Friday, November 23, 2012

EVacation 2012. 550 Miles in the BMW ActiveE

EVacation 2012. 

What this post is not:  A harrowing story of long distance electric car driving  followed by a truck carrying a generator,  or a marathon of driving all day and all night for several days sleeping in five hour shifts while stopping  to charge.

What this post is: A normal couple, in a normal car, taking a normal vacation.  The electric BMW ActiveE on a wonderful road trip… bored yet? Read on!

Having logged 60,000 miles the past 3.5 years, mostly in a BMW MINE-E and the BMW ActiveE, I have seen many dramatic changes.  Beginning with a proprietary plug design for the Mini-E to today’s ubiquitous level two charging j1772 plug.  Although the Mini-E was a very capable car and I drove it 18,000 miles a year, a trip like this one  was simply not possible just a year ago due to the lack of recharging infrastructure.  I am very excited to see what the next year brings as level three DC quick charging  is now being deployed and the future BMW i3 will include fast DC quick charging.  I look forward to being able to fully charge on our road trips in 30 minutes or so.

The BMW ActiveE is far more than just a city commute car. 

Our trip,
Julie an I set off from home Sunday November 18th,  at 9:15am on a 110 mile drive from Carlsbad Ca to Indian Wells near Palm Springs.  This drive included beautiful scenery and a 5000 foot climb over the mountains and then drop down to the desert floor.  The drop down to the desert floor was  14 miles, 5000ft,  we regenerated 14% of charge back into the battery.

We drove from our home to Temecula, and briefly charged at a free public charging station in downtown for 60 minutes as we had breakfast and watched most of the first half of the 10am football game.  Around 11:30 we got back in the car and had picked up a 25% increase in battery charge.    We arrived at the Esmeralda Resort in Indian Wells at 1pm with 25% charge remaining.   The Esmeralda Resort has two GE charging stations for their guest to use free of charge, so while we familiarized ourselves with the hotel sipping on margaritas,  Sungas was sipping the juice tethered to the resorts charging station.   That night we drove 15 miles in the fully charged ActiveE for a dinner on the El Paseo.

Monday morning we did a 95 mile round trip to Idyllwild including a 5500 foot climb up the mountain.  We spent three or four hours walking around in this mountain town before driving back to our hotel.  We arrived back to the hotel around 2pm with 15% charge remaining.  For the evening we drove back to the El Paseo for a wonderful dinner at Mastro’s.

Tuesday,  We drove to Cabazon (past all the wind mills) to do a little Pre-Black Friday shopping at the outlet malls, This trip was 70 miles and we arrived back at the hotel with 30% charge.

Wednesday it was off to Joshua Tree National Park.  This trip was 90 miles in length, as we drove all over the southern portion of Joshua Tree and hiked to Cottonwood springs. We arrived back at the hotel around 1pm and went poolside.  That evening we drove to Palm Springs and had dinner at Copley’s, a 50 mile trip.

Thursday morning we set off for home around 8:30 am for the family Thanksgiving gathering.  The route we choose on the way back was 98 miles again with a 5000 ft climb.  We stopped in Temecula for a 30 minute top off and a quick snack picking up an additional 10% of charge and arrived home at 11am with 6% charge remaining.  We left for the family gathering 15 miles away around 2pm with 75% charge.

The four day trip covered 550 miles.  Had we used a gasoline car the trip would have been no different in composition. Our ActiveE averaged 4.0 miles per kwh for the 550 miles.  The energy for 475 of those miles came courtesy of the hotel. In a similar gas car, given the multiple climbs up the mountain, that would be around 25 gallons of fuel or $100 saved.  
We had a great Thanksgiving with our family.

Reflecting on the trip and Thanksgiving, Julie and I are grateful that we live in time where driving on solar energy made on a person’s rooftop is possible. We are grateful for the many blessings provided by nature and the many blessings in our lives.  We are the most optimistic about our future, both for future generations of our family and for the nation as a whole.   We see a path towards a better, less expensive, no emissions way to motor and to travel and to healthier cities.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and thanks for reading.



  1. Peder,

    That's great driving. I have yet to extend my drive that far out to a hotel that had a charger onsite. And use their charger as a base for my vacation, but I agree with you. The Active E is definitely an everything car.

    EVEN Costco! It just saves me money on what I can buy at Costco 'cause of the trunk space and it minimizes my impulse buys there.

    Are you going to the event at the LA Auto Show tomorrow?


  2. wow, nice story, I like your journey. Waiting for next story with you BMW

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