Mini to unveil all-electric E hatchbackCan the Mini E start the electric car revolution?

23 October 2008

Mini - the Mini E

500 Mini E's will be built

Mini is to show an all-electric version of its popular hatchback at the Los Angeles motor show next month.

Known as the Mini E, this is more than just a show-stopping concept. Following the event, Mini Es will start shipping to private and corporate customers in California, New York, and New Jersey. Five hundred Mini Es will be built in all, as part of an on-going project to evaluate the car for full production.

Manufactured on the same Oxford production line as every other Mini, the E incorporates a full electric drivetrain that is completely installed on site.

150-mile range

Mini E battery gauge

Mini E claims a 150-mile range

Instead of the regular 1.4 petrol engine, under the bonnet lies an electric motor and single-stage gearbox that can propel the Mini E to 62mph in a sprightly 8.5 seconds, and on to an electronically limited top speed of 95mph.

There are three battery packs using the same lithium-ion battery technology as mobile phones and laptops, only on a much larger scale. These batteries, and the energy recuperated during deceleration – when the electric motor turns into a generator, improving battery life in town by up to 20% – give the Mini E a very useable 150-mile range between charges.

Two-hour charge

Mini E

Mini E's US trail could lead to a full production car

The Mini E can be charged using any standard plug outlet in the United States (or theoretically anywhere). But this would take ages, so every Mini E comes with a ‘wallbox’, a boosted transformer that can completely charge the car in two and a half hours. Permanently installed in a single location, this will still help make the Mini E more practical.

The Mini E will be offered on a lease basis only, initially for a year with the option to extend. Mini isn't saying how much it will cost, but the monthly fee will cover wear and tear, and all servicing, which will be carried out by specially trained technicians. After the trial, all Mini E's will return home for further evaluation.

Two-seat Mini E

The only slight hitch is that fitting the batteries has turned the Mini into a two seater. Lucky leasers do still get boot space, though, and the car has been fully crash-tested to US standards.

All Mini Es feature a unique yellow, silver, and dark silver colour scheme, complete with stylised E plug logos, and individual serial number on the bumper.

The Mini E will be officially unveiled in Los Angeles 19 November, and comes hot on the heels of the Mini Crossover Concept presented at this month's . If you can't wait for the Mini E, read more on green car technology.

 

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