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Miles EV raising money, Mini looking for drivers for electric car

While electric vehicle star Tesla Motors has been looking shaky of late, other automakers look ready to step into the gap. One name that may come up more often is Miles Electric Vehicle, which peHUB reports is in the midst of raising a $40 million funding round.

Miles, which already makes low-speed electric cars (often called NEVs) is in the process of finishing the design of a highway-speed car, the XS500. The company appears to be on track to start making the cars late next year, and has so far raised $13 million of the new funding. If it finds the full amount, the money may well be enough to carry it to commercial launch of the XS500. Earlier this year, then-CEO Jeff Boyd said in a VentureBeat interview that Miles’ capital requirements are lower than those of other companies because it outsources much of its work.

More exciting than Miles is the news from Mini, an iconic but mainly European automaker owned by BMW. As the SUV craze dies down, the company is making forays with its small vehicles into the United States. Now it’s beginning to quietly sign up 500 drivers to test out an electric vehicle in California, New Jersey and New York, according to Automotive News.

The Mini E is a three-door hatchback with an electronically-limited top speed of 95 miles per hour, and a range of 160 miles. The car will be offered on a lease, much as the infamous General Motors EV1 was, and for a very similar reason: BMW is testing out the car’s real-world performance before deciding whether to produce more, or junk the program.

However, with the unfortunate history of the EV1 available as a case study, it’s unlikely that BMW will give up. That will make the Mini E, along with the Think and the Electric Smart Fortwo, one of three European models likely to be seen in growing numbers over the next one to two years.