Spy shots: all-electric Mini Cooper caught testing

Electric Mini is easily distinguished by its missing tail-pipes

Electric Mini is easily distinguished by its missing tail-pipes

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BMW plans to release a limited run of 500 all-electric Minis next year in order to meet new Californian regulations that require carmakers selling cars in the state to offer zero emission vehicles. These latest spy shots show a prototype of the upcoming electric vehicle only a few weeks out from its Los Angeles Auto Show debut.

The Mini factory located in Oxford, England, supply cars without powertrains to a team located in Munich, Germany, which then adds the electric powertrain. BMW is yet to release any details about the powertrain, but previous reports speculated that it could feature lithium-ion batteries powering a single electric motor driving the front wheels.

BMW is expected to ship all 500 electric Minis to California, with 490 to be leased to selected customers and the remaining ten used as demonstration vehicles. All will be painted silver but are easily distinguished by their missing exhaust pipes and electric motor whine.

If you find the idea of an all-electric Mini appealing but don’t live in California, a company in Nevada can build you one complete with a 105hp (78kW) brushless AC motor and lithium-ion batteries. Nevada’s Hybrid Technologies has in fact been producing the electric Minis for the past year and claims that charging up the car’s batteries takes about 8-10 hours from a regular household power outlet. Top speed is only around 80mph but driving at a slower speed preserves battery-life and means owners will be able to travel up to 120 miles on a single charge.
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