Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Come Join us on our BMW ActiveE Blog!

I promise it will be better than this blog :)  Julie will be posting as well and she is a much better writer than I am. Please join us for the next two years on our Active E blog

Cheers!  and it's been a Mini-E blast to write about my loved Mini-E # 183 the past two and a half years.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Solar, "The Ultimate Fuel" for the ActiveE

I.. strike that, my wife, is loving the ActiveE.  After 36,500 sunshine miles in the Mini-E, I am going through major withdrawal pains not being able to have the ActiveE as my daily driver.  I need to buy gas now for the old dinosaur fueled engine and it really really sucks big time.

Not having the electric car after you have had one will really show you how much superior the technology is and how much you miss it.  All is not bad however because I do get to drive the ActiveE on occasion.

In many past post you have read about my experience powering the Mini-E - ActiveE with solar energy.

I believe that solar is the "ultimate fuel"

Recently I was asked to give a 5 minute talk on that experience so I summarized the whole experience in 5 easy to read slides.   The two companies most responsible for our energy independence are BMW and Stellar Solar.  A giant thank you to both of those great companies for the products they make.

Here's the presentation:  you can click on the images for a larger size.

A pic of the house, the Mini-E with solar panels and the ActiveE

This was our energy bill in 2007, the blue line is when we installed solar. January 2008 was a partial month for solar

This slide summarizes the basic math.  Around July or August of this year we will be cost neutral, from that point on all the energy is free and courtesy of Mr. Sunshine:)

This slide summarizes the sources of emissions in our city. It also shows the that the cost of a Solar PV fueling station equals three years of buying gasoline. You can imagine how healthy our air would be if we all were solar and drove electric.

This is my favorite slide.  It is our True Up bill from January 17th 2012. For the 12 months prior, we were a net energy producer. 

You can live and drive on Sunshine.

Spouse of an Active E driver.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Wow! Long Range Driving in the ActiveE

I'll be migrating over to our New ActiveE site soon, Julie , my wife, will begin to write and I hope you follow us over there.  I'll let you know the site in my next post.


Just finished my first long drive in the Active E.  I am a San Diego County Planning Commissioner and my routine has been to go the PC meeting on Friday morning,  then visit with my parents afterward in Del Cerro, concluding with the drive home.   I’ve made this trip 50+ times in the Mini-E.  The trip length is 85 miles and it is 95% freeway from Carlsbad.  My average speed is 70mph with some stretches of 80mph and some bottle necks at 55 mph.  At the conclusion of the trip the range indicator in the Mini E would be at the lowest 8 miles and the highest 14 miles indicated remaining miles.

Today in the ActiveE, I did the same trip and returned to the home  with 19 miles remaining in range and an expected total range of 104 showing on the instruments.  I averaged 3.6 MPKw.  WOW!

Some thoughts to share and they are just my experience.  I believe the ActiveE is more efficient than the Mini-E on the freeway due to better coasting and better aero (the Mini-E is a brick.)  I think the Mini-E has better range at city driving compared to the  the ActiveE  due to better regen and aero is not so important at city speeds.

So if you’re a freeway driver expect the same or more than the Mini-E and if you’re a city driver expect the same or slightly less than the Mini-E. In any event the BMW ActiveE has at least a  25% greater range than the Nissan Leaf as just one comparison. The EPA estimated range for the LEAF is 73 miles and for the ActiveE it is 94 miles.  Incredibly the ActiveE also has a higher MPGe number of 102MPGe compared to the Leaf's 99 MPGe.

Both the numbers are amazing to say out loud and the ActiveE truly is an impressive engineering feat.  Now understand that as a person with a paid in full solar PV system, our MPGe is close to infinity. How friggin cool is that!

Some of the features of the ActiveE that I really like:  Great nav system, premium  stereo with hard drive storage for your cds or mp3s,  incredible leather with blue stitching including on the door,  Bluetooth system that recognizes either of our phones when one of us enters the car, On star equivalent for BMW, love the back up sensors that make parallel parking a breeze,  The eco pro button,  and the improved gauges.

The guages on the Mini-E were the most reliable that I have seen in an electric car and I thought that BMW would be hard pressed to make the ActiveE as good.  They have surpassed the Mini-E in reliability and information provided to the driver with mileage down to the 10th of a mile and charge indicator from 1 percent up to 100 percent numerically.   The indicators are rock solid and do not go up and down and all over the place as in some electric cars that I have experianced. 

The battery gauge is calibrated to show 50% battery usage early to insure the last 50% does not leave you short. I would guess this to be at 45% real world when indicated is 50%.  That’s a nice little safty feature to insure you don’t screw up.

On my drive I am working the phone as any good politico would be. In the Mini-E it was ear buds, in the ActiveE it is blue tooth and it works amazing.  The ride is so quiet with minimal road noise as compared to the Mini-E. 

I officially love this car! The problem is, so does my wife, and it's her car.
ActiveE spouse

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A last Mini-E lesson learned...2 cars 1 charger, easy!

All you need is a little $0.99 two plug doohicky adapter from Home Depot.  That’s a joke.

After two and a half years and 36,000 sunshine powered miles, I have learned and shared many lessons about how driving a sunshine powered electric car fits into our lives,  you can read the dozens of prior post to see all the experiences, but to cut to the chase,  the answer is brilliantly! It is simply the best car I have driven in 33 years.

As an antsy…as in anticipation,  Mini-E family  transitioning to the ActiveE, we signed up as early as possible and were approved for the ActiveE in early December. On December 10th, AV came out and installed our new universal J1772 wallbox for the ActiveE, removing the proprietary box for the Mini-E, as we expected the car on December 13th.

A slight delay - not unusual in the world of pioneers - has pushed back the delivery of the ActiveE for the original Mini-E drivers until mid January.  This left us with the Mini-E to drive for another month, but only with the ability to charge at 12 amps and 110 volts.  This is why it’s great to be a pioneer.  This small timing glitch gave us a chance to see how two fully electric cars would fit into our lives.  Let me explain how.

We know that one electric car does, and we know that we do not have the ability to run two 40 amp circuits for two chargers in the garage.  In our garage we have the 220 volt 40 amp circuit and a 110 volt dedicated circuit with no load other than the garage door opener. So the opportunity to drive a month on 110 voltage  was a great chance to see if charging that way would work for me.

The results?

No difference at all compared to charging at 220 volts on weekdays, and a 50% hindrance on weekends as we wanted to take longer drives,  multiple times a day and we could not do so charging the Mini-E at 110.  I call this a great success and here is why.

In our case it will work like this, Julie  will drive the BMW ActiveE with her 45 mile RT commute and will be the primary user of the 220 AV wallbox.   I will drive the second (future) full electric car like the ActiveE  for my 25 mile RT commute, and use the 110 circuit as my primary charger.   Most of the time on weekends we will use the ActiveE for our longer trips but anytime I need a little extra juice, either during the week or on the weekends, the 220 charger is always available for my use as well.   95% of the time I will not need it, but I will have access to it anytime I need the 220 charger.

This little month long experiment has now changed my thoughts on my future car,  Before this I was leaning to a Volt type small plug in hybrid SUV.  Now I’m convinced that my second car will be a fully electric small SUV like the upcoming BMW electric iX5 (not really, just a dream, please?)

One or two  times a year we will rent a long range gasser for trips of several hundred miles.  My hope is that manufactures like BMW will consider loaner programs for their owners of premium electric cars on a once or twice a year basis. 

Julie drives 18,000 miles a year, I drive 15,000 miles a year, in the past we spent $5,500 a year on gasoline. We both will have no problem driving electric cars  powered by sunshine, sharing one 220 volt charger. Our gasoline savings alone equal a new $27,000 car every 5 years. Remember, my Solar PV system has completly paid for itself in 5 years and is now paid off.

We are looking forward to the ActiveE. It’s going to be a real gas to drive!

Mini-E #183, 36,000 miles. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Solar Spill in San Diego!

In a story ignored by major media, San Diego has been under the siege of a huge uninterrupted solar spill lasting the past 30 days. It is unknown how long this spill will continue to flow disrupting the work and social lives of millions of Southern California residents. Economists are estimating the lost productivity caused by the spill to total in excess of $10 billion dollars.

Elected leaders from the region are asking that California Governor Jerry Brown declare a state of emergency so that state and federal funds can be accessed to offset the economic damage of the ongoing spill.

Reporters from Sun Media have observed that the local population is abandoning their cars and taking to paddle boards, kayaks, inflatable rafts and surfboards as emergency vehicles as they fight for survival.

Solar executives and scientist from Americas top companies and universities are working collaboratively to solve this spill and cap the unrestricted flow of energy that is effecting natural habitats and biologically sensitive wetland areas. Authorities are unsure if this spill can be capped and are reported to be deploying a solar dispersing agent in an attempt to have the solar spill fall harmlessly to the ground.

A second disaster is expected to hit San Diego as the solar spill crisis is soon to be joined by 10-14 foot waves at local beaches. “We don’t know if these events are related or separate disasters just happening at the same time” said San Diego Mayor,  Jerry Sunray-Sanders. Many local residents are saying that the solar dispersing agents used by federal authorities are the cause of the high waves.

Sun Media reports from San Elijo lagoon and Aqua Hedionda Lagoon located in North San Diego County, that uncontrollable plant growth due to high levels of photosynthesis are now occurring. Local authorities are stretched to the breaking point as they deploy efforts to deal with the ongoing crisis.

“People are behaving crazily and the crowds of birds and people flocking to see this spill is stressing our government systems to the breaking point” said San Diego Mayor, Jerry Sunray-Sanders. He added, “Whoever is responsible for this needs to pay for the massive clean-up that will be necessary, and it will take years to get this place back to normal”

Authorities are seeing similar relief efforts underway with the solar spill as happened with Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf States. Many corporations, fraternities, church groups, and non profits are driving in from surrounding states offering their assistance. Colleges and Universities around the country have been temporarily shut down so that student groups can be deployed to the solar spill region.

Clean up cost from this spill are yet to be determined and federal authorities are just beginning to calculate the long term effects on the regional economy.

In a final emotion filled statement, San Diego Mayor  Jerry Sunray-Sanders said "This is terrible, I wish we could turn back the clock and return to the good old days when we got our energy from oil. In those days, the oil created a natural atmospheric  layer that filtered out and diffused the sunlight thus eliminating  solar spills such as this,  you could see the layer with your bare eyes and it was really beneficial in preventing these devastating solar spills."

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sunrise On A Brighter Future

Sunrise on a Brighter Future from Peder Norby on Vimeo.

I love driving the Mini-E. My favorite time of the day to drive is early in the morning, as the sun is rising over our lagoon.

The dawning of a new day reminds me of our connection with a peaceful nature, of our ability to harvest sunshine using the sun as a “new form of gasoline,” and lastly, the sun rising is restorative as a new beginning. No matter the trials of the day before, when the sun comes up, it’s a new day.

My daughter Betina and I met last Saturday just before sunrise for a little fun with her Go-Pro and the Mini-E.

I’m getting a bit sentimental as we get ready to shift from the Mini-E to the ActiveE.

After 36,000 of the most fun sunshine powered miles the past two and a half year, I’m turning the wheel over to my wife Julie who has the longer roundtrip commute of 45 miles. I wish we could afford two electric BMW ActiveE cars but at this early stage, we simply can’t afford two payments. We also have yet to wear out our small 2008 SUV.

It’s Julie's turn next and she is very excited as she waits for her new car, the ActiveE. I’ll get to drive it at night and on weekends so I’m not to bummed about it :)

Enjoy the video, stay tuned for the next one featuring Julie and the ActiveE.

Mini-E #183, 36,000 sunshine powered miles

Friday, December 2, 2011

Go "Sun" Diego!

Nearly 1,100 electric vehicles now circulate in the San Diego area — the highest per-capita penetration of owners in the United States.

EVSE chargers are slow to roll out but they are coming on line faster and faster. The game of the chicken or the egg is soon to be history.

As a Mini-E driver soon to be ActiveE driver, and as a San Diego County Planning Commissioner, I am very excited about the clean energy economy, clean air future of San Diego.

I promise to keep EVangelizing what is in my opinion the answer to many of our domestic issues,  EV+PV

Go "Sun" Diego!