Category Archives: CleanTechnica

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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 

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 

Wallbox Pushes Into The Rapidly Expanding US EV Market

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Spanish EVSE manufacturer Wallbox announced at an exclusive launch party at the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in New York City last week that it is entering the US EV charging market.

Image courtesy: Wallbox

Wallbox has already established itself as a global force in EVSE manufacturing and digital solutions, with more than 20,000 chargers installed in 30 countries across Europe. Its array of EVSE solutions combined with the smart solutions it stack on top of them like facial recognition, smart sensors, secure access control, remote programming, and a dynamic cloud-based app have made it the preferred choice for many charging site hosts.

Wallbox is leveraging the cloud to keep owners connected with its cloud-based myWallbox charging management platform. The solution gives owners visibility of real time updates from their EVSE, updates on the latest improvements from Wallbox and the ability to remotely control and program their Wallbox.

Image courtesy: Wallbox

“Customer understanding and innovation are fundamental to our approach. We have to remember that when people buy a plug-in vehicle, they are taking control and owning their mobility energy for the first time. This is a big and very liberating change,” says Wallbox US Country Director, Douglas Alfaro.

Wallbox has its sights set on the US market as one of the largest, fastest growing EV markets in the world, noting that the US EV market grew 81% last year. This is largely thanks to the success of the Tesla Model 3 in its home market, which has spurred interest in electric vehicles in millions of people around the world. The economics of electric vehicles are also starting to shift, with the total cost of ownership of the Standard Range Model 3 already having edged out BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and many more. Access to functional, high speed, convenient EV charging around town makes EVs that much more visible and easy to adopt for millions more drivers and Wallbox is eager to dive into the new market.

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 

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe Details Plans To Move Into Stationary Energy Storage

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Rivian Big Bold EV Bet

Rivian hosted a roundtable discussion for 800 of its reservation holders to talk a little bit about how the company is progressing in the move to production. They also took the opportunity to talk about an exciting microgrid project they’re working on with the Honnold Foundation in Puerto Rico.

First off, Rivian designed its battery systems with second life use in mind.

Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe (RJ): “We can leverage our battery systems to support grid applications, to support energy storage applications. But very importantly, our platform, our technology can fit, and work in products well beyond our own.”

RJ: “If we were to show the product 2-3 years ago, it would have been similar, but it wouldn’t have been finished. It wouldn’t have had all those questions answered. We wanted to answer as many of those questions internally first.”

World-famous free-solo climber Alex Honnold, founder of the Honnold Foundation (Honnold): “I’ve been wanting to electrify my transportation for probably 5 or 6 years. I was fantasizing about electric vans and imaging, but it just wasn’t quite there.”

Honnold: “[When I saw Rivian’s vehicles, I thought,] this is exactly what I need to go out.

Honnold: “[When driving out to many of my climbing sites around Las Vegas,] you do a lot of highway commuting, then there’s a lot of extreme driving to get to the cliff.”

Honnold: “Obviously, there’s the alignment in values and what we hope to do in the world, but at some point, you just want to drive a truck real fast.”

RJ: “It seamlessly transitions into a storage application. The fact that it’s seamless is really important because it lowers the barrier for the batteries to find the second life, to get into a storage application.”

RJ: “The vehicles are designed so, essentially, the batteries come out of the vehicle and we flip a digital switch and the batteries can then go from storing electrons that are propelling a vehicle to storing electrons that could be powering a house or a business. The pack itself is designed to stack very easily into an enclosure, essentially a shipping container. In smaller applications, you can actually take the top off the pack and inside the pack are what we call modules. These are sized to perfectly fit into a rack, so you can dissect modules as well and use modules as more discretized or smaller energy storage applications.”

“The vehicles are designed so essentially, the batteries come out of the vehicle and we flip a digital switch and the batteries can then go from storing electrons that are propelling a vehicle to storing electrons that could be powering a house or a business.” — Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe

Sustainability is a foundational belief at Rivian. This penetrates the design of the vehicles, the design and intentionality that goes into the design of Rivian’s factory outside of Chicago, and the company’s philanthropic efforts.

RJ: “When I started Rivian, the goal was to create products that were exciting and built with passion and deliver real performance, but at the same time, are deeply sustainable.”

RJ: “The decisions we make as a company absolutely are made from the vantage point of, ‘How do we have the most impact?’”

RJ: “The deal we did with Ford was part of that. How can we provide help provide a platform that will speed up their electrification efforts in a certain segment? That was motivated by the desire to get more sustainable electric vehicles on the road more quickly.”

Honnold: “Having these powerful experiences in nature, you wind up caring a little bit more about preserving, protecting and hoping that the next generation can have similar experiences.”

Visiting an extremely remote climbing location in Chad, Honnold was taken aback by just how remote and disconnected some farmers were from the grid, from the infrastructure much of the world takes for granted.

Honnold: “This is an incredibly different existence than I’ve had growing up in Sacramento.”

Honnold: “I just feel a certain obligation to do something.”

Honnold: “At a certain point, personal actions only go so far.”

It was the disconnect between his ability to make a larger impact simply by living a more sustainable life himself and the much larger need for the world to rapidly transition to lower-carbon, more-sustainable ways of life that triggered him to start the Honnold Foundation.

Rivian plans to use much of the land that it purchased with its manufacturing facility to support local agriculture programs and to grow food for its workers.

RJ: “We’ve got about 1,000 people at the company split between 3 primary development locations. In Detroit, we do a lot of the mechanical design and larger systems that have interactions with the big suppliers in the midwest. On the West Coast, we have an office in Silicon Valley that does all of our connectivity, our cloud architecture, all of our self driving. In Southern California, just outside L.A., we do all of our propulsion systems, our chassis systems. But the three of those work streams come together in our production facility, which is just south of Chicago.”

RJ: “We have 508 acres at the plant, a very small percent of which actually has the plant occupying it. Most of it is just grass. We’re going to be turning a lot of that into an area to grow food. We’re going to run that in partnership with some of the local universities through their agriculture programs to grow food locally on our site, partnering with local universities and then that food is going to be served in our facility with students that are learning from top chefs who we bring in to run the food services in our facility. We’re going to provide incredible food to our plant team, regardless of what part of the plant you work in. So there’s true equity, we treat every employee as part of this mission to bring this facility back up.”

To vet the capabilities of Rivian’s second-life battery packs in a real life application, they partnered with the Honnold Foundation and the Camino Foundation on a world-first project. Together, they are designing and building Puerto Rico’s first cooperatively-managed solar energy microgrid. The new microgrid will power the community of Adjuntas, Puerto Rico. The solar-plus-storage installation will rely heavily on 8 Rivian battery packs as the storage for the system.

Honnold: “It’s a collaboration with the Camino Foundation, with Rivian, with the Foundation to provide second-life batteries to help power a cooperative solar microgrid.”

RJ: “We look out over time and this is a very big opportunity. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of vehicles, thousands and thousands of megawatt-hours of energy storage that needs to be applied. This is a beautiful project because it allows us to demonstrate what we’re thinking about for a community that really needs it and in partnership with that community to fully build out the potential of energy storage combined with solar. In many ways, this will serve to create echoes for others to see this.”

Honnold Foundation Executive Director Dory Trimble (Trimble): “At the Honnold Foundation, we really want to make sure that solar really is the right solution. With Casa Pueblo, the work we’re doing there, solar is the right solution for Puerto Rico.”

Trimble: “The cool thing that we can do is to shine this light on projects that wouldn’t have visibility otherwise.”

Trimble: “The core of our work is supporting solar energy access and everything else is just in service of that.”

Honnold: “That’s why a project like this is so important to us because it really does show real potential. If you can have such a big impact on a community with just 8 car batteries, it’s a tremendous opportunity.”

Honnold: “Electric cars are the future, so there are only going to be more and more batteries.”

RJ: “We see the ability to have enormous impact over time with the batteries from all of your vehicles at their end of lives.”

RJ: “We have very big batteries in our cars, so one battery can do a lot in terms of its impact to a community.”

Stationary energy storage applications have been embedded in the fabric of Rivian’s products, designs, and company strategy from the beginning.  

RJ: “There are some very large deployments. We haven’t announced yet, but we have a number of other relationships and partnerships that we’re establishing to really put this idea, this ability to use energy storage from our vehicles, through a megaphone to really help drive adoption of more sustainable ways to access sustainable energy.”

Honnold: “Domestically, one of the things I love about electric cars and why I have solar on my home is that I personally don’t support wars in the Middle East, let’s say. But I can charge my car at home and I can just completely opt out of the entire oil industry. I mean, obviously, it’s embedded in my groceries and it’s embedded into other aspects of my life, but to a certain point as a consumer, I can just opt out of certain things that I don’t support. My local utility is pretty regressive. I don’t really support it, but thankfully, I produce my own energy. That’s kind of the beauty of electric cars and the transition to renewables is that it allows individuals to opt out of a lot of the things they personally don’t support.”

Trimble: “When we think about giving and impact on the world, there’s also an opt-in, and for me, the opt-in is supporting work that has a positive impact.”

Trimble: “I don’t really care if you give us money. I just think that people should be giving their money to things they care about.”

RJ: “There are a lot of exciting things coming.”

RJ: “There are other products we’re developing. There are other things we’re doing with some of our technology. We’re excited to start to show the world more of that, but I also want everybody to know here, very pragmatically, we’re working very hard and very long to make sure that we get your cars ready.”

RJ: “We’re on track. Lots of activity at the plant with our teams, with the supply chain. Things are gearing up really nicely. As you’ve seen in how we approach these complex systems, we’re being very thoughtful and organized about how we execute.”

RJ: “As we get closer to production, we’re going to start asking you to tell us exactly what you want in terms of configuring your vehicle. So later this year, you’ll get a note to ask you to configure color and feature set.”

Dive into the hour-long talk below if you want more of the juicy pictures of what’s really going on at Rivian today and what’s coming down the pike in the future.

Rayvolt Is Not-So-Secretly Plotting An eBike Revolution Powered By The Sun

Originally published on CleanTechnica

A former boat captain might not seem like the most likely person to start the next big electric mobility company, but sometimes, it is just that kind of outside the box thinking that creates the perfect storm.

Mat Rauzier launched his career designing watercraft for several companies before taking a left turn when a new adventure presented itself and found himself at the helm of a boat. As captain, he shuttled clients around the world on their adventures, exploring the wonders of the seven seas day after day. After several years on the water, he found that it was not actually the siren song of the sea that called to him, but rather, an innate desire to create, to explore, and to bring his own style of change to the world that was his true passion.

That desire boiled up inside of him and led him to a degree in nautical engineering, which provided the structure and the technical cred to frame up his ideas in the real world, but it was not boats he would ultimately be creating. Rather, his dissatisfaction for the status quo and the pollution created from the vehicles that moved him around in the world led him to build something new. What it was at the time was not clear, but after some tinkering in his workshop and with the advice of friends turned business partners, Rayvolt was born.

From the glossy pages of its catalogs and the beautiful pictures that adorn the Rayvolt website, it is not immediately clear what kind of company Rayvolt is. So when they invited* CleanTechnica out to their headquarters to meet the team and to see their new lineup of ebikes for 2019, we were excited to get a look behind the curtain at what it was that really made them tick. *Rayvolt paid for our travel to and from Barcelona for the meeting.

After winding through the twisted alleys of Barcelona, I cracked the door to their showroom that also served as the company headquarters and R&D facility, and caught my first glimpse of what they stood for. A lineup of beautifully crafted electric bikes stood in a row to the right in what was clearly the showroom, but it was clear that it required an intentional effort to keep the handful of bikes polished up and pretty amidst the fray that lay beyond. A closer inspection revealed that two of those bikes were actually partially assembled prototypes that I later found were actively being developed for a huge new deal for a local bike-sharing company (more on that later).

Rayvolt’s Barcelona headquarters. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

As I looked up from the row of bikes that signaled that I was indeed at the right place, several desks full of smiling faces looked up to greet me. I caught a glimpse of CEO and founder of Rayvolt, Mathieu Rauzier, and Rayvolt co-founder and CTO Jaime Pla Vallve De Aviles, whom I had shared a lengthy Barcelona-style welcome dinner with the night before. Mat excitedly came over and welcomed me to the space before taking me on a tour of every nook and cranny of the facility.

The workspace was strewn with bolts, batteries, motors, and partially assembled (or disassembled) bikes. It felt comfortable and made a lot of sense to me, as I love tinkering with just about anything and everything to better understand how things work (or don’t) to try to make them work better, with varying degrees of success.

Mat introduced me to the diverse team of experts behind Rayvolt that handle sourcing, sales, engineering, and the more technical aspects of the business. They were enthusiastic and clearly felt at home in the space. In the days that followed, I saw each of them pushing their respective parts of the business forward in their own ways, whether it was tearing down and rebuilding the latest Rayvolt motor to integrate the another improvement or negotiating a change request with a parts supplier.

Detail on the Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

We went down a set of stairs into the basement of the building they clearly outgrew months ago and entered into the workshop, and that’s when everything changed. Bike parts were laid out on and stacked up in every nook and cranny of the workshop like docked boats in a harbor. Each bike clearly had its place, but the sheer volume of the barely organized chaos was imposing and I tread carefully, so as to not accidentally disturb the one bike that might be holding everything else in place. Mat looked back at me as we covered the last few steps and the glow on his face made it clear that this was his domain.

A row of early prototypes lined the wall on the right. To the back, a few older Rayvolt Cruisers were in the middle of being upgraded with some new tech. Mat reached around a corner and as if pulling a rabbit from his hat, whipped out a hybrid bike frame that he was working on as one of his pet projects. His passion for design, electric motors, batteries, quality, and technology overflowed out into room as if trying to paint his vision onto the empty frame as he spoke.

The workshop and Mat’s passion for combining classic bicycle and motorcycle lines with the best electrification technology available to create the ebikes that will pull new riders into a new take on an old school mode of getting around. The challenge was clear: what is the best way to harness the firehose that is Mat’s passion for ebikes each and every single day and shape it into beautiful ebikes for customers.

Mat and his team of creators, of doers, of engineers, have built up a line of ebikes that continue to improve with each generation. On our first night in town, Mat shared that Rayvolt had initially struggled to bring its vision for technology-powered classic bikes into reality as they met with supplier after supplier in Shanghai and Shenzhen. Their volumes were too low for any suppliers to be willing to make the changes Mat and his team wanted, but after many long weeks in China and a lot of pushing from his Chinese-born wife and now Chief Operating Officer Ying Zhang, they found a handful of suppliers to work with.

These new suppliers were willing to customize parts to Rayvolt’s specifications and to the high quality standards they needed. Strong relationships forged through long days spent not just at the factory, but out on the factory floor with suppliers followed by drink-sodden business dinners, stretched out from days into weeks of what could best be described as Undergrad Engineering school meets the Hangover.

Putting in the time to design and build their bikes from the ground up without compromise meant designing their own motors, instead of using the off-the-shelf motors that find their way onto many electric bikes around the world. Rayvolt’s motors are optimized for efficiency and power, and building them from the ground up allows them to be constantly improved with numerous small improvements. Mat shared how the next generation motors will move from rectangular to curved magnets to allow for a seamless ring of magnetic field versus a sub-optimized design.

Rayvolt has built up an impressive lineup of ebikes for its customers including its flagship bike, the Cruiser, which pays homage to the early days of motorcycles. The seat sits low on the long frame and pushes the pedals to the front of the frame. It’s a sight to be seen and as we toured Barcelona’s most famous sites on a pair of Rayvolt’s bikes, we felt like the talk of the town as numerous bystanders gawked at the unique ebikes.

Mat also showed us an early build of a bike cover that he is working on that uses a set of integrated solar cells to recharge the battery. The solution folds up neatly into a briefcase sized package for travel, then unfolds to cover and power the bike. Stay tuned for more about this as it develops, but we are excited at the prospect of riding more bikes, powering them with batteries, and recharging it all from the sun. Beautiful!

The Rayvolt Torino. Image credit: Kyle Field | CleanTechnica

Bike-friendly cities like Barcelona make electric bicycles an even more obvious alternative to gasoline vehicles and the injection of Rayvolt’s ebikes into an already bike-centric city like Barcelona is sure to fuel the flames even further. In addition to Rayvolt’s impressive lineup of ebikes, the company has a number of irons in the fire, so stay tuned here on CleanTechnica for the news as it breaks.

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. 
 

Tesla Leverages Software To Eke Out More Supercharging Capacity

Originally published on CleanTechnica

In a push to increase the capacity of its Supercharging network at the top 8% of its stations in North America, Tesla is implementing a charging limit of 80%. During holidays, an additional 9% (for a total of 17%) of Supercharging stations will have the new charging restrictions put in place.

Tesla reached out to CleanTechnica this morning with the update and told us that the new charging cap is being put in place in parallel to the continued expansion of the Supercharging network, not as a stop gap that is being used in place of spending more capital to continue to expand the network. Much like the On-Route Battery Warmup solution, the new charging cap is a simple software push that adds value to all owners and increases the amount of kilowatt-hours the company can push out to vehicles with its Supercharging network.

Owners on road trips using the in-car navigation to determine charging stops and durations will not be affected by the new restriction, however, allowing owners traveling to more remote destinations the ability to charge up as much as recommended by the navigation system. Even in these situations, because the system optimizes the route for overall travel time, charging beyond 80% is an infrequent occurrence.

Implementing a software-limited charging cap of 80% at 8% of Supercharging stations may sound like a limit to freedoms, but the reality is that most people do not charge up to 100% … ever. That is because charging from 0–80% is when charging speeds peak, while charging from 80–100% takes far longer since charging speeds quickly taper off. Charging up beyond 90% also has long-term consequences for battery life, so keeping the state of charge lower is also the best way to ensure a long life for the vehicle’s battery.

The company estimates that the throughput at popular stations should improve by 34%. That translates to higher availability and faster Supercharging times for owners.

As part of the rollout of version 3 of its Supercharging network, Tesla said that it would be doing more than just installing more stations in a push to serve more than twice the number of vehicles with its Supercharging network by the end of 2019, something some close followers of Tesla Supercharging stations have noticed.

Tesla’s continued expansion of its Supercharging network will continue on into the future as its production, delivery, and sales capacity continue to grow year after year.

Tesla’s new version 3 Supercharging hardware is also coming in 2019 as the company begins deploying its new Supercharging backbone that splits a single 1 megawatt power feed into four dedicated 250kW charging stations. This new hardware raises the bar and continues to expand Tesla’s DC fast charging network as competitors continue to take pot shots from the sidelines about how their one fast charging station in a lab charged their prototype vehicle at 350kW. Cute, but Tesla is doing it today. Less talk, more action, thank you very much.

If you want to take advantage of my Tesla referral link to get 1,000 miles of free Supercharging on a Tesla Model S, Model X, or Model 3, here’s the link: http://ts.la/kyle623 
 

The Hands-Free Podcast Launches With A Special Guest (Spoiler: It’s Me)

Originally published on CleanTechnica

Friend of CleanTechnica Nico Nevolo (formerly of Tesla Van Life) has launched a brand new podcast called the Hands-Free Podcast and he brought his Tesla Model X to my neck of the woods in Southern California to talk with me about a wide range of topics in the clean tech space for the first episode.

We talked through subjects including some of my work history, Tesla (obviously, as Nico worked for Tesla for 4 years and lives in a Tesla Model X), electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, the controversial notion of a Universal Basic Income in the United States, and more. I really enjoyed talking with Nico as we drove from Ventura, California, up to Santa Barbara, California, and back with quite a bit of help from Tesla’s Autopilot system.

The Autopilot system is actually the star of the show in Nico’s Hands-Free Podcast, as he drives around interviewing his passengers while the car does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to driving down the highway. I will say that when I drive with Autopilot engaged, I always try to keep my hand on the wheel and recommend that you do the same. Having said that, I didn’t feel like we were ever in any danger and Nico did a great job of blending driving with talking for our ~1 hour chat.

I would love it if you watched the podcast and let me know what you think of it in the comments, on Twitter, on email, or whatever your preferred communication medium is these days. In related news, if you have comments about the topics we covered, as always, drop those down in the discussion here on CleanTechnica or on the Hands-Free Podcast YouTube channel, where the haters tend to hate just a little bit harder for some reason. Drop him some love while you’re at it.