BMW and Vattenfall Europe are to launch a test project for 50 electric cars in Berlin next year.

The project will see 50 Mini E cars on the streets of the German capital with public access to recharging points. It is expected to launch as early as spring next year.

Vattenfall will provide the power, which will be available either via public re-charging stations, or via the mains of the Mini E drivers' homes. The recharging stations will be designed in such a way that vehicles produced by other carmakers can also 'fill up' from them.

"Electro-mobility is the future", said Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for the environment, at the joint press conference in Berlin. "Further we have to take care that electric vehicles are able to use renewable energy. Only if we achieve that, we have zero-emission vehicles in the whole stream.

"We are delighted that our cooperation sets the starting point of a development towards electro-mobility in a metropolis such as Berlin", said Tuomo Hatakka, CEO of Vattenfall Europe. "Our recharging points will be available to all electric vehicles and simple to use: everyone driving an electric vehicle can recharge their vehicle at any time. Thus we expressly support projects of other companies which have already been announced."

Overall, Hatakka continued, the aim should be to develop a blanket coverage of recharging infrastructure.

Dr. Norbert Reithofer, CEO of the BMW Group, said: "The Mini E does not emit a single gram of CO2 while driving. What we want to know now is how normal customers would use an electric car in their daily lives. To create the preconditions of electromobility is also a challenge of political leadership. We will support this challenge with data and facts that we gain from this project as we want to be able to have a realistic view of the potentials this technology might bear."