20 October 2008

Musing on the Electric Auto

I'm no hippie, and at the same time, I'm no car guy. I like cars. I like things that go "vroom" or "zoom" or "mwaaaaaaa-mwaaaaaah-mwaaaaahhhhhh", and even more so when they go fast. Or more accurately, when I am going fast in them. Ask the MVA, they have records.
There's been a lot of discussion regarding an Electric Vehicle (EV) as of late, especially as oil began its electric slide up to $147/barrel (boogie-woogie-what the *&^%?). There have been nerd writings on the Internet related to EVs (mostly solar, in my experience) for years, but the crude climb up the futures chart (with a bullet) brought EVs (back? I was busy not having been born / in diapers during the last energy crisis) to the fore of the collective consumer conscience.
The nerd and the miser in me both like the idea of the EV. It appeals to my aesthetic sense for some reason, tugs at the part of my soul that just knew he'd be going to space when he grew up. The nerd likes the convergence of technologies, the paradigm shift that represents a break with the past into some brave new world of plug-in filling stations rather than gas stations. A world where people have their newspapers downloaded onto re-usable flexible plastic screens and power is beamed to earth from satellites that bask in the sun's rays continuously. The miser likes that city electric is subsidized, and therefore would result in a net savings over stopping off at Bob's to fill up twice a week. Even people who don't use cars use electricity (save most of the Amish, I gather), so I can never see electric more expensive per unit that gas.
Plus, from what I've been reading, EVs go fast.
One day, 2 years ago or so, I was cruising these Internets and found my first EV crush, if you will. an EV Mini Cooper Concept:


I've thought Minis were pretty cool for some time, and I've never seen The Italian Job (is it worth it?). I imagine the regular gas powered Mini corners like a beast, and this EV concept has a motor in each wheel. It reads like a recipe for another trip to Traffic School for Rob. This little guy, though, was just a concept by an interested enthusiast, not Cooper (BMW). Ah well. Maybe, given the popularity of the Tesla, and the swirling storm of consumer desire for an EV, Cooper would take notice and deliver an EV? They have.



The Engadget tech-blog has been posting spy shots of the Mini test-EV for a few weeks now, and Cooper have finally officially announced the Mini E. For 500 test drivers in Jersey, New York, and CA. 3 places that the Mrs. and I have pondered residing at some point in recent years. Where we likely won't be living when the people who get to test this car will be chosen.
$#!^.
I'm living on the edge of one of the country's worst (busiest) traffic systems, the Baltimore-Washington Corridor. I commute 20+ miles one way daily in a combination of highway and city driving, and make regular trips into either of the aforementioned cities, usually by car (well, DC usually by Metro, but I still drive to the Metro station!). I've been dying to test drive a Mini and test drive an EV. I think that I should be given the honor of testing the Mini E outside the closed environs of NJ, NY, or CA. I even drive my co-workers to lunch on a regular basis.

"This is a nice car," they'll say.
"It's the Mini E by Cooper/BMW," I'll respond. "I am saving money and helping the environment in style!"
Let me be your man in MD, Cooper. I mean, if you want me to be more in touch with Bavaria, I'll gladly visit the Stube more often. I can always do with a litre of lager and a plate of wiener schnitzel! But no lager if I'm driving my Mini E. That would be irresponsible.
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