2nd Gen E Baby, It’s Cold Outside for Mini Es

Discussion in '2nd Generation: 2007+ R55 through R61' started by Nathan, Jan 26, 2010.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    By JIM MOTAVALLI

    January 26, 2010, 11:02 am

    NYTimes

    Oh the weather outside is frightful, and my Mini E electric car is … dying? That’s the problem some Northeastern drivers of the leased battery vehicles are having as the mercury dips. And at least one ended up on the business end of a tow hook.

    There are 450 Mini E cars, battery-powered versions of the Mini Cooper, leased to consumers in test programs in the United States. Cold weather performance hasn’t been much of an issue for California cars, but many of the E.V.’s are on the road in New York and New Jersey — and it’s definitely an issue there. Being stranded on a single-digit day is an element of the general range anxiety experienced by some electric car drivers.

    Anyone who’s experienced a 12-volt lead-acid battery struggling to turn their car’s engine over on a frosty morning understands the basic point that batteries (or engines for that matter) don’t much like very cold conditions. Some carmakers are trying to combat this problem in their production E.V.’s with management systems to both heat and cool battery packs.

    Kevin Czinger, president and chief executive of Coda Automotive, which is introducing a battery-powered sedan in California late this year, said the car will come with a thermal management system that will monitor the battery pack temperature even when the car is disconnected from the grid. “Our car is designed for both northern Minnesota and Death Valley,†he said.

    The Mini E has a stated range of 100 to 120 miles, but Timothy Gill, a New Jersey software consultant, said, “I love the car and love driving it, but 70 miles is ridiculous.†In October, he ran out of charge a mile from his house and titled a blog entry, “Towed! After only 87.8 miles. Sheesh!â€

    On a Mini E Facebook page, drivers report their garage/battery temperatures and charging experiences with the zeal of television weathermen.

    Dr. Lyle Dennis, the New Jersey-based physician who maintains GM-Volt.com, drives a Mini E and also reports much-reduced performance in the cold. “It’s a problem when you’re still six miles from home and the car says you have zero miles left,†he said in an interview. “There is also a loss of power in the cold. On the highway under those conditions, I can feel the power fade over 70 miles per hour.†Dr. Dennis said he notices both problems when temperatures drop below freezing.

    A related issue, according to both Dr. Dennis and Mr. Gill, is erratic readings from the battery status meter, which may or may not reflect the car’s actual state of charge. “In cold weather it will go from 100 percent charge to 90 percent in just one mile,†Mr. Gill said. “But there’s huge variability. I’m not sure what the solution is, but we need more reliable feedback about the car’s range.â€

    “We are absolutely aware of it, and there’s no real fix except to drive in the most efficient way possible,†said Nathalie Bauters, a Mini spokeswoman. “There is reduced range in cold weather conditions, and it is up to 30 percent.â€

    In “Plugged-In,†its newsletter for Mini E drivers, the automaker said, “Some of you have noticed that these cooler temperatures have brought changes in battery behavior, and we have, too.†The newsletter describes the reduction in battery performance as “a normal trait for battery-powered products†and recomends carrying the car’s 110-volt cable because “you never know when a good charging opportunity will present itself.â€
     
  2. Lilredscoot

    Lilredscoot New Member

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    Good info Nathan!!!
     
  3. lotsie

    lotsie Club Coordinator

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    I think the smartest thing MINI did was put this fleet out under lease. The cars get tested under real world conditions, and the testers are not stuck with something that may not be viable over the long term. Not that the technology is not the way of the future, just that testing in real world conditions, tweaking the operating systems, and getting the cars out and about in public, are all important to the car maker.

    Now sure, $800 or whatever a month for a lease is way up there, but MINI concentrated the leases in high end markets. Some of those folks living in those markets can count on having to buy a parking space for the same money a house costs in some areas.

    I feel bad for these folks if they are left stranded, but ***** happens, especially when your involved in a testing program.

    Mark
     

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