To Rex or not to Rex… The California predicament

So… Tom Moloughney, Electronaut #1, has covered this subject numerous times (To Rex or not to Rex original and its follow up) and as much as I am against hybrid vehicles, I have been convinced by Tom and others that if we were to order an i3, I would probably opt for the REX enabled one instead.

However, yesterday, a couple of news reports from The Street and have posited (pretty reliably) that the i3 with REX will be eligible for the much more limited Green Sticker (limited to the first 40,000 vehicles in California) for the HOV versus the unlimited white sticker variety. For a good run-down on why this matters to Californians, I direct you once again to Tom Moloughney who just wrote about it on his blog.

Now… As readers know, I really like the i3… However, at this point a third EV (because the Active E is going back in February) is really a luxury and not a necessity. Now that does not mean that we won’t do it, it just means that there needs to be something that compels us to pull the trigger on an i3. We continue to run a hybrid garage and prefer to separate our ICE vs EV trips on a vehicle by vehicle selection and not by a gas engine running in our EV.

Having been burned by the phase out of the Yellow Stickers in the past, I am part of the camp that holds the White Stickers as superior to the Green Stickers because the White Stickers are really the goal of no emissions from traditional gasoline engines vs. the pure BEV aspect of the White Stickers (I am purposefully IGNORING the fact that CNG vehicles are eligible for the same White Sticker.)

As much as I wish to hold on to my initial beliefs at the start of writing this blog. I have become Accidentally Environmental. So, I actually felt that the original proposal to extend the HOV access for the Green and White stickers with differing dates did make sense. The compromise that got the stickers until 2019 is just that, a compromise. The original extension proposed a phase out of the green stickers for HOV use in 2018 and the white ones at 2020. Knowing that I wanted to be pure BEV, I was all for that proposal.

So, if the California Legislature were to actually expire these privileges to adopters of cleaner vehicles on 2019, neither Green nor White can drive solo in the HOV lane, there is no benefit that one vehicle has over the other. However, there may still be a better chance of the White Sticker to be extended because it is inherently cleaner than the Green Sticker vehicles. There is nothing but faith that leads me to posit this. Therefore I can not provide any other backing of this belief.

So, should we even decide to continue a relationship with BMW i, do I get a REX enabled i3 or the pure BEV i3. I was leaning toward the REX i3 because I often do 102 mile days. I prefer to drive the Active E now over the Model S. They are both excellent vehicles, I just am more comfortable with my Active E. As I drive the Model S more often, I still like a lot of things that BMW does. Is this enough to add a third EV? Well, it really depends on getting the better half to agree that the car does not look as bad in person as it does to her in pictures and whether we decide to garage my wife’s Roadster more often.

If we do get the i3… Rex or Not Rex? Well, we’ll see. Luckily, being a fan of games of chance, I think that there is a better than average chance for ANY California Electronut (BMW Active E Electronaut) to get the REX enabled i3 for a Green Sticker. But this is a $50,000 bet for a smaller return. It would make for better resale values to have a special “Electronaut Edition” of the i3 with REX AND a sticker. After 2019, it might not matter.

As of 2:45 pm Pacific on January 10, 2014. I still don’t know. Ask me later. (and oh yeah, I have a week left to decide whether we’re continuing with BMW i or not.)

Are Plug-in Hybrids, EVs?

So, are plug-in hybrids, EVs?

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.

Basically, I respect the fact that Volt owners would go through all sorts of lengths to stay driving electric.  I can only guess how frustrating it is to only have 40 miles of EV range.  Even driving a pure BEV for the majority of my drive has still required me to go approximately 20% of the time on gasoline.  Now, I don’t feel guilty about driving gas, just irritated at how much it costs me when I do.  In fact, during the past three months, it cost me a bit to replace the battery on my X5.

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.