Sunday, June 5, 2011

My Visit to the Tesla Store in Los Angeles

I was on a 2-week solar road trip and was in Los Angeles for the middle weekend, including the Memorial Day holiday Monday.  I went around the city checking out touristy things, then remembered there is a Tesla store in the city somewhere.  My GPS found it on Santa Monica Boulevard and I was hoping to just take a picture of it from the outside, not thinking it would be open on the holiday.  Much to my surprise, it was open so I went in.

There was a family already inside talking with Adam Slusser the sales advisor.  I walked around to not bother them, but was following the conversation and I have to say Adam was spot-on about every pro and con aspect of the Tesla cars, the battery and charging technology, range anxiety, etc. to people who weren't knowledgeable on the issues.  I was very impressed.

After they left I introduced myself and we dove into the electric car discussion.  I explained that I knew a lot about the car already and I was doing my own conversion.  He seemed genuinely interested and I brought up this blog on the computer in the showroom.  I went back in time and showed the Tesla pictures from the Avila Beach Concours.

After that he asked me if I wanted to go into the service area.  Um, yes!  I couldn't take pictures due to customer confidentiality, but there were three cars there, two were undergoing sales prep and one candy apple red one on the end was torn into pieces.  Adam explained that it was one of  Elon Musk's, the Tesla CEO, own cars, which was Serial #10, Version 1.0.  It was being upgraded to all of the latest Version 2.5 parts.  He also showed me the battery work room, which I couldn't walk into due to the high-voltage risks, which I understand from my work on solar systems which also have high-voltage DC and AC.  The battery pack unit contains 6831 AA-size cells, but internally it's constructed with a series of 11 swappable modules, each with its own monitoring electronics and cooling system.  They have a rotisserie frame to make it easier to work on these massive units.

Here are some pictures that I got of the cars on display, both were stickered at around $135K.  I like the black one but the green one is a little too bright for me.

I then noticed that they had a display of the motor controller, engine and transmission in the corner.  Adam quizzed me what was interesting about it, and I noticed that it was big enough to have gears so it must be the Version 1.0 two-speed transmission.  I was right!

I then saw the charging station and the multi-adapter charging cables.  There are 8 different outlet adapters available.

Adam said they're approaching the end of production for the Roadster model, at around 2500 cars.  The Model S sedan should roll out right around that time, and news to me was they're working on the engineering kickoff of the Model X SUV/Crossover vehicle.  The goal is to bring electric car technology to the masses at decreasing price points, not continue to focus just on high-end high performance cars.

As I was leaving Adam said he had something for me, and he pulled this out of a cabinet.  Needless to say, this is my new keyring.

In the end, I spent about an hour there, enjoying the tech discussion and savouring the very air of the most successful electric car company in history.

Later in the week I passed the SpaceX building, which is Elon Musk's other company, that is bringing low-cost commercial and eventually human-capable space launch capabilities to the industry.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

EVTV Electric Vehicle Video Show Site

Our friend Ritchie in Australia turned me on to  The site is a series of videos by Jack Rickard and "Brain" Noto.  I haven't figured out all of Jack's background, but he and Brian used to publish Boardwatch Magazine back in the days of dial-up computer BBS systems.  He also owns two DC-3s and a Lear airplane.

The video series starts off with a description of the electric conversion they did on a Porsche 356 Speedster.  I'm about halfway through the videos on a conversion they're doing to a BMW Mini Clubman.

The videos are a combination of electric vehicle news, deep battery technology analysis, strong opinions on the industry and hands-on tear downs and electric part installation.

Be prepared to spend many, many hours of your life watching the videos.  They do more rather slowly, but it's a good, casual style mixed in with a tremendous amount of valuable information.

I've found the video streaming from the web site to be problematic but they have also mirrored their videos on youtube.