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back to article Electric Mini spied in Munich

BMW's electric Mini has been spotted pootling around Munich, its zero-emission power source revealed by the lack of an exhaust pipe. That, and the words "Hybrid Test Vehicle" - "Hybrid Erprobungsfahrzeug" - seen written on the sides and the back... Here's a pic snapped by Car magazine - there are more on its website, but, hey, …

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No exhaust?

There's what looks like a very small exhaust on the left hand side...

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Sam

If you buy one...

..do you get Munchen vouchers?

Stop hitting me.

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Coat

Correct me if I'm incorrect

but doesn't the term hybrid imply the use of a petrol engine as a backup? I mean it's hardly a hybrid if the two power sources are "Li-Ion batteries" and "SLA batteries" does it?

And the lack of exhaust pipe could be down to them hiding the exhaust behind a vent in the rear bumper.

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Hybrid = Dual Fuel?

Or am I wrong? Don't most Hybrids have some form of fossel fuel to help them along?

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"Hybrid Test Vehicle"

With no exhaust pipe? What's hybrid about it then?

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Dead Vulture

Electricity

Please, el Reg, the term 'leccy' is about as annoying as the word 'mobe', 'lappy', or 'addy'. If you have to use it, please don't use it as a replacement for EVERY instance of the word 'electric', 'electricity', or 'electrical'.

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Anonymous Coward

RE: No exhaust?

"There's what looks like a very small exhaust on the left hand side..."

That's the suspension.

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Flame

@No exhaust?

That looks more like a suspension arm to me - a lower wishbone?? Ages since I looked underneath a MINI, but is certainly doesn't look exhausty to me.

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Paris Hilton

Super Polluter

Electric cars, you still get to pollute the world with your transport but YOU dont get to sit in the fumes! HOORAY. Stick all the power plants in the countryside and keep those cities smoke free and green as you like. Then ban lorries form the city center so that all the shops are built in the green belt and drive to them in your electric cars. Fill your electric car with imported goods because you dont want dirty smelly industry in the UK, better to have it in China as long as they are nice to those pretty Monks in Tibbet and weren't those drummers good in the Olympic ceremony. Drive your electric car home and throw away all your old consumer goods becuase they used 5% more electricity than your new green ones. Well done you are saving the planet and living the green dream.

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@ Amanda Appleton

That's just a nice shiney suspension wishbone judging by the closeup on the "Car" website

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Re: No exhaust?

Looks like it to me, and it seems to me that if it has "Hybrid" written on it, then it is not an electric only car, it is a hybrid car i.e. it has a petrol/diesel engine as well.

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RE:No exhaust?

That is part of the suspension system.

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Paris Hilton

That's not an exhaust

It's part of the suspension, duh.

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Bronze badge
Stop

Hybrid?

So if it is a Hybrid, what are the two (or more) parts? Electric motors, and ???

Standard definition is a large battery, plus a small internal-combustion generator.

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Stop

Look Closer...

That'd be part of the rear suspension...

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@Amanda

@Amanda: Nope, that's the suspension strut. They're very visible on all of the 2nd gen minis.

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Re: No exhaust?

That looks more like the nearside suspension swing-arm that hasn't had time to go rusty or get covered in road crap. It's the perspective that is confusing. If you look to the right, you'll just make out the end of the corresponding offside joint.

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Silver badge

What makes you believe?

What makes you believe that BMW will ever put anything like that on the market?

Just look at this example from 1978

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ID0JlT_3HY8

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Image courtesy Car

I've been trying to get one of these courtesy cars for ages - but every time someone runs into me the garage gives me a nasty nissan.

Seeing as there's no exhaust pipe then I recon the other part of the hybrid is nuclear.

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Boffin

Once more, with feeling ....

Regardless of the ultimate power source (fossil fuel, nuclear, wind, solar, whatever), electric vehicles are MUCH MORE EFFICIENT, typically 2-3 times more efficient than the equivalent petrol internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle. Research the term "Well-to-Wheel Efficiency" to learn more. Furthermore, using electric propulsion de-couples the problems of mobile energy storage for transportation and the ultimate source - we can choose to use anything we want, based on whatever combined model of economics, science and technology we choose. Also, new sources of energy can be used at industrial scales of efficiency, diversified and dispersed geographically, so that they can be situated in optimum locations for use in optimum conditions.

No, the electricity grid will not be immediately overwhelmed since most charging will occur at off-peak times - power companies already state they have sufficient transmission capacity for the medium term. No, the grid is not too "lossy" - it's 92% efficient on average. New generation capacity is needed in the long term, but actually not in the short term. New transmission capacity is needed in the long-term anyway, through normal growth. No, it won't always be prohibitively expensive - costs will (already are) coming down rapidly as with any new technology. No, you won't have to restrict your driving range - not only will range increase as technology develops, but those needing longer range in the first instance can use "plug-in hybrids" in the interim, which are a good evolutionary step in electric vehicle development (e.g. the Mini QED electric conversion by PML has a 1500km autonomous range). No, the overall manufacture does not release more greenhouse gases than it saves - typically, manufacturing emissions are around the same as now since many ICE-related components need no longer be manufactured (think substitution, not additional manufacture). And then there's less maintenance to consider ... in some cases, much less maintenance.

Using electric propulsion (whether battery-only or fuel-cell on board) is the only realistic way to achieve ZEV (i.e. zero emissions at the tailpipe). IMO (having studied this for over three years now) hydrogen ICE is a complete waste of time and money and fuel-cells (as currently described) will always be a more expensive and less efficient approach than battery-electric, albeit there are circumstances where a second on-board energy source is necessary, in which case a fuel-cell may be optimum as that secondary source. Future technology developments may change this, e.g. dramatic improvements in energy density of electrical storage technology. Certain vehicle classes (e.g. long-distance haulage, emergency, military) may use different energy sources due to very different requirements.

There are also market advantages to an electricified transport energy sector - competitive barriers to entry are low, since connecting an energy source to supply to the grid is relatively easy - there's no "lock in" to one energy source or another.

ZEV side-benefits include smog-reduction - remember when that was a worthwhile goal in itself?

Given the ENORMOUS impact of greenhouse emissions, climate change and other pollution, could people everywhere please take time to think through the consequences of their posts and comments? You (yes, you!) can influence others by what you say and do. So please be responsible and sensible when dealing with these issues. Basically, if you don't know, don't post crap.

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Joke

Has nobody realised...

It's not the exhaust, it's part of the suspension.

What a bunch of numpties!

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Paris Hilton

But I digress ...

All this talk of exhausts got me thinking, and I can't help but remember the line from Star Wars ... "It's a small [thermal] exhaust port right below the main port".

Did anyone else get the anatomical connotations?

Paris, because I'm sure she's been targeted by a rebel squadron or two, manoeuvring up her trench ...

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Stop

@leccy tech loving AC

You're forgetting that the manufacturing process (and I mean the whole process including mining / producing raw materials) just for the batteries required over the lifetime for these leccy / hybrid cars has a larger carbon footprint than the petrol CO2 emissions of the equivalent conventional vehicle over its lifetime.

This is just a ploy by the car manufactures and, more importantly, their financial services divisions ( Ford makes more money from financing loans on cars than the profit on the actual cars themselves ) to get stupid punters to cough up for new cars. Notice BMW are planning to LEASE these, not sell them. The battery tech makes them too expensive to buy, but, no problem, those green idiots will rent them instead. Double bonus :o)

Best solution is Hydrogen power - and then only if the energy required to produce the hydrogen and compress / cool it is generated by nuclear power plants.

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Happy

Then there's PML's pet project...

http://www.pmlflightlink.com/archive/news_mini.html

The QED Mini. 640hp at the wheels via 4 hub motors that the wheels mount to. Pocket rocket anyone? I wouldn't mind PML selling this QED system aftermarket so I could strap it on one of my own cars.

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Erm

The article says "zero emissions", the car says "hybrid", lack of exhaust seems to imply the former. Do other languages use Hybrid interchangeably with ZE?

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Why...

When PLM Flightlink did it so much better?

In any case whether it's electric or hybrid there's no such thing as "zero emission". There'sll be emissions becuaes at least a proportion of the power is generated from fossil fuel.

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Thumb Up

Hybrid vehicle definition

It seems that, at least in California, any car with two power sources can be classed as a hybrid, and claim all the privileges that go with it. Have a look at this website.

http://www.techeblog.com/index.php/tech-gadget/street-legal-jet-powered-vw-beetle

The owner added a jet engine to his VW beetle... and then managed to get it classified as a street-legal hybrid!

I think it could probably give my Prius a run for its money, and it's a good answer to tailgaters, but I could probably beat him on fuel economy.

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Boffin

RE: @ leccy tech loving AC

Clearly you haven't studied. Don't believe the BS pushed by the same companies currently controlling fossil-fuel energy supply who wish to corner the hydrogen market - a market which has very high infrastructure costs and therefore high competitive barriers to entry - once they're entrenched as "big hydrogen", their profits will be ensured. It's worth a *lot* of money for them to try and convince the world that hydrogen is the only way to go.

The main point though, is that Hydrogen is far less efficient and more costly than battery-electric in the long run (with the caveat I already mentioned regarding an on-board secondary energy source).

> "You're forgetting that the manufacturing process (and I mean the whole process including mining / producing raw materials) just for the batteries required over the lifetime for these leccy / hybrid cars has a larger carbon footprint than the petrol CO2 emissions of the equivalent conventional vehicle over its lifetime".

No, that is incorrect. Tally up all the components no longer needed. So many reporters/commenters add the batteries but forget to deduct everthing else no longer needed. And the largest emission component is the CO2 from an ICE engine operated over its lifetime.

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Depends where you drive it

Iceland has 99.9% renewable leccy.

NZ could be with a bit of work (which will all be undone if the Nats get back in).

Germany wants to go 100% renewable.

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long live the Mini

that's not a mini.

it's a counterfeit BMW monstrosity, widely known as the Twatmobile.

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Flame

Battery or Petrol

> You're forgetting that the manufacturing process (and I mean the whole process

> including mining / producing raw materials) just for the batteries required over the

> lifetime for these leccy / hybrid cars has a larger carbon footprint than the petrol CO2

> emissions of the equivalent conventional vehicle over its lifetime.

Wow. Just wow.

Someone believes that mining and production of about a hundred KG of batteries is worse than the drilling, shipping, refining, trucking and eventual burning of 15,000L of petrol.

No-one is pretending that there are not some serious issues with battery production, but seriously ...

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Coat

That's no exhaust...

....it's a Space Station!

Already out the door..

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Joke

I can't believe

No-one had anything to say on my comment saying it looked like an exhaust... ;)

(Couldn't get to the Car website to check due to speed issues, and in my defence I don't know much about the back end of minis (or suspension in general)

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b
Thumb Up

nice!

more electric cars are gooood.

even tho i think the new "mini" to be an ugly little car and a piece of design vomit!

cheers!

bill

p.s. stuff and nonsense: http://www.eupeople.net/forum

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Silver badge

Manufacturing costs

I admit I have not studied the overall manufacturing costs, but I'm sure that I have read in a reliable source that the supply of high-energy light metal elements, particularly lithium on this planet is severely limited. And because of their properties (they are very reactive), they tend to be difficult to mine and refine, all of which takes energy.

It is OK to use the current prices at todays demand level, but if we are to have a battery powered transport system, I suspect that the demand for these metals, particularly lithium, will easily outstrip supply. Prices will jump, and the whole technology may become too expensive.

Currently, it is wasteful that battery manufacturers are making disposable lithium AA sized batteries (just look at the supermarket battery section). Because of it's chemistry, lithium is likely to become a much more important across the whole range of manufacturing. We must introduce a lithium recovery programme in the waste stream, and educate users not to throw them in the domestic waste.

BTW. Current LiPoly. batteries have a duty cycle of about 1000 discharge-charge cycles. This means that keeping a car used daily on the road will require the batteries to be replaced after 3 years, with progressivly poorer performance at the end of that time, like your Laptop (current charging efficiency quotes 99.8% for LiPoly. batteries, 0.998^1000=0.135=13.5% of original capacity at the end-of-life of the battery). Good news for the car manufacturers, bad news for residual car values. How does that factor in to the overall cost-of-ownership for an electric vehicle?

Of course, we could just wait until someone invents a better battery technology, but a chemical battery is unlikely to provide that much more energy than is possible using lithium without actually being dangerous (it's chemistry, stupid). I wish Shipstones and micro-pile fusion generators were not science fiction.

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Boffin

RE: Manufacturing Costs

> "BTW. Current LiPoly. batteries have a duty cycle of about 1000 discharge-charge cycles."

It's a common misconception - quite forgivable. The limit on charge-discharge cycles is full-charge/full-discharge, not partial-charge/partial-discharge. Lifetime in average "driving stress" is around 150,000 km. And "lifetime" doesn't mean it becomes useless, but rather limited to around 75-80% of original capacity. All electric car battery manufacturers are planning comprehensive recycling. Lithium is not as rare as some people would like to make you think (guess who funds those people). But I agree, wasting Li in supermarket-grade batteries is foolish.

There's actually a much more compelling argument that the platinum in catalytic convertors should be re-captured - platinum is much more rare than Lithium even relative to the planned rate of use.

At the rate battery/electric storage tech is developing, Lithium won't be the only game in town. It will be superseded, but that's not likely to be for reasons of rarity.

> "Of course, we could just wait until someone invents a better battery technology"

Better electric storage tech is already on the way, including higher energy density, and it's not dangerous. Is a car's fuel tank too dangerous? Some people might think so, and people have been burned to death in their cars because of them. So should we ban petrol tanks because "it's chemistry, stupid"?

One more thing - it's unrealistic (some might say foolish in the extreme) to base market projections only on technology demonstrators and initial costs. You'd be laughed out of the boardroom and "let go" with that kind of argument.

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