Monday, November 1, 2010
MINI-E software "Upgrade": I'm Not Sure That's What I'd Call It
When I brought the car in for service last week, Rob Healey, technical coordinator for the MINI-E, told me that they were doing a software upgrade and to let him know how I felt about the changes they made. Well it's only been about a week now so I'm going to give it a little more time before I email him to let him know how I feel about it, but so far I'm not really lovin' it. They did seem to make the transition from acceleration to regenerative braking and vise-versa more subtle and smoother, but the regenerative braking has definitely been dialed back a bit and I need to adjust to it. I have found myself using the actual brakes much more than I have needed before and I don't really like that. Perhaps once I get used to it I will adjust my driving to once again use the regen for most all of my slowing down and stopping, but for now I find myself having to use the brakes to prevent myself from running into the rear of the car in front of me or overshooting a stop sign or intersection. It may just be me needing to get used to the new program. After driving the car for so long I got used to exactly when I needed to let off the accelerator to slow down for a turn or stop at a light and I need to re-learn that again.
You might ask why BMW does this and that is a legitimate question. I'm not 100% sure but I assume they want to test different levels of regenerative braking for efficiency as well as customer comfort. I recently spoke to a Tesla owner who also drives a MINI-E here in New Jersey and he said the MINI-E's regenerative braking is much stronger than Tesla's. He needs to adjust every time he drives one car and then the other. Some people like very aggressive regen and others don't want it to feel like they released a parachute to slow the car down every time they let off the accelerator. After driving the MINI-E I have learned to love the aggressive regenerative braking and for me, the stronger the better. Personally I think all EV makers just allow the driver to adjust the regen to the level they feel most comfortable with. I'm sure it wouldn't be difficult to have that as an option that the driver can set to the position they like.