The Mini E, a two-seat full-electric variant of the iconic subcompact from BMW AG, is powered by a lithium-ion battery from E-One Moli Energy Corp of Taiwan. The rechargeable battery has 5,088 cells that can store up to 35 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy.
The large size of the battery requires the Mini's rear seats to be removed, leaving room for just two people. The battery can be charged using standard power sockets.
Unlike internal combustion engines, batteries do not generate large quantities of excess heat. While this is more efficient, the lack of heat forces automakers to use an alternative source of energy to warm the interior of the vehicle and to make sure the windshield remains free of sight-reducing condensation. To deal with these problems, BorgWarner Beru Systems, in cooperation with BMW, developed high-voltage cabin heaters. They have a power output of 3,000 watts, weigh about 1.8 kilograms and can be adapted for use in other electric vehicles or hybrids.
Benecke-Kaliko (a group within ContiTech AG, which itself is a division within Continental AG) supplies its new PVC artificial leather on the car's door trim. The new material offers environmental and health benefits such as the use of fewer volatile organic compounds during the manufacturing process.
The Mini E premiered at the 2008 Los Angeles auto show and about 600 units are available for lease in Germany, the UK and the U.S. states of California, New York and New Jersey.
One of the people to lease the car is billionaire investor Wilbur L. Ross, whose holdings include U.S.-based interiors specialist IAC Group.
Mini's factory near Oxford, England, produces all but the electric car's drive components and lithium-ion battery. The car's electrical drive components are installed at BMW's factory in Munich, Germany.