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The Electric "MINI E" Survey Findings

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Posted On: Jun 20, 2011 By: Charles Kayajian  Category: MINI Cooper News

The reports are in following an extended testing period for MINI’s all-electric offering, the MINI E.

MINI E Cooper

A group of 450 people from the Los Angeles and New York metropolitan areas agreed to lease a MINI E for a 1-year period. Participants (referred to in the study as “pioneers”) made monthly payments of $850, and were required to answer survey questions administered by the University of California, Davis. Survey questions asked drivers to comment on their experiences as they related to the MINI E’s range, charging process, performance in poor weather, and general drivability. The goal was to understand user responses and how these responses can help shape the electric vehicle marketplace.

The MINI-E claims to have a 100-mile driving range on a single charging. Despite the impressive figures, the UC Davis study was interested in gauging range anxiety, to see if drivers had apprehensions about the car bringing them to their destinations without running out of juice. Over 70% of participants drove their MINI-E less than 40 miles a day, with nearly all participants racking up fewer than 80 miles in a day. In most cases, the MINI E exceeded range requirements for daily commutes, abating range anxiety.

Drivers found that altering their driving behaviors and tendencies helped maximize the MINI E’s range by drawing less energy from the car’s battery. The MINI E utilizes a unique regenerative braking system which decelerates the car when the accelerator is not pressed. The absence of vehicle coasting caused by this braking system conditioned drivers to drive with one pedal, saving the brakes for instances when a complete stop was required. Drivers also limited quick accelerations and high speeds as these both compromised the MINI E’s range.

MINI E learning process

(Graphic from The U.C. Davis MINI E Consumer Study, p.10)

The MINI-E demonstrated great range under fair-weather driving conditions, however extreme heat and cold greatly affected the vehicle’s performance. “The batteries in the MINI E have reduced capacity and ability to charge in cold weather. In hot weather, the batteries can come close to overheating.” What’s more, severe temperatures require the vehicle to expend more energy to maintain a pleasant cabin climate. In cold climates, this allocation of energy greatly reduced the MINI’s range, while also contributing to a lack of battery performance, cabin warmth and other HVAC limitations.

The majority of MINI drivers were not exposed to colder climates (with a large portion of participants living in California), however 58% of those exposed to cold temperatures reported temperature has a “strong affect” on vehicle range, and 56% claimed that vehicle limitations in the cold were “not acceptable.” It seems that the MINI-E may be a tough sell to consumers residing in climates subject to long winters.

The MINI E appears most sensible for individuals living in warm climates, with enough money for an extra car that, while innovative, is still not completely practical. The $850 monthly lease payments make the MINI E prohibitively expensive for a good many people, and its limited range and cargo space necessitate a second vehicle. While 60% of users felt the vehicle was suitable for every day use, 81% also claimed that there were desired destinations which were inaccessible due to the limited range of the MINI.

MINI E range complaints

(Graphic from The U.C. Davis MINI E Consumer Study, p. 48)

Looking ahead, the creation of public charging locations in high-traffic locations (as explored in the study) could help reduce concerns over the car's range and make the MINI E a much more viable option in the future.

For more information on the MINI E Click Here

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