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The University of California at Davis and BMW have completed the largest study of electric car owners yet conducted: a project massive in scope, involving 120 families across the country who have put over 1 million miles in their MINI E for an entire year. Their findings? They sure love ‘em.
While it sounds too press-releasy and too good to be true, like Pringles (or hard drugs) electric cars are addictive: once you pop, you can’t stop. Every one of the families surveyed said that they enjoyed their MINI E, a fully-electric version of the Cooper, and that the car met 90% of their daily driving needs. The reason for such positivity? Unless they were draggin’ GTOs or hauling antique Civil War cannons, 71% of families only drove fewer than 40 miles per day. 95% of families drove less than 80. For the idea of an electric car, it seems to fit their commuting needs, though if the impromptu road trip/White Castle run happens, their owners are out of luck.
In addition, 71% of families surveyed said that they are more likely to consider an electric vehicle than a year ago, and 9% said that they were not. 88% of these families are interested in turning this favorable opinion into a cold, hard sale sometime within the next five years.
And to secure their environmental street cred, almost all of the people surveyed believed that the electricity for these cars should come from renewable wind, solar, and hydropower sources, instead of coal. Hey, don’t accuse BMW of not knowing the right buttons to push.
MINI is set to debut a new electric scooter concept at the Paris Auto Show, under the auspices of the MINI E brand. With an integrated electric motor and MINI design cues (like the rear-view mirrors and oval headlamp), the MINI Scooter should provide consumers with a hip alternative to the trendy gasoline scooters populating urban centers, as well as cheaper models from China.
Official details won’t be made public until the scooter’s Paris debut, but expect some innovative packaging and the cachet of the MINI brand to make this offering very attractive to affluent urban types who may have never previously considered two-wheel transportation before.
[Source: Motoring File]
The second day of the MINI Takes The States Tour was a busy one and I’m thrilled to report that I now have a proper camera and no longer have to subject you to pictures taken with my Blackberry. With a drive in an electric MINI and a visit to one of America’s best vintage sports car collections, it was an ideal day for any gearhead.
Hit the jump to see more of Day 2 of the Mini Takes The States Tour
It seems as though the biggest issue facing electric cars isn’t the big bad oil industry, but rather over zealous mileage claims by the manufacturers that build them. As Nissan prepares to launch its new Leaf EV, the company is sticking to its claim that the vehicle will be able to achieve 100 miles on a single charge. That’s more than enough for the daily round-trip commute for the vast majority of Americans, but what happens if the total distance is more like 70 miles? That’s simple: you’ll have a lot of disappointed customers, word will spread and the already shaky enthusiasm about electric cars will suffer a serious blow.
And there’s reason to suspect Nissan’s 100 mile claim might be a little high. That reason is history.
Currently MINI is testing a fleet of electric MINI Es in both the U.S. and Europe, and along with reports of the power depleting much faster when the thermometer drops, the vast majority of drivers aren’t getting anywhere near the manufacturer quoted range. In fact, MINI initially listed the MINI E with a range of 156 miles and later changed that to 100 miles, with most owners seeing just 80 miles on a charge.
Besides, its not like EVs are alone on this issue either, with conventional gasoline engines never seeming to achieve their EPA rated miles per gallon either. And while the problem certainly isn’t exclusive to electric cars, the fact that MINI E owners are only getting half of the original estimated mileage out of their cars doesn’t bode well for the Leaf or Nissan’s claims.
Roughly half of those who took part in the MINI E’s lease program in North American have opted to sign on for a second year. As the first electric MINI, the MINI E was built as a test platform for future electric car models from MINI and parent company BMW. MINI’s pilot project included leases of the MINI E in Europe as well as in Los Angeles and New York.
According to a report by InsideLine, of the 450 original lessees wanted to sign on again after MINI announced the pilot program would be extended for another year. Those early adapters will also benefit from a reduced lease price, dropping from the staggering $850 a month to a a slightly less ridiculous but still outrageously overpriced $600 per month.
BMW’s first electric car, the Megacity, is set to launch in 2013.
For AutoGuide‘s full MINI E review, hit the link below:
Whether to promote the cars “performance” or more likely just for the fun of it, the team at MINI took the new MINI E electric vehicle out to Germany’s famed Nürburgring to see what sort of a time they could get. As you might expect, it wasn’t close to the GT-Rs 7:26.70 time, but then what do you expect from a 204-hp machine with a heavy battery on-board, bringing the curb weight up to 3,300 lbs. Still, MINI didn’t mess around, with former German Touring Car driver Thomas Jaeger acting as the pilot.
So what the time? Well, we’re excited indifferent to report a 9:51.45. For the record, Sport Auto once tested a John Cooper Works model for a time of 8:35.
Still, Jager, as expected, had nice things to say about the car. “”The power of the electric motor has an incredible effect, as you can access its full reserves of torque at all times. Another element of this fascinating experience is the lack of noise from the drivetrain. All in all, that was certainly the cleanest and quietest race lap I’ve ever driven.”
Currently MINI leases its electric car to customers in both the U.S. and Europe. We wonder if any of them have ever been to a race track.
You might be looking at a picture of the upcoming MINI-i MegaCity. Then again, you might not.
France’s Automobile Magazine obtained this one photo of what could be the MINI-i MegaCity – a low emissions or zero emissions city vehicle. The SMART-style mini- or micro-car is part of BMW’s Project-i initiative, designed to create a new line of affordable cars for urbanites.
An article we reported on several months ago from British pub AutoExpress hinted at the existence of such a vehicle. It is possible this new urban MINI-i could be a plug-in electric car, using the technology currently undergoing development in the MINI E.
There is also, however, a possibility that this leaked image is a revision of the current MINI.
We expect to learn more on this car as we approach the Frankfurt Auto Show this Fall.
Gasoline and Electric Versions Planned
According to a report in U.K.-Mag AutoExpress, MINI and BMW are currently working with Fiat to develop several new cars, including a new light-weight MINI model that will have its engine out back.
That’s right, the new car will be a small four-seater with as long a wheelbase as the body will allow – giving the new model a safe and stable ride as well as a gripping driving experience. It will also feature plenty of glass up front and on the sides, making visibility as ideal as possible.
The car will use both aluminum and composite materials (like carbon fiber) for a light weight chassis and may come with plastic bodywork, like that found on SMART models.
An electric model is also planned with the batteries located under the floor and individual electric motors powering each wheel. Apparently the technology will be similar to that which is currently being tested in the MINI E.
A concept of this new MINI is expected at the Frankfurt Auto Show this Fall, although this story could change significantly throughout the year. AutoExpress reports that this new vehicle will be a small urban vehicle and yet continually refers to it as a flagship of the MINI line – seemingly contradictory comments.
This partnership between BMW and Fiat will also bring about the return of two other famous automotive names, the Fiat Topolino and the BMW Isetta.
GALLERY: MINI Concept