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More Drivers Sought to Lease Electric MINI

 

The search is on for 20 drivers to take part in phase two of a pioneering trial to

test the UK's first ever electric MINIs. Phase one of the trial is currently

underway, the first 20 MINI E pioneers took ownership of their electric MINIs in

December 2009 and are due to hand them back in June.

 

People living in a triangular geographical area between Andover, Oxford and West

London will be able to take part in the ground-breaking project and so interested

drivers are being urged to fill out the online application form at

www.electricMINI.co.uk  

 

The Government-backed trial, run by a BMW Group-led consortium including Southern

Electric and regional development agency SEEDA, will evaluate the technical and

social aspects of living with an all-electric car in every day life.

 

The drivers chosen will be able to lease the two-seater cars from September 2010 for

six months. Southern Electric will install a free home charging point for each car,

as well as a network of public charging points, so the cars can be 'topped up'

whilst drivers are out and about.  The car can also be charged from a standard three

pin socket.

 

The monthly lease fee will be £330 a month, including VAT, insurance* and

maintenance (*subject to conditions).  Thanks to the consortium being awarded part

of a £25m fund by the British Government's Technology Strategy Board, this is £220

less than the standard monthly lease for this type of high tech car. The MINI E

driver only pays for the electricity used - and obviously has no petrol costs. In

addition MINI E drivers are eligible for other benefits like zero congestion charges

in London.

 

The MINI E has all the good looks of a standard MINI Hatch, with the performance

close to that of the MINI John Cooper Works and MINI's renowned go-kart handling.

The space normally taken by rear passengers is reserved for the powerful lithium-ion

battery.

 

Maintenance, servicing and technical assistance will be provided by dedicated BMW

Group UK 'flying doctors'. These technicians will be supported by selected MINI

dealers within the MINI E research area.

 

Suzanne Gray, Project Manager for MINI E, said: "We were overwhelmed by the level of

interest in the first phase of the trial, and we are confident that we will attract

a similar level of applicants for the second phase. We would love to hear from

people who have the enthusiasm and curiosity required to take part in a 'real world'

research study.  Their experiences and the feedback that they provide will

ultimately help in the development of the BMW Group's zero emissions mega city

vehicle due for production mid this decade as well as UK infrastructure and policy

development for electric vehicles."

 

In addition to living in the set geographical area**, MINI E test drivers must also

have a private garage, car port or driveway, so a wall-mounted high power charging

unit can be installed by Southern Electric. The 240V/32 amp supply provided by the

unit can fully charge the MINI E's lithium-ion battery pack in just 4.5 hours. An

adaptor for use with an ordinary 13 amp socket will also be supplied for occasional

use.  The lower capacity charge takes just over 10 hours to provide a full charge.

Therefore it is only appropriate for occasional use.

 

Southern Electric will be responsible for the electricity infrastructure in the

research area and are committed to supplying 'green energy'*** to all drivers of the

MINI E. The region in which Southern Electric owns the electricity network is behind

the decision to work with a research sample in South East England.

 

Oxford Brookes University's Sustainable Vehicle Engineering Centre will manage the

collation of qualitative and quantitative research throughout the UK project. This

will include analysis of driver experiences with the MINI E, as well as reviewing

the technical information provided by the data-logging units fitted to every MINI E.

 

Additionally, the consortium is strengthened by public sector organisations

including the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), Oxford City Council and

Oxfordshire County Council.  Each will support the establishment of a technical

infrastructure in their local areas, through a common objective to be at the

forefront of sustainable transport initiatives.  These organisations will also test

MINI E's in a fleet environment.

 

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