Phoenix Motor car Update

Aug 25 2011

Back in 2008 I wrote about Phoenix Motor cars. A small start up that was doing Research and development on electric cars. Original Phoenix Motor car had two models and sport truck and a sedan. If you visit their website it looks like they have drope the sedan. The sport truck is the only vehicle on the website. Plus they are ONLY doing fleet sales at this time . No private party sales. That is sad

I also had the opportunity to drive by their corporate offices in Ontario California. As you can see from the photo below

Phoenix Sport trucks waiting to be electrified, by Greg Powers

the lot is full of sport trucks. Lots of them for a small manufacture.  Well they are not really na automotive manufacture. They buy the rolling assembled truck for a manufacture in Korea. Then install the all electric drive train here in Ontario California.

The new policy of only doing fleet sales is reflected in the over wellming number of white sport trucks. The other strange thing is the trucks are sitting in a parking lot that is part of a lite industrial park.

phoenix Motor car sport truck, by Greg Powers

Her is another photo showing a side view of the sport truck.

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Nissan Leaf Reservation Update

Aug 05 2011

 

Just a quick update on the leaf reservation process. I have been receiving e-mails from Nissan informing me that my estimated time of delivery has been updated. The original estimated delivery was mid to late September.  So, an August date this is good news. Remember I started the reservation process in mid May, 2011. So if the Leaf is really delivered in Augest that will be a four month wait.

I have also received an invitation from Nissan to initiate a CARWINGS account. What the heck is a CARWINGS account? Well the Nissan Leaf has a telemetry system that reports (prepaid AT&t cell connection for three years) things like the number of trips you drive , the distance you drive, miles per kilowatt , and number of trees you built for any given day.  It is all reported and presented on a very nice graphical website.

Two other notable cool features about CarWings. Nissan compares you against other Leaf drivers for getting the most miles per kilowatt and the number of trees created among other things. This is done world wide and by region.

The other great CARWINGS feature has to do with the navigation system.  You can plan your trip using you desktop computer and then send it to you leafs nav system through the internet. very nice, I always disliked sitting in the car planing out a route on the nav screen.

So for now I just continue to wait. One surprise is the requirement to install a charging station using Nissan’s preferred vendor has gone away.

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Saving Money on Utilities: Part 1

Jul 17 2011

Things we did to save money on utilities:

Electricity, this was the area we made the biggest impact. We saves a tone of money by installing a variable speed pool pump.  This is an expensive item but an out dated pool pump can waist  a lot of electricity. We paid about $1,100 for a new highly efficient pool pump. But this is a device you use every for 6 to 8 hours a day. We were using 18kWh a day running our pool pump. With the new pump we are using only 2.5kWh a day. A huge savings.

Also in the area of electricity we replaced all our light bulbs with LED bulbs not Compact Florescent. LED light bulbs use one tenth of the energy of an incandescent or Halogen bulb. Plus LED’s do not contain the very toxic mercury that CF do.

As we replace appliances we always check the energy guide labels to purchase the lowers energy cost appliance we can find that meets our needs. You would be surprised the difference in the energy usage between different appliances.  It all adds up.

The we started scouting the house for vampire power users. Vampire power are devices that use powers 24  by 7 even when you are not using the device. And the bigest culprit here are wall warts. you know the power transformers that plug in to the wall. well they draw power even when the device is not being used.  This add up real fast if yo can reduce you vampire power by only 0.5kWh that ends up being a 12kWh per day savings.

We drove our electric usage from a average of 40kWh a day to and average or 22kWh a day. The max we were hitting in the summer was 60kWh a day down to 44kWh a day.

That is a huge savings and anyone can do it. This does not mean i’m a tree hugger, it just means i’m cheep, frugal and like keep my money. It is also a great was to reduce expenses when your getting ready to retire.

 

 

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Generic Top Level Domain Names gTLD

Jun 23 2011

 

ICANN has recently approved the new Generic Top Level Domain Names or gTLD. So how will this change the internet.

1. First thing that came to mind was better security for banks. A bank or finical institution can buy the gTLD and every thing that do can be tied to that gTLD. The user would not need to worry about phishing. there would be on confusion one what domain the e-mail or query is coming from. The only question are the Banks and financial institution willing to fork out $185k fork the security feature.

2. It will make things easier to find and shorter URLs. For example if Google were to buy the top level domain Google. You could access the different Google products by using URLs like. search.Google or Gmail.Google or Maps.Google.

3. The generic Top Level Domain will really help cites and geographic regions group there content or even create a revenue stream by selling domain name.  Example MannsTheater.Hollywood.

4. Other groups could also benefits like Plastic surgeons you could domai name like drBrown.PlasticSurgery or Dr.headman.PlasticSurgery.

These are just a few way that the new gTLD name might change the what we use the internet

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PV panels and SMOG

Jun 22 2011

Is smog a consideration when planing a photovoltaic solar system? Well in my very un-scientific analysis of my solar photovoltaic system production I have seen some patterns develop.

I have a monitoring system that constantly  collects data on how much the PV system produces every hour and instant production. One thing that I keep monitoring is what is the peak amount of wattage does the system produce.  I deduced that the closer we approach the summer solstice the more power the PV system would producre. General that is true, I have seen a constant increase in monthly production since the winter solstice.

But what I did notice is that for a couple of days after a rain storm the PV system was generating more power then on average. To the tune of 2 kilowatts (or about 5%) more. Two day after the rain storm the production would drop back to the lower average peak output.

The pattern was very constant (see chart below). Rain and then a couple of higher peek production days and then a return to the lower peeks. So I deduced that the days following a rain storm the air is cleaner, less smog. anyone can see, as they fly in the the Los Angelse basin, that most of the time there is thick layer of smog. So the smog is filtering the sun light and less sun is reaching the PV panels.

So you might argue hat the rain cleans off the PV panels. All the rain washes of the dust awasy and the panels receive more sunlight and therefore producer more power.  Sounds reasonable, BUT just recently we has a service clean the PV panels and both the day of the cleaning and the two day after the cleaning the power production was the average peek not the 2 kilowatts higher peek. Both day were also very sunny and cloud free.

So the more I look at the monitor reports, the more I’am convinced that the smog is costing me about 2 kilowatts a day in lower power production. All due to the SMOG levels in our area.

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Nissan Leaf ordering process

May 17 2011

If you want a Nissan Leaf you are forced through an on-line seven step process.  After you create your Leaf account you wait for an invitation to start the process.  The seven steps are locked until you receive your invitation. As you work your way through the first step addition steps are unlocked.

The first step is to reserve your Leaf and that is going to cost you some money. The reservation is going to cost you a hundred bucks. Not bad and the reservation fee goes toward you purchase.  Not bad but it is still a hundred dollars just to get in line. If you are buying a Volt there is no reservation fee. On the other end of the spectrum is the Tesla Model S reservation fee of $5,000 or if you want a early delivery of the Model S signature edition it will cost you $30,000. So the Leaf is not bad, it is doable.

Next they hit you up for another hundred dollars for a home assessment. What is that? will Nissan want to make sure your home electrical system will handle the electric vehicle (EV) charging station. The process also generates a quote for the charging system that can be added to the purchase of your Nissan Leaf.  But a HUNDERED DOLLARS for an estimate??

If you do not sign up for the assessment the ordering step will not unlock. The ordering step is where you get in line with a prefered dealer. This is where I’am now. The dealer Quotes you the list price, surprise,  surprise. So far I have been unable to get the delivery,tax and other delivery charges. The big unknown is, in the 3-4 months, will there be a dealer add on premium???

Well for now it is a wait and see. The next several steps are locked. I will see when they get unlocked.

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CASH Healthcare

Apr 14 2011

Recently I need to get a cholesterol check. I was faced with going to our regular doctor and paying the yearly deductible and the co-pay of for the initial office visit, the lab test, then a follow-up Dr. visit to discuss the results,  get the new prescription, then getting the prescription filled.

Now the insurance i have is not the best but it is better then most and pays pretty good. Still I would be out of pocket several hundred dollars just to get my cholesterol medication refilled.

Instead there is the dark secret world of cash health care. Thats right cash, no insurance co-pays, not insurance forms, and no deductible. just cash. Over the years I have tried several  prescription  medications for cholesterol management. I ended up on Loped and Niacin. Well Niacin is over the counter and even the time release Niacin id OTC.  The loped is on marginal in reducing cholesterol.

So how do I manage this on my own with out spending tons of money on Dr. visits and prescriptions ever year.  First this to get a cholesterol test. The blood test to determine where my LDL and HDL values are. I already have copies form previous test that were ordered by my doctor, several years of test.

So we start calling around to get a cholesterol test, most places assume/require insurance and a Dr. prescription. Some lab want $200, $250 for a cholesterol panel.  But if you dig enough there are labs that do not require a prescription and will do the cholesterol panel for a little as $42 dollars. That is way less then going the insurance way.

But when they set up your lab test draw, they warn you to only show the lab the work order that was e-mail to you.  Using any other paper work may result in additional fees to be added to your bill. strange but true so to get your $42 dollar test follow the instructions.

Once I have a base line I will continue to take the time release Niacin and supplement  with plant sterols. Plant sterols are supposed to be natures way of dealing with lowering cholesterol. This way I’m not dealing with the side effect of using a statin.

So in the end I will be paying cash, saving money and lowering my cholesterol naturally.

So the bigger question is how big is the CASH healthcare movement ?  and why is the CASH plan so much less expensive?

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Small City BIG Salaries

Apr 02 2011

Below is a list of salaries for the small bed room community of  Upland.  Upland has a population of approximatively 77,000 people with an median household income in 2009: $65,330.  This is a small city is it only 15 square miles. So the city manager makes seven times the median income of the city. even the lowest paid position,  Fire Battalion Chief makes more the twice the the cities median income.

 

Position…Salary / Compensation (salary+benefits)

City Manager…$368,529 / $460,625

Police Chief…$229,724 / $306,621

Fire Chief…$170,698 / $242,390

Public Works Director…$177,030 / $236,004

City Clerk…$175,606 / $231,230

Finance Director…$168,659 / $225,418

Police Captain…$160,940 / $221,201

Community Development Director…$165,422 / $219,618

Police Captain…$160,940 / $219,175

Police Captain…$159,566 / $216,217

Assistant City Manager…$159,569 / $214,418

Human Resources Director…$159,230 / $214,132

Fire Division Chief…$149,066 / $211,156

Fire Battalion Chief…$149,363 / $207,787

Library Director…$150,269 / $202,742

Fire Battalion Chief…$143,830 / $201,274

SOURCE: City of Upland

 

Something is wrong when city salaries have ballooned to this magnitude. How can the city staff pay themselves these outrageous salaries. Why do normal human beings think this it is OK to take this kind of money.

It is because they think it is their money. After all if we need more money we will just TAX the population more. It is an endless supply of money.  Well it is NOT just an endless supply of money. We all work hard for our money to provide a good quality of life to our love ones.  So the public sector needs to get real and come back to reality and stop these huge exorbitant salaries. Instead of cutting programs and services cut your dam salary back to a normal salary.

Keep your hand out of my pocket.

 

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Tesla Model S

Mar 25 2011

I drove down to Newport Beach to see the Model S at the Tesla dealer. I had been invited to a special showing of the touring Model S. Getting there and seeing the car being rope off I was disappointed. Then to find out that we were not going to be able to touch or even get in the car was a real bummer.  Apparently this particular Model S is a concept Model S and not a production version.  The sale person claimed that the the concept car cost over two million dollars to build.  So no touching.

The real reason is the exterior and interior of concept are close to the production but not exactly the same. The exterior is about 90% the same, just some minor aerodynamics changes for efficiencies.  As for the interior there will be major differences. Seams the concept was built on a existing rolling platform.   So the concept still has a drive train tunnel. The production Model S will not, as the entire drive train is only 12 moving parts mounted around the rear axial. Sales staff said the will be considerable more room in the cockpit of the production Model S.

Good news is the 17 inch touch screen that makes up the center stack will be in the production version. This will be a full connected car.  The dealer/Tesla will push out updates to you car automatically.   Tesla also said there will be third party apps available for the car. Using a smart phone you will be able to check the stats of you Tesla, charge levels etc… Remember that two big investors in the start-up of the Model S were founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page. It is rumored that an internet connect car was a stipulation of the investment.

Now the bad news. The touring of the concept model is a road show to get you to put down a $5,000 get in the queue deposit. The sale person said she would be happy to put it on your credit card. Definitely an upper crust crowd, no cash.  Mind you the 5 grand does not get you a relative position in line. It just gets you in the queue. What to put more money down or sign up for more options you move up the list. But the options are expensive.

To start with there is the “Signature”  edition. It will cost you 40 grand down to order the “Signature”, but you will one of the first to get a Model S Tesla.  Plus ALL the “Signature”  edition model S cars will be the 300 mile version of the battery pack, which is a $20,000 upgrade. In addition the the battery upgrade the “Signature”  edition will also be the highest trim level. So this is not the $50K Model S, it will be more like $100K.

So what about everyone that does not to sign up for the “Signature”  edition? Will, the first non-”Signature”  edition cars to roll off the assembly line will also be the 300 mile battery pack version. So if you want a reasonably priced Tesla Model S, like the advertise $50 price point, you are going to be waiting a long time. Maybe another 24 to 36 months.

But like the sales person said it is a “luxury electric Car” . She said it with a BIG smile.

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Chevy Volt Test drive

Mar 17 2011

My wife made a visit to the local Chevy dealer to check out the Chevy Volt.  Thought they may have one on the show room floor. To my surprise that had several on the lot. so we started look at a few that were on the lot. A salesman approchased and invited us into the show room to look at and drive  the Volt.

So here are my first 10  impressions.

  1. I like the concept car/ show car styling a lot better, the production version is dumbed down a lot
  2. No leg room in the back seat when the drivers seat is move back all the way. I mean non, not any, zero, so forget about using the back seat if the drive it Tall like me 6’4″
  3. Do not like the painted center stack of buttons. Overwhelming at first maybe it grows on you.
  4. Loved the multiple display screens and the total glass dash
  5. The electric motor provide tons of  low end torque.
  6. Front grill in not a grill so do not make it look like one, get daring and create something different
  7. It is EXPENSIVE compared to the Nissan Leaf, but cheaper then the Tesla model S.
  8. Dual power plants revealed the wifes “Range anxiety”
  9. Drives like any other car
  10. Very quite aka no tailpipe.

So bottom line, Would I buy this half electric, half Gas powered car? Not for me but my Wife loved it. So I guess we will be buying one in the next 12 months or so.  How is that for a positive answer. But I would still like to see the Nissan Leaf.

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