Friday, July 15, 2011

The Mini-E, Golf, James Dean and Carmageddon!

What have we done!

The writing below is through the filter of my experience living with an all electric BMW Mini-E. As no two lives are the same, your experiences may vary (I love saying that!)

Julie and I live in North San Diego County. For over two years and 31,000 miles we have been scooting about in our Mini-E all over San Diego, Orange and Riverside Counties. Our lives are unchanged as far as our driving patterns and routines with cars for the past 20 or so years.

It’s absolutely no different for us since pre Mini-E when I was driving a nice sedan and Julie was driving a small SUV. Annually we are now putting about 2000 more miles a year on the Mini-E than my previous sedan and about 2000 less miles on her small SUV. The main reason for this is that the Mini-E is nearly always the car we choose on evening or weekend ventures. Who wouldn’t, free gas via solar, non polluting, fun as heck to drive, and always 100% full and ready for the days adventure. It ‘s the only car since I was 25 that I wash by hand 

In the 800 days or so that we have had the Mini-E, there have been exactly two times when the Mini-E was the “wrong club in the bag” to use, both trips to northern California. An 8 iron is not the club to use when you need a 300 yd. drive. In our bag we have two clubs, a small SUV and the Mini-E. (do you know that almost  50% of all golf shots are on the putting green and that 4/5ths are from 150 yards and closer?)

That being said, if we were a one car family, I would choose the Mini-E to use 360 days a year and then for the one or two times a year, for the long drives, rent or borrow a “driver” to use. Why drive a car as your only vehicle that is perfect 5 days a year and a beast of burden the other 360 days?

I believe for many, especially in urban cities such as San Diego this makes sense.

Last week we used the “driver”,  to tour the Pacific Northwest racking up 2800 miles in eight days,  making sure we visited Napa, Sonoma, The Willamette Valley and Paso Robles (noticing a theme?)

On the way home we drove the entire 900 mile length of California on Hwy 101. As we drove this nationally important historic route home, I was channeling the Beach Boys, James Dean and the car culture of the 50s 60s and 70s made possible by the car and the interstate transportation system. What a great era exploring unique interesting places as the car and the road set us free to move about the country as we like.

It’s safe to say that the mind numbing cars of the 80s (K-car,) the generic sameness of urban sprawl (my Home Depot looks like your Home Depot,) and the increasing congestion on the once free flowing open road (Carmageddon in LA) pretty much trashed this idyllic dream.

Or did it?

We have our challenges to overcome to be sure, but I’m noticing a strong pendulum swing back to relocalization. We are once again accentuating our unique differences as “places” creating a tapestry of diversity in our unique towns worthy of having visitors as opposed to the sameness of the past three decades. We are once again designing cars with unique attributes and differences, and we are still moving about the country, however that movement is becoming smarter using the right club for the drive. Perhaps it’s a plane, a train, a bus, a car share, an electric car or a small suv that we will use.

Our next trip, a car free weekend on Amtrak with bikes and the electric shuttles in Santa Barbara.

I love this place! And I love our Mini-E. Looking forward to the Active E.

I hope LA survives this weekend and Carmageddon!


Peder (proof I am a treehugger below)
Mini-E#183, 31,000 sunshine powered miles.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Choose Independence.

90% of phones will be wireless by 2010
90% of TV’s will be flat panels by 2010
90% of homes will have computers in them by 2010
90% of the U.S. will be using the internet by 2010
90% of refrigerators will be twice as efficient by 2010
90% of cameras will be digital images on memory cards by 2010
90% of the U.S. will know of Google by 2010

If someone was quoting the above in 1980, you would have discarded the person as crazy or a hopeless dreamer, what the heck is a Google? They are today all part of our lives and we accept the facts above as normal. We even have a slight indignation about them, sort of a “no duh, I’m not stupid, of course they are” in our attitudes about what is our daily living. 

In the near future:

90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030.
90% of those cars will be charged at home vs. a traditional gas station by 2030
90% of those will be charging at home will charge with renewable energy by 2030
90% of those will sell back to the utilities their energy at peak times for a 100% or greater profit.

If your laughing hilariously (dude your crazy!) or have concluded that I am a first class nut job, please refer to the first list of 90%s, and also know that I live today with the second 90%s list in my daily life. Is the prediction of 90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030, so hard to believe considering the innovations of the past?

Google recently conducted a study titled “The impact of Clean Energy Innovation” The Impact of Clean Energy Innovation Study
among their conclusions:

90% of cars will be EV’s and Hybrids by 2030
1.1 billion barrel reduction in oil use by 2030
$155 billion per year in GDP increase by 2030
1.1 million net new jobs by 2030
Household energy costs reduced by $942 per year by 2030
49 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050

In our family's case, our household energy cost has been reduced by $4000 a year, our gasoline cost has been reduced by $2400 a year. There’s an EV in our garage, solar PV on the roof, we charge at home, we sell back our power to the utility during peak hours at twice the price, we use the energy at off peak hours at half the price to charge the car and cool the wine cellar. Our annual household utility bill is zero or below zero. We refer to that as normal and as energy independence.

Believe in our future, in the imagination, innovation and creativity of future generations, in the Independence of our County. We’re on a trajectory towards fixing our most vexing problems, I am now more than any other time in my life, most optimistic about our future as a nation.

Happy 4th of July, choose Independence.
Mini-E #183, 30,500 sunshine powered miles.