2009 Mini E Electric Vehicle

None of these modifications, mind you, are immediately visible from the car's exterior. Were it not for the custom yellow-on-silver graphics, a missing exhaust tip would be the only way for bystanders to distinguish the Mini E from its regular brethren.

Yellow plug-shaped emblems adorn both the hood and the roof (itself sprayed in a different hue of silver from the body), while a matching yellow color line highlights the black leather interior. If those touches didn't already scream "special edition," each Mini E will have its three-digit serial number placed on the front fender vents.

We've known past Minis to be an enjoyable mixture of fun and frugality, and it appears the Mini E will be no exception. Though the Mini E transformation adds 600 pounds to the car, BMW estimates it will still travel 150 miles on a single charge and share a 0-60 time - 8.5 seconds - with a standard Cooper coupe. We've yet to drive the car, but we may have a learning curve with the E's aggressive regenerative motor braking - BMW says nearly 75 percent of all deceleration can be performed without touching the brake pedal.

If a two-seat electric Mini seems like your dream car, here's hoping you live either in New York City or Los Angeles. BMW plans on splitting the 500-car run of Mini Es between the two locales, allowing the cars to test within some of the harshest urban habitats known to man.

It seems you'll also need a bit of luck to get one. Starting in November, customers will be chosen via a web questionnaire, and the cars will be issued to customers via one year leases, á la GM's EV-1.

Though BMW claims the leases are "extendable," customers should expect to surrender their cars after twelve months, when they'll return to Munich for inspection. Following that, we're told the cars won't be re-leased, but corporate management will make a decision on adding the Mini E as a regular production model.

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