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An electric race Mini laps the Nurburgring. Quietly.

By Rigval on 18 Apr 2010

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The future of motor racing's so quiet I gotta use loud speakers. Yes. Loud speakers pumping out a fake V8 soundtrack while purely electric racers run around race tracks just whizzing around with hardly any sound coming from them. You wouldn't know if an electric race car is coming or going. And its very possible as the BMW Mini is now the first automotive manufacturer that has lapped the Nurburgring Nordschleife's 20.8km long distance in a modified racing version of the Mini E. The purely electric Mini E Racer managed to lap the 'Ring in a time of 9minutes 51.45seconds and was timed at the straight at a maximum speed of 187km/h. Not really that fast as it you compare the Renault Megane R26R did it in 8minutes 17seconds, but I suppose it is history in the making.

The Electric Mini E is an all electric powered version of the BMW Mini. It was launched as a field test in June 2009 and was available through leasing to individuals in Los Angeles and the New York/New Jersey areas in the United States. Another batch of 40 Mini E were made available to private users in the United Kingdom for 2 trial periods. The standard Mini E is a front wheel drive car with an electric motor that is mounted in the usual engine bay and makes 204PS and 220Nm of torque. The car utilizes a lithium-ion battery pack with an overall capacity of about 35kilowatt-hours. The batteries weigh 259kg and replaces the back seat. How unpractical for a four seat city car that can only carry two. Top speed is electronically limited to a sedate 153km/h and the car’ has a 251km range on a single charge under optimal conditions. Real world estimates for range are about 175km city and 154km highway.

According to the driver, DTM racer Thomas Jager who regularly drives the 'Ring, the Mini E is one of the more unique 'Ring driving experience for him as the electric motor provides instantaneous torque all the way to the top and among the fascinating experiences include the missing engine noise. “All in all, was certainly the cleanest and quietest lap I've ever covered, "said Thomas, who was also the MINI Challenge champion from 2006. At least the car can clear 160km/h unlike the standard one. But do not expect a car like this in an endurance race like the Nurburgring 24 hours. The batteries would only last 6 laps or less with current battery technology. Range is still a problem with this purely electric cars.

And I don't know if this is a good thing or not. Imagine a Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 (winner of many a Nurburgring 24hr race) powering through the night during the Nurburgring 24hours and the Porsche is electirc and dead quiet in completing its task. A flat-six Porsche engine at full chat is a wonderful thing. An electric motor is, at the most a very loud blender. As with diesel race cars, that mostly hum loudly, it isn't that interesting. And now if race cars went fully electric, it'll be a another dull, dull and very dull thing to happen. Racing is about speed, smell and noise. Noise that makes your hairs at the back of the neck tingle. That's racing. A car going 'Wheeeeeee' may need a lot of getting used to.

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- a normal Mini E

BMW, BMW Mini, Mini E and 3 more...

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Written by Rigval
Born in 1972. Married with a kid. Loves B-road drives and have driven cars from the 1950s to date.

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