Electric Car Owner Challenges Washington Post EV Critic to Reality Test

By · February 02, 2011

Tom in Snowy Driveway with MINI-E

The Washington Post's Charles Lane wrote an article on Friday called “Cold truths about electric cars' cold-weather shortcomings.” I feel compelled to write a rebuttal article for PluginCars.com, based on real life experience, not quotes from obscure websites and “what if” conjecture.

I’ve been driving a MINI-E in Northern New Jersey for the past 20 months now. Last year's winter was much harsher than usual and this winter has been one for the record books. In January, the Tri-State area set all-time records for snowfall and temperatures have been averaging in the 20s for most of the month, even dipping below zero a few times. I’m only a few hundred miles short of 50,000 now, which means my little electric car has been averaging 2,500 miles per month, rain or shine, hot or cold. After reading Mr. Lane's article, I’m starting to wonder how that could be.

The article begins with Mr. Lane explaining how he was stuck in traffic in Washington during a snowstorm and how thankful he was that he wasn’t in an electric car. Well, I was actually in an electric car on the same Wednesday night, driving 30-plus miles home from work in the same snowstorm. Guess what? I made it just fine.

I wasn’t stuck in traffic for six hours like he was, but if that were the case, I still would have made it without a problem. Yes, I probably would have turned the heat down a bit to conserve energy, but I wouldn’t have to turn off the radio or windshield wipers. They use such little energy using them really makes no difference in how far you can go. The heater does use a fair amount of electricity, so I would set it at the lowest setting that would still keep me comfortable.

Charging MINI-E in snow

What Mr Lane, and many others that have never owned an EV, fail to realize is that unlike gasoline powered cars, electric cars use very little energy in slow moving, stop-and-go traffic. You can actually drive further in bumper-to-bumper traffic than you can driving 65 mph on a highway. Now, six hours in traffic is a lot, and running the heater full blast for that time would use a good amount of power. If you didn’t begin your trip with a full charge or if you had to drive close to the car's range limit to begin with, you could have a problem. However, so could gasoline powered cars that simply run out of gas, which happens to hundreds of thousands of people every year.

Another thing to consider is that the specific EV I’m driving, the MINI-E, isn’t even a production vehicle. It’s a prototype test vehicle that doesn’t even have the cold weather features found in current production electric cars. The MINI-E has a primitive passive thermal conditioning system, and no ability to precondition the battery and cabin while plugged into the grid. Adding a more sophisticated thermal management system and preconditioning would certainly extend the cold weather range. Even driving a prototype, I have never ran out of charge; I have never needed to be rescued roadside; and I have never suffered frostbite while stuck in a blizzard. Sorry to let you down, Charles.

One of the most egregious quotes used in the article taken from a little known website says, “A change of ten degrees can sap 50% of a batteries output.” I’m not an engineer, so I can’t comment on the physical characteristics of lithium Ion batteries in varying temperatures, but I can tell you with 100% certainty that I have found no amount of temperature drop that reduces my range by 50%. I have kept detailed logs of every trip I have made in the car for the entire 49,500 miles, so I know how temperature effects range. I’m not guessing or relying what someone else wrote about it. I’ve lived it. A 10 degree drop will affect my range by about 5% at most, and that’s once you get under 30 degrees.

MINI-E in snow

Current electric cars aren’t best suited for cold climates, but they can be used just fine in these markets as long as the owner understands the limits and acts responsibly. The thing to remember is that these cars are just the first wave of mass-produced EVs for most manufacturers. They will get better. Ranges will increase, they will become more efficient and they will perform better in weather extremes because just about all the manufacturers are pouring a lot of R&D money into them. Today’s EV’s aren’t for everyone. However, in order to get to the point where electric cars are better, cheaper and more versatile than their ICE counterparts, we need to start somewhere and the current crop of EV offerings are an excellent beginning.

Back to Mr. Lane. He obviously has no real life experience with electric cars. That fact is evident in his article. I’d like to give him the real life experience he needs, so he can write future articles based on fact, not conjecture. I’ll let him ride with me in my MINI-E for a few days in the dead of winter if he would like. Heck, I’ll even put him up in a spare bedroom at my house if he wants to take me up on the offer. Live with me and my electric car for a few days in February, the coldest month of the year. At least then, when he writes about electric cars, he can do so with a little experience. The offer is real. Mr. Lane, I'm waiting for your call or email.

Comments

· · 3 years ago

Hi Tom,

Does the Mini E have heated seats? This would be the most efficient heating choice for an EV, I think? Heating the bodies of the occupants directly.

There have been excellent electric defrosters for the windshield (Ford had 'em) that are nearly instant, and heat the glass directly, which is the best way to go.

As for cold weather electric machines -- I love the plugin Toro Power Curve 1800 snowblower. I've cleared a foot of snow from a 90' x ~9' wide driveway including the plow pile at the street and a 30' path in 30 minutes exactly. It consumed just 0.4kWh -- that is equivalent to less than 1/4 cup of gasoline...

Neil

· · 3 years ago

Hi Neil,

No it doesn't. No heated seats or steering wheel, it cannot precondition and the cabin heater is really insufficient. BMW didn't spend much time on cold weather comfort, I can assure you. I'm not complaining though, it's a test car and I knew what I was getting when I agreed to be in the Trial Lease.

I think this proves my point even more. Even a primitive, non production EV can do just fine in the harsh winters of the Northeast. Having heated seats, a sophisticated thermal management system and the ability to precondition while plugged into the grid will make the winter driving experience even better.

One thing I forgot to mention was that I have a natural gas backup generator for my home in case of a power failure. That was another thing Charles was whining about in his article. In the event of a power failure, I can charge up just fine. It's the gasoline cars that cannot refuel because the gas stations need electricity to full you up.

· · 3 years ago

Tom, thanks for this. I hope you made sure that Mr. Lane got a good, warm copy of this! I built an EV in my garage with lead acid batteries a couple of years ago. Now, LA is VERY affected by weather, but you know what? Even at 10 degrees below zero I was able to get in, turn it on and drive across town. Guess all the EV naysayers just don't get it. Range is the ONLY limitation of these vehicles, and when you consider how far the average person drives in a day, even that isn't a disadvantage for most. Calculate all the benefits and I think the world will be stunned in five years by just how many people chose to drive electric!

· Christopher (not verified) · 3 years ago

This is awsome car. But it won't work for Europeans (reason: most live in block of flats - ergo - you don't have access from 3-rd floor to ground to power up your car. That's why in Europe charging stations will be a must and simultaneously problem of range will dissappear).
Second thing I'd like to mention is that there are ALREADY batteries that hold x10 more than lithium-ion (those are out of cywil access) and x2 more capacity like li-polymer ones. There isn't any issues it just needs proper scaling-up in production too reduce costs. Cars same as yours with range 200 miles, 1000miles are doable now.

· · 3 years ago

Outstanding. My favorite part is how we're all starting to sound like one voice. For years I've used the line, "You've read about it... I've lived it." Amazing how confidently people can speak about something they've never experienced... and how quick those same people are to dismiss the reality from those who HAVE experienced it.

· · 3 years ago

We've let our friends and neighbors drive our LEAF. We show them how it's charged and what it costs, etc. Two of them have come back to us telling us about news reports they've seen which were inaccurate, based on their own personal experience with our LEAF. As Tom's article points out, you can't argue with empirical data. There needs to be a "Hall of Shame" website created where moronic articles and statements from journalists, regarding the electric car, are archived for posterity.

· Peder Norby (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom,

Outstanding indeed! It was really smart tfor BMW o put the Mini-Es on both coast to test the heat and cold extreams of the car.

Your writing and response to Mr Lane should be placed in the exact same page place of his writing in the Washington Post and let the readers decide who has more to offer in terms of information to the public and credibility.

Bbrilliant! Bravo my friend!

Stay warm up there.

Cheers
Peder

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

All these "it's not perfect, so it will never work" critics of the early EVs are conveniently forgetting that the first Model A had to go up steep hills backwards to the gravity fed fuel system would keep working.

What about how huge and cumbersome the fist cell phone were? Did we just give up on them? No.

I recently built my own house (passive solar, straw bale walls). Fortunately, I didn't listen to all those who told me I couldn't do it or that it wouldn't work. We now stay warm in the winter (and cool in the 110 degree summers) with no central heat or air.

Don't listen to the naysayers, they're all losers.

· Daniel (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hey Tom,

Nice write up...great to see you still cruising in your Mini-E...we had a chat once while waiting for the car wash here in NJ.

· · 3 years ago

Hi Daniel,

It's funny, just about every time I go tot he car wash somebody asks me about the car. Which car wash were we at? That would help me remember who you were.

· · 3 years ago

Update:

I was contacted by the Washington Post columnist, Charles Lane and he would like to take me up on the offer!

He's not 100% sure he can get the budget for the trip and expenses though, so it not definitely going to happen, but at least he is open to listening (and living) to my side of the argument. We'll see...

· · 3 years ago

Great news, Tom! I would love to see this happen, and for Mr. Lane and the Washington Post to tell the real story. Kudos!

· Trudy (not verified) · 3 years ago

3.9 Billion gallons = the total amount of fuel WASTED every year with GASOLINE cars sitting at idle.  - WSJ Feb 2, 2011  
 If we could have 1/3 of the cars in the US replaced with Electric vehicles, we'd SAVE over a BILLION gallons of Gasoline each year.  That's at least 3.5 Billion Dollars that could be saved & put to better use in the economy.  There's another good reason to encourage low cost EVs. 

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

email this article to charles lane from washington post
lanec@washpost.com.

· Back to Reality (not verified) · 3 years ago

"wasn’t stuck in traffic for six hours like he was"

Talk about not basing opinions on experience :P ... The real test is not driving 2,500 miles a month, but being stuck for, say, 9 to 12 hours in mostly non-moving traffic, for a distance of 7 miles. Write a response when you've tried that.

· · 3 years ago

@Tom: Thank you for the writeup! I've seen that claim of a 10° temperature drop resulting in a capacity loss of 50% in various places around the web recently, and found it hard to believe. As one who has been sitting on the fence with respect to going through with our LEAF order versus waiting for an EV with more range, I found the write-up reassuring. My feeling is that we would be just fine without Nissan's Cold Weather Package, as that package is not yet available to be ordered. Perhaps my dear wife will let me get away with buying both a Prius and a LEAF within a ~10 month period; I don't yet know. ;-)

· · 3 years ago

Tom, nice article.

Here is what NREL says in its study about cold climate and range :

http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=2464

"35% drop because of climate control. Small gains from preconditioning. Capacity loss 3.5% in hot places vs 1.2% in cold (per year)." This was at -6.7 Deg C.

· · 3 years ago

@Back to Reality: I don't see the big deal. If you're stuck for that long, then use the heater sparingly and bundle up. Driving in winter conditions, it's always a good idea to have a couple of blankets in the car anyway. I now know first-hand from Prius experience that it takes very little battery power to move a car forward in a traffic jam.

· · 3 years ago

@ back to reality -

If you're going seven miles in 12 hours, you have WAY bigger problems than what car you should be driving. Carry foul weather gear in the car and WALK the seven miles if this is something that happens to you on any sort of regular basis. Do you have any idea how many gasoline cars would run out of gasoline in this situation? If this seven miles in 12 hours is the "real test" of the viability of automotive technology, then something is seriously out of wack. How about my favorite test? Start your gas car in your closed garage to warm it up - and hang out there with it for a while.

EVs aren't perfect. No car is perfect. Sometimes things go wrong no matter what type of car you drive.

· · 3 years ago

@Back to Reality : If you regularly get stuck for 9 to 12 hours to drive 7 miles, you should really not be driving a car.

Your scenario is as likely as an ICE car breaking down, actually less likely.

· · 3 years ago

Back to Reality: Is driving 7 miles in 12 hours your usual reality? If so I highly recommend you buy an EV, your going to save yourself a lot of money in fuel. Or as Darell recommended, just walk.

In my entire 23 years of driving I have never faced a situation even remotely close to that. The closest I can compare it to was last spring when we has severe flooding in New Jersey and it took me over 4 hours to drive 30 miles. Roads were closed and the morning commute was impossible. That commute usually takes me about 40 minutes as it is mostly highway driving.

Here's the best part: When I arrived at work 4 hours later, my state of charge was at 76% or 78%, I can't remember exactly. When I usually arrive at work my SOC is between 68% & 70%. So after being stuck in stop & go traffic for four hours I arrived at work with MORE energy than I usually do driving at 65mph. I even watched as a guy walked by me with a gas can. His car must have run out of gasoline in the traffic jam.

So, while I wouldn't want to have to do it, if I was stuck in a traffic jam for that long, I would be fine. If it happened in the winter I would probably turn down the heat a bit to save some energy, but that's all. What I really want I want to know is how many gasoline cars stuck out there with me would run out of gas....

· theflew (not verified) · 3 years ago

I don't agree with people that say heated seats are enough. Having a wife she turns the headed seat on (full) and turns the heat to 85 F. What good is a warm bottom and back if your feet, ears and nose are cold? Also it does nothing for a child in a car seat. Believing that the average driver in cold weather is going to use heated seats instead of heated air is crazy - Volvo and Chevy realize this. Nissan doesn't realize this. All the reports of the Leaf say the heat is "ok". I often will take my coat off in the car because coats are bulky.

· · 3 years ago

theflow: I don't think heated seats alone are enough, but they do provide supplemental warming without using a lot of energy. I wish the MINI-E had them!

· · 3 years ago

Heated seats are a fantastic option. If you keep your core warm, it is far easier to keep your extremities warm since you body has plenty of warm blood to circulate if the core is happy. Wish I had heated seats on my bicycles some mornings! I've had heated seats in my last three cars. In both the current Prius and Rav4EV, there is no question that they save energy while keeping us happy.

· · 3 years ago

Nice goin, Tom! I hope that Mr. Lane is reasonable in his expectations should he be able to take the challenge.

You don't play golf with a basketball. I don't understand why critics of EVs would think that someone who need to travel long distances regularly would use an EV. Or why someone who does not have the ability to install appropriate charging equiptment would use an EV for frequent trips. That's not what EV buyers are looking for when they buy an EV.

I hope that Mr. Lane will consider why YOU use and EV. Why people who buy EVs choose them. Electric vehicles are efficient cars that are better for the environment. For someone who does not have some 'special' driving need, they are an excellent replacement for their gas-powered car.

I hope Mr. Lane will seek to answer the question that REALLY matters: Does an electric vehicle adequately provide for the daily transportation needs for the majority of Americans?

Again, I hope he is reasonable.

Great job!

· · 3 years ago

As I posted above, Mr Lane did contact me and is interested in taking me up on the offer. He did say that he would need to get clearance from the Washington Post first, and a budget for the trip.

He also made it clear that his personal opinion would be very difficult to change and that he has done considerable research to conclude that EV are not worth the effort. If he does come, I will do my best to show him the other side of the coin.

· · 3 years ago

I'm so glad he's done research (like reading about the 50% reduction in battery capacity with a 10-degree drop in temp), and already knows that his opinion won't likely change when steeped in reality. :sigh:

· · 3 years ago

Darell: I'll probably call upon you and your infinite EV wisdom to prepare for the confrontation if he does decide to go through with it! ;)

· · 3 years ago

Operators will be standing by.

· Jimmydreams (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom...

Dude! What are you doing bringing FACTS to bear on this subject?!? Don't you know that people want to read opinions that are written by someone with little or no experience in the subject at hand, that is devoid of any real facts or solid research, and that are filled with FUD and soundbites that can be copied over and over and spread around the internets to create reality?

Honestly. ;)

Now, I can't comment on your cold-weather driving, but I've had my Leaf exactly 26 days and have over 1600 miles on it. Using my heater in the mornings IS an energy-drain (I pre-heat the cabin remotely while I take my shower), but I still make my 63 mile round trip commute at 60-65mph with 20+ miles to spare at the end of the day.

And for you factoid lovers out there, the first 906 miles on my car used exactly $37.37 in electricity including taxes. The same mileage in my BMW would have run well over $150. Imagine the smile on MY face whenever I drive my EV. :)

· · 3 years ago

Great to hear your story Jimmy. I never said using the heater wasn't an energy drain, it definitely is, but it's manageable. My preheating is putting a portable ceramic heater in the cabin on mornings that are really cold and letting it warm things up while I eat breakfast!

Good luck with your LEAF, I wish you well.

· · 3 years ago

@zjimmy -

Does the Leaf NOT have shore-power pre-conditioning like the 1996 EV1, the 1996 Rav4EV, etc? Yikes! We precondition automatically every morning from shore power - start with a warm, full car every time.

· Jimmydreams (not verified) · 3 years ago

darelldd...

Absolutely, the Leaf DOES precondition with or without shore-power!! :) If you're not plugged in, I think there is a 15 minute time limit on preconditioning to avoid excessive battery drain. The Leaf pre-conditioning is preset to 77 degrees, but we're hoping to convince Nissan to make that user-adjustable.

Tom...

Nice job on the ceramic heater! (just don't forget to unplug it before you leave in the morning!!) My Leaf is always garaged which means it's not too cold to begin with. I only precondition the heater to warm up the fluid and keep the car warm once I hit the 'cool' San Diego mornings....that helps reduce the energy drain on the batteries. The Leaf has VERY impressive A/C that uses much less power than heating. Obviously, we use more A/C than heat in san Diego. :)

· · 3 years ago

I sometimes use a $20 heater (1.5 kW) to pre-warm our ICE and hybrid cars, especially when they are covered in snow/ice. It's better than leaving the gas engine running for 15+ minutes. I'd look forward to being able to do this a bit more automatically with a LEAF or other EV! :-)

· · 3 years ago

Check out Lava Buns, the warming/cooling seat cushion. You throw it in the microwave for a few minutes and you'll have a heated seat for several hours. In the summer, you can throw it in the freezer for a cool seat. I used one at football games for years and never wore it out. Amazon still sells them for like $30.

· · 3 years ago

Wow Tom, I love the article. Probably the best I have seen on this site. Not only do you have the EV to back up your article, you state your points so everyone can understand you. I love the pics thrown in as well. I will admit I would love to drive the MINI and would take you up on your offer if I was Mr. Lane even if I had to fund the trip. But, for him to say that his opinion would probably not change is such a slap in the face. If you are a true reporter, you should go into a story like you are offering him with an open mind. Facts and real world driving is the only way to change the way this country looks at EV's. Keep piling on the miles.

As a side note, do you have the link for the story about the MINI owner that contacted the other owners for him to make the 1,000 mile trip by using their chargers? If you would you post that link here?

Thank you again for posting this story. You should be on here more than someone like Josie. She really just does not get it.

· curt (not verified) · 3 years ago

Great article Tom! I enjoyed it thoroughly and am bolstered by your experience with the Mini-E. The Leaf will be my very first EV (and only my 3rd car). I mostly have ridden motorcycles (now on a Harley with over 217k miles on it) and I know what cold is (believe me). I've ridden through Crater Lake Oregon when the snow was 22feet high so I can get by w/o much heat :-) Now, I'm in "cozy" S. California so temperature concerns are not as bad but I am sure looking forward on getting my Leaf.

· · 3 years ago

Curt, I promise you are are going to love the electric driving experience. It will be unlike anything you have had previously. Listen to how some of the experienced EV owners here talk about it. It's addictive. Good luck with your LEAF, and by all means, stop by here and write about your experiences, good and bad.

· Scott Waugh (not verified) · 3 years ago

Fantastic article Tom, thanks so much for putting it up.

Question for you - you've run an EV for over 50,000 miles (more than anyone else in the blogosphere that I know of. I'm considering a Leaf or Volt and was wondering what kind of range decrease you've seen since it was new?

Thanks,

Scott

· · 3 years ago

Scott,
I have keep very detailed trip logs that record a host of data. I record this information every time I recharge (so it's not new data every time I actually drive the car). Up until December, when I was at around 47,000 miles, I did not see any degradation in the data. The past month now my range is down a bit from similar temperatures this time last year (about 5-7 MPC) however, I'm not 100% convinced that it degradation yet. I have been driving a lot in the snow and as you would guess that takes more energy to do. Also, my driving patterns have changed a bit and I'm driving more highway miles than last year so. Plus, this is a small sample of only about four weeks so the jury is out. Once the weather warms up a bit and the ice melts off the streets I can get a clearer picture.
One thing to remember is that, since I do not own this car, and it is intended for research only, I have done nothing to try to help the battery maintain longevity. In fact, I have purposely punished it. I have done frequent deep discharges (over 50 times) where the car goes into limp mode and can only go about 5 more miles before it shuts off. I would never have done that if I owned the car and was trying to extend the battery's lifespan. I have conducted other "tests" that I care not print ; )

· Scott Waugh (not verified) · 3 years ago

Thanks for the reply Tom and nice to hear what you're seeing at that mileage (a pleasant surprise, quite frankly, from what I was expecting). :-)

· Peder Norby (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hi Scott,

just to tag on to Tom's remarks.

I'm at 25,000 and have noticed no degredation of range, I also push it hard albiet in a more temperate climate in San Diego.
Tom is the high milge leader of the Mini-E clan but other are in the 20k to40k range and there ave been no reports of reduced range that I know of.

I hope they let a few of us test the upper range to and beyond 100,000 but I'm not holding my breath on that as they are and have always been test cars. But that would be a good test and I'd love to keep sun gas for a few more years :)

Peder

· · 3 years ago

Just wanted to point out that we have at least one Rav4EV owner with 200,000 miles on the clock. several have passed 150,000 now, and many are past 100,000. I'm personally inching my way up there ro 100k.

Tom has the crazy record for the Mini-E, and likely for getting those miles so fast in damn-near ANY car. But there are plenty of much higher-mileave EVs driving around out there every day!

· · 3 years ago

I do like to talk about my mileage a lot, but that's really because one of the things you hear people criticizing EV's for is their inability to go very far. Having level 2 charging at my workplace is a terrific help and I think workplace charging is second in importance only to home charging.

I can drive 30 miles to work an plug in when I get there and in about 1 1/2 hours I'm back to 100% so by lunchtime I can drive 100 miles if I want return to work plug in and in about 1 1/2 hours I have enough juice to get home. I have had a few 200+ mile days, something you hear people say is impossible with a 100 mile BEV. (50amp charging helps too!)

I'm thinking about asking BMW to let me keep it for a third year so I can return it with 100,000 miles.

· Peder Norby (not verified) · 3 years ago

Darell,

So how is the Rav4EV after 100,000 miles? can you give us an approximation as to decline in range or any charging issues?

Also, your solar gas station is now about 8 years old or so, How is the production from that system after 8 years?

I'm about 5 years behind you on both the EV and the solar, but it would be nice to know how both are holding up.

Cheers
Peder

· · 3 years ago

Tom, You say that you are treating your test MINI-E more rigorously than if you owned it. Does charging to 100% really mean that or is it limited by the controller to some lower fraction of the total battery capacity? If you really do fill the battery regularly and still have little or no range degradation at 50K miles, that is an interesting data point.

I thought I'd read that Nissan recommends not keeping the Leaf battery at 100% more than necessary (80% preferred), but I may remember that wrong.

· Keith (not verified) · 3 years ago

Tom,

It's great you called out Charles Lane on his misinformation, but did you try contacting Bryan Johannsen who wrote the article at The Car Electric? What are his credentials? Does he really know what he is talking about? To me, the article was more opinion piece than factual information. No mention of different chemistries and their effective temperature ranges. Is his experience limited to lead acid batteries? Does he have any real EV experience at all?

I did a search on Bryan Johannsen and got a lot of hits on sites referring to his article, but not much more. It looks like his article is getting more attention than it is worth.

· · 3 years ago

@Peder - 100k seems to be the magic number of noticing some range degredation. My modules all still test very low internal resistance, so the pack is still quite healthy for its age. But definitely I'm seeing a bit of reduction. In practice this means that instead of handling about 98% of our driving, that it now handles about 95, so I'm not crying just yet. Not after over eight years of "free" driving! And like Tom, I actually have abused my pack tremendously... though I've owned the car since new. I figure if I'm gong to use it, I'm going to use it. And I have. Driven it all the way down to limp mode countless times. I've never gotten stranded with it, though I have officially "run out" of charge. Just turn it off for a few mintues, turn it back on and keep going. (try that in a gas car!). I can confidently go 80 miles on the freeway these days. Well over 100 if on city streets.

The solar system still registers full ouput on the best days. I still see over 2.5kW at 2pm on a perfectly clear, cool day. I couldn't be happier with that investment! Has been powering my house and my car for seven years now.

· · 3 years ago

DGP: I'm pretty sure the MINI-E can only charge to 85% of it's actual capacity, but even then, from what I understand, it's better not to always charge to 100% as I do. I just checked my logs and to date I have charged the car to 100% 891 times. Only on about 40 occasions have I charged it, but not to 100%. As you can see, I am approaching my 1,000th recharge without any noticeable degradation.

Keith, No I have never contacted him. I really don't even know who he is. The reason he's getting this attention is because Mr Lane included excerpts from his blog/website in his Washington Post article. I do not know why Mr Lane decided that Mr Johannsen is the utmost expert on battery technology. I really don't plan on contacting him either. I have learned that no amount of facts can change some people's opinions.

As far as Darrell abusing his pack, don't believe it! I saw his RAV4 and NOTHING about that vehicle looks abused. It looks BRAND new! It's what, 7 years old now? It looks like he bought it a few months ago. Anyone that keeps the appearance of his car that good does not abuse any part of it!!! Nice try EvNut

· · 3 years ago

@Tom "As you can see, I am approaching my 1,000th recharge without any noticeable degradation."

Can you figure out if the mini has lost some battery capacity - so if how much ?

· · 3 years ago

EVNow: From what I can tell there has been no noticeable loss of capacity. I will have a better idea once it warms up a bit though. It's difficult to get a good accurate range average recently because I'm frequently driving on ice covered roads and that uses more energy.

· · 3 years ago

> It looks BRAND new! It's what, 7 years old now? <

Over eight years now. Bought in 2002. We're currently working on the 9th year with this car, after two years with the EV1.

The same way I'm good with a rubber hose, I can abuse cars without it showing. ;)

· Don T (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hello,
The reference to a 50% reduction at 10* is a quote of physics. -10* Celsius = a 50% reduction in the energy / time of a chemical reaction. Li batteries are warmed by their own reaction so the actual internal temperature of the electrolyte is only slightly reduced while the car is being driven. The battery is also heated when charging so only a slight reduction of capacity is noticed in practice. Part of the preconditioning function is putting current into the battery while the interior is warmed to get the battery up to capacity as well.

· · 3 years ago

So it's official. I got the word from Charles Lane that the WP wants the story and will pay for him to come to NJ and meet up with me and see how I'm doing in the cold weather with my MINI-E.

Evidently a lot of people reading this post emailed Mr Lane and encouraged him to take me up on the challenge. Now that he's accepted, he's asked me to "call off the dogs",sort of speak, so please don't email him about doing this anymore, he has formally accepted!

I'll report back here as we approach the date that he comes, which should be pretty soon as he wants to come while it's still very cold here, preferably even snowing.

· · 3 years ago

Tom, to get this straight. He is coming to check and make sure the range doesn't drop when the temperature drops by 10 degrees ?

· · 3 years ago

EVNow: No, obviously the range does drop along with every ten degree drop in temperature, I think I have been clear about that. The claim that he posted in his article was that a mere 10 degree drop can sap 50% of the cars power which is simply not true. On average, my car loses about 5-6% of range every ten degrees colder it gets below 60 degrees. In other words, at 75 degrees I average about 100 miles per charge. In 35 degree temperatures my range shrinks to about 75 MPC, in 15 degree weather, about 65 MPC. Plus, yo have to remember, the MINI-E is a prototype and has a primitive, passive thermal management system with no preconditioning ability.
He is coming to spend a few days with me to see how I live with an EV in cold weather. What sacrifices do I make, what problems do I encounter, etc. I really think he finds it hard to believe that I drive an electric car in the cold weather, on icy and snow covered roads and don't have problems. We'll see. I know this isn't going to be warm & fuzzy. He's not an electric car supporter at all. I'll be ready...

· · 3 years ago

@Tom Moloughney : Oh yes, I meant doesn't drop 50%. I should remember not to post in a hurry.

Should be interesting.

· · 3 years ago

This should be fun! You're the perfect guy to take on this challenge, Tom!

· Anthony (not verified) · 3 years ago

Have you ever had a problem with the batteries freezing up or getting so cold that the car won't work?

· · 3 years ago

Anthony: No I haven't. The worst problem I have had from the cold is if I let the batteries get too cold, the car won't accept a charge. I then have to drive it for a few miles and the batteries warm up a bit and then it will charge. This has only happened a few times so far, when I have let the car sit outside in temperatures well under freezing for a long time, like over 12 hours. The car will start right up and drive without any problem, but it won't charge until I warm up the cells a bit.
The MINI-E doesn't have the ability to keep it's batteries warm, like other production EV's do.

· Kevin (not verified) · 3 years ago

Hey tom,
I hope to own an ev one day, but for now I am stuck with a gas car. Has your electric bill gone up significantly since you've had your car? I'd like your opinion on something. If you haven't read recently, Shai Agassi,CEO of an electric car company, is pushing to completely switch Israel to electric vehicles. Do you believe this will be possible for America one day?

· · 3 years ago

Hi Kevin, It cost me about $3.50 to drive the car roughly 100 miles. I drive a lot (2,500 to 3,000 miles per month) so I'm paying about $100 per month in extra electricity. However that is replacing the $400.00 per month I was spending before I got this car on gasoline. Now I wasn't driving a prius, my other car is a 2009 Toyota Tacoma truck that only gets about 18mpg. However even the prius cannot match the efficiency of a pure BEV, unless gas prices dropped down to around $2.00/gallon

Shai, is more than CEO of an electric car company, the model is battery swapping where you own the car, but his company owns the battery and you pay to lease it. It's certainly an interesting concept and requires a lot of infrastructure build out. One thing it does do is decrease the cost of the car because you don't buy the battery and this makes the car cost even less than an ICE car. You then have a lease payment for your energy. It's interesting, but I don't really know enough about it to say if I think it will really succeed on a large scale. Yes, I do think we will eventually have mostly electric cars on the road, this will take time though.

· Kevin (not verified) · 3 years ago

Do you think all of the electricity needed to supply all of these EV's would be readily available or is some work needed in that area too?

· · 3 years ago

@Kevin -

I guess you could ask this in many other way. When gasoline cars were first introduced, did we have all the gasoline needed to supply "all of these gas cars?" When new homes are built with AC units and pools, do we have all the electricity needed to supply them all? We won't suddenly have billions of EVs running around. They will ramp on slowly, and infrastructure will ramp up to the demand as it always has. That said - much of the charging will be done at night during off-peak times when we have plenty of generation capacity sitting around doing nothing (well, worse than that - being inefficient and more polluting).

So the short answer: Some work will need to be done, and yes the electricity will be readily available.

· · 3 years ago

Update to this thread:
Charles Lane will not be coming to New Jersey to do the story. First he had to get the trip approved by the WP, which he did. We then needed to work out a date for him to drive up from DC and stay a couple days. He offered to come on February 27th - March 1st however I was going to be in Las Vegas from the 28th to the 2nd for a restaurant & catering convention that I attend every year. I told him other than those dates I am available but either his schedule wasn't cooperating or he lost his desire to continue the story.
I have offered to send him some of the data I have complied where he can see for himself how the range is effected by weather, which of course it is, just not to the extent he claimed it would in his article.
I'm disappointed that we couldn't work this out. While I probably wouldn't have changed his mind about EV's, I would have definitely shown him how easy it is to live with one and how well the car performs in cold weather and even driving on snow covered roads.

· · 3 years ago

Aw, bummer, Tom! I hope his decision wasn't based on the fear of being run over by the gasoline-car-driving phone-texters in your area!

· · 3 years ago

I was looking forward to it also Darrell. However it's starting to warm up here now, and Charles really wanted to drive around in it when it was in the 20's so I do understand why he called it off.

As for being run over, all my friends and family tell me it was an OPEC hitman. Promise me if they ever complete the hit, you guys will continue to fight the fight!

· · 3 years ago

Yes, comrade. We will fight on!

Can you provide the high-level stats for winter driving this year?

· · 3 years ago

Brad, I'll do better. I have data for all 52,000 miles I've driven the car. I record it every time I recharge. Currently I have recharged the car about 950 times (so I have 950 data entries). When I hit 1,000 charging cycles, I'll calculate averages for every 10 degree difference in outside temperatures as well as note any degradation. It will take me about 4 weeks to hit that and I'll do a comprehensive post here to expose/explore the data.
Mr Lane's article claimed that as simple 10 degree drop in temperatures can sap 50% of the cars range. My data will show otherwise, something like 6-7% for every 10 degree temperature drop below the ideal 70 degrees, but I really haven't done the math yet.

· · 3 years ago

Tom, I look forward to seeing your temperature/range data.

And it's from a car with no active thermal management of the battery pack! Should provide a good baseline for cold weather performance.

· senna007 (not verified) · 3 years ago

It is funny how cold temperatures also affect ICE vehicles but this rarely gets reported. We run a small bus company in the UK and last year we had a very harsh winter with temperatures around -15 degrees Celsius for several weeks. During this period of cold weather we left one of our vehicles engine running to warm up before taking it out and a rather unfortunate thing happened. The temperature difference between the cold air outside and warm oil in the engine caused the plastic oil filter cap (which on this vehicle sat at the bottom of the filter) to crack, thus dumping the oil and resulting in a ceased engine and very hefty bill. Yet i don't hear anyone calling the ICE unsuitable for cold climates. The UK is not usually that cold but places in Russia and other areas of the world are much colder of course and i have heard stories of people lighting fire under their fuel tanks because the fuel has frozen, a practice i doubt it particularly safe but i guess its just another example of the hypocrisy facing EV's.

· stuart irwin (not verified) · 3 years ago

The fleet of 500 BMW Mini E's use ClipperCreek's Electric Vehicle Charge Stations exclusively. www.clippercreek.com

· · 3 years ago

That is correct Stewart and Personally I haven't had any problem with mine, but it is interesting that BMW didn't award the EVSE contract for the ActiveE, a much bigger project than the MINI-E to Clipper Creek. AeroVironment will be the exclusive supplier of EVSE's for the ActiveE.

I have four Clipper Creek EVSE's with the useless ODU connectors on them and plan on contacting Mike Paritee (CC's Northeast Rep) to upgrade them to the J1772 standard soon.

Any insight into why Clipper Creek didn't get the contract. (I would assume it's all about the $$)

· · 3 years ago

Interesting that AeroVironment was selected. They were universally panned by Leaf owners (or to be owners) for very high installation estimates.

· Anonymous (not verified) · 3 years ago

Funny how AeroVironment got panned yet they are the cheapest charging station on the market.
Huh?

· · 2 years ago

The Washington Post just slammed EVs again:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/overcharged/2011/12/30/gIQAzQ0yUP...

Now they're advocating rescinding the $7500 federal tax credit for buying an EV, equating it with ethanol subsidies.

Very lopsided editorial.

New to EVs? Start here

  1. Electric Cars Pros and Cons
    EVs are a great solution for most people. But not everybody.
  2. Seven Things To Know About Buying a Plug-In Car
    A few simple tips before you visit the dealership.
  3. Incentives for Plug-in Hybrids and Electric Cars
    Take advantage of credits and rebates to reduce EV costs.
  4. Buying Your First Home EV Charger
    You'll want a home charger. Here's how to buy the right one.
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Electric Car Charging Networks
    If you plan to charge in public, you'll want to sign up for charging network membership (or two).
  6. Electric Vehicle Charging for Businesses
    How do you ensure that electric car owners will be happy with every visit to your charging spot?
  7. How to Use the PlugShare EV Charging Station Tool
    Locate EV charging stations and optimize their use with a powerful mobile app.
  8. Quick Charging of Electric Cars
    Add 50 to 60 miles of range in about 20 minutes. Here's how.
  9. Calculating the Real Price of EV Public Charging
    Compare the cost of charging on the road to what you pay at home.
  10. Electric Vehicle Charging Etiquette
    Thou shalt charge only when necessary. And other rules to live by.