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When you’re Mini, you pretty much shy away from nothing. When you own a Mini, you pretty much shy away from nothing.

There’s no shame in owning or driving a Mini. My best friend once made fun of me for years because I’m such an avid Mini Cooper fan and follower. He even went as far as to say that because it didn’t cost a lot of money, didn’t have a lot of horsepower, and because the people who drive it look funny while driving it, they are deemed worthless.

What a bold and horrible thing to say. Now it’s no secret that when I was a car salesman and had to do anything dealership related, I immediately went into the key vault and go the keys to a 2002 Mini Cooper S that we had on the lot. Mmmm, what a sweet machine. Tom, my friend, finally was doing some web development work for the local BMW dealership in Wilmington, NC, and they granted him permission to driving the one of the used Cooper Ss that they had on the lot. His phone call to me later that day went something like, “Dude, I will never talk s*** about a Mini again. Oh my God! I always thought The Italian Job was a cool movie, and now I know why they used Minis. Wow!”

So there you have it. Now, on to why I’m actually posting this article: the Mini E was an electric lease experiment that BMW did in 2009 to help BMW with its alternative fuel operations. It is 100% battery driven, making 204hp from 5,088 lithium-ion batteries.

BMW made an enthusiasts car with the Mini E, and that’s what they were out to prove with their latest test; “Green power through the Green Hell”, is what they called it. The Green Hell for those who don’t know, is the Nürburgring. The name, “Green Hell” comes from Sir Jackie Stewart, who gave the Nürburgring its funny nickname for the beautiful landscape and nature around the race track that kills numerous people every year…

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So two days ago, on the twelfth of this month, BMW took former DTM racer Thomas Jäger, who just so happens to be the 2006 Mini Challenge winner. He was quoted as saying, “I’ve driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car.”

The Mini went on to post a great lap time if 9:51.45 with a top speed of 116 mph. That’s damn good for a front-wheel driven electric car.

But in order to make this possible, BMW, naturally, had to make a few adjustments, which included Recaro Pro Racer (HANS) CFRP seat, 6-way safety harness (3-inch), suede leather steering wheel 320 mm diameter, bolt constructed roll cage, a new mechanical multi-plate limited-slip differential with 40°/50° ramp breakover angle, 55 Nm preload transmission, KW Variant 3 coilover suspension, modified to handle the racing load that the Mini E Race would be putting on it,  front and rear diffusers, rear wing, carbon fiber body parts, and the integration of special race ABS with a differentiated main switch concept.

That’s a lot of work… But until someone else tries it, BMW just set the fastest lap time around The ‘Ring with an electric car.

So it looks like Nissan will now put its Leaf electric car through the GT-R diet by claiming it only has so much power, but actually having more, and push it around The ‘Ring faster than the Mini E to beat the Germans/Brits at their own European game… When will Tesla and Porsche enter this fight?

YouTube Preview Image

Press Release:

Green power through the Green Hell.

* 12.04.2010
* Press Release

Munich/Nürburg. Taking on the infamous Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit at race speed with an electrically powered car is an ambitious project, but the BMW Group has just become the first car manufacturer to make it happen. Today the MINI E Race, a modified race-spec version of the standard MINI E, completed a lap of the legendary 20.8 km “Green Hell” in a time of 09:51.45 minutes. The MINI E Race hit a top speed of 187 km/h.

“The length and profile of the Nordschleife place extreme demands on the technology of our electric car. But the MINI E Race met this considerable challenge with great authority,” said the BMW Group’s Peter Krams, who headed up the project. “The aim of this unique undertaking was to provide an impressive showcase of the great potential of the MINI E and its environment-friendly drive concept.”

At the wheel of the electric racer for the hot lap was former DTM racing driver Thomas Jäger from Munich. “I’ve driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car,” said Jäger, the MINI Challenge champion in 2006. “The power of the electric motor has an incredible effect, as you can access its full reserves of torque at all times. Another element of this fascinating experience is the lack of noise from the drivetrain. All in all, that was certainly the cleanest and quietest race lap I’ve ever driven.”

Extensive preparations had to be completed before the car could roll out onto the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. The MINI E Race was fitted with a special lightweight body and a roll cage in order to ensure optimum performance and safety on the track. And various other components, such as the suspension, brakes and tyres, are also race specification. Other than that, however, the car relies almost exclusively on the standard technical make-up of the MINI E. For example, it shares the same 150 kW/204 hp electric motor, supplied with energy from 5,088 lithium-ion battery cells. The control electronics and the software were reprogrammed to achieve an optimal driving performance for the Nordschleife. The power from the emission-free motor is channelled to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox with a lengthened gear ratio.

To see the video on the MINI E Race’s lap of the Nordschleife, please go to

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z3BKaGqurQ

Here you will find technical specifications of the MINI E and the MINI E Race in the attached file.

Model-specific conversions

Interior

Recaro Pro Racer (HANS) CFRP seat, 6-way safety harness (3-inch), suede leather steering wheel 320 mm diameter

Roll cage

Bolt construction (lightweight) CrMo4, approx. 35 kg incl. mounting materials

Transmission

Mechanical multi-plate limited-slip differential with 40°/50° ramp breakover angle, 55 Nm preload

Engine

Adjusted engine management settings

Suspension

KW Variant 3 coilover suspension, tuned to the higher axle loads of the MINI E Race with modified damping characteristics and adjusted springs

Exterior

Diffusers, rear wing, CFRP body parts

Safety

Integration of special race ABS
Differentiated main switch concept

[Source: BMW]

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