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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Current MINI-E Lessees Get The Facts on The BMW ActiveE

ActiveE @ NY Auto Show--note the name on the screen behind the car : )

One of the incentives that BMW offered the MINI-E pioneers in an effort to entice us to renew our leases for a second year, was that we would have priority placement to lease the BMW ActiveE when the program began. That was a big carrot, and one that no doubt made some people that might have been on the fence about renewing, do just that. 

Now that the ActiveE program is about six months from launching, and applications to apply for the program will begin sometime in the next few months or so, BMW reached out to the MINI-E lessees and organized private showings of the ActiveE, one for the East Coast, and West Coast. The private showings allowed all who attended to sit in the car and ask questions about it and the lease program and were followed by dinners hosted by BMW.

It was great to check out the car in person and Richard Steinberg and Aaron Singer of BMW spoke to the crowd for a bit and then answered questions from all of us. 

The car looks even better in person and I was really happy to see how the center stack information center displayed all the data electric car drivers want to see including state of charge represented in a percentage, unlike the Nissan LEAF's gas-gauge like bar system that doesn't give you the actual state of charge in a number, just 12 bars that reduce to 0 as you deplete the battery. I couldn't live with that, I want to see a number that I can easily translate to how many miles remaining I can drive.
Now the really great news. As part of the showings, BMW asked all of us to put our names in a hat and they picked a winner at each of the two events. The winner will get an ActiveE to drive for a week this summer, months before the program starts and the customers get their cars. I didn't win, but I still won. Huh? Well, before the drawing, I was told not to put my name in the hat, and that as a thank you for all I have been doing to help promote the ActiveE (like the live Facebook Q&A with Rich Steinberg) they are going to give me an ActiveE for a week this summer anyway and that I didn't need to enter the contest! Thank you Rich, Aaron, Marian & Hugo! It's really nice to be appreciated and I can't wait to get the car!

Anyway, here are some details for the MINI-E lessees. These do not apply to others that are applying for the ActiveE, just the current MINI-E lessees that are transitioning into an ActiveE. Additional details for everyone else, along with how to apply for the ActiveE program will be announced soon.

Current MINI-E Leases will be extended until the launch of the ActiveE so that MINI-E pioneers can continue to enjoy uninterrupted zero emission driving. You do not have to extend your lease past the two year mark to qualify for primary positioning to lease an ActiveE if you do not want to.


The ActiveE program will have NO MILEAGE restriction for any of the participants. You will be able to drive the car as much as you want to without any mileage penalty.

Unlike the MINI-E program, insurance WILL NOT be included. This lease is more like a traditional lease, except for the unlimited mileage and the fact that it is closed-end, meaning you cannot purchase the car when the lease is over.

MINI-E pioneers will be supplied and installed the new AeroVironment EVSE's for NO CHARGE and we can keep our existing Clipper Creek EVSE's.

While the lease price was announced at $2,250 down, and $499/month, you can put down more or less as you wish and the monthly payment will be adjusted accordingly. This means if you didn't wan to put down any money, your monthly payment would be $592.75. In NJ there is no sales tax on EV's so the $592.75 would be the actual payment, in other states, sales tax may apply.

BMW is using the $7,500 federal tax credit as a capitol cost reduction, meaning they took the tax credit and applied it to our payments to lower the overall cost to the lessees. Therefore we do not get to deduct it from our taxes, because we already got it in lower payments.

Wear & tear items like tires will not be covered in the lease like they were in the MINI-E program. All regular maintenance and repairs are covered, like they would be for any regular BMW.
The ActiveE can be ordered without the circuit graphics if desired. 

The car has a top speed of 90mph and is expected to have a similar 100mile range as the MINI-E, if not slightly more.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

AeroVironment to Supply EVSE for the BMW ActiveE

For a while many of the MINI-E pioneers wondered what wall charger(EVSE) would the ActiveE use. For the MINI-E trial lease program, BMW installed Clipper Creek EVSE's in the participants garages and that was one of the biggest challenges BMW faced in the whole MINI-E program, resulting from a combination of a lack of information and understanding by local electrical inspectors and the fact that the cables came separately from the wall units themselves, bringing into question whether or not the unit was still UL approved.

Now that more than two years have passed since the MINI-E program was conceived, a lot has changed in the EV world. One of the biggest things is that there is now an accepted connector standard adopted by the SAE which will be used on all new Electric Vehicles and it's called the J1772 connector. The MINI-E used a connector made by ODU, that would only work on the MINI-E and obviously that isn't the right way to do it, but BMW really had no choice back then because there was no accepted standard.

Now that we have a standard that the ActiveE will use, the MINI-E connector won't work so even the MINI-E pioneers transitioning into an ActiveE like myself need to either have their current clipper Creek equipment upgraded to include a J1772 connector, or have a entire new EVSE installed. BMW has decided to use AeroVironment for the ActiveE EVSE equipment and installations, in particular the EVSE-RS model. The good news is that once this is done, this new EVSE will then work on any future EV that they get, and there will be no need to do anymore upgrades. I think this is one of the reasons that BMW is going to pass the cost of the new EVSE onto the customers as opposed to including it in the lease price like they did with the MINI-E. They knew that after the MINI-E program ended, the equipment would be useless to us so they really couldn't charge us for it, that is not the case now as we can continue to use the new chargers long after the ActiveE program is over.

It would have been a nice bonus to get the EVSE for free, but I for one didn't expect it to be that way.