All-Electric Mini E Tackles Der Nürburgring

News I By Brandon Turkus I April 13, 2010

Who says green cars can’t go racing? Mini likes to go above and beyond when it comes to publicity stunts, and this is no different. This particular stunt involves the all-electric Mini E, and Germany’s famed and feared Nürburgring-Nordeschleife.

The Mini E received a host of modifications for the attempt. Dubbed the Mini E Race, it received a thorough lightening, full roll cage, software designed to optimize power delivery, race-spec suspension, brakes and tires. Finally, a German touring car driver by the name of Thomas Jäger was placed in the cockpit, and told to go fast.

Other than the software swap, the Mini E Race used the same drivetrain as the standard Mini E, mainly 5088 lithium-ion batteries, which is good for 204 horsepower.

The Mini E Race managed to lap the Green Hell in 9 minutes and 51 seconds, which doesn’t sound too impressive, until you realize that the electric racer is the first full-electric car to attempt the Ring.

BMW press release is below.

Green power through the Green Hell

Munich/Nürburg. Taking on the infamous Nürburgring-Nordschleife circuit at race speed with an electrically powered car is an ambitious project, but the BMW Group has just become the first car manufacturer to make it happen. Today the MINI E Race, a modified race-spec version of the standard MINI E, completed a lap of the legendary 20.8 km “Green Hell” in a time of 09:51.45 minutes. The MINI E Race hit a top speed of 187 km/h.

“The length and profile of the Nordschleife place extreme demands on the technology of our electric car. But the MINI E Race met this considerable challenge with great authority,” said the BMW Group’s Peter Krams, who headed up the project. “The aim of this unique undertaking was to provide an impressive showcase of the great potential of the MINI E and its environment-friendly drive concept.”

At the wheel of the electric racer for the hot lap was former DTM racing driver Thomas Jäger from Munich. “I’ve driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car,” said Jäger, the MINI Challenge champion in 2006. “The power of the electric motor has an incredible effect, as you can access its full reserves of torque at all times. Another element of this fascinating experience is the lack of noise from the drivetrain. All in all, that was certainly the cleanest and quietest race lap I’ve ever driven.”

Extensive preparations had to be completed before the car could roll out onto the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. The MINI E Race was fitted with a special lightweight body and a roll cage in order to ensure optimum performance and safety on the track. And various other components, such as the suspension, brakes and tyres, are also race specification. Other than that, however, the car relies almost exclusively on the standard technical make-up of the MINI E. For example, it shares the same 150 kW/204 hp electric motor, supplied with energy from 5,088 lithium-ion battery cells. The control electronics and the software were reprogrammed to achieve an optimal driving performance for the Nordschleife. The power from the emission-free motor is channelled to the front wheels via a single-stage helical gearbox with a lengthened gear ratio.

Interior

Recaro Pro Racer (HANS) CFRP seat, 6-way safety harness (3-inch), suede leather steering wheel 320 mm diameter

Roll cage

Bolt construction (lightweight) CrMo4, approx. 35 kg incl. mounting materials

Transmission

Mechanical multi-plate limited-slip differential with 40°/50° ramp breakover angle, 55 Nm preload

Engine

Adjusted engine management settings

Suspension

KW Variant 3 coilover suspension, tuned to the higher axle loads of the MINI E Race with modified damping characteristics and adjusted springs

Exterior

Diffusers, rear wing, CFRP body parts

Safety

Integration of special race ABS
Differentiated main switch concept

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