As electric vehicles move into the limelight, BMW Group is preparing to join the zero tailpipe emission stampede with the MINI E.
Shortly after the MINI E debuted in at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show, a test fleet of 450 cars entered a lease program in metropolitan New York, New Jersey, and LA.
The cars have been in daily use by private citizens, municipalities, universities, and public utilities, with feedback being used in the development of production EVs for MINI and parent BMW.
During several days of use, we found the MINI E to be a very solid proof of concept vehicle that shows how viable an electric car can be in normal use.
Power comes from a 150 kilowatt/204-horsepower electric motor tied to a 35 kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack. Acceleration is brisk: 0 to 60 in about 8 seconds, with a top speed of 95 miles per hour. Mini says the typical range is about 100 miles, but some users have exceeded that by up to half. We saw about 80 miles of indicated range using the radio and air conditioning.
Recharging takes up to 20 hours using 110-volts, but as little as three hours with a 220-Volt charging station.
Driving the MINI E is extremely pleasant, with a nice flutter-like electric sound coupled to good throttle response at all speeds.
“The MINI E drives much like the gas-powered MINI Cooper. Steering is sharp, and it’s extremely agile. Next to the Tesla, it’s probably the most fun green car we’ve driven yet.” – Shamit Choksey
But we do think the MINI E’s brakes need work. The regenerative braking system may capture a lot of energy, but its overly strong engine braking effect, the moment you lift the throttle, is uncomfortable.
Inside, the MINI E had production-quality fit & finish. But with the battery unit in the back, this EV is a two seater with limited cargo space.
The MINI E leasing program is now in its second year with all of its $600 monthly leases sold out.
150 kilowatt/204-horsepower electric motor
35 kilowatt-hours lithium-ion battery pack
$600 monthly leases