First Drive: Mini E Electric Vehicle Is Far From Ready For Primetime Page 2

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Mini E electric vehicle

[UPDATE: We received the following comment from Tom Gage at AC Propulsion, which offers a possible explanation for the car we drove:

The vehicle you drove may have been one or two iterations behind in its software. The most current software we have from BMW in our MINI Es reduces the lag. For the record, the responses to accelerator inputs are programmed into the vehicle control computer by BMW. Don't blame AC Propulsion.]

First-class interior

To give BMW its due, the interior amenities of the Mini E are beautifully done. It has the usual power windows and locks, full heating and air-conditioning, and so forth.

The instruments comprise the characteristic Mini huge central speedometer, along with a battery-charge gauge directly in front of the driver and visible through the steering wheel.

This has the unintended effect of focusing attention on every percent of charge that's lost. We think Tesla struck the right balance; the state-of-charge bar gauge is visible, but it's above the driver's left knee, so it's not front and center.

As for Mr. Trepp, BMW describes him as a "venture capitalist whose firm specializes in funding early-stage clean technology companies". He's the first of 450 drivers in the Los Angeles, New York, and New Jersey areas who will spend a year with a Mini E.

We very much hope the Mini E doesn't sour him on EVs altogether. He can do better, and within three years, he'll have several much more pleasant options to choose from. We hope that one of them will be an electric Mini.

But this one ain't it.

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Comments (11)
  1. The Mini-E is a front wheel drive vehicle. Can you elaborate on how you were able to "spin the inside REAR wheel when accelerating out of a turn"?
    Needs Posi-Traction back there, right?

  2. @Russ: Correct, and all I can is D'OH! Brain fade from writing fast, corrected above.
    Also, see the update note I added from Tom Gage at AC Propulsion, which clarifies which responsibilities fell to his company and which to BMW. Interesting.

  3. I guess BMW didn't get any shots in at killing the electric car in the '90's so they feel it is their turn now. I hope that the MiniE doesn't damage perceptions about EVs since, from the EV1, the eBox, the RAV4EV, and the Tesla Roadster, we can definitely see that, if done right, the EV is an excellent means of transportation.

  4. As one of the folks in the field trial (car #140) I'd have to agree with Tom Gage. I've never been thrown forward in my seat and after driving the car for approx 160 miles so far, the braking is not an issue. I rarely use the brake pedal and have yet to lurch to a stop. The car is a blast to drive. :)

  5. I also had no trouble stopping the car during my test drive. I did forget and took my foot off the accelerator and shifted to the break when I pulled back into the lot. The car came to a stop but not abruptly.
    I'm still waiting to get my MINI E so I'll have to check it out in more detail then. Perhaps you can check one out later in the year to see if you still feel the same about it.

  6. This is just lazy writing. If you'd read Mr Tripps blog, you'd see he'e happy. You say it's not Mini Cooper S. But it clearly outperforms the D and the One.
    Anyway, some of this article is OK, but really, you're holding up a dev mule to the standard of perfection and saying "it's not there yet".
    Well, at least a couple other Mini-e owners have posted comments to balance the experience of the testers who wrote this.

  7. Close to 500 miles on #232 and it is great fun. Coming from a guy who just sold his 2005 Audi S4.

  8. Like learning to drive a stick shift, the skill comes with familiarity. A learning curve does not make it inferior. You master it.
    After 400 “E” miles, the regen seems quite normal. It’s responsive in stop and go traffic, and on winding roads with switchback turns, it’s really in its element.

    Regenerative braking is a matter of taste. Drive a sports car with a manual transmission, and the virtue of high regen will be obvious. If you like Autocross, you’ll appreciate the MINI.

  9. As noted above, once you learn to dive it (10 miles or so?) it is great. I own a Mini Cooper, and I have owned several BMWs, Porsches, even a Corvette, and they all drive really well in their own way, just like the MINI E.
    See my notes here:

  10. After I convert my old gas car to an electric car. I neverpay for gas anymore. It is completely save my money on gas.
    I love my elctric car to much.

  11. Whoever wrote this obviously doesnt know jack about electric cars. I have owned and driven quite a few and my MINI E is the best. The regen feels way better than the Tesla, it even works better than the regen in the EBOX. My car went 15.9 in the quarter mile and i was very close to the Tesla in the autocross. Dont believe me? Check youtube for Power of DC handle videos. Anyone who would say that this car is slow or doesnt handle, probably hasnt driven one. By the way my daily driver before the MINI E was a 2000 Corvette.Anyone is more than welcome to come drive mine and see what a really great electric car feels like. I currently have 9k miles on it and im enjoying every minute.

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