The Mini Cooper has established itself in the American popular imagination as a high performance rocket in a very small package. Some may conjure an image of pop ‘feminine’ ideal when thinking of a Mini Cooper, possibly picturing a pink convertible Mini coasting down the highway. Many more, largely in thanks to films such as the Borne Identity and The Italian Job, will picture a gun metal grey, high performance vehicle, paired with masculine simplicity and practicality. This is part of the Mini Cooper’s appeal, it functions at a high capacity according to the needs and varying tastes of the user.
With the Mini E, BMW and Mini Cooper enter the field of the full electric vehicle. The Mini E is an all electric powered version of the BMW Mini, first launched to the market as a field test in June 2009 and available through leasing to private users in Los Angeles and the New York/New Jersey area. Another field test was launched in the UK in December 2009, where more than forty Mini E cars were handed to private users for two consecutive six-month field trial periods. This trial program allowed the BMW Group to become the world’s first major car manufacturer to deploy a fleet of more than 500 all-electric vehicles for private use.
Power comes from an Asynchronous electric motor that is mounted in the former engine bay and is rated at 204 PS and 220 N·m (160 ft·lbf) of torque sent to the front wheels. The Mini E employs a lithium-ion battery pack with an overall capacity of a 35 kilowatt-hours. The batteries weigh 572 lbs and currently replaces the back seat (the mass production model will be a four seater). Top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph. The car’s range is 156 mile on a single charge under optimal conditions. Estimates of normal driving conditions put ranges at 109 miles city and 96 miles highway.
Given the close proximity of Phoenix Arizona to Los Angeles, it would be safe to assume that Phoenix Arizona customers interested in the current Mini E model could qualify to take part in the ongoing leasing test run. The advice of this writer, however, would be to wait until the full mass production model hits the US market for sale, which will be either later this year or early next year.
For Phoenix Arizona customers interested in current 2011 year models, there is one Phoenix Valley dedicated Mini dealership, Mini North Scottsdale, while Phoenix Valley customers can also find the Mini at all Phoenix Valley BMW dealerships.