Saturday, March 24, 2012

What I like about you....

My family has been making fun of me to my face and behind my back about the fact that I gush over my new ActiveE.  When you spend 2+ hours a day with your car, you want a comfortable, enjoyable experience.  On that end, the ActiveE does not disappoint.

By far, the part that makes this car the most fun to drive is the quick, smooth acceleration. When you think about the fact that this is a 4000 lb beast and it still accelerates and handles the way it does, you have take your hats off to the BMW engineers and, at the same time, wonder how much better the lighter i3 will be.  My second favorite aspect of the drive is the regenerative braking. It is surprisingly quick to adapt to.  On a recent short 8 mile trip I only used 3 miles of range thanks to the downhill path I took.

Safely locked inside the cockpit, the ActiveE has all of the comforts that make the long commute more enjoyable.   The seats are very comfortable and the visibility both front and rear are perfect.  There are many different screen combinations that will give you any bit of information you want to know about the current status of the car.  I've experimented with a few split screen setups and seem to have settled on the map on the left and the trip computer on the right, but I change this up sometimes, mostly because I can!

There are also many nice touches.  I love the fact that the 6 "radio" presets can actually be used for anything.  I have one button for the nav, one for the trip computer and one for battery status.  The coolest feature of these buttons is that you can hover over them to see what they are set to. They are so sensitive that sometimes I think there must be a heat sensor embedded because I am really not touching anything.

Of course, the best part of all is sailing past the gas stations, you know, those places that dispense that flammable liquid. They are the ones with big signs in front with numbers that keep going up every day, sometimes, more than once a day.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Week 1 - A Success

The first week is in the books. I must say that the driving experience is much better than I expected. My daily one-way, 26-mile commute is split evenly between 70-mph highway driving and severe stop-and-go traffic down RT2 in eastern Massachusetts.

Originally, I was very nervous about the impact of the aggressive regenerative braking.  I even went so far as to drive my 2005 Prius in its regen mode for the final 2 weeks to try to get used to the concept. That didn't really help as I would rate the Prius regen at a 3 out of 10, while the ActiveE is more like a 7 or 8.

Surprising to me, it only took 2 days for me to get completely used to the behavior.  On day 1, I was stopping 100 feet short of my intended target....pretty embarrassing when in heavy traffic.  By day 2, it was down to 30-50 feet...much more respectable.  By the end of the week, I made the 26-mile drive with just one touch of the brakes and I was much more focused on driving rather than how I was going to stop.

My other point of nervousness was getting on the highway, especially since I drive in eco-mode as often as I can remember to push the button.  Californians have no concept of coming to a complete stop just before getting on a major highway  Only in New England do you have such bad on-ramp design or 5 way intersections guarded by an outdated traffic rotary.  Go west of Concord, MA and you will will experience both of these on a daily basis.

On day 2, I glided down the entrance ramp, glanced down the road and saw a wall of oncoming traffic.  Here was my chance to see how the ActiveE responds.  I came to a complete stop as cars whizzed by me at 65-80 mph.  I found my opening and went for it....0 to 30 pretty quick, as expected.  We got up to 60 just before the next off-ramp...about 9 or 10 seconds.  Not bad, and more than enough to keep me alive for the next 2 years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

It's here and it's FUN!

I pulled away from the dealer's charging station, turned right into heavy traffic and began my all-electric adventure!  21 miles to home on a mix of back roads and highway, and the car is everything I expected it to be and more.  I forgot to put on Eco Mode and managed 2.8 miles/kwh on a beautiful, 70-degree day in Massachusetts.

The car is "naked" without the decals.  It was one of the stipulations of purchase -- "too geeky", She said.  After 18 years of marriage, you generally know when you're getting a good bargain. 

And now the car is tucked in for the night, sipping from the charger, gearing up for the daily 50 mile, round-trip grind down RT2 to RT128 in Boston.....I can't wait!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ready To Charge

The green light on the EVSE says "Ready to Charge".  The only thing missing is the BMW Active E on the other end.  My dealer, BMW of Sudbury, MA says, "Sometime this month!"  So we wait patiently for the new adventure to start.   

In the meantime, the old adventure is winding down.  I have had a Prius II since the beginning in 2004.  Back then, I waited 9 months to get my hands on, arguably, the best hybrid technology available.  150K miles later I still get a kick out of hearing the engine shutdown while going 75 down the highway and I can still squeeze 55 MPG out of a tank full, if I pay attention.

Unfortunately, I won't get to put nearly that much mileage on the Active E in 2 short years.  Maybe we should start a Twitter petition now:  #LetMeBuyMyActiveE.