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Monday, December 19, 2011

EValuate Your Impact!

BMW has just updated the ActiveE site to include a new feature they are calling the new BMW Evaluation tool where "users can discover the advantages of an EV lifestyle, both financially and environmentally, based on their current driving habits. And when you share the BMW EValuation with your social network, you’ll be able to see the potential impact EVs could have if all of your friends drove one."

I checked it out and it's pretty interesting. You input the miles you drive annually and what kind of car you drive (gas, diesel or hybrid) and it gives you data on things like how much gas you won't have to buy, how much money you'll save, how many pounds of CO2 you won't create, etc. It's interesting stuff, but it would be better if they let you input the current MPG of the car you drive also because then the figures would be a bit more accurate, still it's interesting.


Interested? Stop by The BMW Activate The Future Site and check it out!




Monday, December 12, 2011

Any Day Now...

Any day now. Today is exactly 30 months to the day that I picked up MINI-E #250(June 12th, 2009) and began an experience that would change a lot about how I look at cars, energy and politics.

Today is the day my lease extension expires, so I have only the ten day grace period in which to return the car and pick up my ActiveE. Although I haven't been given any official word on the date, I can only assume JMK BMW would have made me sign another lease extension for the MINI-E if they felt I wouldn't be able to pick up my ActiveE by December 22nd, technically the last day I can drive the car. I have heard some of the other MINI-E lessees have been asked to sign another lease extension, so evidently BMW feels that they cannot get them their ActiveE in time. It will take a few weeks to get all of us MINI-E lessees our ActiveE's and from what I've been led to believe, I'm going to be one of the first to get theirs.

I've heard rumors about later this week sometime, but nothing official so I'll just have to wait and be ready. One thing's for sure though, it will be any day now...


UPDATE 12/14/11: I think I may have been a little optimistic.  I've received word from BMW that I won't be getting my car for a couple weeks, probably sometime right after the New Year, so the wait goes on. No problem as far as I'm concerned. I still have my MINI-E to drive around in. It's not as luxurious as the ActiveE, and lacks a lot of the features the electric 1-series has, but it's still a blast to drive and doesn't burn any oil or gas so it's all good to me.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My AeroVironment EVSE is Installed

The one on the left is the new AeroVironment EVSE. The one on the right is the Clipper Creek chargers that were used for the MINI-E trial. I have retrofitted it with a J1772 connector so it can now charge the ActiveE also.


Today was the day I had my EVSE swapped with the AeroVironment unit that BMW is using for the ActiveE program. The MINI-E pioneers, as an added bonus get the EVSE for free provided we have it installed in the exact same place that we had our MINI-E charger. That way the swap is quick and easy. The electricians came today and completed the swap in about an hour. So I'm good to go now, I just need my ActiveE. I haven't had any official word yet, but the rumors swirling around point to next week sometime, we'll see..

Monday, November 28, 2011

My ActiveE is on Order!

JMK BMW in Springfield, New Jersey
Step two of three is complete. I visited JMK BMW in Springfield, NJ and completed the financial application and signed the sales receipt. Manny Antunes, my sales representative explained all the details to me and we talked about the ActiveE for about forty five minutes. Manny is a hard core BMW fan and he's been really active helping BMW promote the ActiveE through social media.

Two level 2 EVSE's in my garage.
Now all I need is for AeroVironment, BMW's partner for supplying the charging equipment for the ActiveE, to come to my home and swap my MINI-E wall charger with the new J1772 compliant charger that the ActiveE will use. Actually I don't even need for them to install it for me to charge the ActiveE. I already installed a second wall charger in my garage with a J1772 connector. However since the MINI-E drivers get the new wall charger for free, I'll still accept it and get a new wall charger installed for free.The good news is I won't have to wait for the new one to be installed to charge my ActiveE.

From what I understand, the dealers will begin to get their ActiveE deliveries on December 15th so it won't be long after that before I get to pick up mine!


Monday, November 21, 2011

The BMW ActiveE Recruitment Process Has Begun

The above picture was taken from the ActiveE site that I just registered on. This was step one of the recruitment process so BMW has officially opened up applications for the MINI-E pioneers that renewed their leases for a second year. BMW hasn't formally announced when the application process opens for the general public, but rumors have it beginning on December 1st.

After completing the simple recruitment form which asked for my address, phone number and what dealer I wanted to pick up my ActiveE from, I received this email:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for completing the first step of the BMW ActiveE recruitment process. We have forwarded your information to JMK BMW and one of their BMW ActiveE Advocates will be reaching out to you in the near future to finalize the lease.

After a BMW ActiveE has been assigned to you, AeroVironment, the charging partner of the BMW ActiveE, will be reaching out to you to schedule a charging station swap or charging station consultation.

If you plan to charge your BMW ActiveE at the same location as your MINI E, BMW will swap it out for the BMW ActiveE charging station at no charge. Please note that in order to be eligible for the free swap, your MINI E charging station must be located at the exact same location as it was most recently installed and permitted.

Starting late December, BMW ActiveE's will be available for delivery for MINI E Pioneers. We are excited to have you back onboard as we continue our journey to redefine the future of mobility.

See you on our mission,
The BMW ActiveE Team 



So late it looks like late December will be when I'll get my ActiveE. That's definitely a great Christmas present, I must have been nice this year!

Friday, November 18, 2011

ActiveE Meet MINI-E


It happens all the time. You bump into your old girlfriend or ex-spouse while you're out on a date with your new one, it's usually really awkward so rarely do you purposely bring the two together. Today I did just that. I took My MINI-E up to BMW's North American Headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ to get another close up look at the ActiveE. I have to admit, I felt a little bad for the MINI-E. It's served me admirably for the past 29 months. It's proven to me that an electric car with a 100 mile range is perfectly fine for my everyday driving needs, even though I drive about 30,000 miles per year, which is much more than the average American. It's never left me stranded and given me many great memories.

The ActiveE is in just about every regard a more complete electric car than the MINI-E but doesn't mean I won't always hold my MINI-E in the highest regard. It was my first electric car, and it allowed me to kick my gas addiction, hopefully for the rest of my life. However to deny that the ActiveE isn't a better all around car, would be denying the obvious truth. In my opinion, the biggest flaw of the MINI-E has been it's lack of a sophisticated thermal management system. It didn't cause much of a problem in the hot weather for me, but in the cold winters of the Northeast, the MINI-E's range can shrink by as much as 40% in certain conditions. The ActiveE has a liquid thermal management system, which is generally regarded as the best way to keep an EV's battery at optimum operating temperature. In my 40 mile test drive of the ActiveE last month in Munich, the battery temperature didn't vary more than a degree or two, and was about 85 degrees the entire time even though it was in the 40's outside. The ActiveE can also precondition the battery and cabin meaning while you are plugged into the grid, so you can set the car to warm up or cool down before you begin your journey. By doing so, you leave 100% charged and the car doesn't need to use a lot of energy to warm or cool the batteries and cabin. That allows you to use more of your stored energy for it's primary purpose; to drive as far as you need to.

The ActiveE also has what BMW calls the Eco Pro mode, which reduces the amount of power the car supplies the drive motor and cabin heating & cooling systems, this may make the car a little less enjoyable to drive, but will increase the range by about 10%. I don't plan on using the Eco Pro mode all the time, but I will on days that I know I need to drive far.  Then there is the new "glide" mode. By backing off the accelerator a bit, the car de-clutches and coasts, neither using energy to accelerate or recoup energy via regen. If the driver backs off a little more, the regenerative braking begins, and if they depress the pedal at all, the car will accelerate. My guess is that this feature may take a bit to get used to after driving the MINI-E for so long.  Besides the technical improvements, the ActiveE is a lot bigger and more luxurious. Unlike the MINI-E it has two back seats and a trunk and will be much more functional. It's also well appointed with white leather seats highlighted with cool blue stitching. An integrated GPS with improved electronics round out the interior.

All of this adds up to a much more sophisticated, luxurious and functional electric vehicle and I'm sure I'm going to love driving it for the next two years. We haven't been offered the exact date that we'll be getting our ActiveE's, but rumors have it some of us will be getting them in about a month and I suspect I'll probably be in the first batch of MINI-E drivers that get one. (BMW doesn't want me to continue pestering them any longer than absolutely necessary!). While I will no doubt really appreciate the technical improvements as well as the extra room and added luxury, I will always have special appreciation for the MINI-E, after all you never forget your first.
I think I can get used to this : )

Friday, November 4, 2011

ActiveE's are Finally Spotted Here in the US

BMW ActiveE's lined up at BMW's North American Headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.
Thanks to Manny Antunes, we have proof that at least some of the BMW ActiveE's are here in the US and ready to begin to be deployed. BMW has been providing test drives for their employees and dealership personnel to get them better acquainted with the cars. It shouldn't be long now.....


Thursday, November 3, 2011

ActiveE Program Delayed a Couple Months?

Looks like the ActiveE will be getting some more "tweeking" the next few months
The MINI-E lessees just received an email from BMW that indicated we will have the option to extend our MINI-E lease past December. This can only mean one thing, the ActiveE program is being pushed back a bit. No word on the financial terms of the lease extension, or exactly how long. I did call BMW financial and was told the lease extension was going to be "a couple months" and that they believe the ActiveE program will now begin around February. Hmmm. Here's what we received:

WE’RE GETTING CLOSE

Greetings Motoring Pioneer,

By now, you have had the chance to meet the all-new BMW ActiveE and we trust you are as excited about the next big step in electric mobility as we are. Your choice to continue driving your prized MINI E will be met with the reward of being among the first eligible to lease this exciting new BMW electric vehicle.

In the weeks to come, your MINI E lease extension is scheduled to mature. As this could occur prior to the delivery date of your new BMW ActiveE, we would like to offer you the chance to keep driving in silent bliss while you move through the process of obtaining your new BMW EV. If you would like to briefly extend your time with the MINI E, please contact us to make the necessary arrangements.

Here is how:

* To contact a MINI E Lease End Specialist about your MINI E lease decision, please call 800.959.4269, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern Time.
* If you have other questions about the transition from your MINI E to the BMW ActiveE, please contact BMW ActiveE Customer Relations at 855.236.1025 or ActiveECustomerRelations@bmwusa.com.

We look forward to hearing from you in the days to come. Please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to assist you in your BMW EV decision making process.

Thank you for continuing with us in this pioneering effort. We look forward to having you Activate
the Future.

Sincerely,
The BMW ActiveE Team


UPDATE: I was able to contact BMW and was informed that this doesn't necessarily mean the ActiveE lease program will be delayed. They are simply doing this because the MINI-E leases are maturing in early December and BMW want's to make sure the MINI-E drivers that want to transition into an ActiveE will be able to do so without interruption. This will also allow the participants in states (like here in NJ) to easily transfer our registrations from the MINI-E to the ActiveE. Once the lease expires, and you return the car, it's not that simple. Hopefully, we will still start getting our cars in December. I really want to test out the thermal conditioning and ability to pre-condition the battery and cabin through the winter months when it's needed the most. 


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BMW ActiveE First Drive


A few weeks ago I received an email from Dave Buchko of BMW inviting me to BMW headquarters in Munich, Germany to attend the press event for the BMW ActiveE First Drive as well as four workshops for upcoming innovations in BMW’s ConnectedDrive initiative. Even though my primary interest was the ActiveE, all persons invited to the event were required to attend the four workshops on ConnectedDrive, which turned out to be really interesting although not really connected to the ActiveE.

Dave was my host (a very gracious one at that) and accompanied me to all of the press events and dinners as well as taking me to the BMW Welt and giving me a tour of the BMW museum.  On the day of the ActiveE First Drive, BMW provided about 40 ActiveE's for the press to drive on a pre-selected course through Munich that would bring us to BMW's research & Development facility, the FIZ. The route was pre-programmed in the cars navigation system and we were asked not to stray from the course which was about 35 kilometers. I actually did stray from the course, but it wasn't on purpose, really! I had turned down the volume of the nav system so I could listen to the car and I was so busy looking at the car that I found myself a few miles off course. I ended up driving exactly 40 km which is about 25 miles and I used 33% of the battery. That's a little more than I would have used with the MINI-E, so I'm a bit concerned that the car may not get an average of 100 miles per charge like I'm used to with the MINI-E. However I did drive it aggressively when I could and was going about 75 to 80mph on the section of the course that was on the autobahn, plus it was cold (40 degrees) and raining and I had the heat and heated seats on, so I really can't say for sure what the range will be. However from the small sample I witnessed, I think it's safe to say that it won't have a greater range then the MINI-E, and probably a little less.

That shouldn't be a surprise though. The ActiveE is a bigger and heavier(4,001 lbs compared to the MINI-E's 3,230 lbs) car and has a smaller battery pack (32 kWh compared to the MINI-E's 35kWh). Based on my experience I do think it will get close to 100 miles per charge, but will probably average just a bit less on most days. 

Driving impressions: 

Anyone that has read my MINI-E blog knows how fond I am of it, so understand I'm not putting it down by saying the ActiveE is a much more refined car; the fact is, it just is. BMW claims the ActiveE goes 0-60 in "under 9 seconds" and the MINI-E does it in 8.5 seconds so it is slightly slower than the MINI-E. It definitely felt slower, but I think part of that is because it is quieter inside the cabin and smoother than the MINI-E is. It's not slow by any means, and actually has more torque than the MINI-E and you could feel it. It was incredibly smooth, much more so than the MINI-E. I didn't notice the 1/2 second delay when you accelerate from a stop like the MINI-E has, and power feels a bit more linear than the MINI-E as you are accelerating. 

The regenerative braking is less aggressive than the MINI-E, but still strong. I've driven LEAF's, Volt's and Tesla's and the MINI-E had the most aggressive regen of all of them by a long shot. I believe the ActiveE also does, it's just that it's less aggressive than the MINI-E's. Being rear wheel drive I expected this, and I'm not disappointed in the level of regen at all, I think they hit the nail right on the head and within a half hour I was driving with one pedal just like I do with the MINI-E. The transition from acceleration to regen is seamless, and there is no "jerky" feel I sometimes get when I lift off the accelerator on the MINI-E. Perhaps because it's dialed down a bit, the transition is smoother. 

Tobias Hahn addresses the press
The glide mode is something new in the ActiveE. It allows the driver to glide (coast) without either accelerating or entering regen mode. You activate the glide mode by slightly lifting your foot off the accelerator, however not too much or the regen will begin. I found it a little tricky to get the proper position where I entered glide mode. You really don't have much play once you back off the accelerator or you enter regenerative braking mode. I was able to "glide" a bit, but a few times I activated the regen before I actually wanted to by lifting off the accelerator too much by accident. Now I didn't have much time on the autobahn where you would typically use the glide mode as I was too busy testing the cars power. I was trying to activate the glide mode on secondary roads and that's not when you would typically use it so perhaps my lower speed made it more difficult for me to stay in glide mode. 


I liked the large analog gauges, the only complaint is that there is no numeric charge percentage on the main display, only a useless fuel-gauge like display. You can have the batteries charge percentage in a numeric display on the center stack display, but I'd prefer it front and center. I want an exact number staring me in the face so I know my SOC and therefore I know how far I can go. The fuel gauge type readout isn't precise enough. Leave it behind with gas cars please, we don't need that in an EV.The Nissan LEAF only has a fuel gauge like display without numeric readout and it is widely criticized by many LEAF owners. Most EV drivers agree they want the charge display presented in a numeric value, front and center. Hopefully this will be corrected in the BMW i3.

The ActiveE has a near 50/50 weight distribution and you can feel it in the handling. Even though it weighs a portly 4,000 lbs, it handled nimbly and feels very balanced. BMW purposely split the battery up into three separate blocks; one under the hood, one in the transmission tunnel and one behind the rear seats. They did this to keep the weight distribution even and you can feel it when you push the car into turns. 

Fit and finish is on par with any BMW product. They interior is well laid out, the seats very comfortable and the blue stitching on the white leather is a nice touch. There's not much legroom in the back seats, but coming from the MINI-E, just seeing a back seat is a treat. The heated seats worked well and the center information display has integrated navigation as well as displays things like state of charge, battery temperature, estimated range and whether the batteries are discharging or you are regenerating energy. 

In summary, the car is about what I expected. It's silky smooth to drive, handles great, is very comfortable and has four seats and a trunk. I know I'm going to be fighting my wife to drive it. As much as she liked the MINI-E, she didn't mind letting me drive it everyday. I don't think that's going to be the case when I get my ActiveE, she's going to want me to share a bit more with this one.  The MINI-E pioneers that transition into the ActiveE are going to love it, and so will the others that are lucky enough to get one. 

Update: I wrote a review for plugincars.com on the ActiveE. It can be found HERE.





Wednesday, September 28, 2011


BMW hasn't opened the application process for the ActiveE program yet, but it's obvious we are down to only a matter of weeks before they do. All along we've been told the program would begin "late 2011". We'll it's going to be October in a couple days so I think late is just about upon us.

Another clue that the ActiveE program is about to kick off is the recent update to the official BMW ActiveE website. BMW has dubbed the ActiveE lessees "Electronauts". I guess "Pioneers", the term they used for the MINI-E lessees was getting old!

I certainly don't mind it, but I think it's a little hooky. When the MINI-E program was launched in 2009, the participants really were pioneers. Other than a few Tesla Roadsters, and a bunch of homemade electric cars, we were basically the only people on the roads driving a 100% electric, highway capable car. We were definitely pioneers. However now there are thousands of Nissan LEAF's, Chevy Volts, a few thousand Tesla's and in a couple months there will be Ford Focus & Mitsubishi iMiev's on our roadways. In my opinion that takes a little edge off the whole pioneer/electronaut thing, since there are thousands of others out there already driving EV's that they own.

That's not to say we aren't pioneering, because we are. We definitely are on the leading edge of automotive technology and will be providing valuable information to BWM, allowing them to improve the hardware and driving experience so the 2013 BMW i3 will be the best EV available when it hits showrooms.

So soon I'll graduate from Pioneer to Electronaut(I wonder if they'll give me a diploma!). Do you have the right stuff to join me? If so get ready to take off soon....and apply HERE

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Current MINI-E Lessees Get The Facts on The BMW ActiveE

ActiveE @ NY Auto Show--note the name on the screen behind the car : )


One of the incentives that BMW offered the MINI-E pioneers in an effort to entice us to renew our leases for a second year, was that we would have priority placement to lease the BMW ActiveE when the program began. That was a big carrot, and one that no doubt made some people that might have been on the fence about renewing, do just that. 

Now that the ActiveE program is about six months from launching, and applications to apply for the program will begin sometime in the next few months or so, BMW reached out to the MINI-E lessees and organized private showings of the ActiveE, one for the East Coast, and West Coast. The private showings allowed all who attended to sit in the car and ask questions about it and the lease program and were followed by dinners hosted by BMW.

It was great to check out the car in person and Richard Steinberg and Aaron Singer of BMW spoke to the crowd for a bit and then answered questions from all of us. 

The car looks even better in person and I was really happy to see how the center stack information center displayed all the data electric car drivers want to see including state of charge represented in a percentage, unlike the Nissan LEAF's gas-gauge like bar system that doesn't give you the actual state of charge in a number, just 12 bars that reduce to 0 as you deplete the battery. I couldn't live with that, I want to see a number that I can easily translate to how many miles remaining I can drive.
Now the really great news. As part of the showings, BMW asked all of us to put our names in a hat and they picked a winner at each of the two events. The winner will get an ActiveE to drive for a week this summer, months before the program starts and the customers get their cars. I didn't win, but I still won. Huh? Well, before the drawing, I was told not to put my name in the hat, and that as a thank you for all I have been doing to help promote the ActiveE (like the live Facebook Q&A with Rich Steinberg) they are going to give me an ActiveE for a week this summer anyway and that I didn't need to enter the contest! Thank you Rich, Aaron, Marian & Hugo! It's really nice to be appreciated and I can't wait to get the car!

Anyway, here are some details for the MINI-E lessees. These do not apply to others that are applying for the ActiveE, just the current MINI-E lessees that are transitioning into an ActiveE. Additional details for everyone else, along with how to apply for the ActiveE program will be announced soon.

Current MINI-E Leases will be extended until the launch of the ActiveE so that MINI-E pioneers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted zero emission driving. You do not have to extend your lease past the two year mark to qualify for primary positioning to lease an ActiveE if you do not want to.

Details:

The ActiveE program will have NO MILEAGE restriction for any of the participants. You will be able to drive the car as much as you want to without any mileage penalty.

Unlike the MINI-E program, insurance WILL NOT be included. This lease is more like a traditional lease, except for the unlimited mileage and the fact that it is closed-end, meaning you cannot purchase the car when the lease is over.

MINI-E pioneers will be supplied and installed the new AeroVironment EVSE's for NO CHARGE and we can keep our existing Clipper Creek EVSE's.

While the lease price was announced at $2,250 down, and $499/month, you can put down more or less as you wish and the monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly. This means if you didn't wan to put down any money, your monthly payment would be $592.75. In NJ there is no sales tax on EV's so the $592.75 would be the actual payment, in other states, sales tax may apply.

BMW is using the $7,500 federal tax credit as a capitol cost reduction, meaning they took the tax credit and applied it to our payments to lower the overall cost to the lessees. Therefore we do not get to deduct it from our taxes, because we already got it in lower payments.

Wear & tear items like tires will not be covered in the lease like they were in the MINI-E program. All regular maintenance and repairs are covered, like they would be for any regular BMW.
The ActiveE can be ordered without the circuit graphics if desired. 

The car has a top speed of 90mph and is expected to have a similar 100mile range as the MINI-E, if not slightly more.



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AeroVironment to Supply EVSE for the BMW ActiveE


For a while many of the MINI-E pioneers wondered what wall charger(EVSE) would the ActiveE use. For the MINI-E trial lease program, BMW installed Clipper Creek EVSE's in the participants garages and that was one of the biggest challenges BMW faced in the whole MINI-E program, resulting from a combination of a lack of information and understanding by local electrical inspectors and the fact that the cables came separately from the wall units themselves, bringing into question whether or not the unit was still UL approved.

Now that more than two years have passed since the MINI-E program was conceived, a lot has changed in the EV world. One of the biggest things is that there is now an accepted connector standard adopted by the SAE which will be used on all new Electric Vehicles and it's called the J1772 connector. The MINI-E used a connector made by ODU, that would only work on the MINI-E and obviously that isn't the right way to do it, but BMW really had no choice back then because there was no accepted standard.

Now that we have a standard that the ActiveE will use, the MINI-E connector won't work so even the MINI-E pioneers transitioning into an ActiveE like myself need to either have their current clipper Creek equipment upgraded to include a J1772 connector, or have a entire new EVSE installed. BMW has decided to use AeroVironment for the ActiveE EVSE equipment and installations, in particular the EVSE-RS model. The good news is that once this is done, this new EVSE will then work on any future EV that they get, and there will be no need to do anymore upgrades. I think this is one of the reasons that BMW is going to pass the cost of the new EVSE onto the customers as opposed to including it in the lease price like they did with the MINI-E. They knew that after the MINI-E program ended, the equipment would be useless to us so they really couldn't charge us for it, that is not the case now as we can continue to use the new chargers long after the ActiveE program is over.

It would have been a nice bonus to get the EVSE for free, but I for one didn't expect it to be that way.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BMW ActiveE Facebook Q&A with Rich Steinberg and ME!



Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations for BMW North America asked me if I would participate in a live Facebook Q&A at the New York Auto show last week. The plan was for me to answer general questions about living with and driving an electric car because of my experience with the MINI-E, and Rich would answer questions specific the the BMW ActiveE, which was being introduced at the show.

BMW does these Q&A Facebook sessions frequently and they call them BMW Conversations. You can view all the past Conversations on the BMW USA Facebook group page.

I had a nice time doing it and got to talk to the whole BMW electric car team. Everybody is excited about the launch of the ActiveE and that includes me. It looked fantastic and will have features like active thermal management, the ability to precondition the cabin and batteries as well as four seats and a trunk. As much as I love my MINI-E, I think I'm going to love the ActiveE even more.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Have ActiveE Questions? BMW "Conversations" Has the Answers


The ActiveE is making its North American debut at the New York Auto Show tomorrow. To mark the event and to help answer questions the public has about the car, BMW has set up a live webcast Q&A on Facebook tomorrow, April 20th at 5:30pm EDT.

I was also asked to participate and will be there along with Richard Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations of BMW North America. Richard will be fielding the ActiveE specific questions, and I'll be answering questions that are more EV general, and explaining what it's like to live with an electric car.

You can even go to the Facebook page now and post a question as along with answering live questions, we will take some of the questions posted ahead of the live event and answer them also.

I know there are lots of questions, so BMW is giving you a chance to get the answers.

Questions will be answered by live on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BMWUSA ) under the "conversatons" tab, Tomorrow(4/20) at 5:30PM EDT/2:30 PM PST.

Monday, April 18, 2011

BMW ActiveE Lease to cost $499/month with $2,250 down


Count me in (as if that was ever a doubt!)...
BMW just announced the price is will cost to lease the ActiveE this fall. BMW is offering a 24 month lease that will cost just under $600/month when you add in the initial deposit of $2,250 and the monthly lease payment of $499.00.

This is very good news and Richard Steinbergs quote that the ActiveE pricing would be "competitively" priced to a Chevy Volt turned out to be accurate. 

Follow this link for the full press release.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

BMW ActiveE Pricing to be Announced Tomorrow at 1:00pm EDT

Well, according to this press release, BMW is finally going to give us the lease price for the ActiveE. Many of the MINI-E pioneers have been wondering what BMW is going to charge to be in the program for over a year now, since the ActiveE was initially announced. I've done my best to get it out of BMW, but it has been a tightly held secret.

Just so you don't have to look through the entire press alert, here's the line about the ActiveE:

Date & Time: Monday, April 18; 1:00 pm 
NEWS:
"US Introduction and pricing announcement of BMW’s first full-electric vehicle – the ActiveE"

So there you have it. Monday, April 18th at 1:00pm it is. All I can say, is it's about time!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

BMW ActiveE Live Conversations on Facebook April 20th

Want to get the latest ActiveE information and have your questions answered?

On April 20th at 5:30pm Eastern you can participate in a question and answer session live on Facebook. Richard Steinberg, Manager of Electric Vehicle Operations and Strategy at BMW asked me if I would participate in the Q&A session with him live from the New York Auto Show one week from today. I agreed and will be there with Richard talking about the impending launch of the ActiveE. BMW hasn't really released much information so far about the ActiveE, electing to wait for the NY Auto Show to announce the information about the lease program they are offering.

To participate,(or just watch) you need to log into your Facebook account and go to the conversations tab on BMW USA home page. The conversations tab can be found on the left side column but you may have to hit the "more" button first to view the "conversations" tab. Once there you can view the live video feed. You can even post questions a few days before the event (I think they are accepting questions starting tomorrow). BMW will review the questions submitted earlier and choose some of them for us to answer as well as questions coming in live during the event. If you miss the live broadcast, you can view it at the same location on the BMW FB page at a later time as they keep the conversations videos there for people to view at a later time.

I'll try to answer questions of the people I know (especially MINI-E pioneers!) but I'm not sure what kind of latitude I'll have in choosing the questions we answer. Feel free to also leave me a message if they're is something you would like discussed, I'll do what I can to introduce the topics people want to her discussed.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

BMW to Let MINI-E Drivers Preview ActiveE Mobile App

BMW has sent out emails to the MINI-E pioneers and offering us an exclusive look at the newly developed mobile app for ActiveE lessees. Unfortunately at this time it's only ready for iPhone users, Android users will have to wait a while before it's ready, but the email below confirms that it will be ready before the ActiveE launch. This is good news because BMW originally said they were only going to make an app for the iPhone, and not other operating systems. That prompted me to email a few folks over at BMW and to also post on the ActivateTheFuture forum that we need apps for other operating systems, at the very least and Android app since it has more users that ios. The good news is that BMW listened and they are making an app for Android, but it looks like Blackberry users will be left out. That would appear to be the reason why the iPhone app is ready to be previewed but the Android app isn't.

Below is the email that was just sent out to the MINI-E lessees:
ONLY THE MOST EXPERIENCED EV DRIVERS TEST OUR NEW APP. THANKS IN ADVANCE.  
Thank you for contributing to the development of the BMW EVolve mobile app. As a MINI E Pioneer, only you have access to trying it prior to its public release. If you have an iPhone®, simply sign up to preview the app. But don’t worry. BMW EVolve will be available for both iPhone® and Android™ smartphones once it goes live.

With the app, we want everyone to have access to data from their current driving habits to help determine if a BMW ActiveE or an upcoming BMW all-electric vehicle will be right for them. The app also provides access to exclusive EV driving tips provided by the experts, you. Best of all, this collective data will help BMW design future electric vehicles.

Friday, March 4, 2011

BMW "Born Electric" Commercial



After keeping pretty quiet about their future plans on electric cars in their product mix, BMW is starting to "talk the talk". Let's hope they walk the walk and produce world class electric cars!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

ActiveE lease price to be "Competitive with the Volt's $350 per month"


I hope Richard Steinberg wasn't misquoted when he told the the LA Times the ActiveE's lease price would be competitive with the Chevy Volt's $350 per month! After paying $800 per month the first year and then $600 per month the second year to lease the MINI-E, I wasn't too sure where BMW would set the lease price on the ActiveE. But I figured it would be in the $500-$600 area.

BMW had to understand that there are options now (Volt, LEAF) that were not there when the MINI-E program was launched. Back then, if you wanted to drive an electric car, you either spent $100,000 on a Tesla, built your own, or leased a MINI-E! They were the only game in town!  Luckily, things have changed and there are options. There is still a vocal group of people blasting BMW for not selling the ActiveE, and electing to continue the testing programs for another two years before the i3 hit the showrooms.

BMW knows what they are doing and really wants the first EV they sell, to be a purpose built electric car designed from the ground up, not just another retrofitted ICE conversions, which is really what the MINI-E and ActiveE are. That being said, I'm sure they could sell they could sell the ActiveE if they offered it, as they could the MINI-E. Plenty of the MINI-E pioneers have expressed interest in buying the car, but that is not going to be an option. Instead when the US program ends this year the cars will be refurbished and delivered to other countries of the world to allow new markets to get a taste of electric cars in advance of them being offered for sale there.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Project i Countdown Appears. Tomorrow Morning is Liftoff



Tomorrow morning at 9:15am eastern the countdown that BMW has started on the Project I website will hit zero. What information will be revealed? Will we get a better glimpse of the megacity vehicle? Will we finally get it's real name? How about ActiveE information? I'm sure there will be a lot of ActiveE talk, what wee we learn? Also, what details will we learn about the new BMW sub brand that the megacity will be launched under? It's less than 20 hours away now and hopefully we can get answers to some of the questions we've been debating for the past year or so. I think this is the beginning of the new marketing strategy BMW is going to employ. Instead of keeping things quiet about their electric car plans, they are now going to let us know what they have been working on since Project i began.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BMW Interactive ActiveE Website Goes Live


The information keeps coming as BMW just yesterday made a new interactive ActiveE site available. There's everything you need to know about the ActiveE other than the cost of the lease which hasn't been announced yet. You can even print out a complete sales brochure (look at the bottom of the page for the catalogue icon)

Friday, February 11, 2011

BMW ActiveE Video

Click on the link below to view an 18 minute ActiveE video:
BMW ActiveE Video

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Production Photo's of the ActiveE Appear

The internet was a buzz today with photos of what appears to be the actual production version of the BMW ActiveE. I knew we were going to be getting something soon, since these cars are due to begin production in the very near future. No new technical details have been released, but the photos reveal some subtle changes from the original prototype. I do like the use of the less obvious silver graphics, the bright blue was a bit loud for my taste. The hood now has a bump in it. If you look at the picture of technical layout of the car, you'll see BMW has put a block of batteries under the hood which accounts for the slight bump. Also the wheels are completely different, as is the front grill, also something I expected. You never see prototype wheels actually make it to production.  I'm sure we'll be getting more news soon as the ActiveE program is really about to accelerate as we draw closer to the application process.
Click on the photos below to enlarge them.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BMW North American President Jim O'Donnell Gives Diesel Thumbs up, Electric Cars Thumbs Down!


In what I would call nothing short of shocking, (to me at least) BMW North American President Jim O'Donnell basically said Electric cars are rubbish. He said only the early adopters of LA are really interested and electric cars are "a niche that can only be used in the city" and "there's no point living in the country and having an electric car"
Really?? Maybe he should look at my file and see where I'm driving his MINI-E #250!!!
I don't want to really harp on this. Nothing good can come out of it. I just wonder how his bosses in Munich feel about airing this strong opinion. I really don't think this opinion is shared by the brain trust over there. If so, they are certainly spending a lot of money on a technology that is "all hype"

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BMW Film: The Future Just Isn't What It Used To Be


The second of four short films by BMW about the future of mobility is now available to view HERE. Every Tuesday in February a new one will be made available at the BMW activate the future website.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BMW Film: The New City


The first of four films about the future of mobility is now available HERE. I'm in one of the scenes but didn't say anything. Peder Norby, one of the other MINI-E pioneers I am with has a nice role talking about parking and how much space cars really take up.

The other three films will be available at the site soon, with a new one released every Tuesday in February. I'm not sure how many of the films Peder, Todd & I will be in, but we talked about a wide variety of things so I think they could fit us into all the films if they wanted to. Actually, I was thinking we wouldn't be in the first one at all because we didn't really talk too much about future cities but they did get us in there a bit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

BMW Announces a Series of Four Short Films on the Future of Mobility


BMW is stepping up their promotion of their Efficient Dynamics program and electric car plans. They have made a series of four short films that feature people like astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the CEO of Virgin Galactic George Whitesides, VP of consumer products at Google Marissa Mayer and a host of other notable personalities. I'm even in there for a bit talking about my experiences driving an electric car for nearly two years now. BMW had me fly out to LA to talk with two other MINI-E drivers, Peder Norby and Todd Crook on camera about out thoughts on the "electric " future. The four films will all be released online in February, but you can view the trailer by clicking HERE. Oh, and when the films come out, let me know how my "acting" was, I think I could get used to living the "Hollywood" life! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

BMW Launches ActiveE Forum


BMW has launched an ActiveE forum where information, questions, answers and discussions about the car can be found. I have been one of the few people that had access to the forum before it went live today and started some threads and posed questions that will hopefully inspire discussion. This is just the first step in bringing the ActiveE to the public and many more interesting things are soon to be announced.

Follow this link to the forum, then register and join the conversation. The future of mobility is on the horizon!