Xpanse Solar RV Awning

I recently talked with the folks at Xponent Power about their Solar RV Awning. It was a blast. They have a very good FAQ on their website, it should answer most of your questions. If not, just contact them.


Solar RV Awning

Their Xpanse Solar Awning holds several solar panels and fits right on top of your RV.  This is great because most RVs only have room for a few solar panels. The awning also adjusts automatically to lessen wind drag caused by the awning. The awning will be available late 2022. You can pre-order now at their website.

The folks at Xponent Power first thought about adapting this idea for cars. But they found much more enthusiasm about it in the RV community. So that’s where they’re going to produce this awning first. Then they might look into other applications, if they get enough interest.

That’s what I wanted to talk with them about – other applications – solar farms for off-grid, community-grid, and farms. One of the main attractions, I think, of this awning is it’s plug and play ability. Just think, if you had an EcoFlow Delta Portable Power Unit or possibly a Tesla Power Wall. And imagine if the Xpanse Awning was available in a format where you could plug all that solar power directly into that unit. You could power your off-grid home off solar power, with very little DIY. Now wouldn’t that be groovy?!

Electric Cars – New Book, Website, Info

Electric Car

I know I haven’t posted in a while.

Why not?

Been busy.

Busy with what?

Work, mostly. Then there was this pandemic. But I did write a new book.

EV – Electric Vehicles Come Home is full of information about Electric Cars and other Vehicles around the world. There are cars, trucks, SUVs, boats, planes, skateboards, etc. Yep, there’s an electric skateboard.

I try to keep all that information not so boring. To help, I included some stories about my visitors from another planet. They came looking for information about Electric Vehicles (EVs). They figured, since I’ve been researching them for 50 years and had written one book about them (Select Your Electric Car), and was working on a second, that I would be their best source of information.

There’s also a story about Whistlethwaite, the legendary EV owner and his standoff with Jake – owner of a Monster Truck. Plus a couple of fictional stories about planes.

EVs have come home. Sales of Electric cars are outpacing sales of other cars. In Norway, most of the vehicles sold are electric. Sales are heading that way in other countries. If you don’t already own an EV, you’ll want to get in on this wave. If you do, maybe you want to upgrade.

EVs now have plenty of range (you can drive one for your daily commute and then some before having to charge). Charging can usually be as quick as you want. It’s always easy. It will save you money over buying and owning a petrol-powered cars. And there are plenty of vehicles to choose from. Plus, you’ll be helping to save the environment.

And, to paraphrase President Biden, These suckers are quick!

And I have a new website for Electric Cars – https://electriccarconcierge.com/

Is Washington State Gouging Electric Vehicle Owners?

Electric Car

Note: Jay Inslee was a candidate for President who ran on one issue: Climate Change. Washington State has been a leader on the environment with his help and leadership.

The tags on my Nissan Leaf needed to be renewed in August. On the breakdown of the bill, was a $150 charge for owning an Electric Vehicle (EV). I understand that. Since I’m not buying gas, I’m not paying the gas tax of 50 cents/gal. Let’s see, that’s 300 gal of gas. I get 40+ mpg in my Toyota Echo. That’s at least 12000 miles. I probably drive my Nissan Leaf further about that far in a year. So that’s fair.

Also, there was an identical line on my bill for $75. Curious, I called to see what was up. They said, starting in Aug 2019 (lucky me), they had added this additional charge to bring what gas and electric vehicle drivers were paying in taxes. I also found out that the money from this charge would go towards EV charging stations. Sounded good. $175 is a lot less than I would pay for gas at $3.50/gal. This charge was for the range I was getting. Excuse me? I have a 2015 Leaf. Range is supposed to be 119 miles, but at most, I get 70-80 miles. I’m not complaining about my range, but it’s not like I have a new Leaf. And it’s definitely not like I have a Tesla.

$75 would be 150 gal of gas. This would add another 6000 miles. I don’t drive 18000 miles each year. And as my wife pointed out, somebody with a gas powered car could drive a lot fewer miles and pay less taxes. But if you have an EV, you don’t have that choice. Shhh! Don’t give the government any ideas. They might want to place a mileage tracker on my Leaf. Let’s just keep this between me and you. ‘Cause at 10000 miles/year, I’d be paying $875 for gas. So I figure I’m saving $700.

Advantages of Chip Seal

The county recently chip sealed my road into town. This is the process where they lay down some liquid asphalt and then drop something which looks to me like chipped gravel on top. Oh, we used to dread it! Get caught in that traffic and try to hold your nose until you got out of that mess. Our county must be using some new process which is not as smelly, because we couldn’t smell a thing. And somebody said that it’s supposed to help with ice and black ice. I can’t verify that.

We were driving our Nissan Leaf – Electric Car, and found that it became very enjoyable. It only took 8 more minutes to get to town. The scenery is very nice along that road. And the added benefit, our remaining miles didn’t go down very much. That was a very nice bonus. Driving slow and all that starting and stopping really come in handy when you’re driving an electric car.

On the other hand, since asphalt is made from petroleum, I’d prefer that the county would install Solar Roadways or Porous Cement also known as Pervious Concrete. Solar Roadways would take care of the ice, not need maintenance, generate power, and keep the deer off the roads. Pervious Concrete would let the water through and help with stormwater runoff.

Update: Another downside, is that when I next took out my Leaf, the brakes weren’t working properly. Turns out there were chips in the tire treads. And there were also chips stuck to my brake pads.

After the chip seal was done, the county came back and put on a top seal. More asphalt. Luckily, I live far enough off that road that I didn’t have to smell it for several days, only when I drove on it. And as sticky as it was, I used my old beater gas-powered car rather than my newer electric one.

50 MPG

Electric Car

Are you looking for a new car or truck? One item you should definitely consider is MPG – miles per gallon – how much you gonna spend on gas? That’s especially true if you live on the west coast as I do where gas prices are high. But that’s relative. Gas prices are higher in Hawaii, Europe, etc.

The best option, I think is to go with an electric car. I just plug in my Leaf at night and forget about it. My drive into town is at least 15 miles, 30 round trip. That’s about half my range. Though due to hills and high speed roads, I use 50-60 miles. That’s still less than the 80 to 110 I start with. No problem. If I had a Tesla and if there were super-charging stations where I live, there would definitely be no problem.

But what if you want an SUV – there are electric options for those. Trucks will have electric options soon. Electric vehicles are cheaper to maintain and you won’t be paying for gas. If you’re interested, read my book – Select Your Electric Car.

OK, now that I’ve got the marketing over with, what was your question? Oh yes, what’s the minimum mpg I should be looking for in a car? Electric Vehicles aside, I’d say 50mpg for a small car. I’ve got another book 43 Miles Per Gallon that tells you how to increase that mpg even further. My Toyota Echo is rated at 35mpg, but I can get 43mpg from it. Ahem, as I was saying, 50mpg limits you basically to hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electrics. In my opinion, if you’re going to go with a plug-in hybrid, you might as well go all electric. That little bit of gas isn’t going to save your ___.

So, what cars, suvs, and trucks are available to me, other than electric and plug-in hybrids? FuelEconomy.gov says: Small Cars: Hyundai Ioniq Blue, Hyunday Ioniq, and your can probably tweak a Prius c to get that good of mileage. Sedans: Toyota Prius Eco, Honda Insight, Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius AWD, and I’m betting you can get 50mpg out of these: Honda Insight Touring, Honda Accord Hybrid, Chevy Malibu Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid. Wagons: Kia Niro FE, Kira Niro with a lighter foot on the pedal. And I didn’t include fuel cell vehicles as you probably can’t buy those unless you live in California.

That’s a good list of cars, those the Chevy’s may be discontinued next year. No SUVs or trucks on the list however. If you want an SUV with good mpg, you’ll have to go electric. The Subaru Crosstrek Plug-in Hybrid AWD is supposed to get 90MPGe, but the gas engine will only get you 35mpg. Once you’ve used your battery reserves which is only 17 miles at best, you’re dependent on the gas engine until you recharge your electric battery – either by braking or by plugging in. If you want a truck, you’ll have to wait on Tesla or one of its competitors. Tesla is trying to produce pickups this year – better get on the list.

YES Americans ARE Buying Cars

Electric Car

GM Announced that they, like Ford, are discontinuing several of their cars. USA Today said it was because “Americans are abandoning passenger cars in favor of crossovers, SUVs and pickups” This quote comes from Ford and GM stating that Americans (meaning people living in the US) are no longer buying cars. Ford and GM are heading towards only making Trucks, SUVs (including Crossovers), and Vans. But just because people are saying that Americans are no longer buying cars, doesn’t make it true.
Ford will continue to make the Mustang for sale in the US. Last I heard, that’s a car.
GM currently makes the following cars. I’ve slashed through those that they are abandoning (at least for sale in the US Market): Chevy Bolt (All Electric), Chevy Cruze, Chevy Sonic, Chevy Spark, Chevy Volt, Buick Verano, Chevy Impala, Chevy Malibu, Buick Regal Sportback, Buick Regal Tourx, Buick LaCrosse (which is not a Crossover), Cadillac ATS, Cadillac CTS, Cadillac CT6, Cadillac XTS, Buick Cascada, Chevy Camaro, Chevy Corvette Stingray. So GM will continue to make several models of cars for sale in the US.

So, somebody must be buying cars in the US.

Autonxt lists the 25 best selling vehicles in America as of the end of June. Toyota Camry is at #7. Honda Civic #8. Toyota Corolla #9. That 3 in the top 10 – cars are still hot!  Honda Accord at #12. Nissan Altima at #15. Nissan Sentra at #17. Hyundai Elantra at #22. And Ford Fusion at #25. Even though Ford Fusion is at #25, Ford will no longer make it for the US Market.

So, it’s true that American’s are still buying cars. Ford Fusion sold 80,000 in six months this year. So, they’re buying a lot of cars. But it’s also sadly true that Americans are buying many more much less fuel-efficient Trucks and SUVs.

I’m also not sure that I would lump Crossovers with SUVs rather than cars. But that’s a whole ’nother topic.

GM will still make the Chevy Bolt (at least until they build an electric SUV), so that’s good.

And what about Tesla? According to Cleantechnica, in the first two quarters of this year, the Model S (Sedan) was the best selling large luxury car in the US. The Model X (SUV) was the best selling large luxury SUV. Slightly more Model X were sold than Model S. Even though the Model S was the best selling large luxury car, it was a far cry from being the best selling car.
Then came the Model 3 (a smaller car than the Model S with a smaller price tag). Sales went through the roof! Cleantechnica reports that in July and August, the Model 3 became the 5th best selling car in America. Not bad for a little electric car. 1st through 4th place go to Toyota Camry, Honda Civic, Honda Accord, and Toyota Corolla. This makes the Model 3 about the 10th best selling vehicle in America. Tesla is working on the Model Y which is a Crossover. And then they’ll make a pickup truck. However, all of Tesla’s vehicles are electric, so they’re all fuel efficient.

I don’t care what type of vehicles Americans are buying, so long as they’re buying fuel-efficient ones.

You can read more about Teslas and other Elecrtric Vehicles in my book Select Your Electric Car

Select Your Electric Car

Electric Car

Thinking about buying a new car? It’s almost the end of the year. 2019 models are arriving at dealers. You can probably find a good deal on a 2018 model. Whether you plan to buy a car before the end of the year or within the next few years, you should consider an Electric Car.
How long is your daily commute? If it’s less than 100 miles, many Electric Cars will take you there. Just plug it in at night, and you’re ready to go again the next day. If your commute is longer than 100 miles, there are still some Electric Cars that will probably go as far as you need. You may be able to charge your car while at work. And there well may be many charging stations along your route. Most families own multiple vehicles. Why not buy an Electric Car for your shorter trips.
Do you hate to pay the price at the gas pump? Or let me put it another way, when was the last time you enjoyed pumping gas? An Electric Car can save you lots of money over a gas car.
Do you want to save the environment? Right now, buying an Electric Car is likely to be the best thing you can do to save the Earth. Buying an Electric Car is good for the next generations.

For me, it was about time. Last year, about this time, I bought a Nissan Leaf. I had been studying Electric Cars for over 50 years. So, it was about time that I bought one. Besides, the price was right. I bought a 2015 model with 31,000 miles for $13,000. Needless to say, if you buy a new Electric Car it will cost you more than a used one. But the prices are in line with other cars.

In my book, Select Your Electric Car, I help you decide what kind of electric car you’re looking for and why you want it. I cover more than 10 Electric Car Brands in detail. These car brands are widely available in the US or they’re fun to talk about and will hopefully soon be widely available in the US. Tesla, Tango, Leaf, BMW i3, Smart, Point5, Sparrow, Bolt, FUV, GEM, and I-Pace.
I also tell you how to charge your Electric Car – kind of like pumping gas, but different.

If you’re still worried about cost, I detail all the savings that will come with your electric car. And I tell you ways that you can extend the range, to get a more miles out of every charge.

In 2018, electric car sales tipped over that magic number that now people say they’re a reality. In 2019, most major car manufacturer will have at least one electric car for sale on the US market. Most of those cars will not be limited to California. By 2040, at least 1/2 of the US Car Sales will be Electric. Now is the time to get in on the ground floor of this movement.

If you still have questions about Electric Cars after reading my book, you can rent my time to answer them.

Select Your Electric Car
. Available in Paperback and e-book. Audio version coming soon.
This book contains the information you need to decide which Electric Car is for you.

My other books about cars are 43 Miles Per Gallon and The Xybrid Vehicle – Advances on the Hybrid. Both of those are available as paperback, e-book, and audio book.

Solar Powered Cars

Real Live Solar Powered Cars. I’ve been reading several posts lately arguing that adding solar energy to electric cars just isn’t technically feasible or worthwhile. The argument goes that you wouldn’t get enough power to make it worth your while.

While writing my book – The Xybrid Vehicle – I found some cars that are solely powered by solar power. (How’s that for alliteration?) And where else would you go to find them than the World Solar Challenge?

Stella VIE –  While most solar powered vehicles are one seaters, the Stella VIE is a family car. You can watch a video here.
Solar Team Eindhoven entered the Stella in the Cruiser class competition. Other cars in that competition class in 2017 were the Thyssenkrupp Blue.Cruiser, Arrow STF, Sophie VI, and EOS II. Cars in this class are those that might actually be on the roads some day (not just in the race track). Also they must hold at least a driver and a passenger, both of whom are facing forward.

And there are other solar powered cars – Lightyear One currently costs $145,000. Production timeframe: 2019 – 10 cars, 2020 100 cars. Available in the EU.
Sono Motors has built the Sion. They’re looking for less than 2000 more orders to meet their goal. The Sion only costs about $20,000. It has a range of 150 miles. That’s quite a bit more than my Nissan Leaf. You can even use an optional trailer hitch. Another nifty feature is that they use moss as an air filter. I always knew there was a good use for moss. It also helps regulate the humidity – hmmm, perhaps I should put some moss in my Leaf. That way I wouldn’t have to run the defroster so much in the Pacific NW winter (rainy season). And not using heat would really boost my mileage. I’m sure I’ve got some moss growing on my roof. Somehow in the Sion, you don’t have to water the moss because it’s no longer alive, but still retains it’s viable properties. You can also make donations to them on their PreOrder page. I think the Sion is only available in the EU, however Sono Motors maintenance maps shows some locations in the US.
Alternatively, I might put an open container of rock salt in my car to reduce the humidity. I have some 5-gallon buckets in my house with rock salt in them. You’re supposed to drill holes in the first bucket, place that bucket into a second bucket. Then pour rock salt into the first bucket. Occasionally empty the water in the bottom bucket. While these contraptions do seem to keep our bathrooms drier, no water ever collects in the bottom bucket. After sitting there for a couple of years, I am seeing some of the salt disappear. So, maybe the water is slowly dissolving it, but never enough collecting to empty into the bottom bucket.
However, moss would fit on the dash, where I need the humidity control, a bit easier than a bucket of rock salt. Also, less likely to spill. Alternatively, you might try some dry sponges.

Ford and Prius both have solar power assisted vehicles. The C-Max Solar Energi and the Prius Prime. Not a lot of help from the solar panels, but every little bit helps.

Yep, if you’re buying me a Christmas present, I wouldn’t mind a Sonos Sion.