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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We Are The 99%


BMW called the MINI-E lessees "Pioneers". I didn't really like it at first, kind of found it to be a bit hokey, but after living with the car for a while, dealing with its issues, re-learning everything I knew about how to live with, refuel and drive an automobile, I warmed up to the Pioneer name and eventually embraced it. Just as I got used to the Pioneer thing, the MINI-E program ended.  Now that I'm driving the ActiveE, the next step in BMW e-mobility, BMW has decided to call the drivers "Electronauts". Again, I'm finding it a bit hard to embrace and maybe in time I will, just as I did before. Some people in the program have referred to the ActiveE lessees as the "700 Club". Not because we are affiliated with any particular religious group that uses that name, but because there will be 700 ActiveEs leased here in the US. I figured with all these names being thrown around, I'll throw one out there too, the "99%ers".

Now before anyone thinks I'm connecting the ActiveE to the Tea Party or the people that have been occupying areas all over the country, I'm not. I'm calling us the 99%ers because it seems the car won't charge past 99%! Every day when I start my journey, the car begins not at 100%, but at 99% and sometimes even at 98%. I have talked to others driving the ActiveE and they have said they are experiencing the same thing. At first I thought it had something to do with preconditioning the car but that's not the case. Now that it's warmed up a little, I haven't been using the preconditioning and I still get the same thing. Occasionally when it finishes charging, I will see it momentarily hit 100%, but before I can even roll one foot forward it drops to 99%. I'm sure this is some kind of software program that prevents the car from over charging and it just needs to be tweaked a bit to allow just a bit more charging before it shuts off the charger.

It may seem like a trivial thing, but it's really not. On days that I need to push the limits of the car I like to start out the day driving as conservatively as possible, saving every ounce of energy and preserving the state of charge from needlessly dropping faster than it has to. With the MINI-E, I used to see how far I could drive from my house before the SOC dropped to 99%, Some days I could make it nearly two miles if I really feathered the accelerator. It was a little game I played and I enjoyed it. With the ActiveE, I'm not out of the garage and it's 99% and sometimes I don't get out of my 350' long driveway before it's at 98%. It's not that the car isn't efficient, because I'm getting at least as good a range as I did with the MINI-E, and maybe better. It's that the car just doesn't allow itself to be completely 100% charged.

I know I'm nitpicking here. But seriously, the ActiveE is such a great EV I need to nitpick to come up with things that BMW needs to work on and refine for the i3 and this is one of them. The purpose of this program is to fully vet the components and software so the i3 is rock solid. So here's one for the BMW engineers/code writers to get to work on. I want the car to charge fully to 100% every time!

Until then, we are the 99%!

12 comments:

  1. Interesting. I'm sure BMW reads your blogs Tom

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  2. Well if the 100% indication is very, very accurate, than as soon as you you've used any of the stored energy (even moving 1 foot) it should drop to 99%. Precision German engineering?

    I suspect a more likely cause is that the battery charging software is managing many variables to maximize both stored energy and battery life (e.g., not overcharging) and the 98-99% charges reflect this.

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  3. "Well if the 100% indication is very, very accurate, than as soon as you you've used any of the stored energy (even moving 1 foot) it should drop to 99%."


    This seems logical, and very german :)

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    1. Actually after talking with some BMW folks about this, you might have the correct explanation. I think al soon as the car is 99.9% charged, the state of charge meter drops to 99%. That would explain what I could get in the car and see 100% SOC if the car literally just stopped charging but if I waited a while after it finished charging it would start out at 99% SOC due to the slight parasitic load the car has even while it's powered down and resting.
      I don't like this. I'd prefer if BMW changed the software to display the number rounded up. This way it would read 100% charged until the SOC fell below 99.5% Yes, I'm nitpicking here, but every day I start out at 99% charged. I want to see 100% when I start out in the morning.

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  4. That would bother me too. Maybe it's my OCD, but I'd want it to go about a mile before it dropped a percent if it does have a 100 mile range. Every one % drop in the gauge should represent the same amount of energy use.

    As for what the above comments say about 99% vs 100%: if the car is 99.99% charged I think it's more accurate to call it 100% charged, there has to be a rounding up or down point. Anyway what he's explaining here is that most of the days it simply starts at 99% after charging and I'm sure thats not what the BMW engineers want.

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  5. Yeah they need to fix that.

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  6. Tom,point you could order a handful of "we are the 99%" from Commondreams.org. put one on your car and then give the rest to your buds at BMW to make your point ;)

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  7. Since both Henry Ford and T Edison saw EV's as the best thing for the American masses (book Internal Combustion by Edwin Black) you are indeed helping the 99% of Americans by being such an active and informative early adopter of modern EV's.

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  8. Boy Tom, for being so open minded to support such an important but challenging of the status quo as EV'S I'm surprised at how narrow a discussion you allow on your blog :/

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    1. Craig, I just saw your three comments in my spam folder and removed the spam tag so they posted. I don't know how that happened because the blog is set to "post all comments" but evidently your comments are being seen as spam by Blogspot.

      I don't know why that happened but I can assure you I don't filter the comments. Anyone can post anything they have to say and I only delete comments that are spam/advertising or have inappropriate language. I allow all discussions even if people don't agree with me. Sorry your comments didn't post when you sent them.

      Tom

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  9. I read somewhere (not on the ActiveE though) that this is as designed...the EV engineers had factored in as soon as you drive-off you will get into a regenerative recharge when approaching your first stop (sign/light).

    Maybe the engineers didn't know what to do if the battery was at 100% and that it was still pulling in regenerative energy. I guess it doesn't have a waste-gate like in a turbo system.

    Therefore (I'm guessing) that remaining 1% is left as a reserve open charge for the regenerative energy for the first stop?

    Saves you that 1% of electrical charge at home.

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    1. That's not it Will. I've talked to some of the BMW people and it's just a software thing. I think that once any of the modules reach 100% the car stops charging, but not all of them are 100%. Then they balance out and average 98 or 99% charged and the meter displays the proper average.

      What you are mentioning needs to be addressed also, but it's a bit more complicated than this.

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