Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finally hit ------ miles tonight

Ended up doing an extra unplanned trip today and put 117 miles on #140. I charged for approx 5 1/2 hours on 110 while at work and due to the holidays, the freeways were pretty open with not much opportunity for regen. The light traffic combined with the extra trip to Redondo Beach this evening brought about my first flat line ( ---- miles). Based on others experience, I wasn't to worried about not making it home. Loving the car and now that I'm past this milestone, I'll feel a little less worried next time it happens which probably won't be to often. :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hailey asked Santa for a lease extension and....

Okay, so I know this is hard to believe and I may have helped with the wording but Hailey asked Santa for something really special this year. She asked for a lease extension on the MINI E until the BMW ActiveE is available for testing and then to top it off, she asked if we could be part of the ActiveE field trial. With the four seats in the ActiveE, we'd be able to go everywhere as a family. Santa promised he'd talk to Richard Steinberg and the other folks at BMW about it. I sure hope her wish comes true.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

11,500 and climbing

The MINI E continues to meld into our daily lives and now is basically taken for granted. This is a good thing. I have no doubt when I take off that I'll get where I'm going and have a great driving experience too. The 100% torque is always fun and continues to wake up passengers.

Was happy to see the article about the next EV vehicle from BMW, Concept ActiveE. Check out the press release that's part of Autoblog's posting at:


As I read through the press release, it became apparent that BMW has noted many of the comments folks in the MINI E trial have made and implemented them with this next generation.

If given the opportunity, I'd be thrilled to be part of the Concept ActiveE field trial.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interesting MINI E Battery Info

In today's MINI E weekly update, they shared some interesting info about the battery that powers the MINI E:


Have you ever wondered where energy is stored in the MINI E? We all know the High Voltage battery occupies the space normally reserved for rear seat passengers in a MINI Cooper, but did you know the HV battery in the MINI E is actually an assembly of 5088 individual cells which work together to handle the energy storage functions for the car’s propulsion system?

The voltage for the HV battery system is approximately 390V when fully charged, but each of the 5088 cells has a much lower voltage. To start, 53 cells are connected in parallel to form what is called a unit. Much like setting glasses of water next to each other, connecting batteries in parallel does not alter the voltage, or pressure, but increases the storage capacity, or volume of the assembly. Next, two units are connected in series to form a module which roughly doubles the voltage. Mounting batteries in series is what is typically done in a flashlight with 1.5V alkaline cells – they are connected end to end from the positive to negative terminal, to increase voltage. The following step provides a dramatic increase in voltage by connecting 48 modules, in series, turning the 5088 cells into the full voltage HV battery. The complete battery assembly is mounted within three metal battery cases found underneath the neatly upholstered dome in the back of each MINI E, and weighs in at 573 pounds. Now you have a lot more to think about each time you plug in to recharge your favorite car.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

10,000 Miles and climbing

I finally hit the 10,000 mile mark back on 11/20/09. With the holidays and all, I've been a little behind on my blog postings. Finally, with the addition of the large plug sticker on each door, folks are starting to notice the car more. I've gotten quite a few thumbs up of late. The car is driving great and continues to be a blast to drive. Driving clean doesn't have to be boring and the MINI E does a great job of adding excitement to my daily commute.

That's our daughter in the picture and she loves the MINI E as much as we do. Hopefully by the time she's driving, there will be many electric cars to choose from. She's very excited about electric cars and is frequently saying how she doesn't like riding in "stinky gas cars". A few weeks ago we drove the MINI E up to Glendale, CA to check out the Leaf. It was a lot of fun and we both had our picture taken with the Leaf.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

First full month of new TOU-EV-1 rates

On October 1st, Edison dropped their TOU-EV-1 rates for folks charging "Off Peak". Now that my bill has come, I can report that with all taxes and fees included, we're paying 10.9 cents per kwh for charging the MINI E between 9pm and Noon. With charging at work via the 110 cable an average of 6 hours, I find myself using 21 kwhs on average to drive from Long Beach to Burbank, CA. This drive is 83 miles or so and is made up of approx 45 miles of highway driving 70 - 75 mph and the rest mixed stop and go. This brings the cost of the average trip to $2.29. Can't complain about that. Thank You Edison and MINI.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Great time in Culver City & MINI E articles

Enjoyed the latest MINI E get together on Sunday November 8th in Culver City. John O'Dell from Edmunds.com was there and wrote a short article about his visit with the Pioneers. The group picture was taken by John. Here's the link:

Edmunds visits with MINI E drivers

There's been a few articles about the MINI E of late and thought I'd include them here. Here's one from WIRED. Be sure to click on the PDF link near the beginning of the article for Richard Steinberg's presentation materials. He discusses the MINI E program and how it's been going.

WIRED article on MINI E program thus far

Here's another one from Car & Driver:

Car & Driver article

#140 is quickly approaching 10,000 miles. The quirks seem to have been worked out and the miles are flying by. We would love a lease extension and the opportunity to continue providing BMW all the research data they'd like. :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

No Fluids, No Leaks

Another reason I love the MINI E, no fluids. With no fluids, it's hard to have a fluid leak. Why do I bring that up, you may ask. Well, the past few days we've been driving our Ford Freestyle more than we have been. I started noticing a leak underneath and today took it in to get fixed. The service advisor noticed we hadn't put many miles on the car since our last visit to fix a transmission leak and asked what was up. Perfect opportunity to talk about the MINI E. He was very interested in the car and we had a nice chat. As I headed back home, I realized this type of problem is something I'll never have to worry about with an EV. Sure, there might be other problems that arise, but leaks will soon be something of the past. :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Back from 8000 mile service with Plug Decal!

Everything went smooth at the 8000 mile service. Was able to chat with Nelson, the Flying Doctor, serving Long Beach MINI. We were discussing brake wear and he mentioned they have a MINI E with 48,000 miles on it and the brakes still look great. A regular MINI, I'm told, needs brakes around 20,000 miles. During the visit we had the Plug Decal applied. It looks great. Since we had ELECTRIC put on both doors and the back hatch we thought using just the plug would look a little different. Double click the photos to enlarge. Glad to have #140 back on the road.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

8000 Mile Service

The miles come quickly in the MINI E. Currently in for 8000 mile service. Next service will be at 13,000 miles. As the miles climb so does my love of driving electric. Was able to pick up a Maintenance Checklist. Click on the photos to enlarge. (There should be two photos...I noticed one disappears sometimes)

The decals should be in soon.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Alternative Car Expo 09, MINI E get together and ELECTRIC emblems

Had a great time this past Saturday with other MINI E folks checking out the Alternative Car Expo in Santa Monica. Rich Steinberg, Manager of the MINI E program, was there along with some other MINI folks. Rich took the time to visit with all the MINI E drivers and it was great to have him there. He mentioned that the decals should be showing up at the dealers shortly. He also said he understood the interest in extending the leases that many drivers have expressed and that is in discussion. Sounded like a pretty good possibility. He also understands that the price is in issue as well. While he couldn't comment about pricing particulars, my personal opinion is that any lease extension will have a lower lease payment. Current $850.00 payment is based on a closed end 12 month lease. I mentioned to Rich that with a price adjustment, I'm very interested in a lease extension that would perhaps bridge to the next BMW/MINI electric vehicle.

You may have seen other MINI E drivers that have added the word ELECTRIC to their E. Here in the Southern California area many have had it done by Michael Wittman from Third Planet Energy. I was happy to see Michael at the event in Santa Monica and asked him to set me up. You can see the result from the pictures. Before he applied them we measured to make sure that I can still apply the full decal (MINI + the plug symbol) if I wish to both doors. I'm still not sure if we'll go with the full decal or perhaps just the plug centered on each door. Michael can be contacted at www.thirdplanetenergy.com The cost is $40.00 for one or $99.00 for all three. Tax is added and this includes installation.

I'm quickly approaching 7500 miles in #140. At the expo and now hopefully with the ELECTRIC emblems, I'll continue to have more frequent discussions with folks about the E. Along with the talk of range, electricity costs, etc I have to remember to remind folks the central thing about driving the E....the driving experience itself...it's a MINI for heaven's sake. What MINI has done is create something that's Zero Emission but also a blast to drive. Fun, Quick, Earth Friendly, Low fuel costs...just a few words that describe my experience with the E.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

New TOU-EV-1 Rates start Oct 1st

Was super happy to hear that the new rates start tomorrow and if you charge off peak and live in the Southern California Edison area, you'll be saving money. The meter rental fee of .18 a day is also being dropped. Might not sound like much but that's $5.40 a month. The on peak rates are going up. All the more reason to chage off peak. Thank You Edison!

Monday, September 21, 2009

MINI E get together on Autoblog Green website :)

I've always loved the websites Autoblog and AutoblogGreen. Yesterday, after our meet up in Long Beach, I sent in some photos. Was happy to see this pop up a few minutes ago on their website:

MINI E AutoblogGreen Article

Sunday, September 20, 2009

West Coast MINI E get together earlier today :)

Wow, it was a sea of MINI E cars earlier today at Cisco Burger in Long Beach, CA. I've never seen so many MINI E's in one place. Heck, I hardly see any on the road even though I'm driving 80+ miles a day at various hours. Today was the first get together of MINI E drivers here on the West Coast that I'm aware of. Most folks at the event found out about it via the MINI E group on Facebook. It's an active group and if you're a MINI E driver or just someone interested in the car, join it. You'll find more photos on Facebook. I took these four with the Palm Pre. I have to say that the Pre takes better photos than my regular digital camera. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Got noticed, Edison picked up the Data Recorder, Frankfurt......

Yesterday, while out for dinner, we were noticed due to the KNOW GAS license plate. It's amazing that still hardly anyone notices the MINI E and that it's 100% Electric. I hear the decals for the side of the car, the plug and the word "MINI" will be arriving soon. Will be interesting to see if this increases awareness.

This past Tuesday, Edison was by to pick up the Data Recorder they installed a month ago to track our draw, charge times, etc. They'll be providing me with a graph charting everything in the next few weeks. While I've been keeping track of miles driven and kwhs used every day, it'll be interesting to see the other info.

Currently at 6200 miles and now that the early kinks have been worked out, this should climb pretty steadily. I charge every day at work via the 110 cable for approx 6 to 8 hours depending on the day. This has cut my overnight home kwh usage to an average of 23 from 28 to 29 when I wasn't charging at work.

It's exciting to see the numerous EV announcements this week at the Frankfurt auto show. I'm thrilled to be part of this shift towards EVs and look forward to what the future holds.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Went to Coffee & Cars this morning in #140

I'd been hearing about Coffee & Cars in Irvine for some time now and finally was able to check it out this morning. It happens most every Saturday at 1 Premier Place, nearest major intersection is Alton and Irvine Center Dr in Irvine, CA. Lots of free parking and you can buy coffee, muffins, etc on site. I arrived at 7am and everything was in full swing. By about 8am cars start rolling out so get there early. Was happy to see MINI E #67 in the exhibit area. We had a nice visit. He only has 1000 miles on his car. Here is a link to some pictures from this morning:

Coffee & Cars 09/05/09

This would be a fun place for other MINI E folks to gather as the spectator parking lot is gigantic and free.

Used up a lot of battery power getting there today on the 405. No traffic either way and seeing all those sports cars inspired me to drive faster coming home. :)

Now have 5500 miles on #140 and going strong!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tesla considering Long Beach and Downey, CA for assembly plant

Was happy to see this as the big headline in this morning's Long Beach Press Telegram newspaper:

Tesla considering Long Beach and Downey, CA as possible plant sites

Click above to view article.

In MINI E news, we're crossing the 5000 mile mark today and going strong. The heat is a factor with the range and battery temp but if you adjust your driving habits you can motor on. :)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Enjoyed our visit with Justin & Dahlia from UC Davis

This past Monday evening we were interviewed by Justin & Dahlia from UC Davis as part of the study they are conducting with MINI. We enjoyed visiting with them and sharing our thoughts and experiences with the MINI E. It was apparent to us from the questions being asked that MINI is very interested in our thoughts, ideas, feelings, etc about the car. We're very hopeful the information gained from this study will help MINI create a future EV that will be available sooner than later.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back on the road again with the MINI E

After 6 days out of service, I picked up #140 this morning. Have no further info on what the problem was other than it involved the battery. See Matt's post in the comments section of post below for more info on what was probably addressed.

Having put 325 miles on the Cooper S, it took a few miles to get use to the MINI E again. The cars drive so differently.

Hopefully my last service visit for a while.

Friday, August 14, 2009

#140 needs some new modules

#140 has two bad modules. Not sure what that means other than it involves taking apart the entire back part of the car that houses all the batteries. This is the first time the Flying Doctors have had to do a module replacement (at least in Oxnard, CA). Hope to have car back early next week. The problem was discovered during my first scheduled service visit. I had no indication anything was wrong and the car was driving great. Will update more when I know. Will be cruising in the S until the E's return.

Matt Walton via the MINI E group on Facebook provided this updated info:

Per spec sheet;

Battery Design - 53 cells connected in parallel constitute a unit, 2 units connected in series constitute a module, 48 modules connected in series constitute the battery; 5,088 individual cells in total.

Pictured at link below, scroll down to year 2005;


Based on this explanation, 212 out of 5088 have gone bad.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Some thoughts on the 09 Cooper S after 80 miles

Today I drove the S from Burbank to Long Beach and back. Also drove around at lunch. 80 miles for the day. I'd forgotten how traditional gas cars (more so on sports cars) jerk around. Whether you're accelerating, shifting, braking, idling...the car is constantly moving around. The E is so smooth with the regen that after 4000 miles of driving I'd really started to take it for granted. Only when you get back in a gas powered car do you start to realize what an amazing automobile the E really is. The throw you back in your seat acceleration, the awesome regen that once you master provides a very smooth driving experience to the overall ride, the E is hard to beat. Driving the S made me appreciate the E even more. My previous post said I'd choose the S if I had to choose a gas powered MINI. Changed my mind, I'd wait for the electric version. :)

Driving the 09 Cooper S today

Driving the 09 Cooper S while the E is in for a brief time out. If I had to choose a gas powered MINI that would be the one but nothing beats the E.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

MINI E #140 heading to Oxnard for a visit

Just had a call from my service advisor at Long Beach MINI. During my recent service visit...approx 400 miles ago...they ran some tests on the battery and just now have the results back. Appears they may need to replace the entire battery or parts of it and #140 needs to go to Oxnard ASAP. While car is driving fine, I was told the range could diminish over time, without being serviced. Will follow up with more details when I have them. Dropping off in the morning. Wasn't told how long it will take to fix but hopefully not to long. Currently at 4200 miles and loving the gas free E!

Friday, August 7, 2009

First service visit and thoughts on 09 Convertible

#140 is back on the road. Just had the first official service visit at 3700 miles. Control Modules were checked, motor components, charge plug, suspension, brakes, etc. No problems and I had car back in 24 hours from drop off. Thanks Long Beach MINI! The tech left a brochure for police/fire folks in case of an accident, on the front passenger seat.

Had the chance to drive the new 2009 MINI convertible while the E was in for service. I paid the extra $25.00 for the upgrade to Enterprise (on site at Long Beach MINI). It's a nice car. A couple of observations. 1) I'd forgotten how loud a regular engine is. 2) With the top down you can see all around the vehicle easily however with the top up there are some big blind spots near the rear pillars on each side. I wouldn't feel comfortable driving it on the freeway each day with the top up. 3) There's a gauge that keeps track of how long you've been driving with the top down. Nice touch. It would be a great car for cruising around the city, beaches, etc.

Glad to be back in the MINI E!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I made it into a Business Week article

Yesterday, David Welch at Business Week and I had a nice phone conversation about the MINI E. Today, the article appeared online:

Business Week Article 8/4/09

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

First Official Service Visit for #140

On Wednesday, our MINI E is going in for it's 3000 mile service visit with a little over 3700 miles on the odometer. Everything has been running great so hopefully it'll be in and out the same day.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

HOV aka Carpool Lane Stickers arrived!

I was thrilled to finally receive the HOV stickers for the MINI E. They arrived this past Thursday and I put them on before driving up to Universal City from Long Beach. This took me on the 405 and then to the 110 where the carpool lane is two lanes for a good portion of the drive. It didn't take long before a CHP motorcycle officer whipped up behind me from out of nowhere. He looked over the back of the car and then pulled beside me (driver's side) and then dropped back again before zipping back into regular traffic. I was a little concerned about my sticker placement. I took it upon myself to apply the stickers where I did, feeling this would provide the best visibility. 3 stickers arrived. 2 large and 1 small. I decided to only put one of the large stickers on the car. The diagram that comes with the stickers shows a car from the 70s with giant side panels and wheel wells. The MINI doesn't have these spaces. Since this officer didn't pull me over, I'm hoping that I did okay. It's awesome to be driving gas free in the HOV lanes. 3600 miles and climbing....loving the MINI E!

Double click photos to enlarge.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Edison installed a data recorder today

Today Rey Goco (EV Infrastructure Technical Specialist) from Edison came by with Angelo and installed a Data Recorder that will keep track of our power use, load, times we're charging, etc for the next month. Edison has contacted 10 folks to monitor and we're happy to help out. They'll be using the info they gather to insure they're ready to go as more EVs come to market.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

MINI E out runs three souped up Acura's

Tonight as we were heading back from dinner on surface streets we started to hear some engine revving and noticed in the rear view mirror three Acura Integra's hot rodding through traffic. At the next light, we all ended up together. These guys had gauges galore, giant pipes, fire extinguishers mounted near the windshield, etc. Two on my left side, one behind me. This left one open lane on the right. This was a moment I'd been waiting for. I could see the guy behind us looking at our license plate (KNOW GAS) but the two to the left didn't give us a second thought. When that light changed, we changed lanes and floored it leaving all three behind. We happened to be going through a tunnel and the echo of their engines was super loud. I hit 85mph about half way through and eased off as they blew by me. They were probably doing 100+ at that point. At the next light all three noticed us and were giving the car a good look over. They were smiling and shaking their heads. It's gotta be a little humbling realizing that your street racer just got beat by an electric car. Another fun day in the MINI E!

3000 miles and going strong!

Just passed the 3000 mile mark. Love the car! 3 folks took the car for a spin this past week. When they punched it, the remarks were the same...WOW! Any perceptions of a golf cart wrapped up in a MINI body were quickly erased.

I'll be attending the EV event in Long Beach, CA on August 11th. Hope to see other MINI E folks there!

Here's a link for more info:

Long Beach EV Event August 11th

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Electric Cars in the United States tech brief

This paper was commissioned by the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at the University of California, Berkeley.

Interesting reading:


Thanks Paul at http://magiccman.blogspot.com/ for posting this on his blog.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

101 Highway Miles today with miles to spare!

Today was another great day in the MINI E! Decided to see if a 100 mile highway trip was possible and I'm happy to report it was with miles to spare. Even better, 96 of these miles were highway miles with speeds from 65 - 70 with no traffic. We drove from Long Beach, CA to Upland, CA and back. It was a fantastic drive and best of all, no gas. As I was coming home I was right next to a Shell Gasoline double tanker truck for a few miles. As one who was spending close to $300 a month on Shell Gasoline, it was one of those many happy moments I've had driving the MINI E. Setting aside the problems and the sometimes bad press, it's moments like that that really make me thankful for being part of this field trial.

I know the details can bore some folks but for those interested here they are:

101 Miles Traveled, 10% charge left, 11 miles left as I drove into garage.

Trip to Upland - 50.5 miles

My wife was the passenger. Outside temp in Long Beach was 82 when we left and 104 in Upland when we arrived. Battery temp never got past 97. We kept the a/c on low and radio on low volume. Daytime Running Lamps were off. Kept speed between 65 - 70 miles per hour despite being passed by almost 100 cars. :) When we arrived I was a little concerned that the gauge showed miles left to travel as 37 and the battery left % at 35. I knew that this part of the trip was slightly uphill but still was a little concerned.

Car sat for 4 hours in carport.

Trip back to Long Beach:

Just me driving home for the return trip. Was happy to see when I started car, miles left were now 44 and battery charge left was 49%. The sitting around in the shade seemed to have helped. Time was 8pm, outside temp was now 84 and since it was dark, turned on the headlights. Decided to keep a/c and radio off just to be safe. Put fan on low and hit the road. Once again I kept speed between 65 - 70. It was smooth sailing all the way home and I was able to take advantage of brake regen now and then as I drove because the ride back to Long Beach was slightly downhill. Battery temp never higher than 95.

A couple of things learned on this trip. First, as one who normally, when traffic permits, drives 75 -77, by driving 65-70 you really can increase your range. This little bit of speed adjustment really helped. Second, don't freak out if you see the battery % and miles left a little lower than you'd like when you get somewhere. Chances are when the car sits for a bit, it will climb slightly. Plus if your trip was slightly uphill going, remember going back it'll be slightly downhill and you'll get a little extra range. (provided you drive in a similar fashion)

I'll update this post in the morning with kwhs used for this trip. #140 charging on the Time of Use Meter right now. *Update: 31 kwhs used for this trip.

Another great gas free day!

Friday, July 17, 2009

ZEV Parking Decal came today

Received my official ZEV Parking Decal today (State of California) I probably didn't really need this but thought what the heck, it's offered so I'll apply for one. :) Decal measures approx 2" square. Here's the link for more info:

CA DMV ZEV Decal Info

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

MINI E gift box arrived :)

Today we received a gift box of MINI E goodies from MINI. Inside was a hat, mouse pad, custom key chain with our car's number on it, cards to give out to folks inquiring about the MINI E, one dice, a notebook with pen and stickers that you can use to make up phrases about your MINI. Not pictured is a black bag. Thanks MINI!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MINI E back with new Gold Box

We picked up our car this evening at around 7pm from Long Beach Mini. Earlier this morning the gold box under the hood was replaced. I was told that the MINI E tech was very familiar with the problem we experienced (see earlier post video) and we were the 5th one he'd worked on with this problem. When I peeked under the hood after returning home, I noticed some stickers that weren't there before including the large one on the box itself. Glad to have the car back and hope not to be back at the dealer until our 3000 mile check up. The gas powered MINI loaner was fun but it was no MINI E. :)

When picking up your car from a service visit, be sure to check the charge setting before plugging in. Mine was set at 50amp the last two service visits.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The mysterious golden box

Dropped off the car this morning for the problem mentioned in blog post below. Received word back that parts have been ordered and the MINI E tech will be installing them on Wednesday. The parts involve the mysterious golden box under the hood. Should know more soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Video of car auto shifting to "N' while driving

Unfortunately, we're still having the problem with the MINI E shifting to "N" on it's own while we're driving. The gear shifter still shows "D" but the display shows "N". See video below. The set up for what'll you see: Dry road, sunny, driving at 40mph and punching it....video shows what happens:

Saturday, July 4, 2009

#140 auto shifting to Neutral while driving

Car was acting quite strange this evening. Car was parked all day and I decided to give my Cousin a test drive before calling it a day. We started off with 100% charge and traveled about 1 mile with no problem. I then took the car up to 40mph and then punched it...wanting to demonstrate the quick pick up even while moving....I immediately heard a loud pop and noticed that the car had switched to neutral and the triangle next to the miles traveled had lit up...similar to how it does when the battery warning light comes on at 29% charge. While still moving I moved the gear shift to neutral (it still showed "D" even though the display showed "N") and then back to drive and the car appeared to be back to normal. However the triangle stayed lit up. We then stopped, turned off the car, waited a minute and then started it again. Triangle was gone and all seemed well. Took off again and whamo, happened again at approx 40 mph...once I punched it, a loud pop and then the neutral light was lit up again. We repeated this a total of 4 times over the course of our 3 mile test drive. This is the first time I've ever had this problem. We'll see if I can repeat it tomorrow.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Video of the MINI E charging at work

Picked up the 110V cable this past Thursday from Long Beach MINI and shot a short video of the MINI E charging at work.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

EV Electric Vehicle Auto Mall article

Saw this interesting article in the Long Beach Business Journal about turning a closed auto dealership into a multi electric vehicle mall. Hope it happens.

Click here to go to article

Monday, June 29, 2009

Proper use of the 110V Charging Cable

MINI e-mailed out a PDF earlier today explaining in detail the proper use of the 110V cable. Thought those not in the program might also be interested in the cable info. Now at almost 1500 miles and going strong!

110V Charging Cable Guide

If you're not seeing the PDF when you click, you may need to update FLASH.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Personalized Plates Arrived

Just put on our personalized plates today. Hit 1400 miles as I returned from the DMV. The MINI E has been so much fun to drive. Can't imagine going back to gas once the trial ends.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Business Week interviews Shai Agassi

Founder and chief executive of electric vehicle services provider, Better Place, Shai Agassi is interviewed by BusinessWeek's energy and environment editor, Adam Aston, on Monday June 15th.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

93 Mile commute today

Drove 93 miles today on a single charge. Went from Long Beach to Universal City to Burbank, out to lunch and then after work drove back to Long Beach. The car is working great and the warning light I encountered (see earlier blog postings) has not returned. It was a little warmer up in Burbank today and I noticed that the Battery temp stayed right at 102 for most of the 40 miles drive home. When I pulled into the garage I had 9 miles remaining and 11% battery charge. A/C was on 90% of the time and the Daytime Running Lights are now on full time. Also listening to radio 100% of the time. I'm currently at 975 miles and will cross 1000 tomorrow. The miles fly by quickly in the MINI E. :)

Update: It took 30 kwhs to recharge back to 100% this morning.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Costco, Sam's Club, 95 mph and more!

These past few days have been a blast! #140 has been in Huntington Beach, Carson, Burbank and everywhere in between. In all our travels we've yet to see another MINI E although we were spotted by Jim #230.

We even did the unthinkable and went to Costco one day and Sam's Club the next. I'm happy to report that a 32 Pack of Arrowhead Water fits perfectly on the floor of the passenger's side. We were able to pack up the back with all sorts of things and while we needed to leave some packaging behind, it all fit and we didn't put anything on top of the batteries.

The reason we've been to all these places in the MINI E is because it's such a blast to drive that we don't want to drive our other vehicle. I've hit the 95mph max at least five times and only one of those times was intentional. When on the freeway it's so easy to go from 65 to 95 in seconds. Each time the Regen kicks in right at 95 and starts slowing the car down. I'm zipping around cars with little effort.

Normally on my drive to work and back (80 miles total) I drive 65 or so (when I can) and basically get blown off the road. Today, I said enough of this and decided to flow with traffic and had a good 10 or so miles of 80+. Granted this caused the miles left indicator to drop to 8 miles as I exited the freeway but by the time I got home it had climbed back up to 15. This was as low as I had taken it.

Each day I look forward to hoping in #140 for another adventure!

Total miles today: 85.5
Total kwhs used: 28
This was the first day using the Daytime Running Lamps. Plan on leaving them on going forward.

I also keep the A/C on 90% of the time when I drive with the fan set at the lowest setting.

P.S. As gas prices climb past $3.00, these adventures are more economical than ever. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

44 miles of trouble free driving today

Today we were zipping around the hills of Palos Verdes, CA. The MINI E zips up the hills with no problem and minimal noise. Lots of Regen use today and thankfully no warning lights. The more we drive it the more we love it. Can't wait for tomorrow.

Still awaiting word from the dealer on what was actually discovered during it's time in Oxnard. Not sure if I'll ever know but if I hear something, it'll be posted here pronto!

The 44 miles of driving today used 47% of the battery. 17 kwhs used to recharge.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

MINI E #140 is back!

Our MINI E arrived back from Oxnard over a week early! No details on what they discovered but we were thrilled to get the car back. They put 28 miles on it. Also saw car #005 was back too. Can't wait to get back to driving. I put 375 miles on the regular gas MINI and once back in the MINI E I could immediately tell the difference. The sound of silence along with the super quick acceleration off the line were missed during it's absence.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Being patient

Spoke briefly to salesperson at Long Beach MINI this afternoon who thanked me for my patience. My questions regarding a possible lease extension or credit for days out of service during the trial must be addressed by corporate. I've sent e-mails and awaiting a response. It appears the priority for MINI/BMW at the moment is to get the cars out by June 30th in order to get the CARB credits. I understand that and hope that once that happens the communication will improve. Up to this point, it's been pretty one way. If I wasn't persistent and making phone calls, I'd still be waiting for my charger install. Glad to see other cars rolling out in the East and hope the problems Joel and I experienced are isolated to our two cars. Can't wait to get back in the MINI E.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Sad news about MINI E #140

Just received some sad news about our MINI E. It needs to be taken to Oxnard, CA for further evaluation and won't be back until next Thursday or Friday (June 18th or 19th). I'm awaiting to hear about a lease adjustment or extension on the lease. I'd really like a full year with the MINI E. More details as I get them.

Joel's car also heading to Oxnard.

Monday, June 8, 2009

MINI E Techs coming tomorrow

Dropped off #140 this morning for the issue mentioned in earlier posts. Now driving a gas powered MINI as a loaner. MINI E techs coming tomorrow to look at our car and another MINI E also in for service.

While driving the gas powered MINI the first thing I noticed was the noise at city speeds. Also the acceleration is nothing compared to the E. Haven't drove the S yet so can't compare it to that version.

Put 80 miles on the gas version today.

Hope to have some news to report tomorrow (Tuesday)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

560 Miles in the MINI E and finally recognized!

This afternoon we were parked on Hollywood Blvd about a block down from the Pantages Theater. We had just seen Dirty Dancing and were checking out a small car show that was set up on a side street. I've become so use to folks not recognizing the car, I was pretty shocked when a large family approached us asking about the MINI E. We had short chat about the car and I showed them a few things. They were very happy to see the car in person.

Unfortunately, on the way home, the same warning light we've been seeing the past three days made it's appearance again. At first I thought it was related to stop and go traffic but this time it came on during highway driving. Each time it would stay on for 2 to 3 minutes with the loss of Regen during this time. Battery temp was 91, outside temp was 71. We stopped to eat for about an hour on our way back to Long Beach and upon starting up, the light appeared yet again but this time went out within 30 seconds or so. We jumped back on the 5. Once we hit the 605, traffic was flowing at 80+. I decided to keep it at 80 and flow with traffic. After about 10 minutes of this, the battery temp was close to 100 and finally hit 100 as we got off the freeway. The warning light did not come back on during this little test.

Tomorrow morning the vehicle goes in for service. Hopefully MINI E #140 won't be gone to long. Other than this little snafu, it's been a great week of driving.

Friday, June 5, 2009

MINI E #140 Good News & Bad News

Today brought some good news and bad news. Good news first. Paul from Sunpower Electric came by this morning and made a fix to our timer. When the timer was turning on and triggering the Clipper Creek box to charge the car, it wasn't working...just a green blinking light on the charger. Now, all is working great!

26 kwhs worth of electricity for 80 miles of driving seems very consistent. This has been the number for the past three days.

Now the bad news. On the way to Burbank today, the warning light noted in yesterday's post came on again. It came on at almost the exact same part of my commute (approx 30 miles in) under very similar conditions...stop and go traffic, 72 degrees outside and a battery temp of only 87 degrees. Today it stayed on for approximately 5 minutes. When the light is on and you lift your foot off the gas, you just coast at full speed. It came on a second time during my journey but only for a few seconds. On my way home yesterday there was no traffic and no warning lights. As I write this I'm still in Burbank, keeping my fingers crossed for the drive home tonight. It's a little scary when the Regen goes out when you're coming to a stop in stop and go traffic. After a while you get so use to it, when it goes out, it's quite startling. Long Beach MINI checked with Nadine at MINI E headquarters (if theres is such a place) and the car needs to be looked at by the techs. Car will be going in for service on Monday at 6:30 a.m.

We love driving the MINI E and hope that this issue can be resolved quickly so we can get back on the road.

We'll be at 450 miles when I return home this evening. For those still waiting for your car, it's worth the wait...hang in there!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

First problem with MINI E :(

Today I had my first warning light come on. It happened three times during my 40 mile drive to work in stop and go traffic. For those with the car, it's the symbol on page 101 of the manual, second one up from the bottom. Here's the description of what the warning light means:

"Energy Recovery limited due to hot high voltage battery"

"Be ready to brake at all times as the vehicle is not decelerated as is usual during energy recovery"

You lose the Regen function when light is on.

Outside temp was 74, left a cool garage before starting my drive. Battery temp was 91 when light came on.

I've been told that running the AC will help cool the battery as the cool air will go into the vents behind the front seats. Will try that and see what happens.

I'm now at 340 miles and loving the car! Still no one has noticed that the MINI E is anything special.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

MINI E second trip to Burbank a success!

Our MINI E had it's first guest driver today, a former pilot. He loved it. The torque steer reminded him of some planes he's flown. He couldn't stop talking about how much fun it was to drive.

I quickly recharged and then was off to Burbank via Universal City. Today's journey consisted of light traffic both ways with my return journey at night using the headlights. The xenon lights provide great visability and didn't seem to drop the battery power to much. I kept my speed to around 60 mph on the return trip. As I pulled in to the garage, I had 26 miles remaining. Car is a blast to drive! Can't wait for tomorrow.

Miles driven today: 81
kwhs used: 26

Monday, June 1, 2009

MINI E to Burbank and back

Today was our MINI E's first long road trip. First a little charging info. When our TOU (Time of Use) meter was installed this morning, I immediately charged the car to 100%. Our Clipper Creek box is the 32 amp version. There's even a note on the orange charging cable to remind you to set the car to 32 amp. The manual shows this version will take approx 4 1/2 hours for a full charge. The car was at approx 55% charge with 47 miles remaining. It took 2 1/2 hours exactly to charge the car. The indicator than showed I was good to go for 90 miles and 100% charge. If I'm reading my TOU digital readout correctly I used 15 kwhs worth of juice during this 2 1/2 hours. I haven't seen my bill yet to see if there will be taxes or not but based on my rate of .17 kwh it cost $2.55 to drive the car the 49 miles on the odometer. Granted most of these miles were hot rodding around town and I have no idea how the first 17 miles were driven before we got the car. I will do another calculation tomorrow based on today's drive which should be a more accurate representation of the cost to drive to work today and back.

Now on to my journey to Burbank. Since this was my first trip, I left everything off on my journey except the fan on the lowest setting. I quickly noticed that the 90 mile range indicator goes up and down as you drive. When you're on the highway it goes down quickly if there is no traffic. In stop and go it tends to climb back up or stay constant as the miles drive by. As luck would have it there was hardly any traffic today and I did my best to keep the speed to 70mph max however it creeps up quickly if you don't pay attention. Very happy with the driving experience. I did my best to use the brakes as little as possible. When I arrived at work, the indicator showed 57 miles remaining even though the actual miles driven was 39 miles. (90 minus 39 ='s 51)

On the way back home there was stop and go for the first 5 or so miles and then no traffic again. As I neared the bottom of the 710 freeway I had 21 miles remaining as I exited the freeway. I then had surface streets the remaining 4 or so miles home. By the time I pulled into the garage the indicator had climbed back up to 29 miles remaining. Slower speeds along with stop and go combined with mastering the regen braking appear to be keys to maximizing your mileage. Headlights were not used in either direction today. Total miles driven today: 78

Tomorrow (Tuesday) will be interesting. I'll most likely have light traffic driving to work and no traffic at all coming home. As an added bonus, I'll be stopping by the gym on the way to work which is a few miles out of the way and then when I do head home late in the evening, I'll be using the headlights all the way home. Will I make it...stay tuned! :)

P.S. An update...the drive to Burbank and back yesterday (78 miles) used 26 kwhs of power to rechage back to 100%.

TOU Meter just installed :)

Time of Use Meter was just installed from Edison moments ago. As the pictures show, the meter sticks out more than the original meter but not much. Car is now charging. Plan on driving to Burbank and back today. 82 miles round trip. Will report back later tonight.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Day 2 with the MINI E

We're now at 47 miles on the car and a little over 50% battery power left. Of course this includes a lot of hot rod starts and zipping on and off the freeway. Love it, Love it, Love it. The braking takes some getting use to but I'm getting better. Unless someone stops suddenly in front of you you very rarely need to touch the actual brake pedal. Most of our 30 miles since yesterday have been around the Belmont Shore area where there are lots of people walking around. So far zero folks have noticed that the car is anything special. There are tons of MINI Coopers in our neighborhood and without the stickers on the side, it just looks like a regular MINI. We've ordered the stickers and it will be interesting to see if anything changes once they're applied.

Some folks have asked if the car cover in the post below comes with the MINI E and unfortunately not. It might be available for sale however.

Looking forward to hearing from other folks as the cars appear to be rolling out on a daily basis.

More to come!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

#140 has arrived :)

Picked up the car today! Can't believe we finally have it. When we arrived at Long Beach Mini, we saw the car all covered up as the picture above shows. We had a family function today so we only got to drive it a few miles. More to follow over the next few days. Car had 17 miles on it when we drove off.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Car is here!

Just got the call...car is ready to pick up! They wanted me to come in today but I can't as I'm off to work. Appointment set for 10am tomorrow (Friday). Still awaiting Edison to finish the install of second meter. More details as I get them. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Cable installed, inspection passed :)

Sunpower Electric just installed the cable and moments later the City of Long Beach, CA inspector signed off on everything. Last step will be for Edison to return to install the second meter inside the previously installed housing. See earlier post for photos. For those wondering about the cable length ours is 24' 9" measured from the bottom of the charging box to the very end of the cable plug.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

MINI E Event in Los Angeles last night

My wife and I enjoyed the Mini E event aka Meet & Greet last night at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Here are some things we learned about the car:

I'm 6' 1" and was quite comfortable sitting in it.

You can plug in your GPS, Cellphone, etc. One at a time.

It does have a mini plug to plug in an ipod, mp3 player.

The delay with the car appears to be related to getting UL (Underwriters Laboratories) approval on the charging cable. There doesn't appear to be a problem, it's just taking longer than Mini thought to get the approval.

On the turn signal arm there is a button at the end which allows you to cycle through the various charging options. If one wants to plug in to a regular wall socket (rather than use the Clipper Creek charger) all you do is use the extra cable they'll provide and choose that option by clicking the button. No dealer programming is required. I asked Dr. Anton Lesnicar, Chief Engineer of the Mini E what he thought about using this option every day when I'm at work. He thought this was a great idea and suggested I do it every day if I like.

I asked Josh from AC Propulsion, do the brake lights come on when the regenerative braking kicks in or only when I hit the brake pedal?

His answer:

"Yes, the lights are wired into the controller which measures the deceleration. When the deceleration exceeds a threshold, the lights come on. That means if you're slowing down lightly as if using engine braking, the lights do not come on. Only if the deceleration is similar to actually using the friction brakes do the lights come on. And naturally if you touch the brakes, the lights come on. "

It was wonderful having access to folks with the answers.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Edison was out today....

Edison was out today to install the second meter housing aka socket adapter. Next step will be for SunPower Electric to return to hook up the cable (see previous post for picture) to the meter housing. However, they won't return until the charging cable comes in (still awaiting UL approval according to Mini). Once they do return and complete their work, next step is for the City Of Long Beach to come by and inspect everything. Once that happens, Edison will return to put the actual meter itself inside the housing and then we're ready for the car. :)

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Charger was installed today :)

Just had the charger, extra circuit box aka sub panel and timer installed today by SunPower Electric. Paul and Andy did the install. Took four hours. The Charger is a 40 amp system which they mentioned is the only one Mini is currently using. The box next to the charger is the timer. The box outside next to the meter is the sub panel. Inside are two 40amp circuit breakers. The little silver cable with white paint next to it (in the outside picture) is the ground. This runs inside the wall to a ground outlet that is out of the picture. The ground outlet was already there and they simply tied into it.

Also, an important note that I wasn't exactly clear on. The only way to get the special EV rate from Edison is to go the route that I did. It doesn't matter if you have a 400 amp panel with plenty of room available. Unless you have the Time of Use Meter (second meter) installed you won't get that rate. In order to have that done you have to have the sub panel installed. I'll be billed $500.00 for my portion of today's install.

Next step is for Edison to come out and install the special piggy back meter. Then SunPower will come back to hook up the cable between the meter and the white box (outside picture). They'll also be bringing the actual cable that runs from the charger to the car.

We're getting close!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Good News to Report!

Earlier today we had a second visit to check out the electrical panel. Today Rue Phillips came by. Rue's company was involved in the EV1 roll out and he is VERY familiar with electrical vehicles, chargers, etc. The difference between this visit with Rue and the first visit was like night and day. Rue lives and breaths electric vehicles and knows his stuff. 

We were happy to find out that our 100amp panel is fine. Even though it's full and appears to be maxed out, no problem. Reason being is that Edison is moving full speed ahead with the assumption that more and more folks will be using electric vehicles and planning accordingly. They have a special piggy back Electric Meter that will replace my meter. Our current meter will be pulled out. The new meter will go into the same hole. The second meter is attached to the first meter, sticks off to one side. There will also be a small box that will attach with four screws that will contain a shut off. This will mount next to the meter. Lastly there will be a small wire running from this box to a ground. This is all on the outside of the house. 

On the inside of the garage will be the charger. We also found out there will be a timer that can have set to the time we'd like the vehicle to charge. In our area there are special EV rates if you charge from 9pm - 12 noon. This will allow us to plug the vehicle in when we get home and not worry about forgetting to plug in the car at 9pm. Rue said our install is very straight forward and that the next step will be pulling permits.  We were very happy with Rue and this news!

Friday, April 3, 2009

A second visit

Just heard that a second site visit is needed. Will happen Tuesday April 7th. Hope to know then if a upgrade will be needed.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Just had site inspection this morning! :)

I received an e-mail yesterday from Clean Fuel stating site inspections were starting and to send them some dates I was available. Decided to call them up and they were able to come out this morning for the site inspection. Here's what I found out. We have a 100amp panel. Our house was built in 1992 and I was told most newer homes have a 200amp panel which makes things a lot easier. Steve from Clean Fuel was really nice and explained all sorts of electrical stuff to me about our panel. He's going to do a load calculation and see if our current panel can handle the additional charge. If not, they'll need to upgrade my panel and that sounds expensive. He said Clean Fuel should be getting back to me pretty quick with more info.

We also discussed the placement of the charging unit. I asked if it could go on a stand but was told no. It must be wall mounted. We found a couple of good places it can go. No problem there.

He was here for maybe a 1/2 hour but probably would have been gone in about 10 minutes if I hadn't kept asking him questions.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just heard from Clean Fuel Connection, Inc.

Here's a slightly edited version of the e-mail I received today:

Clean Fuel Connection, Inc. is pleased to be MINI’s designated installer for the wall box for charging your MINI E. Our company has been installing electrical vehicle chargers for more than ten years and we look forward to assisting you with your wall box installation.

The process of installing a wall box involves a series of steps from initial inspection, to permitting, to coordination with your local utility. Since all these steps take time, we ask for your patience so that we can ensure that your installation is completely safe and cost-effective.

As an update, there has been a delay in the production of the charging cable for the MINI E wall box. To keep things moving along with as little delay as possible, MINI USA has authorized us to proceed with the installation of your wall box. Once the cable is available, we will return to complete the installation.

Also, please be aware that the installation contract for the wall box must be signed by the owner of the property. If you are not the owner of the property, please initiate steps to obtain the owners approval and notify us right away so that we may add the property owner’s name to the contract.

We look forward to talking to you soon and installing your wall box in the near future.

Note: Any questions regarding the wall box should be directed to CFCI at the phone number or e-mail address above. Clipper Creek (who manufactures the wall box) cannot respond to any inquiries. CFCI is more than happy to answer any and all of your questions regarding any aspect of the wall box or the installation process.


Clean Fuel Connection, Inc.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Latest news....

Click on above image to view in larger size.

Still waiting to be contacted. This letter was received on March 1st.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Can't wait for its arrival!

We're excited to be chosen for the field trial of the new fully electric Mini-E. Credit is a go and the next step is meeting with the folks who will install the charging unit. I'll put up pictures and video as things progess. For now here is a stock photo of the Mini-E.