BMW Group plans to start leasing 500 all-electric vehicles for private use in daily traffic next year. The MINI E will be available to select customers in California, New York and New Jersey for one-year leases.

Based on the current MINI, the car will initially be available as a two-seater, with the backseat reserved for the battery. It will retain the same design with minor visual differences.

The MINI E is powered by a 150 kW electric motor fed by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and is entirely free of emissions. The battery provides a range of more 150 miles and is chargeable through any standard wall outlet. A provided wallbox will shorten entire charge time to 2.5 hours.

BMW will evaluate the test-drive findings to review performance in daily traffic and for research in mass-production. Cost and application process have not been announced.

The company is considering offering the MINI E in Europe as well. The MINI E world premiere will be at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19 and 20, 2008.