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Your next car?

An electric Mini?

The company has successfully converted a Mini into an electric vehicle (EV) with four direct-drive wheels, each with an electronic hub motor of 160 break-horse-power. This combined 640 bhp allows for an acceleration of 0-60mph in 4.5 seconds and a top speed of 150 mph (240 kph).

A small 250cc petrol engine charges the cars battery while the car is being driven. In this mode it will run for up to 900 miles before needing to re-fuel, while in pure EV mode it will run for 200 miles. Previous electric models barely managed 60 mph (100kph) and had a range of less than 100 miles.

24 Responses to “Your next car?”

  1. davetha Says:

    “It will out-perform a Porsche backwards,” PML spokesman, Chris Newman said.

    Now that would be fun…

  2. Rustmeister Says:

    I’d buy one, if the price was right.

  3. DrawingDead Says:

    Well, seeing as how I am physically larger than a Mini, I’m probably going to have to pass.

    At least I’m still carbon neutral…except after I have some Mexican food.

  4. Blounttruth Says:

    Will it haul my Ranger to the lake? If not let me know when they come out with the V-8 model and also 4X4 for those steep ramps.

    BT

  5. #9 Says:

    Same concept as a diesel locomotive. Should make one hell of a truck or SUV. Might have to bump up the engine to at least 750 CC.

  6. Ahab Says:

    I’d buy one; since I’m appropriately sized to fit into a Mini-Cooper anyway.

    Plus, it would absolutely give all my liberal friends a fit if I was more environmentally conscious than they were. I could use it to go to the range.

  7. #9 Says:

    You could kick some Prius ass with that electric Mini. And for bonus points the Prius has a 1500 CC motor so you could tell your liberal friends you care more about the environment than they do. Sweet.

  8. drstrangegun Says:

    It’s beautiful, and it’s something I’ve been a proponent of for a LONG time.

    The little 250cc gas engine makes more than enough horsepower to maintain cruise… but if it was gas alone it’d need more to accellerate. Well, instead of putting in a bigger engine you just store the fractional output overage from the smaller engine over time and viola, you’ve got 100hp when you need it while having an engine almost perfectly sized for the 12hp you need to cruise.

    Next step? Let’s see them do this with a microturbine that runs 24/7. An electric car that charges itself 😀 Microturbines could be set up to run on anything that can spray or fog… gasoline, kerosene, diesel, alcohol, natural gas, propane, butane, “dust” fuels (coal dust, etc), wood gas with a cogenerator… anything.

  9. Nomen Nescio Says:

    i need to do some careful origami with my limbs to fit into a mini, but i think i’d like a test drive of that thing at very least. for grocery runs and in-town commuting (yeah, i’m lucky enough to live inside city limits, my “commute” is a half-mile walk usually) it could suffice.

    wouldn’t want to take it on the freeways, though. and long-distance driving at freeway speeds is most of what i actually use my car for, these days; i’d want at least a prius-size vehicle for any real road trip.

  10. Rabbit Says:

    I’ve had the idea for several years to convert the ol’ Suburban to a small diesel powerplant turning a genset and electric motor. You figure 1 to 2 GPH fuel consumption at 70 MPH, that’s not bad for highway travel, and you can run your accessories- a/c, power steering, alternator, etc. off either an auxillary electric motor or off a takeoff pully from the single/twin cylinder diesel.

    I love me some GM F9 diesel tech.

    Regards,
    Rabbit.

  11. Linoge Says:

    Thankfully, despite measuring in at 6’2″, I can quite comfortably fit inside a Mini. And if that thing is, in any way, as much fun to drive as the Mini-S is… Yeah, I could definitely see myself purchasing one of these. Of course, I still like the relatively larger cargo capacity of my Mazda 3 (*drools over the Mazdaspeed 3*), but this would make me environmentally-conscious, right? 🙂

  12. Zend Deb Says:

    Actually it probably will pull your ranger to the lake. Electric motors have much higher torque at low RPM than internal combustion.

    And the interior of the Mini is bigger than you think. I am 6 ft tall and have no problem in a Mini (a friend has one) even wearing the obligatory Florida hat.

  13. Brian Says:

    Typically, electric cars use the “brakes” to charge the battery back up, instead of wasting it as heat like normal disc brakes. So (minus losses from inefficiency), frequent fast accelerations are powered in large part by the braking that preceeded it.

    None of what they are doing with that Mini is really ground breaking. Ground breaking will be when they can make that affordable. Better still will be when I can get that technology in something the size of an Outback. My dream car would be something with better mileage than my motorcycle (i.e. 55+ mpg), while still large enough to be practical as an only vehicle (i.e. Outback sized). Until then, I’ll just have to continue to commute on my BMW to keep my average mileage up for the week (yes, people that think Global Warming is crap are actually capable of caring about the environment).

  14. nk Says:

    I’ll believe it when I touch the wounds on His hands and feet and over His heart drive a working model. They have added two layers of energy loss between the power source and the wheels — the generator and the battery — but they think that it’s more efficient than a direct-drive system. And where does the energy to power those AI’s come from?

  15. straightarrow Says:

    This concept has been around a long time. It is nice to see improvements in it approaching general feasibility. However, I would still be interested in battery life and environmental concerns regarding their production and disposal, etc. Batteries are the most vexing problem with this technology. Diesel electric locomotives prove the techology works, but what would millions or billions of more electrical storage units do to the planet?

  16. #9 Says:

    Diesel electric locomotives prove the technology works, but what would millions or billions of more electrical storage units do to the planet?

    Excellent question. Always consider the law of unintended consequences.

  17. nk Says:

    Diesel electric locomotives prove the techology works

    They work only in the sense of smoother transfer of energy, not more efficient. A rheostat instead of a gearbox. I just don’t see that putting a generator, bateries and an electric motor between the engine and the wheels is more energy-efficient than a gearbox, driveshaft and differential.

  18. Lyle Says:

    I want to know if a crash site will become an EPA superfund site, with all the batteries being splattered about.

    NK:
    I thought that too, but the idea is to have a smaller engine working at peak or near peak efficiency whenever its running. You can get bursts of higher power from the electric system by drawing down the battery, and the engine can efficiently recharge as you go along using less-than-peak drive power. A big displacement gas engines costs you a lot of efficiency for that big reserve power capacity you use relatively only rarely.

    It does work, even with the extra mass of the electrical systems. For one thing, as in D/E locomotive design, you can eliminate the tranny and some drive line.

    But how many chemical injuries are going to take place in the near future when these things crash? What will be the “environmental impact” of all the extra battery manufacturing and recycling. What are we talking here, reactive, heavy metals and noxious chemicals? The batts in these cars are operating at pretty extreme charge/discharge rates and aren’t going to live long. Or can someone correct me on that?

    It will be ground breaking when the thing can fly, as it were. I’d like one of those, please, as long as I can get a good used one for under $10K.

  19. straightarrow Says:

    Agreed NK, but the advantages are not in increased efficiency, but rather the lower combustion emissions and the lower demand for fossil fuels.

    However the trade-off regarding the production of batteries and disposal of same may not be beneficial but actually more harmful. Most battery components can be recycled and used again, but that is very energy intensive and may not provide a net gain in improving the atmosphere of the planet. It is also possible that recycling would actually increase emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, thus transferring the harm from one activity to another, and possibly increasing that harm.

    Not recycling gives us the problem of how to not poison the planet with this waste via disposal.

    I hold hopes that these problems will eventually be resolved. But, to date the technology has not advanced to give us a net gain in better environment and reduction of demand for fossil fuels while bettering the environmental impact.

    So far, the only upside seems to be that motorists can congratulate themselves on how caring they are. Only, of course, if they do address the secondary and tertiary consequences.

    Still, I think that many of these problems will be solved eventually and prove to be beneficial to us and the earth.

  20. straightarrow Says:

    Only, of course, if they do address the secondary and tertiary consequences. should read :::Only, of course, if they do not address the secondary and tertiary consequences.

  21. straightarrow Says:

    I had not seen the most recent posts that went up while I was composing mine. However, the crash site scenario is another serious downside to this technology at this time. As we know heavy metal contamination and chemical contamination is not an attractive outcome. Kudos.

  22. nk Says:

    Sorry. I get it. The batteries are a source of energy as well. Also any kickback from the “braking” system.

    (I’ll wait for the next post for my pet postulate. Fossil fuels are nothing more than a contaminant of the Earth to begin with. Why not use them up before starting to deplete the soil with biofuels (I’m a farmboy) or poison it with lead, lithium or whatever else they put in batteries.)

  23. #9 Says:

    All very good points. What happens when a semi runs over one of these? Just because batteries are practical for locomotives and submarines does not mean they are safe for Interstate traffic.

    The recycling and disposal also must be looked at very carefully.

    In the end there is an question of whether it is cheaper. And whether if all factors are accounted for if it is a superior technology. There is the paradox, say it is cheaper for the select few that purchase them, should they care if it is more polluting after factoring in disposal. What if it is more dangerous?

    These are some of the same questions Prius owners must wrestle with. What cost should be placed on altruism? As a family man I believe my family’s safety comes first.

    But off the Interstate, it sounds like a fun ride. 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds will blow the doors off a Prius. My guess is they will sell very well. I won’t be interested until the third or fourth generation. The early adopters are the ones who catch the arrows. That is why they call them the pioneers.

  24. gattsuru Says:

    Technically, Lithium-Ion batteries are considered ‘safe’ by the United States government — while you should recycle them, their component metals and materials can all go into the normal trash stream quite legally (and often do from different applications). There’s a risk of them getting into water supplies like with every other metal, but it’s not a noteworthy risk in modern dumps or at the concentrations resulting from a single car crash.

    I’d personally be more put off by the cost of the battery systems and their relatively short life spans. The average Li-Ion or Li-Poly battery only survives two to three years in good conditions, much less in warm ones, before the charge capacity degrades too far to be of use. Those things aren’t exactly cheap to be replacing on a bi-yearly basis, even if they do save you lunch gas money.

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