Tuesday, March 24, 2009

MINI E Field Trial Details

Here is the official info from the MINI-USA website:

There are 500 MINI E in the US for the field trial in NY NJ metro area and Southern CA. 250 are allocated for the Greater Los Angeles area which includes Orange County. Of those, Crevier BMW will receive 29 MINI E. I was still pleasantly surprised and skeptical about my selection. It’s not false modesty about my qualification to be a field trial participant. My first reaction was “there must have been unexpectedly low number of applicants. $850 per month lease isn’t chump change, especially in this crappy economy. Throw in the 100~120 miles range on a single charge, there’s even fewer volunteers.” Captain Kirk’s answer was MINI received approximately 10,000 applications. I re-read my essay which was saved on my hard drive. Was this good enough to be picked? Do I still want to go ahead with the lease given unknown job security? What if…? After about an hour of deliberation and few well placed calls to my buddies, I decided to jump in with both feet.

$850 per month plus tax, and MINI USA picks up Insurance

So here are the benefits that come with the E:

1. Access to HOV lane
2. Unlimited miles for 12 months
3. Free scheduled maintenance
4. Cheaper insurance cost
5. Theoretically less expensive operating cost of a car (daily expenses)
6. Real world experience with a full electric vehicle, perhaps a look into the future of what daily automobile commute might look like
7. Chance to network with limited number of like-minded car nuts
8. Opportunity to share the experience with any interested people
9. Being on the bleeding edge of automotive technology
10. And so on (list will be expanded as needed)

And the drawbacks too:

1. Expensive monthly lease
2. Limited daily range - really need to plan your day in advance
3. Limited room in the E (it’s now a 2 seater)
4. And so on

It turns out only 1,800 people filled out the online application.
Program participation requirements were very specific which limited number of applicants. Here are some of them:

1. Must be a homeowner
2. Must have a locking garage (umm - how many people can say this in Manhattan?)
3. The said home must have 220V service
4. Clean driving record
5. Clean credit / high credit score

Of the initial 1,800 applicants, significant number have dropped out or didn't accept the invitation for variety of reasons. Of course you can't easily find this info either officially or unofficially (MINI USA was accepting applicants as late as May 18th - that's almost 5 months after the initial deadline...).

Why do I care? Because even this limited sample size is an indicator of where we will be WRT electric or fuel cell powered vehicle adoption in the future.

E Mood: Neutral to pensive...