Saturday, January 19, 2013

Active "E"asy Service

Three months or 5,000 miles, that’s the service schedule for the ActiveE—I always bump up against the three month requirement.  And while I would like to sneak by a service, my E is a big tattle tale—calling the dealer behind my back to request a service visit (“Mr. Davidson your car contacted us to schedule a service visit.”  “Really?  He didn’t talk to me about that…”).  Last week marked another three-month window, so into the dealer I went.

I go through the same cycle each time I take my E in for a service visit and pick-up the loaner car (poor me, I have to drive a new 328i around for three days—the agony).  First, I hate the loaner car—its noisy, vibrates, and shifts…a lot.  With an eight-speed transmission, it ticks through the gears like a kid through candy.  Then I begin to appreciate the handling of the lighter than my E 328i—wow this takes corners nicely.  I start to grudgingly appreciate the great gas mileage the car receives—not as good as electric, but impressive for an ICE’d car.  And then I become acclimated to the new environment and make the best of it—I think I like this car.
Well what’s not to like, it is a BMW loaner after all.  But then, my E is discharged and the minute I get in and drive away I suddenly remember everything I love about driving EV.  It’s hard to explain, and much easier to demonstrate by a test drive, but my electric BMW drives better in every possible way than the ICEy alternative—and it does so with such quiet and finesse. 
Luckily, I was told by my service advisor that this would probably (big probably) be the last service visit where they will have to pull the motor.  For the last several visits, BMW has required the dealers to pull the electric motor from the car and inspect the “splines.”  Those are the gears that connect the motor and the “transmission.”  Some motors have experienced moister seepage into the gears, causing rust and ultimately spline failure.  I have been lucky, so far, in that I have had no problems with moisture or splines.  Apparently some new fangled lube is being applied and then the whole thing is bundled up tight against the elements—not that there are many “elements” in Southern California, but still….
The problem with pulling the motor is that the entire backend of the car has to be dropped out since the motor resides between the two rear wheels.  Makes the car efficient from a power delivery standpoint, but a bit difficult for motor pulling. 
And don’t forget the software upgrade, each service visit comes with a new set of codes to download into the car.  The E is really a large, rolling computer, requiring a reboot and software update each time it is serviced.  Although most cars today are heavy on electronics and software too, the E takes it to a whole new level.  Makes me wonder why we still call the service people “mechanics”—more like electricians and techies since there’s not so many mechanical parts left under the hood…or under the trunk…or wherever they keep them.
Anyway, all’s well that ends well.  The E is back in my garage and tranquility is back in my heart.  Even my home EVSE is happy to have my E back, someone to talk to on cold California nights.  

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