Saturday, April 7, 2012

BMW ActiveE… A Mile High Climb, 104 Mile Trip. The Ultimate Test

Dream with me a bit here…. 

Imagine a perfect sphere that weighed 4300 lbs. Imagine the energy and strength required to push the two ton+ sphere up an incline from sea level to 5400ft.  Now add the energy to push that sphere 104 miles down the road at freeway speeds. 

That is the energy that is contained and regenerated in the electric BMW ActiveE.  A most incredible and capable car.

What a great afternoon. As pioneers we test our cars to the limits. Why? Because we love cars, love to drive and love to explore where the outer edge is. Today was a picture perfect spring day,  I planned a 96 mile trip according to Google Maps that began at sea level, climbed to 5400 feet to the top of Mt. Palomar, and returned to sea level on a single charge.. 

First tip, don’t trust Google maps, trust the ActiveE!  The distance of the trip was actually 104 miles not 96 promised by Google.  Had I known that in the beginning I would have scratched the attempt as too far.

Leaving home I drove our ActiveE to Mt. Palomar.  The first 45 miles climb a total of 2000 feet.  The last 7 miles the climb is 3400 feet.  It was a spirited drive up the mountain.   

Arriving at the top here are the screen shots of the nav.  Even though 10 miles was indicated as the remaining range, I knew I had 23% battery charge and I would be regening all the way down the mountain so the range anxiety was kept in check.  I was very happy with the battery temp. A run up the mountain like this in the Mini-E would have had the batts up to 114+ so great job BMW engineers!

Not a good feeling to be 52 miles from home with 10 miles of range indicated.  What was funny was that  the dinger went off when the range climbed back above 11 and above 27 just as it does when you go below them :)

At the bottom of the Mountain, still 2000 feet above sea level and 45 miles to home I was back to 36% battery and very certain I would make it home with no need to pit stop.

Finally arriving home after 104 miles and a mile high mountain climb with 3% left in the battery here are the screen shots.

The above pic shows the efficiency of the total trip

The above pic shows the return trip efficiency, lets just say the trip up and down the hill confused the heck out of the consumption gauge.

Battery temps normal, 104 miles with a mile high climb...Incredible. I conclude that you recover 95%-98% of the energy you use going up the mountain, when you go down the mountain.
I am in awe of the capabilities of the BMW ActiveE.   Great job to all who have worked on this outstanding machine. What a fun day of sunshine and sunshine powered driving.


Spouse of an ActiveE driver. 


  1. Hey Peder,
    Another great post! It looks like you removed the circuitry graphics. It that just the way it looks in the pic or did you decide to do a little customization?

  2. Hi Tom,

    We did a little pin stripe removal. We left all of the striping on the top but removed the sides with the exception of the ActiveE text over the rear wheels.


  3. Excellent trip! We're SD-electronauts too and have thought about Palomar being one of our excursions.

  4. Was the A/C on for any/all of the trip?

  5. I had the ac on the first setting for half the trip which was on Hwy 78 at 65-70mph with the windows rolled up. the other half of the trip was 20-25mph on twisty roads, for that iI turned of the AC left the fan on the first setting and cracked the drivers side window about 3 inches.

  6. I just noticed that I was one minute slower going home than getting there. Lets just say I flew up the mountain, and I tried to get max regen coming down so a bit slower :)
    I am amazed that the times are almost exactly the same.