23 February 2010

Three quarters through

 After eight months and almost 20,000 miles, I am three quarters of the way through the one year lease of the electric Mini. And I am happier than I expected. The driving experience makes even "luxury" cars seem primitive by comparison, not to mention stinky. There have been issues with the Mini E but most are in the past and issues are to be expected with a prototype.   Due to the issues I have experienced, Mini has waived several of the lease payments so I cannot complain at all about the expense.

I continue to easily get 120 mile range with just a little caution even in the cold weather.  Although, to get this range in the cold I should not have to use an auxiliary space heater to warm up the battery while it is parked and charging.  But the car is a prototype and this is a small concession that will not be needed in production models.  And being from Minnesota, plugging in a heater in the car is only natural when the weather is such I am putting on wool underwear anyway.

They are still working on the built in cabin heater. I use it on short trips when I don't need 100+ mile range. The built in heater was very strong at first but quickly went weak. They replaced a control module and some wiring a month ago and it was wicked hot for 6 days. Not very long.  Then it got really hot only half of the time, so it went back in for service. They sent it to northern New Jersey for a complete tear down of the heater. This time they replaced the heater core and some more wiring.  They claimed it measured between 130 and 150 degrees F at the vents when they were done, but when I picked it up it was lukewarm again.  I have tried it a few times since and every time it has been quite hot, but they understand there is work to be done to get the heater right.  I think they said they now have my old heater core in one of the engineering mules and are evaluating what is wrong.

But the big problem for a small number of us with high voltage from the power company is fixed. Charging problems are a thing of the past.

Compared to the other options out there, I don't see anything close to the Mini E. The Leaf has a shorter range and does not have complete thermal management for the battery, so I might as well stay with the Mini E which I know how to manage manually. The Volt has absurdly short electric range, especially after I have been spoiled by the Mini E.  Plus the Volt still  carries around a big can of cancer causing poison called gasoline.  That's is what I'm trying to get away from!  And the upcoming BMW electric does not present the air of humility that I look for in a car, if you can forgive me for getting subjective.  So if they offer to let me extend the lease on the Mini E, I will try to hang on to it for as long as possible.

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