After leasing the BMW ActiveE in America for two months, Tom Moloughney shares the his experiences living with this car. He points out the finest characteristics of the car, and also gives the things that he did not like about it. This is a pretty fair review and an accurate one indeed. Here is an excerpt from Mr. Moloughney’s blog about the BMW ActiveE:
Very smooth transition between regenerative braking acceleration. Some of the other EV’s felt a bit “jerky” transitioning back and forth. The MINI-E wasn’t nearly as smooth as the ActiveE is.
Strong, right-pedal regenerative braking. I like the regenerative braking to be activated by the right pedal. Some automakers are putting it on the friction brake pedal on the left. BMW has it right here and this allows the driver to basically drive using only the right pedal. It only takes a few days to get used to and once you do you won’t want it any other way, trust me. Most experienced EV drivers that have driven cars with strong right pedal regen concur.
Great driving experience. The car is just what I would expect from BMW. It’s rock solid, has great handling, is very comfortable and the cabin is exceptionally quiet, even for an EV.
Charge rate of 7.7kW. The time it takes to charge an EV is critical. You don’t want the car’s inability to charge quickly restrict it’s utility. BMW has allowed the ActiveE to accept up to 7.7kW of electricity when charging at home or at level 2 public charging stations. That’s more than double what the Nissan LEAF or the Chevy volt can accept. The LEAF does have an optional level 3 DC quick charge port, but since the ActiveE program is only 24 months it wouldn’t be worth it to have level 3 DC charging available because there are very few DC quick charge stations installed and working. There are a few in California, but none here in New Jersey so I wouldn’t be able to use it anyway. However the i3 should definitely have the ability to charge at level 3 DC stations which will be able to charge the car to 80% capacity in under a ½ hour and make long distance driving possible.
The ActiveE isn’t very efficient. So far I’ve been averaging a little over 3 miles per kWh of electricity consumed. If I drive very efficiently I can push it up to about 4 miles per kWh which is good, but not great. This is mostly the effect of the cars 4,000lb weight. Even so, the EPA rated the ActiveE at 102MPGe, which is better than the Nissan LEAF, which is remarkable since this is a converted ICE car and BMW had to add hundreds of pounds of steel to reinforce the frame and protect the batteries. To make an efficient EV it needs to be designed from the ground up as an EV and BMW knows this and is doing so with the new “BMW i” cars. I fully expect the i3 to achieve 5 miles per kWh in normal driving conditions.
The ActiveE has an Eco Pro mode that is designed to extend the cars range. It does so by reducing the power sent to the motor and limiting the power the cabin heating and cooling receives. It works –very well actually and I can get about 10-15 miles more range using it. However there are two things I would change. When in Eco Pro mode the heated seats do not work at all. I would prefer if they did because I would expect that they use less energy than the cabin heater does and I could easily turn off the cabin heater and leave the heated seats on when it’s not too cold out and I believe that would be more efficient. I would also have the car default to Eco Pro mode instead of making you press a button to activate it. Even better, let the owner configure which mode they want the car to default to.
The car won’t charge to 100%. For some reason, every time I get in after charging, the state of charge is either 98% or 99%. Other ActiveE drivers have reported the same thing so it’s not just my car. I know this is a minor thing, but I want to see 100%! The car must stop charging just a few minutes before it is really 100% charged and BMW needs to correct it.
Overall I’m very impressed and extremely pleased with the ActiveE. It’s fun to drive, very comfortable and offers a great electric driving experience. Honestly, I expected no less from BMW. After all, this is the Ultimate driving EV.