After a year of gathering field experience with the MINI E pilot in Germany, it is time for an interim conclusion. With 15 electrically driven MINI vehicles, the Munich field test was the smallest one in BMWs ongoing usability tests which involve some 600 cars worldwide. The trial was restricted to local residents with a private parking space—and who were willing to pay 400 Euros a month ($517 USD).
15 MINI E cars have been roaming the streets of Munich and neighboring rural districts with E.ON power until July 2010. E.ON’s part in the demonstration project with BMW involved building a network of public charging stations, while ensuring that the test participants were able to recharge their cars both at home and close to work.
E.ON developed a network of loading stations, at which the E-Minis with river won made of water power can be preferably refuelled in Munich the city.
The main focus for these tests is gathering experience with user behavior and user acceptance for electric cars. Nevertheless, the company also gained valuable insights into technical issues, such as battery management optimization strategies – active battery management, battery pre-conditioning and temperature control. These informations will be used for the design of Megacity Vehicle due out in 2013.
The vehicles covered more 150.000 km and surprisingly, BMW found out that the drivers did not get close to the driving range limits of 150 to 180 km. Furthermore, the number was quite lower than the expectations, with an average of 37 km driven daily. BMW concludes that the driving range at hand is sufficient for future commercial versions.
While most of the drivers today fill up the tanks as they approach low fuel levels, charging up e-car batteries will rather be done casually at locations where the vehicles are parked anyway. The fact is that most users either leave their cars at home or at work, unused for several hours, which is sufficient for a slow charge in five to six hours.
Public charging stations only ranked third.
In addition, the demand for “green” electric energy was a top issue on the users’ wish list, BMW reports.
The trials in Los Angeles, New York, Oxford and Berlin have been concluded officially already by the end of 2009. However, due to the high demand, the company decided to extend them by another 12 months. In addition, BMW plans to launch a similar project in China.