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


  1. Interesting your thoughts on efficiency. The motors are different. The ActiveE has a DC brushless (rare earth, permanent magnet) motor while the MINI is Inductive. Theory is that DC brushless has better peak efficiency while inductive has better efficiency over a broad operating range. This would reinforce your sense that the MINI does better in slow/stop-n-go traffic, while the Active does better on the freeway (at design peak efficiency).

  2. Thanks for the insight! I now know a bit more about motors! Whatever they did it was very noticeable to me and was surprised to see the miles remaining. I had anticipated the ActiveE to be slightly less than the Mini-E in range.

  3. Unfortunately, BMW's decision to go with rare earth magnets has some environmental and PR implications. Rare earth magnets are somewhat hard to find, are typically mined via nasty methods, and come from politically unstable areas of the globe. I'm not saying it's worse than oil (it's not), but it definitely dampens the warm-fuzzy feeling for me. This argument has already been thrown at EV's and hybrids by the "haters". This, combined with similar but false claims about Lithium for the batteries, are a significant hurdle in gaining mindshare.
    BMW lost my business with this decision, I'll be going with a AC Induction motor from Tesla.

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