model S in the coldest winter of the last 20 years according to a senior Climatologist at Environment Canada: Winter 2013-2014!

In a few words, buying the car was the best decision I ever made, regardless of the weather conditions! It actually helped me go over our crazy winter (Getting into a warm car in winter is priceless). I am also amazed at how precise the direction is in the snow, even more than our 4×4. It is almost impossible to lose control and believe me, I tried a few times.

Last summer, we proved that in 2013, it was possible to do a long distance trip without using TESLA super charging stations, for free, thanks to Suncountryhighway (See our 2013 family summer trip).

Now, how about doing long distances during extreme cold weather conditions? We planned a family roundtrip from Gatineau/Ottawa to Sherbrooke with temperature ranging from -15 to -30 degrees celsius with the car fully packed. In the cold weather we needed a relatively fast charging station like the one I have in my garage. (80 amps @ 240 volt which gives us about 90km per hour of charge)

Thanks to the Model S charging network family, this trip was made possible. Many Model S owners, enthusiasts like me, share their home charging station on plugshare.

Image

All the little blue houses are Model S chargers shared by owners. The red arrows is where we stopped charging. You can see mine in Gatineau 🙂

During our trip, we stopped in Vaudreuil-Dorion (Thank you Dominic!) and ate at a nearby restaurant, while waiting for the car to charge. We then continued to Sherbrooke without any issues with 8 km of rated range left. The most interesting part of the story, is on our way back, which I will share in my next post.

IMG_20131229_191155

It is safe to run over debris at highway speed with a Tesla Model S

Due to the negative press lately, I felt I had to share our story for all the current, future and potential Tesla owners.

During our trip to Gaspésie last summer, we went over a big debris on the highway at 110 km/h per hours (About 68 miles per hours). The car was fully packed with a family of 4.

When we hit the wood log, we felt a huge impact. My wife and I looked at each other: “Holy smoke, I hope the battery pack is ok” We stopped at the next exit, did visual inspection. We saw nothing special to report except for some left over pieces of wood, no fire!

We finished our trip safely without any problems. The car was inspected by the service centre, everything was fine.

I wish the medias would support Tesla when these types of accidents happen. We are talking about a startup company (10 years is a small number in the car industry) that is doing miracle with electrical cars. We should encourage them instead of trying to come up with sensational and very often incorrectly reported news.

Is it possible to drive the Gaspé peninsula from Ottawa using only electrons?

The answer is yes of course and without any issues! Every icon represents a place where we recharged our batteries (Car and body).

Gaspésie2

The goal was to enjoy 3 days in a nice cottage in Valmont Plein Air, 3 days  of camping in Forillon National Park, visit Rocher Percé and enjoy the beautiful landscape along the way.

  • Day one: We drove from Ottawa to Boucherville (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ SENS restaurant) then we continued and slept in Québec City (SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Sepia).
  • Day two: We drove from Québec to Rimouski (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Cage aux sports) then we continued to Matane (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Quality Inn.)
  • Day three: We drove to Cap-Chat and stayed 3 days at Valmont Plein Air cottage (Charging station: regular 15Amp plug).
  • Day six: We drove to Stainte-Anne-des-Monts (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Auberge la Seigneurie des Monts), had lunch and continued to Forillon National Park of Canada for our 3 nights stay (30Amp regular camper plug).
  • Day eight: We drove to Rocher Percé, went for a boat ride and continue to our hotel in Bonaventure (90Amp SunCountry Charging station @ Riôtel)
  • Day nine: We drove to Parc National de Miguasha, visited the park for 3 hours and they allowed us to use the 110 volt during our stay. We then drove to Rimouski (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Empress)  and realized I reserved a hotel in Rivière-du-Loup (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec  Charging station @ Hotel Universel) instead of Rimouski 🙂 After a quick stop to juice up the batteries a little, we continued to Rivière-du-Loup for the night.
  • Day 10: We drove to Québec (SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ Hotel Sepia) city and stayed for the afternoon to visit the Aquarium. Once the car was at full charge we continued to Boucherville (90Amp SunCountry/Éco Route Québec Charging station @ SENS restaurant) had dinner and came back home.

We are not afraid to do long rides with this very comfortable car.  We just need to plan ahead to locate the charging stations.  I can’t wait for the super charger stations to cover the entire United States so we can plan for even longer trips.