At MINI's Oxford plant, forty electric MINI E cars were handed over to their test drivers, who are all members of the public. This marks the start of two consecutive six-month field trial periods which will evaluate the psychological, social and technical aspects of living with an electric car. The findings will be used both to inform the BMW Group engineering teams, as they create zero emissions vehicles for the future, and the wider world to help guide power providers, policy makers and component manufacturers in their decision making.
The BMW Group has played a pioneering role in the development of sustainable private transport through ever more efficient petrol and diesel power plants. This is being achieved through the comprehensive application of a wide range of technologies, collectively known as Efficient Dynamics. More than 1.6 million cars worldwide have been sold with Efficient Dynamics technology integrated into their design. The company also has a long-term commitment to the development of both hybrid and hydrogen powertrains.
The trial is a collaborative effort within a BMW Group UK-led consortium. Additional funding is provided by the Government-backed Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport (DFT) as part of a UK-wide programme involving trials of 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles from several manufacturers.
The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Nm and a power output equivalent to 204hp. Drive is delivered to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox. This unique engine and transmission arrangement powers the MINI E seamlessly to 62 mph in 8.5 seconds and on to an electronically-limited top speed of 95 mph.
Based on the familiar MINI Hatch, MINI E is a two-seater because the space normally used by rear passengers is reserved for a lithium-ion battery. This state-of-the-art rechargeable battery unit combines high output with ample storage capacity and a remarkable power output. It has a maximum capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) and transmits energy to the electric motor as a direct current at a nominal 380 volts. It comprises 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules, which are packaged into three battery elements arranged compactly inside the MINI E.
A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Each kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles giving the MINI E a theoretical range of over 150 miles. Besides the benefit of zero-emissions driving, at point of use, the MINI E offers significant economic advantages over a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine.
As soon as the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. In city traffic, some 75 per cent of all deceleration can be done without the brakes. Making substantial use of this energy regeneration feature extends the car's range by up to 20 per cent and contributes to a smooth driving experience.Published 14 December 2009