I have seen the yellow turtle.

Part of any new car test (at least for me) is to learn where “Empty” really is.  I do this with most of my cars, and I have actually only run out of fuel twice in all the times I have done this.  (Kids, please don’t try this at home, unless you have a really long driveway.)

On my Clubman S, I found that I could go quite a few miles with just —- showing on the miles ‘til empty display.  I went much further than I intended, actually, as the gas station I had set as a waypoint in my GPS was closed.  The next place to get gas was 38 miles further down the road. (No, I was not in the middle of Death Valley, I was fully 100 miles from there, as the buzzard flies.)  That was a long 38 miles, and the car took 14.53 gallons to get full, more than a gallon over the official capacity.

My other electric car, the GEM E4 NEV (http://www.gemcar.com/) has a little symbol that lights up when you near the “dead battery” stage.  It is a very appropriate symbol – a yellow turtle – because when it comes on the car slows down appreciably.

The MINI E uses a more proper technology symbol – a battery that seems to be just half full (combined with sounding the very polite MINI Cooper warning bell).  The car also begins to act like that yellow turtle – sluggish and a little ill (or maybe that was me?).

With the GEM I drove up the street I live on.  And I do mean up – all the way to where Kobe Bryant used to live.  The car completely ran out of juice and would have stopped if it hadn’t started to roll backwards.  That was a bit awkward, but I survived.

With the MINI E I drove up again, but I chose a hill that was not as steep, and I watched the battery percentage reading and miles remaining numbers closely.  At 3 miles remaining I turned around and headed for home and was quite surprised to see the mileage and battery charge continue to disappear.  I was going down hill, and the system indicated that it was recharging, but still the numbers dropped.

Near the bottom of that hill I saw this (sorry about the blurries):

---- mls

---- mls

After I turned onto the street to head home I checked the battery percentage and the battery temperature.  The indication was that no charge remained, and the batteries were at 98 degrees F, a full 35 degrees above the ambient air temperature:

98 degrees

98 degrees

I made it home, though, so I was not able to become the first person to call the special MINI E roadside assistance number.  Yet.

I decided to forgo charging when I got home, and I let the MINI E sit while I had a glass of wine.  When I went to check it again the charge read 3% and the miles remaining read 5, so it was just messing with me.


4 Responses to “I have seen the yellow turtle.”

  1. Fascinating.

    Can you continue on the regen braking theme? When the Mini E engages its regen braking, under normal use, when do you feel it? Is it sudden and jolting, or is it smooth? Can you tell when it’s engaged/disengaged?

    Also, when going back down the hill, and regen was fully on (had to be to get that battery temperature up so high), was it powerful enough to keep you moving slowly downhill, or did you need to assist it with the manual brakes?

    Thanks for the update.

  2. At the dinner even I asked the Engineers how it behaved as you started to run out of charge. To the best of my faulty memory what they said was. The car behaves normally until you get to 0% remaining then your top speed is reduced, dont remember what to, from there you can drive for about 10 miles until it will go into crawl mode only 10mph I think, from this point you’ve got about 3 miles until it will stop dead. I’ve not tested this, and with only a 120v charger I dont plan to. would be interest in knowing what the preformance is like below 0%

    • nobullsavage Says:

      Robert and Nathan,

      I will add a few comments about the regen and the performance below 0% later today.



  3. Interesting blog. Can you explain the display there for us morons in the audience? 🙂 Thanks.

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