When Mini sent the news about opening up the Mini E Field Trial application this morning, I jumped right on it. The email didn’t sit in my inbox for long. I immediately applied to become a Mini-E test driver. The honor of leasing a cutting-edge full-electric Mini E is only being extended to folks that live in the NY/NJ or LA metro areas. Chalk this up as yet another reason I’m glad I live in New Jersey (just don’t bring up the topic of taxes).
While I won’t share all the secrets of the Mini E Field Trial application process, I will say that it’s a Flash-based application that eats up all available monitor real estate. Needless to say, it was pretty cool to see the silver and yellow Mini E take over my iMac’s 24-inch screen. The application was fairly exhaustive (but fun), and took roughly an hour to complete.
I have my fingers crossed that we’ll be among the 500 people chosen to field test the Mini E for a year’s time. The Mini E is, without a doubt, one of the coolest transportation developments ever. This is a research project like no other and a remarkable chance to help make history.
Mini is perfectly clear about the challenges:
For right now, the MINI E is an experiment of sorts. While a handful of companies have recently pursused hybrid electric-gas engines, BMW Group is the first to use the latest generation of lithium-ion technology in an all-electric vehicle. So this is a big jump and it’s important to remember that there are still some considerable hurdles to clear before a pure electric car is ready for mass production. How well will the limited range of such a vehicle fit our busy lives? Will the batteries hold up under extended day-to-day use? Can they be made smaller, or charge quicker and go farther? These are all important questions we don’t have the answer to. Yet.
The Mini E will be offered on a one-year lease and must be returned at lease end, no ifs, ands or buts. The $850 per month lease costs include comprehensive insurance, maintenance, and the use of the garage 240V/48 amp wall box charging unit. I’ll need to cover any costs of updating the wiring in the house to handle the wall box, if necessary. The wall box is said to charge the Mini E in just three hours, providing a range of 100-120 miles. While a 110V cable is supplied for emergency use, it takes 26 hours for a full charge on 110V.
Given Mini’s calculations, I’d expect to save roughly $200 per month on gasoline, once the cost of electricity is figured into the equation. Taking the cost of gas, maintenance, and insurance into consideration makes the $850 a month lease payment that much more palatable … but it’s more than pure numbers. It’s about putting what little money I have where my mouth is … and that’s what MPGomatic has been about from day one … change is here and I’m ready to help make it happen.
If I’m lucky enough to be chosen to be a Mini E test driver, the little electric critter will be put to the test as a daily driver, 365 days out of the year. And you’ll know ours … it’ll be the one with the big honking MPGomatic logos plastered across the flanks …