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MINI E UK Field Trial switches off

18th March 2011 Print

The MINI E UK Field Trial which has been researching and analysing the use of fully electric MINIs on UK roads since December 2009 has come to an end today. The 40 ‘pioneers’, who are the second set of participants in the trial handed back their MINI Es at an event at MINI Plant Oxford. 

These 40 ‘pioneers’ are part of MINI E UK Research Consortium, one of eight UK projects supported by the Technology Strategy Board and Department for Transport’s £25m Ultra Low Carbon Vehicles Demonstrator Programme aimed at accelerating the introduction of viable electric passenger vehicles to the UK.

Speaking at the hand back event, Head of E-Mobility Innovation Projects at BMW Group Dr Julian Weber said, ‘“The primary focus of the BMW Group Project i is electro mobility. All information generated during the MINI E field trials is being incorporated into the ongoing development and refinement of our first purpose built production car, the Megacity Vehicle BMW i3, due for launch in 2013. So far, we have gathered over 7 million miles of knowledge.”

During the UK trial the MINI E was tested on British roads by a mixture of 80 private, corporate and public sector drivers – all of whom gave valuable feedback to the project consortium and UK Government.  Between them they covered over a quarter of a million miles throughout the duration of the trial. These findings will ultimately be used in the engineering and infrastructure support of mass-produced electric vehicles and establish the social and economic issues and aspects of running an electric car.

The 40 MINI Es will remain in the UK and will be used in a small number of commercial partnerships, they will also be used at consumer and corporate events as well as in partnerships with government and industry stakeholders.

Jochen Goller, Director of MINI UK.  “One has to remember that MINI E, despite being very thoroughly engineered for its task, is a modified existing production MINI Hatch.  An EV designed from the ground up such as the BMW i3 will be able to address some of the issues around interior space and driving range.  That is precisely the reason we are holding these trials.”

“We are very confident that findings from this trial will help us greatly in producing an exciting and extremely efficient vehicle for the urban environments of the future” Goller continued.  “We are truly grateful to the 80 pioneers who are helping to shape the future of the sustainable electric car.  They are people who care about the future of our planet as much as they do about the mobility of its inhabitants” he concluded.

The final results of the MINI E UK study will be released this summer, however results from the first three months of the trial (December 2009 – February 2010) have already been analysed and the key findings are as follows:

MINI E usage differs only marginally from a control group of conventional car drivers in terms of average journey distance, daily mileage and frequency of use.

Before the trials began, users expected limitations in terms of range and charging times.  In practice these have only proved to be barriers in a very few specific cases.

Users felt reassured that both the MINI E itself and the charging process are completely safe.

There was a very strong feeling from both private and fleet users that renewable energy should play an important role in future electricity generation.  There was also a strong feeling that the battery of an electric vehicle (EV) should be charged using renewables to optimise the ecological advantages of an EV.

The BMW Group is trusted to provide a technically mature solution to the challenges presented by EVs.

Users reported a need for more interior space for journeys requiring more passengers and more storage capacity.

Users felt strongly that public charging facilities for EVs were desirable and even essential.  However, at the same time, the majority claimed that they coped without public charging facilities.

In summary, users liked MINI E’s lack of noise, the convenience of home charging, low off peak power charges, not having to go to a petrol station and queue, driving a zero emissions vehicle, MINI E’s acceleration characteristics and regenerative braking.

Drawbacks include current mileage range for certain journeys, limited carrying capacity and sub-optimal car performance during the extremely cold weather conditions in December 2009 and January 2010.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of Technology Strategy Board said, “The preliminary result from the MINI E trial demonstrate the positive experiences recorded by some of the 40 trial participants. This is very encouraging news and will hopefully set the tone for the remaining consortia as they begin to capture and analyse their own data.

‘The culmination of this data marks a major milestone on the road towards electrification of UK vehicles, and takes us a step closer to reaching our carbon emission reduction targets of 80 per cent by 2050.”

The MINI E UK Research Consortium, of which BMW Group is the lead partner, comprises several organisations which are based around Oxford and the South-East of England.  All are playing important roles in the collaborative field trial. In addition to the BMW Group, the consortium includes Southern Electric (part of the Scottish and Southern Electric Energy Group) which will supply both the electricity and the electrical infrastructure, an academic partner (Oxford Brookes University’s Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre) and the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) as well as Oxford City Council and Oxfordshire County Council.

During everyday usage, the MINI E can travel around 100-120 miles (up to 156 miles in ideal conditions*) on a single charge, depending on driving style and conditions, and of course, has the all the characteristic performance for which the MINI is famous.  It can sprint from 0-62mph in just 8.5 seconds and has an electronically-limited top speed of 95mph.

The MINI E is the first product of BMW’s project i – a programme designed to research and develop transport strategies and new types of vehicles for sustainable mobility.  As well as in the UK trials have been conducted in the USA and Germany, and have recently launched in France, China and Japan.