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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