Sunday, September 23, 2012

National Plug-In Day, Temecula, CA

Took the Active E to the National Plug-in Day event in Temecula, California.  It was a nice turn out of EV's on a hot day in a cool part of town--Old Town Front Street section of Temecula.

My E joined the ranks of many Nissan Leafs, a couple of Toyota Prius plug-ins, a few more Chevy Volts, and one Honda Fit EV.  The Fit EV was exciting to see just because they are so rare--even more rare than the Active E.

"Wattsnn" a nice looking black Nissan Leaf

My E among friends

Test drive anyone?
A rare Honda Fit EV sighting--love the blue

We even drew the attention of the local firefighters who checked out the cars and tried to determine how they would handle an emergency situations involving the various electric cars that were present.  One of the Leaf drivers gave them a demonstration of how the cars operate and should be shut down in the event of a crash.

Always getting attention.

Must have something interesting in the trunk???

The event was reported in The Californian as Temecula's first ever electric vehicle expo.  Overall, it was a rather small event, but we talked to quite a few people and sang the praises of driving electric.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

No Junk in My Frunk

This is the trunk of the ActiveE.  Not at all roomy, but still technically has storage space. 

This is what's under the hood--both with and without the front cover.

This open space where the gas engine would reside in an ICE'd vehicle is now being converted by most EV's into an extra storage space.  Not so on the E, but will be so on the next generation BMW EV, the i3.  
The current trend is to call this front storage area a "frunk"--mutilating the words "front" and "trunk" in the process.  I hate the term "frunk."  It makes me cringe every time I hear it.  Just because the rear storage is called a trunk does not mean that we need to reference the front storage area by making up a hideous new word.

Besides, there's many car parts with names having nothing to do with their functionality.

For example, the storage space located on the passenger side of most cars is called a "glove box," but when was the last time anyone put gloves in there.  My sweet, old (98 years old) great-aunt once gave me a fabulous pair of white, leather driving gloves, and I never put those in any "glove box."  Of course, I don't put them on my hands either.  Although...white, leather driving gloves may match the E's white leather seats nicely:

"Honey, where's my cane and top hat?"

No, no, never mind.  The point is, a box for gloves it's not.

And the rear storage is called a "trunk," but there hasn't been trunks on the back of cars for nearly a century.  This isn't a classic Duesenberg, it's a modern BMW and that rear storage is no trunk.  (In the case of the ActiveE, it's no storage either, but that's the subject of a different rant.)

There's also two-word terms that we don't combine.  A "steering wheel" is not a "swheel."  And the "turn signal" is not called a "turgnal."

The solution is to either create a completely new name or stick with the full-on descriptive term "front trunk."  Personally I vote for the new term "Hood Hide-y."  But I'm open to suggestions.  Just don't be putting junk in my frunk.

The ActiveE's "trunk"--plenty of space for a pair of gloves

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lone Wolf-E: The relaxing benefits of slow.

As much as I hate going slow in my ActiveE (meaning 70 on the freeway) there's times when efficiency is required to go the extra mile.  Surprisingly, my wife doesn't like me driving slower than the speed of traffic because she thinks it gives the car a bad impression--"I want people to know what this thing can do!" she says.

All clear once this rat pack races ahead
Of course, there are plenty of times when I show just what the car can do, which gives my E a bad impression for different reasons.  But on days where I need to stretch every mile, traveling over 70 mph is a real battery drain.  So I hunker down and set the cruise control at 70 on the dot.

I never knew what happened when a car travels at a fixed speed of 70 miles per hour on a wide-open stretch of California freeway.  It gets lonely.

In fact, when I set cruise control at 70 or so (and pull into the far right lane--not trying to make a statement, just want to be efficient) all the surrounding traffic charges on and leaves me alone.  Every 10 minutes or so another knot of speeding cars catches up and passes, and then its quite once again.  This wave of moving metal continues for the entire trip, leaving me driving lone wolf style for most of the trip.

Wide open behind too
It is quite relaxing to be humming along (and the E barely even hums)  without a care in the world or a car by my side.  Another hidden benefit to being efficient.

EV Friendly Sports Authority

I shop where I charge.  That's my moto, and should be the moto of every EV loving driver to help encourage retail stores to install more EVSE units.

Check out this nice little EVSE installation outside Sports Authority at Ontario Mills Mall, in Ontario, California.  Sports Authority is located just down from the AMC movie theater.  These two units are right up front.  Close to the mall, the movies, and many eateries.  The best part is that these two units are FREE and do not require any type of card or payment to activate.  Just park and plug.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

It Pays to be Green!

As of September 6, 2012, I have logged 5,185 gas-free miles in my ActiveE.  Actually, 400 of those miles were driven by any number of strangers before I took delivery of the car.  That leaves me with 4,785 gas free miles from mid May to now.

Had I driven those same miles in my GMC Yukon, which gets around 15 mpg when I'm driving it, I would have used 319 gallons of gas.  At an average of $4.25 per gallon, that comes to a whopping $1,355.75 over three and a half months.  Or $387 per month that I am not spending on gasoline.

If I subtract the $387 I am saving per month against the E's monthly lease payment of around $538 (with taxes), that leaves me with a net monthly car payment of about $150.  Not bad for a BMW.

What does it cost me to charge my E at home you ask?  Nothing because I have solar power.    I am credited with .54 cents per kWh during the day for the solar power I produce, but I only use power at around .15 cents per kWh by charging the E between midnight and 6:00 a.m.   So I can charge the E and have some power left over to offset my home utility usage.

It really does pay to be green.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good...And Bad...Vibrations.

The Active E is smooth, as in groovy smoothy.  It has very little vibrations because there is no gas engine whirling around under the hood.  The only noticeable vibration is from the road, which is slight most of the time.  So a smooth ride in the E is a sign of all systems go.  But when a vibration creeps in, that's a sign of something not so go.

Last week I pickup up a hitchhiker in my front left tire--a rather large screw.

In hindsight, I knew exactly when I picked up the screw because I felt a noticeable vibration coming from the front left part of the car.  I checked the tire sensors and nothing was amiss so I brushed it off as excess vibration from the road--it was a rough bit of asphalt.  When I stopped the car I couldn't find anything (the screw was on the inside part of the tire--very hard to see).  So I did what you shouldn't do with a screwball tire, I drove home on the freeway.

The screw held tight, and so did the vibration, so I checked again.  Sure enough I found the unwanted passenger lodged deeply in the tire.  The tire didn't lose pressure until the next morning--so apparently there was a slow leak.  A quick trip to the tire store, the tire was patched and put back in service (whew--no new tire needed).

The interesting point in all of this is that driving a car that is groovy smoothy allows you to notice almost immediately when something is amiss.  In a gas-powered car I would not have felt the difference in vibration coming from the tire, most likely, because the car has so many of its own vibrations.  My only problem is that I ignored the vibration.

Now if only I can pay attention to my feelings....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Back in Good Graces: Return of the E

I'm glad to say that I have my E back.  It went in for service last week, which now requires that they pull the back end out of the car in order to check the motor and transmission.  There was a "crease" running down the entire length of the battery cover underneath the car--apparently I had hit something.  Actually, I went into a peaked driveway and it scraped pretty good.

Anyway, the car was sent to Oxnard, CA for a full inspection.  It passed the test, whatever that was.  There was no damage to the battery--just a quick bit of touch-up paint to the undercarriage to be sure it didn't rust where the paint had been scraped off.

I got it made in the shade now that my E is back
Now the E is safely back in my garage.  They say absence makes the heart grow fonder...and I really love being back in my electric driving seat.  The car feels faster, smells fresher, runs smoother, even the a/c cools the car faster than ever before.  O.k., it's all probably the same, but it feels like a marked improvement over my ICE loaner.  Plus, I no longer have to stop at gas stations!!  Welcome home.