back to article BMW unwraps electric Mini

BMW yesterday announced the arrival of the electric Mini - or Mini E. Powered by a 150kW – 204hp – electric motor fed by a 260kg lithium-ion battery pack, the car goes from 0 to 62mph in 8.5s and sports a top speed limited to 95mph. BMW claimed the range you'll get out of a full charge will be 150 miles. BMW Mini E BMW's …


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  1. Toastan Buttar
    Thumb Up

    Earth Preservation Society

    Good tagline. I LOL'd.

  2. Jon Hill

    A suitable garage

    A full charge draws 28kWh? The battery has a maximum capacity of 35 kWh? Eh?

    Assuming that's actually 28kW, or about 120 amps, you would definitely need a special garage - the average domestic electricity supply has a 100 amp fuse/circuit breaker...

  3. Mister Cheese

    Can someone explain the maths please?

    Nice concept - maybe if they turn the power down a little it could go a bit further on a full erm tank of sparks.

    Can someone with a little more insight please explain how by adding 28kWh of electricity I can end up with 35kWh in the tank? Maybe it's worth investing in that mini-windmill after all.

    Flames, cos of the quarter-tonne of Li-ion battery...

  4. spegru
    Thumb Down

    Practical - not

    Engine in the back seats?

    What do they put where the engine/gearbox, fuel tank, and normal battery used to go?

    Not the way forward for a practical car - more of a publicity thing I think

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    *Now* we're getting somewhere ...

    OK, so I don't like the new Mini's very much, but obviously someone at BMW has managed to kick their neurons into life with regard to usability:

    - Semi-decent range *check*

    - Practical top speed *check* (ok, some might argue that 95mph might be a bit low, but I don't see this as a vehicle for piling down the autobahn in, somehow)

    - Design which doesn't frighten children and bruise fruit *check*

    Lack of some kind of backup/reserve charge system could be a bit of a drawback for 'real world' use, but no doubt that will be addressed eventually - personally, I'd lean more towards something with decent dual-fuel capability (how about this: similar design based on the Mini Traveller body/chassis, but with an LPG tank in there as well?) but at least this is a step forward from the Prius (proof of concept which should never have made it to market, IMO) and the recent PoCs from Renault and Citroen.

    And then there's the price, of course ...

    Still prefer the looks of the Chevy Volt though.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    @Jon Hill - maths

    Maybe you're confusing kW and kWh.

    These "special wall boxes" allow you to draw 28kWh over a 2.5 hour period, so the power draw is (very roughly) more like 10kW than 28kW.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    Why do electric cars or bikes always have to look so stupid? Why can't it freakin' well look like an ordinary MINI already?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    For those who can't do maths

    In the USA they have a different voltage than us so amps/house are different. Remember, it's not coming here but to those mass pollutants (mutants ?), the yankie doodle dandies.

    Paris knows what to do with small electric devices I hear

  10. Francis Boyle

    If it's electric

    why is does it have a grill. And what's behind it?

    Seriously nice car though.

  11. Trevor Watt

    Charging Sockets

    With the car manufacturers all clambering to make their own electric car has anyone given a thought to creating a universal charging standard? I doubt it very much as some cars seem to use lead acid, some Li-ion, no doubt all different capacities and charge rates.

    If they could at least agree on a charging standard then employers etc. could fit charging stations to encourage use of electric cars. Without the charging stations the range is just not-quite far enough to make cars like this anything more than an expensive 'second vehicle' for most people who would benefit from the avoiding of congestion charges that electric cars benefit from.

  12. oxo
    Dead Vulture

    "higher amperage charge"

    There's no such thing.

    I assume you mean Current.

  13. Bassey

    being lazy

    Based on the current 98p/litre for petrol and, say, a fairly average 45mpg for 200 miles a week, how does the running costs of this Mini compare with your average petrol small car?

    I am correct in saying a unit is a KWh? I think I'm paying about 12p a unit at the moment (might be wrong by a huge amount - this is just a figure lurking somewhere in the back of my mind). If any of that is correct, a full charge is only costing £3.36 which is getting you 150 miles (or 2.25p/mile).

    The above mentioned example for petrol works out at 9.9p/mile. So the electric is working out at 1/4 the cost per mile. Assuming servicing etc. isn't too horrific then surely electric cars are a no brainer and why aren't the motor manufacturers mentioning this huge advantage yet?

    Everyone keeps going on about Electric cars as being "Environmentally friendly" - which depends on how your electricity is generated - but, lets face it, we're all more concerned with running costs but you never see these quoted.

  14. Matthew
    Thumb Down

    Why do the yanks get it first?

    I drive past the bloody factory where these things are built, twice a day.

    I can't see why the country that designs and produces these cars should be seen as second class. (Hmm, wait a mo, actually I can but I don't have to like it...)

    They showed the same lack of respect for the home nations with the traveller version - the extra door (a bit like the old AMC Pacer) forces your kids to step into traffic.

    Well, just to spite them, I'll have to buy an electrically powered bike I suppose.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Can I be the first person to say......

    .........ready for when the first electric Mini battery goes bang:

    "Oi i only said to blow the bloody doors off"

  17. Joe K
    Thumb Down

    Thats some hot shit

    If they actually put these things on the market, at NORMAL prices, they'd sell em as fast as they could make them.

    But no, they have to faff around for more years, giving a few only to selected people.

    What a complete waste of everyones time.

  18. Sterling Udell

    You give too much credit to the Sauber F1...

    ...regenerative braking has been commonplace on EVs for a loooooong time.

    I like the specs on this one, but for me it bears a strong resemblance to GM's ill-fated EV1. 2-seat, decent range, decent acceleration, lease only... Let's just hope BMW has enough sense to keep this incarnation alive. Virtually EVERY family's second car should be electric.

  19. Max Jalil

    How green?

    As grid electricity is mostly generated from burning stuff, and allowing for transmission losses through the grid, inneficiancies in the car, including lugging around an extra 1/3 of a tonne I wonder how many miles per gallon equivalent of gas or coal burned at the powerstation this mini is?

  20. lglethal Silver badge

    How long?

    Before the first twit fails to observe the "Low Power" warning and runs out of juice. Then what, its not like you can walk up to the nearest servo and get more power! :P

    Apart from the distance limiting factor, this sounds like a fantastic move forward for the 'leccy car! But i think i will hold off a few years before considering getting one myself! ;)

  21. Bronek Kozicki

    So, what's the price of full charge?

    ... and how it compares to petrol version mini, per mile?

  22. Lonesome Twin
    Paris Hilton

    Fascinating launch capability

    It's 7.45am and the sea of drones in front of you is trickling along at walking pace, their speed controlled by the clutch, not the gas pedal. In your new electro-whiz your foot nervously tickles the accelerator, fully aware of the stump-pulling power of a large electric motor. Suddenly, from nowhere, comes a sneeze...

    Paris - no batteries required

  23. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    Yet another...

    'urban (or perhaps urbane) run-around', practicality value, practically zero. Just a gimmick for the 'stylish' eco-freaks. (BTW, where will the 'leccy come from? Green sources? Unlikely.)

    Congrats to BMW though, for successfully jumping on the bandwagon.

    Well done.

  24. Frank
    Thumb Up

    Sound (lack of) need not be a problem

    "..Expect to hear about the first lawsuit filed by a twit who has been run over by a “silent” Mini E some time sooner. "

    This should be a simple 'problem' to fix. A high efficiency loudspeaker under the bonnet (hood), a cheap and simple amplifier (maybe 15-20W) and a sound generator circuit with control inputs from the engine speed. This could give you realistic engine sounds for pedestrian safety and for those drivers who love the sound of a 'real' car.

    Taking it further, the driver could have a selector switch to enable a choice of different engine sounds depending on personal taste. You could have an electric car that sounded like a Ferrari if you wanted. Forget engineering, it's marketing and the driving experience that sells cars.

  25. Neil Hoskins
    Thumb Down

    Is it me?

    1465kg?? Have these people completely lost the plot?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Deep discharge (if you'll pardon the expression)... very bad for batteries. So you generally shouldn't use the full Ah rating. That said, it'll be a hell of a pull on your mains, and I guess you'd want the (phat) socket pretty close to the consumer unit, with some heavy cables to carry the 46 (and two thirds) amps required for the indicated kWhr-age and capacity.

    Come the think of it, if you're in the US on their piddly weak 120V, that's nigh-on 100 Amps we're talking about. It's no wonder it's so hard to get a decent electric kettle over there!

  27. Kenny Millar


    So basically, we talking about spending about £16K to £19K on a device to move 1 or possibly 2 people (but no more) a maximum of 150 miles, after which time you need to charge it for 2.5 Hours at least. And that assumes you remeber to drive home before you're charge runs out, since there is no charging standard your house is likely to be the only place you can find a charging station.

    And, I'd guess that the quoted 150 Mile range is a 'best practice' figure, meaning one 9 stone adult driving with a very light right foot, and using regenerative braking to maximum effect. Actual range in normal commuter traffic is likely to be significantly less.

    In addition, the device you're using to do this allocates 1/3 of the available space to the passengers, 1/3rd to the batteries and 1/3 to the drive train - and that's being generous, the actual passenger area is probably less than 1/3rd.

    Surely there MUST be a more practical way to do move people from home to work and back?

    If only there was a way of storing engergy in a highly efficient manner, which takes up less space, and can then be converted to rotational energy on deman, say by storing that energy in chemical form, then burning it to create heat and possibly exploding it to create movement - no wait, we already do that...

    The point is that whatever people need most, whether it's petrol, oil or even electricity and water (for hydrolysis into hydrogen and oxygen) then those things will become commodities and will be priced appropriately by the suppliers. The end effect is that it will always cost the same %age of income to enjoy personal travel.

  28. Trevor Watt

    Kerb Weight

    The kerb weight of a UK Mini Cooper S is about 1215Kg, at 1465 the electric mini is about 70Kg heavier than a VW Golf TDI. Not much in it by modern car standards really.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why is it...

    ...that they always say they'll only lease electric cars, and everyone seems to think its fine?

    They dont do it with normal ICE cars, why the hell are they doing it with leccy ones? Dunno about anyone else, but i prefer to BUY my cars...

  30. Keith_C

    @Max Jalil

    Ah, but that's because here in Blighty we get all up in arms as soon as anyone even mentions the prospect of a nuclear power station, with NIMBY nitwits ensuring that they never get any further than the 'Hey, I have an idea' stage without so many complaints, caveats, protests and mouth-froths in the Daily Mail that anyone involved just gives up.

    Whereas in France for example where they have massives amounts of very cheap, very low emission electricity, they can all tool around in electric cars all day long with smug grins on their faces.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: costs

    IIRC normal lithium-ion batteries usually have a life of about maximum 3 years and deteriorate over time/charges - especially if taken through deep discharge and charge cycles.

    So one has to wonder how much the batteries cost, how often they need replacing and what the expected reduction in range will be for what daily use

    The batteries tend to be the killer for any electric car as they tend to cost huge amounts to build anything with high charge to weight capacity

    PH - well running out of charge instead of petrol might be more believable ;)

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @ Jon Hill × 2

    "the average domestic electricity supply has a 100 amp fuse/circuit breaker"

    Where's that? On this (the left) side of the pond, most new construction for the last 20 years or so has 200 amp service. When I bought my now 60 year old house and had the service and panel upgraded, the electrician who did the work laughed when I asked for 100 amp service -- he said I wanted 200 amp service at a minimum.

    And yes, over here we do get 220v service to the house, which is "phase split" (for lack of knowing the real name for it) to provide 110 to the majority of our outlets.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: 200 amp service/220v service "phase split"

    I'd guess "phase split" might mean 3 phase supply where one phase is used to sockets - but 220 - 115 seems a little wrong

    I wonder whether it has anything to do with Air Conditioning units being a lot more common in USA so needing more power.

  34. David Cornes

    @ Why is it...

    I'm guessing BMW will lease these rather than sell them to you 'cos they'll need specialist support and servicing, and as it seems to be some kind of trial they'll be wanting to keep a close eye on them over the period - and also have the option to swap it out sharpish if anything unexpected happens!

    Assembling the drivetrains in Germany, assembling the finished vehicles in the UK, then operating them in the US... yep that's sure one way to reduce emissions! :-O

  35. b

    hmmz, i've seen this before!,news-21740.html

    the specs seem to have altered slightly..

    [quote]0-60 mph in about 4 seconds. The company also claims the car can produce 640 bhp...

    ...which contain an electronic motor in each wheel and a set of batteries and ultracapacitors in the trunk. In addition to the fast 0-60 time, the car has a maximum speed of 150 mph and gets around 65 to 80 mpg, the developers claim.[/quote]

    ..tho i think the 95mph limit is prob sensible...actually that could apply to all cars..maybe if they geared back anything higher, we could get better mpg's?!

    anyway, i think the ONLY way forward is TOTALLY electric cars, with small generators in the boot, to top up the batteries on the fly, as with the chevvy volt, without the need to return to base for a quick 8 hour charge up,

    hydrogen, the prius-style hybrids are all meddling and pointless. we need to stop wasting everyones time with that nonsense..

    i also like this motor-in-the-wheels thing..makes sense and provides greater stability..



    p.s. stuff and nonsense:

  36. Peter Clarkson

    Night Electricity

    It seems electric cars are finally becoming practical. An acceptable range and an acceptable top speed mean this car is not limited to being a city run-around. It would happily do London-Birmingham (for a UK-centric example), and be capable of motorway speed.

    Charging a car should surely be over night (4.63 UK pence per off-peak kWh), so you're only using the electricity at a time of low demand. Running power plants at full load constantly rather than having to turn up and turn down every morning and night has considerable operational benefits... but it's difficult to know to what extent that would translate into environmental benefits - perhaps some clever engineer could enlighten?

    At any rate, it's important to distinguish between day-time and night-time electricity, not just for costs but also for the fact that a big fat chunk of road transport (34% in the US, according to 'Environmental Science and Technology' journal... not sure about the UK) could be run on electricity with no new power generation needing to be built.

  37. Parax
    Thumb Up


    I assume that 35KWh is like a full tank of petrol.. theres always a little reserved when its empty...

    150 Miles from 28kWh seems very attractive costing 2.6p per mile... from mains leccy, could be even better with economy 7!

    Now how much is Red Diesel and a home generator??

    Or even say a Mains Gas Combined heat and power boiler (Baxi ecogen or DACHS).. if you had an 75% Efficent Gas generator it would be less than 1p per mile...

    Odd but I want one. (thats a first for a leccy tech car!)

    Funny thought... so it runs out of juice, after how many miles towing (with regen) gets you a mile of charge?

  38. Anonymous Coward

    KERS et al

    When I posted a couple of weeks ago (in a comment on a similar article) that some EV technlogy "would be pushed along by KERS in 2009/10", I meant that efficiency, weight and size might improve a bit, not that KERS was a new concept - as already mentioned, regenerative braking has been around a while now.

    As for many posters above, who barely know their amps from their volts or most other things about electric propulsion in any form, I do wish you'd do some research before posting non-sensical, technophobic crap.

  39. Fluffykins Silver badge

    It's not a frikkin' Mini

    The Mini was a really small, relatively low-cost car.

    This is just an average hatchback size wagon with a styling that gives a nod to the old Mini lines, and sporting a stuck on name badge BMW purchased at a probate house sale.

    It'd never fit down an Italian sewer.

  40. Anonymous Coward

    @b RE: hmmz, i've seen this before!

    The car you're referring to is the Mini QED development prototype built by PML Flightlink (a Britsh company) to showcase its technology, particularly the Hi-Pa Drive in-wheel electric motors. It was a very, very expensive prototype. Even at production quantities, cost per unit would probably only come down as far as around GBP50K (US$100K). That prototype had nothing whatsoever to do with BMW (the makers of the new Mini) as they made clear at the time.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I suspect thats a different project, I have a feeling that this BMW factory version will not be that good. (not every wheel, no ultra caps.. and no regen.)

  42. dervheid

    @ Peter Clarkson (no relation, surely?)

    "It seems electric cars are finally becoming practical."

    No, I was right, no relation!

  43. JohnG

    Silent running / Electricity Supply

    I have a Prius and have had the silent running problem a couple of times in car parks: every so often, someone leaps out in front of me from between parked cars. I just drive extra slow in car parks.

    Regenerative braking - also on the Prius (and most electric vehices, AFAIK).

    I live in Germany - typical domestic installations have 3 phase (most German electric cookers can use 3 phase) and are rated rather higher than 100A.

  44. Simon Williams
    Thumb Down

    @Peter Clarkson

    Yahoo Answers says 'the distance between the centres of Birmingham and London is almost 119 miles (measuring from Chamberlain Square in Birmingham to Charing Cross in London)'. So quite how an electric car with a range of 150 miles is going to make the return trip on a single charge escapes me.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Re: 200 amp, 220v service "phase split"

    No, 3 phase service is typically only supplied to commercial installations and rarely, if ever to residential.

    Houses receive 240v (although usually it's really 220v) single phase service, two hot, one neutral. It's 240v (220v) across the two hot, 120v (110v) from either hot to the neutral. See

    Call it what you like, half the 110v circuits receive one side of the AC phase, the other half the other side. Circuits are "balanced" in the breaker box to roughly even out the load, and no doubt further balanced across all the neighboring homes served by the same step-down transformer.

    Things like electric water heaters, clothes dryers, ovens, stoves, etc., use 220v; most everything else uses, as you know, use 110v. Providing 220v to charge a Mini is no more difficult here than it is anywhere else in the world.

    Paris, because she can be pretty shocking too.

  46. Anonymous Coward


    The PML Mini is really the way to go. The in wheel motors are the brakes as well, so no mechanical brakes except for parking. It can carry 4 people and luggage, has a 21 kwh battery and a 15 kwh honda generator under the boot floor, each wheel is 120kw. Will go 400 miles on battery and 900 miles with the generator running at 80 mpg. Weight on an electric is not so much of a problem as the acceleration energy can be recovered on braking. Mechnical brakes just throw 30% of the total energy away as heat. Rolling and air drag are more important to reduce average power required. If the end to end power usage of an electric is taken into account they are twice as effiecent as an IC vehicle.

    On supply voltage the EU standard is now 230 volts, includes UK and there is a standard set of plugs and recepticals in EU, called commando in UK. 16, 32, 64 and 128 one and three phase. The US is more of a mess with 120, 208, 240 and 277volts and the plugs are only 80% rated so a 15 amp is only 12 amps continuous, with loads of different plugs and sockets to cover all the different voltages and currents.

    On batteries, many new Lithium technologies are coming along, which over come the number of recharge cycle limits and will be rechargable to 80% in 10 minutes but will need a high current 3 phase supply so will not be a problem.

    Once the Chevey GM Volt is on the market, buying a straight IC engine car will be a very stupid move, the best design will be the Volvo recharge, with in wheel motors, out in 2012 this will set the standard for the 21st centuary.

    Forget Hydrogen, it is to difficult to store and transport better to get your power down a piece of wire. The power stations will change to solar by 2050 with power coming up from Spain, Portagual and Marocco over long distance DC power lines.

  47. Pete James


    For some reason I had this strange idea that BMW might make a serious stab at producing an electric car. Then I remembered their laughable hydrogen blind-alley 750hL. The idea evaporated very quickly at that point.

    The MINI is a great little steerer unfairly saddled by its lineage. It can't hold a candle to its predecessor, that much is obvious, but on its own merits it's a cracking motor. Rover - and later on, Ricardo - deserve a heck of a lot of credit for what they dished up. It continues to be a darned good car, apart from the Clubman, the inevitable runt of the litter. But there again you couldn't have hoped for anything better really; the MINI's DNA is utterly beyond the comprehension of anyone working at Munich or California.

    This is a as feeble an attempt at producing an electric car as you can probably get. BMW have only demonstrated that they have no imagination in this field. In fact it merely reinforces their belief that fossil fuel is oberst. No attempt at cutting weight, re-thinking the packaging, trying new materials. But throw in some re-named energy capturing with a nod to their F1 aspirations - while quietly forgetting the idea's got very grey hair now - and it's suddenly credible.

    Of course, the reason why it's going to California definitely isn't down to Toyota's American PR bunnies cornering the market for celeb endorsements with their Prius thing. Nah, course not.

  48. Fluffykins Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Paris Hilton

    'cos she likes a deep discharge

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another EV-1?

    This same thing happened ten years ago with GM when they developed and leased only, so that they could deny the people clean, safe, inexpensive transportation.

    If you have not seen the video "Who Killed The Electric Car?", Google it.

    It is the same story again. These large auto manufacturers have ties and stock in the oil companies, parts companies, and othe companies that profit from the combustion engine. They are all working to withhold from us the innovated ideas and inventions that would make us energy independent.

    Control, profits, greed, and power is what motivates these large corporations.

    The wrath of God has been falling upon them recently, and the government officials and the mass media, which are both controlled by the bankers and large corporations, are doing a good job of protecting them and giving the people a snow job.

    I ask Almighty God to accelerate their returning karma.

    Let the karma of greed, profit at the expense of the people, misuse of power, and controlling and manipulating the resources of this planet to the benefit of large multi-national corporations, and the bankers, not to the benefit of the people, be upon the multi-national corporations, bankers and their stooges in government and the mass media.

    It is judgement time! Align yourself with God and His Children or received the Wrath of God this day! Your time is up!

    Let the Sons and Daughters of God come together, praise the Lord, and prepare yourselves for the worst that is yet to come.

    God's children, no matter what religion they have been brought up in and no matter what religion they espouse are Loved by God and protected by Him and His Angels. Let them and their stooges mock is part of finding out of who is for us and who is against us. Let God deal with them and let their karma fall upon them. Be wise by not aligning yourself with them.

  50. Pete James


    "Let the karma of greed, profit at the expense of the people, misuse of power, and controlling and manipulating the resources of this planet to the benefit of large multi-national corporations, and the bankers, not to the benefit of the people, be upon the multi-national corporations, bankers and their stooges in government and the mass media."

    I can put this a tad more succinctly.....

    "Oh, it's the meek! Blessed are the meek! Oh, that's nice, isn't it? I'm glad they're getting something, 'cause they have a hell of a time." to Monty Python of course.

    Besides, if you want to bring God into all this then don't waste your time discussing cars with Him as he rides a Triumph. It says so in the Bible y'know.

  51. Peter Clarkson
    Thumb Down

    @Simon Williams

    You're absolutely right.

    I had assumed that it was practical to drive to your destination, plug in at a charging station somewhere while you do your Birmingham-based business and then drive home. That is probably not a realistic assumption, especially for early adopters of this technology.

    However, you failed to spot the more glaring error in my post... why would anyone want to leave London to go to Birmingham in the first place?

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    If it's USA only, why do they show it with European tags?

  53. Tim

    Just me

    Since most travel is less than 10Km an electric makes sense in both the short term and the long term. Every year batteries get better and cheaper and electric motors get more efficient. Once changing station are set up in most parking places there will be nothing to stop electric from taking over. Should we build more nuclear plants....Yes it is a no brainer now that we understand how to deal with the waste better.

  54. b
    Thumb Up


    "It's not a frikkin' Mini"

    100% right!

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