BMW has come up with the coolest alternative fuel vehicle to date—a Mini Cooper using a 150 kW (204 hp equivalent) electric-powertrain. Tagged as the Mini E, the small automobile will have a limited production run of about 500 cars to be leased out in a test program in three states: California, New York and New Jersey.
The Mini E has a range of 150 miles on a single charge, and can sprint to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph. The electric motor is mounted transversely beneath the hood and drives the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox.
The lithium-ion battery pack stashed at the rear of the Mini E brings the total weight of the car to 3,230 pounds, up from a regular Mini Cooper’s 2,568 pounds. All the extra battery gear leaves no room for a backseat, though. The Mini E can fully recharge in 2.5 hours using a special charging adapter that will be installed at the owner’s home. It can also be recharged by plugging into a standard wall socket, but this takes longer. A full recharge costs 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid.
Inside the Mini E, the tachometer is replaced by a battery level gauge with power level displayed in percentages. There is a central gauge with an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.
The Mini E competes with similar models like the Honda FCX, Chevy Volt and Tesla Roadster. Meeting the same standards as the Chevy Volt, the Mini E gets its owners a maximum tax credit of $5000 if it ever gets sold to the public. If the test program proves successful, BMW will go into production with the Mini E.