The End is Nigh!

So…As expected, it looks like the end (of the Active E lease and Field Trial) is nigh! I called and spoke to the “specialist” to see what the terms of the lease bridging is and found it to be lacking. I asked to find out when the i3 will be released and was given no information as they purported not to have any information. On an unrelated note, I have been told by a salesperson a month ago that they expect it on March 18. I would be surprised if that was accurate within a week either direction.

Anyway, it’s nice to get the correspondence from BMW, even though it really is a little late and lacking any sort of incentives to go to the i3, I’m unsure of what I will be doing on that front. We are enjoying the Roadster and the mileage that we’ve been driving the Active E continues to decline.

Having never leased prior to this program, I wonder what would be acceptable wear and tear and what would not be.

BMW Active E Lease End Prep email

EVs in the Middle East?

So… I was going to post about my Plug In Day 2013 experience in Long Beach this year, but I had a funny thought as I sit in the Club Executive Lounge at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai waiting for my ride (probably a fully kitted out Lincoln Navigator) to the airport to catch my flight to LAX via London.

I was in London for business last week and was disappointed at not seeing any EVs in the Congestion Charging zone and being within a few blocks walk of the Park Lane BMWi dealership. Business does get in the way of my EV obsession.

So what was the funny thought…

I wondered where the nearest “official” Plugshare charging station was from my hotel. I was wondering whether it would be within a BMW Active E, Tesla Roadster, or Tesla Model S range…

Turns out, yes, just not easily!

Plugshare Map of the Middle East ex. Israel

Have to cross borders and find other “un-official” places to charge, but the AC power in the countries in the region would have charged any of the cars as well as any other country, one just needs to carry the EVSE with you. This ability is another thing that Tesla Motors does better than other US EV manufacturers. I say US EV manufacturers because in Europe, they actually carry their plugs with them, so, I suppose that’s similar to the Tesla method.

What do you get when you carry your plug with you? Well, you get to plug in to many different sockets. The Tesla Roadster UMC or Tesla Model S MC are adapters that handle between 110-240v of charging at amperages that go from 12 Amps to 50 Amps continuous. The Active E used to be rated to get 7.2 kw per hour charging from a compatible J1772 station (this has since been hobbled via software to ensure compatibility with more public charging stations.)

So, have I seen any EVs in Dubai. Expectedly not. However, I was disappointed in not seeing any in Central London. My British EV friends really need some help to convince their fellow countrymen to step up.

UPDATE FIVE HOURS AFTER INITIAL POST:

Nissan Leaf ad inside Dubai International Airport

Saw an Advertisement for Nissan Leaf at the Dubai International Airport Departures Terminal 1… Strange… Then again, they may be advertising CarWings… (does Nissan use Carwings on ICE vehicles?)

Active E mileage slow down…

As predicted, once a Tesla joins the garage, the Active E mileage seems to be slowing down.

Not much, but still there…

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Still… in keeping up with Laker great mileage homage pictures. Thinking of Jerry West. Never saw him as a player, but man, what a General Manager!

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It doesn’t help that the BMW Active E forums have been down for over a month. It seems like our friends from BMW i really have started to ignore the Active E Electronuts.

Besides, the Tesla Roadster’s been fun to drive (as is evidenced by last weekend’s Tour de Tesla drive.)

Just hoping that BMW steps it up with some sort of offer for the i3 for Electronuts, otherwise, I would predict a lower conversion rate from Active E to i3. There are a lot of choices out there, and the i3 should have tried to hold on to the Active E drivers.

I guess BMWi has not forgotten about the Active E Electronuts

So, even though the ActiveE forums are still down…

At least BMW i has started to communicate with us again –

Probably better a little late than never…

 

BMW

BMW ActiveE Field Trial Updates.     View Online
BMW
ActiveE FIELD TRIAL DEVELOPMENTS.
Dear Electronaut,

With the recent worldwide announcement of the BMW i3, we would like to update you on some of the advances that have been made during the BMW ActiveE Field Trial. Your valued collective inputs have resulted in lessons which can only be learned by doing and driving.

You may be aware of some technical challenges encountered during the field trial and we want to assure you that each instance has been an experience where we have learned and applied change, either to the ActiveE or toward the development of BMW i vehicles. Such beneficial experiences are not restricted to the vehicles themselves, but also pertain to the systems and processes which support them and to the knowledge of those who implement them. As an Electronaut, you are an integral part of this knowledge chain.

As we approach the final months of the ActiveE Field Trial, we have gained the ability to extract the most from the vehicles. Some of you have encountered issues and have patiently collaborated with us to achieve solutions. For example, a number of problems were encountered with variations in charging equipment and related vehicle functions. Your feedback and creativity in helping us resolve some of these issues have been genuinely inspiring.

In the environment of the field trial, changes have been made to certain ActiveE components, software, and also in the support processes. At this stage in the field trial, we are moving forward with the refinement of our support structure for electric drive vehicles and continue to implement software updates. Such an update is currently being rolled out to BMW ActiveE Centers and will be uploaded on your next service visit. Enhancements are primarily centered on charging and other functions used to prepare the ActiveE for driving. Notable revisions include:

    • Preconditioning: Previously limited to 60 minutes while connected to a Level 2 charging station, this update will enable 90 minutes of preconditioning: 60 minutes for the HV (High Voltage) battery in order to better prepare it for colder weather and 30 minutes for the passenger cabin, compared to the previous 30 minutes for each function. The ability to cool the passenger cabin during preconditioning has also been made more reliable.

 

    • Energy Recovery Indicator: When driving off at 100% SOC (State of Charge), the Energy Recovery Indicator in the instrument panel might illuminate when releasing the accelerator pedal, warning that Energy Recovery or “Regeneration” is not possible. Also, the SOC indicator should now show 100% when fully charged, particularly in cold weather.

 

    • Charging: Optimization of the active thermal management system for the HV system improves performance in high ambient temperatures; for instance, you may notice the underhood cooling fan operating more frequently. Additionally, the charging rate has been revised to reduce heat levels in the onboard charger. This may result in extended charging times for the ActiveE, depending on the charging station being used and its available electrical supply. Finally, the HV system has been reprogrammed to “stay awake” for a longer period, to help alleviate reset issues with various charging equipment systems.

 

  • Service Maintenance Interval: Lastly, the maintenance interval for the ActiveE has been revised from once every three months or 5,000 miles, to every six months or 5,000 miles, whichever comes first. This feature should coincide with your next scheduled maintenance reset.

Should you have any concerns, please contact your local BMW ActiveE Center, or the BMW ActiveE Customer Relations Team at 855.236.1025 or ActiveECustomerRelations@bmwusa.com. Thank you once again for your invaluable cooperation in the BMW ActiveE Field Trial. Together, we have made remarkable progress toward an exciting future.

Best regards,

The BMW ActiveE Team

Efficient Dynamics

 

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I’m pretty sure that I’ve already noticed the change in the charging behavior. I haven’t noticed the near 100% SOC regen note (warning). The change in the maintenance schedule won’t affect us. With the number of miles that we drive in our Active E, we’re still at the every 5,000 mile intervals rather than the monthly intervals. In fact, our Active E is in the shop right now with the front tires being replaced…

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18 months of the 24 month program and about 43,251 miles (which is as jumbled up as 12345 can get)… It was time to replace them.

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All I know is BMW i needs to step up. It’s BMW i’s move to keep on the 700 of us that participated in the Active E program.

We would’ve been such an easy sale for them. Now, it looks like Tesla will be winning us over for the immediate future. It’s nice to see that they have learned a lot from our trials and I am happy to have paid for the privilege to help. It was a good symbiosis. If only I had participated in the Mini E trials sooner, perhaps they would not have assumed that 80-100 mile range would be “ideal.” I still propose a 200 mile range vehicle (at 80% of 160 miles for better battery life, etc.)…

Instead of the i3, I still propose to BMW i that they should just sell me our Active E. There is an emotional attachment that was formed between driver and vehicle. The folks at Tesla have been really friendly and some have been quite empowered to provide top-notch service. The Model S does feel like a luxury car, just not as luxurious as other makes that it competes with.

The Roadster is a driver’s car. It matches well with the drive of many a small BMW that we’ve driven in the past (and frankly blows away the ActiveE in performance.) But, it has even less usable space. But, boy is it fun to drive. There is a certain joy in driving it and hopefully, we’ll be welcoming the Tesla Roadster home tomorrow.

Pondering a Blog Name Change…

I’ve been a loyal BMW customer over twelve years.

Not quite like others in the Active E community, Gerald Belton (Mr. BMW), but we’ve been loyal. There were several years where we had a Honda Civic Hybrid in our garage, but it was surrounded by BMWs. When the California legislature writes laws that allow solo HOV access, I tend to follow them. Regardless of performance, etc. time is valuable and solo HOV access is like gold.

I’ve documented our journey to EV ownership the last eighteen (18) months of driving electric as we just passed 42,500 miles. Had we been allowed to, we would have purchased the Active E, but BMW wants the car back.

Not one car that I’ve driven has spoken to both myself and my better half as well as our Active E has. The Model S was the closest for a lot of things, but its price has been hard to swallow. However, if any EV is worth the money Tesla is charging (even with price increases) it is the Model S. After owning one EV, we decided that we will have at least two EVs. We placed a reservation for the Model S last year (after several months with the Active E) and that was what we’ve decided to be one of our two EVs by the time we return our Active E in February 2014. The Model S was designated to be my better half’s car. All was set and we had a plan. We’ve been through the BASE price change and decided to stick with the Model S reservation and not finalize at the beginning of 2013. Furthermore, we’ve been through several accessory price changes, and stuck with the vehicle. This last accessory price change made us re-evaluate a few things that were marginal and decided that we didn’t really need some options, but some of the additional options were of interest, so we were generally pleased with some of the additional options in the new accessory package in the current version of the Design Studio. The Model S is a BIG car as it compares to the Active E and other EVs that we’ve been looking at. After all this time, we finally decided to confirm our Model S reservation last week for a delivery later this year.

I have been rooting for the i3, but BMW has had numerous missteps on it.

Misstep #1 –

The largest misstep is the aesthetics. It does not look like a BMW to me (and to others). We’ve been lucky enough to have had several BMWs. The design of the i3 has grown on me, so that was a BIG issue that was alleviated for me; however, to swap out the Active E with the i3 was made possible by the fact that we will have a Model S in the garage/driveway for first EV. The i3 will be my daily driver. The devil is in the details, but after the multi-year exposure to the i3, I’ve adjusted to its radically different styling from its ICE brethren. However, the i3 aesthetic is a compromise for me. It would not have been my first choice, but, knowing the drivetrain and battery pack that I’ve been driving is the same one on the i3 as my Active E, with nearly 2000 pounds less, this car will be fun to drive.

Misstep #2 –

I’ve already proven that I’m fine with driving 102 mile roundtrips on a daily basis in the Active E. The generosity of Pacific BMW is appreciated as I do my charge around the 51 mile point at a dealership 3/4 of a mile away from my office. And the policy to provide charging for Active E drivers at dealerships that participate in the program at no cost did help me these past 18 months. However, misstep number two was letting me know that the convenience and subsidized charging that I enjoyed in the past will be revoked as the i3 is launched and I will have to budget in a daily charge at the dealership, I am not complaining about this, just have to consider it in my i3 purchase. Nissan and Tesla are offering subsidized charging, at Level 3 at that at several locations/dealerships and this provides the customer with some comfort. Or in my case enough range to really use an 80-100 mile car to its maximum. Specific to my location, the Nissan dealership across the street from Pacific BMW (Glendale Nissan) offers 8 hours of L2 or an hour of CHAdeMO at no cost. Something to consider. Now that there’s a Leaf in the family, I am getting more familiar with the Leaf and see the benefits of the 2013 model.

Misstep #3 –

REx as the only option to increase the range from 80-100 miles when there is good “space” to add batteries. Give me the option to pay for additional battery capacity to 150 to 200 miles.

Now, I understand that the i3 has a REx with it, optional, but I do not want to drive gasoline if possible. I have a hybrid garage, and do drive ICE at times, but it’s on my choice. I would have enjoyed a LARGER battery pack and range option for the i3, much the same way that Tesla had marketed the Model S with three battery pack options (originally.). The 22 kWh battery pack of the i3 with a 80-100 mile range is fine, for the most part, but I do need to charge to make it work. Additionally, as Tom Moloughney has pointed out (as well as others in the EV community), to ensure long battery life, it is recommended to charge a pack at 80% (or less). If I were to do such a setting on an i3, I would need to have an effective 64-80 mile range. BMW i missed the opportunity abdicated by Tesla Model S when Tesla stopped producing 40 kWh Model S. BMW should have filled in the gap and come out with a 22 kWh and greater (one or two options) battery pack range. Two options at 150 and 200 mile max ranges come to mind. That way we can charge at 80% and get the subsequent 120 to 160 daily range.

In fact, Nicholas Zart, has pondered

I don’t agree, but he does pose an interesting observation in his writings.

Misstep #4 –

It would seem that BMW has decided to abandon the BMW Electronaut community.

Perhaps this is a little strong, but let’s face it. Some of us don’t want to be on Facebook and my main Active E resource has been our little forums has been my place to correspond with fellow Electronuts. And I feel abandoned. The site went down a few weeks prior to the i3 launch and has stayed down. BMW had a funny quote on the site:

BMW Active E Forum Redirect

But let’s be serious… If the website is any indication of the reliability of the BMW i brands and the focus that they’re getting, this is unacceptable. I’ve been in the technology field for too long to forgive this sort of outage. Though the Active E program was a test program, a website is not.

Additionally, the originally touted Electronaut effect website has gone stale. It does NOT auto update any longer. And it would seem that it, too stopped around the i3 launch.

Electronaut Effect Stagnant

Now, I still want to hear what sort of “compelling” offer they will have to remaining Electronauts to get us to convert, but it will have to be really good for me to jump on it…

So, why am I pondering a blog name change?

I am faced with the sad reality that the Active E will be going back to BMW in six months (and a few days as of the writing of this post.)

Additionally, I’m not convinced that the i3 IS the right vehicle for me, so the blog after February 2014 won’t have an Active E or possibly an i3 to write about.

I spent a little time on eBay and the Tesla Motors website and found this section. Yes, several of these are still pricey, but a CPO Roadster at the right price just needs to pop up…

Well…

IMG_1714

A picture is worth a thousand words… I’ve been so focused on the second EV Active E replacement being a new EV that I will be driving, I didn’t think of getting one for my wife as we’ve already decided that she will drive the Model S when it arrives later in the year. If we flip the switch and get an EV that SHE would prefer over the Model S, and, even used, the Tesla Roadster is such a vehicle. Which means our finalized Model S will be the Active E replacement.

Now, there is no guarantee that we “won’t” get an i3 as well. It just makes it more difficult for BMW i to convince me to get one. A CPO is STILL a used car, but Tesla offered a 37 month, 37,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty. Guess what, that includes EVERYTHING. AND it doesn’t include a $50 co-pay like our friends at BMW (ICE, not BMW i) had offered on previous vehicles that we’ve had.

The Model S and Roadster are not perfect. One of my biggest complaints involves picking up the dry cleaning or going to a business meeting with a suit; neither Tesla provides a good place to hang a jacket. Both Teslas make me feel like Goldilocks in that I feel the Roadster is a little bit too small (no space for Costco items,except for multiple trips) and the Model S is a bit too big (I feel like a kid putting on a suit that is two sizes bigger.)

Our Roadster is a signature one… That means it’s one of the first one hundred issued to customers. It is the 1.5 spec and has some idiosyncrasies specific to that version of the Roadster. First, 1.5 Roadsters have a shifter, whereas the 2.0 and 2.5 have push button gear shifter. I like having a park setting on the gear shift. The 1.5 that we have doesn’t have one. It’s like a manual car, have to put it in neutral, then pull up the parking brake.

It would also seem that Tesla owners set the Amperage of the charging plug that they plug into. It’s not automatic like we expect on the Active E. For example, the Active E supposedly will draw up to 7.2 killowatts per hour from a 40A Breaker/32A capable EVSE. So, we’re going to have to adjust our behavior when it comes to charging the Roadster. I suppose we’ll see if this becomes an issue when we finally take delivery of our Roadster. (wonder if the Model S behaves in the same manner.)

The Certified Pre-owned Tesla process for the Roadster is not ideal. As of the writing of this post (August 26, 2013 and still awaiting a fourth or is it fifth promise date), we still have yet to take delivery of our Tesla Roadster. We’ve been through this whole process since we put down our deposit on August 12, 2013. We were told the process would take around a week (best case), since we started on a Monday, there was a chance that we would get the car by the weekend (August 16-18.)

Tesla does not have a financing partner readily available as they do for the Model S. The delivery is slow as the product had to be shipped from Fremont and the PDI (pre-delivery inspection) took longer than the first promised date of 19th of August. The picture above was actually taken over a third or fourth revised “promised” date of 24th of August (which would have been poetic, because that is exactly six months until we have to return our Active E to BMW). And since the financing is not integrated to the process, we continue to find ourselves being charged interest on a car that we did not yet “possess”. Granted in the longer scheme of ownership, what’s an extra X days of waiting. However, though the torque is instantaneous in all EVs, waiting for delivery of the order of an already built Tesla does take some time. Our Roadster took a while to get from Fremont to Southern California and we are still waiting a longer time to get through PDI. Patience is a virtue, and boy are we “virtuous”, though losing patience.

Here are some pictures from our visit this past Saturday.

Ordering a Model S was also without its challenges. I placed my reservation in 2012 with the expectation to finalize the design, etc. in August 2013 based on the delays at the time I gave my initial deposit. I was then approached in February 2013 with a requirement to finalize my order or be subject to the base price increase. We accepted the price increase at that time to delay until August only to find ourselves subject to several accessory price changes. Granted, some of the additional options that were added on were ones that we opted for, it is still somewhat disingenuous to be inconsistent with price increases for those of us who put down a deposit a while back. We will be taking delivery of our Model S sooner than I had originally anticipated. However, with the constant price increases and the fact that if we were to take delivery of the Model S as we return our Active E in February would introduce at least a 14 month delay for receipt of the Federal Tax Rebate vs. a five to six month delay if we took delivery of the car in late 2013.

Now the question is, being that I am currently second in the nation for Active E mileage. Do I keep going on the Active E or do I start driving Model S more. I don’t have the answer to that. The “contest” with Tom Moloughney took an unfortunate turn when he got into an accident two weeks ago in Active E #1. No matter what mileage I end up with, if I happen to surpass Tom’s total mileage in in his Active E, the “victory” will be a hollow one. Perhaps I will attempt to come in exactly on the same mileage as his car as an homage to all that Tom has done for the rEVolution and BMW EV fans in particular. That is a lot tougher call to do the match of miles. Or I can honor Tom by taking on the mantle of mileage lead and hold off all challengers. I haven’t decided yet, and will have to wait until our Model S arrives.

So, if I start to blog more about my experiences with Tesla Motors… Can I still give my blog by its current title? Should I change the blog title? I am currently unsure and uncertain. Granted, it was still the Active E that made me Environmental… But Tesla seems to be delivering the vehicles that BMW should have provided to me, even five years ago when our “new” Roadster was produced; I would have been such an easy sale for BMW with the Active E.

So, the i3 was finally launched…

BMW i, the sub-brand “Born Electric” that I’ve been flying all over the world to visit in both New York and London had a simultaneous three city simulcast launch of the i3 on Youtube that included Beijing to the aforementioned New York and London to its production.

It was attended by some of the automotive press, though not by one of my favorite EV writers and primary host to one of my favorite weekly video podcasts, Transport Evolved, Nikki Gordon-Bloomfield nor by respected EV advocate Chelsea Sexton. Not many of the seven hundred other Active E Electronuts got in with the exception of Tom Moloughney. I am sure Tom did a great job representing the rest of us, as he always does. [Update 4:55pm Pacific – Tom’s i3 blogpost pics]

I was hoping to get to the event, however, after watching it at the wee hours of 5:25 am Pacific time, I’m glad I didn’t. Nothing earth shattering about the announcement. BMW i has done a good job of previously communicating everything else about the car that the big “to do” was really, eh… Or since I’m writing this on the Internet. Meh.

Nikki wrote this on Twitter:

Frankly, I think that BMW i did fine, considering its cultural roots at BMW. The fact that BMW had the foresight to set up a different sub-brand in BMW i to pursue electrification, etc. is commendable but it still belabors the challenge it faces inherent to its culture (both as a major producer of ICE vehicles AND being German.) Tesla is borne of the Silicon Valley. Tesla does not have the legacy of ICE and decades of automotive culture to shackle itself to. BMW i does. It’s a good start at trying to re-make its parent into the rEVolution. I’ve been relatively happy with the service that I get as an Active E Electronut, but can’t say that I get that much more than being a regular BMW owner.

The holistic approach that BMW i proposes in its 360 Electric program seems intriguing, the GPS that directs a person to take public transportation, or the loaner ICE fleet for longer drives, or any of the other “enhancements” does take into account the concept of having an 80-100 mile EV range vehicle and building upon an external infrastructure to integrate it into. At the end of the day, I’m a Southern California driver, and it still won’t get me out of my car. I want my car to get me from point A to point B and don’t really care to use most of these enhancements. I already run a hybrid garage, so that other stuff sounds cool, but who knows if I’ll end up using it.

I just wonder if this announcement of the i3 is the start of getting Active E Electronuts ignored. It’s been over a week and change since the Active E forum has been operational. And I’m wondering if it’s a sign of things to come. The @BMWiUSA Twitter feed has thanked me for being patient, but seeing that these i3 announcements would’ve been ideal times to have discussions going on in those forums make me wonder whether it’s time for me to join FB and just see what the Active E FB crowd thinks. I’d like to hear what my fellow Electronuts are thinking as well.  I see @Acevedo_Airton tweets, but wonder what others are thinking.  I’m hoping for a flurry of posts on the blogs of fellow Electronuts, specifically, Mr. BMW, Gerald Belton, with as much BMW experience as he has, I’d like to hear what he thinks of the i3!

As for the presentation itself, it is a tell-tale sign when the production of the i3 launch features a bunch of BMW Board Members that frankly I would not be able to tell from a crowd versus Tesla’s announcements with Tony Stark Elon Musk. Having been lucky enough to attend the Tesla Model S Battery Swap event (which I suppose I should’ve posted on my blog, but here’s some pictures on Flickr), I can compare the productions head to head and I’m glad I didn’t spend any money flying to the bore that was the early morning announcement of the i3. Twitter and others were abuzz about the Battery Swap event. It was a jeans and nice shirt event with a club-like atmosphere and flair and the i3 event was staged and button down.

All these folks comparing the i3 with the Model S are missing the point.  BMW i should’ve made the aesthetics of the i3 closer to the BMW design and gone after the space abdicated by Tesla abandoning the 40kwh Model S (not counting the Toyota RAV4 EV 2nd Gen as that vehicle here.).  The i3 Coupe concept looks sleeker than the regular i3, but they really need better aesthetics for traditional BMW drivers to go for it.

All I have to say is that it was a good thing that I had to take the better half for an early morning flight out of LAX today, otherwise I would be cranky for waking up early for a live simulcast that was a whole lot of “meh”. And I’m a BIG BMW fan!

[The following was added 4:55pm Pacific]

So, it looks like it was a LOT more hands on than the initial presentation that we saw online approximately 12 hours ago.

Now, I’m jealous.  Not as jealous as I would’ve been had folks been able to drive the darn cars.  But actually check it out and get in and sit in the car as wrll as see the frunk (front trunk) and finally open the back to see the space in the car.  It does look spacious, especially compared to the Active E.

2012-03-08_11-59-09_355

Still, the presentation itself still rated the same meh as earlier, but the after presentation stuff ranked higher for me. Especially since the Tesla event only allowed attendees to look, but not touch the Model X.

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