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Electric Mini Cooper Has Rough Start

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-room-for-extra-batteries dept.

Transportation 308

TopSpin writes "BMW's limited roll out of the electric version of its Mini has met with complaints from early adopters including less than advertised range, cold weather charging problems, bulky batteries and connection issues. Richard Steinburg, BMW's manager of electric vehicle operations, assures everyone that the manufacturer is 'learning quite a bit as we go.' Drivers are paying $850/month for the privilege of helping BMW learn how to build EVs, while also helping BMW meet alternative fuel mandates so that other models can continue to be sold in select markets."

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fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30317978)

it's a celebration, bitches!

Electric car with problems? (1, Insightful)

Sets_Chaos (1622925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318056)

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the craze for electric vehilces? The problem is sloved. Just moved. Biodiesel, ethanol/switchgass, and plant based fuels make so much more sense.

Re:Electric car with problems? (5, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318098)

Cnosidering the plolution caused by bruning stuff, I don't think bio feuls will slove all your porblems.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318156)

But, I'm happy with my porblems, and I don't want them sloved!

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318574)

well siad!

Re:Electric car with problems? (1, Informative)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318202)

As a Minnesotan, I'm pretty confident the batteries wouldn't work in our -10F weather. BMW would have to pay me $850 a month to drive one. I'm not even sure it would get me to school on one charge.

FYI - big plants are more carbon efficient than millions of little auto engines. Scale of economies and all that.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

mnbob (1476943) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318320)

It would take a few thousand watts just to keep the cabin above freezing on those days. 20 years from now we might have cars catching fire because our dino-fueled space heaters tip over on the onramp...

Re:Electric car with problems? (1, Interesting)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318566)

Except, if you changed over all of those hundreds of millions of vehicles with little gasoline burning engines to hundreds of millions of vehicles with electric motors and batteries, you would have to put up completely new (massive) power distribution networks, thousands of big new electric power plants and somehow come up with all of the rare raw materials (like copper - which is already on the road to short supply) for all of those hundreds of millions of electric motors and trillions of batteries (you do know that something like the Tesla Roadster [wikipedia.org] has 6831 battery cells in it, right?).

Somewhere along the line, someone didn't quite think this electric vehicle revolution through...

Re:Electric car with problems? (3, Insightful)

mugnyte (203225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318936)

  Same could have been said for microwave ovens, computers. Somehow, demand causes all kinds of change. When gas hits a high enough cost, building an entirely new *anything* might be cheaper.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318958)

There's actually quite a bit of power generation capacity going to waste by virtue of not being able to store that power effectively between times of high and low demand. Actually if we made use of electric cars as temporary stores of power they could help stabilize the grid. Besides, we'll probably need to build more plants anyway considering that we need more capacity and cleaner more environmentally friendly plants in the near future. As for resources, if Copper becomes too scarce, the price rises and either we find a cheaper replacement or a new way to get more Copper.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319160)

Somewhere along the line, someone didn't quite think this electric vehicle revolution through...

Pollution, smog, limited fossil fuels, accidents, traffic jams, gas supply problems, getting oil from 3rd world countries.

Somewhere along the line, someone didn't think this combustion engine automobile revolution through... yet it happened anyway just as the electric vehicle revolution might.

Here's hoping that whatever will eventually replace electric vehicles (if they ever become dominant) will be absolutely problem free.

Re:Electric car with problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318290)

-1 dyslexia

Re:Electric car with problems? (1, Flamebait)

Sets_Chaos (1622925) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318394)

I don't mean to spoil your fun: but burning stuff causes CO2. CO2 is used by plants. It's a cycle. It works, and a lot better than any other fuel source out right now.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Interesting)

Carbaholic (1327737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318680)

The theory behind biofuels is that they could be carbon neutral. While they would put C02 into the atmosphere when you burn them, the next crop would consume the same amount of C02

My beef with biofuels is that they compete with food for farmland.Call me crazy, but as much as I like driving, I prefer to eat.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Informative)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318122)

That was true ten years ago. But we do realize now that plant based fuels and recycled french fries oil can't power all the cars all over the planet. Unless you want to pay 45$ for your Mini Wheat or 75$ for your pop corn. And transform Central Park, the Bois-de-Boulogne and countless other urban parks into.... cornfields!

Re:Electric car with problems? (5, Funny)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318442)

$75 for popcorn? You mean the theatres will give us a discount? Awesome!

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Informative)

Atario (673917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318444)

You just grow your fuel plants on land that food farms don't use. Algae farms are perfect for this.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

L3370 (1421413) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318656)

Algae seems like a nifty option, as far as I've read into it. I'm just tired of these nutbags trying to find another use for corn. I got corn up the wazoo already.

If we are going to use food crops it might as well be something thats more efficient in converting to fuel. Corn is terrible as it costs so much energy to transfer corn into a biofuel. I've heard that sugar cane is much better, but that still competes with food source.

As for growing plants on land that food farms don't use, how long until we run out of that? nearly 1/3rd of habitable landmass is already devoted to farming. How much more can we sustain while still having room to live in?

Algae farms would interest me here because we could possibly expand these operations to the ocean and not compete with living space or food sources.

Re:Electric car with problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318464)

"Unless you want to pay 45$ for your Mini Wheat or 75$ for your pop corn"

Or we could finally stop paying Agribiz to plow under their crops / pay Agribiz not to grow crops!

Re:Electric car with problems? (5, Interesting)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318746)

No surprise there. Corn is horrifyingly inefficient for producing Ethanol as a fuel. Ethanol is highly miscible with water making extraction of the fuel its self rather energy intensive to say nothing of the production of fertilizers etc being petroleum derived. Algae biodiesel and mycodiesel show much more promise. The mycodiesel can run off a cellulose feedstock which is handy because that's mostly what you have as a by-product of extracting the lipids from algae. The lipids are fairly hydrophobic so extraction from a liquid medium isn't that hard. The only real problem is efficiently breaking the cells and pressing the oils out of them. Another option is drying the algae and reforming the material using thermal depolymerization and fischer tropsch reactions to synthesize hydrocarbons among many other useful chemicals. There's even a patent on using a strain of bacteria that can produce ethanol from syngas which is a product of the thermal depolymerization. iofuels aren't dead, the important game changing ones are just ignored in favor of that failure named corn derived ethanol.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Insightful)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318774)

Corn biofuel is extremely inefficient, and, depending on where you get your numbers energy negative. But there are other crops with far higher potential efficiencies. Biofuel is definitely part of the solution, but not if we keep letting fucking politicians and their corn subsidies determine science.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318124)

O RLY? The problem is solved? Exactly where can I buy these plant based fuels?

As the demand for biofuels causes competition with food production resources (land, water),
the cost of biofuels goes up. And they're not cheap now!

Electric car with problems? Try Hydrogen (3, Insightful)

IYagami (136831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318554)

One important problem of the electric car is the time you have to spend charging it.

However, this doesn't happen with an hydrogen car like the Honda FCX Clarity car.

And it is also cheaper than the electric Mini (600$ a month)

More info at:

http://automobiles.honda.com/fcx-clarity/ [honda.com]

Re:Electric car with problems? Try Hydrogen (4, Insightful)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318788)

I don't know about you, but there are a fairly significant portions of my day where I'm not using the car; its just sitting there in one place. Overnight and while I'm at work. These seem like ideal times to charge the car. Plus, as it is, most people's commute (both to and from work) is much less than the range of most of the electric cars.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319166)

O RLY? The problem is solved? Exactly where can I buy these plant based fuels?

Right now, every time you fill up. Gasoline at the pump contains 10% ethanol by volume.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Insightful)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318154)

The previous attempt at practical EVs was GM's EV1. Apparently, their owners were mostly happy with the thing, despite its 1990s shortcomings and lack of charging stations, until GM decided to kill the program and take away all the vehicles, in typical GM-style idiotic managerial fashion. So maybe there's more to it than a craze or fad...

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318328)

Yes, because getting 33,000 dollars out of a car that cost 80,000-100,000 was idiotic.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Informative)

rabtech (223758) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318430)

Apparently, their owners were mostly happy with the thing, despite its 1990s shortcomings and lack of charging stations, until GM decided to kill the program and take away all the vehicles, in typical GM-style idiotic managerial fashion

They were happy because GM leased the cars to them at a loss. If they were forced to pay retail rates for the vehicles I doubt many people would have kept them. Not to mention the expensive and frequent battery replacements (they used lead-acid batteries and given the EV discharge/recharge cycles, they weren't expected to last very long).

Only the most recent developments in Lithium Ion technology have made it possible to get good performance, life, and range out of the large battery packs you need in a vehicle.

GM's mistake wasn't killing the EV1, it was discontinuing the entire program after the EV1 phase was complete. If they had kept developing better batteries and EV technologies the entire time they would be much further ahead re: the Volt than they are now.

Re:Electric car with problems? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318646)

GM's history for the last 50-odd years has been to develop an interesting product with a few flaws (which were often easily resolved), refuse to acknowledge the flaws and make appropriate design modifications, watch sales fall over a small number of years, and then kill the product. Or sometimes they'd actually re-design the product and then kill it when sales didn't immediately skyrocket.

Alternatively, some product marketing weenie might forecast sales of (for example) 500,000 units per year and when a product sold only 300,000 per year (a huge success by any rational standard) GM upper management declared it a failure and pulled the plug.

There are a pile of examples of each of these management screwups. This is probably the reason that GM still (or at least until very, very recently) builds most of their vehicles with a V-8 engine dating back over 50 years or a V-6 dating back over 30 years.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Interesting)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319180)

GM's mistake wasn't killing the EV1, it was discontinuing the entire program after the EV1 phase was complete.

That was not a "mistake". The purpose of the "EV1 phase", as you call it, was to construct a demonstration designed to "prove" (or, at least, to create the impression) that the ZEV mandate in California could not practically be met, as part of GM's efforts to have that mandate altered. Once the mandate was altered, the overall purpose for which that program that the "EV1 phase" was part of had served its purpose, so naturally both the "EV1 phase" and the entire program were terminated.

Your mistake is thinking that the program was aimed at creating viable, production electric cars. It was a political maneuver that acheived its political aim, and then was terminated.

Solectria Sunrise (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318544)

An order of magnitude better than the GM EV1.
 

Re:Electric car with problems? (3, Informative)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319000)

So, you just watched Who Killed the Electric Car? [wikipedia.org] , didn't you? =)

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318268)

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the craze for electric vehilces?

I work on my own vehicles, which makes me long for EVs. No more fuel-soaked hands, for one thing. Just moving pollution controls from the car to the power plant is a huge win, too. If you wouldn't rather have an EV than an ICE given similar performance characteristics, you don't understand the problem. With that said, we are going to need battery technologies that are more useful if we're going to make the switch.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Interesting)

NFN_NLN (633283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318902)

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the craze for electric vehilces?

I work on my own vehicles, which makes me long for EVs. No more fuel-soaked hands, for one thing. Just moving pollution controls from the car to the power plant is a huge win, too. If you wouldn't rather have an EV than an ICE given similar performance characteristics, you don't understand the problem. With that said, we are going to need battery technologies that are more useful if we're going to make the switch.

I live in Canada. I would rather have an ICE over an EV because I understand all too well the problems of electronics and batteries when mixed with cold weather. Nobody heats with electricity, it's too expensive. Even if this came with an electric heating wand I can shove up my a$$ I still wouldn't want it.

Re:Electric car with problems? (5, Interesting)

dasunt (249686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318306)

Am I the only one who doesn't understand the craze for electric vehilces? The problem is sloved. Just moved. Biodiesel, ethanol/switchgass, and plant based fuels make so much more sense.

Outside of such radical solutions as living in walkable neighborhoods, bicycling, and using mass transit for daily trips, there is one advantage that electric has over other fuels.

Electric decouples the power source (be it coal, gas, nuclear, solar, wind, geothermal, etc) from the vehicle.

So if we discover a practical cold fusion machine tomorrow, an electric vehicle infrastructure doesn't have to change. Instead we start replacing power plants.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318532)

If your cold fusion plant is practical enough you can just start synthesizing gasoline out of air. Or maybe something simpler, like butanol.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

b1t r0t (216468) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318924)

Actually, that's the point where hydrogen (via electrolysis) becomes a viable fuel. The problem of storing hydrogen on the vehicle with enough density will probably be easier than that of battery energy density.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319118)

I'm saying that you split water for hydrogen and CO2 for carbon and then store the hydrogen on the carbon. It makes a nice compact fuel.

Re:Electric car with problems? (2, Funny)

Carbaholic (1327737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318712)

Leave it to slashdotters to want to refactor our transportation infrastructure in order to make it more scalable :)

Re:Electric car with problems? (3, Interesting)

cyphercell (843398) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318976)

Hey it's a good idea. Had we been on electric automobiles for the past 80 years the crossover between automobiles, portable computers, robotics, and space exploration would have been significant.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318894)

I don't think living in walkable neighborhoods would do a lot of good. Most people's only long commute is to and from work. To walk to and from work you'd have to move pretty much every time you got a new job, and that's just us office dwellers. People with jobs where they actually need to be different places every day, or periodically change job sites, would still need to drive.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30319100)

You say "radical", but there's nothing radical about "living in walkable neighborhoods, bicycling, and using mass transit for daily trips". For instance, tens of millions of people around Tokyo live exactly this lifestyle (and Tokyo is not unique in this respect).

Yes, you trade off the huge McMansions, but in return you lose the stressful car commute and you end up fitter. Your carbon footprint is far less, and you save loads of money. While it is subjective, I'd argue that the quality of life in being able to walk to dozens of great restaurants, bars and entertainment venues is much higher than having to get in a traffic jam to go anywhere.

What's "radical" is distorting all aspects of life to fit around the almighty motor car.

Re:Electric car with problems? (4, Insightful)

cheesybagel (670288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318378)

The problem is not solved considering biofuels are neither cheap, nor can you manufacture enough of them even if you covered the entire world in corn/soy. Switchgrass ethanol is too expensive, the manufacturing processes have lousy efficiency. Algae biodiesel theoretically could do it, provided anyone could actually do it in a large scale on the cheap. You can use biofuels for military and aerospace requirements, but it is too expensive for people's cars.

Even palm oil biodiesel and sugar cane ethanol are not good enough.

There is enough spare electric capacity in off-peak times to power several dozen million vehicles in the US alone.

Re:Electric car with problems? (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319076)

because an electric motor is rated in efficencies of 98% - 99% and combustion is about 30%. bio fuels require all new infrastructure as well (yes, they do).

Regular coopers (1, Informative)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318062)

I always thought the regular minis were pretty cool looking, but I've never had a chance to sit down in one and see what they feel like on the road. As far as all electrical or even hybrid vehicles all my experiences with them tell me a few things, they don't have the same sort of get up and go power to them that a regular vehicle has in most cases and they are terribly expensive to repair. Good for the 'environment' or not I don't imagine I'll be moving trading my Tundra in for an alternate fuel source vehicle any time soon. Especially not the Prius, those things are just terrible.

Re:Regular coopers (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318204)

They're pretty fun, I've had one for a couple of years now and I'm still not bored of it. They handle really well though the engine isn't that powerful, so not sure whether that would get even worse moving to electric.

Re:Regular coopers (2, Interesting)

fotbr (855184) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318296)

Well, they get heavier (batteries), and weight is the enemy of handling, so I'd think they'd be underpowered and bad handling.

In other words, BMW has figured out how to make an electric "Big 3" car.

Re:Regular coopers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318396)

"Good for the 'environment' or not I don't imagine I'll be moving trading my Tundra in for an alternate fuel source vehicle any time soon."

You can't sell a vehicle to Americans unless it can tow their house and has jelly suspension. Screw ride and handling.

Re:Regular coopers (2, Interesting)

dokebi (624663) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318540)

I don't imagine I'll be moving trading my Tundra in for an alternate fuel source vehicle any time soon.

Would you say the same thing when gas cost $12/gallon?

We are supposed to be in the worst economic recession in decades, and oil still costs $80/barrel. So where do you think oil price will be in a recovery?

I'd learn to say, "Make my hybrid a plug-in, please."

Re:Regular coopers (2, Interesting)

iwoof (806811) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318676)

As far as all electrical or even hybrid vehicles all my experiences with them tell me a few things, they don't have the same sort of get up and go power to them that a regular vehicle has in most cases and they are terribly expensive to repair.

Hmm, your Tundra can do 0-60 in under 4 seconds, and a quarter mile in under 13? A stock Tesla roadster can http://www.teslamotorsclub.com/video/3068-tesla-roadster-sport-nedra-record-12-643-1-4-mile.html [teslamotorsclub.com]

And a 1972 Datsun converted to pure electric is even faster. 0-60 in 2.9 seconds, quarter mile in 11.5 seconds. http://www.plasmaboyracing.com/whitezombie.php [plasmaboyracing.com]

That's an awful lot of get up and go power.

As for repairs, all indications are battery electric vehicles will be much cheaper to maintain and repair, due to the much simpler design of an electric motor vs a ICE. Time will tell on that one. But with no oil to change, no air filters, no timing belts, PCV valves or catalytic converters, and only one moving part in an electric motor -- it seems a good bet.

--Woof!

Re:Regular coopers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318740)

It's nice that a stock Tesla (all 700 of 'em...) can almost keep up with a converted 40 year old car.

However, neither of those vehicles can carry any amount of cargo, or clear more than a speed bump.

Re:Regular coopers (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318916)

Those are Li ion batteries, no? I wonder what it costs to replace them every two years. My laptop costs 150.

Re:Regular coopers (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319088)

The batteries in the hybrid cars don't seem to need replacing every two years...

The dealer? (4, Informative)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318078)

Isn't it the car dealer who has to tell the client the charging specs? Then the client can have the right picture of how he is going to manage charging his car.

Also, when you "try" your car's acceleration, it's obvious that you will get a shorter range. It's true with a gas powered car, and so it is with an EV.

Re:The dealer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318392)

Whether I "try" my Accord or Lumina's acceleration or not, both will still get me from one end of my state to the other on one tank. No one is going to appreciate babying their electric to make it 50 miles to work and back like they have to baby their Accord after crossing Nebraska and entering Wyoming at 2 a.m. The former is a constant problem inherent to the electric car of today; the latter is ignorance of the lack of understanding of the distance between stops in Wyoming.

Make it usable and make it cost effective without artificially boosting the price of gas to make the ripoff that is electric cars appear viable. And quit trying to dupe the masses.

Re:The dealer? (2, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318590)

Whether I "try" my Accord or Lumina's acceleration or not, both will still get me from one end of my state to the other on one tank. No one is going to appreciate babying their electric to make it 50 miles to work and back like they have to baby their Accord after crossing Nebraska and entering Wyoming at 2 a.m. ...

Make it usable and make it cost effective without artificially boosting the price of gas to make the ripoff that is electric cars appear viable. And quit trying to dupe the masses.

But I don't drive fifty miles to work and back. Frankly, an electric car that got only twenty miles per charge would be fine with me-- we're a two car family, and if I want to drive a thousand miles cross country, that's fine, we've got a nice roomy car that can do that, we don't need two. I'd love a little electric runabout that I can use to commute with, drive to the grocery store and around town.

What's a "rip-off" to one person can be a perfectly fine car to one million other people. Not every car has to fill every niche.

Re:The dealer? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318912)

That will be true when most people can afford two different cars.

You mean (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318086)

early adopters of prototypes experienced problems?

Re:You mean (1)

Meshach (578918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318304)

early adopters of prototypes experienced problems?

I personally will wait until at lease the first service pack.

$850 a month?? (2, Interesting)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318092)

This confirms what I've always suspected: the green fashion is for rich suckers first, then for the rest of us when oil runs out anyway.

Re:$850 a month?? (0)

courteaudotbiz (1191083) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318276)

...rich sucker...

Ask yourself why you ain't rich buddy.

Re:$850 a month?? (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318638)

Maybe he is $600 a month richer than the suckers?

Re:$850 a month?? (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318286)

They prefer the term "early adopters" and without them we wouldn't see half the new risky products that appear on the market.

Re:$850 a month?? (3, Insightful)

city (1189205) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318370)

Right, we are talking about new BMWs here. The original "green fashion" has already been adopted by the poor. It's called walking.

Re:$850 a month?? (2, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318854)

But there's a difference. Walking (or biking, public transit, etc) due to finances is not done for the sake of being "green." It's done because you can't afford anything else (or don't want to afford something else, i.e., you're saving it).

The "green fashion," or as I call it, the green fad, seems to be a thing going on with rich people who feel that they are better than others because they are saving the planet. Ok, so maybe not the self-righteous bit, but they certainly aren't doing it because they have to do it. If you can afford a $70k electric vehicle (or whatever Tesla things are going for nowadays), you qualify as being caught up in the "green fad" in my book... in more than one way, too. If you take mass transit, walk, or bike instead of driving your existing car AND tell me you do it "for the environment," then I'll believe you.

In other words, I have a hard time believing people when the only difference between them NOT "going green" and them "going green" is the fact that they have enough money to throw away that they don't care about the extra cost incurred to them. If they couldn't afford to live the way they want and have luxury cars (or whatever the item is) that were green and thus went "back" to non-green luxury cars/items...

But I'm kinda anti-fad, so whatever. I drive large cars/trucks AND bike/take mass transit to work. Primarily for cost, though. May as well not pay for gas if I don't have to. If I was able to get an electric car for cheap enough that it'd actually be worth it, I'd probably consider it as a commute vehicle... but there's other issues, too. I'd like to eventually do more outdoors type stuff, sorta quasi-ranch style. Pulling a horse trailer with two or four horses in it isn't exactly a job for a Prius.

Re:$850 a month?? (3, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318938)

If you can afford a $70k electric vehicle (or whatever Tesla things are going for nowadays), you qualify as being caught up in the "green fad" in my book... in more than one way, too.

Ahh, another poor fool who thinks Tesla is about the environment. Hint: its a sports car with instant acceleration.

Re:$850 a month?? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318970)

Ahh, another poor fool who thinks Tesla is about the environment. Hint: its a sports car with instant acceleration.

Oh, I have no doubts about that. But it gets tossed to the "green is a fad" crowd now and then as an example of a successful electric vehicle that is good for the environment, etc. IMO, it's trying to take advantage of a fad: give a cool sports car that gives celebrities the image they want... which, right now, is a feel-good "I'm Green!" image while not losing their "I'm rich and drive a cool sports car!" image.

But that may just be me. :)

Being greener without the electric (4, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318546)

Theater isn't limited to security. There's a lot of "green theater" out there, searching for rich suckers. One of the rich that sometimes gets suckered is the government. I regard hybrids and the Prius somewhat skeptically. It's fuel economy isn't all that great, actually. Manufacturers are still ignoring a lot of low hanging fruit. They haven't smoothed the undersides of their cars. The rims are not aerodynamic. Car bodies are closer to teardrop shapes than bricks, but there's still plenty of room for improvement. They're getting better with weight, but they're still using too much steel where lightweight composites or aluminum or lighter alloys could go. Until fairly recently, they wouldn't even use lighter oils (for instance, 5w20 instead of 10w30), one of the cheapest, easiest ways to get a little more fuel economy.

Much better than the Prius is the Ford Fiesta Econetic, a turbodiesel that gets 65 MPG, and it still doesn't cover all the easy ways to increase fuel economy. It's not a hybrid. Proof that a lot more can be done, and that manufacturers have yet to get really serious about fuel economy.

So where is the 100 MPG vehicle? I've heard of quite a few prototype vehicles that get over 200 MPG. It can be done, what's the hold up? Not enough competition in the automobile market, I guess.

Re:Being greener without the electric (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319104)

So where is the 100 MPG vehicle? I've heard of quite a few prototype vehicles that get over 200 MPG. It can be done, what's the hold up? Not enough competition in the automobile market, I guess.

So completely impractical as to be unsellable.

MOST people aren't willing to buy a super-economy car if they can't haul kids, groceries, climb hills a 45 MPH, etc. In addition, those super-economy cars frequently fail to pass US safety testing. Crumple zones,

The Smart Fourtwo is about as small as you can go to pass muster on safety, has anemic 70 HP, and gets 33/41 MPG (seriously!)

Re:$850 a month?? (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318706)

Pretty sure that when you say green fashion you really mean: All forms of new technology and products

Re:$850 a month?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30319192)

From the rest of the world: Thanks to the early adopters ! Of course to the current materialist consumer trend, you appear as sucker. Their greed blinds them. They cannot see you for what your are: a philanthropist.

I guess I'll say it... (4, Funny)

swanzilla (1458281) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318108)

FTA:

BMW initially had to learn about infrastructure of houses and electrical-regulatory agencies in introducing the electric Mini to the U.S., Steinberg said. A key problem was getting approval for the recharging plug, which was originally designed for the European market, according to the executive.

You Europeans and your superior plugs...you may have won this battle, but we will win the war.

BMW has it right (1)

pieisgood (841871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318134)

Why invest a lot of money and time into an electric car that won't sell well when you can put money and time into the M series which already kicks ass and has a great image?

Re:BMW has it right (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318484)

Uhm... Because it kicks ass and already has a great image without investing time and money in it?

This should not surprise anyone (1)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318164)

With product life cycle getting shorter all the time, products of late (in the past decade or two) are becoming less and less polished with successive generation.

Re:This should not surprise anyone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318242)

That sounds like "things were better in the past" bullshit. Do you have any evidence?

Do the Google! (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318270)

Call it a beta!

Of course, BMW's demanding a lot of money, so maybe the Google example isn't the best.

Do the Microsoft! Shell out your hard-earned money to be part of their QC team!

Flameage and massive negative moderation in 3...2...1....

Why? (1, Informative)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318318)

Since we know that BMW already has a car [youtube.com] that beats the Prius on gas mileage. Why are they doing this at all?

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318380)

How right you are! Since Coca Cola already has a soft drink that outsells any other soft drink why do they make so many varieties?

Get John Brock on the horn, I have a great business plan for him!

Re:Why? (1)

trouser (149900) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318600)

Because like all manufacturers they would be excluded from the Californian market if they fail to offer a vehicle which complies with the Californian "zero emissions" (ie. move the emissions to the power station) requirements. You'll notice the only places the electric Mini is available in North America are New York (no idea why) and California.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318618)

Think again. They drove the Prius as fast as they could on that track ending up with 17 mpg. No one in their right mind would drive that way in the real world. Sure BMW can make a car that can beat the Prius at 100+ mph but that isn't what the Prius was designed for. It was designed to drive at speeds commonly used by commuters. Under those conditions it does very well averaging somewhere in the 40's.

Re:Why? (0, Flamebait)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318778)

It was designed to drive at speeds commonly used by commuters. Under those conditions it does very well averaging somewhere in the 40's.

Most of the Prius drivers I know do 70 to 80 in the carpool lane.

Re:Why? (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319070)

Speaking of which TFA says Villaraigosa has figured out a way to give rich folks better parking spots too, no need to tip the valet.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

IpSo_ (21711) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319058)

I watched the video and the BMW was driven BEHIND the Prius at "speeds as fast as possible".

I think that favors the BMW significantly considering the how close the BMW was driven behind the Prius, the Prius was doing most of the work pushing the air out of the way for it.

What a horrible test on so many levels, its completely useless to base anything on it.

Paying for the privilege? (1)

twoears (1514043) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318326)

Richard Steinburg, BMW's manager of electric vehicle operations, assures everyone that the manufacturer is 'learning quite a bit as we go.' Drivers are paying $850/month for the privilege of helping BMW learn how to build EVs, while also helping BMW meet alternative fuel mandates so that other models can continue to be sold in select markets."

Paying an exorbitant amount so BMW can learn how to do what they should have done in the first place to get it right? What a novel concept. Give me a fscking break. It's no wonder BMW has lost market share to the competition, and their arrogance in this case proves it's richly deserved.

Diesels (4, Insightful)

speedlaw (878924) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318418)

I'm still confused about this hybrid thing. Go to Europe, and you see the same Dodge minivan picking up kids in front of school, but with a turbodiesel. I know the market is manipulated there too, but I'd prefer the established 40- 45 mpg tech of a TD. The 335d is a great example. More Torque than the titans of Detroit of old. A Peugeot Diesel was my renta-car, and it feared no Berlin Taxi. I'd take a Jetta TDI over a Prius, etc.

Re:Diesels (3, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318644)

I believe the major reason why you'll find more diesel engine powered cars in Europe has to do with the stronger emissions regulations in the United States. Ironic isn't it?

Re:Diesels (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318768)

I think another factor is that farming and trucking lobbies in Europe push for tax advantages for diesel fuel.

Re:Diesels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30319112)

Speaking as someone from the UK, that's not strictly true.

Diesel used in agriculture isn't taxed, and has tracer chemicals contains a dye, hence being called 'red diesel'.
The rest of us use normal diesel, which is heavily taxed and costs slightly more than petrol.
You can run your car or truck on red diesel quite happily, as long as you don't mind the hefty fine for diddling the tax man.

I believe a large reason is that diesel in europe is far lower in sulphur than in the US and therefore it is far easier to pass the emissions regulations.

Re:Diesels (4, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318790)

I believe the major reason why you'll find more diesel engine powered cars in Europe has to do with the stronger emissions regulations in the United States. Ironic isn't it?

Not strict, just random. The US makes diesels in truck easier than diesels in cars, and the reason is that American makes made diesel trucks, and not diesel cars, to they made the requirements to help the US makers. The US had the worst fuel in the world (high sulfur) so that diesels would make more acid rain than anywhere else in the world, then regulated the sulfur out of the tailpipe after this was pointed out, but it was impossible to do because of all the sulfur going in. So then, the sulfur in the fuel was addressed.

But gasoline? It's been pretty consistent since unleaded was introduced, with just minor tweaks lowering allowed emissions.

Oh, and fuel is taxed and regulated differently around the world. In the US, diesel costs more than gasoline. In Europe, it's the other way around.

Re:Diesels (1)

nmos (25822) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319030)

I believe the major reason why you'll find more diesel engine powered cars in Europe has to do with the stronger emissions regulations in the United States.

Not so much stronger as just different. Also gas is usually 2X or more expensive in Europe so a few mpg (or km/L) makes a bigger difference.

Re:Diesels (4, Informative)

Scyber (539694) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318864)

One reason is that the Hybrids spank TD's on city gas mileage. Sure TD's get 40-45mpg, but that is on the highway. In city driving the hybrid's usually beat the TD's. Here is an article comparing the Jetta TDI & The Prius:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/new_cars/4284188.html [popularmechanics.com]

No doubt that the TD is a more established technology and has many benefits over hybrids, but it does lose out in mpg in a big way when driving in the city.

Re:Diesels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30318994)

That's why a turbodiesel hybrid would be fucking awesome.

Re:Diesels (2, Informative)

Chirs (87576) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319122)

Diesel engines cost more. North American consumers aren't generally willing to pay a few thousand dollars more for a diesel engine.

Europeans are.

Re:Diesels (1, Troll)

scorp1us (235526) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319244)

Hell, even the E92 M3 (v8) gets better mileage than a Prius. [youtube.com]

Stop the presses (1)

Atario (673917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318486)

Early adopters have to put up with the problems of an immature platform? Say it isn't so!

Re:Stop the presses (1)

Lost Engineer (459920) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319026)

Charging a battery, in cold weather or otherwise, is hardly new tech. All of these problems sound like they could have been avoided with some decent QA, save for the bulky batteries, which the buyers should have noticed before purchasing the vehicle.

Opt-in Evaluation Program (5, Informative)

spymagician (1303515) | more than 4 years ago | (#30318660)

For any interested- The article fails to mention that this is/was an evaluation program initiated by BMW. The electric Cooper is not available through standard channels. I received an invitation to evaluate one but because I rent an apartment I didn't meet the minimum requirements to participate. One of the stipulations was that you had to have an enclosed parking area (i.e. a garage) and were willing to have the required charging equipment installed in that garage. There were some other requirements as well, but that was the one that prevented me from considering it. FWIW the invitation was pretty explicit about the performance differences between the gas and electric models as well as your responsibility during the evaluation period. Anyway, I wound up leasing a 2009 Clubman and my only regret is that I didn't do it sooner- 'Fun to drive' is a huge understatement.

Drivers are paying $850/month (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 4 years ago | (#30319218)

Shouldn't a beta program be free?

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