Electric Mini

BMW announces all-electric Mini to go on trial lease

Electric-power is gathering pace as the big choice when it comes to alternative fuels - and it should see a major boost in uptake thanks to a fully battery-powered Mini, which could make going green that bit more desirable.

Unlike a hybrid, it only uses batteries to propel it - note the lack of tailpipes at the back, proving there's no internal combustion. Instead, there's a 260kg air-cooled battery which replaces the car's back seats, while the electric motor is up front, ensuring the weight distribution isn't affected. Power wise, there's 201bhp on tap which allows the 1465kg Mini E to hit 62mph in 8.5sec with a limited top whack of 95mph. More relevant in an electric car is the torque figure, which is 162lb ft and available from idle up to the car's staggering 12,500rpm rev limiter.

A full recharge should take about two and a half hours, with a 150 mile range achievable with combined driving. Not all that long, but the average Mini's day is unlikely to stretch beyond that. For now, Mini is making 500 Es, which are being distributed to drivers in California, New York and New Jersey on a leasing scheme so that BMW can analyse their performance and make necessary developments.

For those who aren't getting their hands on one and becoming a Mini guinea pig, the car will also show its face at the LA Auto Show in November. There's no idea on cost yet, but it should undercut the Tesla Roadster, which demands a £92,000 investment at the minute.

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