2nd Gen E Chester Township man is one of few testing all-electric Mini Cooper

Discussion in '2nd Generation: 2007+ R55 through R61' started by Nathan, Aug 31, 2010.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

    Mar 30, 2009
    Short North
    +10,069 / 0 / -0
    Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 10:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, August 31, 2010, 10:15 AM
    Mike Frassinelli/The Star-Ledger

    CHESTER TOWNSHIP — Even in the most congested state in America, where vehicles on crowded highways fade into a chain-link blur of colors, Tom Moloughney’s car stands out.

    Perhaps it’s the “STARVE A TERRORIST! DRIVE ELECTRIC!†bumper sticker, or the “EF-OPEC†license plates.

    Maybe it’s the plug graphics on the all-electric Mini Cooper prototype, including the area where the gas cap normally would be.

    Moloughney, who owns an Italian restaurant in Montclair, has for more than a year been part of a small pilot program testing an all-electric BMW Group car known as the Mini E.He runs the vehicle the same way he powers his laptop computer: By plugging it in and charging it.

    Moloughney, of Chester Township, has solar panels at home and produces his own clean renewable electricity to power his car, making him among the first people in the United States to use the combination.

    In the fall, after the battery-powered Nissan Leaf and Chevy Volt hit the streets, Moloughney won’t feel quite so unique when he’s driving.

    “When I drive down the highway, I look at all these cars,†he said. “I’m the only one that’s electric. The only one that’s not polluting. The only one that doesn’t have a tailpipe sticking out of the back of it. And in a couple months, that’s going to change.â€

    Moloughney, 43, owner of Nauna’s Restaurant, never imagined he would become an outspoken advocate for electric vehicles.

    Sure, he always liked keeping up with technology and getting the latest cell phone. Still, when he filled out an online application on a whim to drive an all-electric Mini Cooper, he didn’t figure it would amount to much.

    But there he was in a Quick Chek parking lot this month, getting into a friendly boasting match with the owner of a new Toyota Prius hybrid electric-and-gas car.

    “It’s probably not often you’re parked next to a car that uses less gasoline than you do,†Moloughney said, firing the first shot in an OK Corral type showdown over who was greener.

    “I get 50 mpg,†the Prius owner sniffed. “I doubt this does.â€

    Moloughney explained his vehicle wasn’t a hybrid, but an all-electric car that cost him about $3.50 to go 100 miles.

    “He did some quick math and realized he wasn’t the most efficient car on the road as he thought he was,†Moloughney wrote in his blog. “Sorry to ruin your day, buddy.â€

    There are 612 of the identical Mini E cars in five countries around the world. Moloughney is driving car No. 250.

    “He’s been a great spokesman on behalf of us and the program, and he’s been a real pioneer,†said Richard Steinberg, manager of electric vehicle operations and strategy for BMW of North America in Woodcliff Lake. “He has put over 30,000 miles on the Mini, and to our knowledge that is the most for the Mini. He subsequently has become sort of an evangelist for the EV (electric vehicle) concept.â€

    Within a few months, Moloughney went from driving a car he thought might be interesting to changing his lifestyle and changing the way he thought about energy use.

    Moloughney pays $600 a month to lease the electric vehicle, but has no gas or oil costs and BMW pays for all maintenance and repairs while he drives the “test mule†that will provide data for use on a 2013 BMW electric car known as the Megacity. He estimates he saved more than $3,500 in gas expenses the first year.

    Joe Phillippi, head of Auto Trends Consulting in Short Hills, said the biggest fear people have of electric cars is that they will run out of power on the street. He experienced that fear while test driving a Mini E at a BMW event in South Jersey during the spring.

    When Phillippi began the trip, the car was about 75 percent charged. Driving on “tabletop flat†roads, at normal speeds for a relatively short duration, he looked down and noticed the car was down to 25 or 26 percent charged.

    “I got a sense of what range anxiety could be like,†Phillippi said. “In about 22 or 23 miles, I used up about half of the battery.â€

    Moloughney said drivers are on a leash, but it is not as short as they would think.

    “I have managed to live with it fine,†he said. “I live 32 miles from my job. I have a minimum 65-mile-a-day commute. I put 38,000 miles on the car in 14 months. That’s way more than most people drive. I never got stuck.â€

    The car usually can go 100 to 120 miles before needing a recharge; 130 miles was his personal best. He has used the car to travel to and from Citi Field in Queens, the Delaware Water Gap and the Connecticut border. Moloughney charges his car at home and at work. It generally takes a little under four hours to fully charge the vehicle.
    Nowadays, Moloughney thinks of everything in round-trip miles.

    “Before I got this car, I was thinking, my friend’s house, oh, that’s only 35 miles away,†he said. “It’s 70 miles now. You totally change the way you think of driving.â€
    On a good day at his home, he can make about 60 kilowatts of energy, and the car travels about 4 miles for every kilowatt.

    Towns, including Montclair, are applying for grants to get charging stations. Businesses such as Walmart, McDonald’s and Costco, knowing they will have a captive customer while the vehicle is being charged, also are installing them on their properties, mostly in California at this point. Integrated GPS on the electric vehicles would let drivers know where they could find the nearest public charging stations and whether they have enough energy to make their destination.

    The 205-horsepower Mini E that Moloughney drives can book, traveling up to 95 mph with a quick pickup. Under the hood, it has what looks like a metal suitcase. That’s the power electronics unit, the brains of the car, telling the vehicle, among other things, how much charge it can accept and whether to accelerate or decelerate.

    Every 5,000 miles, BMW checks the car and collects data.

    Inside, it mostly looks like a regular car — well, except for a 35-kilowatt battery pack that takes up the entire back-seat area. And where the tachometer would normally be, there’s a “charge meter.†The battery pack will be hidden in future versions.
    The car is not silent, but extremely quiet.

    The successor, the BMW Megacity, is expected to cost in the $30,000 price range.
    Moloughney has the Mini E until June, at which point he will get an all-electric BMW 1 Series car known as the ActiveE.

    Because electric vehicles have few moving parts, Moloughney thinks long-term maintenance costs will be low. The cars have “regenerative†braking, slowing to a stop when the driver lets up on the accelerator, saving wear on the brake pads and at the same recharging the batteries.

    How much has Moloughney enjoyed the all-electric car?

    Last year,e only drove his spiffy Porsche Boxster sports car 500 miles.

    “You can make your own electricity in a clean, renewable way,†he said. “Nobody can drill their own oil. You start thinking about it, and it all adds up.â€
  2. Mr. Jim

    Mr. Jim Mudshark
    Lifetime Supporter

    May 22, 2010
    North Carolina
    +1,221 / 0 / -0
    Jersey in the house!!!

    JCP&L has one here also at my site, but they got it for free. So he saved 3500.00 but spent 7200.00 in leasing! For all the support he gives them they should give him his money back :Thumbsup:

    Just sayin........ :D

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