Monday, May 25, 2009

So why the MINI E?

Why am I doing this? It’s noble to be GREEN, yet there are other ways to do this. Sorry if this sounds like a rerun of earlier post. Let’s first list the arguments against participating:

1. It’s expensive: for $850 per month, there are many other fine automobiles to choose. One example – Range Rover Sport can be had for $799 per month – I can’t surf for 1 minute without seeing the ubiquitous banner ad. The Sport is a fine vehicle, on road and off, and it’s a Land Rover.
2. If I were to choose another fuel efficient vehicle, I can select one of the latest generation hybrids (Honda Insight, Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion). I can also go for one of the VW diesel powered cars. If I must have one with HOV lane access, Honda Civic GX is available.
3. MINI E is only a two seater – I’ve looked at it closely to see if we can squeeze a 3rd person – nope. In fact, the rear hatch area looks too small to carry 3 grocery bags.
4. It will only go approx. 100 miles on a full charge – MINI USA observed about 150 miles “in an ideal condition”. If I get a call middle of the day to drive up to LA or the Valley, I’ll have to rent another car. I expect to run out of juice sometime during the 1 year field trial.

How about the Pros?
1. There are about 450 MINI E to be deployed in the US for the next 12 months. Take away the vehicles given to MINI USA staff and municipalities, there will be about 400 “Field Trial Participants”. Of those, Southern CA will have about 200 participants. I don’t want to lay claim to “MINI E Pioneer” yet, but I’m ready to try. Will I feel smug? Ask me again in 2 months.
2. As clich├ęd as this sounds, I am doing this for my daughters. They will be part of a unique experience that I can’t wait to share with them. We are already attending other GREEN and Clean Energy events.
3. I love cars. Especially Land Rovers, BMWs and MINIs. I was looking at the MINI Cooper Clubman for a while, and the MINI E will fill that need/love. I’m going to drive the MINI E every day. I’m sure mine will have one of the highest miles logged in the next 12 months.
4. I haven’t bought a new car since 2000, not counting the 2 previous leases my ex-wife had (2001 & 2004). If I’m going to splurge for 12 months, MINI E is a good candidate.
5. I really think this field trial will provide valuable experience to my family as well as MINI and BMW USA. I’ve always enjoyed sharing my opinion on focus groups and surveys. This one will run little longer than the usual focus groups. And if anyone else wants my opinion (Tesla, Fisker, Aptera – whomever), I’d be more than willing to share my experience with them.

E mood? Happy

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My fleet of internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles

My Disco was launched during the short tenure of Land Rover ownership by BMW (1994 ~ 2000). I bought it new in February 2008 from Land Rover Newport Beach – more on the Disco later.

The ’93 e32 has been in my family since my dad bought it new in the winter of 1993 at Competition Sports in Greenwich, CT. After 7 years of TLC by my dad, my sister was the lucky recipient of one of the finest sedans in BMW’s long history. She and her husband proceeded to log mainly freeway miles in Marin County, CA until they were generous to hand it to me in 2003 with approximately 80,000 miles on the odometer. My brother-in-law had just leased a brand new 2003 BMW 528i (e60) and they had to make more room in their driveway. By this time, e32 had seen several seasons of the best and worst of Northern CA weather, and it showed in its fading trims and paint job. The car still ran well when pushed hard – it was the stop and go traffic of the I-405 that it didn’t seem to care for. It leaked various species of petroleum based lubricants, mainly the power steering fluid which has confounded many fine mechanics. It still runs strong today with 160,000+ miles on the odometer; however, with soon to arrive MINI E to my crowded garage my time with the e32 is coming to a close.