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Showing posts with label Charging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Charging. Show all posts

Friday, July 12, 2013

Chasing Jack Brown

I hung a picture of Jack in my car during the 24 hour driving and charging marathon, just to keep me focused on the goal

Ever since the MINI-E program started back in 2009 the trial lease participants of that program and now the ActiveE program have had all kinds of informal competitions. Things like who could drive the furthest on a single charge, who could get the lowest consumption rate and even who could push their car the furthest past the electronically governed speed limit(Hint: You need a long, steep hill for this one).

4:00am: Getting juiced @ a Nissan dealer
I was the "most mileage" leader for the MINI-E program, driving over 73,000 miles in the 2 1/2 years months I had my MINI-E. That was one of the reasons BMW chose me to have the honor of being the first person to take delivery of an ActiveE. So when the ActiveE program started, there were plenty of people that came out saying they were gunning to dethrone me and be the ActiveE mileage king. Todd Crook, Dennis Pascual and Jack Brown in particular proclaimed they were going to do so and drive their ActiveE more than anyone else. There is still a lot of time left but they have a lot of ground to make up if they do want to pass me. I have 51,000 miles on my ActiveE with 6 months left and Dennis is the closest to me with 36,000 miles. They would have to significantly increase their driving and at the same time hope for my untimely demise to pass me at this point I'm afraid. :)

Jack was no match for Mariel's power
However total mileage isn't the only coveted driving "record" for the ActiveE drivers. The most miles driven in a 24 hour period recently became a challenge when Jack set out to drive his ActiveE from his home in the Bay area to Los Angelos in 24 hours. He even detailed his driving experience in a blog called "The Bay to LA in a Day in my BMW ActiveE" Jack completed his mission and in 24 hours drove his ActiveE 368 miles, more than anyone else had done in a 24 hour period. Then recently BMW started an online site for ActiveE owners that listed the leaders in total mileage and also in "most miles driven an a day". That's when the fame seemed to go to Jack's head. He started posting all over the internet how he's the 24 hour mileage king and how nobody can beat him. He even became uber-competitive now and always challenges the other ActiveE drivers to any competition he can think of whenever he meets up with them. At a recent ActiveE meet he even challenged Electronaut Mariel Knoll to an arm wrestling match. Now Jack's a big man but Mariel's a tough cookie and fortunately for the rest of us, she aptly pinned Jack down for the win and quieted him for a while.

1st stop: 1:30am at Nauna's to plug in
So I figured if I could beat his 24 hour mileage record that might be enough to really put him in his place. I set out with a fully charged car at 12:00am exactly. I did the math and while I figured it is possible, it would be tough for a couple reasons. First it was going to be a hot day, above 90 degrees in fact so I'd have to use the air conditioning. Normally that doesn't matter because it doesn't have a huge impact on my range, but in this case I'd be trying to squeeze out every mile so any loss would hurt. Also, now that I have over 50,000 miles and have charged the car 1,200 times, my battery capacity has shrunk by about 10% so my range isn't as good as Jack's was when accomplished the feat. Still I figured if I drove efficiently I would have a chance to beat him.

Lots of coffee was consumed
It didn't happen. After driving, charging, driving, charging for 24 hours, I rolled into my garage at 11:59pm with 353.6 miles on the trip computer. I had a few setbacks like needing to work a bit while the car was finished charging and having to stop for a short time at my parents house to help them with something, so I think if I did it again I could add another 20 miles or so and beat him. However I'm not sure I want to do that again. Driving just for the sake of driving can be a bit boring, I can assure you!

Is this really who we want representing us?
So for the time being Jack's record is safe and the rest of the Electronauts will likely be subject to his continued boasting. If I get the motivation back up perhaps I'll try it again in September when I won't need the air conditioning, but maybe someone else will have beaten it by then and I won't feel the need to subject myself to this grueling effort again.

My trip computer data. I drove for 7 hours and 44 minutes so the car was charging for 16 hours and 16 minutes. If the ActiveE could quick charge on direct current it would have been a totally different story and we could probably drive close to 800 miles in a day. I'm looking forward to that as an option in the i3.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Back in the Driver's Seat

Just wanted to post a quick update to my last post. I picked up my ActiveE yesterday and so far so good. Today was a very hot day and I was able to charge without any GFCI faults on my public ChargePoint charger. That's the one that was giving me the GFCI faults on hot days, and today being well in the 90's would have definitely given me a fault if I hadn't had it in for service.

So hopefully BMW has figured this one out and will correct the problem the rest of the ActiveE fleet as they go in for service. More importantly, they make sure the i3 and i8 don't also have these GFCI faults.

As you might imagine, I'm very happy to be back to driving on sunshine! :)

Monday, April 8, 2013

One Year ActiveE Anniversary Marked By Meet-Up's On Both Coasts

I hosted the East Coast meet at my restaurant in Montclair, NJ
To mark the one year (and midway point) of the ActiveE field trial, meets were organized on both the East and West Coast on Sunday, April 7th, by some of the Electronauts. Here on the East I put together the event and out in California a few people including Jack Brown, Andre Deocares-Lengyel and Mariel Knoll did so. The East Coasters met at my restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey and out West they met at the Blue Skye Coastal Cafe. California is such a big state it's really difficult to have only one meet and allow for everybody to make it. On the East most people could get to my place on a single charge, except really for the Electronauts in Massachusetts and Connecticut. I did have someone come from Connecticut which was a 312 mile round trip and as always Don Young made the trip from Shelter Island, NY which is about a 140 miles each way. I appreciate everyone who came, but especially those who drove hundreds of miles and had to stop along the way for hours to recharge just so they could be here.

The ActiveE cake!
We had 15 ActiveEs come, as well as a brand new Model S, a Honda Fit EV, a Tesla Roadster, a Mitsubishi iMiEV and a Zero electric motorcycle. The weather cooperated and was clear and even made it up to 60 degrees which is actually cool for this time of the year, but lately we have had much colder than normal weather so 60 degrees was definitely a win for us. I ordered a custom cake that was made in the shape of an ActiveE and it was a big hit. We met for about two and a half hours and talked amongst ourselves as well as to curious onlookers who stopped by to check out the cars.

We even had three representatives from BMW's ActiveE technical team come and join in. BMW always sends representatives when we host these meets and it's really appreciated. While they can't offer privileged technical information, they are able to answer questions about service related problems and such. At one point they even pulled out a computer and hooked up to one of the cars to download information saving the owner a trip to his dealer which made his day. This kind of participation is really great.

The West Coasters: Photo by Joel Bartlett
Out on the West Coast they met for brunch and some good photo-ops before heading out. Most of the people who went had traveled well over a hundred miles so they had to make stops along the way to charge. At least one dedicated Electronaut drove about 500 miles for the round trip and had to leave the day before just to make it. That just proves California is just too big and we really need to chop it up into three states! ;)

One thing that was said frequently was how it's hard to believe the program is already half over and many don't want to think about giving up their ActiveEs. This all sounds too familiar to me. I can remember lamenting over the thought of giving up my beloved MINI-E but then the ActiveE came along and helped take the edge off turning it in. Will the i3 offer that same relief? I suspect for me it will but many of the others at the meet aren't 100% convinced yet. The non-traditional BMW styling and the lack of much information on the car even as the launch is less than a year away has many Electonauts wondering what their next move will be. I think if the i3 does deliver the same or better range as the ActiveE (94 EPA range rating) then many will transition from the ActiveE right into the i3, but the range is on everybody's mind now. The fact that the battery is so much smaller than what we have in the ActiveE has many concerned, even though it's a much lighter car. On a day like today when people were driving long distances to get together the need for range and a robust infrastructure really stands out.

The ActiveE East Coast team

Monday, March 11, 2013

Rolling Past 40k

Gotta love these unlimited mile leases! I put about 73,000 miles on my MINI-E in the 2 1/2 years I had it, and I've just passed 40k on my ActiveE on day 420 of my two year lease. That's a 95 miles per day average for a car that is EPA rated at 94 miles per charge, so yeah I plug in a lot.

I've actually plugged in and charged 902 times so I average about 44 miles between plugging in. That's primarily because I can plug in and charge at work, which happens to be about 41 miles from my house, otherwise my average distance between plugging in would be much more and I probably wouldn't have so much miles. Workplace charging is definitely the most useful place to be able to plug in, after home of course. It really liberates you during the day, knowing you are only a couple of hours from being back to fully charged once you arrive at work, and in most cases you'll be at 100% before you even break for lunch. 

That's why I think it is such great news to read about the DOE's EV Everywhere and their Workplace Charging Challenge which is aimed to get major corporations involved in installing EV charging equipment for their employees. Over the course of the past couple of years I've written letters and spoken to facility managers for large local companies that have big parking lots to encourage them to consider EV charging stations. I've had varying degrees of success from call-backs and even commitments to no response at all, but with the DOE getting behind the effort I'm sure progress will be made. Having a place to plug in at work will most certainly help put more electric cars on the road. 

So after 40,000 miles the car is still performing flawlessly. No problems to report in the past ten months or so other than the cabin heater issue I had which was resolved last month. I've been analyzing my charts and I don't really see any noticeable range degradation but once it warms up a bit and I drive it in 70 degree weather I can make a better assessment. I plug in frequently in the colder weather so it's harder to tell if you've lost much capacity. When it warms up I stretch out the range a bit and drive it 80-100 miles often. That's when I can really compare it to last year's data. I'm sure the battery has lost some capacity after 40,000 miles and over 900 recharges, but it isn't really showing up much that I can casually tell. I doubt if I have lost any more than 4% or 5% of the original range. I don't think I'd be saying that if I lived in battery-unfriendly Arizona, although with the ActiveE's thermal management system I'm sure it would fare better than the Nissan LEAF's seem to be doing there. 

I would also like to announce that I'll be hosting another ActiveE meet at my restaurant in Montclair, New Jersey. At last year's event we had 22 ActiveEs show up and I'm hoping to top that this year. The meet will be on Sunday, April 7th from 10:30am to 12:30pm. I have three level 2 chargers on site and there are five more public chargers within a mile of the restaurant. It is the perfect place to hold an electric car meet because there are more public chargers within close proximity here than any place in New Jersey. I'll be inviting the BMW electric vehicle program managers as I have for past meets and even though this isn't an official BMW event, they always show up for support and to answer questions. So if you have an ActiveE and can make the drive here, please come. If you don't have an ActiveE and just want to check out the cars and talk to the drivers, consider yourself invited! I'll post a reminder a week or so before the event.

Just some of the 22 ActiveEs we had last at last year's event.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Point of No Return

Plugged in and charging 120v at Buttermilk Falls Inn & Spa, in Milton, NY
Months ago when my wife told me we would be going to her cousin's wedding this September and that it was in upstate New York, I assumed we'd be taking our gas car. The reason being most of upstate NY is well out a a single charge range for the ActiveE and I really didn't think we'd want to stop on the way for a couple hours (both ways) just so we could take the ActiveE.

The portable 120v EVSE charging me up
Then one day about a month ago my wife asked me if I had wanted to take the ActiveE or her Equinox to the wedding. She said she checked with Google Maps and the Inn where it was being held was a little over 90 miles from our house so in theory it was possible to take the ActiveE. I then went to my computer and started looking at the route, the elevations and if there were any possible charging stations in case of an emergency. I found a Nissan dealer that was on the way, actually only about fifteen miles from the Inn where the ceremony was being held. So I then really started thinking about it. Next I had to call the Inn where we were staying and ask if they had any 120v outlets near the parking area where I could plug into while I was staying there. They did and told me I was welcome to plug in and charge while I was there.

The property was really beautiful
OK so the trip was doable, at least on paper. The problem was I couldn't run out on the way there under ANY circumstance. My wife was part of the ceremony and I would never have heard the end of it if she didn't make her cousin's wedding because my electric car ran out of juice. The trip was practically all highway, and 75-85mph is the average flow of traffic along this route and to make matters worse there were very little flat roads, it was all up and down hills and that really kills the range of the ActiveE. So I started to feel a little uneasy about the trip, even knowing I could stop if necessary about 82 miles in at the Nissan dealer provided they let me use their charger. Then as the day approached, I noticed the weather forecast was for rain, another obstacle as driving in the rain will also cut into your range. It wouldn't take many miles off the range, but I knew I wouldn't have many to spare so I got back on the computer and looked up a different route. I found that by leaving from my restaurant, I'd cut about 15 miles off the trip so I decided to drive to the restaurant, top off and start the journey from there.

Drafting for a bit!
Once we started out it didn't take me long to realize we would make it with power to spare. I was driving about 70mph in the slow lane and while most cars were passing me, they weren't blowing by me and I didn't feel like I was holding up traffic at all. I even hooked up behind a tractor trailer for a bit and drafted for about 20 miles.  Once I saw we were half way there and I still had about 60% state of charge I realized we were in good shape and I moved into the middle lane and started driving about 75mph. We made it there with 13% SOC remaining. I found the outlet they said I could use and I plugged in. Mission accomplished - or so I thought.

The building the outlet was on looked old and I was concerned about overloading the circuit so I set the convenience charger to charge at the lower setting. I have never charged at this setting before so I really didn't know just how slow it would charge at. I know on the high speed setting the car will charge about 4-5% per hour (as opposed to 18-20% per hour when charging on a 240v supply) so I figured I'd monitor the charging and if it was taking too long I'd set it on the high speed and hope it didn't trip the circuit breaker. The next morning I checked the car and it was only at 42%. WOW this thing charges slowly on the low 120v setting! However I still had plenty of time as I wasn't leaving till the next morning.

The tents where we held the ceremony
Then came the trouble. It started raining, well really pouring like crazy. A few hours later I checked on the car and it was no longer charging. The GFI tripped on the outlet so I reset it and it began charging again however when I checked it again an hour later it was tripped again. So now I was concerned. I still had plenty of time, but I needed to get the car up to about 85% to feel confident I'd make it back to the restaurant - going home was out of the question. All afternoon this went on and I reset the outlet about ten times. By nighttime, after the wedding, the car was only at about 55% and still tripping the GFI. I then figured I had no choice but to set it at the higher charging rate and hope I didn't trip the actual circuit breaker because I'd then have to get somebody from maintenance to reset it so I could continue charging. I set it at the high rate and went off to my room to go to sleep.

I had to keep resetting the GFCI
When I woke up in the morning I immediately went out to check it and as I walked up tot the car I could see the charging indicator light wasn't blinking so I knew either the GFI tripped or I blew the circuit breaker. I went to the outlet and saw the GFI reset button was tripped so that was good news. I reset it and the car started charging again. I opened the door and saw I was now up to 75%. Not great, but close to where I needed to get. We were still going to be there for about 5 hours so I had time provided the car continued to charge. After breakfast I checked and it was tripped again. I was now up to 81% and very close to what I needed. After checking it every half hour and resetting it two more times I was finally able to get it to the 85% I wanted before we had to leave with no time to spare.

As I rolled into the parking lot of my restaurant, the state of charge was zero. A few minutes earlier I had considered stopping at a public charger two miles away because I only had 1% left but I just drove slowly the last mile and made it. I had never relied on the 120v convenience charger to make a long trip before and I'm not sure I'd do it again unless I had plenty of time to deal with unexpected charging challenges. I've heard a lot of other ActiveE drivers complain about issues charging with the 120v portable charger also. Sometimes the car simply won't charge with it and I suspect that happens if the power delivery isn't within parameters. Perhaps the location has a low or high voltage problem and the car won't accept it. When you get past the point of no return with an EV, the point where you can't make it home without charging somewhere you need to feel comfortable that you'll be successful charging. While I do feel confident when charging on proper level 2 charging stations, I don't feel good about charging the ActiveE on 120v. I don't know if it's the car, or the portable convenience charger itself, but I would like to see improvement on this when BMW launches the i3.

Off to the next electric adventure...  :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Deuces Wild

It took me 225 days to hit 22,222.2 miles on the odometer so I'm just shy of averaging 100 miles per day. However if you factor in that the car has been in for service about 10 days, I went on vacation and there were a couple days that I just didn't drive it, I'm really averaging about 110 miles for every day I actually drove the car. That's a lot of driving and a lot of plugging in for an electric car with an EPA rating of 94 miles per charge. If you add it to the 73,531 miles I put on my MINI-E, I've now driven 94,753 all electric miles since entering BMW's electric vehicle program in 2009. Sometime in October I'll pass the 100,000 all-electric miles mark and I'm thinking that's an exclusive club to be in!

The BMW i3 launches next year
The ActiveE has been pretty much everything I expected it to be. It's a very competent, capable electric vehicle that has decent power and handles remarkably well for a 4,000lb car. Granted it's not quite as fast or as nimble as its gasoline 1 series counterparts, but all things considered it performs very well. It's comfortable to drive and the cabin is exceptionally quiet, even for an EV.  I really can't wait to see how this powertrain performs in the BMW i3 when they launch it next year. It will have the same motor and electronics as the ActiveE, with the same 184lb-ft of torque and 170hp, yet it will weigh about 1,300lbs less. That should make the i3 driving experience much better.

I've charged my ActiveE 482 times and have averaged 92.41 miles per charge with an average consumption rate of 3.37mi/kWh. My miles-per-charge is calculated by using the amount of energy used, the miles driven and the battery's state of charge when I plug back in, I don't use the car's 'estimated remaining range,' as my method is much more accurate. I record this data every time I plug in so I now have 482 journal entries that have spanned from the cold January nights to the hot July afternoons. The lowest two-week average driving range was in January and I averaged 80 miles per charge. The highest two-week average was 99 miles per charge which happened in June when it was warm, but not too hot that I needed to use the air conditioning. Since the end of June I have left the A/C on constantly, and doing so seems to have shaved about 6 miles per charge off my range.

I still get stopped all the time and asked about the car, this hasn't changed from way back in my MINI-E days. The difference I am finding is that many people now are a bit more educated about electric vehicles. In the past people looked at me like I had two heads when I told them my car was 100% electric and not a hybrid. Now they are generally less surprised and some even know a lot about electrics, and that wasn't the case at all only a year or two ago. For instance last night a woman saw my car charging in the parking lot of my restaurant and asked me about it. I was surprised that she said she heard that electric cars were going to have to make artificial noise at low speeds (vehicle pedestrian alerts) because they are so quiet. She also knew about DC quick charge and that there is currently a bit of a dispute over which plug the quick charge will use (CHAdeMO which is the Japanese standard vs. the SAE combo plug which will soon be formally adopted as the North American standard). Conversations like this were non existent only a few months ago for all but the most hardened EV supporters. The fact that regular people who I come across in every day life know about this stuff is very promising, because to me it means they are interested in EVs, or they wouldn't have bothered to read about and understand these things.

Even though the ActiveE is a converted gas car and compromises were made, it's still a great daily driver. I've driven gasoline 1 series BMW cars and while I did enjoy them also, I wouldn't trade them for the ActiveE. That's saying a lot because the 1 series platform was not designed to be an electric car. BMW had to chop it apart and retro fit the electric drivetrain and battery system and it's STILL a great car. Many of the people leasing them already are beginning to beat the "Let us buy our ActiveE" drums, just like the MINI-E pioneers did. That's not going to happen though, and we will have to return them when our 24 month lease is up. All I can say to those who feel that way is wait and see what the production i3 has to offer first. I loved my MINI-E and when I had it I couldn't imagine the ActiveE would be better but it really is a much more complete, refined electric car. From what I'm told the i3 will be an even bigger upgrade from the ActiveE than the ActiveE was from the MINI-E. That's going to be tough to accomplish, but I'm anxiously waiting to see. For now I'll keep on racking up the miles and enjoying the ride!

2 Good 2 Be True?

225 days to drive 22,222.2 miles.
I've plugged in 482 times.
I've averaged  92.41 miles per charge.
It's cost me roughly $1,200 in electric to power my car 22,222.2 miles. If I had a gas BMW 1 series(128i) it would have cost me roughly $4,200 in gas to drive the same amount of miles. A $3,000 savings in 7 months!
The car has a 32 kWh battery pack.
I've run out of charge 2 times so far and needed to plug into a 120v outlet for a while just to make it home.
I installed 2 public chargers in my restaurant's parking lot so patrons to charge up.
I've averaged 46.2 miles driven between plugging in.
72: The amount of times I would have had to stop for gas if I were driving a BMW 128i
The ActiveE has 2 more seats than the MINI-E did.
The BMW i3 will weigh 2,756lbs which is 1,245lbs less than the ActiveE.
The i3 launches in 12 months...
I recently had the ActiveE on display and handed out BMW i brochures at a Green transportation Expo in Jersey City.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


Getting miked up for NBC News

So for the past couple of weeks I've been working on getting two public chargers installed in the parking lot of my restaurant, Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair, NJ. I had planned on doing a ribbon cutting ceremony when they were finished, but then I got a call from Environment New Jersey and plans changed. 

The group asked me if I could speak about my experience with electric cars at a press conference they were planning on July 17th in Princeton, NJ to announce the publication of a just finished study called "Charging Forward: The Emergence of Electric Vehicles and Their Role in Reducing Oil Consumption". I agreed to speak and answer questions and while we were talking I mentioned that I was just about finished installing two public charging stations on my property. When they heard that they asked if we could have the press conference in my parking lot in front of the newly installed chargers, and I agreed. So much for the ribbon cutting ceremony, now I had a press conference instead! 
I made a few calls and asked my EV driving friends if they could come and bring their cars. Chris Neff and Gerald Belton brought their ActiveEs, Pamela Thwaite brought her Tesla Roadster and we had a Volt that is used by PSE&G come also bringing the total of EV's on site to five. NBC News showed up as well as a few newspapers and some local internet news sites. The event was featured on NBC's at 5:00 news that night and was also in the Montclair Times, New Jersey Spotlight and Baristanet News. Speakers included Environment New Jersey’s Director Doug O’Malley, Paul Heitmann of ECOtality, a company managing the E.V. Project, a $99.8 million federal effort to deploy approximately 14,000 chargers in 18 cities across the nation, Former Montclair Mayor Jerry Fried, Gray Russell, Montclair director of Environmental Affairs, Chuck Feinberg, Chairman of NJ Clean Cities Coalition and more.
The Blink Charger
I was very fortunate to get one Blink and one Coulomb public charger from each company for free. I host a lot of public electric vehicle events like this at my restaurant and both companies thought it would be a good idea to have their products on my site for promotional reasons. They made a good decision! They will both get a lot of use and exposure from my highly visible site. I've probably hosted more electric vehicle meets in my parking lot than any other site in New Jersey! My Blink charger is actually the first Blink public charger in the state. Coulomb has a very strong presence here already with over 100 public chargers in New Jersey already and are using the ChargePoint Network.

The Coulomb Charger
Even though I got the chargers for free, I did have to pay for the installation which was a couple thousand dollars. While I was at it I installed three bicycle racks on the property also, further inspiring green personal transportation! The charging rates at both chargers will be set at $2.00 per hour, but if you eat at the restaurant while you are charging your car, then your charging is FREE. I still need to get final inspection from the town before I can turn them on and start using them which will hopefully be next week sometime. I've had dozens of customers who came to the restaurant the past few days ask me what the chargers were for, but many knew and supported my decision to install them. Soon they'll be up and running so if you live in the area and drive an EV, bring it by for a good meal and all the free electrons your car can take!

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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10,000 All Electric ActiveE Miles

It's day 108 of my ActiveE lease and I rolled passed 10,000 miles this morning. That's an average of over 92 miles driven every day I've had it. However, the car has been for service twice, and once more for the 5,000 mile checkup, so I actually haven't had it for a combined 14 days. Take those days away and I'm actually averaging 106 miles for every day I've had it. Good thing the ActiveE lease has unlimited miles!

My ActiveE with my solar array in view
Driving as much as I do you want to have a car you enjoy driving. If you're going to spend a couple hours a day in your car, you might as well enjoy the driving experience as much as possible. I've been driving about 30 years and have been very fortunate in my life to have been able to afford some very nice cars. I've owned a couple Mercedes, a Porsche Boxster, a twin turbo Mazda RX-7 and even had a Delorean for a while in the late 80's. However I wouldn't trade the ActiveE for any of them. It's such a pleasure to drive and makes the time I spend driving very enjoyable. If  I'm commuting and just want to get from point A to point B, it's up for the task and does so with style. The quiet cabin, devoid of the vibrations that come with an internal combustion engine vehicle, is actually calming and relaxing to drive. Yet if I'm out driving for pleasure and looking for an exhilarating drive, the ActiveE is also up to the task. It has a lot of torque and it's available instantly. It may not be as fast as some of the other cars I've had, but the great torque combined with the strong regenerative braking allows you to drive it car with with only the right pedal under most circumstances, and that is something you just have to experience to really appreciate.

Perhaps the best thing about the ActiveE is I don't have to go to gas stations at all, unless of course I go there for a cup of coffee! All I have to do is take about 10 seconds to plug it in once or twice a day and it's always ready for wherever I need to go. There may be people out there that find it difficult to believe that I average more than 100 miles per day driving an electric car with about a 100 mile single charge range. Even those who do might think it must be such a hassle to plug it in every night and even sometimes at work, but it really isn't. Talk to anyone who's driving an EV now and they'll tell you it's a lot less of a hassle than driving to a gas station and filling up every couple days. Again, I know that may seem odd to someone who has never lived with an EV, but I'm telling you, to me it's the truth. I'd rather pull into my garage and take 10 seconds to plug in than go to a gas station any day, and that's not even considering that electricity is 1/3 to 1/4 the price of driving on gas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fantastic ActiveE EVent!

22 ActiveEs showed up as well as 13 other electric vehicles!
Wow, what a day for electric vehicles in the Garden State! On Sunday, April 15th I hosted what started out as an ActiveE meet that turned into the largest electric vehicle meet ever in New Jersey.

During the MINI-E program I hosted four MINI-E meets at my restaurant. It was a great way to meet the other MINI-E Pioneers and talk about the program; the good as well as any difficulty we were having.  Even though they were never official BMW events, BMW always sent a representative to listen to what we had to say and to our recommendations. So now that the ActiveE program has begun, I figured it was about time to get all of us driving these cars here in NY & NJ together to meet in person and swap stories.

That was the plan, but along the way we made some changes. I was talking to Micheal Thwaite about the event (Michael has an ActiveE and a Tesla) and he asked why don't we open it up to all electric cars. Since I was really focusing on bringing the ActiveE people together I hadn't really thought about it, but I really didn't have any objection to that, the more the merrier! So Michael and I started putting the word out that there was an electric car meet and all were invited.

We ended up getting a total of 35 EVs, which I believe is the largest gathering of electric vehicles ever in NJ, and at the very least, the most in recent history. There just haven't been enough EVs around to have a large meet like this. The breakdown was as follows: 22 BMW ActiveEs, 2 Tesla Roadsters, 3 Nissan LEAFs, 3 Chevy Volts, 2 Mitsubishi iMiEVs, 1 ZENN NEV, 1 plug in Prius and 1 converted pick up truck.

BMW had a film crew come and record short interviews of all of the ActiveE lessees that would agree to participate. They didn't say what they plan to do with the interviews but I'm sure we'll get to see it once they put it together.

Photo by Chris Monroe
The day went so well that we'll just have to do this again sometime in a few months or so. There were so many great aspects about the day. First, it was really fantastic to see so many people come out to see the cars. There were many curious onlookers that came by to see the cars and ask the EV drivers questions about them. Then there was the fact that we even could have a meet like this. Many of the people couldn't make the round trip on a single charge and needed to plug in to make it home. With the MINI-E meets, they could only use the one EVSE I had at the restaurant, meaning there was a line waiting to charge. Besides the two chargers I had set up for the meet, there are seven public chargers within two miles of my restaurant! We have the highest concentration of public chargers anywhere in the state on NJ, so Montclair is actually the best place to host an EV meet like this. At any given time there were always five or six cars charging. However the thing that brought the biggest smile to my face was talking to the other ActiveE drivers, the people that are new to electric drive. Most of them haven't even had the car for two months yet but they are hooked on driving electric! I heard them saying, "I'll never buy a gas car again!" and "I can't beleive how great this car is!" and "I hate driving my other gas car now." It's funny, with every new bunch of people exposed to electric drive, there is a very high percentage of them that get hooked on it. Once bitten by the EV bug you don't want ever want to go back to gas. It's one of the main reasons I believe this technology will win and be the dominant form of personal transportation. Not just because it's the "green" thing to do, not just because the operating expense is so much less, not just because they allow you to use domestic energy instead of foreign oil, but because people really enjoy and actually prefer the driving experience!
The event made the two biggest newspapers in New Jersey; the Star Ledger and the Record, here are links to the stories:

The Record
The Star Ledger

Monday, April 9, 2012

East Coast ActiveE Meet Set For Sunday, April 15th!

UPDATE: We have been getting such a great response from people who are bringing their electric vehicles, that I want to ask anyone who is coming and not bringing an electric car, to please park on the street (there is plenty of on street parking), because we will need the entire parking lot for all of the electric cars!

This Sunday, April 15th, ActiveEs within driving range will converge upon my restaurant, Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair, NJ, for what will be the first of hopefully many BMW ActiveE meets that I play host to.

MINI-Es lined up at a meet in 2011
During the past two years as a participant in the MINI-E trial lease program, I hosted a few meets like this for the MINI-E pioneers. It's really a great way to get to meet each other, talk about our cars and discuss the great aspects, as well as the challenges, of being in the lease program. I've had as many as 14 MINI-Es show-up in the past. But now, there are more ActiveEs than there were MINI-Es, and more people will be bringing their ActiveEs to this meet than ever before. I already have about 25 confirmed ActiveEs coming and another 5 or 6 that are maybes. As with the MINI-E meet-ups, I've encouraged other plug-in car owners to bring their cars as well.  So in addition to the ActiveEs, we will also have Tesla Roadsters, Nissan LEAFs and Chevy Volts, pushing the total of cars up to about 40! That may very well be the largest electric vehicle public gathering in the State of New Jersey...ever!

As with the MINI-E meets, BMW has confirmed that they will have at least one representative in attendance, and maybe more. I've also contacted the president of the New Jersey Electric Automobile Association, Michael Thwaite (who just happens to also drive an ActiveE) and the NJ EAA has graciously agreed to help out with deferring some of the cost of the event. In the past, I paid for everything myself, but as these meets get larger and larger, it's getting expensive, so the NJ EAA's support is much appreciated. I have a level two EVSE at the restaurant, plus there are five public chargers within 2 miles of Nauna's, so up to six people could be charging at the same time. I ask that only the people who NEED to charge in order to get home use the chargers. This way, everyone who needs to charge will be able to do so. Also, if you only need an extra ten or twenty percent, please don't charge all the way to 100% if others are waiting for the EVSE.

So if you have an EV and want to show it off, or if you just want to come by and check out the future of the automobile industry, please stop by!

Sunday, April 15th from 10:30am till 1:00pm

Nauna's Bella Casa
148 Valley Road
Montclair, NJ 07042