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.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

First MINI E delivered

Congratulations to Peter Trepp,

The very first MINI E Pioneer to receive his car #111 on Friday May 22nd
Read his blog about the experience and a article on USA Today

Hope to be seeing more notices about others receiving their MINI Es soon.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

MINI E Charging Cable Announcement

This weeks weekly update letter from MINI, was sort of a good new bad news read, with a lot of good information.
  • The good news the Charging cables have finally gotten UL approval so they are starting to install them.
  • The bad news they only have 150 of them and they are going to the west coast pioneers first.
  • The good news they are waving the first months lease fee for everyone.
  • The good news they will be delivering the west coat MINI E's as soon as the cables are installed and inspected.
  • The good news they will be delivering the east coast MINI E's the second week of June.
  • The bad news the east coast MINI E's will only come with a 110v charging cable initially.
  • The good news they will continue to wave the lease fee until you have a fully functional charging box installed.
  • The good news is they will give you the option to extend your lease so you have a full 12 months of driving with the charging station.
  • The good news they expect the east coast wall boxes and charging cables to be ready in July.
  • The good news is they want all pioneers to take delivery of their MINI E by June 26th

So what does this all mean to me? Well at first I was a little upset about having to deal with 110v charging, but since most days I'm only expecting to use less then half a charge, and on days I'll be fully depleting the battery I can drive my other car the next day, I dont expect this to be a major inconvenience. Im a little jealous of those on the west coast who get the free months lease and have a working charger. But maybe I'll get a second month or more where my lease fee is waved, if so I wouldnt mind if it ended up being another 6 months before the charging station was installed, driving the MINI E for free is well worth any charger hassles. The important thing is I should be driving electric in 3 weeks, just wish it was sooner.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

MINI E Test Drive

I drove the MINI E today.
Found out my MINI dealership had 2 MINI E's there today for a few hours, and I stopped by for a test drive, of car number 419
One word that best describes the experience is smooth. This car accelerates like no car I've ever driven before, you hit the gas and it just keeps on accelerating at the same rate without any of the jerkiness your familiar with in gas engines. and at low speeds the acceleration rivals my 6 cylinder Z3 sports car which gives you a shot of acceleration, then a dead spot as you shift, then another dash of acceleration then a dead spot as you shift. I bet unless your facing a professional driver you could bet most cars from 0-30 just because you never have to shift.
The quietness is very strange the first time you start to move, but by the end of my drive it seemed almost normal, until I left in my own car;)
The Regenerative braking was not as big an issue as I had thought it would be, first off Its not an immediate take your foot off the gas and your slamed with deceleration which some reviewers seemed to suggest, there is a noticeable maybe 1 second delay from when you take your foot fully off the accelerator until the regenerative breaking kicks in, at first I thought this might be a problem but then I realized, it helped you make sure you really wanted to break, and didnt just need to shake out a foot cramp, or reduce your acceleration slightly. And you can apply the regenerative breaking slowly, by reducing the pressure on the accelerator just a little bit you get a slow deceleration. By the end of the drive I was able to judge the breaking distance easily and was breaking without touching the break petal at all.
The only down side was that with my erratic driving, jaming on the accelerator then taking my foot off to feel the breaking I dropped the car's charge by 5% after only going 3 miles, but once Im familiar with the car I'm sure Ill do better.
It was a fantastic experiance and really has me excited as I wait for my new MINI E

NYC meet the MINI E

Last night MINI had a event in NYC similar to the one on the 5th in LA, where MINI E pioneers could get meet each other and the Engineers and people behind the MINI E, and of course the MINI E's numbers 403 422 and 480. It was a 5 star event all the way, with a well stocked open bar, and some really fantastic food, including my favorite all you could eat oysters that were some of the best I've had in a long time.
The event started off with a presentation by Mark Alt, and while he did seem a bit nervous starting out he quickly got comforting with the crowd and went into a very interesting presentation, on what you can do today to help the environment by voting with your dollars. He pointed out Stu's MINI E business card and other bloggers and how important our words can be in influencing other people and being spokes people for electric cars and MINI. The presentation ended with a number of people having a chance to express why they are in the MINI E program and what it means to them.
Then we had a chance to eat and meet people, I had a great time talking to a number of very different people, only wish I'd had a chance to speak to everyone. There were the pioneers including a couple fellow bloggers Stu and Tim, there were the engineers and sales people who answered a lot of my questions, and even a few buisnessman who were working on differant ways of providing chaging services to electric vehicles, one mentioned owning old payphones on the street and working on using that infrastructure to setup charging stations throughout the city.
Some of the questions I got answers for:
Will it have satellite radio? No (really bummed about this, Im addicted to XM)
Can you pre-heat the car while its plugged in? Cant do that now, but they thought it was a great suggestion and are going to work with the engineers to see if this could be added to the software. (cool how you can change a cars behavior just by tweeking the program running it.)
what happens as you deplete the battery? After the charge meeter gets to 0% the car will still drive normally for about 10 miles, then the preformance will drop and the car will only drive very slowly for about 3 miles at which time it wont go any more. Also the 155 or 120 mile range estimate was to 0% charge so this does not include any limping home in its estimated range.
Can you charge it of a standard 220 outlet? No its limited to 11A 32A or 50A charging only.
I even got a chance to speak to the president of MINI USA and tried to get a hint from him on MINI's plans for electric cars and my favorite the extended range Electric, but he seemed to feel the weight costs would offset the gains from this design, and the MINI already had a very good gas mileage make any gains in mpg minor, cant say I agree with him, I think a EREV MINI like the MINI QED or volvo's C30 Recharge or Volt would be a great idea, as it gives you the benefits of an electric vehicle for your short daily commute while offering the range of a Gas vehicle, and of course a small vehicle like the MINI will have better acceleration and mileage then a larger vehicle, but I wasnt about to argue with the president of MINI USA, I just tried to hide my disappointment.

On a side note yesterday seemed to be a big day for spoting cars, on the way into the city I saw a first generation prius, only the second one I've ever seen and at lunch I saw a Prius that had been converted to a plug in hybrid with a plug in port, a phev sticker and a A123 stcker, see A123's site for info on how this conversion is done, really wanted to talk to the owner about this but couldnt.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Signed Installation Contract

I Signed the Installation Contract with CFCI today for them to come and install the Charger, it was a $0 bill for me, but I still took a day to really think about it and make sure I'm really serious about getting the MINI E, before any work is done. Up to now its just been talking about this and seeing what needs to be done, now this is getting REAL.

I must admit I've had my doubts about getting the MINI E, mostly its been the expense, I know I can afford it, if I didnt get it I'd just save the money for my Volt down payment, but its still a lot of money. Then there is Range Anxiety, what if It wont drive the 80 miles I need it to, because I'm not driving as efficiently as they assumed, or it wont get that range on a cold day, so many what ifs.

And the delays havent helped, when you go into a show room to buy a car the salesman will do anything to get you to sign there and then, because they know once you leave your unlikely to come back. With BMW's MINI E program, only the most committed or those who should be committed, can keep their enthusiasm and interest up for 8 plus months any day of which we could change our minds and say no I dont really want it, and I've had those days.

I've seen a lot of people dropping out in the last few weeks, mostly because of the installation expense, I've heard quotes of upto $5000 to install the charger in a detached garage, if I had to pay that much I'd be out too. This is a serious problem with the mass adoption of the Electric car, as many people dont have a high voltage line in their Garage needed to charge an Electric Car quickly. I think the government should step in now and regulate that new buildings have high voltage lines installed to the Garage for future electric cars, it would be such an inexpensive thing to do when homes are being built, and such a big expense latter. I think there should also be a tax break for installing chargers in homes, as this is a big step towards going electric.

I've also been wondering if they will have as much trouble with this in Europe as we do in the US since they are all 240v in the home, but I think they have a lower Amperage so they may still require updated wiring too.