While Mini has jumped on the electric bandwagon with the Mini E, don't expect to see this car in showrooms any time soon. Labelled as a "pilot project" to assess the viability of electric power, only 500 units of the Mini E have been produced. 450 of these have been allocated to select customers (Mini does the selecting), who pay US$850/month for a year-long lease. The remaining 50 have been reserved for fleet buyers and testing.
The 201hp AC electric motor resides in the engine bay as you'd expect, but the lithium ion battery pack - all 260kgs of it - fills the entire back seat area, as well as much of the luggage space. Range is claimed at only 160kms, even with regenerative braking, with a 0-60kph sprint time of 8.3 seconds, and governed top speed of 146kph. The Mini E can be recharged in three hours from a specially-fitted 240V outlet, or in 24 hours from a 110 volt outlet. Data gained from the Mini Es will be used by BMW to develop a dedicated electric vehicle platform scheduled for a 2013 release.