Thursday, March 29, 2012

5124 miles and the fun continues

Yesterday I rolled past 5124 miles in our ActiveE. I'm happy to report, the mysterious Drivetrain Malfunction and various other odd messages have not returned since my service visit back on 3/6/12. I've driven 1558 miles with no issues. Having the ActiveE as our only vehicle has been working out perfectly. We've been able to take the car everywhere and have yet had the need to rent another vehicle due to distance or other concerns. Leaving the house everyday with a full tank of electricity is fantastic. I don't miss stopping at the gas station every few days one bit. :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Great time today in Los Angeles at Helm's Bakery

It was great to see fellow ActiveE drivers along with Volts, Leafs, a Tesla and a Zero Electric Motorcycle earlier this morning at Helm's Bakery in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The long wait continues for the Carpool Lane stickers

As wonderful as the ActiveE has been, a boondoggle at the dealer and DMV has put a halt on my plans of cruising in the carpool lane. For whatever reason, it took almost 8 weeks for the DMV to show anything in their system in regard to our ActiveE that we picked up on 1/16/12. Then, once it showed, the VIN # was associated with a 1981 gas powered BMW, lol. I finally was able to speak to someone today who explained how that most likely happened. In my VIN#, 8 characters back from the end is a letter, "B". The "B" means "1" in DMV "A" would be "0", "C" would be "2", etc. This number represents the year. As the computer systems are a little behind the times, when the VIN# is typed in, all the info will autofill and if the person doing the entering doesn't catch it, the year 1981 will autofill in as the year. This is what happened to me. Whether this happened at the dealer or DMV headquarters, who knows. Getting this fixed takes time, like up to 30+ more days time. Once this is resolved, hopefully the "E" (for Electric) wil be entered into the box for engine type. If not, that will require even more time to fix.

The above brings me to a suggestion for BMW before the i3 rollout begins. Insist that each dealer who carries the "i" brand have a dedicated person or persons thoroughly trained in handling DMV paperwork related to an EV. All DMV related paperwork from EV sales/leases will be handled by that person or persons and no one else. Ideally, this person would be able to process this paperwork either electronically or in some other quick manner so that the new owner can apply and receive his/her carpool stickers ASAP. This last step in the vehicle sale/lease process is a crucial step and one that I never even thought about until I was boondoggled.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Two months and 4246 miles later

Can't believe it's been two months already since we took delivery of our ActiveE back on January 16th. What a fun time it's been! My East Coast Comrade and Friend Tom Moloughney, the first person to take delivery of the ActiveE, just wrote a very detailed blog posting about his experiences and thoughts over the 5000+ miles he's driven. Be sure to check out his post as I share many of his same feelings on the strengths and weaknesses of the car.

One of my favorite features of the car is the strong regenerative braking. After the most recent software update, I'm in heaven. It couldn't have come at a better time as this past week I drove 500 miles of mostly stop and go traffic. There's no better way to experience just how wonderful regenerative braking is than when your 40+ mile one way commute takes 1 1/2 hours. While I hate driving in traffic like this, the single pedal driving that the regenerative braking allows, makes it bearable and as relaxing as possible. No more moving my foot back and forth between the gas pedal and brake pedal over and over again. I'd find myself worn out once I arrived home simply from the traffic. It's amazing just how more relaxing the ActiveE makes Los Angeles stop and go traffic. I know it sounds crazy but once you drive a car like this, you'll never ever want to go back to a typical gasoline powered car. Another bonus of the ActiveE, despite what some articles may say, when you're driving in traffic like this you actually use less battery power. Rather than using $2.25 worth of electricity to drive 90 or so miles, on days like today I only pay $2.00 or so. Hey, every quarter counts!

Another feature that goes hand in hand with the regenerative braking is the lack of gears. The smooth acceleration and lack of a transmission creates a very quiet cabin. All the better to listen to Pandora or your favorite music. This creates a very relaxing driving experience.

While I could go on and on, Tom did such a great job in his blog, I'll just hit one more plus for me....the instant torque! Despite being such a heavy car, the quick smooth rush off the line is awesome! I love getting the jump on sports car of all types. Sure they catch you eventually but the look on their face as they try to figure out what just happened is priceless.

For those still waiting to get the car and those just taking delivery, you're in for a fantastic 24 months of driving. Enjoy it, the time will fly by before you know it!

Monday, March 12, 2012

The importance of EV Only signage

As others have mentioned, it's wonderful that more and more businesses are installing Level 2 chargers with most being free to use. What's not so great is that some businesses are not taking that last very important step and putting up some sort of signage to indicate these spaces are for EVs only. I'm always one to look for the good in people and I like to think that most folks won't intentionally park in a clearly marked EV only space.

Today I ran into one of these situations at a set of Blink chargers at a Ralphs in North Hollywood, CA. I found the manager and first of all thanked him for installing the chargers. I then showed him this picture and encouraged him to have some signage installed. He said he'd pass it on up the ladder. I'm always one to express my thanks first and then follow it up with a suggestion. If you come across a similar situation in your travels and have a few minutes to say something, hopefully this kinda thing will become less and less frequent.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new

On my way back from Crystal Cove in Newport Beach, CA this morning, I came across this abandoned gas station. Couldn't resist snapping some photos. While I'm not one to wish anyone to go out of business and I don't think gas companies are going anywhere soon, it really hit home that the ActiveE is definitely new technology and the gas stations represent old technology.

Friday, March 9, 2012

ActiveE software update and 5000 mile service

We were without our ActiveE for a couple of days while a software update and the 5000 mile service was done at Long Beach BMW in Signal Hill, CA. I was thankful they did the service even though we're only at 3600 miles as this saved me another trip to the dealer. We drove a 328i loaner and I put 250 miles on it. I paid $45.00 in gas to drive those 250 miles. In the ActiveE, those miles would have cost around $7.00 in electricity.

When you drive the ActiveE, you quickly become accustomed to the smooth, quick, shiftless ride and kinda take it for granted. Switching to a gas powered BMW every now and then reminds you just how wonderful it is to drive the ActiveE.

One thing that stands out from the software update is the Regen Braking is slightly stronger. It's not as strong as it was on the MINI E but it's stronger and I like it. Driving in a single pedal manner is fun and something I quickly adjusted to with the MINI E. There are many things I love about driving an EV and this is one of my favorites.

Hope the next time I see the dealer will be in 5000 miles but since these are prototypes you have to be flexible.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

We're now a 100% Electric Car family!

2 1/2 years ago when my wife and I picked up the MINI E, we did it strictly as early adopters and had no idea of the joy and excitement we'd feel from driving a 100% Electric Car. We soon found that the only time we were driving our 2006 Ford Freestyle Crossover was when the three of us (2 adults and 1 EV loving little girl) would go somewhere together as the MINI E had no backseat. Most of these trips were just a few miles in length. We're fortunate to live in an area with great public transportation and stores, restaurants, banks, etc all a short walk from the house. During this time we drove the MINI E 51,000 miles (with no public charging) and the Ford 2000 miles. Most of the 2000 miles consisted of a few trips to Vegas and Palm Springs with the rest made up of short trips within Southern California as a family of three. This got us thinking....

Fast forward to January 16, 2012 when we picked up the BMW ActiveE. Here was a vehicle that had room for four, standard J1772 charging capability, heated seats for my wife, all the latest techno stuff for me and most importantly a backseat for Miss Hailey. After quickly putting 3200 miles on the ActiveE in 6 weeks, I noticed that we'd put a grand total of 50 miles on the Ford and those miles came from one trip to the airport to help out some friends. As a family, we'd gone zero miles in our Ford. What would a wise man do in this situation...

Sell the Ford! Today, we sold the Freestyle and are now a 100% Electric Car family. In looking at the financial numbers and our driving needs, it made way more sense to simply rent a new car for those times we need to travel a long distance, where taking the time to charge won't be possible. No more depreciation from the Ford, no extra insurance, no maintenance worries or in our case, as the Ford was out of warranty, no unexpected repair bills...and my personal favorite...MORE GARAGE SPACE. :)

While you may be saying to yourself this would never work for our family, give it some thought, especially you new ActiveE drivers. Over the next two years, keep track of how often you find yourself driving a gas powered car rather than your ActiveE. Perhaps you won't be able to go to a one car family but maybe from a three car to a two car. What you discover may bring a big smile to your face.