Saturday, October 4, 2014

National Drive Electric Week and then some

So we had our National Drive Electric Week September 20th in Morristown NJ and one on the 21st in Montclair - it was EV awesome...but that was not all...never is in the world of an EVer.  I of course had to stop off at Cars and Croissants, before the Morristown NDEW, which was meeting at the Morristown ShopRite.

As soon as I pulled in it was like moths to a flame...well Solar Orange anyway.  It was as though that orange viper was never there.  Folks, car people love the i3, they just do.  To this day, 4 months later and 4,500 miles I'm still asked about it.  Feels good.

I will add that other EVs also draw attention at Cars and Croissants...a good thing all around.  So on with the pictures...I have a lot of them!

I'm not parked for more than a minute and bam!
Folks love the interior - once I open the doors they are all over it
I arrived early so I would have enough time to get to my NDEW event but still a decent number of cars gathering.  Always fun and EVs are very welcome here

After a quick visit it was time for the NDEW EVent in Morristown.  Susatainable Morristown sponsored us and the Parish House of the Morristown Presbyterian Church gave us part of their lot.  Our EAA Chapter, the NJEAA did not disappoint with our turnout.  We had at one time 23 EVs and 27 showed up.  A fantastic day especially because we had a lot of foot traffic come in and talk to us since we were right off of the street.

I've noticed over the years of EV ownership that the questions are far better now.  People are now interested in getting an EV, I rarely here negative comments these days, this is progress.  What I've noticed is that more Mom's are interested in the i3 than ever before.  Especially when they see my child seat in the back they realize this is a real usable car...EVs have come a long way to being accepted and it feels great to being a part of that....and now on with the Morristown NDEW pics

Getting some decent foot traffic

Our friends from Sustainable Morristown surrounded by EVness

Another was a gorgeous day to talk EV

We had a number of people join us after Cars and Croissants

Right along the sidewalk we were

We definitely had a good crowed and it was great to hear that people read about our event and that is why they were there

Sustainable Morristown showing some EVSE tech....soon Morristown will have chargers

A great group and crowd

People stayed until the very end

The B-Class drew a lot of attention as did the my i3

The Roadster really proved that EVs could be fun
Paul from Sustainable Morristown gets to drive a Tesla Roadster - the look on his face says it all
I think I can take him
This is a great view of two amazing EVs
Right to the end we had people wanting to see the i3
That's me with my official EAA 'KICK GAS' NDEW shirt

What a great event and the press picked us up in a few places.  You can see some of those articles here....great images.

The Daily Record has some amazing pictures  - Daily Record

The Morristown Green does as well - Morristown Green

Well that was fun but we were not done yet, the following day we had another NDEW EVent at Nauna's - that is Tom Moloughney's place and as usual this one did not disappoint.

This must be the place - great banner Tom

I arrived eraly to grab a quick boost then free it up for everyone else on their way

Folks are starting to roll in

EVent is under way...someone gets a test drive

That is a pretty blue on the B-Class

We are filling up
Another view
EV central
Some folks planned to stay for a long time
Then a pair of BMW i8s arrive...

What an amazing sight

You have to see an i8 in person to experience it...I had a ride in one a few months ago - amazing.  What is more amazing is we had two with us today - first time ever two that were not press vehicles together in public

Is he handing over the keys?
The i8 doors are super cool
Is this LEAF nervous?

No words needed

I'm looking over two i8s
They do look good together

I would like this car in any color

They also had goodies inside

Just wow
I had to jump in for a photo

How cool is this?

Another great day and my trusty EV assistant says it is time to go

That was one amazing weekend.  Driving an EV has so many side benefits a gas car just can't compete with.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

BMW i3 REx real world use

Today I got to experience the REx in the wild.  What I mean by that is I actually needed it.  I experienced the REx twice before but those were not when I needed it.  One was driving around town and letting the battery drain low enough for the REx to fire up because I wanted to see how it would perform.  The other time was a maintenance mode that the i3 runs during long periods of inactivity.

This time was different.  This would be about a 100 mile trip with 90% of it being highway and the car would be full of family and stuff.  Some might say 100 miles....maybe I could make it on electric alone, well nope.  With extra bodies it weighs the car down and the biggest draw is I would have to use the climate control so everyone was comfortable and I don't mean just a little ;) .

Off we go, I put the car in Eco Pro+ but of course right away I was asked to roll the windows up and turn the AC on so back to Eco Pro since in "+" mode there is no climate control.  On the highway I kept my speed to 65mph to extend the range as much as I could.  Things were looking good...I was driving well enough to do about 90 miles guessometer.  I was pretty pleased with myself and began to think of i3 REx EV masterfulness where I might actually reach 100 miles in EV mode.  Then one glitch, with about 30 miles left I pulled over to make another stop so the family could pick up some food.  I turned the car off for about 10 minutes.  Once everyone was back in the car I turned it on and range dropped to 20, I lost 10 miles just like that...I'll explain what happened there in just a moment.  With this event I really wished for that State of Charge (SOC) readout that for some reason BMW decided to remove from the US version.  Our ActiveEs had it and it was much easier to determine actual range.  This guessometer in the i3 is truly guessing.  BMW bring back the SOC, this is the ultimate driving machine not the ultimate guessing machine. those lost mentioned a few sentences earlier I parked, turned the car off for 10 mins then back on and noticed the guessometer showed 10 miles less.  I was not running the AC, doors were closed and it was not hot, so what gives.  Well it seems the navigation is tied to the guessometer.  During that 10 mins of parking I programmed in my final destination, the nav calculated hills and speed along the highway and adjusted.  Confirming this...umm feature....this morning I was on my way to Tom's i3 gathering and my range showed 92 miles...I punched in Tom's address, chose start navigation and right before my eyes the range dropped to 77.  Ok, now I stop navigation and we are back to 92 range.  Not really liking this, though I get what BMW is doing, with that said please let us disable this.  I looked and could not find a way to turn that off..bummer.  So here is a thought, if the nav says a shorter range but I turn it off and I have more range...will the REx stay off longer or will the guessometer adjust near the be determined.

Nice of Serenity to warn me but I have a REx

I did take a look to see what would pop up and there we have Tom's
Back to the story.  As we drove along the miles ticked away, down to 4 left and 82 miles of electric the REx kicked in.  There was a slight vibration, I felt it because I was waiting for it, my family noticed nothing.  We were burning fuel, it just felt odd, I noticed no reduction in power and the AC ran fine.  I did notice the battery bar start to drop below 5% or at least best I could tell.  When that happened the little 2 cylinder revved up, now we all could hear it even on the highway.  It was not bad but it was there.  That little motor revved until the blue bar moved a bit right to reach the upside down grey triangle then it quieted down.  Each time that blue bar lowered it revved back up, it was working to maintain a level of between 5% and 7%.

Again the REx was not loud, when revved up you could feel it though not bad and keep in mind an EV has no vibration so everything feels enhanced, it was odd to hear a little put put going on from an EV.  Of course that sound is much better than the sound of my family complaining we are stranded.

Once off the highway the REx relaxed a bit and at stop signs or red lights turned off.  We did about 16 miles with the REx and my overall miles/kWh for the trip was 4.6.  Not bad for highway and AC running.

The red flag on the upper left means we won't make it on electricity alone
I probably could have made it with the pure electric i3 - it has slightly better range being lighter but it would have been white knuckle driving wondering if we would make it, I've done that before and it is no fun. Added I'd slow down and get off the highway and turn off the AC making the trip longer and less comfortable which my family would not be happy with.  There are no convenient public EVSEs along the route and that adds to the stress.  When winter arrives there would be absolutely no way I could have made it without the REx, the REx did its job, it added mobile convenience as well as peace of mind.

I took a whole half gallon and paid with cash
Do I wish the i3 had more battery range....of course...but it doesn't so the REx is a viable option.  It works and with that I will be driving my EV more which is a good thing, as well as letting my family take it out on runs.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

After 1,000 miles, fun, usefulness and an i8

I'm just past the 1,000 mile mark in my i3 and I'm really enjoying the car, it has not been all EV bliss though as I have had some software glitches along the way, like a rolling reboot.  With that said I have no regrets and I'm confident these software issues will be taken care of soon, either way I'll blog about them.  Having an EV has opened up a whole world of cars to me and not just EVs....a recent ride in a BMW i8 the other day was icing on the cake, read on for more of that.

Onto the fun....I went to another Cars and Croissants and once again my i3 drew a crowd.  This car is truly a magnet, people chase me on the highway, if I'm at a light they either talk to me from their car or they leave the safety of their sidewalk for a chat.  It is family is like 'not again'....I really don't mind.

A little Cars and Croissants
At Cars and Croissants with other NJEAA members
Tesla Roadster, BMW i3, Honda Fit EV and two LEAFs

Hard to tell but we are pretty close in color

The i3 is a magnet
People really love the i3

As I mentioned the i3 attracts attention anywhere it goes.....if I park somewhere it does not take long before people are around it looking and taking pictures.

Number 6 in less than 1 hour...actually a slow day
The i3 is not just all looks and is useful too, it hauls stuff.  The seats fold flat.  That EV jeep fit in with room to spare.

Not bad...not bad at all
I chose the BMW i3 REx (range extender with the 2 cylinder generator) because I did not want to worry about getting stranded with my family or cutting our trip short, or worse, not using climate control.  Yes, I've been told to get a Tesla, fine, then give me the extra $40k to get one.  I've also been told my REx is a hybrid, well whatever.  EVs with range extenders under $50k with a range of 40 to 100 miles spur adoption, so how can this be wrong?  I'll probably only use the REx 10% of the time, if that, and it will be probably during winter.  I still have a 2nd and 3rd car, the 2nd for long trips and carrying more stuff, the 3rd for fun but really is never driven.  Our EV gets the majority of the use because we enjoy it the most as a family.  When DC fast chargers are more common place then our i3 may take much longer and frequent trips.

With that said, the i3 has done pretty well maintaining its range of 80 to 90 even with AC blasting and hot days along the highway.  My ActiveE would not have fared as well.   On the day we go and check out the BMW i8 we encountered some serious heat but the range held fast and when all was said and done I was over 90 miles all electric, eco pro, AC running high, and most of it was highway.  My i3 was loaded with family...not bad.  Granted I stuck to 65mph or less but still good.  The AC worked well up front, the back not so much and that is because there are no rear oversight.

Range holding has impressed - yes that is the CEL light (engine warning) you may have heard of - software glitch
Now...what I'm sure you've been waiting for.....the BMW i8.  I've seen them up close before but never have sat in one, this time I did more than that, I got a ride and with my family.

In a word 'wow'.  The car is amazing inside and out.  The ride, and this one was a pre-production, is not punishing and yes it is fast.  In EV mode it is not as quick as my i3 but is louder, you can hear the electric motor very well.  It drives the front wheels and has more weight to lug around plus the power is it is somewhat quick in EV mode.  Once the 3 cylinder engine is engaged it is an entirely different story, things come alive.  The car moves and it is not quiet, it roars.  BMW enhanced the exhaust note, it does not sound like a 3 cylinder and that is not a bad thing.  However they did it-they nailed sounds it is not pure but once you hear it you will like it.  EV mode for about 20 miles and combined mode 0-60 in low 4s with AWD - I'm sure that is conservative....want.

You have to see one in person....amazing inside and out

Love those doors and they open from inside with the push of a button

Interior is typical BMW....good

Not sure I could smile any bigger

Check the video below for the sound the 3 cylinder in the i8 makes

I recorded the sound the i8 makes

Almost forgot, while I was in the i8 my i3 was getting a DC quick charge 84% in just over 20 minutes....we really need more of these around.  Unfortunately this one is not for public use.

The % was clicking away nearly every 30 seconds

Big plug produces big energy
Driving an EV has proven to be, over the past 5 years, a wonderful experience.  There is no turning back.