The first electric MINI, dubbed E, made its debut last fall at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Shortly after, MINI USA kicked off their restricted lease program just a few months later and thousands of people have applied for a MINI E lease with only 450 vehicles available in California, New Jersey and New York.
In early 2009, a second stage of this pilot launched in Berlin, with a total of 50 MINIs. This week, MINI announced a similar program in the UK, but in compare to the US, the requests were far lower: a mere 515. There is one advantage though, the UK fellows will only have to shell out $640 compared to the steep $850 lease price in the United States.
MINI has selected 40 individuals to take part in the program. Only one half of the individuals selected are private users, the other half are commercial or municipal users. The trial, which will run from Oxford, down to London’s West End and west to Andover, will begin before Christmas.
To prepare for the pilot, retailer Marks and Spencer has agreed to install electric charging stations across these areas. Same as in the U.S., the new lucky owners will have a charging unit installed in their homes as well that will “refuel” the MINI E in just 4.5 hours. The range is somewhere in the 120 miles area.
In the meantime, to install charging points at more than one dozen stores across the southeast, where the MINI E test cars will be based.
MINI E was one of the first vehicle to graduate from BMW’s Project i program and more electric vehicles are expected in the next few years.
As a final note, the MINI E vehicles were built with the steering wheel on the left side, so this might give the UK drivers a run for their money.[Source: AutoExpress ]