Waiting on a MINI E: part 2

So, how can we efficiently move ourselves from point A to point B without burning up massive amounts of fossil fuels and threatening the ecology of our planet? I don’t know. But I am excited to help find out.

And tomorrow is the day. I’ll be picking up my MINI E at 10am EST, Thursday, June 18. But in a way, I started out searching for this answer 3 years ago, when I placed 30 Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Panels on my roof.

30 Solar PV Panels that will help power my commute

30 Solar PV Panels that will help power my commute

At the time, with the stock market running higher every day and  before $4/gallon gas made us all more energy conscious, a neighbor of mine asked  “It’s nice that you’re doing this and all, but it doesn’t really make financial sense does it?”. His point was that I was looking at approximately a 10-year wait before I’d see a return on my ‘investment option’ (that’s the point in the time when my electrical savings would finally surpass the expense of the solar PV installation). It’s a fair question – but as I told him, it doesn’t take into account the dividend I’ll receive every day, knowing that I’m part of the solution to our energy needs. That everytime the sun rises, I’m helping to offset a significant amount of pollution. That knowledge, that I also pass onto my kids, has real value as well – even if it doesn’t figure neatly into my finances.

Since then the economics of Solar PV have only improved – incentives have increased, as have utility bills, and meanwhile the other viable ‘investment options’ (real estate, stocks, banks, etc.) haven’t done nearly as well as my panels. So I’ve been very pleased with my investment option. But now I have another opportunity to leverage those panels to help offset what is undoubtedly my biggest personal contribution to global warming: a daily 90-mile commute. And that’s going to be something pretty amazing – generating abundant, renewable clean energy from the Solar panels on my roof, and putting it into storage in the batteries of my MINI E in order to move me the 45 miles between my Point A & B. It’s a compelling model for us all, and could point to a greener, more peaceful future for ourselves and our children.

But will it work? What will happen in a thunder storm? Can I use the A/C on hot summer days when I’m stuck in a traffic jam and still 40 miles from home? Will I miss stopping by the gas station and picking up a Snapple? Can I zap myself accidentally?

I’ll be posting about those experiences and more for the next 365 days. I’m excited to learn the answers. And as a student of usability design in general, I’m really excited to uncover all the small but critical details that will potentially one day be accepted by everyone as obvious. I do feel like the “Pioneer” that BMW/MINI has been calling us – ready to discover something new.

One thing I’d like to know though, on the eve of this grand experiment (and inspired by the opinions of 3 inebrieated college friends) is the answer to this question:


7 responses to “Waiting on a MINI E: part 2

  1. Very interesting experiment. I think the real question will be how it performs on the road, especially on major highways with trucks, traffic, etc.

    In the end it’s about comfort and usability. If it’s as comfortable and usable as a regular car why not switch…except for the fact that it is a little girlie.

  2. Can’t wait to watch this experiment go along. I would like a ride, please. And enjoy your un-edited blogging will be my favorite part.

  3. Nick the Greek

    I must admit, part of me is jealous. In order to participate, do you need solar panels? As for your pit stop to get snapple…..drink your filtered water!!

  4. I am surprised but not “shocked” about you in a electric car. The big question I want to know is …Will the dog know when you pull in the driveway with such a quiet car???
    I also think it is good you only have the car for 12 months because when the new car inspection expires at the end if the 1st year I do not think the local inspection shops will know what to do.

  5. Girlie car? No way… I can understand the impulse to label the Mini Coop a chick ride until one sees it in action. During a brief stint in Colorado I lived near a Mall where a group of racing enthusiasts gathered on Sundays. Using pylons, they ran time trials around a relatively tight complicated “track”… fastest time wins. Great fun to watch but I didn’t dare enter my 78 VW type II (but that’s a different story). Point being, week after week undoubtedly a Mini would take gold. They take off like a bat and have great handling!

    • Absolutely Michael – and now I can back that up with actual experience (it drives like a go-cart on steriods). Still, the ignorant will hold their perceptions – it’s interesting that my poll results point most to “Other”; no doubt it was my three college idiots who still insist on calling it a “gay car” in the poll!

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