BMW ActiveE Car Share in SF
Next time I'm in SF, I will try this just so I can drive one. I wish they had
this program for all of their cars. In fact, I wish all luxury manufacturers offered
something like this. For a couple of hundred I could test drive the car for several
hours to make sure it's what I want (especially in terms of long range comfort
which I can't do on a regular test drive).
Right there with you on both counts, I'm thinking about visiting SF just to try this out!
It's always disappointed me BMW doesn't start by making better use of service loaners. A Merc owner was just telling me about how every time he was in for service they made sure to give him something at least one level above what he brought in, and a salesman always chatted with him about it when he brought it back. OK, that's a bit annoying--and the fact that this was always during yet another unscheduled service visit for my friend put him off... BUT with the free maintenance and great warranty BMW drivers tend to be in better, more receptive moods. Yet every single loaner I ever got from my dealership was a stripped 3, the lowest of the low.
The tour/drive events BMW recently had for the new 3 were nice, but too limiting in terms of a short set route/time in car.
Well, took my first drive around SF tonight in a DriveNow ActiveE! Have to say I was impressed! I have a 135 and a 650, so this was basically just for fun. Registered last week online, took Muni down to one of the host parking garages (found using the iphone app) where they gave me my DriveNow ID with the microchip to open the cars. After that I was free to jump into any of the little 1's waiting for me and take off for a joy ride! One of the garage valet's suggested I take "Billy" which was #13 (apparently each car has a name) because it was the cleanest and nobody else had driven it yet. I jumped in and took off... First thought was "oh my god, this really does feel like a BMW!" Aside from the obvious lack of noise or gear changing, it really drives like a true BMW! Even the lighter steering gave great feedback. The throttle is obviously programmed to give a realistic feel so that it doesn't drive like a golf-cart. The extra thousand pounds were hardly noticeable as far as handling goes... BMW clearly beefed up the suspension to handle the extra weight of the electric components. It's definitely not as quick as I expected (and even worse in Eco-Pro mode), but still very zippy and totally appropriate for SF. The cabin is much quieter than I anticipated, and it made for a very peaceful drive. I brought it up to 80mph on the highway and it was totally doable. I circled the city then went over the golden gate bridge into Sausalito for dinner. In total drove about 22 miles and used a 1/4 "tank". The strangest thing about the car is that you almost NEVER use the brakes. There is such strong regenerative braking that you can coast abruptly to a full stop at a red light from 40 mph without ever touching the brakes. The car seemed to have almost all the features that my regular 1 has, so was impressed by that. I did happen to pop the trunk and found only enough room for a tiny gym bag.
Returning the car was just as simple. Picked a garage (all of them are saved in the address book of each car's nav system) and brought it back. Ending the reservation was just as easy as starting it. The little touch screen is pretty easy to use, but the whole process from start to finish of unlocking, starting the car, and using the touchscreen to end the reservation could potentially be confusing to anyone not tech-savvy. I suppose random people probably aren't trying this service anyway, so it probably doesn't matter. My friend who was with me (non-BMW driver) also pointed out that nobody will be able to figure out the iDrive in the short time they drive the car unless they're a BMW driver (he didn't) . Overall it was a good experience which I just might do again one day ;)
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