Saturday 25th February 2012

Car wash number nine coming up today as it rained yesterday and the car is once again dirty. I did rinse it yesterday but that wasn’t enough so it’ll be a full wash later on when the day has warmed up a bit.

It’s time to do our weekly shop at Whole Foods Market. Shopping finished, we load up the boot with a weeks worth of groceries that all fitted in, but left no room to spare. We get in the car, put in the key, press Start and a message comes up that says “Drivetrain, stop carefully” (But we’re not moving!) “Drivetrain malfunction, stop carefully and turn off vehicle. Please call Roadside Assistance“.  Oh no what now? This isn’t the same error as the Transmission Failure; there is a red picture of the car on the dashboard with a bright spot where the batteries are – though it looks like a pictograph of an engine from here – tut tut, attention to detail Mr. BMW. First, before we ring anyone let’s try the reboot first; Turn off, remove key, count to ten, key back in press Start… oh that didn’t work. Try again, just to be sure… no still doesn’t work. Time to press the SOS button. What will happen? We gingerly opened the little flap on the roof and pressed the button. Moments later BMW ninja warriors dropt from the sky after seeing the “Electronaut” call sign projected into the clouds from the roof of the car. Well, actually, it clicked, whirred, reminded us that “All calls may be monitored” (by Ninja’s?) and then Brenda came on the line. Brenda took our details, where we were and arranged for a towing vehicle to take us to Morristown BMW, our local BMW garage. “It’ll be about 70 minutes“, says Brenda. Pardon, did you just say 70 minutes? That’s ridiculous, don’t you know I have frozen food in my boot?

After sitting for about 20 minutes, while the car has been restarting itself on and off, it does another restart and the picture of the red car goes away! Could it be that all is okay now? We put the key in, press Start and yes, all is working. Thank goodness. Back onto Roadside Assistance to cancel the towing vehicle, but oh dear now they can’t find us in their database – the Ninja’s are on a break. After 20 minutes on the phone, it turns out the lady we have been speaking to had misspelt out surname, no wonder she couldn’t find us. Name spelt correctly, we’re found! Recovery cancelled, lets get home before the food defrosts.

Just as well this is a trial car or I might just be demanding my money back by now!

— Is the ActiveE a real electric car? —

Well, yes and no. It’s only powered by electricity like a true electric car but, it was born at the factory to be a regular 1-series BMW. That means that, whilst it’s all very nice, the electric bits have been pushed and shoved into gaps left by the traditional engine, gearbox and fuel tank. To fit everything in, the bonnet of the ActiveE has a bulge in it and the boot is filled with power electronics. Also, because it’s mostly made of regular 1-series parts, some of those have been left un-changed. A daily reminder is the Start/Stop Engine button – there’s no ‘Engine‘ in an electric car! Other reminders are the pictograph that showed us the Drivetrain fault; that’s definitely an engine in the picture. Oh well.

The future BMW i3 and cars like the Tesla Model S and Model X are born to be electric. They’ll have no ‘appendages’ and will be able to take advantage of the packaging options of batteries and motors. For example, the Tesla Model S is only the size of a regular car yet has seven seats and a boot at the front as well as the rear. The i3 might be the size of a MINI yet have more room in it that a typical medium sized SUV.

 — Back home —
Back home and all is well. It’s time to wash the car… here goes car wash number nine. As I’d rinsed the car yesterday it wasn’t too dirty so was fairly quick to clean, although still takes a long time to dry and the wind is blowing today so it’s cold… is that snow? Quick put the car in the garage and plug it in and let it have a much deserved rest. While it’s having a rest it can figure out what’s wrong and fix itself.