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, March 10, 2010

Warm weather and the choice to renew

In the last week it seems that Spring is finally here on the east coast. The temperature has warmed up and the snow is melting, soon I hope to see green buds on the trees, Spring is a very happy time when you can feel the new year is coming and all sorts of possibilities are open.
I've been fairly lax about writing to my blog over the last couple months, part of that I can attribute to just being very busy with work, but much of it was not wanting to admit the limitations I've had with the MINI E over the winter. As you may remember for a month in December and January MINI E #304 was in the shop, then when I got it back, I was found running the heater on full barely kept the car warm, and killed my range, I've been averaging 70 miles per charge, vrs. 110 I was seeing in the summer.
So for the last two months I've been limiting my MINI E driving to just my daily commute, and using my Z3 to drive to my fiancee's house 80 miles away. There is a short distance route which actually takes longer but is only 70 miles, and maybe I could have gotten by using the MINI E. I would have had to leaving it outside on the 110 charger over the weekend, something even MINI USA doesn't recommend in the cold, then the car would have been VERY cold at 5 am Monday morning we've had a number of really bad snow storms and I was very worried about being caught in one of them while driving the MINI E. Even Lewis and Clark knew not to cross the Sierra Mountains in the Winter, and I was worried about ending up like the Dommer Party. Over the last two months I've only put 1000 miles on #304, while prior to that I was putting about 1200 miles on a month. Now that the weather has warmed up I'm looking forward to driving the MINI E to my Fiancee's house again, and putting many more miles on MINI E #304 until my lease runs out.
Today I received a letter from MINI USA offering me a chance to renew my lease for another year for $600 a month. Some people might consider that still a high price, but considering it covers everything but the cost of electricity and liability insurance it seems a fair price to me. But I have to ask am I right for the MINI E, during the weekdays the MINI E fits my driving well, I rarely drive over 60 miles, 80 miles tops, most days I only drive 40, for which the MINI E is a great commuting car. But on the Weekends I'm either driving to my Fiancee's or we are off to the mountains to go hiking on some back trail, or mountain biking somewhere new, we like to explore and get away from civilization, and technology. Unfortunately this means MINI E #304 usually spends the weekend sitting at one of our homes.
I'm afraid my life style isnt right for a pure electric car as my only car right now. I'm not giving up on Electric cars though, I think the Chevy Volt will be a better fit for my lifestyle. It offers the promise of pure electric driving for the first 40 miles then a gas generator kicks in and powers the car as far as you need, or to the next gas station. This will give me a almost all electric daily commute (All electric if I can convince my company to put chargers in at work), and it give my fiancee and and me the range and cargo room we need to explore the great outdoors, what could be better? Unfortunately the Chevy Volt wont be on sale until November at the earliest and then only in California, Michigan and Washington DC, who knows when it will be available in New Jersey. I may just have to buy it in Washington, and make service trips down there as needed, if they will let me get away with that.
But what do I do in the mean time? My other car a 1997 Z3 with 180,000 miles on it, is feeling her age and doesnt have the cargo space we need. As the weather improves I can drive the MINI E more and more, I'm hating the idea of returning it just as its at its getting to its peak usefulness time of year, and I have no desire to buy another car as a stop gap until I can get the Volt. I've asked MINI USA if the MINI E lease extension is only for a full year or if it could be for a few months, if I can I'd like to keep it a little longer, but not if it means driving it over the Winter.

Finally, stay tuned for a big announcement in two month, the date been set, the reservations made, the ring is being crafted, expect some amazingly beautiful pictures.

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