How the MINI E Lost to Cold and Ice
The story goes a bit like this. Have you ever noticed how the battery indicator on your lithium-ion powered cell phone goes nuts in cold weather and, despite having it recharged moments ago, it shuts off, or at least it indicates you're running low? Apparently, the same happens with the MINI E and, we reckon, most of the electric vehicles we see today.
Lyle Dennis' MINI has 7,700 miles driven so far and, according to his saying, the average range of the vehicle is as advertised: 100 miles. Provided the weather doesn't take a turn for the worst, that is.
"On a recent trip at a temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit and including a two-hour 110 volt charge in the middle, the battery meter hit zero miles/zero percent after just 55 miles. The car is billed as having a 100 mile range," Dennis explains on the gm-volt.com blog, quoted by Autoblog.
"My commute is 60 miles round-trip, mostly highway and at about 60 to 65 MPH with accessory heat running. It isn’t clear if the battery charge level detection circuitry has become more inaccurate in the cold, whether the battery is aging and losing range, or if range is actually reduced in the cold."
"I suspect all three factors are in play with the latter being most important. In 65 degree weather, I can extrapolate roughly 75 to 80 miles of range on the same commuting cycle."
And that's not all. Between the range of the electric vehicle dropping to nearly half at only 23 degrees and the poor performance on icy and snowy hills (according to Dennis, this is because the front wheel drive car has a rear-axle center of gravity given by the 500 pounds lithium ion battery), the MINI E proved to be more than a challenge for the man who is testing it.
But, for all intents and purposes, that's why they call it a trial. As with most carmakers, BMW chose to lease a test fleet to selected customers, exactly for that purpose: test it and fix it. We will probably see the result next winter...