MINI is moving consistently towards emission-free mobility as the ideal concept for the future. 

Introducing the MINI E, the BMW Group has already become the first manu-facturer of premium cars to offer an all-electric model already running in  a fleet of 600 units for private motoring in everyday traffic. Within just a few months, this pilot project initiated in the US states of California, New York,  and New Jersey has contributed important insight into the development  of all-electric production cars within the BMW Group. Indeed, no other  electric car has covered as many miles in practical road use as the MINI E.

Following the successful start of this field trial in the USA, the pilot project has now been expanded to various locations in Europe. In Germany, for example, the MINI E is being tested in densely populated urban areas as part of various joint ventures with energy supply companies. Since summer 2009, private customers have been driving the MINI E in everyday traffic both in Munich, the home of the BMW Group, and in the German capital of Berlin, using publicly accessible charge stations to provide the cars with the electric power required. 

Since October 2009 the MINI E has also been on the road in Great Britain,  the home country of MINI, and a pilot project in France will follow in the second half of 2010.

2010 MINI E Front Angle

Unique: zero emissions, long range, and all the agility typical of MINI.

The MINI E is powered by a 150 kW/204 hp electric motor receiving its energy from a high-performance lithium-ion battery and delivering power almost without the slightest sound and free of emissions through a single-stage spur gear to the front wheels. The battery technology developed specifically for  use in the automobile gives the car a range of 250 kilometres or 150 miles. The electric power unit in the MINI E develops maximum torque of 220 Newton-metres/162 lb-ft and allows a smooth and ongoing process of acceleration  to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. Top speed of the MINI E is limited electronically to 152 km/h or 95 mph and the suspension set-up tailored to  the weight distribution of the car gives the MINI E that special agility and superior handling so typical of the MINI in general. 

Like in the US states of California, New York, and New Jersey, the MINI E is also being made available to private and corporate customers in Europe. The fleet  of approximately 600 cars running in everyday traffic enables both the company and customers to gain practical experience throughout a representative range  of practical conditions. Evaluation of such experience obviously generates valuable know-how for the development of series models.

A further highlight of the field tests accompanied by research studies is  the supply infrastructure and the specific demands made of the energy supply system, taking the option into account to supply cars with electric power generated in a regenerative cycle. 

Introducing the MINI E, the BMW Group is giving further emphasis to its consistent development activities serving to reduce both fuel consumption  and emissions in road traffic. In this way the BMW Group is using its unique competence in technology in the area of drive systems to develop a vehicle concept able to avoid emissions without giving up driving pleasure.

Within its Number ONE corporate strategy, the BMW Group also seeks to  build all-electric production models. This development and innovative concepts for greater mobility in densely populated areas, forming part of project i, come  in the same context, again allowing the use of all-electric drive technology. 

Energy storage: latest generation of lithium-ion technology  developed specifically for the MINI.

Based on the current MINI, this special all-electric model is a two-seater, the rear-seat space on the regular production model being used in this case for the lithium-ion battery, combining superior performance, more than ample storage capacity and compact dimensions in the emission-free MINI in a balance of qualities never seen before in this area. Overall capacity of the lithium-ion battery  is 35 kilowatt hours (kWh), with energy being conveyed as direct current with  a nominal voltage of 380 V to the electric motor. 

The battery is made up of 5,088 battery cells grouped in 48 modules arranged as three battery elements in compact dimensions within the interior of the MINI E.

The fundamental components of the energy storage system are based on a technological principle which has already proven its qualities in supplying power to mobile telephones and portable computers. The lithium-ion battery featured in the MINI E can be connected to any conventional power socket, the charging time required depending to a large extent on the voltage and amperage of the respective network. 

In the USA a completely flat battery can be re-charged quickly and efficiently  by means of a so-called Wallbox featured as standard on every MINI E. All  the customer has to do is fit the Wallbox in his garage, thus benefiting from a higher supply of electric power (amperage) and correspondingly shorter charging times. Just 2½ hours after connecting the car to the Wallbox, the driver benefits once again from a completely charged electric battery in  his MINI E.

Driving with electric power: reliable, inexpensive, free of emissions.

A maximum of 28 kilowatt hours is required from the power mains to completely re-charge the car's electric power supply. Converting this to the range the car  is able to cover, one kilowatt hour is sufficient for a distance of 5.4 miles.  So apart from the benefits of emission-free motoring, the MINI E also offers significant economic benefits versus a car with a conventional combustion engine.

The high-performance battery delivers its energy straight to an electric motor, converting this superior power into thrilling agility on the road. Fitted crosswise at the front beneath the engine compartment lid, the electric motor generates its full power and traction right from the start, that is from a standstill, giving the MINI E an extremely direct response with immediate reaction to the accelerator pedal.

This intense driving experience is also expressed by the same kind of dynamic brake power again related to the specific movement of the drive pedal: As soon as the driver takes his foot off the gas pedal the electric motor takes on the function of a generator, building up brake forces feeding back electricity generated from kinetic energy into the battery of the car.

Particularly at medium and constantly varying speeds, this reaction ensures a very comfortable style of motoring, enabling the driver to use this brake power in roughly 75 per cent of all stopping manoeuvres in city traffic, without even activating the brakes as such. At the same time such intense use of this energy recuperation mode increases the range the MINI E is able to cover by up to  20 per cent.

Agility typical of MINI in new style and with new character.

Weighing 1,465 kg (3,230 lb), the MINI E offers a very good balance of weight from front to rear. Minor modifications on the suspension, in turn, ensure safe handling at all times. And DSC Dynamic Stability Control has also been adjusted to the specific loads acting on the wheels. 

The brake system in the MINI E is equipped with a newly developed electrical vacuum pump. The EPS Electric Power Steering is the same as the steering system on the "regular" production versions of the MINI. Both brake and steering support act consistently as required on the road, thus offering a particularly high standard of all-round efficiency. The electrically driven air conditioning compressor, finally, operates only when the driver and his passengers really require or need the cooling effect of air conditioning.

Design: unmistakably MINI, unmistakably new.

The MINI E stands out clearly at very first sight as a typical MINI in every respect. The characteristic design of the MINI providing the foundation for this emission-free two-seater is nevertheless supplemented by a number of  design features and highlights accentuating the revolutionary concept of the car. As a further highlight, all models built for this very special pilot project come in the same striking paintwork and bear individual production numbers on the front side panels.

The MINI E comes exclusively in Dark Silver metallic with its roof in Pure Silver. A further sign of distinction on the emission-free MINI is the car's specially designed logo in Interchange Yellow proudly bearing a stylised power plug which, contrasting with the silver background, represents the letter "E".

This unique symbol is to be found on the roof and, in somewhat smaller dimensions, at the front, on the rear panel, on the lid covering the battery charge cable, on the dashboard trim bar and, slightly modified and in combination  with the MINI logo, in the door entry strips. The roof flanks and the exterior mirror caps as well as the trim surfaces and seat seams in the interior, finally, also come in the same yellow colour as the logo.

The central instrument and the battery charge meter behind the steering  wheel replacing the usual rev counter in the MINI E come with dark-green instrument faces adorned by yellow numbers. The current battery charge is shown as a percentage figure.

An additional display in the central instrument incorporates red LED lights showing the driver while on the road how much electricity is currently being drained from the battery, while a green light shows the amount of energy currently being recuperated and fed back into the battery.

MINI E customers acting as genuine pioneers.

Built in a production run of just 600 cars, the MINI E test project already reaches a magnitude much greater than current test series with other models. Full-scale use of the MINI E in everyday traffic is therefore a pioneering achievement both by the engineers responsible for developing the first emission-free MINI and of course by the users actually driving the car.

In cooperation with the BMW Group's experts, the MINI E customers are making an important contribution to the scientific evaluation of the project. Establishing and maintaining close contacts with the drivers is of great significance to  the developers responsible for the MINI E, analysing not only the car's qualities and driving characteristics, but also the typical behaviour of the user and thus obtaining a precise and realistic impression of the demands made of the all-electric vehicle in its typical, defined area of use.

Special charge station and complete service for every MINI E.

The MINI E is being provided to customers under a lease agreement concluded for a period of one year. The monthly lease rate includes technical service when required as well as all maintenance needed and the exchange of parts subject to wear and tear. After expiry of the lease all cars in the project will go back to the BMW Group's development fleet where they will be carefully examined in comparative tests.

The MINI E's lithium-ion battery is re-charged through a so-called Wallbox provided to the MINI E customer. Hence, lockable garages or comparable buildings are essential as the homebase and electric charging station for  the MINI E.

Maintenance by qualified specialists.

The high-volt technology of the electric drive system requires maintenance  by qualified specialists using special tools not generally used by the "typical" MINI Service Partner. A Service Centre was therefore established for the  pilot project both on the West and East Coast of the USA, with employees specially trained for maintenance and, if necessary, repair of the electrical components of the MINI E.

In the event of functional deficiencies involving the drive system, these specialists are able to efficiently support the local MINI dealer or take the car to the specially equipped MINI E Service Centre. A technical check-up is planned after 3,000 miles (almost 5,000 kilometres), at the latest after a period of six months. 

Production in Oxford and Munich.

The MINI E has gone through the essential highlights of the production process for series models, together with a wide range of crash tests. Particular points analysed in the process were not only occupant safety and the possible effect of impact forces on the lithium-ion battery and its safe position within the car, but also many other features. In this context it is important to note that the battery and energy supply system were not harmed in any of the crash tests required under the particularly strict accident safety standards.

The complete series of some units of the 600 MINI E was built in Oxford and Munich, with production to be concluded by the end of 2008. The car as such was built at the MINI Plant in Great Britain, with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery, the production process running  parallel to that of the "regular" models. 

The electric motor, battery units, power electronics and transmission were subsequently integrated in a production complex at the BMW Plant in Munich established specifically for this purpose.

Source: MINI

Gallery: MINI E (2010)