Nat’l Drive Electric Week
in Las Vegas

Mark D Larsen
September 25, 2021

(Click to enlarge)

I have attended the annual National Drive Electric Week events since 2012, the only exception being last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that I am fully vaccinated, I decided to again drive to this year’s celebration in Las Vegas and join with other EV advocates to help educate attendees about the advantages and joys of giving up tailpipes. Below are my usual annotated photos from the event.

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

When I got in my Model 3 to start the journey, I saw that there was another update available, and knew that this one would add a new button to request participation in the FSD Beta Testing program. This button would reportedly allow Tesla to monitor my driving for a week and determine if I was a safe enough driver to be in the program. I therefore decided to postpone my departure for a few minutes to install the update so that Correcaminos would start recording and transmitting my driving patterns during the trip to Las Vegas.

When the installation was finished, and I had clicked the request button, I then set the Navigation to take me to the Springs Preserve in Las Vegas where the 2021 NDEW celebration would take place.

When I reached the summit over the Utah Mountains, I checked the energy screen, which estimated that I would arrive at the venue with a 36% charge in my battery pack.

Nearly two hours later I could see downtown Las Vegas shrouded in its usual haze.

Since Mount Charleston wasn't as hazy, I surmised that the pollution downtown was likely from tailpipe exhaust. I decided that I had enough time before the event to swing by a pet food store and buy some more kibbles for our pomeranian, Moxie —the only business that sells that particular brand of food anywhere near us.

I nonetheless arrived at the Springs Preserve a bit early, and was delighted to once again greet Stan Hanel, who has organized these events in Las Vegas ever since I first started attending them.

Here is a video of the early arrivals to the event. You might notice that Stan asked some of us to park our vehicles straddling the lines to facilitate social distancing. Toward the end of the video, I span the camera to show off my usual "got’cha trick" to show attendees my car's "V8."

I enjoy seeing all the other makes of EVs at NDEW, for I rarely get to check them out in my area. This is the first Ford Mustang Mach-E that I have seen. Looks like they decided to also put a “V8” got’cha in its frunk!

Here is the interior looking in the driver's side. I have to commend Ford for reducing the "clutter" of knobs and buttons that many EV manufacturers still retain. And I was glad to see that the Mach-E had side-by-side cup holders. The front-to-back positioning in many cars is one of my pet peeves.

Looking in the passenger side, I was perplexed that, despite minimalizing the usual dashboard buttons and knobs, Ford nonetheless decided to put a dial that spins right through the bottom of its touchscreen. Just couldn’t resist having at least some kind of tactile, physical control…?

There was a BMW i3 at the event, and this was the second time I'd been able to see one up close. The first time was way back in 2014 at the NDEW event in Salt Lake City. As readers probably know, BMW is no longer going to produce the i3, and plans to release a new model, the i4, in the spring of 2022.

The interior of the i3 is also thankfully spartan, although it does sport several controls under the navigation screen. The first time I saw one, it had wooden trim on the dashboard, which I throught looks warm and elegant. This model, however, didn't have such wood, and struck me as more austere.

I've never been a fan of "suicide doors," but I can understand why BMW would put them on the i3 to make it much easier to get in-and-out of its comparatively small rear seats.

I had never seen a VW e-Golf before, which is basically an EV variation on the vehicle's gas-powered platform.

This is more than apparent in its interior, where even the shifter resembles the one used for a transmission in its ICE siblings.

The e-Golf is also to be discontinued, and replaced by the VW ID.4, a dedicated electric SUV built from the ground up with an under-the-floor battery frame. Nonetheless, I was surprised that it didn't sport a useable frunk, as it is a feature than more EVs are adopting from Tesla.

The ID.4's interior is attractive enough, despite retaining a few buttons and knobs, but my pet peeve surfaced upon noticing that its cup holders are not side-by-side. One clever feature of its interior is that the binnacle is attached to the steering column, so that drivers can clearly see it, no matter how they adjust the steering wheel in-and-out, up-and-down. Smart! Personally, I think this is a much better solution than Tesla’s yoke in the refreshed Model S and X.

There was an Audi e-Tron there, which struck me as larger than I anticipated. As of Q2 2021, Audi has sold 18,542 of them in the USA, which is a fairly good start in the EV market, though still as far behind Tesla as all the other manufacturers. The biggest drawback with the e-Tron, in my opinion, is its 222 miles of range, compared to a similarly sized Model Y at 326.

At least the Audi e-Tron has a frunk, accessible under a second lid underneath the hood.

The dashboard is attractive enough, although Audi opted to stick with manual vents. I can't say I'm a fan of the center console, as it struck me as too crowded and jumbled together asymmetically, with… front-to-back cup holders. Ugh!

Perhaps the biggest head-turner at the show was this tiny electric car from China, only good for around town, short trips. It is obviously one of the cheapest EVs you can buy, but I guess it at least would do a better job keeping occupants dry in inclement weather than a motorcyle.

The interior was absolutely spartan, with a steering wheel angled more like in an old, vintage VW bus. This also suggests that it lacks any kind of safety protection, like airbags or seat belts: you'd be the first at the scene of an wreck!

Besides the driver's seat, it also sports a small bench in back, supposedly to accomodate two passengers. What d’ya think? Shall we call this an electric rickshaw…?

There were more Teslas at the event than all other models combined: I counted at least 20. One Model X owner consented to engage the Christmas music dance which really wowed the attendees. Here's a movie of the performance for those who have never seen this "easter egg."

One of the best highlights for me was finally getting to meet in person Cindy McMillan, a fellow climate activist with whom I have had exchanged messages on the internet. Cindy has committed to transition to an electric vehicle sometime soon, and wanted to check out the various models at the event. I gave her and her friend Tom a ride on the I-95 freeway and city streets around the Springs Preserve. I’m sure they now have many more questions, and I hope to let Cindy take a test drive sometime in the near future.

As the event wound down, I decided to drive to the Supercharger site at the LINQ High Roller to plug in before heading home. As you can see, I arrived there with 47 miles left in the battery.

I found an empty spot and plugged in. All these Superchargers are Tesla’s high-powered 250 kW models and blazingly fast.

I had driven 151.3 miles since my last charge.

The Supercharger immediately started charging my battery, at an astonishing initial rate of 1,062 miles-per-hour. The display estimated that it would take 25 minutes to reach my usual 80% change.

There were several Teslas plugged in there, although there were still some slots open.

It took only 23 minutes to finish charging, having added 193 miles of range, at a cost of $15.20

I set the Navigation to take me home…

…and the energy screen estimated that I'd arrived with a 28% charge. When I was passing Mesquite, NV, the Navigation told me to exit sooner than it had originally plotted, but I stupidly ignored it and kept driving on I-15. I soon found out why it had changed the route: there was a horrific wreck two miles before my usual exit, and I had to creep along in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam at 2 mph for nearly an hour before reaching it.

When I finally pulled into the garage, I actually had 29%, after driving 125.4 miles.

In total, the round trip had added 276.7 miles to Correcaminos' odometer, using 75 kWh of electricity, i.e., about 3.7 miles-per-kWh.

I had to chuckle when I checked my "Safety Score" enabled with the update that morning. It had given me a red rating of 46.1% for "Unsafe Following." I've been told that, when on Autopilot, the system won't record such ratings, but I have my doubts. I can't think of any instance when I was tailgating another vehicle, and assume that perhaps the hour I was in that traffic jam was to blame. Go figure!

It was a fun NDEW this year, with more participants, more EVs, than every before. I wouldn’t be surprised if Stan Hanel reports a record turnout. Perhaps we’ll have another gathering for Earth Day 2022 at the Springs Preserve in April. If so… I’ll be sure to attend. Hopefully the pandemic will be behind us, and I will once again be able to give more attendees rides in Correcaminos —like I’ve done in previous years.