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The electric Mini

The electric Mini

It may sound like a new dance, but an electric motor company built an electrically driven Mini as a demonstration vehicle to show off its technology. PML Flightlink Ltd., a British company with a product line that includes flight simulator joysticks and industrial electric motors, ripped the drivetrain out of a Mini, replacing it with four in-wheel electric motors, a 300-volt lithium-polymer battery, a 350-volt ultracapacitor, plus a 250cc two-cylinder engine to generate extra electricity, as needed. PML claims 80mpg and a top speed of 150mph. Zero to 62 mph is a blazing 4.5 seconds, and the car can run for four hours on electric-only, according to the company's Web site. The four in-wheel motors also work as regenerative braking systems and as a traction control system. PML calls the car the Mini QED.

This demonstration car points to an interesting future trend of new component makers entering the automotive arena as drivetrains diversify. Currently, automakers run their transmission and engine manufacturing as separate lines of business, installing them in their own cars and selling them to clients. The addition of electric components to drivetrains opens up the business to companies such as PML that have expertise in those areas but aren't traditionally automotive suppliers. The Mini QED could signal a large-scale economic shift.