20,000 Electric Miles


Last night – after my usual 90 mile commute and a 5 mile round trip to a client – I had to run out for an errand several miles away. At about 8:40pm, the odometer on #217 turned over the 20,000 mile mark. I was so happy I pulled over to record the event.

20,000 electric-powered (and solar charged) miles!

This was one of my original goals when I first started this test last June, as I thought that to make this test meaningful (and cost-effective!) I’d need to drive the car to a significant distance.

That errand last night came at a convenient time, as sadly my time with #217 is coming to an end today. It has been a very rewarding 365 days, filled with some surprises and one or two frustrations, but on the whole a very, very satisfying test drive of what I hope and expect will be a mass-market option in automobiles in the coming years.

I took a look back to last June, before I received #217, and uncovered this list of questions that I hoped to get answered:

“…now I have another opportunity to leverage those (solar) 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?”

Luckily I didn’t get zapped, didn’t stall in a lightning storm, was able to run the A/C on hot days (though things did get a little cool on winter days), and ultimately enjoyed about 332 days fun, fast, all-electric driving. I even stopped by a few gas stations to get some ice tea, put some air in the tires and clean the windshields.

I also learned a few other things about driving an electric car:

– ‘range anxiety’ only lasts a week or so (after you get the 32amp wall box installed), and after that you’re  comfortable

– some kind of public charging infrastructure would reduce or eliminate range anxiety, and would be relatively easy to install (electricity already being the energy unit of choice for everything from iPods to Laundry’s)

– regenerative braking = “one pedal” driving control, which is fun, efficient, and saves the brake pads

– only about 3% of the population will notice that you’re driving an all-electric car unaided

– drafting off of trucks can save 5% of your battery pack

– you will forget to plug in…but you will only do this once

There’s no doubt more to share, and I plan on continuing to add to the dialog on electric cars. My hope is that in less than a year I can own one, but we’ll see how that goes.

For now, #217 and I part ways and take different forks in the road. #217 is headed to either China or Europe, whereas tomorrow I’m still headed to work. It just won’t be a solar-powered commute any more.

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4 responses to “20,000 Electric Miles

  1. We shall miss you #217. I await the giant 4-wheel drive, family truckster version of you.

  2. First of all, thanks for your posts on the car; they’ve been really informative. I’ve been following the progress of the Mini E for some time now and it’s been great to see how you and others have been getting on with it. Really hope the car makes it to mass production as the general consensus seems to be that it’s a great car!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Chris – it was a very positive experience with the car itself, and I hope to see a mass-market electric car option, especially in a MINI frame, soon.

      Stand by for more, as I’ve got some nice video shot that I just need to find time to edit and post up.

  3. electric moving is the future also for new but also old cars!

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