Monday, September 26, 2011

100 Mostly Highway Miles Still Possible After 65K

I'm still getting over 100 miles of range after driving over 65,000 miles

Yesterday I set out with my wife for a shopping destination that was about 40 miles from my house, certainly no range problem for the MINI-E. However when we got there we realized this wasn't the place we wanted and a quick search on my mobile device indicated that there was another place that was ten miles further that would better suit what we were looking for.

That would bring the round trip to 100 miles, just about what I feel comfortable doing in the MINI-E without recharging. However this trip was just about all highway driving, and I wasn't driving conservatively (slowly) since I didn't think I needed to because I had only planned on driving about 80 miles. I didn't think twice about continuing onward though. In my twenty seven months with the MINI-E, I have never run out of charge and needed to be towed. The car has never let me down even though I pushed it way passed zero miles on the range meter many times. The funny thing is, I think I'm almost hoping to run out one day before I turn it back in this December when the MINI-E program ends and the BMW ActiveE lease program begins.

I have done so many things with this fantastic little car. I've pushed it to its limits many times. I've learned a lot about energy consumption and how to drive as efficiently as possible. I've driven it 131 miles on a single charge and I've seen my range plummet to about 60 miles when driving on bitter cold, snow covered roads. I've pulled up to a gas station and told the attendant to "fill er up" and watched as he walked around the car looking confused.  I have listened to countless journalists write about how terrible these cars are because they will leave their occupants stranded alongside roads all across the country. I know it may sound crazy but I feel like I almost owe it to myself to run out of juice one day before I give it back.

So when the decision to go home or carry on came up I didn't even think twice. I knew I'd be pushing the limit once more, and that  by driving 100 miles with about 80 of them at highway speeds (65-70mph) I wasn't guaranteed to make it home. The car has over 65,000 miles on it and I have recharged it 1,230 times so far so surely battery degradation at some level has taken place, even if it's not evident in my everyday driving. Would this be the test that the car finally failed?

We'll as you know it didn't let me down. I made it home but I did drive the last three miles with the range meter at zero. It didn't go into limp-mode so I still had a few more miles left, possibly up to ten before it would have rolled to a slow stop. So for now there is still one thing I haven't experienced with my MINI-E. I'm not going to intentionally drive it until it runs out, but I definitely will continue to push the limit if I need to drive far on occasion. If it happens, it happens. I'll then be able to check one more thing off my electric car bucket list.


  1. Tom, next time you get that low, just drive it around the block until is gets really slow before plugging in. You will get close to that hard zero before you give it back and you still won't need a tow.

  2. Hey Tom, are you gonna tell us what was wrong with your car when you got the "The Red Battery Icon of Death"

  3. It was a contact for the high voltage system. The interesting thing about it was the MINI-E technicians said they had never seen this fail on any of the cars yet. They attributed it to my excessive use. I've plugged the car in over 1,200 times now so the contact has had a lot of work.

    They had it fixed in a couple days. I didn't think the problem was sexy enough to do a whole post about :)

  4. OK, thanks. I was just curious as one post seem to indicate that you destroyed your batteries and then the next post, everything was fine.

  5. Sorry if I gave that impression. The red battery icon isn't that uncommon. Many of us have seen this before. It's used for many different problems that can occur in the high voltage battery system.

    The one thing I wanted to stress in my previous post was that when I see that symbol, I don't try to figure out what is wrong or reset the PEU. If it a high voltage battery system problem I want the engineers to look at it. It could be something major or it could be something simple like it was, but I don't want to take that chance. They tow the car and fix it for free, so why bother?