The BMW Group plans to deploy about 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic. The MINI E, scheduled for unveiling at the Los Angeles Auto Show Nov. 19-20, will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, transferring its power to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox “nearly without a sound,” according to the company, and entirely free of emissions. The MINI E’s battery technology gives the vehicle a range of more than 240 kilometers, or 150 miles.
BMW said the MINI E will be made available to select customers as part of a pilot project in California, New York and New Jersey. It’s considering a launch in Europe as well.
The MINI E's electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Newton meters, accelerating to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds. Its top speed is electronically limited to 152 km/h (95 mph). The vehicle features a suspension system tuned to match its weight distribution.
Based on the current MINI, the car will initially be available as a two-seater. The space taken up by back-seat passengers in the series model has been reserved for the lithium-ion battery. The lithium-ion storage unit will have a maximum capacity of 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) and transmit energy to the electric motor as direct current at a nominal 380 volts. The rechargeable battery is made up of 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules. The modules are packaged into three compactly arranged battery elements.
The MINI E's lithium-ion battery can be plugged into all standard power outlets. Charge time depends on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. Each vehicle comes with a wall box that will be installed in the customer's garage to enable higher amperage and faster charge times – about two-and-one-half hours. A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Based on the car's range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles.
Mounted transversely under the MINI E's bonnet, the drive train is said to unleash its full thrust from a dead standstill. As soon as the driver releases the gas pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. BMW said the interaction ensures comfortable drives--especially at medium speed with constant, but marginal, variation. In city traffic, some 75% of all deceleration can be done without the brakes. BMW estimated that making substantial use of the energy recuperation feature will extend the vehicle's range by up to 20%.
The MINI E's brake system comes with an electric under-pressure pump. Its Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPS) is the same as the one used in mass-produced MINIs. The air conditioning's electrical compressor only operates if desired or necessary.
The central gauge and the battery level indicator behind the wheel of the MINI E, which replaces the MINI's rev counter, feature yellow lettering against a dark grey background. The battery level is displayed in percentage figures. The central gauge includes an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.