Every once in a while, I look over the cars you can buy, play with the configurator, and then wander away. As I've said (to various cries of incredulity), it annoys me that you can be expected to spend more than $25,000 on a vehicle and yet be offered a paltry array of bland colors (grey, white, silver, beige).

One of the companies that gets things mostly right is Mini. It does seem like you can configure an actual car, and then get that car (c.f., other companies where you can configure things, but you've only got three options to choose “Package A”, “Package B” or “Package C”, then you're expected to go to the dealer and drive away with whatever they have on the lot).

So, I returned to the Mini-USA site today to see what was new, and saw that they were taking 500 people to test the “Mini E” for a year. It's not exactly cheap, and I'm not sure how practical it'd be for most people, but I think that for us it would be pretty cool — we drive relatively short distances most of the time, so we aren't likely to run it out of juice.

I'm sure they have tons of applicants, and it looks like they're using “character” questions to make the decisions. Thus, they had lots of questions on things like “Who was your childhood hero?”, and ”List the three inventions you couldn't live without.” Somehow I don't think they wanted answers like “my math teacher” or “agriculture, the wheel, and the inclined plane”.

Anyway, I'm not going to get my hopes up too much, but if you don't try, you can't win.

Update: Mini did get back to me and pretty much offered me a lease, but when I looked at the terms, I came to the conclusion that they were asking way too much for a one year lease—you could lease two minis for the cost of leasing the Mini-e.