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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Assignment 01

MINI sent out our first homework assignment, well if only school had been this easy. They've setup a web site for those in the field trial on which they will be asking us to fill out a journal, and upcoming survey's. Our first assignment was fairly simple, just needed to sign in and make a journal entry. From the picture above you can see some of the upcoming assignments, Subconscious Symbol Identification sounds foreboding, hope a psychiatrist doesnt see my answers, Im not sure I like the idea of BMW getting a peck at my subconscious. :)

Also got a notice that the wall charging cables are shipping to both coasts, so Ill probably have a working wall charger soon. Ill be glade to charge up quickly, but was sort of hoping for a second month with the lease payment waived.

Monday, June 22, 2009

2 Weeks with #304

Well its been a very short 2 weeks with MINI E #304 we've racked up 642 miles together and although charging with the 120v cable can be a pain I'm really enjoying this car, just would like people to realize this is an electric car.

Last weekend I went to my fiancee's house again, there have been a number of biking events in the Philadelphia area lately and we have to goto those. The drive was uneventful, but I wanted to charge the MINI E at her house without having to move the cars all around, so I tried using an extension cord, after about 4 hours charging I noticed a burning smell coming from the outlet, I quickly unplugged things the smell seemed to be coming more from the plug end of the extension cord then anything. The next day we switched the cars arround blocking my MINI E in for the weekend, and charged from the same outlet without an extension cable, without a problem, this is the same outlet we'd used the week before. I was a bit surprised about this as it was a brand new 12 guage 25' extension cord rated for 120v 15A the best that I'm aware of, I guess we just arnt going to be able to drive the MINI E at her house as changing cars arround every time we need to use it is a pain.

Here are some figures for all you math nuts who want to know exactly what the range numbers I've been seeing are. You'll notice a number of the shorter rides have some very low or high numbers, I tend to discount these shorter drives as not giving a true estimate. While the overall Average Range is 103 miles, if we droped all drives less then 40 miles we get an Average Range of 108 miles on a full charge, or at least until the gauge says 0%, the car is suppose to drive beyond that at a reduced rate, but I havent tested it

DateMiles driven Starting charge Ending Charge % charge per mile Range Estimate Starting Miles to go Ending Miles to go Starting odm Ending odm
8-Jun 17.4 100% 85% 0.86% 116
83 35
home from Dealer
8-Jun 21.1 88% 66% 1.04% 96

to mall
9-Jun 59.2 95% 40% 0.93% 108 93 41

work and erands
47% 26%

27 133
to dealer
10-Jun 27.3 100% 74% 0.95% 105 108 82

home from dealer
11-Jun 36.7 99% 66% 0.90% 111
214 to work
12-Jun 77.6 100% 31% 0.89% 112 114 36
292 to Fiancee's drove conservitively
13-Jun 5.3 87% 79% 1.51% 66

15-Jun 76.5 100% 29% 0.93% 108 108 27 301 378 Home from Fiancee's
16-Jun 47.8 100% 55% 0.94% 106 100 58

17-Jun 58.8 100% 43% 0.97% 103 108 45

18-Jun 34.2 79% 41% 1.11% 90 84 42
19-Jun 77.7 100% 27% 0.94% 106

to Fiancee's
22-Jun 76.5 100% 31% 0.90% 111 103 32 601 677 Home from Fiancee's

Monday, June 15, 2009

Trip to Philly

This weekend I drove #304 to my fiancee's house outside of Philly. I had previously measured the distance as 80 miles and was a bit nervous about my first long trip in my MINI E. I let the car charge upto 100% on Friday, while I drove my gas car to work. For the trip there I drove very conservatively staying at the speed limit and accelerating slowly, there is about 30 miles of highway driving with a 65mph speed limit, and I really saw a big differance in my charge usage during that time compared to the rest of my drive. I arrived having driven 77.6 miles with 31% charge left and 36 miles of range left.
I had to back the car into the driveway and plug the charger in through a window to get a charge, I can see why the EV1 had the charger plug in the front it would be a much more convenient location. I also put a towel over the wheel charger light, as it was a bit too noticeable otherwise. We used #304 a little bit over the weekend for short trips around the suburbs of philly, then I drove it back on Monday morning.
For the drive back I decided I could drive normally and get home safely. I left with a 100% charge and drove the same speed as most of the traffic about 75mph on the highway, and not exactly the speed limit on other streets. I arrived having driven 76.5 miles (not sure how I lost a mile) with 29% charge and 27 miles left to go.
I didnt have enough charge to make it into work so #304 got a rest day to charge up today.
I've had my MINI E for a week now, and have put 343 miles on it, would be more but without a fast charger, I'm having to give it rest days.

Friday, June 12, 2009

0 rpm acceleration limited

One of the great things about electric cars is they have instant torque that means that when you press the accelerator you get a the full power of the motor immediately, think of it as having a car that is always at red line in the power curve, but without that hi pitched engine noise.
Normally when I'm driving the MINI E if I punch the accelerator, I immediately get a very quick burst of acceleration and have to hold onto the steering wheel as torque steer pulls the car heavily to the left. But at a stop, when I press on the accelerator, there is a noticeable half second delay before I get even the smallest amount of acceleration, and even then the acceleration isnt anything to write home about. Then once I get moving, maybe at 3mph or so, the full acceleration kicks in and I have to pull my foot back on the accelerator. This is a very fustrating experiance, for the MINI E's they removed the normal button that would allow you to disable traction control, and if it was the traction control system kicking in to keep the the tires from spinning I'd understand. But its not, this is the control software overly limiting your acceleration at low RPMs.
In a previous article on John Voelcker mentioned this problem, it was also mentioned that the car may have been running an older version of the software. I hadnt noticed this problem in my pervious test drive, and since these cars have been sitting in storage for the last 6 months, I'm guessing they all have an older version of the software. I asked my service Rep, at Morristown MINI about getting the latest software and he said he'd look into it.
Hopefully this is just overly conservitive software and we can have a car thats as quick off the line as it is once moving.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

looks like need to avoid GFI

Yesterday after having the car and charger checked out by the dealer, and both getting a clean bill of health, I got a full charge at from their 60A charger. The MINI service reps Michael and Fred from Morristown MINI were very helpful even though this was the first MINI E they'd had to diagnose a problem for, as it turned out the backline BMW tech they contact for MINI E problems was already aware of the problem, having read my blog post about it, to All MINI/BMW employee's reading this thank you for your help and supporting a great program, its good to know your reading this.

Anyway, I returned home and tried to charge the car again, but when I plugged the car into the garage outlet the MINI E's charge light only came on for a second before going out while the charger's charge light came on and stayed on. The MINI service reps had suggested I try plugging into other outlets, but also had said I should not use a extension cable as it might overheat, I have a 12 gauge extension cable rated at 120V 15A which I very much doubt will overheat. but I wanted to try what I could do without it. I found that if I pulled the car out and backed it into my garage, I could just barely reach a outlet in the kitchen without an extension cable, I plugged it in and.. POP the kitchen GFI triped. Then I started looking for somewhere else to plug in and noticed the laundry and dryer, The single outlet for both of these was not on a GFI, was the only outlet on that curcuit and had a 20A breaker rather then the regular 15A ones on most of my curcuits. So I plugged it in there, and it worked, was able to charge the car completely overnight, though its still very slow about 3% charge in one hour, at that rate we're looking at 33 hours to charge the car from 0% to 100%.
So it looks like we need to aviod GFIs though it did charge for me the first night on a GFI curcuit, this could be a big problem as most modern Garages and outdoor plugs have to be GFIs. The problem could also be the wiring, I got a wire tester and checked the outlets but it said they were all good, I'm going to try replacing one of the GFI's temporally with a normal outlet to verify whether its the GFI or the wiring, causing the charging to fail. In the mean time I guess no laundry is getting done while charging :)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dirty Power or Grounding Fault

I've had a frustrating evening trying to charge my MINI E using the 120V 15A charger, after spending a great day Driving it and returning with only a 40% charge. At first it seemed to be charging fine but when I checked on it the charging light on the MINI E was out. I replugged things in and left it to charge, only to come back later and the Charger was showing a blinking charging fault, this indicates an EV ground fault trip, but I checked the MINI E and saw no error messages on the computer, I double checked that the Amperage setting was 12A and it was. So I tried again, later I had the same problem, tried again come back to no lights on the charger, a bit of searching revealed its on a GFI circuit and the GFI had triped, so reset and tried again then came back and the Power fault light was on solid on the Charger, indicating no Ground on the wall socket...
you get the idea I maybe a bit off in the order of some of those errors, about this point I couldnt even get get the the MINI E charger light to come on for mor then a minute. During this time I started to notice that lights all through my house were flickering every now and then, at first I thought the MINI E's charging problems were causing this, but after I gave up on charging the MINI E still only at 47% charged, I noticed the flickering didnt go away.
So tomarrow going to call and see what the experts say, I have a few possible Ideas.
1. Im getting very dirty power from the power company, and thats causing all these problems, if so I just need to wait and try later when the power company has fixed the problem.
2. There is a grounding fault in the MINI or the charging plug, looking at the charging plug that connects to the MINI E, carefully I saw a number of contact points that were not symetric, and could easily be a point of poor contact, going to have to speak to the experts on this.
3. the cuircuit I'm plugging into is not properly grounded, I tend to doubt this as this is a GFI cuircuit that goes to my main bathroom, and I had this checked out when I bought the house, but maybe I shouldnt be charging through a GFI cuircut, I'm going to have to have this tested.
Will know more tomorrow.

Took the MINI E and charger into the dealer, but they both worked fine there, I hope it was just a temporary problem with dirty power.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tuesdays Driving

Just a quick update on todays driving, I left this morning with a 95% charge, and a range estimate of 93 miles, did quite a bit of driving had a few errands to run. The MINI E preformed flawlessly even took a co-worker for a spin, and really pushed it showing just how fast and fun the MINI could be. Returned home having driven 59.2 miles with a 40% charge left and a range estimate of 41 miles.

Charging Slowly but Driving

Last night I charged #304 for 1 hour then I drove to the Mall and back all on highways going about 75 mph.
The charging added 3% so I started with a 88% charge, drove 21.1 miles, and ended with a 66% charge, and an estimated 64 mile range.
I then plugged it in and let it charge overnight, of course I had to sneak out and see how it was doing during the night, one thing I noticed is that blinking charge light is bright, if you have windows on your garage the neighbors will think you have a strobe light going all night, it should dim based on time and ambient lighting.
Anyway after about 5 hours the charge was at 81%, after 10 it was at 92%, and after 11.5 it was at 95%
110V 12A charging is very slow, this really wouldnt be practical for everyday driving, but I do have another car I can use when the MINI E's charge is too low.
On the good side I'm finally driving an Electric car, and BMW is waving my lease payments while I dont have the wall charger.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Now Driving MINI E #304

I picked up my MINI E #304 a few hours ago from Morristown MINI and drove it home, what a great ride. Thank you Magdalena and Dean for going through all the details and making for a very smooth experience. Sandy from Facebook, was there too getting his MINI E the same time I was, and they had 3 more for some lucky drivers they were prepping.
The ride home went well, the regenerative brakes were fun, especially going down hill, I did have to us the regular brakes a few times, as I pulled out of the dealership, it accellerated faster then I'd planned, and later at a cross walk I had to stop quickly. I tried to drive normally home, though I just had to gun it a few times, even so I got home with 85% charge left after driving 17.3 miles, and a predicted 83 miles of range left.
Had a little trouble when I got home and had to plug in the 110 charger, at first the car fan whined faster, but I didnt see the charging light come on. After a few times unplugging and replugging I realized I hadnt checked the Amperage setting on the car, went and looked, it was set to 12A, but I cycled through the choices anyway. After that I plugged it in and the charging lights came on.
Well its not going to get much of a charge as Im going out again:)
stay tuned for further updates, and pictures coming soon

Friday, June 5, 2009

My MINI E is on its way

Heard from my MINI dealer that my MINI E is on its way from California to New Jersey and should be here by the middle of next week, even gave me the VIN and first payment information. but he didnt have the side plate number I asked. :( The Dealership (Morristown MINI) sounds very busy, said they had 60 MINI E's to move out by the 26th, going to be a lot of happy drivers in the coming weeks.
Need to call the insurance company, and ask them if that quote they gave me back in January is still good, then be ready to pick up my MINI E when they call.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Wall Charger Installed

Had my Wall charger installed this morning, took about 2 hours, still no cable but otherwise no problems. Next step is for the Township to inspect it, and for the electricians to come back with a charging cable when it arrives, right now MINI doesnt have enough charging cables and the ones they do have are being installed in California.
Some bloggers in LA had mentioned having their wall charger installed and inspected right away, I wonder if LA is pushing EV charger installs to the top of their priority, dont see that happening that fast around here.
This is the 40 Amp charger, I asked the electricians about this and was told all they had recieved for New Jersey was 40 Amp chargers, I was a bit surprised, I know some people in NJ have the ability to use a 60 Amp charger and it seems a real shame not to use them where possible.