25 August 2009

3,000 miles later...

Yes, I can't believe I. Just under two months (I picked up the Mini-E #339 back in June 25) and I've already logged just over 3,000 miles.

And I'm still lovin' every minute of it!!!!

What's more, the timing of 339's "scheduled servicing" was nearly impeccable! After driving into work yesterday morning, I logged about 9,983 miles. Since BMW of Manhattan is just under 17 miles from my work... Well... I arrived at the dealership after work with about 3,001 miles on 339's odo!!!

Near-perfect!!! :-D

Still, it meant I had to leave 339 in the "loving hands" of the BMW/Mini techs -- who are waiting for the "Flying Doctors" (the gang of specialized Mini-E techs from BMW in Germany who are servicing all the Mini-Es in the U.S.!) to do all the servicing. Fortunately, the Flying Docs were coming to BMW of Manhattan today anyway to take care of another Mini-E. (I didn't see which one, though.)

Of course, nothing in this world is ever completely perfect. :-(

Since Mini 339 had to stay with the dealer (her "parents"??), I had to drive my Honda CR-V to work today!

Don't get me wrong. I still love my 12-year old Honda. She's a good old girl and I still need her since she still does things -- haul a lot of stuff from Costco, takes me and more than one other family member to the store, goes on long trips, gets me and co-workers to lunch, etc. -- that my cute and environmentally-friendly Mini-E #339 can't do.

And driving my red CR-V to work this morning, I'm reminded of how I "missed" those traits and other little niceties. Things like cruise control (Nope, #339 doesn't have that!) which can really help me keep my heavy right foot in check. Sometimes.

Oh, and a right arm rest for the driver's seat. Even though my sister hates the arm rest and always tilts it up and out of the way when she drives my CR-V, I love it! (It really helps when you're cruisin' down the road at a nice steady clip and all you want to do is "kick back" with your left hand on the steering wheel and your right arm just... well, "resting" on the arm rest. Is that SO wrong???)

And finally... The radio. I love my CR-V's radio -- an after-market Sony ES-series AM/FM/CD/MP3-disc/Aux input head-unit with IR remote control. It's not RDS-capable like 339's audio gear. But the controls are so much simpler!! Not to mention that I have a full four-speaker set-up in my CR-V. (Oddly enough, there are "fader" controls on 339's radio. But adjust 339's audio from "front" or "balanced" to "all-rear" and... Surprise! No audio! Why? Because there's only front speakers on the Mini-E since the battery takes up all the space behind the front seats -- the place where rear speakers would normally go!)

Still, this morning was the ideal commute with conditions that I know I would've been just thrilled to drive 339 through: Sunny, yet not hot... hardly any cars on the road...

In other words, I was c-r-u-i-s-i-n' down the road... music blarin'... blue-mirrored Wiley-X shades on... windows down... cool breeze blowin' through my hair... Just enjoyin' the ride with a smile on my face -- even though I'm going to work! ;-)

Oh, if only 339 were with me this morning!! (Oh, and if only she had the double sunroof option that's available to "conventional" Minis! :-()


Hopefully I'll hear from the Flying Docs later this afternoon and I'll be able to post something about her "check-up." Read more!

21 August 2009

Le Parisien, Redux

So, my sister reminds me that I never posted the article on me and Mini-E #339.

My bad.

The reporter, Monsieur Pascal Giberné, was kind enough to send a PDF of the page of the Paris paper that had his article. If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader, you can see the file here:

PDF of Le Parisiene.

But here's the snippet (a small section of the page) with me and Mini-E:

The translation (Thanks, Tara!):

Paul Eng is among just 500 people in the United States selected by BMJ to spend a year testing the Mini E, the first electric car from the German manufacturer. This 42-year-old web designer from Queens, New York, was interested in the technology behind it. Testers must still pay a monthly fee of $850. “This is the future,” points out Paul, who for that price could have rented a Lamborghini. “It’s my small contribution towards the tough challenge of reviving the automobile industry.” The Mini E (which would cost $50,000) can cover 161 km when filled up, powered by a 150 kilowatt (200 horsepower) engine. To charge his car, Paul Eng uses two lines of 220 volts and 32 amps that were installed by BMW technicians. At an estimated 18 cents per kilowatt-hour, it costs just $5 to recharge the battery. “I no longer have to worry about the cost of gas,” explains Paul Eng, who covers 90 km a day to get to work. Icing on the cake: the Mini E is capable of reaching 150 km/hr. Read more!

20 August 2009

My Mini-E, my soul mate?

Things have been too busy for me to blog lately. (Hey, I said from the git-go that I "have a life" outside of the blog-o-sphere!)

Still, I'll admit it would be a bit of a "cop-out" if all I did for this short entry is write, "Still drivin' the Mini-E #339. Still lovin' it." (Even though both statements are 100% true!)

So, let me impart one piece of insight that has struck me over the last few days:

If Mini-E #339 truly was a flesh-and-bones "she" (and not the personified "she" that I've taken to using here) I believe she would be my "soul mate."


Yeah, that's right. I said it and I'll say it again...

"My soul mate."

"My match."

"My equal."

"'The one' that 'understands me,' 'gets me,' and just 'completes me' on 'so many levels' -- just like I do for her (I hope)."

Now, before you go running to call for the padded wagon and the nice people who'll fit me for that very special jacket that makes me hug myself and ties in the back, lemme 'splain...

As those of you who live in the great city of New York (and surrounding 'burbs) know, the last few days have been scorchers.

Hazy, hot and humid days where temperatures have soared into the high-80s, low-90s -- but feel more like high-90s, low-100s.

Days in which spot thunder-showers (intense storms that turn the skies dark and send a flood of rain for like 5 or 10 minutes) seem to do nothing but just add more steam into the air... (Honestly, what else could happen but steam when "cool" water smacks into black, sticky asphalt that has been baked for hours under a bright, merciless sun??)

I hate days like that.

And so does my baby, #339.

And here's the proof!

Note the battery temperature -- that triple-digit(!) number just above the odometer reading of "002360mls" in that small display on the bottom. (I've logged more milage -- approximately 2,830 miles total -- since I took that pic, BTW.)

113 degrees Fahrenheit...

One. Hundred. Thirteen.

That's after driving only 40+ miles at highway speed (averaging about 50-MPH) for about 40 minutes... with the "ambient" (atmospheric) temperature was a "modest" 85-degrees Fahrenheit...

...AND, without using 339's air conditioning unit!!!

(Hey, if I'm going at a good clip on the highway, I love rollin' with the windows down and feelin' the wind in my hair and lettin' the tunes blare out and hearin' the electrical whine of 339's motor spool up and down!)


When 339's battery hits that level of temperature (113 degrees Fahrenheit...) "pioneer" driver like me get that funny warning symbol -- that gear thingy with the thermometer icon in the center -- just under the battery charge level's needle.

And what does that little symbol mean? According to page 101 of 339's owner's manual:

"Energy recovery limited due to hot high voltage battery. Be ready to brake at all times as the vehicle is not decelerated as is usual during energy recovery."

In other words, 339 looses its "regen" capability which turns the forward momentum (during "coasting") back into electrical energy -- and the ability to slow down without using the brakes!!

So, when that little symbol pops up, it basically means I've "lost" the "magic" that makes 339 "green" and "special."

In other words, it's 339's way of telling me:

"Hey, ease up!!! I don't like workin' in the heat either, buster!!!!!!"

I'm sorry, baby. (But thanks for telling it to me in a manner that I would understand! "Too hot... Must. Go. Easy!")

I'm even more sorry that even though I get to cool off in an air-conditioned office during the day, you're just sitting out there in the hot sun... your little battery fan whirring away, draining the battery even as you're trying to cool it!

And of course, these humid and muggy nights are not much better. Although you're plugged into "the grid" and charging, you're battery fan is going FULL-TILT (sounding like an angry restroom hand blower/dryer) trying to cool the battery down even quicker!


Note to BMW's engineers: Have you thought about "liquid cooling" or maybe adding some solar panels to run a fan to cool the battery (a la Toyota's 2010 Prius?) and possible provide some juice to run "standby" electronics (the receiver that "listens" for the key fob remote to unlock the doors and lower the windows, say)???

Read more!

13 August 2009

I'm FAMOUS... in France!(?)!

I've been so busy for the past couple of days that I haven't been able to blog. My bad.

But given that my last post was about how psyched I was to be interviewed for a French newspaper, Le Parisien, I thought well... Time to follow up!

The story about me and my Mini, #339, did get published!!!

Les New-Yorkais testent la Mini E

The story's accessible only through subscription -- and in French, which I don't understand. (Well... Can't really blame them for that, eh? I'm just another "ugly American." Deal.)

Still, I'm in the lede (the first sentence) of the story!!! Whoooop!

I'll see if I can round up an actual copy of the story -- and a translation! After all, I provided the writer with quite a few pics of me and 339, so it would be good to see the entire page with (hopefully) a pic of me and her together. (Like the one above!) And to be honest, #339 really deserves all the limelight, not me.

And to Monsieur Giberné: I owe you one sweet ride in 339!!! So call me anytime!!! :-D
Read more!

06 August 2009

All charged up!!!

It's not just the Mini-E that's all juiced... But I am jazzed too!!!!!

I just got off the phone with a journalist for a French newspaper called, Le Parisien. He read my humble little blog and interviewed me for an article he's working on regarding Obama's massive $2.4 billion government grant for automotive battery development!!!

Check out the New York Times story:

$2 Billion in Grants to Bolster U.S. Manufacturing of Parts for Electric Cars

Anyway, I'm really PSYCHED!!

I didn't vote for Obama. But I like this move to push for battery development -- even though "the other guy" proposed the same thing during last year's campaign, too!
In general, I'm not a fan of most of the Prez's politics and thinking/direction... But I'm psyched that I'll be in a major newspaper (even if it is a foreign paper in a language I don't understand!), helping to push the Mini-E project. (That's my job as a "pioneer," yah?)

Moreover, anything that promotes/advances electric cars and revitalizes the U.S. auto industry (which, according to the NY Times article, has a big opportunity in this still-very-level playing field!) and lessen our dependency on fossil fuels from countries that hate and want to kill us....

my friends, is a Good Thing™.

Now, excuse me while I run out to the company parking lot with a few of my friends/co-workers to take pictures of me and #339 to go with this fellow's article for Le Parisien!

Stay tuned!!! ;-) Read more!

04 August 2009

Spinning up 339 and bringin' on the grins!

Last night, my nephew (Dan) came down from his home in Conn. for a job interview here in the big city.

After a night out with his friends, he arrived at my house at midnight to spend the night rather than face a 2-hour drive back to his parents' home in Conn.

Needless to say, since it was the first time he met Mini-E #339, well... we just had to take her out for a late-night spin. And needless to say, we were both THRILLED to be zooming -- and I do mean ZOOMING!!!! -- down the highway after midnight, when there's no traffic!!!

"Whheeeeeeeeeee....!!!" went all three of us as we sped down the highway!!!

And like every other "guest rider" in 339, "I cannot believe how awesome this car is," said my nephew (who, BTW, will soon be taking delivery of a 2010 Prius).

He was also impressed that we were able to rocket down (about 60 MPH) a broad local road without the usual ICE-powered roadster racket that would've disturbed every one of the sleepy little houses that lined the street!

Even more impressive, we crept back in to my own home at about 12:30AM without disturbing a single soul on my block or in the house, thanks to 339's "silent stealth." (Ahhhh... the blissful peace of an all-electric car at 2 or 3 MPH. )

That little high-speed sprint of about 5 or 6 miles cost about 10% of 339's charge that night. But it was well worth it just to see the grin on my nephew's face. :-) Read more!

03 August 2009

Nissan's Electric "LEAF"

Two milestone have passed. It's been over a month since I've taken delivery of Mini-E #339. And last Monday was my 42nd birthday.

I could wax poetic, nostalgic or even philosophical about these two "milestone" dates. How amazing is it that I'm still part of "the future" when it comes to transportation? I mean, I can still remember when I was a kid and I thought the year 2000 seemed "so far away"... How I'd be "old" at 33!!! But of course, so optimistic about the future!!!

"By then, we'll be vacationing in space and driving flying cars," we all thought!

Well, #339 is far from a "Magic Carpet" ride... But she comes pretty close.

And while I still think "flying cars" (a la "The Jetsons") is still pretty much a pipe-dream, I can't help but still smile when I get in #339 and thihttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnk, "Yes, this is the future of cars! It HAS TO be!"

Don't believe me? Consider these links and pictures:

(LA Times) Nissan's greener-than-chlorophyll EV: The LEAF

(Pop Sci) Test Drive: Nissan’s Leaf, The Electric Car’s First Shot at the Mainstream

So, by "late 2010" Nissan will have a 5-door electric hatchback that seats 4 and gets about 100-miles tot he charge. (Highly encourage readers to follow the above links to get the full story and to see pics of the LEAF -- essentially a battery-powered Versa.)

Best part: Nissan thinks it'll street at just "under $30K" -- and that's BEFORE any government incentives!!!

Of course, this spurs a LOT of questions in my mind -- one of which, in light of this development, shouldn't BMW/Mini EXTEND the Mini-E program beyond the one-year lease to us "pioneers"??? (I mean, hey, you gotta stay competitive out there, no???? Keep the fact that THEY -- BMW -- had an electric car out there BEFORE the Nissan, right???)

IN any case, it certainly shows to me that "electric cars" will have a big(ger) presence in 2010 and hopefully "jump start" (sorry) the future of cars.

Now if we could only work on that "vacation in space," thing.... Read more!