Sunday, March 6, 2011

“Our greatest roadblock is the inertia of the status quo”

BMW Mini-e, BMW ActiveE, BMW i3, A methodical approach to the ultimate car.

Over the past 20 months, Mini-E #183 has collected 26,000 miles of pure sunshine powered enthusiast driving pleasure. It simply is the best car I have driven in 32 years on the road.

I know, I know, it’s a myth. A super fun car powered by rooftop solar is some crazy futurist pipe dream. I get it.

As a "conservative" person, what was I thinking?

Don't let the turmoil in the Middle East or the cost and pollution from the extraction, transportation, refining and delivery of gasoline, as well as the tailpipe emissions of 270 million gasoline cars persuade your thinking, after all this is a just a dream.

Forget about our national dependency on oil and how if the Middle East burps, our fuel prices skyrocket.

I’m sure our founding fathers who set us on a course as an independent nation won't mind the huge detour away from independence as we justify our supersized SUV's as freedom.

You have to admit all that wealth in the Arab Emirates and other oil producing nations is pretty sexy stuff. Their wealth coming at the expense of our independence, but's just a dream. No need to worry.

And let us not confuse the liberation, self reliance and energy independence of an individual who makes their own power for their home and car with our gross dependency and reliance on oil from others, That problem is to big to solve and who will pay the bills for big oil and the utility companies if you go renegade and make your own? Remember it’s just a dream.

Don’t bother to pinch me, really don’t, I like this crazy dream world I’m living in.

I love the fact that my “solar gas station” allows me to drive at a price not seen for 50 years at the pump, at $0.35 cents a gallon of solar fuel compared to $4.00 a gallon gas. I love the fact that in just 1.5 more years my “solar gas station” that I own, not Exxon, is paid for and for the next 30 years plus, I will drive for essentially free while others buy gas at $4.00 a gallon and increasing at Exxon for the next 30 years.

Dammit please don’t wake me up!

The “gyroscopic inertia of the status quo” prevents most others from enjoying this “crazy pipe dream” of the future of mobility.

Who is really sleeping?

As much as I enjoy my Mini-e, I look forward to the future. With the new electric cars and hybrid cars now on the road and others soon to be out, the Mini-e, after only a couple of years is looking pretty rudimentary though still damn fun and practical to drive. The progress of the past 24 months has been incredible.

The success of the Mini-e validation “phase one” has led BMW to the strategic decision of pressing the go button on a billion dollar investment in new factories and tooling to get ready for the i3 and i8. A key component of the path to these cars is a “phase two” pilot series test, verifying the BMW in house engineering of the car in a BMW 1 series car chassis. The basic components and drive architecture of the Mini-e and the ActiveE differ greatly. Rear wheel drive versus front wheel drive is just one example, battery size , type, number and assembly another.

The ActiveE will weigh 600lbs more that the Mini-e, For this you get 4 seats and a trunk, liquid thermal cooling, connectivity and the ActiveE is larger in all dimensions and more refined than the Mini-E. The ActiveE will have 20% less batteries, and yet will drive more miles per KWh that the Mini-e. All this and it will still sport 0-60 time of 8.5 seconds and a slightly improved 100+ mile real world range, both these nearly identical to the Mini-E. The Active E is done in house completely by BMW, as compared to the third party prepared AC Propulsion validation Mini-E. Now that is progress and some very good performance, but its only a hint at the future. Don’t make the mistake of comparing the performance stats of the ActiveE to the BMWs of today.

The Active E and its drive train is a “pilot series” for the upcoming i3 and as an enthusiast driver, that makes me really excited. Like drooling at the mouth excited. Why?

Let’s begin with the fact that the i3 will be made on an aluminum “drive” chassis. Fastened to this chassis will be the Carbon fiber “Life” module. These two technologies and a core principle on weight reduction throughout every component of the car will result in a car that is at least 1000 lbs lighter than the 3950 lbs ActiveE. If I were to craft a guess, I would say the carbon fiber i3 will weigh in at between 2250lbs and 2750 lbs. Now insert the same drive train piloted on the ActiveE and your talking a 0-60 time of 5 to 6 second range and a total range of 150 miles plus.

BMW could offer the i3 in three flavors, a 100 mile EV with 20kw of battery, a 150 mile EV with 30kw of battery and a PHEV with a 100 mile 20kw EV range and a range extender for another 150 miles or so.

All three, BMW i3 (catchy huh?) models would sport 0-60 times in the 5-6 second range, have rear wheel drive, connectivity between the driver their phone, their home and charging stations and essentially be the leanest meanest green machines on the road. All but the fastest supercars and a few of the BMW M series cars would be able to keep up the the BMW i3.
That’s the future, that’s where we’re headed. Excited yet?

I’d like to order the 100 mile (more than enough for me) BMW i3 in flat graphite black . I want to order the $1400 i option of weight reduction (which gives the i3 a 5.5 second 0-60 time). Strip every last thing from the car. no radio, (I will take an integrated I-Phone charging dock,) No power windows or door locks, the most basic and lightest materials used inside the car including the carbon fiber seat molds and a lightweight poly rear window and rear passenger windows. I am so ready…It’s a great dream that I live in.


Peder, Mini-e # 183

1 comment:

  1. Great post Peder! There's a lot of truth written in there.

    As for the i3, I like some of your thoughts on multiple pack sizes, but I really don't think they will go that road. It will have a 16kWh pack, the same nickel-manganese-cobalt as the large format batteries in the ActiveE, just less. From what I've heard, it will have 96 cells in 48 modules.

    There is significant talk about a small diesel generator that would be available as an onboard range extender that could be offered sometime after the BEV i3.

    I too was hoping for a 130-150 mile range in the i3, but BMW seems convinced that 100 miles is the sweet spot and adding batteries to make the car go further is a waste of money. If 100 miles doesn't work than they think an EREV i3 will be the better option. We'll see...