Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Three months down

It's hard to believe that a quarter of the year I have with the MINI-E has already passed. I have driven 7,200 zero emission miles, a little less than I expected to drive in that time, but that is because I didn't have a 220V wall charger for the first month and could only drive the car every two or three days. I had expected to put about 35,000 miles on the car this year and now I think I'll finish with around 30,000 -32,000. Being in the program is expensive as it costs $850.00 per month to lease the car so I planned on using the car as much as possible. I should have my second wall charger installed at my restaurant soon, so I'll now be able to drive as much as I want without the worry of having enough juice to make the 32 mile drive home at night. Since my home to work round trip is about 64 miles, I really only had 40-50 miles of extra driving range during the day and sometimes it wasn't enough. Now, I'll be able to drive the 32 miles to work (more when I make some stops along the way), then plug in & top off when I get there. I'll then have a range of 100+ miles before I go back to the office where I can top off if necessary to drive the 32 miles home. I will now have a range of up to 200 miles a day which is way more than I'll need 99% of the time. This will also ease my concerns about the effect cold weather will have on the batteries. I know the range is going to suffer from the use of the heater, and in really cold temperatures the batteries will undoubtedly be affected. Having the 60amp wall box at work will guarantee I can get home, no matter how cold it gets. I can even pre heat the car while it's charging and leave with a warm car and 100% charge. I want to thank MINI & Marian Hawryluk in particular for making this happen. I'm sure the participants who are getting additional wall chargers like me will put them to good use. Until there are public charging stations in convenient locations EVs drivers will struggle to feel confident about their range. However I do think there are enough people who are passionate enough to overcome the lack of chargers for the first few years of EV deployment. One unexpected benifit I have had since I've become involved in this program, is I have had the opportunity to meet, both in person and online, many great people that are EV advocates. There are more of them than I thought and these people can't wait for an affordable EV with a decent range (100+ miles) to be available to purchase. I get emails from people from all over the world who have read this blog and either had questions for me or just wanted to tell me they read the blog and can't wait until they can buy an EV. With the advancements in battery technology and the huge amounts of money currently being invested in the industry, we will not have to wait long. Nissan is the first automaker to announce that they will mass produce a 100% BEV, the Leaf and it has sent shockwaves across the industry. They plan to produce 300,000 Leafs annually by 2012. No other major automaker has announced production plans nearly as aggressive. The big question for me is what does BMW have planned? They have invested a lot of money and time in the MINI-E program. They must plan to use the information they gain from me and the other 499 MINI-Es for something. Personally, I'd like to see a small 4 door sedan with a 150 mile range, but after 3 months with the MINI-E, I'd probably buy anything that doesn't require gasoline. One thing's for sure, I'm not going to be happy when MINI asks for the car back. I still think (hope) they will offer some of the participants (me) the option to keep the car for an extended period. What will they do with the 500 cars? They can't just take them apart and crush them like GM did. That was (and still is) a PR nightmare for GM. MINI won't make the same mistake, I'm sure they have something planned for continued real world testing. One thing is for sure, whether it's the MINI-E or another EV, I'll be driving an electric car. I love the feel of the electric motor, the quietness, the smooth acceleration, the fact that I'm not polluting as I drive, the fact that I don't have to stop to buy gas at all and the fact that I'm not giving my hard earned money to the big oil cartels. Three months down already? Time does fly when you're having fun.

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