With Sacramento Gas prices inching up to $4.00 a gallon. Electric Cars are looking sexy

Image result for chevy bolt in Sacramento


There is no joy at the pumps these days . If your driving a mid size car in Sacramento a tank of gas could cost you fifty eight bucks,.  If your driving a huge pick up or SUV nearly a hundred.   The more we spend for gas the less we have for other things.   If you like me, your looking at the Toyota Prius’s again and other hybrids at the pump.   One car you wont see at the pumps  is a Tesla or Chevy Bolt.

A couple a days ago my friend Avery , saw me walking down “I” street and asked me if I needed a ride.   He drives a Chevy Bolt. and I asked him how he liked it ? 45, minutes later…………..

Avery  lives in midtown Sacramento and works in Auburn.   Nearly two years ago he bought a Chevy Bolt.   Avery rents an apartment and his landlord will not allow him install a charging station.  So for a petrol driving man like me, the natural question is why would he buy an all electric car?

He says he has a system, he and his electric car friends (Apparently, electric car owners know other electric car owners- he knows nine people who own electric cars ). share information,  Best charging locations (for non Tesla owners) restaurants and bars that have free complimentary charging for their customers.  They tend to shop at locations that have charging stations.

His commute to Auburn is 42 miles. While his car uses extra energy going up hill, he said he can recapture most of that energy going downhill.

He said, his energy costs (the cost to charge his car) for March was fourteen dollars.

He said, his Chevy Bolt has been trouble free.  He has 31,000 miles on his Bolt and with an exception of a small rattle in passenger door its been trouble free.   The car currently needs a new set of tires.and there is a sizable dent on the drivers door. A victim of a steel pole  in a midtown alley. 

He really likes the Bolt, its peppy and fun to drive.  He wishes he would have bought a model with more options.  He said the fit and finish could be better, but its wayy better than an a hundred thousand dollar Tesla his friend owns.  

He likes:  Very low operating cost.  Its very peppy and fun to drive.   Roomy and flexible.   The he can drive in the car pool lanes.   What he paid for the Bolt, after Credits and discounts it cost him $26,000.

He dislikes:  The unavailability of fast chargers for the Bolt.  In and around Sacramento it its  On a trip to Oregon it was maddening, its like drip, drip, drip. Taking more than 90 minutes for a half charge.    Its the only reason, I would choose a Tesla over the Chevy.  The verbal attacks he has received since owning the Bolt.  Earlier this year, a lone driver in a car pool lane forced him out of the lane.   People have tried to unplug my car as it was charging.  Its like I’m driving an evil car.  Its ridiculous until its not.  While I’m one person, I feel I’m helping our planet.   My next car will be electric. When are you coming to the dark side?  





Big Man Rides 2018 Kia Nero


With gasoline prices being what they are, one would question why would Kia bring a small hybrid to market, when Toyota can’t give the Prius away?    However, this is the same company that has just introduced the Kia Stinger at a time when the public are buying SUVs.

Nearly two decades ago I rented the first generations Toyota Prius.  The first generation looked like a regular Toyota.

Image result for 2002 prius

It was roomy, and very fuel efficient.   One week I commuted between Sacramento and San Francisco with a trip to Reno and Lake Tahoe.  I was impressed with the room, power and  fuel economy.   On one trip to San Francisco I ran completely out of gas on busy I-80 in Richmond and I was able to take the Hilltop exit and drive to the Chevron station on electric power, Very impressive.  Through the years, I have driven Prius with all those eccentricities the weird dashboards and joystick transmission levers’

The second and subsequent Prius’s were uniquely styled style inside and out.    Perhaps its a badge of honor for some owners, that says I care about the planet .  In the affluent areas on California its not usual seeing a Toyota Prius on every block.   The current Prius Prime is unattractive to my eye.   It looks like an overwrought 1960’s science project inside and out.

In contrast, the Kia Nero is modern and trendy, it looks like one of the small crossovers. a segment that is currently very hot.

The Genesis of this test.  A friend was returning to Sacramento from Sweden and asked if I would test the Nero for him.  He has owned four Toyota Prius’s and recently sold his Prius V.   The styling of the current Prius was too over the top for him and he wanted a small hybrid.

While the Prius screams hybrid, the Nero whispers, with one small hybrid badge in the lower right corner.    The styling is handsome, that suggests crossover.    Inside the whispering continues., the interior is well done, the fit and finish is excellent.


The Nero comes in four flavors , The Base FE, mid level LX, upper level EX and the top of the line Touring.    I briefly drove the Touring.  Standard with the Touring is Automatic Climate Control, Heated and Cooled Front Seats, Power Front Seats with Memory Control, Navigation, Leather Seats,  Sunroof, Heated Mirrors,  18 inch Alloy Wheels and a host of conveniences    Kia’s UVO interface is one of the best in the industry.  Its very intuitive and  response is very quick.. Unlike other systems there is a host of button and knobs.

Standard in all models is Apple Car Play and Android Auto. All have Independent suspensions and are powered by 1.6 liter 109 horsepower engine and 43 horsepower electric motor for a combined 139 hp with 241 pound feet of Torque.   The torque moves the Nero briskly off the line in the city.

2018KiaNero (20)

All Nero’s come standard with 6 speed dual clutch transmission.  This is significant as most hybrids have a Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) which by design are more fuel efficient but significantly nosier and slower reacting than a traditional transmission.


What is a CVT?

 This design does away with gears entirely. Instead of two gears, there’s two pulleys connected by a belt. The engine turns one pulley, and the other one is connected to the rest of transmission to the wheels. The magic of CVT is that the size of the pulleys can change from small to large, and infinite sizes in between.


On the Road

If you new to Big Man Rides,  I’m  6.4 and over 350 pounds. (soon to be under).   This giant had descent leg and hip room.  The head room was good with the Sunroof.   Anyone under six feet tall would find the back seat a good place to be. 2018KiaNero (27)

I briefly drove the Touring.   Both the FE and Touring were quiet, and the electric steering was good.  I didn’t feel the shift between electric and gas.  The wider tires and the extra equipment (like the power leather seats) made in the Touring for enjoyable surroundings.  They say, its hard to return to the  farm after seeing Paris..  There is nearly ten thousand between the FE and the Touring .

I spent more time in the FE (which was a 2017).   The  transmission hunted quite a bit on the climb up the mountains on I-80.  It was the only time I experienced it.  It took the curves like a pro and despite the long 7000 feet climb and a full of equipment, we averaged 41 miles a gallon.  I was concerned about break feel on the long downhill portion of I-80, but not overly so.  While the FE handled the curves,   I think the Touring with its wider tires would have added a bit more fun.  Overall on the entire trip we averaged a very impressive 51mpg.

Storage in the Nero was fairly impressive.

2018KiaNero (24)

The FE with its smaller wheels is the fuel economy champ.  The EPA says the Nero FE gets 52 in the City, 49 on the highway and 50 miles combined.   The Touring model takes a hit due to its weight and larger tires.  (46/40/43).

One thing I didn’t like, which is becoming a trend in many cars is the absence of a spare tire.  There is room underneath the floor is large enough for a spare and a jack, but we shouldn’t pay for it.

The Kia Nero competitors.  Ford C-Max handles better, The Prius V is roomier.  None has the Kia 10 year warranty.     The Nero has a corporate twin, the Hyundai Ioniq is similar however it design is more sedan.

Consumer Reports says, the 2018 Kia Nero is the best built car in 2018.   Not just Hybrids or small cars, all cars .  Its score of 92 is one point above an eighty thousand dollar  Lexus.  Impressive, I think so.

My Swedish friend loved the Kia Nero, touring.  He loved the handling, the ride and the amenities.  However, he bought the ugly Prius Prime. I think he still needs to make the statement.   You shouldn’t.    The Prius is and will always be a good car.  I simply think the Nero is a better car.

Special Thanks to Elk Grove Kia (Jose)  Steve Miller of Cameron Park





Why you might own at Tesla or and Electric car in the Next Five years!

By CityFella

A few years ago the State of California approved  rules requiring 15 percent of cars sold in California to be all-electric, plug-in hybrid electric or hydrogen vehicles.   This means in your an automaker 15%  of your fleet must be one of above. Compliance begins with model year 2018. Full compliance is expected by 2025.

A few years ago these cars began appearing on dealers lots buried in the back.  With the exception of Nissan , few marketing dollars has been spent for all electrics and plug-in vehicles.  To make matters worse, prospective buyers often encounter uninformed salespeople.

High Anxiety

For many the downside of owning an all electric car is range.   Most electric vehicles have a very short driving range including the best selling Nissan Leaf has a range under 80 miles.  In Sacramento, that means a shopping tour of the Rocklin area with a stop at an “In and Out’ drive through” could be a little nerve wrecking.

The vehicle with the longest range is the Tesla, the Model S with its basic battery has a range of 208 miles* and 265 miles with the larger battery.    This makes the Tesla the car of choice for commuters.

According to Car Stations.com. there are nearly 130 charging stations in the Sacramento region.   However, it isn’t a one size fits all.  Manufacturers offers an app to direct you to the nearest charging station.   Unlike, gas stations most charging stations are free.  If they are located in parking garages, you pay for parking only.

Electric cars were popular in the early 1900’s  

Electric cars aren’t new, they were popular in the big cities because they were quiet, easy to drive and didn’t pollute.    hey were perfect for short trips around the city, and poor road conditions outside cities meant few cars of any type could venture farther. As more people gained access to electricity in the 1910s, it became easier to charge electric cars, adding to their popularity with all walks of life.

From the History of Electric cars

Many innovators at the time took note of the electric vehicle’s high demand, exploring ways to improve the technology. For example, Ferdinand Porsche, founder of the sports car company by the same name, developed an electric car called the P1 in 1898. Around the same time, he created the world’s first hybrid electric car — a vehicle that is powered by electricity and a gas engine. Thomas Edison, one of the world’s most prolific inventors, thought electric vehicles were the superior technology and worked to build a better electric vehicle battery. Even Henry Ford, who was friends with Edison, partnered with Edison to explore options for a low-cost electric car in 1914, according to Wired.  

Many believed the Model-T killed the electric car.  The massed produced car at $650 was one third the cost of an electric car.  Cheap gas and better roads buried it.   By 1935, nearly all electric cars disappeared.

In the 90’s, General Motors developed an electric car from the ground up.  Because of high production cost GM didn’t believe the EV1 was commercially viable and despite its cult following. GM discontinued the car in 2001 and  repossessed the leased cars and destroyed them.  The remaining vehicles can be found in museums.

Tesla A Player?

With the California mandate, automobile manufactures simply converted combustion engines to electric.  Most manufacturers sell those vehicles at a loss.

Tesla has been around for twelve years now.  Its first car, the Roadster was introduced in 2008.

According the Wikipedia it sold 25oo units.  This car was designed from the ground up to be an electric vehicle. The Roadster cost $102,000, the car was discontinued in 2012.  It had a range of 200 miles.

In 2012, Model S was introduced at a price of $59,000 and depending of the size of the battery offered a range from 160, to 265 miles.   The first year Tesla sold over 22,000 cars.  Last year nearly 32,000 cars sold globally. Tesla builds cars in Fremont, California and in The Netherlands.  This year the Model S is available in Shanghai, China.

Model S has made an impact on the large manufacturers as the Model S has taken sales from the like of Mercedes Benz, BMW, and other luxury brands.



Last June, CEO  Elon Musk  wrote a blog stating. that the company would not initiate lawsuits against anyone who wishes to use their technology in good faith.   To build an all electric car would cost the industry billions.

In the blog post, Elon Musk stated that he was disappointed with the rate at which other car companies were adopting the electric vehicle technology. As the global production of vehicles approaches 100 million per year, electric vehicles only form less than 1% of that number.  Tesla moved into the supplier business in order to nudge other companies into adopting the technology but the company?s efforts so far have not paid off. By granting access to its technology, the company is hoping that more vehicle manufacturers will adopt the technology, thereby growing the market for EV?s. If the move is successful, it could lead to advantageous network effects for the company.

Why you might buy a Tesla or Electric Car in 5 years

In 2000, the Toyota Prius went on sale in the United States at a cost of 22,000.  From 2000 t0 2014 over 1.5 million cars were sold.  Today, Toyota has over 67% of  world the hybrid sales.   With Ford being a distant second.

In 2017, Tesla Gigafactory opens in Reno,Nevada.

In the last quarter of 2017, Tesla plans to build Model 3.

At a projected price of $35,000 and a range of 200 miles this will be the game changer.  The Model 3 will be affordable to more consumers.

In 2013, Edmonds.com measured the cost of owning an Model S vs BMW 7 Series

Average cost of electricity in California: 16 cents per kilowatthour (kWh).

Average cost of premium gas in California in 2013: $4.09

Miles driven: 23,000

Fuel efficiency of the BMW 7 Series: 19 mpg

Fuel efficiency for Tesla: 3 miles/kilowatthour

Cost of electricity to drive the Tesla 23,000 miles: $1,226

Cost of premium gas to drive BMW 7 Series 23,000 miles: $4,951

Money saved on fuel by driving Tesla: $3,724

Obviously, there are many factors that could change the result of these calculations. But most of the variables play in favor of the Tesla. For example, there are many free public charging stations where there is no cost for electricity. The electricity from Tesla’s superchargers is also free. And many people who get a Tesla become enraptured with solar power and have panels installed on their houses. This drops the cost of electricity well below the 16-cent average. Additionally, some utilities reduce rates for charging EVs at night. Southern California Edison, for example, charges only 11 cents kWh for charging after midnight.

Also keep in mind that these figures are just for 23,000 miles. Over 100,000 miles the savings in fuel costs is $16,192.

Tesla has Charging stations all over the country. Today your can drive from San Diego to Vancouver Canada. and from San Diego to New York City using Tesla’s free charging stations along the way.

BMW is building its network of stations.  Of course it would make sense for the industry to adopt Tesla’s charging system, but today its Tesla vs the world.

Map of Tesla charging stations in 2015.

Is this an endorsement of Tesla?

No, its an endorsement of alternative energy. We need alternative to the combustion engine. Despite the improvements it is still largely responsible for air pollution. (Its the number one source in Sacramento) Its an endorsement of cleaner cars.    Before the success of Toyota’s Hybrid System if you wanted an fuel efficient car, you were limited to a small, under powered subcompact car.

Today, you can find hybrid systems of Lincoln’s, BMW and Mercedes Benz.   Today there are 8 passenger Suv’s achieving 27 mpg in the city.  Today the EPA rates the  Lincoln MKZ Hybrid  city mileage at 41 miles per gallon.  A figure unimaginable 20 years ago.

Later this year Toyota will sell the world first hydrogen car the Mirai.

Today, we need Tesla to succeed..

Who is control of YOUR car?

From AP


As cars become more like PCs on wheels, what’s to stop a hacker from taking over yours?

In recent demonstrations, hackers have shown they can slam a car’s brakes at freeway speeds, jerk the steering wheel and even shut down the engine – all from their laptop computers.

The hackers are publicizing their work to reveal vulnerabilities present in a growing number of car computers. All cars and trucks contain anywhere from 20 to 70 computers. They control everything from the brakes to acceleration to the windows, and are connected to an internal network. A few hackers have recently managed to find their way into these intricate networks.

In one case, a pair of hackers manipulated two cars by plugging a laptop into a port beneath the dashboard where mechanics connect their computers to search for problems. Scarier yet, another group took control of a car’s computers through cellular telephone and Bluetooth connections, the compact disc player and even the tire pressure monitoring system.

To be sure, the “hackers” involved were well-intentioned computer security experts, and it took both groups months to break into the computers. And there have been no real-world cases of a hacker remotely taking over a car. But experts say high-tech hijackings will get easier as automakers give them full Internet access and add computer-controlled safety devices that take over driving duties, such as braking or steering, in emergencies. Another possibility: A tech-savvy thief could unlock the doors and drive off with your vehicle.

“The more technology they add to the vehicle, the more opportunities there are for that to be abused for nefarious purposes,” says Rich Mogull, CEO of Phoenix-based Securosis, a security research firm. “Anything with a computer chip in it is vulnerable, history keeps showing us.”

In the last 25 years, automakers have gradually computerized functions such as steering, braking, accelerating and shifting. Electronic gas pedal position sensors, for instance, are more reliable than the old throttle cables. Electronic parts also reduce weight and help cars use less gasoline.

he networks of little computers inside today’s cars are fertile ground for hackers.

Charlie Miller, a St. Louis-based security engineer for Twitter, and fellow hacker Chris Valasek, director of intelligence at a Pittsburgh computer security consulting firm, maneuvered their way into the computer systems of a 2010 Toyota Prius and 2010 Ford Escape through a port used by mechanics.

“We could control steering, braking, acceleration to a certain extent, seat belts, lights, horn, speedometer, gas gauge,” said Valasek. The two used a federal grant to expose the vulnerability of car computers. Even with their expertise, it took them nine months to get in.

Valasek and Miller released a report, including instructions on how to break into the cars’ networks, at a hacker convention in August. They said they did so to draw attention to the problems and get automakers to fix them. The pair say automakers haven’t added security to the ports.

Ford wouldn’t comment other than a statement saying it takes security seriously, and that Miller and Valasek needed physical access to the cars to hack in.

Toyota said it has added security and continually tests it to stay ahead of hackers. The company said its computers are programmed to recognize rogue commands and reject them.

Two years ago, researchers at the University of Washington and University of California, San Diego did more extensive work, hacking their way into a 2009 midsize car through its cellular, Bluetooth and other wireless connections – even the CD player.

Stefan Savage, a UCSD computer science professor, said he and other researchers could control nearly everything but the car’s steering. “We could have turned the brakes off. We could have killed the engine. We could have engaged the brakes,” he said.

Savage wouldn’t identify which manufacturer made the car they hacked into. But two people with knowledge of the work said the car was from General Motors and the researchers compromised the OnStar safety system, best known for using cellular technology to check on customers and call for help in a crash. The people didn’t want to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

GM wouldn’t comment on the research, but the company issued a statement saying it takes security seriously and is putting strategies in place to reduce risk.

One of the people said GM engineers initially dismissed the researchers’ work, but after reading the report, quickly moved to close holes that allowed access to the car’s computers.

Savage doesn’t think common criminals will be able to electronically seize control of cars anytime soon. Currently it would take too much time, expertise, money and hard work to hack into the multitude of computer systems.

“You’re talking about a rarefied group who has the resources and wherewithal,” he said.

Instead, he believes basic theft is a more likely consequence of computerization, with criminals being able to unlock doors remotely and then start and drive the car by hacking through the diagnostic port. Remote door unlocking could also lead to theft of packages, phones and other items that are stored in a car.

See: Hackers take control of Prius



Poor People Big Cars Rich People Small Cars

A couple of years ago,  I gave a home tour of San Francisco.   San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities to live in country. In the Seacliff  neighborhood the average listing price for a home is 7 million dollars . In front of many of these homes was  the Toyota Prius‘s.  People in these neighborhoods can easily afford a less efficient vehicle  however, the car of choice seems to be the Prius.    in the upper income areas of Sacramento, you’ll see a high ratio  of hybrids and other fuel efficient  vehicles.

 J.D. Power reports that hybrid incomes are $100,000 a year vs $85,000 a year for the average buyer. In fact, 42% of hybrid owners make $100,000 or more per year.

University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute say that hybrid drivers have a level of education higher than any other group of car drivers. Hybrid owners are more than twice as likely as all U.S. adults to have a college degree

In most of the working class and poor neighborhoods here in Sacramento, you notice people driving large cars and SUV‘s   It seem, the people who ears the least amount of money drives Cadillac s, Jeeps, Suburbans and Tahoe’s

The cost to fill the largest SUV is $120 or more  vs $ 57.to fill a Ford Fusion hybrid.  The Ford Expedition gets 18 per gallon on the highway vs 47 for the Fusion.   Most cars on the freeways are single occupant .

Prices for the Toyota Prius and other hybrids begin at 20,000.  Significantly lower than a three year SUV as if fuel and maintenance

I have watched people adding five dollars into those huge Gmc Yukon‘s and Ford Expedition.

So the question is why?

Some believe its status. 

In this country its not uncommon to see an expensive new car in the driveway of an worn home.   Giant SUV’s in a working families struggling to make ends meet.

For some segments of  the population, owning a  luxury car or  SUV  means through this vehicle  they  too can experience a lifestyle a symbol of success

Your Thoughts

A Luxury Car that gets 45mpg, is the 2013 Lincoln MKZ for you?

When you think of Lincoln, you think  Towncar and Limos cars that whisk you away from airports or take you to posh events.  But never a car you would own.

Buick and Cadillac has abandon grandpa, gone is the floaty numb cars of old.   The Lincoln Motor Company (new name) wants to change your perception on its cars and tomorrow nearly 200 million people will see the car they hope will change the direction of Lincoln.

The 2013 Lincoln MKZ  shares its platform with the super hot and sexy Ford Fusion.

Both cars have 112 inch wheel base, they share 6 speed automatic transmissions and two engines including a hybrid. From there  Lincoln goes into  another direction.  First offering 3.7 v6 generating 300 horsepower.  Then offering a knob free car

with a push-button transmission (for those young enough to remember push-button transmissions from the fifties) , a huge panoramic sunroof.    Add Active Noise Control and magnetorheological suspension the MKZ  may be on to something .

Like the Fusion, the MKZ is a sexy car.     The front end of the Fusion is undeniably sexy, on the MKZ its the rear end….

MPG Matters!

Nearly every manufacturer from Mercedes to Honda has at least one hybrid in its fleet .  Later this year you may see diesel engines  in Audi’s sold in the US .v When it comes to hybrids Toyota owns the market.   Toyota sell more hybrids then all  automaker combined .

Ford wants in  and Toyota should be a little concerned.   The Toyota Prius is the best selling car in California.   The styling of the Prius ins’t the cars selling point its MPG.  Ford approach is different from the other automakers.  They are  offering  hybrids and electrics in their popular lines .    General Motors  builds a mild hybrid, however the MPG doesn’t come close to Ford and Toyota.   This year Ford is trying to cover all the bases….  The company went so far as to build a  car that looks like a Prius, the  C-MAX .

Overall MPG in a base Prius is 48, in the MKZ Hybrid the MPG it’s 45, that’s higher than the Toyota Camry.

The MKZ represents a new direction for Lincoln. What do you think?


Random Stuff for Wed January 9th 2013: Do Not Laugh at old men, Fiat 500 Trendy?, Tennessee Dogs

Fiscal Cliff’s, Asteroids, Gun Control?…..

Not Today!

The Lady is upset.  Her Pressure is up!  It’s those dammed dogs. Don’t even think of walking your Chicken in the Plaza!       

Fiat 500 Trendy?

One of my favorite cars of late is the Dodge Charger, with the mileage of the  V6 I could live with the car in Sacramento.  However I spend a lot of time in San Francisco where the big Dodge would be impossible to park .

I was in San Francisco last weekend and I noticed quite a few Fiat 500’s on the streets.  While they where few on the freeways   The streets were filled with them.  Is this the beginning of a trend?  Is the Fiat joining the ranks of the Mini Cooper,BMW 3 Series and the  Toyota Prius?  While there weren’t many Fiats in the working class neighborhoods of the Mission and Bayview, there where many  in the upper income neighborhoods of  the  Pacific Heights, Marina , and Cow Hollow and of course there were quite a few in the Castro.

  The Fiat is perfect for large cities were space is limited.    I don’t expect Texans to give up their F-150’s and Tahoe’s  any time soon.   According to Fiat, California is its their largest markets followed by New York and DC Area.    Its interesting, when they were first introduced they couldn’t give them away.  Today they are selling very well.    At the Sacramento Auto Show last year my daughter wanted to test drive the Dodge Dart but there was a line.  As she was  waiting someone asked her if she wanted to drive the Fiat.   there were no lines for the Fiat after driving the Fiat and the Dart she said she preferred the Fiat   Fiat huh?

  Don’t even think of laughing at this old man.   Yes, his legs were in the air… Yes, there was 360.  Yes he was alone.

Go Ahead N Laugh! This classic is 3 years old

In New Hampshire Women Rule!

The granite state is the only state in the union with a Female Governor-Maggie Hanson -D  ,two female Senators  Jeanne Shaheen-D and Kelly Ayotte-R  two members in the house. Carol Shea-Porter (D) and Ann McLane Kuster (D).

Be a great Wednesday