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):
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:
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.