Solar House Tour - with an Electronaut

 Vanessa with Electronaut Muriel and her amazing BMW Active E Electric Vehicle.

Vanessa with Electronaut Muriel and her amazing BMW Active E Electric Vehicle.

Our family participated in a solar homes tour today, ending at Sven Thesen's beyond platinum LEED house. (This is where I filmed his neighbors two weeks ago, waxing poetic about his curbside EV charger.) 

 Today, to Elliot's delight, Sven had taken advantage of the house tour to create a mini EV rally. There were several EV drivers there - including my buddy Joe and his adorable Mitsubishi i-MiEV, and a real-life BMW "Electronaut" named Muriel, who let me drive her Active E. I didn't realize it at the time, but there are only 700 of these BMW concept cars in the US - and like the doomed EV1, they will be recalled after their 3-year leases are up, never to be sold. But unlike GM (which promptly crushed their EV1s back in the 90s), BMW plans to distribute the Active E's for study, and to release a revised version of the Active E - the i3,  a 4-door hatchback - sometime in the next six months.

 Joe and his Mitsubishi i-MiEV in front of Project Green Home

Joe and his Mitsubishi i-MiEV in front of Project Green Home

 Driving the Active E was totally different than driving a gas car, or driving other EVs. It has a powerful regen function that feeds power to the battery and makes it kind of the car equivalent of riding a fixie: step on the accelerator and you go - let up, and you stop. As Muriel kept saying, it's totally controlled driving. Plus it gets a range of 80-90 miles (the i3 is supposed to get 100).

I want one.

And I don't even like cars.

So how much is this awesome driving machine? The i3 will sell for $40k, but when you take off the rebates, it's about $30k. Plus - oh yeah - you never have to buy gas again.  And the planet is that much closer to having a chance at supporting human civilization.

 But if you buy one you don't get to claim Electronaut status. That, evidently, is reserved just for those first 700 special people who leased the Active E.