Friday, October 26, 2012

The E Keeper: Master Guardian of the ActiveE.

In my home we have an ActiveE Guardian, an E Master, the "E Keeper"... my 13 year old son.  The "E Keeper" is a friend and guardian to ActiveE's everywhere.  While I am very particular when it comes to the condition, both exterior and interior, of my cars, I can't come close to the E Keeper's keen eye for detail.  The E Keeper watches over the ActiveE like a momma bear to her cubs.  It is sacred territory, especially the interior, and there are some definite rules you must follow when riding with the E Keeper.

For example, no feet on the seat.  It doesn't matter whether you're wearing shoes or just socks, or barefoot.  The seats are made of beautiful white leather, and the E Keeper will do all in his power to keep it that way.
The E Keeper keeps 'em white

Also, no eating, drinking, sneezing, coughing, spitting, or "spraying it" rather than "saying it."  The E Keeper does allow us drinks that are in closed containers with straws, but he keeps a watchful eye to ensure no cup is tipped too far. Shoes must be scrapped and cleaned before entering the vehicle, and hands must be washed and dried.

While the E Keeper annoys all passengers, I can't help but smile and enjoy the extra level of protection the E Keeper affords my ActiveE.  And while the passengers beg me to call off the E Keeper, I simply shrug and say "There's nothing I can do, the E Keeper takes no orders from me--he answers to a higher authority."

The ActiveE is safe and sound so long as the E Keeper is around.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Alternative Fuels Expo in Downtown Riverside, CA

The E and I attended the alternative fuel expo in Riverside, CA today where they exhibited a number of different alternative fuel vehicle.  There were electric vehicles, CNG, hydrogen electric, and plain old one diesel Volkswagen.

Among the electrics were a Honda Fit EV (driven by Chuck who I met at the Temecula plug-in day event) a Nissan Leaf, two Codas, a Chevy Volt, a Toyota Rav4 Hydrogen electric vehicle, and two BMW Active E's.

Me and my shadow E

Nissan Leaf, Honda Civic CNG, Hyundai hybrid, VW TDI

Chuck's Honda Fit EV and two Codas

Showing off
Chuck was nice enough to let me test drive the Honda Fit EV.  It's very impressive.  A small car, but with plenty of room, including a back seat that holds 3 passengers.  It has all the upgrades, including navigation, heated seats and a back-up camera.  And it can go.  In fact, when in sport mode, the Fit EV has acceleration that rivals the Active E.  The only noticeable difference is that the Fit is front-wheel drive as opposed to the rear-wheel drive Active E.  And there's quite a bit less regenerative braking when taking your foot off the accelerator.  But all in all, a truly exceptional EV.

There were also a couple of hybrid vehicles, including a Ford C-Max hybrid and Hyundai hybrid, and a Honda Civic compressed natural gas vehicle.

We had a good turn out and talked to passerby's about the joys of driving electric.  The BMWs were, as always, a big hit and people loved looking and learning about BMW's EV program.

Saying goodbye to my twin Active E

Efficiency is Not so Easy for Me in the E.

Me and driving efficacy have a rocky relationship.  In Facebook lingo: "it's complicated."  The problem is that I have no interest whatsoever in being efficient.  And efficiency has no patience for my aggressive driving style.  So most of the time we just agree to disagree.

But every now and again I need to be efficient to get where I want to go in the Active E.  I have been driving more lately, and even having to make some unexpected trips.  Learning to be efficient so that I can drive as far as possible on a charge is a necessary evil.

For example, the other day I had to drive from my house in Corona to my office in Temecula (40 miles).  It usually takes me about 50% of my battery power to make that drive without being all that efficient.  And Temecula has free public chargers a block and a half from my office, so all is well once I am there.  The problem is that the E has a little trouble getting along with Clipper Creek chargers on hot days.  That means that the car will detect a fault and stop charging before it is full.  On this particular day, I was only able to charge back to abut 74% rather than 100%.

I then needed to drive from Temecula to my office in Ontario (about 56 miles), drive a bit more for lunch and then drive back home.  All told, the day would take another 82 miles to complete and I usually don't drive with an 82 mile range in mind even with 100% charge much less starting at 74%.

Time to see just how close me and efficiency can get when needed.  I hit the road from Temecula and rather than traveling at 70 mph (which is my idea of being efficient), I slowed down to 60, found a diesel and a nice big, box trailer (one that didn't kick rocks in my face) and settled in for the drive.  To my surprise I traveled the 56 miles from Temecula to Ontario using only 45% on my battery.  45%!!  That's astounding considering I usually use 50% to travel 40 miles.  Using 45% to travel 56 miles was a real accomplishment for me.  I had plenty of power left over to drive around and then go home.

The bottom line is that if you want to be more efficient...slow down.  70 is good, but 60 is fantastic.  The other point is that I can vary my driving habits.  So I might drive with fun in the morning, but if I have an unexpected trip to make, I can simply drive more conservatively and wring out the range for a longer haul.  Most of the time, I can just find a charger so it makes little difference how I drive.

Maybe Efficiency and I will make it after all...

Charge and Go Traffic

I was stuck in some pretty bad "charge and go" traffic the other day.  You haven't heard it referred to as charge and go traffic?  Perhaps stop and go traffic is more common.  But stop and go traffic presumes that you are in a car where you first use the gas pedal to go and then use the brake pedal to stop.  That's not the case in the Active E.

In the E, you simply hit the power pedal to go and then take the pressure off the pedal to stop.  As the regenerative power system kicks in, it slow the car and charges the battery at the same time.  This means that I can control the speed of the car, all the way to a complete stop, using just one pedal.  And I get the satisfaction of knowing that I am regaining power every time I slow down.  So "stop and go" traffic becomes "charge and go" traffic, which I don't mind in the least.

Funny how a little game changer like regenerative braking can make the worst part of driving far more palatable...even enjoyable.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Dirty Truth of Clean Air Vehicle Parking...

My new favorite restaurant is the Lazy Dog Cafe in Ontario, CA, just across from Ontario Mills Mall.  Why is it my favorite?  Is it the great food, friendly service, cool ambiance? the clean air vehicle reserved spots.

They have quite a few of these spots, 6 or 7 of them.  And yet, there seems to be a general misunderstanding as to the type of vehicle that qualifies as a "clean air vehicle."  I know my Active E qualifies to park there because it says "Clean Air Vehicle" on my carpool-lane-access sticker.  But the other cars may be a bit of a stretch.

Which of these cars do not belong...all of them (except my E of course)

The mini-van is white, like my Active E, but not clean air.  Same for the truck and the silver car on the other side of the white truck.  The Toyota Prius parked three spaces down is a hybrid (good), but not clean air because hybrids still burn fuel as they go.

Am I sounding like an EV snob again?  Well you don't have to read too many of my posts to know I am an EV snob.  And I love to take advantage of every special perk that comes with my gas-free car--such as special parking spaces.  I'm not really mad that these spaces are ICE'd by gas guzzlers.  The bigger disappointment is that we don't have enough clean air vehicles to fill these spots.  On most days, even if not ICE'd, these spots would see few inhabitants other than my little E.

Proof positive that the E is clean air--in fact it admits no air at all (clean or otherwise)