The second set of participants of the MINI E UK Field Trial returned their MINI Es at an event held at MINI Plant Oxford as the trial that began in December 2009 has officially ended. This program is part of the eight projects that are meant to hasten the introduction of viable electric passenger vehicles. The program tested the use of fully electric MINIs on UK roads.
For the entire trial, drivers covered more than a quarter of a million miles, providing important feedback to the project consortium and UK Government. The final results of the MINI E UK study are expected to come out this summer.
Ultimately, these findings will be used in the engineering and infrastructure support of mass-produced electric vehicles as well as to establish the social and economic issues and aspects of running an electric car.
At the hand back event, Head of E-Mobility Innovation Projects at BMW Group, Julian Weber, said that the primary focus of the BMW Group Project i is electro mobility.
All the data collected in the MINI E field trials would be used in the ongoing development and refinement of its first purpose built production car, the Megacity Vehicle BMW i3, which will be launched in 2013.
Weber said that to date, “over 7 million miles of knowledge,” have been gathered. The 40 MINI Es will be staying in the UK and will be used in a few commercial partnerships.
The MINI Es might also be seen in consumer and corporate events and will be used as well i partnerships with government and industry stakeholders.
Serving as the heart of the new all-electric MINI E is an electric motor that gets its energy from high-performance rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Power is seamlessly and noiselessly sent from the motor to the front wheels through a single-stage helical gearbox. This battery allows the MINI to travel over 240 kilometers (150 miles) before needing to be recharged. Its electric drive train delivers up to 150 kW (204 hp) of max output and 220 Newton meters of peak torque, allowing the MINI E to accelerate from zero to 100 km/h (62 mph) in 8.5 seconds and achieve an electronically limited top speed of 152 km/h (95 mph). It is specified with a suspension system tuned to complement its weight distribution, thereby endowing the MINI E with the brand's vaunted agility and handling. MINI will globally unveil the new MINI E at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19-20, 2008, and will initially offer the EV to a select group of private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in California, New York and New Jersey.
The carmaker is currently considering the possibility of selling the new MINI E in Europe as well. This will make the BMW Group as the premium carmaker to deploy a fleet of around 500 EVs for private use in daily traffic.
With the MINI E, the BMW Group is reaffirming its commitment to cut energy consumption and emissions of vehicles. The group specifically relied on its technological expertise in the area of drive systems to create and develop a concept that produces zero emissions while still delivering a wonderful driving experience.
By deploying around 500 MINI E on the road under real daily traffic conditions, BMW Group should be able to gain the needed applicable hands-on experience.
By carefully evaluating the results of the project, BMW Group could gain the needed expertise that should help it engineer mass-produced vehicles. The group is planning to commence series production of all-electric vehicles in the medium term as part of its Number ONE strategy.
It features a similar thrust as that of "project I," which involves employing an all-electric power train. While the MINI E is derived from the current MINI, it could only – for now – accommodate two people since the space usually reserved for rear passengers has been taken up by the 35 kWh lithium-ion battery.
This battery unit blends high output with ample storage capacity as well as a small footprint with unmatched power ratios. It sends power to the electric motor as direct current at a nominal 380 volts. This lithium-ion battery consists of 5,088 cells arranged into 48 modules, which are in turn grouped into three battery elements compactly laid out inside the MINI E. The basic components of the lithium-ion battery follow a proven technological principle used in mobile phones and portable computers.
When depleted, this lithium-ion battery could be recharged simply by connecting into any standard power outlets, with charging time dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid.
Customers in the United States could quickly recharge a completely depleted battery using a wallbox that is included in every MINI E. This wallbox – to be installed in the customer's garage – offers higher amperage, which means shorter charging times. Full charging using a wallbox could be completed in just two-and-a-half hours.