BMW officially jumped on the electric car bandwagon with the announcement of the limited edition Mini E car for production. The electric car, based on the Mini Cooper platform, will get power from a 150-kilowatt electric motor tied to a newly developed high-power lithium ion battery. Dr. Klaus Draeger, BMW chief of development, told, “This is yet another example of the company’s environmental push.” The Mini E will be made available to select private and corporate customers under a one-year leasing program in Southern California, New York, and New Jersey. It will make its world debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Nov. 2008.

The car's 380-volt battery back comprised of 5,088 individual cells, and can be recharged using a standard 110-volt electrical outlet. The battery pack has a maximum capacity of 35-kilowatt hours. BMW will offer a specialized high-amp wall-mounted device that will allow a full replenishment of the battery in less than three hours. The Mini E will have a cruising range of 150 miles, well beyond the requirements of most daily commutes.

In terms of performance, the Mini E will benefit from 204-horsepower and 162 pound-feet of torque. The result is a 0 to 60 time of 8.5 seconds and a top speed of 95 miles per hour. These numbers fall short of specs for the standard MINI Cooper, but the Mini E will grant performance—especially acceleration from zero—much better than virtually all compacts or subcompacts currently on the road today.

The Mini E optimizes efficiency with a re-calibrated suspension, regenerative braking capability, and a modified air-conditioning compressor designed to cut down on power usage.

Approximately 500 cars are slated for production, which will take place at BMW’s Munich plant before the end of 2008.