Plug-in Tapas


Nothing big to dine on lately, so instead I’ve been saving up a bunch of smaller appetizers of electric car info. None of these are by themselves worthy of your time, but collectively I hope they give you some more insight into what it is like to drive an electric car on a daily basis.

Truth is Funny Walking out of Lowe’s this weekend, I saw an older man looking in the windows of #217. To avoid the awkward-approach-to-a-stranger-who-is-busy-examining-your car, I called out “It’s the future!” as I approached, to which he replied “Not without a backseat”. I almost dropped my lumber.

So Clean, Yet So Dirty As part of our participation in this program, MINI has sent us periodic questionnaires. One of the very first ones asked questions about my expectations and concerns. There was the usual suspects – “Is the regenerative braking system hard to get used to?”, “How does range anxiety affect your driving?”, etc. But then there was one that I never thought of before – “Are you fearful of the High Voltage system?” – to be honest, I hadn’t thought about it. I probably just assumed that, like other electrical appliances in our lives, this one was engineered to be safe to use and I couldn’t accidentally electrocute myself. But ever since reading that question, the fact that I’ve got lots of electrons surrounding me, hasn’t been far from my mind. It hasn’t lowered my enthusiasm for driving an electric car, but it has expressed itself in one funny way – I don’t take it to the car wash.  I have hand washed it – on the theory that I won’t be holding a hose underneath the engine block – but only once (amazing how the right combination of free time on the weekend and sunny weather never come together).

There Are No Stupid Questions Except for maybe these:  “OK, so it’s all electric – but what kind of gas mileage does it get?”   “Can you still drive it if there’s lightening?”   “Does it take A, AA or AAA? hahahahahaha!”    “What would happen if you accidentally put gas in?”  “Do you have, like, a really long cord?”   “Where is the engine? (a: under the hood)…oh, so it’s not totally electric then?”   “If it’s an electric car, why isn’t there a standard outlet then?”  “So what do you do at the gas station then?”   “It’s sooo quiet…I wonder if they’d let you drive it inside the library?”  (I actually love that last one 😉

Parking Garage Guys Know It All – But It’s Nice When They Don’t A few months ago I wrote about how surprised I was when, at a parking lot in Manhattan, I started to explain that the car was electric so it wouldn’t make any noise when it was started. The guy gave me a ‘No s#@t Sherlock’ look and asked “so, you think this is the only electric car in the world?”. Apparently another “Pioneer” parked there regularly. Since then I haven’t taken the trouble to inform any parking lot guys about it, and nobody’s even looked twice at the car either. Until the other day. I was again in Manhattan, and dropped the car off at the same garage. When I went back to get it, it was taking a long time. No one else was around, and I started doing email on my phone. Next thing I knew, it’d been about 10 minutes. I started walking back, when the attendant turned the corner and said in a frustrated voice “it won’t move!”. Together we walked back, and I explained how it was an electric car, silent on start-up, etc. – he was amazed!  Even took it for an extra spin around the lot. I gave him a $2 tip.

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