My First Tow

Sorry for the long silence, but the past month has been a busy one – for the job, the family and the car! Since you’re not really interested in the first two, I’ll give a quick update on the last – where the biggest news over the past 3 weeks was my first tow.

As a MINI E pioneer I knew it wouldn’t be a question of “if” but “when” I’d have to get the car towed – the semi-surprise was “how”.

All along I assumed it would be because I ran out of electrons. But instead, there I was in early November with plenty of juice showing on my chargeometer – but with almost no get-up and go, and the old “Noticeably Reduced Motor Power” icon light up. And this time, none of my earlier tricks would make it go away.

So as I cooled my heels waiting for MINI Roadside Assistance to show up, I had time to reflect that one of the big disadvantages of an electric car is that it relies so heavily on modern technology. In the old days, even a non-handy guy like me could open up the hood and at least get a clear idea of what is wrong with the car (I once drove 10 miles to get home from college with a bandana tied around a break in some hose – and it worked!).  But here I was, having the same feeling I would get whenever a computer would crash on me – knowing that there was something wrong happening, but having no clue and no confidence that I could go in and figure out what it was.

It turns out that it was a “fault in the optical cable that communicates between the battery and vehicle control unit” – definitely not something a bandana could help out in any way.

The “good news” side of this technology coin is that the most common problems –  software glitches – will be easily repairable; possibly even via a roadside “software patch”. That wasn’t so in my case (took about a week to replace the optical cable) but, no doubt companies such as BMW will be able to refine and optimize production in such a way that scenes such as the above will be less common in the future.


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