Drivers who field-tested Mini's electric vehicle say they miss the rear passenger and trunk space that's now used to store the vehicle's batteries. But overall they say that the Mini E satisfies their daily driving needs and that its 100-mile (170km) range is sufficient.
Mini released the results of a survey of 57 drivers who leased the car in a trial program that started last spring.
The biggest surprise was "debunking of the issue that the 100-mile range was a limitation," said Richard Steinberger, manager of EV operations and strategy for BMW of North America. "They quickly came to terms with the range and said 100 miles did meet their needs," he said.
The Mini E lessees, who live mainly in urban areas, charged their cars at home in the morning and recharged them in the evening, "and it worked for them," Steinberger said. Participants preferred charging their cars at home rather than at public stations.
Steinberger said the cost of driving the Mini E came to about $6 per 100 miles driven, about half the cost of a gasoline-powered vehicle.
Mini leased 450 electric cars to participants in Los Angeles, New York and New Jersey. The monthly lease is $850.
The trial was set to end after a year but has been extended through early 2011. Steinberger said lessees have shown interest in leasing the ActiveE, an electric plug-in based on the 1-series coupe. The ActiveE was unveiled last month at the Detroit auto show.
The ActiveE uses ion batteries that require less space than those in the Mini E.