I visited Mini’s Oxford plant this morning to witness the majority of the 40 battery-powered Mini Es being handed back by the ‘pioneers’ who had been running them since June last year.
In the UK test, the 40 cars travelled a total of 128,000 miles, with 7000 miles being the biggest mileage accrued by a single Mini E driver.
The project was effectively a live experiment, using on-board data loggers, to find out the true nature of typical journeys. It’s a project being repeated across the globe, using 612 Mini E models.
Dr Julian Weber, from BMW’s Project i division, told me that the company had learnt that the range of the Mini E was enough for 95 percent of journeys. ‘Single trips averaged about 20 miles and people quickly learnt when they really needed to recharge the car. Typically a Mini E would be recharged every three days and most of the drivers preferred to recharge at home. Two thirds of the drivers never used a public charging point’ said Weber.
‘What we learnt from the Mini E journey data confirmed our engineering assumptions about range and customer behaviour for the Mega City project. However, we also discovered that drivers became fans of Electric Vehicles for their inherent driving abilities. The first reactions were that EVs are also smooth, quiet, powerful and dynamic.'
Weber admitted that the Mini E project was about driver behaviour, rather than engineering. The Mini E was basically a simple EV conversion using 5000 laptop batteries, as well being a left hand drive and a strict two-seater.