Tuesday, February 9, 2010

It's Snow Problem For The MINI-E

It's been exceptionally cold this winter here in Northern New Jersey with temperatures regularly in the low twenties and even the teens. We haven't had too much snow but I have had the opportunity to get the MINI-E out on snow covered roads a few times to test the effects of the regenerative braking and the traction control in extreme conditions.

One concern I have had from the beginning is how will the car behave on slick and icy roads when you use full regenerative braking. If the regen was too strong I was worried that the car would start to skid without the driver even touching the brakes and would really have no way to control the car other than to steer out of the skid. Full regen really holds the car back, enough to produce a skid on snow covered roads if there were no secondary safety controls in place. Luckily there are with the traction control system in the car. If the car senses the front tire slipping, the regenerative braking will be momentarily disengaged to allow the front tires to gain traction.

I live in a rural area with lots of roads that have steep inclines so I was able to do extensive testing the other day. I drove up and down a very steep street going as fast as 40 mph and engaging full regenerative braking to observe the results. Overall the car handled pretty well. I slid around a lot and even ended up in a snow bank once, but that was to be expected with how I was driving. The roads had 5 inches of snow on them and I was driving like a teenager the first time he drove in the snow, doing doughnuts in a mall parking lot! When I was driving normally, I had no problem keeping the car under control and preventing it from skidding or sliding. With any car, even four wheel drive vehicles, you need to drive slowly and with extra caution when the streets are covered with snow.

Final thoughts: The car behaved about the same as any small, front wheel car does and I put to rest my concerns that the regenerative braking would be hazardous on icy and snow covered roads.

4 comments:

  1. Right on Tom. I've noticed the same thing on the wet roads of late here in Southern California. Today was a doozy and the MINI E held up no problem. Regen kicked off a few times but the car stayed straight and true.

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  2. Interesting. So I suppose you aren't experiencing any of the same problems Toyota Prius owners are reporting with their regenerative braking systems?

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  3. I live in France and read your blog often. It is interesting and I want an electric car also!

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  4. No Francisco not at all. The Prius has a completely different regenerative braking system. You have to actually depress the brake pedal in the Prius to activate the regen. In the MINI-E, the regenerative braking is activated as soon as you back off the accelerator so it's possible to drive without using the mechanical brakes at all. The problem with the Prius is a software issue specific to the Prius alone.

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