Come March, drivers in Southern California and the New York City area will be able to lease an all electric MINI Cooper. Only 250 units of the MINI Cooper E will be available in the test run.

Despite being priced considerably higher than its petrol and diesel brothers, the new all-electric MINI Cooper E two seater is being snapped up by customers in US test markets. Only 450 units are available for lease in the New York area and Souther California, with drivers receiving their new cars this March.

BMW, parent company to MINI, is reporting that they already have four times as many applicants as cars. Leasing the vehicles will cost around $850 per month, for a one year period.

The MINI Cooper E can go about 120 miles before needing a recharge. The rear seat has been cleared away to make room for a 570 pound battery. 0 to 60mph time is 8.5 seconds, which makes acceleration fast enough for the heavy traffic areas of NYC and SoCal.

MINI's new green machine uses regenerative braking, a system where the car is slowed by taking energy from the engine and putting it back into the battery, as well as a traditional pedal brake.

These test drivers are being studied by BMW to see how people respond with limited-range vehicles. This will also be a real-life analysis of the lithium-ion battery's sustainability over the long term. Selected drivers must consent to keeping a driver's log, and participating in frequent surveys about the car's performance. A successful test run could mean mass production for the E.

Although three times as much as a normal MINI, the MINI Cooper E includes collision insurance and maintenance. BMW estimates that electricity costs will be roughly 40% less than gasoline costs over the year.

Be part of something big