10 Years in the Making: Mini Previews Styling of Upcoming EV Concept
In 2009, BMW avoided jumping the gun when it introduced an electric conversion of its Mini Cooper as a test platform instead of a production vehicle. Dubbed the “Mini E,” and limited to two seats due to its massive battery pack, the prototype served as a short-term consumer testbed for field trials and was deployed in several countries, including the United States.
However, as other automakers brought production EVs into the world, Mini held off — perhaps waiting for an more advantageous moment to enter the segment.
That moment appears to have arrived. The brand decided Wednesday to tease us with photos of its new “Mini Electric Concept,” which it says will enter into production in 2019. Its shares its powertrain with the BMW i3, so expect a driving range of at least 110 e-miles (or 180 with an optional gasoline range extender) and an electric motor producing a minimum of 160 horsepower.
Unlike the Mini E, the Electric Concept is a four-seater, and it will persist in this layout when it inevitably goes into production.
Styling is always subjective but it’s on-brand in just about every way you could imagine. Its perhaps a bit much in terms of aero, but distinctively modern and clearly a Cooper. Mini claims the bodywork is mostly aerodynamically sound but also specified this was a car designed with the urban environment in mind — so it’s not so much about making downforce as it is adding MPGs.
That said, BMW Group says it wants the EV to maintain the Cooper’s enjoyable handling properties.
“With its characteristic go-kart feeling and powerful electric motor, the Mini Electric Concept is great fun to drive while also being completely suitable for everyday use — and producing zero emissions to boot. That’s how we at Mini envisage electric mobility in tomorrow’s world,” said Peter Schwarzenbauer, management board member of BMW AG responsible for Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad, said in a statement.
As this is a concept vehicle, the automaker had plenty to say about the vehicle’s appearance. But we wouldn’t encourage you to hold your breath on a two-toned matte and gloss paint job with contrasting accents. Likewise, those aftermarket-looking font fenders probably won’t stick around. But we wouldn’t be opposed to the closed-off faux grille, EV bumpers, and unique LED lights staying. It’s also nice to see a car entirely devoid of chrome, which presents a sense of modernity without feeling gimmicky — something the standard Cooper lacks.
The Frankfurt Auto Show gets underway this September and the concept Mini is certain to make a public appearance. The production model is tentatively slated for 2019, a full decade after the Mini E was introduced.
[Image: BMW Group]
A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.
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