By on October 29, 2009

Early adopter syndrome strikes!

GM-volt.com‘s Lyle Dennis finds out that being one of the first 500 Americans to lease a MINI E has its downsides. Especially at $850/month lease cost. At around 5,000 miles, the troubles begin (OK, continue).

As the car is technically a mule or prototype, it is not production-ready and has had some issues. A month or two ago it began popping loudly into neutral whenever the accelerator was floored. The power electronics control unit was replaced and after that it almost never happened (it happened one more time). So I’m gentle with the accelerator.

The other day I was driving to work and went over an unexpected construction zone pothole. The car was jostled and suddenly it went into neutral. After that it could no longer be put into drive. Despite turning it on and off and moving the shifter in and out of drive neutral and park several times, that was it, dead. A tow truck was called and off it went to the dealership for a MINI “flying doctor” to come and repair it. After a few days I found out it was the power electronics control unit again which was again replaced.

Because this made Dennis “realize the importance of extensive testing of new electric cars over rough road conditions, potholes and the like,” he put in a word to GM’s Volt team to see if they were on top of this potential pitfall. GM’s Tony Posawatz responds:

We do more tests to our cars and especially the Chevy VOLT than anyone could imagine including some pretty severe potholes on our Milford Provings Grounds and other very difficult road surfaces. As you know, the car quite easily navigated up and down Pikes Peak, through the hills of West Virginia as well as Death Valley during the hottest part of the summer (it was 118 degrees when I called once to check on the team).

He’d better hope something like this doesn’t afflict early Volts, or the model will be dead on arrival.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

14 Comments on “EV Meets Early Adopter Meets Reality...”


  • avatar
    grog

    The moral of this story is never pay to drive a car in beta form.

    Of course every Big 2.8 for decades came off the assembly line in beta form.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    $850 a month for a shitty electric Mini. Wow. Just, wow.

  • avatar

    Note to MINI: Move back up the alphabet one letter and bring the MINI-D to the USA.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Of course every Big 2.8 for decades came off the assembly line in beta form.

    The Aspen/Volare post from today really hammers that home

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    @grog – [deleted my comment – basically wrote the second line of your post back to you – gotta get me sum proper learnin’ to read]

    @Davekaybsc – if all you need is a small car and you have relatively cheap electicity, how is this any worse then leasing a vehicle and paying hundreds of dollars at a pump each month?

    Granted, I don’t think that this scheme is for everyone (certainly not for me!), however there are people that are willing to be early adopters; and frankly it sounds like BMW actually give’s a @#($ if there are problems with a “beta” vehicle; correct me if I’m wrong, but you don’t hear about the domestics flying a tech out to see a car when it breaks down (yes, I know “regular” cars can be serviced at regular dealers, but how often have you seen the dealership repeatedly screw something up – hey, it’s even part of the Land Rover ownership experience!).

    I actually had been following the MINI-e stories for quite a while elsewhere as I’m interested – though not at this price point. Numerous ideas that have been derided on this board have already been accepted by the MINI group – ie, lack of extension cords, specialty charging stations, etc, etc. I was actually interested to see how many people put up with various incoveniences because they are excited about the potential – and have REAL cars in their hands…

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    250 bucks more than Honda pimps for a Clarity? Ouch!

    Of course Volt buyers will have no such worries as GM has taken their time developing the car.
    And the latest CR reilability scores were very reassuring.
    Coupled with GM’s reputation for flawless launchs it’s “no worries” time.

    Peace, love and bellbottoms.

    Bunter

  • avatar

    I agree with Bunter. I’ve driven a Clarity and it’s an absolutely wonderful car. In fact, if they put internal combustion into a clarity body, I’d be sorely tempted.

  • avatar
    VerbalKint

    I’m suddenly thinking of “Easy Rider” (the movie not the biker mag).

    Peter Fonda is at a hippie commune which is in arid scubland.
    A freak is out throwing seeds (they claim to grow their food) onto un-plowed dirt in an area that gets no rain. (I don’t recall them having any livestock or money; I cringe to think what they were gonna use as fertilizer.)

    And Pete says, “They’re gonna make it, man. Dig. They’ll make it…”

  • avatar
    KarenRei

    “I agree with Bunter. I’ve driven a Clarity and it’s an absolutely wonderful car. In fact, if they put internal combustion into a clarity body, I’d be sorely tempted.”

    And then when you see what the lease costs unsubsidized, you’ll run away screaming.

    Toyota offers an unsubsidized lease on their fuel cell vehicle, the FCHV-adv. About $8k a month.

  • avatar
    James2

    Of course every Big 2.8 for decades came off the assembly line in beta form.

    +1 to grog

    My old POS 1980 Mustang, I think, must have been an alpha release.

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    Early adopter: spelled S-U-C-K-E-R.

    In an alternate dimension somewhere, PT Barnum is smiling.

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    I don’t think you could drive enough miles in a months time to make up in gasoline savings the $850 monthly payment. I agree, wow, just wow.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    mtymsi :

    I don’t think you could drive enough miles in a months time to make up in gasoline savings the $850 monthly payment.

    It also includes insurance and maintenance.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Yes, yes. And the Vega and Citation underwent millions of miles of testing, which GM also bragged about.

    They got the data they wanted to confirm they were correct in their engineering solutions and let the public finish testing the cars for them.

    They will have done the same thing with the Volt comes out.

    Gentlemen: start your tow trucks…….

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • ajla: This was the last BLS real wages release: bls.gov/news.release/realer.nr 0.htm 2.4% decrease YoY for all...
  • FreedMike: +1 million!!!!!!! LOVE the unaccompanied test drives.
  • sgeffe: Not to mention that I’m sure the commie apparatchik in China will be taken care of!
  • mcs: I can see a lot of use-cases for it. Campgrounds usually have power enough to run a level-two charger. I’m...
  • dal20402: Yep, it hurts a lot if prices go up but wages don’t. But in this labor market wages are going up for...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Jo Borras
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber