MINI E goes like heck, runs on electrons

2011 MINI E First Impressions

By Justin Pritchard
2011 MINI E First Impressions
A car like the MINI E would be a hard sell to someone like my father, who grew up with cheap horsepower and gas. As a car nut raised in the 80's by a car nut raised in the 60's, your correspondent, like most of his family, likes their cars powered by engines that use pistons, spark-plugs and gasoline.

As a glimpse into the possible future of electric mobility, your writer recently spent a morning with an experimental model from MINI called the MINI E. (Photo: BMW)

The thought of boycotting gas stations and their ever-fluctuating prices is a pleasant one lately though-- and as such, automakers are scrambling harder than ever to get electric cars into showrooms. They're not popping up all over Canadian roadways just yet, but they're something we're about to start seeing a lot more of.

As a glimpse into the possible future of electric mobility, your writer recently spent a morning with an experimental model from MINI called the MINI E. A fully-functional prototype, it had recently retired from a fleet of data-collecting and opinion-gathering models deployed south of the border with early adopter types.

Before his test-drive, your gas-loving writer was sceptical to say the least.

“It's gotta be slow” I thought to myself, pulling out of BMW's Richmond Hill, Ontario headquarters.

“Or wimpy”.

Rob Dexter is BMW's Corporate Communications Specialist, and as big a car buff as any. He smirked as he handed over the MINI E’s keys. “It's a real hoot” he said, grinning genuinely.

I half believed him at first.

Once on board, things fired up and slipped into gear just like a regular automatic MINI Cooper. Relays click away as the instruments come to life, though no starter motor sounds were apparent, naturally. All was basically quiet, albeit for a slight hum from what sounded like a cooling fan for the battery packs.

The tachometer is replaced with a range gauge that reads between 0 and 100 percent, and otherwise, the E's dash and gauges were largely the same as those in the standard car.

The tachometer is replaced with a range gauge that reads between 0 and 100 percent. (Photo: BMW)

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