Fleet of electric Minis sallies forth

Twenty British drivers left home yesterday, smug in the knowledge that their driving is costing them less than a penny a mile.

BMW has launched a trial fleet of electric Mini Es which are claimed to be able to run for up to 150 miles on a single £1.50 battery charge taking around four and a half hours. On a full charge, says the company, the car can run for between 100 and 150 miles.

The downside is that, to fit the battery in, the car has no back seats.

The car can do nought to sixty on 8.5 seconds, says the company, making it just as powerful as the standard Mini Cooper S. Its top speed is limited electronically to 95mph.

The guinea-pig drivers have had to commit to doing at least 300 miles per month. They will have their driving and charging habits monitored by smart meters for six months. They will have charging stations at home. Oxford City and County Councils are also to run another 20 of the vehicles.

The company has also announced a deal with the UK’s Marks & Spencer chain for the installation of charging points at a dozen or so out-of-town stores in the south-east.