Wednesday, November 25, 2009

15,000 miles in 5 months? How can that be?

Battery Electric Vehicles are little more than glorified golf carts that can be used for short trips and local city driving, right?
Battery Electric Vehicles really can't be used by people that do a lot of freeway driving or drive a lot of miles on a regular basis, right?
Battery Electric Vehicles are interesting, but they're not ready for prime-time just yet.


Then explain to me how I've managed to drive a Battery Electric Mini-E 15,000 miles in five months. I'm averaging over 700 miles a week and most of the miles (about 65%) are at freeway speeds. This glorified golf cart has been my primary means of transportation since the end of June and it has done just about everything my internal combustion engine Toyota can do for me. No it cannot drive 200 miles without stopping for fuel, but during the past five months I have only needed to drive more than the Mini's range about 5 times. I do understand that would pose a problem for single-car families, but I'm not here saying BEV's will work for everyone. I am saying they will work for most. I'm on track to put about 33,000 miles on the car this year, and that's more miles than about 95% of the population drives in a year. Part of the reason I have been able to drive so many miles is that I am able to plug in and charge up while I'm at work and I realize many do not have that option. I figure that has added about 15% more miles than I would have been able to do if I couldn't charge up, so I still could have driven close to 30,000 miles charging only at home, which is also way more than the average person drives in a typical year.

The point here is, BEV's are ready for prime-time. BMW slapped the MINI-E together in a couple of months by retrofitting an ICE Mini Cooper with mostly "off the shelf" parts. Can you imaging how much better the car would be if it was designed from the ground up as a BEV? If they took a couple years of research and built dozens of prototypes to work out the bugs and refine the final product? How much better the range would be if they spent more time improving the battery temperature management, reduced the weight by 500lbs and increased the aerodynamics?

Sure there are challenges, with charging infrastructure at the forefront and battery longevity up there too, but it's time to realize these cars can be made and driven just like their ICE counterparts, and oh yeah, people do want them. I can't believe how many people have stopped me to talk about the car and ask me questions about range, charging locations, cost, battery life, etc. I really didn't expect to find so many people energized about the prospect of being able to purchase an electric car sometime soon. I've been following the progress of EV's for a while now, but I didn't think there were so many others as interested in them as I am.

There has been a lot of talk about just what the MINI-E program is about. Some have questioned the true intent of BMW and the program. Was it only to satisfy the California Air Resource Boards ZEV mandate or was this a legitimate fact finding experiment. I don't know what BMW is up to but I can tell you that my time with the car has proven to me that I can live with an electric car as my daily driving vehicle, even though I drive over 30,000 miles annually. I also know that I have given dozens of test drives to friends, family and even strangers that were interested in the car and virtually everyone left impressed and said they would definitely consider buying an EV if one were available. Hopefully, BMW and the other auto manufacturers will follow Nissan's lead and give us what we want.

Thanks for reading my rant and have a Happy Thanksgiving.


  1. Congrats Tom

    Ditto all your remarks. I hope they let you/us keep them until the BMW Electric car is for sale.

    It would be a bit of a shame if the 400+ Mini-E drivers all bought Volts or Leafs!
    I've seen them both the Mini-E with 4 seats would be my choice hands down.

    Peder #183 7045 miles

  2. Tom, I just hit 12000. Maybe if I "work at it" I'll catch up to your mileage by the end of the trial.

    I wonder if Ken down in Deptford has us both beat? He has probably driven to the Moon by now. ;)

  3. I haven't talked to Ken since the meet up but he seemed determined to be the mileage king so I wouldn't be surprised if he does have more. Ken sometime drives just to put miles on the car! I wish I had that kind of free time! Between Ken, you and me we should have 100,000 zero emission miles by the end of the lease, not bad.

  4. Wow. I can't believe how many miles you've put on your Mini E already. Nice blog.