An industry colleague said to me the other day “I know you’re a solar guy, but I have really enjoyed your past stories about electric vehicles and the challenges of owning an electric vehicle. They’re part of the new energy world too – why have you not written more?”
Well, ok then.
This coming weekend, to celebrate the EV festival happening in Newcastle, our growing gang will jump on our Zero electric motorbikes and set out to push the boundaries of ev use yet again. Between our five bikes, we have rather impressive 378ft lbs of torque to get us there.
Owning an ev is for the vast majority of the time a total blast and for most use, recharging is done either at home or any 240V outlet that we can find. However, even with up to 200km of range More on later models) if you try to do longer distances or sustain higher speeds, things get more challenging in a world without charging stations (especially DC ones) and or bigger battery chargers.
This generally means that we stick to back roads, take in life at a slightly more sedate pace, or keep the rides shorter. But after many discussions, for this trip we decided to take a much more aggressive and risky approach; we like to think of it as “the Kramer Experiment”.
As one of my compatriots said to me “Sure, we could take the slow and safe route, but where’s the challenge or adventure in that ? I say we push it all the way and see just how far we can get!”
Without a blink, we had opted for the Freeway route and committed to not dawdling to conserve energy but instead sitting on normal freeway speeds. Our run is relatively short overall at 140km but with most of us owning bikes that are now two years old or more and many with more than 20,000kms on the odometer, we’re no longer on the cutting edge. We are also somewhat handicapped by our 11.4kWh batteries, luggage, extra chargers, big cables, cold weather and to be fair, some of us are carrying a little middle-aged paunch too.
Zero produce very accurate range estimates for these bikes which have been proven to be right time and time again, not-withstanding the variables above. I’ve personally squeezed 200km range out of my 2014 DS11.4 but equally, know that their 100km range estimate at Highway speeds is probably about right – so we will need some recharging along the way to make this trip.
In this case, each of us will be carrying an additional charger to supplement our on board chargers and thus, speed up the re-charging process. Between us we have a growing menagerie of “off-board” chargers to complement our standard 1.3kW “on-board” chargers, on average lifting our individual charging capacity to around 2.5kW. This theoretically means we can recharge in around 4.5 hours from flat instead of around 9 hours. That’s still not even close to a petrol stop, but we can live with that and work around it – and won’t be needing to recharge from flat to 100% during our ride.
By our estimates, we’ll arrive at the very amenable Oliver’s Real Food’s restaurant at Wyong with between 10% and 20% capacity remaining. We then need a minimum, additional 50% capacity to get to 60%, which is enough to make the next hop to the EV event. Oliver’s have been fantastically accommodating and engaged in helping us and have kindly allowed us to access their three phase outlet for this purpose. This outlet can deliver 7.6kW per phase, which is more than enough for our total load and since we aren’t charging to 100%, our chargers will remain at pretty much full power right through until this point without tapering off, taking a leisurely two hours. We have a couple of three phase to single phase converters on hand especially for this purpose. Sure, I wish we had a supercharger or that ChaDEMO was affordable and accessible so it was faster, but this is 2016. It isn’t. But we’re up for the challenge and can eat a lot of beans while we wait.
Once we arrive, we’ll join a throng of other EV enthusiasts who will be undertaking all-manner of EV related activities including technology displays, model racing, endurance events and even demonstration laps of street based vehicles (we’re hoping to be on track around 3pm).
The day will conclude with a dinner hosted by Beyond Zero Emissions, before we retire to our digs for the night (n.b. caravan parks are an EV owner’s friend – so many 15A outlets!). We did share a few jokes about potentially having to take shifts recharging our bikes to avoid overloading circuits; ah the joys of being an early adopter!
Sunday will see a leisurely return ride to Sydney with the route depending on what pans out during Saturday’s experiment. Without time pressure, we may opt for a more leisurely ride along “the old road” which is limited to 70-90kmh, but is a much nicer bike road. Never has travelling under the speed limit been so rewarding!
If you get a chance, drop by on Saturday to say g’day, support the teams and check out all the events which you can see here.
Source: Roof Juice. Reproduced with permission.