EV Fest
(Click to enlarge)
Las Vegas
National Drive Electric Day

September 20, 2014

Mark D Larsen

Because the SLC Drive Electric Day was moved up to September 13, I decided to also attend the Las Vegas observance again one week later. This was the third time I had driven my Leaf there for the EV'ent, first in 2012 and again in 2013. Having attended both, I can tell you that the celebrations in these two cities were very different. The SLC gathering was more of a party, with prizes, face-painting, music, food, drink, and speakers. The Las Vegas event, in comparison, was a true EV meetup, where the owners of a much wider variety of vehicles answered attendees’ questions about them.

This year, the Las Vegas organizer, Stan Hanel, arranged for the celebration to take place under the parking canopies at the Springs Preserve, where there are four EVSEs free to the public if you have a ChargePoint card to activate them. I still had my card from last year and had no problem charging from these units as well as others around the city. I had never been to this facility before, and was deeply impressed with its commitment to a green, clean stewardship of the planet.

There were drinks and some refreshments, but most of the activity consisted of meeting other EV aficionados, swapping stories and tips, and demonstrating the various EVs' functions, features, and benefits to attendees. Indeed, about half way through the celebration, a group of us loaded up our vehicles with attendees and gave them rides in a caravan through downtown Las Vegas to see several of the public charging sites. Most of them, of course, were Level 2 EVSEs, such as at the Clark County Offices, City Hall, and the Las Vegas Convention Center. I plugged in a couple of times for only a few minutes, just to show the riders how easy it is to connect and charge. We also visited the Las Vegas Tesla SuperCharger site, and the Model S driver demonstrated the whiz-bang features of his top-of-the-line EV.

As luck would have it —good or bad?— among my passengers were Daryl Elliott and his photographer friend, Brent Hatcher. Daryl asked lots of questions, took good notes, and has since uploaded a blog entry, also posted as a Clean Technica article, that sums up the EV'ent nicely. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if his next vehicle will definitely have a plug on it.

That will likely be true for majority of those who rode with us in the caravan, for nothing is more effective to convince people to transition to EVs than simply getting “butts in seats.” I therefore have to applaud Stan Hanel for including such a hands-on butts-on experience for attendees at this year’s EV'ent.

Below are photos of this year’s pilgrimage to the celebration, and you can view them in a slide show by clicking any of them.

Slide Show of the EV'ent
Click any thumbnail to open the photo in the slide show window

I really enjoyed this trip! You can read more about the Las Vegas EV'ent in this blog post by Stan Hanel.

Sadly, it might be the last time that I join in the Las Vegas celebration. Now that there are a handful of Leaf owners in St. George, as well as several Chevy Volts and possibly even a Tesla Model S, I am seriously thinking of organizing a Drive Electric Day here next year to get more local butts into the seats. Moreover, since there are still no QuickChargers along I-15, it is no easy task to drive my Leaf to Vegas, especially since its battery capacity continues to drop.

If fellow nerds are interested, I can offer below a few specifics about this trip’s stats. For example, the longest run on a single charge was driving between the motel in Overton to NV Energy's northernmost EVSEs. Here are dashboard displays and LeafSTAT readouts to compare both going and coming between those two points.

Leaving the motel Arriving at NV Energy

Leaving NV Energy Arriving at the motel

You can see that the results are very similar. The odometer only registered two-tenths of a mile more going than coming. The fully charged GOM guessed 4 more miles of range in the morning than in the evening, but the pack showed 2 fewer gids. In the evening the miles-per-kWh was .2 higher upon arrival than in the morning, yet driving either direction, the GOM's last guesses and the remaining gids were both identical. Most curious of all is that I started the day with 82.45% capacity and ended with 82.57% when I arrived back at the hotel. Go figure! My guess is that temperature differences caused all these slight variations.

Here are the CarWings readouts for the entire three days, and a table summarizing the results:

Obviously, because Las Vegas is at a lower elevation, the efficiency was much better the first day than when returning home the third day. The average miles-per-kWh for the round trip was 5.1, which I deem remarkable, given that there were unavoidable stretches of freeway driving every day. Oddly enough, however, my Leaf’s display claims an even higher efficiency. I had reset its history when I started the journey, and below on the left you can see the result when I pulled back into the garage again: 5.3 miles-per-kWh!

In the slideshow above, I noted that I took a LeafSTAT reading to monitor the battery capacity. Above on the right is the reading when I returned home. I was pleased to see that, despite numerous 100% charges, freeway speeds, and hot weather, the final readout was nearly half a percent higher than when I left! Not that I believe that is really the case: again, it is likely that temperature is exaggerating the battery’s state-of-health. I am just glad to see that I still have a few miles and weeks to go before losing my second capacity bar.

Finally, I want to note that I suffered a huge disappointment while in Las Vegas. You can see what it is all about in slide 11 of the slide show above. I have rarely been so angry and frustrated!