|This adds new meaning to "Have it your way at Burger King"|
Am I getting dumber with age? Maybe. Am I taking more risks than I did when I was new to driving EVs? Perhaps. Is the range meter on the ActiveE less accurate than it was on the MINI-E? No, it's actually much more accurate than the MINI-E's gauge was.
So why do I think it's now happened to me twice? We'll the first time was definitely forgivable and at the very least understandable. It was actually the day I picked up the car from BMW HQ. Yep, my first day with the car. I was driving all over that day, showing off the car to everybody and I wasn't really paying as close attention to the range as I should. Plus, one of the things that was cool about the MINI-E was it had a huge reserve. Once the remaining range meter hit zero, the car could still go anywhere from 10 to 20 miles! It was something that I loved and used frequently. The furthest I personally ever drove it passed zero was 18 miles. I assumed the ActiveE would have some kind of similar reserve, so when I set out home on that first day I knew I'd be cutting it close and would probably hit zero when I still had 2-3 miles to go, but I figured the car had to have at least 3 miles of reserve since the MINI-E had about seven times that. Anyway, it was a very cold night back on January 13th, about 25 degrees. I had the heater on and was driving normally figuring I'd just dip into the reserve to make the last few miles. Well when I was about six miles from home, I hit zero and about a half mile later a got the large yellow battery icon meaning the car was going to go into reduced power mode. Yikes! On the MINI-E I wouldn't see that warning until I drove at least ten miles passed zero, I didn't even drive a mile now! Then, less than a mile later, the car slowed down to a crawl. I thought I was doomed and would be calling a tow truck, but it made it over the top of a hill I was climbing and I was able to coast down the other side and into a gas station parking lot. It was about 1:00am so they were closed and I saw they had an outdoor vending machine. That was just what I needed because behind it there was an outlet I could use. I plugged in the 120v convenience charger and sat there for about an hour. I got it up to 5% which was enough to barely make it home.
When I ran out back in January I was surprised that BMW didn't leave a similar 'reserve' like they did with the MINI-E. I even considered writing the EV program mangers to suggest they revisit that for the i3, perhaps adding more of a reserve as an added safety net. Maybe they could have a switch you activate if you run out that has a 5 mile reserve or something like that. However once I started really thinking about it, I changed my mind. I don't want to keep a portion of the battery that I could use all the time hidden for the rare times I might need it. The battery is the most expensive part of an EV and I want to be able to use all of the usable portion of it! Many people are afraid to drive their EV even close to zero, so they would never realize the car's full range potential if the car had saved 5 or 10 miles for its reserve. Instead, I now believe zero should mean zero, just like it does on the ActiveE. If you are on flat ground you may be able to push it a few miles, but that's it. I would also like as part of the sales process to see the BMW i client advisers thoroughly explain this to potential customers. Make sure they know that zero means zero before they 'test the waters' like I did when I first got the car. I take the blame 100% for this latest misadventure though. I knew the car's limits but I pushed it anyway, and I paid the price. Even the healthiest golden retrievers need to be taken to the vet now and then.
I guess all I can say is...