The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Southern Calif. City Considers Year-Long Test-Drive of Electric Mini E

May 04, 2009

MANHATTAN BEACH, CA --- The city of Manhattan Beach, an upscale beach community near Los Angeles, is reviewing a BMW Group offer to give the city discounted leases on up to 10 fully electric versions of the Mini Cooper, the Daily Breeze newspaper reported.

If the city accepts the offer, Manhattan Beach would pay a small monthly fee for each "Mini E" vehicle and offer feedback on the car's performance. Manhattan Beach would get to use the cars -- not yet available on the market -- for a year.

The offer is part of a broader effort by BMW to disperse 500 cars to municipalities, companies and consumers in exchange for feedback before the Mini E hits the market, the newspaper reported. Most testers will be charged $850 a month for the vehicle, but Manhattan Beach could draw a special fleet price of $10 per car, said Nadine Jambor, a Mini E sales specialist. The city's reputation for environmentalism factored into BMW's decision to approach the city, Jambor added. Already, 13 percent of Manhattan Beach's city fleet runs on alternative fuel, gas-electric hybrid technology or electricity.

"I think it's great," City Councilman Richard Montgomery said of the offer. "We're not paying for gas, we're not paying for [compressed natural gas], maintenance or wear-and-tear on our vehicles," he told the Daily Breeze.

The city is expected to accept or decline the offer this month. City Attorney Bob Wadden and other department heads are reviewing the proposal. There are concerns over whether the cars would be considered a gift reportable to the Fair Political Practices Commission. If city officials determine that's the case, then they also must calculate the cars' fair market value -- not a simple task since the cars aren't yet available for purchase on the market. Also the city must learn whether city officials using the cars must forgo their vehicle allowance.

The Mini E can reach speeds as high as 95 mph and travel up to 120 miles on one battery charge.


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