It’s not a Tesla-thing, It’s a car-thing

A few days ago, there was a MarketWatch article published that summarized the difficulties Tesla’s competitors are having going electric. The article goes through a litany of companies in electric vehicle manufacturing having difficulty catching up to Tesla. Some of the companies include Volkswagen, Jaguar, Dyson (yes that Dyson), GM, Porche, Toyota, Kia, China’s Nio, etc. The article even includes mention of Harley-Davidson briefly halting production of its LiveWire electric motorcycle due to charging issues via low-voltage home outlets.

While the point of the MW article was to discuss how much Tesla has a head start in the electrification of cars and will maintain its leadership role in EVs for some time, it occurred to me that the article itself could not have been written even five years ago. Half a decade ago, Tesla’s competition didn’t include other electric vehicles but only manufacturing building cars with engines that run on gas. That long list of today’s competing electric vehicle companies have led me to conclude the EV industry is about to enter a new phase as the industry matures.

The market is changing very fast and as more and more electric cars hit the market we as consumers are focusing less on the fact that these cars are not running petrol. Instead our attention has begun to focus on traditional car differentiation factors such as comfort features, body style, safety features, maintenance needs, and the type of personal service the dealer has to offer. Case in point, Ryan Wallace who is a YouTuber with a Tesla Model 3 has a series of videos that doesn’t always acknowledges the Tesla is an electric vehicle. In a recent video on Tesla Model 3 Autopilot he mentions while the talk of charging and range is important (he’s made those videos too), for Tesla the “cool factor” is actually its advanced driver-assistance system, AutoPilot. AutoPilot offers the driver automatic lane centering, adaptive cruise control, self-parking, the ability to change lanes, and recently the ability to summon your car from your garage or a parking spot.

As electric cars become more common, we as consumers are most likely still going to talk about the driving range of a vehicle but more and more those car discussions will be in the same context we discuss range and the MPG of our gas automobiles. These will be “fun facts” letting us tell others we bought an efficient vehicle, but those other factors of convenience and luxury that help us personally differentiate that one car we decide to buy among many other cars will still remain. We’re not going to buy a car just because it’s electric because over time that will be a given just as buying gas powered vehicle once was. In 2001, I never told anyone I bought an Acura TL because it ran on gas. A decade from now, buying electric will not be as significant of a differentiation as it is today.

In the next few years, we’re likely to see affordable electric pickup trucks from Tesla, Rivian, and Ford.  When all three vehicles are electric…what’s the most important feature to a truck driver? Well for me it’s the creature comforts of the cabin (I like a nice roominess, the stereo, and heated seats of my F-150) as well as the towing and cargo capacity of a truck. How well will this truck pull my Jayco travel trailer? I’m just going to expect the truck can go 300+ miles on a “full tank” like any other truck…but which truck is better at towing my 8000 lb trailer over Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado? The answer to these questions will always remain why I buy one pickup truck over another.

In another video, Ryan Wallace asks the question, is the Tesla Model 3 the perfect car? His answer right up front is “no”, the Model 3 isn’t a perfect car. But in this particular video he notes that the issues he’s found in Tesla’s cars “isn’t a Tesla thing, it’s a car thing”. His point is that all cars are going to break, it’s going to happen, so why would you expect the Tesla to be any different?

My prediction is the electric vehicle skeptics will go the same route as those annoying friends of ours insisting we need to learn how to drive a manual over an automatic.  Sure, hile learning to drive a stick shift may have been important one time, the world has moved on with 90% of us driving an automatic and now expect any car we drive to be an automatic. As more and more electric vehicles hit the road, there will be a day where the decision to driving an electric car over a gas car won’t be a second thought. Electric cars will no longer be electric cars…they’ll just be cars. That’s not a Tesla thing, that’s a car thing, and that’s the next step in the evolution of the electric vehicles industry.

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Is this EGO’s new cordless electric mower for 2020? The EGO 21 inch Select Cut Self-Propelled

Whether intentional or not, Home Depot briefly listed a never before seen “21 inch Select Cut Lawn Mower with Touch Drive Technology” .  While we’re unaware of public announcement from EGO POWER+, we came across a couple interesting pages online via Home Depot Pro that may very well be an upcoming new EGO Power+ mower about to hit the market. Details on this new mower are subject to change but below is what we can speculate from the information we know so far.

EGO is about to introduce to market a new 21 inch 56-Volt cordless electric walk behind mower with two significant features:

1. EGO Select Cut System – A multi-blade cutting system that allows you to not only allows you to run 2 blades simultaneously (think Honda Twin Blade here) but also allows for interchangeable blade at the lower level. From what we can tell the mower contains an Upper Blade and a Lower Blade. For the Lower Bade, it looks as if  you will actually be able to choose between two different style blades, an EDGE Premium Mulching Blade and a EDGE Tri-Cut Blade.

Still a little confused what Select Cut includes? Let’s separate this out better by presenting it this way:

  • Lower Blade Choice One – A Mulching Blade “for weekly mowing and gives you the run time and cut quality you expect from a high-end lawn mower”.
  • Lower Blade Choice Two – A Tri-Cut Blade that is a heavy-duty blade which turns grass into fine fragments.
  • Upper Blade – The EGO Edge Upper Blade is the “2nd part of the multi-blade system. This blade slices the grass the lower blade sucks up to enhance the cutting performance”.

2. Self-Propelled Touch Drive Technology – Put plainly for current owners of EGO mowers…no more single right-hand-only green handle making it difficult to control the mower from the left side of the mower. It appears to us that EGO has designed this mower to give you all the drive control at the palm of your hand across the entire bar with a scroll dial to adjust speed at the center.

Looking at additional features new to this mower, probably the design change that stands out most to us is the front lift handle. The handle has moved from the front-facing tip of the mower to the front-top of the mower. This subtle change is a fantastic design improvement in our opinion as owners of the previous model have complained that the front-tip handle created too much of a gap that prevented you from cutting grass all the way through at the front edge of the mower.

Other features of this mower listed on Home Depot’s page include:

  • Push button start
  • Self-propelled
  • 7 cutting heights maximum cutting height: 4 in. minimum cutting height: 1-1/4 in.
  • Using the power of the 56-Volt 7.5 Ah ARC lithium battery, you will get up to 60-minutes of run time on a single charge
  • Brush-less motor
  • Bright LED headlights
  • 21 deck
  • Variable speed: 1.1 MPH to 3.1 MPH
  • Compact storage
  • 3-in-1 function: mulching, bagging, side discharge
  • 3-position handle heights
  • 1-handed height adjustment
  • Grass bag capacity: 2-bushels
  • 5-year tool warranty, 3-year battery warranty

Below is an image of the specifications table that was pulled from the Home Depot page:

egospecifications_lm2135

We would like to reiterate that the specifications pulled from the Home Depot page could change from the actual product we see hitting the market. For instance the specifications for the LM2135SP says the kit includes two 7.5 Ah ARC lithium batteries. Given the price (also subject to change) shown with this model we’re leaning this is a misprint and the kit most likely only includes one battery.

If two batteries are indeed included with the kit, then there is the question of whether the second battery would be used as a backup spare or if both batteries are to be used at the same time similar to EGO’s current Peak Power mower. We’ll have to wait until EGO presents us with more information or Home Depot corrects the page before we find whether one or two batteries are needed for this mower.

Currently, Home Depot is listing two model variations:

  • LM3130SP – Tool Only – EGO 21 in. Select Cut 56-Volt Lithium-ion Cordless Electric Walk Behind Self Propelled Lawn Mower (Tool-Only)
  • LM2135SP – EGO 21 in. Select Cut 56-Volt Lith-ion Cordless Electric Walk Behind Self Propelled Lawn Mower, Battery and Charger Included

Before the pages disappeared, Home Depot Pro was listing the LM2130SP for $460 and LM2135 for $660. However, this price is subject to change. We’ve seen plenty of times where new products are given “placeholder prices” until the product actually becomes available to market.

So that’s as much as we know about EGO’s new cordless electric mower for the upcoming lawn season. If you have additional information to add yourself, please do so in the comments below. We will make corrections and updates to this page as more official information is provided by EGO and other reviewers.

Updates

Nov 2, 2019 – Reworded the article for improved clarity. Also removed links to Home Depot pages as those pages are no longer available.

Huritgruten and Battery-Powered Snowmobiles

Hurtigruten has announced that their land-based adventure travel company will be providing tours that include electric snow mobiles. A Finnish start-up company called Aurora Powertrains will be providing the technology to make this happen.

With the eSled snowmobiles, Hurtigruten expands its battery revolution on shore—adding a truly unique experience for adventurous Arctic explorers.

“At Aurora Powertrains, we have a global mission to make ‘Snowmobiling Recharged.’ eSled is based on ready-made chassis, combined with revolutionary technology. This will take Hurtigruten Svalbard’s guests into the Arctic wilderness, without emissions, or the risk of disturbing wildlife,” says Ari Karjalainen, CEO of Aurora Powertrains, Ltd.

Travel Pulse

While that’s interesting news, I thought it was even more interesting that Hurtigruten is also setting up it’s own power infrastructure which it will use to charge these snow mobiles. Because, you know, who really wants to get stranded on a snow mobile without power near the Arctic Circle or anywhere?

To fully utilize the green potential in the sustainable operation of electric snowmobiles, Hurtigruten Svalbard will set up a separate power supply including solar panels, a windmill and battery packs for energy storage. The complete renewable energy solution will be delivered by Assemblin AS.

“Our eSleds and the entire operation will literally be powered by the midnight sun and Arctic winds. For us, this is only the beginning—we’re already planning similar solutions to be installed at our hotels and other parts of our Svalbard operation,” says Krisztina Uzonyi, Hurtigruten Svalbard destination director.

Travel Pulse

In the month of May of this year, my family had the privilege of touring with Hurtigruten by sea along the coast of Norway. That “midnight sun” is really cool and it’s pretty surreal to be on a boat with the sun shining at you at 1 AM. Having an interest in solar energy, I wondered why not rely more on solar energy during the summer months.

I’m not so sure how power from the Sun is going to work during snow mobile season as the nights are much longer . So it seems to me that “windmill power” will be much more of the renewable energy for snowmobiling purposes.

Anyone actually ridden on an electric snowmobile? I wonder how the batteries do during the cold of winter?

My first battery-powered snow blower was a Snow Joe Two-Stage

This winter I’ll be relying on my newly purchased EGO Power+ Snow Blower to clear the snow off the driveway. However, this EGO snow blower isn’t my first battery-powered snow blower but instead I once owned Snow Joe’s first Two-Stage 80V Cordless Snow Blower, the iON24SB-XR.

As far as I know, Snow Joe is the only manufacturer of a cordless electric two-stage self-propelled snow blower currently on the market. For two decades I had been using a MTD gas powered two-stage snow blower that I bought at the local K-Mart. Naturally, whether gas or electric, I prefer two-stage snow blower over a single-stage. So, during the 2016-2017 snow season I bought and used the Snow Joe two-stage as my primary means of removing snow from my house.

With winter just beginning I’m looking forward to seeing what the EGO snow blower can do. However, I thought it would be good to stroll down memory lane and give you my initial review and overall impressions of the Snow Joe ion24SB two-stage I once owned.

My Initial Impressions of Snow Joe’s iON24SB

At the time of my purchase, many of the early reviewers for this two-stage cordless Snow Joe were either first time buyers of a snow blower or graduating from a single-stage snow blower. As someone that has owned a two-stage gas snow blower for the past 20 years, I wished there had been more reviews from previous two stage gas owners before I made my purchase. I only came across one trusted reviewer which was Paul Sikkema from MovingSnow.com.   Sikkema’s review helped convince me to take a chance on this Snow Joe. 

After using the snow blower (iON24SB-XR 5.0 Ah) for just a few days, I quickly reached the conclusion that this cordless snow blower isn’t as good as a gas snow blower. However, if you’re looking for an alternative to gas, noise, and engine maintenance this cordless Snow Joe is a reasonable compromise. As long as the snow blower is functioning well, it definitely will do its primary job of clearing snow off your driveway.

Initially, I debated whether I wanted to keep or return the Snow Joe and leaned toward keeping it because it was “good enough”.  After decades of dealing with gas, oil, noise, and sluggish engine starts that come with a gas engine…I ‘m just ready for the electrification of my outdoor tools. So, on Amazon my initial review put this snow blower at 4 stars out of  five.  If this was a gas snow blower it would have received 3 stars from me but because it didn’t need gas and introduces some cutting edge technology I favored the higher ranking.

Here are my initial impressions of the Snow Joe:

The Positives

Size Doesn’t Matter – This snow blower definitely can throw snow. When I first put the snow blower together, my first impression was that it was smaller than I had expected. However, I quickly found that as long as long as you have power in your batteries it shouldn’t have a problem clearing up to a foot of snow. I went through 3 inches and 7 inches of powdered snow with no problem. My neighbors with their larger more expensive snow blowers were confused with how this small thing could pick up so much snow. Some reviewers complained that it doesn’t do well with wet snow but almost all snow blowers have problems with wet snow.

Quicker Startup, Less Maintenance, and Less Noise – To start this snow blower it’s just a matter loading batteries into the compartment and then go. No priming the engine and for the first time in 20 years after clearing the driveway my clothes or hands don’t smell like gas and fumes. I’m also getting to that age where noise is starting to bother me so my ears are very pleased with the Snow Joe. In fact, this cordless snow blower is quiet enough when running that it felt odd to me to hear my neighbor running his own gas snow blower from a distance.

The Negatives

Packaging Needs Improvement – As other reviewers have mentioned, the packaging could be improved. With the thin box and weak packing material, my snow blower arrived with the fastener for the chute clean-out tool broken. I feel I’m lucky nothing else broke during transit and I plan on calling Snow Joe to get the broken part replaced.

Awful, Awful, Awful Handles – Snow Joe, what were you thinking? This snow blower’s handles are uncomfortable as you have to squeeze the drive/auger grips from the bottom with your fingers. For good reason, most two-stage snow blowers have you press the grip from top with the weight of your hand. Less fatigue on both hands and elbows that way. This poor design choice by Snow Joe was one of the reasons I considered returning the snow blower. Also, the “safety button” on the auger trigger needs to go or have the ability to lock in place as it was cumbersome to engage without two hands. Snow Joe, when you do improve this handle/grip I’d like to have us “first generation” buyers be able to retrofit this year’s model with the new handles/grips.

Neutral Territory

More Battery Power Needed – My 5.0 Ah batteries lasted only a half-hour. I had to wait for three hours to recharge the batteries before I could finish the second half of my driveway (40 feet long with three car garage width). Snow Joe does have a 6.0 Ah option, but I think you’re better off saving the money buying the 5.0 option and use the savings to buy a second set of batteries. The 6.0 Ah bundle only gets you extra 10 minutes of operations than the 5.0 Ah bundle. My recommendation for a normal residential driveway:

Single car driveway: 5.0 Ah option
Double car driveway: 5.0 Ah option + extra batteries or 6.0 Ah option
Triple car driveway: 5.0 Ah option + extra batteries

Build and Material of the Snow Blower – My gas snow blower lasted 20 years and I abused the heck out of it. I think I’ll be lucky if this new snow blower lasts 10 years with its plastic parts and lighter material. Realistically though, I’m not sure today’s gas snow blowers would last 20 years unless you’re willing to fork over a lot of money for the elite/professional lines. So given the price of this snow blower, I’m OK with the expected 10 years. Also, being that this snow blower is battery powered there is a lot less vibration, wear and tear than a gas snow blower. In other words, plastic on a cordless/electric snow blower should last longer than it would on a vibrating gas snow blower.

Not Fast, Not Slow – Some reviewers complain that the snow blower is too slow but I found the speeds reasonable for a two-stage snow blower. The three speeds are very comparable to the first three gears of my gas snow blower. My gas snow blower has a 4th gear that I seldom use (too fast with snow/ice on the drive) and won’t miss. What I will miss though is my 5th gear which is intended to be used without the auger engaged so you move to your destination quickly. The Snow Joe is difficult to push/pull if the motors are not being used.

Final Impressions: Great concept, but did I get three lemons?

Shortly after my initial review, it was quite obvious by my second use of the snow blower that due to poor packaging..it wasn’t just the chute mount as I mentioned below that had been damaged but also auger housing. I found snow leaking on the side and the snow blower couldn’t be balanced/leveled properly. 

Looks like my Snow Joe Two-Stage Snow Blower was damaged in shipment.

I contacted Snow Joe directly, worked with them directly and received a replacement. Unfortunately about 3/4th done with my driveway the auger motor of snow blower #2 stopped working. I worked with Snow Joe received a replacement and experienced the same auger motor problem with snow blower #3. It’s a pity because until the auger motor quit, the snow blower was clearing the snow off the driveway just as you expect any two-stage gas snow blower would.

After three snow blowers, Snow Joe decided to refund my money (I never asked for a refund as my goal was to have a working Snow Joe in my garage). I had to spend $60 on packing and material to return the final snow blower but in all three cases Snow Joe sent me shipping labels. So for $60 and my time spent returning snow blowers (more of a pain than the money), I had use of the snow blower. I think Snow Joe actually lost money on this deal due to shipping, support, and replacement costs.

So with having three snow blowers that didn’t work, why is my final rating standing at three-stars? It mainly comes down to the great customer service I received from Snow Joe. Between emails and phone conversations, Snow Joe treated me right. Also, it’s my hope I just had a string of back luck as I can see real potential in this snow blower. When it worked, it worked great.

But Wait There is More…

Despite having to return the Snow Joe, I remained hopeful that Snow Joe would have all the quality control issues and design flaws worked out for the next model. Starting in the 2017-2018 season, Snow Joe did indeed introduce a new version of this snow blower, the ION8024.


Snow Joe ION8024-XRP 24-Inch 80 Volt  Two Stage Snow Blower

This new version of it’s cordless two-stage bring a feature upgrade with a cutting-edge 4-speed digital drive system (3-speed XPORT for rapid return at the end of a snow-clearing run). More importantly, Snow Joe addressed some of the design issues I pointed out including improved handles and better tires.

While I haven’t reviewed the new Snow Joe myself, reviewers at Amazon give this snow blower 3.1 stars out of 5 stars. But given the sample pool is rather small (only 48 reviews) at the time I’m writing this article, I’m not sure if you can conclude from the reviews whether this is new version is better or worse than the previous snow blower.

As always, if you have ever owned a Snow Joe two-stage snow blower, I’d love to hear from you on your impressions of this machine. Also, if there are other manufacturers of cordless electric two-stage snow blowers let me know as well via the comment section of this article. 

Car and Driver: Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric

Jaguar could drop all of its gasoline-powered models and become a fully electric luxury brand in the near future, if a report from the U.K.’s Autocar is to be believed. Jaguar has already stated publicly that all new models it launches starting in 2020 will offer some sort of hybrid power train, but a move to sell exclusively battery-electric vehicles—if it comes to pass—would be far more drastic.

–  Joseph Capparella, Jaguar Is Reportedly Considering Going Fully Electric across Its Entire LineupCar and Driver, October 12, 2018.

The EGO Power+ Nexus Escape Power Inverter

Given my continuous obsession with the EGO Power+ product line, I couldn’t resist buying this new product by EGO. The new EGO Power+ Nexus Power Inverter just arrived at my doorstep. This new 150 Watt Inverter should be a nice convenient addition for whenever I need need backup power indoors to run my smaller devices.

All of EGO’s current line of 56 Volt Batteries will work with the Nexus. The power inverter provides two USB ports and one AC port. While 150 Watts isn’t a huge amount of power it’s enough to power a tablet and laptop while out and about, lamps in the house, and even your TV and router in a power outage. While run time will vary, there are a number of reviews showing people powering their television for a few hours off  a single 5.0 Ah or 7.5 Ah EGO battery.

As my wife reminded me, I already have a Honda generator I use when camping with my travel trailer or when I have need for backup power here at the house. So why did I buy this product if I already own a generator? The problem with my Honda generator is that it is gas-powered so it has to stay outdoors when it’s running. It’s a bit of a hassle to have to pull in the power from the generator through a number of very long power-chords. This EGO inverter will let me bring a power source right into the house without having to crack the door open every time I need power.

If you already own EGO products, the purchase of this inverter seems to me to be an obvious purchase to make. Currently, the Home Depot sells the Nexus Escape for $99.99. I was able to purchase the product for $75 at an introductory price.

New Atlas: BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3

Electric cars are on the march and critical to their appeal are advances in battery capacity, or in other words, how far you can drive them on each charge. BMW has made new efforts to ease range anxiety among future owners of its premium i3 EV, packing more battery density inside for an extended range of up to 260 km (160 mi) in everyday conditions.

– Nick Lavars, BMW beefs up its EV battery for 160-mile i3New Atlas, October 1, 2018.