Those paying close attention might have noticed that as MINI USA has been delivering battery-powered MINI Es in recent weeks, the range estimate is being quoted as 100 miles. Last November, when we first saw and drove the MINI E, the range was estimated at 156 miles. When we actually drove the car in LA, the rate of decline of the estimated range was in fact closer to the new estimate than the original. In 6.5 miles we went from 72 to 49 percent charge.
We contacted MINI USA spokeswoman Nathalie Bauthers to learn more about the discrepancy. It turns out that the original 156-mile estimate was based on a California Air Resources Board protocol for testing zero emissions vehicles and was in fact a straight highway test. At the time that was the only number available as the EPA calculations were not yet completed. The EPA takes the raw numbers from ZEV range tests (just as they do with raw fuel consumption numbers) and puts them into a formula to make some adjustments. Those adjusted numbers are what is reported on the range/mileage sticker.
The MINI E is certainly not the first EV to fall short of range estimates and probably won't be the last. Going forward, hopefully, the EPA will be keeping an eye on real world results of EVs and making adjustments to the range formula just as they have with the mileage formula to give customers more realistic results. If not, early adopters of EVs are going to find themselves sadly disappointed with the vehicles.