Space… the Final Frontier. The difference between built Electric and a converted ICE Electric

This weekend, I was challenged by my better half to fit everything we needed to haul up to my sister-in-law’s house for our niece’s Fourth Birthday party.  She thought that we needed to use our ever reliable X5 to do it’s hauling duty and I asserted that I thought we could take the ActiveE.  Figuring that after many years of marriage, the worst that could happen was that I would have to accept defeat, I decided to prove it.

So, as Barney Stinson on How I Met Your Mother would say, “Challenge Accepted.”  In retrospect, I should’ve taken pictures of all the items that I had to pack into the ActiveE, but we had a kid’s birthday party to help get set up, and didn’t really have the time to dawdle.  So the picturess are of the stuff IN the car…

To remind everyone… This is what I had to work with:


I also have a backseat where the seats fold down to carry stuff with, which I used, but the electric motor hump really does take the space.  (that’s the section that has the ActiveE written on the carpet.)

These next three shots are what was packed behind the front seats with the passenger seats folded down.



Here it is closed:


Right side of the trunk:


Close up –


Left side of the trunk:


Needless to say, we packed a lot of stuff.

Distributed throughout the back are 8 bottles of wine (for the adults, not the 4 year old kids, of course.) The rolled up dusty thing is a rug that we use to lay outdoors. You would’ve also noted a 3 course buffet server in the backseat.

So, not only was the challenge accepted, I was also able to accomplish the task.  Being an Electronut means being very motivated to try to stay away from driving any ICE, EVEN something as fun to drive as a BMW X5.

The balloons, were for a giant popcorn display that my better half made for the party (it was a Princess party with a movie at the end of the night, Beauty and the Beast, if you must know.)


If you’re paying close attention, you may have noticed that we DID lose a couple of balloons, but these were lost AT the destination, and thus not in the transport or difference between traveling with the X5 vs. the ActiveE.

So, what did this exercise prove. The ActiveE can make a quick stand-in for the X5, in a pinch, but it’s definitely one of the reasons that my Costco trips have gotten cheaper. I really can’t carry much there. Just more than I initially thought.

Which leads me to the second part of the thesis. These challenges occurred because we’re using a converted 1 series BMW. The hump does not exist in the Coda or the Tesla Model S.

Here are two shots from the Coda’s cavernous trunk:



or the Tesla Model S



I am sure that neither one will haul as much as the X5, however, I would guess the upcoming Tesla Model X will.  I am sure that either the Coda or the Tesla Model S CAN haul more than the ActiveE.

I would think that the upcoming BMW i3 will ALSO have more hauling capacity than the ActiveE.

i3 Concept Trunk

More i3 Pictures here.

So, as much as I really enjoy the ActiveE, the only positive of having to give it back to BMW at the end of the two years is I have something to look forward to with the NEXT generation of EVs.

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #3 in an ongoing series – Malibu Country Market

Been enjoying going to lunch at the Americana at Brand, but those are my work-day eateries and I will probably write about those later…  However, today’s Charge It! location is Malibu Country Mart.  To recap, Helm’s Bakery and Santa Monica Place were our first two locations for the series.

View Larger Map

The charging station at this location is not on either of the two charging networks that I use (Blink or Chargepoint) and thus its a matter of faith to determine whether or not the charger will be available when getting there.  It’s an Aerovironment charger that Recargo’s notes says requires an RFID card, however, this was not the case when I got there (luckily).  The charger station is right at the entrance to the Malibu Country Mart market area.

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 2

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 3

Parked at the Malibu Country Mart, by the entrance. 4

It works great (as has been my experience with OTHER Aerovironment chargers.)

The Nobu in Malibu has been in existence for over a decade (1999, I believe).  Being Malibu, have to blend in with the natives and my better half requested that I NOT take pictures of our meal, therefore, a food entry with no pics.  However, seeing that Nobu Matsuhisa has been in business for a while, I do recommend that you peruse the link to his website for the food pictures.

As with a lot of Japanese restaurants, Nobu is best experienced if you enjoy the meal sharing many small dishes with your dining companions.  I did not enjoy the Miso Black Cod at this location, though that is quite a good standby for anyone who  visits Nobu for the first time.

Since this was our first trip to the Malibu location, we decided to try a few of their specialties, so we had the Tai Sweet Shiso with Crispy Shiitake and several of their Mini Tacos.  Additionally, the sushi at Nobu is top-notch.  However, it is also priced higher than other Southern California sushi bars that feature fish at the same quality level.  At the end of the day, a lot of less expensive restaurants feature food at the same quality as Nobu Malibu without the location or the expense.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself and the food was excellent.  However, other restaurants have caught up to the quality of meal that Nobu provides at a fraction of the cost.  Charging your EV may be free, but you’re definitely paying for the meal.

Public Charging stations and being mindful of the parking situation

Currently, the biggest challenge with public charging stations is when an internal combustion engine car is taking up a charging spot so that an EV can not use it.  This is what is meant when an EV driver mentions that a spot is ICEd.

Most public charging locations try to solve this problem by properly marking up their spots AND in some locations actually ticketing violators of their signage.

See this BMW X5 at the Americana at Brand –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 1

and a close up of the ticket issued to the driver –

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - BMW X5 ICE spot (ticketed) - 3

I really appreciate centers and police departments that enforce these EV only spots as it hopefully actively deters the practice of ICEd locations.

This is an easy violation to spot.

The thing that I believe we need to come up with a solution for is the fellow EV driver that picks a charger that blocks out others from being able to use either the parking spots or other EV chargers at the location.  Let me attempt to explain this.  If you have a charging port on the opposite side of the car where the charging station is and a charging station that is on the same side of the car, some drivers will pick the one closest to their charging port, EVEN IF doing so will effectively make a spot or another charger unavailable for the next car to use.  I don’t know what to call this violation, but here are a few pictures:

At L.A. Live, Lot W (West Lot), I’ve seen this Plug-in Prius park in spot 2 while using the charger from spot 3 to charge with.


I made this crude diagram to demonstrate the point.  The Os are the Blink EVSEs.

By using the charger in Spot 3 while parking in Spot 2, the plug in Prius effectively blocked out use of Spot 3 for MOST cars.

Here’s the same Prius doing the same thing at this location at another day –


To solve this, and to allow others, should they arrive I moved from Spot 1 and parked in Spot 3 and used Spot 2’s EVSE to charge to allow Spot 1 and Spot 4 to charge, should some other EVs need to take the spot.



However our cords were crossed during this time, and would’ve been a hazard. Mr. or Ms. Plug-In-Prius could’ve solved this by just taking Spot 4, and this is exactly the point I am trying to make.  Pay attention to how the spots are configured and ensure that the charger and spot you are taking will allow the maximum number of fellow EV drivers to park in the location.

I don’t know what we should call this sort of EV violation.  It’s not ICEing the spot, since the car IS an EV (yes, even Plug-ins with Range Extenders (gas engine backups are such), however, the person needs to be more mindful of what they’re doing.

Another example can be seen at the Americana at Brand on Thursday, July 12.  The same day that the BMW X5 above was ticketed for ICEing the spot.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 1

This Volt was charging while parked in Spot 2 using the charger on Spot 1. I understand that their charging port is on the driver’s side, but if the other spots had been taken, another car MAY not have been able to park in Spot 1 to use the charger in Spot 2 without possibly crossing Spot 2. The driver of the Volt should have used the charger assigned to Spot 2 and left the charger in Spot 1 available for someone else to use.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 2

The charger was available AND long enough to reach the Volt’s front Driver’s side charging port.

Americana at Brand - Level 2A - Volt using wrong charger 3

I don’t know if we have a word for this fellow EV driver erroneously using the wrong charger, but if all indications are correct and there will be more of us on the road, we really need to be more mindful of what EVSEs are appropriate for whatever parking spot we decided to take.

Currently, there are still not that many of us on the road sharing these public stations, but there are definitely more EV drivers than in the past.  And the projected sales figures show a little over 3x as many this year as last year.  So, the EV community needs to be more mindful of how to approach this inadvertent blocking of the precious few charging spots and locations to charge.