Most electric vehicle range tests don't drive the car until it stops dead, leaving the question of how much further would it have gone if they just kept on driving. Well, we didn't leave any miles in the battery pack this week when we fully charged a 2020 MINI Cooper SE and drove it till it stopped.
Luckily, we were in the process of backing it into the Electrify America charging stall to replenish the battery when the car decided it had enough and put itself into park. Kyle Conner from Out Of Spec Motoring and I shared the car, and we each did about half the driving.
We started out at the InsideEVs / Out Of Spec Motoring racetrack in Garysburg, North Carolina with a full charge. It was was a bit cooler than ideal, with an average temperature during the test of about 48 degrees. However, the MINI Cooper SE utilizes an extremely efficient heat pump system for cabin heating, so that should minimize the range loss from using cabin heating.
The MINI representatives I spoke with during the January media drive in Miami told me the MINI heat pump system is even more efficient than the one BMW uses in the BEV version of the i3. The range-extended version of the i3 uses a conventional resistive heating system because the fuel tank occupies the area where the heat pump on the BEV version resides.
The MINI Cooper SE has four driving modes: Sport, Mid, Green, and Green+. We conducted the range test in Green, because we felt that most people that were trying to get the longest range out of the car would select Green or Green+, and we didn't want to sacrifice the effectiveness of the climate control system which happens in Green+ mode. Plus, while driving at a constant speed, the driving mode shouldn't really make that much of a difference.
We tried to make the test as accurate as possible and drove a loop on a relatively flat highway to make sure we accounted for elevation changes. It was a calm night with nearly no wind, so windy conditions didn't hurt or help the range. The goal was to drive at a constant 90 km/h which translates to about 56 mph.
We know the BMW speedometers are notorious for being a little liberal with the speed, so we set the speed by GPS and checked it during the drive. As expected, the MINI's speedometer display was about 1.5 mph fast, so to achieve an average of 56 mph, we drove half the trip with the cruise control set ay 58 mph and the other half at 57 mph.
After driving a little less than 127 miles, we pulled off the highway where the Electrify America DC fast chargers were located with 1% state of charge and zero miles left of estimated range.
We then drove around the area at about 30 mph and added another 5 miles to the trip odometer before the car started to go into a much-reduced power mode.
As we were backing into the charging stall, the power began to cut out and even with the accelerator pushed to the floor, we were only going about 1 mph until the car stopped about 3 feet short of where we needed to be to plug into the station. Luckily, we had one of Kyle's friends there because he was filming us as we drove, and he pushed the car the final 3 feet before the MINI shut down and put itself into park.
Even though it wasn't ideal range conditions, we squeezed out exactly 132 miles from the car that has a 110 mile EPA range rating. I believe 140 miles would be possible driving this same course if it were 30 - 35 degrees warmer. Even so, we beat the EPA range rating by a solid 20%.
Gallery: Mini Cooper SE (2020) im Test
After plugging in the car immediately took over 40 kW from the station, which surprised us. On many other EVs, you need to get some energy into the pack and the voltage up a bit before it can accept nearly the full charge rate. As advertised, the MINI Cooper charged to 80% in about 35 minutes. However, it took an additional 25 minutes to get to 100% charges, making the full charge from zero to 100% an even hour.
The full charge also took 31 kWh from the Electrify America charging station. The Cooper SE's battery pack has a total capacity of 32.6 kWh but the usable amount is 28.9 kWh. That shows us there was about 2 kWh lost to inefficiencies during the charging process.
As we all know, range is a moving target in electric vehicles. On the WLTP range rating, the vehicle had a driving range between 200-232 km (124-144 miles). That actually puts our test results nearly right in the middle of the WLTP range estimates.
You can always get more or less range than any testing protocol estimate. It all depends on the terrain, your speed, the temperature, how much weight you're carrying, and the wind conditions. However, we think these range tests are important because they give potential customers more information to consume, even if you shouldn't put too much stock in any one particular range test.
We'd like to hear your thoughts on the test. Could we have done it better? Please offer up your suggestions when we do EV range tests in the future, and we'll definitely consider your thoughts on how we can make range tests better in the future.