Electric-powered Mini E
* Latest from Los Angeles Auto Show * What Car? reporting live from the show * Latest news as it happens...
A Mini powered from the mains has been unveiled at the Los Angeles show and the company is even getting Americans to pay to help develop it.
Thst hasn't stopped 10,000 of them applying for one of the 500 electric Minis that will be leased to customers in California, New York and New Jersey three states with the toughest emissions laws for $850 a month.
The feedback from these trials will help Mini decide whether to put the plug-in car into series production.
There are a couple of drawbacks with the super-clean, super-green Mini, however. To make space for the lithium-ion battery pack and electric motor, the rear seats have had to go.
Sensibly, then, the Mini Electric is available only as a coup: there are no Clubman or convertible versions.
There are also restrictions on how far you can go before needing a charge-up. The range is around 135 miles, though that will tumble if you drive the car hard.
A similar brake energy regeneration system to that on petrol and diesel Minis helps top up the batteries on the move: when you slow down it puits juice back into the batteries.
Customers will be provided with a special charging point and heavy-duty lead at home and will be able to recharge the car in less than three hours, but elsewhere a full top-up could take five times as long.
Performance from the 204bhp electric motor is comparable to that of a Mini Cooper it takes around eight seconds to reach 60mph from standstill and you'll have the knowledge that your only emissions are those creasted in producing electricity at the power station.