The British government body that exists to promote business innovation in technology has announced that a consortium led by BMW Group will be supported by a proportion of a £25m fund, enabling the MINI E to be introduced and tested on British roads by a mixture of private, corporate and public sector drivers before the end of 2009.
MINI E models will be on UK roads for a twelve-month field trial that will evaluate the technical and social aspects of living with an all-electric vehicle in a real world environment. This year-long project will play an important part in informing future strategic and technological decisions.
MINI E Technology Highlights
The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Nm, and power 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 current MINI Hatch, the car is available as a two-seater. With 204 hp at the driver's disposal, performance is close to that of the MINI John Cooper Works.
The space normally inhabited by rear passengers is reserved for a lithium-ion battery. The heavy-duty battery delivers its power to an electric motor which is mounted transversely under the MINI E's bonnet. This power unit is able to unleash its full thrust from a dead standstill and is complemented by its dynamic deceleration potential, which is directly coupled to the accelerator pedal.
The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be plugged into all standard power outlets. Its charge time is strongly dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. As with existing research projects in the USA and Berlin, users will be able to recharge a battery that has been completely drained within a very short period of time using a wallbox that will be supplied as standard with every MINI E. With 240V/32A, charging time for the car will be around four hours. There is also an intention to establish a network of public charging stations.
The wallbox will be installed in the customer's garage, enable higher amperage and thus ensure extremely short charging times. Wallboxes fully recharge batteries in just four-and-a-half hours. Only lockable garages or similar buildings will qualify as suitable power stations for the MINI E.
Besides the benefit of zero-emissions driving, the MINI E offers significant economic advantages over a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine. Fully re-charging the battery using off-peak electricity at current prices will cost around £1.50. Using higher-rate daytime electricity, the cost will still be less than £4.00.
Production of all cars for the UK trial is underway at the company's Oxford and Munich sites. MINI's Plant Oxford will be responsible for manufacturing the entire vehicle on the standard production line, with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery. The vehicles will then be transferred to a specially equipped manufacturing facility situated on BMW plant premises in Munich where the electric motor, battery units, performance electronics and transmission will be integrated.
A launch date and pricing details for UK customers interested in participating in the MINI E UK research project will be announced shortly.Published 24 June 2009