17 September 2009

My baby's gone...

The second tow guy...("Orhan"[sp?] from Crossfire Towing, in New Hyde Park, NY) showed up... as promised at 4:30 PM.

He just left... So... After waiting almost all day...

My baby's gone... :-(

::sniff, sniff::

But we'll be together soon... One week, for your "fix"... Another week and I'll be there to pick you up!!

Feel better, 339!!

Final notes: TWICE during Orhan's visit to pick up 339, BMW called. One was an automated system. Called within the first two or three minutes to see if the tow had arrived. Five minutes after that, "Rick," the BWM Roadside manager who initially handled my call at 9 AM this morning called and made sure everything was now on track -- and to confirm that the original tow contractor ("JD Towing") is "being canceled."

Now, THAT'S what I call "customer service!!!!" Good on ya BMW!! (Finally!)

Anyway... I may... or may not enter into "radio silence" for the next two weeks. Since Mini-E #339's off "at her parents' place" (in New Jersey!) and being fussed over by the "Flying Docs"... I really might not have much to blog about. After all, this blog is about living with and driving her.

But then again, maybe in her absence I'll be able to reminisce fondly about her... and not other things. :-)

One last thought: Orhan (from Turkey) was a nice guy... Really was impressed with the car. (And naturally, while he's bummed that it only goes 100 miles between charges... was impressed with my tales of.. ah... "speed." :-)) Read more!

Waiting for a tow...

(As opposed to "Waiting for Gadot")

Forgive me for being a bit snarky, but...

I've got tons of things to do today before I take a two-week hiatus... From blogging... From work.

Yes, I'm taking some "down time."

And I thought this would be, then, the most opportune time for BMW/Mini to take #339 back and get her "faulty battery module #42" fixed.

But, I didn't want BMW of Manhattan to be out a loaner BWM for a WHOLE two weeks -- especially since I didn't really need a car during the next two weeks.

And, I also didn't want to go through the hassle of driving two of my cars (ok, the Mini and my sis' Prius.... Or my CR-V) into Manhattan.

So, taking a page out of my sister's book ("You know, you're paying all that money per month... BMW should be doing something to make being a 'Pioneer' worth the experience...") I asked BMW if they could just dispatch a flat bed?

It took some doing, but Aleks at BMW said, (essentially) "Yeah, shouldn't be a problem... It'll be covered under the 24/7 Roadside Assistance that BMW set up for you guys."

Hmmm... Even though there's nothing operationally wrong with 339?? I mean, I've been able to drive her and all. (Although I have noticed over the past few days that I've been getting less than 100-mile driving range readouts... Even though I've been driving "lightly" -- i.e. no faster than 60-MPH -- and giving her a full charge every night... and the "range-to-empty" meter starts the day off at "108" or "109"....)

Anyway... We "arranged" last week for a flatbed to come to my house today, Thursday 17 September.

I checked and reconfirmed with Aleks at BMW yesterday via e-mail.

We were all set.

'Round about 9 or 10 A.M., I get a call from BMW Roadside assistance.

"Hi, we're just calling to see if the tow has arrived..."

"Uh.. No..."

"Oh... Well... the tow company said they'd be there in about 15 minutes... Please feel free to call me if they don't show..."

11:30 comes and goes... I call back the BMW Roadside tech who called me initially... Got his voice mail. Left a message. "Tow's a no show. Gonna call the tow company directly (Thanks for giving it to me before!)"

Call the tow company. They answer (without even identifying themselves)... "Oh yeah.. I got a guy in near-by Elmont, NY... He should be there in like 15 minutes...."

Noon... 1 PM...

Call the tow company.

"Hey, what's going on?"

"Oh sorry... My guy got a little hung up.... (Tow "humor???") "

"So?? How much longer do I have to wait??"

"Oh well, I can say an hour, but I don't know.. I don't want you calling me in an hour if he's not there. So, let's say an hour-and-a-half? And you don't have to be there, you know... Just leave the keys in a mailbox or something... You're at a house, right??"

Needless to say... it's 3:30 and they're STILL NOT here.

"Hello, BMW?" [STILL voicemail!] "I'm really... and I mean REALLY 'disappointed' with the tow service you guys are using..."

Five minutes later, the guy who first called my at 10-something...

"We're soooo sooo soooo sorry that you're still waiting... TO be sure, we will not be using this company anyore. And we'll get another company on it right away... BUT, we're also going to leave this order with the current company open... Sooo... SOMEBODY's going to get your Mini for us..."


Five minutes later, another call.. This time from another BMM roadside rep...

"Sir, we have a new tow company responding..." She gives me the details... 70-minutes.. 4:30 PM... Latest... And "Again, we are soo, sooo, sooo sorry to leave out in the lurch like that... Usually these things work much, much, much more smoothly... and unfortunately, this is one of the rare times that something slipped up."


Needless to say...

It's 3:45 PM... And I'm still waiting for a tow. :-( Read more!

15 September 2009

When silence isn't golden

Silent running...

It's one of the things about #339 that I haven't really decided how I feel about exactly.

On the one hand, I think it's a hoot!

How do I fully convey what it's like to be able to pull out of my driveway early in the morning -- or come home really late, like at oh-dark-thirty hour -- and not make a sound?



Or when I cruise through a parking lot and the people walking in the lot that I drive by or follow (to get their parking space, of course) are just startled that this "car" is just there and moving -- and they just had no clue!


But then I started hearing/reading that people are complaining about all these "silent hybrid and electric cars."


OK. I can understand why blind pedestrians would be concerned about silent cars like 339. So, maybe it is a Good Thing(tm) that they're training guide dogs for the silent dangers. (Seriously!! Click the link!!!!)

And maybe under that pretense, I can understand why Japanese car-makers are considering "noisier" hybrids.

BUT... Why can't I help think this is a Stupid Idea?? I mean just look at Lotus' plan for external speakers on hybrid cars -- just so they can make noise to warn pedestrians when the car's in electric mode.

Seems extremely silly to me!!! Not to mention, an added expense and complexity 'cause now you have to program the computer to switch on the speaker only when the hybrid's gas engine shuts off.

And, oh, then you have to program it so the sounds that come out of the external speaker are loud enough at the right speeds...

And let's not forget about being able to program the "right" sounds...

Hmmm... The rumble of a V8 engine? The whine of a jet engine? Or should it be just a "beep-beep-beep-beep"?? Oh, I know... let's make it customer adjustable... You know, like cell phone ring tones!!!



Yet another annoying bit of noise that I would need to shut out mentally!

AND, it might come to next-gen electric cars. Fisker's already planning on it.

Still, it does seem REALLY STUPID to me. And, I'll admit, maybe that's because I'm such a "pioneer" and use to the idea of "silent running?"

I mean, I'm pretty much conditioned to rolling down my window and cranking up my radio when I pull into a crowded shopping mall parking lot. You know, so I can "make noise" as 339 rolls "silently" among the rows of cars and mindless shoppers -- those who are more intent on looking for their cars or struggling with their packages or yakking away on their cell phones or flirting and having fun with their girl friends rather than actually, you know, pay attention to where they're walking? (Honestly, you could be driving a big, rumbling, yellow, blue-smoke-belching school bus and they would be clueless that you're behind them!)

And I gotta question.. What's the point?

I mean, wouldn't a QUIETER world be an Even Better Thing(tm)?? Shouldn't we be working toward making ALL cars and other vehicles into electrical or hybrid vehicles? (You know, turning all those MILLIONS of vehicles in the U.S. into Earth-friendly transportation systems -- and "silent killers?")

And in all honesty, I can't wait for the day when I'm sitting in silence in stop-and-go-traffic because MY car isn't making noise idling (and wasting fuel!!!) AND because ALL the cars around me -- including that stupidly big, slow and ugly school bus filled with noisy brats! -- are ALSO silent because they're NOT idling and wasting fuel!!

And just try and imagine this: You're standing on the corner of Broadway and 42nd Street in Manhattan on a bright, sunny work day afternoon waiting to cross the street. And when traffic stops all you would hear is.... Silence!! No idling engines... No rumble of trucks and buses. I mean, they're there. But... SILENT!

Wouldn't New York... The WORLD... Be a MUCH nicer place???

So why are we still conditioning people to EXPECT cars to MAKE "noise"??? Why should something that is wonderful -- and wonderfully different -- be made "ordinary"??? Shouldn't we be doing the exact opposite??

But then, on the other hand... After all this "tirade" against adding noise to the silent-running electric car.... I gotta admit. I do sometimes miss the roar of a throaty V8 engine.

And to be honest, the geek in me is right now SCREAMING: "DUDE....!!! How cool would it be to be able to download a 'car tone' that makes 339 sounds like a Battlestar Galactica Viper?!?!?!?! Or maybe even like a UFO or a stealth fighter or an X-wing??? "

To make noise or not make noise??? Silent running or not-so-silent running???

I'm still torn....

Vive la difference!!!! Read more!

11 September 2009

Why do I drive an Electric Mini Cooper...?

Today, of all days, seems to be the day to answer (in part) this question:

Why did I choose to be a part of this Mini-E program?

It must be because I'm such a geek that has to have the latest technology, right?

Yeah, well... Maybe. Who else but a true geek would be happy driving a car that can go only 100 or so miles between fill-ups? Or, would be "ok" and otherwise accepting of the fact that it'll take more than a week to replace just one "faulty battery module #42?" (More on the pending repair in another, future post...)

Of course, that kind of attitude is to be expected of someone who's a dedicated "greenie," an "eco-warrior"... A person like me then, right?

::scoff:: As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I'm FAR from being a "crunchy granola, hemp-wearing, Wiccan-believing, 'Earth-child!'" Nope.

I still love my nearly 12-year old, gas-powered, CO2-emitting Honda CR-V. (Not as big of a gas suck as a GMC Suburban or a Hummer, say. But still, 20-MPG is on the low end of the mileage spectrum of "eco-friendly" vehicles!)

And if I use a Styrofoam cup for my coffee or soda or buy a disposable plastic bottle of water, I'm not whipping myself for "dissing Earth-mother Gaia" or feel I have to run out and plant 20 young sapling in remission of my "environmental sins."

Oh... well... Then, I must be the opposite! One of those rich snobs who have more money than sense and want to flaunt my "eco-ness" out of pure vanity...

"Lookit me! I'm elite!!! I have an electric Mini in this cute, distinctive livery... Available to ONLY 500 drivers... A select few who could afford to blow $850 a month on this so-very-rare, but so-very-Earthy-eco-chic car... for ONLY a year! I'm special!!!"

::scoff:: I wish... And as others remind me, for what I'm paying for #339 I could have gotten a really much-nicer, finely-equipped, lux mobile... a BMW 7-series... a Mercedes... But for a Mini Cooper??

("Boy, Mini must be/should be treating you like Royalty, then!" Hmmph!!! Another "I wish!!")

So why did I become a Mini-E pioneer?

In part: Because of Sept. 11, 2001.

I remember that day.

I worked (back then) for a news organization for one of the major TV networks. And I remember every single, horrid moment.

While many of us were glued to our TVs watching the news... It was "news gatherers" like I who were just flooded with information... TOO much information... And the sense of panic from some very "seasoned journalists" out in "the field" that day.

But of all the things I remember seeing... During those first 24 hours... And the days that seemed to drag on... Mostly, I remember:

The footage of people in certain OPEC nations... shouting... chanting... singing... celebrating what had happened to us Americans.

I also remember the week after 9/11, my sister picked up and drove home a brand new 2001 Toyota Prius.

Yes, my sister and I were "pioneers" back then too because we actually ordered the Prius back in April 2001 -- way before many folks thought hybrid technology was "ready for prime time" or worth the "extra cost." After all, gas wasn't even close to $2 a gallon!!! (Ahhh... the good old days!)

But, I was enthralled with the technology and wanted to show her how it worked by taking her to a Toyota dealership "just for a test drive" back then.

We weren't planning on buying a new car in April 2001. But after she drove it AND heard of all the advantages of (and dealer incentives for) the Prius... She was sold. ("How can I not buy this car?" I believe I remember her asking that day.)

And I certainly felt better because after Sept. 11, 2001, I truly believed in this simple equation:

Prius = less gas = less need for imported oil = less money to OPEC = less money to people who plan/carry out Sept. 11-like attacks = less need to send troops to said OPEC nations to secure flow of said imported oil = less "reasons" for people to blindly hate Americans!!!

Did we change the world? Maybe. (To say anything else would be pure hubris!)

I certainly know for a fact that for the weeks and months following 9/11/2001, we "Prius pioneers" were certainly stopped by a lot of people who asked us A LOT of questions... Does it really save a lot of gas? How does it work? Does it drive like a "real" car? Where do you plug it in? (Heh!)

And, I know for a fact that today hybrid car technology is much more prevalent among the minds of consumers and car-makers!

So, will I and the hundreds of other Mini-E pioneers "change the world?" Again, that would be pure hubris!

BUT, I do know that I'm being asked almost the same questions about #339 now as I was being asked about the Prius in 2001. (Only this time, they're asking, "Is that a hybrid? How come it doesn't have a gas cap?" Heh!)

Finally, in remembrance of this day, eight years ago...

A precious few -- despite over-whelming odds and impossible situations -- chose to stand and do what they believed was right. Even if, as was the case of United Flight 93, the outcome meant their death, that handful possibly prevented the death of thousands.

I don't know if Kennedy really said, "One man can make a difference."

But it certainly seems true.

So to all my fellow Mini-E Pioneers, electric car enthusiasts and friends... On this day, in the immortal words of Todd Beamer:

"Let's roll!"

Read more!

03 September 2009

And at the end of the day...

...The grand experiment to obtain the most-mileage-yet from Mini-E #339 comes to an end.

From work to Kew Gardens to pick up sis... From pick-up to home... through some very light stop-and-go traffic....

But... Finally... Home.

339's now sitting in the driveway, sucking down juice. Her fans are whirring quietly to keep her battery's temp (which never broke 90-degrees today, BTW) in line with the ambient temps -- around the 70s -- during the charging cycle.

And the verdict?

Take a look:

That's right... 339's home with the potential for 52 miles-worth of travel. Fifty-two miles...

Add that to the 63.6 miles she and I have actually done today and you have...

115 miles

One hundred-fifteen miles, boys and girls!!!



I am impressed.


I mean, yeah. Traveling (or "potentially traveling") 115 miles still can't compare to the range (and convenience) you can get from a conventionally-powered car. No, not even close.

But it's more than enough range for my typical, daily needs. And probably more than enough capability for most (if not all) commuters who drive to work.

And then there's the "hidden" bonuses from an all-electric car... No fumes from tailpipes... Much simpler mechanics (less maintenance)... The instant torque... The silence when pulling into the driveway late at night... ("Super-stealth mode, 339! Make it so!")


At what cost???

Driving no faster than 60 miles an hour with no heavy-footed acceleration -- even though those wonderful German engineers and eggheads designed my baby to go faster than 95-MPH?? And to be able to do so with no emissions -- except maybe a smoking trail of rubber on asphalt?

(Well, 339 could do all of that if it weren't for those pesky electronics, the speed governor and the vehicle stability control/tire-slip limiters!!! But I digress...)

Still, does being environmentally-friendly have to mean the death of speed, excitement, and good-old-fashioned-unadulterated thrill of being behind the wheel of a finely-tuned and well-designed piece of machinary that just screams, "Drive me!"???

Must we all, in order to "save the planet," give up the true joy of driving?? (Oh, the humanity, ladies and gentlemen... the humanity!)

Maybe I just need to get behind the wheel of a Tesla? After all, it seemed to knock the socks off of BBC's Top Gear host, Jeremy Clarkson.



Maybe just as I've learned to (re)adjust my right foot... Maybe my "need for speed" attitude will (re)adjust as well.

Maybe now that summer vacation season is over -- and highway traffic builds back to the usual bumper-to-bumper stand-still... thanks to all those school buses and SUVs driven by multi-tasking soccer moms who just have to drive with one-hand on the wheel, head turned back yelling at the kids while gabbing on the cellphone... (But I digress...)

Yeah... Maybe once I get back into "real," everyday, New York City traffic-driving where it becomes painfully obvious that having a car that can do 100+ MPH is pretty much pointless since all you're doing during the entire commute is just sit... crawl... sit... crawl...

Oh, and all that expensive gasoline... just constantly burning away... while you sit... then crawl... sit... then crawl...

But I digress...

Anyway... Maybe I will soon have a complete attitude adjustment since school after Labor Day.

Maybe I'll be wooed once again at how 339's silent and comfy "cockpit" magically transforms those maddeningly slow "rush" hour commutes into a Zen-like experience.


Thankfully, I'll have about 10 more months with 339 to find out! :-)

Maybe. (Still waiting to hear from BMW about "faulty battery module #42.") Read more!

A very "rewarding" (but b-o-o-r-r-r-ing) drive

I think I should probably really title today's post, "Learning a valuable lesson."

The lesson?

"Moderate right foot, go further in Mini-E."

I think. ;-)

You see, I haven't been in a "speedy" mood over the last couple of days... No compelling need or desire to get to work in a hurry. (Go figure!) Or, oddly enough, have I felt the need to rush home lately. (Very strange, indeed!)

Add to that nonchalance, yesterday's news about my Mini's "faulty battery module #42" and well... But let me start at the very beginning so you understand how I came to learn this "valuable" lesson in Mini-E energy economics.

You see, when I stepped outside of my house this morning, I was greeted with lovely 73-degree temperatures and slightly overcast skies.

Mmmm... The perfect autumn day. Too bad, we're technically still in "summer." (Autumnal equinox is still 19 days away, kids.) But I digress...

Anyway... Stepping into 339 this fine and lovely mornin' and starting her up, I was greeted with a lovely surprise.

Battery charge = 100%

Ok, that's good, Mini-E...

Estimated range = 104 miles


Estimated range = 104 miles.

Huh?? I finally got triple-digit range on the battery? How did that happen? Was it the cooler weather? (The absence of the angry buzz of 339's battery fans during last night charging was a welcome relief.) The faulty battery module? The stars and planets all in perfect alignment? What could be causing this boost into this promised land of 100-miles (and more!) in 339?

Oh, wait... That's right... I drove home at a sedate pace of 60-MPH ("Snoozer-ville" for me...) last night.


After picking up sis from her Manhattan office late last night, I drove in the right-hand lane (the slowpoke lane) most of the way home, with only occasional "squirts" into the 70+ mile per hour range... You know, just to pass the lunkheads who think even 55-MPH is too fast! (At least those really, really, REALLY slow drivers were in the correct lane. After all, everyone KNOWS the road rule: "Slow traffic, KEEP RIGHT!" Right? But I digress...)

According to page 40 of 339's owner manual, that "cruising range" readout is "calculated on the basis of the way the car has been driven over the last 18 miles/30 km and current charge status." (In other words, 339's computer uses DOPE -- a military acronym, "Data On Previous Engagement," BTW. But I digress...)

Hmmmm.... Soooo... Since I drove the car so "conservatively" last night and now that she's fully charged.... I should get 104-miles out of her today?

Really? Let's just see about that....

Unplug from the wall charger.

Reset the trip odometer.

Reset the "average energy consumption" meter -- the readout that tells me how much juice I use for every 100 miles 339 and I travel.

Reset the average speed readout.

And off we go.

Drive local streets for 5 miles to drop sis off at the train station. Never went faster than 40-MPH. Coasted to each stop light to let the re-gen braking do all the work as much as possible. (Note: I even did not "speed through" yellow traffic lights, instead choosing -- nay, forcing myself -- to physically step on 339's brake pedal to stop at the intersection!)

Get on the highway. Here, I admit, I did put "pedal to metal" in order to get on the highway... But once "up to speed" (that lowly "60-MPH" benchmark).... That speedo needle never went north of that little mark next to "60."


I stayed in that right lane, easing off 339's accelerator when I saw cars were trying to merge in... Yes, I actually slowed down... yielding to let others to get on the highway... to get IN FRONT of me (and 339)!!!!

Yes... I even let other cars and drivers pass me... on my left...



Even soccer moms

Soccer moms driving big, honkin' SUVs...

Soccer moms driving big, honkin' SUVs stuffed to the rafters with kids, dogs, beach umbrellas, and sleeping husbands/boyfriends/lovers...

Soccer moms putting on mascara, drinking their Splenda soy latte and talking on their Bluetooth headsets while driving big, honkin' SUVs stuffed to the rafters with kids, dogs...

Yessiree, Bob... I kept to the steady, 60-MPH cruising I promised I would do in this "experimental" morning commute to work just so I could prove and know for sure that "slow and steady" meant better driving range with 339.

Even if it meant I was getting passed by grandma in her 20 year old Buick... or getting bored to tears with how "mindless" this commute was getting.

(Note to BMW: Maybe it was wise that you did not put in cruise control because I certainly would've relied on it in this test -- and then allowed myself to fall asleep at the wheel because of the sheer boredom of driving at a constant 60-MPH for 20 miles! But I digress...)

Anyway... the end result? Look at this picture, taken with my cellphone camera once I pulled into the company parking lot and set 339 into rest easy mode.

Yes. That's right... After driving Mini-E "conservatively" for 31 miles this morning, 339 was telling me she was "good to go" for another 79 miles!!! A potential total of 110 miles!!!!!

On a single, 4-hour charge!!!

That is...

IF I was willing to tame my right foot!

AND endure the tediousness of life at 60-miles-per-hour in the right-hand lane!

AND accept that fact that driving at 60-MPH means practically every driver in New York will be zippin' by me on the left.

Honestly... The only thing that kept me awake during this morning's commute was that I was constantly scanning for the 1982 Yugo held together by Bondo, duct tape and baling wire that was inevitably coming to pass me! But I digress...


All joking and satirical comments aside... (Really... I have nothing against big honkin' SUVs, Yugos, fall weather, or "soccer moms." Well... Maybe I do have an "issue" with distracted drivers, be they soccer moms or corporate dweebs who feel the need to yak on their Bluetooth while behind the wheel. But I digress...)

Anyway... Putting all that aside...


I know.

Driving 60-MPH (rather than the "reckless pace" I normally do) is just plain better. Better for the car. Better for the mileage. Better energy conservation. Better for the planet. Better (and safer!) for me... yada, yada, yada.

But dang it all if I can't for the life of me figure out why such "better" driving is such a mind-numbing, soul-sucking, joyless, heartless, sad experience? (Anyone care to weigh in??)


Needless to say.... Yeah, I'm looking forward to tonight's drive home.

'Til next time... Read more!

02 September 2009

My Mini's not 100%!!!

I realized I never posted what happened after Mini-E #339 went in for her check-up.

Well, nothing.

At least, I thought everything was fine until today!

I picked her up at the end of last Tuesday and Aleks, the Mini service dude at BMW Mini Manhattan, said she came back with a clean bill of health from the "flying doctors" who came in and physically checked her out.

"Just keep doing what you're doing and you'll be good to go," said Aleks. "Next check-up, by the way, is 5,000 miles later. 8,000 total."

"Super! " I said. "So, ummmm... You guys don't mind that I sometimes... ah... 'push' her a little hard??" I ask.

"No, we want you push. Drive like this Mini like you would any other."

"Really? Even if I'm a bit... ah... 'heavy-footed'?"

"Well... How 'heavy'?"

"Uhhhh... Well... I know the Mini's [speed] governor kicks in at 95 MPH... And ah, I'm not sayin' that I... uh... consciously go that fast all the time.... Or even that I really want to or need to go that fast... But..."

"Uh , yeah... Well, the car has a governor for a reason, you know," said Aleks. "Wait... Where in New York [City] do you drive where you can hit speeds of ninety-five miles an hour???"

"Uh... I'd rather not say." And I flashed him a sheepish grin. "And uh... Like I said... It's not like it's a habit for me or anything...." (at which point my sheepishness turned to a slightly mischievous smile.)

"Ummm... Ok... Well, I suppose you know you can't sustain that kind of speed for any length of time..."

(Oh boy... you don't have to tell me about that, brother! I found that out all too... ahh... "suddenly." But that's another story. Maybe.)

"Yeah, I know," I said. "But 70... 75 miles per hour... That's about normally where I cruise..."

"Oh... Well... You should be fine with that," he said. "Of course, you know, constant travel at that speed will impact range."

"Yeah, I suspect it's why I'm not getting anywhere close to the estimated 100-mile range." (Me and 339 are getting around 80- to 92-miles per charge.)

"Yep. That'll do it," said Aleks. "But if you're ok with that -- and as long as you can make it back home to charge -- there should be no problem with driving it as you have been. Just keep doing what you're doing cause BMW wants to know if these cars will handle various driving conditions."

"Super!! I'll see you in 5,000 miles, then!"

At least, that's what I thought.... Until I answered my cell phone just now.

"Paul? It's Aleks over at BMW Mini Manhattan."

"Oh. Hey. What's up?"

"When you bought your Mini over for servicing last week, the engineers did a full download... and they found a problem."

Ut oh. I haven't, for various reasons, driven her daily since I picked her up last week. And when I did (like today, to get to work), I really did do an easy commute. Really. (The fastest I drove her this morning was 60MPH. And boy... Was it The. Most. Boring. Commute. EVER. Ev-ah!!!)

"What kinda problem?"

"It seems battery module #42 is faulty."

"What? 'Battery module #42?' 42 out of how many?" I joked half-heartedly.

"I don't know. All I can say is this is what the field engineers are telling me."

"Oh, ok... So... How bad is it? I mean I drove it this morning and I didn't have a problem with it. But to be honest, I'm wondering if that's why I'm still not getting anywhere close to the 100-mile range per charge?"

"What are you getting?"

"Well, I practically left it constantly plugged in since Sunday night. And this morning, the gauge still only estimated 94 miles."

"Well, I don't know," said Aleks. "Could be. All it says in their [field engineer's] politely-worded e-mail is, 'Please advise customer to bring Mini-E in at earliest convenience to replace faulty battery module #42.' How they can tell exactly which module is 'faulty' and what's wrong with it is beyond me, but... anyway... So when can you bring it in?"

"Well, how long will it take to fix?"

"Well, we actually have to ship the car back to..." ("Uh oh," I thought. "Not back to Germany!")

"...We have to flat bed it back to them in Jersey where the engineers can take it apart and replace it and run diagnostic.... I'm told about a week."


"A week? Really?"

"Yes, unfortunately," he said. "But obviously, we'll arrange a loaner for you."

(Gee, swell... unlike last time?)

"I'll assume you'll want another Mini," said Aleks. "And depending on when you can bring it in, that shouldn't be a problem. But on the off-chance, I can't... I might have to give you just a BMW. I hope that will be ok?"

"Oh, well... If I have to.... I suppose I miiiight be 'ok' -- Juuuuuust 'ok,' mind you -- with a 'lowly BMW'... I mean, honestly... If that's alll you have..." I said with obvious good-natured ribbing.

"Hang on a sec," I said. "Could you find out how urgently this repair is needed? You see, I'm going on vacation soon.... And well, since I wouldn't need the car anyway...."

"Let me check and get back to you."

Needless to say... That's where things stand.


A whole week without 339! :-(

But maybe a whole week with a Beamer???? Hmmmm... I suppose a 128i coupe? Or a 328i sedan? dare I dream of a 5- or 7-series? Maybe an X3 or an X5?

Oooooh... How about a moto? Maybe a K 1200 LT!!! Read more!