Monday, January 31, 2011

The New City, BMW Films and Mini-E #183

From the minds of some of the most influential scientists, academics, pioneers and entrepreneurs of our time, this four-part documentary paints a unique picture of technology, culture, cities, our past, present and how it all relates to the future of mobility.

As a Mini-E “Pioneer” I had the great fun of spending a day in Hollywood working with a very talented production crew in the filming of the Mini-E segments for these four films. The very best part of this experience and one that I will always remember, was meeting my fellow Mini-E Drivers, Todd Crook Mini-E #140 from Long Beach, and Tom Moloughney Mini-E #250 from New Jersey. We all come at this from slightly different angles, but we all love the Mini-E in particular and the electric car in general. We have blogged together for 20 months but this was our first meeting.
I want to acknowledge the work of Donald Shoup in his book the High Cost of Free Parking. Although we all quote figures and statistics from time to time including in this film, I do want to recognize his research I have paired with my observations.
We have shared an interesting journey together, the three of us have over 100,000 miles logged in the Mini-E. Tom is the mileage leader of the group with over 50,000 miles in his Mini-E. It’s a neat feeling to know that when we signed up for this ride we were the only ones along with a handful of Tesla’s, legacy EV Rav4s, and the conversion electric car guys. In just 20 short months we now have major manufactures with the Leaf and Volt in the marketplace today, several more coming online next year, and just about everyone by 2013 including BMW with the imaginative, innovative lightweight Life Drive architecture and carbon fiber construction of the Megacity car.

The 500 or so Mini-E Pioneers provided a lot of knowledge and experience that has been helpful in the development of the electric car. BMW let loose in the wild a pre production car and gave the keys over to hundreds of normal everyday people and let those individuals experience and refine future BMW project I cars. That was a huge risk and BMW is to be congratulated, not chastised for that effort. Step two of the program begins this summer with the Active E, an in house rear wheel drive BMW 1 series with vastly different battery and drive architecture, not to mention four seats, a small trunk and connectivity.

I am very aware and appreciative of the pioneers that arrived before us, in some cases a decade or more before us. You are the ones that we read and researched when contemplating our entry into the Mini-E program. That list is distinguished, very small and includes the publisher of this website, William Moore and his many contributors.

The morning of the filming day, I left Carlsbad in Mini-E #183 that we have nicknamed Buzz, derived from Buzz Lightyear and Toy Story, which was derived from the Astronaut Buzz Aldrin. The same Buzz who is also in this film series. Go figure!

I knew I had a 210 mile drive that day so my plan was to drive the 50 miles to the Lake Forest BMW dealership and then charge up during an early lunch. I left there and drove up to Hollywood, around Hollywood filming and then drove back to the Lake Forrest BMW dealership around 6pm. That was a trip of 107 miles, all freeway at 65-70mph with about 25% stop and go near LA, all done on one charge with 9 miles remaining on the range indicator! I plugged Buzz in and then had a wonderful dinner nearby. After about 1.5 hours I returned and Buzz had charged up to 55% more than enough for my last 50 miles back to the house.

A heck of day with 210 miles of driving up to and around Hollywood and back to Carlsbad and a personal record of 107 miles in one charge with room to spare.

To this day, it is still a bit unreal that I am driving all over So-Cal in a blast of a car to drive powered by solar energy from the sun. Well, at least the 25k in miles that I charge from home.
It is also with great interest that I watch the film series beginning with the “New City.” As a San Diego County Planning Commissioner, in a county of 3 million citizens the question is perhaps the most important one we face. We know that transportation has historically driven land use patterns and decisions, from the time when man and woman first jumped bareback on a horse.
What is the future of mobility?

You can drive on sunshine. To Infinity and Beyond.

Enjoy the films.


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