Sunday, October 21, 2012

Visit to BMW Performance Driving Center in SC

Last week we left our ActiveE home in California and flew out to South Carolina for two days at the BMW Performance Driving Center. We drove a variety of new cars on the private track, including several built in the large BMW North America factory across the street from the performance driving center. Most of our time was spent in 1-series and 3-series cars, but we also spent time in M3s, M5s, 6-series, and an X5. In all cases we averaged well under 9 miles per gallon, which was quite a change from our normal all-electric driving in the ActiveE 1-series.

I spoke with a couple of the instructors about the ActiveE and it was a pretty foreign concept to them but they were legitimately interested. One of the instructors had a more than 60-mile commute into the BMW center and so was anxious about range, and all of the instructors were annoyed at the current price of fuel.

Despite the EV skepticism we observed, Greenville, SC actually has a growing EV charging infrastructure footprint. Apparently Enterprise offers some Nissan Leafs for rent in downtown so we may try to spend more time finding an EV to rent next time we visit the area, instead of just picking up one of the normal lackluster economy cars from the airport rental agencies.

The course itself was incredibly fun. 90% of the time was spent in the cars driving on our own and in radio contact with the instructors, but there were a few concise classroom lectures at the start of each day and after lunch to go over the upcoming exercises. We spent time sliding around on the skid pad, on slalom warmups, autocross courses, high speed braking and avoidance maneuvers, and an off-road X5 course. The video below includes a few highlights from our course.

We're definitely going back for the M-school next year. Let me know if you want to join us!

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