Mini E electric vehicleEnlarge Photo
The Mini E prototype was a once in a lifetime opportunity to lease an EV and experience the joy of driving an EV daily before the general public had a chance to sample such a vehicle.
The Mini E recipients, selected from a long waiting list of individuals who applied to receive the vehicle, were told that the vehicle would be in their possession for one year. Our own editor-in-chief Lyle Dennis was a chosen recipient and he has written about his first hand experience with the Mini E on several occasions. Despite the occasional hiccup along the way, Lyle enjoys his vehicle and enjoys commuting without using gas.
As the end of the initial one year lease draws near, Mini E owners may begin to worry. No suitable replacement vehicle yet exists and for some such as Lyle, returning to a commute dependent on gasoline may not seem to be a feasible option. A celebration may be in order as word is out that Mini E drivers may have their stay with the electric vehicle extended.
Mini electric vehicle operations manager Richard Steinberg spoke with Car and Driver's Jon Yanca at the "BMW One-Day University" media event. Steinberg updated Yanca on the progress of the Mini E project. The brief discussion lead to an announcement that the Mini E program may be extended.
According to Yanca, Steinberg said "Mini sort of expected to have some teething issues with the cars themselves, when in fact it quickly realized there was a huge problem with infrastructure instead. There's plenty of electricity, but customers have had to deal with wiring the chargers in their homes, countless building inspectors that are ill-informed on the existence of electric vehicles, and negotiating off-peak discount electricity rates. Because of annoyances like these, Mini is considering extending the leases on its fleet of Mini Es. Mini wants to keep its customers happy, but it also wants to keep the cars on the road long enough to collect the data it is seeking."
Seeking data to use for the development of future EVs is the primary goal for the Mini E project. This data that is collected and analyzed will help the company develop additional electric vehicles. With delays in the Mini E program, data may not be sufficient and according to Steinberg, Mini's possible answer to solve the problem of insufficient data is to extend the one year lease program until sufficient data is collected.
It's likely that several Mini E driver's are thrilled to hear about this possible solution.
Source: Car and Driver