Friday, April 24, 2009

Wall Box Installation

On Friday, April 24 my wall box charging station was installed. Clean Fuel Connection (CFC) installed the box and did an excellent job. They had to pull the wires from my main electrical panel on the South side of my house all the way through my basement to my garage on the North side of my house. It was not an easily install, but they did a nice job. The guys were very professional.

As you can see in the picture, there isn't much to the box. There are very simple "on" and "off" switches on the front and a place for the power cable to hang. If you look closely, there is no power cable yet. That's because the cables are delayed - still. I don't think it's anyone's fault, it's just one of those thousand little things that are hard to predict when you start a program like this.

I learned from the installers that CFC has a list of 90 people who will receive these boxes in the greater LA area. I'm not sure if that's the complete list because I heard that 200 cars are being delivered to LA. I'll try to get to the bottom of that. However, CFC also told me that I was installation #4. Additionally, Mini tells me that because I was so early on the list coupled with the fact that they don't want to store these cars, I may get my car sooner rather than later.

Why do I need a special box to charge the Mini E?
The answer is time. It simply takes less time to charge the Mini E with a big box. Imagine filling a swimming pool with a fire hose compared to a garden hose - you get the picture. This box is 240 volts and 50 amps of power. Some large home appliances run on that kind of power, but your standard wall outlet is just 110 volts and usually 15 amps or so. With this box, it is estimated that the Mini E will charge in under 3 hours from a completely drained battery. Compare that to a normal outlet that will take approximately 23 hours for a similarly drained battery. These are estimated numbers only. Stay tuned for actual results once I receive the car.

What happens if I run out of battery power when I am not at home?
That is a good question. First of all, running out of battery power should come as no surprise to Mini E drivers. The range of the Mini E is estimated to be at least 100 miles under very realistic driving conditions and possibly 130+ under good conditions. There is a very visible gauge which indicates the status of the battery pack. However, if I do run out, I have some options. If I'm not in a hurry, I can always just plug the Mini E into a normal outlet and charge away. This is not ideal and certainly time consuming, but it does work. I'm told, however, that Mini will come rescue me if I'm really stuck with a tow truck or some similar option. These are valuable cars and nobody wants them left stranded.

When do you get the car?
Another great question and one I do not have an answer for as of yet. Once again, the Mini team is working to get these cables tested and delivered to users. Once I get my cable, and receive the final inspection on the charging box from the City of Los Angeles, I should see my car shortly thereafter. As of the date of this post, I estimate that to be by the end of May. But who knows?

Stay tuned for more updates.


They're Here

The Mini's have arrived. Is that one mine? 3rd from the right on the top? Who knows?!?!?!?

This spy photo was taken on March 20, 2009 somewhere in "Central California" (probably in Oxnard where BMW has a storage and service facility).

Each car is individually numbered 1 through 500. So if you ever come across a Mini E take a look at the front side quarter-panel. Of course I will let you know what my number is when I get it.

Now, if I only knew when I'll be getting my EEEEEEEEEEEE.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jay's Garage - Mini E

In case you are part of the 0.0001% of the population that does not own a TV, then you might not know that Jay Leno collects cars (lots of them). In fact, he is so passionate about his collection that he has started an online video log of cars he both owns and cars he admires. He is highly knowledgeable, and yet void of any arrogance about the basic operation of rare and unusual cars. His segments are a joy to watch. Here is the main link to his website:

Recently, Jay spent an entire week reviewing electric vehicles. Lucky for us, he took a close look at the Mini E including a test drive with a tire-locking slide at the end. While Jay seems to thoroughly enjoy the car and get the stage of development we're currently in, he can't help but think about how to "hop" up the car to make it faster. Here is the segment on the Mini E:

Earlier today I learned that Jay checked himself into the hospital. Jay, feel better soon!

Keep plugged in for more on the Mini E.


Charging Station

I am one step closer to taking delivery of my new Mini E. The company that installs the electrical charging stations came out today to begin the installation process. The company is called Clean Fuel Connections. Here is their website:

Unfortunately for me, my main electrical panel (400 amp service) is about as far away from my garage as you can get. There is plenty of electricity available for my purposes, but the electricians have to run a long lead into my garage. They should be done tomorrow. After that, the city of Los Angeles will need to approve the final installation of the unit and then we should be good to go.

When it is installed, I will post pictures here for all to see.

Keep plugged in for future updates.