2008 LA Auto Show: MINI E

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Underscoring the eco-friendly theme of the LA Auto Show (and arguably many other auto shows over the last few years), MINI unveiled an all-electric version that will be available to 500 lucky individuals and companies. Called MINI e, this plug-in electric car uses advanced lithium ion batteries that will provide good range (for an electric) along with the sort of peppy performance expected from the brand.

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Why only 500 units? The MINI e will be a real-world test bed for BMW’s latest battery technology. Having real people drive them on real roads will provide insight that clinical test track environments can’t.
The MINI e will have a 204HP electric motor, giving it a 0-62mph time of 8.5 seconds, and will have a range of 150 miles. Of course, getting it back to full charge won’t be as simple or quick as filling it up with gasoline or diesel, but recharging the car from completely empty will take about 2.5 hours, which is much shorter than most prior electric cars.

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The lithium ion batteries are fairly sizable and effectively turn the MINI e into a 2-seater, removing a lot of the utility of the standard model. But given the fact that MINI is still incredibly hip and cool seven years after it launched in the US, we’re sure that those lucky 500 who get their hands on a MINI e won’t care.
Still, it remains to be seen if mainstream consumers will ever accept pure electric cars’ limited range and long recharge times. Electric cars work best for short, fixed routes, and they don’t offer the flexibility to get up and go somewhere far at a moment’s notice – partly because there is so little electric recharging infrastructure out there.
Still, for those people whose daily drives are suited to a plug-in electric car, we’re sure the MINI e will be a very fun way to drive green.

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