Mini EV

November 30, 2022

I am not a car person, which is to say both that I don't know much about cars and also that I am generally not excited by them. With that important credibility-disqualifying background up front, let me tell you about a car we bought that I am unexpectedly happy with. (It's my first new car ever! All my previous cars were bought used.)

When we moved to the suburbs we brought with us the single car our family had been using. Though I took the bus to work, we ultimately found that one person occasionally needed non-bus transport while the other had the car. The distances required are short: we're nearly walking distance from our local downtown and 6 miles from downtown Portland. I spent some time considering if I could make an ebike work — hard in the rainy northwest / also groceries — or even some sort of golf cart.

It turns out there's something not too far from a fancy golf cart: the fully electric model of the Mini Cooper, manufactured by BMW.

In all it's surprisingly nice! It's small but spacious enough that I fit in it just fine (I'm 6'1" ~ 185cm). Practically it gets around 100 miles per charge, which is more than plenty for our purposes. We charge it using a regular electric socket, which is slow but fine if you just plug it in every evening. It's super easy to park in the city because it's so short. The trunk is tiny but large enough to fit a few bags of groceries. We have even driven it with a front-facing toddler car seat and it fits, though I wouldn't recommend it, in particular because seating a toddler in a two door car is a challenge.

I have come to suspect half of the excitement about Tesla is just excitement about electric cars in general. The electric motor means it drives silently. There are no gears and it accelerates quickly, with a feel much like driving a faster Go Kart. Single-pedal driving feels like the way driving would have been designed if it were designed today. Because of EV incentives we got $10k back of the $33k price, which ended up relatively cheap. (I believe the recent US adjustments to EV incentives mean this deal is no longer available.)

Many people when they see this car say something like: "it looks great, I would just want a 4 door version with more trunk space". I feel like this is missing the point — what you are really saying is that you just want a regular car. That is a reasonable requirement to have, but at least for me the point is that the car is tiny. I don't think it would work for us a primary car but as a secondary one it has been great.