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Electric MINI car to hit the road in 2009
Source: Shane O' Donoghue    10/20/2008 10:18:06 AM
The MINI E will initially be produced in a run of 500 special edition cars to be made available to select users on one-year lease scheme only, with the cars being returned to BMW for inspection at the end of the term.

All 500 cars will be finished in identical colours inside and out, with a unique numbered panel on the front wing.

Though the MINI E is virtually indistinguishable from the regular petrol and diesel cars ('plug' decals aside), its powertrain is completely new.

A 201bhp electric motor is mounted under the bonnet in place of the engine, driving the front wheels through a single-gear helical gearbox.

Power is supplied to the motor from a collection of lithium-ion battery packs, which take the place of the MINI's rear seats.

Recharging the MINI E is done by plugging it into any mains power outlet, though MINI will provide drivers of the E version with a 'wallbox' to mount in their garage, which reduces charging time to just 2.5 hours.

MINI claims that the electric version will have a range of about 150 miles on a full charge and that the car's perfect weight distribution means that the E retains the brand's hallmark handling and agility.

BMW is considering whether or not to run a similar scheme in Europe, but it's likely that the MINI E project will lead to a full scale production electric car in the next five years.

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