So you thought this blog is dead.

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Right. WAVE over, everybody home, that’ll wrap things up. Everybody disappears, never to be heard of again. Right?

Well, no. Not only will we present a bit of aftermath right here, we have also decided to keep James the Wattwurm and his blog alive and keep posting about his adventures. There is a good chance he might attend other events in the near future, as well as the possibility of showing up at the WAVE 2015 as well. Occasionally we’ll also weave in an opinion, and you might already have noticed that it might not always be conformist. In any event, we’ll try to keep it interesting so stay tuned.

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That said, we’re happy to report that our blue Nissan Leaf made it safely home. In just over a week, it has covered a total of 2116 km door-to-door (even though paradoxally, we are talking about the same door). We still maintain that this car means loads of fun and always asks to be floored, a request we happily fulfil anytime we get a chance.

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We have a mix of belated photos and controversial footage to share. First off, we’d like to post pictures of our trophys to prove that we actually got them. We still haven’t figured out how we ended up second in our class but there you have it.

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Then, we have this video which was leaked to us by an unnamed source; it shows someone of Team SparkZ playing the Alphorn. We think it’s an outstanding performance and that she should take up Yodeling next.

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Team Wattwurm dashing up the Furka

Also, the official WAVE photos are now online. We grabbed the picture above and the following two below from the flickr page, all of them are taken by the official WAVE photographer Nina Holler.

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High-fiving school kids in Brunnen

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parading through the old town of Murten

Finally, we would like to add an honorary mention for Mr. Powerman Urs Rüegger; he participated with his e-Bike! Even though it has a 1500 Watts motor and he’s a pro, we admire his performance and endurance. He was usually the last to arrive when everybody else was already going to bed and had to leave before everyone else in the morning, only to be passed by our cars while pushing his bike uphill. Again, picture credit: Nina Holler.

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Respect, man!

Well, that’s all for today. As threatened above, we’ll keep posting regularly here and we’ll use the stats to see how many people unlike our page over time as a consequence.

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Wait, what?

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So the WAVE 2014 is over. Just like that. Boom. What seemed like a month (yet happened within just over a week) is now history and turned into fond memories. As we both are engineers, hope and optimism don’t exist in our world and we simply went there to see what happens and go with the flow. However, we had an outstanding time and met awesome people who turned friends. If you have read anything we posted here or on our facebook wall, I don’t think I have to stretch that we also had loads of fun. (Remember to check back there to get a summary of today’s events).

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They saved our lives more than once: The CHAdeMO girls, seen here enjoying the sun on mount Rigi

What’s left to say? I think the most interesting aspect of the WAVE is that even though everybody there does mention the environment occasionally and thinks that making a first attempt to reduce emissions is a great idea, that’s not what it is about. Modulo the petrol, most of the people we met are simply car buffs. We talked top speed and acceleration, cars and conversions, charging capacity and speed, the term “Kilowatts” being the one that usually prevails in the end. We had an autocross, we drag raced and we made our tires screech. It was just like most other car events I had attended – people like their cars, they like to talk about them, will tell you exactly why they picked it over something else, and what they did to make it better or faster. Some people are cool and end up being your friends, some are weird and they don’t. No surprises there either.

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An earlier version of the WAVE

What we also realized is that although we kinda knew we are pioneers, we now have a better idea as to why exactly. At the risk of sounding pretentious, in many ways, we think that one can compare the current situation to what happened 125 years ago. Back then, the automobile was invented, and some people discovered they were interested in or even passionate about owning and driving one. At the same time, people around them would either frown or laugh at them (or both). Why buy a horseless carriage? It stinks, it’s noisy, it’s complicated and it’s not faster, yet much less reliable than a horse because it breaks down all the time. (All the while London, New York City and all other big cities around the western world were drowning in horse manure). Oh and did I mention you’ll only get petrol at the pharmacy? And yet, look where we are now (or where we already were 75 years ago, for that matter). How many horses, how many cars on the road?

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But what does that have to do with the present and electric cars? Well, we hear basically the same speech every day. Why buy an electric car when it is more expensive and more complicated than a “normal” car, it has a smaller range, it takes forever to charge, and finding a charger on the way can be a real nightmare (not to mention that the current situation regarding plug types is beyond ridiculous)?

And yet, we all know we will eventually run out of fossil fuels one way or another, even though we think we can solve that problem by secretely hoping it will be the next generations’ and not ours while we burn it all off. Our cities suffocate and go deaf and blind because there is too much traffic. Now I don’t think I have to explain that this blog is not about global warming or saving the planet, and we are far from advocating that the electric car solves all the problems we have – because as a matter of fact, it doesn’t solve any problems at all except for being mostly silent and free of exhaust gases as it moves along.

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Team WATT-Wurm on their way to the top of mount Rigi

But that, my friends, is why we think electric cars are cool. Most of you will know that David and I both are petrolheads and will never miss an opportunity to make noise and burn some extra fuel by keeping our foot down; but there is a certain charm to the powerful yet silent acceleration even a slightly laughable Nissan Leaf can provide you with which we can’t deny. If you don’t believe us, go test drive an electric car with decent power and see for yourself. Consider it an added bonus that it’ll go easy on your ears and that you’ll be breathing fresh air all along.

Finally, do you honestly think that electric cars have no future? (That’s what I thought). They will be part of our future, certainly not in their present form, but they will, that’s what we think. And for the two of us, being part of the future is much more exciting than sticking to the present. What seems like drawbacks to other people is where the adventure lies for us.

“The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do” – Steve Jobs

We are proud to announce that we won the award for best blog and made second place in our category. While we understand the former is probably mostly related to the fact we picked the most popular WordPress template, we will have to let the latter sink in a bit because we have no clue whatsoever how we managed to achieve this. Thanks to everyone involved, organizers, support teams, participants, host cities and villages, and everyone else I just forgot.We had a great time!

Repeat…

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After a wonderful night in Goms and perfect weather in the morning, we assembled all cars for a little parade down the Rhone valley. After a coffee stop we continued to Sion where we assembled on a big parking lot for display, lunch and a bit of fun – screeching tires and drag racing included. Then, everyone headed off towards their next destination, which in our case was Broc. Now we did not really pay much attention to the topography and just tried to decide between “fastest route”, “shortest route” and “avoid motorways” in our TomTom settings. In the end we settled for the latter and happily moved on. As it turns out, there was another mountain pass involved, the Col des Mosses, topping out at 1445m or 4700ft.

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It should be common knowledge by now that driving uphill economically is not one of our greatest talents, and fun prevailed. Same procedure as always… Burn all available battery power going up, recharge going down. We made it without trouble to the hydroelectric power station in Broc, where we also got a tour. Of course, charging the cars was involved.

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As you can see, we also got a chance to shoot a few pics inside the power plant. Later on, we took the back roads to Murten where we paraded through the old town before having lunch a short walk away on the countryside.

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It’s been a week now and the WAVE 2014 is already coming to an end. Unbelievable! Not only did time just fly, it feels more like a month than a week after all we have seen and done. Tomorrow’s events will be reported exclusively on our facebook wall, where you’ll also find more pictures of today as always. We’ll write a few more thoughts and conclusions about the past week here later on.

In the meantime, here’s today’s bonus picture: David trying out the Johammer motorcycle.

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Here’s why mountains are awesome

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You know you’ve done lots of things in one day when you need the roadbook to remember where you’ve actually been and when. I keep saying our days are loaded with activity but today really topped it off. Given that yesterday was mostly spent sitting in our car on a parking lot in the rain, it wasn’t very hard to make today a better day. Little did we know how great it would be.

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Our first stop from Einsiedeln was Schwyz. Before though, all cars had to visit local schools, some here, some there. Our destination was a school event in Steinen; we had kids left and right for the last mile greeting and cheering, and we were only missing the ticker tape to feel like astronauts. After presenting our car, where we pointed out its most important feature (you can lose pretty much any car at a red light), we parked on the town square.

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A cup of coffee later, we went on to another school in Brunnen, where we had to drive through an alley of kids and present our car again at the end. We don’t know what the record is for high-fiving a maximum amount of people in a minute but we think we broke it. Beyond being fun, making those kids smile and see their enthousiasm was truly uplifting and downright awesome.

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From there, we headed south towards the Gotthard pass to stop in Göschenen for lunch (and yes, as you know by now, a charge) only to move on to Andermatt afterwards. We had a total of almost 2000m or 6500ft of elevation to cover and we were wondering what that would mean regarding power usage. We wanted to make sure that we’d not get stranded again and took the back roads to keep it slow. In the end, after re-charging in Andermatt we had around 80% charge to go so we did well.

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Some of you might know that the last bit of the Furka is steep and winding and we couldn’t help but go for it again. I’ll just say that we burned 60% of battery capacity over just 12km.

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we were mostly held up by Tesla drivers.

We stopped at the top just long enough to take pictures proving we were there and moved on. The good part about electric cars is that not only is going down free, you also get part of your energy back. So by the time we reached the airstrip in Goms, our next destination, the car was more confident again about making statements regarding remaining battery range.

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On the airstrip, we attended various challenges, the most entertaining being an autocross parcours on the runway. Since we were both sitting in the car and focusing on the challenges we completely forgot to take pictures – but today’s report by Tele 1 has footage of the event so you’ll get an idea what it was about. As always, dinner was excellent and we’re now ready to crash. We look forward to tomorrow’s events.

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Oh the humanity!

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 no shirt, no shoes, no 3G service

The picture above is a bit symptomatic for today’s adventures. We did start the day with a frown because the first leg was 131km. Since I assume everyone here has read every single post on this blog so far, you will know that this is right on the edge for our car. Therefore, we went into maximum eco mode again – not only by keeping it light but also by having our car being dragged behind a big truck. We’re not sure whether that actually makes a difference but it made us more comfortable and we could keep our panic bags stored away for the time being.

While we made it to the Rheinfelden power plant OK, we ended up with 11km of range this time. BTDT, right? A couple of hours of charging and another chat with the CHAdeMO girls to talk them into letting us have half an hour of fast charging brought us up to about 70 km. Meanwhile, we got to tour the hydroelectric power plant.

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The next part of the journey, however, was a 99km stint into Switzerland and there was no way we would make it at this point – we were up to around 70km by the time we had to leave. So we picked a charging station on the way and headed there behind yet another truck on the freeway.

But a bit of bad luck was enough to sabotage our plans; the fast charger we had picked was fried and we could not charge. But we only had 7km left! So we came up with a backup plan and went to the nearest Park&Charge station, which – as you might have guessed – was less than 7km away. After an hour of slow charge we had gotten an extra 20km on our range gauge and found another fast charger 24km away in the direction we were heading; arriving with an empty battery wherever we would go seemed to become a habit for today. In any event, we made it and were able to charge with 20kW this time. After 45 minutes, we were over 90% full. What a difference!

(As you can tell from the paragraph above, we have been crunching numbers all day. I apologize if said paragraph does not make much sense to anyone other than us).

The result was that we had missed the program for the whole afternoon and headed off to the final destination to make it just in time for dinner. Unlike the last time this happened, we had pouring rain all afternoon and there were no pictures to be taken. That’s why we are going to feature another car today.

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Now before my classic car friends go berzerk when they see this, let me say that it’s based on a replica – which makes sense in many ways, one of them being the fact that the body is fiberglass. This car was built by TURN-E and looks great. We don’t know any specs but sure would like to drive it around town. A few more shots below will close today’s report; as always, remember to check our facebook wall for more pictures of today’s events.

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Boys will be boys

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We started our day with a mix of good and bad. We had a full battery, that was good… We were late, and that was bad. Now we could blame it on traffic and roadwork but the truth is, we simply messed up times and distances and left 15 minutes late.
That, however, was a good excuse to drop the “Eco” mode and pretend that we have to make up for lost time. Our route took us over the highest german mountain pass, the Riedbergpass. David used the full power of our car and once again, thanks to the winding roads we had big grins on our faces.

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We did indeed arrive late at our first stop, a school in Wolfurt, much to the amusement of a few competing teams. You have to know that there’s a point system which will eventually result in a ranking at the end of the rally, and being late will result in a penalty. Luckily, we think that nobody from the jury noticed our late arrival and honestly hope they don’t read our blog. The students on the other hand didn’t really bother and happily judged our cars’ appearance, which was the point of this stop.
From there, we dashed to Bregenz where we had a short stop at the Seebuehne to take a few pictures.

The next segment was a drive to Friedrichshafen, including a wrong turn and more roadwork (don’t ask). This stop was inside the Zeppelin hangar at the airfield, where we had lunch and charged our cars.

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For the afternoon, a ride over lake Constance was planned so we moved on to Meersburg and boarded the ferry to… yes, Constance, where we lined up our cars on the waterfront in the midst of pedestrians and cyclists. We got a huge amount of attention again and think that this was one of the more successful locations.

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To close the day, we had dinner at Mainau island. We made it back to the car just in time before heavy rainfall set in and found our hotel without trouble.

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I would like to add a generic comment here that red lights and other teams occasionally led to more grinning and smug faces. Also, this isn’t over. You know who you are.

Remember that we post some of our pictures on our facebook wall and not here, so you’ll find more pictures of today’s events there.

Ups and downs

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Today’s first leg was over 130 km which is a bit on the edge for our Leaf since its battery technology is already outdated, and it has limited range compared to the current model. Still, we should have made it without problems since we were supposed to be able to get a full charge overnight. But we had a bad surprise in the morning, since at some point we lost power and the charger did not re-initialize when it came back. So for the 130+ km we had to cover, we had a charge of just 48. Thankfully, our charming CHAdeMO girls Natalia and Jolanda helped us with a fast charge (you can find their blog here) and we headed off with 139 km of range, confident that we would make it. Note to self: Check charging status of car on a regular basis even at night… We knew there had to be a drawback to being pioneers eventually.

As you can see above, we were driving very efficiently since according to Nissan, we already had planted five trees by the time we were halfway there. Still, the road was heading uphill steadily and sometimes we’d be out of range, sometimes not. With a light foot and lots of soaring and regenerating whenever we’d go downhill, we managed to reach the parking lot with 7km of range left, and by the time we had parked the car it had officially declared the battery as empty.

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Now what else was there to do than talk our CHAdeMO girls into letting us have another charge? Easier said than done, since the queue was long and some people even tried to buy their way in by bringing flowers. (it didn’t work). In any event, due to this delay we had missed the official schedule and therefore decided to take a scenic drive and take a few pictures on the way. First off, note that our lunch stop was at the bottom of the Alps in view of the Neuschwanstein Castle.

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We picked a few small roads and ended up going over two very nice mountain passes, only to find out that we’d soon be out of range again – but we knew all about it by then, didn’t we? In any event, we arrived at dinner with 11km left this time. no sweat. The landscape was beautiful and we passed through many picturesque villages.

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seriously?

Perhaps we can just let the pictures speak this time… Below are my best shots. The quality isn’t perfect but between shooting in series out of a moving car and picture processing after midnight, there’s just no time to shoot raw and make it right. Hopefully most of you will be able to forgive me that fauxpas. As a closing remark, note that there’s another report by Tele 1 on this morning’s events. If you look closely you can see us fiddling around with the fast charger in the background during one of the interviews.

And now… enjoy (and yes, car needs a wash)

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Having fun…



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Today was a fun day for us. We left the horse ranch in the fog and had breakfast at a power plant. Later we moved on to Neudorf, where we got an escorted tour of the city centre. Two classic firetrucks were used as pace cars.

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One was the truck pictured above, a 1956 Magirus TLF 16 with crew cab. Our parade leader however was a 1951 Deutz DL22; the picture below was taken “in action”.

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Thanks to lights and siren, we got to run several red lights and pretty much brought traffic to a complete stop in town. Afterwards we gathered all cars at the local power station where an exhibition about energy was taking place, so we got to present our cars again and do some smalltalk with the locals.

Dinner was served in Pfaffenhofen – yet another popular event with a big crowd. We could really get used to getting so much attention.

You will find pictures of our progress and the different events on our public facebook wall. There’s also a picture of the crew of firemen who showed us around town and a link to the most recent Tele 1 broadcast since they are reporting daily from the Wave event.

The best part of the day was still ahead of us, though. We had been charging whenever we had a chance. In the end, we had lots of battery power left for just a couple dozen miles. So, what do you do in that situation? Yes, of course. The only sensible thing to do is to max the car out; after all, this is Germany. That is why we can report that the Leaf topped out at 160 kph which corresponds to a true 150 according to Mr. TomTom. We think that’s not too bad for such a little car and would like to add that we were impressed with how quiet and stable the car was even at maximum speed. And yes, we successfully fried about 80km of battery range within just a few dozen km of Autobahn. Please note that we are still grinning as I type this.

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Finally, let me add that even if you’re not interested in what we reported above, you absolutely have to click on this link, since it shows the apogee of today’s events.

We’re on TV!

Today was the first official day of the tour and it was packed with activities. All participants gathered at the Mercedes-Benz Museum along with dozens and dozens of other electric cars – since we were going to attempt beating the current world record for the longest electric car parade, which was 305 cars and vehicles. Long story short, we succeeded and lined up no less than 507 cars and vehicles. We also managed to create this picture which includes everyone involved. If you want to try and spot our car, look out for the Swiss flag in the “A” of Stuttgart.

There’s also a TV report on Swiss regional Tele 1 that shows the most important bits of today. Again, look out for the blue car with the large Swiss flag on the roof, that would be us – it shows up several times. The real milestone though is this report where we have a prime moment, lasting exactly 0.8 seconds right at the beginning of the report; so we’re famous now.

In any event, later on we left for Heilbronn where we presented our cars on the Rathaus square – we got lots of interest and answered many questions about charging, range and batteries.

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From there, we moved on to Wolpertshausen for dinner and will now spend the night on a horse ranch in the middle of nowhere. This will also be our excuse for not posting too many pictures today because we are having a hard time getting a data connection at all here. We’ll see how cell coverage will be in the next few days…

Nevertheless I can’t resist and post this picture of a 220b spotted in the midst of  Stuttgart traffic. I know some of you will enjoy this… you know who you are.

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Getting serious…

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After leaving Trossingen in the morning and stopping for lunch somewhere on the way, we arrived in Bietigheim by the end of the afternoon. Finally, the big picture is coming together since now all 78 teams were assembled on the same parking lot – that’s quite a view. Unfortunately, cars were cluttered and trees in the way so there were no clean pictures to be taken. I’m sure there will be other opportunities to show all cars together in one frame.

The big news is, since the race is now on, we are now wearing our team dress. Now that sounds at least one order of magnitude more dramatic than it is, because we just both wear the same shirt with our mascot on the front and our team name on the back. yaay…

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Later in the evening, the pre-race team briefing took place; roadbooks and timeplans are now issued and have to be studied carefully. it looks like we have a short night ahead of us since there is some homework to be done…

Today’s featured car is a Volkswagen T2 bus, originally from the german THW Katastrophenschutz; later imported into Switzerland, it was converted to electric power by Designwerk. It now has a 100 kW electric motor, but the power is artificially reduced to keep the gearbox from disintegrating. It does run properly though and has a range of over 300km on one charge. We think it’s totally cool and I’m sure a few of you people out there will think alike. Its most important features are listed on the Designwerk website.

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