Thursday, May 6, 2010
The future is now
I'm currently driving an all electric MINI Cooper called the MINI-E. About 620 of these all electric cars were made and leased for one year (and then extended for a optional second year) to people in California, New York and New Jersey. After deploying roughly 500 of the cars in these three states in the US, about 50 were sent to Germany and another 50 to the UK for a similar, but shorter (6 months) trial lease program.
The purpose of this program was for BMW, makers of the MINI brand, to gather information about the driving habits of potential future electric car owners, to uncover potential problems that may arise including charging issues and cold weather problems, as well as gauge the response to an electric car. They would then use this information to help design an electric car that they would sell in 2013 called the Megacity.
Recently, BMW announced that they have designed an all electric BMW called the ActiveE and that they plan to produce about 700 of them and initiate a lease program similar to the MINI-E program starting in June 2011. The purpose of this car is to test the actual hardware that will be in the Megacity vehicle. Items like a thermal management system, a BMW designed power control unit and motor and complex electronics that are absent in the MINI-E will be tested in this car before they are put in the Megacity car and sold to the public. They then offered on year lease extensions for the current MINI-E lessees with the caveat that any of us that continue in the program for a second year will get to lease an ActiveE if we choose to in June 2011 when the ActiveE program begins.(June 2011 is coincidentally the month that the MINI-E program ends)
I have already extended my MINI-E lease for the second year and fully expect to be driving an ActiveE when the program begins in June 2011. I started a MINI-E blog to write about my experiences driving an electric car and it has been so successful that I decided to start this ActiveE blog now and I can post information as it comes before I even get the car. The info may not come for a while but I'll post whatever I get. Once I get the car I will switch to this blog from my current MINI-E blog to report on driving the future now.