BMW’s prototype all-electric Mini will be publicly unveiled in Los Angeles next month, the Munich carmaker has announced.
Following the launch at the LA Auto Show, the battery-powered car will be leased to potential customers for trial on the roads of California, New York, and New Jersey.
BMW group sales and marketing director Ian Robertson confirmed plans for the new car at a media event in London.
The company will build 500 Mini E cars at its factory at Oxford and ship them to Germany to be fitted with their engines before making them available for testing with private and corporate customers in the US.
The choice of testing ground is significant because the US is now the biggest market for Mini, according to BMW.
Production at BMW Plant Oxford, as the Mini factory is called, has now reached capacity and another addition to the range, the Mini Crossover, a saloon car with off-road capabilities, will have to be built abroad.
BMW claims that the Mini E underlines its commitment to cutting fuel consumption and CO2 emissions in road traffic, without compromising performance.
“It is fantastic to drive,” Mr Robertson said. “It is all electric, there is no gasoline engine, and its performance is what you would expect from a Mini.
“It can be recharged in your garage, albeit with some special equipment, in two-and-a-half hours, and has a range of 120 miles.
“Is that going to be enough? We are not sure but we think it will be for urban use.”
The lithium-ion engine will deliver acceleration of 62 mph in 8.5 seconds and an electronically-limited top speed of 95 mph.
Based on the current Mini Hatch, the car will initially be available as a two-seater. The space normally inhabited by rear passengers is reserved for the battery.
A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kilowatt hours of electricity from the grid. Based on the car’s range, a kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles.
The car also features a “dynamic deceleration” system coupled directly to the accelerator pedal.
As soon as the driver releases the accelerator pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force, and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. The braking system comes with a newly-developed electric pump. Inside, the central gauge and battery level indicator behind the wheel of the Mini E – which replaces the Mini’s rev counter – feature yellow lettering against a dark grey background. The battery level is displayed in percentage figures. The central gauge includes an LED display indicating power consumption in red and power recuperation in green.
Specialist service bases staffed by specially trained Mini engineers will be set up in the US to support customers and technical inspections will be needed after 3,000 miles and at least every six months.
Plant Oxford will be responsible for manufacturing the entire vehicle on the standard production line, with the exception of the drive components and the lithium-ion battery. The units will then be transferred to a specially equipped manufacturing facility situated on BMW plant premises where the electric motor, battery units, performance electronics and transmission will be installed.