|Components of the MINI E powertrain. Click to enlarge.|
BMW handed over forty electric MINI E cars to their test drivers on Sunday—all members of the public—in the start of two consecutive six-month field trial periods which will evaluate the psychological, social and technical aspects of living with an electric car. Following the launch of the MINI E research projects in North America and Germany, the UK trial is a collaborative effort from a BMW Group UK-led consortium.
The findings will be used both to inform the BMW Group engineering teams and the wider world to help guide power providers, policy makers and component manufacturers in their decision making in the development of future electric vehicles.
|The MINI E. Click to enlarge.|
Funding support is provided by the UK Government-backed Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Transport (DFT) as part of a UK-wide program involving trials of 340 ultra-low carbon vehicles from several manufacturers. (Earlier post.)
To cover the research and investment costs of the project, a MINI E would normally cost in the region of £550 (US$894) a month to lease, however part funding from the Government’s Technology Strategy Board means that the lease cost to MINI E pioneers is £330 (US$536) per month, which includes VAT, insurance, service and maintenance.
|MINI E Quick Specs|
Over and above this payment, the only other costs that MINI E pioneers will incur are for the electricity they use when charging their car. A full charge at home (for a completely flat battery) costs £1.50 (US$2.44) when using off-peak electricity or around £4.00 (US$6.50) when charging during peak hours. This translates to just over a UK penny per mile when charging off-peak.
Scottish and Southern Energy is responsible for the electrical infrastructure in the field trial area and through its supply brand Southern Electric is committed to supplying ‘green energy’ from sustainable sources to all MINI E drivers. Part of the trial involves measuring the loading on the electricity supply network, which can only be done by testing the MINI Es in a network area owned and operated by Scottish and Southern Energy.
Oxford Brookes University’s Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will manage the collation of qualitative and quantitative research throughout the UK trial. This will include analysis of driver experiences with the MINI E, as well as reviewing the technical information provided by the data-logging units fitted to every MINI E.
The consortium includes public sector organizations from the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.
SEEDA, Southern and Scottish Energy, Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council are trialing 20 of the MINI E trial cars in a fleet environment. This requires the establishment of an appropriate technical infrastructure in each organization’s local area and contributes further to the consortium’s common objective of being at the forefront of sustainable transport initiatives.
The MINI E’s electric drive train produces a peak torque of 220 N·m and a power output equivalent to 204 hp. Drive is delivered to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox. Acceleration to 62 mph takes 8.5 seconds, with an electronically-limited top speed of 95 mph.
Based on the familiar MINI Hatch, MINI E is a two-seater because the space normally used by rear passengers is reserved for an air-cooled lithium-ion battery. It has a maximum capacity of 35 kWh and transmits energy to the electric motor as a direct current at a nominal 380V. It comprises 5,088 cells grouped into 48 modules, which are packaged into three battery elements arranged compactly inside the MINI E.
A full recharge draws a maximum of 28 kWh of electricity from the grid. Each kilowatt hour translates into 5.4 miles (185 Wh/mile) giving the MINI E a theoretical range of more than 150 miles.
MINI E Program (US, presentation at CARB ZEV Symposium, Sep 2009)