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I've owned a pair of Mini hatches since BMW re-launched the brand to great acclaim in 2002. In the intervening years, it has been noted by the automobile intelligentsia that for Mini to prosper, it had to become a full range of vehicles, and not just a niche. Whether the boys from Bavaria had this in mind from the get-go or they didn't, the prophecy is being fulfilled. First came the convertible Mini, which was cute, then the Clubman, a stab at inventiveness, and the upcoming Countryman four-door, arriving in February, which has been described by Britain's CAR magazine columnist Gavin Green as a Mini "suffering from elephantiasis." But perhaps the most ambitious Mini of all is the Mini-E, the electric Mini.

The Mini E uses a regular Mini Cooper body, but the addition of a battery pack and electric drive system inflates the curb weight to some 3,230 pounds, 684 pounds more than the standard Mini. The battery pack is rated at 35 kWh (compared to 24 kWh for the forthcoming Nissan Leaf). BMW claims the Mini E can do 0-62 mph in 8.5 seconds, with a 95 mph top speed.

It's a tour-de-force of technology, perhaps the most innovative Mini since the original Sir Alec Issigonis-designed car. With its hundred-mile driving range, the Mini E could be the perfect choice for the Santa Monica Boulevard at rush hour or the Garden State Parkway on a hot day when billions of folks are heading to the Jersey Shore. Or the Nurburgring.

What's that, the original "Green Hell" racecourse, you say? Why not? How would an electric Mini fare on the 12.9-mile Nordschleife? After all, it has become de rigueur for cars with sporting pretentions to tackle the North loop of the Ring, even if their times don't quite match up to the elites. The fastest production cars, those in the sub-7:30-lap-time club, include the Dodge Viper ACR, the Ferrari Enzo, the Chevrolet Corvette ZR1, the Nissan GT-R, and the Porsche Carrera GT.

As it turns out, when BMW let the Mini E loose on the 'Ring back in April, it was a bit off that pace, turning a best lap at 9:51. Driven by German Touring Car driver Thomas Jaeger, it managed a top speed a hair under 116 miles per hour. While this Mini E racecar was modified and lightened with racing seats, beefed-up suspension and a roll cage, it did derive its power from the stock 150-kilowatt (201-horsepower) electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack.

The Mini E is not (yet) a series production vehicle, meaning you can't go out and buy one, but it is much more than a halo project for BMW. There are 450 on lease as part of a large-scale test in the U.S. right now, and BMW plans to deploy more to China and France. The company also says it will have BMW-branded electric vehicles on European roads sometime next year.


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  • 29 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      How far will it run before I have to buy a real long extension cord to recharge it? I suspect it will not go farther than 90 miles.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I have an automatic 2007 Cooper S and LOVE IT. Bought it new and today it has 8900 miles on it. (yes, thats hundred not thousand) I have driven it on a 800+ mile each way vacation and it was great on gas and for a small car it was very comfortable. I also live in an area where day to day driving is not mandatory so the Coop fits my lifestyle.
      RYAN
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah,I like the mini but I dont want an electric mini that is as heavy as a full sized chevy truck.......I dont want an electric vehicle at all even if the world goes electric and gas is 15 dollars a gallon.
      Larry Berglof
      • 4 Years Ago
      Electric cars.....They, are attempting to seduce America into electric cars because we are "addicted" to oil. First off, there is a vast difference between addiction and necessity. Secondly, the very same people who "addicted us to oil are the ones attempting this BS. Where the Hell do they think electricity comes from? It's not some mysterious, free energy source that's going to solve our oil problems. A great deal of electricity is produced from fossill fuels. There really is no oil problem, there is a problem with governmental and environmental agencies who refuse to allow America to drill for oil. Why do you think that BP was drilling in 5000 feet of water, because oil companies are not allowed to drill where the oil is easy to get to. They can kiss my Ass,I'm not buying their Crap!
        craig
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Larry Berglof
        What are you talking about? The horse is the way to go. Just feed it hay and your ready to go. We did just fine without gas burning cars and trucks and we liked it that way.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Larry Berglof
        People like the one's in this post and reply make me sad. According to you there is just oil sitting a couple hundred feet down under the entire crust of the earth I suppose? And there's just so darn much of it that even if the entire national populations of China and India own the same number of cars per person as the U.S. and sit idling in traffic for an hour each way to and from work, that we'll still have enough oil until God comes down and states that the world end's and all the good people just like you are going up to heaven with him.

        Sorry, we're in for a real kick in the ass in 50-100 years when even after we go after the easy but inconveniently placed oil, and the challenging and really expensive to drill oil, we're going to not have enough oil per day to meet our needs. At that point prices will sky rocket from their elevated levels, and the "Great Recession" will be a joke of a financial meltdown compared to the real pain of people not being able to move freely about the world using planes, trains, and automobiles (including the trucks that deliver the food to your grocery store).

        The Mini-E like all electric cars are better simply for the fact that they improve the efficiency with which we travel, prolonging that 50-100 years, so that instead of having a difficult deadline of "solving our energy addiction" for our grandchildren, it will be until our great grandchildren until some ingenious scientist can come up with (and implement) a way to supply our unending need of energy to live the lives we have become accustomed to.
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Larry Berglof
        You hit the nail right on the head. Also, figure out a cost effective means of recharging, including recharging it on the road while traveling and only then I might give an ounce of consideration, otherwise who gives a rat's ass that it can go 100 miles on a charge.
      • 4 Years Ago
      2002 and three clutches later, not to mention the electronic malfunctions... Ugh! Thanks goodness for my awesome Automotive Technician, that is on it all cuz he knows his stuff, truely. I love the car, cuz it was my son's first car owned.... but I doubt the ingenuity behind BMW buying another car maker's technology and being able to stand behind it's many flaws financially. I've had to pay way to much for their mistakes and contract loop holes that I now wish I should have chosen a different career to interpret the contract.
      RYAN
      • 4 Years Ago
      I drove a used mini about 2 years ago....04ish if I remember.It was an automatic but it was the one with no gears,it had that odd tranny they tried for a while and replaced later.I didnt like the way it didnt shift,you just put your foot down and it was like a snowmobile they told me,it just went faster and faster but it felt odd so I didnt buy it.I just figured it would be a great on gas machine and good for back and forth to work car but I think I just wanted more power.I do like the little cars but I might wait and pick up a fiat 500 when they get here pretty soon,thats a cool little ride...........
      wongtpa
      • 4 Years Ago
      The Mini got it right!
      • 4 Years Ago
      why can t the car manufacturer build a car that you don t have to charge every 100 miles or so. why can t they have one that goes 500, or 600 before you have to charge it. can anyone answer that?
        subro2
        • 4 Years Ago
        The limitations on the range of the vehicles is, at this stage, due to the battery technology currently available. Want to be a billionaire? Come up with a battery that holds enough charge to last 500 miles. The technology isn't there...yet. Let's see what the future holds, and then maybe we won't be pouring billions of dollars to countries in the Persian Gulf region.
      Mark
      • 4 Years Ago
      Minis were great cars, until BMW took over the name plate and started charging thousands more than they were worth... really a shame... great little car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      One can only hope that this new mini is an automatic and not a clutch. I own a 2008 mini cooper "S"and the clutch went after 25k. I was told that the clutch is warranted for the first 1000 miles only. Resulting in a $3000.00 repair. My days of supporting mini and BMW are OVER
        • 4 Years Ago
        Richard.. I called the local Mini Cooper Service dealer here in Atlanta after reading your post about your clutch going out after 1000 miles and costing you $3000. The Warranty on a Mini is bumper to bumper on everything except tires. 36 month or 3 years on anything that wears except tires, including brake pads and wipers. It is 4 years bumper to bumper on defective parts or 50,000 miles. They said that if your clutch was gone after 1000 miles and costs $3000 in repairs , that your clutch was ABUSED and so was your FLY WHEEL from ABUSE...... which no one covers.... In other words, YOU NEED TO LEARN TO DRIVE A STRAIGHT SHIFT TRANSMISSION instead of tearing up your one on your car. Any mechanic can tell if you have abused it and rode the clutch and wore it out by not driving it properly. No car is perfect and no brand name will be perfect, but to claim it was their fault is immature and un-realisitc.. Anyone out there who doubts this warranty , just call the local BMW & Mini Cooper dealers and verify what I am saying with their Service Departments.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You can ruin the clutch in a car in a single day, and it has nothing to do with warranty. Clutches are typically "not warrantied", as they are subject to owner abuse or damage by the customer resting their foot on the cluch peddle while driving. Don't buy ANY brand of car and expect to get a warranty on a clutch. Warranties cover "defects in material or workmanship" and not things that wear out. The clutch in a car used in city driving will undergo more wear in 25,000 miles than a it would in a car used on the highway for 200,000 miles.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Our 2004 Mini made it to 50,000 miles before the needed new transmission. Oh and by the way its second new clutch. This on a base Mini driven as a commute car by a driver over 50.
        ajschrod
        • 4 Years Ago
        Sorry to hear of your bad luck, but it simply doesn't pertain to all-electrics. There is a continuous flow of acceleration with no "gears" or clutch needed.
        pilfirfite
        • 4 Years Ago
        My 2002 MINI Cooper S has almost 80k, and other than some sensors that have temporary hiccups, it has been a great car.I want a convertible MINI, but right now enjoy no car payments. And until we get a more stable person leading the country in DC, I will keep the status quo
        • 4 Years Ago
        Maybe you should learn to drive a stick before you criticize. We own two 2007 Coopers, one a hardtop and one a convertible. We have never had any clutch problems.
        recorby
        • 4 Years Ago
        How in the world did you blow throuh a clutch in 25K? I have had a Cooper S since 2003, and I have never met anyone who has done that, and I know people with 100K on the odometer.

        I think this speaks volumes about your driving technique. Get some instructions in downshifting and heel-and-toe.
      • 4 Years Ago
      My friend has a mini and loves it and never had any problems. I have a Hybrid Chevy Tahoe which is amazing! I think the combination of gas and electric is much more feasible than pure electric. While it is somewhat like driving a golf cart at first, it still has great acceleration and smooth handling. The battery is warranted for 100,000 miles. The winning factor is the fuel economy!!! If you are considering electic, the short range pitfalls are compensated if you go hybrid instead. You won't regret it!
      Buckingham's
      • 4 Years Ago
      Buy AMERICAN!
        Rick
        • 4 Years Ago
        @Buckingham's
        LOL! Nothing ia American! All have foreign parts!
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