33,333.3 – 44,444.4 What comes next?

ActiveE 33 ActiveE 44I’ve been a little quiet on the ActiveE recently and that’s because there isn’t anything new to report, all has been running okay – racking up the miles, plugging it in, adding more miles and of course washing it rather a lot – well it is still white after all. However, we’ve now reached a cross-roads, we’re at 44,444.4 miles and we’re almost at the end of the lease – what to do next?

I’ve been talking it over with my sidekick who thinks he’s all knowledgeable about these things, well, especially now he’s the VP of Plug In America!!

Electra Girl: Me first… So, Mr. Vice President, what would Plug In America suggest we do next?

Plug In AmericaSide Kick: Well, I can’t really speak on their behalf, I’ve only just stepped up to the plate as it were – I’m still finding my feet but, I think I’m going to suggest that the next car should have a plug on it.

Electra Girl: Now you are just stating the obvious. Did you really think I’d go back to a stinky petrol car? Could you imagine what that would be like? *Shudders at the thought*

Side Kick: Well, okay, I’m glad we’re agreed on that, however, speaking as just me, there are quite a few options out there now. We started with the MINI E then the ActiveE because they were really the ‘default’ choice. Now there’s a raft of options, and the Ford Focus is still the deal of the century – we could get another one of those.

MPTs FocusElectra Girl: Are you serious? I would rather keep the ActiveE than get another Ford Focus EV.

Side Kick: Why? The ActiveE was a science experiment, the Focus is the finished product.

EG: That maybe the case but it’s just like any Ford Focus on the road, EV or petrol, it’s just boring.

Fast Ford 70's style

Not so boring fore-runner to the Focus

SK: Or, put another way, quiet, peaceful and refined. Not everyone wants to shout out “Hey, I’m driving an EV!”

EG: Haha, that’s way too funny coming from you. You want everyone to know that you are driving an EV, and the Focus EV is still boring.

SK: Hmm, OK, well, perhaps. Do you think the stickers will peel off the ActiveE and go on the Ford?

EG: No. They’d look silly on the Focus.

SK: Well, what’s not silly is the way the Focus drives – it’s far quieter than the ActiveE.

EG: I disagree, the Focus makes all sorts of noises, trying turning the radio down and you’ll hear them.

SK: I don’t know how to turn the radio down, I’ve not yet figured out how to operate that ridiculous touch-screen MyFord Touch thing yet – after three software upgrades I still don’t know how to tune in the radio.

EG: I agree, the MyFord Touch is super ridiculous, none of it makes sense, in particular the SatNav screen. Why, oh why, does it flash a huge white circle to let me know where I am? Always in the dead center of the screen is the answer and, why does the screen keep going light, dark, light, dark, all the time? So frustrating!

SK: That’s easy, it’s there to focus your anger so you ignore the cars other issues like its ridiculously keen brakes – the ones that nearly gave you whiplash that day.

EG: Nearly!? They did! *Rubs neck for effect*

SK: However, the Ford does have plenty of good points – the quality of the interior is really surprising considering it’s in a lower price range than the BMW, its seats are really comfortable and grip you in place and, – this is the big one – it has five seats and a door for each and every one of them… and then there’s the price of course, it’s $199/month.

2009 Ford Focus RS - what the EV should look like inside!

2009 Ford Focus RS – what the EV should look like inside!

EG: It’s okay and only okay, the interior isn’t anything special at all and the seats aren’t that comfy… You are just getting old. The ActiveE interior is far nicer and far more comfortable.  By the way, there are only four doors on the Focus, or have you forgotten how to count, again?

SK: What about the rear hatch?

EG: Right, try telling mum she has to get in through the boot!

SK: OK, try telling your 72 year-old mum to get into the back of the ActiveE, see how she fares with that gymnastic challenge!

EG: I don’t need to as I’d put you in the back.

SK: I’m too old for that apparently.

EG: Thats not what I said. You can get in the back of the ActiveE easily, so can mum actually… So there.

SK: No she can’t, remember the MINI incident when we put her in the back and then had to practically roll her out of it at Short Hills Mall?

EG: This isn’t the MINI, the ActiveE is easier to get into. And there was no rolling, if she hadn’t been laughing so much it would have been much simpler. Anyway, having driven them both quite a lot, I would have to say that the ActiveE stands head and shoulders above the Focus EV. Which is actually rather funny as the Focus is taller than the ActiveE.

SK: I’ve already done 8,000 miles in the Focus, I think that I know what I’m talking about.

EG: I’ve done 44,444.4 miles in the ActiveE, I think I know what I am talking about.

SK: But they are not all your miles, I’ve done some of those too.

EG: Well, yes, but the majority of them are mine. Anyway the ActiveE is better than the Focus EV and that’s that.

Mitsubishi i 1SK: Well, it’s a moot point as it’s going back soon, we have to come up with a replacement and I don’t see you knocking around in the i-MiEV all day.

EG: The i-MiEV is okay but not my favourite and there’s no way I’m getting the children to give up their car, they like it far too much.

SK: Maybe I’ll drive the i-MiEV, I think it’s fun, when I can get it away from them. Hmm, smartED maybe?

ActiveE - Tesla Roadster Face off 2EG: Lets just stop there for a minute, just before you go any further, I notice you haven’t offered up your Tesla Roadster, that’s just sat in the garage…

SK: That’s precious now, a collectors piece, we can’t go just driving that all around like it’s just there to be driven! No, no, besides, courtesy of I-287 and its successful quest to emulate the surface of the moon, we just had to replace the whole suspension at a not inconsequential cost.

EG: The whole suspension, I thought it was just the rear?

SK: Happy Birthday me! Sport suspension upgrade all around!

EG: I knew you were going to say that, but had to ask. Happy Birthday, Christmas and Fathers Day for the next few years.

smart Brabus electric drive

smart Brabus electric drive

SK:  Anyway, about the smartED?

EG: I don’t think so, that’s not for me. Not enough seats but some interesting colour and style choices, put that on hold.

SK: And, it’s arguably the best smart out there. It’s kind of cool that there are options though. OK, what about the Leaf, the car that saved Nissan?

EG: Umm, not really my style of car, I like the coupé look more. Hence why I’m not getting another Focus.

SK: How about the Honda Fit EV? (I like the Focus)

EG: That was a possibility, but they are all the same colour, I want something a little bit different. I know you like the Focus, but it’s too bouncy for me and makes the girl feel sick.

ToyotaRAV4EVSK: OK, thinking…thinking… Rav4EV?

EG: That’s quite nice and the range is good, but I’m not in the market for a SUV, even with all the snow we’ve been having here, the ActiveE does just fine.

SK: OK, I know, small, fun, peppy = Fiat 500e?

Fiat 500 EVsEG: Yes, please. I’ll take the sport option, in either silver or black, thanks. When is it being delivered?

SK: OK, I’ve just checked… It’s a California only compliance car built by a company that doesn’t seem to like its EV customers – well, certainly if you listen to the CEO. It’s priced just right, has good range, the dealer in CA said it goes better than the regular car and it’s as cool as could be. So, I spoke to the Dealer in CA, they’re really happy to sell one to us and ship it over.

EG: Yes… I feel a ‘but’ coming in here…

SK: The dealer in CA just called and left a message – “Er, we’re really sorry but California State regulations say we can’t ship it out of the state.” – That doesn’t sound right.

EG: Ugh, typical, dangle the ‘right’ car in front of me then swipe it away again. There must be a way around that. Is that the State talking or the Manager at that particular dealer?

SK: I think it’s the Manager at the dealer being told that these cars aren’t to be sold outside California but I don’t know, it sounds fishy to me. We know the Fiat 500e is a compliance car built to meet the CARB ZEV standards but to block it being taken elsewhere feels like a deliberate attempt to comply with the rules without running the risk that anyone else finds out about how good the car is. I mean, what if the rest of America discovered that the best Fiat 500 is the EV version as many pundits agree – they’d just end up selling them! I suspect I know the real reason though – the EV version is actually a loss-leader that allegedly costs more to make than sell. Again, hard to believe if they were to mass produce them and/or simply price them right.

EG: Think, think, think, there must be something we can do. That car would be so much fun to drive, much more like the MINI E. Hmm – I have some ideas forming in my brain.

SK: What about the i3? That was supposed to be the reincarnation of the MINI E – that’s what we all asked for right?

BMW-i3EG: See previous blog for my thoughts on the i3. They haven’t changed and I don’t see much coming from BMW to try and change my mind. I’m not sure BMW’s heart is in the EV market. It’s not a forgone conclusion that all ActiveE owners are automatically going to get an i3.

SK: Yeah, I’m not feeling very pro-BMW right now, they dangle the carrot of a nice EV designed to meet our needs using the latest tech but, when we ask for more range, as we’ve all been banging on about, they suggest a petrol engine is the answer?!? Seriously, what next, just get a 3-series if you need to drive further?!? Keep an SUV in the back of the garage in case you might like to take a long journey? No, these are the workarounds that we are forced to use today, not the solutions that tomorrow brings. BMW advertised the promise of tomorrow’s tech but then asked us to just maintain the status quo and keep the old gas car. One step forwards, one step back.

EG: I know, seriously a petrol engine in an EV, they have to be joking. Now it’s not really an EV, actually it isn’t an EV and should not be called an EV. I’m tired of people pretending they have an ‘EV’ just because they can plug a wire into their car, that’s called a Plug in Hybrid. An EV is an Electric Vehicle – electric only, no petrol engines allowed. If you are going to go electric, you have to lose the dependency on petrol engines.

SK: I get that people want longer range and I sympathise with the desire for a safety net but any range extender that isn’t environmentally sound nor has all of the other benefits of an EV – smooth, quiet, low maintenance, etc. isn’t an EV. Tesla is the only company that properly addressed the need for longer range – they just put in a bigger battery and kitted out the US and soon, Europe with a fast charging network. Their ‘range extended’ option is still an EV. BMW could have done this too but chose not to. It’s not a religious choice, just business, in my opinion anyway.

EG: I hear (but don’t necessarily agree with) that there is an argument that proposes having a range extender option will get more people to buy the i3 and end up doing more miles on electric overall.

SK: Yes, I get that, and it frustrates me because there’s certainly a lot of truth in it. It frustrates me because it remindes me that people aren’t yet ready for EVs in the mainstream, that the gas engine is a crux to lean on and that, it’s simply because the auto industry hasn’t put in the effort needed to show people that EVs can work – we’re evidence of that. If they put in as much effort in the EV space as they do bashing each other we’d be a lot better off! And, if you don’t believe it’s possible to change peoples perceptions on a national scale, just consider SUVs – once the tool of the farmer, companies like Ford were able to convince the US that they needed to have 4wd and a rugged go-anywhere chassis even if it was thirsty, slow and unsafe in an accident! All because that marketing campaign was cheaper than making the existing 1990s cars meet the ever increasing CAFE fuel economy standards – the SUVs or “Light trucks” didn’t have to meet those requirements. I think it’s amazing, they basically convinced the public that “Tractors” were more sexy than Corvettes. If they can do that, they can show the reality that EVs make sense.

EG: Okay then SK, would you like a cup of calming chamomile tea now?

SK: Yes, I think it’s time.

EG: I think we know where we are going here…

SK: Yes, we need a car that’s interesting and different, fast and powerful, has long range and fast charging and is made by a company that really, actually, wants to make EVs.

EG: Ah, Model S… Are you getting me one then? Did you find the piggy bank?

SK: It’s the only choice. In this world of choice, there’s only one option that hits all the points.

EG: As there is no other choice, is that a yes then?

SK: One day.

EG: I’m waiting…

Production line