With MINI Es finally being delivered to the 450 test drivers in New York and California, a problem has cropped up that will limit the ability of many of those people to actually use the car. When MINI USA was taking applications for leases on the new EV, among the requirements were a garage with 220V electrical service. This was necessary in order to be able to charge the 35 kWh battery in four hours. When the car is delivered, MINI sends along an electrician to install a special wall box for charging.
The problem is the non-standard charging cable. In many of the areas where the cars are being distributed, local building codes require Underwriters Laboratories approved electrical hardware. Approval is still pending from UL on the 220V charging cable so it can't yet be distributed in those areas. The cars are all being delivered this month but roughly 300 of the recipients will have to charge from 110V wall sockets until they get UL-approved cables. That means a full charge will take about 23 hours. MINI USA spokeswoman Nathalie Bauters told USA Today that the company expects to have UL approval for the cable and have them all distributed by the end of July.