23 July 2009

From 0 to 100% battery capacity... in TEN MINUTES?

Yeah, that's the goal of the egg-heads at MIT. Check this out:

From Engadget
Video: MIT working on rapid recharging for electric vehicles

Wow! I wish WE could charge the Mini-E in 10 minutes!!!

Here's the MIT blog on the project:


And here's their latest video!

Read more!

21 July 2009

Mini-E #339 and the rain

My morning commute this morning was the first time I've had to take my #339 through a steady driving rain. She came through with flying colors (a "rainbow?" ;-)), naturally. Still, in the back of my mind, there's always that "Electricity-and-water-don't-mix" kinda thinking.

One of the "nifty" things I discovered about 339 in the rain, the "quirkiness" of some of the controls is actually quite cool.

Take the wipers for instance. (Please! [drum roll: Ba dum dum dummm...])

It's not as high-tech as the "rain-sensing" wipers found on the luxo-mobiles from BMW, Infinity, Lexus or Acura. But there are still some niceties.

To turn on the front wipers in intermittent mode, just push in the button at the tip of the stalk.

Raining harder and need the wipers on permanently? Flick the stalk up once and the front wipers go at normal pace. Need speed? Tap the stalk up one more time and they go super-fast.

Need the rear wipers? Turn the "ring" on the middle of the stalk once and the rear wiper goes on intermittently only.

But here's the "cool" thing: The "intermittent" mode for the front wipers is sorta smart. How?

Let's say you start out with the wipers in intermittent mode. (Like I did this morning, because pulling out of say, just because it's only "misty" but not really raining big drops of rain.) But then you need to "switch" to a steady-on state, just tap the stalk up and let go. The wipers will go at "normal" speed -- until the car comes to a stop! That's when the wipers go back to their intermittent beat. Start moving forward, and the wipers pick up the pace and go back to constant on!

OK, so you might not think it's cool or a big deal. And I have a sneaking suspicion that this is "normal" operation for all wipers on all Minis. (But I have no idea since this is my first Mini.)

Still, it's a big deal for me since I have to deal with stop-and-go traffic -- especially when it rains here in NYC. (It's like a little water on the road and everyone forgets how to drive. Sheeesh....)

It was (almost) like having "speed-sensitive" wipers... Come to a stop and the wipers automatically slow down because you don't need the wipers slapping away (and make all that "chattering" noise) at just a few drops of water on the windshield. But pick up speed and the water is hitting the window at a faster pace (and it becomes more important that you're actually able to see the road and the cars in front of you) and the wipers pick up the pace.

They won't "kick up" a notch to super-fast speed... and they won't slow down until you come to a complete stop. (At least, as far as I know.) But still, the 339's front wipers are still "smarter" than the ones on my 12-year old CR-V!

Now, if only the rear wiper was as smart... (I really hate it when after sitting still in rain, all that water collected on the top of 339's flat roof comes pouring down the back window the minute I tap the accelerator to go forward!!!) :-( Read more!

17 July 2009

Over 1,000 miles!

Yup, sometime during this morning's commute to work -- probably as I was crossing over from da Bronx into Westchester on the lovely (and very rarely traffic-free) Hutchinson Parkway -- I hit that milestone.

1K today!

Wow!!! Just slightly over four weeks of "owning" Mini-E #339 and I've logged 1,009 miles.

Yea, yea ok... technically "I" didn't do all those miles since when 339 and I first met, she already had 30 miles on her. (I suppose someone had to drive her around the UK where she was "born." And then onto the cargo ship to get her across the Atlantic... then off the ship in Jersey... then onto the truck carrier to ferry her across the Hudson... and then into the BMW/Mini Mahattan dealership... Whoa... So how many people are we talkin' here who might've been behind 339's wheel before me?!?!? ;-))

Anyway... There's probably plenty I can write about on this momentous day with my Mini-E. But since I gotta do my "day job," really quickly:

  • 339 is still very much fun to drive!!
  • Driving by the neighborhood gas stations and watching the price of gas fluctuate is now more "amusing" than "frustrating"
  • I'm remembering how a "small car" can be a super plus bonus when trying to fit in a NYC parking space
  • More people at work are noticing how quiet and "special" 339 is -- AND stopping me in the lot or in the hallways asking for more details... AND rides!
  • No more "new car smell" (although that might be a "good thing.")
  • A month into my 12-month relationship with 339 and I still ha`ve to get use to some "quirky" controls
  • Have yet to see "100-mile" range on a 100% charge ("94 miles" was the best estimate I've seen on her gauge -- and then actually travel about 80, and still have the "estimate-to-empty" gauge read "22-miles." Go figure.)
  • I have only 48-weeks left in this grand "experiment" with Mini-E. (Could BMW/Mini really take these beautiful cars and destroy them after we've driven them for a year? My heart breaks at the thought!)
Oh and to "celebrate" our milestone achievement together, I may be getting some nifty shirts.
Robert Ballard, who runs a nifty Mini blog called TwistyBlitz, has set up a shop of nifty Mini-E "swag." (Is it really "swag" if you have to pay for it? ;-))

Still, they're very cool shirts -- made of "organic materials," too!

And what will 339 get out of it? Hmmm... Maybe a nice, professional (hand) car wash and detailing. (I'd have done it earlier, but it's been raining off and on most of the weeks here in NYC. And this weekend seems like it's going to be perfect, sunny days!) Read more!

14 July 2009

A gathering of "pioneers"

Paul E Mini-E 339 Manhattan event Mini-E pioneers gathering
Yes, that's me and my Mini-E #339 and if you can see behind me (HA!), there's a whole slew of other pewter-colored Mini-Es!!! (Click to enlarge.) [ Photo: DK ]
So, I've been too busy at work lately to blog. (Some really tense moments at the office, thanks to potential "staffing issues" -- i.e. "layoffs.")

And for the moments I'm NOT thinking about work... Well, I'm just REALLY enjoying my time with my Mini-E #339!!!

There's something really special her... And she still delivers. The silence I get while driving 339 in the company lot -- and away from the madness of the office -- is REAL relaxation... Almost as if I've entered into a mobile Shangri-la or Nirvana. ("Auto-topia"???) Not to mention, the 339's ability for near-instantaneous speed... (Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!!) How could 339 NOT bring a smile to my face and let the stress of the work day fade as quickly as the image of the office building in her rear-view mirror???

What's more, ever since the completion of my 220-Volt charger last Thursday, I've been enjoying this amazing little car on a much more regular basis. Being able to completely charge the car to 100% every night so it's completely ready for the next day's driving tasks is just comforting. There's a peace of mind -- and great joy -- in knowing that the next day, I'll have the ability to experience a commute with the quiet hum of a steady cruise or the "Vrreeeeee...!!!" of a high-speed "gotta get there" pace or (more likely) something in between the two all over again!

Tonight, a different thing spurred me to (finally?) blog, however.

A couple of nights ago, I got an e-mail invite to a "Mini-E event" -- a cocktail party in Manhattan (@ a place called Environment at 18th Street and Broadway) for pioneers. A "mixer" so we'd get to know each other -- as if we haven't already through our many blogs!

Paul E Mini-E 339 Manhattan event Mini-E pioneers gathering
Dirk (on the left) and I, hamming it up with my Mini-E 339 and her "stylized plug-in logo" on her hood. (Dirk's a big fan of cool stuff, and 339 is definitely cool!) (Click to enlarge.) [ Photo: DK ]
Now normally, I really hate cocktail parties, especially thrown by "corporate types" centered on a theme I might not necessarily cared for. And this one was almost no different. Lots of people, small bits of food, noisy, hot... And I don't do well in those situations.

Still, a coupla things made it "bearable."
  1. My sis, who came as a "guest."
  2. My co-worker, Dirk, who happened to be in the 'hood at the time. (And yes, thanks to sis, we managed to get him in to the party despite the "Private Event. Invite Only" sign on the front door and a very "serious, no-nonsense-looking, private security dude"-- an ex- or moonlighting cop, judging from his height, demeanor and swagger -- at the door.)
  3. And finally, the sight of seeing a whole line of Mini-Es parked on Broadway!!!
That last point was a pretty impressive sight. More so, when you think about the string (and moola!) BMW must've pulled to get NYPD to set aside an enter block just for Mini-E drivers!

And naturally, it was REALLY easy for BMW (and the event organizers) to "spot" us Mini-E drivers coming. I (and my sis) in 339 was just pulling up alongside the line of other Mini-Es and immediately one gal and a guy was out on the curb, moving the cone that "reserved" the space, while someone else was snapping away with a digital camera.

"Can I take this space?" I ask?

"Of course you can," said the woman, "You're obviously a Mini-E pioneer!"

("Wow, what gave it away?" I thought. But dang it if I still didn't first think, "Wow! Just like a 'rock-star' or other celeb!")

Anyway, I wish I could say I enjoyed the rest of the event. But like I said, mixers aren't my thing. And I have opinions about how the thing was arranged. (Let's just say, BMW/Mini really need to get better event organizers!)

And of course, being a totally dense geek I can be at times (such as tonight), I did NOT have a digital camera with me to snap a pic of the sight. But hopefully Stuart Greenburg -- the owner/operator/pioneer of Mini-E 277 AND the guy who was snapping the pics of me and Mini-E 339 pulling up to the event!! -- will post his pics on his blog (My Mini E) soon.

Dirk captured some of the line of Mini-E when he snapped the pic of me and 339 (above) using his iPhone. (Dirk is obviously a MUCH more "with it" guy than your truly. One of those pics made it up on his Facebook page within minutes of his snapping it, again, thanks to his iPhone. Thanks, Dirk, for "outting" me here and on Facebook! ;-))

Until next time...
- Paul
Read more!

09 July 2009

Wheeeeeeee-k two!!

It's hard to believe that today marks the 2-week milestone of my adventure. Technically, only 50 or so weeks of my time with Mini-E #339 remains.

But... It still feels so "exciting and new!"

And there's nothing more thrilling than coming out to 339 this morning and hearing...


And that, my friends, is a good thing because not hearing any fan noise from 339 this morning means she's full of juice. (Or so I hope.)

A quick unplug (Have I mentioned how freakishly GIANORMOUS this 220-volt cable is?), then hop in 339, insert the key, push "start" and...


Hehehehe... And boy, did I use that 100% battery charge to good use today. Like the last time I had 100% charge, I really felt like I could drive my Mini-E without "worry" about having to "nurse" her so she would have enough strength to get back home.

Just ask the intern. I mean there was one stretch of our morning commute where I went from a steady cruise of about 65-mph to an "insane" 80- or 85-mph at a neck-snapping pace in order to past a "rolling road block." (Why is it that some drivers in the left-lane feel like they have to drive at the same freakin' speed as the guy in the middle lane for like MILES at a time?)

But during my "high-speed" sprint, I noticed a yellow icon of the electric motor pop up on the dash briefly -- 'round about the time the needle on 339's speedo went pure vertical ("80 mph") and over. From my many hours of reading the Mini-E's manual, I remember that little steady yellow icon was listed in the "Troubleshooting" section as "electric motor issues" and drivers can "continue journey at reduced power to electric motor."

Hmmm... Ok, so 339's fast.. and I only needed this "burst of power" to pass these drivers who feel like they're the only cars on the road... so absorbed in drinking their coffee or putting on their makeup or whatever that they can't see the line of cars piling up behind them... Whatever.

But in any case, I don't want to "strain" 339 too much, sooo... I backed it down to a gentle cruise out of concern for 339 -- and for the intern.

"I think this is a fun car for a driver, but for the passenger," said the Intern, "maybe not so much..."

Heh. Kid's too polite. Read more!

08 July 2009


In my last post, I lamented over the fact that I had the wall charger installed at home, but no cable to connect it to my Mini-E #339...

And then I come home... Only to see this HUGE, orange-colored cable coiled underneath the wall charger at the side of my house!!!!

It's here!! It's HERE!! Pat, my electrician, came and installed it!!!

I quickly parked 339, shut her down and ripped out the key, unlocked the doors (which also unlocked the "recharging port"), got out, flipped open the port as hurried to the charger, unwrap the cable.. ("Man, this thing is THICKER that the 110-charger cable... Talk about Frankenstein-ish!") and then a piece of paper flutters down...

Ut oh...

"Remember to reset the car... 32 Amps"

Oh, right!! Thank you, PAT!!!

Coil the cable back... fish the key fob outta my pocket, get back in 339, stick the key in, push start... scroll through the options... press to set the charging current from 12 to 32 Amps... (HO BOY!!!)

Shut down 339, push then pull the key out, get out, close the door, reach for the cable, plug it in, and....


The fans kick in, the little charging light just above the steering column starts to blink while the "charging" light on the wall box turns on a SOLID green.

WHHHOOOO Wee!!! WE are in business!!! My little 339 is sucking down juice like she's meant to -- through a nice BIG straw with twice the voltage capacity and nearly thrice the umph!!

Good thing, too. Although I started the day with about 80% battery capacity, by the end of the day, I drained it to about 10% of charge after about 60-miles of driving.

But now that she's plugged in to a 220-volt line, as proper...

Who-weee!!!! I can't wait to drive her tomorrow, exactly two-weeks after first picking up Mini-E #339 from BMW/Mini of Manhattan. She'll have a full charge and I won't have to worry or have that range anxiety anymore!!

WOW. I can hardly sleep! Read more!

Hail, 339! Hail! (No, really!)


As in, perilous icy precipitation!!!

Take a look at the embedded pictures. This is what I saw driving to work in Westchester this morning...

At first, I thought that white stuff on the ground was "foam" or something. I mean, it couldn't be snow, right? It's JULY... the start of summer... the DOG DAYS of summer!!!

Then I got closer to my building...

Wait... A front-loader in one of our parking lots?? We usually use those to plow and pile-up winter... SNOW...?? Like that big pile right over there...???


In JULY?!?!?!


Apparently the weather in Westchester was verrrrrrrrryyyyy freaky last night!!1 The co-workers who live nearby said it was extremely high wind, driving rain that flooded up to the car doors and hail.

Hail the size of mothballs and golfballs!!!

Pictures don't lie!


Thankfully, the Mini made it through the road mess with no problems.

And of course, it made it through last night's 110-volt charging fine, despite the hard -- but very brief -- rainstorm we had around midnight. Still, even after nearly 11 hours of constant juice, I started out today with only 80% battery capacity.

[Another sigh]

I really need that 220-volt charger cable! :-( Read more!

07 July 2009

An Odd Day...

...So, I must be driving my CR-V!


Seriously, as noted in yesterday's post, I drained 339's battery down to less than 5% capacity. And when I checked in the morning... Yup.

After 12 solid hours of continuous 110-volt, 12-amp charging, My Mini-E went from about 5% to only 46% charge -- a total estimated range of just 44-miles.

Wonderful. :-(

So, back to driving my "old faithful," my wonderful, red '97 Honda CR-V.

And, it's not bad -- except I have to consciously REMEMBER TO STEP ON THE BRAKE when I want to stop!!!


Good thing those first few minutes back where I'm back in the saddle of my CR-V, I'm only in my driveway!!! (Phew!)

And then there's the engine noise during acceleration on the highway on-ramps and while passing.

I forget how wonderful, natural and oddly "comforting" that sound can be. Sorta like the point that's being made in this Volkswagen commercial, I s'pose:

Still, for all the "sound and fury" my CR-V's 126-horsepower 4-banger cranked out while I was driving today, I think, "Boy, we sure don't seem to be going as fast as it sounds like we should be!!!"

And yes, while even a eco-friendly Mini-E won't get the MPG equivalent of the VW TDI, I sure am "won over" by her speed and power. (As if you couldn't tell from my previous logbook posts! ;-))

Even with just over a week of every-other-day driving of 339, I've been spoiled by her electric motor, which puts out the equivalent of 201-ponies!!! She's easily the "fastest" and "most powerful" car I've ever owned.

I've "driven" faster cars -- like the NASCAR racers on the Richard Petty raceway in Orlando. But to actually own one that I can drive everyday?? (Ok, ok... yes, I don't "own" 339... And I can't really drive her everyday. Not yet, anyway. Not until I get my 220-Volt charger completed with the specialized cable I need... But you get my drift, right?)

Still, verbal technicalities aside... 339 will undoubtedly not be good for my pes pedis plumbum condition. (That's Latin for "lead foot," folks. I think.)

On an ending note: I came home to a real puzzler.

Even though I left 339 home and charging (essentially, plugged in since Monday evening @ around 8pm), I came home around 8:30 tonight and checked her SoC. ("State of Charge." C'mon people... keep up!)



I'm pretty sure after I did the "two car shuffle" (moving 339 so I can get the CR-V in front of her and ready for the day's commute) this morning, I had replugged her in. AND, I was pretty sure that her "charging light" was blinkin' before I left her. Sooooo.... "Whot happon, looocie???"

I honestly don't know. Obviously there was some charging going on if 339's SoC jumped from 46% to 54%.

Did the charger trip my home's circuit box? No. All the circuit breakers were "on."

Perhaps the "spot" thunderstorms in my home's neighborhood shorted something in 339??

Maybe. I did note that the charging light was NOT blinking when I got home. And it took several plug-unplugs of that huge Frankenstein-ien connector into 339's "recharging port" as well as an "engine start" (or more accurately a "power up") of 339 before the blinking charging light came back on.

Hmmmm... Just curiouser and curiouser. I'm going to have to find time to search the Web or other Mini-E blogs to see if any other "pioneers" experienced the same (or similar) problem.

And I really do hope the rainy weather had nothing to do to my recent charging woes because as I write this, it's raining hard...

And 339's plugged in -- to hopefully give me enough juice to drive her round trip tomorrow.

We shall see.

P.S. If the VW Jetta TDI diesel gets 58 MPG and has a 14.5 gallon tank... that means it has a range of 841 miles per tank -- 8x the range of Mini-E. But even if you go by the Jetta TDI's "true" specs: 40MPG x 14.5gallons = 580 miles/tank or 5X 339's range. :-( Read more!

06 July 2009

Another Manic Monday

So, the weekend's over... And one of the most important things I forgot to mention was that, Pat, the electrician, came over last Friday and installed the 220-Volt wall charger for my Mini-E #339!!! Woooo hoooo!!!!


Not really! :-(

Pat did a great job installing everything inside the house, in the basement, with the electrical panel, running that "long length" of cable out to the part of the house where I wanted the box -- which I neglected to take pictures of... again..

While he put everything in place and drew me thaaaaaaaaaaat much closer to being actually able to feed 339 through a fire-hose of electricity, it seems I'm still the "victim" of BMW/Mini's woes.

The cable that's needed to connect the wall-mounted charging box to the Mini-E wasn't in sight. Pat said they were still slow in coming. His office might have gotten a shipment of cables, while he was out installing my box AND tending to 3 other "jobs" [customers] today [Friday]. But he said that if the cables were in the office, he'd come back on Saturday or Sunday to do that "one last thing."

Needless to say, he never came back! :-(

Still, I gave him a ride in the 339 -- and it was his first time in a Mini-E! (I guess despite all the installations he's done for other "pioneers," he never got offered a ride! Huh!) And, he was absolutely THRILLED with the ride and wished he could actually buy one. (Hmmm an electrician wanting an electric Mini... Whodathunkit? ;-))

Anyway, the lack of a 220-volt charger left me pretty much in the same predicament as the previous week.

Drive, ride, operate, use 339 past the 50% charge capacity and you might as well right it off from using it the next day.

So, after charging (and driving) my Mini #339 off and on over the three-day weekend, I started Monday with about 88% charge and roughly a 73-mile range. More than enough for my usual roundtrip commute. And it was pretty much the "usual."

About the only thing different today:
  1. I gave another co-worker a "joy ride" -- up a nearby (and very "aggressively up-sloped") hill. She, too, was impressed by 339's speed and agility -- and a wee-bit apprehensive of my...uh... "zealousness" to operate 339 to its full potential.
  2. On the way back in to the company lot after this short little coffee run (which produced no coffee, BTW. Stupid Dunkin' Donuts' "Coolata" machine was busted.), two more co-workers stopped and asked, "Is that the electric Cooper?" One of the co-workers also owns a conventional Mini. He sat in it and said it was exactly like his.
  3. I made a run, after-work, to BJ's Wholesale Club. Didn't buy anything outrageous. But it was nice to know I could fit a few "bulk" items in "the boot" if I had to. (That is, if you count 4-lbs of sugar, a box of Twix (36-bar count), and a "brick" of coffee (4 one-pound, vacuu-packed "bags" wrapped together).
Anyway, not much to report -- other than all this drained 339's battery down to like 7% and 9-miles range... Which means I'll be back to driving my CR-V for Tuesday. :-(

Read more!

04 July 2009

lucky dice seven roll gamble Mini-E Electric Cooper range anxiety
Happy 4th of July, everyone!!! Never forget those who fought and died for our freedoms in America, and honor those who today, sacrifice their lives to protect our great country!!!
[Photo courtesy of: Dani Simmonds]
Happy 4th of July to anyone and everyone reading this! (And if you're reading this, why aren't you at a parade remembering those who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep us free? Or, at the very least, shouldn't you be at a friend's or neighbor's barbecue?)

Just a quick update... On Thursday (July 2) night, I drove home from work in my CR-V -- still a "comfortable runabout vehicle." And it was one of those weird commutes home, made stranger by the weather.

NYC had been suffering from the usual, "sunny and humid during the day with chance of showers/thundershowers in the afternoon. And that night was no different. Leaving Westchester, I had some sun, but with dark, ominous-looking storm clouds on the horizon. In fact, sis (who "worked from home" that day) said it had rained heavily earlier.

We "rotated" the cars, "retiring" my CR-V to the garage (its windshield leaks, so I wanted to protect it from any forthcoming storms) while the Mini was the "last car" in the driveway -- plugged in and charging. (Because of the spot -- but HEAVY -- showers, I've been hesitant to leave 339 jacked in during a deluge.)

I'd no sooner plugged in, came in and started watching some TV, when the dark clouds I'd been racing home finally arrived. And it brought the rain... AND the thunder and lightning....

CRASH!! BOOOM!!! And the TV and fans go out.

Ut oh... Did my Mini cause that? Wait... It's the whole HOUSE that's without electricity!
Ut oh.. Not just the house... The whole BLOCK!


The Con Ed crew was quickly on scene to rectify things. (Apparently, the lightning strike took out a high-powered transformer on a telephone line.) But since it was getting dark and we really had nothing else to do, sis and I hopped into 339 and took a spin to Ralph's.

Mmmm... Nothing like some Mint Chip, sitting in an A/C'd Mini... Better yet, I can keep the A/C "on" in 339 (while I'm sitting in the lot, in 339, finishing off my ice) without having to run any "engine" or worry about polluting the stifling humid air outside, just for my (and my sis') comfort.

Anyway, I just wanted to note that this short run added about 4 or 5 miles on the 339's odometer. And during this short jaunt, there's not much to add, outside of perhaps this was the first time I drove 339 at night, and had to use the lights.

This is the first car I've "owned" that uses Xenon headlights, and wow...! I gotta say, they are bright! And having often been on the "wrong end" of those lights, I use to really hate them. But now that I've actually been in "the driver's seat" behind those lights, I don't think I can go back to plain old headlights! (Of course, I don't feel bad for the other cars that are in front of me... It's not like I'm in an SUV where these incredible lights are boring right into their skulls ... )

I'm also liking the interior lighting. The soft glow of LED lights makes the "cabin" seem more like a "cockpit." I also like the fact that you can change the colors of those soft ambient lights -- from red to amber to a softer red/almost orange to soft blue. That was a feature that I thought was a bit "hokey" when Catherine first showed it to me in the dealer lot.

And, those soft LED lights aren't just in the "overhead" lights up by the rear-view mirror. No, soft LED light "glow" around the door panels -- right behind those trim panels in "interchange yellow" -- and underneath the dashboard, too. "Wow... This is really cool..." It makes the "cabin" feel more like a "cockpit" -- especially if you choose the "red" LED lights!

All in all, a very "cool" first night-time run of 339... (Imagine, a ghostly silent car with the headlights off, but a very eerie soft-glowing cockpit... Hmmmm... I think I'm driving a ground-based stealth fighter!!! ;-)) Read more!

02 July 2009

It's been a week? Already?

It was exactly one week ago today that I began this journey and adventure with Mini-E?


Just 7 short days ago, I was filled with excitement -- to the point of being speechless. ;-)

Now? Wow... I'm really part of "the dream team"... The few.. The chosen... The 500!

I surely wish I could share this moment with my Mini-E #339. But as I mentioned in my last post, Tuesday was a cruel day of bad judgment on my part. So, she's home... Resting... Out in the rain. :-(

More thoughts to come later. (I do have a "day job" ya know....) Read more!

01 July 2009

Day 6: 'Range Anxiety' Redux

lucky dice seven roll gamble Mini-E Electric Cooper range anxiety
It was my fault, but my driving experience on Tuesday was a day of "Range Anxiety." Would I make it home with the little charge of energy my 339 had left? What a gamble!!
[Photo courtesy of: B S K]
Well, Day 6 of my 365-day affair with Mini-E #339... And already, I've come "full circle."

Last Friday, my second day (but first "full day") with my 339, and I suffered a very mild case of "Range Anxiety." And the lack of a 220-volt wall charger left me stuck without the use of 339 for nearly the entire weekend since she had to suck down a LOT of juice -- through a "thin" 110-volt line -- to regain her (battery) strength.

But two days of "rest and recharging" for my Mini-E meant she got a full -- 100%!!!! -- charge and allowed me to have a VERY carefree day of driving on Monday!

Round-trip to and from work... AND a trip to the supermarket... All without worrying "Does 339 have enough juice to...?" It was just like driving a conventional Mini -- but then again, not really. She may look, feel and maybe even "act" like any other Mini... But Mini-E #339's got her own style, grace, sotto voce, (and dare I say this?) "soul" and... well, "needs."

But of course, my cavalier attitude -- especially towards her needs, which admittedly are veeerrrry few (for now) -- would come back and bite me in the butt on Tuesday...

First, the data:

The numbers, in short:

Odometer mileage, start: ~ 208 miles

State of Charge (SoCs), start: ~80% (Eh....)

Odometer mileage, end: ~270 miles

State of Charge (SoCe), end: 3% (Oyy...Yes. EXACTLY THREE percent!)

So? What happened?

In short:

Started Mini-E #339 that day.
Battery capacity: 80%. Est. range-to-empty: 70 miles.
("OK... I really should've gotten home earlier than 7:30 last night. 12-hours of charging at 110-volts is not enough -- esp. since I came home with just 38% capacity. Still, technically 339's got enough juice to get to work and back...")

The usual morning commute: Drop off sis, pick up intern, drive to work, park the car. One hour total drive time. Est. range-to-empty: 34 miles.

"Whoops. A little too heavy-footed this morning! Still, technically got enough juice to get home. Plus, I can always secretly jack into the company's power via the "hidden" outdoor outlets on the parking lot lampposts. But, later. Right now, I gotta rush to my morning meetings."

Lunchtime. Ooops! Gotta run to the post office and mail some important NYC paperwork! Hop in 339, climb up a looooonnngggg, winding hill to get the post office ("Oooo... That's gonna hurt my mileage!"), do my thing with the postal guys, hop back in 339... regen alllll the way back down the hill ("Ooooo.. that's-a-nice!!!") and when I get to the company parking lot's gate...

Est. range-to-empty: 32 miles.

"Whoa... Now would be a good time to find a parking spot next to one of those lamps and plug in. But, ooops. No joy. No slot. Well, technically, I can still make it home. Maybe. I'll try and sneak out again mid-afternoon and find a spot to jack in."

3p.m. Sneak out, wander the lot. "Ooo, lookee! Someone in the back row is leaving! (Slacker!)" Pull 339 into the slot... "Hmmm.. juuusssttt close enough to the lamppost." Jump out, run the 11o-volt charger from the lamppost outlet to... "Dang, juuuuuuuuust thiiiiiiissss SHORT!!! Hmmm... If I park 339 jusssssssst a liiiiii-ttle bit closer to the car on the right..."

Hop in... Adjust... Hop out... "There, perfect!" Plug in 339... Check inside... "Charge" light is blinking... "PERFECT!" Lock her up. ("Ooooo... if the owner of that car on the right is one of those that leaves before 5..." [wince!])


A. Way.


4p.m. Skies darken. "Ut oh. I remember what happened last time!" Hurried walk back to 339...("Phew... The car to the right of 339 hasn't left or moved!" :-)) Approach 339, look inside... "Ut oh... How come the charging light isn't on? Worry later. Pack up (before someone sees you) and get moving!" Wrapping up the charger... "Ut oh.. The charging light on the charger isn't on either! Did I short something? The lamppost's circuit? My Mini-E?"

Hurry! Pack! Before someone really sees you!!


In 339!

Key in, step on brake, press the "start/stop" button.

Lights pop on normally ("Pheww...") but...

"30 miles??? Huh? NO CHARGE at all? Uttttt...oooh....."

Drive 339 closer to the building... Get back to work and... right on cue at 5p.m. Crash! Boom! The heavens open up and the rains come on down. But this time, I have an umbrella!! And I reach 339 (which is closer to the building than last time) only slightly drier than last time! :-(

Me and the Intern are in 339. "Ok, Intern. Here's the situation..."

Intern: "Oh... Ummm.. Ok... " [Smile] "But I'm confident. We'll make it. I'm positive."

"Ok. Just wanted to let you know. If we don't make it, it's just going to be you and me sitting on the side of some highway somewhere, waiting for the 'rescue' from Mini's 24/7 roadside service..."

And off we go, where during the entire trip home, I'm practicing the best hypermiling techniques I know... And nervously watching the range-to-empty readings... 30-miles... 20... 18... 15... ("Did we pass the 'half-way point,' distance-wise yet?")... 12... 13... 11...

339: "Gong!!"

Me: "Oy.. 'Estimated range-to-empty' is now 10-miles, Intern... And we're just getting off the Bronx highways to the Queens-bound bridge!!"

10... 9... 8... 7... 8... 7... 6... 7... 6... We reach the Intern's house.

Intern: "See?! Told you we'd make it!"

Me: "Correction. You made it. I still gotta get home!"

"Oh... well... You'll make it too!"

"Yeah... I'm confident." [Est. range-to-empty = 5 miles] "My house can't be that far from your's here..." [Or can it?]

I go home via local roads, just to be on the safe side. ("At least if 339 give up the electrical ghost, I can coast to a curb and out of harm's way... I hope.")

Est. range-to-empty: 4 miles.

339: "Gong! Gong!"


Mini-E: "Gong! Gong! Gong!"

"Yes, I know honey... work with me here... I recognize the streets... We are sooooo close to home... Work with me here... please..."

4-miles! (regen-ing from a small hill! Whee!)

339: "Gong! Gong!"

"Yes, dear... I promise... I won't forget how special you are... How you need to be fed on-time -- and with enough juice..."


339: "Gong! Gong! Gong!"

"Come on, baby... Just a little bit more... We're allllmost home... Really..."

And indeed, shortly after that... We're stealthily sliding up my home's driveway... Stop, park, handbrake... [Exhale a BIG sigh of relief!!!!!

Friday, Pat (the Clean Fuel Connection's local contractor) and that 220-volt wall charger can't come soon enough! :-P
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