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BMW will build 500 all-electric Minis
BMW is preparing a new "green" variant of its popular Mini

The fuel economy/eco-friendly push is in full effect these days in the auto industry. BMW is looking to boost its efforts in this field with a new variant of its popular Mini in the U.S. market.

According to Automotive News, BMW has plans to lease 490 all-electric Minis to California residents. Ten additional vehicles will be used on the auto show circuit to showcase BMW's prowess in zero-emissions vehicles.

According to sources close to the project, the Minis will be assembled in England, however, the engine, transmission, and fuel tank will not be installed into the chassis of each vehicle. Instead, each partially-assembled Mini will be shipped back to Germany where they will be equipped with electric motors and battery packs.

Other details of BMW's latest venture are rather scarce at the moment. BMW officials failed to confirm or deny the report and simply stated, "BMW will announce whether it will build electric vehicles or not later this year."

500 vehicles are definitely not enough to make a huge dent in BMW's efforts to produce more eco-friendly, but it's a start. BMW is making similar baby steps with its Hydrogen 7 luxury sedan. The Hydrogen 7, which is a heavily-modified 7-Series, features a 260 HP twelve-cylinder engine that can run on either on conventional premium gasoline or hydrogen at the push of a button.

BMW's niche efforts with an all-electric Mini and the Hydrogen 7 will join other efforts from General Motors with the Chevrolet Volt plug-in series-hybrid electric vehicle and Honda with the FCX hydrogen fuel-cell vehicle.

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why limit it?
By Screwballl on 7/9/2008 12:32:46 PM , Rating: 1
Why limit it to 500 cars? This is what we need worldwide, a lower cost but safe and good looking electric car that can be mass produced for under $20,000.
I assume by leasing, they can pull what GM did with its EV-1 when big oil says "these are getting too popular, it will cut into our profits".

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 12:38:02 PM , Rating: 5
I doubt the cost of these cars is under $20,000.

RE: why limit it?
By daftrok on 7/9/2008 2:41:34 PM , Rating: 2
You never know. If the HP is around 70-100 and the range is around 200-250 miles then this would definitely be around 20-30k.

RE: why limit it?
By Doormat on 7/9/2008 2:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
No, even if you figure its 70% of the weight of a roadster with 70% of the performance, it would still need a 40kWh battery pack. $15,000.

If the Volt cant get below $40k with its 16kWh battery pack, this certainly cant.

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 3:29:33 PM , Rating: 3
What does the horsepower of these cars matter? The high cost of either NiCad or Lithium-ion batteries will drive the cost of these things up quite a bit. Under $30,000? Perhaps but then its not going to go very far. Considering the only other all electric car out there is $100,000, that makes me believe these will be far more. The Tesla only goes 200 miles with all its lithium ion batteries. The weight is comparable. So even if BMW used the same number of batteries, its only going to go as far as the Tesla. Sure the mini isn't made of really expensive materials like the materials but thats not the bulk of the cost.

RE: why limit it?
By daftrok on 7/9/2008 4:45:36 PM , Rating: 2
But you also have to realize that the Tesla is a beast. It goes 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. The reason why I believe that this car will probably be around 30 grand is because less horsepower means less energy needed which in turn means less battery. Horsepower is a major factor in determining the cost of any vehicle, especially an electrically powered one.

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 4:56:40 PM , Rating: 3
The Tesla gets to 60 quickly because its light and electric engines make all their torque at 0 rpm. Yes it probably has a larger electric engine than the Prius, but still.

Any full electric car is going to cost a lot if its going to have any kind of range. If its only got a 50-60 mile range then it might be under $30,000.

It doesn't really matter what it actually costs. They're only leasing them out. Then they're likely going to take them back and dispose of them.

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 4:59:29 PM , Rating: 2
And its not like the Tesla can achieve that 200 mile range with you testing out that 4 second 0-60 time.

RE: why limit it?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 5:55:01 PM , Rating: 3
I doubt seriously that BMW will price this less than a fully equipped JCW version. This is a showpiece and a gauge of market interest. It will be priced accordingly. It WILL not be under $30k. Like someone else said, the price of the batteries alone is $15k.

RE: why limit it?
By jRaskell on 7/9/2008 5:10:08 PM , Rating: 2
The Tesla is capable of 0-60 in 4 seconds, but it will not have a 200 mile range while doing so. It'll only have a 200 mile range when driven modestly (ie using a fraction of it's available HP).

A 160hp electric motor operating at 10% of it's power isn't noticably less efficient than an 80hp electric motor operating at 20% of it's power. Both will draw similar amounts of current to generate similar levels of output power.

In the end, battery capacity is the primary factor in vehicle range. How powerful the drive motor is only affects how much a person can reduce that potential range with a lead foot.

RE: why limit it?
By Drexial on 7/10/2008 3:12:32 PM , Rating: 2
The Tesla is also $100,000 cause it's a start up company. Tesla had to start from scratch and repay investors.

BMW I think has the funds to just go for it. I see it being between $30-40k

RE: why limit it?
By OxBow on 7/11/2008 9:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
The question is moot. They are leasing them, not selling them. As such, there is no retail price.
The lease price will be to just offset the cost of this marketing move. This is just advertising, nothing less.

RE: why limit it?
By pauldovi on 7/9/2008 12:59:43 PM , Rating: 2
Oil companies don't make a significant amount of money off of gasoline sales. All their profits come from other petrolium derivatives.

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 1:08:41 PM , Rating: 4
They make quite a bit of money. They just make very low margins.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 6:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
I recently read that the production cost per gallon was around ~50 cent. Do You have any CO2 taxes and the like on fuel in the US or does the rest go to the company?

RE: why limit it?
By Rugar on 7/9/2008 8:22:57 PM , Rating: 3
You would have to give your source for anyone to provide useful comments on it, but without having a chance to read it I think your source is full of crap.

Just off the top of my head:
1 barrel = 42 gallons of crude oil. Even accounting for the energetic density of oil over gasoline and improved techniques in cracking, the most optimistic estimates of gasoline production put it at 1:1 oil:gasoline. Assume (for convenience) that a barrel of oil is running $126, then 1 gallon of gasoline would cost $3 in oil cost alone. ($126 a barrel / 42 gallons of gasoline = $3/gallon)

Do companies which explore, drill, and produce their own oil pay less? Obviously, otherwise they wouldn't do it. But I still doubt that number is ~50 cents. That would suggest a cost for oil of $21/barrel along with free refining and transport. Seems pretty unlikely stated like that doesn't it?

RE: why limit it?
By Rugar on 7/9/2008 8:27:56 PM , Rating: 2
After posting, I realized that I didn't actually answer your question. Sorry about that. The federal government charges a tax of 18.4 cents/gallon. Each state also charges taxes. Here in Texas it is a flat 20 cents/gallon but other states use various combinations of flat rates and sales taxes. California for instance charges a flat 18 cents/gallon but then adds 6% state sales tax, 1.25% county tax, local sales taxes and 1.2 cents per gallon state UST fee.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 9:03:35 PM , Rating: 2
Thanks for replying. I really just wanted to know, since DK have taxes like 4-500%! (CO2 tax, greenhouse emission tax etc. which got added some Years ago. I worked almost 4 years at a Texaco station in the '90s here in DK. The price to Texaco pr. LITER was (in todays $) ~40 cents, while the price at the pump was like $2.

This article talks about a 45 cents for the gas. I think it was last week I read that Saudi Arabians fill at production cost, also on MSNBC, but I can't find it right now..

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 9:06:20 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, and an explanation of why high taxes might be good to some point:

"Europe's High Gas Taxes

Europe is a relatively efficient energy user and will likely continue to be so in coming decades. The EIA expects European energy demand to rise only 0.5% a year, with oil consumption up only 0.1% annually. In per-capita terms, however, the trend is similar to that in the U.S.

High taxes have made Europe more energy-efficient and its economies less sensitive to oil price hikes. Not only is energy a smaller share of GDP than in the U.S., but because of the taxes, a change in the oil price has much less impact, in percentage terms, on gasoline prices and, consequently, on demand. Thanks to their North Sea reserves, Britain and the Netherlands meet most of their energy needs domestically, and France requires relatively few imports because of its large nuclear power industry. Other European countries, however, depend heavily on energy imports and are thus experiencing major trade problems.

The European Central Bank [ECB], unlike the Federal Reserve, has elected to look at total rather than at core inflation. As a result, it will raise interest rates in response to higher energy costs -- in spite of its weak economies. We expect two rate hikes by the ECB, which will further strengthen the euro and damage European export competitiveness. Although this will not have a major impact on European economies, it is a reason to expect continued sluggish economic growth through 2009."

The rest of the article here:

RE: why limit it?
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 10:52:53 PM , Rating: 5
> "High taxes have made Europe more energy-efficient "

They've also kept the economy and per-capita wealth much smaller, as well as boosting unemployment and other negative economic indicators. That's what one calls a Pyrrhic victory.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 11:03:11 PM , Rating: 2
Agree, it's not good for employment. But I just read Bloomberg that the stocks made quite a rise, which gives money to hire people and keep production expanding. At the same time oil prices are dropping so it looks good. It might happen in the US too, even though Dow Jones made a small fall. Hopefully things will settle, and economies stablelize once again, so we can continue a life in peace and prosperity. As said in "First Contact": Well, we don't have money anymore :)

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 11:16:17 PM , Rating: 2
Oh, I forgot, You're right that the average GDP are not as high as in the US. If You look at the EUs avg. it's 24.800, with low around 10.000 and high a bit more than 68.000. But this is also wher I think the EU is having it's main role, to average out the wealth to some extent, and opening up the new markets, paving a way for a better future for those eastern parts. If You look at the following table, it shows that some former poor countries gained well from being in. We still need Poland, Malta, Rumania and Bulgaria to catch up, but overall the right way.

Of course ther'll be flucations in economies as oil 'trips' and new technoligies are researched, but I don't think the big companies overlooked future decisions and ways of keeping the wheels going. At the moment it seems it all depends on the balance of diplomacy or war. I'm for the first.

Here are the EU numbers:

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 11:23:52 PM , Rating: 2
But You were maybe referring to the MS lawsuits, I'll guess. Well, I have on purpose not put word into those debates since law really doesn't interrest me THAT much. Heh, maybe that's why the German Police got Linux as system years ago, because they were tired of paying all these licensing fees. As I remember, it saved them around €5 mill. a year! But as to the current situation, I don't know if that's what it's basically about.

RE: why limit it?
By Rugar on 7/10/2008 9:19:51 AM , Rating: 2
I don't think looking at the Saudi price for gasoline is indicative of production costs. Just a quick troll through the interwebs found this reference ( ) which indicates that the Saudis subsidize oil to the tune of $57 / barrel.

That alone doesn't explain the disparity in prices, but I'm sure being much closer to the tap has a role as well.

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 9:10:10 PM , Rating: 2
California's tax as of last year was 41 cents a gallon.

RE: why limit it?
By Hiawa23 on 7/9/2008 1:14:19 PM , Rating: 2
you know darn well, those cars costs more than $20k

RE: why limit it?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 1:16:03 PM , Rating: 2
Contrary to popular opinion, the oil companies do not have such sway. Their profit margins have been fairly constant throughout changes in oil supply/demand. They all have some level of investment in alternative fuels and will pour more into them as they become needed (if they want to survive anyway).

Who do the profits benefit anyhow? The majority of us -- at least those who own stock, directly or indirectly through mutual funds/401K. The oil companies are publicly traded.

There's no big conspiracy with the EV-1. It was expensive as heck for what it offered, making it a tough sell outside of environmentalist circles. It didn't make economic sense, especially after the somewhat absurd California requirements for them were defeated.

I'm assuming they're limiting it to 500 cars so they can get people to test them out basically -- similar to what Honda is doing with the FCX Clarity. They're probably taking a loss on the vehicles, but consider it a necessary R&D cost.

Give the alternatives time. If it were truly possible to make them viable today, we would be driving them already.

RE: why limit it?
By Oregonian2 on 7/9/2008 1:41:48 PM , Rating: 2
Well, PR is the only things that count. Reality is only for TV shows, and even then it's not real.

Saw the British video review of the Toyota Prius yesterday. Auto-parking was neat, and such, but bottom line of the reviewer (which I found very disappointing) is that its performance was marginal, it was expensive, and its petrol mileage was no better than a conventionally engined Golf.

RE: why limit it?
By ultimaone on 7/9/2008 1:50:53 PM , Rating: 1
go watch "who killed the electric car"

and maybe it'll change your mind about it not being a big conspiracy, it wasn't just the EV-1 that was destroyed.
all the other car companies had electric cars, just like GM

its funny that they ALL destroyed their electric cars
really strange.....

RE: why limit it?
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 2:27:40 PM , Rating: 2
That movie was debunked long ago. People weren't allowed to buy the cars for very good reason -- had GM even sold a single one, they would have been required by federal law to manufacture and stock spare parts for it for the next decade.

RE: why limit it?
By Screwballl on 7/9/2008 2:39:25 PM , Rating: 1
Where was it debunked? On some opinionated blog supporting big oil? On some site that was paid off by petroleum interests?

Anyone with half a brain could see that big oil told them to stop because it was too successful. It would have gotten too popular too quick and would have meant a quick death for big oil and thus a majority of the automaker's companies as well... they had plans to shaft us at the pump that was still in the early stages and now we are seeing rhe effects of this plan... that is why the electric and alternative fuel based cars continued in Japan and outside of the US where big oil does not have as big of a pull...

RE: why limit it?
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 3:31:02 PM , Rating: 3
> "Anyone with half a brain could see that big oil told them to stop because it was too successful. It would have gotten too popular too quick"

I realize how attractive a conspiracy theory is to some minds, but no corporation is going to give up a succesful product potentially worth tens of billions just because "big oil" begs a favor.

And there wasn't exactly any danger of the EV1 getting "too popular". The range of the car, particularly in poor weather was abysmal, and the cost was very high and would have been far higher still had it not been subsidized by GM. And all for what? Gas was $1.50 a gallon at the cheap as to make the enormous drawbacks of electric cars wholly unpalatable.

GM spent billions on electric car developement. But with the battery technology of the time, and ultra-cheap gasoline available, such cars were doomed from the start.

RE: why limit it?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 3:31:22 PM , Rating: 2
Where was it debunked? On some opinionated blog supporting big oil? On some site that was paid off by petroleum interests?

Character assassinate by claiming the other side is paid off by "big oil". How original. Nobody who puts out a documentary can have an agenda or be interested in making money off it...

A good read:

RE: why limit it?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 3:36:14 PM , Rating: 1
Well at least your name on this site runs true with your ideas.

You just cannot accept the fact that oil companies are not the evil corporations that the liberal media portrays them to be. Are they complete innocents? No. Are they masterminding a global conspiracy to stay in business? No. They are simply a business that operates to make money. Same as any other. And they operate that business at a far lower profit margin than most.

If there's any conspiracy here, its being orchestrated by environmentalists to get us to do what they want. Abandon fossil fuels. Gas prices would be far lower if not for the environmental lobby blocking for the past 30 years the building of any new refineries and offshore drilling. But its actually more the former. We import so much fuel now because we don't have the refining capacity to make it ourselves.

RE: why limit it?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 3:45:11 PM , Rating: 2
Just want to add that transporting refined fuel is more expensive than transporting crude. Hence the importance of having refineries here.

RE: why limit it?
By Solandri on 7/9/2008 4:12:50 PM , Rating: 3
That really galls me about the current situation with fuel prices. For decades environmentalists and Democrats have been saying that fossil fuels are too cheap, that our society has gotten lazy with cheap energy, and that it needs to become more expensive so we think seriously about conservation and alternative energy sources. But now that it's really happened and we're seeing some of the ugly consequences... they're trying to figure out how to blame oil corporations and the Republicans for it.

I've always been for a cleaner environment and alternative energies. But I'm not going to lie - I staunchly believe the current economic pain is a price we'd have to pay anyway at some point in order to wean ourselves off of fossil fuels and arrive at a much better future. If you're going to advocate something, at least have the balls to accept responsibility for the negative consequences.

RE: why limit it?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 6:44:48 PM , Rating: 1
If you're going to advocate something, at least have the balls to accept responsibility for the negative consequences.
I agree. But I disagree with having to feel pain to get people to change. Change requires going from A to B to C to D. You can't just jump to D, you must go through B and C first. You can make it less painful by performing the steps over time. Gas is going to go up over time and over time people will adjust accordingly and it will be in their budgets, corporations will have time to plan and find new materials or new processes. One day you'll wake up and we'll be there.

But now? The shock treatment? All you're doing is shitting where you eat. And quite frankly the only people hurt are the lower middle class and poor. Everyone else just buys another car or slaps some solar panels on their house.

RE: why limit it?
By Sulphademus on 7/10/2008 4:56:38 PM , Rating: 2
"Shock Treatment" is the only treatment which is going to work for something like this. If energy prices go up by 1%, people just shrug it off, even if it happens year after year. A 10% change will make people take notice. A 50% change will make people scream.

Hey you, conserve energy *poke*
Hey you, conserve energy *swift kick to the nads*

Most people dont notice the tiny changes.

RE: why limit it?
By Hiawa23 on 7/10/2008 8:48:51 AM , Rating: 2
For decades environmentalists and Democrats have been saying that fossil fuels are too cheap, that our society has gotten lazy with cheap energy, and that it needs to become more expensive so we think seriously about conservation and alternative energy sources.

the blame game is getting ridiculous. It hasn't been just the democrats. Many presidents, Democrat & Republican have come through the White House & done nothing about getting us off of foreign oil, or have some sort of energy policy so just singling out the democrats is crazy but I see it is the popular thing to do these days. It aint just the democrats faults, it's all the powers to be that run this country & who has run this country for decades.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 6:14:18 PM , Rating: 2
You don't HAVE that much oil to refine. >That's< the problem. The US has been dependent on foreign oil since 1974.

RE: why limit it?
By Rugar on 7/9/2008 8:39:57 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm... true and untrue. The US certainly HAS more oil to refine. For various reasons, we have just chosen not to recover it. Big difference. Further, we have chosen not to include recoverable oil from oil shale in our reserve calculation even though it represents a roughly 100 year supply at current consumption levels. Nor do we include potential use of coal for oil.

It's there, the US has just chosen not to go after it.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 2:00:57 AM , Rating: 2
Is oil shale this tar-like oil-sand, or is it in Canada only? The problem as I know is that it's pretty expensive to extract it?

RE: why limit it?
By Screwballl on 7/10/2008 11:26:25 AM , Rating: 2
with the massive profits big oil is making nowadays, it is a worthy venture now... and it is not only in Canada, some in North Dakota are making money off of it too

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/11/2008 2:39:17 AM , Rating: 2
That was a nice article, thanks :)

(I remeber I read about the canadian tar-sand about 7-8 years ago but of course tech gets better).

RE: why limit it?
By Oregonian2 on 7/9/2008 4:59:13 PM , Rating: 3
First of all, it was debunked very easily and prolifically.

Secondly your idea about :

would have meant a quick death for big oil and thus a majority of the automaker's companies as well...

doesn't even make sense. Why would GM give a rip? In the scenario you are trying to portray GM would have taken over the entire auto market with their electric car. They rule the world. GM would have a problem with that scenario? You're arguing that they'd be utterly afraid of it (and aren't now, btw, with the Volt). They'd have given anything to have successfully achieved the scenario you say they were afraid of. So I take your argument as totally unconvincing. If the movie presented this idea, that says how weak their arguments were.

P.S. - If it were such a great car they'd just crank up production of the already-done design yesterday to fight Toyota (etc) instead of developing the Volt, or was the design paperwork burnt as to keep it secret?

RE: why limit it?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 5:34:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, the amount that "big oil" would have to pay to make it worth the auto manufacturers' while to forgo getting into a growing market would be absolutely staggering. They'd have to give them more than anything they stood to make in the next 10, 20 years, or more.

That number would be well into the trillions if electric cars were really the wave of the future. Even if the oil companies could cough that up, they'd still come out ahead spending the money to get into other businesses. They're not that dumb.

RE: why limit it?
By 4play on 7/9/2008 3:34:56 PM , Rating: 2
Well then they should've continued to produce them sell them and stock spare parts, no? Instead they completely axed the whole program all together.

I personally believe that it was CARB's fault (due to obvious pressure/lobbying), as they dropped the 0 emissions mandate. Immedietly afterwards ALL manufacturers dropped their EVs.

RE: why limit it?
By Solandri on 7/9/2008 3:57:31 PM , Rating: 2
You just gave the best evidence debunking the electric car conspiracy:
I personally believe that it was CARB's fault (due to obvious pressure/lobbying), as they dropped the 0 emissions mandate. Immedietly afterwards ALL manufacturers dropped their EVs.

So either ALL manufacturers are conspiring against EVs, or they just didn't make economic sense at that point in time.

You can't legislate reality. You can pass a law saying there must be EVs or flying cars, or that gravity must be reduced so people aren't so overweight, but it's probably not going to make it so. What you can legislate are incentives or disincentives. Make it cheaper to put electric technologies in cars, or more expensive to make/sell/use petroleum-powered vehicles.

RE: why limit it?
By 4play on 7/9/2008 4:46:30 PM , Rating: 2
But they axed the whole program. They promoted hydrogen cars as the future tech that will one day save us; they spend billions in R&D on it. But they already had something as green with the infrastructure in place (power lines) and they never touted it.

Why is it that they wanted to develop hydrogen so bad, even though it requires a non-existent infrastructure and has no benefit over EV's (minus the charge time).

I never even knew that the EV1 was sold to the public till I saw the film, yet I knew all about the Hy-wire.

As far as conspiracies go I'm sure Oil companies prefer hydrogen tech as hydrogen would obviously be distributed at gas stations, while EV owners would charge at home.

RE: why limit it?
By Oregonian2 on 7/9/2008 5:08:01 PM , Rating: 2
Not sure which "they" are doing the axing, but the various motorcar companies (other than Ford who just sits back and waits for the others to figure things out) have programs in multiple fields and opposing directions. As the head honcho of GM said in a youtube interview a while back, they aren't putting all of their eggs in a single basket. They're going in multiple directions and hoping one of them is the winner.

As to big industry influence, it doesn't matter which way wins, there will still be a huge amount of energy being generated and distributed to move the cars around -- and there will be huge monies paying for it. So if big oil doesn't like something, there's big-something-else who does (whomever who would be replacing them). Only solutions like having 80000% efficient solar panels on the car that can power the engines real-time indefinitely would get rid of big-power business influence, but even then the power-panel businesses backed by major corporations would then be involved.

RE: why limit it?
By soloman02 on 7/9/2008 6:07:48 PM , Rating: 2
Hydrogen will NEVER take off. Why? Because someone way back when (IE: 30+ years ago), successfully lobbied congress and now there is a federal law banning the distribution of hydrogen and gasoline at the same station. Either you serve hydrogen or gasoline, not both. This means that it will cost tens of billions to deploy hydrogen infrastructure since new stations on new property have to be built. It also means that existing stations have to be converted to serve only hydrogen, and that is still rather expensive.

Now with all the profits the oil companies are making they could afford this however there is one small problem. The vast majority or oil companies do not own the stations. The gas stations are basically franchises where the oil company leases out the right to use the "Mobil" name. Most gas station owners do not have the funds to embark on retrofitting their station for hydrogen only.

RE: why limit it?
By Solandri on 7/9/2008 6:16:44 PM , Rating: 2
Why is it that they wanted to develop hydrogen so bad, even though it requires a non-existent infrastructure and has no benefit over EV's (minus the charge time).

Because EVs are essentially a "solved" problem. We know how to make highly efficient electric motors, regenerative braking, plug-in chargers, even inductive chargers. The efficiencies are already so high (except for inductive charging) that you can't get much return for your R&D dollars. The only thing holding back EVs is battery technology, which already has plenty of R&D demand from hybrids. You don't need to sell pure EVs to drive battery research. (In fact, the hybrid was the solution to the pure EV's battery capacity problem.)

Hydrogen fuel cells OTOH are a relatively new technology with lots of potential for improvement for each R&D dollar spent. Why spend billions of dollars trying to improve something from 94% efficiency to 95% efficiency, when you can spend it on something which could go from 20% efficiency to 50% efficiency?

I'm sure the oil companies would prefer hydrogen vehicles over electric vehicles too. But the oil companies don't make cars. Car companies make cars. And the car companies will make whatever cars make them the most money, be they gasoline, diesel, electric, hybrid, or hydrogen.

RE: why limit it?
By Akazar on 7/9/2008 10:50:08 PM , Rating: 2
If there is no conspiracy explain why we haven't had any huge increase in mpg on cars in the last ten years. We've huge increases in computers, cell phones, even car electronics but still the avg mpg of a normal car is pretty much the same as in the 90s. And that's really why gas is so high. More cars all over the world. Yet no increases in mpg.

We even usb popcorn makers, and robot vacuum cleaners and best we can get is 25-35mpg on a small gas car?

RE: why limit it?
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 11:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
> "If there is no conspiracy explain why we haven't had any huge increase in mpg on cars in the last ten years. We've huge increases in computers, cell phone, even car electronics".

Cars are not computers. Electronics is a much newer technology than the internal combustion engine -- progress is therefore much faster. Seen many advances in toilet technology lately? Same concept.

But more importantly, we *have* seen many advances in engine efficiency. The problem is those have been largely eaten up by government mandates for emissions and safety, as well as our new reformulated gasolines which are substantially less energetic than the gas sold in the 1970s.

Given your average car today weighs about 50% more than a similar vehicle from the 1980s, emits anywhere from 1/10 to 1/100 the emissions, and runs on a gas that, while cleaner, is inferior for efficiency -- I'd say that achieving about the same MPG is an amazing accomplishment.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 12:21:00 AM , Rating: 2
"Seen many advances in toilet technology lately?"

I'll bet You can in Japan :))

RE: why limit it?
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/10/2008 11:43:25 AM , Rating: 2
That and the fact that IC engines are inherently utterly inefficient. The best engines out there don't even get near 40% efficiency, that is, 40% of the energy going to the wheels generating motion, and the other 60% wasted as heat.
In fact I've read that most indirect injection IC engines don't even reach a 30% efficiency.

I, by now, don't care as much about emissions as for efficiency.

Also I don't believe in any conspiracy here, it was easier to stick and gradually patch a proven, really old technology like the ICE without really thinking about alternative ways of propulsion.

This is the reason I'm mildly excited about all electric cars while hybrids just make me yawn... All of this speaking from a technological point of view, of course, not about fuel consumption or emission figures.

I think the car industry needs to really wake up and come up with completely new propulsion schemes, rather than just worry about the alternative fuel factor while keeping some sort of ICE dependency.

RE: why limit it?
By Spuke on 7/10/2008 5:01:27 PM , Rating: 2
I think the car industry needs to really wake up and come up with completely new propulsion schemes
What tech do you propose they use and are going to buy it once it's available?

RE: why limit it?
By Spuke on 7/10/2008 5:02:10 PM , Rating: 2
Crap! Are YOU going to buy this tech once it's available?

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/9/08, Rating: -1
RE: why limit it?
By Jay2tall on 7/10/2008 9:01:42 AM , Rating: 1
I saw that film on On-Demand a while back. VERY interesting. I think the death of the EV-1 was caused by Big Oil and the Government. They made laws which caused GM to basically not want to mass produce the car. No one was allowed to buy the car, it was a lease only vehicle. The interviews are very interesting because everyone who owned the vehicles, loved them. Search EV-1 on the internet, there are several sites about how this vehicles was so fantastic. GM even created an elaborate infrastructure to charge them at specific locations in the California area. All a big waste when they canned the car. If we had this technology back then, and was PROVEN, what is the holdup now? People are very leery to step away from a gas car to all electric, but that is where it will go. As batteries become smaller, lighter, cheaper, and more recyclable, you will see all electric cars pop up all over. I think Big Oil is starting to loose its grip on car manufactures like GM, Ford, and Chrysler. They are not selling their gas guzzling cars, when Big Brother Oil is racking in at $4 a gallon? I thing this is the difference between the EV-1 time and the current time. Gas was not $4 then, it is now, and it's crunch time. When was the last time you saw BMW make anything that was a flop? I think BMW it testing with these handful of vehicles. You can road test a vehicle all you want on the BMW testing grounds, but you can never recreate actual driving condition or wear and tear endured by the average or abusive vehicle owner. The mini is a retro, well liked, vehicle. It is new to the US but has a very good history in England. It's size and popularity make is a good candidate for an all electric vehicle produced by BMW. Leave it to the Germans to do it right. They do make great vehicles. Japan does do. They are both very innovative in their thinking. We may have invented the car, but they made it better. History tends to repeat itself, hopefully this is the case.

RE: why limit it?
By Reclaimer77 on 7/9/2008 6:47:31 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know, but the only thing more gay than a Mini, is an electric Mini.

Figures that it would go to the gayest state in the country.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 12:23:18 AM , Rating: 2
Well - it happens that this "gay" mini will stand up to the acceleration of "not-so-gay" cars. How gay is that, for a change :)

RE: why limit it?
By Spuke on 7/10/2008 9:40:17 AM , Rating: 2
Where are you getting your acceleration numbers from? I haven't seen any.

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/11/2008 2:45:26 AM , Rating: 2
Common sense :)

RE: why limit it?
By Clauzii on 7/11/2008 2:50:29 AM , Rating: 2
RE: why limit it?
By Haltech on 7/9/2008 7:59:00 PM , Rating: 2
its called test marketing. See what the future customer thinks, what needs changing/fixing adding subtracting. General opinion of the car itself. If it turns out if nobody likes the idea of plugging in cars its best to flop on a smaller project than a mass-marketed full scale project. And only gas companies only matter in lobbyist money, not neccesarily actually the cars. Lobbyist killed the electric car in my opinion.

RE: why limit it?
By mmcdonalataocdotgov on 7/10/2008 7:48:06 AM , Rating: 2
This is a test market vehicle. They don't know if the technology will work, and they are testing the vehicle on a receptive audience to work out the bugs. If they decide to go forward (like GM didn't with the EV1) then they will ramp up to worldwide production levels, and probably jack up the price of the car, to boot!

By fic2 on 7/9/2008 2:34:09 PM , Rating: 2
Hopefully it will be something like this:

electric Mini with 4x160HP electric motors and an on-board ICE to charge the batteries. 80 mpg!

RE: Hopefully
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/9/2008 3:16:02 PM , Rating: 2
Interesting, but there's something I don't quite get:

A car the size of a mini, with 640hp, should be able to beat the hell out of a 620hp McLaren F1 that has a top speed of 230mph vs 150 on the mini, and a a 0-60 time of 3.2" vs this mini's 4.5".

Where do all those huge hp get lost on this mini, specially considering the fact that electric engines deliver lots of torque and in a pretty constant manner, contrary to ICE engines which most of the time display steep power and torque delivery curves

RE: Hopefully
By Cullinaire on 7/9/2008 3:55:12 PM , Rating: 2
The top speed is dependent on aerodynamics - drag & downforce. Certainly the Mini could be made to go faster, but would it be safe?

Acceleration is more than just power - I am quite certain that the F1's tires are many times the size of the (upgraded) Mini's. The Mini could have 10x the power, but if it can't transmit it to the pavement it will not accelerate any faster.

RE: Hopefully
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/9/2008 6:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
In this case aerodynamics are not the problem. I'm sure that the mini's SCx (frontal area surface times drag coefficient) is about the same as the F1's (because, even though the Mclaren surely has a better Cx, its frontal area surface is not as it is a much bigger car).

I buy the idea that in the case of this mini, the max RPM of the electric motor is the limiting factor as you can't easily implement gear ratios having 4 different motors, so they chose a single fixed ratio that would allow it to have a good acceleration and a good top speed, but not the absolut best for either.

About the wheel size, only makes a difference when the weight distribution makes it necessary. Otherwise, the extra grip of wider tires helps you more on cornering and directional stability at high speeds than on straight line acceleration, as the contact patch (the part of a tyre that stays in contact with the ground) helps to attain a better traction when it is longer than wider. A too wide contact patch won't give you a much better handling and what's worse, will diminish traction on low adherence conditions.

Acceleration is basically determined by power to weight ratio, and transfer ratios. The problem of wheels impeding a better acceleration happens when the applied torque is high enough to make the wheel spin, and that happens even on supercars with ultra wide and pretty big wheels. That which should make the spin less likely is a totally slick tyre and a compound soft enough to make the wheel more "adhesive" to the road's surface, rather than just the width.

For example, on F1 cars, nowadays they don't have wheels as wide as they were able to have back on the 80's, but even then today's F1 cars are even faster than they were back then.

RE: Hopefully
By fic2 on 7/9/2008 7:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Nice comment. I know when you were talking about wheel spin it wasn't from the point of view of electric cars since electric cars generally don't have wheel spin - it is taken out by the software.

RE: Hopefully
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 9:15:15 PM , Rating: 2
Gas cars can have wheel spin removed also. It's called traction control. Some cars TC's are more draconian than others. There's no magic TC for electric cars.

RE: Hopefully
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 11:15:06 PM , Rating: 2
About the wheel size, only makes a difference when the weight distribution makes it necessary. Otherwise, the extra grip of wider tires helps you more on cornering and directional stability at high speeds than on straight line acceleration, as the contact patch (the part of a tyre that stays in contact with the ground) helps to attain a better traction when it is longer than wider
Basic physics: the size of the contact patch doesn't affect traction -- a larger patch means less weight per unit area, which exactly cancels out the extra area in contact.

This only becomes untrue in a few special cases. A larger contact patch means more rubber in contact with the cases where the tire is skidding (hard cornering) or accelerating fast enough to spin the tires, it means more rubber to heat up and melt, which means better traction. In the case of wet road conditions, the opposite is usually true...a smaller, skinnier tire is going to grip better, as the extra weight per unit area prevents hydroplaning.

But for general driving conditions -- larger tires do *not* equal more traction.

RE: Hopefully
By DeepBlue1975 on 7/10/2008 12:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
Completely true, thanks for the addendum. That's about what I tried to say up there, but didn't express it clearly.

And just another bit:

When I said that weight and weight distribution can justify bigger wheels, it is partly because of the load a tire can withstand. As you correctly stated, a wider tire distributes less weight per area of surface. That's why wider tires usually have higher load ratings and also higher speed ratings, as the heat from higher rolling speeds can be dissipated better on a tire that is under less pressure and has a greater overall size, including the radius (that's because, obviously, a wheel with a bigger perimeter spins slower than a smaller one at the same speed).

The thing I'm not too sure about is this: is it correct to assume that a given tire has a maximum contact patch size, and so different weight distributions actually need wider tires to keep that contact patch size within acceptable limits?

RE: Hopefully
By jRaskell on 7/9/2008 5:32:42 PM , Rating: 2
That's the beauty of gear boxes. That Mini has 4 electric motors tied directly to it's 4 wheels. The McLaren has a 620hp engine that goes through a 6 speed gear box to the drive wheels.

On the launch, gear multiplication provides the McLaren with FAR more torque to the pavement than the Mini is capable of. As it shifts through each gear, the advantage diminishes and fades, but only well after it hits 60mph.

Because the Mini does not have a gear box, it's top speed is directly limited by the max RPMs of it's motors. This is what we call gear limited, not aero limited. Because the McLaren has 6 gears available, it's got a much higher top speed.

At best, the Mini will have better mid-range acceleration than the McLaren. And, of course, better fuel economy. Even though electric motors generate the same torque throughout their entire RPM range, there are still advantages to pumping that power through a gearbox. That's difficult to do with 4 seperate motors each power an individual wheel though.

RE: Hopefully
By rcc on 7/9/2008 5:44:58 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, but your ICE is RPM limited, not too many can run at 20,000 RPM. Electric motors don't have that problem. A gearbox is necessary for an ICE car, and I can see where it could be nice elsewhere. But it is a source of power transfer inefficiency as well.

RE: Hopefully
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 9:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
You need a transmission in an electric car too. See Tesla. Where are you guys getting this stuff?

RE: Hopefully
By rcc on 7/10/2008 7:15:47 PM , Rating: 2
No, you don't.

Tesla choose to use one. They have a single electric motor connected to a drive line, etc. Very different than an electric motor on each wheel.

In essence, they are making a car with an electric motor. Not an electric "native mode" car.

RE: Hopefully
By hippypig on 7/9/2008 9:58:22 PM , Rating: 2
I'd say that car, if real, will make someone billions.
Just build it and sell it in the usa. At anywhere near a reasonable price.
You're Rick James,!!!

This would be the perfect car for me.
By redsquid5 on 7/9/2008 1:10:57 PM , Rating: 2
My commute is through on narrow, winding roads in hilly country and I get horrible gas milage as I alternately power uphill and brake downhill. The distance I travel would be well within the range of a moderate sized battery pack. Like most families, we have two cars - the other car being a hybrid Civic - so when we need to do the 400 mile trip in a day, we use that car.
I think there are many folks in a similar situation, with the option to have a mini-car with limited range for commute purposes. I've thought about getting a cycle, but that doesn't work for safety and weather reasons, unfortunately.
So what would I pay for the car? I get 25mpg, at 12,500 miles/year, $4.50 gallon gas (CA), thats $2250. I've seen figures for other electric cars at 5 miles/kwh, so electricity at $.10 a kwh would cost me (12,500/5)*.1 = $250
So savings of $2000 a year. I'm cheap, so I'd want to be paid back in 7 years, so $14,000 more than the equivalent mini. ( The gas Mini is rated 27 mpg city and requires premium fuel ) Mini MSRP is $18,000; so $32,000 roughly.
I wonder if they can get anywhere near that?

RE: This would be the perfect car for me.
By thornburg on 7/9/2008 1:18:43 PM , Rating: 2
So what would I pay for the car? I get 25mpg, at 12,500 miles/year, $4.50 gallon gas (CA), thats $2250. I've seen figures for other electric cars at 5 miles/kwh, so electricity at $.10 a kwh would cost me (12,500/5)*.1 = $250 So savings of $2000 a year. I'm cheap, so I'd want to be paid back in 7 years, so $14,000 more than the equivalent mini. ( The gas Mini is rated 27 mpg city and requires premium fuel ) Mini MSRP is $18,000; so $32,000 roughly. I wonder if they can get anywhere near that?

You forgot to factor in financing. If you are paying 5% (or any other amount greater than 0%) annual interest on the $32000 vs $18000, the compounding of the interest makes it a nonlinear comparison. I'll take a shot in the dark and guess that puts you around $29000 instead of $32000.

By Oregonian2 on 7/9/2008 2:02:35 PM , Rating: 2
And as a general comment for calculation, although 10-cents/kwh is a good number that's near the US national average, it does vary quite a bit (New England being nearly double the average). Here's a good reference:

P.S. - Basically the closer you get to the PNW the cheaper it gets. Hydro-power in action, I think (also note that local prices vary wildly depending upon area, PNW publicly owned districts who can best benefit from cheap hydro-power for political reasons REALLY get the great rates).

RE: This would be the perfect car for me.
By kilkennycat on 7/9/2008 1:47:12 PM , Rating: 3
And when you are stopped on that hilly road late at night with no power, you had better hope that AAA has a handy diesel-electric generator and several hours to recharge your batteries. Or a handy flat-bed breakdown truck, instead of the friendly gas-can. Also, you had better hope that the electric companies don't pull an Enron trick and jack up the overnight power rates. Sundry electric company CEOs are probably rubbing their hands together in glee anticipating all those captive suckers with all-electric cars.....

As for a Mini hybrid variant instead of all electric... well there might be enough space for the batteries by removing the back seat.

BTW, the original ( non-BMW) Mini was a very fuel-efficient car -- so removing the performance bells and whistles (er, modest engine running on regular fuel...) and some of the associated weight in the existing (BMW) Mini actually would be far, far more sensible than this electric-car gimmick.

The Europeans have had to put up with gas prices double that of the US for umpteen years. Why not take a leaf from their book with regard to the vehicle types and mixes? For cars, a huge majority are gas or diesel with engine capacities less than 2 litres, with relatively very few hybrids thrown in. Sensible fuel conservation has been their key for many years. They also have car-license and other tax structures that severely penalise the owners of gas-guzzlers.

However, the US populace seem to be suckers for poorly thought-out quick-fix "hi-tech solutions" and not willing to learn from the long-term experience of other nations. And there are only too many companies willing to pander to that mentality.

By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 2:26:24 PM , Rating: 2
My car is a 1.3 turbo diesel engine with 75bhp... 4.5L-5.2L/100Km... The tax on this car is very low, and it really is a very reliable car... I pay 49€/year in the "car Tax", as a friend of mine with a BMW 320CDi (diesel) pays 180€/year... bigger engine, bigger tax, that is the rule here in Europe...

By Solandri on 7/9/2008 4:42:31 PM , Rating: 2
Internal combustion engines (ICE, both gas and diesel) operate inefficiently most of the time. They need sufficient low-end torque and power to provide the performance people want, but very little of that power is needed for cruising (a small sedan only needs about 25 hp at highway speeds). Power is torque (energy from cylinder combustion) x RPM, so when starting from a standstill, the low RPM automatically means low power. You need to rev up the engine and your speed in order to get to the meatier part of the power curve. But once you get up to speed, you spend most of your time driving around with the engine RPMs in the weakest part of the torque curve (where it's operating inefficiently).

Electric motors don't have this problem. They can instantly produce their maximum power starting at zero RPM. So a hybrid really is an optimal solution from an engineering standpoint. You use the electric motor to provide gobs of torque and power at low speeds when people want acceleration and responsiveness. The smaller ICE motor provides the endurance needed for long-range cruising. Instead of having to design an ICE with two power peaks (one for acceleration, one for cruising), you only need to design it with one power peak. The electric motor takes care of the second power peak. So now your ICE is more efficient as well. The two technologies combined supplement each other almost perfectly. It really is a match made in heaven.

And braking is where the vast majority of energy gets wasted (converted to heat) in city driving. Thus far you need an electric motor for regenerative braking. There's no way to do it with an ICE yet (a flywheel has been suggested).

The only reason hybrids didn't take off in Europe is because battery technology hadn't progressed to the point where they were viable until the last 10 years. (Some would argue they're still not economically viable without some sort of government subsidy.)

RE: This would be the perfect car for me.
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 4:50:07 PM , Rating: 2
As a side question, the gas mini needs premium? I never knew that. Pretty crappy for a car with so little power.

By Spuke on 7/9/2008 7:04:28 PM , Rating: 2
Only the S versions require premium. Seriously, the cost difference between premium and regular aren't that great. Where I live, the difference is 26 cents/gallon. In my car, that's $3 a week, $12 a month. My wife can drink one less Starbucks coffee a week or I'll take my lunch to work an extra day. Whoop de freakin doo.

How does it handle?
By MrBlastman on 7/9/2008 12:36:25 PM , Rating: 2
The Mini is a great Auto-X car and pretty fun on the track too (tight course)... An all electric variant - this is very interesting.

I wonder if they are going to pork the weight distribution with this modification or will it still be a serious contender in the races? An all-electric racer is quite intriguing.

RE: How does it handle?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:27:53 PM , Rating: 2
Electric Nascar? hum... no sound of an engine... so why would anyone want to pay to see some cars whispering? Races are about impression, noise and strength... I think races should still be on gas...

RE: How does it handle?
By MrBlastman on 7/9/2008 2:02:40 PM , Rating: 2
Have you ever raced before? Not watch it... actually race on a track or a course?

When you are in the race, the last thing you are thinking about is - gee, my car sounds good doesn't it?!

As for Nascar - this is only a matter of opinion, I'd rather watch paint dry than watch a Nascar race. I'll stick to Indy, Rally, Targa and Kart racing before I subject myself to cars going in a circle.

It is all about the lateral g's, twisties and handling. Acceleration and speed are only a means to an end. It is what the driver does through the turns and obstacles that determine their true skill.

RE: How does it handle?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 2:19:34 PM , Rating: 2
I was talking about Nascar, because i thought that is was your preferred (American) Auto Sport... It was just an example... I hate it, just going round... for me it doesn't have value (sorry to all the fans), I like more F1, World Rally, and MotoGP... and Le Mans... :) And the thing about the sound of the engine... I was talking about people that go and PAY to see a show, something that excite them and give them adrenaline... "woosh" cars are not in that category, it's like seeing toy cars running...

RE: How does it handle?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 7:09:45 PM , Rating: 2
Acceleration and speed are only a means to an end. It is what the driver does through the turns and obstacles that determine their true skill.
And none of that matters if no one goes to see it as NASTYCAR has already proven. If you're talking about amateur racing, even the top levels require an audience.

RE: How does it handle?
By MrBlastman on 7/10/2008 2:10:22 PM , Rating: 2
SCCA Solo II requires zero audience to have a good time. :P

RE: How does it handle?
By Spuke on 7/10/2008 5:06:37 PM , Rating: 2
SCCA Solo II requires zero audience to have a good time. :P
For it to exist as a sport it does. ;)

RE: How does it handle?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 8:36:21 PM , Rating: 2
People just would have to love the sound of "Wheeeeeeeeeeeee" instead of "Wroooooooom". If people really like engine noise that much, well the trend is big car-fi's anyway. Buy a CD and get that Mini sound like a roaring Viper if that's preferred :)

Compare to the Volt...
By jskirwin on 7/9/2008 12:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
This vehicle is all electric, while the Chevy Volt is a plug in that can charge its batteries using an onboard ICE.

Of the two modes of which makes more sense for the average driver?

RE: Compare to the Volt...
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 1:25:50 PM , Rating: 2
The onboard ICE is handy to anyone who plans on making longer trips with any level of frequency. If it's strictly a commuter vehicle, plugging it in at night to recharge may be good enough. My guess is that the majority of people would favor the onboard ICE. The thought of getting stranded and not having any easy means to get the car going is a bit discomforting.

RE: Compare to the Volt...
By Oregonian2 on 7/9/2008 1:53:12 PM , Rating: 2
Or if one forgets to plug it in? For me it'd probably be the norm unless they've inductive pads or something that automatically get the recharging going. Or if one gets home late at night and has to leave sleepy-eyed early in the morning. Also, what if one doesn't quite properly judge how much a side-trip to pick up milk on the way home takes? Means that if it's got a 40 mile "range", 10 miles of commute distance may be the maximum practical distance to commute (and not have to be towed on a regular basis). Probably less if traffic is bad, because if it's rated 40 miles, then in fine print we all know it really says "up to 40 miles", and we all knows what that really means.

RE: Compare to the Volt...
By CatfishKhan on 7/9/2008 6:17:24 PM , Rating: 2
Electric only wouldn't be much fun with wide spread power outages. When houses can generate enough power for themselves and a couple of cars, then all electric will have a lot more appeal.

By elanmike on 7/9/2008 12:50:35 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't we get the Diesel with Stop Start that the Europeans get? Is BMW's marketing Dept. that slow?

RE: Mini
By Brandon Hill on 7/9/2008 12:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
They're too busy readying the diesel variants of the 3-Series and X5 for the U.S. market.

RE: Mini
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:24:56 PM , Rating: 2
Nop... they are just selling... 6 months from now they will sell the new BMW XXX with the revolutionary start/stop button technology for an extra 5.000$ ... It's business...

By RunningOnFumes on 7/10/2008 4:04:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have 2 Cng powered cars. One is a 2000 Ford Contour, and the other a 1997 Ford Aerostar. The only drawback with them is the lack of fueling stations nationwide. In Oklahoma, we have plenty, but I can't head north or east without switching to gasoline! Boone Picken's push to power the grid with wind and use the natural gas as a transportation fuel is a commendable effort. I'm waiting to see how the wind power works out, but CNG is Excellent! I can put 130 miles worth in every night with my own compressor. Tax credits bring it down to about 60cents/gal.

By Spuke on 7/10/2008 5:08:15 PM , Rating: 2
I can put 130 miles worth in every night with my own compressor. Tax credits bring it down to about 60cents/gal.
So even if you don't have a CNG car, you have to pay for it anyways. That's awesome!!!!

What are they thinking?
By Cheapshot on 7/9/2008 12:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
If they offer these to Californians... they will eat them up in a matter of seconds!

I wonder if BMW is just testing the waters here... I imagine there will be more pre-orders for the car before they even get the last car off the assembly line.

By SuperFly03 on 7/9/2008 1:04:41 PM , Rating: 2
Well considering the increased cost over any gas version you will actually be paying more to get into an electric car than you will save in gas.

Gas prices are rough but the increase in gas prices eats up maybe 2k/year in disposable income. It's more about the perception that it is tearing a hole in economy than it actually is.

Not feasable at this time
By Ray 69 on 7/9/2008 4:58:46 PM , Rating: 2
Where the idea of switching to electric powered vehicles sounds like a good idea I admit, converting the nations vehicle fleet over to electric would probably not be possible for at least 10 to 15 years. Why you may ask? It's because this country's electrical infrastructure, as it is today, is already straining to provide power for many regions of the US.

How many times have you heard of rolling black/brown outs in California (and other areas) because their electrical demands were too high? By adding millions of electric vehicles that need to be plugged in to charge to an already strained infrastructure will cause major problems. More electric power plants (aka nuclear) would have to be added to meet the higher power demands of an all electric fleet.

IMO the better alternative to petroleum fueled vehicles would be the hydrogen fuel cell powered vehicles. Zero emissions, minimal impact on existing electrical infrastructure and ability to fuel-up and go like gas powered vehicles makes more sense.

Zero emissions my arse
By Denigrate on 7/9/2008 5:11:16 PM , Rating: 2
According to Automotive News, BMW has plans to lease 490 all-electric Minis to California residents. Ten additional vehicles will be used on the auto show circuit to showcase BMW's prowess in zero-emissions vehicles.

What a load of crap. The electricity will likely mostly come from coal power plants which are the dirtiest source of power we use. Not to mention the damage done to the environment from mining for the battery materials.

By foxtrot9 on 7/9/08, Rating: -1
RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 12:56:54 PM , Rating: 2
For me it is good news... oil prices suck and are bringing the world economy down... i'm paying 200€/month just to go to work... on a diesel car!! My country just made a contract with renault-nissan to develop and bring to Portugal (Europe) electric cars until 2010, until then we'll build the infrastructures to suply electricity to the cars. It's good for companies like bmw, mercedes and others to build and test these cars... no more oil slavery... :D

RE: News?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 1:10:35 PM , Rating: 2
So what happens when you want to drive across country? Even the $100,000 Tesla will only supposedly go 200 miles. Then you need to charge it for several hours.

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:22:18 PM , Rating: 1
That is why my government is starting to build the "electric gas stations" before 2010... just don't know how much will be the electric bill :) Those cars will pay less 30% tax (the other 70% are going to environmental ministry )... In the last 3 years, we're being heavily investing in renewable resources... we duplicated our electricity production with more efficient dams and wind propellers (sorry, don't know how to explain)... I think that this is the way to go... (sorry for bad english, not very used to write in your language) :P

RE: News?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 1:30:45 PM , Rating: 2
Electric "fueling" stations are an interesting concept, but to be practical, charging time may need to be greatly reduced.

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:37:25 PM , Rating: 2
You are right about that... the time to fill a battery car... I guess they'll recharge at night, and when u arrive at work u put it to charge again... it depends on the capacity/autonomy of the battery... There's always the Fred Flintstone approach :D:D

RE: News?
By choadenstein on 7/9/2008 3:38:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know if this would be that hard of a problem to overcome, if cars and stations were properly designed.

Instead of charging batteries, simply have them swapped out for fully charged batteries that the stations could keep on hand. Stations would then charge the dead batteries.

Think of your cell phone (as long as it is not an iPhone). When your battery dies, you can slap on a new battery and you get a full charge right away, and you can put the spare battery in a charger.

Of course, the problem with this would be that the gas... err... battery stations would likely be bearing the brunt of wear and tear cost on the batteries... And I have no idea how much that would add to the cost of a full charge battery - I assume it would be quite a lot...

At any rate, I only make this point to state that it would be possible to have a system where electric powered cars could be feasible for long distance trips. Of course, a lot would have to change - and little ever does.

RE: News?
By blaster5k on 7/9/2008 4:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
It's probably not feasible to replace the battery itself -- they're quite large. Plus, do you want to take someone's battery not knowing what abuse it's received? My brand new battery could get replaced by one with over 100,000 miles on it!

Fast charging technologies could make such stations more viable. It'll be interesting to see if batteries alone can get the job done, or hydrogen becomes the fuel of choice for on-the-go refueling. Or perhaps something else entirely.

RE: News?
By choadenstein on 7/9/2008 7:02:00 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I was trying to insinuate in my post that the current technology would need to be adapted to such a battery changing system. Instead of 1 large battery, there could be arrays of smaller batteries - much like how a flashlight or remote control uses 2 or more smaller batteries. Then they could easily be swapped out.

Also, as I said in my post, the battery switching stations would be taking on the wear and tear issues on the battery... Which would likely include testing the battery before it was reused. So you wouldn't be thinking, "oh crap, I just got a battery with 100,000 miles on it, I'm screwed," because the batteries would no longer be considered part of the car. You then would be looking at batteries like a tank of gas. Getting a bad battery would be like getting a bad tank of gas. Which, hopefully like getting a bad tank of gas, rarely, if ever, happens.

Still, this is all hypothetical - especially since one of the major price issues with electric cars to day is the high cost of these batteries... The battery changing stations would have to have some serious incentives to take on that kind of financial risk. Of course new innovations in battery technology or government subsidies may help.

Who knows...

RE: News?
By Clauzii on 7/9/2008 8:25:47 PM , Rating: 2
I could see battery swapping as a good solution with some nice advantages, which have been brought up here in Europe too. It would be like You rent the batteries (which would then pay for the maintanance/use of the swap/charge stations too). The batteries should be made as an removable unit that some kind of robotic rail-system could lift off and change automatically. Like a 'plate-of-power' under the trunk. The whole exchange could take less than 1 min.

RE: News?
By hippypig on 7/9/2008 9:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
The high cost of the batteries is the reason your battery swap idea won't work anytime soon. No one wants to exchange their two week old batteries for 4 year old batteries. Analogous to engine swapping. Replacement batteries are ten grand? Not going to happen until batteries are as cheap as the propane tanks on bbq grills.

RE: News?
By masher2 on 7/9/2008 11:08:12 PM , Rating: 2
Plus, do you want to take someone's battery not knowing what abuse it's received? My brand new battery could get replaced by one with over 100,000 miles on it!
And two days later, when you roll in for a recharge, you give that old battery back and get a brand new one in exchange. It evens out.

Such problems can be solved, if enough demand exists and battery prices continue to drop. The larger problem is the size and weight of the battery pack, and the dangers present during a swap.

RE: News?
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 12:19:14 AM , Rating: 2
Pretty much like You swap a battery in a Laptop. Scaled up, but same principle. A locking mechanism under the car, reached by a robot arm in the ground. At the back, a grabbing mechanism could draw the battery pack out. And push a new one in. I really don't see the problem. Even switcing off some main relay at the same time (to avoid sparks) would be possible.

RE: News?
By Schrag4 on 7/9/2008 1:35:41 PM , Rating: 2
"electric gas stations" don't make any sense to me since it takes significant time to charge the batteries. That is, unless, they simply swap our the batteries entirely with freshly charged ones. I doubt that though, because if you were running such a station, would you trust the batteries that you would take out of a stranger's car? If you were a customer, would you take some other stranger's freshly charged batteries as replacements for yours?

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:42:46 PM , Rating: 2
I read the news, a little bit fast, and i think the story is a little bit vague... but they did talk about replacing batteries, now, i just don't know if they replaceable batteries at those "electric gas stations", or if those batteries are for the mechanics and stuff... I'm just excited because this could be a way to leave the oil crisis... only Denmark and Israel have already licensed electric cars in their countries, I think this is the way to go...

RE: News?
By Doormat on 7/9/2008 3:02:07 PM , Rating: 2
Actually there are groups working towards standards for "palletized power" - but essentially you'd pay a yearly fee to a company that would setup "electric refueling stations" that would charge batteries and swap them out upon arrival.

But honestly I don't think it'll work. Too many issues with removing batteries and replacing them with others from a warranty perspective, wear issues, etc.

RE: News?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 3:48:58 PM , Rating: 2
Even if you could do it, the batteries easily weigh at least 100 pounds. You can't just swap that out.

RE: News?
By kkwst2 on 7/9/2008 4:28:38 PM , Rating: 3
You want to drive cross-country in a Mini? Why? And you would certainly be nuts to want to take a Tesla cross country. That's not their purpose.

And I'm not sure what you mean by "Even the $100,000 Tesla...". They're expensive because they're fast (big electric motor), not because they're made to go far.

So, take your other car - your Volt, or your Jetta TDI, on that cross-country trip.

Better yet, take a plane or a train. One of the real shames in the US government is that it has shifted too many resources away from infrastructure. We should have high speed trains connecting our coasts by now. Instead we have aging interstates clogged up with SUV's and trucks.

RE: News?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 4:47:35 PM , Rating: 2
Umm...that was my point. They're not made to, nor are they even able to. And from the sound of it, he lives in Europe so drives to other nations are quite common.

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/10/2008 3:12:01 AM , Rating: 2
Nop... I live in Europe, but all I want is to go to work... cheeeapp :)To go to other countries they needed that "electric gas stations", and as the news I read stated, only Denmark, Israel and now Portugal are making this change to electric vehicles... If I ever need to leave my country, I'll just pick up a plain and rent a car when I arrive to my destination.

RE: News?
By Haltech on 7/9/2008 8:01:11 PM , Rating: 2
which is why Chevy made the Tesla that is 3/4 electric and 1/4 small generator that generates electricity that uses normal gas.

RE: News?
By Clauzii on 7/10/2008 2:19:59 AM , Rating: 2
Not this Tesla, if it's the Roadster You are talking about - It's 100% electric:

RE: News?
By Hiawa23 on 7/9/2008 1:25:41 PM , Rating: 2
I guess, like you I am glad, but these electric cars does nothing for my 1997 Honda Civic, or 2006 Mitsu Lancer Ralliart. I am all for the eco push, but, everyone are not going to rush out, or can even afford to buy these cars when they are available. I live here in Central Florida & it costs me $230/month in fuel to go to work. I guess most of us are just screwed as there is nothing no one will or can do to bring down fuel costs anytime soon. My cars run on fuel, my electric bill, food costs are high becuase of fuel prices, so I want to know what can be done to bring that down.

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:33:49 PM , Rating: 2
Those prices will come down, because oil wouldn't have so much demand... cereals wouldn't be sold to make fuel for those alternative ethanol (i think!) cars... Dude, I have a Opel Corsa 1.3 CDTi (small diesel engine 75bhp, 4,5L-5,2/100Km), he is no match for your cars... :) your cars eat way more gas :)

I think that building and using electric cars, is a start to have a cleaner world and a cheaper world... one step at a time... :)

RE: News?
By FITCamaro on 7/9/2008 3:51:05 PM , Rating: 2
Cleaner and cheaper for who?

Electric cars are far more expensive than gas powered cars. Plus tiny electric cars are not practical for families.

And battery production is hardly a clean industry.

RE: News?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 9:12:15 PM , Rating: 2
Those prices will come down, because oil wouldn't have so much demand
Is that so? With China's consumption alone almost at US levels, that's not going to happen anytime soon. China AND India are buying SUV's and such right now. They are also having HUGE industrial growth. Their demand for oil will only increase MORE before all is said and done.

Why does everyone think that once the US demand for oil goes down then prices for oil will go down as well? There are TWO huge budding capitalist countries at the ready to dwarf us. Those two alone will keep prices continually rising.

RE: News?
By V3ctorPT on 7/9/2008 1:54:46 PM , Rating: 2
I just thought of one thing... In the U.S you don't have natural gas powered cars? I have a friend that just converted this Audi A3 1.8 to a gas car... 1L unleaded = 1.50€, 1L os natural gas= 0.56€... It's safe as far as I know, I never heard of a gas car exploding in my country in 12years since the first natural gas cars appeared.

RE: News?
By rcc on 7/9/2008 5:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
I remember seeing propane/natural gas vehicles in the US back when I was a kid. er. about 40 years ago. They didn't catch on well. Mostly I believe because of the volume requirements for the fuel tank. And concerns about safety.

RE: News?
By Solandri on 7/9/2008 6:29:42 PM , Rating: 2
CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles are usually government or public transit vehicles (buses) here. IIRC, the tank volume requirements are much larger than for gasoline. A CNG sedan's tank would take up most of the trunk space, while only offering half the range of an equivalent gasoline sedan. So it's mostly used in trucks and buses where the additional tank volume doesn't adversely impact the vehicle's functionality.

Also, it's impossible to compare 1L of unleaded to 1L of CNG unless you know the pressure of the CNG. Low pressure and you'll get a lot fewer km on 1L of CNG than unleaded. High pressure and you could theoretically get a lot more km. And you probably haven't heard of one exploding (leaking really) because there are so few of them in use. Gas leaks are a lot harder to spot than liquid leaks.

RE: News?
By Spuke on 7/9/2008 9:13:19 PM , Rating: 2
There are CNG powered cars but most are commercial vehicles. There is a Honda Civic CNG car and someone at work owns it.

RE: News?
By mino on 7/10/2008 12:35:44 PM , Rating: 2
The main reason CNG or LPG is popular in EU are the taxes.
There are no taxes on CNG or LPG.

The EU supports this because of emissions - especially the LPG is comparable to gasoline in energy density while having almost no toxic emissions except the ones from burned oil.

In the US, from the price POW, CNG does not make sense.
As for LPG, it may be a good idea as it is pretty easy to make LPG form coal - i.e. much easier than make gasoline form coal.

Also most gasoline engines require only minor changes for LPG use.

As for Hybrids, the are the future. Electricity for comuting and gasoline/LPG for long trips is a very efficient solution.

As for Electric power stations, IMHO 15minutes charging to ~50% capacity would be achievable and also acceptable by most people. You just have a cofee or go to a toilet and voila, 15 minutes have passed ...

RE: News?
By barbh on 8/6/2008 6:12:41 PM , Rating: 2
I wish we were as close as you hope for, but even for these ridiculous prices most batteries can't charge that fast.

50% charge over two hours is about as good as can be expected most likely for 2010 models most likely.

The cost will probably be at least $35-45k for the Mini. Someone mentioned that a retail price doesn't matter doesn't understand how financing is done. They're is a quid pro quo relationship between a price of a car (retail or wholesale) and the price of the monthly lease payment.

BMW is a tight fisted company, they are not going to offer these for cheap. To be fair, they are the last remaining company that is majority owned by an extended family.

ALSO: Please note that the Minis and BMWs are NOT good for electrical for one key reason. They are VERY safe and are thus VERY, VERY heavy... esp. given their size. Far heavier than the Lotus based Tesla.

And yes, 200 mile range is an issue with the Tesla. And that's only when "babying" the car.

But these are all good first steps.

Why the electrical cars? To satisfy CA requirements now that BMW is going to classified as a "Large" mfr. Some great "greenwashing" PR as well.

The hydrogen 7-series and all the rest is a joke. Hydrogen takes up so much energy AND water to make... it is an ecological disaster which they've used as a "rope a dope" to not handle current and nearby issues. And a play to satisfy the oil companies.

For the record, I don't like Micheal Moore movies and am not into conspiracy theories. But it's hard to believe the "killing of the electrical car" was done by anything other than the Big Auto manufacturers!

They did the same thing with the trolleys --- along with Standard Oil and Firestone. As investigated by "60 Minutes."

Remember, electrical cars don't need the maintenance that today's normal cars do. This will murder the auto dealer and auto companies bottom lines! They make far more money here than they do when selling the cars! Esp. the dealers!

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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