Tuesday, April 1, 2014

She's Gone

She's gone, she's gone
Oh I, oh I
I'd better learn how to face it

It's been a month since we took delivery of our 2013 Tuxedo Black Ford Focus Electric (FFE), and three weeks since we turned in the ActiveE. Seems like as good a time as any to compare the two vehicles. Mind you this isn't going to be a Car & Driver type comparo. It's a 'What's important to me' comparison. My blog, my rules. If these things aren't important to you, feel free to discount my opinions. You wouldn't be the first...

Entry Fee 
No matter how you slice it, its going to be tough to beat out a compliance car in regards to price - even for a limited production field trial vehicle where owners are expected to put up with the challenges associated with a beta test vehicle. And before you beat on me for labeling the FFE a compliance car when some don't consider it one, while some others do, in my mind it's clearly one. Why? Ridiculously low volume, not available in all markets (even though you could theoretically order one anywhere in the US), combined with price slashing and lease deals on existing inventory to move the cars.

Anyway, back to the comparison. For us the down payment was 5x higher for the ActiveE than the FFE, and the monthly payment was 3x higher. And this doesn't even include property tax and insurance differences that also favor the FFE.

Winner: By a landslide - FFE 

It's been previously documented that the ActiveE was a dirt magnet that required routine bathing. Prior to its arrival, I had convinced myself that the FFE would be different with the battery and motor locations being the opposite of the ActiveE. While my theory about static charge attracted dirt that would be swept away from the FFE at speed seems to have held, the FFE being black essentially negated the design induced hygiene benefit.

Winner: Push 

In the ActiveE, internal temperature is essentially the same as external temperature. Two winters in the car, and I never figured out how to consistently get the cabin warm before setting out. Even with preconditioning I never figured out why sometimes the cabin was warm, and others not so much. I'm going to guess that it was a function of how cold it actually was on some days, but never obtained enough data points to confirm. Suffice it to say, there were a lot of miserably cold drives this past winter. On the upside, the ActiveE did have the ability to limit precipitation to the outside of the vehicle. The FFE on the other hand, gets plenty warm inside (warmer than I actually like it) after just 10 minutes of preconditioning.

Winner: Score another one for the Folks from Dearborn - FFE

Clown Car Attributes
Four doors with actual rear seat legroom. Tons of hatch space even with the battery intrusion. The FFE is completely capable of accommodating your shopping and people moving needs. The ActiveE, on the other hand, requires the skills of a contortionist to get into the back seat and those of a Tetris Master to get a week's worth of groceries in the obstructed trunk.

Winner: FFE 

Nomadic Wanderings 
Neither of these vehicles is going to be mistaken for a Tesla or RAV4 EV in their ability to travel long distances with relative ease. While the ActiveE provides about 20 more miles per charge (in the summer), neither vehicle can get us to Boston or NYC without an interim charge en route. Due to the greater range of the ActiveE, said interim charge takes less time as the two vehicles have similar charging rates (or did before BMW stepped the rate down late in the program).

Winner: ActiveE 

Internal Opulence 
This one was a lot closer than I would have expected. Why? Most of the Focuses (Foci?) that I've been in were apparently base models. As a result, I didn't expect the interior of the FFE to be as nice as it actually is. The FFE essentially being clad in the Titanium trim package makes a huge difference. Clearly Ford knows something about designing a vehicle interior that the folks over in Detroit would do well to learn. That being said, even in 'Tuxedo Black' the FFE is not up to the level of luxury found in the ActiveE. When you are a luxury car brand that charges a luxury car premium, you'd better have a nicer interior than an econobox. 

Winner: By closer than the experts predicted, ActiveE 

Geek Squad® Worthy Tech 
Switching from the known and comfortable world of driving ICE to an EV will turn even the most carefree, fly by the seat of their pants driver into becoming a data geek. Why? The lack of adequate charging infrastructure combined with the time penalty associated with running out of charge results in drivers becoming more focused on the State of Charge and Driving Efficiency information provided by the vehicle.  Some of the cool stuff that the FFE can display with regards to range and efficiency can be found on JamieGeek's FFE Blog.  The ActiveE had nothing anywhere near this cool.  Having said that, I still prefer to just know my current State of Charge % and do the calculations in my head.  Not sure if that makes me more or less of a geek.

Winner: For me, the ActiveE with its SOC gauge, for everyone else, the FFE 

Driving Hedonism
Depending on who you talk to, 'The Ultimate Driving Machine' tagline may or may not be valid when referring to the current lineup of BMWs.  BMW purists say BMW sold out years ago and recent cars feel too detached from the driving experience.  They say BMW did it for the sake of moving metal.  To those folks I say, drive a Ford, you'll complain a lot less.

In every way, shape or form the ActiveE is more comfortable and enjoyable to drive.  From the lower seating position, to the regenerative braking, to the way that the car handles (regardless of its similarities to a certain DoD vehicle), the ActiveE is a car that's fun to take out for a drive.  Don't get me wrong, due to the electric drivetrain, the FFE is also fun - to a degree. But it just doesn't compare to the ActiveE and its spectacularly aggressive regenerative braking.  I had both cars in the driveway for almost two weeks, and I took the ActiveE preferentially every single time I left the house.  Did I mention the regenerative braking?

Winner: ActiveE.  Winning this category is the primary driver for why I'm still planning on an i3 in the driveway

Envy Factor 
Which car would you rather tell people you own: A limited edition prototype BMW where you are a test pilot for the Phase II field trial of their EV Project, or a low production volume econo-hatch with an electric drivetrain built by Ford to keep the folks at CARB off their backs? It's no coincidence that more people asked me about the ActiveE on the first day that I had it than have asked about the FFE in a month.

Winner: ActiveE

Clearly some of these things are more important to me.  However, weighted by importance or not weighted, this comparo yields the same outcome.  I find the ActiveE to be a much more enjoyable car to drive, and in the end, isn't that the most important thing - that we enjoy the car?  For some its price, for others efficiency, but in my case its about the drive, although a slightly warmer winter drive would've been nice...

Overall Winner: ActiveE

She's gone, she's gone
Oh I, oh I 
I'd pay the devil to replace her 

Wanna guess who the devil is???

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I Don’t Know Why You Say Goodbye

It’s hard to believe that more than two years have passed since I was patiently (not really) waiting to see if I’d been accepted by BMW’s Project i as an Electronaut. It really has been an amazing couple of years. From having almost no knowledge of what was going on in the world of EVs, to pouring over the blogs of the MiniE Pioneers as well as any other information that I could find on EVs, to being an EVangelist with two years behind the wheel of an ActiveE – it really has been quite exciting to be part of the change in personal mobility in the US.

As exciting as it’s been, sadly our first leg in this journey has come to a close. After 2 years and exactly 20,000 miles (don’t laugh Tom) we turned in the ActiveE tonight. For the first time in my life I’ve had to move on from a car that I’m really going to miss.

Why? Two reasons really. First, in a lot of ways it feels like BMW is breaking up the band. It took sooooo long to get the final financials from BMW that many Electronauts have moved on to other vehicles (including us – more on that later). While many of us are likely to continue to keep in touch over time (like the  annual West Coast Electronaut meet at Morro Bay), BMW missed a real opportunity to have close to 700 ‘sales’ people driving around in and proclaiming the virtues of the i3. And the net result for our community is that we will drift apart to some degree. I’ve been an active participant on several forums and a lurker on some others, and none of them compare to the ActiveE group in terms of helpfulness and the sheer lack of trolls. With all the struggles many of us had with the ActiveE, I'm pretty sure that every member of the forum would agree how much they learned and gained as a result of being part of the community.

Second, there has always been some shiny new car that captivated my attention more than my previous car. This time, not so much. Sadly, no EV available today meets our needs as well as the ActiveE does. As a result, every EV option that is available to us is a compromise in some way. For most of them, range is the compromise – at the moment only the Tesla Model S and Toyota RAV4 EV (not available here in New England) provide the range that we desire. Sadly the Model S is a lot more car than I desire, both in terms of cost and vehicle size. So because driving electric has become the single most important element of whatever car we have, we compromise. And that compromise means more time sitting and charging at public EVSEs, not being able to take the EV on certain trips, the need to install EVSEs in relative’s homes, and countless other challenges that I've yet to foresee.

With it still being this much of a challenge for us, it isn’t hard to understand why EV sales aren’t taking off quicker than they are here in the US. People are afraid – they don’t want to pay more for a vehicle that could leave them stranded, they don’t want to get caught without enough charge if there’s an emergency and they need to get to the hospital, and they sure don’t want to pay significantly more for a car that has less utility than the one they currently own. Most EV drivers already understand this. What’s funny is most manufacturer’s don’t seem to. If they can somehow find a way to build an EV that can go 120 miles even in the winter without the need for a gasoline range extender, the market for EVs will take off. One manufacturer gets it, and others are starting to, but it will be several years before we’re where we need to be in terms of all electric range for EVs to become mainstream vehicles.

While I railed against BMW a bit in the preceding paragraphs, I guess in some way, I should thank them. The preliminary lease information they released took us out of the market for an i3. And if not for the snail’s pace at which they released the final details of the Owner’s Choice with Flex plan, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Where are we you ask? On the verge of becoming a two EV household.

Since we just didn’t know if we’d be getting an i3, we began searching for viable EV options for our ActiveE replacement. And we found it in the Ford Focus Electric. Ford seems to be actively trying to move these vehicles now, and in addition to the $4000 price drop awhile back, they also gave us a ton of other incentives that brought the price down to a similarly equipped ICE Focus. As we have no intention of keeping this car beyond 2017, we opted to lease and found that our payments were almost identical to gas costs each month in my old Audi A4. It was one of those no-brainers, and we took delivery twelve days ago. And now, with reasonable acquisition rates for the i3, we won’t be canceling our i3 Production order, and will in all likelihood be taking delivery of the UK’s 2014 Car of the Year.

You say goodbye and I say hello, Hello, hello, I don’t know why you say goodbye.  Oh wait, I do know - because BMW says I have to.  So long ActiveE, we sure are going to miss you...

Sunday, August 4, 2013

You Say You Want a Revolution...

We all want to change the world. Most folks for their own benefit, while others try to change it in a way that benefits the future. I'd like to think that some small part of my behavior puts me in that second group.  At least when it comes to clean energy and electric vehicles. In the past eighteen months we've gotten the ActiveE and installed a PV array on our house. Why?  Mostly because we want to help change the world. There are other arguments out there about solar and EVs saving money, or being green, but the reality is neither is probably true, at least for our individual household in the short term. PV arrays are greener than the alternatives in the long term, but in the short term that's not necessarily true. Additionally, unless you fool yourself with some funky ROI calculation (e.g., using per gallon costs for gas when the array is paired with an EV, rather than your current electricity suppliers kWh price that you would have paid to charge the car without the array), Solar PV arrays pay off incredibly slowly - unless you live somewhere with a lot more sunshine and much higher electricity rates than we have here.

Getting an EV was clearly not a cost saver for us as my daily driver had been a perfectly good ICE that had been paid off since the '90s.  And no matter what spin you put on it, an existing vehicle is greener than any newly built vehicle, electric or otherwise. And when you consider that we can only have the ActiveE for 2 years and we're likely to lease our next EV, we'll go 5 years of changing vehicles every few years.  Not exactly green or cost effective.  At this point it will be at least 2017 before I purchase another vehicle that I keep as long as I kept my '96 Audi A4.  Ultimately our decision to install the array and get the EV weren't about our personal cost savings or being green. They were about long term change for this country and the world. Unless there are early adopters like us to evangelize to others and spur production, demand will never rise to levels that result in price decreases that ultimately make the product viable for the general public and they then truly blossom and become green due to efficiencies of scale.  Especially when an 80-100 mile range and charge times longer than the 10 minutes it takes to fill up with gas scares the hell out of people.

Clearly we've already joined this revolution, so how do we help to sustain it? One of the many concerns that people have about getting and EV is range anxiety and where to charge their EV. As I've written previously, I live in a Dead Zone in southeastern CT. Not much has changed in regards to EVSE availability here since I wrote that post a little over a year ago. The State of Connecticut has stepped up and announced funding available for installing infrastructure, and I've attempted to convince a few entities to take advantage of the funding and install EVSEs to entice EV drivers to our area. Unfortunately my efforts have proven unsuccessful to this point, so I've opted for a different short term strategy while public infrastructure continues to have growing pains.

  Plugshare is one of the many websites (and Apps) that you can use to locate EVSEs for charging your vehicle. Unlike the other sites, however it also allows homeowners to add their home EVSE to the site if they are willing to let other EV drivers charge at their house. While I've been reticent to have strangers show up at my house previously (see aforementioned Dead Zone post), I felt it was time to pony up and do a bit more - so I took the plunge and added my EVSE to the site. Fortunately I live in an area with several restaurants within walking distance as well as a few marinas. This give folks something to do while their EV is charging at our house. Finally after our EVSE had been listed for several months, our first EV came for a charge up. While charging, the owners enjoyed a fabulous meal at Ford's Lobsters, and left several hours later with enough energy to get to their destination. So until some local businesses are ready to join the EV revolution, we'll continue to give EV drivers the opportunity to stop by, charge up, and enjoy some of the great food and sailing options our little village has to offer.  The Revolution has begun!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Who's Going to Drive You Home? Tonight?

Ric Ocasek may have asked it before me, but it was definitely the relevant question of the evening.  It started innocently enough.

On Friday I posted on the ActiveE FB Page that I thought I could make it 438 miles in 24 hours in my ActiveE in response to Tom's almost successful attempt to dethrone Jack Brown, the 24 hour mileage Kingpin.  If you don't know me, you might think that I quickly came up with a theoretical distance that might be possible.  If you do know me, you know there's an intricate spreadsheet with fairly complex algorithims that calculated that distance based on my current battery capacity, a specific route and distinct charge times from my ClipperCreek CS-40 EVSE and several public EVSEs on my chosen route.  Fast forward to yesterday morning.

As it turned out, my plans for Saturday included an inordinate amount of driving (at least for me).  It was enough driving that it was going to be about 30 miles more than my previous one day record.  What I learned was that charging reliability may be the biggest threat to my planned 400+ mile run.

I had planned for this post to be about my 'preparation' drive for a 400+ mile run where I went 200+ miles in under 12 hours with essentially no planning or effort.  Apparently the EV gods are a fickle bunch, however.  All was going well until we went to Hartford for dinner plans with friends.  My preferred lot to park and charge (the Araphoe lot in West Hartford) had a Chevy Volt charging at the one EVSE.  I moved on to the Isham Garage in Blue Black Square and fortunately found the one EVSE was available.

While it appeared my luck had changed, it really hadn't.  When I caught a ride back to the garage after dinner, I found that the car had stopped charging an hour earlier.  The real bummer was there was at least 7% less charge than I needed.  I plotted a shorter route home on back roads, and seriously gambled at the last turnoff to an EVSE that I could definitely make it to.  Thanks to a lot of drafting and coasting, the gamble paid off and we made it home with 2% to spare.    The downside?  This isn't the blogpost I imagined writing when today started, and I only made it 197 miles in 13.5 hours.

Fortunately I was able to drive myself home and I still believe I can break 400 miles in 24 hours. But only if the EVSE gods comply...

Friday, March 29, 2013

Reflections of

the way life used to be...

Admit it, you heard Diana Ross' voice in your head as you read the title of this blog post.  Anyway, its been just over a year, and a scosh over 10,000 miles of all electric driving since I took delivery of my ActiveE last March, and just about four months since my last post.  Somehow life (also known as the holidays and a Food & Drug Law class I'm taking) has gotten in the way of my being able to post lately.  But don't take that to mean that I'm not just as excited as I've always been about this car or EVs in general.  Since its our one year anniversary in the ActiveE and its has been so long since I've put together a new blog post, I thought it might be fun to reflect on how life has changed since we took the leap into an Electric Vehicle.

Before that fateful day when the BMW mailer ended up in my mailbox, I was going through life at 20 mpg.  Even then it was frustrating as hell.  My brother used to have an '88 Honda CRX that got more than 50 mpg, and the fact that we can't seem to approach that type of performance any longer due to US safety standards and American's perceived need for more power rather than gas mileage drove me nuts.  We Americans sure like to b!&@# about gas prices, but most of the folks who like to complain don't seem willing to change their habits.  They just want the government to do something about the high prices.  Sorry, I'll get off my soapbox now.  Anyway, after a year I find the ActiveE completely liberating.  No more frustration about 20 mpg.  No calculating how much each trip cost.  Before the ActiveE this is how my brain worked: 

Grocery shopping: $4.00
Trip to my mother's house: $7.20
Trip to a Certain someone's parent's house: $20.00

Now?  Not only do I not think about how much a trip costs, I don't even know how much gas costs.  When people complain about rising gas prices, I have to ask how much it is up to.  And considering that I had a PhotoVoltaic system installed, I care even less about 'fuel' costs.  At $4 saved per 20 miles driven the system will be paid off in 7 more years and all my future fuel costs will be completely free. Not surprisingly, this is a great segue into another wonderful change brought on by EV ownership. 

No more spending time at a gas station.  And I hate going to the gas station. Mostly because of the time it took - especially when you were running late and you realized you needed gas.  A lot has been made about the time necessary to plug an EV in, but I'm here to tell you that it is nothing compared to stopping at the gas station.  On average I spent about 10 minutes* per week at the gas station before the ActiveE. At ~520 minutes per year, that's a shade under 9 hours of my life back.  Time needed to plug the car in and unplug it each day?  Under 12 seconds combined (although admittedly it can be a bit longer in the winter when the frozen plug cable gets unwieldy).  Since I'm only averaging about 30 miles/day, I don't need to plug in every day.  In reality I only need to plug in ~2x per week, But even if I had to plug in daily, it would only be about 1.25 hours for the year.  That's 7.5 hours more per year that I can do whatever I want.  Doesn't sound like much to you?  Over your driving lifetime that's 17.5 days.  17.5 days of not dispensing and exposing yourself to a hazardous chemical.  In a world where we're all on a limited timeclock, I'll take any time I can get.

Other beneficial changes from the way life used to be?  A designated parking spot at work for EVs, feeling more in tune with your surroundings while driving due to the lack of engine noise, and no longer having to put up with the vibrations of a combustion engine.  To be fair, an EV actually highlights the level of vibration in an ICE when you're forced to drive one after owning an EV.  Prior to owning one I found ICE vibrations to be pretty innocuous.

To be fair and balanced in this little journey down memory lane, I must also highlight those EV traits that are either frustrating or require more effort than is necessary when one owns an ICE.  There's a lot of irony in my first frustration.  We're a four car household with a one car garage.  Suffice it to say that the ActiveE isn't the car that gets to sleep in the garage.  Winter in New England has its challenges and snow and ice are pretty high on the list.  Removal of ice from a car with little to no ability to warm itself up can be a challenge to say the least.  And in a time where many municipalities have enacted laws to make it a crime to drive around with snow or ice on your vehicle, this can be an issue, even with the car's ability to pre-condition and warm up the cabin prior to departure.  Fortunately it's only been a bit of an issue once for me, but a different type of winter could result in more issues.  Live in SoCal or have a garage, probably not much of an issue...

Another challenge is long distance travel.  Typically its not an issue for us as we just take the A6 Avant when distances make the EV untenable.  In a few short weeks, however, I'm hoping to make it to an ActiveE gathering in NJ.  Its 150 miles each way, and the weather forecast currently hints at temps well below the sweet spot for battery life.  Between reduced range due to temperatures and living in an area with a derth of EVSEs, planning for this trip has been challenging to say the least.  Hopefully it will be warm enough and I'll be able to adequately charge the ActiveE so that I can make the event (and the bigger challenge of making it home).  If I do, you'll get to read about it here.

*Note that I define time spent at the gas station as the moment I begin slowing down to pull into the gas station, until I am back at speed after leaving the gas station.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

If you can't be with the one you love...

Concentration slips away, cause your baby is so far away...

'So far away' is 54.7 miles to be exact.  I dropped the ActiveE off at New Country BMW yesterday for a regularly scheduled service.  You might recall the last time it was in for scheduled service that my expectations received a dash of 'reality' also known as a 3 series loaner. And when I was towed in for an unexpected issue, I didn't bother to go get a loaner due to the distance to the dealer.

Fast-forward to scheduled service number two.  I dropped off the car at the dealer after flying back from an expected ass-whuppin' on the football field (oohh, how the mighty have fallen).  After dropping the car off with the service department I headed off to the transportation desk.  Upon arriving I learned that they somehow hadn't reserved a courtesy loaner for me.  As they began entering my info into the system, I asked 'any chance you have a Mini Cooper available'?  With the receipt of a quick affirmative, I moved on to the more important question.  "Do any of them have a manual transmission?"  As my heart raced, I got the answer I desired.  Yes, we have two of them - a Hardtop and a Clubman.  'Hardtop' came out of my mouth before he had the chance to ask which one I wanted.  And there it was, no dash of reality ruining my expectations this time.

Driving the Mini is a blast.  It reminds me an awful lot of the VW Corrado I had back in the 90's.  I was actually a little depressed that I was only going to have the Mini for the two days necessary for the regularly scheduled service.  Then I got a call from my BMW service advisor.  They had just received their shipment of 'fix' kits for the drive gear wear issue, and would have to keep the ActiveE a few extra days.  As much as I miss the ActiveE, a few more days in a car that feels like a driving a go-cart is definitely welcomed.  Plus eight months in the ActiveE clearly had me jonesing for a manual transmission.  The Mini has been the perfect fix.

As fun as EVs are to drive, I crave a more interactive experience like that of driving a stick. Audi engineers had a stroke of genius when converting an A3 to an EV that can definitely help with this.  They took the paddle shifters resident in the A3 and made them the controls for regenerative braking level.  While not quite a manual transmission, it does add back some interaction and control over the driving experience. Plus, it should maximixe the amount of energy recouped during panic braking situations.  Hopefully other EV manufacturers will learn from Audi.

Driving this Mini also has me wishing that I had had the opportunity to drive the Mini-E.  Even though by all accounts it is much less refined than the ActiveE, the thought of an electric Mini is particularly alluring.  Perhaps one day Mini will consider building a 'born' electric Mini.  Heck, they've exhausted almost every other possible Mini variation, so why not an electric Mini designed from the ground up?

I've got a bit of time until I've got to decide on what my next EV will be, and apparently several more days before I get the current one back.  So for now, I'm going to love the Mini I'm with...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sunshine go away today, I don't feel much like dancing

Wait, what?

No offense to Jonathan Edwards (either of them - the singer-songwriter, or the CT based winemaker of the same name whose winery I spend a little too much of my free time in).  Although I'm pretty sure the winemaker doesn't want the sun to go away any more than I do.  Why do I want the sun to keep on shining?  Two reasons.  Sunshine was an anti-war song that still 'plays' well today.  Today, however, many of our wars are oil based.  My solar array has finally been installed, approved and is now live (Shhhh! Don't tell my installer.  I flipped the switch after I noticed CL&P swapped out my old meter with a net meter).  This means that I am no longer a liar, and that I am now driving without a single dollar going to big oil (at least on our primary vehicle).

Although we signed a contract for a 17 panel SunPower SPR-240E array with inverters in each panel, it didn't play out as hoped.  This was due to the complexity of the roof on our 110+ year old home.  Because of wind speed where we live and the height of our roof, the setback for the panels from the edge of our roof ended up larger than we had hoped.  As a result, we had to reduce our array size to a mere 12 panels to keep the panels far enough away from the edge.   This resulted in a 2.88 kW system that will likely generate ~3200 kWh each year here in southern New England.  Perhaps I should have just installed a Vertical Access Wind Turbine like the one Jay Leno put on his garage...  

SunPower PV Array
With the average American home using 11,496 kWh each year, you might wonder what's the point of installing a PV system that only generates 3200 kWh per year.  We're not what you would call average as we're using a bit less than average currently - 8000-8500 kWh is the range we've been in for the past 6 years.  More importantly, however, is the ActiveE.  Even thought the ActiveE is a load, we're still averaging 3.5 miles/kWh.  Ooooh - 3.5 miles/kWh, big deal.  Why is that important related to a solar array install?  There have been plenty of attempts to explain cost per mile of an EV, but every one of them that I've read breaks it down by cost to drive a certain number of miles.  I'd like to try a something a little different here.

Correcting for charging losses, those 3200 kWh/year will power our ActiveE ~10000 miles.  After a little over seven months and 7300 electric miles driven with it we are right on track for 12,000 miles per year.  So our system generates a shade over 83% of the energy we need to power our annual driving habits.  And to be honest, if we had the roof space, we would have built a large enough system to completely offset our annual mileage.  That would have cost us $11900 after all rebates.  So here's the question - would you be willing to spend $11900 today to never have to pay for gas again?  Think about that - if your current car gets 20 mpg, paying $11900 is like prepaying 5 years worth of gas (at today's gas prices) for the benefit of never having to pay for it again - and that's with an inefficient ActiveE.  The BMW i3 is expected to yield an estimated 5 miles/kWh.  The system size necessary to power it 12000 miles in southern New England is only $8350 (or 3.5 years of pre-paid fuel costs). 

The fact is, now even more than most people, I want the sun to shine constantly and watching the meter on my array when the sun is shining makes me feel like dancing.  Sorry Jonathan...

P.S. - I've always enjoyed 'Sunshine'.  Its just that it played so well as an antithesis for this topic that I had to use it in the title.  Having said that, here's my real plug for both JE's.  If you've never experienced it, I highly recommend Jonathan Edwards singing at the [other] Jonathan Edwards Winery.  He plays there almost every summer.  Great wine & great music - almost as good as free electricity from the sun and an EV...