Well not exactly, but close. With the US launch of the BMW i3 only a few weeks away, the ActiveE's days are numbered. Sure BMW will likely use some of the returning ActiveE's to add to the fleet of their car sharing service DriveNow, but the majority of the returned cars will likely be decommissioned. Many of the other “Electronauts” have already returned their ActiveE’s and moved on to other electric cars, while others are waiting for the launch of the i3. For the Electronauts that have i3's on order, BMW has allowed lease extensions so they can transition seamlessly into their new i3, which is what I am doing.
As much as I'm going to miss the ActiveE, this isn't the same as I felt when I had to return my MINI-E. I really loved that car. It wasn't as sophisticated as the ActiveE and it wasn't as well engineered. It didn't have heated leather seats or a thermal management system. You couldn't set it to precondition and it didn't have a back seat or a trunk. But....it was one helluva fun little car. With the ActiveE I feel a little like I traded in my sneakers and t-shirt for a pinstripe suit. Sure I may look better in the suit, but in my opinion the ActiveE lacked a little of the soul the MINI-E had. The ActiveE was definitely a great EV and had all the amenities and luxury you'd expect in a proper BMW, but to me something was missing.
|The ActiveE launch event at BMW HQ|
|My MINI-E was really a blast to drive|
|The i3's has more interior room than the AE|
|I drove my MINI-E to the ActiveE launch ceremony, and drove home in the ActiveE. BMW cleaned up the MINI-E and put it on display next to my ActiveE for the event.|
Is my indifference to returning the ActiveE primarily because it wasn't my first EV, or is it the fact that I believe the i3 is so much better than the ActiveE that I'm just looking forward to getting it so I've already mentally moved on. I really don't know, but I am glad this is my last forced-goodby. From now on, how long I have my electric car will be decided solely by how long I want to keep it, and not by a manufacturer that decided it's reached its expiration date. However I definitely do not regret participating in BMW's trial lease e-mobility programs at all, in fact it's been a fantastic ride. For the past five years I have had the opportunity to drive two great electric vehicles and I am really inspired by how far we've come since I got my MINI-E in 2009. Back when I got my MINI-E the only choice to drive electric was to buy a $110,000 Tesla Roadster or build your own EV. Now there are over a dozen cars that plug in and they range from a high end luxury sedan that goes 265 miles per charge to affordable PHEV's that are within many family budgets. The auto industry generally moves at a glacial pace, so even though many people aren't happy with how quickly (or slowly) EV's are advancing, what we have seen in the past half a decade is indeed a huge step forward. The electrification of the automobile industry is indeed underway, even if many people don't realize it just yet.