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Monday, November 28, 2011

My ActiveE is on Order!

JMK BMW in Springfield, New Jersey
Step two of three is complete. I visited JMK BMW in Springfield, NJ and completed the financial application and signed the sales receipt. Manny Antunes, my sales representative explained all the details to me and we talked about the ActiveE for about forty five minutes. Manny is a hard core BMW fan and he's been really active helping BMW promote the ActiveE through social media.

Two level 2 EVSE's in my garage.
Now all I need is for AeroVironment, BMW's partner for supplying the charging equipment for the ActiveE, to come to my home and swap my MINI-E wall charger with the new J1772 compliant charger that the ActiveE will use. Actually I don't even need for them to install it for me to charge the ActiveE. I already installed a second wall charger in my garage with a J1772 connector. However since the MINI-E drivers get the new wall charger for free, I'll still accept it and get a new wall charger installed for free.The good news is I won't have to wait for the new one to be installed to charge my ActiveE.

From what I understand, the dealers will begin to get their ActiveE deliveries on December 15th so it won't be long after that before I get to pick up mine!

Monday, November 21, 2011

The BMW ActiveE Recruitment Process Has Begun

The above picture was taken from the ActiveE site that I just registered on. This was step one of the recruitment process so BMW has officially opened up applications for the MINI-E pioneers that renewed their leases for a second year. BMW hasn't formally announced when the application process opens for the general public, but rumors have it beginning on December 1st.

After completing the simple recruitment form which asked for my address, phone number and what dealer I wanted to pick up my ActiveE from, I received this email:

Dear Thomas,

Thank you for completing the first step of the BMW ActiveE recruitment process. We have forwarded your information to JMK BMW and one of their BMW ActiveE Advocates will be reaching out to you in the near future to finalize the lease.

After a BMW ActiveE has been assigned to you, AeroVironment, the charging partner of the BMW ActiveE, will be reaching out to you to schedule a charging station swap or charging station consultation.

If you plan to charge your BMW ActiveE at the same location as your MINI E, BMW will swap it out for the BMW ActiveE charging station at no charge. Please note that in order to be eligible for the free swap, your MINI E charging station must be located at the exact same location as it was most recently installed and permitted.

Starting late December, BMW ActiveE's will be available for delivery for MINI E Pioneers. We are excited to have you back onboard as we continue our journey to redefine the future of mobility.

See you on our mission,
The BMW ActiveE Team 

So late it looks like late December will be when I'll get my ActiveE. That's definitely a great Christmas present, I must have been nice this year!

Friday, November 18, 2011

ActiveE Meet MINI-E

It happens all the time. You bump into your old girlfriend or ex-spouse while you're out on a date with your new one, it's usually really awkward so rarely do you purposely bring the two together. Today I did just that. I took My MINI-E up to BMW's North American Headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ to get another close up look at the ActiveE. I have to admit, I felt a little bad for the MINI-E. It's served me admirably for the past 29 months. It's proven to me that an electric car with a 100 mile range is perfectly fine for my everyday driving needs, even though I drive about 30,000 miles per year, which is much more than the average American. It's never left me stranded and given me many great memories.

The ActiveE is in just about every regard a more complete electric car than the MINI-E but doesn't mean I won't always hold my MINI-E in the highest regard. It was my first electric car, and it allowed me to kick my gas addiction, hopefully for the rest of my life. However to deny that the ActiveE isn't a better all around car, would be denying the obvious truth. In my opinion, the biggest flaw of the MINI-E has been it's lack of a sophisticated thermal management system. It didn't cause much of a problem in the hot weather for me, but in the cold winters of the Northeast, the MINI-E's range can shrink by as much as 40% in certain conditions. The ActiveE has a liquid thermal management system, which is generally regarded as the best way to keep an EV's battery at optimum operating temperature. In my 40 mile test drive of the ActiveE last month in Munich, the battery temperature didn't vary more than a degree or two, and was about 85 degrees the entire time even though it was in the 40's outside. The ActiveE can also precondition the battery and cabin meaning while you are plugged into the grid, so you can set the car to warm up or cool down before you begin your journey. By doing so, you leave 100% charged and the car doesn't need to use a lot of energy to warm or cool the batteries and cabin. That allows you to use more of your stored energy for it's primary purpose; to drive as far as you need to.

The ActiveE also has what BMW calls the Eco Pro mode, which reduces the amount of power the car supplies the drive motor and cabin heating & cooling systems, this may make the car a little less enjoyable to drive, but will increase the range by about 10%. I don't plan on using the Eco Pro mode all the time, but I will on days that I know I need to drive far.  Then there is the new "glide" mode. By backing off the accelerator a bit, the car de-clutches and coasts, neither using energy to accelerate or recoup energy via regen. If the driver backs off a little more, the regenerative braking begins, and if they depress the pedal at all, the car will accelerate. My guess is that this feature may take a bit to get used to after driving the MINI-E for so long.  Besides the technical improvements, the ActiveE is a lot bigger and more luxurious. Unlike the MINI-E it has two back seats and a trunk and will be much more functional. It's also well appointed with white leather seats highlighted with cool blue stitching. An integrated GPS with improved electronics round out the interior.

All of this adds up to a much more sophisticated, luxurious and functional electric vehicle and I'm sure I'm going to love driving it for the next two years. We haven't been offered the exact date that we'll be getting our ActiveE's, but rumors have it some of us will be getting them in about a month and I suspect I'll probably be in the first batch of MINI-E drivers that get one. (BMW doesn't want me to continue pestering them any longer than absolutely necessary!). While I will no doubt really appreciate the technical improvements as well as the extra room and added luxury, I will always have special appreciation for the MINI-E, after all you never forget your first.
I think I can get used to this : )

Friday, November 4, 2011

ActiveE's are Finally Spotted Here in the US

BMW ActiveE's lined up at BMW's North American Headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, NJ.
Thanks to Manny Antunes, we have proof that at least some of the BMW ActiveE's are here in the US and ready to begin to be deployed. BMW has been providing test drives for their employees and dealership personnel to get them better acquainted with the cars. It shouldn't be long now.....

Thursday, November 3, 2011

ActiveE Program Delayed a Couple Months?

Looks like the ActiveE will be getting some more "tweeking" the next few months
The MINI-E lessees just received an email from BMW that indicated we will have the option to extend our MINI-E lease past December. This can only mean one thing, the ActiveE program is being pushed back a bit. No word on the financial terms of the lease extension, or exactly how long. I did call BMW financial and was told the lease extension was going to be "a couple months" and that they believe the ActiveE program will now begin around February. Hmmm. Here's what we received:


Greetings Motoring Pioneer,

By now, you have had the chance to meet the all-new BMW ActiveE and we trust you are as excited about the next big step in electric mobility as we are. Your choice to continue driving your prized MINI E will be met with the reward of being among the first eligible to lease this exciting new BMW electric vehicle.

In the weeks to come, your MINI E lease extension is scheduled to mature. As this could occur prior to the delivery date of your new BMW ActiveE, we would like to offer you the chance to keep driving in silent bliss while you move through the process of obtaining your new BMW EV. If you would like to briefly extend your time with the MINI E, please contact us to make the necessary arrangements.

Here is how:

* To contact a MINI E Lease End Specialist about your MINI E lease decision, please call 800.959.4269, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM Eastern Time.
* If you have other questions about the transition from your MINI E to the BMW ActiveE, please contact BMW ActiveE Customer Relations at 855.236.1025 or

We look forward to hearing from you in the days to come. Please contact us with any questions and we will be happy to assist you in your BMW EV decision making process.

Thank you for continuing with us in this pioneering effort. We look forward to having you Activate
the Future.

The BMW ActiveE Team

UPDATE: I was able to contact BMW and was informed that this doesn't necessarily mean the ActiveE lease program will be delayed. They are simply doing this because the MINI-E leases are maturing in early December and BMW want's to make sure the MINI-E drivers that want to transition into an ActiveE will be able to do so without interruption. This will also allow the participants in states (like here in NJ) to easily transfer our registrations from the MINI-E to the ActiveE. Once the lease expires, and you return the car, it's not that simple. Hopefully, we will still start getting our cars in December. I really want to test out the thermal conditioning and ability to pre-condition the battery and cabin through the winter months when it's needed the most.