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.