Next month BMW will present the new, electrically-powered MINI E to the global media for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show. 500 MINI E vehicles will then be shipped to the US states of California, New York and New Jersey for testing with private and corporate customers.
BMW Group tells us that the development of the MINI E underlines BMW Group’s commitment to reducing fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in road traffic, without compromise to the driving experience.
The 500 cars bound for North America will offer BMW Group the opportunity to evaluate ownership potential for vehicles supplied with an electric power supply. BMW Group tells us that it aims to begin series production in the medium term of all-electric vehicles as part of the company’s Number ONE strategy.
The cars will be delivered to customers on a one-year lease with an extension option. Monthly lease installments will cover any required technical service including all necessary maintenance and the replacement of wearing parts. At the end of the lease, all of the automobiles belonging to the project will be returned to the BMW Group’s engineering fleet where they will be subjected to comparative tests.
MINI E specification and performance
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 will initially be available as a two-seater. The space normally inhabited by rear passengers is reserved for a lithium-ion battery.
When in use in the zero-emissions MINI, the battery unit combines high output with ample storage capacity and remarkable power output. The lithium-ion storage unit will have a maximum capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh ) and transmit energy to the electric motor as direct current at a nominal 380 volts.
The energy storage unit’s basic components are based on technologies proven in power supply units for mobile phones and portable computers. 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. In the USA, users can recharge a battery that has been completely drained within a very short period of time using a wall-box that will be supplied as standard with every MINI E.
The wallbox will be installed in the customer’s garage, enable higher amperage, and thus provide for extremely short charging times. Wallboxes fully recharge batteries in just two-and-a-half hours. Only lockable garages or similar buildings will qualify as power stations for the MINI E.
A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Based on the car’s range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles. Besides the benefit of zero-emissions driving, the MINI E thus offers significant economic advantages over a vehicle powered by a conventional internal combustion engine.
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.
As soon as the driver releases 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. This interaction ensures a comfortable and smooth driving experience. 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 percent.
The MINI E’s brake system comes with a newly developed electric pump. Its Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPS ) is the same as the one used in mass-produced MINIs.
The MINI E’s 1,465 kilograms is evenly distributed across the car. Handling safety is ensured by modifications to the suspension system and the car’s Dynamic Stability Control (DSC ), which is adapted due to this model’s specific wheel loads.
Every MINI E produced for this pilot project will have the same paintwork and bear a serial number on their front bumpers. The MINI E’s coachwork features an exclusive combination of metallic Dark Silver on all panels but the roof, which is clad in Pure Silver. What distinguishes the zero-emissions MINI E is a unique logo in Interchange Yellow, depicting a stylised power plug in the shape of an “E” set against a silver background.
Inside, the central gauge and battery level indicator behind the wheel of the MINI E - which replaces the MINI’s rev counter - feature yellow lettering against a dark grey background. The battery level is displayed in percentage figures. The central gauge includes an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.