2nd Gen E Electric Mini Drives Well Enough, But Lacks Warmth

Discussion in '2nd Generation: 2007+ R55 through R61' started by Nathan, Apr 15, 2010.

  1. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    April 15, 2010, 5:00 PM ET
    Wall Street Journal

    By Jonathan Welsh



    I recently road-tested the Mini E, an electric version of BMW’s Mini Cooper, and wanted to like it. But while it worked well and was ideally suited my suburban driving, I wasn’t clamoring to keep it when the weekend test period ended. As with many electrics, something seemed to be missing.

    What is it about electric vehicles that makes them difficult for some drivers to embrace? Well, the batteries are expensive, charging them takes a long time and they don’t have the go-anywhere range of gasoline-powered vehicles. But I think the real deal breaker is that they lack the sound, vibrations and even the smells that make internal-combustion engines seem warm and alive.

    The Mini E accelerated well and drove much like its gasoline-powered counterpart, though the added weight of its batteries too the wonderful edge off the regular Mini’s “go-kart handling.†At first the lack of sound from under the hood was a treat, giving the car a high-tech, efficient feel. But once I started hitting potholes and choppy pavement I found the Mini, like most electrics, isn’t really quiet. Its underpinnings hum, groan and bump — sounds usually masked by purr of an engine.

    Over the past couple of years I have driven a few electric cars and even ridden an electric motorcycle. All were technologically interesting and environmentally compelling, but none made the right sounds. Obviously this is something drivers can get used to, and I can easily imagine owning an electric car within the next few years. But I also understand consumers’ apprehension.
     
  2. Dr Obnxs

    Dr Obnxs New Member

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    Hmmmm

    I was in a Tesla (didn't get to drive it though). 0.52 Gs of acceleration is pretty bitchen no matter what the engine sounds like.

    At least the review had the balls to say that it was just that he didn't feel comfortable in a car that sounded different than what he was used to. Personally, I don't know why more gear heads don't get jazzed at the really good performace specs of electrics. Full torque at 0 RPM, no clutch or shifting power losses. Really, they are way cool.

    Matt
     
  3. Eric@Helix

    [email protected] New Member
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    Couldn't agree more: driving a Tesla is like flying on a magic carpet with bucket seats. It's awesome. Moreover, the R56 engine does not emit a compelling sound or feel. I'd rather have the E.
     
  4. Tom2112

    Tom2112 New Member

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    I dunno about the E, but I am totally in on a Tesla - except the price! :shocked:

    I do think its funny that the author didn't like it because it didn't sound / feel right. WTF?!? What did he expect it to sound like? a friggin Ferrari Berlinetta Boxer?

    On the flip side, there's a guy that races at my local drag strip with his home built electric motorcycle. That thing is awesome. It barely makes any noise, even when he's smoking the tire to get it warm. Then he lays down a low 12 second run and still barely any noise. I think it's awesome. Sure 12 second times aren't fantastic for a motorcycle, but he built the whole thing from scratch in his garage for crying out loud! Just think what a major manufacturer could do with an electric motorcycle.
     
  5. Robin Casady

    Robin Casady New Member
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    I can see electric cars coming with a computerized sound system that produces engine noise based on trottle position, speed, and state of acceleration. You will be able to choose whether it sounds like a Ferrari GTB4, Cobra 427, MG TD, etc. There will be a market for car sounds, similar to the ringtone market. :lol:
     
  6. Nathan

    Nathan Founder

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    Our humble US gov't is already on the ball here...

    HR 5734

    Edolphus Towns D-NY

    4/9/2008--Introduced.

    Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 - Directs the Secretary of Transportation to study and report to Congress on the minimum level of sound that is necessary to be emitted from a motor vehicle, or some other method, to alert blind and other pedestrians of the presence of operating motor vehicles while traveling.
     
  7. rkw

    rkw Well-Known Member

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    His problem with the sound is easily remedied with something like this:

    [ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9XAC-BvUyo"]YouTube - Shonky and the SoundRacer V8[/ame]
     
  8. Tom2112

    Tom2112 New Member

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    OK. I'll admit it. I was dumb enough to fork over the $40 for one of those. I thought it would be worth a few laughs at the next Mini event. Let me save anyone else who is dumb enough to consider buying one: THEY DON"T WORK!
     
  9. rkw

    rkw Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for trying. Yeah, I wondered about how well it can work in different cars, because it depends on the ability to sense the engine through the cigarette lighter. Somebody should make one that reads from the OBD.
     
  10. Tom2112

    Tom2112 New Member

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    The thing does make noise, and it sounds pretty good. But that's where it stops. The device just can't seem to read the engine rpm very well from the alternator/voltage. So the sound doesn't rev when you rev the car. It was pretty disappointing.
     
  11. Dr Obnxs

    Dr Obnxs New Member

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    The G-Tech

    has the same problem. either the RPM "noise" is filtered on the cig lighter, or other digital noise there is too high. To get the G-Tech to read RPM, I had to power it differently (from the lug by the airbox). So it's not the cheap piece of crap sound generator that's not working....

    Matt
     
  12. Tom2112

    Tom2112 New Member

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    Thanks Matt! I'll have to give that a try.
     
  13. GreyWOF

    GreyWOF New Member

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    Mini E may 'lack warmth' but don't seem to be affected by Denver's mile high altitude... They were fun to Mini Cross at MTTS..
    Getting to drive the Mini E electric car in the Mini Cross
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMXQhJSEFRw]YouTube - miniecross[/ame]
    and the ride....
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oq_xUPnAygQ]YouTube - Electric Mini cross[/ame]
     

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