Last week saw a major milestone, as I guided #217 past the first 1,000th mile (ironically, it was a pretty dull mile on I-287, just north of The Quarry). In honor of this occasion, I thought I’d chronicle the biggest differences i’ve noted so far about what it is like to drive an electric car. Here goes:
1. One-pedal Driving — thanks to the magic of regenerative-braking, the accelerator now also acts as a decelerator, and that yields a kinda different, but kinda fun, way of driving.
2. Range Anxiety — I need to drive a minimum of 90 miles each day, and fit that in the official “about 100 miles” range of the MINI E. In practice, I know I can drive at least 108 miles, and probably get closer to 120 miles if i had to. But the practical effect of this is what the MINI E newsletter termed (cue the echo sound-effect) “rAnGe AnXieTy”. Ya get a wee bit concerned watching that charge meter charge towards 0. I think most of this can be relieved with a larger-capacity battery, and software that can be better calibrated to give a more accurate estimate – both items I know are on the drawing board at BMW/MINI. I’m pretty comfortable that I can make my 90 miles, but I also haven’t yet pushed it as much as I’d like to.
3. No Pumping Required — just before I took delivery of #217, I timed a visit to my gas station. From the moment I exited the highway, to the moment I got back on (and this is a station that is about 400 yards off of I-287), it was about 12 minutes. For me, that was 12 minutes every 4 days, which compares to the:15 seconds it takes me to plug/unplug a day. That means I’m saving 1 hour a month. It’s nice.
4. The Four Hour Fill Up — so, as much as I love skipping the lines at the gas station, I have to admit that gas stations are terribly useful things when you’re on empty and 12 minutes gets you another 400 miles. Especially when compared to the 4 hours it takes me to fill up #217’s electrical tank. For most of the time though that four hours happens when I’m home for the evening, usually sleeping. 5 days out of 7, that’s just fine for me.
5. The Sounds — I knew of course that an electric car would be quieter than a gas car, but i really didn’t expect this. On the highway I notice it because I can keep the radio at a lower volume. In town, I notice sounds I never knew were there – kids in some nearby backyard, the idle chatter coming out of a restaurant, etc. It’s weird. Nice, but weird.
Those are the big and obvious things. I’m sure the next 1,000 miles will turn up some more subtle differences.