Wednesday, February 25, 2015

BMW i8 real world range testing (We''ll get back to the i3's soon)

As a BMW i3 owner thinking about buying the BMW i8, I had a lot of questions regarding range in this super plug-in hybrid EPA rated at 15 miles electric range.

Now, as an i8 owner, I want you to know that I sacrificed my morning on 2/25/15 just for you, driving next to the Pacific Ocean, to answer some of these range questions. I know, it's a tough gig, sort of like work, but that's what pioneers do :)

It's no problem to hit the 15 miles of EPA electric range providing you keep it out of sport mode!

Here's the test results, pics below as back up documentation:

City driving: Hwy 101 at 65 degrees, average speeds were 30mph to 50mph. Speeds shown are due to lots of stop signs and streetlights. Eco pro mode fan on.

@21 miles electric range, 4.1 miles per kWh, 25.2 mph. (gas engine starts)

Highway driving, Hwy 5 to San Clemente and back, cruise control set to 70mph, 65 degrees, traffic very light, eco pro mode, fan on. You will see the speed increase as the first four miles are city roads to Hwy 5.

@22 miles electric range, 4.2 miles per kWh, 57.5 mph. (gas engine starts)
@30 miles, 98.8mpg, 57.5 mph (first dip below 100mpg)
@40 miles, 71.7mpg, 59.8 mph
@50 miles, 61.2mpg, 61.6 mph

If you drive it like a beast in sport mode, no EV range and 25 mpg. (I know this from experience and it will put more miles back on your EV range)


I'll start off every day with a full charge, and my personal driving habits are:

55% of my trips are below 20 miles RT and will be done on all electric.
15% of my trips are below 30 miles RT and will be at 100 mpg.
10% of my trips are below 40 miles RT and will be at 70mpg.
10% of my trips are below 50 miles RT and will be at 60mpg.
10% of my trips are longer and may be as low as 28mpg.

(minus 10% of the above because I like to flick it over to sport mode every now and then :) )

Incredible efficiency and incredible performance in this beautiful work of art and engineering.


city driving, gas engine starts at 21 miles

Hwy driving, gas engine starts at 22 miles

30 miles, dips below 100 mpg.

at 40 miles 

at 50 miles.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

i3 - i8 - i thoughts.....

"Top of the Mind" quick thoughts about these two great cars.

1. The i8 is the car of the century. Carbon fiber, Heron wing doors (could not resist as our home is Herons' House.) Through the road all wheel drive, a v8, v10, v12 supercar performance, with a straight 3 and the electric motor from the i3. The excellence of the entire package.

A quiet front wheel drive winged angel in electric mode and a screaming full throated all wheel drive nasty beast in sport mode. 

60 - 80 mpg in a typical (25miles) days drive beginning with a full charge. A stunning work of art that does 0-60 in 3.6 seconds according to car and driver and me. Stealth mode while driving in the city up to your favorite restaurant or hotel (the coolest of the bunch)

2. The i8 makes me appreciate our i3 even more. In typical brand hierarchy, the top tier car will be the most well appointed, the next level, somewhat less so, the next level somewhat less so, and so forth. We have both the Tera World i3 and the Tera World i8. The i3 interior is just as nice as the i8. In fact, with the wood dash and floating screens, the i3 interior is even better in my opinion, than the i8. The i8 does have custom stitching similar to the ActiveE.

3. The white color in the i3 is one of two standard colors. The white color in the i8 is the only premium color with a $1200 upcharge. Strange? As far as I can tell with the naked eye, I can see no difference in the i3 and the i8 regarding the white paint.

4. I'm better looking in the i8.

5. You can tell they're siblings if not twins, not identical twins, but twins.

6. The i3 features more advanced hi tech such as the self parking and the adaptive cruise control. The i8 does not offer either. Both have collision avoidance and pedestrian avoidance. The i8 has this really cool from the top looking down back up screen. How the heck did they do that?

7. The i3 professional nav is much larger than the i8 nav screen.

8. The i8 has the same HK stereo with the same watts as the i3 if you have the HK stereo option. Both sound the same and amazing. I would pay extra to upgrade to a Bang & Olufsen system, but then again, I am Danish!

9. I'm sexier in the i8.

10. The i8 draws from me and those that see the car, a lustful emotional response. Different than a Lambo, Ferrari or other. It's more approachable and beautiful in some unexplainable sort of a way. The i3 draws interest, curiosity and inquisitiveness, but not lust. So do you want practical or sensual, dare I say sexual ... I suggest both.

10. The blue seat-belts are the bomb! Please offer in the i3.

11. I loved the adjustable interior light show of the Mini-E. This went away in the ActiveE and also is not present in the i3, except for the really cool blue interior light when you unlock before you open the door. In the i8, it's an amazing display of interior thin light strands that can change from white to orange to blue with various levels of intensity. It's simply stunning. Please bring this to the i3!

12. I'm 6ft 4in, and 300 pounds. I drop right into the i8 and can get out just as easily thanks to the long doors. I prefer the one leg in and then drop in technique, reversing that on the way out. You don't open the door and "get in and get out" of the i8. You swing the door up and you fall in and extract yourself out. But it is so so worth it.

13. The seating position in the i8 is very similar to the ActiveE. It is not as low as the Mini-E where you were basically sitting on the floor board, legs unbent straight forward, and not as high as i3. Julie loves the higher seat position of the i3 , but is very happy that the i8 is more like the ActiveE than the Mini-E which she did not like.

14. Good to very good visibility in the i8, considering its form factor this is a remarkable achievement. Great visibility in the i3.

15. The i8 is as simple to drive as the i3. Less regen in the i8 however when you use the brakes, there is regen on the brake pedal as well. This is a similar arrangement, although better implemented by BMW, as the Honda Fit EV.

16. In the i8, the little shift knob, when positioned to the right is good Peder. When flicked to the left it is bad Peder. I can be good or bad depending on the shades of....(never-mind)

17. I did 24 miles of EV drive today in the i8 before the gas engine kicked in for the last mile of our 25 mile drive to the county building this morning. Our mpg was somewhere north of 99.9mpg.

18. The i8 puts into focus what a great bargain the i3 is. Truly, the i3 at it's price point is an amazing car. It's helpful to have the i8 and to see how similar and how much of the same technology is in the i3.

19. Our i8 will join our i3 as an electronaut version very soon.

20. Bravo BMW.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

"Breaking the Inertia of the Status Quo"

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

In 2007 I began to drive a Gem e4 Neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) powered by roof top solar, It was a personal experiment connecting affordable solar PV "sunshine"  to transportation.

In 2009 I began to drive the BMW Mini-E,  a full electric car capable of around 90 miles of driving between charges.

At that time, in 2009, there were just the Mini-E and the Tesla Roadster drivers with no charging infrastructure,  aiming at the goal of a better future for transportation.

That hopeful vision of the future was far from assured.

We had been down this road before, about a decade earlier with the GM EV1 and the Toyota Rav4EV and a few other smaller production run cars.   That episode in the development of EV's ended in disaster, and potentially our era would follow, arriving at the the same destiny.

The inertia of the status quo is a powerful foe of change. Its strength and certainty comes from the common knowledge of today and yesteryear.

By 2011 Chevy, Nissan, Tesla, BMW and others were in the EV game for good.  No longer an R&D exercise, billions of dollars of plant development were green lighted for full production of the electric car. The future of the EV was almost certainly going to go forward with no chance of the stalled effort of the GM EV1 and Toyota Rav4EV.

Today, in 2015,  we are looking at dozens of manufacturers and an ever growing number of plug in cars.   From those first days of 2009 and less than 1000 cars on the road, to now, just five years later and 300,000 cars with plugs on the road. Amazing exponential growth.

2017 looks to be the tipping point  where the average electric car will improve to 150-200 miles per charge with both battery density and cycle duration increasing, with many manufacturers offering high volume electric cars.  There  ends the main obstacle of electric cars, range anxiety.

It's possible, I would say predictable, that we will see a perfect storm in favor of EV's in this 2017-2020 time frame. Extremely high gas prices and several models of 150-200 mile EV's powered mostly by renewable energy. 

It would not be surprising to see 30% of all cars sold being a hybrid or better with roughy 10% being pure electric by 2017.  Exponential growth will continue. By 2020,  a true revolution takes hold in transportation, the replacement of the gasoline vehicle feet will be underway en-masse. 

Below is my view on why the electric vehicle will replace the gasoline powered car, and why it will do so very soon:

Top Ten reasons why the electric car will make the existing gasoline car obsolete.

1. They’re quicker.

2. They’re quieter.

3. They’re more fun to drive.

4. They’re connected to your home, instead of connected to oil.

5. They're part of the solution, not part of the problem.

6. They’re up to 5 times more efficient and1/5th the cost to operate over the lifetime of the car. (energy conservation is wealth creation)

7. You can make your own fuel on the roof of your home.

8. They clean our air. Every EV that replaces a gasoline car makes every breath we take, cleaner and healthier.

9. They’re technologically superior, yet far simpler machines.

10. They will usher in a new transportation future including multiple mobility choices for our cities.

Bet on it :)


Thursday, January 29, 2015

Zero Cost of Energy and Gasoline for a Year.

How we use our BMW i3 Frunk. Champagne and Shrimp on ice!

We're popping the first bottle of champagne as we have now documented a whole year with no cost of energy and no cost of gasoline to power a home and drive two EV's a collective 20,000 (actual 24,350) miles a year.

We're not done yet as we still have four months to go on our effort to get to Net Zero energy, as well as zero cost. More on that at the end of this post.

Today, we affirmatively answer this question: Can we harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of a roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost for 12 months.


It's possible that this feat has been accomplished before. We are not aware of any documented effort by any household in the world, where from a small portion of a roof, sunshine is harvested to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost and zero gasoline.

We believe, we are unmistakably on a transitional path to renewably energy and electric transportation, a path as predictable and reliable as the sun rising from the east, racing though the heavens, and setting in the west.

We are living at a time of one of the biggest changes in the history of humans on earth and we are all active participants in this evolutionary change towards renewables for energy and transportation. A change that brings with it; healthier air, cleaner water, richer families and communities, energy equity and a premium quality of life.  Driving is faster, quicker, quieter, less jerky, more enjoyable, and yes, it puts a big fat grin on your face every time you do a 0-60, 6.5 second sprint in the BMW i3.

Think about it for a second, the "future is today" whereby we can provide the energy for our cars  and our homes by harvesting sunshine on our roof.

It is indeed a new day, and to borrow the words from BMWi: Hello Future...

Harvesting coastal breezes to cool our home, partnering with nature. 

The three foundational pillars in our Drive to Net Zero are: 

1. Building a very efficient home. Harvesting passive solar for heat, wind for cooling, rain for growing both drink and food.

2. Our two BMW i3's, the most energy efficient car sold in the USA at 124 mpge.

3. Harvesting the sunshine falling on our rooftop  to power our home and cars. 

On January 19th 2015, we received our "Annual True-Up" bill from our utility, SDG&E.  

We had a $434.57 credit at the end of the year

This bill will be common in many states in just a few short years.

Highlights from our annual bill.

Our annual electricity cost for our home and cars, $-36.68
Our credit for unused electricity, $-434.57
Our annual gasoline cost for two cars, 24,350 miles, $0.00
Our natural gas cost, $279.89

Our total cost of energy for the year $-191.36

Interesting Tidbits:

We had anticipated getting to zero cost in May of 2015. However the efficiency of the BMW i3’s reduced our energy use far more than we thought, so we accomplished the goal five months early. For the first five months of the year, we were driving a BMW ActiveE EV and a Honda Fit EV. The i3's were delivered in late May.

Our two BMW i3's use 6000 kWh of electricity annually, an average of 3000 kWh for 12,000 miles each, 24,350 mile total. We have had no gasoline cars during the year.

Our home uses 7500 kWh per year. Our home consist of a main house of 3300 sq. ft. occupied by three, and a guest house of 1200 sq. ft. occupied by two. It's essentially two homes with two families on one utility meter.

Our solar 8.5kw PV system, installed in 2007, was paid off in April of 2012 with the utility and gasoline avoidance savings.

Our annual savings on utility cost and gasoline cost is $8,500

We have reduced our CO2 emissions by 30 tons annually.

Future goals.

To have zero carbon footprint.

We have reduced our household carbon footprint to 2 tons per year according the EPA carbon calculator; the remaining carbon is due mostly to our small natural gas use. The national average is 40 tons per household.

To offset our generation of carbon, we have donated a brand new 9kw solar PV system to our local lagoon foundation. This solar PV system offsets approximately 13 tons of carbon a year. We are net carbon neutral.

The next four months:

Four months to go, can we get to negative kWh?

We began this "Drive to Net Zero"  in May of 2015 with two goals. The first and largest one was to zero cost.  The second and perhaps harder to attain, to be net zero energy. We have four more months to go, are we going to make it?

It looks to be close.  Next month we will add a couple of hundred more kWh to the total and then the following three months we will reduce the total.

What makes this challenge interesting, is that it is real world with a real family, not some theoretical exercise, on some "super house" on a university campus with a non existent family, substituted with a computer tabulation of static energy use over a year, including one compliance car which you can no longer buy or lease.

Life is not static, it's dynamic, wonderful and ever changing.  

In our case we have had a few unplanned for events over the past eight months that have added a few thousand kWh to our "normal living" usage.

1. We're hosting a 17 year old French Rotary exchange student for the year.  You should see her hair!  Anyone care to calculate how many kWh per year 20 minutes of blowdrying 7 days a week uses? Not to mention lights, computers TV and more. We love her and she is having a great experience in the USA.

2. It's my year as Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. What was  typically 3-4 long drives a month is this year 12-15 long drives a month as chair.

3. Family illness and the loss of a loved one.  We said goodbye to a family member and another had a major surgery a month before.    This created many many long trips to the hospital and to my siblings over the course of a few months.    The family is strong and it was a blessing.  Getting back to cars, the BMW i3 did great handling all the unexpected and longer trips and we made use of the DC fast chargers at Fashion Valley and downtown San Diego during this time.

We are putting on about 5000 miles extra on our i3's over what we planned for and what is typical for us.

I think were going to be plus or minus around 500 kWh for the year.

About that BMW i8...

Owning a "First Vintage" of both the BMW i3 and the BMW i8, is a scrapbook of a personal journey of our several year relationship with BMW from the "Mini-E and a dream for the future," to today with both cars, a BMW i3 and BMW i8, a reality.

Our plan is to keep the BMW i8 as a very low miles collectable car and we will keep both of the BMW i3's as our daily drivers.   It's sort of our own version of a flexible mobility program.

With two BMW i3's  we would borrow or rent a long haul gasoline car once or twice a year for a trip to Napa, now we'll take the i8.  It's also going to be a great out to dinner car driving electric only to our local restaurants.

We plan to remain a two EV family, with our own flexible mobility plan. Yes, I'll lose my EV purity card :)

it takes six to eight solar panels to power a car 12,000 miles a year for 30 years

Thanks for reading, and if you can remember one thing and one thing only, remember this:

Sunshine is a transportation fuel.


(Past "Driving To Net Zero" articles)

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven more than 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I’m Buying a BMW i8. Why?

Before I attempt to rationalize the decision, let me say there is no rational reason. It’s purely emotional, sentimental, and a dream.

As a young car loving boy, I sword fought with sections of Hot Wheels track, my Matchbox cars had gull wing doors, I built cars out of Lego bricks that had gull wing doors and big rear wings, slot cars were great…especially if they had gull wing doors.

The BMW i8 is expensive absolutely, but what price is worth living a priceless dream?

There is an interesting story here, one that I think is worthy of telling, of why there is such a strong attachment and compulsion for myself and for others who drive EV’s and PHEV's. Why our love for these cars is so strong.

We’re called Electronauts, Fan Boys, Leafers,  Voltheads,  Teslamaniacs and worse.  We are fiercely loyal to our cars, brands and electric mobility.  We EVangelize (obsessively) and appreciate all supporters of electric mobility, their various reasons and brands.  Why so much passion and devotion?  

I won’t do this justice but let me try…

One of the greatest needs that we have as humans is diverse meaningful human relationships.  It’s why our penal system is based around various and increasing degrees of removal from our relationships, from warnings, to citations, to incarceration, all the way down to solitary confinement and in some countries, death, the ultimate removal of any relationships.  Money pales in comparison to the value of meaningful relationships.

The opposite of that penal system is freedom.

No greater tool has existed for us to connect and have relations to each other and to explore that freedom, than the automobile.   Pictures, texting, social networking are great, but seeing a distant dear friend in person or sharing a trip to the Grand Canyon with family are experiences, that can never be replicated by a photo, text or phone call.  It’s such a strong connection, and so important to us, that in many cities we are willing to turn over 50% of our land mass to a mechanical device that allows us to connect face to face. 

But there is a huge downside; pollution, congestion, climate change, world conflict over the scarce resource needed to fuel the car, and so forth.  Car companies heretofore have been suppliers of both freedom and increasingly, suppliers of problems. 

I profoundly believe that today, car companies like BMW, driven by citizens and regulators as well as by innovation, are now transitioning and becoming suppliers of freedom and suppliers of answers that will lead us to a cleaner, healthier, more just and more equitable world.   

A world where the car has zero emission,  the fuel for the car is zero carbon and made on the rooftop, where family and civic budgets are strengthened with lower cost of fuel and utilities.  Where the air and water are clean. Where resources are plentiful and equitable.  Where multiple modes of transit are possible and where more land is set aside for people and human relationships, not devices.

This is what I desire and what I work for.  This is why I have such passion and value alignment for BMW and their efforts.

Of course BMW needs to manage this transition from a few million gasoline cars annually to electric cars, and that does not happen with a flip of the switch, but the transition is unmistakably happening and BMW is seriously investing and planning for the electric future. The go-pedal is firmly planted on the CFRP firewall of electric mobility.

I love the two diverse approaches from the first BMW i 2014 vintage.

1. The BMW i3.

Make the most efficient car on the planet, then double down the bet and make it a  slot car for adults imbuing the car with the DNA, performance, technology and amenities of a BMW. 

BMW has forever broken the nexus of efficiency and lethargy. The BMW i3 is the car of the future.

2. The BMW i8

Make a plug in hybrid supercar and use the electric drive to augment torque lags, provide all wheel drive, all at the efficiency of a Toyota Prius.   Take a 3 piston car and make it perform like a  8, 10 or 12 piston car, then double down and give it a stealth mode with electric only driving as well.   

Yes, it uses gasoline and I’ll lose my "EV purity card,"  but a dream is soon to be realized. The BMW i8 is the car of my dreams and the dreams of future generations.

I remember my first test drive of the crazy fun but rudimentary BMW Mini-E in early 2009.   From that moment on, it’s been a very thrilling and personal "journey to the future" riding shotgun with BMW, a road-trip that I would encourage all to undertake.

Having a "First Vintage" of both the BMW i3 and the BMW i8,  is a scrapbook of that personal journey for Julie and I, and just might be a solid investment.

That's rational thinking. Right?


Monday, December 29, 2014

7 Months In…Old Man Winter Visits..Predictions for the New Year

A few family vacations had our mileage and energy usage down for this month.  Unfortunately, old man winter brought our energy generation down as well.

Our first month of a utility bill that does not begin with a minus sign.

It was a wet and rainy month so less Solar PV production.

Some travel away from home reduced the amount of kWhs used by the cars.

We continue on a great glide path for net zero energy cost for the year for the house and our two electric cars. We will achieve this milestone next month, four months earlier than expected, when we receive our utility true up bill for the year.  We anticipate a $50 refund from the utility, a $450 credit to our account for electricity, and a $270 natural gas bill for the entire year. 

Regrettably, our utility does not let us transfer the electricity credit to our natural gas bill.  The result is the credit goes as a gift to our utility.

A $40 utility bill, but still running a huge remaining credit over 11 months.
This may come as a surprise, but we calculate our saving to be somewhere between $150k and $200k  not adjusted for inflation, that's enough to buy a BMW i8 ) during the past 7 years and the next 20 years.  We installed the Solar PV system in 2007 and paid off the system with utility and gasoline savings in April of 2012.   Since 2012, we have been saving $8000 to $9000 a year in utility cost and gasoline cost.  

We are driving and living with zero energy or gasoline cost.

We are also on a good glide path for net zero energy usage. It’s important to emphasize that we do have some natural gas use.  Our hope was to be three or four thousand kWh more in generation than usage to offset the natural gas use.  As the year has unfolded, we are driving about 20% ( 4000 miles) more than planned and we have been hosting an exchange student for the year.  

We are demonstrating that it is possible, practical and economical using today’s readily available technology, to construct an energy efficient house, to drive amazing and practical electric cars and to provide the energy for the house and the two cars in the garage via solar PV, all while improving the quality of life and economic situation for the family.

We hope for the day in the near future where this is commonplace throughout the country. 

As old man winter settles in (yes we have winter in San Diego) we are enjoying the preconditioning aspects of the BMW i3 and occasionally the fast DC charge abilities of the car.  Last week for example we were on a 130 mile RT drive and used the fast DC charger in Fashion Valley San Diego to give us the range to return home with about 20 minutes of charging. Julie and I sipped on a beer in a nearby restaurant while we waited.  In the pre DC fast charge world, that would have been a 3-5 hour recharge. 

We are very fortunate in California to have a fast growing fast charger network that really enhances the practicality of the BMW i3 and all EV’s that can fast charge.   Fast DC is a game changer and should be standard equipment on all EV's.

A few predictions for the 2015 New Year and beyond: 

As a veteran of EV’s with over 110,000 miles of driving in several models beginning long before there was a level two J1772 standard or public charging infrastructure, I see a “One-Two–Three punch” on the near horizon that will end the dominance of the gasoline car.  

1.         The lowering cost of EV’s, Solar PV, and renewable energy sources.  This will continue to progress across the county with visionary utilities like NRG and other solar companies leading the way. EV’s will continue to be lower in price.  Car drivers will simple find it easier and cheaper to fill up at home. Happening now. (Bonus... this downward cycle will continue and accelarate over the next several years)

2.         The rapid deployment of Fast DC charging equipment across the country.    Beginning at both coastlines then moving to larger cities across the middle of the country, Fast DC chargers will appear seemingly almost overnight.  BMW and Bosch broke new ground with their relatively inexpensive fast DC chargers and other manufacturers will soon follow.   Happening 2015 to 2017. (Bonus…look for utilities to get in the charging game in a big way thanks to recent CPUC rulings.)

3.         The lower end “standard” electric car will have a  125-150 mile range. High end range and moderately priced models will offer double that range.  This nearly doubles the current norm of around 80 miles for most of the EV’s in today’s market.   Happening in 2016- 2017,  (Bonus…look for a shocker of a battery breakthrough in 2016-2017 time frame that will propel EV’s even farther by 2020)

These three advances will result in:
A 150 mile range EV that can be recharged to 85% in less than an hour when on a road trip,  and charged at home with electricity that is cheaper and more convenient than gasoline while you sleep.

…and the world of transportation and energy will then change rapidly and forever.

A Happy New Year filled with sunshine to all!

Thanks for reading and commenting.

(Past "Driving To Net Zero" articles)

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven more than 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Month 6, Zero Cost, Zero Carbon, One Hell of a Car!

We're at the midway point of our "Driving to Net Zero" energy challenge and it's looking really good!   The simple premise of the challenge is:

Can we harvest endless sunshine from a small portion of a roof to provide 100% of the energy needed to power a home and two cars with zero utility cost, and zero gasoline cost for 12 months? The answer for us, is looking more and more like yes we can!

I imagine our world in the next two or three years, where EV's will have 150 to 200 miles of range, and where Solar PV continues to decrease in cost and increase in availability and it's use as a transportation fuel.   

We are at the beginning of a decades long transition that will ultimately culminate in a zero carbon system where we supply our own energy from the sun, wind, water, or earth, to power our cities, homes, businesses, and cars.  We are on the cusp of that transformation.

So, how are we doing at the halfway mark?

  • We continue to amass a large bill credit now at $-732.
  • We are very close to net zero usage of electricity.
  • We are driving 20% more than the 20,000 miles, now at 12,300 miles.
  • We have an unplanned for, exchange student in our home for the year.
  • We anticipate having 2 more months of pulling from the grid, then 4 months of making more power than we use. 
Julie is a lighter and more efficient driver than I am.
She is averaging 4.5 miles per kWh, and I am averaging 4.2

Still good Solar PV production

Total kWh usage from the wall for both BMW i3's
Our true up bill is in two months.  We anticipate to have a $550-$600
credit for the year that will go as a gift to our utility. What we expect is
a check from the utility for around $55 as our ending balance.

Our goal is also Net Zero Carbon.

We have reduced our carbon emissions to approximately  2 tons for our household per the EPA calculator.  The calculator is very basic and just considers the household and personal transportation.  It does not cover air travel or food or consumer purchases so our actual carbon production is much higher.

The average US household is around 40 tons of CO2 emissions,
our emissions are from our low natural gas use. 

If we produce carbon, how do we mitigate or offset our carbon emissions?

Our choice was not to purchase carbon credits, but rather to donate to our local Agua Hedionda Lagoon Foundation a brand new, 9kw Solar PV system.  This system will produce 14,000 kWh of electricity a year for over 25 years, eliminating between 7 and 10 tons of CO2 annually. 

BMW i3 Impressions after 6 months of driving. 

The 2014 BMW i3 is a carbon fiber…slingshot…slot car.

I am once again, just a teenager driving on a real life slot car track, except that now, the electric trigger/resistor has moved from my forefinger and thumb to my right foot.  Go fast, slow down, repeat.

Just like that slot car track of the 70’s, my BMW i3 is also plugged into the wall, now sipping the required kilowatt hours of electricity from the sunshine harvested on my roof.  Yes, you can make your own fuel; yes, you can drive powered by sunshine.   

Unlike any other production car in the world (except for the BMW i8)  BMW has pioneered the use of lightweight carbon fiber, CFRP, to make the life module of the relatively affordable BMW i3.   Lightness via CFRP is the secret sauce in my opinion, not battery chemistry, or the electric motor, that has BMW a full decade ahead of any other car manufacturer in the world.  

How “Badass” is that and tell me the world isn’t entering a revolution in transportation!    

That’s how it feels to drive the BMW i3.  

Does it… you know, drive like a BMW even though it’s electric and made from CFRP?  Heck yes!  Let me go farther and say it raises the bar and redefines what all BMW’s should drive like. 

Not to minimize the many other arguments that favor the electric car; the environment, carbon reductions, lower cost of fuel, no stops at gas stations, and many others, but allow me to go out on a limb and try to convey just one important fact to you the reader.  

The BMW i3 is simply a better and more enjoyable car to drive than its gasoline brethren.

Sacrilege to some, Heresy to others, I know.  But once you have tasted the fruit of electric driving in a machine designed for performance, there is no going back to the antiquity of the gasoline engine.  Forward to a faster and cleaner future thanks to the electric motor.

The BMW i3, according to senior BMW executives, is faster than gasoline BMWs to 30mph.  It’s also has one of the shortest stopping distances of any BMW period. Quick to speed with a ton of torque, an equally important short stopping distance combined with being lightweight are the hallmarks of any performance car, including the BMW i3 which is designed for urban and suburban life. 

That’s not to say the BMW i3 is hard or jerky to drive as the overall driving experience of the car is one of simplicity, quietness and ease, surrounded by luxury and quality materials, however it is a BMW to its core, and loves to be driven in an enthusiastic manor.

On a race track the i3 is fun, but it’s not designed as a track is depending on how you define “track.” I recently had the rare opportunity to drive my i3 on a stadium autocross circuit and also drive many of the other higher tier electric cars on the same course.
The car with the fastest time?  The BMW i3. 

The i3 excels in tight spaces and in the twistee’s, as the low weight, fast 0-30 speeds and short braking show their supremacy.  I have no doubt that on a longer track with longer straightaways, a car like the Tesla Model S would prevail. The Tesla is a beautiful sensational electric car but the relevant question is:

Where is your “track?”

My “track” is the 28 million populated urban jungle of Southern California where I live, I don’t need to drive 250 miles at any one time,  and the BMW i3 is…(Que the music from the Disney Lion King soundtrack.)  Well, you get the idea.

Southern California as just one example of EV nirvana, is where the BMW i3 thrives.  28 million people living in a geo area sized roughly a two hour drive north and south by a two hour drive east and west.  An area filled with thousands of chargers and dozens of fast DC chargers allowing an i3 driver the ability to go anywhere they choose. 

More importantly, So-Cal is an area that has a grossly polluted air quality due to our love affair with the heretofore, gasoline automobile.  Electric cars like the BMW i3 offer the promise of a better path towards an emission free future.   Think about that with every breath you inhale and our cumulative contribution to the health of that air.

Overall specs of various trials of the BMW i3 are 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, and a weight of 2700lbs.  Range is 70 miles freeway at 80 miles per hour and 115 miles city in a more typical freeway stop and go and city streets speed of 35mph.   This has proven through our experience with the BMW Mine E and BMW ActiveE Field Trial program to be more than adequate for our lifestyle. 

Pay attention to the weight, as it is several hundred pounds lighter than other cars in its class and a full ton lighter than a Teslsa Model S.   This is what makes the i3 so easy to toss around the corners and to stop. This is what makes it the most economical production car on the planet to drive with a world beating EPA rating of 124 MPGe.  

But no two experiences or drivers are the same. For those with longer trip requirements, BMW makes the i3 with a gasoline Range Extender option (REX) thus effectively doubling the cars range and offers the convenience of filling up at any gas station.  BMW i3 is unique as compared to any car other manufacturer in the world, as you can have your choice, a BMW i3 fully electric, or one with a gasoline REX.

I can’t predict the future, but I can drive futuristic cars and there is no finer representation of what that future looks like than the BMW i3 and i8.

Bravo BMW.

Thanks for reading and commenting. You can live & drive on sunshine.

(Past "Driving To Net Zero" articles)

Editor’s Note, Peder is the Chairman of the San Diego County Planning Commission. His wife Julie is Director of Curriculum and Instruction at the Solana Beach School District. They have been Field Trial drivers for BMW for five years. Together since 2009, they have driven more than 100,000 EV miles powered from roof top solar.