Nat’l Drive Electric Week
in Las Vegas

Mark D Larsen
September 15, 2019

Made in the Shade
(Click to enlarge)

It’s that time of year again! National Drive Electric Week is taking place, with EV owners gathering together to display their vehicles and encourage the public to give up their tailpipes. I have attended these EV’ents since 2012, most of them in Las Vegas. I drove there again yesterday to join in the celebration.

NOTE: You can click on any of the following photos to enlarge them and the movies to play them.

The previous night, I purposely drove Correcaminos to nearly drain the battery, and saw this warning when I pulled into the garage. My intent was to fully charge to 100% overnight, which other owners have suggested will “recalibrate” the pack to trigger the promised range increase update.

I set the schedule to start charging at 9:00 PM, and the display predicted that it would take 8 hours and 55 minutes to complete the charge, right about the time I planned to get up at 6:00 the next morning.

To my sleepy surprise, however, the Tesla app woke me with an alert that the full charge had finished after 8 hours and 11 minutes. Ah, well… I was now awake, so I got my coffee, took a shower, and got dressed… bright-tailed and bushy eyed. As for the range increase… the attempt was futile, as you can see. Çe la vie!

I decided to wear one of the new custom t-shirts I had ordered to elicit conversations about my electric vehicle and solar array. Somehow we’ve got to alert the public of the looming Climate Crisis, to counteract the petrolganda disseminated relentlessly by the Fossil Fools and their corporate media cronies.

When I got in the car to depart for Las Vegas, it was a little after 7:00, and the vampire drain had sucked 2 miles from the battery. I was starting the trek with 24,719 miles on the lifetime odometer.

Upon pulling out of the garage, I was delighted to see that the Harvest Moon was just about to set below the horizon to the south.

After cresting the Utah summit range and descending into Arizona, the sun rose and illuminated the landscape ahead of me.

It always amuses me to see the energy Consumption graph after crossing that summit, with large orange peaks when climbing and deep green valleys when descending.

The companion Trip graph estimated that I still had a 93% charge and might arrive at the NDEW venue with about 53%.

Several more miles down the I-15 interstate, I caught a glimpse of the immense solar farm that the Moapa Paiute tribe had installed on their reservation.

I could also see how expansive it is on the touchscreen’s navigation map.

Las Vegas finally came into view, as usual shrouded in haze from so many damned tailpipes.

I drove to where the NDEW gathering would take place at the Springs Preserve, with its shaded solar canopies over the parking lots.

Here is the Consumption graph of the rugged “energy” terrain I had traversed for the last 30 miles. Don’t be fooled by the display’s clock: the journey had taken more than 2 hours, but Nevada is on Pacific Time, one hour earlier than Utah.

The Trip graph showed that I still had a 51% charge in the pack. I was pleased because I intended to use that energy to give rides to attendees in Correcaminos during the EV’ent.

I therefore parked in a spot near the entrance to the lot, so that folks would immediately see the invitation sign that I had prepared and placed in the windshield.

Of course, more EV owners started to show up and occupy the other parking spaces. Most wanted to grab spots farther under the canopy for shade, but not everyone was as lucky.

I was delighted to shake hands again with Stan Hanel, the EV advocate who has organized these NDEW gatherings since I first started to participate.

Stan set up tables and displays for the Las Vegas Electric Vehicle Association and other local organizations promoting clean energy and the Climate Strike that will take place next weekend all over the world.

There were so many participants that they nearly filled that one entire parking lot. Stan told me that 53 vehicles had registered, and even more showed up without registering. I wouldn’t be surprised if 150 to 200 participants were there yesterday.

Most of the time I was busy giving people rides in Correcaminos, but between trips I was able to take a few photos of the other vehicles on display. There were 20 different models of EVs and PHEVs. This custom electric conversion took center stage.

I saw this 2nd generation RAV4-EV. Too bad Toyota has stopped making them and has yet to commit to selling bona fide EVs among its lineup.

Here is a Chevy Bolt and a Chevy Spark side-by-side.

A BMW i3 was there. I'm not a big fan of its exterior or its “suicide” rear doors.

But I do like its interior, perhaps because it is more “minimal” than most, though still cluttered compared to a Tesla Model 3.

The latest iteration of the Nissan LEAF was there.

And I saw the Hyundai KONA EV for the first time. The owner had purchased it in San Diego and driven it home to Las Vegas. He showed me its CCS fast charging port under a lid in its front grill. Now if there were only a CCS fast charging network coast-to-coast, it could be a contender.

Its interior was more plush than I expected, with a “floating” center console. Too bad its cup holders were lined up one in front of the other —one of my pet peeves. Just put ‘em side-by-side, designers!

I took this video while walking around the venue underneath the canopy to give viewers a panorama of the EV’ent.

After the gathering ended, I drove to the new 250 kW Superchargers near the LINQ in downtown Las Vegas to recharge before heading home. The traffic to get there is congested and confusing, and you have to enter an access code on a keypad to get into the lot. That gives you a paper ticket that you must insert into another machine to exit the lot when you are done.

As you can calculate from the display, after all the rides I had given to attendees, I arrived with 77 miles of range. By the time the Supercharger hit peak output, it had already put 4 miles back into the pack. Note the charging speed: 1,068 miles-per-hour using all 250 kW! Wowza! The display predicted that it would take 25 minutes to finish charging to 80%.

I’ve got to hand it to Tesla: what an impressive installation. All the superchargers are powered by the overhead solar canopies and battery storage, and each one produces full output rather than sharing the juice between two units like at other sites.

I had to turn the camera to portrait to attempt to get a photo of the Superchargers with the LINQ overhead.

Perhaps this short video gives a better impression of the surroundings at the site.

As I anticipated, the 80% charge put 245 miles into Correcaminos, 168 more miles than when I had arrived.

Most astonishing was that it didn’t take the 25 minutes predicted above to finish the charge, but… only 19! Can’t beat that!

A couple of hours later, I again descended from the summit and could see the Kayenta cliffs behind our subdivision.

After pulling into the garage, the display showed that I had driven 322.3 miles for the entire trip, and still had 30% in the battery from the 80% supercharge.

I had used 272 Wh/mi for the return trip of 125.8 miles, nearly 25 fewer than the 80% charge had projected. Driving at 80 MPH on the freeway obviously takes its toll on range. No complaints from me!

This morning, I saw that the 80% charge overnight had restored 245 miles to the battery. The trek to NDEW had topped 25K on the lifetime odometer, and I was pleased to see that the average Wh/mi nonetheless remained steady at 238. That calculates to 4.2 miles-per-kW, a truly impressive feat for a long range electric car. Finally, you’ll note that the high-powered Supercharge at the LINQ cost $12.00 —40 kWh x 30¢ each.

I really enjoyed this NDEW, even more than in previous years, because I was able to give several attendees rides around the area on both freeway and city streets. I was the only participant willing to take the “risk” of letting strangers be passengers in my car. It’s just that, in my mind, merely looking at electric vehicles is helpful, but one has to experience them to gain an informed opinion of what they’re truly like. As they say: “butts in seats” make all the difference. I’d like to think that my passengers came away favorably impressed, and I hope I answered all of their questions succinctly and clearly. Who knows? Maybe some of them will place orders for Teslas in the future, and perhaps even use my referral code to get a few miles of free supercharging.