Athletes at the 2012 Summer Olympics may find themselves buzzing around London in an electric Mini. "We are delighted to have announced recently that BMW Group will become a Tier 1 partner for the 2012 London Olympics," explained Tim Abbott, managing director of BMW Group (U. K.), this week. "We will supply around 4,000 vehicles for the use of athletes, officials and media both for the Olympics and the Paralympics. The vehicles will include low-emission EfficientDynamics cars, bicycles and motorcycles. Our latest zero-emissions cars will be showcased too." The BMW Group, owner of Mini, has been involved in alternative-energy research for many years and built several electric research vehicles, based on the BMW 2002, as far back as 1972. These cars participated in the 1972 Munich Olympics by supporting the runners in the marathon. The manufacturer handed over 40 Mini E cars to drivers this past week, who are charged with using them in their daily comings and goings for the next six months. To cover the research and investment costs of the project a Mini E would normally cost in the region of $1,000 a month to lease, however part funding from the Government's Technology Strategy Board has cut the cost to the Mini E pioneers in half. A full charge at home will cost them less than $3 on today's exchange rates for an off-peak overnight fill-up (the U.K. has power tariffs that vary depending on the hour of usage). AsMini says the car's range before a recharge is necessary should be around 240 kilometres that means users will pay around 1.25 cents per kilometre in fuel costs. In a country where gas costs more than $2 a litre, that is a sweet deal. As soon as the driver lifts his or her foot off the accelerator pedal, the electric motor acts as a generator. This results in braking force and the power recovered from the kinetic energy is fed back to the battery. In city traffic, some 75 per cent of all deceleration can be done without the brakes. Using this energy regeneration feature extends the car's range by up to 20 per cent and should make for a smoother driving experience.