MINI Goes Electric

It already looks like a toy, so why not run it on batteries?

MINI has announced that an all-electric MINI E version of its subcompact MINI Cooper is hitting American roads in the coming weeks. A pilot run of 500 cars will be doled out to customers in New York, New Jersey and California to evaluate the vehicle in the real world with an eye on making it a standard model in the automaker’s lineup.

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Powered by a lithium-ion battery pack comprised of 5,088 individual cells, the MINI E can be charged overnight by plugging into any standard electrical outlet, and is capable of being driven 150 miles on full batteries. Each car will also come with a high-amperage “wallbox” that can be installed in a garage and will juice the car up in just 2.5 hours.

The front wheel drive MINI E has 204 horsepower, which is a lot for a car this size, but it also weighs 700 pounds more than the MINI Cooper, so you don’t get much of a benefit from the added power. It will still accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 8.5 seconds, but top speed is now limited to 95 mph.

As is the case with all electric cars, most of that added weight is due to the batteries, which take up the space where the back seats usually are, making the MINI E a two-passenger vehicle. The company promises that despite the obesity, the car manages to retain much of the go-cart like handling that MINIs are known for.

The MINI E will make its first public appearance when it is officially introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

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