Friday, December 23, 2016

BMW i3 Deep Dive Book Now Available

The BMW i3 is anything but the average car. Not only is it BMWs first electric offering, it's also the only car available today that has an optional auxiliary power unit; the range extender. It's really unlike any car that's ever been available, and unsurprisingly, it's often misunderstood.

Most people really don't understand how the range extender works; what it can do, and what its limits are. This is, unfortunately even true for many of the client advisers selling them! So getting information on how the  car works out there is very important. BMW has produced a series of videos that help to explain the i3. While very helpful to new owners, they don't go into too much of the technical details that many people are also interested in.
The book is filled with graphs on charging, range, power, consumption, etc
Enter BMW i3 owner and engineer, David Bricknell. Earlier in the year, David published a book called "Electric Vehicles and the BMW i3" that was full of technical information, including detailed charts and graphs. The success of the book inspired him to create a 2nd edition, which provides an even deeper dive and more information than before. David kindly asked me if I would wrote the foreword for this edition, and I happily accepted.

Whether you're an i3 owner, a data junkie, or just an all around an electric vehicle enthusiast, I believe you'll find the book very interesting and extremely informative. There's so many technical details in there, I bet the BMW engineers who designed the i3 could learn something by reading it! Electric vehicles are very different than the cars we've all gotten used to driving. The more information we have on these vehicles the better understood they'll be, which will lead to faster adoption.

I'd gladly pay $20 for this book, but the best part is you don't have to pay anything. David is offering it for free. It's available for download on iTunes or for reading on issuu. Please leave comments below after reading it. I'd like to know your thoughts and suggestions on what could be added to make it even better. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

BMW's ChargeForward Initiative Seeks Participants

Do you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and drive a BMW i3, i8, X540e, 330e or 740e? If so, would you like to get paid to participate in BMW i's award winning ChargeForward initiative, while helping to shape the future of electric vehicle charging?

BMW is seeking 250 individuals to participate in the second phase of the ChargeForward initiative, which will last approximately 24 months. The first phase of the program is now complete, and volunteers are needed for the second phase, which begins in January, 2017. This phase includes vehicle to grid managed charging, and stationary energy storage systems which utilize repurposed MINI-E battery packs. Back in 2015, this program won the ESNA Innovation Award for EV Battery 2nd Life Energy Storage System.

From the ChargeForward website:

The second phase of ChargeForward, from January 2017 through December 2018, is expected to demonstrate expanded benefits of charging optimization through management of both current and projected future charging events (in contrast to single charging event management). This approach offers utilities and grid operators even greater flexibility in assigning vehicle charging load to times and locations where it is most needed. ChargeForward returns some of the resultant savings to customers as a way to reduce the total cost of EV ownership.

Participants will be compensated for their involvement, and can earn up to $900 for their effort. Here's how the compensation will be awarded:

· $300 paid early 2017 soon after launch
· Up to $300 paid in early 2018. The exact amount will vary, based on individual participation in managed charging (The fewer times a participant “opts out” to begin charging immediately, the better) and participation in any related research like focus groups and questionnaires that are part of the program.
· Up to $300 more in early 2019, once the program is complete.

It's encouraging to see BMW investing time and money in vehicle to grid (V2G) and EV battery 2nd life use. This is further proof BMW is really serious about the future of electric vehicles. I encourage anyone eligible to inquire about participating in the program. Why wait for the future of EV charging when can help shape it today?

Interested? Have questions? You can get all the program details by following this link to the ChargeForward website.

Friday, December 9, 2016

BMW And ReachNow To Offer i3s As Building Amenity in NYC

BMW has long said that BMW i wasn't created exclusively for developing and manufacturing their plug in electric vehicles; that it would also be devoted to developing sustainable mobility solutions as well.

Car sharing is one of those mobility solutions that are getting a lot of attention lately, and not just from independent companies like Uber and Lyft. OEMs are also getting into the car sharing game, and GM’s Maven car sharing service is now in 13 US cities. BMW’s car sharing arm was initially called DriveNow, but was recently brought entirely in house (DriveNow was a partnership between BMW i and Sixt) and rebranded as ReachNow.
The three i3's and two 3-Series sedans used for the car sharing program were parked in front of The Solaire for the announcement on Thursday, December 8th. 
ReachNow was launched earlier this year in Seattle, Washington. They then added service to Portland, Oregon and recently became available in Brooklyn, NY. However yesterday, BMW i and the Albanese Organization announced a partnership to bring ReachNow vehicles to two luxury high rise buildings located in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City, the Solaire and the Verdesian. There will be five ReachNow vehicles - two BMW 3-Series sedans, and three BMW i3s that will be available exclusively for the residents of the two sister buildings.

Residents simply sign up for ReachNow service and pay only as they use the vehicles. They then pay 41 cents per minute and there’s no sign up or annual fee. The resident simply reserves an available car and picks it up from the building's parking garage. While forty one cents per minute may sound expensive, one has to consider the fact that the end used never has to worry about maintenance, fuel or insurance expense.  Considering that, and the fact that you get the use of a $40,000+ BMW, it’s actually very reasonable.

Over 40 residents of the building were given a chance to drive the cars, and within a week, ReachNow had already recorded 100 reservations for these vehicles. One resident of The Solaire even said that he would consider selling his own car now that the building will be offering ReachNow vehicles as an amenity.
BMW picked up the cost to install a DC fast charger in the parking garage of The Solaire. This will insure the i3s will be quickly recharged between use.  
The parking garage at the Solaire, has three EV charging stations to keep the i3s in the fleet charged. BMW paid for the installation of a DC Fast charge station to add to the two existing Level 2 charging stations that were already there. The parking attendants will be responsible for keeping the i3s charged for the residents, and it seemed to me that they were ready to do so. When I arrived for the press announcement in my i3, the attendant immediately recognized the car was an i3, and told me he’d plug it in for me immediately, which he did.
Steve Banfield, ReachNow's Chief Executive explains the partnership and the program details at the press gathering. 

Steve Banfield, Chief Executive for ReachNow, said that every rideshare car in their fleet helps to remove three to ten cars from the streets; a fact supported by urban planners and transportation professionals. Judging from the initial response of the residents in these buildings, I’d say this is going to be an amenity that other building managers begin to look into. While this may be the first partnership of this kind in New York, I suspect it won’t be the last.