Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Week 1, All Fun

Press coverage aside, very few people notice anything different about MINI E #111. I have come to expect a double-take from most MINI drivers, but nobody has stopped me on the street so far. Even my kids aren’t that impressed. “…it doesn’t have back seats, where I am supposed to sit?” However, once people understand that the MINI E is an all-electric, zero-emissions car, it’s hard to leave the conversation without a look under the hood and a test drive. Below are answers to the two most common questions.

I could describe in great detail the merits of joining a MINI Cooper S with a high-torque electric motor and how the extra 600lbs is a blessing in that it keeps the tires safely planted on the road, but nothing replaces a first-hand test drive. Virtually everyone I’ve taken for a test drive comes back feeling like they just stepped off a roller coaster with that “can we go again?” look on their face.

Here is my simple description of the handling. Lateral motion (e.g. cornering) is much like any well-tuned sports car – tight and fun. However, acceleration and braking are significantly different and require a learning curve to become a smooth driver. From a standstill, you will notice that the electric motor has been “detuned” in order to avoid tire spin at every stop light. Believe me, you can still spin the tires if you want. Once you are above 20 mph or so, however, the MINI E is responsive in ways that you don’t expect. Let me just say that I had some fun with an M3 the other day, and he didn’t have as much fun as I did.

As I’ve explained before, I almost never touch the brake pedal. I have had to reprogram my brain to stop my foot from moving to the brake pedal every time I need to slow down, but I have done it. Not only does it now seem natural, I believe it is a safer way to drive allowing for quicker response times in traffic. I have read comments online suggesting that eliminating coasting significantly reduces energy efficiency but remember that these brakes are regenerating power – up to 20%.

I’m still having fun with #111 so I am getting about 95-100 miles on a full charge. But I believe that I’ll be able to increase that by smoothing out my driving habits. In the near future, I plan to maximize the driving range on a single charge and I will of course write about it here.

Miles: 146
Charges: 4 (still easy)
Test Drives for Friends: 18
Problems: Not enough time to give test drives
Top Speed: Ask the M3 guy
Speeding Tickets: 0
Visits to the Gas Station: 0
Electric Bill: Too early to know

Thanks for all the congratulations and wonderful comments. They are much appreciated.



  1. Does running the AC affect the drive?

  2. Congrats on getting the first MINI E! I've posted about it on and would like to know if you would be interested in having us interview for White Roof Radio.


  3. Maize,
    If the AC impacts the performance of the car, I don't notice it. On that note, one thing I notice more in going up hills is that you don't get that expected down shift that conventional cars give you. Instead, it is smooth and powerful all the way up the hill.

  4. I'm very excited that you're so... excited ;-) about this whole experience. I think the Mini E is a great start and we need to concentrate on more real-world testing of these technologies. Keep posting and have fun! I'll be reading!

  5. Nice! Over here in Korea the Mini is an extremely popular vehicle (Koreans generally don't like small cars but imports seem to be an exception) and I'm really looking forward to seeing it available here eventually. There's nothing worse than a big swath of idling jam-packed traffic in the summer in Seoul in front of an intersection. Replace that with electric vehicles and it might actually be bearable. Definitely looking forward to your updates as you get used to the car.

  6. How much electricity have you used? If using a 110v outlet and less then 15 amps. Buy a killiwatt device to track electric usage.