Monday 23rd January 2012

My first time out alone with the ActiveE… it’s still white… what will people say?!

So far so good, it drives nicely, has great regenerative breaking, it’s comfy and has plenty of room in the back for my son who is 6′ tall.

But, on my journey home, after picking up my daughter, we pull up to some traffic lights and just as we are about to stop the car alerts us to a problem. It’s put itself in ‘Park’ and says the transmission is faulty!

Huh? I click OK on the center screen using the ‘do-it-all-turnie-knob-thing’ in the middle of the car then put it back in drive and off we go… doesn’t seem to be any problem. I’ll tell Michael about it when I get home. It turns out that other ActiveE have been known to do that so he reports it to BMW and we get on with life.

So far the miles to empty seems low, 78 it says, I was hoping for 100 but no problem, I never actually drive that far in one go so it won’t be an issue. I’ll just charge up when I’m not using it.

Thursday 26th January 2012

It’s raining today, meaning the car will need washing again… That’s the problem with white cars.

I’m returning from dropping my daughter off, as I approach a junction and slow down getting ready to stop, the car suddenly lurches forward and with a thud! Oh no have I been hit from behind? I don’t think so, even though it did feel like it. A message popped up on the display alerting me to a transmission failure and telling me that I must call BMW right away, oh great! The car has put itself in park and it isn’t letting me do anything this time. There I am stuck at the junction, cars behind me, so I put on the hazard lights, and think… so okay it’s battery operated, just like a laptop, so turn off, take out the key, count to ten, key back in, turn it on and yes all is back to normal. Thank goodness, hazard lights turned off and away I go. I drive cautiously the last 2 miles home, praying it doesn’t do it again. When I put the car in the garage and look at it I think “I’m not driving you again“. Michael tells me it’s a known problem, the car gets confused and doesn’t know whether you are accelerating or braking… or something like that, so puts itself in Park. Well that’s just wonderful, will it do it again? Well yes it could, but who knows when or where. Apparently, due to technical reasons, it can only go into park when I’m going really slowly, is that some kind of consolation? Please can the MINI E come back?

There is a software fix coming to solve the problems but in the meantime I’m just to get on and drive it… Ugh.

Friday 27th January 2012

With some reluctance I open the garage and get in the ActiveE again, I’m a bit stuck if I don’t as we only have two cars and Michael’s taken the Tesla. So off I go and drive really carefully, slowing down really gently at all junctions and traffic lights… sorry everybody behind me, just a bit concerned here. No problems today, the car performs perfectly, but maybe that’s because I’m driving it so carefully.

The “miles per charge” have gone up as the week has progressed, I think maybe the batteries are learning… who knows! I’ve seen 100 in Eco mode so things are looking promising. The batteries don’t seem to be suffering the same as the MINI E did in the cold, I guess that has something to do with the pre-heating.

— Pre-heating —

The lithium batteries in the car work best at room temperature. Not only do they soak up more electricity when you charge them but they also let more out as well. The MINI E did nothing much to manage the temperature of the batteries. In the depths of winter in sub-zero temperatures the MINI E batteries would only soak up enough charge to go 86 miles at best. In the summer the batteries would often get to over 40 degrees Celsius – this is really too hot for them, high temperatures and high charge equals short lived batteries.

The ActiveE (like the Tesla) has a system of coolant that circulates around the batteries to keep them warm in winter and cool in summer – much better for the batteries but also better for me as the range will remain closer to the optimal 100 miles despite the weather.

— Back to the story —

Saturday 28th January 2012

We do our first supermarket shop in the ActiveE today, will it get all the bags in the strange shaped boot, without us having to use the back seats? Apparently with careful planning and arranging, yes it will, bonus point to the ActiveE.

Today we headed over to Rutgers, our local university, to take some pictures of the two cars charging there. When we arrived we were initially annoyed to see another car parked in the charging spots, had we been ‘ICE’d‘?

— ICE’d —

Being ICE’d is finding a regular petrol car (Internal Combustion Engined) parked in an Electric Car only spot! In most states, they can be towed away at the owners expense – nice.

— Back —

The good news is that we hadn’t been ICE’d, the car parked there was a Chevy Volt – a Plug-In Hybrid. The Volt was driven by a chap from northern NJ that had come down to visit his daughter. Whilst he waited he was picking up some Volts for his Volt.

Rutgers have two ChargePoint charging stations, we were asked to take some pictures for the CAIT (Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Technology) people.

Tuesday 31st January 2012

I’ve got 102 miles today (in Eco mode), yeah!! Oh wait as I get to the bottom of the hill it goes up to 105, must stop and take a picture.

I wonder how the music system works, I like listening to music in the car so maybe it’s time I figured it out. So apparently I have to plug in my iPhone, maybe I need to press… umm… the ‘cd’ button, oh yes that’s the one, oh and look it’s recognised my phone. If I turn the dial I can choose which album to listen to – great music is playing, tick that off the “learn how to operate list”. What next? Maybe next week I’ll look at the cruise control… maybe.

btw. I love the regen on the ActiveE; it’s as good as the MINI E’s, I still hardly ever use the brake, unless I’m on a hill, you just don’t need to.