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, July 29, 2009

#304 gets noticed

Well I've been back home and driving #304 everyday for over a week now, its gotten to be normal no one even notices its electric, including me sometimes.
But the other day I was driving along and I notice the driver in front of my turned his head completely around to look at me, I guessed he was checking that he read my "100% Electric" sign over the window correctly. At the next light I pulled up beside him and he asks if its ALL electric.
I tell him it is and we get to talking, he didnt know MINI made an electric car, and had bought his Mazda because of the acceleration rather then a MINI. Well when the light changed I showed him just how much acceleration an electric MINI has. We drove down the road 10 or so miles, each time he'd catch up I'd leave him in the dust again, then we waved bye, was great fun to open someones eyes to a fun electric car.

I also had my wall charger inspected and it passed, so that is finally done. Having a fast charger makes such a big difference in how I drive, no more worrying if It will be charged enough to use the next day, and I can drive it all day then charge it for an hour or so and drive some more.

Monday, July 20, 2009

no MINI E for a week

We've been on vacation for the last week, had a great time, Mountain biked in Vermont, Climbed Mt Washington in New Hampshire, and Ocean Kayaked in Maine, put 1400 miles on the car, unfortunately it wasn't the MINI E, which had to site allone the Garage for a week.
It was a great trip but I couldnt help thinking it would have been better driving electric. 90% of our driving was on highways, and I really believe that the future is to electrify the highway system, like electric trains, they dont carry masses and masses of batteries, they get most of their power just from the lines over head or a third rail, and just carry enough power to get over short gaps in the rails. I think the future of electric vehicles is like that with cars and semi-trucks getting power directly from the power system while on the highway, with batteries or electric generators for local driving.
Then we can power not just short range commuters but our entire Goods distribution system, from electricity generated locally, and from renewable resources. As long as we power our trucks, buses, trains and ships with Oil, cars are just a small piece of the problem, and we need to look at solutions that solve the overall problem.
While overhead wires would be unsightly, and a high voltage rail would be dangerous, there are other options such as, a smart system that only powers the rail when a car is in motion over it, or a magnetic induction system a powerful magnetic field on the road surface powering cars, or many small low voltage rails on the surface, and cars using thier whole surface area underneath to recieve power, or some combination. I'm sure there are many other ways power could be transferred to a moving vehicle, these are just a few off the top of my head I'd like to see investigated.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Getting Attention

Well its been a whole month since I got MINI E #304 and we've driven over 1200 miles together. Today also marks a big turning point, I just had the Wall charger cable installed, so now I can charge #304 in under 5 hours rather then over 24. While the electrician was installing the cable he found the problem with my lights flickering, turns out the main line into the fuss box from outside wasnt connected tightly, and was arcing, he cut the ends off and tightened them down good.

I've been disappointed that no one seems to notice there is anything special about this car so I added some vinyl lettering to the car, "100% Electric" for over the front window, and "Just Say No to Gas" for on the rear. Now maybe someone will notice this is one Cool car.

Monday, July 6, 2009

to drive or not to dirve electric

This weekend my fiancee and I drove to an area we are thinking about moving to, it is only 35 miles away but while there we planned to drive around and get a feel for the area. So the big question was which car to drive, I really wanted to drive the MINI E and knew we could make the 70 miles there and back, but how much would we be just driving around to look at houses and stores? In the end we decided we better take the Z3. I measured our driving anyway and we got back home after driving 105 miles. I think we could we have done this trip in the MINI E, but range anxiety would have made me head back sooner then planned. This brings up one of the biggest problems with an electric car, now days, while it is great at driving between known points, if your going to drive extra, and dont know how much that will be, your range anxiety can be really strong. I hope public charging stations, or range extended EV's will solve this problem, I also think a intelligent GPS navigation system that would work with the car to tell you when to head home would be great.

I also have been having problems with my home electric since the wall charger was installed (even though Im not using it yet). At times the lights will flicker in and out, at first this happened only rarely and only in the bedroom, but over this weekend it became almost non-stop, with about half the lights in the house flikering in and out, including the fridge. Being a holiday weekend it was hard to contact anyone, but the elcetrician I've been working with was kind enough to talk to me, even though he was in the middle of a party, and while he couldnt come right out, made some good sugestions one being it might be every other switch in the fuss box, which seemed to be correct, and to contact the electric company to see if there was a problem in the area.
I called up the electric company and reported a partial outage, and had a service man over within a couple hours, only everything was working fine by the time he got there, he ran a load test but wasnt able to find anything wrong. He did see my MINI E and commented that it was a nice car, and when I told him it was electric was very interested, showed it off to him and he was very impressed.
Well having the charging cable installed this week, and will have them double check the connections in the fuss box, but sofar the flickering lights seems to be a mystery.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Driving Update

Been driving #304 for over 3 weeks now, and enjoy it very much. Last weekend we put a bicycle rack on the back and went out to Allamuchy Mountain for some mountain biking. The bike rack worked well even though this was the first time I'd used it with a hatch back, didnt see a big drop in the range, even with two people in the car and the bikes creating a lot of wind drag. #304 did great getting nice and dirty with the big boys on a little dirt road with 2 feet deep pot holes. Would of been a perfect trip if I hadnt taken a bad fall on the trail, I'm fine now, but was limping for a couple days.
This morning I had a problem where #304 wouldnt start up, I pressed the start button and the lights all went through the normal pattern, but the charge guage didnt move, could put it in gear and the D came on for drive, but it wouldnt go. Had to hit the start/stop button a few times and eventually got it to work, but it was quite strange.
Got my first bill from MINI for $850, BMW/MINI has offered to waive this first months payment and has told us to ignore this bill as the credit will show up in our next bill.
I also got an email that my wall charging cable will be in next week, so hopefully I'll have a working wall charger soon, this will mean less rest days for #304 and a lot more driving, I seem to be suffering from perpetual charging anxiety this is like range anxiety, only I'm not driving as fast or as far as I can because I know it will take a day to recharge the batteries.