All posts by Kyle Field

Self-Proclaimed “Queen Of Shitty Robots” Builds The First Tesla Truck

Originally published on CleanTechnica

The Tesla pickup truck is set to be revealed to the world in just a few months, but one eager maker just couldn’t help herself and had to go off and make one for herself. Simone Giertz is the self-proclaimed Queen of Shitty Robots and has made a name for herself by building some seriously odd robot creations and documenting the process on her YouTube channel. Why build shitty robots? Let’s get into that first.

Oh, Simone

Simone likes creating things that don’t exist. It’s a way for her to express her quirky side and also to explore the limits of what’s possible. Most of her creations aren’t earth shattering, but they do have a tendency to get your mind moving and exploring what’s possible. Whether it is a hair-washing robota drone that carries babies, or a robot that feeds your popcorn fetish, she’s built some pretty wacky things and made some messes along the way.

Unfortunately, Simone’s story isn’t one of vast successes and innate ability unleashed. “When I first started building things, obviously, I was pretty bad at it,” she told Wired. “You can’t be good at things from the start and I decided just to embrace that and to roll with it and turn it into something funny.” Getting over the need to be perfect was something she latched onto right away. If you get caught up on getting everything perfect, you’re going to be let down a lot, because achieving perfection can be a never-ending pursuit.

On the other hand, if you just start building, having fun, and exploring the creative process, you’ll probably have a lot more fun along the way. Simone latched onto the concept and just ran with it. Over the last 3 years, she has built some hilarious robots that, in reality, she could probably turn into some useful things, but again, that’s not the point. She documents her creative process — bumps, bruises, and all — on her YouTube channel as a way to encourage others to do the same.

If she’s failing on camera, in front of millions of viewers, what does it matter if I fail trying to fix my bike, upgrade my router to the latest home-brewed firmware, build an electric car, or start a company in the comfort of my own home? Failure is inevitable. The only thing we get to choose is what we’re going to do when it happens.

Keying A Tesla

Simone had made a deal with herself early on that she would not drive a gas-powered vehicle, but she wanted a truck. As of 2019, there just aren’t any electric trucks out there for consumers, so she did the logical thing and bought a brand spanking new Tesla Model 3.

You see, Simone likes building things, and people who build things need to move the things around that they’re going to unbuild and rebuild, plus things to build things with in the first place. Got that? One of the better vehicles to do that type of thing with is a truck. As a maker, she figured, what the heck, why not just buy a Tesla Model 3 and start cutting? What could go wrong?

Simone did just that. She invited a team of fellow makers, including Rich Rebuilds, to a new shop leased for the occasion, bought a brand new, cherry red Tesla Model 3, and started making plans. To get over the initial fear of cutting into the brand new, factory fresh Tesla Model 3, Simone keyed the car with the name she had given to her new creation: TRUCKLA. It’s a truck made from a Tesla. Watching her key that into the back deck of a brand new Model 3 is cringeworthy TV if I’ve ever seen it, but that’s her style. Get over the messing up part. Make things messy. Scuff it up a bit so you won’t worry so much about banging it up on accident later.

The team had the shop for 10 days and they quickly started work drafting out plans for the truck. The initial design session quickly led to a plan to pull out the rear seats, cut away the upper frame, and reuse as much of the lower steel frame and body work from the Model 3 as possible. That came with its own limitations, but kept the process contained to something they could achieve with their combined maker/welder/automotive/creative skillsets in right around two weeks.

The first step in getting the car ready was to pull all the stock stuff out of the rear of the car, pull out all the seats, interior, wiring, and the like until all that was left was metal. That took a few days, but was fairly straight forward for their team. After all, if Rich Rebuilds can’t figure out how to tear up an undocumented Tesla in a matter of hours, it’s probably not possible in the first place.

After the car was stripped, they prepped it for surgery. Blankets were laid down, tape was set out, lines were drawn, and tools were laid out. And then they started cutting. There’s something about watching a cutoff tool spending some quality time with a fresh coat of factory paint that is at the same time extremely satisfying and chilling. Off came the structural rails that run the length of the car. Off came the rear glass.

Sparks flew, adhesive was cut, and I’m sure more than a few plastic clips were snapped, but at the end of the process, the rear of the car was chopped up into an unrecognizable mass. As with home remodels, demo is always the fastest part of the process, and when the demo ends, the real work starts. The crack team mapped out the layout of the truck bed and started bending pipe and welding it back in to restore the structural integrity of their creation.

Rebuilding A Dream

Functionally, the truck was to have a rather short bed, so they decided to add a roof rack for larger items that would normally fit into the back of a normal pickup truck. The rack would also tie into the frame of the car to restore some of the lost rigidity of the frame. For the bed of the truck, they found a donor truck that had recently passed away and harvested the bed from that. A Chevy Colorado gave its rear window to the project, which after some muscling, fit in so nicely that it looks stock.

The Aftermath

Her pal Marcos Ramirez did much of the rebuilding of the truck off camera while Simone prepared for the next chapter in the story. The plan was to shoot a short commercial for the car that resulted in a fun little mockumentary with some great footage of the truck blasting around a farm.

The project is exciting, not because this is the next big thing for Tesla, but because it shows how Tesla as a vehicle is inspiring others to pursue their dreams — how Tesla is driving real, meaningful change in not just the automotive industry, but in the world at large. Tesla is a bold statement that we can envision the future we want and just get started building it. Be the change.

Simone’s Truckla is a one of a kind and it’s beautiful. Check out her full documentary of the process below that shows all her quirkiness, creativity, and ultimately, her new fully electric truck. If you like it, you can buy a shirt to support more of her zany adventures and show off some cleantech swag while you’re at it.

To run the numbers on a Tesla Solar Roof, Solar, or Powerwall for yourself in about two minutes, use my referral code (https://ts.la/kyle623) and you can save $100. Tesla is just one of many solar providers out there, so don’t go with Tesla just because I did. Remember, I compared offerings from Sunrun, Sun Power, sonnen, and Tesla before making what I felt was the best decision for my family and recommend you do the same.

Source: Simone Giertz via engadget

An Inside Look At The Components That Go Into A Tesla Solar Roof Installation

Originally published on CleanTechnica

July ushered in the start of the real action for our Tesla solar roof, as the installation kicked into high gear. The first materials arrived at the house and the team prepared to install the solar roof on our new home. Before we get into the installation, let’s talk about the components that make up of one of Tesla’s solar roofs.

Tesla solar roof installation. Image credit: Chuck Field

Many of the components and processes used in installing a Tesla solar roof are from the traditional roofing industry, which makes sense. The solar roof still fundamentally has to perform all of the same functions of a normal dumb roof before its ability to generate power matters. It also includes many of the same components as a traditional bolt-on solar system, with rooftop wiring, inverters, safety devices, and the like.

To run the numbers on a Tesla Solar Roof, Solar, or Powerwall for yourself in about two minutes, use my referral code (https://ts.la/kyle623) and you can save $100. Tesla is just one of many solar providers out there, so don’t go with Tesla just because I did. Remember, I compared offerings from Sunrun, Sun Power, sonnen, and Tesla before making what I felt was the best decision for my family and recommend you do the same.

Underlayment

A Tesla solar roof installation starts with the installation of a waterproof underlayment. Tesla uses Firestone’s CLAD-GARD SA-FR, a standard roofing underlayment for metal roofs. This product provides a waterproof foundation for any roof while also providing a skid-resistant surface for the installers to walk on while installing the more complex parts of the roof. This is the white material in the photo above.

Metal Framing

After the underlayment goes down, Tesla’s crew frames up the roof with metal. A metal trim wraps around the entire roof edge as well as along every peak and valley in the roof structure. In the valleys of the roof, the metalwork provides the drainage for any precipitation and debris. Up at the peaks of the roof, it provides protection, funneling any precipitation onto the tiles or surfaces below, which ultimately escort it off the roof.

Tesla solar roof with copious amounts of metal work framing the roof. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Tesla makes all of its own metal products for the solar roof, so all of these components are specific to the Tesla solar roof. Word on the street is that these are all currently made in the Bay Area, but that likely won’t be the case as Tesla ramps up production after locking in the design of version 3 of its solar roof tiles.

Roof Tiles

The star of the show in the solar roof install is obviously Tesla’s solar roof tiles. These come in two flavors: 1) tiles with solar cells sandwiched between two pieces of tempered glass that produce power, and 2) glass tiles. Roof tiles with solar cells in them are called PV Tiles and are the fundamental building block of any Tesla solar roof. They arrive on site in pre-wired, pre-mounted bundles of 3 tiles in a row, called PV Modules.

A pallet of Tesla PV Module roof tiles. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Each PV Tile has a production capacity of just over 8 watts each, translating to 25 watts for a full 3-tile PV Module. Assembling the tiles together into PV Modules at the factory has multiple benefits, with the first and foremost being a reduction in the amount of effort and time that’s required to install a solar roof. This helps Tesla deliver a faster turnaround time, means less time for a customer’s home sitting there without a roof, and keeps labor costs down.

Using PV Modules also reduces the number of on-site wiring connections that need to be made, allowing Tesla to control the quality of more potential points of failure in the roof system at the factory. PV Modules come with the joints between the three tiles pre-sealed, resulting in what is surely a higher quality, more consistent seal that what can be guaranteed with a field installation. Each PV Tile comes with its own set of built-in c-clip mounts and stand-offs that hold the top of the tile off of the roof, transferring any weight from above to the roof surface below while also serving to set the correct angle to allow water to run down the roof.

Tesla calls the non-producing tiles Roofing Tiles, which are simply made from a single sheet of tempered glass. These come from the factory as single tiles as well as bundled into Roofing Modules comprised of 3 glass tiles. Tesla uses these on sections of the roof that are not wide enough for a block of solar tiles and for use along the seams of the roof. To ensure a clean fit at the seams, Tesla’s team simply cuts the tiles to match the angle of the seam they will butt up against.

A cut Roofing Module with mounting bricks in the background. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Mounting Bricks

Tesla has packed an impressive amount of functionality into each single PV Module, and the mounting bricks are the other half of the system that makes it easy for Tesla’s installer to secure the PV and Roofing Modules to the roof. Tesla’s mounting bricks come in standard and drained configurations.

Tesla solar roof installation. Image credit: Chuck Field

Standard mounting blocks allow the tile below it to mount to it, but also allow the panel above it to clip to it, thanks to a healthy dose of industrial grade plastic hook and loop. The trailing edge of the panel above the mounting brick has another strip of this fabric, resulting in a very secure bond. Check it out in the video below:

Drained mounting bricks include a channel that helps water drain in the proper direction between each of the PV Modules or where they butt up against a Roofing Tile or Roofing Module. They still allow adjoining modules to mount to them with their c-clips, but with the added benefit of funneling water down the roof.

A Tesla solar roof tile clipped onto a drained mounting block. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The Electrical System

Each PV Module is connected to the solar roof wiring string via standard solar MC connectors that come pre-installed from the factory. These strings then connect down through the roof via a series of electrical pucks mounted and sealed to the roof. Tesla is required to install a Rapid Shutdown Device (RSD) within 5 feet of every solar array, so they are typically installed up in the rafters near the roof.

The wiring in an array of Tesla solar roof tiles. Image credit: Tesla

On the inside of the house, the pucks sprout bare wires that connect to one of a handful of these Delta Rapid Shutdown Devices, shown as a small grey box to the right of the rooftop wiring in the image above. Outputs from the RSDs are fed down to a pair of Delta inverters that convert the DC power from the roof down into the AC power that all the electrical goodies in the home want.

From there, the wiring configuration varies depending on whether Powerwalls are being installed or not. We are installing two Powerwalls, so we’ll talk through the essential loads wiring configuration. For our house, we do not have anything running on gas, so all our appliances, cooking, and heating are electric. Add to that two electric car chargers and a spare for guests and our loads were just too large to cram into a single 200 amp electrical sub-panel.

After all the load calculations were done, we opted to pull a few of the larger, less critical loads off of the Powerwall battery backup and just backup the “essential” loads in our house. The image below shows a single, undersized inverter and diminutive supporting boxes. Every single one of these boxes/devices in our system is twice as large as shown here, with the exception of the Tesla Powerwall (though, technically, we do have two of those).

Image credit: Tesla

The two Powerwalls provide backup power to everything on our 200 amp sub-panel, while the remaining loads in our home — our electric oven and two of our car chargers — will be relegated to the 400 amp main panel.

The Tesla Backup Gateway provides communication to the Tesla Mothership and can automagically disconnect the home from the grid in the event of a power outage. Doing so engages the Powerwalls to provide power to all of the essential loads in the sub-panel, while being replenished by the rooftop solar system when the sun is out.

That’s an overview of the components in a Tesla solar roof system. We’ll dive into the system more in future articles, so stay tuned for a first look at this hot new clean tech.

To run the numbers on a Tesla Solar Roof, Solar, or Powerwall for yourself in about two minutes, use my referral code (https://ts.la/kyle623) and you can save $100. Tesla is just one of many solar providers out there, so don’t go with Tesla just because I did. Remember, I compared offerings from Sunrun, Sun Power, sonnen, and Tesla before making what I felt was the best decision for my family and recommend you do the same.

ABB Analyzes The Habits Of Bees To Develop New Computer Vision Tech

Originally published on CleanTechnica

ABB is putting the bees back into its name with a new project that was born from one employee’s passion which led him to explore the intersection of beekeeping and technology.

At first glance, beekeeping and technology couldn’t be further apart. Beekeeping involves creating an environment for a colony of living organisms to live and thrive in, tending to their needs at home while allowing sufficient freedom to roam and explore. Technology is the lifeblood of ABB, and after an employee at the company’s Krakow, Poland offices setup a hobbyist beekeeping installation on the roof, they started thinking about how it might be a fantastic opportunity.

“We always try to have in this big corporate body which is ABB, also this kind of small company soul. One day we thought, why not establish this here on our roof? But not only to have the honey out of this, but to try to utilize this big population for our scientific purposes,” explains Marek Florkowski, Head of ABB Corporate Research Center Kraków.

One team of researchers at the Krakow facility is especially keen to leverage computer algorithms to interpret and make sense of large data sets from diverse arrays of sensors. Typically, that means sensors installed in electric motors in industrial facilitiespower electronics for massive commuter trainslarge boats, or pantograph chargers for electric buses.

Image credit: ABB

The 50,000 to 60,000 bees that call the apiary home created quite a buzz among employees at ABB’s Corporate Research Center, and not long after, the team started working on a new installation. Sensors, cameras, and computers were added and the data started flowing. “We started with some simple sensors for humidity, temperature, air conditions, CO2, then we also added some cameras –fast cameras, infrared cameras, hyperspectral cameras,” Florkowski said.

I mean, you had me at hyperspectral, but what the heck, let’s go one layer deeper into what might be a very sticky situation. To test complex computational algorithms designed to crunch through massive amounts of data, you need large amounts of data, and the beehive with its thousands of bees made for a great testbed.

“In science very often, the problem is – like in material science – to have good specimen. Also for big data and algorithms. We need to have a set of data which can represent certain process – and here with the bees you have thermal processes, you have ultrafast behavior, you have slow behavior, you have movement recognition, pattern recognition. So the feedback we have from colleagues is that it is an extremely useful experiment,” explains Florkowski.

The tracking exercise may seem like a novelty with no real practical application, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth at ABB. “The hives actually allow us to play with and test all aspects of data analysis – sensors, data acquisition, data analysis and data visualization,” says Michal Orkisz, Senior Principle Scientist at the research center. “Take an application like bee identification, bee detection and bee tracking. That could directly translate into tracking objects on the factory floor or tracking shipping containers.”

Bees flying in and out of the factory could be workers moving in and out of a factory or pallets of goods moving around a production line. Developing strategies and solution to count the bees as they surge in and out of the apiary gives ABB an extremely complex, extremely detailed solution that can then be scaled up to the appropriate size for a specific application.

“I feel proud in many aspects,” says Florkowki. “If you want to be a pioneering company, you have to try something unconventional. This is really the point.” The hive has turned out to be much more than just a side project for evenings and weekends, but has allowed ABB to let its team explore and play with technology in a way that’s both exciting and relevant. What a sweet combination.

To run the numbers on a Tesla Solar Roof, Solar, or Powerwall for yourself in about two minutes, use my referral code (https://ts.la/kyle623) and you can save $100. Tesla is just one of many solar providers out there, so don’t go with Tesla just because I did. I compared offerings from Sunrun, Sun Power, sonnen, and Tesla before making what I felt was the best decision for my family and recommend you do the same.

Source: Aye Bee Bee 

The Bosch Phantom Quickly Provides Home & Business Energy Insights

Originally published on CleanTechnica

At CES this year, Bosch showcased a new energy analysis tool called the Phantom. It is a small device not much larger than a Raspberry Pi, but it packs an oversized toolkit that Bosch believes can help owners identify opportunities to save money on their electric bills.

The Bosch Phantom. Image courtesy Bosch

The real magic of the Phantom is its ability to look at the energy being used by a home. Phantom’s algorithm analyzes the energy consumption over time and creates a profile. It is then able to parse out specific power signatures, resulting in what is the equivalent of an x-ray of the home electricity consumption. The technology was developed with residential and small businesses in mind, but the potential to scale it up is perhaps even more exciting.

Image courtesy Bosch

Today, it can be leveraged to monitor and manage assets in, for instance, a manufacturing plant to report on their usage. Bosch believes that the artificial intelligence built by Robert Bosch Engineering and Business solutions Pvt. Ltd that underpins the solution has the potential to deliver meaningful, valuable insights across almost every sector of business.

Vijay Ratnaparkhe, president and managing director of RBEI, said, “Phantom, with its unique algorithm, will help multiple industries with AI-powered actionable insights to jumpstart their digital transformation journey. The AI algorithm is made robust using data from manufacturing, retail and energy solutions.”

Installation of the Phantom is not intrusive and quickly enables visibility into the energy network it is connected to. After connecting to the energy network, the Phantom performs a number of value-add functions for the property owner:

  • Automatically collects, calculates and reports the costs of energy consumed — department-wise, process-wise, shift-wise or equipment-wise
  • Determines the true impact of energy prices on all production lines
  • Automatic alerts to take corrective action during adverse trends
  • Removes electricity budgeting guesswork
  • Helps to minimize administrative costs and reduces data entry errors
  • Identifies devices that need servicing
  • Identifies generator run hours and fuel consumption

In short, the Bosch Phantom adds insights that typically only come from much more complex PLC-backed controls equipment and does so without all the fuss. Instead of high capital costs, complex programming, and masses of wiring, the Phantom brings a robust set of intelligent monitoring solutions packed into a single, easy to install bolt-on device. That’s an impressive value proposition for homeowners, businesses owners, manufacturing plants, and commercial operations alike.

If you’re in the market for a Tesla, feel free to use my Tesla Referral code for your purchase: http://ts.la/kyle623. Doing so gives the buyer (and me) 1,000 miles of free Supercharging credit and allows us to cover Tesla even better in the future. 

Why Tesla’s Solar Roof Is A Bargain, 53% Of The Price Of A Roof + Electricity

Image courtesy: Tesla

Originally published on CleanTechnica

When Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company’s Solar Roof tile system back in 2016, he boldly proclaimed that it would cost less than buying a roof and electricity. Since then, we have not seen any data to support his claim, until now.

I signed a contract with Tesla for the installation of a new Tesla Solar roof tile system and have unpacked the details, good and bad, from the contract in a series of articles. To kick things off, I will start by comparing the cost of the system against Elon’s claims to see if a Tesla Solar Roof tile system is actually cheaper than buying a roof and the power generated by the system over its life.

One Roof To Rule Them All

An accurate comparison requires an accurate baseline to be used for the cost of electricity and the cost of a new roof. Getting a new roof installed can range from $10,000 to $50,000, depending on the material used. Composite shingle roofs and tile roofs are more cost effective, but do not have the same durability as a Tesla Solar Roof with its tempered glass tiles. Tesla’s Solar Roof  is comprised of, “Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, or infinity, whichever comes first.”


The only roofing product on the market that comes close to this bold proclamation is a metal roof with an expected 50 year life. This is an important comparison to understand because just looking at the Tesla Solar Roof as simply the covering for the home already sets it apart from most common roofing products. It is a high-end roof, even without the solar aspect. This is not a justification for a higher price, but it is simply the reality of buying a roof that lasts.

The Tesla Solar Roof is not a typical roof, and that is highlighted in the fact that it comes with two different guarantees. The first is for the solar production from the roof. The solar production from the Solar Roof is guaranteed for 25 years. This protects the buyer from subpar solar cells, cells failing, or other factors that impact the electrical generation from the system. Such a guarantee is standard across the solar industry. The second warranty is for the physical roof structure. Because the Tesla Solar Roof is a building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system, in addition to generating power, it also must serve as the physical roof for the house. As a roof, the Tesla Solar Roof is warrantied for infinity or the life of the home, whichever comes first.

To ensure accuracy, I went out and got bids for the job from 5 real local contractors in Southern California. This was not a hypothetical exercise, as we are in need of a new roof and were actively pursuing both options to determine which was a better fit for our family. Bids were made based on actual permitted architectural drawings of the roof, with all associated wrinkles and warts. After receiving all of the bids, I took the average price from all 5 contractors and used that as the baseline cost for a comparable roof installation. That came to $37,865.80 for a new metal roof.

Electricity By Any Other Name

Musk and his team of energy engineers at Tesla were not simply trying to build a better roof. They were ultimately trying to build a solar product that would help the masses to adopt solar because it was easier, cheaper, higher quality, and better looking. That is a tall order to fill, by any measure.

On the cost side of the equation, it is a simple matter of taking the cost of electricity from the U.S. Energy  Information Administration (EIA) and extrapolating that price out over 25 years. I used the most recent cost of residential electricity in California of 19.3 cents/kWh (March 2019) and extrapolated that out using a conservative 2% annual increase. For parity, I priced the system out using the production of the solar system, following the maximum degradation noted by Tesla. Over the 25 year warrantied life of the solar production from the system, the Solar Roof system should generate $73,436.14 worth of electricity.

Sizing The Solar Roof

We do not have a gas line running to our home, so everything in the home runs on electricity. We also have two electric vehicles that pull the vast majority of their electricity from our home. To offset as much of this consumption as possible, we are installing the largest Tesla Solar Roof tile system that our roof can handle.

System sizing on a Tesla Solar Roof is done differently than traditional solar systems, where the number of solar panels used depends on the need and roof capability. Because a Tesla Solar Roof has to serve as a physical cover for the house as its primary function, tiles must cover the entire surface. To size the system, Tesla has developed tiles that have solar cells and tiles that do not — and they all look essentially the same. For smaller systems, Tesla simply uses fewer tiles containing the actual solar cells.

Image courtesy: Tesla

The Tesla Solar Roof for our home has solar cells in every location possible. There are some areas around the edges of the roof and near the hips and joints without cells, but every other surface is setup to produce power. The primary surface of our roof faces south, which is ideal for solar production, but the configuration we are using utilizes the north-, east-, and west-facing roof surfaces as well. That does indeed maximize our solar generation, but results in a lower yield from the system compared to a system with all active tiles facing south.

The Data

All told, Tesla was able to fit a 10.59kW system in our roof, which it expects will produce 13,126 kWh in its first year of operation. This is the equivalent size of a system of 32 x 330 watt solar panels! The system, which I’ll remind you also serves as the roof for our home, came out to $70,375.23 before rebates and $58,603.04 after rebates. Compared to the cost of a metal roof, the Tesla Solar Roof was $20,737.24 more.

Translating this data into nerd-speak, aka an Excel spreadsheet, we can see that the cost of installing a metal roof and simply buying the equivalent of the electricity produced by the Tesla Solar Roof system would equal $111,301.94, whereas the Tesla Solar Roof is only $58,603.04. These are not hypotheticals or mythical numbers, just a simple summary of expenses in two different scenarios over 25 years. Said another way, the Tesla Solar Roof is 52.7% of the cost of installing a comparable roof and just buying power from the utility.

What About A Composite Shingle Roof?

Image courtesy: Tesla

Costing out a Tesla Solar Roof versus a metal roof is interesting, but that’s still a really expensive roof. Musk said at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on June 11th, 2019, that the Solar Roof team was really pushing to beat even the ubiquitous composite shingle roof. Using the single estimate we received for a composite shingle roof for our house at a mere $12,000, the Solar Roof system still comes out on top.

We can use the same $73,436.14 for the value of the electricity produced and $12,000.00 for the composite shingle roof for a total of $85,436.14. That includes the cost of electricity over the life of the system from the utility and the physical composite shingle roof. Compared to the $58,603.04 for the Solar Roof, composite shingle is already more expensive here in Southern California.

In fact, even if I throw in the roof itself as free, the Solar Roof is cheaper than simply buying power from the utility here in California, for a savings of almost $15,000 over 25 years. It won’t make or break your retirement, but it is impressive to see that the Solar Roof is already holding its own against roofing materials of any type in California. In fact, that is conveniently close to the installed price of two Tesla Powerwalls, so throw those in for some extra resiliency and call it a day.

The payback time for the Solar Roof will vary state by state and utility by utility, so be sure to run your own numbers before pulling the trigger on your own system. We spent months looking into this topic. Check back at CleanTechnica for more analysis of the Tesla Solar Roof system as the installation of our system progresses.

If you are in the market for a Tesla, find someone locally who you know (like, someone you know in real life) and use their referral code. If you don’t know anyone with a Tesla, go find someone at your local Supercharger and try not to be a creep and ask them for their referral code (they won’t mind). If that doesn’t work, ask a co-worker or a distant relative, post on Facebook or Twitter, or just hit up Google. If all of that fails and it’s an odd-numbered day and not too sunny out, you can use my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging, I guess. Here is my referral code: http://ts.la/kyle623

The Rayvolt Cruzer Is A Turbocharged Work Of Art On Wheels

Originally published on CleanTechnica

In its quest to start a people-powered electric bike Rayvolution, Barcelona-based Rayvolt has been churning out a line of unique ebikes that blend the classic motorcycle styling of yesteryear with the high tech electric powertrains of tomorrow for customers, today.

The Rayvolt Cruzer. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

An eBike With Classic Style

CleanTechnica went to Barcelona* to visit Rayvolt after the launch of its 2019 lineup and we took the Cruzer out for a stroll around town and down to Barcelona’s beach boardwalk for the afternoon. The Cruzer’s relaxed posture made for a nice ride for riders of a variety of heights as we rode through town from Rayvolt’s headquarters towards the beach strip. The longer frame of the bike and its thick 3” rubber tires pair for a nice stable ride and helped us make quick work of the city’s bike lanes. Disclaimer: Rayvolt paid for the author’s flight to Barcelona for the purposes of this article series. 

The company’s flagship ebike is the Cruzer V3 and it is an absolute workhorse of an ebike. It is available with one of two of Rayvolt’s custom-designed motors: the Smart Hub or the Power Hub for an extra 200 euros. The Cruzer looks and rides like a classic early 1900s motorcycle, with the seat low and pushed to the back and the pedals biased towards the front of the frame. Complementing the retro look are a pair of leather saddlebags, with one containing the battery for the bike and the other providing a small storage compartment.

Image credit: Rayvolt

Once on the boardwalk, the longer posture and heavier frame made it harder to weave through the dense pedestrian traffic on the boardwalk, but the leather covered spring suspension saddle made the ride comfortable enough as we walked our way through some of the denser areas.

We stopped along the boardwalk for a few photo shoots and found that our passion for the classic curves of the bike were shared by the locals and tourists alike as numerous people stopped to take photos of the Cruzer in all its glory. Our build was a classic matte grey frame with natural leather, which also seemed to be popular with the locals as well, judging from their double takes and gawking.

Cutting Edge Power

On the power electronics side of things, the Rayvolt Power Hub motor that our bike was equipped with provided a silent boost to our pedaling as we motored down the boardwalk. And when I say silent, I mean silent, like zero noise. For those who have driven an electric vehicle or ridden on an ebike, you may be familiar with the slight whine of the electric motor. I’ve personally grown to love it, and was expecting the same slight whine that most ebikes emit, but I was actually pleasantly surprised when I first took off on the Rayvolt Cruzer with its Rayvolt-designed Power Hub motor. It silently ramped me up to speed and had me flying down the path in no time.

They Rayvolt Cruzer in one of Barcelona’s many walkable alleys. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

If the transition from a motorcycle to an electric bike takes the noise from a 10 to a 1, upgrading to Rayvolt’s Hub motor takes that down to zero. It’s akin to flying on the wind and unlike anything I’ve experienced. Mat let us take Rayvolt’s very early prototype electric motorcycle (that’s another story for another time) for a ride up and down the alley outside of the headquarters and while it clearly packed an insane amount of torque and power, its powerful motor was all but silent. The same held true for the Cruzer as it silently assisted my pedaling or responded to the throttle.

Customization

The Cruzer is a feat of design, first and foremost, but it isn’t just made for the runway. Our Cruzer came equipped with a pair of fenders, but an optional rack increases the utility of the bike beyond just cruising down the boardwalk in style. Adding a rack to the bike makes it easy to slap a pair of panniers to the bike or even to add a second seat to the rack. Rayvolt has a number of tricks up its sleeve to maximize the utility of the Cruzer and the other bikes in its lineup that let owners build out the perfect bike to suit their lifestyle.

If you haven’t ridden an ebike or cargo bike before, it may be best to just order the bike first and ride it around for a bit to see what you find yourself using it for. After that, you can always look back at what accessories are available and start to dream about how they might complement the things you’ve already found yourself doing with it. For me, I regularly commute on my ebikes and take them to the farmers market, so adding a rack and a pair of panniers seems like a logical build on a functional electric bike platform.

A series of high quality accessories are available for the Rayvolt Cruzer. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The ability to customize the bike lets each owner build out their own platform of functionality from which they can rely on it more and more. In Europe, bicycling around town is much more normal, but using bikes as a primary or even secondary mode of transportation in the United States just hasn’t taken off in the same way in large part due to the fact that our cities have been designed and built up around cars, not humans and bikes. Ebikes give us one more reason to stand up and mandate that our cities be redesigned for humans first and cars…last. Bicycling around town reconnects us with our cities, our communities, while improving our own personal health along the way. It’s a beautiful win-win.

For more information about the Rayvolt Cruzer V3, head over to its internet home or check out the user manual here.

We worked with Mat and the team on a special win-win deal for CleanTechnica and our readers. If you buy a bike using our link and our affiliate code KEEPSAFECT, Rayvolt will give you a free classic helmet with purchase of one of their ebikes. On our end, Rayvolt kicks down a few bucks to CleanTechnica through their affiliate program to help us keep the lights on. To get the deal, you do need to use our referral link to complete your purchase, then drop the coupon code ‘keepsafect’ in when you’re ready to checkout. The best part is that doing this costs you absolutely nothing extra and supports CleanTechnica at the same time.

Featured image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Vegas, Baby! Los Angeles To Vegas & Back In A Tesla Model 3 — 8 Hours Of Driving & 70 Minutes Of Charging

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Road trips rarely consist of scripted fueling stops, nicely packed sack lunches, and firm itineraries, so when EV enthusiast Dennis Pascual and I decided to make the 540-mile | 869-kilometer run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back, we intentionally shot from the hip. The quintessential road trip from LA to Vegas is a staple coming-of-age trip that thousands of youngsters embark on every week.

The road trippers, Dennis & Kyle. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

This Demands A Response

The trip was necessary to respond to the sensationalist headline from the EV road trip undertaken by one New York Times journalist claiming that the 8-hour drive required 5 hours of EV charging. In the real world, the majority of EVs sold can do the trip in much less time, with far less time spent charging. So we met up at the predetermined starting point of our journey in downtown Los Angeles, jumped into our trusty Tesla Model 3 with just 207 miles | 333 kilometers of range (325 miles | 525 kilometers is what’s available on a full charge), and hit the road.

“Our trip was different. It was to be a classic affirmation of everything right and true in the national character. A gross physical salute to the fantastic possibilities in this country.” Okay, so our trip to Las Vegas was not about the country like it was in the deranged classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but rather, it was a celebration of just how far electric vehicles have come in the last few years. And there were no bats, thank God.

Entertaining Traffic

To avoid traffic, we left Los Angeles at 5:00am (4:59am on the official clock for the trip) and headed east. The navigation said our first charging stop should be at the 150kW Tesla Supercharger in Yermo, California. We made good time, until we didn’t. An accident ahead of us resulted in parking lot traffic where we moved 2 miles | 3.2 kilometers over 1 hour and 38 minutes. The break gave us a chance to put Tesla’s new arcade game to the test.

Rocking the Tesla Arcade on the freeway while stopped. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The built-in arcade function with a game that’s actually modern and entertaining definitely helped pass the time — though, Twitter, email, and other social platforms admittedly played a significant role as well. A few practice rounds down and we were able to level up, earning a new character and a new level in the game. It’s not worth celebrating in the real world, but when you’re literally parked on the freeway for who knows how long, every success is worth celebrating. Thankfully, traffic started to move before my bladder did and we were on our way towards Yermo once again.

Yermo is one of Tesla’s less utilized charging stations and was one of the answers to the congestion at the original LA to Vegas charging stop in Baker, California. Stopping along the way at one of these three towns is a part of the journey no matter the type of vehicle used.

The Tesla Supercharger in Yermo, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We were eager for the stop to grab some breakfast, stretch our legs, and answer the call of nature (pro tip: don’t send that one to voicemail). Yermo is a single stop exit. There is one attraction there and it just so happens to have a handful of Tesla chargers. Across the parking lot, a few new ChargePoint 50kW Tritium VeeFil chargers were being installed, which was a nice treat, as Dennis spent some time at Tritium.

A new ChargePoint DC fast charging station in Yermo, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

After the quick pitstop in Yermo, we were eager to get back on the road for the 145 mile | 233 kilometer sprint over to Las Vegas.

Leaving Las Vegas

We arrived in old town Las Vegas at 10:47am and parked for a few minutes for a quick stretch of the legs. We opted to check out the new Fremont Experience, where we would assuredly lose a few bucks each. Dennis put a few bucks onto the craps table and came up empty after a few rolls of the dice. I was equally successful with my first venture on the Roulette wheel, in far less time.

Having checked the box in Downtown Las Vegas, we scrambled back to the car and started the trip back to Los Angeles. Before leaving town, we stopped at the South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger for a very brief charging session to top up. We were not there for the food and found that we only needed 15 minutes of charging to get to our next stop in Baker, California, to see Tesla’s massive Supercharger and EVgo’s ultrafast charging station in a single stop.

The South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger. Image credit: Dennis Pascual. Used with permission.

The South Las Vegas Tesla Supercharger. Image credit: Dennis Pascual. Used with permission.

Juiced back up, we hit the road, back onto Highway 15 South towards California and the roadside refueling station that is Baker, California.

Charging Our Batteries & Bellies In Baker

Baker and Barstow are the usual suspects when it comes to midway stops between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. They both have well-established lines of fast food chains, gas stations, and tourist traps designed to extract as much money in as little time as possible from those passing through. After taking the exit, we breezed through the alien jerky stand and the large mothership parked out front and went straight for the new EVgo DC fast charging station.

Driving a Tesla Model 3, we knew we would not be able to charge there, as Tesla still has not released a CHAdeMO adapter for the Model 3. (Though, it is expected “soon.”) Just the same, we are supporters of electric vehicles of all shapes and sizes and that goes for EV charging stations as well. We took in the beauty of the new 6-stall EVgo station and ogled at the beautiful bifacial solar panels hung overhead. The shade they cast was welcome, as the “World’s Largest Thermometer” that protruded awkwardly into the sky a few feet away reminded us that it was a toasty 102°F | 39°C.

The EVgo ultrafast charging station in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We had neglected to bring our solar ovens, so after a few minutes exploring the new station, we enjoyed a few Beyond Burgers from the nearby Carl’s Jr. The final stop for us in Baker was at Tesla’s Supercharging station, where we would drink down the largest charge of our journey in a 31-minute charging session.

We could have moved on in less time and with less of a charge, but we were busy just taking it all in. The 40-stall, solar-bolstered Tesla Supercharger in Baker is impressive. We wandered from station to station, just taking it all in. Compared to the 6 stalls up the road at the EVgo station, which is tucked behind a tourist trap shop, the Tesla Supercharger just a few blocks down a dusty road sends a completely different message. It sits comfortably on the side of the main drag in town, next to a Shell gas station and a lot next door that is actively being developed into another gas station.

Recharging at the Tesla Supercharger in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The Tesla Supercharger isn’t attempting to project hopes and dreams. It’s just a part of the normal boring layout in Baker. And that’s a great thing. It is there to tell the world that charging EVs on long road trips is not only possible, but completely normal. 120 kilowatts of power at 40 stations hurts the brain to think about in technical terms, but to onlookers, it’s just a part of the normal landscape of Baker now.

As impressive as the physical footprint and charging capacity is at the Baker Supercharger, it is also the most poorly designed Tesla Supercharger I have experienced. The entire station is designed around every vehicle charging pointing in the same direction, but that is absolutely unclear when pulling up to the station. The result is chaos. Cars end up parking in every imaginable direction. Some pull in from the road and just park precariously between two stalls to let the charging cables reach. Others drive in circles before choosing their similarly ill-fated parking configuration. The station was not anywhere near its capacity, but that didn’t make it any less painful to watch.

We stopped for 31 minutes to charge, which, if anything, is rushing the trip. We ate the remains of our plant-based fast food meals, snapped a few photos for posterity, and packed up. There’s not a lot to see in Baker, but after hours in the car, we needed some time not being in the car. Just the same, we pushed onward, for science.

The Tesla Supercharger in Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The Return To Los Angeles

Thus began the longest stretch of our trip. That 15-minute charge we picked up in Las Vegas was nice, but it also meant that we were backloading our driving towards the end of the trip. I was getting tired after waking up at 3:15 am to start this crazy adventure. “How long could we maintain,” I wondered. But we must continue. It had truthfully not been that long, but the sweet siren song of Autopilot threatened to lure me into a sleep that would not end well.

Dennis and I chatted it up for the last few hours of our trip, as we had been doing for the majority of the day. The time flew by. Before we knew it, we were back in the comfort of LA traffic. OK, so there is no comfort in traffic, but we were back. We snapped a few photos as we rolled into downtown Los Angeles to officially log the mileage, time, and state of charge, and that was that. Here are the official timestamps with driving time and charging times parsed out for clarity:

What Did We Learn?

Driving an electric vehicle on long road trips is easy as long as you have the right one. The Tesla Model 3 is the top selling electric vehicle in many markets around the world today because it delivers on the key requirements that real EV drivers have. Fast charging is a critical component of functional long-distance driving in an EV, and Tesla delivers on that in spades. The Supercharging network is the largest DC fast charging network in the world and that shows on road trips like this one.

They don’t need to be planned. They don’t need a ton of thought put into them. Just get in and go. Tesla drivers know this, as evidenced by the dozens of Teslas we spotted on the long dusty stretches between exits on the road to Las Vegas and back. They were absolutely all over the highway, with a few of them flying past us as we settled for our fixed cruise control speeds.

Tesla Supercharger. Baker, California. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Autopilot made this trip easy. I would almost say too easy, but I’d worry that Tesla would take it away from me for the rest of my life and leave me Autopilot-less. I’m not saying it is perfect, as Autopark still tries to work more times in traffic than it does in actual parking lots, and Navigate on Autopilot’s automatic lane change is painful to experience most of the time, but overall, it improves with each and every over-the-air update that comes down.

Autopilot handling traffic. Image not from this road trip. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

For the long stretches of highway that constitute the majority of the Los Angeles to Las Vegas journey (and back), Autopilot was king. It allows the driver to exert far less energy towards the rote task of steering and acceleration while delivering improved safety. That is a game changer, my friends. If you haven’t tried it, get out there and do it. If you have tried it, I’m sorry. Now you have experienced the future and you’ll forever be tainted as a result. You’ll also probably end up buying a Tesla in the next few months.

If you are worried about the capabilities of electric vehicles, just do a bit of reading or get out there and take one for a test drive. The top selling electric vehicle out there is likely far more capable than you thought, but be warned: driving a car that is packed with so much future technology will ruin all other cars for you.

If you are in the market for a Tesla and we have helped you make your decision to buy one, feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging: http://ts.la/kyle623 

The Electrified RadWagon Brings New Functionality To The World Of Cargo Bikes

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Electric bikes have ushered in a new generation of personal electric mobility solutions and that holds more true with cargo bikes than in perhaps any other segment. Rad Power Bikes’ believes it can bring the utility of electrified cargo bikes to the masses with its affordable, durable $1,499 RadWagon.

The RadWagon equipped with cargo bags. Image courtesy: Rad Power Bikes

After our review of the RadRover and the RadMini Step Thru, Rad Power Bikes sent us the RadWagon all kitted out with kid and gear hauling accessories for us to run through the paces. I was admittedly nervous about the prospect of putting my 8- and 9-year-old boys on the back of the bike and trekking around town and was pleasantly surprised at how functional the pairing was. The boys really enjoy riding on the back of the bike whether it be the 10-mile trip home from school or a quick run to the store.

Disclaimer: Rad Power Bikes provided the RadWagon and accessories for free for the purposes of this review.

Instead of having to force them onto the bike like I was fearing, they are chomping at the bit to find excuses to ride on it with me. I do feel the need to pause here and mention that the irony that the heavy lifting of the pedaling is left to dad while my two boys, who are absolutely bubbling over with energy most of the time, sit comfortably in the rear without a way to put that energy into moving the bike forward.

Riding the RadWagon

Thankfully, that’s where the ebike functionality comes in. I’m in decent shape, but I can’t imagine hauling my two boys around the hills in our area without some help from an electric motor. Rad Power Bikes offers up that help on the RadWagon in the form of a Shenghi gearless direct drive 750-watt continuous output motor (on the US version). 750 watts is the maximum output of a motor legally allowed in the US on Class 2 ebikes and it is a welcome boost to the output from my built-in motors (aka legs).

The RadWagon in motion. Image credit: Rad Power Bikes

The bike can be operated in one of three modes, depending on rider preference. Rad Power Bikes builds throttles into all of its bikes and the throttle is the most helpful on heavier bikes like the RadWagon. It is especially helpful when getting started, as a fully loaded RadWagon with two kids on the back can get heavy. The throttle can also be used to propel the bike without any pedal input.

Most of our trips on the RadWagon are taken in pedal assist mode. In this mode, one of five levels of pedal assist can be selected from level 1 providing a small amount of support to level 5, where it feels like a professional cyclist has jumped on board to help pedal the bike. The bike uses its 12-magnet sensor in the crankshaft to determine when pedaling is occurring and seamlessly activates the motor. The exact amount of power being put out by the motor is also displayed on the integrated LCD in watts.

Finally, for shorter trips without a load, or to train, the bike can be ridden without any input from the motor by setting the pedal assist level to zero. There is some resistance from the motor in this mode, so it is not something riders will likely take advantage of, but it is nice to know that the bike can be ridden even if the battery dies.

On the manual side of things, the RadWagon is equipped with a 7-speed 11-34 freewheel powered by a Shimano derailleur and shifter. In several hundred kilometers of testing, I found the combination of the manual gears and the 5 pedal assist levels to provide the perfect balance of options to support a wide variety of loads and terrains. When riding up the 300′ hill to my kids’ school, I was able to drop the gears down to a lower gear and lean into the pedal assist for more support. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the bike performed and didn’t have to work nearly as hard as I was fearing I might have to.

The RadWagon with a single Thule Yepp Maxi. Image courtesy: Rad Power Bikes

When heading back down the hill with two kids on the back, I was able to shift to a high gear and let the motor regenerate some power. That’s right, the motor on the RadWagon can actually regenerate battery power. It’s not nearly as useful as in an electric vehicle, but it is a nice premium feature that many eBikes don’t have.

Specs

The RadWagon is a mid-step frame powered with a 750 watt hub motor built into the rear wheel. It comes from the factory with a 350 pound | 159 kilogram payload capacity and a 120 pound | 54 kilogram capacity on the rear rack. To ensure a stable ride, the RadWagon features a deflopilator which, in addition to being just plain fun to say, helps stabilize the front wheel at high speeds when carrying loads.

Accessories For Days

What makes the RadWagon so exciting is its flexibility. From the factory, the RadWagon comes with a rear rack, plastic rear wheel shield, and side decks, but that is just the beginning. The team at Rad Power Bikes has built up a full complement of equally durable, utilitarian accessories that let each rider customize their ride for the specific application they want to use it for.

Adding a flat platform up front and in the rear allows for the addition of one of a host of small or large delivery bags that can be used to haul temperature or weather sensitive gear around. Families with younger kids can add Rad Power Bikes’ Caboose to the back of the bike along with one or two rear deck pads for a surprisingly comfortable way to get around town. I was expecting to have to encourage or trick my kids into riding on the back of the bike, but was pleasantly surprised to find that both my 8- and 9-year-old sons absolutely love riding on the back of the RadWagon.

The RadWagon with the caboose and passenger. Image courtesy: Rad Power Bikes

Families with smaller kids can even add one or two Thule Yepp Maxi carseats onto the deck that really lives up to the wagon in its name. Just because it does a great job of hauling mini-humans around town doesn’t meant that it is a one trick pony. Riders looking to pick up groceries or run errands around town will find that Rad Power Bikes’ ballard cargo bags are voluminous to the point of absurdity, but truth be told, their functionality helped me to weave my errands together without having to worry about the onboard storage capacity.

Last week, I went out to pick up a new electric tea kettle, hopped over to donate blood, then back across town to finish up some work at a local cafe. The RadWagon’s capability allows for the same casual storage of a moderate kit of tools and inclement weather gear that a car does, enabling owners to explore their cities from a new perspective without compromise.

Skip The Gym

Perhaps the biggest benefit I have noticed with the RadWagon is that it is so capable that I’m actually able to use it for the vast majority of my normal daily trips. My wife wanted to meet me at my parent’s house to pick up our two boys so instead of jumping in the car, I hopped on the bike. Easy peasy and a workout to boot.

The same goes for other meetings or errands, which allows me to use the time I’m already spending to get from place to place to get a workout rather than having to carve out time specifically to go do it. Heck, the savings from not paying for a gym membership could easily be funneled into an ebike fund or monthly payment. It is a beautiful thing turning what is essentially inactive time sitting in a drivers seat into workout time pedaling across town on a bike.

For More Information

Prices aren’t normally things that people boast about, but the RadWagon really is one of those diamonds in the rough. It was a great price at $1,599 but Rad Power Bikes wasn’t satisfied. They pushed and pushed on their prices and were able to slash that down even further to $1,499. That puts it at the same price as their other ebikes, but with so much more functionality packed in.

Head over to the RadWagon site to learn more about it, to drool a little, or to make a purchase. Their bikes arrive needing some assembly, but your local bike shop can help out there, if needed. If you’re comfortable taking on the task of clamping on the front wheel, bolting on a few things here and there with the included toolset, you will likely be up and running in an hour or two. I’ve assembled furniture that took longer, but your mileage may vary. 

BYD Adds Bus Manufacturing Capacity In North America With New Canadian Plant

Originally published on CleanTechnica

New energy company BYD is taking another step into the lucrative North American bus market with the announcement of a new bus plant in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. The new 45,000-square-foot facility represents another step forward into the electrified future of North America.

The BYD Coach & Bus Factory in Lancaster, CA. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

“We are dedicated to partnering with municipalities across Canada, and we are passionate about our mission to create a cleaner environment here in North America and across the globe,” said BYD President Stella Li.

BYD’s new plant in Newmarket, Ontario and gives BYD additional bus production capacity close to the high-density east coast of the US in addition to opening up new partnerships in Canada. It builds on BYD’s existing bus supply deals in Toronto, Victoria, Longeuil, St. Albert, and Grand Prairie. “We’re proud to establish a home in Canada; it re-affirms our commitment as a company to be rooted in this country and in this province,” said Ted Dowling, Vice President, BYD Canada. “We look forward to creating new partnerships across the nation.”

A bare bus frame at BYD’s Lancaster, California factory. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

The new plant already has its first marching orders, with an order for 10 fully electric BYD buses for the largest transit operator in Canada, the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC). The TTC also has an option to add another 30 BYD buses beyond the initial order.

The new factory brings the promise of new jobs into Canada as many automakers’ plants in Canada face uncertain fates in light of dwindling sales. “As traditional auto manufacturing is withdrawing from Canada, municipalities across the country are re-doubling their efforts to tackle climate change through zero-emissions transit,” Dowling said.

BYD has an established track record of bringing future proof, clean tech jobs into the communities where it sets up shop, much like it has done in Southern California. “BYD is well-positioned to replicate in Canada the kind of rapid growth we’ve seen in places like Lancaster, California — a plant which started with about 100 workers in 2013, and now employs more than 750. Together with our partners in York Region and the town of Newmarket we’re going to put Canada on the map as a North American leader in Electric Bus assembly,” said Dowling.

If you are in the market for a Tesla and we have helped you make your decision to buy one, feel free to use my Tesla referral code to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging: http://ts.la/kyle623 

The 8 Accessories Every eBiker Needs

Originally published on CleanTechnica

So you’ve bought a new eBike or are considering pulling the trigger on an eBike purchase. While eBikes are in many ways just glorified bicycles, there are a few differences that require some additional thought.

eBikes in Barcelona, Spain. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

I recommend ordering the first 3 of these along with your bike because when it shows up, the first thing you are going to want to do is to get out there and ride it. Having a helmet, bike lock, and tire protection will set you up for success even before you start riding.

Buy A Helmet

eBikes travel at higher speeds than your brain is used to traveling at on a bike. Protect it from its own inability to sense danger with a helmet. Moving at higher average speeds also means that any accidents are going to be at those same higher speeds, making full face helmets, gloves, elbow pads, etc., worth considering.

Get A Lock

eBikes are typically much more expensive than traditional bikes and thieves know it. Avoid the oh crap moment of coming out of the store to find your bike gone by buying a nice lock or two. I’m not talking about a $5 cable lock either. Go get a hardened steel chain lock, u-bolt, folding lock, or all of the above. You kicked down big bucks for an eBike, so don’t go cheap on the thing that will keep it safe.

For extra safety, pull the battery off and take it with you into the store, as the battery is a big chunk of the value of the bike. I’ve also built a habit of keeping my tools, spare tire, and pump in a rack bag that I can quickly pull off and take into the store with me. That’s one less thing for thieves to snatch and one less thing I have to worry about when I’m picking up some fresh veggies or some not quite as healthy Doritos.

Protect Your Tubes

I’m sure I’m deserving of an award for this one, but I have managed to get a flat tire in every ebike I’ve put any sort of serious mileage on in just the first couple of days. I know, I’m a slow learner, but when the inevitable flat tire comes, the first thing I do is to order some tube protection.

That starts with tire liners that put up a protective barrier between the outer tire and the inner tube to shield it from any thorns, staples, nails, and the like. Mr Tuffy’s makes a lineup of go-to products for different diameter tires and with different thicknesses, but there are many other options out there to choose from.

The second layer of protection is Slime. I stole this hack from Bosch’s ebike guru Brian Sarmiento who has embarked on several multi-day road trips on his fleet of eBikes. Slime stuff surfaced many years back and people have been pumping the snot colored goop into their inner tubes ever since. The goopy liquid contains solids in it that essentially clot up on any holes that might show up in the tube. You can buy Slime by itself or buy tubes pre-filled with it. They also have a heavy duty tube that comes with thicker walls for even more protection.

Image courtesy: Bosch

The reason tube protection is so important for eBikes compared to normal bikes is that it’s likely that you’ll be traveling longer distances and traveling on commuting roads or paths. In my neck of the woods city here in Southern California, that translates to riding on the side of otherwise very busy streets on unkempt bike lanes. My tires inevitably end up eating all of the loose construction materials thrown out of vehicles and onto the side of the road. It’s not great. I wish it was better (and it may be in your area), but it has been a reality for me. Level up your protection by adding Slime to your tubes and by getting thicker tubes before you end up on the side of the road wondering what happened.

eBikes also tend to have rear wheels that are more complicated to take off, thanks to the drive motors and electronics that go with them. Protecting your tubes means less flat tires on the side of the road that you may or may not have the tools to repair in the field.

Keep Your Tires Inflated

Just like on a normal bike, tires are more susceptible to roadside debris when they are less inflated. Keep your tires filled up to the lesser of the tire’s max rating and the bike manufacturer’s recommended pressure. You’ll want to check this every couple of weeks to ensure they stay safe and give you the best riding experience.

https://volta.purecycles.com/capacita-press-kit

Image courtesy: Pure Cycles

It may sound obvious, but just as it some time to build new routines around cars, rebuilding those routines around bikes will take some time. Don’t rush yourself, just take your time and be patient with yourself through the inevitable learning or (re-learning) process.

Spare Tube

Even if you’re prepared and have taken measures to protect your tubes, #FlatsHappen. It’s never a bad idea to carry a spare tube to avoid getting stranded miles from home without options. I tossed one of the stock tubes that came with the bike in my repair kit after replacing them with Slime-filled tires. It’s not the ideal long term solution, but it’ll do in a pinch.

Tube Patch Kit & Tire Irons

Doing a field replacement of a front tire can be done in the field, but depending on the eBike, that might not be an option for the rear (or driven) tire. For these, it’s best to bring a tire patch kit. A key part of any patch kit is the tire irons that help you pull the outer tire off in order to gain access to the tube itself.

Roadside repair. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Patch kits haven’t changed much in years and there are essentially two types. The first type of patch uses a vulcanizing fluid to marry up the rubber in the tube and the rubber from the patch. The second type of patch comes with integrated adhesive. Park Tools is a staple in the bicycle maintenance world and makes a great patch kit with integrated adhesive that keeps it simple while ensuring high quality.

Tire Pump

To fill up the tire after a tube replacement or patch, you’ll need a tire pump. Most portable pumps are tiny, but that means you’ll be pumping hundreds of times to fill up your big eBike tires. I opted for a larger full-sized pump from Zefal, but there are many options out there for pumps. Save yourself the headache of having to walk your bike back home by being prepared before heading out.

Gear Bag

With all this gear, it’s a good idea to find a permanent home for it on the bike. That can be a backpack, pannier, or a rack top bag. Find a solution that fits with your lifestyle and fill it with the eBike essentials.

There are endless options for bicycle configurations and eBikes take that to an entirely new level with more power, higher speeds, more range, and accommodations for riders of different levels of fitness. Do you have a must-have accessory that we missed? Let us know in the comments!