2008 Los Angeles Auto Show: Mini E Electric Car

By David Thomas  on October 20, 2008

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  • Competes with: Honda FCX, Chevy Volt, Tesla Roadster
  • Looks like: A Mini Cooper Hatchback
  • Drivetrain: 150 kW (204 hp equivalent) electric motor, lithium-ion battery, single-stage helical gearbox
  • Hits dealerships: Limited offering to 500 in California, New York and New Jersey

BMW is getting on the electric-car bandwagon with perhaps the most stylish alt-fuel vehicle to date. Yes, it looks just like a regular Mini Cooper, but is that such a bad thing? This is the type of exercise the industry truly needs to execute: a popular gasoline-powered car with an electric powertrain trim level.

The Mini E will be a limited rollout of 500 cars in just three states. The car will have a range of 150 miles on a single charge. Performance specs are quite good, too; it can hit 62 mph in 8.5 seconds. 

We’d guess it would be faster if it didn’t have to haul the lithium-ion battery pack, which takes up so much room that there’s no backseat in this Mini. All this extra gear bumps the Mini E’s weight to 3,230 pounds, up from a Mini Cooper’s 2,568 pounds. With a special charging adapter installed at an owner’s home, the Mini E can fully recharge in two-and-half hours. It also can plug into a standard wall socket, but it’ll take longer to recharge.

The Mini E would also meet the same standards as the Chevy Volt for a maximum tax credit of $5,000 if it ever goes on sale to the public. If you live in California, New York or New Jersey, get to your local Mini dealer and try to put your name on a waiting list for the test series. There hasn’t been any word on its cost, but we’d expect it to follow similar programs from Honda where the automaker charges those in the lease-based test program for its hydrogen FCX.

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MINI 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show Hybrids/Alternative Fuels


Managing Editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon.  Email David