Thursday, June 17, 2010

MINI-E stars at the Green Transportation Expo


A few weeks ago I was contacted by a representative from Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company and asked if I could come to their Green Transportation Expo in Jersey City to display the MINI-E and talk to people there about the car and my experiences driving it. I agreed and headed out to the event early this morning. 

The Expo was held on the top floor of a parking deck in Jersey City, NJ very close to the Hudson River. Other than the fact that it was a very windy day which caused havoc for the tents and tables set up there, everything went well.

There were about 20 vehicles there, mostly hybrids but there was also a natural gas Honda Civic and a hydrogen fuel cell Chevy Equinox. The MINI-E was the only pure electric car there(a Tesla that had committed had to cancel) so it generated a lot of interest. In fact when the Mayor of Jersey City came(with the press in tow) the first car he walked over to was the MINI-E and he and I had a nice conversation about it as the cameras snapped pictures and a local television crew filmed. I was later asked by the TV crew to stand in front of the car and talk about it and the Trial Lease program I am participating in.

The highlights of the day for me were talking to the Clipper Creek representative Michael Paritee, about his products( the MINI-E uses Clipper Creek charge stations) and the possibility of converting them to use the new industry standard SAE j1772 plug.   The picture above is the j1772 plug attached to a Clipper Creek CS-40 charge station, the same one I have at my home to charge the MINI-E, except is has a plug specific to the MINI-E. All future electric cars in the US will use the j1772 plug so all public charging stations will have this plug. I also has a good time arguing with the Chevrolet representative who was there to show the Hydrogen Fuel cell Equinox. He was telling people that GM will have hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in their showrooms for sale within a couple of years. I told him he was nuts and that either he is uninformed or flat out lying. Hydrogen as a fuel may sound great (It only emits water as exhaust), but realistically we are decades away from being able to use it as a fuel for transportation, it's just too expensive to make, compress, transport and distribute. Plus, it takes more energy to make it than you eventually get from it. If you just use the electricity that it takes to make the hydrogen to charge a battery for an EV, you eliminate the whole process necessary to create hydrogen, plus there is already an electric infrastructure and it would take billions of dollars to build out a national hydrogen supply chain. When anyone suggests to me that Hydrogen is the ultimate fuel, I refer them to this informative article on Hydrogen. It's a long article, but full of facts that point to hydrogen being nothing more than a red herring to keep up addicted to oil for as long as possible.

12 comments:

  1. That connector looks huge! Is it really big or does it just look big in the photo?

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  2. It's bigger than the ODU connector that I currently use on the MINI-E because as you can see, it has a handle to hold as you plug in. It does look big in the close up picture but it's really not bigger than I would expect it to be. It's better to look at the other picture where you can see it compared to the wall charger behind it. It felt well built and like it will be easy to use. I like it better than the current plug on the MINI-E.

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  3. Tom,
    you hit the nail on the head with your comments about hydrogen, it has a very long way to go. but you forgot to mention the fuel cell engines that power these cars cost over a million dollars, I dont see million dollar cars being very popular.

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  4. Hi Tom, Sounds like a great time.

    Can you talk more about your conversation with Michael about the possibility of keeping our Clipper Creek boxes and switching out the cable to the new standard. My impression from reading other comments on the Facebook site, is that due to regulations, that won't be possible from a city code perspective. It's technically possible but not legally possible in other words. It's no big deal for folks like us who will hopefully be transitioning into the Active E as BMW would most likely take care of any box change out. For those folks who plan on keeping the box and then switching out the cable later for another vehicle, it might be a problem however. Thanks!

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  5. Todd, You have it correct. For you and me who both figure to get an ActiveE next June, BMW will come out and install new boxes with the j1772 plugs on them. You will be able to purchase a new cable with a j1772 plug on it and install it to your current Clipper Creek CS-40 wall charger, it will work fine because the box is 100% the same. However, you cannot do it legally. There is no way to get the box UL certified so if you were to have a fire (I know it's a small chance) Clipper Creek would not be liable and your insurance company would probably deny your claim. Simply not worth it.

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  6. Thanks Tom for that additional info. Agree, not worth it.

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  7. Is this plug going to be a world standard or just USA?

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  8. No Amid, it's just the US standard. Not sure what they are using in Europe or China, but I'm pretty sure it will be different.

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  9. I can't help but notice it's plastic. Did it feel well designed/made? It has to holdup for thousands of charging cycles. If it's a public charging station, then it may be used a few times a day adding up to 1,000 uses a year and be exposed to the elements. I hope it can hold up to that usage. I was expecting something simpler and made of metal.

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  10. @Amid,
    Short answer: Wikipedia is your friend.

    SAE J1772 was developed in the late 90s for the vehicles produced in response to CARB mandates, along with the USA National Electrical Code section 625 that requires a dedicated circuit for 240V charging. The recent SAE J1772-2009 update settled on the round connector for charging at 115 or 240V up to 70 amps.

    USA and Japanese car manufacturers participated in the SAE update. Some Japanese EVs have adopted the SAE J1772 connector, such as the Leaf. Japan has also pushed the CHAdeMO spec for level 3 500V 125amp (!!) fast charging (only 30 minutes), using a bigger connector that is the second receptacle on the Leaf.

    Europe's kind of a muddle. Their wall plugs supply 240V 13A, which means: SAE level 1 (120V) is no interest to them; they can do low-current 240V with an extension cord; most public charging stations in Europe are just a wall socket in a weatherproof box. But they need a special connector for higher currents at 240V. Some German companies are promoting the Mennekes connector as an alternative to SAE J1772. I think the signaling and software is similar, so if Mennekes takes off an adapter to SAE J1772 might be possible.

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  11. Thanks for the clarification skierpage! Do stop by now and then!

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  12. Anonymous: It did feel very robust. I'm pretty sure it will last a long time.

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