Sunday, February 27, 2011

MINI-E #262 Spotted In The Wild

It's not often I see another MINI-E on the road while I'm driving around, so when I passed #262 parked in Morristown today I had to stop and take a picture. Apparently this is one of the cars leased to JCP&L, our local electric utility in Morris County, New Jersey. Other than Michael Thwaite, I don't know of any other MINI-E's still in service in the Morris County area. I know of one in South Jersey and one in Bergen County, but the rest of the MINI-E's leased in my area were returned after the one year term was up as many of the drivers just didn't want to pay $600 per month for a car they would have to give back after the year was up. Many of them that I know have either ordered a Chevy Volt or are waiting for a Nissan LEAF to be available in NJ. After driving an EV for a year, most don't want to go back to their old oil burning ways!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Final Film in The "Wherever You Want To Go" Series Released

The fourth and final film in the BMW series titled "Wherever You Want To Go" is now available online at this link. The three MINI-E drivers asked to be in the film, Peder, Todd and I are all in there to some degree with Peder getting the most talk time. I snatched the above shot from a part in the film where I'm introduced and speak a bit. The cool thing is I get to be the last person talking in the film, and thus the series.

It was a great experience going to LA, meeting Peder & Todd and shooting our conversations (Not to mention getting paid for it!). I hope what the three of us offered helped to improve the films. There were many notable people in the four films offering their opinions on where we are now and where mobility is going and they did a great job offering interesting insights, but Peder Todd and I are living the future right now, driving electric cars every day. The future is electric.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I Make an Appearance in BMW's Film "Reinventing Mobility"


A few posts ago I wrote about going to LA to be in a film made for BMW about the future of mobility. It turned out to be a four part series called Wherever You Want To Go that is intended to get people thinking and talking about where we are going in terms of personal transportation.

The films are about 7 to 10 minutes in length and have short bonus clips they call "deep dives" that you can click on an watch a few more minutes of footage. These are located along the bottom of the film at various points and can be viewed by clicking on the arrow.

I have had short cameo appearances in the first two films, but in the third film called Reinventing Mobility released this past Tuesday, I speak quite a bit. Especially in two of the "deep dives" located on the bottom (Click on the first one called "Freedom A to B" and the fifth one called "Wasted Energy" to see me offering my thoughts). The two guys standing with me are Todd Crook and Peder Norby. They both also drive MINI-E's in Southern California.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

50,000 Emission Free Miles

On February 12th, exactly 20 months to the day that I picked up MINI-E #250, the odometer turned past 50,000 miles. That's 610 days of driving this wonderfully unique car, and averaging 82 miles per day, every day I have had it.

Every day I drive down the road I look around at all the cars around me and realize I'm driving the only car in sight that's not spewing pollutants out the back of my car for the people behind me to breathe. Soon I'll be joined by Chevy Volts (at lease while they are in charge depleting mode), and Nissan LEAF's, but I've yet to run into one while driving yet.  It won't be long before there are then Ford Focus EV's, the Tesla Model S, Toyota RAV4 EV's, and the BMW ActiveE which I'll be driving in about seven months when I have to turn #250 back over to BMW.

No doubt the electric car renaissance is happening, and just about every major auto manufacturer has an electric car in development, and many are near production. That wasn't the case back in June 2009 when I took possession of my MINI-E. The only real electric option at the time was a $100,000 Tesla Roadster, no doubt an awesome car, but a bit out of most people's price range.

So I'll keep driving and charging my car with electricity I produce with my solar PV array on the roof of my home. I'll continue to drive by gas station after gas station, unconcerned about the current price of gasoline. (What does a gallon cost nowadays anyway?) By my account, I would have had to buy about 2,800 gallons of gas for my other car, a 2009 Toyota Tacoma if I did not get selected to be in the MINI-E program. I would have also needed about 10 oil changes, replaced my brake pads at least once and would now be due for a complete 50,000 mile tune up in addition to a litany of regular maintenance items like air filters & fuel filters. I figure I've saved at least $5,000 in fuel and maintenance, and it's probably really closer to $6,000.

Electric cars are extremely low maintenance, which is one of the main reasons the auto manufacturers haven't been really keen on building and selling them. They generally make more money maintaining and fixing your car than they do when they sell it to you. That's won't be the case with EV's. The one big maintenance cost is a replacement battery pack and that won't be necessary for 100,000 to 130,000 miles and 6 to 10 years after the purchase. Even then, they won't profit from it nearly as much as they would have from all the maintenance needed for an internal combustion engine car.

So honk and give me a wave if you see me out there driving around New Jersey. If the "EF-OPEC" plates or the "Starve a Terrorist, Drive Electric" bumper sticker aren't enough for you to tell it's me, just look for the MINI Cooper without the tailpipe sticking out of the back, there aren't that many of us around.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I Create a Bit of a Stir With a Challenge!


I few day's ago I received an email from plugincars.com editor, Brad Berman. Brad sent me a link to a Washington Post article written by Charles Lane titled "Cold truths about electric cars' cold-weather shortcomings" that pretty much slammed electric cars and basically said that they were useless in the cold and actually even dangerous because you will get stranded and freeze while you are waiting to be rescued. Brad knows I'm driving a MINI-E here in Northern New Jersey and I have mentioned to him in the past how I drive it in the snow and freezing temperatures all the time so he thought I would find Mr Lane's article rather amusing.

After reading the article I sent Brad a response that I asked him to post on his site which he did. I also attached some nice pictures on my MINI-E in the snow for effect. In the article I explained how I have been driving in the snow and freezing temperatures all the time and I have never been stranded, never got frostbite and never ran out of charge. At the end of what I wrote, I even offered a challenge to Mr Lane. I offered for him to come up to New Jersey and drive with me and my car for a few days in February, the coldest month of the year, so he can see for himself that an EV is perfectly fine for personal transportation in the cold, snowy north.

The article I wrote was very well received, and lots of people commented that they appreciated that I wrote it and how great it was to hear from someone that is actually living with an electric car instead of journalists guessing how it may be. Then a bunch of other websites picked up the story, like Engadget and Autoblog an I started receiving dozens of emails thanking me for sticking up for electric cars.

Then to my surprise, I received an email form the Washington Post journalist that wrote the story, Charles Lane, asking me to give him a call. I did and he said he would like to take me up on the challenge. He felt that it would be make for a good story, and I agree. The only issue is that he now needs to convince the Washington Post to give him an allowance for the trip. I am now waiting to hear back from him. When we talked he was very clear that I'm not going to change his opinion on electric cars. That they are basically a waste of time and we would be better off just continuing to improve the internal combustion engine to make it more fuel efficient. He said he could provide me many, many studies that would support his stance but he was willing to come and do the story anyway.

So now I'm waiting to hear back from him. I do hope he can get it approved. I welcome the chance to help change his mind. If not completely, maybe I can at least make him see why I love driving electric and how others will also. Please leave comments on what you would like me to ask or tell Mr Lane, should this actually come to fruition.

Here's the link to the article I wrote for plugincars.com: http://www.plugincars.com/electric-car-owner-challenges-washington-post-ev-critic-106755.html

UPDATE: The trip to NJ and the story have been approved by the Washington Post so it's going to happen!
I have a request though, it seems that many people have been emailing Charles and prodding him to accept the challenge I laid out. So much so that he asked me to ask people to stop emailing him and blowing up his inbox!!! He has agreed to do this, so I see no reason to bother him with emails so if you were going to , please don't. There will be plenty of time to get involved in the story as it unfolds here. Thanks