Tuesday, June 23, 2009

MINI E Paradox

OK – one of the key attributes of signing up for the 1 year field trial was “going green” or the perception (appearance?) of going green. We can argue about the methods of how my electricity is generated (coal vs. natural gas) and transferring tailpipe emission to the power plant’s smoke stacks – that will be a topic for another day.

I’ve driven the E for 1 full week now (427+ miles). Not having the high voltage quick charger operational has been a drag (you guessed it, another topic for another day), but I’m finding myself WANTING to use (waste?) more energy with the E.


I only have the vehicle for 12 months. Anyway you slice it, I can’t justify this trial financially. In order to recoup as much of the investment ($923 per month), my brain is telling me to drive the E as much as I can. This could all change once I have several months of electric bill to reset my brain, but as of this time I want to drive it past 15,000 miles – heck, 20,000 miles if I can swing the charging logistics.

Beer run several blocks to the grocery store to pick up a six pack? Forget the usual walk – it’s MINI E time! For that distance, I don’t even seem to draw down any charge – in fact, the regen seems to charge the battery more. Does eating a celery stick burn more calories than what you intake? It’s kind of like that reverse logic.

How about my commute? I checked my 30 miles one way commute every which way using Google Maps. The shortest way is taking the freeway exclusively. 3 different freeway/surface street combos I’ve tried all add more miles to the trip. While I can regen few % more and eke out few more miles, it’s a wash when you consider the longer trip and stop-and-go intersections w/ drivers in a hurry.

So how fast should I drive? I started adopting mild hypermiling techniques in 2008 when gasoline price went through the roof. I’ve been leisurely perusing the slow lanes, traveling around the posted speed limit of 65 MPH. Anything slower and I risked getting run off the road by all kinds of vehicles. With the E, I’m routinely driving 75 MPH which is still slower than the left lane speed jockeys. I could easily zip around the traffic in 80 MPH+ and not be out of place.

Once I get the HOV lane access sticker, I’ll have to drive upwards of 85 MPH if I don’t want to get rear ended by the HOV rockets. What would my energy consumption be then? I suspect my realistic range will be around 80 miles per charge. If I were to exceed 100+ miles on a charge, I would have to maximize the surface streets – ending up in longer commute and encountering more cross traffic. Nyet!

In the meantime, I’ll continue to collect more data while I figure of the optimal route to work - scenery and efficiency wise. Stay tuned… we'll see if I end up wasting more energy than with my ICE car.

No comments:

Post a Comment