In 2009, BMW launched their first electric vehicles trial in the United States. More than 1,800 people and organizations applied to be part of the field trial of 450 MINI Es. From that, 450 were selected based on specific criteria that included the amount and type of use in which they would engage, home suitability to installation of a fast charging system and desire to be engaged in a field trial that requires continual feedback.

Nearly two years later, the MINI E adventure is approaching the finish line. MINI E drivers provide ongoing feedback that has already proven invaluable to the development work being done by the BMW for the upcoming i3 electric vehicle and the 2012 ActiveE.

One of the pioneers of this program and likely the customer with the most miles clocked on his MINI E is Tom Moloughney. He prefers to commute in the the MINI E seven days a week, at least 65 miles roundtrip, to his Montclair, N.J. restaurant. So far, he recorded 65,000 miles on his MINI E.

Furthermore, as a true “green advocate”, Moloughney put solar panels on his home after getting the MINI E because he plans to have an electric car in his garage into the foreseeable future.

This past week, Moloughney hosted a MINI E meetup at his restaurant where the cars continue to draw attention from passers-by.

According to GreenCarReports, at the meetup, BMW USA was represented by Marian Hawryluk and Hugo VanGeem who shared more MINI E stories, as well as providing information on BMW’s newest field trial: the 2012 BMW ActiveE. Similar to the MINI E, ActiveE field trial begins first in the United States later this fall with selected consumers taking over a 24-months lease offered by BMWNA at a monthly price of $499 with a down payment of $2,250.

Some of the MINI Es used in the trial will head to museums, while others will go back Germany for further lab testing. The remaining will be dismantled and crushed.

MINI E can go for 156 miles between charges, it’s a two seater car since a large lithium-ion battery replaces the back seat. The MINI E’s electric drive train produces 220 pound-feet of torque, which with the single-stage gearbox takes it from 0-60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds, not bad for a car that doesn’t rely on a combustion engine.

MINI E pioneers are both sad and happy. The MINI E have proven to be fun vehicles, but the excitement comes from its replacement: the ActiveE and the 2013 i3.

[Source: GreenCarReports ]