BMW Group Electric MINI to Debut at LA Auto Show in November

Jose Michael

Minie
The MINI E. The zero-emission MINI will sport a plug logo in Interchange Yellow. Click to enlarge.

The BMW Group will introduce its battery-electric MINI E (earlier post) at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. BMW says that it will deploy a fleet of some 500 of the all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic.

The MINI E will be powered by a 150 kW (204 hp) electric motor fed by a 35 kWh lithium-ion battery pack (28 kWh usable), with a single-stage helical gearbox transferring power to the front wheels. The MINI E’s electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 Nm (162 lb-ft), with 0 to 100 kph acceleration in 8.5 seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 152 kph (95 mph).The battery pack will support a range of more than 240 km (150 miles).

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 pack. The 380V lithium-ion storage unit comprises 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules. These modules are packaged into three battery elements that are compactly arranged inside the MINI E.

The MINI E’s lithium-ion battery can be plugged into all standard power outlets, with charge time dependent on the voltage and amperage of the electricity flowing through the grid. In the USA, MINI will provide its cusomtres with a fast-charging wallbox. To be installed in the customer’s garage, the wallbox enables higher amperage, and provides a full 28 kWh recharge after 2.5 hours. Based on the car’s range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles (185 Wh/mile).

Regenerative braking can extend the car’s range by up to 20%.

The MINI E’s brake system comes with a newly developed electric underpressure pump. Its Electrical Power Assisted Steering (EPS) is the same as the one used in mass-produced MINIs. Both brake and steering assistance react to driving conditions and are thus extremely efficient. Even the air conditioning’s electrical compressor only operates if desired or necessary.

Weighing in at 1,465 kilograms (3,230 lbs), the MINI E has an even weight distribution. Minor modifications made to the suspension ensure safe handling at all times. The Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system has been adapted to this model’s specific wheel loads.

The MINI E will initially be made available to select private and corporate customers as part of a pilot project in the US states of California, New York and New Jersey. The possibility of offering the MINI E in Europe as well is currently being considered.

The limited-production MINI E series will be manufactured through the end of 2008 at the company’s Oxford and Munich sites. MINI’s UK plant will be responsible for manufacturing the entire vehicle with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery, with the brand’s series models rolling off its assembly lines concurrently. The units will then be transferred to a specially equipped manufacturing complex situated on BMW plant premises where the electric motor, battery units, performance electronics and transmission will be integrated.

MINI E customers will join forces with BMW Group experts to assist in the project’s evaluation. The cars will be offered on a one-year lease with an extension option. Monthly lease installments will cover any required technical service including all necessary maintenance and the replacement of wearing parts. At the end of the lease, all of the automobiles belonging to the project will be returned to the BMW Group’s engineering fleet where they will be subjected to comparative tests. Only lockable garages or similar buildings will qualify as homebases and power stations for the MINI E.

MINI will establish a service base on both coasts of the US, staffed by service engineers that are specially trained to perform maintenance and repair work on the MINI E’s electrical components. In the event of drive malfunction, these experts will provide professional support at the customer’s local MINI dealer or the service base’s specially equipped workshop. Technical inspections will take place after 3,000 miles (just under 5,000 kilometers) and at least after six months.

The MINI E has already gone through the major phases of product development for mass-produced vehicles and passed numerous crash tests on the way. Aspects investigated besides passenger protection were the impact of collision forces on the lithium-ion battery and finding a non-hazardous location for it in the car. The MINI E’s energy storage unit emerged completely unscathed from all of the crash tests mandated by US standards.

The BMW Group says that it plans to start series production of all-electric vehicles over the medium-term as part of its Number ONE strategy. The development of innovative concepts for mobility in big-city conurbations within the scope of “project i” has a similar thrust, as its objective also includes making use of an all-electric power train.

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