Saturday, September 12, 2009

4500 Mile Update Mini E #183

Nearly three months ago I took delivery of Mini-E # 183 and began my electric car experience. It’s great to share that experience with you.

Living in a home and driving a car powered only by sunshine is my today, not the future. If you live in one of the more temperate states, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to do with a little thought and pre planning.

On the house side, solar energy is less expensive than the energy you purchase from your utility from the very first day. For the car, solar fuel is the equivalent to about 42 cents a gallon …forever fixed in price. I realize that the electric car purchase price is higher at the moment (remember when you rented the VCR along with the movies because to buy a VCR was $800) but that will soon dramatically change as dozens of manufactures begin producing electric cars.

The Mini-E has been flawless, it remains the most fun car I have ever had in my 31 years of driving. I now know why electric car drivers are so passionate about their rides and staunch promoters of electric cars. It’s hard to describe the feeling to a non ev driver but I’ll try anyway.

It’s the exact opposite feeling a driver gets when gas goes to $3.00 and $3.50, and $4.00 and $4.50 a gallon. A sinking feeling in your stomach seeing $40, $50, $60, $70 flying out of your wallet every 5 days as you fill up your tank, having no control of the situation and having to adjust your other spending and lifestyle expenses to accommodate the volatility in gas prices.

The sinking feeling of being dependent as a nation on foreign oil and contributing to that out of your own personal dependency for gas. It is my opinion that he spike in gas prices of a year ago precipitated the reduction of spending both from a what’s in your wallet today point of view as well as an uncertainty for the future so lets not spend mindset. It was a trigger for our economic collapse and it doesn’t feel good.

When you live and drive with energy produced by renewables, those feelings change to pride, excitement, independence and optimism for our future. The whole environmental piece is incalculable and I let others more experienced talk about that aspect.

That in my opinion is more valuable that a dollar equivalent savings.

We are a two car family. The Mini-E with a 100 mile range fits in beautifully with our lifestyle. In the three months of driving we have had only one time where we needed to use our other car, a 4 cylinder Ford Escape, and that was a 400 mile trip to Paso Robles. It really comes down to where you live, are you a one car or two car family, your commute, and other factors, but I am convinced that for a majority or at least a large number of American car buyers the 100% electric car will work just fine.

A great thing happens when you have the Mini-E in your garage. It is always your car of choice and it is always 100% charged and ready to take you where you need to go. Before with a two gas car family the decision of whose car to take comes down to who has the most gas in the tank, which car has less in the back seat, which car is cleaner? With the Mini-E it is always the preferred choice. Thus my mileage for “my” car has gone from 1000 miles a month to 1500 miles a month in the Mini-E. I actually drive the electric car 50% more miles that I did with my gas car.

A typical day is about a thirty mile commute arriving back home around 6pm with a 65% SOC remaining. Hop out of the car, plug it in and enter the house for the evening. If we are going out in a few hours we unplug, have a 100% SOC and spend the evening out. If we are staying home, the next morning its 100% SOC ready to go for the day. Whatever the case it feels like the ground hog day over and over, 100% SOC and ready to go. It is a weird feeling driving by the gas stations and knowing one day in a decade or two, what we know as a gasoline station today, will not exist.

When I push the car hard with full on tire chirping acceleration or driving on the freeways at 80+mph, the Mini-E never fails to deliver at least 80 miles per charge with 95Ah per 100 miles. That’s my kind of driving. :)

An average day out and about 60% freeway 40% city just cruising normally the car returns 90 miles per charge with 75Ah per 100 miles. If I try to conserve and really watch my acceleration, keep it at 65 on the freeway, I can easily get 115 miles on a charge using 55Ah per 100 miles.

My collective total for 4500 miles is 73 Ah per 100 miles at 92 miles per charge. I will confess to being a bit of a heavy foot at times and hypermilers will have no problems averaging over 115 miles a charge.

We have found that for long trips 85 miles or more round trip, we try to be as efficient as possible avoiding the fast starts and high speeds. On one 90 mile trip we returned with 25 miles left on the range indicator. On shorter trips and if I’m in the mood, its slot car racing time!!

For me personally, at no time have I ever had range anxiety. The SOC meter is a really reliable guage which really surprised me. My 2007 Gem car it’s a bit of a guess on the SOC.

The charging system is effortless and takes just a second or two to plug in, just like your cell phone.

I don’t notice that much difference in the Mini-E compared to a gas car. I guess that is a heck of a compliment. It’s a normal everyday car. The throttle response is instantaneous, the regen is awesome, The acceleration is slot car like, I like the engine whine both under acceleration and regen, it gives you a very good feel of your rpms much like a normal car although much quieter and with no shifting. It’s both different and similar.

I love this car and look forward to the future production models with four seats and the battery located in the floor where the fuel tank, exhaust and transmission used to be.
The Mini-E is a great car.


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