If you’ve ever actually read through the owner’s manual of any of your electronic gadgets, you probably ran across a warning against using your digital gewgaw in blistering hot or freezing temperatures. Unfortunately, Mini forgot to put that disclaimer in the manual for their new all-electric Mini E, and motorists in the frosty northeast have been left stranded on the side of the road, out of juice and out of luck.
The problems affecting the Mini E are not necessarily because of poor design. The trouble is that batteries in general don’t perform well when the mercury drops. Because the Mini E doesn’t have a backup gas-powered engine like hybrids, it has nothing to fall back on.
The Mini E is still in the early stages of coming to market. Only 450 cars have been leased to owners across the states to test the systems and provide feedback on the feel. With its current lithium-ion battery pack, the Mini E has an estimated range of around 100 to 120 miles on a full charge and in optimal weather conditions. However, drivers in New York and New Jersey have been seeing those ranges drop down to 70 miles because of the cold.
Of course, the lack of performance and loss of range have not been an issue for Mini E drivers out in California, where the weather is sunny and golden like onion rings nearly year round.