Friday, July 17, 2009

Dan Neil: There is no "rumble". Remember, EV's are quiet.

The following letter is a slightly shortened version of my response to Dan Neil's article in the LA Times today.

Hi Dan,

I just read your article today about the MINI E program and I have to say that I’m pretty disappointed to see what I’m reading. I don’t dispute the facts of the article and I know virtually all the details.

I think the spirit of the article is off base and you place Sam Freeman in the position that many EV1 drivers were in – a handful of radical EV-lovers surround by a world of combustion-engine lovers (translation: oil money). Furthermore, the criticisms about BMW noted in your article are sharply unbalanced against the realities and positives of the program.

BMW has been extremely upfront with us about the program. The suggestion by Chelsea Sexton (whose husband works for Tesla I just learned) that BMW has botched the program is a complete overstatement. Since you are referring people to her organization, she also suggests elsewhere that BMW is somehow plotting to reenact the crimes of the EV1 program which is just ludicrous. We all knew there were going to be delays. There was never the slightest promise that we were going to own these cars and the tax issue was always something we were going to deal with as it developed. The negative comments I’ve been reading and getting on my blog are from people outside the program and usually full of agenda-driven mis-information. Too bad for EV’s. If you look for the positive comments, they far outweigh the negatives.

To the people who criticize me for paying $850 per month to be part of this program, I ask: how many people get a rare chance to drive a hugely valuable prototype vehicle for one year? I don’t know anyone – unless they work for the manufacturer. Besides the fact that this is one of the coolest cars on the road, prototype or not. Every one of the 30+ people I’ve given test drives to, want to know when they can get their own. Prototypes by definition are going to have issues. People that don’t understand that have no business being anywhere near this program.

Were there delays? Yes. Could things have been done better? Yes. But I challenge anyone to run a program where you are putting out hundreds of prototype cars to consumers and get it done without hitches. There are a thousand little details they had to get right. Guess what? I have an amazing car that runs really well and is the envy of thousands of people (almost 21,000 on my blog as of today).

Finally, do people really think that EV’s aren’t worth the effort? I know you’ve driven this car. Can you not to see the future when you’re behind the wheel? Could it be that BMW wants to have EV’s in their product line? Oh, what a crime!

There is no “rumble in the electric-car jungle” of Pacific Palisades. Come on over and I’ll introduce you to the people I talk to. They love the car.

Peter Trepp

MINI E #111


  1. In today's world even basic facts are politicized. This makes it very difficult to have an objective conversation about what some people enjoy to drive, let alone environmental protection, healthcare, economic policy, etc.

  2. Don't worry. Half the people who bought the paper never saw the article. Half of those who saw it, did not read it. Half of those who read it, did not understand it. Half of those who understood it, did not believe it. Half of those who believed it are of no account anyway.

  3. Very well said, Peter. No one argues with someone if they spend $10,000 on a family vacation cruise yet people criticize us for spending that much on a unique year-long experience. I have no regrets so far and feel the glitches in the program are minor for such an immense effort.

    There were no blogs, Twitter or Facebook in the days of the EV-1. BMW will have a hard time ignoring the positive response to this electric vehicle. I don't see another EV-1 debacle in the works at all.


  4. WOW. I guess Peter hasn't seen "Who Killed the Electric Car".

    Peter seems overly defensive. People just want real plugin cars, not another "pretend" car. We are so way past the prototype point.

    As you can see by the MINI-E program how easy it is to make a very good plugin EV in just 18 months. Get MINI S and put APC Tzero in and away you go. That's the point. They could have made this car long ago with other batts. I drove a lead EV1 for 3 years and it was great. If only I had the Ni batt version that went 120 MPC!

    Peter, if you had been driving the MINI-E for years by now I think you would have a different take on this program. You would want to continue driving electric and not have to wait 10 years like me while the OEMs stone-wall customers. When they take the car back, these days there may be another car you like. In 2000 there wasn't.
    We now have some hope. So far except for Tesla, just teases like the MINI-E.

  5. BMW's first mistake was distributing this car in CA and NY. No offense to Peter. You seem like a good guy. But the EV cult does more damage to the EV cause than good.

  6. Ouch, And we take another one right in the back!

  7. Don't listen to the negativity, it's just counterproductive jealousy by people who are stuck in the past and can't see that things have changed and there NOW is a Future!!
    Well said Peter!