Update on BMW's Electric Mini
Update on BMW's PlansBack in July we reported on BMW's plans to make 500 electric Mini Coopers available in the California market. At the time, we were thinking that while it's great to see BMW planing to make available what was once an unofficial concept, it's also possible that BMW is simply rolling out 500 Mini-Coopers because "California has a mandate for automakers to make 7,500 zero-emissions cars by 2014." Thus we were excited about the news, but cautious about what it would mean for a larger scale introduction of electric vehicles.
Now we have some more details about the rollout of these cars.According to Bloomberg.com, BMW will be leasing "500 electric Mini Cooper small cars in New York, New Jersey and California early next year." The cars, which only have two seats (with the rest of the space taken up by batteries), will have a range of 150 miles, and will be " leased to customers for one year with an option for an extension."
Testing the WatersJust as other automakers have been doing with experimental hydrogen cars, BMW will be using the "500 Minis primarily to gather information about performance," although one wonders whether the real intent is to get free publicity and to better gauge consumer interest in the vehicles. Gas prices, which have stabilized recently, as well as any potential climate change legislation implemented by the next U.S. president, will go a long way in determining how popular and likely a large-scale rollout of electric Minis might be. It's probably best to view this 500 car rollout as a way of testing the waters--beginning to establish a green brand without having to go all-in.
Either way, we now know that the cars won't only be available in California, and we also have some data on the lease terms and the mileage. However, "BMW didn't say what the cost would be or how customers can apply."
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