Monday, June 15, 2009

Electricity & Chocolate

Driving my new MINI E around town that first week was unceremonious and uneventful. I expected people to honk and ask me to roll down my window! But no. I expected people to stop me in the parking lot and ask where I got my car? But no. I practically had to beg people to notice my cool new all-electric car. I thought about leaving the “gas” cap open so people could see the “NO FUEL” sticker inside.

Today, things are different. With all the press MINI E #111 has received, it’s hard to walk into Starbucks without having a 15 minute discussion about the car. “How is it?” “Is everything okay?” Like I just gave birth or something. “He’s doing fine,” I report. “I’m taking good care of him.” The good part is that I get honks and lots and lots of smiles.
My wife, Suzanne, came up with the personalized M&M’s. Yes, they match the colors of the car and you can order your own too. You can find them online at the M&M store here (My M&M’s).

In my live interview on May 28 with CNBC’s Dennis Kneale (link), he posed a final rhetorical question where he asks “…how green are you?”, suggesting that charging my MINI E with electricity requires the burning of dirty coal in order to generate that same electricity. Unfortunately, he did not let me answer this question for which I was fully prepared. Of course, we burn coal in the U.S., but there are so many other compelling reasons why EV’s make sense even if we are burning some coal. In an upcoming blog I will explore the trade-offs between gas-powered, hybrid and pure electric-powered cars. And I will discuss power generation issues including coal, nuclear and solar. Stay tuned.

The most commonly asked question. My response: “It’s fast!” If there is time, I try to take everyone I can for a test drive. Before people leave the car, they want to know when they can get one. Even the “I’m not into cars” women are pleasantly surprised, and they should be. This car looks and feels like a full-fledged production vehicle. I was just lucky enough to find one while it was still a prototype.

Around town, the MINI E is fun enough. However, on the open road you can really enjoy the smooth silence that one can only get from driving an EV. It’s more than the terrific torque you get when you instantly demand it. There is something humanely satisfying about knowing that you’re not adding to the smog layer in Los Angeles. And that people in parking lots and nearby schools are not breathing noxious fumes as you drive by.

I miss the back seats more than I thought. It’s not like I didn’t know they weren’t there in the first place; but I do miss them.
I miss an integrated Bluetooth connection. I know there are 3rd-party devices I can buy, but I miss the integration.
I miss the center armrest.

I don’t miss going to the gas station
I don’t miss touching and breathing fuel
I don’t miss the roar of the engine

Just in case you’re not sure which one is mine, I’ve ordered a custom license plate. The new plate will read: MINI 111



  1. I love the MINI, but I'll be hoping for a MINI E when it becomes available.

  2. I want a Mini E but since I cant have one yet I'll take a handful of Mini E M&M's thanks. enjoying the blog.

  3. Peter... I'm a MINI owner, a MINI blogger and a MINI online retailer. I would love to interview you for my blog TwistyBlitz. I'm interviewing David Van... this Saturday and another MINI E owner Mark W... Sunday.

    You can contact me at WWW.TWISTYBLITZ.COM