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BMW unwraps electric Mini

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'Leccy Tech BMW yesterday announced the arrival of the electric Mini - or Mini E. Powered by a 150kW – 204hp – electric motor fed by a 260kg lithium-ion battery pack, the car goes from 0 to 62mph in 8.5s and sports a top speed limited to 95mph.

BMW claimed the range you'll get out of a full charge will be 150 miles.

BMW Mini E

BMW's Mini E: nippy yet green

The hefty battery pack sits in the space taken up by the rear seats in the normal model, though as the Mini has never been much more than 2+2 anyway - and has sold on style and driving dynamics more than practicality - this is perhaps not such a big deal.

With beefed up suspension and the battery pack sitting between the two axles, the rather hefty E – 1465kg up from the normal car's 1135kg – is still claimed to have “thrilling agility... outstanding handling” and “fascinating launch capability”, the latter probably meaning that having 162ft lb of near silent torque on call from idle can make life interesting both for the driver and any nearby pedestrians who are not paying attention.

BMW will also be supplying wall boxes to customers with a suitable garage that will enable a higher amperage charge that should see the battery go from flat to fully charged in two and a half hours. The battery itself has a maximum capacity of 35kWh and a full charge is said to draw 28kWh from the grid.

BMW Mini E

'Fascinating launch capability', claims BMW

Taking a leaf out of BMW Sauber F1's Kinetic Energy Recovery System book, the Mini also claims to feed charge back to the battery the moment the driver takes his foot of the accelerator so making use of power otherwise wasted during engine braking. This"energy recuperation" feature is said to extend the Mini E's range by up to 20 per cent.

The cars will be leased rather than sold, and after 12 months BMW will take them back to kick the tyres and see what lessons can be learned from a year's day-to-day use in the real world - presumably with a view to a full scale production run in 2010 or 2011, as BMW is referring to the E as the “blueprint for the zero-emissions two-seater”.

This may cause some sleepless nights at Chevrolet. While the E is a lot smaller than the Volt, as Nigel Powers said" “It's not the size, mate, it's how you use it.”

BMW Mini E

It's not the size, it's how you use it

The initial run of 500 cars will be assembled at the BMW Cowley plant near Oxford, though the drive train and battery components will ship in as finished parts from BMW in Germany. Production is due to be complete by the end of the year the finished cars then going to “select private and corporate customers in California, New York and New Jersey”, so don't expect to see one wafting down the Kings Road just yet.

Expect to hear about the first lawsuit filed by a twit who has been run over by a “silent” Mini E some time sooner.

The Mini E will be officially unveiled at the Los Angeles Motor Show on 19 November.

BMW Mini E

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