Now, I had slightly over half a charge left, so, if I was careful, I could’ve made it back home in the charge that I had, but… I like to have some room to really drive the Active E like a BMW if I wanted to or needed to, so I like to charge.
Count me as one of those BEV (battery electric vehicle) snobs that have been irritated when I turn up to a public charging and find Chevy Volts plugged in and taking space. I’ve always felt that if you were going electric, jump in feet first.
Even after slightly over 15 months of driving electric, I am a relative newcomer to the EV world. My original bias was caused by my attitude that pure BEV are superior to our plug-in hybrid brethren and felt that those that went halfway with their Chevy Volts, etc. could use gasoline and therefore shouldn’t be taking the space on an EV charging station. I held this belief for my first year of EV driving. So, why the change of heart?
Well, I’ve listened to my “elders”, in terms of years of EV experience, etc.
On Thursdays at Noon Pacific, 3pm Eastern, and 8pm British Time, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield and Mark Chatterley host a program called Transport Evolved. I started listening to the program on episode 144 and have been hooked since. I’ve used Youtube and iTunes to catch up on the backlog and you should too. Though I may find that the program may be more focused on the “green” aspects of EVs and the like and not necessarily on the economics that motivated me, I find their review of EV news to be interesting and entertaining. They (at least Nikki is) are real “car people”. Mark is very entertaining. The hosts definitely have a more Liberal (had they been in the US) view of things than I, but they definitely make good points.
After spending some time through hours of the series backlog, I’ve been convinced by the hosts and their guests regarding the fact that the entire EV community (including our plug-in brethren) are too few to stand divided. I have been reminded of the challenges that the “previous” generations of EV owners have done to blaze the trail and that we need to support those that are taking “baby” steps toward EV ownership. Once they drive one and get more comfortable. They’ll get it.
Now, an optimal 40 mile battery range for a plug in hybrid makes the vehicle practically electric and should be treated with respect. What about the 12-16 mile range plug in hybrids (like the Plug in Prius or Plug in Accords)… Well, I’m not SO “enlightened”. I’m still irritated by those. I mean, there ARE better choices (in terms of battery range, etc.) I don’t know if I’ll ever be “enlightened” enough to welcome Plug in Prius or Plug in Accord users, but in the meantime. I’m ok with saying that “I was wrong.”
So, join me (and a bunch of other EV enthusiasts) and support my favorite EV journalist, advocates and their guests on Transport Evolved.
The challenge with driving a ton of miles is picking “significant mileage” for these posts… I can pick the even 5k or 10k blocks… And that’s fine and dandy. However, I find myself STILL smarting over the season that was for my Lakers.
So, at first I thought I could be Magical and lucky with a post from 32,888 miles
or maybe one Kobe and Kareem Abdul Jabbar inspired…
even Magic and Kareem
or just Kareem…
Or just a repeating 33,333…
Either way… I do drive a lot. And I figure, I’m a day or two off from my 15th month in my ActiveE.
So, what have I learned since 22,222… or 30,000 for that matter
I drive with a lot more space between myself and the car in front of me…In order to maximize the really aggressive regenerative braking that I get on the ActiveE, and enhance my single pedal driving that I enjoy. I’ve found that I tend to leave a LOT MORE space between myself and the car in front of me. This is fine for a lot of things, but I have to be MINDFUL of folks that would zip in front of me! People in the Southern California area see the space that I’ve left between myself and the car in front and want to cut in front of me to get to that spot.
A converted BMW does have some drawbacks…Around the world (at least in California), fellow BMW drivers seem to be the subject of derision in that we, as a stereotype, tend to be more aggressive and use our “ultimate driving machines” as they were meant to be driven. The Active E looks like a 1 series with all sorts of racing striping on it. Thus folks expect me to drive very aggressively. Which I do, on more than one occasion. However, when I need to push the mileage and have to try to “hyper” mile the car, I have to drive rather conservatively. I may seldom drive over 65 mph, sometimes closer to 60 mph on Southern California freeways. Fellow drivers DO NOT expect a BMW to drive in this manner and tend to embolden others to take out whatever frustrations they may have on said BMW driver and I’ve had many a driver attempt to goad me to be more aggressive with my vehicle. (which I would have gladly done if I were NOT trying to extend range than speed). People will honk at you for no reason, and you just have to adapt to it. They’re just not used to BMW drivers who drive in such a conscientious manner (in my case when I try to hyper-mile.)
This was covered in the post, but be mindful of starting your gas cars every now and then so that they don’t die on you. As a family, we’ve been closer to 80% Electric to 20% ICE in our hybrid garage and continue to try to increase that.
I’ve changed from cursing at traffic to looking at how “efficiently” I’m driving!I’ve become more “zen” at my travels. I plan my trip more and I welcome the time that I hit traffic as the opportunity to be more efficient in my use of energy. It’s kinda weird.
Anyway, approximately nine months left until I have to return my ActiveE. Wondering what I’ll have to rename my blog to once I get my Tesla Model S (still holding on to hopes of a Fiat 500e or BMW i3 as well.) Enjoying the rEVolution and hitting the “sunnier” part of the year. I am anticipating actually getting a refund from Southern California Edison for the power generated vs. used for my home from the PVs on the roof. Fingers crossed.
So… I’m still stinging form the early Lakers exit this year.
However, this blog is about my ActiveE, EVs, etc.
So, what do the Lakers exit and my ActiveE have to do with each other… Well, this year I decided to do some EVangelizing at my Alma Mater’s 2013 Concours de Claremont. It was held during Alumni Weekend in early May and I thought to join them on the field to display our cars. As you can see from the picture above, there were not so many of us this year, especially compared to last year’s attendance. The event was also sparsely attended this year. Perhaps it has to do with the weather as it was more overcast and rain threatened all weekend.
These stationary sort of car shows are fun, but I think the Plug in Day events are better. Really, the EV smile only clicks in AFTER someone drives an EV and it’s harder on stationary shows.
Here’s a nicer shot of my ActiveE beside a very clean jaguar and Porsche.
Still the only EV at this event. Next year, I plan on attending with a Tesla Model S, unless I can be convinced that the i3 aesthetics aren’t nearly as bad as I think they are.
Here’s a nice picture of my neighbor, the ICE Jag… He really has such a clean engine.
One of the benefits of an early Lakers exit from the playoffs was the fact that I was able to spend the entire show on the premises, last year I had to take off early to catch the game at 12:30pm. I got to meet and talk to some of the students, alumni, and faculty and explain why they should look at EVs for their vehicles. I also got to meet a fellow member of the Electronut family. A Freshman at the school’s father is a fellow alumnus and he, the son, stopped by to say “hi.”
If you’ll notice, I again plugged the car in at 120V as the school is just over 50% charge to get to and I figure at slow speed, it just gave me that much more juice to ensure that I got home for a half-day’s slow charge. However, it is important to note that my alma mater actually installed several Blink Network chargers not too far from the field that we were using for the show. I just don’t like to pay for public charging if I don’t need to. This is definitely a BIG improvement over last year, so I should at least praise them for providing the facilities, should I need to use them. Additionally, these pay chargers are cheaper than the ones on Chargepoint at the Pomona College location (on a per hour basis).
Elon Musk is right, or a review of my bad Ford Focus Electric test drive experience(s).
I’ve test driven the Ford Focus Electric vehicle three times, while visiting FOUR Ford dealers in the span of six months. The car is ok, not really what I would have bought, but if the price is right, who knows.
My first experience was at the dealership at Cerritos Ford. Which is where most of these pictures were taken. I did this test in August of 2012 and the salesman was honest enough to mention that he knew NOTHING of electric cars, but was glad to show me the car anyway.
We took it out for a ride, and the dealership had quite a selection of colors, about four of them in stock with several others of the same trim available. I had hoped that since it looked like a small station wagon, that there would be space in the vehicle, alas, it did not.
The rear storage area closed –
The rear storage area open –
This experience was neutral at best, but it really was because I ended up training the sales rep on some of the virtues of ANY EV, not specific to his model.
Several months later, I found myself around Santa Monica waiting for the better half as she was involved in a business dinner. I took the opportunity to drive Santa Monica Blvd to see if there were any EVs to test, and ended up at the Ford dealership there. This was in December and “deals” were to be had. Once again, the sales representative who approached me was barely trained. This time, the gentleman who initially assisted me just started working in car sales that week. This trip was memorable because the “more experienced” sales person who came up to assist the newbie who initially was with me made it sound as if Ford had dropped the price to $15,000 out the door AFTER all incentives were applied. Needless to say, color me intrigued. Alas, the “more experienced guy” was DOUBLE DIPPING on some of the incentives, and I walked away from the dealership.
Some nice shots of the screens for the Focus Electric –
Another few months later, and I was driving down the 405 and noticed a Giant Worthington Ford advertisement for the Focus Electric. I figured, why not see if the prices have dropped. I got to the dealership and there was ONE Focus Electric on the showroom floor. No one knew how to sell the vehicle and they were not doing any test drives. This was in January or February, not really a HOT sales time of the year, and no one was able to try to sell a vehicle that they were advertising on a BIG sign on the side of the freeway.
My last experience was with the Focus Electric sales was last month. I found myself on the 405, as I often do, and decided to check out South Bay Ford. I had a little bit of time to kill before I had to pick up the better half, so I figured to see the C-Max Plug In or the Ford Fusion Plug In (along with the Focus Electric) and get a small charge on the Active E while I played with the new Ford EVs.
Here’s a quick video I shot, turn up the video because the Leviton charger was making some really weird sounds as I charged on it (I interrupted it and just left it unplugged, it just sounded awful.)
Regardless, the sales person was more adept at the products and the differences between them. However, he really didn’t speak so well of the Focus Electric. He seemed to be more comfortable with either of the plug in hybrids.
I have never owned a Ford. Probably never will, but it’s hard to try to convince someone when a majority of the sales staff don’t know the product. As has been documented in Tesla’s challenge with direct sales in Texas and other states, they purport that the existing dealer model is ill equipped to take on the paradigm shift that EVs make vs their established ICE products. This point was further illustrated to me as I found out SOME features of the Focus Electric that WOULD be of interest to me was recently posted by Michael and Pamela Thwaite on their blog. Their coverage of the ONLINE capabilities of the Focus Electric would’ve scored points with me, had I been properly marketed to by the various Ford sales people that I have been with over the course of the last six months.
Let’s hope that BMW’s establishment of a sub-brand, BMW i, to focus its EV efforts will lead to a world where a predominantly ICE based automobile manufacturer can gain greater traction with its EV platforms. Nissan seems to do well selling its Leaf within one brand, I’m sure that not all strategies fit all organizations. I’m just hoping that BMW’s establishment of BMW i and its insistence on selling its purpose built i3 and i8 with such a radical design departure from the BMW aesthetic that some BMW owners (such as myself and my better half) expect will not be a misstep.
One of the folks that I like to read often is Tom Moloughney’s blog (Aka Electronaut One) and he’s been writing about Battery Capacity loss and giving some hints on how to help mitigate it. As many readers know, it would seem that I am one of the higher mileage Active E drivers. I’m currently a little over 30,000 miles in a little over 14 months. And I find it hard to follow some of his advice as I tend to have to drive the mileage that I do and can’t really get to where I’m going comfortably if I decide to only charge to 80% SOC, so… I don’t. Regardless, the dangers of high mileage EV use is Battery Replacement! So at a little over 30,000 miles these past 14 months and change on the EV portion of my hybrid garage.
Regardless. If folks decide to look deeper into my samples, they would notice that I haven’t driven my approximately $0.20 to $0.25 per mile BMW X5. This was originally because of choice than anything else. I didn’t really need to haul anything larger, pick anyone up at the airport with lots of luggage, or just feel “bigger” than the rest of traffic. So, the car sat at the garage. Well. It’s a nearly 12 year old car. A couple of weeks ago, I figured to start it… And Lo and Behold, it wouldn’t start. The battery was dead. The last time I bought a battery was less than six years ago, but one of the dangers of running a hybrid garage is IGNORING your ICE vehicles. Granted, this was the same challenge when my HOV capable vehicle was a Honda Hybrid Civic. But that car was not nearly as fun to drive as ANY of my BMWs. So, I drove the X5 a little more than we do now.
The Morro Bay drive went convertible top because the weather was ideal for it. We could have easily spent more money and gone with the X5 because we were headed into Santa Barbara and Central Coast Wine Country and could’ve opted to have space for a few cases, comfortably.
Regardless, the battery died. It had to be replaced. Luckily, the last replacement still had nine months left on its warranty and we got a 9/72 partial refund on the older battery to make our replacement approximately $120 after taxes. Basically the refund covered $17 of a totally brand new battery.
This experience has gotten me thinking of Tom’s write up and battery replacement in general. Tesla has just released an enhancement to its service and repair program that includes an enhancement to the coverage of the battery pack. They’ve already spelled out the cost for the 60 KwH and the 85 KwH battery packs ($8,000 and $12,000 respectively, I believe.) The Nissan Leaf’s battery capacity warranty has been spelled out in terms of what to expect over time and mileage I believe. i.e. 80% SOC on year 5 or something like that.
BMW i needs to do the same thing for the battery packs for the i3 and i8 when the cars are released or even slightly before the release of the car. As Tom champions, I second the motion. Potential purchasers of the i3 (of which I continue to hold on to hope that our second EV will be, though that Fiat 500e sure looks aesthetically pleasing to me… even though the Fiat does remind me of a gumdrop, but I digress,) will need to be able to compare EVs to each other. However as the aforementioned Tom Moloughney wrote, the Fiat 500e and the i3′s battery systems are identical, so I don’t really need to compare these specific cars (unless there’s a change in how each company regulates the temperature of each vehicle.) for what the expected battery loss figures would be. It’s not just EVs that lose capacity/capability as it ages, ICE cars also lose power as the cars age. That’s just entropy in action. It’s just front and center to EVs. I don’t necessarily like to lease my cars, regardless of what fuel motivates it. I would much rather own it outright and just pay for the things that keep it moving.
So, barring such information on battery replacement from most manufacturers, it would just be the responsible thing to do to put away some of the “gasoline savings” aside into a fund for a rainy day. Whether one save approximately $10,000 (the figure between the two Model S published numbers) or less is entirely dependent on the EV owner’s resources and ability to save. I think that it is prudent to put aside half of what a future EV buyer saves on gasoline toward purchasing a replacement battery pack in the future. I didn’t come to this number through ANY analytical means, just a guess, if you will.
For Earth Day 2013, I thought I’d do something fun. I test drove the soon to be released third generation Smart Car Convertible. Smart is touring the vehicle and allowing the lucky registrants test drives. The Los Angeles area run (at Santa Monica Place Mall in Santa Monica, CA) will be ending on the 28th of April. See here to register.
A $28,000 EV Smart car with some upgrades from previous generations. The most notable one is the $28,000 version is a CONVERTIBLE. Yes, you read correctly, the first production line convertible EV. Living in Southern California has its advantages. One of which is the fact that it is one of the locations where it actually does “make sense” to own a convertible. You definitely get enough perfect weather days to drive with the top down! Now, it’s funny to me to drive a Smart convertible because I think that the Tesla Model S with the Panoramic Roof opens up to practically the same amount of open space as a Smart Car convertible, but I believe you can buy three Smart Cars for the price of the Model S.
The instrument cluster for state of charge (SOC) and others are analog
The car comes with 17.6 kwh capacity and a stated 60-90 mile range. The onboard charging is at 3.3 kwh per hour, so a full charge on L2 from empty will take 6 hours. It does come with a convenience 120V charger, but that’s slow as well (like the ActiveE’s where it could take a day from empty.)
same picture with charger packed away.
And finally with the rear closed.
The car does not have any other drive modes than the single gear EV drive, so no Eco Pro or B mode that the Active E or the Nissan Leaf has. So, it really is up to the driver to adjust his or her driving style to maximize the range. The stated 0-60 mph is around 11.5 seconds, but it is rather peppy from 0-30 mph. The test drive was only on city streets, so I was unable to try it faster than the stated speed limits around Santa Monica Place.
As you can see in the pictures, I test drove the convertible. The hardtop is available for $3,000 less at $25,000. Now the Smart representative that accompanied me on the drive mentioned that this is the first of the three generations that customers can buy. The car was warranted for 4 years and 50,000 miles including the battery. To alleviate battery worries, Smart is introducing battery leasing to the USA and I did not get the details as, again, I drive a ton of miles and would probably hit the mileage cap on any capped lease in no time.
No DC Fast charging, just J1772 and, as I mentioned before at 3.3 kwh per hour.
The lit instrument cluster –
As a bonus for the test drive Smart will entertain you on the second floor of Santa Monica Place and provide free “beverages”. Additionally, you get entered into a drawing to win a two year lease of the vehicle and get emailed an offer for $500 off any Smart car that you decide to pick up.
A few pictures from the lounge on the second floor –
Would I buy one… Probably not. It was a fun, little car though. Drove much better than the ICE version of the Smart Car. Now, I’m waiting for that Fiat 500e. That looks like a fun, little car. More akin to the i3, but less functional, and more aesthetically pleasing.