Saturday, February 25, 2012

Peak Oil, High Gas Prices, BMW ActiveE

Click on image to enlarge.

America, we have a problem.  Look at the last 10 years of data from the US EIA.

My interpretation of this graph, is bluntly  a "hockey stick" of sending our money offshore to pay for gasoline the past ten years that is becoming in shorter supply and costing more, placing our country on a path of economic decline while enriching other countries.

A hockey stick of relocating discretionary family income towards gasoline.

That sorta pisses me off.

This issue is not Democratic and it's not Republican.    It's American and spans tenures in positions of power of both Democrats and Republicans.

Quit Pandering!  Put us on a path towards energy independence and wealth creation.

Rant over, 

Loving the BMW ActiveE and loving not buying gasoline.


Spouse of an ActiveE Driver. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Milestone #1 Julie Norby's Post-the Female Perspective


What’s the difference between being the wife of a Mini E “Pioneer” and now being the “Electronaut” of the ActiveE?


My husband Peder Norby, was Mini E Pioneer #183 for two and a half years, and I was his copilot throughout the journey.  I shared in all of his excitement and enjoyed the ride, so to speak.  I thought I “got it” as he talked about the benefits of driving electric.  I was looking forward to being the primary driver of the Active E, but I had NO idea how much I would enjoy it!  You can live with an electric car driver and you can share in the excitement, but none of that really prepares you for the feeling that you have when you are actually the driver! 

I have just returned from meeting my College Roommate in Orange County for a girls’ weekend.  We started the weekend with lunch and some shopping at South Coast Plaza.  Prior to leaving I used my PlugShare App to determine where the ChargePoint stations were located at the mall (there were 2 at the mall and 2 others in very close proximity.)  I drove from our house in Carlsbad to South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (53 miles) and pulled into the parking structure at 11:00 AM to check out how the ChargePoint system would work.  My PlugShare App indicated that the charger was available, so I wasn’t worried about having to wait for the charger.  I parked, waved my ChargePoint key card over the charging station, left my business card on the windshield indicating the time I plugged in and how long I needed to charge (in case I didn’t get back to the car by the time it was finished charging), plugged in and walked away-knowing that while I was dining and shopping my “tank” was being filled-compliments of South Coast Plaza!  Imagine if every person at the mall yesterday could do what I was doing…Re-fill their tank for free while they shopped?  With gas over $4.00 a gallon, I would bet that any person there would jump at that offer!  But I digress…

I received an email around 3:00 PM from ChargePoint indicating that my car was fully charged and was turning off.  I then received a text from a Leaf driver indicating that she had unplugged the ChargePoint from the ActiveE and thanked me for leaving my cell phone number.  (oh yeah, she also mentioned that I had a cool car!)  I returned to my fully charged car around 4:00 PM and drove to the Hyatt Regency in Newport Beach, checked in, and was the topic of conversation amongst the valet guys.  Later that evening, my friend and I drove the ActiveE to Mastro’s for an amazing dinner.  The ActiveE was in good company as it was parked along side a McLaren, a Rolls Royce and too many Ferrari’s to count.  Again, the ActiveE was the topic of conversation.

I returned to San Diego today with plenty of range to spare (9 miles-btw, there was a time when I would have been anxious about only having 9 miles left.)  I plugged in, recharged and 2 hours later, Peder and I were ready to head out to look at new furniture.  We returned home around 5:00 PM with plenty (?) of range…YIKES! 1 mile! (But that’s another post)

So, here is the interesting part of my adventure…2 years ago, I would NEVER have attempted this trip.  I would have had tremendous range anxiety and would have preferred to take my gas-guzzling car!   What I have discovered, now that I am the driver of an electric car, is that range anxiety only exists in the minds of non-electric car drivers.  Once, you begin driving electric, you learn how far your car can go, you are cognizant of how far from home (or a charger) you are and you have a good feel for how much range you have left.  To be honest, I had more anxiety thinking about planning when I was going to find time to go to the gas station in my busy life.  Now I know that every morning I will wake up with a full charge-it’s very liberating!

A lot has changed since the first Pioneers began driving the MiniE’s.  They certainly paved the way for those of us that were more skeptical and not as adventurous.  BMW has developed a car that is as luxurious as it is cutting edge technology; AeroVironment  has developed a charger that looks and feels like a hair driver-much more user friendly and less intimidating than the MiniE chargers; and CharePoint Apps/charging stations are extending the range of electric mobility.   I absolutely LOVE my ActiveE!!  I love the ride, the amenities, plugging in and being a part of supporting BMW’s launch of electric mobility.  If you were to have asked me 2 ½ years ago if I would ever be driving electric, I would have said,  “No way!  It’s Ok for Peder, but I’ll stick with my traditional car.”  The whole thing was a little too much for me…But after a month of being an Electronaut and 2000 miles on the ActiveE odometer, I can’t imaging ever going back to a gas-guzzler!  It’s just like Peder has been saying, “Why doesn’t everyone do this?”  Now I get it!  I feel like I have this amazing secret and I want to share it with the world.  Why wouldn’t everyone drive electric?

Sorry Peder, I know that I should share my ActiveE with you, but I’m just having too much fun.  Maybe Rich Steinberg will take pity on you and let you get a second ActiveE for our garage.  I’m afraid that’s the only way you are going to get to drive electric…or until the I3 comes out…

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Plan, plan, plan for public charging….The BMW ActiveE and a Farmers Market.

Last week on our wonderful trip to Temecula, Julie and I used Plug-Share on our phone and the connected drive on the BMW NAV and saw that there were two charging stations in Temecula that were level two J1772.   We have never tried public charging and we thought, let’s give it a try see how it works, even though we did not need it for this particular trip. 
We have relatives in Riverside which is about 150 mile round trip from our home and this location would be a perfect place to charge for 1-2 hours while we walk the downtown or passed the time in a restaurant to make that round trip possible.  We would also plug in 110 while visiting with our relatives.

We followed the NAV to the location and WOW there was a lot of people there, the parking lot was closed and there was a Farmers Market going on.  The charging stations were in the parking lot where the market was happening.  It would not be possible to charge for the next three hours we were told as a produce vender was all set up in the space. 
So we struck out on our first attempt to publicly charge.   If we were in dire need there was a Nissan Dealership nearby and several other public stations between there and Riverside  so we would not anticipate a problem finding a suitable spot.

Still, we were excited to try it and a bit shocked pardon the pun when a market was happening and we could not charge.

Loved the Farmers Market!  Hope to have a better experiance next time. We know now Saturday from 10-2 is not possible in Temecula.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Ultimate Fuel

Below is the best calculator I have come across comparing the cost of gasoline, utility supplied electricity and Solar PV.  It’s simple to use and you can customize the data inputs for your particular  area.  The picture is my scenario with our Solar PV cost and production,   You can clearly see that the system cost for a lifetime supply of the "Ultimate Fuel" is less than the cost of buying gasoline for three years.

click on image to enlarge

The BMW ActiveE when paired with renewable energy is an unbeatable combination of the “Ultimate Driving Machine”  and the “Ultimate Fuel”.   In many areas of the country, the Pacific Northwest as an example, the "Ultimate Fuel" is provided by hydro via the utility company at extremely low rates of $0.06 -$0.10 per kwh.   Pass go collect $200,  you live in the perfect plug in world.

For many of us in the more sunny states (thus less water for hydro) Solar PV makes great sense as a fuel for your ActiveE.    Renewable energy such as hydro, geothermal, wind and solar is simply the “Ultimate Fuel” for our light vehicle fleet whether provided by your utility or homegrown. The sooner we figure that out as a nation, the better off we will be, environmentally, socially and economically. 

Many thanks to  empulsebuyer for a great tool. Give the calculator a try, you might surprise yourself :)


Sunday, February 12, 2012

The BMW ActiveE Comes Out To Play

The BMW Active E has far more functionality than just a city commuter car.   While true that on Monday through Friday the ActiveE takes you from your home to your work place and  back again in super quiet, great style with zero emissions,  The ActiveE shines brightest on the weekends when it gets to go out and play.

Speaking of the work week, every morning you wake up, the ActiveE is 100% full.  No trips to gas stations (ever.) No “needle anxiety” watching that ever descending fuel guage and the buggardly yellow light that comes on demanding your attention, requiring  a side trip to a gas station where you have the privilege to hand over $60 to mostly foreign countries.   The ActiveE is a financial relief and a time saver that is hard to describe until you experience the first click of a J1772 connection.  

When the work week is done, the ActiveE gets to play.  Most folks contemplating driving electric do so with the thought that the electric car will just be the commuter car performing an important but limited task.   Wrong!  Very wrong! Again wrong! One more time, wrong.

With a range of 100 miles and opportunity charging both at home and in the field, combined with the DNA and driving dynamics of a BMW, the weekend is when the ActiveE shines.  At the end of the long fun day, you look back at the car one last time before heading into the house and you say to yourself  “What an amazing time we live in when we can drive a whole day powered by sunshine”   knowing that the car will be fully charged and ready again the next time you go out that garage door.

As I have said in previous posts,  while driving I still break out in spontaneous laughter, not quite sure how this all works, slightly disbelieving that I can drive a car like the ActiveE on electrons made from my rooftop far cheaper and cleaner than gasoline.

This past Saturday 2/11/12 was a typical Saturday for me and Julie.   Here’s what it looks like:

We started out in the ActiveE with a 6:30 am  trip north to San Clemente for a stroll on the pier, rail trail and morning coffee.  We arrived back home at 8:30am and plugged in.  That drive was 52 miles RT with 44% charge remaining.    At 11:00 we unplugged,  100% charged and headed off to one of our favorite destinations, Temecula Wine Country, for  lunch and wine tasting.   We arrived back home at 5pm and plugged in with 8% range remaining.  That drive was 92 miles RT.  After a brief rest at home, Julie and I unplugged the Active E at 6:30pm with 42% range and had a beautiful romantic early Valentine’s Day  dinner sharing a 15 year old bottle of Napa Valley Silver  Oak. After dinner we drove to opening night of Shakespeare’s, Comedy of Errors  at New Village Arts Theatre.  We arrived back home at 11pm with 23% charge remaining. That drive was a 15 mile RT.  

That’s the kind of day the BMW Active E was made for.   A wonderful day with 159 total miles driven charging at home between each amazing outing.   Of course you could also charge out in the field with public charging as well and do a similar 150-200 mile day in the ActiveE. 

Here's more details of our longest trip of the day, the 92 mile trip to Temecula.  Temp was 65 degrees but very windy, 92 miles RT, 75% freeway at 75mph, 25% country roads. Range indicator had 8% charge remaining; efficiency was 3.8 miles per KW. Hint. the first 50% on the state of charge indicator s around 42 miles of range. The last 50% on the state of charge indicator is 55 miles of range. The engineers played it very conservative :) 
I would estimate the ActiveE has 5% greater range than the Mini-E on the freeways.
Loving the ActiveE and electric mobility.

Peder, spouse of an ActiveE driver, 1600 miles

Monday, February 6, 2012

Loving the ActiveE. 1,250 sun powered miles.

Most of us are going to be driving for about 50 years.  I have been driving for 33 years and plan on driving another 30,  hopefully in all electric BMW’s. Below is a flow graph I put together that shows the basic flow of energy and cost for gasoline and for solar electricity.   This is the true "cost of fuel" for driving during those 50 years.

The graph is simple to understand.   It does not include external cost such as the protection of oil, propping up oil supplying countries, clean up of oil, environmental or healthcare cost,  nor does it include the cost of grid electricity at night when an electric car normally charges. Electricity at night is generally cheaper and of lesser value than the electricity provided by solar during the peak hours. Nor does the graph include the price of the cars themselves.  A reasonable argument can be made for both the gasoline car and the electric car as to which one will be cheaper to own and maintain for the next 50 years. I'm betting on the electric car :)

For a larger image, click on graph

There is no question that electric driving in the ActiveE is awesome.  We much prefer the smooth trouble free, instant torque, nearly silent driving of electric over gasoline any day. In our household the ActiveE and its 100 mile range fit perfectly.  After nearly 40,000 miles in both the ActiveE and the Mini-E during the past three years, we can definitively say that in our two car car household, there has not been one single time the electric car has been any different  than if it were a gas car.   We simply do not have range anxiety,  we do not drive over 100 miles at a time, and we love the major cost savings of driving electric.

In most case with utility supplied energy the cost to drive electric will be 25%-33% the cost of driving with gasoline.   So for an average driver that spends $200 a month on gasoline, the electricity cost would be $50 -$75 per month, a savings of over $100 per month.  Check your utility rates as they vary greatly.

We invested in solar PV nearly 5 years ago when building our home, Today, our system is paid in full using  only the gasoline and utility energy savings during those 5 years.  This is the story I want to share with you.   The electric car is half the story, Solar energy is the other half of this great EV +PV combo.

In most of our country a 2kw system will generate 3000kwh.  Here in So-Cal a 2kw system generates  3400kwh per year and cost about $7500.  3000kwh is the energy required at 4 miles per kwh  to drive an electric car 12,000 miles.   The BMW Active E is returning 3.7miles per kwh, the BMW i3 will be well above 4 miles per kwh.

You can live and drive on sunshine.  cheaply


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Come Join us on our BMW ActiveE Blog!

I promise it will be better than this blog :)  Julie will be posting as well and she is a much better writer than I am. Please join us for the next two years on our Active E blog

Cheers!  and it's been a Mini-E blast to write about my loved Mini-E # 183 the past two and a half years.

A new car, a new driver. Our BMW ActiveE

Welcome to the first post on our ActiveE Blog.  Julie and I will both be posting here and we hope that you find our experience and insight helpful and interesting.

After 36,500 incredibly fun solar powered miles we turned in Mini-E #183.  I was the 95% driver in the Mini-E and I have described it as the best car of my life.  A few weeks ago we picked up the ActiveE and Julie is the 90% driver of the ActiveE.  I struggle to get any seat time in the ActiveE as Julie adores the car, however Julie has had a few trips away from home so I’ve had the chance to get to know the ActiveE.

Growing up with many  brothers and sisters, there was always a racetrack somewhere around  for bikes, Hot Wheels, minibikes, and our favorite, for slot cars.  Remember racing slot cars? Squeeze the  trigger to make the car go, ease up on the trigger around curves so you don’t spin out, back on the trigger down the straights. Cars with “Magnatraction” were the best as they were nearly glued to the road and cornered like crazy.

Magntraction and slot car like are the way I would described my feelings about driving the ActiveE.  It has Magnatraction and to make it go you press the go pedal and then you ease up on the go pedal around curves so you don’t spin out,  back on the go pedal down the straights.   It’s so fun and easy to drive I am brought back to those wonderful track-side moments of my youth.

The sounds of the car are very similar to a ride I took in a Gulfsream IV.   The ActiveE’s electric motor  sounds like a jet and the inside appointments, connectivity, leather interior of the car is reminiscent of the luxury of that plane ride.   The car like the jet, spools up as you takeoff,  as you are cruising down the freeway and want to pass a car  the engine ascends in rpm’s similar to the jet with linear acceleration and no cabin vibrations from a transmission and barely any  cabin noise.    Once ready for a landing the pilot cuts the power and you can hear the jet decelerate.  The ActiveE when decelerating has that same soft descending whine of a jet turbine.

For the near term, I am back driving a gasser, our 2008 Ford Escape.   Although I never experienced range anxiety in the Mini-E, I am experiencing very uncomfortable gas station anxiety in the gasser. I look at the gas gauge descend and descend until that awful yellow light comes on and then I am forced to plan a side trip to gas station, pump gas and pay $60 for the privilege of polluting.    It almost makes me ill do that after having gone 2.5 years without buying gas or worrying about my state of charge. I simply woke up every morning to a 100% full car ready to drive.   My goal is to end that craziness as soon as I can and get back to electric mobility.

It’s been a great first few weeks with the ActiveE,   Julie has settled in and loves the car.  The less jarring more finessed ride of the ActiveE is more suited to Julie, she did not enjoy driving the Mini-E as much as I did, more go kart like than slot car-jet.   The regen is about 75% of what is was in the Mini-E and that combined with a better coasting ability makes the ride very very smooth.   Our range on the freeway is better so far in the ActiveE than the Mini-E and similar around the city, so hats off to the engineers.   Julie uses the car as her office and can easily make a dozen or so phone calls on the way home with the connectivity of the car saving her time when she is at home.

We put about 15,000 miles a year on the Mini-E  and I think we will be clocking 18,000 -20,000 per year on the ActiveE. Julie's commute is roughly twice what mine was in the Mini-E.   The ActiveE is our primary car and when together in the evenings and weekends  we take it everywhere from the Mexican border to the deserts of east San Diego County,  to Temecula in Riverside County and the many cities in Orange county.  
Julie is an electronaut  and has made the switch to electric driving powered by sunshine.

Spouse of an ActiveE driver,