Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Arcimoto FUV, Fun, Affordable and 1/10th The CO2e Emissions Of A Gas Car.

If you’re serious about emission reductions ( I am with every breath I take ) as a principle benefit of EV’s, what follows should cause you to slightly gasp for cleaner air.

The Arcimoto FUV has 1/10th the emissions of a typical car.

The EPA rates new car emissions at 359 g/mi.
For an average 12,000 miles per year of driving, this translates to 9498 pounds of CO2e emissions.   

The plug in electric Arcimoto FUV will use 1,778 kwh’s to travel the same 12,000 miles.  In the SDG&E service area with 43% renewables in on the grid, the 2016 emissions intensity is 533 pounds of CO2e per MWH.  The Arcimoto using grid electricity emits 948 pounds of CO2e emissions per year.  Of course if you power by solar as I do, or other renewables, it’s a total zero emissions solution.  (Data here)

9498 pounds of emission for an average personal car.
  948 pounds of emissions for an Arcimoto FUV.

Ownership cost

Owning and operating a typical new vehicle in 2017 will cost a driver an average of $8,469 annually, or $706 each month, according to a 2017 study from AAA.  Much of that is depreciation and fuel cost.  (Data here)  

The Arcimoto FUV will more than halve the typical ownership cost, saving a typical family $4,500 to $5,500 per year,  per vehicle.     

Solar Powered Driving in the Arcimoto

I've been "Driving on Sunshine" now for 10 years, powered by our 8.5kw Solar PV system which provides 13,000 kwh's of electricity of which 5,500 is used by our two electric BMW i3s. 

When I do the sunshine math for the Arcimoto, it's staggeringly cheap to power by sunshine.  1kw of solar PV will produce about 1650 Kwh of electricity a year in our region.  That's enough juice to drive the Arcimoto FUV about 10,000 miles a year. 

Typical cost is $3000 for the 1kw Solar PV system (usually part of a lager system)  warranted for 25 years.  Simple math works out to $120 a year (less than most pay for one month of gasoline) or $10 a month in energy cost, less if you can arbitrage time of use rates.  Think of it as your own private sungas filling station, either 110 or 240 octane :)


Moonshots are doing something that is not just slightly better than what currently exist, but rather, doing something that is 10X ahead of the standard of the current day.  To do this, you don’t refine what already exist…you start with a bold vision and a blank piece of paper. 

So few pioneers risk and work endlessly to get to look out that “window of their vision” onto reality. Congratulations to Arcimoto, an Eugene Oregon based company that has achieved this "vision to reality" moonshot.  A company that is now delivering the first several Signature Series FUV’s to retail customers and later this year to the first few thousand-reservation holders.   Much work ahead but the first one is out the door :)

First Signature Series delivered to a retail customer

It's a "Resort Fun" like experience driving the FUV and extremely practical for the majority of errands around town similar to a two seat sports car... but more fun.  It's not that it can't be your only car, but more likely it will replace a second or third car in the family saving that family 4-5k a year.

Commuting, ride and delivery services such as Uber Eats,  beach cruiser rentals for coastal hotels and shared vehicles for large parking impacted workplaces are some of the uses for the Arcimoto FUV which fills less than half the space of a car with 1/10th the emissions.

The simple math of parking twice as many Arcimoto's as compared to cars at impacted parking lots will send civic planners into a frenzy of thought. Add to that future autonomous transport and Roomba like self charging and well, you have a new transportation reality.

I can't wait to have one in my typical "4 FUV" garage.
For more information and specifications of the FUV go to: www.arcimoto.com


Friday, November 17, 2017

The Arcimoto FUV: First Delivery Of A Production Vehicle.

The first production Arcimoto Signature Series FUV delivered to
Arcimoto Founder and CEO Mark Frohnmayer on November 11th, 2017

Julie and I took a road trip to Eugene Oregon to attend the November 11th opening of the AMP. (Arcimoto Manufacturing Plant) 700 enthusiast attended and saw many millions of dollars of new manufacturing equipment that arrived earlier in the week  and the first Signature Series retail FUV delivered.  With all the Tesla truck news on the heavier side of the EV space, I thought I would "weigh" in with my observation on the lighter side of the EV space with the "Uber" Fun Arcimoto FUV.

Hundreds attending the opening of the AMP
(Arcimoto Manufacturing Plant) in Eugene Oregon. 

We’re together in a once in a lifetime change from gasoline & diesel to electricity.

Today, thanks to electricity including renewable energy made on the roof of our houses and computational power, we have more and cleaner transportation options than ever before. From Uber and Lyft, to the electric longboard to the Tesla truck, pick the transportation option that is right for you. Pick the transportation choice that reflects your values and where you want to go.

According to the 2010 US Census, 80.7% of the U.S. population now lives in urban areas. The Arcimoto FUV architecture is a completely new class of vehicle that slots in at 1000 lbs, squarely between a 300 lbs. motorcycle and a 3000 lbs. car and it is ideal for those of us living in urban areas.

The FUV is also a crazy fun open air drive for two, cruising around in the city without the need for a helmet in many states including California. Yes there are cabin enclosures, but that's a buzz kill from a So-Cal perspective.

Nasdaq welcomes the second electric vehicle maker on the Nasdaq.

I’ve experienced the fun of driving around in a preproduction SRK  (now known as the FUV) last year for a few days.  With the Reg A capitol raise followed by the listing on Nasdaq, the opening of its manufacturing plant, the delivery of its first retail production signature vehicle, an early to mid 2018 schedule for a pilot fleet of 50 FUV's followed by scale retail production later in 2018 it's been a very successful and productive year for the Eugene Oregon company.

Two Arcimoto's in the space of one car in our garage.

Fun Utility Vehicle.

(FUV) is the name of the vehicle as well as the Nasdaq stock ticker for Arcimoto. Fun is also one of the best features of the Arcimoto FUV in my view.

Beginning in 2007, I drove a GEM E4 neighborhood electric vehicle around North San Diego County for three years. Although I’ve had many great cars in my 37 years of driving, the Gem E4 was unique and unparalleled in its “fun factor” being open, light, electric, and so easy to jump in and out of while tooling around the city. Hard to explain if you have not driven one but we felt like we were at a resort when we would go out for dinner or around town in the Gem E4. The downside was its lead acid batteries, range of just 15 miles or so in our hilly area and the speed which was limited to 25mph and use only on roads posted at 35 mph or less.

The "Fun Factor" of the GEM E4 was off the charts.

Still, the essence and memory of that fun open-air experience tooling around our city is one that my wife and I miss greatly. Enter the Arcimoto FUV. With the open air “fun factor” that we miss, the Arcimoto FUV will be our personal choice as our next vehicle.

It's seriously time to take a hard look at the Arcimoto FUV.

In San Diego, an average $40k SUV driving 12,000 miles uses 600 gallons of gas at a cost of $2000 a year, with emissions of 14,000 lbs of CO2e.*

In San Diego, a $12k Arcimoto FUV driving the same distance uses 1700 kwh of electricity a year at an average cost of $323 a year, with emissions of 935 lbs of CO2e using grid electricity, zero emissions when charged by solar PV.**   

Both cost and emissions are equally important to us as we strive to improve our family budgets and our air quality. If you have a large family or need a big SUV, certainly choose one, but its easy to see the huge savings in the cost of owning and running an Arcimoto FUV.

The key question: Would you drive one? 

According to the US department of Transportation based on vehicle registrations, one out of 36 persons has a motorcycle or scooter. A good assumption is that roughly 3% of the population drives a motorcycle or scooter. Presumably the other 97% don't find a two wheel vehicle viable or safe for their transportation needs.

You can put my wife and I squarely in that camp as neither one of us would ever drive a motorcycle.  Both of us however, would drive and are enthusiastic about the Arcimoto FUV.  That's a financially wonderful equation for Arcimoto if we are in the statistical norm and not the exception.

In our view it's much safer than a traditional motorcycle with its tall visible profile,  twin headlights, seatbelt's, car like seats, roll cage, no lane splitting capabilities and stable three wheel platform.

We're also walkers and bicycle riders, and we know we don't stand a chance if crashed into by 4000 lbs of metal, yet we choose to share the road with cars when walking or biking on our city streets.

So visualize the motorcycle and scooter market now at 3% and all the players in that limited market segment. Now imagine a market for the Arcimoto FUV of 10%, 25%, 50% or greater.  You can easily see the value of the Arcimoto FUV if a greater degree of drivers find the Arcimoto's configuration viable as compared to motorcycles and scooters.  The Arcimoto FUV is not a car, it's not trying to be car, it doesn't have to be, and it shouldn't be.

Check out the footage of the folding rear seat of the Arcimoto FUV in the video below and the company at www.arcimoto.com for more information, configurations and options.

Tell us what you think. Would you drive one? 

*Gas calculations are done at 24 pounds of emission for a gallon of gasoline per the Union of Concerned Scientists.

**Electric calculations use 143 watts per mile for the Arcimoto FUV and 550lbs of emissions per MWH of electricity in the SDG&E service area.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Our 2014 BMW i8, planning a fantastic road trip to the future…Oregon.

Thinking about the future in our prototype BMW Mini-E #183

A journey through the years need not be a prosaic one, make room for personal indulgences and dreams, dreams that are to be chased and dreams that are to be realized.  If one day you’re fortunate enough to peer out the window of reality at what was once a personal dream, dream again and chase…

Our 2014 Electronaut BMW i8 is both a realized dream as  plug in and solar pv pioneers and a personal indulgence.  In a few days, we’re taking SUNGAS 1 on a road trip from San Diego to Oregon that will connect us to a new dream for our future as we think about and drive a very different vehicle architecture, one that’s slotted between a 300 lbs motorcycle and a 3,500 lbs car, one that I think has the potential to change our world as we shift to drivers being optional.  

Wine in Napa and the Willamette Valley are a big part of the itinerary; after all we’re dreaming here and what better than wine to help that dream.  It’s damn hard work to be a pioneer J

On a road trip through five states on Route 66, 

A BMW Isetta?  No, it’s not a three wheel micro car, it’s not even a car.  BMW does give us a solid hint via its Motorrad division and the BMW C1, with the incredible fun and enjoyment of the openness of the road that heretofore only a motorcycle could provide.  So think of the ultimate electric platform, soon to be an autonomous platform,  a stable, affordable three wheeled motorcycle platform crossed with a “Dash of DNA” from the BMW Isetta and the BMW C1 to get a picture of what is soon to be in our garage.

The three wheel BMW Isetta

Funny, Julie won’t allow me to ride a motorcycle, but she likes the idea of the Arcimoto SRK.  www.arcimoto.com  that should tell you something about the future acceptance of this vehicle architecture.  
Beach buddies in Carlsbad Ca 

The BMW C1 with Seat belts.

The past nearly three years with our 2014 BMW i8 has been a love affair of an automotive sort.   Logic does not drive the mood or decisions with the i8, passion with an eye towards the future does.  It’s emotional not rational.  A walk past the i8, static in the garage as I get in my daily driver, the BMW i3, still provides a thrill, a slight shudder of thought that life is grand and that Julie and I have worked extremely hard and are fortunate.  That feeling will be there for the next 30 years as I grow old with SUNGAS 1.  

I imagine myself as an 85 year old with a cane needing a bit of help to get in and out of my old classic BMW i8 with Julie.   Now that’s a vision of how to grow old properly.

Many of the first year 2014 BMW i8s life a life in the garage as queens & collectibles a valuable prized torch carrier for BMWi towards the future that dare not collect miles at the expense of their value in the future collectors market.   Pffff!  Great cars are not meant for safe garages. We purposely chose to drive our BMW i8 touching the emotions and all the senses of life to the fullest when in the cockpit.  It’s both the various personalities of the car, the broadest range I have ever experienced in any car from electric, slow, silent and sultry when approaching a favorite restaurant or hotel, to full throat AWD nastiness on a favored piece of asphalt, as well as the various personalities of those who approach the car in awe that are so special to us.   

From the kids who ask “is that from the future” to foam Minions objectionably bouncing off the car working for photo tips on the Vegas strip, thousands of drunk people at midnight who won’t let you pass when the light turns green because you have a car from the future and they’re blitzed, nothing can go wrong there…thank goodness for alert valets.

What could go wrong at midnight in Vegas? 

It’s not a typical duty life (there is nothing typical at all) for our BMW i8 as our daily drivers are our i3’s.   The BMW i8 essentially leads two lives in our garage.  One is as a weekend driver around coastal North San Diego County in full electric mode visiting our favorite diner houses and watering holes as our region has 120 micro breweries and 110 boutique wineries.    The other is as our long road trip car, in this the BMW i8 is exceptional, exciting as hell and well mannered when not rampaging, as a grand touring car for two.

SUNGAS 1 in front of our Solar powered home. 

Each drive no mater how short or how long has a little blip of the shift lever to the left and insane momentary fun before returning to a life led by most cars.  Each drive involves receiving a thumbs up, a wave, a picture, shaka or other expression…I try to be welcoming and generous with both my time and the car.

We’ve put 18,500 mile on the odometer the past 33 months. 10,000 the first year, 6000 the second and were on track for 5000, for the third. Of the total miles approximately 12,000 are on various great road trips across several states averaging 30mpg and 6,500 are local miles averaging 65 mpg with an overall average of 40mpg. No mechanical issues at all, the doors are amazingly simple in their cfrp construction and single exposed strut and show no reason why they wont be solid for the life of the car with a strut replacement I’m sure sometime in the future. 

As a BMW i8 driver I can certainly afford the gas but that’s not the point. The BMW i8 is over two times more efficient than its class competitors and what I/we can’t afford is twice the emissions and pollution.   BRAVO BMW. 

With two BMW i3’s and the BMW i8, our emissions have been reduced 90% and sunshine is our primary fuel.   This is the path towards the higher performance, lower emissions and strengthened family budgets in our future.  Worry not my petrol BMW friends, electricity generated by sunshine and driving electric is insane and sane at the same time.  Crazy I know. 

There’s always a place for cars made for emotions, alongside the cars made for everyone.  The stories are different for each and the life of the lucky drivers are different as well.   Never forget this BMW. 

What a fantastic car to grow my kind of old with.   


Thursday, April 13, 2017

EV Drivers & Utilities Hold the Key to Financial Savings and an Emission Free Future.

San Diego County leads the nation in Solar PV and EV adoption. 

As a ten year practitioner of both EV driving & Solar PV renewable energy generation, and nine years as a San Diego County Planning Commissioner leading on complex energy and transportation issues, allow me to share some of my "lessons learned" and insights with you.

110,000 solar PV systems in the SDG&E service area are also EV ready fueling stations.

Transportation and our utilities generate over 90% of our emissions in the U.S.. In larger cities with dense populations like San Diego California, transportation counts for greater than 50% of total emissions. 

95% of emissions in San Diego come from transportation and utility sources.

How are these two emission giants reacting to the challenge of lowering emissions?

Their actions not words, are a mixture of good and bad,  with the “white hat” belonging to the utilities and the “black hat” belonging to the transportation providers with the exception of Tesla.

What is clear when you view this recent 2017 US Energy Information Administration chart is that utilities have "answered the call"  they have already lowered their carbon emissions to 1990 levels and are on a steep descending path of emission reductions to well below 40% of the 1990 levels by 2030. At the same time transportation emissions continue to climb upward.

For the first time in 40 years, transportation is now a larger source of emissions than the utilities.

Source information here 


Utilities have embraced cleaner burning natural gas plants replacing dirtier coal & oil, and are investing heavily in renewable energy plants. Renewable energy plants now make up the majority of new power-plant generation coming on the grid in the U.S. and here in San Diego, our utility SDG&E leads the nation at 43% renewable energy content. Regulators, legislators, environmental activist, the Sierra Club, utility watchdogs & the utilities all deserve our praise for this transition. 

Natural gas is being slowly relegated from a “base load” supply to a “peaker” role to augment the intermittency issues of the renewables. In just a few short decades with the advancement of battery technology, utilities will replace natural gas peaker plants with energy storage of all types including battery. This is already happening in San Diego County with SDG&E recently installing the worlds largest battery storage system in Escondido California.   

Unfortunatly, the transportation sector has not embraced the same forces of change and available technology. They are heading "zoom zoom" in a very wrong direction.


There is an emerging understanding that our utilities paradoxically, hold the key to solutions for transportation emissions in the form of far less expensive electricity as compared to gasoline. 

EV's represent a new load for our utilities, with new local renewable energy plants creating new local jobs... and forgive my passion here... a retention of our dollars in our own communities, with jobs for our own citizens and an end to the exportation of our hard earned dollars via the local gas pump to obscenely enrich foreign countries, mainly in the Middle East, while our communities suffer.  (Rant over) 

From a colleague and EV pioneer's prototype BMW Mini-E in 2009  

Lessons learned.

In 2014-2015,   Julie and I, documented our personal and private life with Inside Ev's,  chronicling the one year journey of our home with our two BMW i3's plugged into the sun. We continue the zero emission lifestyle today and we succeeded in demonstrating you can live and drive on sunshine.   Here are three main lessons gleaned from that very special year: 

1.  It's far cheaper to drive on electricity than gasoline.

This enriches your family budget and lowers your family emissions substantially. Most of the savings come from the efficiency of the electric motor.  You can achieve the majority of saving with grid electricity however investing in a solar PV energy plant gives you the greatest savings.  Either way, you create local jobs and invest in your own communities instead of exporting your money.
Our actual experience in 2014-2015

2.   For the same amount of electricity, reductions in emissions are 400% greater in transportation than in buildings. 

The effectiveness of measures to reduce emissions are just as important as knowing the source of emissions.   

When you supply a kilowatt of renewable electricity, replacing the current grid mix of utility electricity to a building in San Diego County you save .6 lbs. of emissions per kWh. When you supply a kilowatt at the current utility grid mix to transportation you save  2.4 lbs. of emission per kWh.  This is a 400% greater emission reduction for the same unit of electricity.

Transportation is both the greatest source and has the greatest yield in emission reductions across the nation. 

3.  It's cheaper to save energy than it is to make energy.    

100% renewable energy goals leap frog over the energy loading order which begins with efficiency and demand management for both buildings and transportation.  


Utilities are ripe targets for bashing as behemoth regulated monopolies. Nobody ever likes to pay a high utility bill, yet we all demand more renewable energy.
As the popular saying goes,

"The devil you know is better than the devil you don't."   

In San Diego County, our utility SDG&E deserves praise.  We are leading the way in Solar PV with 110,000 energy entrepreneurs installing solar PV on the SDG&E grid, we are leading the way in EV adoption with favorable EV electricity rates. We are leading the way at 43% renewable energy mix (far greater than the 33% required in California by 2020) and we are leading the way with energy choice where each customer can order up to 100% renewable energy. We are strengthening our economy with local jobs creating local renewable power plants and we are investing in the future of energy both in generation and storage. We are adapting and leading the nation and we are prospering as a region working together.

San Diego is an energy model for the U.S.  If there was ever a case to celebrate success and all its partners including SDG&E,   It's San Diego.

In San Diego, we are charting a course for robust economic health, healthier air and lower emissions moving towards the future. With a firm rudder in the water, full speed ahead, steady as she goes.


Sunday, August 7, 2016

“10 Years of Solar and EV's - The Next 10 Years on Tap” Top 10 Predictions from an EV & Energy Pioneer.

10 years is a good mile-marker to reflect on visions of the past, futile or fertile, and for a recalibration towards the future. 

We advance towards that better future, creating solutions driven by imagination, innovation, technology, service and a love for each other.  It is faith and optimism that lights the fire of every pioneer, pushing aside pessimism, fear and security.

The past 10 years.

Julie and I, are the owner builders of our 2006 Net Zero Energy award winning home "Herons’ House" in Carlsbad CA. We desired to partner with nature, one of her greatest resources in California is of course the sun.  We designed our home in 2005 to “harvest” free sunshine to power our home and future cars & transports in lieu of fossil fuels.  We purchased our first neighborhood EV to drive on sunshine 10 years ago, the GEM E4. 

Our efforts in 2005-06 were to pioneer living and driving on sunshine.

Then, solar PV was a newish and rare sight, electric vehicles were nowhere to be found following the demise of the first generation of modern electric cars in the 90’s.  Living and driving completely powered by sunshine was unheard of, our efforts derided by most as weird, why and crazy.

Today in California, a short 10 years later, over 500,000 households have Solar PV, over 100,000 EV’s are on the road, many if not most, powered by sunshine.  Living in a solar powered home and driving an electric vehicle powered by sunshine is now commonplace and adoption rates for both are accelerating dramatically. 

A remarkable advancement really. 10 years later, Julie and I are now normal. 

The next 10 years.

Vision is identifying a better future and constructing a path towards it. With a vision and a recalibration towards that future, here is my “Top Ten List” of what will be viewed by most in 2016 as weird, why and crazy, and what will be viewed as normal in 2026.

1.     Transportation balance is greatly improved between the private automobile, shared transit options, public transit, walking and bicycling.  Think of the difference transport options this way:  Taking a family of four to an NFL game or taking a family of four to the beach.  One is a private event and will cost $500 or more with a small percentage of our population being able to afford it. One is a great public commons, free, enjoyed and equitable to all. In 2026 we will see a much improved, more equitable balance between private, shared and public transportation, leading to healthier and more just neighborhoods and cities.

2.     Sprawl will fall,  Relocalization will ramp-up.  The Interstate Highway System of 50s and 60s greatly altered the way we traveled and the generic identity thieving way our post 1960's neighborhoods were constructed.  In 2026, relocalization will have an equally profound effect on our urban and suburban development patterns. The electrification of transportation, autonomous cars and last mile transit solutions will lead to the relocalization of our cities, this becoming the dominant urban design trend. Our citizens will have greater connections within their cities, more places for people to gather, each community with their own authentic identity.

3.     Everything will be delivered, autonomously and inexpensively.  Retail will change greatly in 2026 to be a sensory experience and a recreational experience.  If it’s not fun, you won’t do it.  This will greatly change the urban fabric and percentage of retail.

4.     In California, 60% of all electricity will come from renewable sources, 30% of all new passenger cars will be plug in electric. Non hydro states in the US will lag in both areas due to a later start. By 2026 no new oil, gas, coal or nuclear power plant will ever be built in the US.  Replacing fossil fuel plants will be renewable energy plants and energy storage of many different configurations including our cars and public transit.   

5.     Buses will shrink to 10-20 passengers.  The ubiquitous 40-passenger bus will began to go extinct.  The removal of a high priced driver, the ability to drive on sunshine at 10% the cost of gasoline and the ability to “Daisy-Train” will give rise to low cost and effective transit solutions.

6.     A new class of low cost, lightweight electric transport emerges.  In 2026 three wheel and four wheel vehicles weighing 1000lbs or less will gain a large percentage of market share in our cities.  These vehicles are perfect for last mile transit solutions, commuters of all distances, reductions in land needed for parking and for open air recreational driving.  As cars become shared and autonomous in greater numbers, these vehicles will find a place in nearly every home.   Driving is still fun.  It’s not that we give up on cars, it’s that we’ll have fewer of them and generally, they will be lighter.

Arcimoto SRK

7.     Batteries in 2026 increase energy density by 300% compared to 2016. Take the new BMW i3 with a range of 114 miles and triple it. Breakthroughs are happening faster with more investment and research (two years ago the same BMW i3 was released at 81 miles.)   The dominant battery form factor becomes solid state and will last a lifetime.

8.     Small craft aviation shifts to electric in 2026.  3-hour flight times with 30 minute reserve are commonplace for 2-6 passenger small aircraft.   Batteries are recharged by solar on the wings and fuselage adding to the range, fast charging is available at most airports.  These aircraft operate at 1/10th the cost of traditional aircraft.  Airports begin phasing out landing rights for certain aircraft due to noise and emission concerns.  This phasing out will be a 30-year process resulting eventually in only electric aviation for the small aircraft segment.  You think a dual motor Tesla is fast?

9.     The Jetson’s age is upon us.  In 2026, a 40 story high skyscraper called Skypad Apartments is planned in Los Angeles with each unit having a landing pad for a multi passenger quad copter.  The commute to Space X Sprockets in Hawthorne CA will be automatic and take less than 5 minutes.  Astro becomes the most popular dog name in the US.  Multi passenger quad copters are the new must have. Read more here.

10.  Space travel.  In 2026 orbital space travel begins to  become attainable.  Prices drop to $50,000 (in 2016 dollars) for an orbital flight preceded by a four-day space themed cruise.  Sir Richard Branson launches Virgin Space Lines.  Space ports are as common as cruise ship ports.

I can’t wait to see how this all turns out J
What are your thoughts on the top ten electric transportation and energy breakthroughs in the next ten years?  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Part 3: 2014 BMW i3, Drivers Long Term Review

The BMW i3, A “Bulls-i” for the Bavarians.
We just don’t know it yet.

While the BMW i8 is the super-sultry twin sister that gets all the lustful gazes, the BMW i3 is a masculine stout machine geared for the gnarly bullring that is the city of today and tomorrow. Not cute or ugly and certainly not sexy…. The BMW i3 is a Bavarian bull. 

The i3 is stronger than the “Man of Steel” with its flame cured fibrous carbon skin. Stocky and full figured sitting on it’s haunches, tall with no neck, lightning quick first steps with tons or strength. Smart instincts, legs that look thinner than they should for such a beast. Not the prettiest of faces on the prairie, the local zoo or the urban asphalt jungle. Definitely a bull, albeit one with a BMW roundel for a nose ring.

While most new car models are simply this year’s fruit ripened off a long established tree, occasionally someone actual plants something new. Rarer still… someone plants a “forest of new” that materially changes the definition of what was for a century a “clean white sheet of sheet metal.”

The BMW i3 is not just this years fruit, not just a newly planted tree, a similar species planted by everyone else the past 100+ years, no the i3 is much more, it’s entirely revolutionary. The BMW i3 is a moonshot in the way cars are envisioned and constructed, a new interstellar (oops I’m ahead of myself, sorry Elon) intercity base from which the future of transportation will evolve in it’s many iterations. It’s brilliant and misunderstood in equal amounts. It’s genius not lying in batteries or electric motors, but in carbon fiber lightness and intelligence.

Many see the first few year’s sales of the BMW i3 as disappointing. I see the first few years as a “bud break” of sorts indicating better things to come. At planting in 2014, I too was unimpressed.   Having come off the BMW Mini-E and the BMW ActiveE, I was hoping for a sleek coupe with 90 miles of range. I was disappointed in the form and range of the i3, my wife Julie loved the form (she likes the functionality and high seating) but was also disappointed by the range.   We both love the performance, luxury, and tech of the BMW i3, much superior to its two prototype predecessors. I have to admit, the form is growing on me and I very much like it now.

Julie and I both are BMW i3 drivers, hers a Capparis White Electronaut Edition with Tera interior loaded with 23,000 miles, and mine, a Laurel Grey with Giga interior loaded with 14,200 miles. We picked up both cars in May of 2014 continuing our electric driving after the Mini-E and the ActiveE.  With both i3’s we have driven a total of 37,200 miles on electricity provided by the sun via our Solar PV system. Our home and the i3’s are solar powered with no utility bill or gasoline cost. We installed our solar PV in January of 2007, in April of 2012, the system was completely paid off with our utility and gas savings and from then on and for the rest of our lives, it’s zero emission driving with zero cost for energy.

Just pause and think about that for a second, your home is now your gas station, sunshine is now your gasoline. That’s the ultimate premium driving experience.

We have had no issues with the i3’s at all, I had a cracked windshield, which was replaced, (it was a huge rock kicked up by a truck) Julie had new rear tires at 20,000 miles.   Front tires still have tons of life left.  The cars interiors are holding up great and both cars look as in showroom condition.  Exterior of the cars are simply the best I have ever seen. Typically for Julie and I, we would each pick up a door ding or two every year. The i3’s after 2.5 years on the road are scratch and ding free thanks to the thermo plastic skin mounted on the CFRP.   It’s amazing stuff and almost impossible to ding. The only area for improvement is the bumper ledge when you open the rear hatch. Lots of stuff going in and out, a few scratches there. 

The BMW i3 Tera interior with the Dalbergia brown leather, wood dash panels, open loft / floor feel and quietness is simply the best interior comfort and luxury of any car at any price point. It’s truly an amazing experience; remember I also drive a BMW i8, so that’s high praise for the BMW i3. I’m sure you can get bigger and more expensive, but you can’t get better than the Tera interior of the i3. World leading in my opinion.

The cars also stay amazingly clean, as there is no brake dust. The dirty grimy black stuff that ruins an ice car after the wash is replaced by kinetic energy recovery via regeneration or regen. It’s one pedal driving for 95% of the time in the car and again, world leading in my opinion. Nobody does regen better than BMW.

The performance of the i3 is often understated. Not a track car and not a huge top speed number, mundane 0-60 times for a BMW for sure.  It’s really fairer to compare the i3 with the x3 and x5 as opposed to the sedans.  
However, first in line at a stoplight with just about any performance car including the BMW M lineup next to it and your going to be surprised at how effortlessly and quickly the i3 gets it on. Chances are you’re going to be looking at it’s tail lights for the first 30 to 40 mph. City performance is where it excels, not the autobahn.

Julie and I have owned several cars for over 30 years each, after 2-3 years on the road, all cars start to show their age.  All cars except it seems, the BMW i3. The i3’s defy old man time and do not seem to age or wear. The ride is just as tight, the acceleration just as brisk as the first day, appearances are as if you just left the lot and so on. Truly remarkable, we’re used to getting new cars every 3-4 years but we might need to rethink that strategy.

Would I buy the car again? In a heartbeat and we are. We plan on keeping the Capparis White Electronaut Edition to keep the BMW i8 Electronaut Edition company as we all get old, we affectingly call them the Electronaut twins. The Grey i3 will be returned after three years, Julie will be buying a new 2017 BMW i3 with a sunroof, most likely the Protonic Blue color with Tera interior. A carbon fiber car wearing the BMW roundel, with the best interior in the world, that drives on sunshine. Are you kidding me? I’m loving this new energy world!  

After a couple of years on the road now, a truer picture is beginning to emerge for the future of the BMW i3; the tree is beginning to bear its fruit.

Just 2.5 years after its May 2014 USA launch, the 2017 BMW i3 gains an astonishing 50% increase in battery capacity with range now 114 miles. With fast DC charging, and full utilization of the 2.4 gallon gas tank providing an additional 85 miles of driving for the REX model, the i3 is starting to look really smart.  

LAPD placed an order for 100 of the BMW i3 BEV’s winning a contract over the more vaunted Tesla Model S. Surprise! The LAPD i3 cars have been is service for a few months now.  For LAPD who tested both the BMW i3 and the Tesla Model S, the winning difference was the compatible telemetry, the lowest cost of operations per mile of any car in the USA, demonstrated engineering competence, and the nimble turning radius required of a car in an urban bullring.  Chalk this one up to the lessons learned by BMW in the Mini-E fleet field trails which I was proudly part of.

Julie and I sat next to an LAPD employee and his wife at the July 17th,  2016 BMWi Power lunch in Santa Monica as we listened to Christina Fleischer, Manager of BMWi North America address a gathering of around 200 BMWi enthusiasts. What was clear in Ms. Fleischer’s remarks was a sustained path of improvements to both the i3 and the i8 beginning with the 2017 BMW i3. She hinted at three major advancements including one that she loved for the BMW i3 coming in late 2018 (most likely a 2019 model year) and updates to the BMW i8, including more range and power and the Spyder during the same time frame.   

She dismissed as not true rumors of a full electric BMW i8 anytime in the foreseeable future.  She also talked about the BMW iNext model due in 2020 which will be a new model focusing even more intently on sustainability, integration with humans as well as devices and autonomous driving.

Back to the LAPD and their three-year lease of 100 BMW i3’s, this experience will set a data benchmark for all law enforcement agencies and other fleet operators across the nation. This is a huge deal as BMW seeks to “crack the code” and dominate in this market much as they have with their BMW police model motorcycle.  If they can prove during the next three years that the BMW i3 is reliable and has a low cost of operations and repair (50% lower,) you could be looking at the future police car of choice in the USA. Individual drivers care mostly about lower monthly payments, fleet operators care more about total cost of ownership and cost per mile of operations.

To begin with, these LAPD’s i3’s are not for patrol beats with sworn officers, they will serve in a support role. However in several European countries the i3 is already the police vehicle of choice for sworn officers.  In near future iterations of the i3, the range goes up, performance goes up and the i3 will see patrol duty here as well, just read further down my post before you laugh at the thought of a BMW i3 in a high-speed chase.  Look for the i3 to go into patrol duty in the USA within a year or two, look for LAPD to up its order in the very near future and to go solar in a big way to provide the e-juice for the i3 coppers. 

As mentioned by Ms. Fleischer there are three main upgrades in store for the BMW i3, none of which she could talk about, one of which she was really excited about.  It was great to listen to refreshingly succinct talking points from the German engineer in charge of BMWi, words portraying a quiet strength and confidence, lacking in puffy twittering and marketeering. Ms. Fleischer would not spill the beans so this gives me a chance to speculate and guess on what these three main improvements could be.  Here it goes!

1.  For the 2019 model year arriving late 2018, an upgrade to 120 ah cells thus doubling the range of the original 2014 BMW i3 which had 60 ah cells.  The new electric range of the car will be over 150 miles. This well also be the year that the REX is improved in horsepower and the gas tank is enlarged to 4 gallons to match the 150 miles of the battery. Mid cycle design refresh of the car, lower price point than similarly equipped Tesla Model 3.

2.  A stretched version of the BMW i3 in late 2018 for the 2019 model year. This will give room for eight battery modules instead of six, four typical doors and improve the range to around 200 miles. Perhaps even a convertible or sedan variant. The stronger REX will be available with a 5.5 gallon tank to match the 200 electric miles. Look for this to be the main response to the Tesla Model 3.

3.  This is the one I think Ms. Fleischer was really excited about; after all she comes from the M world of BMW.  In the past 2.5 years, we have used our BMW i3’s frunk exactly three times; once for champagne, once for wine and once for beer.  It’s a terrible waste of space and I know what would better fit in that space. Take a deep breath and prepare yourself for a BMW i3 that will set lap time records at both Thermal and Spartanburg Two Day BMW M Schools. No I’m serious.

The 2019 BMW i3 AWD Coupe Sport.  Two door, Dual electric 200+hp motors for a total of 400+ hp with insane amounts of torque in a sub 3000 lbs. car. Carbon ceramic brakes, 2 speed GKN axels similar to the BMW i8, wider dancing shoes,  stiffer and lower suspension resulting in a carbon fiber track killing machine with a range of 150 miles electric. O-60 times in the 3’s, crazy quick out of turns with no turbo spool up. Dare I say “The Bull”?    

As BMW enters into the Formula E ring in 2019,  it will also begin a BMW sponsored Pro-Car racing series pitting the best of the East Coast against the best of the West Coast (an old Mini-E rivalry) with the 2019 BMW i3 AWD Coupe Sport.

I can hardly wait to see if any of my predictions hold true. There are probably a few folks at BMW right now either amazed at how close I am, or chuckling at my racer-boy folly.  

Just build the Bull.