Friday, May 8, 2009

Plug it in

The MINI has done it! With the LA Auto Show wrapping up, the buzz on the streets of Los Angeles is about the mysterious fleet of 500 purely electrically driven MINI E’s onto American roads. Over the next 12 months, 500 qualified individuals have agreed to take on a lease (roughly $850 a month) with free insurance. These selected MINI fans will be asked to give the MINI E a thorough workout over the course of the year and use their experiences to help the MINI experts perfect its innovative drive system.

How does the technology work? As soon as the driver takes his foot off the accelerator, the electric motor assumes the role of a generator. This creates braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed into the battery. The intensive use of this technology allows the car's range to be extended by up to 20 percent.

What about juice? A wallbox is installed in the driver's garage and enables a higher amp, which ensures extremely short charging times. The wallbox takes no more than two and a half hours to charge up the battery.

So we are talking about…carbon-free driving (zero carbon emissions!!!) powered by a 100 % electric motor, seamless acceleration to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just 8.5 seconds, and a top speed of 152 km/h (95 mph) – that's big news for a mini car.

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Ideas in Focus said...

While the car itself might be 100% carbon free, most electricity in this country, especially in the east, is generated by coal which has lots of nasty emissions. So we need to be careful not to imply that electric cars solve all our problems. They help us reduce our dependency on foreign oil, but in the long run, we need to accelerate our generation of renewable power sources and update the grid. It would likely be a bad thing if tomorrow every car was traded in for an all electric model. The grid couldn't support it and we'd be burning a lot of coal.

Susan Miller said...

Thanks for cross posting at realNEO.
I recently learned about this engine from a talk by the CFO of GE Energy: the Jenbacher Engine runs on almost any fuel including biogas. What is GM waiting for? What is GE waiting for? We have more biogas (methane) particularly in CAFOs here in the USA. One facility? Why aren't we hearing about this as a solution? Same story as the electric car?

Sustaino - said...

Thanks for your comment Susan and Ideas in Focus! Yes, while the strategic move is to reduce our dependency on foreign oil, it is to Susan's point that by partnering with corporations likes GM, GE, Ford, and others will make a greater impact. We will still need coal and oil to some degree; however alternatives such as algal and jatropha have a promising future.