Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Mini-E #183, Proud parent of the next generation.

There is a feeling driving Mini-E #183 of absolute responsive performance.

Responsive performance that I have yet to find in any car I have driven in the past 32 years . Instantaneous inputs for acceleration and deceleration and of course, the Mini cornering and fun factor.

I’m 8000 miles and six months into this field test of Mini-E #183 and without trying to be over dramatic, I am living and driving in the future, today.

A future so bright, powered by that big yellow ball in the sky.

Never in my life have I felt so passionate, so optimistic about the change in front of our world. Environmentally, economically and socially, a change so large it dwarfs the Wright bothers at Kitty Hawk, Henry Ford and the Model T and the communications revolution of the past 30 years.

Mini-E has a new progeny on the way. I'm a proud Papa of sorts!

I can only hope that my experience as a pioneer will have a chapter two in this vehicle.

Paraphrasing (or plagiarizing) a popular song ;

Please don’t take my sunshine car away.

Bravo BMW!

Peder #183

The BMW Concept ActiveE

The next chapter in BMW's project i Megacity Vehicle research initiative.Woodcliff Lake, NJ – December 16, 2009, 6pm EST...

Introducing the BMW Concept ActiveE, the latest electric vehicle project under BMW Group's initiative to produce vehicles that explore solutions to minimize environmental impacts while preserving the kinetic driving experience for which BMW has long been known.

The BMW Concept ActiveE follows the all-electric MINI E as the second large-scale electric vehicle test program to be conducted in the hands of interested customers.The BMW Group presents yet another milestone along the way to achieving CO2-free mobility. The BMW Concept ActiveE provides a taste of a purely electrically powered BMW. Focused on the requirements of practical use, the study is based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe and embodies the outstanding agility and characteristic driving pleasure of the 1 Series for the first time as part of an emissions-free drive concept.With the world premiere of the BMW Concept ActiveE at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) 2010 in Detroit, the BMW Group is highlighting the continuation of its research and development activities in the field of electro-mobility.

The field tests with the MINI E as part of project i in the US and Europe have already provided important insights into the demands required of future production electric vehicles. As a second step, project i has begun development of a second trial fleet of electric vehicles based on the BMW Concept ActiveE. These vehicles are likewise intended for everyday use by private and select fleet customers as part of a large-scale field test. The insights gathered in the process will be fed into the development of an electrically powered serial production vehicle which the BMW Group will put on the market under a sub-brand of BMW in the first half of the next decade.

The BMW Concept ActiveE has allowed BMW to explore new vehicle packaging solutions and components which will be crucial to the success of the Megacity Vehicle. The intelligent integration of drive components within the existing vehicle package of the BMW 1 Series Coupe offers the opportunity to provide four full-size seats and a luggage compartment with a capacity of 200 litres / 7 cu ft. The motor, specially developed for the model and located in the rear axle, delivers 125 kW/170 hp and provides maximum torque of 250 Nm / 184 lb-ft. It accelerates the vehicle in less than 9 seconds from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 mph in approx. 8.5 seconds).The electric drive system draws its energy from new, advanced lithium-ion battery pack developed jointly by BMW and the co-operation partner SB LiMotive especially for the BMW Concept ActiveE. They enable a range of approx. 160 kilometres (100 miles) in everyday use. An intelligent battery management system helps achieve this range largely independently of external climatic conditions.

Additionally, the charging period required for the lithium-ion batteries is very short. On the European power grid, the battery pack can be fully charged in just 3 hours at a wall box with a current of 50 ampere at 230/240 volts. In North America, using a high-current (32 ampere continuous) residential wall box, the charge time is about 4.5 hours.Innovative technology for sheer driving pleasure without CO2 emissions.The BMW Concept ActiveE embodies a whole new dimension of purely electrically powered mobility. The dynamic potential and high torque of the drive system, along with the rear-wheel drive which is a hallmark of the brand, guarantees the characteristic sheer driving pleasure which is typical of BMW – but without any CO2 emissions. An impressive range of functions and a high level of suitability for everyday use are additional features of this concept, which defines electro-mobility in true BMW style.

The BMW Group attaches key importance to electro-mobility in the development of future-oriented vehicle concepts and drive systems as part of its EfficientDynamics strategy. In the medium term, BMW Group is developing innovative vehicle concepts for emissions-free mobility in urban areas. This so-called Megacity Vehicle will also be offered with an electrical drivetrain. The BMW Concept ActiveE represents a further step towards the realization of this concept. Components of the vehicle may be developed further for later integration into the Megacity Vehicle.Electric drive: emissions-free, powerful and compact.

The BMW Concept ActiveE offers the prospect of characteristic BMW driving pleasure without exhaust emissions. The requirements for electro-mobility with characteristic BMW properties are being created based on ongoing development in the powertrain. The latest outcome is a new synchronous electric motor tailored to the BMW Concept ActiveE. It offers a high level of efficiency, power delivery, and compact construction.The maximum output of the new electric drive is 125 kW/170 hp.

The maximum torque of 250 Nm / 184 lb-ft is available from a standstill as is typical for electric motors. The torque remains available over an unusually broad load range. Unlike asynchronous electric motors, the new power unit provides a relatively high level of torque even at higher engine speeds and road speeds; at increased load the torque is not reduced abruptly but decreases gradually. The torque curve at higher engine speeds is therefore much more similar to the pattern familiar from combustion engines.The vehicle concept and drive system provide the agility and dynamic acceleration performance which are characteristic of the BMW 1 Series Coupe. Based on realistic simulations, a figure of less than 9 seconds was measured for the sprint from zero to 100 km/h (0-60 miles in 8.5 seconds), with the 60 km/h mark being reached after less than 4.5 seconds. The maximum speed of the vehicle is electronically limited at around 145 km/h or 90 mph.The innovative character of the electric drive is also reflected in the optimized ratio between engine output and space requirements: the compact power package is fully integrated in the rear axle of the BMW Concept ActiveE.

Here the drive system occupies the space required in conventional vehicles by the differential, whose function is integrated in the drive system.Recuperation of energy increases range.In the purely electric powered BMW, the driver may control deceleration as well as acceleration through the movement of the accelerator pedal. As soon as the driver's foot is removed from the accelerator, the electric motor performs the function of a generator, converting the vehicle's kinetic energy into electric power and storing it in the battery pack.

Intensive use of this so-called energy recuperation process by the motor increases the range by up to 20%.At the same time, a brake torque is created which results in effective deceleration of the vehicle. This response enables a very comfortable driving style, especially at medium and constantly varying speeds. In urban traffic, some 75 percent of all deceleration manoeuvres are initiated without the need for the brake pedal. During Brake Energy Regeneration function, the vehicle's brake lights are illuminated.This brake effect acts on the rear wheels only.

When the driver requires a higher level of deceleration, stepping on the brake pedal engages the conventional hydraulic braking system. If an emergency braking maneuver is required during braking, the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system applies selective braking and motor management measures to ensure that safe braking is always guaranteed.The brake system is fitted with an electric vacuum pump which is activated on demand.

Along with the Electric Power Steering (EPS) familiar from the production models of the BMW 1 Series, these features contribute to an increase in the overall efficiency of the vehicle.Innovative lithium-ion battery pack with its own liquid cooling.The lithium-ion battery pack specially developed for this vehicle supplies energy to the motor and all other functions of the BMW Concept ActiveE. The high-voltage battery units offer a particularly high storage capacity and durability. For the first time, storage cells are used which were developed especially for use in automobiles by the BMW Group in collaboration with the co-operation partner SB LiMotive. Powerful battery cells are key when it comes to designing production vehicles with electric drive. Through the collaboration of the BMW Group with a joint venture of the companies Bosch and Samsung SDI [SB LiMotive], leading expertise in the area of battery technology and electro-mobility has been brought together. The aim is to use the best available technology in the area of energy storage as part of the development of the Megacity Vehicle.

For some time now, lithium-ion technology has demonstrated its particularly high storage capacity and deep-cycle resistance - for example in mobile phones and laptops. The technological expertise of SB LiMotive ensures that these properties are retained even under the special conditions of use in an automobile and the relevant demands in terms of durability, endurance and safety.The lithium-ion batteries of the BMW Concept ActiveE have their own liquid cooling system and intelligent battery management system, which are key elements in increasing both the storage capacity and the durability of the battery cells.

These systems also ensure that the long range can be maintained largely independent of external climatic conditions. The high storage capacity is the decisive factor in achieving as long a range as possible. The storage system developed for the BMW Concept ActiveE enables a real-world range of about 160 km / 100 miles on a single charge, depending on conditions (FTP72 cycle range is calculated to be 240 km / 150 miles in simulation).Modular structure, compact construction, space-saving integration.Another special feature of the battery pack is its outstanding compactness, despite its output and capacity.

The arrangement of battery cells, grouped into several modules, is ideal in terms of packaging, functionality and vehicle balance. The battery pack is located where a combustion engine and fuel tank would normally be located. The largest portion of the battery pack in the BMW Concept ActiveE is located where the conventional propshaft and fuel tank would be in the lower section of the vehicle. In addition, a portion of the battery pack is located where the combustion engine would normally reside. Using intelligent lightweight design and the highly-efficient lithium-ion battery cells, vehicle curb weight is limited to about 1800 kg / 3900 lbs.Characteristic BMW driving experience, space of a BMW 1 Series Coupe.

The positioning of the battery pack shifts the vehicle's center of gravity downwards. Also, the battery cell layout within the vehicle preserves the near 50-50 weight distribution characteristic of BMW vehicles. In this respect, the BMW Concept ActiveE offers ideal conditions for driving experience characterized by a high level of agility.In terms of the space available in the interior, the BMW Concept ActiveE has no disadvantage compared to the BMW 1 Series Coupe with conventional combustion engine.

It offers four full-size seats with the same measures of head, leg and shoulder space.The optimum positioning of the power electronics above the motor integrated in the rear axle, for reasons of safety and functionality, results in a reduction of trunk capacity. Nonetheless, the BMW Concept ActiveE still has a luggage compartment which provides considerable versatility in everyday use. With a volume of approx. 200 litres / 7 cu ft, it even exceeds the trunk capacity of the BMW 1 Series Convertible with an open top and can hold two 46-inch golf bags, for example.Reliable and safe: power electronics control and monitor vehicle functions.

The power electronics of the BMW Concept ActiveE regulate the supply of electrical current to the motor at the required amperage and voltage. It also controls the supply of energy to the vehicle power network. By means of a voltage transformer and an intelligent battery management system, a reliable supply of power to all vehicle functions is ensured, including the comfort and entertainment features familiar from the production model of the BMW 1 Series. Drive components, energy supply, and battery pack comply with the integral safety standards for electric vehicles as defined by the BMW Group.Central monitoring functions integrated both in the power electronics and the battery pack ensure the continuous monitoring of all components.

The driver is immediately informed of malfunctions and if necessary there is an automatic system discharge and shutdown. Modern charging technology: fresh energy both swiftly and flexibly.The consistent development of serial production vehicles with electric drive also includes innovative solutions for flexible, user-friendly charging of the energy storage systems in the vehicle in a way which is appropriate to everyday use. The lithium-ion battery pack of the BMW Concept ActiveE can be recharged using a range of different power sources. This means that the vehicle is not dependent on a specific charging station and energy of varying power levels can be fed into the battery pack according to availability. Any conversion required is taken care of by the high-performance battery control system.

This gives the driver considerably greater flexibility in using the vehicle. In addition to using a high amperage wall box – a supply system installed in the user's home optimized to reduce charging times– it is also possible to use conventional power outlets or publicly accessible charging stations made available in co-operation with energy suppliers. In this way, stopovers can be used to extend the travel range of the vehicle when needed.The lithium-ion batteries of the BMW Concept ActiveE set a new benchmark for energy storage systems in electric vehicles. Regardless of the voltage and amperage available, they build up a remarkably high energy capacity within a very short time.

On the European power grid, the battery pack can be fully charged in just 3 hours at a wall box with a current of 50 ampere at 230/240 volts. In North America, using a high-current (32 ampere continuous), 220 volts residential wall box, the charge time is about 4.5 hours.Innovative comfort features: auxiliary heating and auxiliary air conditioning complete with remote control.In conjunction with the powerful battery technology, the concept of a purely electrically powered vehicle presents additional opportunities for the integration of innovative comfort features. For the BMW Concept ActiveE, a special heating and air conditioning system was developed which is supplied with energy from the high-voltage battery via the vehicle power network.

The fact that the heating system and air conditioning compressor are electrically powered means that the desired temperature can be provided inside the vehicle even when it is stationary.The driver can heat or cool the interior before a trip using the auxiliary heating or air conditioning system – an option which is available when the vehicle is connected to a charging station and the battery is fully charged. This ensures that the range is not reduced by the comfort function, but in fact increased.

The reason for this is that the energy required for heating or cooling the vehicle with an existing connection to the power supply does not need to be drawn from the battery during travel.The climate control systems developed for the BMW Concept ActiveE can also be activated via mobile phone. This option also includes a timer function so the driver can ensure that the vehicle is conveniently pre-cooled or pre-heated before getting into it in the morning, for example. Climatic pre-conditioning optimizes not only ride comfort but also the operating status of the energy storage system in the sense that it maximises the range of the vehicle. The control of the heating and air conditioning system by mobile phone is made available through BMW ConnectedDrive.

The BMW Concept ActiveE demonstrates the extensive range of options for using these services with the full integration of a smartphone connection into the vehicle infotainment system.Specific remote control functions via BMW ConnectedDrive.In addition to the intelligent remote controlled operation of the auxiliary heating and air conditioning, BMW ConnectedDrive offers additional services specially developed for the BMW Concept ActiveE. The main focus here is on the user-friendly and practically oriented relay of precise information on the condition of the vehicle. No matter how far he is from the vehicle, the driver can obtain details of the charge status of the lithium-ion battery and the range of travel this permits. The remote control functions also provide support in searching for a nearby public charging station.The configuration of the remote control functions is specifically oriented to use scenarios arising in everyday traffic.

For example, the driver can go shopping or eat at a restaurant while the vehicle is supplied with electrical current at a charging station. Within a very short time the driver can obtain information on the current charge status of the batteries by mobile phone. The driver can also determine how much charging time is required for the batteries to achieve sufficient energy capacity for the trip home, thus allowing other activities to be planned. Providing sufficient charge is available, the driver can also activate the heating and air conditioning during an excursion when the battery is fully charged and the vehicle is connected to the power supply. In this way a pleasant temperature can be generated inside the car within just a few minutes and in good time before setting off.Additional trips can also be conveniently prepared using the innovative remote control functions.

For example, the driver can check the charge status of the vehicle batteries and the currently available travel range while at his workplace or sitting in a café. This makes it quick and convenient to find out whether an additional trip can be made before driving home before the energy supply runs out. The driver gains additional flexibility in being able to search for public charging stations in the vicinity of any given location. Based on the information relayed to the mobile phone, he can quickly determine whether a spontaneously planned stopover can be used to charge the vehicle batteries.Design: unmistakably a BMW 1 Series Coupe.The technology of the BMW Concept ActiveE is highlighted through unique design features. The BMW Concept ActiveE is unmistakably based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe, well-known for its outstanding agility and efficiency. With its powerful proportions, the BMW Concept ActiveE also embodies an especially sporty form.

Its side view is dominated by the striking shoulder line and the short overhangs. In addition, the BMW Concept ActiveE boasts striking light alloy wheels which are aerodynamically optimized. The distinctive appearance is partly created by the concept-specific rear apron which is completely closed, demonstrating that the vehicle is entirely emissions-free due to the lack of an exhaust system. There is a recognisable differentiation from the production model of the BMW 1 Series Coupe with the body finish in Liquid White metallic, as well as graphic elements derived from printed circuits in Electric Blue on the hood, doors, roof and trunk lid, as well as the lettering "ActiveE", "eDrive" and "Efficient Dynamics" on the doors and side panels.

The following elements also reflect the special character of this electrically powered vehicle: a blue illuminated charging connection behind a translucent filler cap, a glowing blue roof fin and kidney rods finished in blue. Blue rings on the tyres also make for a visual enlargement of the 18-inch wheels.In the interior, individual details highlight the distinctive style of the study and are functionally associated with the electric drive. Among other things, the interior of the BMW Concept ActiveE has special leather seats with embossed graphic elements and blue contrasting stitching.

The instrument panel and door trim panels have strips in Liquid White. The decor strip in the instrument panel is finished with a three-dimensional rear-lit ActiveE graphic. The blue illuminated start/stop button and the selector lever knob emblem in White/Blue round off the overall graphic concept. What is more, the instrument panel and the central display have been enhanced to monitor the electric drive.Instead of the tachometer there is a battery capacity display in the instrument panel. The current charge status of the battery pack is shown in percent. There is also a second instrument which shows how much current is being drawn from the battery as well as the amount of energy being fed back into the battery from Brake Energy Regeneration.In addition to the familiar features, the central information display also has a battery level indicator, an active system status display function and the positions of the nearest electric charging stations.

Inside the trunk, an illuminated plexiglass screen provides a view of the power electronics of the electrical drivetrain. The charge cable is housed conveniently in an additional storage compartment between the left-hand wheel arch and the power electronics.A future-oriented technology which runs across all brands: electro-mobility as a mainstay of EfficientDynamics.With the BMW Concept ActiveE, the BMW Group demonstrates the continuation of its project i research and development activities geared towards achieving emissions-free mobility independent of fossil fuels.

For the first time, the concept of a purely electrically powered vehicle is combined with the characteristics of a BMW 1 Series Coupe.The BMW Group is developing electro-mobility as an additional central mainstay of its EfficientDynamics strategy. Electric drive provides an additional option for individual mobility, alongside the ongoing optimization of the pure combustion engine, the market launch of BMW ActiveHybrid technology in production vehicles and the BMW Hydrogen 7 as evidence of the suitability of hydrogen drive for everyday use.Project i brings together the BMW Group's activities relating to the development of production vehicles with electric drive.

The focus is on the conception of a productionMegacity Vehicle which fulfils the requirements of a sustainable mobility solution for urban areas, with one option being electric drive.With project i, the BMW Group is carrying out a unique worldwide field test in the use of electrically-powered vehicles in everyday traffic. The MINI E, of which some 600 were produced, is currently being used by private customers in the states of California, New York and New Jersey as well as at several European locations. This pilot project aims to gather important insights into user behaviour, the requirements of the vehicle concept, its specifically electric components and the energy supply infrastructure.The BMW Concept ActiveE creates a basis for the expansion and intensification of this field testing on electro-mobility, oriented towards enabling large-scale production in the future.

The aim is to produce a fleet to a scale which will exceed that of the MINI E.With its extended range of functions, including four seats, an intelligent arrangement of the ActiveE technology and dynamic qualities provided not least by the rear-wheel drive which is so characteristic of BMW, the concept vehicle reflects a new approach while remaining loyal to BMW brand values. The components of the electric drive system have been designed bearing in mind the requirements of a future Megacity Vehicle so as to advance the development of a production vehicle. The BMW Concept ActiveE moves a little closer towards the future of an individual mobility which will combine driving pleasure with CO2-free travel.BMW Group In AmericaBMW of North America, LLC has been present in the United States since 1975. Rolls-Royce Motor Cars NA, LLC began distributing vehicles in 2003.

The BMW Group in the United States has grown to include marketing, sales, and financial service organizations for the BMW brand of motor vehicles, including motorcycles, the MINI brand, and the Rolls-Royce brand of Motor Cars; DesignworksUSA, a strategic design consultancy in California; a technology office in Silicon Valley and various other operations throughout the country. BMW Manufacturing Co., LLC in South Carolina is part of BMW Group's global manufacturing network and is the exclusive manufacturing plant for all X5 Sports Activity Vehicles and X6 Sports Activity Coupes. The BMW Group sales organization is represented in the U.S. through networks of 338 BMW passenger car centers, 335 BMW Sports Activity Vehicle centers, 142 BMW motorcycle retailers, 89 MINI passenger car dealers, and 31 Rolls-Royce Motor Car dealers. BMW (US) Holding Corp., the BMW Group's sales headquarters for North America, is located in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.Information about BMW Group products is available to consumers via the Internet

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mini-E #183, Driving with 390 Volts in a Rainstorm!

Don’t use your hair dryer while in the shower seems to be a wise suggestion for someone who wishes to live a long life, DUH!

How about riding in a machine with 390 volts running through its arteries in a driving rainstorm, splashing waves of water driving through giant pool size puddles with 35kw of hi voltage batteries 6 inches behind your butt?

It requires a bit of trust of those who engineered the Mini-E, I question my sanity!

Actually, I did not even think about it until a friend asked if I left my electric car home today because of the rain. He mentioned the terrible news story it would be if someone is electrocuted in their hi voltage electric car.

Mini-E #183 is approaching 8000 miles in just over 5 months of everyday driving. This is the first really big wet weather test for me and the car passed with flying colors.

Shocking, it was not.

In pouring rain, 50mph winds, huge puddles on Hwy 101 in Leucadia, and about 40 miles of driving, no problems.

I little jolt of electricity now and then through the steering wheel but I liken it to a cup of coffee, Electricity like caffeine keeps you awake. Just kidding!

I remember stalling in gas cars in the rain or driving through puddles as the distributor got wet, but It looks like they have the electric cars, at least the Mini-E’s pretty well dialed in.

Mini-E #183, Still the best and most fun car I have driven in 32 years.

The future is sunny and electric, today was really wet.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Kernel of Dried Corn

A kernel of dried corn…

Unexpected power, speed, surprise…

A simple kernel…


Thumb and finger, snap, snap ,snap

Our rhythm, our beat, is 24time, a rotational cycle of what is new, yet the same.

24time, instantaneous in our information, 24time, bombarded by differ-sameness…

snap, snap ,snap

24time, a pastiche representing reality, An exciting mirage of repetitive sameness.

An old needle in a worn out groove.

skip… skip… skip…

What about the next song, the horizon of the next generation?

Not to worry about for those dancing to the beat of 24time.

snap, snap ,snap

Change happens rapidly, to a world revolving slowly.

A long lens in a world beating to 24time is a most useful tool

snap, snap ,snap

Lift the needle.

It was but a few decades ago that this communication to you, (thanks for reading this on your computer,) was not possible. It was but a few decades ago when a calculator was thought to be the tool of a cheat. It was but a few decades ago that skies above Los Angeles were so grossly polluted, the days of blue skies equaled the days of rain in southern California, about six.

It was but a few years ago that a 42 inch plasma TV was $10,000.

Change happens rapidly, to a world revolving slowly.

Like a kernel of corn wanting to explode….Unexpected power, speed, surprise…

The electrification of our transportation fleet of 300 million vehicles is upon us.

A continuum beginning with the Toyota Prius and ending somewhere over the horizon of the next generation with an 18 wheeler cross country on a fuel cell.

The last gas station closing as a special report on CNN.


I am alive. What a great time to live. The future is as bright as the blue skies of sunny southern California except for 6 days of rain!

What we have witnessed as the communications revolution of the past 30 years will be dwarfed in significance when compared to the motive power revolution of the next few decades.

I cannot even begin to guess what that future looks like. The best I can do is only imagine, the same way as a land line user marvels at an IPhone user who pulls up a stock quote, an email, and Yelps for dinner recommendations, then listens to music or watches a video on YouTube…right before they call you on the phone…or texts you.

A ten year old who looks at a jukebox and asked you what that black circle thing is?

Oh my, the new words we are going to need to invent!

All of this great news on EV’s the Volt, the Leaf, the the Audi Etron, the Fisker Karma, The BMW Efficiency Dynamics M1, and all the other plug ins, and last but not least my own experience, 8000 miles of electric driving powered by sunshine in Mini-E#183.

I can only imagine…

In the words of a kindred spirit and fellow visionary, Forrest Gump:

“…and that’s all I have to say about that.”

Peder #183

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Not Again!

A few posts down you will see the first "I forgot to plug in" post.

Well, here is the second one.

Now this might not be a problem for most, and BMW might not want to worry too much about this, but it sure is a problem for me! I 'm a pretty smart guy with a decent memory or at least I thought so. The story:

Last night we had a city of Encinitas, Climate Action Plan workshop, I got home around 9:30pm and went inside our home. This morning I had an 9am meeting down at the County with a few department heads and the Director of planning to review the SD county General Plan update which is before the Planning Commission.

I showered, got ready to go, went out to the garage around 8am got in #183 pressed the magic "on" button and had 33 miles of range.

The horror!

I forgot to plug in and I had a 60 mile round trip and a very important meeting! Frantic phone calls to friends, no avail; a call to my wife Julie, "sure honey I'll swap cars" the problem with that is it would have made me 45 minutes late; then, swallowing all my pride a call to my brother Niels who lives on the way. "Bro, can you bail me out and let me drive your car to the county building while you take my car the mile or so to your shop?

That one will cost me in mockery and family dissing for decades! "What is this? Mr. electric cars are better, calling lowly Mr. gas guzzler V8 sports car driver to bail him out? Sure. "

OK, I'm all set, I'm even going to make my meeting on time! If not but for terrible traffic I would have, but all things considered 10 minutes late is a pretty good result.

A few hours later I return Niels's car to his Trophy store Niels tells me he has emailed the whole family and my wife about how Mr. Electric smarty pants had to come groveling to him the younger brother to bail his ass out!

Niels said that he emailed BMW/Mini-E to suggest that they may want to reconsider leasing this prized automobile to a person such as I, over 45 with the onset of Pre-Senior Moments.

Then Niels presented my with my own plaque (pictured above) to affix to the door from the garage into the house, at eye level, sort of like a string tied around a finger, to remind me, to turn around and make sure that I have plugged in #183 for the night.

There needs to be "an app for that" for my I-phone so I can check to see if I'm plugged in or not!

The really sad part is... I think the plaque is actually going to help me and prevent future problems and Niels did it as a gag! It's already installed on the garage door.

This one will cost me for years :)


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Don't turn your back on your freedom America.

Our forefathers founded a Union of States, a nation of independent free people. On this Veterans day we are reminded that our freedom is not free.

On this Veterans day we are also sadly reminded that we are today, more so than ever, dependent on foreign lands and kings for oil, for energy.

It’s time America, Le us face our great challenges with new opportunities.

God bless those that have served this country and those that have sacrificed their life for our great nation.

Thank You. You are our heroes and heroines
Peder Norby

Mini-E…7000 miles of fun, sun, and… normalcy.
It’s only missing one thing…my 5 times monthly trip to the local gas station.

That’s gone!

Mini-E #183 sips high voltage sunshine from the rooftop of our home.
100% SOC ready to go anytime I need the car. I am really going to be sad when I have to give this incredible car back to BMW.

5 months into the Mini-E program and #183 continues to deliver strong fun factor and normal every day driving powered 100% by sunshine.

I put about 12,000 miles a year on cars as an average and I’m on track for that or slightly more for #183. I’ve been commuting to the same office for the past 14 years. It’s about a 12 mile drive each way along Historic Hwy 101 in Southern California. About 5 times a month I make a 90 mile round trip to my folks house and 6 to 8 times a month, a 75 mile roundtrip to my County Planning Commission meetings. This plus the usual odds and ends of a daily life filled with the normal routine of trips.

I’ve owned a 1978 Volkswagon Pickup truck, 1980 Subaru, 84 Jeep Cherokee, 88 Mazda Rx7, 92 Volvo 850, 97 Volvo S70, 2002, Volvo S60, 2006 Volvo S60R. and my latest leased drive, the Mini-E. As you can tell I love Volvo’s. My last Volvo, the 2006 S60R with 300 horses was my second favorite car behind the Mini-E.

All the cars were good, some better than others, but the Mini-E with the ability to charge via sunshine, accelerate and corner like a slot car and do everything I need it to do is my favorite by a an EV smile and a country mile. I still pull out of my driveway every morning, silently gliding down to the road and then shift into drive and silently drive away with this feeling inside of “I can’t believe I am literally driving on sunshine” Then its heavy into the accelerator for a vigorous trip on the twisty road around the lagoon before I enter on to I-5 for points south.

I’d like to live with this car for 50k-100k miles and see how it holds up for the long haul (are you listening BMW?) I imagine it would do just fine but as they say talk is cheap, you have to walk the walk, or in this case drive the drive to really know how the car will hold up.

The Mini-E is not for everyone, lets get that clear. A single car family with long commutes, a carpenter that needs a sheetrock or lumber rack, Soccer mom with several kids, ect. The Mini-E like all BEV’s, EREV’s, PHEV’s and ICE cars will work for a percentage of the population based on their lifestyle and circumstance and that is just fine. It’s America we have choices!

The Mini-E is just a normal car for me, doing everything I asked of the other cars mentioned above, it’s just doing it better with more fun and independence.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Doing Great on the Range,

As you can see Mini-E #183 is about to tip over 5000 miles. Thought I would grab an iphone shot of the instrument cluster this morning.

This is about the norm for me, a 10 mile each direction commute, and then some running around to meetings, site visits, side trips on the way home. Yesterday 10/1, I drove 36.2 miles and had almost 70% charge left at the end of the day.

Plug the car in and then in the morning the range indicator is usually near the century mark. On this morning it was 103. It can fluxuate day to day from the low 90s to 110 miles depending on my driving habits :)

Half of my commute is freeway at 65mph-70mph and the rest is city.

Also of note, In the past 30 days after installing our 3kw addition to our solar system (now totaling 7.5kw grid tied system) we have generated 1120kwhs and our total energy usage for the home+ guest house, the 2007 Gem-E4 and the Mini-E was 1060kwhs. More generation than usage for a home and two cars in the garage.

Living and driving on sunshine.

It's possible, it's easy, it's incredibly fun, and its liberating to have the feeling of energy independence. My hope and efforts as a planner, is that as a country we can fiqure out a way to do this on a mass adoption scale.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Damn! No Juice On Monday Morning.

I’ll leave it up to the reader to determine if I’m stupid or if the car is stupid. Or if the Mini-E is smarter than me or if I am smarter than the Mini-E. Or if I……forget it, I already have a throbbing headache this morning.

To be honest, I’m feeling a bit stupid.

You might have already guessed what happened, and it was one heck of a party!

I got home around 11pm, a few drinks throughout the evening but not too much, mostly just dog tired from a really busy Sunday beginning at 6am and ending at 11pm with a Charger win and bad food in the middle. I got home, closed the garage door, and went to bed.

This morning at 7:30 am I discovered I had forgotten to plug in #183. Now I’m lucky because I have no early meetings today and can afford to wait an hour or so until I get enough juice for my commute (this hour gives me the time to post this) If I had had an early meeting I would have been really screwed.

So flying doctors and electric car gods,
I know you can’t do anything for my headache, but it would be really nice if you could make an ipod app that allows us drivers to check our SOC and if we are plugged in or not anytime anywhere, especially right before we go to bed! I can't imagine that I am the only stupid tired and forgetful driver out there that would love an app like this.

I have an app for my solar P.V. System that allows me to check out my systems performance and I love that app. I check it out a few times a day.

picture of app here

If I had an app for my Mini-E, life would be grand, the car would be smart, I would still be stupid, and I could double check to make sure I plugged in, or what my current SOC is.

An app for the Mini-E and an aspirin for me, time to go to work.

I want two things for Christmas, one is an ipod app for the Mini-E , The other, well, if your smart you will have no problem guessing the other.

Yours forgetfully,

Saturday, September 12, 2009

4500 Mile Update Mini E #183

Nearly three months ago I took delivery of Mini-E # 183 and began my electric car experience. It’s great to share that experience with you.

Living in a home and driving a car powered only by sunshine is my today, not the future. If you live in one of the more temperate states, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to do with a little thought and pre planning.

On the house side, solar energy is less expensive than the energy you purchase from your utility from the very first day. For the car, solar fuel is the equivalent to about 42 cents a gallon …forever fixed in price. I realize that the electric car purchase price is higher at the moment (remember when you rented the VCR along with the movies because to buy a VCR was $800) but that will soon dramatically change as dozens of manufactures begin producing electric cars.

The Mini-E has been flawless, it remains the most fun car I have ever had in my 31 years of driving. I now know why electric car drivers are so passionate about their rides and staunch promoters of electric cars. It’s hard to describe the feeling to a non ev driver but I’ll try anyway.

It’s the exact opposite feeling a driver gets when gas goes to $3.00 and $3.50, and $4.00 and $4.50 a gallon. A sinking feeling in your stomach seeing $40, $50, $60, $70 flying out of your wallet every 5 days as you fill up your tank, having no control of the situation and having to adjust your other spending and lifestyle expenses to accommodate the volatility in gas prices.

The sinking feeling of being dependent as a nation on foreign oil and contributing to that out of your own personal dependency for gas. It is my opinion that he spike in gas prices of a year ago precipitated the reduction of spending both from a what’s in your wallet today point of view as well as an uncertainty for the future so lets not spend mindset. It was a trigger for our economic collapse and it doesn’t feel good.

When you live and drive with energy produced by renewables, those feelings change to pride, excitement, independence and optimism for our future. The whole environmental piece is incalculable and I let others more experienced talk about that aspect.

That in my opinion is more valuable that a dollar equivalent savings.

We are a two car family. The Mini-E with a 100 mile range fits in beautifully with our lifestyle. In the three months of driving we have had only one time where we needed to use our other car, a 4 cylinder Ford Escape, and that was a 400 mile trip to Paso Robles. It really comes down to where you live, are you a one car or two car family, your commute, and other factors, but I am convinced that for a majority or at least a large number of American car buyers the 100% electric car will work just fine.

A great thing happens when you have the Mini-E in your garage. It is always your car of choice and it is always 100% charged and ready to take you where you need to go. Before with a two gas car family the decision of whose car to take comes down to who has the most gas in the tank, which car has less in the back seat, which car is cleaner? With the Mini-E it is always the preferred choice. Thus my mileage for “my” car has gone from 1000 miles a month to 1500 miles a month in the Mini-E. I actually drive the electric car 50% more miles that I did with my gas car.

A typical day is about a thirty mile commute arriving back home around 6pm with a 65% SOC remaining. Hop out of the car, plug it in and enter the house for the evening. If we are going out in a few hours we unplug, have a 100% SOC and spend the evening out. If we are staying home, the next morning its 100% SOC ready to go for the day. Whatever the case it feels like the ground hog day over and over, 100% SOC and ready to go. It is a weird feeling driving by the gas stations and knowing one day in a decade or two, what we know as a gasoline station today, will not exist.

When I push the car hard with full on tire chirping acceleration or driving on the freeways at 80+mph, the Mini-E never fails to deliver at least 80 miles per charge with 95Ah per 100 miles. That’s my kind of driving. :)

An average day out and about 60% freeway 40% city just cruising normally the car returns 90 miles per charge with 75Ah per 100 miles. If I try to conserve and really watch my acceleration, keep it at 65 on the freeway, I can easily get 115 miles on a charge using 55Ah per 100 miles.

My collective total for 4500 miles is 73 Ah per 100 miles at 92 miles per charge. I will confess to being a bit of a heavy foot at times and hypermilers will have no problems averaging over 115 miles a charge.

We have found that for long trips 85 miles or more round trip, we try to be as efficient as possible avoiding the fast starts and high speeds. On one 90 mile trip we returned with 25 miles left on the range indicator. On shorter trips and if I’m in the mood, its slot car racing time!!

For me personally, at no time have I ever had range anxiety. The SOC meter is a really reliable guage which really surprised me. My 2007 Gem car it’s a bit of a guess on the SOC.

The charging system is effortless and takes just a second or two to plug in, just like your cell phone.

I don’t notice that much difference in the Mini-E compared to a gas car. I guess that is a heck of a compliment. It’s a normal everyday car. The throttle response is instantaneous, the regen is awesome, The acceleration is slot car like, I like the engine whine both under acceleration and regen, it gives you a very good feel of your rpms much like a normal car although much quieter and with no shifting. It’s both different and similar.

I love this car and look forward to the future production models with four seats and the battery located in the floor where the fuel tank, exhaust and transmission used to be.
The Mini-E is a great car.


Sunday, August 23, 2009

Wine-ing about the Mini-E, Randy Travis and classic cars.

What a great August weekend in Mini-E #183.

It began Thursday with the Encinitas Classic Car Show produced by the Downtown Encinitas MainStreet Association. About 400 classic cars lined Historic Hwy 101, among those cars were four Mini-E’s and a Tesla.

Dr. Robert Wilder brought his “Sun Color” Tesla with the Solar powered plate frame, Liz brought her Mini-E with the plate “SANSGHG” I brought #183 with the plate “SUNGAS” and the city of Encinitas brought their two Mini-E’s. Dozens if not hundreds of folks stopped by to marvel and inquire about these cars and the meaning of their plates. It was a great night to talk about electric cars as well as share with fellow EV drivers our passion for changing the motive power world.

Friday Evening, my wife Julie, surprised me with an early birthday present. We drove #183 from Carlsbad to Valley Center to have dinner and then off to a Randy Travis Concert. 10th row right in the center, Randy was a great preformer and singer and it was a great concert. #183 drove 76 miles there and back, we arrived home with about 30 miles left on the odo.

Saturday we crushed grapes with friends and made a little grape juice!

Sunday we visited fellow winegrowers and friends in Ramona. The round trip was 83 miles, I assured Julie that the Mini-E could make it no problems, although I was a bit apprehensive because we would be climbing a few thousand feet on our way out there.

We stopped for breakfast in downtown Ramona and the Mini-E drew quite a crowd of folks as they waited for a table to open.

It was a great day with good friends as we walked the vineyards and discussed preparations for the upcoming harvest. We arrived safely back home with an astonishing 35 miles left on the odo and just over 30% on the range indicator.

Both trips were back country twisty roads mostly between 45mph and 60 mph. Perfect territory for the Mini-E!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

3000 mile service for #183

The odo triped over 3000 miles today which prompted an email to Irvine Mini for a service. They emailed back and said a "flying doc" would be there on Tuesday so the 25th it is.

I have had 3000 of the most fun miles of my driving history. Still no ticket but I have another 10 months or so to go and I know it's coming.

just one little problem so far and that is the air conditioner. at around 2500 miles it degraded to about 10% of it's cooling. All in all, one of my most trouble free cars yet.

The Mini-E has replaced 98% of my trips, the exception is the once every two or three month drive to Paso Robles our points north and east. I would gladly rent a car for those few times a year when I vacation with the car.

We have found that when we are home, the Mini-E is always the option, before it was sometimes my car sometimes her car, now it's always the Mini-E . My previous miles per month was around 1000 and with the Mini-E it is 1500+.

So far so good, zero emissions driving on sunshine.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

$0.45 cents a gallon of fuel.

Just a little fun on the cost of electricity.

Assuming you will be driving the next 25 years on electricity and that the car you are driving in gets 3 to 4 miles per KWH. the cost of solar fuel works out to an equivilant of $0.45 a gallon fixed over 25 years for most of North America. Sorry cold weater folks in the northern most states

To purchase a solar P.V. system to power an electric car cost the same as purchasing fuel for 3.5 to 5 years at $3.50 a gallon.

Any guesses on what gas will be in 25 years? my guess is in the $15 a gallon range, assuming the Chinese and the Indians get busy consuming.

We installed our fuel station last week to augment our existing home power plant. The result is a 7.5kw P.V. system that provides 12,000kwh annually.

The home uses 8000kwh, and the Gem-e4 and Mini-E use about 3700kwh to drive 12,000 miles on an annual basis. Daily that works out to 22kwh for the home and 10kwh for the car.

Sunpower has a neat app for the IPhone and our website to follow the production. I'm working with SDG&E to get their smart meter smarter so that I can also follow my consumption.

Click here to view the real time production of the system

Don't know what my next car will be after the Mini-E, but I know it will have a cord on it!

Operating cost can be just as expensive as purchashing cost.

Renewable clean energy + the electric car reduces operating cost and magnifies the enviromental strenths of the electric car.


Sunday, August 9, 2009

Future "Gas" Station

Pictured is Mini-E #183 “Sungas,” and 6 Sunpower 230W Solar Panels.

If we can still use the term "horsepower," we can still use the term “gas station,” although energy station would be a much better description.

I am very excited to be driving an electric car, what I am even more excited about is the potential in the future for many or most Americans to be able to generate their own “gas” at home via wind or solar.

Our future as a country is a zero emission energy source, zero emission homes and a zero emission transportation fleet, a clean energy future that is both wealth generating and less polluting than refined crude oil or natural gas.

Here’s what that future looks like.

These six Sunpower solar panels provide the energy required to drive my electric car 12,000 miles a year.

These six solar panels will replace 12,000 gallons of gas during the next 25 years of driving, and will continue producing energy beyond the 25 year warranty period.

These six panels will provide a total fixed cost of “Gas” of 50 cents a gallon for the next 25 years with no escalation in price.

These six panels cost the same as 3.5 years of purchasing gas for your car.

These six panels produce no emissions generating electricity, those 12,000 gallons of refined crude oil, generate emissions from the extraction, transport, refining and delivery of the gas.

These six panels sitting on an existing roof, silently manufacture and convey electricity to the car in the garage 50 feet away.

Those 12,000 gallons of refined crude oil, from the ground are conveyed from thousands of miles away, the pipeline to carry it to the port, to carry it to the tanker, to carry it across oceans to the refinery, to carry it to the fuel truck, to carry it to the station, to carry it to the pump, to carry it to a car. A conveyance system of several thousand miles, a conveyance system of our planet to our next generation that is more polluted, more toxic and more barren of natural resources.

After 2500 miles of driving Mini-E #183, 70% freeway, 30% city, the car is averaging 3.5 miles per kwh. My annual driving is approximately 12,000 miles which will require 3425Kwh of energy.

These six panels total a 1.38 kw solar p.v. system. This size system generates 2200 kwh of energy per year. This generation during the peak period (32cents kwh) would equal the cost for the 4400kw off peak charging (16cents kwh) greatly exceeding the annual usage of the electric car.

Solar charging provides the additional benefits of generation at peak times, thus reducing the need of costly peaker plants, and charging in the middle of the night when electricity is still being generated in existing power plants, but is wasted because it is not used or stored.

Imagine if “Sun Gas” could be the fuel of the future for our homes and cars. It can be, it is and it’s great.

Living and driving on sunshine.



Wednesday, July 29, 2009

“Put a Plug in it“

Plug in America has crossed the line from advocacy to opposition. That is my opinion.

They could have and should have done a legislative piece about balancing and changing the CARB rules without throwing BMW and the Mini-E under the bus.

Here is their press release.
Judge for yourself.

Advocacy for plug in cars is something I whole heartedly support, ripping into one of the very few (two) car companies that has a Li freeway legal plug in Electric car on the road today is not.

It is my sincere hope that the Board of Directors of Plug in America do not allow board members or advisory board members who have family working for rival companies to launch into an ill informed hit piece against any company, especially a company who has 500 plug in vehicles on the road and a division dedicated to advancing plug in electric drive technologies.

The majority of the press release was sourced form two individuals and their issues with BMW. I note with significance that that their issues were not with the car or the performance of the car in general, but rather the company, during the deployment and with about a third of the cars going to fleets at near zero rates.

What the press release was not about, is BMW putting 500 plug in electric cars on the road, the large majority of them in private drivers hands and the complexities of that deployment. It was not about BMW Mini-E promoting excitement and media across the world for plug in cars. It was not about BMW waiving a months lease to show good faith to their drivers while dealing with some delays, It was not about how the Mini-E is part of the development process “BMW Project I” working towards a BMW city car coming in 2011-12 . It was not about the overwhelming satisfaction and emission free driving that the vast majority of drivers are getting from the Mini-E.

It was not about the fact that I, and hundreds of other Mini-E drivers, and thousands of others who ride in the car, and tens of thousand who see the car on the raod doing 85 on the freeways are now convinced that plug ins and electric vehicles are the future that we need (is that not a goal of Plug in America?)

None of these pro plug in facts were even touched on by Plug in America. Shame on them!

Plug In America advisory board member Chelsea Sexton said: "This is turning out to be a half-baked, poorly executed program by BMW, who is acting solely for the sake of regulatory compliance.

I disagree with vigor. What the program consist of is putting 500 plug-in BEV Mini-Es with Li batteries on the road. There has been straight talk from BMW from the beginning that this is a one year development field test program with no expectations that you will be able to buy the car. I reject 100% the argument that we are done with development and testing phase, that we should complain that this is just another test as opposed to a mass market retail product. The key component to the opening of the electric car world to the masses is the energy density of the Li batteries and that needs to be tested rigorously in all driving climates and conditions which is exactly what GM and several other car makers are doing…. Testing, just like BMW for their future BMW City Car

The press release further states

In contrast to BMW's lease plan, Nissan has announced a late 2010 delivery of 5,000 all-electric vehicles designed from the ground up and offered for sale for between $25,000 and $33,000, before federal tax credits. The Japanese auto company, recently awarded a $1.6-billion loan from the U.S. Dept. of Energy to build a battery plant and modify its existing Tennessee facilities, has also announced that it will deliver hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles in 2012.

There is an axiom that says “half a truth is worse than a lie.”

The Plug in America press release told half a truth and chastises BMW for the high cost of the Mine-E lease. It Ignores that a leased of financed Tesla can cost $2000 a month, and scolds BMW Mini-E that it will cast a negative impression on folks that Plug ins are expensive, while praising Nissan for offering for sale a market rate between $25,000 and $33,000, before federal tax credits car.”

That’s a half truth and they as plug in advocates know it, Nissan is going to sell you the car and then lease you the batteries. “Ghosn aims for Nissan's electric cars, minus the battery, to cost as much as a standard car. Consumers will lease the battery at a cost that, including charging, will match what they would have paid for gasoline. “

Any car company can make an electric car without the batteries for the same price as a car with a traditional gas drivetrain. The cost is in the batteries and the fact that Nissan is leasing the battery packs is a convenient omission by Plug in America to fit their “ BMW is the bad guy” story line.

Plug in America, you blew it. You gave a platform and the benefit of the doubt with the weight of the story to one disgruntled individual (who BMW has graciously agreed to be released from his lease obligations) and an ev entusiast who was cut from the program thus a bit of an axe to grind. Those voices while important, were not balanced by the hundreds of very satisfied Mini-E Drivers and the goals and accomplishments of the program.

The weight and credibility of Plug in America via this press release was then used by major media including the La Times to trash BMW in other stories.

It certainly tarnishes Plug in America in this plug in drivers mind.

That is regrettable.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Confessions of a “Sun Guzzler”

Thursday | July 23, 2009

I’m driving like a mad man! Burning up the electrons like they grow on trees, like there is no end to the supply. (we’re going to need to change some of those old wise tales)

Heavy foot, light heart, huge smile as I turn past 2000 miles in my first four weeks (not counting two weeks of away time from #183) of driving Mini-E #183 on sunshine.

I honestly think I have discovered the holy grail of environmental nirvana, a solar powered home and car. Living and driving on sunshine!

I admit to being more than a tad conflicted. All my life I have been preaching conservation, conservatism of our resources and way of life, to bundle trips, light on the gas pedal to make driving more efficient, save precious fuel and money, take mass transit, and yet here I am joyriding with the accelerator pedal floored like there is no tomorrow. like a 16 year old who exuberantly says to his mom “I’ll go to the store for you” just so he can go out for a drive, roll the drivers window down and howl like a wild man! Any excuses to get into #183 and go is what I am looking for.

The law and I will surely be meeting soon for a little “slow down son” talk.

So what gives,? I am putting twice the mileage on my electric car than I did with my gas car and having twice as much fun! All in serious violation of my enviro-conscious.

I am conflicted. Because I am not conserving, and yet I am, I am not, I am! Am not-am so.

It reminds me of a story, when I met my wife years ago. She said she has some “bad news and some good news.” The bad news is she liked really good wine (every dating mans worst nightmare!) The good news she said: “ and I can afford to pay for it” big smile on dating mans face :)

For the first time in my life, I have been able to let loose the beast of a driver who is an enthusiast at heart and an environmentalist in soul and not feel entirely guilty about it. I said entirely because as I mentioned, I still am conflicted.

The bad news is “I really like to drive fast cars and have fun all the time” the good news is I can afford to pay for it because I am driving on sunshine with no emissions .

I am a Sun Guzzler! I don’t know if I should feel guilty or celebrate!
The future is sunshine and no emissions :)


Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mini-E Politics, Problems and Driving Fun!

Try as I might to keep this blog locked in on my one year driving experience with #183, the politics and tax breaks of the Mini-E program have surfaced and never one to be shy, I add my own individual thought to the issue.

I appreciate and do not degrade or hold less valuable, the thoughts of others.

What has “upset” me most about all previous electric car trials is that they are held in secrecy by car makers or only with fleets (now going on with plug in Prius, plug in Escapes and other manufacturers primarily with utilities.) The individual driver, the lay person (me) was never allowed to participate in these futuristic trials. Do these prior trails have glitches and problems, you bet! It’s called a field trial.

Along comes BMW and they want real world drivers as part of the field trial. To good to be true for me as a solar energy nut, but it is true and I am driving #183 on sunshine for a year. Literally, driving on sunshine.

There are some paying individual Mini E drivers that are not happy that BMW is letting a large chunk (estimates offered are 100 to 150) of their 450 cars go to non profits, utilities, educational institutions and governments as part of the field trial for $10 a month.

Exactly what “I signed up for” is a 12 month lease at $850 a month plus tax to take the keys of a very special trail vehicle for a year, provide feedback to BMW and then hand the keys back. Nothing more, nothing less. The ratio or what BMW does with the other cars is of zero concern to me. With one asterisk.

*Thank you for opening up the field trial to average Joe drivers.

No doubt BMW is and has honestly said they needed to deliver the cars by a date certain to obtain the important CARB credits earned from a ZEV. I honestly can’t fault them for that. My opinion is they are very serious about their “I” project, very serious about their Mini-E project and very smart about deploying the field test in a manor that is most beneficial regarding tax breaks and other financial incentives. The idea of using the Mini Cooper as a mule is a brilliant cost saving measure allowing them to gain needed real world electric drive train experience akin to Chevy using the Cruze as a mule for the upcoming Volt.

Oh yeah, you can’t drive a Cruze/Volt mule in a field test either.

To assume this is all a crock and designed solely to take advantage of ZEV credits is void of any logic or reality considering the great cost of this project in relation to the ZEV credits and the fact that every other major car maker is now “making major plays” in the electric car field. It’s just that BMW was a few years ahead of most of them.

If there is a problem with the ZEV credit system then by all means fix it, I support that. I do not support blaming a company like BMW for following the rules set for all, and being one of the first out of the gate with an electric car that I can drive and benefiting by those rules.

I rather think the word is Bravo!

Back to the cost of the car.

I know Mini-E drivers come into this in a different situation and price points with cars. But here is how it breaks down for me. I have driven Volvos the past 16 years all leases. The last few were S60s and the last one was a S60R.

Volvo S60 R
36 month lease $2500 down payment = $ 69 a month
Lease payments with tax $479
Insurance $ 89
Maintenance and repair $140
Gas $120

Total $897

lease payments with tax $925
One month free credit to all $-77
Insurance $ 22
Maintenance and repair $ 0
Fuel $ 0 (zero for me)

Total $870

For me it’s a push or perhaps a few hundred dollars extra to participate in the BMW Field trial. To participate in the evolution of electric transportation. That's a deal that I can afford and am willing to make!

I consider the Mini-E every bit the car that the G35 and the Volvo are each with their own strengths and weaknesses. If I had the choice of the three cars today providing the Electric Mini-E had four seats in a production version I would buy the Mini-E hands down.

Now I know you can get a small car for $150 a month or drive a well kept older car for a lot less money than the Mini-E. I am certainly not trying to put forth an argument that the Mini-E is cheap, but for me it’s very much in line with what I was paying for my cars before.

So far so good! 3 weeks of great driving fun, 1300 miles on the odometer and no problems with the car.

Longest trip was 93 miles on the freeway with 13 miles left the range indicator.

Next post will cover in more detail the driving experience.

Call me a homey for BMW, call me a cheerleader or booster, call me naive, call me bad at math, call me anything you want….

But call me an electric car driver, driving a really fun car on sunshine.

Loving my year with #183.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ARGH!! Two weeks of no driving in the Mini-E !

It's almost enough to make me cancel our vacation :)

Poor little car all alone for two weeks.

Cheers everyone!


1175 miles
no probems
only fun
driving on sunshine :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Car Show, Thursday June 18th 5:30 pm

Greetings Mini-E Owners.

This Thursday evening is the first of four Classic Car shows in Encinitas.

We have the sponsoring property owner that has a prime location and has agreed to allow Mini-E owners to park in a supervised location.
So far we have four Mini-Es that will be there.
If your free on Thursday evening and within range, feel free to join us.


Monday, June 15, 2009

The High Cost of Cheap Oil

Loving the Mini-E, every mile of it.

Driving with electrons prompted me to write a little about our energy rate structure and the comparison between gas and electric.

Our rate program with SDG&E is ev-tou2. This rate structure is around 16 cents kwh between midnight and 7am and then during the peak periods of the day it's 32 cents kwh.

What that means for us is that for every kilowatt of energy I generate during the day I get to use two in the early morning hours for the same price to fuel the Mini-E

If the car needs 10kwh to charge at night, I need to generate just 5kwh during the day to be cost neutral.

My experience to date (515 miles in #183) is about 3.25 miles per kwh. 8kwh gives me a range of 26 miles, about the same that a regular mini would get real world out of a gallon of gas.

A 1.1kwh solar p.v. system generates 1850 peak KWH . This generation would equal the cost for the 3700kw off peak usage of the Mini-E on an annual 12,000 mile basis.

If I am conservative and expect just 25 years of life for the solar P.V., the math looks like this:

Gas Mini,

12,000 miles 26mpg at $3,50 a gallon of gas= $1650 per year
25 years of driving, $41,250 (assumes zero price change)
with 8% annual escalator $120,613

Yearly average $4824 for gas


Electric powered Mini-E.

12,000 miles, 3.25 kwh per mile is 3700 kwhs @.16cents = $592
25 years of driving, $14,800 (assumes zero price change)
with 8% annual escalator $ $43,256

Yearly average $1730 for electricity


Solar electric powered Mini-E

12,000 miles, 3.25kw per mile you need to generate 1850 kwhs annually at peak hours to pay for 3700kwhs used at off peak. This is a 1.1 kwh solar pv system at a cost of $5500.
25 years of driving, $5,500 (guarentees no price change)
no escalation as the sun does not raise it's prices

Yearly average $220 for Solar P.V electricity



Cost of fuel over 25 years:

Gas is 300% as expensive as utility purchased electricity

Homeowner generated solar is less than 5% of the cost of Gas.

Most of us will be driving for at least 25 years.

A 1.1. kw Solar P.V. system purchase cost is the equivilent to purchasing gas for$3.50 per gallon for 3.25 years


Saturday, June 13, 2009

EV + PV = :)

Some of the 21 Sunpower 215 watt panels

The rock wall has a parapet roof and the 4.4 kwh solar is on top of that roof as well as integrated into other areas of the roof.

Today was 80 miles round trip in the morning down to the folks house in S.D. Mostly freeway at 70mph (15 miles left) and then a short trip to the beach with the gem car. The gem car has room for four, a large cooler, two beach cairs, and a soccer ball :)

We do have a gas car and that is a Ford Escape. Can't wait until that model grows a plug.

Getting ready for a nice dinner in Del Mar this evening with the Mini-E.



Friday, June 12, 2009

Dear Mini-E gods that watch over me,

Dear Mini-E gods that watch over me, I promise to drive slower one day :)

Driving on Sunshine Mini #183
Week one.

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,


Thursday, June 11, 2009

Driving on Sunshine #183 Delivery June 10th 2009

Let me simply say that living in a solar powered home and driving a car powered by sunshine is a dream come true for Julie and I. We have enjoyed the limited funtionality of the 2007 Gem car but #187 is a quantum leap from that car.

I have seen the future and the sky is bright blue :)

A driving blog post is in the near future, for now suffice to say I am having a blast, discovering a new world, and participating in the most significant change in motive power since we shifted from steam to internal combustion.

80 miles yesterday, 120 miles today, mostly enthusiastic driving.

Thank you Mini E team. Hue, Thanks a million!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Good to go!

Wall box, installed,
Cable, installed
City Inspection, passed

Great day at Herons' House.
The gents from Sunpower were awesome and quick. The little box is an appliance timer which I will set to take advantage of my SDG&E EVTOU2 super off peak rate that allows me to charge between midnight and 7 am for less than 1/2 the cost during the day.

Really enjoy and want to thank the other Mini-E bloggers that are posting data about their drives and experiances.

Thanks to the city of Carlsbad for expediting the inspection.

Next post is the car in the driveway!


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mini-E, my drive, my take.

As a fan for years, and future driver of the Mini-E, I have read and re-read media accounts of driving the Mini-E, I’ve scoured the youtube/mytube/ourtube/blogsphere and anywhere else for video snippets of the car being driven.

I want to learn, to know all about it, I want it to be here, I want to live in the future. I’m a guy, I love cars!

Driving up to Irvine Ca in my 2006 300hp G35 for today’s test drive, I wondered how those media accounts would stack up against my own lay persons test drive, against my own G35, against the gas Mini that I am familiar with?

Would it be alien requiring a steep learning curve of new driving techniques? Would it be lethargic and an environmental compromise making me desire to get the hell out of the car and back into a real car. Would it be normal? Abnormal?

I drove the Mini-E today. My impressions were mostly different than what the magazine and news guys have said.

I’ll begin with the biggest impression for me. It was getting back in my G35 and driving home after driving the Mini-E and the sudden feeling of how old, cumbersome and incredibly complicated the car I was driving in and all that supports it was. I stopped to get gas on the way home, a mandatory monthly plan for me of $120 a month (at $2.60 a gallon) requiring three trips to the “convenience” station each month for a reload of the gas.

I thought about the extraction of the fuel from the ground from thousands of miles away, the pipeline to carry it to the port, to carry it to the tanker, to carry it across oceans to the refinery, to carry it to the fuel truck, to carry it to the station, to carry it to the pump, to carry it to my car.
A conveyance system of several thousand miles, several world and regional wars, a conveyance system of our planet to our next generation that is more polluted, more toxic and more barren of natural resources.

It stands against everything I wish to give to my child and those that follow.

Pumping the gas, I thought about the Mini-E soon to be in my garage, about the sun, carrying its rays to the solar panels, to the house, to the car. A conveyance system of millions of miles, of approximately 20 feet, distributed wealth creation for generations, a natural resource for trillions of years that billions of people could not exhaust even as gross consumers. Exhale……

The Mini-E is a friggin hoot to drive! Friggen is a highly technical term that the German engineers use. Sort of like Farfugnugen!

50mph onto the bending onramp, stay on the accelerator,. I get a little chirpy at the apex and coming out of the turn :) Torque steer is there, very strong, and the car pushes a bit, but hey, we will save that driving for the track and for a more controlled enviroment than the O.C. roads. Freeway speeds 75mph+ on Hwy 5, car cruises like a regular Mini. The overall feeling of the drive was how compatible the car was with normal driving, cruising parking lots at 10mph, city driving, freeway driving and enthusiastic driving. Very pleased with the regen, and how that was programmed. After about 30 seconds you get used to it, you can coast if you want by a lazy foot on the accelerator or lift and the regen brakes you in a similar manor to shifting down to second gear approaching a stop. It is effortless and at your calling. For ten minutes I touched the brake pedal exactly two times, once leaving the lot, once to avoid a driver gawking at the car and drifting into my lane.

I had to think about the gear selection. P,F,R, that’s all there is folks! It takes a bit for the mind to adjust to that. No slapping the tiptronic over and up and down like on my G35. I have owned some nice cars, a twin turbo Mazda Rx7 third generation, a Volvo S60R among others. I have never felt a car go from 40mph to 70mph like the Mini-E, It's a slingshot.

I have not had a ticket for 27 years, I am fearful that that my long distinguished career of lawfulness is about to be tarnished history!

The second biggest impression of the test drive was that I wanted a longer test drive. I am afraid a one year test drive will not be long enough, Hurry up and make a car like this that I can buy.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Problems Today, Test Drive Tomorrow, It's all good!

Just a quick progress report from Carlsbad Ca.

It's been an interesting few days here with our utility. At issue is that we were one of the first neighborhoods to underground our utilities in the early 70's. The process back then was called direct burial and the cable was called sita. The expected life of the cable was 30 years or around the year 2000.

Well they quickly found out that it was wrong way to do things and beginning in the late 70's they started to do under grounding of the utilities by putting a 4" pipe or conduit under the road which would allow them to "fish" new service through the conduit instead of having to trench open the whole road to get to the transformer on the other side of the street.

So back to our house, the utility said sure you can have the car and charging station, all you need to do is trench across the road and upgrade our direct burial sita (past its life expectency) to conduit. And don't worry the cost with traffic control and all included would be around 25k.

After they picked me up off the floor and put the heart defibrillator away, I regained consciousness and started to have a reasoned conversation with them. Their concern of course is that the cable would not handle the extra amperage. I asked them to look at my usage the past 18 months and their response was classic! Sir, you have no usage just the minimum bill, $3.85 for a meter and .17 a day for the service.

So the utility is fine with my car, and realizes I am on an SDG&E ev2TOU rate structure and Net metering :) which means I will be charging at night between 12am and 6am when the juice is super off peak and 1/2 the cost. During the day our strain on the sita cable is in the reverse direction supplying power to them at more than double the cost compared to night.

So my story ends well thanks to solar and an efficient home and a utility that was willing to work with their customer. Contracts are signed and installation of the wall box is around the corner.

It does illuminate an issue with electric cars and that is the fragile and often antiquated infrastructure that in many case cannot handle 220volt 40 amp service.

For mass adoption, this will need to be figured out. I think the utilities are looking at the electric car as their next big customer so hopefully both sides, the car companies and the utilities, can ease the transition for the homeowner so we can do no less than change our motive power to electric in our transportation system.

Tomorrow, I get to drive the Mini-E for the first time! I am very excited and looking forward to how the actual experience compares to the countless reviews I have read.

The fruit is always out on the end of the limb, the important decision is which limb is strong enough to climb out on!

Thanks BMW/Mini for blazing the trail. Tomorrow is going to be a blast.