Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mini E Orientation Party

I know what you're thinking...get out of the damn picture Peter so we can see the car. I had had a drink and couldn't help myself.

On Tue, May 5, the Mini E team held a spectacular orientation and party for all Mini E Pioneers in the LA area. The event was held at the California Science Center and for many (myself included) it was our first chance to actually sit in a Mini E. They brought 4 cars to the event including car #007 (you may recall from an earlier post that each car is numbered). It turns out that nobody will get 007 - not even James Bond. These 4 cars are all show cars and will NOT be given out to participants in the program. (The car in the picture is #056)

In terms of design, the cars are identical with one notable exception. The show cars have the large MINI E sticker on the side doors (as you can see in the picture) and the program cars will not have this sticker. However the rest of the car will be the same. They are very comfortable, even for the tallest of drivers. But remember that there are no back seats for passengers. Those seats are instead filled with 5,088 lithium ion batteries. There is a small trunk behind the batteries, but I don't think it's enough to carry even a single golf bag. This is really a 2 passenger commuter car.

What options come on the car?
The Mini E does not come with many frills. For example, there is no navigation system. There is no Bluetooth connection. There is no satellite radio either. The reason for this, is that for now they want to avoid adding features that could significantly reduce the life of the battery. There is an AM/FM radio with CD player and a plug for an iPod - thankfully. There is also heat and A/C on board.

Will movie stars be getting these cars?
The overriding answer to this question is NO. I am an excellent example of that; believe me, nobody is casting me in a movie any time soon. The Mini team has gone to great lengths to make sure that this program is not perceived as only for the Hollywood elite. They poured over applications looking for real people who are passionate about the implications of electric cars in our future society. Several of the team members I met this evening were able to recall details about my application and the reasons for my interest in the program. It was quite impressive. There is one notable exception that I know of, however. There is a very high profile movie star getting a Mini E (whose name I will respectfully leave out of my blog), but was accepted to the program because of his passion for electric cars and environmental issues. Furthermore, I understand that he truly plans to use the car for daily driving. I hope I run into him and if I do you can expect to see a picture with us and our Mini E's here one day.

Driving impressions:
I have not yet driven a Mini E. However, I learned something very interesting at this event. Because of the regenerative braking engineered into this car, there is virtually no reason to use the brake; even at a stop light. Apparently, when you remove your foot from the accelerator (notice I didn't call it the "gas" pedal), the car immediately begins to slow down. I'm sure this will take some getting used to, but I'm anxious to try it out. Check back for more details.
Here is the blog from Edmunds about the event:
Here are the pictures from the Mini E website:

That's all for now. Thank you for following along.



  1. How exciting!

    I was chosen, but backed out when the realization hit that it was going to be nearly $1,000/month with sales tax and insurance.

    It looks great though. Can't wait to hear all about your experiences with it.

  2. Hi Peter,
    I attended the same event last Tuesday. I thought it would have been more crowded considering there are 250 of us in LA area plus 1 available guest each. I also wondered how many more will follow "creative-type dad" and drop out. I'm butting heads with my HOA regarding a second meter install now...

  3. I'm getting ready for the event in New York tomorrow. I got lucky, I can afford the lease and my electrical panel is in my garage. Like you, I'm very excited and can't wait to actually drive a MINI E.

    Good luck with yours and I look forward to reading more about your experiences. I'm adding you to the list of MINI E blogs at my site.


  4. Hi Peter - thanks for the info. I am a fellow Mini E pioneer in OC and had my wall install last weekend. I was unable to attend the event in LA so thanks for the info and the cool facts I did not yet know. Looking forward to reading more on your blog in coming weeks. Sounds like you will be one of first ones driving!


  5. Peter,

    It's great that you are going to blog the experience of testing the Mini E. I hope the regen braking process offers some feedback to help you get it right -- I think one of the reasons people love their Priuses is that the main dash display lets you know that your braking activity is putting power into the battery.

    Even though I don't have a hybrid or EV, I've been working on gentle braking for a long time, and it's substantially this gentle braking that makes an electric car so much more efficient than a gas-burner.

    To do it well, you really have to be looking further down the road. I can't tell you how many times in a cross-town trip I see people using the accelerator to get past me while we are both very clearly headed for a red light or stop sign. Vroooom/Screech! That's not what gets you to a destination faster, as any rally driver can tell you.

    So, I await your first drive story and maybe some photos of the dash displays in action (taken safely by a co-driver, of course.)

    Thanks again for telling us the story.