Monday, June 29, 2009

Serious Recognition Then Bliss

Today I got some serious recognition, at a MINI dealer, but still real and a regular citizen. I had to stop by Morristown Mini to get my plates, I parked and as I got out this guy ran up to me and said "Is that what I think it is, you actually got one?" He was talking on the cell and continued by saying his friends and him have been talking all about this car and never saw one, then he spoke on his phone and said "Man you will never guess what I'm standing next to". We went over a few of the specs and how it drives then I asked him if he wanted a closer look...he paused and said he was fine just walking around it. Which he proceeded to do all the while describing the car to his friend on the phone. Now I thought this was pretty darn cool.

So on the way home I celebrated by taking the long way home, a drive through Lewis Morris and Jockey Hollow park, and let me tell you this was bliss. I've driven 100s of times through this park but in an EV it makes for a whole new experience, you hear all of nature, and nature does not run away when you approach (watch those deer). Not to mention a number of the walkers noticed me silently passing by and that!!

Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Eco-Car Event

( A MINI E fleet - 1 company car the rest personal)

My company, Comverge, is in the energy management business so anything that plugs into the 'smart grid' we touch. The MINI E was a no brainer for us....and adding it to the list of 'show and tell' products at events was going to be fun.

The day after we got our cars we had an Eco-car event to attend on June 16. We already had our V2G (Vehicle to Grid) eBox concept on the way and having a MINI E join would be icing on the cake. I'll have more on V2G in later posts. By the way, the eBox was coming from Delaware and made it with just 1% left on the charge indicator, talk about close, whew!

(On the roof top - MINI E up front, the V2G is in the way back getting a charge)

(Good looking and very fast EV)

This was a private event on the roof top of a large investment firm in Jersey City. There were quite a few cars to be seen, Mercedes had their new S400 Hybrid and some natural gas cars, Chevy was there (or what's left of them) with their fuel cell Equinox. Toyota was there as was Honda and Nissan showing off their hybrids. Smart was there and an all electric 3 wheeled delivery type car called ZAP. What was a nice surprise was to see Tesla there, so we were not the only all electric cars in attendance.

The MINI was an instant magnet - people just flocked to it - not because it was an electric MINI but because it was a MINI. When they found out it was all electric their eyes popped....the Mercedes guys were carefully examining the car as well as the eBox we had...sneaky.

This was also the day I experienced 'range anxiety'. For one the 110V cable provided with the MINI failed so I was unable to get some juice while at the event and I had 60 more miles to travel (about what was left in the batteries). I may have been one of the early calls to MINI E road side assistance, they asked if I wanted a tow but I said I'm going to go for it. So after the event we head out but hit bad traffic leaving Jersey City and most of it was up hill. I made a straight line to the dealer with about 15 miles to spare (still had 30 more for the day to do) for a quick charge and a new cable....they of course accommodated me.

All ended up well.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Latest Distance Report

As I mentioned in an earlier post I really got on the little MINI E today. Drove it pretty hard and had a lot of fun. Decent to heavy acceleration with equally strong regen braking into turns, etc.

I was pleasantly surprised to see I did not kill my battery and the distance I traveled and energy I used to do it was decent. I took these pics as soon as I got home, it is not bad.

Anyone else seeing similar results?

Leaving Them In Silence

Yesterday I did not drive the MINI E so today I was going to make up for lost time, simply, I was flooring it. This is one very fun car, I think all of you can agree with me.

There is nothing more cool then whirring along with traffic at around 25mph, then pulling away briskly in utter silence leaving the surrounding drivers wondering what the heck was that.

Even with aggressive driving today I was still well within a comfortable MPC (Miles Per Charge) - 17 miles, 84% left from 100%.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hiding In Shame

Today I drove my dino sipper, reason being I needed to stop at the local Babies R Us and pick up some major supplies and it has a trunk. I have always loved this car but I find myself not missing it as much as I thought I would - its an MB CLK and I have it for one more month. I'm really taking a liking to the MINI E so this goes to show EVs have a place on US roads, at least for me.

Anyway, I live in a small NJ turn of around 5,000, there are already 2 MINI Es in town. Mine #402 and a co-workers #438, based on population we are overrun with MINI Es. I was on a small back road and what do I see but another MINI E coming the other way...I waved excitingly like I just came across my twin bother separated at birth and then realised, crap, I'm in a dino burner. I looked straight ahead in shame.

The local dealer in Morristown told me they were delivering 60 plus MINI Es in the area so I was sure to see more, Morristown also got one. I did not expect to see it in my neck of the rabbits these Es are. I hope next time I see one I'm in my MINI E.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Interesting article,

The MINI E will be set free in the UK. One of the utilities will be be setting up private and public charging stations around their territory. Wish some of ours would feel warm and fuzzy and do that.

Hit the link to read:

Driving Like I Always Do

Today I did 43 miles round trip and ended up with 63% left from a 100% charge. I was driving like I normally do, not too slow and accelerate with fun at times, half the route included 15 miles by highway at just over 70mph plus full lights and wipers on.

I definitely attribute the ability to retain power from the regen braking...I really pay attention to it and regen whenever I can (as long as it is safe) really makes a difference in stretching out those miles. I am also getting up to speed a little more quickly rather then slowly. Seems just like a gas car, getting to that speed limit in a reasonable amount of time vs. forever or super quick is more efficient.

Can't Feel The Heat

One of the advantages of an EV, or at least this Mini E, is the absence of excessive heat from the engine or electric motor bay.

I've begun to notice on hotter days (low 80s in the sun) while stuck in traffic I can keep my windows open and still be fairly comfortable - I have not had to use the AC yet. Even after hard runs there is not much heat emanating from the dash or side of the front fenders. What a difference this electric motor makes when it comes to heating up the cabin, it doesn't. The battery pack vents heat efficiently out through the back.

So an EV is not only zero emissions in and out of town town but cooler for all around it. Traffic jams could at least be a cooler place to be stuck in with enough EVs replacing dino burners on the road.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Going The Distance

Since switching to percentage mode on the dash computer I'm feeling much more relaxed and I think I'm doing much better on my distance. Before I had the computer readout set to 'miles left' which freaked me out, the view of miles ticking away was not a confidence builder.

The percentage readout seems to sync (no pun intended) with my brain much better.

I would say early on I was getting around 100mpc (miles per charge), now I am getting 115mpc or more.

Today driving to work, an 18 mile trip, used up only 11% of the battery pack from a 100% charge. My commute varries from rolling country roads to stop and go city to highway. On my way home I stopped by to show the car to a friend. We did multiple serious pedal to the floor acceleration runs and that used just 4%. I arrived home to see the % readout at 68% after a total of 38.6 miles. The 'miles left' readout was at 70....I found this quite good especially since I was really showing what this puppy could do with a friend.

I just have 260 miles on the car but potential distance seems to be improving over time.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It Takes Two Hands

I mentioned earlier in a post that these cars have near full power at 1 RPM. Over 200hp and 162ft lbs of torque that are just 'on'. Powerful front drive cars are notorious for torque steer and the Mini E has it in abundance.

A careful throttle will give you very manageable steering, but step on it and you better be prepared to hang on. It does not take away from the driving or EVing experience, but it may require you to adjust your driving style if you are a casual driver, like start keeping both hands on the wheel in a 10-2 driving style.

First Impressions

I have and have driven fast cars and this one left me impressed.

One needs to understand the basic specs of this car to get the idea of the power:

HP = 201
Torque = 162 ft lbs
Weight = about 3,300 lbs (battery pack is about 500 lbs)
Redine = 13,000 rpm
Top Speed = 95mph computer inhibited
0-62 (UK spec) = 8.5 secs and this seems very conservative

(the top of the Mini E power plant)

Those specs seem just decent on paper but electric motors produce almost full torque at 1 rpm and the torque curve is flatter then the horizon. HP is also near full and stays as the revs grow. Lastly, there is no transmission, it is direct drive, no slipping. This baby kicks EV wannabe booty, this is no hybrid.

BMW, parent company of MiniUSA and the brain child behind this, de-tuned the electric motor which is built by AC Propulsion, so that under 20mph it makes a little less power then it could and the torque has also been lowered to 162 to keep the trans axle from twisting like a pretzel. You can still spin those tires so don't worry.

When my turn came to drive My Mini E for the first time I was the last one off the lot, my co-workers had silently slipped away with their Mini Es....well except for one who tested out the instant power these cars have...he peeled out. I was a little more conservative as a crept out onto the main road then gave it some juice....whoa!

First thing you notice is how incredibly quiet these cars are, just a little whir is about it. Second thing is the seamless amount of power under foot, it is always there, always. First traffic light I came to I got to test out the regenerative!!! That is one aggressive setting and there is no dial back, at least the brake light comes on when you are in full regen mode so as to keep the driver behind you...behind you. After a few lights I got the hang of it and now I find regen intoxicating, give me more!! I regen when I can.

My ride home was about 8 miles and I used about 10% of the batter pack, not bad for a first trip. During the last few miles of my trip I hit a thunderstorm with lightning which certainly made me think....hmm, lightning, rain, electric of course was not an issue as these cars are perfectly safe in rain and do not attract bolts from the sky. However, I decided not to charge the car that night, I should have plenty of juice to get to work in the AM.

The Mini E has a range of about 100 miles, 120 if you are a regen master, and 150 under ideal conditions. Not sure what 'ideal' means since 120 seems to be a lofty goal, ideal might be going down hill on ice.

The Mini Es Have Arrived!!

It has been a week since I took my Mini E home, the evening of June 15 2009, marks the time when my idea of 'dino driving' changed.

(Me in front of #402)
It all began months ago when one of my co-workers mentioned to me that MiniUSA was introducing full EVs to American roads. If you wanted one you had to fill out an online application and hope you bubbled to the top of the other 1,000s already filled out. I was a bit late to the party as this began almost a year ago but heard MiniUSA was still accepting apps. I had high hopes, after all, my company is in the energy management business so these cars would be a perfect match.

Let me tell you, that online application was quite a job, long and tricky. Not to mention Mini tossed in a virus like trick...wonder how many bailed on that one.

I also put the word out to my industry contacts to see if there was a contact in MiniUSA I could speak to so as to plead our case - no luck. So I waited. Weeks later I get an email from Mini asking me some questions about who I am and the company I work for. Later a phone call and the rest is history.

My company, Comverge, took delivery of 4 Mini Es June 15, 2009, #365, #402, #438 and #484. One is for corporate use and the others will be used by three employees as personal vehicles during the 1 year trial period, #402 is My Mini E.

(Richard, Me, John, Paul picking up the 4)

Was it a difficult decision to switch to a Mini E as my main car -we are paying for it ourselves - heck no!! As an avid car buff and tech guy it was a dream come true, imagine being part of a field test, where a select few get to drive a prototype vehicle that screams the future. I've also had experience with EVs as my company occasionally demonstrates the eBox, a V2G car, around the country so this was a no brainer -my drive home from the dealer confirmed this - what a driving experience.