Saturday, January 24, 2009

I finally get a call...

2 months later (Oh, around Fri Jan 23rd – 2:24 PM: checked the call log on my account online. Damn, there's whole lot of information out there on the web), I got a call on my cell phone on my drive home. Caller ID indicated Crevier BMW car wash. "Strange..." I thought as I didn't have my car at Crevier. I was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from “Captain Kirk” Larson at Crevier MINI telling me that I have pre-qualified to lease the MINI E.

Taking few steps back, the field trial news of the E caught my attention for several reasons. First and foremost, I consider myself to be a car nut and I’ve always leaned favorably to the good folks in Bavaria and their fine products. I currently own a 1993 BMW 740i (e32) and a 2000 Land Rover Discovery Series II (aka Disco: w/ ACE and 3rd row option). More details about my fleet will follow in all its gory detail.

Second, I am turning into a cranky hippie as I hit my forties in full stride. I believe we are not doing our part as individuals to conserve our precious natural resources, and there are many improvements we can make in our daily lives. Some of these actions are simple and easy: some are more difficult and requires planning and sacrifice.

My 7 year stints at various petroleum industry jobs give me deeper perspective on the supply and demand of fossil fuels than an average citizen. Some lessons were global and macro in nature. Other lessons were practical and close to home, including ways to save money at your local gas station.

I’ve seen Chris Paine’s “Who Killed the Electric Car” twice, the last time at the Pacific Design Center in LA with a post-screening Q&A with Chris Paine (hosted by 97.1 FM's Leo Quinones). I’ve driven the EV1 many years ago at the Dodgers’ Stadium during a GM "Auto Show on the Road" event. It was very Star Wars-ish with its red LED lights and hard plastic surfaces. I remember it starting quick off the line followed by eerie silence as I drove it around the mini autocross course. It had potential but certainly needed more development to become a mainstream car.

I’ve watched with interest as other green vehicles came and went, lesser known EVs, later followed by various hybrid powertrain vehicles and clean vehicles as my job change in March 2008 dropped me in the morning commute in the Southland (50 miles one way) with fellow commuters. Add to this mix the stratospherically high gasoline prices in the summer of 2008 ($4.50 per gallon for 87 octane?!?), my need for more economical car especially with HOV lane access became almost a necessity, not merely ideological social responsibility.

I began looking seriously at the CNG powered Honda Civic NGV GX and even made few calls to the local Honda dealers. I researched various CNG refueling stations and frequented NGV message boards. I also started to practice my version of hypermiling to squeeze few more miles from each full tank. It was eye opening to see how much fuel I saved by driving 10 MPH slower. And it brought the morning commute to brand new perspective, next to the 18 wheelers on the I-605 every morning.

E mood: Very Happy...