Sunday, May 30, 2010

MINI-E #217 stops buy Nauna's for a charge!

Gordon Miller drives MINI-E #217 and before his year lease is over and he has to give the car back he wanted to see how far he could drive the car in 24 hours so he set out this morning from his Rockland County, NY home and drove about 100 miles before he needed to "fill up". He decided to make his first stop at Nauna's for some juice and some lunch. We talked for a while about the trial lease program, about how we both love driving an electric car, about times we needed service and about how we both agree electric cars are here to stay. Once the general public gets to experience what we have for the past year we're convinced people will want them, especially as range becomes bigger and public charging stations become available. We both consider ourselves lucky to be involved in this program and to hopefully play a role in the advancement of electric drive vehicles. He and his friend Scott had sat down to some eggplant parmigiana and then took a nice walk around Montclair before heading back to a fully charged car and another 100 miles of road. Gordon is one of the MINI-E drivers that I have been in frequent contact with during the year we have had our cars. I have met a lot of really nice people from the MINI-E program and become friends with many of them and Gordon is definitely one of the nicest people you'll ever meet. The plan is to drive the car 400 miles today; good luck guys!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Plugging In

Recently I was talking to a friend about the future of electric cars and he said he thinks one of the obstacles will be that people(he) wouldn't want to have to waste time plugging in the car all the time. He said it's so easy to just buy gas once a week and it takes so little time to do so. I quickly snapped back "you waste more time buying gas than I do plugging this thing in, I'll tell you that" He didn't believe me, but as they said in Cool Hand Luke "Some people you just can't reach".

So I thought I'd do a little test to see just how much time I spend plugging in. I know it's not long, but exactly how long I wasn't sure. So for the next few times I plugged the car in (and then unplugged) I timed myself.

Six seconds.

Yep, that's all it take to plug the car in and another 5 or 6 seconds to unplug. So basically I spent about 24 seconds a day plugging in and unplugging since I charge the car twice a day on most days, once at home and once at work. I'm not sitting there waiting for the car to charge, like you have to go when you're filling up with gasoline. I'm either sleeping or working while the lithium ion batteries are recharging. I then went to a gas station when I had some time and parked over on the side by the air pump and timed some of the cars that were filling up.

Seven minutes.

The average car took seven minutes from the time they pulled in to the station to the time they pulled out full of dino juice. While this wasn't a scientifically controlled experiment, I think I'm pretty close to how long the average car takes to full up and I'm not even taking into consideration the time it took them to drive to the gas station. I'll assume it was on their way so they only had to pull into the station.

I have about 32,000 miles on my car in three weeks less than a year so I'm going to end up with right around 33,000 miles on the car this year. If I had driven my Toyota Tacoma truck all year instead of the MINI, I would have to had to stop for gasoline exactly 100 times as I can get 325 to 340 miles per tank.

Doing simple math I have spent a cumulative 2 hours and 26 minutes plugging and unplugging my car this year. If I was driving my Toyota, I would have spent over 11 and a half hours sitting at a gas station waiting for the tank to fill.

So I ask: Who's really wasting their time?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nice Day, Nice drive, Great Range..

When I woke up this morning it seemed like a great day leisurely drive around North Western New Jersey so my wife and I hopped into #250 and took it for a 54 mile cruise through the country. We drove on all rural, secondary roads so it was mostly low speed driving, the kind of driving the MINI-E loves most. The temperature was in the low 70's so the battery was very happy also. It was a very enjoyable drive, as there were no other cars on the road to spoil the relaxing peacefulness of the quiet electric drive of the MINI-E. When we arrived home about two hours later we had driven 54 miles and still had an estimated 70 miles of range left. 124 miles, pretty good if I do say so myself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Nissan Leaf pre-orders already exceed production capacity!

AutoBlogGreen is reporting Nissan has already taken more pre-orders of the Nissan Leaf than they will be able to produce! I know this is a MINI-E site but the Leaf is the first all electric car that a major auto manufacturer will sell and the fact that the demand is already outstripping the supply is reinforcing what I have been writing here for a while now: There are a lot of people that are sick and tired of the oil industry and want another option. They will be willing to sacrifice a little convenience for the opportunity to say F*** OPEC! Sorry guys, when you get your Leaf you'll have to come up with your own vanity plate, I'm not giving this one up!

Monday, May 17, 2010

#458 Gets a Charge out of Nauna's

 Jim McLaughlin lives in Princeton, NJ and drives MINI-E #458. His daily commute takes him into Pennsylvania to his job every day and has a round trip of around 130 miles. Like me, Jim is able to charge while he is working, although it's at 120V, 12amps so it's a slow charge. Still, it adds about 20% to his state of charge while he works so he doesn't have to worry about the long 65 mile drive home. Because of his long commute, Jim has over 26,000 miles on his car and is second only to me in total miles out of all the 612 MINI-E's made. Over the weekend he and his wife stopped by Nauna's for some lunch and to top off #458 as they continued to their destination in New York City. The round trip was about 135 miles and slightly out of the MINI-E's range although Jim has made himself famous for getting exceptionally long single-charge driving range. He regularly gets 120+ miles per charge, but 135 mostly highway miles might be even too much for him to squeeze out of the MINI-E's 35kwh battery pack. Why take that chance when there is a friendly restaurant on the way in Montclair willing to let MINI-E drivers "fill up" for free? I've probably had a few dozen pioneers stop by and use the charger so far. I'm fine with that, I've let everyone know the charger is there and ready for anyone that needs it. Hopefully next year they'll be some BMW ActiveE's stopping by to get some juice because that would mean I'd have one parked out there too!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Guest Post on Edmunds Inside Line

Occasionally I write guest posts for Edmunds Inside Line car blog. Donna DeRosa, managing editor over at Edmunds asked me a while back if I would like to do a post about the MINI-E and now I occasionally send her a post and she puts it up. The folks over at Edmunds have under 7,000 miles on their MINI-E so when they heard I just passed 30,000 they figured it would make for an interesting post.
Clink on the link below if you want to take a look at my guest post.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

30,000 Zero Emission Miles in Eleven Months

Yesterday was eleven months to the day (June12th, 2009 to May 12th 2010) since I picked up MINI-E #250 from Morristown MINI. Yesterday was also the day that the cars odometer rolled past 29,999 to an even 30,000 just as I turned into my driveway as I returned home from work.

Electric cars have a long way to go before they are accepted by the majority of the public as a legitimate alternative to gasoline burning cars.  There are still many questions and obstacles like the high cost of batteries, the usable life span of the batteries, the effects the ambient temperature has on the range, the unavailability of public charging infrastructure, but most of all the single charge range of the current EV's. Until recently when Tesla introduced the Roadster there were no production cars that you could purchase that could consistently go100 miles on single charge regardless of the whether conditions. 100 miles per charge seems to be the accepted bare minimum for an EV to be really considered a serious player and have a chance to sell in numbers great enough to warrant production by a major auto maker.

Most of the general public has the perception that we currently don't have the technology to build and sell a car, for a competitive price, that could go far enough on a single charge to satisfy their daily driving requirements. If anything, I hope that people that read about me and my adventures with the MINI-E realize that the auto makers can make a car that can be used as a daily driven commuter car and be used for high mileage driving if the circumstances are right. 30,000 miles in less than a year is much more than the average person drives. In fact, the average driver logs about half the miles that I'll have on the car next month when my first year with the car is over.

I know that the car wouldn't work for everyone. There are plenty of people that drive less miles than I do in a year but have the need to longer individual trips, so yeah, a car with a 100 mile range just wouldn't work for them. However, I believe most households that have more than one car could use a 100 mile EV and could save a lot of money doing so. The cost of maintenance of these cars is dramatically lower than that of an internal combustion engine vehicle because there are so few moving parts to wear out and need replacement. Plus the fuel cost (electricity vs gasoline) is dramatically lower. Depending on what part of the country you live in the average cost to power your electric car would be around $2.50 to $4.50 per 100 miles you drive.

Lately I've been interviewed by quite a few journalists that have heard of the high mileage I'm putting on the car and many of them ask me if I know of anyone else that has driven an electric car more than 30,000 in a single year. I've asked around the EV community and nobody seems to know of anyone that has. I know some of the EV-1 drivers put as many as 50 or 60,000 on their cars over a 3 to 4 year period, and that some of the Toyota RAV4 drivers have 150,000 miles on them but they were sold from 1997 to 2003 so they are all 7 to 13 years old. The Tesla roadster is capable of doing it, but I don't know if anyone would buy one for $110,000 and then basically drive it into the ground like I'm doing to the MINI-E.

If anyone knows of anyone that has driven their EV more than this in a year, please leave a comment with the details. The more people see that these cars are capable of high mileage driving, the quicker the public will realize that driving electric is a legitimate alternative to gasoline powered cars.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

MINI-E: Errand Boy

I spend a lot of time talking about how the MINI-E is a very capable commuter car. Primarily because most of the driving I do is commuting, but also because many perceive EV's as city-only cars and not really capable of long, highway speed driving. Today's electric cars are very capable of highway driving and since I do a lot of it, I want to make sure everyone that reads this blog knows.

But that doesn't mean the car isn't also great for scooting around town and running errands. Yesterday was just that kind of day. I had a million things to do and a million different places to go. I had to go to Town Hall to pick up a permit, I had to go the the bank, to Costco, to A&P, to Rite Aid, to the Post Office, to the Home Depot plus a few other stops along the way.

By the end of the afternoon I made about ten destinations, drove 65 miles and still had 49 miles of estimated range left. The MINI-E is really a great little car for a lot of reasons, but zipping around town at low speeds like I did yesterday really reminds me how versatile the car can be. I even had plenty of room to load an over-sized Costco shopping cart full of stuff in the back with plenty of room to spare.

I'm closing in on one year with the car now, and I have to say it's been everything I could have expected it to be and then some.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BP Oil spill continues to grow, threatens Louisiana's entire way of life

Ever since April 20th  when the oil rig Deepwater Horizon exploded and sank, claiming 11 lives of the coast of Louisiana, over 210,000 gallons of crude oil has been spewing into the waters from the seabed some 5,000 feet below. The extreme depth of the well is problematic in getting getting it capped, shut off or even allowing BP to capture the oil as it exits the pipe. So far efforts to stop the flow have been futile and estimates of 90 days to get it stopped keep surfacing. If indeed is is another 90 days, simple math will tell you that this spill has the potential to be twice as large a spill as the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989 when 10.8 million gallons of crude spilled into the Prince Island Sound in Alaska. Compound that with the fact that nobody died when the Valdez spill occurred and it's beginning to look like this is going to be the worst oil spill the United States have ever had occur.

The really terrible thing about oil spills is that the affected ecosystems can take decades to recover. We can't just force BP to hire thousands of workers to clean up all the oil soaked beaches and rocks and then proclaim 'it's fixed". The oil can wreak havoc on the entire food chain from plankton up to whales. This delicate balance isn't easily or quickly repaired and may take decades for the ocean to come back to life in the region. So much of the area's economy depends on the fishing industry and tourism, both of which may be in complete ruin within the coming weeks.

When I first started researching electric cars, I did so for a couple reasons. First, I like new technology. I liked the fact that auto makers were exploring a new propulsion system that would be the biggest change in the automobile industry since there even was an automobile industry. Secondly, I believe know that America needs to move in a new direction with energy generation. We simply cannot continue down the current unsustainable path we are on. The price we pay for oil it too high. I'm not talking about the $2.85/gallon you pay at the pump because that only tells a small part of the story. I'm talking about the millions billions trillions of dollars we, the tax payers pay to protect our "oil interests" around the globe. I'm talking about the American kids that come back from the Middle East in boxes because we need to make sure the oil keeps flowing our way for as cheap as possible. I'm talking about the absolute disasters that ocurr when an oil tanker runs aground or an oil rig explodes and sinks and millions of gallons of crude oil contaminate and destroy everything in it's path and leave behind the stench of death for decades.

Using electricity as a fuel to propel automobiles will not cure all of our energy ills. Much of the electricity produced here in the US is done so by burning coal and there is nothing clean or nice about the mining process or burning it but it is still way less detrimental to the environment than the process of drilling, refining and burning oil is. Plus, all of the coal we use in mined domestically so we're not sending trillions of dollars out of our economy to foreign countries, many of which hate us. 

Then there's the fact that individuals have the ability to generate their own clean, renewable electricity right at their own homes and you can never say that about oil. As much as it pains me to read the news about this oil disaster in the Gulf, if there is a bright side I think it's going to open more eyes and help others agree that we need a new domestic energy policy. One that lessons the reliance our oil and there is no quicker way to accomplish that than beginning to transition from gasoline burning vehicles to electrics.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Article on SolarChargedDriving.Com about me

Recently I was interviewed by Erin Holweger from She wanted to talk about my MINI-E and the solar P.V. system that I recently installed. The story was just posted to the webite. Follow this link to take a look.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One Month of Charging on Sun Power

It's been one month since I had my 8.8kwh solar PV system installed on my roof and #250 has been "filling up" on electricity that I produce myself now. My system produced about 1,200kwh of electricity this month. I figure the MINI-E used about 500kwh and the rest will lower my home electric bill substantially. I may not even have to pay anything. It's the first time I actually wanted to get my electric bill! I'm curious to see what my usage is with the net metering figured in. Clean, renewable energy used to power an automobile! It makes even more sense to me now when I read the news about the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico spewing over 200,000 gallons of crude oil every day into the ocean with no end in sight. What do the oil apologists have to say now? Still complaining about the "long tailpipe" of EV's? Didn't think so. More on the Louisiana disaster in my next post.