Has your life ever been changed by a gadget? Apparently some of those who leased the Mini-E in 2009 adapted their lifestyles to suit their cars, and still claimed that the Mini-E suited 90% of their driving needs. Not too shabby.
During the summer of 2009, BMW put all-electric Mini-E’s into the hands of about 450 test drivers. Now, obviously, those willing to shell out $850 a month to drive an EV put a premium of driving clean…and it also means they put a lot of their own money at stake. And opinions change when money is at stake. No matter how clean the car, if it can’t get you to work on time, of what use is it?
A joint study by BMW and the University of California, Davis found that of the 40 study participants who also leased the Mini-E, 90% of them said it suited their daily driving needs, despite a real world range of around 80 miles (about half of that in sub-freezing weather.) That could be because 71% of the respondents drove less than 40 miles per-day (like most Americans) and 88% were still considering buying an electric car within 5 years after their experience with the Mini-E. I guess it left a good impression.
What I found most fascinating though, were that some of these testers actually adapted their lifestyles around their cars, driving less, and doing without comforts like air conditioning and heating. While that is all well and dandy, I think it goes to show that the study is slightly skewed in favor of the EV’s. Again, these people were paying a hefty premium just to lease and test these EV’s, so they were probably already fans to begin with. Giving up these comforts to go those extra few miles probably didn’t seem like a big deal to them, but try doing that with a car full of fussy kids.
So ask yourself, honestly, would you or your neighbors willingly give up air conditioning to get a few extra MPG’s? Probably not many of you would, I’d wager (for the record, none of my vehicles have working A/C, but I’d never give up my heater.) One of the largest obstacles EV’s must yet overcome is sustaining comforts and infotainment, while increasing range and decreasing charging time. In other words, there’s a long road ahead…but more people seem to be getting on board the EV train every day. I mean it makes sense…how far do most people really drive a day? Sure, having the ability to go 300 or 400 miles on a whim is nice…but is it totally necessary in this day in age?
Perhaps, perhaps not, though much of EV’s acceptance or rejection rests with the answer to this seemingly simple question.
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.