Friday, September 4, 2009

What MINI should have done

MINI did a great job with the MINI-E. This car wasn't designed to be an EV, but they managed to remove the ICE and powertrain and replace it with the battery pack, motor and the electronics necessary to convert the car to what it is. It's a fun car to drive, has great acceleration and handling and has a pretty good range as far as EVs go, with 100 to 120 miles of real world driving. The one thing MINI failed to do properly is label the car so most people who look at it know it's an electric vehicle. This has been a point discussed by many of the people in the program, as they are a bit disappointed that most people who see the car don't really know what they are looking at. MINIs are notorious for all kinds of graphics. You can order your car with many different themes from the Union Jack flag across the roof to about 20 different style rear view mirrors so the plug emblems on the MINI-E just don't stand out enough to make someone look twice at the car. Nothing really screams "Electric car here!" I think many of the people driving the cars like I am, are looking for ways to show off what we have. Part of being in the program is to show others that electric cars can be daily driving vehicles, that they can be fast & fun to drive. That's not going to happen if the cars go unnoticed. Many in the program have ordered custom license plate holders that say "100% Electric" or "No tailpipe & No Emissions."  Others are ordering chrome emblems like I did (see pictures above). There are a lot places on the internet to get custom car emblems, but many like me ordered them from a company called Third Planet Energy. They offer a variety different styles and phrases centered around electric cars and biodiesel, but can make custom phrases if you desire. So it cost me about $120.00 to do what MINI should have. They built a fantastic zero emission car but somehow forgot to announce it to the world. The experience of driving the car is worth the few extra bucks, plus I'm curious to see how many more people notice the car now and ask me about it. In the three months I've had the car I've driven it over 6,000 miles and only about a dozen people (who didn't read about me in the newspaper) stopped me to ask if the car was a hybrid or electric, let's see if the emblems make a difference.

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