It’s been ten months since I picked up my ActiveE and the odometer just rolled past 30,000 miles. I put over 72,000 miles on my MINI-E in the 31 months I had it so I have now driven over 100,000 all electric miles. I’m certainly not the first person to drive that many electric miles, but I am definitely in a group that doesn’t have many members; not yet anyway. That’s going to change now that electric vehicles are gaining traction as more and more automakers introduce new plug in cars.
BMW in particular believes in them. The upcoming BMW i brand will eventually feature a full line of plug in vehicles and launches in less than a year.
My ActiveE has been great. It’s smooth, quiet and has the instant torque of an electric car, plus it looks great and offers the premium driving experience expected from a BMW product. There are many ActiveE lessees that have asked if they can buy their ActiveE’s once the trial lease program is over. I doubt that will be allowed to because this car was engineered to be a test car only, with a short lifespan. I really don’t think BMW would want to have to offer support and service for it, since many of the parts are unique to this car. As much as I love my ActiveE, I’m not going to ask if I can keep it. After seeing the improvements BMW made on the ActiveE from the MINI-E, I’m convinced the i3 will be even that much better than the ActiveE. It’s going to be faster, handle better, have more passenger and luggage room, charge quicker, have a wider array of options and be much more efficient. There are those that say they don’t like the futuristic styling, but what we have seen so far is only the concept i3. I believe the production version while retaining the same basic shape; will be much more mainstream than the glass-door look the concept has.
Driving the past 100,000 miles on electric has saved me from making about 350 trips to the gas station and buying about 4,500 gallons of gas. Since I mostly charge from my home solar array I haven’t had to pay much for the electricity either. I’ve probably saved about $10,000 between what I would have had to pay for gas and what I’ve paid in electricity and I haven’t had to sacrifice any of the driving enjoyment I’d expect from a gasoline powered MINI Cooper or a 1 Series BMW. The only thing I really can say I needed to do was plan my day ahead of time to make sure I had enough range to accomplish my daily needs. It doesn’t take long once you have an electric car to know what you can and what you can’t do, and the can’t do’s really don’t happen that often.
In fact, the ActiveE really came in handy recently when the New York & New Jersey areas were hit with Hurricane Sandy. There were massive power outages for a couple weeks and gas stations couldn’t pump gas without power. The few that remained open quickly ran out of gas and the local refineries were also damaged in the storm so they weren’t producing gasoline. Within a day gas lines were over a mile long at some stations and police were stationed at all the stations for crowd control. It got so bad the State had to ration gas and restricted motorists to buying gas on odd/even days based on your license plate number. Luckily for me my house has a natural gas generator so I have electric if there is an outage and I can charge my car without a problem. I was also fortunate my business did not lose power so I could still charge there if I needed to also. I didn’t have to wait in the gas lines and even loaned my car out to friends that couldn’t get gas for their cars. I was even featured in a NY Times story on driving the ActiveE during the gas crisis.
The point is electricity is ubiquitous. There are many different ways to generate it like home generators and solar arrays, plus there are outlets everywhere. Unfortunately my solar array currently shuts off when there is a power outage. The utility requires it to do that so a solar array won’t backfeed the grid and potentially shock workers trying to restore the power. However there are now ways around it and I’m looking into buying a bi-directional AC/DC demand response inverter and battery storage system which will isolate my house from the grid in the case of a power outage and allow my solar array to continue to operate as the primary source of power to my home. My natural gas generator will then only turn on if the solar array cannot keep up with my demand. I will then have total control over my personal energy for my house and to power my cars during a crisis. You can’t make your own gas. No matter what you are reliant upon the oil companies to provide it, the transportation industry to deliver it and gas stations to have the power to pump it. This crisis just gave me another reason to prefer electric cars. Not relying on others for your transportation energy is really empowering.