Testing the New Mini

11 May 2010, 05:59 | Updated: 11 May 2010, 07:07

Mini are looking for people to test electric cars in and around Oxfordshire in their second wave of tests.

They want to see how the new car, which claims to be more environmentally friendly, copes on the roads and fits into people's lives.

The search is on for 20 drivers to take part in phase two of a pioneering trial to test the UK's first ever electric MINIs.

Phase one of the trial is currently underway, the first 20 MINI E pioneers took ownership of their electric MINIs in December 2009 and are due to hand them back in June. This new trial will start in September.

Researchers from Oxford Brookes will measure e the technical and social aspects of living with an all-electric car in every day life.

Electric 'Pumps' will be installed by Southern Electric at the chosen drivers homes for free. They'll be added to a network of public charging points, so the cars can be 'topped up' whilst drivers are out and about.  The car can also be charged from a standard three pin socket.  The 240V/32 amp supply provided by the unit can fully charge the MINI E's lithium-ion battery pack in just 4.5 hours.   

But to take part in the trial you'll have to pay. The monthly lease fee will be £330 a month, including VAT, insurance and maintenance. The MINI E driver pays for the electricity used and obviously has no petrol costs.

And it won't be as spacious as the regular Minis, as the space normally taken by rear passengers is reserved for the powerful lithium-ion battery. Maintenance, servicing and technical assistance will be provided by dedicated BMW Group UK 'flying doctors'.

Suzanne Gray, Project Manager for MINI E, said:

"We were overwhelmed by the level of interest in the first phase of the trial, and we are confident that we will attract a similar level of applicants for the second phase. We would love to hear from people who have the enthusiasm and curiosity required to take part in a 'real world' research study.  Their experiences and the feedback that they provide will ultimately help in the development of the BMW Group's zero emissions mega city vehicle due for production mid this decade as well as UK infrastructure and policy development for electric vehicles."