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Published on April 12th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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First Battery Electric Car to Race Around the Legendary Nürburgring is a MINI E

There is no race track steeped in as much history as the Nürburgring Nordschliefe in Germany. With over a hundred corners (by some counts) along its 20.8 km length, the course is considered by many to be the most technically demanding in the entire world. Yet, although it is uniquely challenging, one of its largest attractions is that it is almost always open to the public for a modest price, giving enthusiasts the world over a chance to test their race mettle.

As a common practice, many manufacturers also use the Nürburgring as a grueling test course for their most highly tuned race cars. But tiny, limted-edition electric cars? Not so much so. Apparently BMW didn’t get that note, however, having just run a *slightly* altered MINI E electric car around the track in a truly respectable 9m 51.45s. I’m impressed.

The MINI E Race — as BMW calls the car — was driven by  former MINI Challenge 2006 champion Thomas Jäger. “I’ve driven this circuit many times, but never in such an extraordinary car,” he said in a statement. “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.”

Although the car was mostly stock,  The MINI E Race was given a lightweight body and a roll cage, as well as “race specification” suspension, brakes and tires. The car was most notable for what it kept stock, however, sharing the same 150 kW/204 hp electric motor and battery pack as the MINI E that is being tested by a select few drivers around the world right now.

I’d love to see more electric cars make this pilgrimage and show their stuff. With 100% of their torque available from 0 RPMs, and an incredibly low center of gravity from the battery pack riding low and in the middle of the car, the only thing limiting electric car performance is the amount of available juice coming off the batteries.

Check out the video below and you can read the full press release, as well as compare the original MINI E with the MINI E Race stats on the next page.


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