BMW i8 Driven by Mission Impossible’s Paula Patton
By John Addison (8/20/12)
BMW Adds ActiveE to DriveNow Car Sharing
It’s never been easier to get into an electric car and drive away. I hold my Drive Now card to the window of this BMW ActiveE, the car unlocks and I take the driver’s seat. I type in my 4-digit passcode, touch Start, shift into Drive and away I go. Today, BMW has added 70 of its electric cars to a unique car-sharing program in San Francisco. I drive a dozen blocks to a parking garage near a meeting at the Marriott. I park the car, log-off with a push of the button, use my membership card to lock the car and I’m done.
Drive Now only charges $12 for the first 30 minutes and I don’t need to bring the car back to where I started. This is point-to-point car sharing. The model has worked great for BMW’s Drive Now with 42,000 members in Germany. Now BMW is bringing their carsharing to the U.S. and starting with its new electric car.
The program is great for getting 4 busy professionals to their next meeting, tourists doing a quick 5-hour tour, or getting a skipper to the starting line of the America’s Cup – quick, fun, no hassle. A carsharing member can pay for the EV by the minute with a max of $90 for the day. These electric cars with their 100-mile range are easy to keep charged and the city’s 100+ charge points are programmed into the navigation system.
BMW is now in the car sharing business in competition with Zipcar, Enterprise and Hertz. BMW is also competing with Car2Go, owned by German competitor Daimler. In San Diego, Car2Go has thousands of members who share 200 Smart Electric Drive cars that can be used point-to-point. In Portland Car2Go has 30 electric cars. From the U.S. to Europe, car2go has over 100,000 members, a large fleet of gasoline smart cars and a growing number of electric smart cars. BMW does not intend to see competitors get to far ahead.
San Francisco is an excellent city for electric car sharing. Thousands of its citizens already own electric vehicles including Mayor Ed Lee who bought his own Chevrolet Volt. The city has ambitions to be totally powered with renewable energy in ten years and already has 3,000 solar rooftops. With over 100 public and private Level 2 charges, the city is ready for electric car sharing.
ParkNow Finds the Cheapest Parking Space Fast
Today, BMW not only introduced me to their new carsharing, but to a great way for any driver to find the best place to park in a city. The ParkNow app lets smart drivers easily find and book a parking spot in advance at ParkNow garages located in and around San Francisco. ParkNow garages are currently located in downtown San Francisco, San Francisco International Airport, Oakland International Airport and Palo Alto, with more to come. ParkNow is a joint venture formed by BMW i Ventures and Urban Mobility. If it succeeds, it is likely to spread across the nation.
The ParkNow app locates the nearest available off-street parking options at both ParkNow locations and non-member garages and provides real-time best parking rates, as well as information about additional related services, from where to get a car wash to the availability of bike rentals within ParkNow locations.
Drivers can search for parking spots by actual price, availability during their desired parking time or by distance from their destination, and further refine the search by comparing EV charging availability, handicap accessibility, garage safety features, customer reviews and other options.
The system always looks for the cheapest available price, automatically including available discount offers. Once customers book a parking spot, a valet e-ticket is sent straight to their phone, and payment is automatic with their ParkNow account. They simply present the QR code to the garage attendant (at a valet garage) or scan it automatically (at an automated garage).
ActiveE Prepares BMW for Major Electric Car Production
BMW is now leasing for $499 monthly 1,000 ActiveE all-electric cars in metropolitan markets of California, New York, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. The ActiveE is an electric car conversion of the BMW 1 Series Coupe. This demonstration electric car is the follow-on to the successful leasing of 600 MINI E cars.
The ActiveE climbed steep San Francisco hills with ease as I drove it. The navigation system smoothly guided me through busy streets. The ActiveE specifications are zero to 60 in 9 seconds, but it seems to take me no time to go zero to 40. Regen braking starts when I lift my foot off the accelerator. I would rarely need to use the brakes in this electric car.
The ActiveE is a demonstration car, not a production vehicle. BMW converted the Series One to be electric. This 2-door car has little legroom in the back seat for two people. Due to room demanded by the lithium battery pack, the trunk has a small 7 cubic feet of space. This BMW does not have nearly the room of electric cars such as the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, and Ford Focus Electric.
The BMW ActiveE is state-of-the art in infotainment and smart app controls. With BMW MyRemote, BMW enables the user to access the extensive range of BMW ConnectedDrive functions via an app on an iPhone, iPad, Droid, or web browser. You can USB connect your smartphone or use Blue Tooth wireless. Set it up in advance and you can use voice commands with a touch of the button. The user has at his or her disposal all BMW ConnectedDrive remote functions. Use the CarFinder app for locating the car within a radius of up to 3,300 feet as well as the Google Local Search function.
Your music, car sharing, car-charging apps can communicate with the navigation display. In addition, new remote functions developed especially for the BMW ActiveE for battery charge control and vehicle preconditioning have been incorporated into the range of functions.
The ActiveE has an electric range of about 100 miles, less on freeways and more driving 30 mph down quiet streets. The ActiveE is a good fit for car sharing. This demonstration car is setting the stage for two brand new electric cars from BMW.
BMW i3 Electric Urban Mobility
The BMW i3 is an exciting new all-electric car that will compete with cars like the Nissan LEAF, Mitsubishi I, and Ford Focus Electric. In less than two years, you will be able to order one from a local dealer. Out guess is that it will price for about the same as the LEAF, around $35,000.
The near-future BMW i3 is a new design to improve the electric drive experience, achieve more range from a smaller lithium battery, and be ideal for urban mobility. The first time I heard about this new car it had the working title of Megacity Vehicle.
The i3 architecture is a Life Module on top of a Drive Module. This design approach will allow BMW to ultimately deliver multiple vehicles that can use standard all-electric and plug-in drive systems.
The i3 body consists of two independent modules that are separated from each other horizontally. The Drive Module consists of an aluminum chassis. This accommodates the powertrain: the lithium-ion battery, the performance electronics and a compact but powerful electric motor. On top of the Drive Module sits the Life Module, a passenger cell made of carbon fiber reinforced plastic, or CFRP for short.
The carbon fiber for this car is made in the State of Washington and shipped to BMW Germany for manufacturing these new global electric cars. The BMW-SGL joint venture, SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers, has acquired 60 acres in Moses Lake for the plant, and has an option on 60 more. Only renewable energy, hydropower, will be used in the carbon manufacturing.
This extremely light but rigid material has previously been used in racing, aviation and space travel. As Tesla has shown us with similar materials, you can extend the range of an electric vehicle by making it lighter and still improve passenger safety.
The BMW i3 is ideal for day-to-day commuting in big cities. It has compact dimensions but still offers a generous sense of space.
Both the BMW i3 and i8 will have standard J1772 connectors so that the thousands of standard Level 2 public chargers can be used. The cars will charge at the faster 6.6kW/32 amp speed. You should pick-up about 25 miles of range for each hour of Level 2 charging. Like other electric cars, most charging will be done in driver’s home garages.
BMW Venture Capital has invested in Coulomb Technologies, which has a network of over 3,300 charge points globally. “BMW i Ventures recognizes the importance of a global charging network for electric vehicle drivers,” said Dr. Ulrich Quay, Managing Director of BMW i Ventures. “ChargePoint is the largest, longest established network with a significantly advanced and mature feature set. This investment will forge a close and strategic relationship as we further our electric mobility offer.” The new BMW DriveNow membership card also functions as a ChargePoint network card.
BMW i8 Electric Sports Coupe
While the BMW i3 is an all-electric designed for urban mobility, the i8 is a plugin hybrid (PHEV) designed to go on the freeway for hundreds of miles in BMW style. It is currently named the BMW i8 Concept Spyder. Hopefully, you can order either the i3 or i8 in 2014.
The BMW i8 is the red-hot sports coupe that Tom Cruise was driving in Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol. Step on the accelerator and the i8 engages two electric motors, one on each axle, and a turbo diesel engine. This sports coupe accelerates from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds. Sports car drivers lament the end of the Tesla Roadster and hesitate to order the Fisker Karma, the BMW i8 will be at the top of their test drive list.
With two electric motors, the i8 Spyder is expected to have excellent all-wheel drive (AWD) performance on wet and icy roads.
The i8 is speced to accelerate from zero to 60 in 4.8 seconds, using the 3-cylinder turbo diesel engine in a rear axle hybrid configuration, coupled with a front axle second electric motor. The beautifully designed sports coupe, seats 2+2. The PHEV hugs the ground and is so aerodynamic that the drag coefficient is only 0.22. The car is electronically limited to 155 mph, more than enough speed for most autobahn drivers. BMW Series i Site
Sustainable from Cradle to Cradle
BMW is investing over $500 million in new Series I manufacturing in Leipzig, Germany. The new plant is so efficient that the energy needed to produce each car is cut in half and water use is reduced 70%. Only renewable energy will be used at the Leipzig plant. Germany is the world leader in the use of wind and solar energy.
Wind and solar energy are also growing in the United States. Many early adopters of electric cars also use solar energy. Most live in states with little coal power and where utilities are increasing the use of renewable energy.
The early drivers and DriveNow car share members are showing us how to navigate through cities without needing to visit the gas station or pollute the air. With electric cars, you can live more sustainably. With BMW, you can have an exciting electric drive.
By John Addison (11/10/11)
I am driving the new 2012 smart fortwo electric drive vehicle (smart ed) through the busy downtown streets of San Diego, America’s eighth largest city. San Diego presents itself as “America’s Finest City” with some justification. The temperature is in the sixties on this November day as ships sail in the vast harbor, towering office buildings offer dramatic views of the Pacific Ocean, and active people are in motion.
This little electric car is a weapon against the growing gridlock that grinds drivers to a halt for minutes or hours in morning and evening freeway traffic. I speak from the experience of driving I-15 and I-5 to conferences or when shuttling kids for family and friends. This new approach to electric car sharing now allows people to take express buses down HOV lanes and Coaster Rail from North Country to and from work, with car2go solving the problem of traveling the last one to 3 miles to work and popular destinations.
Walter Rosenkranz, a manager with car2go shows me how it works. Like any member, he displays the car2go app on his smartphone, sees the location of an available electric smart car a block away. Since this car is charging, he disconnects the Blink Level 2 charger then holds his car2go RFID card next to the car window. Walter kindly puts me behind the wheel then enters his pass code into the car2go navigation display on the dash of the car. I start the car and we take off in silence.
I drive us to Balboa Park, a popular destination with its vast acres, museums, and famous San Diego zoo. We park the car, sign-off and walk away. If we were paying members, this trip would have cost us only $3 or $4. We got there in minutes without the hassle of car rental or bus transfers. Car2go is a point-to-point car sharing service. You pay 35 cents a minute. If you use lots of minutes, you’re automatically lowered to $12.99 per hour. Keep the electric car overnight and pay $65.99 per day. No surprise fees are charged for being early or late, like some other car sharing services.
This point-to-point car sharing service has proven itself in Austin, Texas, with hundreds of the gasoline sipping smart fortwo. San Diego is an excellent choice for the electric car sharing, since a fast network of Blink and other level 2 chargers are being installed in public areas. SDG&E supplies the electricity using a generation mix that is 20 percent renewable, nuclear, and natural gas. There are zero coal power plants in California. San Diego already has over 1,000 drivers of Nissan LEAFs, Chevrolet Volts, Tesla Roadsters and other electric cars. San Diego Smart Grid / Electric Vehicle Report.
The rental does not need to be ended every time at a charging station. However, if the battery capacity (state of charge) is lower than 20 percent, rentals must be finished at one of the charging stations, which are displayed in the on-board navigation. If the battery level is lower than 40 percent, drivers will receive 10 free minutes for re-charging the car. The charging does not need to be completed before a car2go can be rented again: if there is a minimum 50 percent state of charge, the vehicle is available for the next customer.
All 300 smart fortwo electric drive vehicles are equipped with latest telematics technology, allowing fully automated, easy and convenient rental operations. It allows customers to rent the cars spontaneously without having the burden to commit to a specific return time or location.
Behind the scenes car2go uses GPS and information technology to track where every car is located and their state-of-charge (SOC). Members can report everything from driving problems to dirty interiors through the car2go navi system or with an email or call. A maintenance team is put in place to clean cars. Customer service telephone support is available. At times bunches of cars will need to be relocated. For example, a growing number of cars could accumulate at a destination like Sea World and need to be moved to a popular pick-up point such as a train or transit center.
Smart Electric Drive is More Powerful
I look for a steep hill. The smart ED reaches 25 mph in one block, convincing me that it has the power for its San Diego service area. The version 2 drive system is an improvement over version 1. It does not have the power of a Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt or Mitsubishi i. I am not convinced this EV can handle the steepest hills of North Vancouver where car2go uses the more powerful gasoline smart fortwo. Next Spring, however, version 3 of the smart ed will have a drive system as powerful as the Mitsubishi i.
The smart fortwo electric drive vehicle is a two-seat city car. Only 8 feet long, it can fit in parking spaces that other cars cannot, a most useful feature in cities. The electric car looks just like its gasoline cousin the smart fortwo. The first generation of this smart ed was underpowered for hills with an electric motor with only a third the power of competitor Mitsubishi i. The version-two car, which is being put into daily car share and fleet use, has doubled the power of the electric motor. Version 3 will be the smart electric that becomes available in a year or two for individuals to buy or lease through dealers. That smart ed will out power the Mitsubishi I with a 55kW EM-motive electric motor, a joint venture of Daimler and Bosch. The vehicle will have 16kW of lithium battery pack, up from the 14kW in the car that I’m driving.
Daimler is the parent company of Car2go. In the U.S. we best know Daimler for its Mercedes cars. Daimler also owns smart. Although most individuals and fleets own cars, a growing number lease, rent, or simply use a car as an on-demand service. Car sharing has about one million members in the U.S. and the numbers are growing to include many who also own cars. Daimler is ahead of the curve to expand into car sharing.
Car2go started in Austin, Texas, with 200 smart fortwo gasoline cars in this useful point-to-point model. The car2go program is already very successful in the German cities of Ulm and Hamburg, and the Canadian city of Vancouver. More than 45,000 members have used the 1,100 car2go more than 900,000 times. The average duration of a car2go rental is between 15 and 60 minutes and the average range lies between 5 and 10 kilometers.
Its first two cities for electric car sharing are San Diego and Amsterdam, each opening in November 2011 with 300 electric cars each. Both cities currently have networks of hundreds of electric car charging points. By the end of 2012, each city will have over 1,000 charge points.
Expansion to at least 40 additional European cities will include a joint venture between Europocar and car2go.
Car Rental and Car Sharing Competition Put 5,000 Electric Cars into Service
The innovative electric car share program gives car2go competitive advantage, but it does face formidable competition. The giant in car sharing is Zipcar that is testing a few electric cars from San Francisco to Philadelphia.
Rental car giant Enterprise has 150 electric cars now available for rental. Many customers will prefer the Nissan LEAFs and Chevrolet Volts that are offered. By the end of 2012, Enterprise expects to be renting at least 1,000 electric cars including business programs for fleets and large multi-tenant complexes. Enterprise has expanded into car sharing with WeCar. Enterprise has a vast fleet of cars that can be rented in one location and left at another. Hertz also has Nissan LEAF rental pilots and has also entered the car sharing business with Hertz On Demand.
There is a friendly competition between German headquartered Daimler and French headquartered Autolib. Paris is trying 66 electric city cars in a point-to-point Autolib Blue Cars in a point-to-point car share program. The goal is to have 3,000 of these electric city cars available in Paris by the end of 2012 expanding on 20,000 Velib shared bicycle program now successful in the City of Light.
The race is on to provide us with more convenient choices as we navigate our busy lives. With smart phones and smart apps we can make our best choices during the day of using transit, driving our own cars solo when necessary, and using electric car share to start at one point and finish at another.
By John Addison (8/25/11)
New EV Rental and Lease Programs for World’s Largest Market
Hertz (NYSE:HTZ) expands its Global EV initiative to China, making it the first global rental car company to offer electric cars on three continents. Hertz now offers the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, Smart ED, Tesla Roadster and other electric cars in U.S. cities including New York, Washington DC, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Hertz is expanding the availability of pure electric cars and plug-in hybrids at airports, downtown hotels, university campuses, condos and co-ops and fleets. Hertz operates in over 8,500 locations in 146 countries.
In London, you can rent the Mitsubishi iMiEV. Mitsubishi will soon start deliveries of the U.S. version of this popular electric city car. In other European cities, Renault electric cars are offered. Now Hertz is expanding into the world’s biggest EV market.
In China, Hertz established a partnership with GE Industrial Solutions China to advance the rollout of EVs and charging stations that includes the co-location of electric vehicles and GE EV Infrastructure as a combined offering. Bundled lease offers of EVs and chargers will make it easy for corporations and government agencies to expand use of electric cars.
“China has committed to rapidly expand electric vehicle travel and Hertz is committed to supporting the ambitious EV Pilot City program,” said Mark Frissora, Hertz Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. “Working with our existing rental car network in China and partners such as GE, we are dedicated to helping build the necessary EV infrastructure in China and to create a new transportation solution that employs the latest technology and harnesses innovations being launched in China today.”
China’s 100 Million EV Owners
Over one hundred million in China ride e-bikes, e-scooters, and light electric vehicles. A growing middle class and major employers are interested in full-function freeway-speed electric cars. In Shanghai, Hertz will be part of the International EV Pilot City, a program to accelerate EV rentals by building out the infrastructure across the Jiading district of Shanghai. Other EV Pilot City partners include auto manufactures, energy suppliers, and insurance companies. Hertz is the first rental car company to sign an agreement to become a partner of the China (Shanghai) International Electric Vehicle Pilot City.
A few weeks ago, Hertz also reached an understanding with BYD for a rental trial of its electric car the e6 in Shenzhen. BYD is years late in bringing its electric cars to the U.S.
The partnership supports the Twelfth Five-Year Plan objective for the promotion of EVs in China and will serve as a foundation for further innovation and development of the infrastructure. The current five-year plan identifies EVs as one of the seven strategic initiatives for China in the next few years and calls for a significant ramp up in both EV charging station deployment and EV manufacturing. The Chinese central government is currently offering 60,000 RMB (about $9,400 USD) rebates for EV purchases and a number of leading cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are offering additional rebates.
“At the Clinton Global Initiative last September, we announced a commitment to provide electric vehicle access on a global scale – an ambitious goal,” commented Frissora. “In less than one year, Hertz is now the leading provider of EV mobility solutions, offering an unparalleled selection of EVs and PHEVs in cities worldwide. We are firmly committed to adding new retail and business to business EV car rental locations internationally as auto manufacturers ramp up EV and PHEV production over the next few years.”
Hertz plans to increase its global EV presence by deploying vehicles in other countries in the coming months. Hertz Global EV will continue to leverage the company’s rental and car sharing locations as bases for vehicles and charging stations, and tap into its technology – including sophisticated fleet management tools to help form an EV grid.
Car Sharing – Hertz On Demand Competes with Zipcar
Some only think of Hertz as a rental car company. Hertz is also aggressively expanding with its car sharing service Hertz On Demand (formerly Connect by Hertz). Competing with Zipcar, Enterprise, and others, Hertz On Demand eliminated membership fees, expanded one way service to 175 locations, guaranteed availability Monday through Thursday in New York City, added electric cars at select locations, simplified the reservation, and enhanced 24/7 in-car assistance. Hertz On Demand has approximately 40,000 members in six countries and on approximately 60 university campuses.
Electric car sales and charging are off to a good start in the United States with drivers who have single family homes with garages to install chargers, but in multi-tenant dwellings costly utility meters must be added, upgraded transformers, EVSE located near meter rooms, new bylaws, and tenant agreement about preferred parking spaces. Shared electric cars charged in shared spaces provide a wonderful multi-tenant solution. Hertz on Demand has Nissan LEAFs available at Seward Park Co-op is one of the largest free market co-ops in Manhattan with more than 1700 apartments, approximately 50 commercial tenants, 13 acres of land and more than 4000 residents.
Hertz is showing smarts and agility with its electric car programs from San Francisco to Shanghai and for everyone from fleet managers, to people living in large apartment buildings, to new university students. If you’re a business traveler, you know what its like to be late to catch a plan and have a corporate requirement to bring back the car with the gas tank fuel. When renting electric cars, there is no added cost with Hertz if you bring back the EV with the battery mostly empty.