Thursday, November 26, 2015

Tesla Paris Chambourcy Showroom and Service Center

From the Paris Ouest Tesla showroom, I took another series of trains and subways to get as far as I could to St. Germain, home of the famous PSG football team.  From there it's a 20 minute bus ride to Chambourcy.  I made it to the store with about 15 minutes to go before closing time, whew!  I took some pictures and had a chat with one staffer until closing time.

Tesla Paris Ouest France Showroom and Service Center

While in Paris I discovered two Tesla locations, one easy to get to and one difficult.  I went to the easy one first in Paris Ouest.  I did a series of subway and outer-region train rides and a long walk to get there.  Turns out it's a service center only now, they moved the showroom two weeks ago to the other location that's about 30km away to the west.  The staff were very helpful, pulling out a map and showing me what public transport I'd have to take to get there.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Tesla Tilburg Netherlands Showroom and European Factory

The Tilburg factory is a 2 hour walk, train, bus and walk in the pouring rain but hey if I'm that close I have to do it.

I walk into the Visitor center at the factory to find that it's not the factory anymore!  It's now a showroom, service center and warehouse since September.  The very helpful man there explained everything and pointed me towards the new factory just down the road.

I walk in more pouring rain to the new building.  This is a massive building, about 200 meters wide and 40 tractor-trailer-loading-bays long.

I walked into the first sliding glass door but it looked like an employee entrance, so I went out and then into the next door which led me into a big visitor room with floor-to-ceiling glass walls looking right into the factory.

The "factory" is what I would call final assembly, about the size of a basketball court, done this way to reduce the taxes payable for fully assembled cars brought into the country for distribution around Europe.  The cars come four to a shipping container, with the wheels bolted onto the hubs so they can roll.  The cars enter what is labelled "General Assembly", riding on a smart cart and they move in an S-shaped work line where the car is grabbed from above with a big claw-like hanger.   The wheels come off, the battery pack is installed, the drivetrain(s) are installed and then the wheels go back on again.  They fill it with windshield washer fluid and then flash the software at which point the car is driveable.  The car is lowered onto another smart cart and makes its way to final inspection for paint and water leakage.  It comes off the cart and goes through an indoor test track about 900m long with bumps designed to make squeaky things squeak.  They then are driven over into the detailing area then parked waiting for shipment though Europe or for local pickup.

All this time, several people walked through the visitor area and nobody seemed to be worried about me with my nose pressed up against the glass.  Finally a young man walked over and introduced himself.  He was the Delivery Specialist, handling about 8 - 10 local pickups every day.  One customer with a new titanium colored Model S drove past me and out the door with a huge smile on his face.  I told my story and we talked for about half an hour.  He then told me it was OK to take pictures through the glass, I said I hadn't up to then because of the no-picture rule in Fremont but he said there are no secrets here, so he took a few pictures of me, then I took a few more.  He then went back to his desk and brought out a stainless steel Tesla pen for me, I'm very thankful for his gift.  Well that was an awesome visit.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tesla Amsterdam Zuid-Oost Netherlands Showroom, Service Center and European Headquarters

On the Amsterdam city outskirts is another Tesla location.  This one combines a showroom, huge service Center and the Tesla European headquarters.  All support calls in Europe come here and staff is available in all supported languages.

I thought it was interesting that Tesla had a big "we're hiring" sign outside the office.

Tesla Amsterdam Netherlands Showroom

I walked to the Tesla showroom, of course.  It's in a tiny storefront in an upscale part of town.  The young man working there said electric cars are really coming in the Netherlands, nearly every street has at least one charging station so the infrastructure is there and ready for more cars.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Electric Amsterdam Netherlands

Continuing my trip, I made a stop in Amsterdam and visit Anne Kloppenborg and his New Electric company, building electric cars and boats.

I made my way to Anne's workshop which is tucked in behind some industrial buildings.  I walked into the right shop and saw Ray and Celso and Anne.

A customer Volvo was up on the hoist being converted for the CEO of an electric car charger station company.  The Delta boat that didn't finish the English Channel crossing was in pieces, apparently the contactor failed from heat thrown off by the fuse that was running near its limit.  3/4 of the way across the English Channel is a tough place to have an electrical glitch!  A simple redesign of that part of the circuit should avoid concentrating the heat, with a next try scheduled for December.  The 818 project is in process but delayed by paying customer work (which is always good to have!)  There was a small cabin boat out the back in the canal being converted.

Trying to help out a bit, I built up a parallel pack of 10 CALB CA100 batteries and Celso initiated the bottom balancing process.  I was careful not to drop the wrench across the battery terminals...

Anne had a meeting with an electric boat motor company at a trade show in town so we went in.  I got a visitor badge and we found the booth.  While Anne talked with them, I explored the next few aisles of products.

Later in the week we walked down to the two canal boats that Anne had installed electric motors and batteries into.  These are new and he did the installation in conjunction with the boat manufacturer.  The battery packs hold 180 KWH, this is a monster, as much as two Teslas, folks!  They have between 2000 and 3000 hours of service in only 8 months and they're still purring along.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Tesla Copenhagen Denmark Showroom and Electric Bicycles

Continuing my trip I tracked down the Tesla showroom in Copenhagen.  This is a very dense city with small streets and the showroom was tiny but in a high-end shopping area.  They did have just enough room for a rolling chassis and a production 90D model running the brand-new AutoPilot software update.  I spotted 4 other Teslas around town.  Due to a change in government, the tax-free status of electric cars is going away soon and will now be subject to the 200% tax levied on all cars.  Maybe tax free is too much of a break but a little social engineering always helps to move society towards a zero-emission, renewable energy future.

We walked outside and down a block to a rack of electric bicycles!  Woo hoo!  Simon entered his account information on the touch screen and away we went.  It has 3 speeds and uses a pedal-assist method.  You start pedalling and the motor turns on and gives you a strong assist, you just need to keep gently pedalling.  If you stop, you get a nice regen.  We rode through the city over to a canal with a sightseeing boat and checked the bikes into another rack.  Cost for the ride was DK25 or about $4.

As we walked away from the bike rack, I spotted a VW plugged into an electric charging station, and a guy with professional camera equipment taking pictures.  He said the car was on sale in Sweden now and would come here next March, so he was taking pictures for the brochure to be used here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Tesla Birmingham England Showroom and Service Center

Continuing on my trip, I was visiting a friend near Birmingham England when I realized that there is a Tesla location nearby, so off we went.

It's quite a large location near the city center.  I took some pictures and talked with a young woman who was just recently hired.  I walked out into the back parking lot to look at the cars waiting to be delivered and was politely chased out, turns out I can't go back there, sorry!