With one year left… Tips on extending the BMW ActiveE experience! – DriveNow

With less than one year to go on my ActiveE experience, I KNOW that I will be jonesing for more ActiveE driving.  I’m sure that the Model S that we have reserved would keep me rEVolutionary.  However, one never forgets ones first…  EV love!

So, what do I recommend?

BMW and Sixt’s JV in San Francisco – drive-now.com.

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My experience with drive-now was not positive because of USER ERROR and not their fault… Though, I was initially irritated with the process.

So, I looked into this product several months ago when they first launched. At the time, drive-now was in a few locations throughout the city of San Francisco and required that subscribers show up to a registration center to join them. This process stuck on MY idea of what the process is. At the time, I provided feedback via the Active E forums that the drive-now should go ahead and provide stations near the airports and/or mail the FOBs to subscribers directly.

Flash forward to when I signed up. Apparently, they listened to my suggestion, but I assumed that they only took the first part of the suggestion which was to locate these centers by the airports. So, I was on a trip a few weeks ago to Napa and thought that it would be fun to rent an Active E for the trip. I was arriving in San Francisco International on Saturday morning and figured to go ahead and sign up for the service on Wednesday prior to my arrival.

Since I had an early lunch seating to make at the French Laundry in Napa, I figured that I would just pick up my rental ActiveE on Sunday as I erroneously assumed that I would be picking up my FOB at the SkyPark Parking, located at 1000 San Mateo Ave, San Bruno, CA.

So, after a fun quick trip to Napa and Sonoma, we proceeded to SkyPark Parking at San Bruno to see if we could rent an Active E and pick up our FOB. So, we drove to the location, and told the folks there that I had just signed up for the service and would like to pick up the FOB from them. I did not properly read the e-mail confirmation of my membership that clearly stated that I should contact customer service should I desire to pick up my FOB at a registration center.

The folks at SkyPark tried to address this issue for me, but were unable to even get the process started.

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They couldn’t even pull up the website. As I mentioned, it would appear that had I read the email from the folks at drive-now, I would’ve realized that I was complicit in making this process more complicated, but I do feel that they need to realize that they need to ensure that the parties that represent them should have tools that work. Additionally, it would seem that even if the device worked, the app that they are using is coded in German and they need to re-code it in English for this launch.

Oh well. Needless to say, now that I did receive my packet (the following week after I signed up for the service) I am hoping that my experience will be more positive. I will just have to find myself back in the Bay Area. I am thankful that this program does exist as a hedge for the time that I have to turn my keys in to BMW for the end of my Active E experience. I held out for hope that they would at least offer Active E Electronuts a discount on the sign ups, alas, that did not happen.

So, what do I recommend. First, read their communications. If you are looking to use the service right away, make sure to follow the instructions. Otherwise, if you are flying into San Francisco or Oakland, make sure to at least sign up for drive-now a week or two prior to arrival.

Cheers from London! The permanent BMWi Store Park Lane, Mayfair, London

In London for a quick trip and decided to stop by the BMWi Store in Mayfair. Mayfair is a pretty glitzy part of London and the first location identified by BMW to present it’s BMWi sub-brand with a permanent and prominent location. Amidst walking by the Aston Martin dealership and others in the area, I have to admit that the strategy may just be the right one.

Outside –

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Inside –

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To view the entire set… My good friends at Flickr…

This location was originally set up prior to the BMWi World Tour that we visited in New York City and currently features older versions of the i3 and i8 Concept. What makes this location different than the World tour is the space is much smaller and the vehicles themselves are older versions of the i3 and i8.

The i8 at this location was the one featured in the film Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (AKA Mission Impossible 4) and was the first of the i series that I’ve ever seen in any media.

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It’s still a beauty.

Another difference is that the carbon fiber shell in this display was of the i8 and not the i3 as was seen on the World Tour…

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Front of the car –

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Back of the car –

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The young lady, Jess, who hosted our visit to the BMWi store explained that the biggest challenge that they have at the location was having to explain to interested parties that they would have to wait to take delivery of the i8. Some of the more affluent have tried to resort to offering more than BMW is asking for the car to get it delivered NOW. Alas, this writer does love the look of any of the BMW i8s, but will have to resort to considering the i3 or i3 Coupe if I were to stick with the BMW line.

With the location in Mayfair, I would think that BMW would be moving more of the i8s than the i3s… But, I guess time will tell.

Next time, I’ll have to try to get to BMW Headquarters and see the exhibit of 40 years of BMW Electrics that they tweet/G+ post from time to time.

Oh, and we’re ONE WEEK from my ONE YEAR Anniversary and the Active E is going in for “regular” service on Tuesday. Here’s to wishing for a quick turnaround!

LAX Parking… free no more… March 1st, 2013…

Thanks to fellow Active E Electronut Dr. Bob on the ActiveE forum, it looks like LAX will no longer be allowing parking and charging for free in Lot 6 and Lot 1 beginning March 1, 2013.  Also, looks like Helen Chiu (@yesthisishelen on Twitter) posted the following, which looks like a scan of the notice.

Needless to say, this was a nice benefit that was provided to EV and Plug-in Hybrid drivers that has been running at LAX for quite a while (especially since it was not until April last year that the chargers were upgraded to J1772).  So, this leads me to believe that this benefit was at least around for when most people charged with the old SPI chargers (and therefore GM EV1 or the older Toyota RAV4 Electric (not the re-launched based on a Tesla platform).

It was great to have this benefit out there, but seeing how California public facilities really need to be upgraded, I suppose it is to be expected that the LAX folks would be counting on increasing their revenue from ALL users of LAX Parking facilities.  This just means that I’ll have to plan my trips in and out of LAX with off-site parking in mind and ensure that I have enough charge to get home before I park.

LAX Onsite parking is pretty expensive.  Though the charging will more than likely remain “free”, the charge for parking would mean that one will need to consider OTHER charging stations near LAX.  I would suggest the Blink Network ones at Loyola Marymount University.  There are about fifteen that show up and cost between $1-$2 an hour to charge depending on the plan that you have.  The address to LMU is 1 LMU Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

For those that want to appeal the decision – parking@lawa.org is the email address for the folks at LAX Parking.

BMWi World Tour – New York City Stop – 42nd and 6th Avenue, Across from Bryant Park – The second floor

So, the first floor of the New York stop of the BMWi focused on the upcoming i3 and i8 Spyder, the second floor was more lounge and other types of experience.

My wife and I met Karim, a nice young guy fom the BMWi team who was quite personable and was on his first trip to New York City. Aside from the pleasant company, the lounge in the second floor provided a section on non-BMW products that they identified as “Good Goods” by designers and businesses that have developed sustainable products for use. Such as wood jewelry, urban gardening, designer headphones made from fully recycled metals, and large wood ceiling fans. All of these things promote more Eco-Friendly products.

Additionally, there was an art installation entitled the Red Paper Heart that is activated when the viewer inserts a finger in a slot and the installation begins a light show from that.

I took stils instead of video –

Initial state –

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After I followed the instructions

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All this eco-friendly design studio was tied to the BMWi Lab which is where the BMW designers seem to have tied in the entire thing to the design of the BMWi vehicle line.

Recyclable components are what is shown here –

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Now, it just so happened that the morning that we flew in for the BMWi Born Electric Tour was part of the sustainability Hackathon that they were holding in the cafe section of the second floor and I had an interesting conversation with Charlie Oliver. Charlie was working with others to assist BMWi’s DriveNow carsharing service come up with a solution for inventory management and enticing users to plug the Active Es that they rented for the short-term so that the inventory is always available for use. She seemed to have a good grasp of the problem and I hope that she and her team were able to come up with some good ideas for DriveNow to solve this problem. Another problem that was related to this issue was also the management of the fleet so that it is more evenly dispersed throughout the Bay Area. It would seem that a good number of the fleet would end up at the same locations.

BMWi World Tour – New York City Stop – 42nd and 6th Avenue, Across from Bryant Park – Initial reactions and pictures

A picture is worth a 1,000 words…

This one is worth a whole lot more

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Yes, that’s the BMW i8 Spyder Concept Plug in Hybrid. Apparently, it’s only rated for 22 miles electric. That’s the down side. The price, not yet released, but I’m sure it’s an arm and a leg and perhaps more.

So, I was a little bummed that I was invited to an event on Tuesday that I was unable to make, so I’m hoping that the LA Auto Show event will be just as awesome. So, stay tuned.

We got to the BMWi World Tour location on 42nd and 6th Avenue slightly around 10:20am this morning EST after having left the Lakers leading the Suns at the end of the 3rd Quarter on Friday to catch American Airlines 30 from LAX to JFK departing at 11:40 pm PST (2:40am EST) and arrived at JFK 8:05 am EST (5:05 am PST). Upon entry to the exhibit, we were greeted by the staff and Mark from New York accompanied us as we walked around the bottom floor and we talked i3, EVs, i8, and our specific experience as Electronuts (those that use foursquare, use your check in and get some coffee/cappuccino on the second floor.)

Mark was very engaged in the conversation and he did his job well, he asked many questions as it related to our ActiveE and I finally saw the i3.

Here is one of me with the i3.

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Unfortunately, the better half just does not like hatchbacks and she wouldn’t mind the i8.

Here’s a picture of me with the i8.

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Mark accompanied us around the ground floor and gave specs on the carbon fiber build and the fact that the i3 will have a 22kWh battery and yet have the same range as the ActiveE. My wife asked about additional range and Mark mentioned the Gas Range Extender.

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According to Mark, the void to the right of and beside the electric motor is where the range extender will be expected to reside, so adding it should NOT take much space away from the i3.

Here’s a close up of the interior of the concept –

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And here is the i3 concept with both doors open –

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Mark had spent a good deal of time with us downstairs, and we proceeded to go upstairs for the coffee and the gallery space. As I’m going to need to rest a little from the red eye, I’ll cover the upstairs and our few minutes with Karim on a subsequent post.

In the meantime, here’s my flickr stream of this space.

Additionally, I forgot to check out this interactive wall that BMW created to “transform” 6th Avenue traffic into i series vehicles.

Lastly, even with as much caffeine as I tried to drink at the BMWi World Tour stop, I know I start to get loopy when I decide to ham it up on a photo booth they had set up.

Now to take a short nap and recharge.

Got car back earlier than a week… Sort of…

It looks like the permanent fix requires a back-ordered part and since I’ve stressed to my local BMW dealer my challenge to try to catch up to Tom Moloughney’s EXTREMELY CHALLENGING pace (really, 96 miles a day! Ugh) I got the car back this morning at -20 before next scheduled service (climbed to -60 by the time I got to the office). The countdown for service was not reset because I need to get back to them as soon as the part arrives.

So, I’m at 20,040 ish and waiting for the final fix for the Spline issue. The part is back-ordered and they let me go back on the road. Not sure if any of the software fixes are applied to take care of the GFCI issues with some public chargers and whether or not launch control was removed.

I’ll let you know once I get back from my weekend in New York where I intend to catch up to the BMWi World tour at Bryant Park this weekend. Too bad I couldn’t fly in for the Tuesday event for my fellow Electronuts!

At least with the car back, I’ll get to park at LAX for FREE!

Charge It! – Great food near public chargers #6 in an ongoing series – Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey – Nauna’s Bella Casa and ActiveE #1

I still owe you guys my first National Plug In Day experience.  However, to be a little more timely, I figure to update my Charge It! series.

As many of my readers know, I’ve been writing on a series of great restaurants to go to while you charge. Today’s post is a little different. It’s nowhere to be found in the Los Angeles area. It’s in Northern New Jersey, approximately 30 minutes (with no real traffic) from New York city – Nauna’s Bella Casa. No, I didn’t take several weeks to go from Los Angeles to New Jersey to go to lunch with my ActiveE. For this trip, I rented a Nissan Leaf from Hertz on Demand. Hertz car sharing subsidiary which allows members the opportunity to rent either a Nissan Leaf or SmartEV in the New York city area.

Nauna’s Bella Casa can be found at 148 Valley Road, Montclair, New Jersey, 07042.  (973) 744-3232.


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So, what takes me from New York City to Montclair, New Jersey. Frankly, I wanted to meet this guy, Tom Moloughney, aka Mini-E #250 and more importantly to me, Mr. ActiveE #1 and the top mileage leader that I foolishly challenged to try to “catch up” on top mileage use for all of the other ActiveE Electronuts.  As of the writing of this posting (in-flight from JFK to LAX) my ActiveE is waiting for me at LAX Lot 6 with 17,902 and Tom’s listed mileage on wotnogas.com is 27,795…  Needless to say, this is a TOUGH challenge.

Here’s a picture of Tom Moloughney and me in front of Tom’s New Jersey EF-OPEC (AKA Active E #1).

Had a good lunch and great company with fellow @BMWi evangelist @tommolog Nauna's Bella Casa in Montclair NJ

So, how’s the food. It was good, home-style Italian food at a great value. I had the lunch special which was Soup, Entree, soft drink, coffee (or tea, I believe) and dessert for $9.99. As opposed to other posts in this series, I have NO picture of the food. I was too busy enjoying the discussions between Tom and myself on the Active E, EVs, new BMWs, Teslas, Energy Independence, etc.

For my choice of soup, I picked the Pasta Fagioli. There were other choices, but I really like Pasta Fagioli so I had that. For my entree, I went with the Fusilli e Pollo which is the spiral pasta with grilled chicken & spinach. I really enjoyed the Fusilli e Pollo, but since I went out to Nauna’s in Day two of my trip to the East Coast, the meal was biologically breakfast for me, so the portion size was a little larger than I could finish, so I brought the rest to go. I skipped coffee and had ice cream for dessert (chocolate).  The meal was very good and felt home-cooked.

How about the chargers?  Nauna’s has two J1772 chargers, one on Chargepoint and the other on the Blink Network.  If you’re eating here, the charging is gratis, otherwise, the network fees would apply, I believe that the Chargepoint is free, but the Blink is based on your membership plan, so to get that charging at no cost, check in with the restaurant before you plug in.

How did I do getting to Nauna’s.  Well, I picked up the Nissan Leaf (was hoping for a SmartEV, but that will have to be a different post) from Hertz On Demand’s location at 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.   This drive was approximately 20 miles away, but my consumption is closer to 35 miles from the range.  This was my first time driving a Leaf for ANY extended period and I must say that it was not as fun as my Active E, at least it seemed to perform better than the Coda that I test drove a few months ago.

So, if you find yourself anywhere near Montclair, NJ.  Even if it isn’t that near, give Tom a call and see if he’s available and you can enjoy a tasty lunch and have some fun “talking EV and stuff”.  I’ll probably get around to plug in day 2012 (Part 1, Part 2 to follow) and my Hertz on Demand SmartEV rental fiasco.