Auf Wiedersehen

It’s said that all good things come to an end, and so it is with our field trial test of our BMW Active E, Buzz. It’s hard to believe that two years (25 months, if we’re being specific) have already zipped by. Doesn’t seem possible.

When we signed up to participate in the Active E field trial, we had several motivating factors. My commute had changed and I was looking for a vehicle that got better mileage as gas prices here were pushing (and are pushing again!) up towards $5/gallon. Of course, any hybrid might have been a reasonable solution, but as scientists, we were keen to do the experiment with an all-electric vehicle. We were intrigued to see how an EV would (or maybe wouldn’t) fit into our lifestyle. After test-driving the AE and feeling the way it handled, and calculating that we could get about 1000 miles on $40 of electricity, we were on-board!

Our experience with Buzz was overwhelmingly positive. It didn’t take us long to lose our initial “range anxiety” that’s common to first-time EV drivers, and Buzz became our all-around town car. Dog beach, out to dinner, Costco, commute, everything. Similar to many in the AE community, we had one software failure early on that required an off-site “reset”, but otherwise, Buzz never faltered. Great vehicle.

Bird Rock Stop

Bird Rock Stop

We’re picking up our new i3 on Monday and so last weekend, we took Buzz on a last driving tour of some of our favorite spots along coastal San Diego. It was a gorgeous day for a drive.

Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs

Rolling Waves

Rolling Waves

We started with an early lunch in La Jolla and made our way down to Bird Rock, where Buzz got a great view of the ocean and birds. We continued down through Pacific Beach, Mission Bay, Ocean Beach and stopped at Sunset Cliffs, for another grand view. We kept heading south, eventually making it to the end of Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument.

Last Stop

Last Stop

Before heading in, Buzz said he wanted to drive down the road where the “school bus crash” in the second season of Veronica Mars happened. Who were we to say no? As always, the views were Cabrillo were spectacular. It was a good way to end the day and our trip.

Bus Crash Road

Bus Crash Road

Naturally, over the past week, we’ve found ourselves immensely sentimental about turning Buzz back in. And our plan had been to drive him in tomorrow (Monday) afternoon and drive out with our new i3. Buzz, however, really wasn’t ready to go it seems and on his last full day with us picked up something on the highway that blew out his right-rear tire. Fortunately, no injuries or damage, but instead of a triumphant drive off into the sunset, he’s riding a flatbed down to the dealership.

That Tire Looks A Little Low

That Tire Looks A Little Low

After 17,000+ great miles, I think Buzz deserved a better last ride than that, so I’m sure we’ll remember the coast trip as the official version.


18 thoughts on “Auf Wiedersehen

  1. Ah! I know where the “school bus crash road” is, having driven it myself! It is a wonderful place for an afternoon drive, especially if it’s a farewell turn for Buzz.

    As one who gets very sentimental about things I have owned for a long time, I don’t know how you could part with Buzz. I realize it’s smart to trade in a car when it gets to a certain point on the odometer, but I have a terrible habit of anthropomorphizing the cars I drive: as a result, I seldom get a new car until I have well over 120,000 miles on “Maz” the 1989 Mazda 626 or “Corrie” the 1976 Toyota Corolla. Of course, that has also meant occasionally spending a few hours sitting on the side of the road, waiting for a tow truck to pick us up. Which usually is enough to persuade me it is time to retire the poor old thing.

    • HG — this test program for Buzz was only designed to be 2 years. We knew going in that it was going to be a short term test. The Beloved’s car is approaching 140,000 miles, and I turned in my first car with 170,000 on it. Of course, in 2 years of local, around-town driving, I was never going to get near that sort of mileage, though a few of the ActiveE drivers got near 40-50k.

  2. I loved getting the low-down on your E car. If I had any money, that would be my next car. As it is, I’m saving for a Smart Car. I’m hoping by the time I’m ready to buy, they’ve got a hybrid ready to go. After all, it will take me another 9-10 years to save enough!

    • Thanks SS — it’s been a fun ride. The all-EV wouldn’t be practical for us as a 1-car household (I’d definitely get a hybrid for that), but as one of two cars, it’s been great.

  3. Awwww. This was a great tribute to Buzz. I go into full-blown mourning when I have to get a new car. I had my Honda CRV for ten years and I still get nostalgic for it, two years later.

    • Lauri — I try to be the “a car is just a way to get from A to B” a lot of times, but it really doesn’t work. I get really attached to my cars, too.

  4. I enjoyed vicariously sharing your travels with Buzz during the trial period and I’m sad to see him go. I’m impressed that your overall EV experience was positive; I am seriously considering an EV for my next vehicle purchase. Oh, and great photos. You live in a lovely place.

    • RP — it was a great experiment in the truest sense. I can see an EV, or PHEV fitting a lot of lifestyles. Plus, they’re great off the line… :)

  5. Just one last time you didn’t drive “him” until the battery ran completely “dry” … just to see how far that would be (even if it was around the block a hundred times)?

    Having read your posts on this subject I have a more positive view of totally electric cars … but still know that out here on the Great Plains a million miles from nowhere a hybrid would be a better choice.

    • GOM — on our last drive, we got down pretty low (like 15 miles of charge left after driving ~80) but I didn’t have much interest in bleeding him down. I think only once did we get < 10.

      EVs aren't going to be for every home or lifestyle, but having one of two cars being one fits our life pretty well. I can see where it'd be pretty impractical in the long drives of the midwest and plains, but a hybrid or PHEV could be a good option.

  6. Ridiculously late in commenting on this, but that’s a test I would totally have enjoyed participating in. My ’99 328i is still humming right along, but at 20 mpg around town (on premium!), it can’t begin to compete with the new tech!

    Around these here parts, our electricity overwhelmingly comes from coal. I wonder how the effective CO2 output compares to the current gas engines. (I’m guessing the efficiency of mass generation would win, but I don’t really know.)

    • Scott — the NYT did an analysis of CO2 for EVs based on geography a year or two ago and you’re right, if your electricity comes from coal, it’s better for CO2 to buy a low emission (PZEV or something like that) combustion engine that runs on gas. If you’re hydroelectric, gas-fired, or nuke, the EV is better than combustion.

      I will say the new car (which i really should post about) is “smart enough” to charge in the middle of the night, which allows for special discounted electricity rates. Last month, we got 900 miles on $27 of electricity.

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