Thursday, December 16, 2010

MotorWeek reviews the MINI E

Here's a quick little video review of the MINI E from the folks at MotorWeek. They don't like the strong regen unlike most MINI E drivers who love it. I'd attribute that to the short time they spent with the car. After a day or two of driving I'd guess they'd change their mind. The strong regen is one of my favorite features of the car. I'll hit 30k in a couple of days.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Saved $323.00 at LAX!

As many folks know, if you drive your electric vehicle to LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and park in either P2 or P6 on the arrival level (there are designated charging areas) you can park for up to 30 days at a time for free. The normal charge is $30.00 a day. Since the MINI E is a little light on storage capacity you must pack accordingly. However, we were able to pack what we needed for 10 days in Italy for my wife and I with room to spare. The trip was fantastic and paying $0.00 to park for a little over 10 days was great!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Front tires keep spinning & GE leads the EV charge!

It seems lately that I just can't stop spinning the front tires. Perhaps the electricity of late has been extra pure, kinda like premium gasoline. :) As the 28,000 mile mark quickly approaches, the car is as fun to drive today as day one. I seem to be getting more thumbs up of late too. Perhaps all the press coverage of the various electric cars in the pipeline are finally getting folks attention.

Speaking of the press, was very happy to see this article about GE, my employer.

Getting vehicles out on the road is a big step in gaining acceptance with the folks who remain skeptical about how the vehicle would fit into their life. I have a feeling that the sales people GE intends to drive these vehicles will find themselves shopping for an electric vehicle of their own sooner than later.

Friday, September 10, 2010

25,000 miles is just around the corner!

Wow, how the miles have slipped by in the MINI E. On Monday, I'll slide past the 25k mark. I've yet to notice any decrease in range due to the batteries aging and even after all these miles, the feeling I get when I punch it brings a smile to my face every time.

When the MINI E program started there were quite a few negative comments directed at BMW. Folks were saying they were just putting out the MINI E to meet state and government emission standards to help offset the other vehicles in their line-up. For those folks following the automotive news of late, you've seen that BMW is committed to the Megacity (full EV) along with other vehicle types that reduce emissions. I was fortunate enough to see first hand what's around the corner and while I can't discuss in detail due to confidentiality agreements, folks are in for a pleasant surprise. BMW has conducted research on population patterns, where folks are most likely to live in the future, how far they'll be driving, etc and is preparing the company accordingly. One however shouldn't get the impression that the excitement of driving the ultimate driving machine is heading out the window. That's not the case at all. They are simply preparing for the future and will be providing choices that will meet the needs of a variety of drivers. Google BMW Megacity to read the full report.

It was pretty gutsy to put the MINI E out on the road with real world drivers. While other manufacturers have cars in the works or soon to be on the road, BMW was the only one to actually put a large number of vehicles in the hands of folks to drive under real world conditions. This could have been a disaster. Sure there have been some issues (as one would expect with a test vehicle) but they've been dealt with and things that have arose have helped BMW move forward in preparing their next vehicle, the ActiveE and then finally the Megacity which will be available as a 2013 vehicle.

It's wonderful to see so many car manufacturers jumping on board the EV train but for me, I'll be sticking with the BMW brand. I've been given a unique opportunity to drive the MINI E, transition to the Active E and then finally (if I've saved enough pennies..he, he) move into the Megacity. It's an exciting time in the automotive world and I'm thrilled to play a small part in the future.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What's BMW up to with the Megacity, this article provides some info

Check out this article for in depth info on the upcoming Megacity and how BMW is preparing for the future:

Links for parts 2 and 3 of the article can be accessed via links found at bottom of above article.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Porsche Panamera chased me down!

So today I was cruising to work on the Hollywood Freeway when I saw a Porsche Panamera up ahead. I decided to try and catch it. Surprisingly I was able to pull along side and then quickly punched it once he noticed me. He immediately took up the chase albeit a short one and whipped out a video camera. Made me feel special in the E. The filming continued as I exited the freeway and he zipped up the hill to Universal Studios.

Heading in for 24,000 mile service on Wednesday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

MINI E #140 generated quite a bit of interest today

It seems I can go for months without anyone noticing anything special about our MINI E and then all the sudden everyone notices it. Today was one of those days. In a two hour period, I had four conversations about the car with curious folks inquiring about range, availability, speed, etc. All four were very excited to see the car and mentioned that getting away from oil and gasoline was something they felt strongly about. Perhaps all the press of late about the Volt and Leaf is helping bring awareness to electric cars. Later on the freeway I got a couple of thumbs up from other vehicles.

I'm always happy to talk about our experience with the car. It's an exciting time for electric vehicles and we're thrilled to play a small part in the testing and rollout of future BMW vehicles.

Last Thursday we attended the local unveiling of the Fisker Karma at the USC Campus in Irvine, CA. It was hosted by Fisker Automotive of Orange County. The car is even more beautiful in person. While it won't be affordable for the average commuter, it's a head turner and will generate a lot of interest once it's out on the road. A video from the Santa Monica unveiling can be viewed here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MINI releases MINI E Field Trial Report

Interesting things MINI learned during the 1 year MINI E Field Trial:

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Latest Electric Car Will Be a BMW, From the Battery Up

Copy and paste links below into your browser for the latest BMW update on their upcoming electric vehicle:

Here's another link with more details:

Battery fan replaced, all is well again!

The MINI-E is back on the road again. After a quick visit to Doctor Nelson, the battery fan was replaced and things are back to normal. Zipped to Burbank via the carpool lane on the 110.

I was given a X3 loaner for the day and half the MINI-E was visiting the Doctor. Nice ride but at 17 or so miles per gallon, it cost $19.00+ to fill up after 95 miles. Same miles in the MINI-E would have run about $3.25. This was my first time driving an X3 and found it roomy and comfortable. Wouldn't mind having it as a secondary vehicle with the main one being electric of course. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Heading back to the Doctor

Ever since getting the car back, the fans haven't been working. I believe these are the fans that cool the batteries. Up until now, whenever I'd plug the car in to charge, the fans would come on and you could even feel the draft if you put your hand under the rear of the car. They would also come on while driving once the batteries got hot enough.

While the car has been driving fine, I've noticed the battery temp has been running about 20+ degrees higher than normal and my range has dropped. Heat is definitely no friend of lithium batteries.

With the fans not working, the car is completely silent. You get a little bit of road noise from the tires but at low speeds it's silent. No complaints about that.

Dropping car off Wednesday morning.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Back from the Doctor

#140 is back on the road but the mystery of what caused the sudden power outage remains. Nelson, the Flying Doctor, cleared the error code and car started right up. He'd anticipated finding an error code related to the shutdown but instead saw one that showed the big red shutoff knob in in the trunk had been turned to the off position while the car was being driven. Obviously that didn't happen. I asked if my turning the knob off and on while I was parked in an effort to get the car started could have caused this error code to appear and perhaps override the other code. He said no. The car was returned back to me and they'll continue to investigate on their end. Nelson mentioned he'd seen this happen before but never a second time with the same vehicle. That's a good sign.

On another note, with all the talk of late about noise for electric cars, I found it funny that this morning when I started up the loaner Cooper S to take our little girl to school, she covered her ears and said "That's LOUD". Even youngsters appreciate the sound of silence now and then. :)

Thursday, June 24, 2010

#140 has a slight hiccup on the electric highway

No, that's not a picture of #140 being returned to MINI after a year of happiness.

After 21,030 miles I had my first official breakdown today.

Today if you were traveling I5 North in the Glendale/Burbank CA area between 3:20p and 6:30p you probably saw me on the side of the road. I was only there for 3 hours or so...LOL. The first three tow truck drivers BMW Roadside Assistance dispatched canceled.

The long wait for a tow truck gave me plenty of time to talk to my friend at AC Propulsion, Long Beach MINI and even one of the Flying Doctors who will be fixing the car tomorrow.

Today started out as a great day. My neighbor Tom, who's been interested in purchasing an electric car for his family, had come over and we had a nice visit about the car and he drove it for a little bit around the Long Beach area. Like other folks who've driven #140 he was impressed with the pickup and overall feel of the car.

Later in the afternoon, I was on my way to work and almost made it. About 10 minutes from Burbank, while in the fast lane at approx 70 miles an hour, all was normal until suddenly there was a very soft pop and the state of charge indicator directly above the steering wheel went to the Off position. The car completely lost power. I was able to make it to the shoulder just barely. Tried all the usual things to get the car going again...turning off, turning on, opening and closing hood and even turning the big red knob in the trunk area off and on to no avail. While I was waiting for a tow truck to arrive, my service advisor Jennifer at Long Beach MINI (who always goes beyond the call of duty to help me out) was able to put me in touch with a Flying Doctor (the MINI E service specialists who have been trained to work on the MINI E) who was familiar with the problem I experienced. They'd just come up with a fix and he'll be at Long Beach MINI tomorrow to fix the car and assuming he finds no other surprises should have me back on the road in no time.

On our 30 mile drive back to Long Beach, I was able to have a nice visit with Pedro, the tow truck driver from AAA. He loves his job and had a great attitude. In the past two years he's driven his flatbed over 250,000 miles. I thought I drove a lot of miles. During the MINI E Field Trial, I've met all sorts of great people that I never would have crossed paths with if it hadn't have been for the Field Trial.

As an early adopter, these kinda things are going to happen now and then. I'm having a great time in the MINI E Field Trial and look forward to being back on the road with #140 soon. Currently in a Cooper S....but hopefully not for long. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

20,000 miles in the MINI E

Rolled past the 20,000 mile mark this morning on the way to work. It seems like we were just at the dealer taking delivery. Miles climb and time flies when you're driving the MINI E.

I continue to plug in via 110 every day that I'm at work. Fortunately, I have a secure parking space and can leave the cable hanging on a hook. Over a normal 8 hour day with a break for lunch, I'm guessing that I get about 18 to 20 miles worth of charge. My commute is approx 85 miles each day and while I can easily make it home without charging, it's always nice to get some extra charge.

I've yet to notice a decrease in range. Perhaps it's due to my unusual charging patterns. The batteries are always getting a healthy workout. :)

While an electric car might not be for everyone, it's perfect for us and my daily commute. We're fortunate enough to have a larger vehicle for those times we go somewhere as a family. Saving money on gas is great and driving in the carpool lane is a big time saver. Not to mention no "stinky gas" as our little girl likes to say.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Could this be the new Megacity?

Previous article link was broken, so I've replaced with this updated one.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

MINI E Only the Beginning

Mini E Only Beginning of BMW EV Strategy

Here are some highlights from the above article:

Mini Es turned in as the lease concludes have not been dispatched to the smasher. “We will refurbish all Mini Es off-lease and put them into service around the world,” Steinberg says.

The Mini E cars have held up well during the recent lease trial. “We have not seen any significant deterioration of range, but there’s been some,” he says. “Some cars have been better than others in terms of charging behavior, but it has to do with driving conditions and climate. All these things have an impact vehicle by vehicle.”

BMW has not yet finalized pricing for the ActiveE when it arrives next year, but Steinberg hopes to undercut the Mini E pricetag. BMW expects again to target the ActiveE in New York and California.

Referring to the Mega City Vehicle,

Derived from a bespoke architecture, the MCV will feature four doors and seating for four occupants. The body-in-white will be produced from carbon fiber manufactured at a new $100 million plant being built in Moses Lake, WA, by SGL Group and BMW.

The location is intended to take advantage of plentiful hydro-electric power because carbon-fiber production requires much energy and generates lots of carbon dioxide.

The raw material will arrive from Japan, and the carbon fiber will be shipped to Landshut, Germany, where the carbon-fiber reinforced plastic parts will be fabricated. Vehicle assembly will be in Leipzig, Germany.

The goal of the MCV program is to keep the same range of about 100 miles but reduce the capacity of the battery from 30 kW to 16 kW in a bid to reduce weight.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Back on the road

Picked up #140 this past Thursday. Glad to be back in the quiet, smooth ride of the MINI E. The Cooper S was fun for three days but I really started to miss the MINI E.

The windshield didn't have a chip in it after all but was pitted all over the place. Probably from driving on the 710 so much. For those folks not in the Southern California area this freeway is the main one for trucks leaving and going to the ports of Long Beach. Funny thing is that the car was so dirty from all my driving I didn't even notice the pits. Now that the windshield is brand new and clean, I can see what I've been missing.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

In for 18,500 service, needs new windshield

#140 currently at the dealer for a windshield replacement. They spotted a chip during the scheduled service visit. A piece of trim needed to be ordered and hopefully we'll get the car back on Thursday. Was given a Cooper S as a loaner and it's quite zippy. Have put 250 miles on it so far. In looking at the differences between the E and the S, the noise is one thing that never use to bother me before in driving a gas powered car but now after getting spoiled by silence in the E, after a day or so it was really noticeable. Also the jerking around of the gears shifting was something I'd forgotten about since the E is a single speed. The smoothness and quietness of the E are two great qualities that I'm currently missing with the loaner.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A 100 Mile Day in the MINI E

Today I was all over the place in our MINI E. The more I drive it, the more I just take it for granted. It'll get me where I want to go and back. The early days of worrying about whether or not I'll run out of juice are long gone. Here are all the places we went today in the MINI E:

The watch store up the street to get a battery replaced.
Back to our house to pick up something we forgot.
To the Long Beach VA Hospital to drop off my wife for her volunteer work.
To Costco to pick up a bunch of stuff including a super large shredder that I squeezed into the front seat.
Back to the house to unload.
Then to Trader Joes for three bags of groceries and back to house again to unload.
Finally to Burbank for work and then back home.

Another 100 mile day in the MINI E. I was able to charge at work for approx 6 hours on 110. Will roll into the garage tonight with about 10 miles left and charge back up to 100% for about $3.00. In the morning, I'll roll out with a full tank.

18,250 miles and climbing. Loving the KNOW GAS MINI E. :)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Second year is a go

BMW Financial called and confirmed that we wanted to continue for year two. They then asked a few financial questions and said I'd be getting an e-mail within one day with their decision. A few hours later we got the e-mail that all is well and that year two is a go.

Just passed 17k miles and can't imagine going back to a regular gas vehicle for my 85 - 90 mile commute. The time saved at the gas station along with the fuel savings is fabulous. Using a power source that is created here in the USA is a big plus. Understand some folks point about the MINI E not being truly zero emission (unless you're powering it with the sun like a few folks are) since coal is used to create some of the electricity.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why we've chosen to extend for a second year

As you may have read in the Facebook MINI E group and other sites, we were offered a second year lease extension at $600.00 a month with all terms of our current lease remaining the same.

We and others had hoped for a payment closer to $400.00. There's been speculation that BMW wants to move some of the MINI E cars around perhaps to other countries and that a higher price helps assure they get a fair number of cars back. Whatever the reasons are I understand this is business and for some folks the number can work and for others, it makes no sense.

Like a few others in the Field Trial, we drive a lot of miles. The more miles you drive, the easier it is to justify the $600.00 payment. While we'll by no means break even, the savings generated by not purchasing fuel, oil changes, tires and other things that arise in driving 20k or so miles (along with less depreciation on our other vehicle) makes it a little easier to swallow.

The major thing that you can't put a price on is the fun factor. I love driving the MINI E. The smiles I see on the numerous test drivers faces and the joy I get from punching that pedal and zipping away is priceless.

This program has given me the opportunity to take part in something that's hopefully going to lead to more choices for future drivers like our four year old girl. EVs may not be right for everyone but having them in the market for those who want them is something I'm really excited about.

Lastly, I was really happy to see the quote below from today's MINI E Plugged In newsletter that each Pioneer receives:

Those choosing to lease their MINI E for a second year will get a priority spot in line for the new BMW ActiveE scheduled to come in summer 2011, assuming all other program requirements are met.

Being able to go places as a family in a gas free vehicle will be awesome. Having that vehicle be a BMW is an added bonus that'll be hard to beat!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Lease extension info coming next week!

Looks like we'll be finding out the details of the MINI E lease extension sometime next week. Can't wait! Would be great if there was a bridge to the BMW Active E concept. Having the backseat of the Active E will make a world of difference. We'll use that car for probably 99% of everywhere we go. Not to say we aren't loving the MINI E. It's been a great car. However, being able to go everywhere as a family emission free...that would be hard to beat. :)

Monday, February 22, 2010

We'll be finding out soon about lease extension offer :)

Was happy to see in the MINI E e-mail blast we received today that we should be hearing about the lease extension offer by early March. From reading, it's not clear if everyone will be offered a lease extension. I quote, "The first email to keep an eye out for will come from by no later than early March. We will announce details about the opportunity to re-lease the MINI E for a second year, from this email address. As previously mentioned, this offer will be extended to a number of Pioneers, but only to those who are able to respond because the announcement is not stuck in a junk mail folder – well that’s not actually part of the criteria, we just want to be sure you receive the email and have the chance to respond quickly."

There's been a lot of talk about what the monthly price should be for the second year. A number of $425.00 a month was brought up in the Facebook MINI E group and that number sounds perfect. That would bring the 24 month average to $637.50. I for one, would be thrilled with that number. I love spreading the joy of emission free MINI E driving and hope to do so in the second year.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

14,000 miles today and lots of rain

Crossed the 14,000 mile mark today. Had another big storm today in Southern California. Drove the 40 miles to work in a downpour with no problems. The MINI E stayed straight and true. Regen kicked off a couple of times in deep water. Car handled great. Our miles would be a lot higher if we had a back seat. Can't wait for the BMW Active E Concept.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

New tires and wiper blades at 13k service

Just had the 13k service at 13,200. The two front tires were replaced along with the wiper blades. The tires were below the 2.5mm minimum on the left and right sides of the tire. The tires looked great to me but thanks to MINI for keeping me safe and sound. Was given a 335i loaner. Brand new car. A rocket ship but only got 17.5 mpg. I did have a lot of stop and go traffic which doesn't help a gas powered car but increases the range of an electric car due to the regen braking. I spent $26.00 over the two days driving to work and back. In the MINI E my cost would have been $4.50. :)
I find myself really missing the regen braking when I'm without the E.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

13,000 miles and driving in the rain

Just crossed the 13,000 mile mark today on the way to work on this rainy Thursday. The Southern California area has been getting drenched of late and the MINI E hasn't had any problems driving or charging in the rain. The only thing I've noticed is that with the front wheel drive you have to take it easy when going around a corner and not punch it or you spin the tires a little bit. All that torque gets things spinning pretty quickly, if you're heavy on the pedal. While at work, I've been plugging in via the 110 cable and even in downpours that last for hours, the orange light keeps blinking and the car charges away. While driving on the wet highways at various speeds, the car feels stable and safe. Having a great time driving emission free. :)

Monday, January 11, 2010

MINI to extend leases until ActiveE arrives

Good News for those not quite ready to give up their MINI E after a year. The added bonus of being offered the ActiveE is icing on the cake. Thank You MINI and BMW USA!

MINI to extend leases

P.S. While no pricing was announced, I have no doubt that the price will be lowered from the current $850.00 plus tax for the extension.