Sunday, August 14, 2011

“Sun”day is everyday,

I’m in heaven drinking from a bottle of our estate 2007 Herons' Flight "Brunello" as I type. I look into the wine through the glass, I marvel at this ruby red “liquid love” made by sunshine, earth, water and time, with a small interpretive role played by me. The wine, from clusters of liquid sunshine, is harvested  twenty yards from where I write.

Wine has been made of liquid sunshine (grapes) for thousands of years, unimproved by mans advances in technology. Generally speaking, the relationship of man and wine is an equation. The greater the machinery, the greater the mechanization, the greater the intervention of mans inventions, the lower the quality of the wine. More consistent and in greater quantities, but much lower in quality.

A quality wine grower is not a conqueror of wine, but rather, a protector of wine and a partner with nature. An environmentalist by fiat. The more natural the processes are; sunshine, rainfall, gravity, Oakwood, cork, nutrients, subterranean earth, the better the wine. This has been the way for thousands of years.

Tonight, I greatly enjoyed a film documentary of a close friend recently passed, shared with 700 friends at the historic La Paloma Theatre. We drove to that event in BMW Mini-E #183 on the energy of harvested sunshine, harvested twenty yards from where I write.

There is no question that man has the ability to overpower nature, but at what cost? Do we have the wisdom to accept Mother Nature as an equal and a partner, or do we insist on our supremacy as humans overpowering, exploiting and polluting her?

The question is, do we have the wisdom to be a protector of nature and a partner with nature? Do we have the wisdom of lessening the mechanization of man, extraction of oil, pipelines, port storage, ocean tankers, refineries, gas trucks, gas stations, engine, transmission, exhaust, and the millions of moving parts needed to get our gasoline from the ground to the La Paloma Theatre?

We can learn a lot from wine.

I am the most optimistic now, more than any other time in my life for our future. I participate in, and have witnessed that we can now power our two most prized inventions the automobile and the home, by sunshine. We live and drive on sunshine, four years for the house and two and a half years for our car.

We can harvest this gift of nature from our rooftops or land at a cost far less than gasoline or natural gas both in dollars and in our health. We can shrink the millions of moving parts and thousands of miles of conveyance, for gasoline, gas engines and transmissions of our cars, to a conveyance of twenty yards of sunshine and less than eight moving parts of our electric cars. We can eliminate 100% of the current emissions that harm and kill millions of all earths creatures including us humans around the world, to zero emissions and the corresponding greatly improved health.

Please let us possess that wisdom and let us not desire to conquer Mother Nature but rather to partner with her and protect her. It can be “Sun”day, everyday for everyone.  Sunshine has been the answer for thousands of years. The sooner we figure that out the better off we will be.

We will get there  one person, one car, one home at a time. Make no mistake we will get there, it will be a far greater world when we do. Mans best vintage is yet to come. Thank you BMW for your efforts with the Mini-E, ActiveE and the upcoming i3 and i8.

One more sip from our earth, water and sunshine that is my wine, one more sip for the eternal optimist that is me, one more thought in remembrance of a good friend before the last drop of the day passes.


Mini-E #183, 32,000 sunshine powered miles.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

OPEC is soon to be history. Meet the new energy cartel, YOU!

For less than the equivilent of 4 years of buying gas ($220 a month), you can drive on sunshine for the rest of your life, 20,30,40 years or more.

Imagine a future that allows you to purchase a zero emission car and "gas" for a lifetime? No pollution, no dependency on foreign oil, wealth creation for individuals and personal independence? That future is here.

This is a great idea for BMW to offer when it rolls out the i3 and i8

Mini-E #183 32,000 sunshine powered miles

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

EV+PV is cheaper and cleaner. Ford and Sunpower to change the way we motor.

I am extremely excited about a planned press conference tomorrow (8/10/11) between Ford and Sunpower.

As frequent readers may know, I have powered my Mini-E with Sunpower solar panels installed by Stellar Solar for the past two years and 32,000 miles. I have written at length about the low cost of driving on solar with my real world conclusions that it is about 10% to15% the cost of gasoline and offers an ROI in excess of 30%.

Essentially, Powering my Mini-E or any electric car for that matter, with Solar PV cost the same as buying three to four years of gasoline. After that, you’re driving on free endless sunshine for over 20 years, and that’s just the guaranteed energy production from the panels. In most cases with quality panels like Sunpower, you will be driving on free sunshine for the rest of your life.

So why I am I so excited? My hope and my prediction is that this will be a partnership between two international market leaders that will bring great benefit to consumers and to our environment. How so? The same way car makers and oil companies have had a mutually beneficial relationship for 100 years,.

I am hopeful that what will be announced tomorrow is a cooperative purchase experience for a retail customer of a Ford electric car. That a person will be able to buy a Ford Focus Electric, Transit Connect Electric or a C-Max Energi plug in and purchase a Sunpower system at the same time financed by either Ford or Sunpower to fuel their car with clean renewable energy forever. A true zero emissions combination.

The synergies in financing both the car and the Sunpower system are great as most buyers are financing their car purchase for three to six years, and to add on a solar PV system to the same three to six year loan results in a total customer cost that will be similar or in fact lower from day one, to a comparable gas model plus the $250 a month for gas (assuming an average of 15,000 a year.) The relationship to the size and cost of the Sunpower system, and the miles that you drive is proportional to the cost of gas in most cases except extremely low mile drivers.

Most are familiar with Solar PV replacing grid energy for a home that has an ROI of 10%, or a payoff time of between 8 and 14 years, however when you use solar PV replacing gasoline, the ROI grows to over 30% with a payoff of three to four years.

Can you imagine a future that allows you to purchase a zero emission car and the renewable energy to power your driving for a lifetime all in one stop shopping? No pollution, no dependency on foreign oil, wealth creation for individuals and corporations and personal independence?

That is the future I imagine, and that is the future that will change our world.

Let’s hope the future begins tomorrow with Ford and Sunpower.



Mini-E # 183, 32,000 sunshine powered miles with Sunpower PV

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

BMW ActiveE offers lower total cost.

I have driven 31,000 miles in a little over two years, powered by only the sun. I love saying that!

Last week BMW showed details about the upcoming BMW i3 and BMW i8. As a Mini-E driver, I know the role the Mini-E drivers are playing in validating and bringing forward this technology. As a driver, I would have no problem at all telling you horror stories about the car if warranted, however the Mini-E has been a blast to drive, problem free, and the most fun, best car I have driven in 32 years on the road.

Around December, my wife Julie will become the driver of the phase two car which is the BMW ActiveE, a 1 series coupe which will serve as a “development mule” carrying and testing in real world conditions over millions of miles, the future running gear of the BMW i3.

While it’s not inexpensive to be part of this field trial, and the i3 and i8 will be no less expensive, I thought I would do my best to put the cost into perspective compared to driving my previous car, a Volvo S60R which I drove for four years and 58,000 miles. The Volvo was a great car and the last of 4 Volvo’s over 16 years that I leased/owned. In my case, I lease 65% of the time and buy 35% of the time. If I were given the choice of the S60R or the electric Mini-E same-same, the Mini-E would be my choice by a long shot.
My total monthly cost for the Volvo S 60:

Volvo S60 R

36 month lease $2500 down payment = $ 69 a month
Lease payments with tax $479
Insurance $ 89
Maintenance and repair $140 (tires and brakes were very expensive)
Gas $260
End of lease cost $30 (extra mileage)

Total $1067 per month

My total cost of the Mini-E:

BMW Mini-E

30 months, 11 month lease at $930 (first month free), 18month lease at $640 no down payment.
Average lease payment with tax $730
Insurance $26
Maintanace and repair $0
Solar Electricity $25 ($7500 divided by 25 years divided by 12months)
End of Lease cost $0

Total $781

Now comparing 5 years of driving the Volvo(s) S60, which admittedly are a very nice car but by no means extravagant, and I think arguably is considered in the same class as the BMW 1 series the cost are:

Volvo $1067 per month (as above)

BMW ActiveE

Lease inception fee spread over 24 months $83
24month lease at $535 tax included
Insurance $89 (both liability and collision)
Maintenance and repair $0
Solar Electricity $25 ($7500 divided by 25 years divided by 12months)
End of Lease cost $0
Total cost $732 per month

That’s a difference of $335 a month lower or $20,100 lower total cost over 60 months for the ActiveE and Mini-E.

The lesson in this is that while you may enjoy a low car payment or lease payment for a comparable gas car to the BMW ActiveE, you must also add the cost of gas (gas is expensive!) repairs, insurance, origination fees, etc. to get your total monthly cost. I think you might be surprised at how well the electric car (any electric car) does in the total cost department. Your results may be higher or lower than mine, but this is my real world experience of the cars I drove before the Mini-E and the ActiveE.

See how it stacks up for you when you compare the total monthly cost of your car to an ActiveE. I am looking forward to the BMW I3 and i8.

Bravo BMW
Mini-E # 183, 31,000 sunshine powered miles.