HOV Lanes and the Green Sticker… AB2013 (another Soap Box)

Regular readers of this blog would know of my intent to migrate from the ActiveE to an i3 for a daily commuter vehicle. The Model S is just too large for this purpose and the Roadster is, as my wife puts it, “like wearing your little black dress to work”.

Since I drive so much, my initial order was for an i3 with REX. However, as the Green Sticker’s initial 40,000 car limit was reached, I switched to the BEV version of the i3. HOV access was the benefit for early adopters of PHEVs. The California legislature allowed the first 40,000 in the state to apply for and receive Green Stickers to access the HOV access.

EV advocate Chelsea Sexton took a position against AB2013 in her blog post. Being a self-interested individual, I supported the early adopters of PHEVs privilege of using a the HOV solo. However, since the 40,000 limit has been reached, I did what the law intended to do, switch to a BEV for solo HOV access. Now, whether I actually get an i3 still holds at the 5% probability that I’ve been giving it lately.

Behind the wheel of an i8, a car that looks great, but it only has 20 miles of range, if that.

So, what does this have to do with AB2013. What is MY position on this. I am against the amendment as it is currently written. After rewarding the 40,000 early adopters of PHEVs, I think that it is ridiculous to give subsequent PHEVs solo HOV access without any minimum limits on all electric range. The Toyota Plug-In Prius gets about 9 miles of all EV range and the upcoming Porsche Plug-In and BMW i8 both have about 20 miles of range, in the best cases. This is just wrong. I propose that PHEVs should have a minimum of sixty (60) miles of all EV range before it is eligible to ride in the HOV lane by itself. Now, how did I come up with 60 miles. I figured, why not provide a stretch goal. If the average commute is 40 miles roundtrip, most EV drivers know that there will be battery degradation with their vehicles and I wanted to ensure that the 40 miles will continue to be reached for the next 5 or so years. Additionally, why settle for average? The BEVx category was created for a reason, let’s actually make it “worth” something.

In fact, I am willing to share the text of what I wrote to my Assemblywoman and State Senator regarding this proposal.

Dear (CA legislator):

I am writing to you about my opposition to AB2013 on the expansion of the “Green Sticker” program for HOV access as it is currently written.

Though it is commendable to provide 40,000 PHEV into the HOV lane for trying to do the proper thing. To do so without limits on a MINIMUM number of kWh of battery capacity / or Electric range is impractical. Thousands of Californians have proven that EVs work and should not be penalized by those that only “partially commit”. I oppose PHEVs for Green Sticker expansion as long as there is not a minimum range required. I would support that a minimum 60 mile EV range be set as the guideline for any further expansion of “Green Sticker” eligibility. Otherwise, let the 40,000 that made it into the HOV lanes under the current law be the maximum for this privilege.

Adding a minimum EV mileage limit would incentivize fellow Californians to do the right thing and pick a vehicle that truly moves the needle. The current release of the Prius Plug In with its 9 mile range and the pending release of 20 mile range vehicles like the Porsche Plug In or the BMW i8 is a mockery of the efforts that we are doing to stop Global Warming/Climate Change.

Thank you,

(Your Name)

If you’re a California voter and want to contact either, do so here.

If you’re an interested party and wish to contact the Assemblymembers’ offices, please click here. If you’re looking for the State Senators, please click here.

What do you think?

Ok off my Soap Box now.

Lucky #13(,000 miles that is…)


It seems just a few months ago that we picked up our Model S from the factory in Fremont. It’s been three months and a week since we’ve had to return the ActiveE to BMW. And I’ve already made it to 13,000 miles.

Thirteen thousand is significant because that means that I’ve just completed my first recommended service at 12,500 (closer to 12,450 in my case) and I’ve made full use of the Model S during this time. It’s been a month and a half and we’ve put in 3,000 miles on the car. And I guess the latest thing to update is the probability of getting an i3 for the daily drive is diminishing. I had marked it down to 5% chance of happening.

As much as I complain about the “>AM Radio problem of the Model S, at least it has an AM Radio. The latest thing to affect me on the BMW i3 is the removal of AM Radio from the features of the vehicle. Let me reiterate, AM Radio is no longer included. I wonder if the good folks at BMW are getting a kickback from Sirius XM or some other entity to remove access to the most common part of the radio dial for News, Sports, and Talk. Living in California, when an earthquake hits, if one is not near a TV, you can pretty much guarantee that the News stations will cover the latest earthquake. The FM part of the dial does not include ANY of that coverage in any sort of meaningful way. Not to mention my obsession with listening to local sports teams play. It’s barely comprehensible on the Model S, but it’s just not available on the i3.

But I digress, to paraphrase Marc Antony, I’ve come to praise the Model S and not bury the i3 (or specifically BMWi). I’ve grown accustomed to the size of the Model S, as large as it is and as many blind spots as the car has, it’s a fun car to drive. The continual improvements in firmware keeps improving the vehicle. The latest version of firmware has reintroduced the LOW setting for the Air Suspension and coupled with the installation of the Titanium Undershield in the vehicle has made me more confident in setting the vehicle to automatically lower to this setting at less than the recommended 100MPH+ that the system is automatically set for. I’ve been playing with it and currently have it set at higher than the speed limit, but intend on lowering that closer to the flow of traffic in Los Angeles (on a GOOD DAY and not crawling at bumper-to-bumper speed.)

Additionally, the addition of the Hill Hold feature has been an unexpected blessing. The Hill Hold feature allows a Tesla Driver that does not use Creep mode (creep is when you simulate the Model S like an ICE car by forcing it to move forward when the driver’s foot is not on the brake) to take their foot off the brake and have the car hold in place before hitting the accelerator to move forward when stopped at an incline. Prior to the implementation of this setting, the car would roll backwards the moment that the driver released the brake. This seemingly minor improvement in the way the car performs has increased the ease of driving the Model S noticeably.

Aside from the constant improvement on the vehicle, the Model S Annual Service was trouble free and completed in very much a “no hassle” manner. I prepaid the Annual Maintenance with Ranger Service option. What this means is that Tesla will perform some of the maintenance and fixes at my location. I’ve had great service relationships with several BMW dealerships and I’ve often been lucky enough to get a nice loaner every time that I’ve brought a BMW in for service. Regardless of whether it is during the warranty (or as is the case with the very old vehicles) considerably past its warranty. The Tesla service is exceptional. Granted, my normal service center in Costa Mesa is often overbooked and a month out, but the beauty of the Ranger service in Southern California is that between my home and office, I have access to at least four more service centers. So, I found one that will drive out to me and either perform the service or drive it back and forth to me while I’m in the office.

In the case of my two Ranger calls for my annual service, Tesla came out for the first one (my 12,500 mile service) and dropped off a Model S 60kWh, standard suspension car while they worked on my car. The car had to be brought back to their service center because they were installing the Titanium Shield as well as other things that required them to use the tools in the shop. They picked up the car a little later than we set up and got the car back to me a little later but this was all understandable as the service was performed the Friday before the Memorial Day Holiday and there is no way to get around the LA area in a reasonable time that Friday.

The one deficiency from the original call was they forgot to do one minor fix regarding the door seal to the driver side that required them to come back out with a Ranger. The second time around the Ranger arrived thirty minutes earlier than our appointment and promptly met me in my office garage when I got in. He was able to fix the problem in the promised time and left. Needless to say, as much as I’ve had great service from BMW, the Tesla one exceeded that.

So, I guess things are working out with the Model S. At 13,000 miles, I would say so, the most telling thing is the diminishing chance of picking up an i3 for this BMW loyalist. I rated it down to 5% chance and that’s from a mixture of Tesla Execution and BMW/BMWi acting like “Keystone Cops” on the launch of the i3 and providing me with enough time to drive our Model S from the time that I was forced to relinquish my beloved ActiveE, literally CRUSHING my dream, and the constant removal of things that I want or need in my seemingly endless commute in Los Angeles traffic (Sun Roof, AM Radio, EV batteries that they could have put instead of a stupid REX). My i3 should be built by the time I publish this post, and another few weeks before it lands on our shores. Who knows, I might still forgive the BMW guys, or I might just tell them no thanks.

Memorial Day 2014… (as much a soapbox as you’ll ever see from me)

I’ve never really given much thought to our addiction to Oil and Gas.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I joined the rEVolution because I had a few goals initially:

  • I wanted to get on the HOV lane by myself. After all, time is money.
  • The EVs that we’ve chosen for our garage are all pretty fun to drive.
  • and lastly, I save a lot of money on my cost per mile. (and maintenance).
  • That was it… Not really anything “enlightened” about it. All pretty much self interest and lots of it.

    I haven’t fundamentally changed. I am still pretty much the same self-interested, profit minded person that I have been. However, after all the years being involved with my many new environmental friends, I’ve grown from being a “Climate Agnostic” to someone who accepts it and helps a little.

    I had called myself a Climate Agnostic because, I didn’t really care. At the end of it all, it didn’t matter to me whether or not Climate Change was occurring. Now, I do care and am doing a little to help stop the change. Driving electric and installing solar are a few of the things, and trying to convince others to do the same is another. I have always taken the economic route, because that is the route that got me here.

    Spolier alert, I’ve figured driving electric after installing my solar panels that it costs me approximately a penny a mile vs. fifteen to eighteen cents a mile or even a quarter to thirty cents a mile depending on which of my ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) cars I’m driving.

    But why am I posting today, well, it’s to refer you to a post that made me stop and think. This post is from about two years ago, very early on my journey in the rEVolution. At that time, I kept up on things regarding my Active E by reading Tom Moloughney’s blog and his Memorial Day post was one that helped me think about the effects of our addiction to Oil and Gas. I try not to be political on my blog because it’s not really me. I prefer a laissez-faire attitude between government and business… And you can guess where I lie in that process. However, it is often not the case that the government leaves business alone, and I, these past two years, around Memorial Day, think of Tom’s post and thought that I’d do my part in having my reader’s look at something that moved me.

    And if you, dear reader, served in protecting my freedom to express myself, I appreciate that which you did and do. Furthermore I hope that we don’t have to send you in harms way just to feed our addiction to oil and gas.

    Really, that’s a response?

    So, many of the EV sites that I follow got the attached response from BMW – thanks to the folks at Transport Evolved.

    Anyone who has watched BMW’s ongoing development in the electric vehicle space and observed our investment in BMW i, has seen clear evidence of the company’s commitment to sustainable mobility.

    BMW has always been clear that the ActiveEs were prototype vehicles and that the program would have a limited timeframe, which is now drawing to a close. Our time with the ActiveE and our Electronauts has been a great learning experience which has prepared us well for the arrival of the BMW i3 electric vehicle which is now in US showrooms at authorized BMW i Centers. As enthusiasts, we understand and appreciate the emotional connection that individuals can make with their cars. The enthusiasm that the Electronauts brought to the BMW ActiveE test program was truly remarkable.

    The learning begun with the ActiveE will transition to the next phase with all of the lithium-ion batteries being repurposed for Battery Second Life research projects.

    As prototypes, the BMW ActiveEs may not be resold. Based on increasing demand, the most well cared for cars have been deployed to bolster the fleet of Drive Now, BMW’s car sharing service in the San Francisco Bay Area, for a limited period. The total number of BMW ActiveEs in the Drive Now Fleet totals 150. Some have also been returned to Munich for additional research markets.

    Legal requirements make it impossible to keep these cars on the road in the US indefinitely. Recycling of the vehicles locally is the most sustainably responsible means of handling the cars that are being taken out of service.

    Wow… How about just a big “sorry” for being insensitive about parading your much loved ActiveEs crushed on the LA freeways? As I said in yesterday’s post, we understand the eventual fate, just don’t flaunt it. Spend a few bucks covering the cars up.

    I would have preferred an apology for the insensitivity, heck you have our email addresses, send the apology via email. To BMW’s credit, it would seem to me (after umpteen views of this sickening picture), that the sequence in spray paint on the sides of the cars are NOT the VIN numbers. I would suspect some sort of list that corresponded these numbers with VINs.

    Which means I still have hope that MY ActiveE is in San Francisco somewhere helping some DriveNow user get from point A to point B whilst saving the environment.

    Heck, I’d even be happy if the DriveNow driver is taking the car from a San Francisco Giants’ victory (of course, being a Los Angeles Dodgers fan, I would be even happier with a Giants’ loss). But I digress. How about just covering the darn cars.

    Don’t flaunt the eventual fate of our much loved ActiveEs. I’m just glad that I didn’t name the car.


    Crushed ActiveEs
    This picture was from the tweet from Chris Neff, owner unknown and uncredited.

    Several tweets, pictures, and a post have come by recently that has confirmed what I’ve intellectually understood would happen, but refuse to accept.

    I am crushed. At first glance, and following Airton’s tweet, I thought that the cars spotted were in NJ and I was saddened, but not crushed…

    However, at further inspection, the freeway sign was for CA-91 and that is a freeway that I often cross in my many drives throughout Southern California. The reality is one of those cars could actually be “my” Active E. I had such high hopes when it was announced that another eighty ActiveEs were making the trek to Northern California to join DriveNow. Now, I suspected, and others have mentioned that perhaps the spraypaint on the side refers to particular VIN numbers… If that’s the case, I can still hope that my car is in the Bay Area.

    Furthermore, I am extremely sad at these pictures, but thankful that the Active E has made me Accidentally Environmental. I didn’t care about climate change before my Active E. I wasn’t denying it’s existence, just not really doing anything about it. And now… I do a little bit more.

    Alas, these pictures bring me back to a jarring reality.

    I am, metaphorically, crushed.

    If Tom is correct about BMW, I guess they’ll just lose me as a customer…

    I like to read what my fellow BMW EV guy Tom Moloughney has to write and his most recent post has me thinking…

    What category would I be from the categories he wrote about a few days ago:

    “Basically there are four main groups of perspective i3 purchasers:

    1) They are interested in the i3 but the 81 mile EPA rating is just too low for them and the range extender is out of the question. They walk away from the car and consider their other electric vehicle offerings.

    2) The 81 mile range works for them. They get the BEV i3 and understand its limitations.

    3) They really wanted the BEV i3 but the range rating was too low for their comfort so they reluctantly ordered the i3 REx. (I fit in this box)

    4) They really liked the idea of the range extender from the start and wouldn’t have bought an i3 without it. The ability to drive primarily on electric but have the range extender there for the few times they need more range is perfect for them. Not ever worrying about getting stuck on the road because they ran out of charge or a public charger was broken or blocked is paramount for these people.”

    For most of the time, I’ve felt that I’ve been category 3 and begrudgingly have to go with an i3 REX because I am not so comfortable driving my Model S on a daily basis and really enjoyed my ActiveE. With the addition of a NEMA 14-50 in my parking spot at the office and my JESLA, I could go category 2. However, this was completed after the deadline from BMW for Electronauts to place their orders, my order was for the i3 is with a REX. I would’ve preferred that BMW offered a larger battery pack option, if my experience with the Active E is any indication, sometime between my 2nd and 3rd years of driving, I would probably have lost a good chunk of range because of the miles that I drive (54,321 miles for 2 years of the ActiveE program).

    The Model S as a daily driver still has some of the nits that I’ve written about previously when I compared the three EVs that were in our garage at the time. The Model S is still larger than the vehicles I’ve been driving on a daily basis over the past few years, but I have gotten used to it. Additionally, the firmware upgrades that the Model S has been receiving has provided constant improvement in the experience.

    However, all these compromises and constant reduction in i3 published capabilities, my overwhelming desire to stick with driving in all electric mode, and my adjustment to using my Model S on a daily basis has lead me to determine that I don’t really need to compromise. I’m about 95% sure that I’m just sticking with Tesla and move to category 1 with regard to the i3. And as I’ve written before, this would be a shame. Now, I’m sure not the only participant in the Electronaut program to feel this way, that last 5% could still swing to the i3. Look at what Pamela and Michael Thwaite went through last week. It could still happen, but if you ask me right now… Probably not. There are a lot of other things we can use i3 money for. (Like a Fiat 500e and some money left over…). If BMW loses me as a customer for the i3, hopefully they improve the next generation of i cars to try to win us back. (Besides, our dirty not so secret X5 will be with us for a while longer)

    Mea culpa… I drove ICE today…

    Living with a hybrid garage and running in the high 90s in percentage so far this second year of tracking our EV vs ICE usage I have to constantly remind myself to use an ICE car.

    More often than not, these trips are for really short distance errands and every now and then it is for longer trips. Trips such as going to the airport and parking at an outdoor lot, exposing the car to the elements and jet-fuel. Things that I would not dare expose my EVs to.

    So, on my last trip out of town, we decided to drive the soon to be sold (getting it ready to be in that “condition”) BMW 328iC to the airport for “parking duty”. It was an uneventful drive with the car and it performed admirably in its duty to sit there and wait for us to arrive. However, on the day of our arrival, as I was heading home to swap out the car for the Model S, the check engine soon light turned yellow. I called my BMW Service Advisor to let him know what has transpired and to get a quote on what it could be and what it could cost to repair. I figure if I knew what the amount was, I can lower my ask to accommodate whoever purchased the vehicle when I sold it within the next month and change. Since the car wasn’t driven much and I’ve had a great rapport with my advisor over the past decade of BMW ICE driving, he said to give him a chance to see if it is something that can be covered from the last service (i.e. perhaps it was something they missed and can get covered gratis.)

    So, today, I drove ICE to get the car checked out and properly ready for “listing for sale duty.”

    In the meantime, the weather in Southern California cooperated. I have a tolerance between a sunny 67 degrees Fahrenheit and 73 degrees Fahrenheit for when I take the top down in this car (yes, I am a Southern Californian AND very spoiled in what determines convertible weather for me.) So, one of the things that ICE cars currently do better than EVs is convertible driving. That may seem like a funny statement, but production EVs that are convertibles are pretty much limited. The Roadster is great, but to take the top down is a manual process and the roof needs to be stored when the hardtop is removed. The Smart ED convertible has a roof that rolls back into the car, but it’s a ragtop and the car itself has no power. Now, there have been rumors of a conversion for the Model S, but that makes an expensive car, even more expensive with an unsupported drastic modification.


    Convertible weather for me is always a combination of sunny and a little cool, so the weather cooperated:


    or for those of my readers that experience weather in Metric:


    I had expectations of the drive being less smooth because of the gears and the like, but the Check Engine Soon Light portends to a repair cost that I hope to be somewhat uneventful, but I’m not holding my breath. The car does seem to be more sluggish than usual.

    At least, I’m still rolling in top-down, convertible style.