BMW has finally confirmed it is "carrying out various series of tests on electrically powered vehicles to determine the alternative drive of the future".

The automaker said "several hundred" Mini vehicles built in the Oxford, UK, plant, would be modified in Munich and fitted out for trials.

Automotive News Europe had said there were 500 cars and the test market was California where stringent new regulations will require automakers to sell a proportion of zero-emission models.

"This step will allow the BMW group to gain an initial knowledge of how mobility can be achieved efficiently using purely electrically powered vehicles. Our task here is to combine the ultimate driving experience with an efficient electrified drive with practically no emissions", chairman Norbert Reithofer said in a statement.

BMW said a 12-18 month test programme would "refine the technology" but refused to provide more details until "towards the end of the year".

Mini power California-bound