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MINI E finally official, 500 available soon for US test drivers

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The much-anticipated, well-expected MINI E -- the first all-electric MINI -- is headed our way before you know it. BMW's built itself a decent performer, offering 204 hp of electric motor in a setup quite similar to the Tesla. The car boasts a 150 mile range off its 35 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, can hit 62 mph in 8.5 seconds, and does a full charge off of an included high current charging station in a mere 2.5 hours. There's naturally a regenerative braking system on board to help beef up the battery in city driving. BMW plans on leasing 500 of these to commercial and private customers in California, New York and New Jersey sometime early 2009, and Europe might get a crack at the car soon after that. No word yet on when we'll see this car ready for the masses, but perhaps we'll get more info when the MINI E makes its "debut" at the LA Auto Show next month.

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