Electric Cars Motor Ahead, But Will Consumers Leave Gasoline-Powered Cars Behind?
The latest British invasion involves neither Redcoats nor mop-haired guitar bands; instead, it’s taking the form of electric cars.
The electric Mini Cooper (or Mini E) is an updated version of the British icon, and has come to select U.S. communities. New York City’s government, plus towns and government agencies across New Jersey’s Bergen, Passaic, Essex, and Morris Counties, are getting electric Mini Coopers to drive at unbelievably low prices. California—specifically Los Angeles and Orange County—are getting Mini E’s, too. And not just towns—some lucky (and dedicated) individuals are getting to drive the Mini E, such as Montclair restaurateur Tom Moloughney, owner of Nauna’s Bella Casa. (We say that Moloughney’s dedicated because he need to fill out an hour-long application that, among other things, tested his knowledge of electricity in order to be considered.)
BMW, the manufacturer of the new incarnation of the old British Mini Cooper, is testing 500 Mini E’s in the United States, giving it the largest all-electric fleet in the nation. The goal is to collect information and user-experience about electric cars, in order to inform BMWs alternative powertrain development. (And of course, generating attention and environmentally friendly market buzz for the Mini and BMW is not a bad side effect, either.)
What’s it like driving the Mini? Moloughney likes it. The battery charge lasts 100 to 120 miles, so with an average daily roundtrip drive of 80 – 100 miles, it meets his needs with a slight margin. Charging takes around four hours, he says, which he does overnight. A day’s travel will cost him (BMW claims) only around $3 - $4, which is less than the $8 - 9 or so it would cost him in a conventional Mini with gas prices at or a little above $3.00—over a year, he might save $1,000 or more in fuel costs.