Tuesday 7th February 2012

We have 1111.1 miles on the clock.

Saturday 11th February 2012

The weather is not great today, it’s been snowing and raining so it’s a bit horrible out but still, I have my exercise class to get to and I’m not going to let the weather stop me. I leave in plenty of time and when I’m nearly there, I start to make one left hand turn where there is just a Give Way sign, I slow down as there is a car coming the opposite direction, and as I do so, the car lurches forward like being hit from behind – again. Oh great, what now? No one behind me, the car is still in drive so it’s not the problem that we had in January where it put itself into park. Oh well, no idea, everything seems ok so I continue on my way.

According to Michael later, that was the back wheels slipping on some ice and the lurch forwards wasn’t a lurch forwards but instead it was the regenerative breaking being turned off to avoid a skid. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve driven a rear wheel drive car and I’d forgotten that the back wheels could slip. At least the car isn’t broken or something faulty. What will I experience next?

— Regenerative braking —

A quick note on regenerative breaking. You know when you lift off the accelerator in a petrol car and it slows down a bit, especially if you’re in a low gear? Well, regenerative breaking or ‘regen’ as the cool kids call it, is just like that except a lot more. So much more that you can use it to stop the car completely – you don’t usually need to even press the brake pedal. It comes as a surprise the first time you lift off the accelerator, as you rock forwards in your seat! But, after a few minutes you get so used to it, you forget it. Actually, you get so used to it that the next time that you drive an old petrol car you experience a little moment of panic when you lift of the accelerator to stop at the traffic lights and nothing happens – the brakes have failed! No, wait a moment, I remember, press the brake pedal.

So why bother with ‘regen’? Well, it makes driving easier; press the accelerator to go, lift off to stop but, it also uses the braking force to generate electricity that it uses to recharge the batteries a bit. But mostly, easier driving – your rarely have to move your foot whilst driving. Oh, one more thing; because it uses the electric motor to slow down the car, it doesn’t use the brakes so, less cost – no new brake pads and, none of that thick black soot that you get on your front wheels – that’s actually a nasty particulate powder.

— Back to the story —

Wednesday 15th February 2012

It’s been nearly three weeks now and I’ve had no more problems with the ActiveE going into park again, thank goodness. But, it’s always there in my mind that it could happen.

I am not disliking the ActiveE so much anymore, yes it’s still white but looks like I’m stuck with it. I do still miss the MINI E, nobody waves at me anymore as I’m no longer part of the MINI club. But the ActiveE is getting lots of looks, people aren’t really sure what it is, but they seem to like the look of it. The circuit board stickers make it look unique and with the bump on the bonnet, it makes people stop and stare. It is driving really nicely and I’m driving it carefully seeing how many miles I wake up to each morning, yesterday it was 114 (in Eco mode), it’s definitely getting there. Driving it is effortless and it has all the power I need and probably more. Yes I could sprint away from the traffic lights and zoom around, but that’s not me. Yes, I have set off quite promptly from the lights on a couple of occasions and while that’s fun on those couple of times, to be honest I’m just not that interested in that kind of driving, I’ll leave that to Michael, that’s more his thing. Unless there’s a people carrier next to me… that’s not getting by! I like quite a lot about the car, not the colour obviously, as I’ve already washed it six times, but it has to be said it is an all round nice car. I haven’t had it very low on miles as most of my driving is short distances so I never use up my daily mileage and if I think I’m getting low… if I have that bit further to drive then I just plug it in while it’s sat in the garage. It’s all so easy. What’s not to love about having a full charge every morning?

What was I just saying earlier about not having any problems… I stopped at Wholefoods and pulled an extra couple of inches forward into the parking space and the car decides that it won’t go into Park this time, it either does or doesn’t like Park! It says I should call BMW again, oh dear. Instead a quick call to Michael and a quick re-boot, it really is like a laptop, and all is well again. When is that software fix coming out?

I know enough about the car to drive it and know what it’s doing, I know its state of charge, its miles to empty, I know where the manual is! I know the batteries are in the front and down the centre and the electronics are in the back, taking up way too much valuable boot space. I don’t need to get into all the numbers for this and that, I have Michael for all of that. When we go to Green Fairs with our cars I can answer about 99% of the questions, I’ll just send the other 1% to Michael.

Friday 17th February 2012

So car wash number eight today, this is crazy, haven’t had the car four weeks yet. Why does it have to rain so much here? I reckon that after eight car washes I know the outside of the car very well now. Today the car was really grubby, so it’s taken quite a while to clean it, thank goodness the sun is shining. I struggle to reach the top of the car in the middle, it seems a lot bigger than the MINI E and definitely takes longer to clean. The wheels are no fun to get clean, they are very fiddly. But at least it’s all shiny again now, even inside the doors where dirt collects and the boot too, it’s amazing where the dirt collects when you open the boot! It’s back in the garage on charge for tomorrow, I have to go back to the day-to-day now.

Saturday 18th February 2012

We’ve had the car four weeks today and I have to say it is growing on me more and more, I even think I may be able to live with it being white for the next 23 months… well maybe, I said. Still haven’t got round to the cruise control… yet! I like the automatic lights, but the windscreen wipers seem to be a little problematic, they’ll wipe intermittently in automatic mode, but they do not always, and certainly not often enough will they go continuously, so I’ve had to resort to doing that manually. A bit of a pain, but that’s a BMW fault nothing to do with it being an electric car. The electric part as I write is all working very well. The miles per charge are definitely going up.

2012 – The year of the ActiveE