From the Mini E to Mitsubishi “i” EV

As most readers know, Mini is a part of the BMW Group. The beloved Mini Cooper came out as a 100% electric 2-seater with batteries taking up the backseat called the MiniE, which was leased to 450 lucky U.S. field trial drivers during 2010. We know how much the drivers dug their E’s because we talked with them many of them when they gathered at the Alt Car Expo in Santa Monica, California last year.

While we wouldn’t categorize the MiniE a green family car, due to its lack of a back seat and minimal stowage area, it could come in handy as a second car for one parent in a two-car household to pick up or drop off one child, or run errands and go shopping. According to a BMW Group rep at the 2010 LA Auto Show, most of the trial drivers extended their leases after end of field trial, so Mini is not definately not killing this little and much-loved electric car.

Exactly when the rest of us will be able to lease or purchase a MiniE is still not precisely known. Our best guess is that it will be available when the Fiat 500 EV (pictured at right ) comes on the market in the beginning of 2012.

But let’s move on from what the Germans (Bavarian Motor Group) and the Italians who bought Chrysler are offering to what the Japanese have in store for us beyond the plug-in Prius hybrid.

We can’t tell you if the vehicle from Honda called the PNUT  (their Personal Neo-Urban Utility Transport pictured at left a the 2009 LA Auto Show) is what the company’s electric vehicle entry will look like, or even what it will be called when it gets to dealer showrooms, but we can tell you that Honda has teams working hard to get them into the EV ballgame as soon as possible.

However there is an electric vehicle that is already rolling on the streets of Japan, and in a Gulf state or two, the Mitsubishi “i” electric vehicle known as the MiEV. This fun little car is set to go on sale in the United States this fall with a range of 120 to 160 kilometers and a top speed of 130 kilometers per hour. Recharging the MiEV is estimated to take 7 hours from a 240-volt power supply.

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