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Entries Tagged 'mini' ↓

MINI E Sponsorship Wrap a No Go

We can forget about the concept of defraying the cost of driving an electric MINI E through sponsorship. At least for now. It appears that wrapping a leased MINI with (tasteful) graphics may run astray of the lease terms. Looking for ways to make the $850 per month lease payment more affordable for the less-than-well-heeled, I posed the question to MINI Product Manager, Vincent Tennessee Kung.

“Modifying a MINI, like any vehicle leased by MINI Financial Services, may violate the terms and conditions of the contract regarding modifications done to the vehicle as it may also affect as the new vehicle warranty. Therefore, we do not recommend or endorse a wrap,” replied Vincent. “This is an engineering field trial more than anything else and with the flying doctors who will be checking in on the cars, such activity will be noticed.”

Ah well, the best laid plans, and all that …
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MINI E – Passed the First Hurdle!

I received an email from our local MINI dealer this morning, stating that “According to MINI USA, your E MINI application is very special and at the top of the list!”

The email included a two-page follow up MINI E Application document, along with the request to “Please fill out the answers truthfully, as we approach the final stages of a lengthy application process.”

I gave the local salesperson a call to get the skinny, and he was quite forthcoming.

Apparently, over 13,000 people applied for the one-year MINI E lease. MINI has been winnowing down the applicants and this second application form will be used to enter the final stages for the lucky few. Once the application is submitted, it must pass muster with BMW finance and proof of liability insurance must be provided. At that point, an electrician will come out to check to see if modifications are necessary for the home electrical system to accommodate the MINI E charging box.

We’re in the midst of doing the math to determine the feasibility of the $850 per month yearly lease. If gas was still over $4 per gallon, we’d be in like Flint.

Has the MINI E Missed its Mark?

Much was made of the remarkable popularity of the MINI E electric car around the time of the LA Auto Show. Numerous news outlets repeated the line that “10,000 drivers have already applied to lease the cars, at $850 a month.” (hybridcars.com). Now it appears, with the recession barreling along, that the interested throng has been whittled down a bit.

This week, a Bloomberg article noted:

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG will lease 250 of its new Mini Es in Southern California and 200 in metropolitan New York and New Jersey by March. Applicants, who will pay $850 a month for the zero-emissions car for one year, are outnumbering the models available by 4-to-1, according to the Munich-based carmaker.

2,000, 10,000, or 25,000? Just before the LA Show, Motor Trend remarked:

10,000 people have forwarded their email addresses to BMW, hoping to become customers. BMW expects 25,000 applicants by the time the list closes and BMW chooses its 500 U.S. guinea pigs.

I went through the initial MINI E lease application process back in mid-November … never got a peep back from MINI regarding the status of my application. Not one word … not even a thank you for the application. Did they not like my choice theoretical cross-country co-pilots? Did I fail the test? Perhaps because I participate in too many social media outlets and MINI considered me to be a loose cannon?

I’m more than a little irked, because I was – and still am – willing to put up $850 a month to participate in the experiment. While the company had taken a drubbing in many online forums for the cost of the lease, I had justified the expense and was ready to go forward.

Lets see what we can dig up out in Detroit …

Mini E Racing Series

What the world needs right now is a new kind of racing. Electric car racing … not in a straight line, but through the twisty bits. BMW would do well to follow Volkswagen’s lead (with their successful Jetta TDI Cup program) and create a racing series for the Mini E.

Imagine a Mini E racing series, with a dozen or so Mini E race cars piloted by celebrities. Each car would be fully outfitted with cameras fore, aft, and inside the cabin. The races would be livestreamed over the Internet. A legion of fans would follow each event.

Huge potential awaits …

Cable networks are hungry for good clean green entertainment. Hi-tech sponsors would line up for the chance to splash their logos across the flanks of the cars. Celebrities would fight tooth and nail to gain a ride. The public would clamor for this new form of interactive and environmentally-sensitive form of racing. And perhaps most importantly, engineers would gather a remarkable amount of data from each and every car in a fantastically short time frame.

To counter the argument that racing needs to be loud to win over the fans, special audio systems (with bleacher-rattling subwoofers) would be fitted to each Mini E race car. While most mechanical modifications would be prohibited in the spirit of fairness (and to hold down costs), individual teams would develop distinctive soundtracks for each vehicle. The potential for corporate sponsorship is staggering, from video game companies (such as Electronic Arts and LucasArts), through audio companies (like Kenwood, Alpine, and Kicker), and the high-tech world (think IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Oracle).

Events would take place on each coast, with the initial events in the NY/NJ and LA areas to serve as gathering points for the installed base of Mini E test drivers.

Mini E Field Trial Application Filed!

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.
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