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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Heat Is On!

My ActiveE is back where it belongs - charging in my garage, after being in for service for six days
I'm back in the saddle again. After six days of driving a BMW 128ix loaner while my ActiveE was in the shop to have the heater fixed I'm happy to report the heat is on and I'm back to driving on electrons.

I've written this before but it still surprises me how much I miss the car while it's in for service. In the past when I've had my gas cars being serviced I always kinda liked driving the loaner car for a few days. It gave me an opportunity to drive a car that I never had before and perhaps consider buying one in the future. I remember one time I had my Mercedes ML430 in for service and was given an E430 Sport to drive and almost bought afterwards one because I liked is so much. However when you're driving an electric car and you get a gas loaner, you really don't care what they give you, you just want your electric car back!

Range Anxiety - Gasoline Style!
That's not just me talking either. Many of the BMW ActiveE drivers have complained that they are "forced" to drive a gas BMW and would much rather drive a loaner ActiveE while their car is being serviced. I'd previously never heard of anyone demanding to have the same type of loaner car when their's in for service.  But electric vehicle drivers do. Once you've had the pleasure of driving electric, even premium automobiles like a BMW 5 series just doesn't feel the same anymore. You notice the loud noise of the engine, the herky-jerky transmission shifting and the vibrations right up through the steering wheel. Compared to the quiet, smooth driving experience of the ActiveE it just feels primitive. Nissan has had the same requests when LEAF owners have the car in for service too and many Nissan dealers have been meeting that request with LEAF loaners.

I hope BMW is listening to their customers and figures out a way to offer their i3 customers loaner i3's while their car is being serviced. That would definitely be part of the "premium electric driving experience" that I expect from BMW. I know it's not easy because they have to get their dealerships on board and here in the US, the dealerships are independently owned and the manufacturer has limited power over them with matters like what kind of loaner cars they provide. I'm not even sure BMW can force their dealers to offer any loaner if the dealer doesn't want to, but that would be a very bad decision and would certainly hurt any dealership if they decided they wouldn't provide loaner cars to their clients. However I'm sure some savvy dealerships will certainly realize this is a great perk and offer i3's as loaner cars and they will end up selling more i3's then their competitors I can guarantee it. In fact I will certainly have this conversation with my current dealer, JMK BMW before I buy my i3 and hopefully I can convince them that it is a smart business decision to do so.

My car charging up at JMK BMW
Speaking of JMK BMW, I'd like to give them a shout out because of the exceptional service they provide me. My client adviser Manny Antunes and my service adviser Hilario Soares are always right on top of things and give me great service whenever I visit the dealership. I'm very happy I chose to get my ActiveE from JMK even though it's not the closest dealer to my home. As always my car was 100% charged and thoroughly cleaned when I picked it up. Thanks guys!

5 comments:

  1. Happy to hear your back in the drivers seat Tom. I read about the active-e recall today, do you have to now bring it back for the recall fix?

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  2. Hi Robert,

    Thank you. No, my car isn't involved in the recall. Actually only 360 of the 700 ActiveE's are included in it so I'm good to go. Thanks for the comment!

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  3. Regarding getting a loaner vehicle, I don't think it's so much a matter of BMW "forcing" the dealers to loan out a car. Money talks, and the carmaker can simply offer XXX dollars to the dealer for loaning you the car, the same way they pay the dealer for a warranty repair. When I brought my Volt in for some issue, the dealer lent me a car but they were charging money back to GM for it -- I saw the line item on the service paperwork.

    Now, that loaner was just an ICE -- actually a big ass pickup, that was pretty funny! They might not be able to force the dealers to loan out an EV, but money talks and they can simply offer a higher reimbursement rate to the dealers that do provide an EV loaner.

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  4. Chris, Yes you are certainly correct and they can offer a financial incentive for the dealers to do so. What I meant by forcing is I don't think it's legal here in the US for a manufacturer to dell a dealer that they have to offer a specific type of car as a loaner vehicle for their customers while their car is in for service. If it was legal they could simply tell the dealers that they don't get to sell the i brand if they don't keep EV's in their loaner stable.

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  5. Hey Buddy! You must have missed your car! I can actually relate to your predicament. When you get used to your car, you will think that there is no better auto next to it, especially if she’s been with you in every season of your life. So, I wished you will not encounter any malfunction with your car in the future. Drive safely!

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