• Jun 7, 2009
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.




[Source: USA Today Open Road]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 31 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm glad I went ahead and got the 220V circuit installed in my garage with my new construction house.
      • 5 Years Ago
      wow, a full 23 hours on 110. Well, being from one of the largest electricity producing states, we even get notices asking for us to cut down on electrical usage as it requires the dams to open wider and flow more water through to keep up with demand.

      EV, a way to avoid the problem by solving one and causing another.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Look up vehicle-to-grid EVs. They could potentially help the power situation
        • 5 Years Ago
        And a few miles from one of the largest electric producing dams is the U.S.A's largest nuclear cleanup. Time for people to pull their heads out of the sand regarding the problems that even nuclear causes. Again, resolves one problem, causes another.
        • 5 Years Ago
        EV wouldn't be a problem if people would get their heads out of the sand regarding nuclear power.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Premium price for a mini that is heavier and due to the battery, and it no longer has four seats but now two seats. If one of the American car companies tried this trick they would be burned at the stack for it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You have to remember this is purely a prototype. A testbed of sorts. This is by no means a production vehicle, but an innovative way to test the capabilities of the electric MINI. Also, I think it's a hell of a marketing strategy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Give BMW some slack - this Mini is is their EV-1.
        • 5 Years Ago
        you mean the Chevy Volt?
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's amazing to me that UL, an independent testing firm with no government affiliation that charges companies to test and approve its products sets standards.
        • 5 Years Ago
        UL doesn't have a monopoly. ETL and CE are examples of their competitors.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You really don't get it? The *underwriters* would really like to know that the product you are using is not going to cause *them* any monetary damage.

        It just happens to be in your best interest as well, but that's not why they do it.

        The government does not need to get involved because unlike many commercial operations the owners don't want to cut any corners here that will cause *them* any losses!
        • 5 Years Ago
        I do get it. I've worked in a position where I had to submit lighting fixtures to UL to get them approved, and the red tape and fees they charge is pretty disgusting. I'm all for standards, but they should be established by a government agency that doesn't survive off the fees it charges. I'm just wondering why UL has a monopoly on this.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They develop standards in conjunction with the European and Asian agencies. They all pretty much test to the same standards. It isn't just UL working alone.

        I get products through UL (and DEMKO in Europe) several times a year and this just sounds like inadequate planning on the part of Mini. That's all it takes is time and planning.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why is it amazing? There are other relatively private entities which test products as well. IIHS for one.

        Does the government really have to do everything? Plus, what advantage would that have? Do you know long things like drugs take to get approved by the FDA - and even then, problems still exist?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I should clarify this somewhat as to why 110v takes longer than 230v to charge.

      The maximum safe current draw on a 110 volt circuit is 13 amps, even though most homes use 15 amp circuit breakers. Anything more and you'll start popping breakers.

      Using ohms law, 110 volts * 13 Amps = 1430 watts.

      On the other hand, the outlets for your dryer and stove are 230 volt, 30 amp services.

      Assuming that the maximum safe current draw from one of these outlets is 26
      amps, You get... 230 volts * 26 Ampes = 5980 watts.

      This is, in essence almost 4 times the maximum amont of power supplied.

      Now, Assuming that they say it takes 4 hours for one of these Mini's to charge,
      if we supply four times less power, that bumps it up to almost 17 hours.

      Realistically though, I bet that due to inefficencies in the charger, heat dissipation and the charging method, the full wattage being delivered by the outlet doesn't get to the batteries. In fact, I bet the charger throttles the current as appropriate so that you don't have melted batteries. (Or a melted charger)

      So, saying that it'll take nearly 24 hours for it to charge off of 110 volt outlet is reasonable.

      BTW, When you convert electrical power to a higher or lower voltage using a transformer, you must keep in mind that your SOURCE can only still deliver a maximum amount of current.

      In other words, if you used a transformer to bump up 110 volts to 230 volts, but you still wanted to deliver 5980 watts, your 110 volt circuit would have to be able to support a 54 amp load! In other words, you'd pop breakers pretty fast. :)

      • 5 Years Ago
      Good video, but not nearly as good as my all time favorite Youtube video, Burnout Europe Vs. Iraq


      Tu tu tu tu, na na na na na
      • 5 Years Ago
      Having the 220V service installed is not the issue. Installing the cable that is required to charge the Mini E is because it is not an approved cable in some areas by the Underwriters Lab (UL).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Spam!!!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bet bmw are feeling very smart now..... coulda done beta testing in london or berlin.... nooooo do it in a country where the basic infrastructure isn't up to their needs... ( UK, Germany- native 240V- 15 Amp) ...
      then again.. the greenies are in Cali.... no brainer there...
      (how i love contradicting my self)

      -and people people!! Install fuses for each and every electrical device you own.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just like when you finally receive that new electronic gadget, and then realize that it needs to charge all day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Hm, didn't know that charging times based on voltage is not linear. Would have figured that if it takes 4 hours on 220, it would take 8 hours on 110v. Learn something new everyday.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Just get a 110v/220v transformer, this is not a big deal.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hope you ever find yourself with a 220v electric dryer and try your converter method you keep some extra dry clothes and/or a fire extinguisher handy.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe not, but we've been using inverters and transformers to get us from 110v to 220v and back to 110v for decades now. All I am saying is that there is nothing special about that "black box" that's being developed, that's all. No intention to start a technical discussion here, we've been plugging appliances and electrical equipment (imported and with different voltage requirements) and it's worked fine. This should be similar. Cheers!
        • 5 Years Ago
        ... no. I don't think you understand how electricity works, especially at the home wiring level.
    • Load More Comments