From June 2009 to June 2010 I had the privilege of Driving an All Electric MIMI E for a year, it was a great experience, and got me hooked on electric cars. I've since moved on to other electric cars which I will blog about.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

German MINI E Field Trial

Saw this article that Germans living in Berlin will have the opportunity to sign up to for a MINI E Field Trial along with Americans. They can only lease the car for 6 months so that 100 people can drive the 50 Cars over the next year, but they do have to pay significantly less € 250 a month thats about $325 US, versus the $850 a month we in the states will be paying.


E-mobility Launched in Berlin

First Vattenfall Charging Station for MINI E Cars Commences Operations

· Environmentally friendly driving pleasure undergoes first ever tests
· First charging station successfully commences operations
· Application phase for 50 MINI E electric cars now begins
· Total of 100 Berliners to be selected as e-car pioneers Vattenfall Europe AG and the BMW Group have successfully launched their shared project "MINI E Berlin Powered by Vattenfall". The first ever test drives with the MINI E electric car on the streets of Germany's capital Berlin are now a reality. The cars are being charged up at Vattenfall's first charging station in Berlin-Treptow. With this, the establishment of the infrastructure for this cutting edge project has now begun, with more charging stations due to be installed soon. Astrid Klug, Parliamentary State Secretary in the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety: "The first charging station represents a vital step on our way to achieving e-mobility here in Germany. [READ MORE]

Monday, February 9, 2009

Charging Stations in New Jersey

Found this while searching for Electric Car charging stations in New Jersey

Automotive Industries: "

New Charging Station Booklet Out NEW YORK CITY April 4 The New York Electric Vehicle Assn has issued a new booklet with maps showing the charging stations routes and giving data over the entire metropolitan area including all of New Jersey man for "

Before you get your hopes up, this is from a Magazine called The Automobile dated June 29th 1916

or this one from the New York Times 1912


The Lithium Ion Batteries used by the MINI E work best if used at a temperature around 74F. It is very important that they not get too hot because high temperatures can permanently reduce their performance, and there is the risk of them catching fire (mostly if it was damaged or there was a defect in manufacturing them). Batteries at low temperatures can have their performance and ability to hold a charge severely reduced, but this is temporary and has no long term effect on the batteries.

BMW is aware of this and they have mentioned that the housing the batteries are in is designed to keep them cool. I dont know the details of the system but I can make some speculations and what I'd like to see.

The Tesla Roadster goes to great lengths to keep the batteries at an optimal temperature, it has a liquid cooling system that runs all the time, and I've read numerous criticisms of it as being a big energy waster, the MINI E uses air cooling with temperature load and speed sensitive fans also it is mounted inside the cabin so it must take advantage of the heating/cooling used for the driver. I have wondered if this is a passive or active system, if the batteries start to get too hot will the car automatically turn on the AC? When the car is left out in a parking lot on a hot day this could end up using a lot of power, but would also mean you'd have a comfortable cabin when you got inside. The EV-1 had a feature where you could tell it to pre cool the cabin but only while it was plugged in.

Being in New Jersey I dont expect problems with over heating to be that much of an issue, but I do worry about poor performance in low temperatures. I'm hopeful there will be someway I could tell the car to warm up the cabin on a cold day maybe an hour before I plan to leave, so the batteries will be able to hold a full charge, and I wont have to blast the heat as soon as I get going. Also I wonder how much of a range hit I'll get on those days when I need to use the heater or AC all during my driving.

Its all just speculation at this point but this will be something Ill talk about in more detail once I have some real experiences to back things up.

Friday, February 6, 2009


This isnt the MINI E, but it is a prototype MINI thats a Extended Range Electric Vehicle similar to the Chevy Volt that means its electric and runs on bateries for a limited range then a gas engine kicks in and generates electricity which powers the motor for longer ranges.
This MINI is also super fast they quote 0-60 times of 4 seconds, its also really cool how the electric motors are in the wheel.

Always on Regenerative Breaking

One of the best things about being in a field trial will be having direct access to the Engineers who designed and are testing the MINI E. BMW has stressed the importance of communication between the customer and technicians during this field trial. So far I havent talked to anyone from MINI/BMW but the salesman, I'm looking forward to questioning their technical people in more detail about the MINI E.
I keep thinking up new questions to as, going to write them down here to keep them all straight, and will let you know when I have answers.

I have some concerns about the regenerative breaking, the MINI E has an unusual system where when you release the gas petal ( need to change that to accelerator petal or something) the regenerative breaks kick in which is sort of like engine breaking. I think I understand why they did this having the wheels directly tied to the motor is technically a lot simpler then having to put the car in neutral when you release the accelerator, in a Gas car the engine is always running so you dont notice any breaking effect unless your engine is at very high RPM or your going down hill in a low gear.
But I worry about this always on Regenerative breaking for a few reasons, coasting without breaking or accelerating is one of the first tricks hypermilers practice, regenerative breaking gives you back energy but no where near what it takes to get to back up to speed. I worry that I'll be releasing my foot of the petal and breaking when I dont really want to, I find people who ride the breaks very annoying to drive behind.
Then there is safety, one trick a safe driver knows is when your on an icy road or hydroplanning the last thing you want to do is put on the break this will send the car out of control, you need to release the accelerator, and let the car coast down in speed slowly, I wonder what the best practice for controlling the MINI E when you lose traction, Im guessing keep your foot on the accelerator, but just barely, maybe that will slow it down.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MINI E videos

Here are some of My favorite MINI E videos

Test Drive

Test Drive

Test Drive

AC Propulsion the power behind the MINI E

Looks Like this isnt the MINI E but it is an electric MINI, not sure who built it

In the Beginning

Back in September I read that BMW would be making an all electric version of the MINI and leasing it to 500 people in the California and New York/NEW Jersey area. For years I've been interested in Electric cars, following with interest the latest news on the Tesla Roadster, and Chevy Volt, I've also owned a BMW Z3 for over 10 years now. I had thought it would be at least late 2010 to 2011 before I'd be able to get an affordable electric or Range Extended Electric Vehicle, so I was thrilled with the prospect that I could drive an EV now, that was fully serviced by a company I've liked.

I quickly tried to find out how to apply, I was convinced you'd need to be a Movie Star or know someone in BMW to get one, but I kept looking for information. About a month later BMW debuted the MINI E at the LA autoshow and opened a web site for people to sign up to lease one of the 500 MINI E's as part of a field trial. I quickly filled out the form, which asked many interesting questions, to try and get an idea of who you were, one of my favorites was when it announced that all the data you'd entered was lost, and would you mind entering it again, it wasnt really lost they just wanted to get an idea of how you deal with problems.

So I filled out the request, and waited... and waited ... and waited. There had been a warning not to try and contact BMW or MINI personnel asking about the status of your request, or trying to pressure them for preferential treatment, so I made no attempt to find out what had happened to my request. By new years I figured I hadnt got in, with the way the economy and GAS prices had dropped I convinced myself this was a good thing and I should wait another 2 years for a new car.

Then towards the end of January I got a call, I'd been select to join the MINI E field trial.

next step is, they will be sending an electrician to make sure the charger box can be installed in my garage, I dont expect any problems with this as it is a relatively new home. Then its just a question of waiting for delivery, Im told that will be April or May.