Atlanta Electric Vehicle Development Coalition

Atlanta's Home for Electric Vehicle News and Information


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Tesla Model 3 – First Look Inside & Out

Tesla Model 3 – First Look Inside & Out

Sometimes you get lucky to be at the right place and right time to see something up close and personal that you’ve only been able to dream of seeing live.  That happened today, the Sunday after Thanksgiving when I got a chance to sit behind the wheel and explore the inside and out of a brand new Tesla Model 3. While I only had about 10 minutes to explore the Model 3, I wanted to share my first impressions of this amazing new all electric vehicle.

Model 3 Front 11262017

This particular vehicle is the long-range (310 mile) battery with Premium black interior and standard 18′ wheels with the AERO wheel covers. My first impression is that the Model 3 looks more substantial in person.  While the overall proportions are taut, it presents itself very well with the lines from every angle looking really good. Panel fit and finish were excellent and the owner demonstrated the solid feel of the vehicle when they asked me to close the trunk. Thunk. Solid! I think the steel body construction for this size vehicle helps give that sense of solidness.

The door handles present with a push on the thicker left side and the handle opens to the right. The doors are very solid with the front doors designed very similarly to the Model S. Inside the doors open with a small button at the top of the arm rests that looks like a power window.

Model 3 Screen 11262017

Once inside the Model 3, I noticed several things right away. First the front seats are incredibly comfortable (this is the premium interior – not leather but very close in look and feel). The seat bolsters are wider and a bit flatter than the Model S, which I found to be very comfortable. The driver and front passenger space is very generous with headroom exceptional.

The minimalist dash. The center console is very useable with twin cup holders and a multi-fold compartment. Interior fit and finish appeared to be good from my brief time inside the Model 3. The only complaint I have: the wood veneer trim band looks and feels artificial.

The controls screen.  This is the one item I was really prepared to dislike but found myself right at home with the more intuitive functions and the overall size of the screen is less imposing than photos, videos and editorial would lead one to believe. While I did not get a chance to go through many of the driver functions, what I saw reassured me.

Rear passenger compartment. OK its tight. But that’s not a surprise. Knee room is just at the edge of acceptable but this is a 3-Series not a Model S. What was a very pleasant surprise was the comfort level of the rear seats and the reasonable headroom – the individual who accompanied the owner was 6’4″ and they fit quite nicely in the back seat.

Model 3 rear 11262017

Trunk space was a pleasant surprise with the cavern being both tall and deep.  Plus the below floor additional storage and Frunk space make the Model 3 a nice weekend trip vehicle. The rear end styling is really beautiful in person. The integrated deck spoiler is a great styling feature.

Model 3 Side View 11262017

Aero Wheel covers love’em.  Hate’em. Take them off when you don’t need them.  The owner verified the better range but agreed that they should be taken off. They said that right now the lugs are exposed so removing the aero isn’t the best look.

First impressions are very positive and I look forward to the actual roadtest.  The owner said that passing performance 40 to 60 mph is blistering fast – like about 1 second.  I look forward to verifying that myself soon.

What the Model 3 is not is the Model S. It is not a family hauler like the Model X. It is a perfect daily commuter that will be very comfortable to drive (to be confirmed with that test drive).


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Georgia Legislature Retains Status Quo in 2017 General Assembly Session – Highest EV Road Use Fees in the USA

Georgia Legislature Retains Status Quo in 2017 General Assembly Session

As the 2017 Georgia General Assembly 40-day legislative session wraps up, electric vehicle drivers continue to be saddled with the highest road use fees in the US ($204.50 in 2017) and future drivers will see no incentives to adopt electric vehicles as measures to advance both a reduction in the fees and add an incentive failed to gain support within the Georgia Legislature.

Futher the bill to simply clarify that commercial and retail businesses could qualify for up to $2,500 state tax credit for charging station installation also failed to advance for the third session in a row . . . a tax credit that is still on the books and can only be claimed by Southern Company’s Georgia Power, which to their credit, was likely used to help finance the 36 community charging islands installed by Georgia Power over the past two years.

So what does this mean for Georgia and EV Drivers?

The State of Georgia has rapidly solidified its reputation for being the most-EV unfriendly state in the US, which is having a significant impact on Electric vehicle purchases which have stalled at 2015 levels. A state fleet of  25,000 plug-ins represents a mix of  low priced used Nissan LEAFs and growth from Tesla models off-setting the precipitious decline in new plug-in electric vehicle sales from Chevrolet, BMW, Ford,  KIA, and Nissan.

It has been rumored that Volkswagen of America’s Electrify America business unit, which is charged with dispensing up to $4.7 Billion in ‘diesel-gate’ remediation funds, rejected the City of Atlanta’s funding petition due to the State of Georgia demonstrating its ‘anti EV’ stance through repealing the ZEV/LEV income tax credit and imposing the $200.00 annual road use fee.  Likely the City of Atlanta lost out on several million dollars worth of EV charging infrastructure due to the decisions of the Georgia General Assembly.

If there is a silver lining, the small but growing number of EV owners in the Georgia General Assembly are ‘feeling the pain’ and have stated their commitment to address the Road Use fee again in the 2018 General Assembly.  We support them and wish them “God Speed”.


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Encouraging Electric Vehicle Developments in Georgia

As the leaves began to turn, three very significant events have taken place which bode well for the advancement of electric vehicles and supporting recharging infrastructure in the State of Georgia.

Mayor Reed in ParisHartsfield-Jackson International Airport  City of Atlanta Mayor Kaseem Reed has committed to the installation of 300 electric vehicle charging parking spots by the end of 2017. Sources indicate the charging infrastructure will be a mix of Level 1 charging stations, L1 plug-in outlets (owners can plug in their charging cordsets), Level 2 stations and even a few DCFC stations. Regardless, this is a HUGE step forward as the most notable gap for EV charging in metro Atlanta is the airport.  The first 100 charging spots will be on-line by the end of 2016 with the remaining 200 coming on stream over the course of 2017.

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State of Georgia General Assembly Joint House-Senate Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Study Committee. At the end of the 2016 Legislative Session, a resolution passed forming a Joint Study Committee led by Rep. Bubber Epps and Sen. Jeff Mulls. The committee received testimony during three sessions (Macon, Ringgold, Atlanta) and concluded their public hearings on November 9th.

During the last meeting at the State Capitol, electric vehicle testimony was provided by Nissan North America, the City of Atlanta (Director of Sustainability Stephanie Stuckey Benfield) and CleanCitiesGeorgia. The latter was provided by Executive Director Don Francis, whom everyone knows is the “Godfather of EV Charging” in Georgia.

Don made a fact based presentation to the Joint Committee seeking to demonstrate:

  • PHEV  sales in Georgia are falling. While the State of Georgia is still #2 in the nation with 24,328 plug in electric vehicles registered (California is 10x larger at 229,723 PHEV’s according to IHS Polk data year ending August 31, 2016), Georgia PHEV sales are off over 90% and Georgia’s percent of total registrations is at only 0.4% vs. 0.8% national average.  The combination of the elimination of the LEV/ZEV personal income tax credit in June 2015 coupled with the “usurious” PHEV registration fees ($204 this year) have brought the mainstream EV market to a screeching halt. At the national average of 0.8% there should be another 6,500-7,000 new PHEV’s on Georgia’s roads versus the 1,247 according to IHS Polk.
  • Foreign Oil Dependency in Georgia is Unabated. More money is spent on petroleum in Georgia ($30 Billion) than the State Budget ($20 Billion) with the vast majority of those funds leaving the state. In contrast, electricity is generated and consumed in Georgia and those funds stay in the state. CleanCities goal nationally is to reduce and ideally eliminate the United States dependence on foreign oil.
  • Legislators are leaving money on the table. The economic impact of EV’s in Georgia is well over $100 million per year between vehicle sales/resales, electricity consumed in Georgia and disposable income effects from lower cost electricity (yes even with gasoline at $2.50/gallon).
  • The PHEV Registration Fee is Punitive. The $200+ PHEV registration/road use fee is twice that of the next highest states ($100 in Michigan, North Carolina and Washington State). It needs to come down.

At the end of this final session, Mr. Francis put up the “Ask” slide and boldly put forth three recommendations which the Joint Study Committee positively received:

  1. Restore a reasonable LEV/ZEV tax credit targeting 10% of the qualifying PHEV price with a cap of $3,000. Follow the Federal model of tax credit by battery size.
  2. Reduce the Alternative Fuel Vehicles registration fee to $50.00.
  3. Support EV charging station infrastructure. Address the language in the current legislation to enable the existing EV charging stations tax credit to be applied to commercial and retail properties. BOMA spokesman Mark Gallman provided similar testimony.

The committee thanked those providing testimony on behalf of Electric Vehicles with the prevailing sentiment expressed by Senator Butch Miller: “Something needs to be done but it is a question of balance. We need to find the right balance.”

Tim Echols created Georgia’s annual Alternative Fuel Vehicles Roadshow to showcase the capabilities of a wide variety of alternative fuels including electricified transportation.

tim-echols-afv-roadshow Iv

Electric Vehicles and the Southeast Grid – Newly re-elected Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols and Union of Concerned ScientistsPeter O’Connor convened a two-day ‘think tank’ session to discuss the current and future state of electric vehicles, and charging infrastructure, to hear case studies from regional public utilities, and take a glimpse into the future of charging infrastructure.  Workplace charging was tackled by one panel and Residential charging by another. Four public utilities (Duke EnergyGeorgia Power, Florida Power and Light, Jacksonville Energy Association) shared the outcomes of their initiatives to support PHEVs and recharging infrastructure. Ally Kelly from The Ray foundation shared the plans to test bed roadway embedded EV recharging on the 18 mile stretch of Interstate 85 between Georgia and the Alabama State line named in honor of the late Raymond C. Anderson, the visionary Chairman of Interface who led the carpet industry into the recycled fibers technology.   Audi’s EV Architect (coolest job title at the conference) Wayne Kallen said that the first full Battery Electric Vehicle from Audi is coming in late 2018!

So if one were to believe that all of the PHEV development work was taking place in California, this conference would surely have demonstrated that incredible advances are being made in the Southeast and in fact Jeff Kessler representing CARB (California Air Resources Board) said as much during his panel remarks.

During the post 2015 Georgia General Assembly era, the electric vehicle constituents in Georgia have been very busy advancing infrastructure (4,500 Public Level 2 charging stations and 375 Fast Charge plugs), and building the case for the Legislature to restore the State to a leadership position in the advancement of Electric Vehicles in Georgia.

2017-chevy-bolt-ev-commercialStay tuned as we watch how the next major development – the almost $60 million VW settlement Fund [if the State accepts it], is to be administered in Georgia. You can be sure that more charging stations (and even Superchargers) are on their way as the 2017 Chevrolet BOLT, the 2018 Tesla Model 3, all new Nissan LEAF and that all-electric Audi extend the reach the electric vehicles throughout the State of Georgia and beyond.


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Tesla Model S 60 is back: A Good Value?

New Again Tesla Model S 60! This past week, Tesla announced the re-introduction of the Model S 60 kWh battery with a range of 210 miles and a base price of $66,000 USD. Other features include the new front end styling and headlamps introduced across the Model S line just a month earlier and the optional 75kWh upgrade to add another 39 miles of range for $8,500.00 USD and the optional Dual Motor for another $5,000.00.

Our sister company, Georgia EVentures, LLC, took delivery of one of the last Model S 60 kWh vehicles produced in March 2015, so we thought we would provide a comparison to see just how good a value the new, now 5 year old Model S 60 is compared to it’s original  60 kWh version launched in 2012.

2016 or 2015 Model S 60 – Which is the Better Value? To make the fairest possible comparison, we used the same color and trim (Blue Metallic, Grey Leather, Obeche Gloss, fixed roof, white headliner),  the same options (Autopilot, Tech Package/Premium, Air Suspension)  and 19″ base wheels. Supercharging was a $2,000 option in 2015 and standard in 2016; our 2015 Model S has both front and rear Nex Gen seats so a -$1,000 adjustment was made to account for the actual cost of the Nex Gen rear seat in the 2015.

Four factors make up the biggest components of value for the new Model S 60:

  1. Base price reduction of $3,900 (-6%) for comparable range (210 vs. 209)
  2. Inclusion of Supercharging which was a $2,000 option in early 2015.
  3. Decoupling of Autopilot and Tech Package/Convenience features saves $1,750.
  4. Future ability to unlock 15 kWh of battery/39 miles but not for $8,500-9,000 as offered today: Tesla is still struggling with how to price longer range battery packs.

Bottom line, before Federal and State Tax Credits (Georgia’s $5,000 ZEV tax credit vanished on July 1, 2015), the “New” Model S 60 is a better value at $4,000 less (-5%) than the 2015 Model S.

As they say, timing is everything. And this might just be a good time to finally purchase that Tesla Model S you’ve always wanted!

Fortunately for Georgia EVentures, the Georgia ZEV tax credit more than made up that difference, providing about $1,000 in lower cost versus the comp equipped 2016: yes timing is everything!

 


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Tesla Nation: Atlanta Joins In!

Tesla Nation has officially begun! Since it’s March 31st official launch, Tesla reports over 250,000 $1,000 pre-order deposits have been made for its $35,000 base price ($42,000 well equipped said Tesla CEO Elon Musk) Model III.  While smaller, and half the price of the original Model S 60 kWh model, it delivers the same range (215 vs. 208), acceleration (0-60 in under 6 seconds) and overall driving characteristics of its larger brother! Impressive. The Model III will offer AutoPilot suite standard and Supercharger capable with Musk being a bit vague on ‘free’ vs. ‘pay as you go’. Atlanta EVDC is betting it will be free. Why? Because Musk committed to doubling  the high speed Supercharger network and quadrupling ‘destination charging’ locations by the end of 2017 (7,000 of each).

Hundreds of Atlantans lined up at the Tesla Decatur, Lenox and Marietta stores to put down their $1,000 deposits and talk with current Model S and X owners.

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Photo Credit: Michael Beinenson

Never in automotive history have that many deposits been made for a new automotive model.  Automotive dealers may order say 30,000 vehicles for a new launch across thousands of ‘dealer points’ but never before have individuals been able to accomplish this feat.Musk is also doubling the ‘store’ count to about 440 by end of next year with commensurate service centers. So Tesla is making all the right moves to get ready for the Model III.

If you missed the launch event, here’s a link to the 22 minute video – worth the watch!

Tesla Model III Launch Tesla Hawthorne CA Design Studio


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All Quiet in Georgia

With the 2016 Georgia General Assembly session coming to its close, there was no action taken on either Bill introduced to reinstate a graduated EV tax credit or to reduce the $200.00/year AFV road use fee.  As the owner/operator of 3 EVs (2014 VOLT, 2015 LEAF and 2015 Tesla) my bill from the State of Georgia for annual registrations is a whopping $768.00!  Ouch!

With EV sales continuing to slide precipitously, a glimmer of hope lies in the establishment of an EV study committee by the Georgia State Senate; I hope to participate as both an EV driver and in my role as National Sales Manager for Current Powered by GE EV charging stations. The committee may not ramp up until after the summer, so check back for updates.

Fortunately, the Federal Goverment reinstated its 30% Income Tax Credit with a $30,000 maximum per job site both retroactive to January 1, 2015 and expiring on December 31, 2016. Here’s a handy link to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, THE source for Federal, State and Local incentives information:  AFDC Federal EV Charging Infrastructure Tax Credit.

With the arrival of the 2017 Chevrolet VOLT, 2018 Chevrolet BOLT, Nissan LEAF and Tesla Model III (to be unveiled on March 31, 2016) many great new EV options with longer ranges and lower price tags will be available!


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Is now a good time to buy a Pre-Owned Tesla Model S?

I had lunch with a work colleague last week who was asking me about Certified Pre Owned Tesla Model S vehicles and if now is a good time to buy one?

Well year end clearance sales are well known in the auto industry and the last week of December is the biggest sales period of the year! So can you score a great deal on a pre-owned Tesla Model S before December 31st?

That all depends on your definition of a great deal. Tesla forums are exploding with stories of ‘cheap’ Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Tesla Model S citing a few available for under $50,000. Considering the average new car price is $36,000 that’s still a hefty premium to pay for a 2-3 year old first generation Tesla Model S.

Here is the link to Atlanta pre-owned Model S vehicles. Tesla Model S Pre-Owned Atlanta. As of today, 18 vehicles are listed with the cheapest being a 2013 60kWh for $59,000 and the most expensive is a 2015 P85D for $105,000! A lot of choice for sure.

But none of the 18 listings look like a bargain to the author. Why you ask?

Autopilot MIA: Keep in mind that almost all of these vehicles are ‘pre-Autopilot’ capable vehicles (generally VIN below 50,000/production pre-September 2014).  This is truly a Buyer Beware situation.  Because these Model S vehicles cannot be retrofit for Autopilot (Tech Package is not the same – it must say Tech Package with Autopilot) these vehicles are consigned to a pretty steep depreciation curve.

Uncertain Used Value: Because Tesla does not typically go through the Manheim auctions, used values are almost impossible to peg and at this point, Tesla can set what they want for that value. So you have no real market data to base the value of the CPO upon. Tesla likely paid only 80% of the listed price as a trade in, locking in a 20% non-negotiable profit margin for the company so that’s a good place to start to get a sense of the true wholesale value of these CPOs.

Evaluate CPO vs. New: you should always make the comparison between a new vehicle and the CPO and factor in the still available up to $7,500.00 Federal Tax Credit. The first owner took that credit so it is not available to you as a CPO buyer. Take the time to go on to Tesla Model S design studio and price out a comparably equipped Model S, deduct the $7,500.00 tax credit and see how close you are to the CPO. Tesla Model S Design Studio.

Remaining Factory Warranty: check out the balance of the factory warranty (4 years/50,000 miles) which is extended for CPOs. Ask for details. Most importantly, look hard at the remaining battery life which typically has an 8 year warranty (ask about mileage caps which can vary by battery size and year of production). Along with the electric drive unit, this is the most expensive out of warranty repair to consider ($10,000+).

Some of the early Teslas were purchased with the extended warranty which should transfer to the CPO buyer – be sure to ask.  Rim rash is common and should be repaired by the Tesla Service Center. Tires are replaced below 5/32 of tread life.

Lower Priced Entry Level Model S:  you may want to wait and see what Tesla does with the Model S entering its fourth full year of production. According to this article from the Motley Fool, Tesla may continue to reduce the price/feature set of the Model S to attract more buyers. Tesla has been focused on the $70,000 entry price point but ‘de-contented’ Model S could reduce that price further. Motley Fool Less Expensive Tesla Model S?. Time is on your side as the supply of CPOs with Autopilot grow and Tesla moves to lower the entry price point on a new Model S.

Bottom line: So if you are just interested in a great car that may be worth 50% of what you paid for it 3 years down the road and can live without Autopilot and all other self-driving upgrades, you may find a great deal.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK before you commit to a Certified Pre-Owned Tesla Model S. Buy only the options/features you want. Try not to get swayed by the sub-$50,000 hype.  God-speed finding the deal of a lifetime!