Mini E and BMW ActiveE in New Jersey (photo: Michael Thwaite)
Mini E and BMW ActiveE in New Jersey (photo: Michael Thwaite)Enlarge Photo
It was great to get up in the morning, open the garage, and know that the car was in there, full up and ready to go. It was so quiet, it moved along effortlessly, it did what I asked of it, and in turn I treated it with respect. I drove it steadily, knowing that if I needed a bit of extra power, it was there waiting quietly--and it never failed to deliver that power!
We took it to Green Fairs, where people were amazed and surprised that it was electric--and then asked where they could buy one. There you go, BMW: An electric Mini would be a huge seller!
After two years, one month, and five days of fantastic electric driving, its time was up. BMW insisted that we give the car back to them in exchange for our next electric car, a white BMW ActiveE, based on the BMW 1-series sedan.
We actually had the Mini E longer than expected, and thoroughly enjoyed the extra time. And I realized, I don't want an ActiveE. I want to keep my Mini!
I was told I'd love the ActiveE, but it seemed a bit of a stretch to me. First, it's painted white, a color way down on my list of car colors, one step above the universally accepted bottom of the chain: beige. Second, it isn't a Mini. Third...it's white.
Mini E and BMW ActiveE electric cars, New Jersey, Dec 2011 (photos: Tom Moloughney)
Mini E and BMW ActiveE electric cars, New Jersey, Dec 2011 (photos: Tom Moloughney)Enlarge Photo
One plus point for the ActiveE, though: It has four seats, so we can go out as a family again in the same car. But, it's still white! Could I get BMW to repaint ours in silver? "No, that's not going to happen," Michael said. "They're all white, and if you take a moment, you'll really like it... honestly."
Why was I not convinced?
I had just guestimated my miles for the last Mini E week, and it looked like we'd be able to get to 33,333 before Saturday; that'd be cool. I so enjoyed the last week, though it was tinged with sadness, knowing that my electric MIni travels were coming to an end.
Saturday arrived, and so did snow. Would that mean we could postpone the departure? Alas, no. It just meant we might not make the 33,333 miles.
So we cleaned out the Mini E, and it was time to leave. It was weird getting in knowing it would be the last time. I felt very glum driving it to its final destination. But we took the long way round, and turned up at the BMW garage with precisely 33,333.3 miles on the clock.
2009 Mini E with 33,333.3 miles on the clock (photo: Pamela Thwaite)
2009 Mini E with 33,333.3 miles on the clock (photo: Pamela Thwaite)Enlarge Photo
It was a fantastic car, even though it was a bit of a science experiment. It wasn't perfect inside, but it worked, and it did everything we asked it to, even picking up our Christmas trees for the last two years!
Also, I don't want a white car. Did I mention that?
The Mini E looked so forlorn as we walk out of the garage, I didn't dare look back or else I would have cried.
In the garage, we were taken to see the Active E. Yes, it's still white. Oh, dear.
After the paperwork was done and the salesman made his speech--though we know more about the car than he does--we got in the ActiveE and drove out of the garage.
OK, it's really quiet, and it seems nice inside. I would have preferred black seats, but the ride is nice and firm. They seem to have spent some time and thought on the car so, I suppose it's nice.
The trunk is smaller than I would have liked, and I don't think I'll be able to get a suitcase into it--but overall the interior is passable.
If only it weren't still white.
Pamela Thwaite is a keen advocate for healthy low-impact living, supporting local and organic producers. She has recently become an electric-car convert, and is now vice-president of the New Jersey chapter of the Electric Auto Association.