On a recent September Monday in Munich, a group of forty drivers gathered at the Odeonsplatz, grinning eagerly despite the drizzly weather, to accept the keys to their shiny new MINI E. The members of this lucky group were selected among many applicants to get exclusive bragging rights as drivers of this special car, which is not yet available on the market, for the coming ten months. The Bavarian Red Cross was also there to scoop up ten of the cars for their outpatient care program.
In case you haven't heard, the MINI E is the fully electric MINI, powered by a battery housed in the vehicle's rear which fuels up by plugging into a power source, sort of like the way you would charge your cell phone battery.
In partnership with Siemens and SWM (Stadtwerke München), BMW has organized the installation of 30 charging stations throughout the city, in easy-to-get-to locations like streets, parking lots and public garages. This means that drivers will not only will be able to charge their vehicles at home, but also on the go, while zipping around the city.
There's more: the charging stations are supplied exclusively with electricity from green energy sources, in keeping with SWM's stated mission to produce enough green electricity to match the amount consumed in the city of Munich by 2025.
The current phase also marks the beginning of efforts to develop a quick-charge function that would drastically decrease charging times and widen the possibilities for the use of the electric vehicle, allowing it to be driven for stretches of several hundred kilometers at a time.
Last year already saw 15 MINI E distributed in the Munich area, and lessons learned from that preliminary trial will be implemented to make improvements as the project moves forward.
The MINI E field trial project was born in the United States last year and has since then grown to include test runs in the U.K. and Germany, and to encompass a fleet of more than 600 vehicles. This latest phase represents just one more step in the journey towards putting one million electric cars on German streets, a projection which the current administration has set for the year 2020. We still just think it's cool that the spunky battery-run car is totally silent: no engine noise to drown out your driving tunes.
To learn more about past test phases of the MINI E worldwide, and the pioneering individuals who drove them, read here.