Friday, June 26, 2009

This isn't what I signed up for: 130~140 MINI E giveaway

So none of the Pioneers care that nearly 3rd of the MINI E fleet is going to cities, utilities, law enforcement, businesses (non-profit and for-profit) at $10/month? I'm not being petty here - this isn't the MINI Cooper Pioneering spirit I signed up for. On Nov 2008, the application process stated 500 Pioneers, all paying $850 per month to gauge viability of an EV.

I can live w/ 50 going to Berlin and 10 going to NYC (announced in January).

I cannot tolerate the recent fire sale of MINI Es in both coasts. By my account, we're up to 130~140 MINIs at $10 per month. I'm going to use my week off away from the MINI E to decide what to do next.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


I'm going to dedicate this section for no-holds-barred, honest-to-goodness feedback for the MINI-E experience. The only ground rules will be no profanity (broadcast TV equivalent) and it must be a first-hand MINI-E related experience. I will keep this section on top everyday.


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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

MINI E #017 is home - finally...

So I finally took delivery of SSN #017 after many months of delays - am I smiling? Yes, even though some clown tried to take the cover off my Discovery which is now parked outside to make room for the 017. And no, it wasn't the wind that was the culprit. Good thing I used 2 bungee cords to keep it in place. Now I need to devise a locking mechanism - and I know who you are...

I enjoyed the 20+ mile drive home - and it was certainly the long way home so my two daughters can touch the car before my coworkers do tomorrow ;) They liked the new car.

It didn't take me too long to get used to the regen feature - I just need to master it so I don't "stop short" at the intersection. MINI E does have gobs of torque, seemingly at any speed, up to the electronic nanny at 95 MPH - no, I didn't test the limiter. Not yet ;)

My HV 240 V charger is not functional - and I'm not going to fiddle w/ it until it passes the city inspection. It's just not worth the risk to damage the controls or the PC board. 110 V will do for now, especially w/ access to an outlet at work. No shade at the new spot, but I'll take the much needed juice.

I'll post updates tomorrow after a potential photo shoot for Motor Trend Korean edition...

Friday, June 12, 2009

My email to BMWUSA and MINIUSA

After the inspection incident, I proceeded to write a detailed, organized, and passionate email to BMWUSA and MINIUSA. I searched my Rolodex to grab as many relevant email addresses as I can - then I hit Google to get names of more executives at BMW & MINI. I let the email marinate overnight and review it several times before I hit the send button. Surprisingly, my laptop didn't spontaneously combust. I expect someone from BMW, MINI, ClipperCreek, Crevier or CFCI to reply within 24 hours. The first reply is from Enid, then Crevier and followed by MINIUSA after my 1 hour call with Enid. I'll leave out the gory details but my email has received a lot of attention and several conference calls ensue as a result. I relay my concerns and grievances and now I wait patiently. Oh yeah - Crevier told me the day after my email that I will be getting #017 in few days w/ a 110V cable. And I coin the term "MINI PIGS" for the fellow MINI E Pioneers...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Irvine Inspector - Part 1

On June 8th, Mr. Art Villa came by to inspect the wall charger. Unfortunately Andy from Sunpower Electric was running late to install the cable, and Art told me he has to leave for his next appointment. I panicked and got Andy on the horn to get his butt over to the house pronto. Another missed day at work and I would be sleeping out of the MINI E. Once Art started inspecting the charger, real bad news started - inspection has failed due to lack of a UL sticker (UR/RU sticker doesn't count). I tried unsuccessfully to contact ANYONE at CFCI. My call to Crevier MINI reached Christian Banks, but he couldn't help much. I told Art that inspections in Newport Beach are going just fine - Art's answer was perhaps the Newport inspections are done improperly - case closed. My further follow up later in the day w/ ClipperCreek came to the same conclusion that Art was right. And I find out that Pasadena is also failing inspections - which leads to my email to BMWUSA, MINIUSA, CFCI, ClipperCreek and Crevier...