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Get a glimpse of the rare electric Mini

June 9, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
You see lots of Mini Coopers around Southern California, but Peter Trepp's new Mini is pretty special -- it is electric."I love cars, first of all, and I love technology," said Trepp. "So it's sort of the perfect cross of both."

Trepp was the first person to get the new plug-in electric car. But he is also lucky in that only 250 of the 400 made are being leased in the Los Angeles area. Some 2,000 people applied to get them.

"I was just shocked and humbled too, frankly, because I know it's such an important program," said Trepp. "I would've thought somebody from Hollywood would've gotten it for sure."

Trepp gets to lease the Mini E for one year at $850 per month, which includes insurance and a special charger that was installed in his garage. That might sound a bit steep, but it is a bargain compared to what it likely cost Mini's parent company, BMW, to build the car.

Just about everyone notices when gas prices start to rise, even people who drive fairly fuel-efficient cars. Peter Trepp, and the others driving the Mini E, may be the only ones who won't notice. It only costs about $7 to charge the batteries.

The arrival of the no-gasoline Mini coincides pretty well with the run-up in gas prices. And once people see them on the road, they might want one.

Bob Smith Mini in Calabasas leased Trepp his car. He says they have more arriving, but they are all spoken for.

"The combination of electric and Mini does create a lot of excitement, but they're not going to be able to get them," said Tim Smith, president of Bob Smith Mini. "But if they're calling us, maybe they'll come in and get a gasoline Mini for the time being to hold them over until we get the electric one."

As for Peter Trepp, he has already given dozens of rides in the car, has set up a blog, made the front page of his local paper and his wife even had special M&M's made up in the distinct Mini E color scheme.

Trepp is pretty sure his year in the car will fly by, but he knows he is part of a test for future battery-powered vehicles.

"They're looking at a lot of different alternative fuel vehicles. And I think electric certainly should be part of their line-up," said Trepp.

You may see Peter out on the road in his high-tech Mini and he'll probably be smiling as he drives. But one thing he won't be doing is stopping at gas stations.

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