From June 2009 to June 2010 I had the privilege of Driving an All Electric MIMI E for a year, it was a great experience, and got me hooked on electric cars. I've since moved on to other electric cars which I will blog about here.
Friday night I began experiencing problems with MINI E #304, the battery temperature warning light came on and indicated that the batteries were too hot or cold and regenerative braking wouldnt work. We were already near our destination and I continued driving without the regenerative braking, the feeling of coasting in the MINI E was a little disconcerting, I've become so use to the regenerative braking it felt strange without it, the exact opposite feeling non-electric drivers have. Anyway we got home with about 27% charge, much less then it should have been for our 50 mile trip. The next day we needed to do a few errands before the big snow storm hit, I wasnt planning on driving more then 20 miles. I unplugged and reset the trip odometer, something I do every time, I think I looked at the charge and it was at 100%, but I'm not completely sure I did this anymore, I was concerned about the battery temp, and quickly switched to that view. From the start I had the battery temp warming light, and regenerative breaking wasnt working even though the battery was at 56 degrees. After a short stop for lunch we were off again, after 5 miles the battery temp hadnt changed much was 57 degrees and the warning light was still on, I was curious what not having the regenerative braking was doing to my range so I switched to % range, where I normally keep the display, and was shocked to see 35% charge left. I'd only driven 5 miles and had stopped for about 30 minutes during that time there was no way it should be at 35%. I had a few ideas about what might have been wrong, either the car was using energy at a very fast rate, I did have the heat on max (as I always do in the cold) and the regenerative braking wasnt working, but I wasnt driving more then 40 mph so this seemed unlikely, or The car hadnt charged overnight even though it was plugged in, which would happen if the computer was confused and thought the battery temperature was under 30 degrees, and might explain the battery temp warning light, even though it was reporting the temp as 57 degrees, or the percent charge indicator could be out of wack, I'd just read a facebook entry stating anouther drivers opinion that the Charge indicator got less and less accurate as the temperature dropped. Anyway we didnt have far to go so I just kept going and kept my eye on the charge, after shopping for a couple hours we headed home. As we got close to home the yellow service warning light came on indicating we could continue driving but should bring the car in for service, about a mile later there was a audible click the car starting slowing down suddenly and I looked down and see a red battery symbol, meaning the high voltage system has been disengaged, ie we had no power. At this point we were only a mile from my house, I called MINI for a tow and my girlfriend got a ride home, it was just starting to snow. I was near a busy light and people seemed to be having the hardest time realizing they needed to go around the car even though the hazard lights were on. a few people had camera phones out and were taking pictures, after all I had the brand new MINI E side decals just put on. After a half hour the hazard lights stopped working, I needed to let people know to go around me and didnt have any flares, so I opened up the hood. I was a little worried about snow going in there, but I was more worried about being rear ended as visibility was getting worse. A little while latter a fire truck pulls up and offers to push me into a parking lot across the street, they block the light with the firetruck and four big firemen, and firewomen push me accross the street, Thank you Liberty Corners Fire department. At this point I realized the red battery warning light hadnt come on. I tried to start the car and sure enough it worked I could drive around the parking lot, the battery temp warning light was gone too. I think opening and closing the hood must have reset things. The tow truck was due to be there soon, and my girlfriend was back with her car, so I figured it was best to just wait in the parking lot rather then risk it breaking down again. The tow truck arrived a little bit late, and #304 got towed to Morristown MINI, I have to wait till Monday to give them this story as the service department was closed by then. We awoke Sunday to a foot of snow, guess Im going to have to wait to see how the MINI E preforms in the snow for myself, until then I'll be reading other peoples blogs.