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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Back To Gas For a Day!

My loaner for the day, a 2011 328i
Just like the MINI-E trial, one of the conditions of the ActiveE program is that we have to bring the cars in every 5,000 miles for a scheduled service. It's a very comprehensive check up, and the technician really checks out everything on the car to make sure it's performing properly. They also have to take about a dozen pictures of various components in the car and send them directly to BMW.

My first 5,000 mile check up coincided with a trip I was taking to Las Vegas so I didn't need the car anyway and there was no need for a loaner. Manny Antunes of JMK BMW dropped the car off at my restaurant when the service was completed and it was waiting there for me when I came back from my trip. Since I passed 10,000 miles a couple weeks ago it was time to get the second service and this time I took advantage of JMK's loaner service.

Waiting for me when I dropped off EF-OPEC was a shiny blue 2011 328i. It's funny, the 3 series is one of the most successful sport sedans in automobile history. It has won numerous awards and is a benchmark that other automobile manufacturers strive to attempt to duplicate. However as I was driving it I couldn't help but feel like I was driving something radically inferior to what I have become accustomed to. I know that sounds terribly snobbish, but it really is how I feel when comparing the driving experience of it with how pleasurable the ActiveE is. The roar of the engine and vibrations felt right up through the steering wheel under heavy acceleration is just no match for the smooth, quiet eDrive system found in the ActiveE. 

EF-OPEC charging behind their demo
I know I'm not alone with this assessment either. I've heard very similar thoughts from other ActiveE drivers. Some of which are brand new to electric drive and in only a short period of time proclaim they are never going back to gas. It one of the main reasons I'm completely confident electric cars will play a major role in personal transportation in the near future. It may take a bit of convincing to get some folks to try it out, but once they have lived with an EV as nice as the ActiveE they'll be hooked!

Nice new sign
By the end of the day the service was completed and JMK called me to say I can come and pick it up. When I arrived it was plugged and charging right behind the dealer demo that my service adviser Manny Antunes told me he just leased. I also noticed they put up a new sign since my last visit reminding people not the park in front of their charger and 'ICE' it.

Typical of rental or loaner cars I had to replace the gas I used so I stopped at a gas station and put $10.00 in to bring it just about exactly to where the gauge was when I got the car. I drove it 41 miles and the trip computer said I averaged 18mpg during that time. That same 41 miles would have cost me about $2.00 in electricity for the ActiveE, just another reason to never look back.


  1. My friend let me drive his leaf for a couple days when he was out of town and I was very impressed. I can see how you would say what you do. I didn't drive it long enough to miss it when I went back to my car, but I know I did like the feeling of the electric motor and the torque on demand.

  2. Tom - I had the very similar reaction when my Active E was in for repair and I got a 328i loaner from Open Road BMW in Morristown. I had never driven a 328i and was sorta looking forward to driving one but once I got behind the wheel, I realized how much more I enjoyed the Active E and could not wait to get it back! And then of course, I had to stop and re-fill the tank on the loaner.... In fact, I hated the experience so much that the next time I had to bring it in, I waited until we were going to be out of the country on vacation for the week so I didn't have to mess with a loaner.

    There's so many things to like about this car but one of my favorites is perhaps never having to stop and fill-up at a gas station, particularly here in New Jersey where we aren't allowed (by law) to have self-serve stations. As a type A individual, it always drove me crazy to have to wait for the attendant to stroll over to my car to start the process and then wait for him to come back after my tank was full. Besides being able to avoid the time and nuisance of filling up at the gas station, it is really nice being able to take back control over that process. And while my daily commute is fairly short (~ 20 miles) and I don't really need to recharge it every night, I usually do it as a matter of routine since it only takes about 3 seconds to plug it in. It's so easy to do that my 8-year old daughter has insists on doing it every chance she can (though I'm sure the novelty will eventually wear off....)

    On another matter, could any of your readers chime in on whether they placed the faux chrome "Electronaught" emblem on the car and if so, where? I was considering doing something similar to what you had done to your car and removing the stickers from the left side of the trunk and putting it there but I've been holding back....

  3. I had the same experience last week. I am one of the unfortunate folks who gets the "drive train error" and my service light came on. So I had a 2011 328i for 2 days. I drive about 90 miles a day to commute to and from work - and I spent almost $40 in gas. I felt so dirty.
    To say nothing of the absolutely inferior ride, especially at low speeds. It felt like a big huge uncouth beast. And I've only driven about 2000 mi on my E! I think it has ruined me for gas cars.