Monday, November 30, 2009

BMW plans electric car

A rendering of the possible electric BMWBMW has believed for years that more efficient gasoline or diesel models were a better bet than hybrid cars. However, as the possibility of the hybrid giving way to the all-electric vehicle, German automaker BMW wants to be the leader. BMW is spending more than $1 billion to develop a small car for urban drivers that will include an electric-powered version.

To test the idea and the interest, BMW is leasing 500 Mini sedans that have been modified to run on batteries. These leases will take place in New York and Los Angeles.

Who would be willing to pay a premium for a vehicle that can travel only 150 miles between charges? BMW says it had no trouble finding customers eager to shell out $850 a month to lease the modified Minis, even though the cars seat only two because batteries displace the rear seats. Driving an electric mini BMW is like driving in the future, so people are willing to pay the price.

BMW is counting on the fact that the consumers with fat wallets and impeccable taste will have no problem shelling out extra money to dirve a battery-operated BMW. The prestigious BMW name would be strong competition for Mitsubishi, Renault, and General Motors, who also plan to make battery-powered vehicles.

The electric BMW may be a ways off but chances are if BMW hits the showroom floor with an electric mini car, there will be many willing to pay the price for a hip car with an upscale brand name.

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