- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2008

LOS ANGELES |The gasoline-stingy Mini-Cooper now comes in an even more economical electric version.

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get one unless you’re among 500 people in California, New York and New Jersey selected to lease the new Mini E early next year.

The cost will be $850 a month, plus whatever electricity you use.

The Mini E was unveiled here by its manufacturer, BMW, to an international group of journalists in connection with the LA Auto Show.

Although a regular gasoline-engine Mini Cooper is a four-passenger car, the Mini E carries just two. That’s because the battery pack takes up most of the space behind the front seats.

The pack consists of 5,088 lithium-ion batteries in 48 modules. It powers an electric motor up front that delivers the equivalent of 204 horsepower to the front wheels.

Peter Ratz, a BMW vice president in charge of the project, said the Mini E could accelerate to 60 miles an hour in about eight seconds and had a range of 124 to 156 miles.

Each Mini E will be delivered with a 220-volt power box to be installed in the leasee’s garage. If the person lives in an area where the power company can deliver 50 amperes, the recharge time is only two hours.

But it goes up from there. At 10 amperes, it would take six to eight hours. And if the charge comes from a standard U.S. 110-volt outlet, the charge time would double.

Friedrich Eichiner, a member of BMW’s management board, said there were no plans to put the Mini E into production. “This is a learning process for us,” he said.

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