Tesla Drive to Believe challenge 2017

Due to several reasons, I have not written a blog about the Tesla Drive to Believe challenge of January 2017. Better late than never! And yes, that is my mother in the picture above. She is sitting in the frunk (front trunk), which is also ideal for placing take-out food as to not get the smell in the car.

It all started with me signing up my mother for the Tesla Drive to Believe challenge. The idea was that you had to explain why you deserve to drive a Tesla for a week and if you are lucky enough, you win. Before we heard we had won, we had two interviews over Skype with the team that came up with the whole concept of Drive to Believe. We did not only win 11 days in a Tesla (we had the choice between 7 or 11 days, so obviously we chose the latter), but we were only one of four (out of 40.000+ registrations in Europe) to have a filmcrew to make a commercial video. You can find the video on Tesla’s website: Tesla Drive to Believe – Nederland.

First day, 10 January 2017

Tuesday 10 January 2017 was T-day and the start of the adventure. An early start, because the team of people in charge of the program arrived at around 7:00. In the team, there were two people from Tesla (they brought the car), a director, a cameraman, an assistent, two people from the company that came up with the concept and another assistent. Very nice people!

First, we acted in a breakfast scene, then my mother was interviewed and finally (after about 6 hours of filming and interviewing) she could see the car for the first time. The Tesla we had for 11 days, was a Model S 90D in multi-coat red with a tan/beige interior. I think it is a very nice combination for this car.

During the interviews and a lunch break, the driver of the Tesla we would have for 11 days, was picked up by a colleague in a Tesla Model X.

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Three Tesla’s on our driveway!

Our Tesla was not a performance model (4,4 seconds to 100 km/h is still very quick!), but the Model X was a P90D with Insane mode. The guy from Tesla was more than happy to let me feel insane mode and it is really impressive. This is a 2.500 kg SUV that sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3,6 seconds!

After my short but thrilling ride in the insane Model X, the crew wanted to film different reactions from my mother when seeing the car. Everything was filmed, several times to get everything right, for example: when first seeing the car, her reaction when she came close to the car and the door handles popped out, and her expression when finally getting in the car. Once in the car, someone from Tesla explained to her how the car worked and helped her with all the different settings for her driver profile.

Around 16:00, my mother was finally allowed to drive the car. We drove around in the area and it was very cool, because we had two red Tesla’s and a big van with a cameraman hanging out the door (very close to the surface of the road!) to film everything. We also had some sprints when driving side-by-side. Other drivers seem to understand that we were filming, so they kept their distance. After driving around for close to an hour, we went back home. The next day, the cameracrew drove around all day to film the car while driving around in the area. Wednesday 12 January was the first day we had the Tesla completely to ourselves.

Our experience and adventures with the Tesla Model S 90D

I will discuss the most interesting situations we experienced during our time with the Tesla. One of which is the heavy snow on Thursday 12 Januari 2017. We could not drive faster than 50 km/h (30 mph), because the roadmarkings were not visible.

Related to the cold weather during our Drive to Believe experience is the pre-conditioning of the car. The pre-heating is very quick and easy to do with the Tesla mobile app. The two pictures below show just how quick the Tesla can pre-condition the interior of the car. In 5 minutes from 2,7 degrees Celsius (37 degrees Fahrenheit) to 20,5 degrees Celsius (69 degrees Fahrenheit).

Autopilot

I made a short video of Autopilot 1.0 with two examples of what it can do among other things. There are many more video’s of Autopilot 1.0 and 2 on the internet. Autopilot 2 has more camera’s, improved ultrasonic sensors, and a more powerful processing unit. Autopilot is very useful to support the driver when driving on main roads with clear markings. The driver stays responsible, but autopilot really makes driving long stretches of road less tiring. When you keep you hands on the wheel, you feel what the car is doing and you can instantly intervene when the car makes a mistake. I am really impressed with Autopilot. It works really well on roads with clear markings and even on roads with less clear lane markings it often did really well. It is also great with the adaptive cruise control and it makes you lazy when you get in a car which does not have these options. What is also really great about the implementation of Autopilot, is that on the instrument cluster it is shown what the car sees. So you, as the driver, can understand what the car does and does not see. It is also indicated when the cruise control or Autopilot are on and you are warned with a chime and a visual change on the instrument cluster if the car decides to deactivate Autopilot. On the picture below, you can see the cruise control activated indication (left blue circle “max 55”) and the Autopilot active indication (white steering wheel in blue circle). This interface really helps to understand decisions the Autopilot makes.

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Instrument cluster showing Autopilot interface

Acceleration

One of the many exciting features of Tesla’s is that they are quick. Our Tesla was, at the time, the fastest non-performance model and sprinted to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 4,4 seconds. It is really addicting to push the accelerator pedal to the floor every time you get near a traffic light. It not only delivers at lower speeds, but also at higher speeds it is very quick. However, I noticed that after a few times of accelerating very quickly you get used to it to some degree. Where the Tesla really excels is not just quick acceleration, but also quiet and relaxed driving. The silent cabine, the smooth drive, and Autopilot make this a perfect car for road trips. Now, you might aks, but what about range and charging the battery? Well, let me tell you about charging the car and then about the real world range in the winter.

Charging at Supercharger Zwolle

After one of our trips in the area of Zwolle, we needed to charge at the Supercharger to make it back home. Arriving at the Supercharger, there was only one spot left. Normally, this results in a low charge speed, but luckily for us this was not the case. Apparently, the other cars were there already for some time and did not need a lot of power. During the time we recharged the car, we had some bitterballen and a drink. In the table below, I gave details about this charge session. From others’ experience, I think this charge session was representative for what you can expect when you charge at a Supercharger.

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Details of supercharging Tesla Model S 90D

Range added is based on 225 Wh/km (362 Wh/mi) because that is the actual efficiency we achieved with normal driving in the winter. There was a lot of snow and slush on the roads and we could not warm up the battery before driving because of the limited power of our charger at home. This resulted in a relatively high energy consumption of 225 Wh/km (362 Wh/mi). For the calculation, I used a usable battery capacity of 78 kWh (which I could use without any issue during my roundtrip to Groningen). Therefore, 1% in charge (780 Wh) equals 3,46 km (2,15 mi). As you can see, it is not as fast as filling your tank with gasoline or diesel. However, you rarely have to visit a Supercharger because you always leave home with a fully charged battery. Also, the car helps you by indicating how much you have to charge to make it to your destination. It includes the driving speed, weather and wind and is therefore very accurate and easily achievable.

Range during winter time

Over the course of about a week that we had the car for ourselves, we drove about 1.700 km (2.700 miles) with an average speed of 66 km/h (41 mph) and an efficiency of 225 Wh/km (362 Wh/mi). Most of the time we drove on the highway at 110-130 km/h (68-81 mph). At this speed, in the winter, we could drive around 350 km on a single charge.

One of the crazy things I did during our time with the Tesla, was to test how far we could drive on a single charge. I fully charged the battery at the Supercharger in Zevenaar and drove to Groningen and back. A roundtrip of about 360 km at highway speeds. I drove to Groningen at 110-115 km/h on Autopilot. Driving back, the car warned me that I would arrive with less than 5% State-of-Charge. Knowing that this warning is conservative, I kept driving at 110-115 km/h to Zwolle. Before getting to Zwolle, I had driven at a speed of 110-115 km/h (68-71 mph) with an average efficiency of around 215 Wh/km (346 Wh/mi) with the AC set on 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees Fahrenheit). I think this is a great result for the time of the year. It was 1 degree Celsius (34 degrees Fahrenheit) outside during this trip.

At Zwolle there is a Supercharger, but I really wanted to make it back to Zevenaar, so I decided to slow down a bit. It was the first time for me trying to empty the battery and I did not want to take unnecessary risks. I decided to decrease my speed to around 100 km/h and after a while the expected State-of-Charge (SoC) at arrival was 7%. This showed me that it is very easy to make sure you arrive with a certain State-of-Charge at your arrival. Just change your speed accordingly and you will be fine. I had to make a detour via the beautiful The Hoge Veluwen National Park due to a traffic jam (thank you Tesla navigation!). This slowed me down further and helped me arrive at Zevenaar still with 7% SoC. A slower average speed is not necessarily more efficient when you have to accelerate and brake more often. Now I had to drive around to empty the battery as much as I dared to do. After driving for about 15 minutes, I still had 4% and decided to stop.

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Result of driving from Zevenaar to Groningen on a single charge

I used 96% of the battery or 77,9 kWh. I drove a total of 385,6 km (239,6 miles) at an average speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) due to the detour and driving around in Zevenaar to empty the battery. My efficiency for the total trip was 202 Wh/km (325 Wh/mi). As you can see, the power meter on the left side of the instrument cluster showed a yellow dotted line to indicate a low SoC and limited power. In this case, with only 4% left, the car was still able to deliver more than 200 kW (272 hp) of power.

Friday 20 Jan, giving back the Tesla Model S 90D

All great things eventually come to an end. Our adventure with the Tesla is no different. Friday 20 January 2017 was the final day of our adventure. In the morning we drove to a nearby town to get a big cake. Early in the afternoon, the same people from the first day came for the exit interview. After the exit interview, we had to say goodbye to the Tesla.

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Bye Tesla!
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Tesla truck and Roadster unveil

If you want to know more about the background of this trip, Elon Bear, Tesla Model 3, and the USS Midway, check my blog on the trip to L.A., San Diego, and the USS Midway.

On 16 November 2017, Tesla held the Tesla truck unveil event in Hawthorne, California.  Hawthorne is an independent city within the County of Los Angeles and has a population of around 84.000 people. The city of Los Angeles has around 4 million citizens, while around 10 million people live in the County of Los Angeles. The event was held at the Hawthorne Municipal Airport. The Tesla design studio and SpaceX headquarters are located adjacent to this airport and the Falcon 9 First Stage is set right next to the SpaceX headquarters. It is huge! Remember that this is only the first stage of the rocket!

Around 19:00 we arrived at SpaceX, but we could not immediately find the event. So, we walked around and saw some interesting things. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to make pictures (penalty could be up to 10 years in jail!). After walking around and seeing the Supercharger location with a Model 3, we found our way to the event.

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The fellowship of Elon Bear at the Tesla Semi-truck event in Hawthorne, California

The event started outside with drinks. At 20:00 local time, we entered the hangar where the presentation took place. As usual, the presentation started late, but that was quickly forgotten, when the trucks were unveiled. The unveiling was a nice show, where Jerome Guillen (the mastermind behind the Tesla truck) started the presentation with a few words to welcome us and to ask whether we would like to see the trucks. Then, the big screen showed the trucks driving, until they arrived at the hangar. When the trucks stopped, Elon Musk stepped out and started his presentation.

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Elon Musk presenting the Tesla trucks

I will not reiterate the whole presentation, but there are a few points I would like to highlight. First, the range of the silver truck. It can drive up to 500 miles (800 km) at 96 km/h (60 mph), while carrying the maximum load on a single charge. That is huge! The smaller grey truck and drive up to 300 miles (480 km) on a single charge. But what if you run out of charge? You can recharge the battery to 80% in as little as 30 minutes at the so-called “megachargers”. These chargers will be placed along highways to enable long distance routes. The price per kWh that is charged by Tesla is a very low and guaranteed 7 cents per kWh. This will make the fuel cost of the Tesla truck roughly 3,5 times cheaper than a diesel truck.

Once the trucks with their amazing specifications were presented, we thought the event was coming to an end. However, the silver Tesla truck turned around (I thought it was leaving) and a “plaid” clip was shown on the big screen and the truck opened its trailer. Out of the trailer, the new Tesla Roadster appeared and Franz von Holzhausen (Tesla’s designer) showed its incredible performance by launching the vehicle from a stand still.

  • 0-60 mph in 1.9 seconds (probably 2.0 seconds from 0-100 km/h)
  • 0-100 mph in 4.2 seconds
  • 1/4 mile in 8.8 seconds (400 meters)
  • Top speed of 250+ mph (400 km/h)
  • Range of 620 miles (1.000 km)

After Elon Musk presented the Roadster’s specifications, we had the chance to see the Roadster and the trucks up close. It was very crowded, but I managed to be one of the first to be with the Roadster. I took my chance and put Elon Bear in the drivers’ seat. He is the first non-Tesla employee to sit in the Roadster. In some online video’s you can see him sitting in the Roadster.

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Elon Bear in the driver seat of the Tesla Roadster

After we had our chance to see the trucks and Roadster up close, the vehicles were moved and we were guided to the next hangar for the afterparty. There was music and drinks and some nice drawings of the Roadster on the wall. There was also another Roadster, but this one was grey with ugly windshield wipers that probably/hopefully don’t make it to production.

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Tesla Roadster 2020 in grey

Some lucky people from the press were allowed to sit in the Roadster and experience the crazy acceleration. If we put down a reservation (5.000 Dollars) we also could have gotten a ride. As you can imagine, we did not, but a few others have. A special driver, who is used to supercars, drove the Roadster and let the lucky people experience “Plaid” mode (a reference to the movie “Spaceballs”, which is a favourite movie of Elon Musk).

There were also many Model S’s and X’s for people to experience Ludicrous acceleration. The Model S accelerates from 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in just 2,7 seconds and the X only needs 3,1 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h. To put that into perspective, the Model X is a big SUV that weighs about 2.500 kg and beats most supercars. I can assure you that it is extremely quick. I am not used to such strong acceleration and it was a bit frightening. It feels surreal and I cannot image what the Roadster would feel like.

I would almost forget the Tesla Semi-truck that was unveiled. Not only were there two trucks (silver and smaller dark grey), but there was also a scale model.

One of the trucks (the smaller, dark grey one) was driving around the whole evening. The silver truck (the bigger one) was parked, so that people could climb in and have a seat. It is incredible to watch the truck accelerate like it did. I’ve never seen a road legal and normal, albeit somewhat futuristic, looking truck accelerate that quickly.

Around 23:30 local time we decided to get back to our motel. because the next morning around 9:00 we had a chance to sit in the Tesla Model 3! When we left the event, we received a Tesla Semi-truck hat and a sketch of the Roadster.

Tesla Model 3 experience

If you want more about the background of my trip to California for the Tesla truck unveil and this Model 3 experience, please read my blog on the trip to L.A., San Diego and the USS Midway.

Around 9:00 Friday 17 November (18:00 NL time) the Tesla Model 3 arrived at our motel. This Model 3 has the color “midnight silver”, which is a (dark)grey color. The seats are black, since all Model 3’s delivered so far have a black interior. The first thing I noticed is that it does not stand out between other cars. Some other electric cars on the market have a more distinct shape (BMW i3; Nissan Leaf; Toyota Mirai), but the Model 3 looks like any other sedan on the road. Just like the VW e-Golf looks like any other VW Golf.

First, we walked around the car and looked at the exterior. It’s not a small car, but definitely smaller than the Model S. The Model 3 has about the same length as the Audi A4, BMW 3-series, and Mercedes C-class, but it is a bit wider. We looked at the trunk and frunk (front trunk). The trunk is huge! The opening is also big and wide and will enable people to easily carry big items in and out of the trunk. There is even enough space to fit a bike in the trunk!

Last year, during the unveiling of the Tesla Model 3, some people questioned the size of the trunk opening and whether a bike would fit. Recently, the left picture (above) was taken to show that a bike does fit inside the Tesla Model 3.

The frunk is small, but big enough for a small to medium sized suitcase. It is also very useful for takeout food as to not get the smell in the car. Worked really well when we had a Model S for 10 days during the Tesla Drive to Believe challenge.

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After looking at the trunk and frunk, we got into the car. The new door handles work well and are easy to use. You push on the wide part and the smaller side is pushed out to pull the door open. When you push the wider part of the handle, the door already unlocks and it gets pushed out slightly. This makes it easier to open the door.

Once inside the car, I immediately noticed how roomy it is. I’m 184 cm tall (just over 6’ for our American friends 😊) and I had plenty of headroom and legroom. The glass roof is also very nice, because it gives a light and airy feel to the interior.

The other thing I noticed right away is the 15’’ screen. Not so much because of its size (it’s smaller than the screen in the Model S and X), but because of the contrast, rich colors, and sharpness. It is definitely a step-up from the already excellent screen in the Model S and X. The Model 3 also has the new navigation system from Tesla. This navigation will soon find its way to the Model S and X. I made a short video of the exterior and interior.

For those who wonder if the screen is distracting while driving. No. The picture above (point of view of my eyes) shows you the position of the screen when I’m in my normal driving position behind the wheel. There is also little animation on the screen, so all in all I feel confident that it is not distracting at all. The left part of the screen is reserved for information for the driver, such as selected gear, speed, autopilot interface, and any messages from the car like open doors. The right part of the screen is used for navigation, but also for other apps, such as music, phone, and settings. The interface works intuitively and the screen reacts responsively on any given commands.

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Tesla Model 3 screen. On the left, the car controls and driver information. On the right, the navigation, settings, music, etc.

Time to take it for a spin! Unfortunately, due to limitations with the insurance, we were not allowed to drive the Tesla Model 3 ourselves. But, the owner of the car was more than happy to drive us around to show us how it performs.

My first impression is that the car is quiet and smooth with a firm suspension. This is the Tesla Model 3 long range, which has a 75 kWh battery pack to enable 334 miles (537 km) of range according to the EPA range test (the American equivalent to the NEDC range test in Europe). Based on the real range of the Tesla Model S, the range of this long range Model 3 will be around 400 km (250 miles) at 75 mph (120 km/h) at 0-5 degrees Celsius (32-41 degrees Fahrenheit). The normal range Model 3 will probably have a battery with a capacity of 50 kWh. Both models’ range are given in the table below.

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EPA highway and real winter range of both versions of Tesla Model 3

This long range Model 3 does 0-60 mph in 4,8 seconds (0,3 seconds quicker than Tesla states). You get pushed back in your seat, but it is not a violent acceleration like the ludicrous Model S and X. The car is quiet and there are no noticeable noises from the wind, wheels or other sources. All buttons and moveable parts have a solid feel and I expect this interior to be durable. Most materials used in the interior are also soft-touch, which makes the interior feel even more comfortable.

Of course, we also used Tesla’s Autopilot and it worked as expected and on the same level as the Model S and X. You can my short video on Youtube. The activation however, is slightly different. In the Model S and X, the Autopilot function is activated by pulling a lever on the left side of the steering wheel towards you twice in quick succession. In the Model 3, the lever is the same as the gear selector, and you pull it all the way down twice in quick succession to activate Autopilot.

All in all, it was awesome to see the Model 3 in person for the first time. I’m confident that people who order it will be happy with the car. As we had limited time with the car, we couldn’t review everything, nor could we document everything with pictures and video’s. For those who would like to know more about the car, I suggest you take a look at an extensive review of the Tesla Model 3 by two members of the Model 3 Owners Club: First In-Depth look at the Tesla Model 3 – Model 3 Owners Club.

 

 

Trip to L.A., Tesla semi event, Model 3, San Diego and the USS Midway

For many years now, I’m interested in electric vehicles and renewable energy. Tesla is probably the best-known example of a company working on electric vehicles and renewable energy. Through spending time on a forum for Tesla owners and fans and participating in the E-rally 2017, I met many people who are also passionate about electric vehicles. About two weeks before this trip, I was invited to join the trip to Los Angeles and attend the Tesla semi-truck unveil event. Obviously, I couldn’t say no to this unique opportunity and so the adventure begins.

I’ve chosen to split up the story in three parts: the unveil event of the Tesla semi-truck and Roadster, the Tesla Model 3, and the trip to Los Angeles and San Diego including a visit to the USS Midway. Before I start the story of this trip, I have to mention a special guest that we brought with us (you will see him in many pictures and video’s). This special guest is called Elon Bear and is a creation of a Belgian forum member. Elon Bear travels the world to promote electric vehicles and create awareness. He has his own Twitter account where you can follow all his adventures.

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Elon Bear enjoying the inflight entertainment system on his way to Los Angeles

Thursday 16 November 2017.

It was an early start on Thursday, because I had to take the train at 5:55 in Ede. The plane would depart at 9:50 from Schiphol Airport. We flew with KLM in the “City of Beijing”. This plane is a Boeing 747-400M, which can carry 294 passengers and cargo. We had a great flight and Elon Bear even got the chance to meet the pilots and take a nap in the World Business Class seats.

The flight took 11 hours, but the time difference is 9 hours, so we arrived in Los Angeles at 12:00 local time (21:00 NL time). The event would start around 19:00 local time. This gave us plenty of time to find our rental car and our motel, which was within walking distance of the Tesla truck event and about 15 minutes away from Los Angeles International Airport.

Friday 17 November 2017, Tesla Model 3 and drive to San Diego

Today, at 9:00 local time (18:00 NL time) the Tesla Model 3 arrived at our motel. I wrote a separate blog on the experience with the Tesla Model 3. After our Model 3 experience, we drove to San Diego. San Diego is a city about 180 km (120 miles) south of Los Angeles. Around 1,3 million people live in San Diego. The municipality of San Diego touches the border with Mexico and Tijuana. In the County of San Diego live around 3 million people. The highway from Los Angeles to San Diego (interstate 5) is a beautiful road right next to the Pacific Ocean. The California coast is famous for its beauty and it didn’t disappoint. These pictures don’t do it justice, but better pictures are included further down.

After driving for about two hours along the beautiful coast, we arrived at our hotel in San Diego. After we settled in the hotel, we went out for lunch. Close-by, several restaurants were located. One of them was a sushi restaurant. It looked like a fastfood restaurant, but it turned out to be a great place with delicious food.

After our big lunch, we decided to rest in the hotel for a few hours. Around 19:00 local time we were picked up by a Dutchman who works in San Diego as an expat. He took us to a nice restaurant in the area and we had a nice diner. He told us what it is like to live in San Diego. Wages are high, cars are cheap, but healthcare can be extremely expensive.  We were also told that it was cold for the time of the year, however we were very happy with 23 degrees Celsius compared to the 8 degrees Celsius in the Netherlands. After diner, we had a few drinks in a micro brewery. Micro breweries are an upcoming trend in the area. In the County of San Diego alone, there are about 30.000 micro breweries.

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Saturday 18 November 2017, USS Midway

On Saturday we decided to go sightseeing, but before we headed out, we had to eat some breakfast. As you might expect, there were some choices that we Europeans wouldn’t call breakfast. On the other hand, how often do you get the chance to have diner for breakfast? So, we just went along with it. It was delicious!

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Our breakfast. My plate is in the lower right corner

After having breakfast, we drove to the USS Midway in the harbour of San Diego. The USS Midway was commissioned a week after the end of World War 2. She was the largest ship until 1955 and was too big to fit through the Panama-Canal. The USS Midway was used in the Vietnam War and she was the Persian Gulf flagship in Operation Desert Storm in 1991. In 1992, the ship was decommissioned in 1992 and turned into a museum ship in San Diego, California.

I’ve never seen an aircraft carrier before, and it is mightily impressive! It is HUGE! 295 meters (322 yards) long, 67 meters (222 feet) high, and the flight deck is 17 meters (55 feet) above the water. It had 4.500 crew members, 1.500 phones and 212.000 horsepower!  Eat that Tesla ;). However, the fuel economy was not so great.

The USS Midway could hold 13,2 million liters (3.5 million gallons) of fuel and for good reasons, because it used 378.000 liters (100.000 gallons) of fuel per day in its boilers. The fuel economy was, well I don’t know if this is actually good or not. Per 6 meters (20 ft.) it used 3,8 liters (1 gallon) of fuel…

There are several tours you can take. We took the tour to the control tower of the flight deck and the bridge. It is very cool that veterans who served on the USS Midway or another aircraft carrier did the tours. It makes it more authentic and you really get some respect for the men and women who served on these amazing ships.

After the visit to the USS Midway, we went to get lunch in La Jolla, California. During the lunch we had a truly spectacular view over the Pacific Ocean.

We also went into the hills near La Jolla for an even better view from the beautiful California coast. A picture says more than a thousand words.

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California coast between La Jolla and Torry Pines

After this amazing view, we went to one of the big malls in the area. This mall is a group of shops put together, but in the open air. Not like the malls in big cities, where it is one big building. The reason we went to this mall, is because of the Tesla store. We took a picture of the wonderful Tesla employees at this store together with Elon Bear.

Elon Bear was also excited to see some of the energy products of Tesla. The new Powerwall 2 with a capacity of 14 kWh and the Tesla solar panel. Unfortunately, they didn’t have the roof shingles with integrated solar cells.

After we visited the Tesla store and had a look around at the mall, we went back to the hotel, had some diner at Olive Garden and went to bed. We had an early morning on Sunday to drive back to Los Angeles International Airport.

Sunday 19 November 2017, drive to Los Angeles and flight back home

On Sunday morning we drove back to Los Angeles International Airport for our flight back home. The new terminal at LAX is beautiful!

It was an amazing adventure that I will never forget. I hope to go back someday to see the beautiful coastline again and to visit Los Angeles and its surroundings. Perhaps I get the chance to attend another Tesla event. You never know…

CO2 emissions electric cars

With the emergence of the electric car, people start questioning the environmental impact of electric cars, in particular the COemissions. Below you will find an article, based on scientific research, on the CO2 emissions of electric cars and how they compare to gasoline and diesel cars.

WTW, WTT en TTW

When COemissions are discussed, often the following abbreviations are used: WTW, WTT and TTW. Figure 1 shows what each abbreviation stands for.

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Figure 1: Well-to-Wheel, Well-to-Tank and Tank-to-Wheel (European Commission, 23-24 February 2015)

CO2 emissions electricity, gasoline and diesel

CO2 emission factors are factors that are used to calculate the CO2 emissions for organisations and activities. An example of a CO2 emission factor is the Well-to-Wheel (WTW) emission of 2.740 grams of CO2 for every liter of Dutch gasoline (co2emissiefactoren.nl, n.d.).

The Dutch website http://co2emissiefactoren.nl/ was founded by SKAO, Stimular, Connekt Milieu Centraal, the central government and various experts. This website contains a large database of CO2 emission factors. Table 1 shows the relevant CO2 emission factors for cars.

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Table 1: Overview of relevant CO2 emission factors for cars

The Dutch grey energy is, for approximately 30%, generated by coal, the rest is generated by natural gas and nuclear power. The average Dutch energy mix is a mixture of, i.a., coal, natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, solar, wind and hydropower (CBS, February 2015).

CO2 emissions related to car usage

When the CO2 emissions of a car are calculated, usually only the direct emissions are being taken into account. The New European Driving Cycle (NEDC) only considers the direct emissions and therefore only the Tank-to-Wheel (TTW) emissions. This is the reason for fully electric cars to be publicized as zero-emission. In order to make a fair comparison between electric and fossil fuel cars, the indirect (WTT) emissions should be taken into account as well.

To compare electric cars with fossil fuel cars, the CO2 emissions of different electric cars have been calculated. The electric cars are the Tesla Model S P90D (90 kWh), Tesla Model X 100D (100 kWh), Nissan Leaf (30 kWh), Renault Zoe (41 kWh), Opel Ampera-e (60 kWh), VW e-Golf (35,8 kWh), BMW i3 (33 kWh), and Hyundai Ioniq (28 kWh). These cars have been tested by EcoTest (EcoTest, n.d.). The Tesla Model S 75D and Model X 75D are more efficient, but since EcoTest has not tested these versions yet, they are not included.

The EcoTest data is used for the electricity consumption. The EcoTest is performed in Germany and takes into account the charge loss of charging electric cars by reading out the used energy by the charger (EcoTest, n.d.). The consumption per 100 km for these electric cars, including charge loss, can be found in table 2.

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Table 2: Energy consumption electric cars including charge loss

To calculate the CO2 emissions of the electric cars, the information in table 1 and table 2 can be combined. Table 3 provides an overview of the CO2 emissions and a comparison of the fuel consumption of gasoline and diesel cars to match the emissions of electric cars.

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Table 3: Overview of CO2 emissions electric cars and comparison with gasoline and diesel cars

Table 3 shows the difference in CO2 emissions between electric cars and cars running on fossil fuel. The difference between grey and average energy is significant, but even electric cars using grey energy are causing less CO2 emissions than comparable cars on gasoline or diesel.

CO2 emissions life cycle car

The indirect and direct CO2 emissions related to usage of the car are not complete without taking into account the CO2 emissions that are caused by producing and recycling the car.

If 100% coal powered energy is used to charge the electric car, the electric car causes 4% less CO2 emissions compared to a similar gasoline or diesel car (TNO, 14 July 2014). Coal powered electricity causes 935 grams of CO2 per kWh (TNO, 14 July 2014), the Dutch energy mix causes 355 grams of CO2 per kWh  (co2emissiefactoren.nl, n.d.).

Research from TNO shows that electric cars have less CO2 emissions than hybrid-cars and gasoline and diesel cars. The research takes the life cycle of the car into account, from producing to recycling and disposal. Looking at the life cycle of the car, an electric car causes, on average, 35% less CO2 emissions compared to a similar gasoline or diesel car (TNO, 7 April 2015).

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Figure 2: CO2-emissions of conventional and electric cars based on 220.000 km / 136.701 miles. Fabricage (production) includes maintenance and recycling (TNO, 7 April 2015)

Looking at the electricity production by source, it is safe to say The Netherlands has relatively grey, or dirty, electricity. Figure 4 provides an overview of the electricity production by source for Europe and the individual countries (Eurostat, 9 November 2015).

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Figure 3: Breakdown of electricity production by source, 2014

It is safe to say The Netherlands is producing a relatively high percentage of its electricity by fossil fuels (mostly coal and natural gas) compared to the rest of Europe. This means that the CO2 emissions per kWh are relatively high in The Netherlands. Having this information, it can be concluded that electric cars are causing less CO2 emissions in Europe than in The Netherlands.

Conclusion

In The Netherlands the electric car, using grey electricity, is causing significantly less CO2 emissions than a similar gasoline or diesel car.

A point of discussion that is not yet discussed, is the CO2 emission factor for electricity that is reported by some organisations to calculate the CO2 emissions of electric cars. This CO2 emission factor is based on grey energy and therefore provides the highest possible CO2 emissions for electric cars. As mentioned before, grey energy comprises of coal, natural gas and nuclear power. Since the average energy mix is also comprised of renewable energy sources, using the emission factor for grey electricity is misleading. For gasoline and diesel there is no room for discussion, since there is (in essence) only one type of gasoline and one type of diesel. It is unfair and misleading to use the grey energy emission to calculate the CO2 emissions of an electric car. It is less unfair to use the CO2 emission of the average energy mix, although that is still not considering electric cars that only use renewable electricity.

Individuals who would like to calculate their CO2 emissions caused by the usage of their cars, are advised to use the CO2 emission that reported on their energy label. This CO2 emission is the most accurate since it comes directly from the supplier.

Literature

CBS. (February 2015). Elektriciteit in Nederland. Consulted on 2 February 2016, from: http://www.cbs.nl/NR/rdonlyres/D694C055-66E0-49D4-A0EA-7F9C07E3861E/0/2015elektriciteitinnederland.pdf

Co2emissiefactoren.nl. (n.d.). Lijst emissiefactoren. Consulted on 9 December 2017, from: http://co2emissiefactoren.nl/lijst-emissiefactoren/#brandstoffen_voertuigen

EcoTest. (n.d.). ADAC Ecotest. Consulted on 9 December 2017, from: https://www.adac.de/infotestrat/tests/eco-test/default.aspx

European Commission. (23-24 February 2015). JEC Well-to-Wheels: considerations on methodology choices. Downloaded on 1 February 2016, from: https://www.concawe.eu/uploads/Modules/Events/Laura%20Lonza_JRC_Concawe%20Symposium.pdf

Eurostat. (9 November 2015). Electricity production and supply statistics. Consulted on 7 February 2016, from: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php/Electricity_production_and_supply_statistics

TNO. (14 July 2014). Indirecte en directe CO2-uitstoot van elektrische personenauto’s. Consulted on 2 February 2016, from: https://www.tno.nl/media/4404/tno-2014-notitie-directe-en-indirecte-emissie-elektr-voertuig_-14072014.pdf

TNO. (7 April 2015). Energie- en milieu-aspecten van elektrische personenvoertuigen. Consulted on 2 February 2016, from: https://www.rvo.nl/sites/default/files/2015/04/TNO%20Factsheets%20Elektrische%20Voertuigen.pdf