e-Mobility trip to California, USA, Oct 2013

Last week I participated in an EV trip to the West Coast of the USA. We started on Monday in San Francisco,  and went to Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley (ZERO Motorcycles), Fremont (Tesla), and the trip finished Wednesday in Sacramento for the “Coast-to-Coast Workshop on e-Mobility”. I will briefly discuss some of the highlights and lessons learned from the most electrified state in the USA: CAlifornia (CA). Part of the delegation also went to LA, to speak among others with Paul Scott.


IMG_3013My journey really started with leaving my Tesla key at home. I had it with me for already 6 weeks! My wife was eager to use the Tesla the next week as much as possible :). After a good flight from Amsterdam to San Francisco, I joined Maurice Geraets from NXP IMG_3015Semiconductors, and Tim Kreukniet from the East Coast Electric initiative. The organizer of our trip, Ellen Hiep, and her business partner Douwe Wielenga picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel.  Of course, somewhat later, we were eager to have a drink, so we went to a bar close to Union Square, and there we could enjoy the preparations for Halloween! In the evening we went to a nice Italian restaurant together with the other members of this EV trip: Julia Williams (EZ), Cees-Willem van Rooij (Tacstone), Paul Rutte (Province Noord-Holland), and Hans de Boer (GreenFlux).


IMG_2384The day started with a welcome by the Consul-General Hugo von Meijenfeldt  at the Consulate General at the 31st stock downtown SF. Here is his report of this week. Then Peter van Deventer, the Program Director at Coast to Coast E-Mobility IMG_3019Connection explained us why he started the initiative to link the EV developments in CA with those of the Netherlands.

In the afternoon, we went by a small touring car to Santa Cruz, where we got an “EV Food Tour“,and learned about the pioneering role of the city for electrical driving. All public chargers we saw were free to use, almost everywhere occupied, we saw many Leafs, one Toyota Rav4, and one 60 kWh Tesla. IMG_3032In the parking garages we even saw an old inductive charger from the GM EV1 time! Also new for me was that all chargers have their cables connected to the charger, so you only need to plug it into your car.IMG_3028

IMG_3034In the evening we had a Round Table with about 20 EV entrepreneurs from the region. It was organized by Peter and Paul Stith (EVgrid)  Among others, I met my acquaintance prof Andrew Frank, and my former PhD student Bram Bonsen. I also spoke to the San Francisco Leaf User Community leader, and the founder of Lightning MotorCycles. I also spoke with the founder of PlugShare. In the evening we stayed at Hotel Paradox, and we even drove to the (dark) beach in Santa Cruz with Peter’s Electric Fiat 500e.


IMG_3058The morning started with a visit to ZERO Motorcycles in Scotts Valley. We had a tour through the manufacturing plant and some of us were even able to  have a test-drive. ZERO Motorcycles is a nice start-up company with a lot of ambition. Their market is for instance police forces. Their EU headquarters is in Alkmaar.

IMG_3065On our way to Tesla in Fremont, we had lunch in Gilroy, where we had a chance to see the nr 3 of Tesla’s Supercharger station. During our lunch we did see on average three Tesla’s charging for 20 min or so.

In the afternoon we joined the delegation of Minister (‘Staatssecretaris’)  Wilma Mansveld, and we were able to see the Tesla Factory. IMG_3072The amazing amount of cars in front of the factory on the parking lots was amazing. More than 3000 people are now working there, and they just started 1,5 years ago! In front of the building the management cars were parked: almost all P85+! IMG_2497Inside the factory we saw the production line which was also in the video using the industrial robots. The cycle time I measured was 7 min. If we assume 10 hours/7days, then this would mean a max production of 600 cars/week, if they go to 24/7, this can be increased to max 1400/week, which means max 72.000/year. This is what the current factory could do, but there is plenty of space to build a second line. The current plans are to start with the Model X on the same line, at the end of 2014. The robots are flexible enough to be programmed for this.IMG_2500

IMG_3079After the impressive factory tour we hadthe reception at the Tesla Customer Center, with about 100 people, and the speech of Mansveld. Also, there were test-drives with the Tesla’s and also Mansveld, like the others, didn’t want to get out once inside and with the driving experience of a Model S!

IMG_3083Our day finished with our transfer to Sacramento, to the nice ‘boat’ hotel Delta King.


The next day was the day of the Governor’s Office Conference “Coast-to-Coast Workshop on e-Mobility”, organized by Peter and Christine Kehoe from CA. It started with a welcome speech by EPA Secretary of Matt Rodriquez and by Wilma Mansveld, and i gave a keynote address about the state of EV in the Netherlands. Dr Gil Tal, from UC Davis gave some interesting numbers of the state of EV in CA. Among other data, the buyers in CA are above average tech oriented high income people who already had a hybrid before. This plenary session was moderated by ‘Miss Electric’ Dr. Shannon Arvizu.  After this, we had three break-out sessions with discussions in small groups, starting with a plenary panel discussion.  In the small break-out groups various experts from both Californa and the Netherlands got to know each other and exchanged views on problems and solutions. The subjects were: (i) investment, finance and leasing, (ii) zero emission public transportation, and (iii) charging and interoperability. Some lessons learned: in the USA most EV buyers have financial lease, with 2,8% interest rate. So, for 250$/month you drive a Leaf. (I propose a new leasing fund run by Triodos bank). Also the Dutch OCPP standard for chargers DSC_6075IMG_0892communication protocol is going to be adopted. The public sector in the USA suffers from the very low (shale)gas prices. The use of plugin hybrids is interesting: supported by apps and social media people try to use as many electrical miles as possible! We should do that as well, and it will be a good addition to the plans we developed within our Formule E-Team and recently suggested to Mansveld.

At the end of the Conference Wilma Mansveld undersigned an agreement with the State of California on e-Mobility cooperation through the Coast-to-Coast EV program. After the reception, we headed for the airport, to fly to Los Angeles. On the way, we met Kitty Adams with a very nice initiative called Adopt a Charger, we should do this in the Netherlands as well!


IMG_3090After taking the flight from LA to Paris, I arrived on Thursday in the afternoon in Paris, and took the flight to Amsterdam. I took the detour via Paris, because it was the quickest way to arrive on Thursday in NL, because I had to be at the 24h session of my group in Westelbeers early Friday morning. I arrived by train at 22:00 in Eindhoven, and I took the taxi to Westelbeers. And yes, a police check! My taxi driver was not allowed to drive any more, he worked too long, and had some fines… So, it took me 2 hours to go from Eindhoven to Westelbeers, at the end of a 8000 mile trip. At 24:00 I finally arrived in the bar to drink some beers with my group.

I enjoyed this e-Mobility trip, it was good for the relations between NL and CA, and we got some new ideas to implement here!

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