Saturday, October 10, 2009

from the EEVC newsletter

I found out about the MINI E field trial as it would come to be known in November. i applied online with many other EV enthusiasts in December. The application process took about an hour and at one point i almost quit. My screen went blank and said all my info has been lost. It said would you like to quit now and forget about it or continue on and retype all the info. I said Id re-enter all the data. Im glad that I did, it was only a test by BMW MINI to see if i was ok with a car that might have some hiccups along the way. I patiently waited for a response to see if i was accepted. Weeks and months went by. Then i got an email from my sales rep Adam at Princeton MINI. I needed to fill out a credit app to further qualify me for the MINI E. I thought that would be the end, beings that the car is $850 a month and im no millionaire. To my surprise, I qualified. My next step was to get an insurance quote from their provider(they pay the comp and collision, i only pay liabllity.) My driving record was fine, and it actually looked like i was really gonna get the car! A little while passed and i was scheduled for an inspection with an electrician. The electrician came out to verify that i had at least a 240v 40amp service in my garage. I had the required juice, but i needed to upgrade my panel as i had no spots left for a breaker. I upgraded my panel myself to save some money and notified BMW MINI. It was now June and the cars would be ready anyday. The electrician notified me he would pull the permits for the wallbox and would be out to install it without the charge cable because there was a delay getting them. I got the call from Adam that my car was in and i could pick it up on June 18th. I had quite a few people volunteer to go with me to pick up the car. When we arrived, I had to sign a bunch of paperwork relating to the MINI E's limitations. The main one is that I absolutely have to give it back at the end of the lease. After securing insurance and paying the first months lease payment, I was headed to the service department to check out my new electric car. Adam explained everything that was different about the MINI E. The guys at Princeton MINI were awesome. I like to think that he learned a few things about electric cars too :) We snapped some photos and i was off. Its a shame it was raining or I would have probably have went faster than the 75 mph i did on the way home. The car was remarkably quick and very smooth. The regen braking although different felt very natural. I tried out the AC and the heat on the way home. The radio also worked great. The one thing i wanted to check out was if the brake light came on when the regen braking was happening. I let off the accelarator and called my friend Brian who was following me home with my other car. Sure enough the lights do come on as soon as you let off the pedal. He also told me i should slow it down as i didnt realize i was going 75 mph in the rain. I drove to my house to drop off my other car and then proceeded to my work. I popped the hood at work and also the "gas" door to show everyone the car. A few pics were taken and then i was off to my parents house. My mom and dad both went for a ride and couldnt believe how fast the car was. I and also showed them under the hood. It didnt sit still for long though. I was off to my house to take my wife for a ride. It was now late, but there was still enough charge left to  take her for a few laps around the block. She also was impressed. I did 115 miles that first day. i drove from Princeton to Deptford to Woodbury to Franklinville back to Deptford. And people say electric cars have limited range. i dont believe so. Ive had the MINI E for not even 4 months and it has 9 thousand miles on it. Its  been to many events like the Power of DC, the Kempton Alternative Energy Fest, Energy and Sustainabilty 2009 at the University of Deleware, Jenny Isaac's Bucks County Renewables EV conversion workshop(, and three EEVC meetings. If you see me in the MINI E, dont hesitate to ask for a ride. But dont blink, you might miss me.