|Class||Small family car|
|Body style||3-door hatchback|
|Electric motor||150 kW (200 hp) asynchronous motor|
|Battery||35 kilowatt-hours (130 MJ) lithium ion battery|
|Range||100 mi (160 km)|
|Wheelbase||97.1 in (2,466 mm)|
|Length||146.2 in (3,713 mm)|
|Width||66.3 in (1,684 mm)|
|Height||55.4 in (1,407 mm)|
The Mini E was a demonstration electric car developed by BMW as a conversion of its Mini Cooper car. The MINI E was developed for field trials and deployed in several countries, including the United States, Germany, UK, France, Japan and China. The field testing of the Mini E was part of BMW Project i, which was followed in January 2012 by a similar trial with the BMW ActiveE and the last phase of project is the development of the BMW i3 urban electric car, that is expected to go into mass production between 2013 and 2015.
The first trial was launched in the U.S. in June 2009 and the Mini E was available through leasing to private users in Los Angeles and the New York/New Jersey area. Another field test was launched in the UK in December 2009, where more than forty Mini E cars were handed to private users for a two consecutive six-month field trial periods. This trial program allowed the BMW Group to become the world's first major car manufacturer to deploy a fleet of more than 500 all-electric vehicles for private use. After the trial program ended some MINI Es will be displayed in museums, other will be shipped back to Germany for further lab testing, and the rest will be dismantled and crushed. The 40 Mini E that participated in the UK trial have been kept in use after the trial ended in March 2011, participating in promotional activities. These electrics cars will form part of the BMW Group UK’s official vehicle fleet for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
All Mini-E vehicles were equipped in the same, exact way, and were equipped similarly to a standard Mini Cooper hatchback. They were painted medium green with a white roof with an EV decal on the roof, and had a black interior.
The Mini E was unveiled at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show BMW is using its Mini brand to test the market with its electric powertrain technology but the vehicle was also developed in order to meet new California regulations that require carmakers to offer zero emission vehicles.
The Mini E is powered by an asynchronous electric motor that is mounted in the former engine bay and is rated at 204 PS (150 kW) and 160 lbf·ft (220 N·m) of torque. Drive is sent to the front wheels. The Mini E employs a lithium-ion battery pack with an overall capacity of a 130 megajoules (35 kWh). The batteries weigh 572 pounds (259 kg) and replace the back seat.Top speed is electronically limited to 95 mph (153 km/h), with 0–62 mph (0–100 km/h) acceleration in 8 seconds. The car’s range is 156 miles (251 km) on a single charge under optimal conditions. Estimates of normal driving conditions put ranges at 109 miles (175 km) city and 96 miles (154 km) highway
AC Propulsion issued a news release on November 19, 2008, stating that AC Propulsion is a supplier for Mini E. The news release states that AC Propulsion supplies a specially developed version of its proprietary tzero, a registered trademark, technology, including air-cooled copper-rotor induction motor and Li ion battery on the Mini E. It is characterized by high performance, high efficiency, and fast charging.
The Mini E can be charged through 120-volt (at 12 amp) and 240-volt (at 32 or 48 amp) power sources, and correspondingly, charging times are 20 hours and 3.5 hours (fast-charge system). The user must set the correct charge rate using the instrument panel before beginning charging. Detailed instructions are in the user's manual.
The 240-volt 32-amp home "wall box" charging stations for the USA trial were made by Clipper Creek, with a proprietary electrical connector to the car made by ODU.
The acceleration is via drive-by-wire technology. A software mediated delay makes the vehicle hesitate a little when the acceleration pedal is first pressed. This artificially limits the electric motor's response, preventing burnout from a standstill. After this initial delay, response goes back to normal.
The Mini E regenerative braking is designed to capture as much kinetic energy as possible giving the Mini E a distinct driving characteristic. Once the driver's right foot leaves the acceleration pedal, the Mini E starts full regenerative braking. The vehicle slows down significantly as if the brake pedal were pressed and the brake lights will turn on. On level surfaces Mini E stops completely and the brake lights will turn off. To slow down, one may just back off the acceleration pedal a little. Use of the brake pedal may be reserved for emergencies and quick stops.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified the Mini E range as 100 mi (160 km), with a city/highway combined energy consumption of 34 kW·h/100 miles. Under its five-cycle testing, EPA rated the Mini E at 98 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.4 L/100 km) combined fuel economy, with a rating of 102 mpg-US (2.31 L/100 km; 122 mpg-imp) equivalent in city driving and 94 mpg-US (2.5 L/100 km; 113 mpg-imp) equivalent on highways. This information was displayed in the window sticker in terms of energy consumption, as 33 kW·h/100 miles for city and 36 kW·h/100 milesfor highway.
The Mini factory located in Oxford, England, supplies vehicle gliders (cars without powertrains) to a team located in Munich, Germany, which then adds the electric running gear.
Field trial program
The field testing of the Mini E was part of BMW Project i, and was followed in January 2012 by a similar trial with the BMW ActiveE all-electric vehicle which accommodates seats for four adults and cargo The Active E is based on the BMW 1 Series Coupe and was built based on the lessons learned from the Mini E field testing. The last phase of "Project i" is the development of the BMW i3, formerly known as the Mega City Vehicle (MCV) urban electric car, which will be part of a new brand called BMW i, which will be separately from BMW or Mini, and plans to go into mass production between 2013 and 2015. The field testing of the Active E will include fewer than 1000 cars and will be conducted in Los Angeles and New York, but BMW is also considering expansion to other areas. After the MINI E trial program ended some of the cars will be displayed in museums, other will be shipped back to Germany for further lab testing, and the rest will be dismantled and crushed.
Mini-E drivers participating in the field trial program of the vehicle were required to participate in online surveys and discussions, as well as bring their vehicle into their local dealership to have their car worked on. The program was available only as a three-year limited lease, and drivers were required to turn their cars back into Mini, where they would be crushed and/or melted down, or donated to tech schools and museums for display, disassembly, and analysis purposes.
Edmunds.com leased a Mini-E to use in their long-term test fleet. The company owned the car for one year before they turned the car back into Mini. The company reported about their Mini-E on their website.
In the U.S. a total of 9,500 people signed up to lease the MINI E for the 450 cars available. In June 2009, Mini started the program by leasing 250 units in Los Angeles area and 200 in the New York/New Jersey area. The leasing price was set at US$850 (approx. €600) a month for one year and included collision coverage, maintenance costs, and home installation of the charging station.Residents of New Jersey did not pay sales tax on their lease due to the existing state exemption for battery electric vehicles.
In May 2010 BMW announced that leasing could be renewed for another year at a lower price of US$600 a month. This renewal was offered to all individuals who currently have a Mini E but fleet customers are excluded, and according to BMW half of all current lessees agreed to the extension.
Field testing in Paris with 50 units began in 2010.
A total of 100 trial vehicles were assigned to Germany.Testing in Berlin began in June 2009, and for the second phase, a total of 70 vehicles were delivered in March 2011 to private customers and fleet users. Field testing began in Munich in September 2010, for a leasing fee of €400 (approx. US$517) per month.
Testing in the U.K. took place between December 2009 and March 2011 with 40 Mini E cars handed to private users for a two consecutive six-month field trial periods. The leasing price was set at GB£330 (around US$536) per month, which includes VAT, insurance, service and maintenance. In addition, one MINI E was delivered to the Government car pool in Downing Street to be tested by ministers in an urban environment on their official business around London.
The UK trial was a partnership between BMW Group UK, Scottish and Southern Energy, the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council. Data collection and research was conducted by Oxford Brookes University’s Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre throughout the UK project. Funding support was provided by the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport (DFT) as part of the GB£25 million (US$41 million) UK-wide program involving trials of 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles from several carmakers. The selected test area is roughly a triangle contained within the M40 motorway between the M25 motorway and Oxford, the A34 south to the M3 motorway, and the M3 back to the M25
The 40 Mini E electric cars have been kept in use after the trial was completed in March 2011, participating in activities to promote awareness and understanding of electric vehicles. These cars were part of the BMW Group UK’s official vehicle fleet of 4,000 low-emission luxury vehicles deployed for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The fleet also included 160 BMW ActiveE electric cars.
Field testing in Beijing started on February 22, 2011. Testing also is taking place in Shenzhen
A field trial was scheduled to take place in Tokyo in 2011.
Field test results
The main concerns reported by some of the users participating in the U.S. during the first year trial were range anxiety and lack of public charging infrastructure, as the country had only 734 public charging stations, and most of them were located in California. Another concern reported is that the already restrictive 100-mile (160 km) range on a fully charged battery reduces to between 80 to 90 miles (140 km) during very cold weather. In the UK, an abnormally harsh winter also showed how very low temperatures diminishes power output until the battery is ‘warmed-up’ once in use. There was even one report of the range dropping below 40 miles (64 km) in sub-zero weather. There have also been issues with exterior charging points as winter temperatures drop dramatically.
Other complaints in the U.S. related to the lack of space in the car as the battery pack eliminates the Mini’s back seat and most of its cargo area, and the difficulties found in practice to install the charging equipment in homes, which took longer than anticipated, as just getting the installation permit in the U.S., including site visits and inspections took up to a month.
According to the BMW team of engineers responsible for the demonstration program, the following are facts and key lessons learned during the Mini E first year trial:
- Most of the Mini E applicants were well-educated and well-off males over 35, with an affinity for new technology, willing to experience a new and clean technology, and for them the lower vehicle running costs were not very important.
- Most drivers used the Mini E as a second vehicle and for the daily commute.
- Longest trip in a Mini E to date was 158 kilometres (98 mi)
- In the Berlin trial, the average Mini E remained stationary for over five hours in 80 percent of the cases while being charged and most of the customers only charged their vehicles only two or three times a week. U.S. participants were more likely to charge up every night.
- Before the test, drivers said they expected range and charging time limitations to be a problem, however, during the actual trials these issues were only felt to be limitations in very few specific cases.
- In the Berlin test, BMW decided to compare how people drive an electric car to how they drive a more traditional model. For this purpose they identified willing applicants who had either a BMW 116i or a Mini Cooper and put data loggers in those vehicles. The results showed that vehicle usage of the Mini E only differs marginally from that of comparable Mini Cooper and BMW 116i trips.
- UC Davis study
In May 2011 the Plug‐in Hybrid & Electric Vehicle (PH&EV) Research Center at the University of California, Davis published the results of a consumer study of the U.S. Mini E field trial. The study is based on surveys and interviews conducted with more than 120 families who leased the electric car for the period of June 2009 to June 2010. Some of the key findings of the consumer study are the following:
- 95% of the respondents drove fewer than 80 miles (130 km) a day; and 71% drove fewer than 40 miles (64 km).
- The study shows that households adapted their driving around the capabilities of the electric car, and respondents said the MINI E met 90% of their daily driving needs.
- Many drivers found that having limited cargo space and only two seats was more restrictive than the limited range.
- Cold weather had a significant impact on drivers in the New York and New Jersey areas, which suffered a particularly harsh winter during the study period. These drivers discovered an unacceptable drop in the vehicles' range when using the heater.
- In California, though infrequent, hot weather during August 2009 resulted in range loss and battery thermal management problems that required attention from BMW.
- Most drivers reported initial difficulties in mastering the MINI E aggressive regenerative braking system which is integrated into the accelerator pedal. However, all drivers said that once they learned to like the system, they discovered that they could travel more smoothly, and learned to control almost all acceleration and braking events with one pedal. They also discovered, thanks to the display panel information, that they recovered energy proportional to their expertise with the single pedal.
- 99% of respondents found home charging easy to use.
- 71% of respondents said they were more likely now to purchase an electric vehicle than they were a year ago, and only 9% said they are less likely.
- 88% of respondents said they are interested in buying a battery electric vehicle or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in the next five years.
- Oxford Brookes University
In August 2011 BMW published the results of the UK trials. The findings are based on the 40 test cars driven by 62 members of the public and 76 pool users, who together drove 258,105 miles (415,380 km) over two six-month periods. The data was collected electronically and the research was carried out by Oxford Brookes University. The following are some of the main findings:
- The Mini Es logged a daily journey distance of 29.7 miles (47.8 km), slightly more than the 26.5 miles (42.6 km) recorded by the control cars, a mix of Mini Coopers and BMW 116i models. The UK average daily distance driven for private cars overall is less than 25 miles (40 km).
- The average cost to charge over 6 months was GB£60, representing less than 2 pence per mile.
- Drivers did not charge their Mini E every night. The average was 2.9 times a week. Most charged at home, with 82% using their wall-mounted charging box 90% of the time.
- Four out of five people reported that 80% of their trips could be done exclusively in the Mini E, and this increased to 90% saying that with the addition of rear seats and a bigger boot, all their trips could have been done in the Mini E.
- 84% of the drivers said that the severe low temperatures during both phases of the field trial affected the distance that could be driven between charges, but despite that, four out of five participants told the researchers they thought the Mini E was suitable for winter use.
- When asked for suggestions to deal with the potential danger from the low noise at low speeds, more than half (56%) said that instead of an artificial noise, the driver should pay more attention. However just over a quarter (28%) said they’d like to have a warning noise below 12.5 miles per hour (20.1 km/h).
- The trial found that one week was all that was needed for customers to adapt to the characteristics and peculiarities of driving an EV, such as charging, range, regenerative braking and low noise.
- For fleet users who swapped out of their regular car reported that the Mini E was fine for 70% of journeys made during the working day, while the pool car success rate was even better with between 80-90% of regular trips achievable
As part of the 21st Century Automotive Challenge held at Penn State University on May 23, 2010, the Mini E #466 achieved the longest trip in such electric car to date, achieving 147.3 miles (237.1 km). The Mini E went on to win the competition in efficiency. The competition traversed three mountain ranges in the rain