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‘iBMW’ Launches DriveNow with Battery Cars

August 21, 2012 in Electric Drive, EVs, Fleet Order by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

Taps Green Mountain Energy for Wind Electricity Offsets

“The current model of the car industry needs to change,” BMW Group board member Ian Robertson said Monday as he and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee formally launched BMW’s DriveNow car-sharing service with a fleet of 70 pure battery electric BMW ActiveE sedans.

‘Astrid,’ one of 70 pure battery electric BMW ActiveE sedans for BMW i Ventures’ new DriveNow car-share program, formally launched at San Francisco City Hall on August 20. More than a dozen of Astrid’s fellows were on hand, including Albert, Aaron, Toby, Bibi, Eve, Rachel, Paul, Florian, Theodore, Bob, Gaby, and Harald. Coulomb ChargePoint is iBMW’s charging partner.

“We are the innovation capital of the world,” Lee said. “We have encouraged the private automobile creators to join us.”

Both organizations talked up zero-greenhouse sources of electricity for battery cars.

DriveNow, which began operations in June, is described as a flexible, premium car-sharing program offering the opportunity to drive BMW’s first all-electric vehicle, the BMW ActiveE sedan. The fleet of 70 whimsically named ActiveE vehicles is located at eight DriveNow Stations around San Francisco, with two additional stations in Palo Alto and at the San Francisco International Airport planned.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and BMW Group board member Dr. Ian Robertson

After registering online or in-person and paying $39, customers can locate and book an available car using the DriveNow web site or mobile app. Usage starts at $12 per half hour. Cars can be returned to the same or other DriveNow Station.

Car-Sharing and Wind Power

BMW said Monday that it has purchased renewable energy certificates to offset the electricity for the ActiveE cars from Austin, Texas-based Green Mountain Energy.

“Working with BMW to support its sustainability efforts is a perfect fit for Green Mountain,” Green Mountain commercial services president Scott Hart says in BMW’s Monday announcement.

“A car sharing program is inherently good for the environment since it takes cars off the road,” Hart said. “BMW’s DriveNow program amplifies this environmental impact by offering consumers the opportunity to drive an electric vehicle that also supports renewable energy.”

“Green Mountain supports renewable energy all day, every day which is consistent with the level of commitment to sustainability that we bring to our BMW ActiveE community,” said BMW of North America EV infrastructure manager Rob Healey.

Assuming annual driving of about 15,000 all-electric miles, the Green Mountain credits add about $24 per year to a vehicle’s electricity costs, Healey told F&F.

Green Mountain energy buys 100% of the electricity –€“ some 270 megawatts worth –€“ from the Langford and Elbow Creek wind farms in Texas. The NRG Energy-operated facilities have 100 1.5-megawatt GE and 53 2.3-megawatt Siemens turbines, respectively.

Scott Martin is national sales and business development VP at Green Mountain Energy.

San Francisco gets emissions-free power for its own growing network of EV chargers from its own Hetch Hetchy dam, City environment director Melanie Nutter said at the BMW event. She also noted that San Francisco has some 3,000 solar installations yielding a collective 19 megawatts of power.

BMW and San Francisco also launched the congestion-fighting ParkNow mobile parking service, which opens to the public next month. DriveNow and ParkNow are part of BMW i Ventures, the automaker’s venture capital company, “created to fund budding technology companies working to solve mobility challenges in the world’s most densely populated cities.” Among the companies it’s invested in are Coulomb Technologies with its ChargePoint network of EV chargers.

Lithium Battery Packs by SB LiMotive

The ActiveE sedan, based on BMW’s Series 1 chassis, has a water-cooled lithium ion battery pack by SB LiMotive powering a 170-horsepower BMW driveline. BMW has produced approximately 1,100 ActiveE cars, according to BMW USA electric vehicle operations and strategy manager Rich Steinberg (F&F, August 9). About 700 are in the U.S. as part of a $499 per month leasing program.

Steinberg has now been named DriveNow CEO. Data gathered in San Francisco will help BMW decide where to locate public-use EVs next, he told F&F.

BMW i3 Concept

BMW notes too that its new “i” brand includes two “revolutionary” new vehicles set to launch in 2013 and 2014 – the BMW i3 and BMW i8.

“The BMW i3 and BMW i8 will become the first two production vehicles to be purpose-built as electric and hybrid-electric using entirely new methods and materials such as lightweight, but ultra-strong carbon fiber reinforced plastic, which is being produced at a BMW factory powered by hydroelectricity in Moses Lake, Wash.”

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Source: BMW announcement and events Fleets & Fuels interviews

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