2008 Los Angeles Auto Show: Mini E Electric Car


  • 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.



If this can get 150 miles on a charge - why can others do this with a gas/electric vehicle, i.e. the Volt?


oops - why "can't" others do this?

What do you mean? Why doesn't the volt go all electric? My guess would be this is one EXPENSIVE Mini and that's why it's being tested and not sold until costs come down.


The future is hydrogen. The Honda FCX can go 280 miles between fill ups and gets 77 MPG in the city!!! I don't think the Volt would be able to match the FCX on a cross-country drive.

Except today you can drive cross country and fill up the volt and you can't the FCX. Nor find public/fast charging stations for pure electrics either.
Ones a future fuel, one's a stopgap measure.


Couple issue with hydrogen are:
a) There is no infrastructure already setup for refueling(unlike electricity)
b) It doesn't work reliably (yet) in cold weather conditions, so in a lot of places in the world, this would not be an option.
c) Extracting large quantities of hydrogen requires getting it from natural gas (non-renewable). Getting it from water is a slower and more expensive (energy wise) process.


Wouldn't mass production lower the cost? And what I meant was - why can't this technology be combined with a gas engine to get 150 miles from the electric and then run on gas? Why is the Volt only able to get 40 miles when the electric Mini can get 150? What is the techological difference between both of these elctric engines?

The big difference isn't in the motors, it's the battery packs. Which are expensive and at this time there simply aren't enough manufacturers of lithium ion batteries to do massive scale production of electric cars. That's one problem.

The reason the Volt is a range extender is for this reason, and for it to "act" like a normal car in terms of filling up with gas if you need to go cross country.

These are the big complaints consumers have with electric cars.

I think the Volt could be converted to all electric pretty easily. But that's not going to be feasible for sale by 2010 in terms of the market. In my mind its a smart move in terms of marketing to the mass consumer instead of the niche.


There are some companies out there that can take an existing mini or xb and convert it to electric for less than $50K. If they can do this at that cost why can't the manufacturer mass produce say 50,000 of them for $40K?


The difference between the electric Mini and the Volt is the Mini has a lot more batteries. As Dave said, these batteries are VERY expensive. GM *could* build a Volt with a 150 mile electric range but it would probably cost well over $50k. That's why you won't see many battery electric cars on the road soon.

Many Americans want low cost, fuel efficient cars.

Kei cars are a special class of cars in Japan. They are limited to an engine size of 660cc and have vehicle size, but not weight, restrictions. They are made by many different Japanese car companies and they are mature designs that are reliable, and get up to 60 mpg. They can cost less than $10,000.
However, they cannot be driven in the U.S. because they don't meet collision safety requirements.

I believe that adding my crumple box invention to a Kei car will allow it to pass U.S. collision safety requirements. Then they could be driven in the U.S.

Some American auto companies have ties to Kei car manufacture. They could make these cars.

See my website www.safersmallcars.com

benito estacui

When I'm going to work everyday I noticed that mostly I saw only a driver inside the car. In my opinion this is an excellent car to be used for going to work everyday.

Nice.....thanks for sharing this collection.

Hi ,

Thanks for writing such an interesting article. It’s really good to know about the real estate and electrician in detail. It may not be something you think of when things are running smoothly, but the truth is at some point in the life of your home, you’re going to need an electrician. The electric power that runs our homes with such convenience is a necessary part of our everyday lives. Many homeowners may have enough knowledge and experience to tackle the smaller jobs such as repairing a wall switch or installing a new light or ceiling fan. Others have a healthy fear of anything that involves electricity and any repairs or upgrades, no matter how minor are best left in the capable hands of a reliable Los Angeles electrician.

Finding an electrician shouldn’t be difficult. Locating the one that you believe is right for your project might not be quite as easy. If an electrician is in possession of a state license you can at least assume he working legally within the trade. When talking with Los Angeles electrician, ask to see a copy of his license. Call the local state contractors licensing board to verify any electrician’s license. You’ll also want proof of liability insurance and workers comp for the electrician and any employees and make certain all documents are up to date.

- Sibley

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