New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced at the beginning of the year that city employees would be eliminating 700 city-owned cars, including Toyota Prius hybrids and Ford Escape SUVs, in an effort to reduce traffic and air pollution. Now, only a few weeks later, Bloomberg has announced that BMW will be giving the city 10 of the 500 Mini E electric cars that the automaker will lease in the U.S.
The 10 Mini E cars will be given to NYC's SCOUT, or Street Condition Observation Unit. SCOUT's purpose is to drive around the city evaluating street conditions, looking for things like potholes and graffiti, and making sure they are properly taken care of. Beginning this spring, the Minis will be driven approximately 100 miles a day in each of the city's boroughs.
450 of the 500 Mini E electric cars will be leased to customers that applied online at Mini's website. The other 50 cars will be tested in intense daily driving (similarly to the 10 that will be given to New York City), allowing BMW to compare results with Mini E's tested elsewhere around the world, including New Jersey, Los Angeles, Berlin and London.
The Mini E is a zero-emissions electric car that can travel up to 150 miles on one charge. It is powered by a 150-kW (201-hp) electric motor, which gets energy from a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Mini is installing a special wall box into each Mini E customer's garage that can fully recharge a drained battery in just 2.5 hours.