The lease of the prototype Mini E has been a success. BMW discussed some of their results from the field testing program of the Mini E and opened their press conference with the headline, "Mini E Drivers Delighted with Electric Vehicle Experience."
The Mini E lease program has been ongoing and is still a work in progress at this point. Participants took delivery of the Mini E under the understanding that this was a prototype vehicle and as such was a test bed for future technologies to be released by the company.
Over the course of the program, BMW paired with the University of California to determine how Mini E drivers have felt about their vehicles. The research indicates that in general, Mini E drivers have been delighted with their experience with the car. Of course, the biggest gripe about the vehicle was its range. Many drivers complained of limited range and real world range that is not as high as the official 100 miles listed by the company.
The research shows that drivers adjusted their driver to suit the range of the vehicle. Further research indicated an unexpected occurrence. Households that had a Mini E in their possession ended up using that vehicle for 90-100% of their trips, all but abandoning their gasoline vehicles. Many respondents simply left their other vehicles alone and used the Mini E exclusively.
Though range may be a listed fear for potential EV buyers, the Mini E participants seemed to adapt quickly to a different driving style. They planned daily trips with range in mind and virtually never had any range related issues.
Look for BMW's next lease program of a prototype vehicle to begin soon. This time the vehicle will carry the BMW badge. The vehicle is the BMW ActiveE and its coming in 2011.