Tuesday, May 7, 2013

One Year Anniversar…E

One year ago today, I became the proud new owner (well lessee anyway) of the BMW Active E.  It’s been the best year of my automotive life.  And the start of what I hope is a long and happy life driving electric. 

For me, the E has been the most reliable car I have ever had (knock on electrons).  It just works.  I plug it in, I go, sometimes I go fast, and I stop without brakes.  Quiet, clean, fun mobility.  I have had one error message that prevented me from starting the car (about two months ago), but it cleared after about ten minutes and never brought it up again.  When I took the E in for service last month, BMW decided to change the battery pack due to that single error.  Didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but I have no problem with new batteries either.  Since getting the car back, it has run like a charm.
And the infrastructure for electric cars is improving too.  Over the last year, I have seen a number of charging stations installed in locations near where I work and shop.  With this influx of new charging infastructure, the future looks bright for EV ownership.
The best part of driving electric: EVERYTHING.  I have written about the pros and cons of EV’s many times before, but it never gets old.  EV’s just drive better in every way than gas guzzlers.  Smooth acceleration, easy braking, no shifting gears, quiet operation, easy “refueling” (I don’t miss the gas station stops).  The ease with which a person can simply go is far superior to gas-powered cars…well not in every way I guess.  There is one small drawback to quick smooth acceleration: speeding tickets. 
Objects in Mirror are more expensive than they appear
I got my fist speeding E ticket last month.  While flying by a “slow” minivan, I was suddenly reminded how hard it is to tell how fast you are going in an electric-powered car.  There is no engine revving up, or multiple jolting shifts between gears to remind you that you may be going 62 in a 50 mile per hour zone.  The E keeps its speed a secret as you whiz down the road.  But that secret was suddenly revealed to me by an outside influence—hello officer.  Luckily, it was my first time speeding (caught?) in the E, so after promising never to do it again, and insisting that I had learned my lesson…the officer issued me a ticket anyway.  Lesson learned, my fault for not buying a fuzz buster.
Not every E owner has had smooth sailing unfortunately.  There have been a few problems along the way with motor replacements and software errors.  All to be expected on a field trial, but still not pleasant when you’re the one being tried.  Luckily, my experience has been more wide open field than trial.  Like a kitchen appliance, the E just works for me.  And it seems the same is true for a majority of my fellow Electronauts. 
Overall, I love driving electric and can’t believe the first year has gone by so quickly.  I look forward to the launch of the BMW i3, which should be a far superior car to the E in terms of technology and weight.  The E’s 4,000 pounds is its one big draw back.  Not only does it suck power to move that much mass, but it limits the E’s handling in corners.  Whenever I have a loaner 3 series BMW, the difference in cornering becomes immediately apparent due to the substantially decreased weight of any 3 series over the Active E.
Tipping the scale between good and evil
The i3, by comparison, is expected to weigh in around 2,700 pounds—1,300 pounds lighter than the Active E—thanks to extensive use of carbon fiber and aluminum.  That change alone will make the i3 an attractive ride. 
For now, I’ll keep enjoying my electric bliss in the Active E and hope that the second year doesn’t pass so quickly.