The Germans are going electric. The new Mini-E, exhibited in Los Angeles, will be leased to customers in three states. It can reach 62 mph in 8.5 seconds, and its lithium-ion batteries carry it 156 miles between recharges. It could go faster than 95 mph, but it’s electronically governed. They’re great fun to drive; too bad the batteries displaced the back seat.
These new EV developments are fascinating in light of Germany’s recent ambitious announcement that it wants to have a million electric and plug-in cars on the country’s roads by 2020. That’s hugely ambitious. Nobody is talking about that level of EV production in the next few years. Considering how broken the international auto industry is today, it’s hard to imagine it quickly retooling for such a huge effort. The Smart and Mini efforts are typical—tiny test programs, leases to a lucky few instead of mass marketing.
The German effort deserves all the support in the world. "Germany shall become a lead mart for electric mobility," says German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, and maybe so. But c'mon, a million EVs and plug-ins by 2020? When Volkswagen announces it plans to mass market $20,000 electric Beetles with 200-mile range, then this plan will start to sound serious.