Monday, December 14, 2009

Help is on the way

I got a call from Mini today assuring me that I will get another call in a few days to schedule the home visit. I am anxious to see the results of this as I still think the problem is almost entirely in the PEU. I am not as ambitious as many in terms of home diagnostics, but I do think I have a pattern that is very repeatable and defeats most theories, including some of my past ones.

drive home from Manhattan to S.Orange and plug in = FAILURE in less than 7 secs
let the car sit for 30+ minutes and repeat. 100% success.

The only thing I can think of that would change in this workaround is wither the battery temp or the PEU perception of the battery temp. Or something relating to the charging preparedness of the batteries (I am sure there are several variable at play).

Letting the car sit idle for 30 minutes should have nothing to do with the supply levels coming from the street. It can only have an impact on the car and its readiness to charge.

My $850.02

I still love this car, and hope the lease extension stories are all true (though for closer to 2c that $850)

Anyone in Cali want to trade cars (with Mini arranging the shipping) ? Let's see if the cold is contributing to this issue or not....

Saturday, December 5, 2009

That would have been embarrasing

So I have been driving the rental Hyundai for 8 days now and last night while driving home from work I was listening to a story on NPR about the new Volt and the LA auto show and thought about how little I like the idea of the "backup gas engine". But it also made me think that I haven't put gas in the in the rental all week. Sure enough I look down and the gauge is below empty and the little gas pump light is on. No fancy warning bells or anything and I had not noticed. I made it off my exit a few mile ahead and filled up. I can't wait to get #269 back on Monday.

So I got the call Friday that I would be getting #269 back because it is keeping a charge fine and there is nothing wrong. Apparently I am going to get a call from Mini to arrange for them to come out and check out the car at my house with my charger to try to diagnose what is happening.

We will see.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Hyundai for the holiday's

I dropped off #269 at Morristown on Wed AM to have them look into the charging issue. When I dropped it off they said they would put on the snow tires as well. Apparently they got a shipment from Tire Rack of 30-40 sets of snow tires for the E's and they are eager to have the space back, so if you are waiting, now is the time.

Unfortunately I had originally scheduled to drop off my E on Monday and they had a Mini loaner slotted for me. But because of a work emergency, I had to move it to Wed. No loaners for Wed, so the Enterprise base Hyundai it is. I didn't know that they made cars still with manual windows, but let me assure you. They do. I then got the call that they were flat bedding it to the Mini office and not working Wed for the holiday, so no one will look at it until Monday. So I get to enjoy the Hyundai until they are done. With the comment "but don't worry, Mini is picking up the tab until you get your car back". Believe me, who is paying is not my worry. I REALLY miss #269.

Happy Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Thur night charging..... loaner story

Came home about 8:20pm. Tried the 32A, red light on the CC box this time. 3x unplugged, try again... All red lights.

Tonight I set the car to 12A and let it OU charge. I just went to the garage (11pm) and disconnected the 12A (it was charging like a champ), reset the car to 32A, plugged in the CC box. 20 green blinks and I went inside.

I guess it needed some 12A primer before upgrading to the 32A juice. This will not be a practical exercise for me, as I will most certainly forget to go back down some nights and will only get a night of 12A. After a few days this will not work for me.

There doesn't seem to be a pattern yet on the PEU or the CC box being the cause. But 32A charging as soon as I pull in doesn't seem to work well anymore.

Remember, I just got a new CC box and cable because of this very issue.

I called for service today and they were trying to arrange for a rental car. I never heard back so I couldn't drop off my car. She didn't ask any real questions, so I am not sure how the flow of information is supposed to work.

Most interesting part of the call however was when I asked her about the Mini loaner fleet rather than the Enterprise route and she said they are NOT ALLOWED to loan out their fleet for MINI-E, only rentals. So the most expensive car in the building by far can't get a loaner. I hate to be cynical about this but I can only guess that this is because the local dealer does not want to loan out their cars when MINI corporate is willing to pay for a rental. I would hope the 35k mile Hyundai would be a last resort and not the default.

Either way. I'm starting to get concerned that this may be a more systemic issue. My only working theory is related to the colder temperature. I seem to only remember this ever happening once it started turning colder. Highs in the 40s and 50s now. And going in the wrong direction for the next several months.

Here we go.....

No Charge last night

So last night I come home and immediately plugged in. I can hear the Clipper Creek box click on, 4 blinks on the dash, and I hear the PEU in the MINI-E click off. No change in lights on the CC box.

Push the stop button on the CC , unplug, 5 secs, plug in.....same

Rinse, repeat.... After 3 try's, with no error lights anywhere, I decide to test the low voltage theory. If that is it, in theory it should kick in later.

Well I came down this morning and nothing. Luckily I use less that 50% a day so I could get to work today. This is what I was experiencing originally, I would connect the car, just go inside as all seems well, it would click off and when I come down in the morning, nothing.

I am now convinced this has to be an AC Propulsion thing. I can hear the PEU click off when the dash light goes out.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Again again

So I am going to find all the blog entries I can and try to get more opinions. I am having charging problems again.....

New charger, new cable....

Arrive home 10pm, immediately plug in wall charger...
3 blinks on the dash, 4th blink, I can hear the PEU click off from the engine bay

Disconnect, wait 5 secs, reconnect......
1 blink, red light on the charging unit

Disconnect, take out the trash, come back (lets call it 2-3 mins), plug in the wall charger
20 blinks, I'm home free....

This is the worst case since the wall charger was replaced, but I have had at least one other day where 4 blinks, the PEU clicks off, but the disconnect, reconnect worked straight away that time.


Monday, October 26, 2009

New Clipper Creek box

So after changing out the cable first and having the box light up, they changed out the wall box itself and we have been fine charging for 3 days now. I will let it run for a week or two before I claim it fixed, but so far so good.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Charging Problem again

So when I returned home today and plugged the MINI-E into the 30A wall charger, nothing happened. I will be as specific as possible.

1) plugged car into 30A charger and the wall box "thumped" on as normal, but no charge indicator came on on the dash.

2) unplugged-repeat - same thing

3) rinse, repeat - same thing

4) turned on the car to verify that 30A is the current setting, it was and still is. turn off car, plug in wall charger.... The dash light comes on and blinks 2x and for the first time ever, I see the red indicator on the wall charger. I have never seen this indicator before.

5) unplug, replug - 2 dash blinks, red wall box light.

6) decide to try 110v charger as some people have mentioned that this has worked. Got it out fo the trunk (I forgot how thin this cable is, I have had my wall charger for >2 months), plugged it in and everything is working great. Dash charger light is blinking, no error lights on the 12A indicators (OH NO) I forgot to change the car to 12A.

7) Unplug the wall, then the car. Reset car to 12A. Plug back in working great. Hmm, wasn't that supposed to not work the first time because the car was still set for 30A??

8) unplug, reset to 30A, plug in the car to the wall box. Wall box "clunks" on but no dash light.

9) unplug, reset car to 12A and plug in 110V cable. Quietly sipping juice from the GFCI in the garage (I never had a problem with mine, it is direct attached to the panel).

I am going to go down later tonight and try resetting to 30A again to see if it works.

Tomorrow I am going to have to break out the paperwork to find out who to call?????

SOUNDS -- Please put and end to this

So I am now forced to do 2 posts in one day. I just got assignment 3 for our Field Trial site. This one was a bit of a joke, but it did touch on something. I have actually been hearing about this lately in the news as well. I thought it was ridiculous, but now that I was forced to take part in something related, I feel like I have to speak up.

I had 1 post in my online Field Trial journal ....

Read my blog

I now have 2 posts in case they ignored the first one.
Ok, I was not going to post here but on my blog, but this may warrant a post on both. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE DO NOT add sounds to our cars. People dont get hit by bicycles. That is why human beings have more than 1 sesnse.....OPEN YOUR EYES and you wont get hit by a car. If you wander out into traffic, sounds or not, YOU ARE GOING TO GET HIT BY A CAR.....

This is rediculous. I have heard mention of this lately in the news as well and please let us know who we need to contact to put and end to this.

Should our cars have special scents as well?
Should we coat them in sandpaper in case anyone wants to avoid traffic by touch?
Should they taste bad?

PLEASE put and end to this...

First Service Report

So I received the service report for #269's first regular visit. As I expected, with the one day turn-around there were no issues to report.

There were 4 entries in the journal....

#1 3 month 3k service
#2 all loaners in the field, authorize enterprise rental
#3 replace front wipers, worn and coming apart
#4 PUMA case (??)

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Failed to Charge

So this morning I came out for the second time in a week to find that the MINI-E connected to the 30A charging station had not charged at all overnight.

I have my ritual in the morning where I enter all of the current stats into my journal before I leave for work. I recharge every night. About a week ago, I came out and found that the car had not charged overnight. It was a Saturday, so I had plenty of time to correct the mistake. I assumed that I had not seated the charger correctly. So I have been paying attention in the evening when I plug in the charger that I see the dashboard charging indicator come on so I know I have a good charge.

When I came out this morning and read the charger meter for my journal entry, I got in the car and found that the meter had not moved from the prior day. When I started the car, sure enough I was at 58% charge. and this is how I left for work this morning. This is plenty of charge for me to do a round trip to work, but I am now a little suspicious that something else may be going on here and I don't know what. I will be paying double close attention to the charging indicator now when I park for the night and if I have another problem, I will place a call. But #269 just went in for it's 3 month service and they turned it around in 1 day, so I assume everything is tip top on the car. I guess there could be an issue with the charging station?? If it happens again, you will hear about it here.

Anyone else have a similar issue?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Someone gets it. In France

So Renault is firing the first shot (in my opinion) to the other automakers. Rather than try to calculate how much of a premium people would be willing to pay for EV versions of production cars, they have found a way to price the EV version cheaper than the non-EV version (with subsidies, but whatever works). I'm not saying that I think the battery swapping idea is the answer, but I like the direction that they are heading here and I hope that the momentum builds. I believe that EV's can really transform a significant percentage of the cars on the road, with ideas like this. Making it a premium to the consumer is just going to delay everything.

I guess I'm on a cross post frenzy these days (lots to comment on). Thanks to All Cars Electric, home of #412.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cross Post - #250 Vanity Plates

I thought this one was worth more than just a link in the fellow bloggers section. Not to be missed.

Well done

#269 is Home

I got the call as I was leaving work Friday that I could pick up my Mini-E. I could not make it last night so I went out this morning and dropped off the loaner and had a great drive home. Just as I was about to plug in to top of the 18 miles I used to get home from the dealership, I remembered to check the voltage setting. I''m glad I remembered because it was still set for the 50A charger they have there.

Happy to be back in the Mini-E

I was told that I would get a report in the mail, but since I was in-out same day, I'm assuming there will not be much to the report. Thanks for the wash...

Friday, October 9, 2009

#269 in for 3 month service - loaner envy

So I dropped #269 off for it's 3 month service this morning. It is just under 3k miles and running great. I am expecting a quick service visit. When I called for my appointment last week I asked if I would be able to get a loaner as I drive into Manhattan each day now from NJ. They said no loaner but they would arrange for a rental. The very nice woman from Enterprise came and "picked me up" from Morristown Mini and about halfway back I asked if this was my rental car. Answer, yes.

Wow. A Suzuki, Tiber..Tiger,,, I'm not quite sure what it is, with 36k miles on it. If I read the contract right they are getting the BMW discount of about $30/day all in. Once again, I have to say.... Mini, please remember we are paying $850/month. To quote Seth and Amy "REALLY Mini?, REALLY???"

I'm going to have to flip over to another window to see if I can find out what kind of car this actually is, but it is what I would imagine a car would be if CostCo made cars. The parts that are required are all there, but it doesn't quite feel like a whole car.

Let's see...
I guess this could be it. I'm guessing on the year based on the miles, but it's the only 4 door they made (not anymore) so I guess it's it. The wonderful Forenza.

So for you folks who have BMW dealers attached to your Mini dealers.... Congrats. you don't want to know what your missing. But don't be cross if I skip over the blog post about the Z4 loaner you got for the weekend. :-(

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

NO!!! Don't open that.......

So last night I was showing off the MINI-E to some tech savvy friends who had never heard of the program and were very interested that I was driving a fully electric car. The shouts of "How do I get one?" were strong before they even looked at the car. So after taking them outside to see #269, I had the hood open and was talking about something when I hear "SNAP"...... I almost dove onto the electronics assembly box to stop him, but good old Keith had snapped open the right clasp to the gold box. "NO!!, STOP!!" and I got him in time to stop him from breaking the little plastic lock on the left side clasp. I had to show him the paper thin plastic lock that he didn't even realize that he had broken off that is still attached to the one side.

So sorry MINI, you can tell it was never opened, but maybe there is something a little more secure than that if you really don't want it open. A twist tie would have worked better. I can say that I would not have been horrified if he had snapped it off because I would have liked a look, but I did my part as a good pioneer. It's going in Friday for the 3 month service (just shy of 3k miles) so they can put two little locks on there next time to stop my nosey friends if I'm a little slow on the draw next time.


Monday, October 5, 2009

September milage/$$$ 7.4c/mile

So apparently I drove a little easier and electricity was a little cheaper. And in the end I netted about $5 less for exactly the same number of miles as the month before. Here is my data

How is this comparing with everyone else? I am heading in for my service this Friday. No loaner car, but apparently a rental.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

ZEV Mini-E presentation

I found a post on the Plugs and Cars Blog about a presentation given on Tuesday by Richard Steinberg, Mini-E program manager. There was a reference about the presentation including mention about Mini considering lease extensions. Sure enough right there at the end of the presentation he mentions that it is being investigated to address a bridge to a next vehicle.

Rich, please think about cutting us some slack on the monthly payments.

go Bantams
My brother happens to be a coach at his alma mater.

Monday, September 14, 2009

12v Aux Power - can it be configured to stay on when charging?

One of the things that I quickly noticed about the Mini-E was that the 12v power ports shut down when the car is off. My other car leaves them on which is great for charging phones / navigation, etc. Normally I would understand why you would not want this in the Mini-E. But when it is charging there should be no downside. Does anyone know if this can be enabled?

Friday, September 4, 2009

If you are really going to make a 2-seater Mini anyway.....

I am sure the twin-turbo, blah-blah-blah motor would be nice in this thing. But imagine how nice a fully-tuned, not power taken away electric coupe Mini would would be. Now this is a car I would pay a premium for.

Hopefully not just in powder-blue though....

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mini-E UK field trial (registration soon)

So if you know anyone in the UK who is really jealous that we are zipping around in our electric Mini-E's, apparently they have assigned 20 (according to this article) cars which will be available for 2 different 6 month cycles starting in Dec of 09. The UK is also subsidizing the lease payments so they will be £330 a month rather than the £550 that BMW are asking (actually a bit steeper than ours before the subsidy). I don't think the official UK site is actually accepting applications yet, so there is still time to get your UK friends interested.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

UPDATED: Electric Usage - 8c/mi (if my math is right)

So I finally remembered to grab the PSE&G bill on he way in the door to ID the usage and billing compared to the numbers I have been logging. Here is the view of my data. I hear that we have expensive electricity in NJ so I am curious how this compares to Ca. Also there are like 5 different rate tiers in my 1 bill that spread the costs across each tier. These represent the average'd prices.

Does this look correct to everyone? How am I doing against the group? Did I mention that I like to drive fast?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cross Post: NJ/NY Mini-E Meet Up

This is a cross post from Tom's blog about a Mini-E meet up this Saturday. I have read of a few on the left coast so I had been hoping that someone would organize such a thing. I am going to try very hard to have #269 on site. Here is a link to Tom's blog post and the details. He said there may already be as many as 10 Mini-E's already coming as well as a representative from Mini who had emailed Tom to confirm that he will be coming by as well. Hope to see many of you there. This is easily in range for most all Mini-E drivers, and close by many 30A charges for anyone pushing the limit of a round trip.

1pm to 3pm August 22nd
Nauna's Bella Casa Restaurant
148 Valley Road
Montclair, NJ 07042


RSVP to Tom at -- tom dot moloughney at gmail dot com

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Meet The Press

So my few seconds of Mini-E fame are being extended a bot more. I guess over the course of the year, all of our local papers, etc will find us all. But I was pleased to have about a 20 min conversation while driving home in the Mini-E (Motorola T505 adapter) with David Welch of We spoke about a number of my experiences with #269 including a discussion of wether or not we would be able to gather enough data through the test to evaluate the economic impact of driving electric -vs- gasoline, and wether the premium could be justified, that auto makers are happy to add on top of a price that is for building a completely different car (hybrid example). Even in the BMW follow-up questionnaire recently one of the questions was misquote-"would you be willing to pay a 25% premium", which to me is a horrible question coming from the entire wrong direction.

But anyway in our similar conversation is where my quote in the article came from. I have no problem with his use if my quote, I just found it funny. It is essentially still true as a stand alone statement. I am off to Montreal tomorrow for a bachelor party where I will be constantly asked the same question many of you are "So you are paying for their test?" to which I answer "YES".

As someone else said, there will be lots of people who get to read about our experiences and studies to interpret our reactions to what do and write this year, but only 500 of us actually get to drive the cars. And I am very excited to be one of them.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sway Bar Bolt

So I finally got sick of hearing the rattling coming from under the Mini-E all the way to and from work every day and decided to bring the car over to Morristown Mini for a checkup. They said I would have to leave the car because any problem with any of the Mini-E cars requires a registration of he issue with Mini and the dispatch of one of their techs to review any issues. I told them I was convinced that this was non-"E" related, but they said their hands were tied. When I asked about a loaner, they said that the problem would have to be diagnosed before they could assign a loaner. I asked "so I am going to be without a car for a few days", "yes". I guess this is why in the questionnaire to get in the program they asked if we could be without the car for a few days. I believe it was something like "would you have other transportation".... To me this is an example of the fact that Mini does not know have the pedigree for an $850/month customer. That would not fly at an of my other dealerships. But I digress....

Upon arrival the mechanics said they would go for a test drive to see what I was hearing. We didn't make it out of the parking lot before hitting a drainage grate, "that is the noise", said. "I know what it is, you can back up". He proceeded to tell me that he had a car in for this same thing (a non-E) that rather than some kind of locking bolt at the end of the sway bar, Mini opted for a tapered bolt that upon tightening is meant to provide enough tension t hold the assembly together. Apparently not. I'm sure the extra 500+ pound of batteries we are all carrying isn't making the load on it any easier.

But to my surprise, the tech said he would take it i the back, jack it up, tightening it and if there was nothing else he would send me on my way now. I could not have been happier. I also only had about 35% charge as I was not expecting to get the car back, so they said they would throw it on heir 50A charger for a while as well to juice me up. and thy did all of that. I was having a pleasant conversation with one of the salesman who had come to pick me up from the train station in his Shelby Mustang on the day that I picked up my Mini-E, so I let the car sit for 30 mins on the charger. I had seen another Mini-E in the back (didn't catch the #), he said they were in "a lot". They called my name, said it was ready.

They said it was about 50% charged now. Not what I thought but might get me to NYC and back home, maybe. I figured I was going to be asking my parking garage for a top off while I was at work. I got about 10 miles from the dealership on the highway and the charge was down to 22%. Not sure what was happening exactly, but I made the decision that I was working from home and would charge on my power. No problems since, and I thank Morristown Mini for sending me on my way so easily.

Listen for that noise though.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Front Suspension Noise

It may just be that I am noticing more noises with the quiet car, but the front suspension has seemed very noisy over the last few days. At any little bump I hear some good groans from under the front of the car. Not to mention a little rattling sound. It does not sound like anything is going to fall off, but it just seems noisier than I would expect.

Nothing to make me stop driving every day. It can certainly wait until the first service visit. But I will be surprised if I hear that there is nothing wrong.

Anyone else have a noisy front end?

#269 will be at the Project Green event tonight in Manhattan. The event is actually only 3 blocks from where I park every day, so it wont be a very long drive. Hope to see some of you there tonight.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Time to start some measurments

So after almost a month of getting used to the new MINI-E I have decided that it is time to start paying attention to the numbers. While I was 110v charging I did not pay any attention to the usage patterns other than to make sure I could get where I was going and home again.

Now that I have the 32A charger and will be leaving with a full tank every day I am going to start my log of stats. I went down to the garage and reset all the measurements that I am able and we will see what we get from here.

It is worth mentioning that I do not drive #269 with any sense of conservation. I drive it like I would drive a gas powered equivalent. Though up to now I have been avoiding the AC when I can.

Here were the numbers I had when I reset them

Miles 736
Avg Mph 18.5
Ah/100M 72
Miles remaining at 100% = 93

I dont think I'm getting what some are.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

#269 is running on Premium (32Amp)

So both PSE&G and O'Sullivan electric came by the house today to activate the wall charger. I am happy to say that #269 is now drinking in NJ's finest at 32A. I am looking forward to the 1 hour "top off" charge, rather an the 10 hour "as much as I can get" charge.

Everyone was great today and now I guess I need to get to cleaning out the garage to be able to fit both cars in there. Good thing it stopped raining.

Picked up my plates from Morristown Mini today as well. Now I can apply for the EZPass Green Pass

Sunday, July 5, 2009

NJ mini-E friendly car wash

This post will only be interesting to the half dozen or so folks who live in Essex County...

So I had been putting off going to a car wash with all the rain and the stern warning about undercarriage spray when I picked the car up. As I was driving around in Maplewood today I came across a new hand wash car wash. Pull in the garage and a team of people and a hose wash the car. This is new for our area (at least to me). They said they have only been there 3 months and I got the manager very intrigued by the electric Mini. As well as the person in the garage who turned off the car trying to turn it on because he didn't know it was already on.

Anyway, I'll keep the plug to a minimum, I have nothing to do with this place other than I am glad that I found it. The address is 1830 Springfield Ave in Maplewood. Across from Burger King. I'll include the Google map link here...

#269 looks a lot better today.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Wall charger activation scheduled for Tuesday

I was contacted by the company installing the new wall charger cable that mine could be installed this coming Tuesday. So I will be working from home Tueday to be her for this. When my wall charger was installed my power company PSE&G also installed a blank for an additional meter for them to track the usage of electrity. I was told it was so they could gauge the imapct on demand if this electric car thing catches on. I think they should pay attention to what it says because I am pretty convinced that 24 months from now they will have a broad new demand that they dont have today.

After an email to PSE&G to let them know that my cable install was scheduled for Tuesday, I just got a reply that they would also be here Tuesday to install the meter in the blank on the wall.

So starting Tuesday night I should be rapid charging. Which also means I will be garage sharing with my wife as I wont need to hog the garage every night to top off. I am driving about 35 miles a day round trip to work and 12A charging every night. Each day I lose a little less than 10% off the top with this routine. So by Friday I am pretty low when I get home from work. I dont think I could live much further out and still make the trip all week. I understand what some other drivers are saying about having to skip days to top off.

More soon....

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tired of getting pulled over

So it is not nearly as bad as the title. I actually started ot very proud of myself. I commute every day through the Holland Tunnel, which has a useful HOV lane. As a ZEV (NJ term for Zero Emission Vehicle) ,I am allowed to use the HOV lane, really the only perk during commuting time. Last week I was sitting in traffic and in my mirror I could see the Port Authority officer approaching my vehicle. He tapped on the window and asked if there was a reason I was driving alone in the HOV lane. "Yes officer, this is a Zero Emission Vehicle and I am allowed to use the HOV lane." "Zero Emission?" "Yes, an all electric car, no gasoline" "Oh, and that carries over for our facility?" "Yes" (a smile) ..... license and registration (I guess while he had me stopped, no biggie). "OK, go on"

Actually, I was feeling quite proud at the time. Everyone learned something. Just another person that we are spreading the word to as EV pioneers.

Then, the next day...... and then this morning.... at some point I am going to want to just get to work. I'm sure after a while they will all have stopped me and it will be fine. Maybe the PA can have some kind of info sharing. All in all, not so bad.

I also got questioned by another Mini owner in traffic about the car. "Is it new?"

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

First recognition, mileage envy

So as I was entering the Holland Tunnel last night on my way home I heard a beeping coming from the car next to me and there was a rolled down window in a large (Suburban sized) SUV. He asked if it was an electric car. So in the middle of traffic trying to stop and go enter the tunnel I had my first recognition of the car. The driver of the SUV seemed genuinly surprised that this was an all electric car...."It's all electric? really? no gas at all?"

I think from his elevated vantage point he could see the large plug graphic on the roof. I have opted not to ge tthe side graphics added later, but it was nice to finally have the car recognized by someone totally unaware of the program.

Just topped 200 miles yestreday, had to go out of town last week, so limited driving. Plus my daily commute is just about 35 miles. But the good news is that this is just far enough to top off my charge with 110v when I get home and be able to make it through the entire week commuting. So Mini, please, no rush on the 230V cable, you can put me low on the list. I will gladly trade off making the monthly payment for using the 110v cable. I can see how for most people the range limitations of the 110v cable are a restriction to extended use, so I count myself lucky.

I travel in real stop ang go traffic for most of my commute, through there are brief periods of 65-70 travel as well. Welcome to NJ. But I am not seeing the "extended range" of stop and go benefit that I thought. My napkin calculations are still putting me right at the 100 mile range. I'll be honest though, I a not fixating on the numbers or "efficient driving style" . When traffic allows I am really enjoying the torque steer level of acceleration. I am assuming that Mini will be able to capture the data they need without me. If the range gets to be an issue, I am sure I will start paying more attention.

I wish there was a charger equipped Mini dealer in central Ct. My family is in Hartford and I would love to be able to bring the car up there. My house to my parents house is 137 miles of mostly all highway driving. When I signed up for the program, I was really hoping that the 150 mile range they talked about was achievable, but for a drive like this it seems to be out of the question based on mine and other pioneers experience.

Has anyone topped 120 miles on a single charge yet? I am curious how far people have pushed it yet. Drop me a comment and let me know how far you have gone on 1 charge.

Monday, June 22, 2009


So in this week's Mini-E Plugged-In update the good folks at Mini let me (and I am guessing a few others) know that the auto-neutral hill issue was not an issue at all. And after trying it this morning it appears to be correct. Aparrantly the answer was avilable all the time hiding out on page 72-75 of the Owners Manual.

My bad. Thanks for the pointer.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Blinking N -and- Local online news

Blinking N

So it has been raining on and off for what feels like 2 weeks here in metro NYC. As I
mentioned in a previous post, that means puddles. Lots of puddles. So when I heard flash flood warnings this morning I thought knew what I was in for, I thought it would mean slow traffic. Well traffic wasn't bad, except for when I was holding it up twice.

So no matter how hard I try on a day like today, I can not avoid driving through the occasional large'ish puddle on the way to work. I really try to swerve around them and if forced go through as slow as possible, to limit the undercarriage spray. But today there were a
few good ones. I made it through them fine, maybe a little holding of the breath I'll admit. Soon after was when I had my first problem.

I was stopped in traffic, I'm going to guess for 15 seconds, when I noticed the dashboard drive indicator was a flashing N. I didn't think anything of it, I actualy thouht, "I never nocied that auto-neutral actually diaplays N". It does not. Apparently the car had put itself in Neutral. The drive selector was in D, but the display was flashing N, when I took my foot off the brake to apply to the accelerator, nothing happened, except rolling. I hit the brakes, tried again, rolling.

I am now holding up traffic going toward the Holland tunnel (not recommended). The quick thinking mode kicked in and I put the car in Park, then Drive, rolling......

Tried this again (stubornly thought that was a good idea and deserved another try), rolling, flashing N.

At this point I put it in Park, Hit the OFF button pulled out the key and started over.
Hit START, put it in Drive.....and we are moving.

It was quite a hectic 20 seconds, and I wish I had been in a quiet place where I could have spent a bit more time "diagnosing", but at least was moving. For about 10 mins.

As I approached the toll plaza for the Holland Tunnel, I was stopped, again for Im going to guess 15 seconds and there it was the blinking N.

Again I tried back to Park, then Drive...rolling
Pack to Park, OFF, ON, Drive... and we were going again.

As an IT professional, I understand the power of the reboot, so I'm not surprised that this helped. (Non IT people, it really does help)

But if it continues, I think a call to service will be in order. Just something to watch for now. I have no idea if it was the puddles or not, though that would be a strong suspicion. As I mentioned in my previous post, they seem to have instilled the"no-car wash" thing pretty strong in the dealers as they passed out the cars. We will see.

On another note, I was recently interviewed by a local community online site, which as I can gather is a local version of The article was posted last night and linked here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

NJ to NYC commute - Day 1 (puddles ,hills, horns and parking)

So I decided to participate in the MINI-E trial so that I could evaluate a few things as I mentioned in an earlier post. 1) driving to NYC 2) feasability of electric cars.

Well after 2 days of driving I am convinced that the answer to #2 is complete. I would buy this car today if it were available. Whoever makes the batteries small enough and the range a bit larger is going to sell out as many cars as they can produce. Every single person who has ridden in the MINI-E has had to confront the belief that they would have to give something up for an electric. After being pushed back in their seat once or twice (I am still enjoying doing that to people), they are convinced.

I am also learning a few things about the logistics of my upcoming year long commute, that I will outline here for day 1.

I am commuting from South Orange, NJ to midtown Manhattan. For me the best route is through the Holland Tunnel. The traffic on the Lincoln can be far to unpredicatable. My route to the Holland Tunnel how ever goes through some very low lying areas. they are prone to flooding. The entire way into the city today I could not help but recall that serious "no really" look that I got at the dealership when I picked up #269 when it got to the part of the handover process for "No carwashes with under carriage spray". Immediatatly followed by that "No REALLY" look.

Well I am convinced that while I did avoid and go slowly though as many of the deepish puddles as I could that the undercarriage of #269 is drying out in a garage in midtown as we speak.

So going in and out of these low lying areas also brings me back to something I noticed in my post from my initial drive home.

hills and auto-neutral

I'm not talking about big streets of San Francisco hills (thank goodness), but there are many many times during my commute where I am in traffic on an incline with my foot on the brake to keep me from rolling backward. This alone would be fine. But NYC commuting traffic certainly lives up to the "bumper to bumper" name. The idea of rolling backward at all is a bit unnerving. There is often a person much closer than you would expect. I tried a few times to explore my idea of brake / gas in tandem to try to engage the drive before the slide could start. This did not seem to work. One of the software folks from MINI or AC Propulsion would actually have to come out of hiding and publically comment on our blogs to get the answer to that.

BTW, if you check your blog stats there are
a number of reader hits from great places like

Greenville, South Carolina, United States
Bmw Manufacturing

Greer, South Carolina, United States
Bmw Manufacturing

but my favorites so far have been...(but I digress)

Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, United States
General Motors Corporation

Dhahran, Ash Sharqiyah, Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabian Oil Company

I still see the auto-neutral as an issue on an incline in traffic. It appeared to me that holding the brake canceled out the signal from the accelerator. Now granted in traffic with another car close in front was not where I was willing to expand too much on my experiment, but I could not achieve the result that I wanted with the brake and the accelerator in combo. I really had to go to leaning heavy on the accelerator and hope they arent "that close" that a little roll wont get me in trouble. It worked out, but I count this as still far from ideal.

Again, not writting the software I cant tell for sure but it seems two forces are at play here. First, I'm assuming that auto-neutral plays some kind of a role in enabling the regenerative braking to engage. It is the only thing I could come up with for why it would be there in the first place. so lets start with the premice that we need it. But not at full stop, with the brake applied. It seems like either that combo of functions should trigger some other code that turns off auto-neutral until we move forward 10 feet or we need some kind of "disable" button, like turning off traction control, that would disable auto-neutral. And again, maybe only for the next 10 feet. But the effort of having to remember to push the button each time would be worth it to me. I imagine this is a user interface / feasability issue, but one that I hope they are working on.

Now I am sure that with "no noise" I can hear the road honking more than usual, but I definately got the impression that more than one of them (3 or 4) were directed at me. And all during regen braking in slow traffic. I am afraid that the brake lights are not engaging nearly enough in slow driving. That was the only thing I could guess after the 2nd or 3rd honk. Like everyone else, no one recognizes what the car is for that to be the reason. I really think that I slowed more than the other person expected, with no brake lights. This is somewhere that I think we could really choose to go on the side of caution. If there is some kind of % deceleration formula that I could user select through my settings I would certainly be dialing that one down on the way home. I am tempted to have someone follow me around town and tell me when my brake lights are on, since we can not tell. Except that I havent recieved my car bluetooth kit yet. Realy MINI, no bluetooth, I doubt it drains that much battery.

So today also marked the first time I had to hand someone the keys and walk away. Afte trying to impress on the attendant that this car was different and the start/stop button and that it is very responsive, I got a few blank nods and a ticket and that look of "ok, we'll see you at 6pm". Now for non-NYers, virtually every parking facility in NYC is one where you pull in give them your keys and come back later. They perform a logic puzzle dance of moving cars around all day that would give most of us a real headache. But it is a fact of life in NYC. I was able to find an indoor lot less than 2 blocks from my office (near Madison Park) and for <$300 a month. NYC based folks know that is a really good deal. I would be willing to find another place near my office, love to find one with an outlet, so any better ideas please let me know.

OK. Now let me state this again. While that may have come off a bit as ranting and complaining, it was intended as none of the above. I LOVE this car and would buy it on the spot if available. I provide all of this feedback as I believe it was requested by the program that we keep a blog, to provide feedback and opportunities for improvement. I am glad to go into a deeper discussion with anyone who is interested, ut this post I think is long enough.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Project attention - impressive

So I aded a little stat counter on my blog (stole idea form someone else)

And I just looked at some of the stats that it keeps. I am sure that my blog is getting only "average" attention as there has been no exposure other than my family and fellow bloggers. Though I did just realize from the stats that a google search of "mini-e nj" does return my site.

"the new phonebook is here....I'm somebody"

Well one of the items is a map of recent visitors, surprise, surprise...

I had no idea that this broad an audience was interested. I expected some metro NY / California and maybe a few family locations.

Project i folks, I think you are on to something....

Welcome home MINI-E #269 (hello auto-neutral)

At long last it has arrived. So far I have only had the initial ride home from the dealership back to the house.

First thing that I can certainly mention as different is "auto-neutral". WOW

Getting used to driving with 1 foot was actually pretty easy. Only real thing that is going to take more time is starting from a stop. First thing is that you quickly learn that even going near the brake pedal during regular driving is going to stop you much more than you think. It really is akin to pulling on the E-brake slighlty, not necessary. So you adapt to giving yourself just a little more time than you think you would need to let the regen braking kick in to slow you down. Even all the way to a stop at a light.

Here is where you are going to need to be careful. When you do come to a stop, you MUST lean on the brake to keep you from coasting backward if you are on any kind of an incline. Even in Drive, "auto-neutral" will let the car coast when at a stop and not on any pedal. my first instinct was to feather the gas slightly to keep the car engaged enough to keep it from rolling backward. But this quickly strikes you as wasteful. I can't help but think, "wow, you could just hit the brake".

Here is thing to get used to #2. When you want to move from a stop on an incline. Even with the brake pedal engaged, you can tell that the car is in "auto-neutral". As soon as you lift from the brake you need to apply the accelerator. It actually quickly starts to kick in your brain like engaging a clutch with the gas. Here is a problem, you need to be heavier on the gas in this car than you would with a regular stick an a clutch.

Many have mentioned that while the accelaration on the MINI E is impresive, that torque is not fully available from the line. It appears, as many have said, that the cars are de-tuned ro limit some of the power from stop. I think this will prove to be a mistake. People who want to "tear off the line" should not be engineered back into good behavior, and everyone else should not have to nearly floor the accelarator and just hope that the car engages fast enough to stop that backward sliding down the hill that you experience.

Maybe the key is in the brake, maybe I need to feather off the brake slower when I feel the pull engaged. This is mentally backward since you quickly start to think of the brake as a "heavy stop" device.

Maybe by next week this entire post will be obsleted by a bit more experience. I have not heard anyone else mention this sensation, so maybe I just have to put some more miles on. But I do think "auto-neutral" is an electric car feature that people need to be a bit more aware of in the front of our mind while you are driving.

I will be interested to hear how other are experiencing this .....

Beleive me, I am tring to be thorough in my "driving experience". It is by no way significant enough to make me hesistate driving for 1 second, nor do i feel un-safe. It is just a difference that i think warrants some more brain cycles to get perfect. It is not a driving expereience I have had in an other car, manual or automatic. I can't wait t get back out there and work it out.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

It's here!!!!! - no # yet

Just got the call from Mags at Morristown MINI. They just got a batch of cars and one of them is for me. It will be ready to be picked up by tomorrow, but I will likely not be able to get there until Friday. So I should be electric motoring by this weekend. Now the anticipation is fevorish.

no Bluetooth

Well I guess my bigger complaint is still no car. Though Mags at Morristown Mini has been great keeping me up to date with info. Apparently there was a truck Monday and they were hoping for another 8 last night. Fingers crossed

But as a daily commuter car, no bluetooth is going to be sad. Something I've grown used to in my environmental balancer to the MINI-E (our Audi Q7).

Any recommendations for a good bluetooth adapter alternative? I'm sceptical of most... But will certainly need to be on the phone driving in. I know that isn't a good thing to write.

Monday, June 8, 2009

NYC MINI-E parking

So when I was at the Meet the MINI-E event in NYC a few weeks ago, I met someone (not smart nough to have taken his info) who mentioned that the city was installing chargers in a few garages because of the cars that they are getting. I will be using my MINI-E to commute everyday from NJ to NYC. I expect to really learn the potential of the regenerative braking system in stop-go traffic in and out of woark each day. But I owuld still love to know where the friendly charging garages are located. If anyone has any hints on how I might be able to find out moreon this, please let me know. I do not expect that they will apepar on the MINI-E charge sharing site.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The MINI-E's are coming to NJ

Just got the call from Morristown MINI that a few other people have mentioned. The first 2 trucks are en route and should be ready for delivery by mid-week hopefully. Very exciting news. I have a VIN number so it now feels much more real. Now a call to the insurance company is next to remind them of that "experimental, liability-only, one-off" quote that they gave me in January so they can likely start over with underwritting to give me a real price.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Unfortunately nothing to report

After getting my charger unit instaled exactly a week ago, I was kind of hoping to hear something about some next steps. I even politely pinged my Mini dealer rep to let her know that this step had been completed. I haven't heard about any East Coast MINI-E deliveries, so I don tthink I am missing out. But after a week it would have been good to hear something.

It has been great seeing all the new blog's popping up. If you are a metro NY / NJ derive (any really), I would be glad to link your blog to mine as well. I have enjoyed reasing the experiences of the few people who have them already. Making me more jumpy all the time. On one blog I read something about trucks arriving on the east coast the 2nd week in June. Well that is in 3 days, so more fingers crossed.

While I am sure it will be common for the "pioneers" to keep an active communication channel, I think it would be great to see some blogs from some of the key MINI-E engineering folks as well as the BMW Project i folks to see how they are percieving our experiences. A little quid-pro-quo...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Background info

I guess I left out a few things from that very long first post. Namely anything about me and what the program is all about.

First things first: About me

I live in South Orange, NJ and am married with 2 daughters. I work in Manhattan in IT for a financial services company (non-US).

I got notified about this program some time late last year on an RSS feed from somewhere. I followed the link and proceeded to complete one of the most entertaining application forms I have ever seen. More about that some other time I guess. I will say that it took me about 5 tries and well over 2 hours to actually fill out the application. Which all I can deduce was by design.

I was interested in the program because it was new, and because I think the idea is a great one. There is no real option on the market right now for a commuter car (I do not consider the Tesla a commuter car). So this program filled a few of my goals.

1. get a car to drive into the city for work (did I mention I am not a fan of the train)
2. try out the whole electric car thing, see if it turns out to be feasible.
3. It was closed ended as the cars must be returned in 1 year.
4. I figure by this time next year hopefully there will be some option on the market if I decide that I like 1&2 after all, or go back to taking the train.

OK, what is this Mini-e

If you have not google'd it by now let me save you the trouble. This is an experimental program that is based in California, NY and metro NJ. It is a one year lease of a Mini-s (I think) with the back seat taken out and about 700lbs of batteries installed instead. All sounded great to me. You can go to the official site for the gory details.

My New Mini-e blog

So as a part of being in the Mini-e program we said that we would keep a blog about our experiences. So here it is. I will be adding things as there is information to report. So far it is very early days. Though it has seemed that way for a while.

The good news is that I have had my charger unit installed this past Friday. I took the day off of work to be here while it was being installed (and to watch the girls as our nanny is on her honeymoon). According to John from O'Sullivan Electric, who performed the install, I was the first wall unit installed in New Jersey. Or at least the first one installed by them. I am not sure if there are other companies doing the installation.

I will include a link to the photo of the installation. One interesting thing is that PSE&G had them install a port for an additional meter. This will allow PSE&G to monitor the draw of the car on the grid. I am hoping that it will allow me to do the same. If so I will try to estimate the charges I am incurring for power. I guess I will not be able to do that from the beginning as we have been told that while there are at least 400 cars in the pilot program for "pioneers", there are only 150 high voltage charging cords to go along. As we have also been informed there are monetary benefits to getting the cars delivered in most states if they can get that done in June. While that means nothing for us pioneers, I imagine it is beneficial to Mini. So we will be getting our cars with 110v charging cords (est 20+ hrs to fuly charge). There is no outlet on the other side of the new meter, so I guess we will start measuring actual draw after the cords are delivered and installed. Good news for us though is that it means we will like finally see our cars in January and the good folks at Mini realized that this is not a really feasable solution for daily use so we will not be required to pay the monthly charge until we get the garage charges functional. I was pretty impressed to see that in the email.

So more to come after I hear something more. I have pinged the folks at PSE&G and been told that they are going to tr to get a meter install scheduled (no mention of when), but since it will not be in use soon, I guess that is not a showstopper for anything.