BMW and Boulder, CO-based energy management company Tendril will build a demonstration home designed to power BMW's ActiveE electric vehicle while minimizing the home and the car's carbon footprint, the New York Times reported.

The home, which will be built at BMW's San Francisco Bay Area technology office by this March, will have "smart" thermostats, solar panels and appliances, the newspaper said, citing the companies, which didn't disclose how much the house will cost to build. The home will manage energy delivery to minimize power usage during the costliest times on the grid.

The German automaker is joining Toyota and Nissan among electric-drive car makers that are building demonstration homes geared towards getting data on "smart" energy usage. Last August, Nissan started selling a home system in Japan that allowed the Leaf to be used as backup electricity-storage system for homes. The Leaf, if it starts with its 24-kilowatt-hour battery fully charged, can supply enough electricity to power a typical Japanese home for about two days, Nissan said at the time.

BMW last week delivered its ActiveE electric vehicle to its first U.S. customers, as the German automaker enters the next phase its domestic EV testing after the Mini E. The car will be available in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, New York, Boston and Hartford, CT, at a rate of $499 a month with a $2,250 downpayment. Open enrollment for the program started this week.


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  • 32 Comments
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      @pmpjunkie: You seem to have an aversion to writing in normal paragraphs, which makes your argument difficult to follow, and perhaps mirrors a somewhat incoherent thought process. Because the Californian legislature have mirrored their provision of rich people's tax breaks in the build of solar arrays with a set of legislative obstacles to the provision of cheaper peak power simply means that that subsidy to the rich is not the only injustice top the less wealthy that they are perpetrating. Natural gas for peaking would cost a few cents a kilowatt hour, as it does in many other states. This confusion you suffer from is also shown in your characterisation of criticism of claims that he runs his car on solar. He doesn't, that's a fact, and there is no doubt about it. It is an entirely false claim. That is not semantics, it is a straight untruth.
      Tweaker
      • 3 Years Ago
      I for one am very pleased to see the Germans are finally onboard researching alternative modes. I wish they had spent the resources they dumped into dirty diesels on electrics.
      Peder Norby
      • 3 Years Ago
      DaveMart, I produce 12,000kwh of electricity per year and I use 12,000kwh of electricity per year for my home and My ActiveE. Three basic points. 1. If I deposited $12,000 dollars a year, and then withdrew $12,000 dollars a year at various locations and at various times, is it still my $12,000? 2. My production of energy via solar is primarily during peak hours, I am over producing during that time as I am away from my home. This energy is the most expensive energy as utilities need to fire up peaker plants to keep up with high demand during the hottest (most sun) days when the loads on refrigerators, freezers and air conditioners are the highest. In San Diego we have 15,000 solar installations like mine, generating the equivalent energy of a $500 million dollar peaker plant at no cost to the rate payers that is helping offset the peak loads of the day. My usage for both my ActiveE and my wine cellar is at night, during super off peak hours. This is a time when utilities trade energy at $0.00 on the market as it has no value. There is excess energy produced at night as consumption is less than the base load of energy produced and we have had no way to store that energy prior to the electric car, thus the over production portion is run to ground as a waste product. The US DOE projects that 185 million vehicles (about 80% of our fleet) can be powered by electricity without building one new electric powerplant, simply by using the wasted energy of the grid at night and and capacity of existing powerplants. As we shift to electricity, we also save on the electricity used to refine gasoline which is estimated at 5kwh per gallon of fuel refined. (that five kwh saved from refining one gallon of gas will drive an EV like the ActiveE 18 miles) 3. Each electric car we drive no matter the make, makes us more energy independent. This has been a collective goal of our country since the 1970’s. Both the electric car, and renewable energy are for the first time providing real solutions to that problem.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      Peder, whatever the merits of the points you make they are irrelevant to the plain fact that you do not run your car on solar power, as you erroneously claim. Moving on from that to your claim that it is in some way sensible for you to be subsidised for producing power on your roof, as I said above most of the costs that the taxpayer and other users are bearing on your behalf is for installation and balance of system costs. Those costs are much higher on private rooftops, as they are not of an efficient size or in a convenient location. If solar actually made any economic sense it would be installed in ground based locations in sizes of 2-10MW, so that transmission costs as well as installation and efficient sizing for maintenance and the provision of inverters and so on could be optimised. The next best location would be the large flat roofs of industrial or commercial properties. The fact that they are not widely installed in this way is because even in those inherently cheaper locations solar is still stonkingly expensive. So your installation is not some great benefit to the grid, but an ongoing cost,a nd moreover one which is disproportionately bourne by the poorest, who rent and have no possibility of installing solar but pay in high electricity rates so that fyou can have your ultra expensive and inefficient array installed. For the next twenty years people are actually going to be suffering from the cold, and from not being able to afford to switch their air conditioning on to pay you huge rates for the surpluses from your taxpayer funded array. Please do not compound this glorification of taking no matter what it costs others by making utterly false claims as to what fuels your car.
      Peder Norby
      • 3 Years Ago
      Love this article, Living in a home and driving the Active powered 100% by sunshine is what we already do in Carlsbad, Ca. The key components of this BMW-Tendril effort will be smart appliances, smart utility, joining the already smart and soon to be smarter ActiveE. The ActiveE can be programmed to charge off peak, My ActiveE is set to begin charging at 11pm due to a super off peak rate. Added capability will be the ability of the utility and car to vary charging time and current depending on cost. All the driver cares about it that the car is fully charged at 6:30am. It’s of no concern weather that was in three hours or 10 hours. The refrigerator as just one example of a typical appliance, will also be smart and respond to low and off peak rates depending on demand. There is no reason for a refrigerator to turn on during the peak hours between 2pm and 6pm for example, except that it is currently dumb and does not know better. Imagine all the commercial freezers and refrigerators being smart enough to this. These appliances have no problem holding the temperature for several hours. In our home our wine cellar is programmed (with an appliance timer) to only run during the off peak hours and maintains the temp during the peak hours. To make homes like this the norm you begin by building a more efficient home with a robust well insulated shell, reduction of energy use be efficient design, natural lighting and ventilation. This is 10% of the cost as compared to generating via Solar PV. So job one is to reduce as much as possible. Then you generate what you cannot save. During the life of the home, a typical home will use more cost in energy to run the home than the home cost to build, including the interest on a 30 year mortgage. We live in a time where we can now eliminate that cost for both our home and our car saving resources and money. A few links to our example. http://electricmini.blogspot.com/2012/01/ultimate-fuel.html http://www.heronshouse.com/Green%20Buildings.htm Cheers
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Peder Norby
        I agree with Dave Martin, in that Mr. Norby is playing a semantic game which is intended to be misleading. If his home and vehicle were truly 100% powered by sunshine, then it could be demonstrated by removing all ties to the grid. However, Mr. Norby's set up still requires a grid connection in order to supply the amount of energy he needs whenever he needs it, so it can be demonstrated that solar power does not satisfy 100% of his need. If Mr. Norby were to be more correct, he could just as easily state that his solar PV units generate enough energy to *offset* his grid connection. To address one of his points: 1. Yes, it's still your money - but you wouldn't say it's the *same* money that you put in. The money you put in was used somewhere else by someone else, just like the solar power you generated. You're using money (power) generated by someone else.
          Peder Norby
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I appreciate all your comments above, we will agree to disagree. Is it semantics to say that you are driving on foreign oil when you are driving on a product that is refined stateside and turned into gasoline? Yes, nearly all solar systems are grid connected . but not everyone gets a check at the end of the year for over producing, That check is a product of sunshine and solar energy as well :)
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          "Is it semantics to say that you are driving on foreign oil when you are driving on a product that is refined stateside and turned into gasoline?" By your logic, it is acceptable to say that because we produce some oil domestically, so I can say my car is fueled by 100% domestically-produced oil. Electricity, like oil and dollars, is fungible. Once produced and allowed into the market/grid, it is impossible to say with any certainty that anything is 100% powered from a specific source. The only way to demonstrate 100% solar usage would be to disconnect from the grid, and actually rely on solar 100% of the time. Otherwise, what you're doing is offsetting your grid use with solar production.
        DaveMart
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Peder Norby
        'Living in a home and driving the Active powered 100% by sunshine is what we already do in Carlsbad, Ca.' No you don't, since you charge your car overnight you are running it 100% on off-peak electricity provided by other sources, including fossil fuels. Now it may or may not be a good idea to have a solar array, and at least in California the power it produces is useful in the daytimes as there is a lot of air conditioning use, but feeding an equivalent amount of electricity into the grid at vastly inflated rates at a completely different time does not mean that you in any sense 'run your car' on solar electricity, just that you have taken a lot of money and continue to do so from other utility users mostly poorer than those who can buy solar arrays for your own private advantage. if you want to pay for a battery system to store the electricity so that you can charge your car with it overnight, fair enough, you would then be running it on solar power. That does not happen and deliberate mis-statements do not make it so
          pmpjunkie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DM Can you clarify for me your position on subsidies in general. I have a hard time understanding why you accuse mr Norby of taking advantage of the poor when he does in fact provide relief to the problem of peak energy use of the California grid at a fraction of the cost to society, subsidies included, than any other solution available at his location. In fact public policy forces him to sell a highly valued commodity, peak time electricity, at a predetermined low rate to his utility as well as it forces him to buy a worthless commodity, night time electricity, at a highly inflated price. My determination of the fluctuating value of electricity by the way is derived from the electricity market where peak demand is traded to well above $2 per kwh while Mr Norby receives about $0.25-0.35 and night time electricity is traded as low as $0.00 while he pays ~$0.05. If he were allowed to participate in this market on equal terms with the utilities he could realize a much higher ROI on his investment. By thoroughly analyzing his situation one may come to the conclusion that what he receives as a "subsidy" is more of a fractional compensation he receives to let others (the utility/general public) realize the financial gains of his investment and he is forced to take it since otherwise the electricity market is completely unavailable to him. The difference to you seems to be that he happily tries to be part of the solution while you publicly criticise him for his choices with semantic arguments. So you criticise the subsidies he receives to provide a solution while promoting other possible solutions (fuel cells for example) that are highly subsidized themselves. In short, do you not like subsidies at all or are you unclear as to the inherent costs and subsidy levels of the different energy solutions we have available?
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          PR: Your relation of this discussion to hydrogen fuelled cars is a complete non-sequitur. For the record, I advocate the use of fuel cells where, and only where, batteries can't do the job. Asserting that the use of solar elsewhere is 'just as good or better' than using it to power the car does not make the claim that the car is powered by solar any less untrue, which is typical of the grossly inaccurate claims by renewables everywhere advocates, as is your being completely unmoved by the cost of these fads falling on the poor. For the record again I have been for 40 years an advocate of solar power, and for 1.3 billion people in the Third World where they are off grid and the sun is strong all the year round it is the most economic source of energy. That does not mean that approval should be given to installations where it is a vastly expensive, inefficient, greedy scam.
          Peder Norby
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          Davemart, As I am a consultant and work from home the majority of time, I can at anytime I wish connect my ActiveE to my house and use 4,000kwh annually of the 12,000kwh I produce, to drive the ActiveE 15,000 miles a year. I do in fact charge during the day, mostly on weekends when I am using the car more and the energy price is off peak. I choose to respond to market conditions (that’s a good thing) and their pricing points and sell the majority of my power to the grid when it needs it most and it’s the most expensive (the afternoon) and buy from the grid to charge when it is the least expensive and is the most convenient for me which is when I sleep in the middle of the night. The ActiveE does not care when it charges and if I can sell my electricity at 30cents during the day and buy at night at 12cents that’s a great deal. That’s called demand pricing or TOU rates. It’s not a subsidy provided by the poor, it’s a response to Market conditions. It really is no different than the dollar example I provided (it my not be the same exact $20 bill when I withdraw, but it still is my $20 bill) with the exception that I respond to pricing points that help my community and are favorable to me financially. So you’re splitting hairs in other words with your contention that I am not driving by solar energy. My system is paid off now after 5 years of use. Offsetting residential utility cost is a 6-12 year payoff with solar in San Diego and offsetting gasoline cost are a three year pay off. In our case it combines to a 5 year payoff. If I did not get the solar fed tax credit which by the way is not provided by you or poor people, but is off the taxes I pay if I choose to invest in solar, the payoff length would be 30% longer or about 7 years. I’ll attempt to stay away from your social equity arguments but will say I am fortunate and proud to be able to pay well over 100K a year in taxes, I would be happy not to subsidize the folks you write about and don’t require their subsidies. I do plan on continuing to invest in solar energy and electric car companies. There are the larger issues of emissions, air quality, energy independence, self reliance, domestic jobs, and less expensive electricity for homes and fueling cost for cars for all housing types and income levels, that I care passionately about. I live and drive on sunshine, Cheers!
          DaveMart
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          EJ: My objection was originally to the claim that the car is powered by solar, when it clearly is not. This objection was given greater weight by the continual false claims made for solar, typically in confounding total nominal output with average output, and its installation in wholly unsuitable areas where the output in no way coincides with demand, for instance here in the UK. Clearly solar is far better in areas where it matches peak demand such as California, and clearly if you do not get subsidy for many years ongoing for excess sold back to the grid that is a further improvement.
          pmpjunkie
          • 3 Years Ago
          @DaveMart
          @DaveMart: I am sorry that you have a hard time understanding my post. English is not my native language. I am only using it for the last eight years. If you think that my question lacks cohesive thought, why do you answer with a nonsensical rant? (Quote: Because the Californian legislature have mirrored their provision of rich people's tax breaks in the build of solar arrays with a set of legislative obstacles to the provision of cheaper peak power simply means that that subsidy to the rich is not the only injustice top the less wealthy that they are perpetrating.) I think you confuse natural gas baseload cost with natural gas peak cost (and a few other things). But since it is below you to take me serious you really don't have to answer my question.
      noevfud
      • 3 Years Ago
      If they wanted to demonstrate how to lower a carbon footprint BMW would not convert heavy ICE cars to EVs, they would build one form the ground up. This is simply a lazy and less efficient conversion not a production EV which is why you can't buy it and must lease it. Efficient green washing and CARB play not dynamics, whatever that marketing speak means.
        Ford Future
        • 3 Years Ago
        @noevfud
        It's faster to get a car out. BMW is building new electrics from the ground up: the I3. That won't be out for a while. Do you want to wait or do you want to lease something today, at a bargain lease price for a BMW, by the way? The 2 year lease might be enough time to drive this now, and move into an I3 in 2 years.
          Tom Moloughney
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          noevfud: BMW didn't add a larger pack for the ActiveE. The ActiveE is actually much more efficient than the MINI-E was. It weighs about 600lbs more than the MINI-E, has a SMALLER battery (32kWh vs 35kWh) is much bigger and has the same range in warm weather and more in cold weather because of the active thermal management. Yes, it's a heavy conversion and why they won't sell it, but the i3 will be available in about 19-20 months and it will have the same powertrain yet weigh 1,300lbs less. Rather than rush to bring a car that wasn't ready to market they're using this three step program and it's working because they are making progress at every step. The i3 is going to be a great EV and offer features that no other EV will have when it hits the market.
          Tunagimp
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          @noevfud Gee, I have a Leaf, too. And when I found out about BMW's lease terms I sat down with the Leaf and explained to her that she'd be sitting in the garage for a while while I drive.the.cr@p out of the Active E. She replied that she would do without the door dings and the kid's car seats and please gohead. I agree that BMW is a bit behind on the ev front. Driving the Leaf and the Active E back-to-back showed me just how sophisticated and refined the Leaf is. At least they're trying. I'm delighted to be one of the folks that will help them. Door dings, ahoy!
          Peder Norby
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          to noevfud. The ActiveE is more efficient than the Nissan Leaf or the Chevy Volt PER the EPA. Nissan is 99 mpge, The ActiveE is 102mpge. The Volt is much less. The Active E als ogets 25% mpore range than the Leaf per the EPA, 94 for the ActiveE, 73 for the Leaf. The handling of the ActiveE is in a class way different than the Leaf and the Volt. The Mini-E was a third party conversion primarily by AC Proulsions. The ActiveE is a BMW engineered and constructed car which serves as a platform testing the in house gear for the future BMW cars including the i3 and i8. BMW his spent several hundred million in plant acquisition and development in several countries include the partnership with SGL at the Moses lake CFRP facility In Washington State. You are factually wrong about the comment "This is not an efficient EV, adding a larger pack because the car is inefficient is like adding a larger motor to SUVs that get bigger and bigger. At least don't call it "efficient dynamics" and you are wrong about this just being a carb ploy. But you already know these facts and your objection to the car is based on something else.
          noevfud
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Ford Future
          I already have an efficient EV and BMW already did this with the Mini E, they are behind. This is not an efficient EV, adding a larger pack because the car is inefficient is like adding a larger motor to SUVs that get bigger and bigger. At least don't call it "efficient dynamics". I have owned three factory EVs and two conversions and they are all far more efficient and this car is just a slow BMW conversion. If I wanted a performance EV it would not be this one since is just too heavy. I'm sure the BMW fans can drive this and think they are being green. This is a marketing/CARB/ stop gap ploy. Nothing more. Once this is over what green thing do you thing will happen to these cars? Take a guess and it likely won't be green. The net effect will be waste and less green then selling the ICE version of 3X cars. That's efficient marketing BS from BMW. Do you think BMW did this because they were concerned you did not want to "wait". Sorry that's not the reason.
      EJ
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Power which is not available when needed is useless." My array outputs it max when my gird is at 92% peak. Sounds like a good time to me. "Since most of the cost of roof top solar arrays in in installation and balance of system costs,' Not anymore, and not with mine. Micro-inverters make solar installation as easy as stringing Christmas lights. AC systems don't need to be balanced, and you can start with a single panel, and then mix-match-replace-add with any brand and any size. A three panel gravity mount system can be installed in a couple hours by anyone with intermediate home improvement skills. "Your array is a hugely costly burden on others, and will continue to be so for as long as it produces power which the grid is mandated to take at ridiculously high rates." I installed my array too late in my market to get paid for any excess I produce so all I can do is offset what I use and ease the burden on the grid by one house. So it's quite the opposite of a 'hugely costly burden'. "The fact is that the solar array you have got others to pay for produces none of the energy you put in the car," Don't stop there, I got others to by my EV as well. People like you make my oil and gas dividends soar. Speaking of which, do you mind skipping the gym today and getting a super-sized value meal for your 40 minute commute home today? I'm really looking forward to buying a BMW i5 and could use a little bump in my pharmaceutical dividends. And pick up a 40oz drink too, Novo Nordisk is doing well but we can always use a few new customers. And, as always, thanks not only for making lifestyle choices that channel your income to me, thanks for defending your choice with such vigor! Keep defending your freedom! Don't let any of those green socialist 99% hipster|hippies sway you!
      Ford Future
      • 3 Years Ago
      But, are the homes "Zero Energy"? Solar panels is fine, but the real savings is in insulation of the home, triple pane windows, etc. Reduce the heat expense, the biggest expense a home has, and make a profit on the solar panels.
        EJ
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        It depends on where you live and the policies of your grid service. Georgia Power is only required to buy back a set amount of power from the grid, after which you are no longer paid for what you produce. You can still offset your usage so your net annual usage is zero, but after that, you might not get paid for it. So at that point, you might as well install a wall of glass and enjoy the view.
        Ryan
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Ford Future
        Home design has a long way to go. I built a solar greenhouse over part of my garden this year. It is designed to capture the heat of the Sun. It is in the 30's (F) outside right now, but it is 95 F in a cheaply made, drafty greenhouse made with window film insulation and 2x1's. My house is 50 F degrees and it is well insulated and it is taking some natural gas just to keep it at that temp. It won't work on every day here in Ohio, but there is no reason that a house or building in AZ, NM, Texas, CA or FL should need to use any heat on a sunny day in the winter.
      EJ
      • 3 Years Ago
      You can dance around semantics all you want but the simple fact is my array produces more energy each year than my house and all of my local transportation consume. I'm operating a surplus budget while you continue to run a deficit, one that continues to export wealth to other people. As an oil and gas shareholder, thanks for letting me spend your money.
      Ford Future
      • 3 Years Ago
      This is a great 2 year lease for a BMW. I'm only typing this because it's not available in my state. Actually, I can't afford it with kids in or going to college. But, in 10 years?
      Actionable Mango
      • 3 Years Ago
      What a paint job. It's like they were inspired by 80's electronic logos.
      DaveMart
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is not 'dancing with semantics.' Power which is not available when needed is useless. At least, as I remarked, in California the power can be used to support air conditioning. There are however many solar arrays being installed in areas where they produce power which is simply a burden on the grid, in addition to its original vast taxpayer and utility funded cost. The difference between this a subsidies for electric cars is that the latter has genuinely good prospects of rapidly reducing costs to be truly economic. Since most of the cost of roof top solar arrays in in installation and balance of system costs, not in the panels themselves which are the bit which have rapidly dropped in price, even if the panels themselves drop to zero they will still be vastly expensive. Your array is a hugely costly burden on others, and will continue to be so for as long as it produces power which the grid is mandated to take at ridiculously high rates. The fact is that the solar array you have got others to pay for produces none of the energy you put in the car, assuming you charge at night, and playing with semantics does not make that simple fact untrue. Your deciding that others should pay for your array has nothing to do with powering your car.
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