My experiences testing MINI's new all-electric vehicle around Long Island
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  • It Was Bound To Happen Sometime

    Posted on August 26th, 2009 Stu 3 comments

    I’ve heard about it so it wasn’t a total surprise but it still made me panic. I was stopped at a red light on a slight hill and when I went to go… Oops! All I could do was roll backward. NOPETROL shifted into neutral all by her lonesome. With a truck close on my tail I started working fast.

    First, I hit the Off button. Then I tried to turn the car back on and realized I was still in Drive so I had to start all over again. The line behind me started getting impatient so I put on the four-ways. Then I shifted to Park, restarted and shifted to Drive. As the pissed off truck driver tried to maneuver around me, I finally got out of his way and made my left turn.

    I hope the computer recorded the event and that this problem, which happened many times to other Pioneers, will be fixed with a software update at check-up time.

  • Who Was That Masked Man?

    Posted on June 26th, 2009 Stu 1 comment

    As I was driving home yesterday, I suddenly heard a car beeping its horn coming up on my left side. I looked over and saw that it was a MINI. Wow! Someone finally recognized my MINI E. Then I realized that it wasn’t just any MINI. It was MINI E 337!

    I needed to get home so I didn’t follow him and since my turn was coming up I didn’t get a chance to read the magnetic sign on his door. I, therefore, have no idea who this is. I don’t see 337 listed on any blog or Facebook. Hopefully, I’ll spot it again or the owner will read this blog and contact me.

  • I’m Driving an Electric Car, Dammit!

    Posted on June 24th, 2009 Stu 9 comments

    It’s been almost a week and a half and hardly anyone noticed I’m driving an electric car. Not even other MINI drivers acknowledge the MINI E. There were a few people at the county park who noticed once I plugged it in and the waiter at Outback who brought my food out at the drive-up noticed the logo and questioned me on it. So far, no honking by drivers beside me or behind me.

    Perhaps my new license plate will make a difference when it arrives. I applied for “NOPETROL” and expect it in a few weeks. In the meantime, I’ve realized that not having the car recognized might be frustrating for me but it’s good news for MINI.

    If people don’t know the car is electric powered, it means that to them it is just like any other car. I’ve gotten no beeps from cars behind me so the other drivers must find the brake lights coming on due to regenerative braking natural. So, for now, I’ll just keep driving around, wave at the occasional MINI driver I come upon and hope that the MINI E gets more media attention. I’m also considering a license plate frame that says “It’s Electric” on top with my blog address on the bottom.

    The reactions by passengers and one test driver have been enthusiastic. Everyone says they want their future car to be this responsive and quiet. Imagine a highway with nothing but electric cars whizzing by. Less noise, less smell. I look forward to that future time and hope I’m not too senile to enjoy it.

  • End of Week 1

    Posted on June 22nd, 2009 Stu 3 comments

    I can’t believe it’s only been one week since I picked up MINI E 277. Unfortunately, the weather here on Long Island hasn’t been very good so I haven’t gone on any long trips yet. My first 300 or so miles have been really enjoyable and once the weather clears up and the charging cable gets installed I hope to venture further from home.

    One thing I did notice was a feeling everyone is calling “Range Anxiety”. I keep looking at the meter and wondering whether or not I’ll have enough juice to get through the day. I have to admit that this is my fault more than the car’s. I simply don’t know how far anything is from my home. Yes, I know how long it takes to get places but the actual mileage never concerned me. Is my Range Anxiety is totally unfounded?

    One evening I stopped at a diner on my way home from work. The gauge said I had 26 miles remaining. “That’s not much,” I thought. “Maybe I should check Google maps on my iPhone and see how far I am from home.” I did just that and discovered I was 7.5 miles from home! I just never needed to know before.

    As it turns out, I’ve never dropped below 19% charge in all of my travels. The Range Anxiety is mostly in my head. Of course, the other aspect, conserving power because of the long charging times, is real. It will go away once the charging cable arrives.

    As for the 100 mile range, I’ve seen some discussion about being misled by MINI’s claim of 150 miles. Nothing in MINI’s literature says that the 150 mile number is anything but an ideal figure achieved on a test track. All of my advanced reading about the car accurately put the range at around 100 miles. The actual mileage will vary based on many factors including traffic conditions, overall speed, amount of hills, etc. There’s also some miles in reserve at reduced speed once you get towards empty that have to be counted but not relied upon. I have never had any illusions of getting more than 100 miles on a charge.

    Hopefully, this week will bring better weather and more drive time.

  • I Need Longer Weekends

    Posted on June 15th, 2009 Stu 1 comment

    It was a fun weekend in spite of the weather. As I mentioned previously, it took a bit of doing to get MINI E 277 to fit in the garage with the charging cord coming from the kitchen. More recyclables went to Goodwill so it’s much easier to get her in now. However, there’s more work to be done.

    Saturday, I gave up on the weather and put 277 on charge from afternoon through the night. So she was up to 100% for Sunday morning. The second and last Sundays of the month from May to October I run miniature trains for the public in Southaven Park. I took 277 there and showed her off to the membership briefly and started running trains. No one seemed notice the car very much as they walked by. Although there were a few glances. I did find out how to get people’s attention. Read the rest of this entry »