BMW has decided to export as many as 500 electric versions of its Mini car to California.
The Mini Cooper cars, which are currently being manufactured at the company’s plant at Oxford in the UK, will be transported to Munich in Germany where they would be fitted with electric power-trains. This is being done because the cars would not be equipped with engines, gearboxes or fuel tanks when they are manufactured at Oxford. Update: BMW Mini E at Los Angeles Auto Show
Is this great news, or is it so-so stuff?
Our take is that while 500 electric cars is a pretty small number, BMW has reason to play it safe. The real demand for electric cars is still not clear, we think.
BMW plans to lease out as many as 490 electric Minis to selected customers in California, while 10 of the cars that would be shipped to the US state are likely to be used as show cars.
Leasing out cars is a safe way to estimate the real market demand, and figure out everyday running issues in real conditions. The cars would be under watch by the car press too – so if they are succesful, we will know. Plus, car manufacturers who sell cars in California, are legally required to offer zero emission vehicles. This takes care of that.
The electric Mini Cooper cars would sport silver hues and yellow roofs.
Officially, BMW says that they “look forward to bringing together an ultimate driving experience with zero emissions.”
BMW engineers are working on electric Minis in BMW’s Project i division.
Meanwhile, other majors too are busy lining up their electric vehicles. Among them are Volkswagen, Daimler, PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault, and all of these car manufacturing companies have announced their electric forays. When these cars too roll out, they will be part of a mjor technology revolution that has already been put on the tarmac by many a Japanese and American automakers in their bid to go green.