• Jun 5th 2009 at 8:01AM
  • 8
With MINI Es finally being delivered to the 450 test drivers in New York and California, a problem has cropped up that will limit the ability of many of those people to actually use the car. When MINI USA was taking applications for leases on the new EV, among the requirements were a garage with 220V electrical service. This was necessary in order to be able to charge the 35 kWh battery in four hours. When the car is delivered, MINI sends along an electrician to install a special wall box for charging.

The problem is the non-standard charging cable. In many of the areas where the cars are being distributed, local building codes require Underwriters Laboratories approved electrical hardware. Approval is still pending from UL on the 220V charging cable so it can't yet be distributed in those areas. The cars are all being delivered this month but roughly 300 of the recipients will have to charge from 110V wall sockets until they get UL-approved cables. That means a full charge will take about 23 hours. MINI USA spokeswoman Nathalie Bauters told USA Today that the company expects to have UL approval for the cable and have them all distributed by the end of July.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      Prediction: The folks who have 110 only won't even notice any difference when they get the 220 cables. It won't change their driving habits at all.

      Typically they will not drive until they have fully discharged the battery. They will drive less than 40 miles, so every night when they plug it in to the 110 socket at home it will be fully charged the next day.

      On any given day that they might drive extra far (80 miles?), they will plug it in at home and it will charge enough overnight that they will have plenty of power to go back to their normal daily routine of driving 40 miles or less.

      It will be a non-event.
      • 6 Years Ago
      This wasn't mentioned in the article, but MINI USA isn't charging those who do not have the 220V cable. They are driving the car for free until they get the higher voltage connector.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'm surprised MINI didn't think of that in the beginning. Why would they even consider distributing cables that were not UL listed??? If they had went ahead and sent them to UL at the start, they would have been certified long before now.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Oops, misspelling: scandalised -> standardized.
      • 6 Years Ago
      @why not
      "How about they instead use the EV plug that was chosen as the standard in the US?"

      There is no US EV plug standard. There is a working group that may take a decision in the coming autumn for a plug standard.

      "It's annoying enough that cars in Europe and cars in the US will have different plugs, having a European car come here with a US plug would be a real issue."

      The 230V based 3 phase grid power system is used by more than 85% of the world. US has 120V/240V grid power where the 240V is used for high load equipment such as airco, heaters, stove etc., the 240V will also be needed for charging EVs. As earlier explained the US 240V fits the 1 phase spec of the Mennekes plug standard, so cable/plugs can easily be installed wherever you have the power to install an airco or similar appliance.

      Given the dire situation of the US car industry, it would be a really bad move to try to push a specialty plug that could only be used for less than 15% of the world.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hopefully BMW will soon move to use the already Euro scandalised Mennekes plug for its EV cars. As the electrical specs of the Mennekes plug fit the international standard IEC 60309 it should be easy for UL to approve this plug/cable system in US as well.

      The Mennekes plug allows to charge at 1 or 3 phases at 230V with 16A, 32A or 63A. The 1 phase spec can be used with the US 220-240V dual-phase residential power standard. The 50/60Hz difference will not matter as it is for battery charging.

      Using 220V at 63A the MiniE with 35KWh battery could then be charged in less than 3 hours, this includes an estimated 15% loss at battery while charging.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Er, without a US plug I mean.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How about they instead use the EV plug that was chosen as the standard in the US? It's annoying enough that cars in Europe and cars in the US will have different plugs, having a European car come here with a US plug would be a real issue.
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