Saturday, October 29, 2011

Mini-E Diary, June 12th 2009: Driving on Sunshine

It's getting to be sentimental time as I contemplate returning Mini-E #183 in a few weeks and accepting the new BMW ActiveE. What was supposed to be a one year test drive for me, has turned into a guy-car love affair with the Mini-E over 2.5 years and has resulted in an altered view on life and our future.

 Nearing the end of the Mini-E trial, I once again love cars and the joy of driving, that passion was lost for over 20 years. My views on our collective future are very optimistic as I can see a clear path towards energy independence, cleaner and healthier cities and a much lower cost of driving.

For me, the Mini-E is more than just a hugely successful field trial of a car technology, it is an answer to questions far beyond just the car, that have concerned me about our future.

I am sure we will love our ActiveE; however the Mini-E will always be the car that altered my views on driving fun and an optimistic future. It belongs in a museum like the San Diego Automotive Museum, if it can no longer stay in my garage.

The Mini-E is the best and most fun car I have driven in my 34 years in the driver’s seat. I have driven the Mini-E more miles per year than any other car in those 34 years. So much for range anxiety and a limited functionality.

After two and half years and 34,000 miles, the words of my first post in June 2009 (see below) still ring true, a deeper truth based on a longer tenure.

Put that magic in a bottle and sell it to the world BMW.

June, 12th, 2009

WEEK 1: The tires struggle to maintain their thin connection to asphalt as you mash the pedal to the floor, racing down the freeway onramp from 20mph to 80mph in a knats breath of time. BMW/Mini has detuned the drive train so as not to let their drivers do something really stupid, or break the test mule that is the Mini Cooper. The car is on the perpetual edge of control, tires sounding off, steering wheel twitching as there is so much power and torque in that speed range.

The car is ultra responsive letting you get a little out of line but not to far as BMW has the Dynamic Stability Control permanently on (smart move on their part.) You are not driving a typical small car and the sooner you realize that you have a beast underneath you that requires your full attention as if on a race track, the better off you are.

Cruising the freeway at 60 you turn off the stereo so you can hear the quiet. You decide to pass a truck. Damn! That is the first thought that comes to mind as in ‘torque now” and loads of it as the car aggressively assumes the spot in front of the truck.

Before I go any farther, I should clarify that it is very easy to drive the Mini-E like a regular car, really no different than a gas car, (except no gas, brake pads, rotors, oil changes, transmission work ….) and you don’t need what it can give you in spades to simple cruise from point A to point B. Why would you drive like that? OK now that the “car is normal” disclaimer is over, back to the fun world!

Driving as an enthusiast the car gets about 90 miles per charge with 10 miles in reserve. Driving freeway speeds 65 to 75, the car gets 110 miles per charge and in the city about 130 to 140. Charging at home is an hour to a couple of hours typical as I plug the car in a 50% or lower state of charge. A quick 30 minute top off gives me an additional 25 miles.

I have range anxiety!

In my G35 I drove about 18 mile a day, In My Mini-E I drive about 80 miles a day, I am anxious that I may never be able to drive the short range of 18 miles again. It’s a trip to Space Mountain only ten times better every morning as I simply must sneak in a 20 minute drive around the lagoon on twisty roads while the wife is in the bath preparing for her work day.

Driving around the lagoon which is located on the Pacific Flyway migratory bird route, you literally hear the birds! It is an unreal experience to drive on a fun twisty road with windows down and hear the birds! OK it sounds corny but when you drive full electric new experiences come to your senses and you notice them immediately.

I’m driving on sunshine, sunshine that powers my home and provides the sun fuel for my Mini-E. Try that in a gas car!

I am liberated, dependent no longer on the mandatory drug of oil from foreign land. I invite you to join me. For more info on the car and home,


  1. It seems that ones first EV love affair can expose you to a loss.
    The MINI E will always be famous.
    Take a lot of pictures! :)

    My condolences,

    Jeff U'Ren

  2. I aggree Jeff, It's not the car per se but the experiance of drivng electric. The first one is always special. I am happy that BMW gives us a continuing path of electric drivng up until the i3 is launched.

    As a gas car driver it is hard to understand a persons passion for electric cars such as mine or yours for the GM EV1. It is only after you drive an EV for a while that you understand.

    The good news is that there are tens of thousands of us now and soon to be hundreds of thousands.

    Any change always begins with just a few. You're one of the originals.

    I will certainly take lots of pictures.