13 November 2009

Plug in payoff!

I was too tired last night to post this. But plugging in Mini-E #339 at work yesterday morning really helped!!!

Take a look at these pics I snapped (with the camera on my cell phone) last night when I left work.

This is completely AMAZING!

A 100% refill!!!

Again, not that I had any doubts I'd make it home even if I didn't plug it in at work.

And I seriously doubt that 339's battery really was "100%" since the orange "battery charging light" on her dashboard was still blinking before I untethered her from that lamppost. (It's amazing how DARK it gets now, eh? And it's nearly as dark if I had left work at 5PM last night! Blech!)

Still, I cruised home smiling. I had all this "juice to spare," that I actually took a route that was a bit further out of my way to pick up my sis. Oh, and then I went to pick up some prescription drugs at Walgreens...

Again, I could have still done this without having to plug in at work. But most likely 339's (mildly annoying) "gong gong gong" chime would've gone off sometime during that evening commute, warning me, "Hey, lookit me!!! I'm only going to go another 30 miles if you keep driving like this!"

No... The ride home was pleasantly smooth, quiet (except for the radio) and yes... Even well-paced. (Wasn't madly dashing home at 60 or 70 or 80 MPH like I sometimes do. Even though, with a "full charge" and all that juice to spare... I could've torn down the highways and byways like a small, silent, stealth mini-jet fighter. Could've. But didn't. :-D)

The results when I finally pulled into the driveway at home:

Talk about going from cold-weather "Range Anxiety" to cold-weather "Range Comfort!"

Let's see what happens when it gets REALLY cold -- like 20 or 30 degrees cold!
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11 November 2009

She drinks while I work

One of the things I was able to accomplish during my "radio silence" (the month of October): Arranging Mini-E #339 to be recharged here at work.

After signing a "memorandum of understanding" (MoU) with the managers who oversee the "facilities" (including the two employee parking lots) -- and showing off the car to the guys who do the actual work and maintenance -- I got official permission to plug in to one of the outdoor 120-volt outlets on the parking lot lampposts.

That's a "big" change, in a way, from when I was already jacking 339 in on the sly. (Not by much though, since the MoU basically doesn't guarantee me a spot next to one of those rare outdoor outlets. Nor can I hold the company liable if something happens to 339 when she's jacked-in.)

I no longer feel guilty about plugging 399 into "the grid" and sucking down precious electricity -- all on the company's dime... And without their knowledge. Nope. It's all "legit" now.

But why would I "need" to plug Mini-E in now anyway? After all, unlike before, I have a 220-volt charger at home now, right? My commute distance (about 30-miles each way) is still the same and with a high-voltage charger at home, "Range Anxiety" shouldn't be a problem anymore, right?

Not really.

You see, with the colder weather setting in here in New York, I've been noticing that 339's estimated range falls well below the 100-miles per charge that I got over the summer months!!

For example, on one particularly cold day in early October, 339's "warning chime" that I had less than 30-miles range went off after she and I had gone just 45 miles!!! I was on my way home from work anyway, so I wasn't really worried. (Not much, anyway.) Still....

78-miles?? Even though I had started the day with a FULL charge and didn't go any where else but to work??? Really??? C'mon....!!!

So, having 339 connected and sucking down juice while I slave away in the office might be a good thing -- especially on a day like today, where the temps are in the 50's... But it's overcast and drizzly and the wind's blowing so it feels a LOT less warmer!!! If I didn't plug in 339 during the day, who knows how far I'll be able to go at the end of the day? Or, even if I'd make it home? (Yikes!)

So, today would be a good day to mark just what plugging in 339 while at work might yield during the next few cold and wintry months!

Here's the info about my commute in to work this morning.

Started with 100% charge and 339's meter said I had "93-miles" to empty. (Huh. Well, I guess it was a bit cold last night, too!)

I drove my usual route to work -- a mix of highway and local roads. But... I never drove faster than 60 MPH. Ok, maybe one or two brief "squirts" of 80 MPH to merge onto a highway and/or pass a truck... But I never did a sustained 70 or 80 MPH. Really. I just stuck in the right-hand lane letting everyone else pass me on the left. (I've come to realize, why am I rushing to work in the mornings???)

Here are the pictures (captured by my cell phone) of 339's relevant dashboard data screens once I've pulled into the lot and parked next to my much-appreciated, work-supplied jack-in point.

This shows that I've traveled 29 miles this morning and went from a "93-mls" reading when I left home to "68-mls" reading when I got to work:

93 miles minus 29 miles does NOT equal 68 miles to empty. I'm guessing that some regen braking added some power back to the battery. Also note the temp (49-degrees F) and that I've gone over 5,770 miles since picking up 339 back in June!

This next image shows the estimated percentage of battery I have left 'til empty: 71%!!!!

And finally, this last shot shows how much efficient I was at driving to work:

From what I remember in the manual, this means that if I was to travel 100 miles at th same "pace" that I did in the last 29 miles, I would need 67-amps per hour to recharge 339's battery. (Don't quote me on that... I'm still confused at this number! But I do know that "lower" is supposedly "more efficient.")

Anyway... That was this morning.

I've now pulled in more than my 8-hours here in the office... So it's time for me to go and see what 8+ hours jacked into a 120-volt line at 12-amps has done for 339's battery!

Stay tuned!!!
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08 November 2009

Back in the saddle, again...

Wow... I can't believe it's been almost TWO months since I last posted something about my Mini-E #339!!! When I first started this blog back in June (when I picked up #339), I knew there would be times like these when I just didn't have anything interesting to post—or even time to post any thing!!

Still... Has the entire month of October passed already?

Hmmm... Let's see... The Yankees won another World Series... Bloomberg has been elected Mayor of New York for another four years... All the tree leaves in Queens are dying and littering the streets... Yeah, I guess October has come and gone!

So, quick recap!! Since I last posted back in September....

  1. Mini-E #339 went back in to have a faulty battery module replaced. The "Flying Docs" did their job and repaired everything for FREE under this "pioneer" program! And it seems like the Docs did it right. Haven't had any "bad experiences" (yet) with 339's over-night battery charging or driving range—although that last spate of "cold" weather in New York back in late September and early-October... (More on that later.)

    The best thing: I had some major problems in getting 339 towed (flat-bedded, really) to BMW/Mini of Manhattan. But once again, this pioneering program really stepped up to the plate. I got several calls from BMW corporate on the day my 339 had to go back to the dealer for repairs. And the day after, I got a few calls too. Every call was to apologize for my unfortunate situation and "to re-assure" me that BMW/Mini strives "for the most excellent service" to their customers: ME!

    Just "customer service" talk, you'd think, right? More "public relations" spin? Keep up a good face? Maybe... But one of the reps (I forget his name, now) ended his call with, "Well, Paul... We want to thank you for being so understanding over this whole ordeal, so please expect something in the mail soon." I didn't think much of it because...

  2. I went on vacation the day after they finally flat-bedded 339 back to HQ in Jersey to fix her battery.

    Vacation. For 10 days. To Hawaii!! Via cruise ship! From Vancouver!

    Needless to say, that's why I didn't blog at all after my last post, "My Baby's gone..." Being out at sea for five days from Vancouver to Hawaii... I didn't really think much about "driving." (Although I did spend some "quality time" with her owner's manual.)

    And when I did "land" on the Hawaiian islands, I really thought of--and deeply missed--Mini-E #339 on one particular occasion. On the island of Maui, I took the "Road to Hana" in a rented Mazda 6 sedan and let me tell you... The Mazda 6 is a nice car, BUT...

    The Hana Highway is just a 68-mile long, two-lane road (one lane each way) with 59 bridges (49 of 'em ONE LANE only!) and 620 curves and switchbacks that passes through some of the most awesome scenery of waterfalls and coastlines and mountain rock faces...

    It takes over 3 hours to drive that highway end-to-end because it's so twisty and narrow and steep up and down the old extinct Maui volcanoes!!! In other words, it's the perfect twisty, bendy to take a Mini Cooper or (better yet) a Mini Cooper Convertible! OR best still, a Mini-E Cooper convertible!!!! (Nothing like driving on a curvaceous, narrow road through some absolutely stunning natural beauty... in a tight-handling, fast, fun and eco-friendly, open-topped car!! At least that's what I was dreamin' of while working the Mazda 6's electronic gear shifter up and down during my drive! Nice!)

    Seriously... If you're ever in Maui and you really really really REALLY LOVE driving... And I mean driving as in NOT "got to drop off the kids, pick up the dry cleaning, get to work, go grocery shopping, then pick up the kids" kind of driving... But real driving...

    You MUST "do" the Hana Highway!!!!

    I'm not one to spout deep philosophical thoughts, but... I'm convinced that whoever said, "Life isn't about the destination but the journey," must've come up with that gem after a trek on the Road to Hana!!! :-D

  3. When I finally landed home in NYC after my high-seas and Hawaiian adventure, I picked up 339 at the dealer... Drove her home fine... And waiting in that pile of mail at home was an envelope from BMW/Mini "Roadside Assistance." Inside? Nothing but a $150 check!!! Thank you, BMW!!! Thank you, Pioneer program!! I see we're of the same mind-frame: "Talk is cheap. Action costs!" (And I didn't even ask for any type of "compensation" for that miserable tow experience!)

  4. The first few weeks "back to reality" after that Hawaiian adventure, the weather in New York turned unseasonably colder!! As such, my battery and driving range took hits. There's no way to protect 339 from the low over-night temperatures (they fell to the 20s and 30 degree Fahrenheit at times!) since her charging station is located at the side of my house next to the driveway and NOT in a garage like many others', I suspect. Some mornings, I got in and her driving range read only "84 miles."

    Another "fun" cold-weather dealing... Her TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) went off during one of my morning commutes. At first I thought I got a flat tire! (Great... and I didn't take the $300 insurance against the run-flats!!) But co-workers who own the conventionally-powered Minis said the cold temps probably affected the tire pressure.

    After topping off all her tires to the correct PSI ratings and resetting the TPMS, all is well again. So far.

    Winter should be fun! (Stay tuned!)

  5. I met with and got "permission" from the facilities manager(s) at work. I can now park 339 and jack her into the 120-volt outdoor outlets on the lamp posts in my company's outdoor parking lot! So while I "slave away for The Man," 339 can get topped off with the juice being paid for by The Man!

    Of course, it means I have to remember to switch 339's charge setting to "12-amps" when I get to work. (Last thing I want is to "blow" the work circuits... Or 339's portable "emergency" charger... or damage 339's internal circuitry!) And it means I have to remember to "switch back" to the "32-amps" setting once I get home, otherwise I won't have her ready to go in the morning!

    So far, that's been going well, though. (More on that in future posts.)

    And finally...

  6. There's going to be a meet-up with other Mini-E owners today. One of the other "pioneers" has an Italian restaurant in Montclair, NJ. I apparently missed the first "gathering of the East Coast drivers. So, this should be fun! Stay tuned!
That's it. Sorry for the long post. But you're now all caught up.

I think.

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