The all-electric car created by the BMW division is easily one of the best electric cars around. It is incredibly fast, it handles well and it's fun to drive. Weirdly, the real highlight comes in the brakes. As soon as you lift your foot off of the accelerator, the regenerative brakes begin to grip. During a 15-minute test drive, I barely applied the brakes at all. If you don't count the X-1 prototype from Wrightspeed or the Tesla Roadster, the Mini E is the most thrilling electric to drive.
Unfortunately, it is also not real. BMW will make a few hundred of the cars for field trials, but it doesn't have plans to mass produce the car. And for good reason. The car's battery consists of 5088 cylindrical lithium ion battery cells. The battery pack, in fact, takes up the back seat and a good portion of the cargo room.
While the batteries give the car its zip, it likely makes it too expensive to sell. The Tesla Roadster has 6831 cylindrical battery cells and it starts at $101,000. If it came to production, the back seat-less Mini E might have to sell in the $80,00 range. For that kind of cash, you could get a long, elegant Fisker Karma with four seats.
Unlike many other car makers, BMW seems firmly entrenched in demo mode when it comes to electrics and plug-ins. At auto shows, it often shows off its hydrogen combustion car. This car does not run on a hydrogen fuel cells--it burns hydrogen as a fuel. It's interesting, but even more commercially distant than a fuel cell. So a A for performance and handling combined with a C for overall corporate strategy toward electrics and the Mini E gets a B.