Sunday, August 29, 2010

Closing in on 40,000 Zero Emission Miles

I looked down at my odometer today and realized that I am closing in on 40,000 miles on my MINI-E. I suspect I'll get there in a couple weeks, right around the time I pass 15 months with the car. I drive a lot more than the average American does, partly because I live about 32 miles from my job and partly because owning a restaurant means frequent trips during the day to get supplies, visit off-site catering jobs and sometimes even deliver food myself.

The time has gone by very quickly and I have enjoyed the car much more than I ever thought I would. I've met so many interesting people along the way, most total strangers that stop and ask me about the car. Many of which tell me they are interested in the same things I am; energy independence, national security and the environmental benefits of electric cars. I have also met a whole legion of electric car enthusiasts online, many of which have found me through this blog, and others I have met from electric car websites like, a site that I occasionally write articles for. In fact, the editor of the site, Brad Berman, recently asked me to attend the Bay Area Green Drive Expo in October to sit on a panel of experienced electric car owners and answer questions from the audience, which I accepted.

It's hard to simply describe the great feeling of driving a zero emission vehicle, you have to experience it. The good news is that soon many others will get the opportunity with electric cars like the Chevy volt and the Nissan LEAF both going on sale in three months, followed by the all electric Ford Focus by mid 2011. I really think the public is going to love these cars, and I'm really thankful I have had the chance to experience it before most others have.

One thing that's cool to think about is there is about 2,200 gallons of gasoline that I didn't have to buy, currently sitting in an underground storage tank at the Lukoil gas station in Morristown that I used to go to. That gas would have been burned in my Toyota the past fourteen plus months if I wasn't in the MINI-E program.

Some other facts at 40,000 miles:

I didn't have to purchase 2,200 gallons of gasoline (My Toyota Tacoma gets 18mpg)
At $2.65/gal that's about $5,800. Compared to the roughly $1,800 in electric I've spent to charge up which is a $4,000 fuel savings. Even with a solar PV system, the electricity still "costs" me money because I could have sold it back to the utility at the current rate if I didn't use it to charge my car.

I didn't have to get ten oil changes, a savings of about $500 and I didn't generate 60 quarts of used motor oil that needs to be recycled.

I didn't have to stop for gas about 125 times. That would have added up to over 12 hours of wasted time sitting in my car at the pump. It takes me all of 5 seconds to plug my car in when I get home at night and I'm sleeping while it charges.
I would be close to needing a full tune up. Plugs, filters, belts, etc. All of which aren't necessary with an EV. That's one of the great things with electric cars, there are so few moving parts that can wear out, making the long term maintenance very low. Of course you still have the one big expense of a replacement battery pack that will probably come at around 120-140,000 miles. It's really not possible to predict what that will cost because the price of the Lithium Ion batteries are dropping all the time as more and more companies are making them plus the technology constantly improves. That being said, the money you will have saved in fuel and maintenance will more than cover the cost of the replacement battery pack.

Oh yeah, and since I didn't have to buy any "black gold" to power my car, none of my money left our local economy and went into the pockets of some radical foreign regime that's a member of OPEC. I think I like that fact the most.


  1. Nice post Tom. I really love this blog, thanks for keeping it up to date and doing frequent posts. I'm looking forward to buying a LEAF when they become available in my area. You have helped to convince me that an EV is for me(I didn't need much convincing, but your insight helped close the deal!)


  2. Nice post. 40,000 miles in 15 months is a lot of driving my friend. Doing it in a 100 mile per charge EV is amazing, you are averaging about 90 miles a day!

  3. HI Tom,

    Great post.

    Is it ok if I run this as a guest column over at evworld with a limk to your website?

    Great to see you sitting in on panels and sharing your info with others.
    I agree...EF OPEC!

  4. err, link to your website :)


  5. Hi Peder,

    You can always link to this blog anytime you want, no need to ask permission!

    Maybe you'll drive up to the Bay area on October 9th to see me?


  6. Great Post Tom,
    40K miles thats great, you need to mention your in a no mileage limit lease. Any other car the depreciation from driving that much would be huge.
    I really wish I'd kept my MINI E, but it looks like we're getting a place with no Garage, and a long commute, so it probably wouldnt have worked.


  7. Thanks Robert. Have you put a deposit on a Volt yet? If so were you able to get one for MSRP?

  8. Great job Tom! Thank you for beta-testing this technology. It's early adopters like you that help pave the way so the rest of us can buy a more refined product. When is BMW going to sell the electric car that this program is working on?

  9. Congratulations Tom -- and I know you'll continue to rack up those EV, oil-free, air pollution free miles.

    A quick comment on selling back to the utility. Here in Colorado Xcel territory, you get about 7 cents per kWh you sell back -- a total joke.

    That same kWh is 10 to 12 times more valuable as a source of fuel for an EV to offset the cost of gasoline!

    The moral of the story: In some states, with some utilities, with some rate paying schemes you might be better off selling back extra kWh to your utility -- and it would have to count against your gas savings (which I think is what you're talking about above).

    Not in Colorado, in Xcel territory, though. Use those extra kWh for your EV, or, if you don't have one yet, bank them for future use with your future EV -- they're so much more valuable for an EV than what Xcel (and many other utilities will pay you for them)!