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The BMW Mini E

Pioneer Takes An Arrow in Back!

The Mini E people like to call the customers leasing the cars "Pioneers." I have also heard it said (not from the Mini E team) that you can always recognize the pioneers; they're the ones with the arrows in their backs.

Well, today (6/24), this pioneer took an arrow in the back! After exiting the freeway, I came to a halt in a line of cars at a stoplight, and the Mini E drive system suddenly failed and refused to let me move at all. All electronics in the car seemed to be running just fine, including emergency flashers, cockpit displays, and even windows, but the car just wouldn't go, even after repeated attempts to power-down and restart. The big analog battery power gauge read "off" (past the zero percent point), but the digital display still read 83%. I kept getting a yellow "check vehicle" icon, and a "wait" icon. The latter looks like the hourglass "wait" icon of windows -- I'm sure hoping Microsoft windows software isn't at the heart of the Mini!

Much earlier, while cruising on the freeway I had gotten a momentary warning about high battery temperature, but again, the digital gauge was giving a contradictory reading in the low eighties (°F), and the car let me continue driving for another 10 miles or so before finally flaming out.

To make things worse, the Mini Roadside Assistance person was having difficulty locating me from the cross-streets! I finally did end up being towed to Crevier BMW/Mini, our Mini dealer, but only because an AAA tow truck happened by.

On the bright side (!), we're temporarily getting to check out the BMW line of cars. Crevier provided a bright red 328i as a loaner car. I've since found out that what I thought were "odd quirks" of the Mini E are actually standard for BMW's!

Monday, 6/29 update: After a weekend of head-scratching, today I was told a Mini-E specialist had come to check the car and was successful in repairing it. The car is being held another day for QA testing, and I should be able to pick it up on Tuesday evening.

Tuesday, 6/30 update: The car was actually ready for pickup around noon, which was earlier than the orginal estimate, so we're back in business! The service report indicates that the PEU (power electronics unit?) and aux 12V battery were changed out. No one at the dealership seemed to know the details.

Wednesday, 7/1: Oops, not quite back in business. The car did not charge overnight. It turns out that after servicing, the car was set to the highest charge rate (50A) instead of our circuit's setting (32A), so when I plugged it in overnight, it ended up tripping our EV circuit breaker. Unfortunately it didn't immediately do it, so I didn't discover the fact till the morning. Lesson: Check the car's charging rate setting after service visits!