By on July 9, 2019

A few short years ago, there were very few players in the electric vehicle marketplace, with cars like the first-generation Leaf topping out with 73 miles of range. Since then, we’ve seen EVs like the Tesla Model 3 that are rated with 310 miles of range and some models can go even farther between finding a charge point. In this growing and competitive market, Mini introduced an all-new electric Mini, called the Cooper SE.

The Cooper SE is an all electric car with a 135 kW electric motor good for 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque. Mini doesn’t cite U.S. EPA estimated range numbers, but they are claiming a range of 235 to 270 kilometers. A direct conversion to miles would be — checks notes — 146 miles. Since the European testing cycle is optimistic, the EPA range is likely to sit around 114 miles according to Automotive News.

That’s missing the mark. By a lot.

Maybe it’ll make up for the lack of range by fast charging? Mini says that the Cooper SE will be take advantage of 50 kW fast charging. The Leaf Plus can use a 100 kW fast charger, and Tesla’s later Supercharger stations can pump out the juice at 250 kW. So does it make up for it in charging? No.

Maybe the driving experience will be better in this than other EVs? Mini claims that the Cooper SE is only 319 pounds heavier than the Cooper S with the automatic transmission. On a car this size, that weight would be noticeable if you drove them both back-to-back, but at 3,009 pounds the Cooper SE is still pretty light. Though there aren’t too many people who climb out of a Model 3, especially the Performance version, and think that the experience wasn’t fun.

Mini suggests a 0-60 mph run in 7.3 seconds and a top speed of 93.2 mph. Car and Driver tested a Kona EV and it did the same run in 6.2 seconds (and our first drive proved it to be more sprightly than advertised around town). Nissan’s Leaf Plus has a top speed of 99 mph; the Kona can do 104.

So why choose the Mini Cooper SE over the competition? Because it’s a Mini? Like the bigger, PHEV Countryman SE with an electric range of just 12 miles, the Cooper SE misses the mark on competitiveness. It looks great, especially with the concept’s wheels and the yellow trim pieces, and it’ll surely drive well on a back road. But Minis aren’t usually cheap transportation, making this an expensive city runabout once the brand publishes the official MSRP.

Minis are some of the best driving front-wheel drive cars on the planet, but this one reeks of emissions compliance. Mini is a better car company than this. In this competitive segment they need to do better.

 

[Images: Mini]

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60 Comments on “Mini Introduces New Cooper SE Electric with Lackluster Range...”


  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    The Mini equivalent of the smart ED. Maybe not as underpowered, but really short on range, high on price, and just not competitive, just like the dearly departed smart.
    Maybe there’s still a handful of people who just need a Mini and were holding out for this, but given the sales numbers, they need to right the ship and soon. All it has to do is compete with the Leaf, and BMW-Mini had enough time and enough engineering skills to make this happen, and boy, from reading this, it sounds like they phoned it in.
    I see inexpensive leases coming up and buyers waiting for Version 2.0.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    The return of British Leyland?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    With a 73 mile range why bother? A hybrid would be a much better choice

    • 0 avatar
      SPPPP

      The 73-mile range was for the first Nissan Leaf. Not this Mini, which appears to have a 114-mile range.

      I suspect that packaging was one of the big difficulties for Mini here. If they made the battery too big, it would compromise cargo space too much.

      One possible advantage is that an electric Mini would *theoretically* be free of the expensive engine, transmission, cooling system, and emissions problems that the gas-powered Minis are subject to. In that context, I think this car could be interesting.

  • avatar
    cprescott

    It is one thing to buy a petrol Cooper at the prices they charge for those. How stupid must you be to pay for half the range of a good electric car at a price equal to what they are charging? Egads. Is Cooper afraid of trying to modernize their design. At least the original had its originality – this is just looking like a blob of soap with curly hairs coming out of it.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    So, to sum up: take a car that’s silly overpriced to begin with, make it more expensive, and give it some lame electrification.

    Yeah, that’ll fix it!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    This car is a good summary of where BMW is in 2019…

    – overpriced
    – uncompetitive electric range
    – aging design that has not changed
    – corporate hoping the badge sells it
    – poor reputation for quality and dependability

    It’s clear that BMW has no idea what to do with MINI.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Oh, I think they know what to do with Mini – they need to make it less expensive. I suspect they just can’t do that given their cost structure.

      I don’t see things getting any better for these guys anytime soon.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    DOA.

    But I have to admit, there is something almost 80s retro about those rims that I like.

    • 0 avatar
      The Comedian

      Those rims would be a hard sell in anti-Christian countries. Luckily the take rate for electric ps in those place is already effectively zero, so no harm done.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Pay attention to the backdrop in the publicity stills shown in the article — they say it all. This is intended to be a stylish urban runabout/suburban commuter car. As such it’ll suit some people and not others.

  • avatar
    ThomasSchiffer

    Even though I am from Munich and I dislike the products of the BMW Group, I feel compelled to defend this car. In my city the higher-spec MINI products are driven by people who wear the latest fashion, have the latest smartphone and earn good money. MINI is a lifestyle brand and product.

    And so is this MINI E.

    The range might not be impressive, but the car is obviously targeting affluent city-dwellers who place some emphasis on styling. The Nissan Leaf may offer more range and value, but it falls short on styling and an outdated, cheap-feeling interior. The range of this MINI E is sufficient for city use.

    Style is high on my list of priorities, and even though I am not a fan of BMW or MINI products, I find myself wanting a MINI over similar Nissan products based on style, interior design and also how the product drives.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      That all works…IF Mini sells this cheap. But they won’t – Mini doesn’t sell anything cheap. I think a sticker of 40 large is a safe bet. Given that, what affluent city dweller would rather have this over a Model 3 that’s a few grand more?

      And wouldn’t range be doubly important to a city dweller, who may not have a garage to recharge in every night?

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “Mini doesn’t sell anything cheap” That wasn’t always the case, though.

        They used to sell pretty cheap in Europe. Morris Mini, and other iterations.

        Then, when BMW bought the brand name, all of a sudden they got to be pretentious, portraying the brand as something special.

        They’re not. The movie “The Italian Job” with Mark Wahlberg, Donald Sutherland and Charlize Theron, is what brought the brand to the attention of Americans.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          True. But they don’t need to sell stripped-out city cars – they just need to make the prices more reasonable.

          I shopped these guys last year – they wanted a hair under thirty grand for a Cooper two door with a punk-a** three banger. A version with a four was $35,000 or so. That’s just stupid when…(insert GTI comparison here). When I said something to that effect to the salesperson, she just looked down, defeated. She’d heard it a million times before. Another lost sale…

          If they could offer all the personalization features of the brand – which are actually very cool – on the three-banger for a low-twenties price point, or on the four for GTI money, they’d have plenty of business. Maybe try building them here at a lower cost? I don’t know.

          Shame, because these cars really are a blast to drive.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Yes, they are a blast to drive, and only in America do carmakers try these overpriced shenanigans, and often get away with it.

            A friend of my grand daughter’s here in El Paso, TX, has an all-white Mini with a wide red stripe front to back over the driver’s side.

            Needless to say, when she gets in or out of that Mini all attention is focused on her, not the car.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          @HDC:
          “Then, when BMW bought the brand name, all of a sudden they got to be pretentious, portraying the brand as something special.
          They’re not.”

          Yes they were. They were very special. Or can you point out many other mass produced cars at all in the whole industry, let alone in the compact class, that had a dedicated platform just for that model? I’d argue, though I’m not an expert on that matter, just based on how it performed and how good it was to drive, that the first BMW Mini platform was incredibly well designed by talented people with a pretty large budget. IIRC new production facilities too.

          Mini’s engines were great (sure, there are reliability stories on all engines when you look for them), once again dedicated to that car model (some were shared but primarily designed for the Mini).

          No-one had the same customisability and ‘high-end’ feel and features at the time.

          Minis stood out very much, I’d say they were very special back then.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Lockstops, I don’t know that there are many real world buyers who share your view, except for fans of the Mini.

            But are there enough fans of the Mini who actually BUY a Mini to keep the money flowing?

            Others have made a similar argument FOR GM but aside from the unwilling taxpayers funding another bailout, there aren’t enough buyers of GM products to keep GM from going down the same death spiral they traveled on pre-2009.

            And this electrified Mini, is it going to electrify sales numbers? Or will the price result in only the electrocution of the buyer’s wallet?

            For the same amount of money a buyer pays for a Mini, they can get a whole lot more vehicle, value and content from another automaker.

            BTW, I did own a used Mini during the seventies until my car arrived at Bremerhaven. It was fun to drive, but I wouldn’t buy a new one as my first choice.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            The fist BMW Mini Coopers had the Tritec engine, shared with such special cars as the export market Neon, the Lifan 620 and the Chery A15 Flagcloud. The chassis had quite a bit of E46 DNA, and they did drive almost as nicely as sporting Hondas. The second gen BMW Mini Coopers had the PSA Prince engine, shared with the Peugeot 307 and Citroen C3. More recent ones have bottom of the line BMW engines. Minis are pretty special, as long as everything you know about them is wrong.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            TriTec. That’s the name I had forgotten. Couldn’t think of that name for the life of me.

            And the PSA engine was a real screamer. It revved to unheard of rpms. Got all its power from spinning speed.

            My cousin in Heidelberg had a couple of “occasion” Mini-Coopers for sale at his M-B dealership, the last time we were visiting there (2016).

      • 0 avatar
        ThomasSchiffer

        @FreedMike,

        Perhaps the buyer of a MINI E finds it to be more stylish than a Tesla Model 3? Whoever buys these cars will have the money, and an emotional reason to buy one. Don’t forget that sometimes emotions win over logic.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Could be.

          But if I was choosing between something I found very attractive but impractical, and something that wasn’t quite as good looking but highly practical, I know where my money would be spent.

          And let’s not forget there are plenty of people who buy Teslas as a fashion statement.

          Either way, I think Mini’s got a serious uphill challenge on its’ hands trying to sell this vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            ThomasSchiffer

            @FreedMike,

            I am not a fan of MINI, but in terms of style I do find this EV MINI more, how shall I say it, ‘interesting looking’, than the Tesla, which to my eyes looks rather sedated and dull.

            As a matter of fact the only beautiful EV to my eyes is the Audi e-Tron GT concept. I am an Audi fan, and I would definitely buy this if it were to reach the production stage with minimal visual changes.

            https://www.audi.com/de/experience-audi/models-and-technology/concept-cars/audi-e-tron-gt-concept.html

          • 0 avatar

            Model 3 looks futuristic like a car from future while Mini looks like retro car which it actually is and has no future like all other retro cars. It also scary to commute in it every day on freeway.

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            Inside Looking Out:

            Model 3 looks like a Mazda from a few generations ago, maybe with a bit of a facelift. Just as one would expect since it’s a ‘facelift’ to the Model S design which was a simplified Mazda design from a few generations back (at the time, now I guess it’s at least three generations ago?).

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          @HDC:
          I was talking about the original first two generations of the BMW Minis.

          Current ones have gone further into the platform-sharing route because for some reason BMW board has been so incompetent and unoriginal (apparently they are purely yes-men battling each other in politics, they are not interested in actually running a car company or in cars, the current owners are weak as hell). And they’re way too expensive, not that they aren’t almost ok value compared to competition, but they’ve all gone into bizarro-world trying to charge obscene amounts for basic FWD crap with a thin coating of ‘luxurious interior’ on top.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            “I was talking about the original first two generations of the BMW Minis.”

            Lockstops, agreed.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          @ToddAtlasF1:
          I didn’t say that the first engines were special, I said they’re great. They were. I particularly liked the supercharged engine as it gave pretty good response and yet good torque, as opposed to turbocharged engines back then which were horribly laggy and didn’t like to rev (no that the Mini’s engine was particularly revvy). Who cares what other junk those engines were put into, the main thing is that the engines worked well in the Mini. Once again, the supercharged 1.6 suited the Mini perfectly and was definitely especially characterful with its high power (for the time the JCW:s power was a lot) and supercharger whine.

          The Prince engines were very good and in fact special engines. Even though I’m not such a huge fan of their feel and character, but I guess the more modern tech and fuel efficiency (the Tritec’s biggest negative aspect) were important. The PSA part of the joint venture was mostly just paying for engines and doing grunt-work. BMW basically designed the engines (based on PSA blocks) or actually who cares about that basic stuff, the main reason and the whole point of the JV was that Bayerische Motoren Werke supplied their engine goodies like Valvetronic, variable water pumps and oil pumps, and direct injection & twin-scroll turbo know-how.

          But what do I know… Did you ever drive a first-gen Mini Cooper S?? And I guess now the Prince engines are supposed to be bad?? Compared to what?? Didn’t Prince engines win Engine of the Year awards pretty much every single year they were in production?

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            My then-gf was one of the early Mini Cooper customers. We got email updates and a log-in to watch it go down the production line. I still have a 1/32nd scale replica of it somewhere. I’ve driven a Triton Cooper S as recently as in the last twelve months. They burn exhaust valves to the point that WorldPac stocks hundreds at a time from multiple suppliers. The Prince Cooper S lacked the responsiveness. I’ve seen the N/A ones need engine replacements.

            I suppose I’m a bit soured on them because the one we bought in 2003 turned into a pumpkin faster than any new car I’ve been involved with since a 1985 turbo Dodge. Everything except the engine and transmission caused multiple dealer visits, and off warranty it was as useful as a cardboard boat.

            Last year, the shop I was running took in a 2005 Cooper S for ‘free’ with a burned valve. Scrap value was $100, and I couldn’t get rid of it fast enough to avoid the shop owner deciding to waste our hotshot German and Swedish car expert mechanic’s time fixing the engine. We also wasted money replacing the crummy trim that had aged like milk. Then the owner had a friend advertise it on craigslist, resulting in a lawsuit that cost quite a bit and ended a friendship. I think the car wound up getting sold at a dealer auction known for being the place to dispose of Jeep Grand Cherokees that only run until they reach operating temperature and used VWs. I did get some wheel time during one of the rare moments when it was operating properly and it was no Acura RSX Type-S.

          • 0 avatar

            Did not Mini had a Chrysler engine?

    • 0 avatar
      ToddAtlasF1

      A few years ago, I saw a pink Mini Cooper S being driven by a young male who was clad in pink from head to toe and carrying a purse. He was accompanied by a much older female who was also dressed entirely in pink. To each their own.

  • avatar
    Avanti!

    I’ll wait 5 years until it’s about $8,000 for a low mile one. Until then, no thanks.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    I think this shows that battery costs aren’t dropping as quickly as all the “experts” are saying and/or battery energy density isn’t increasing as fast as all the “experts” are saying. Sure BMW could put a bigger battery in, but then it would weigh a lot more and not handle like a Mini, and the cost would be crazy high on a brand where prices are already crazy high.

    • 0 avatar
      Snooder

      I think everyone understands that batteries are expensive.

      Which is why the Tesla model works well, and why one would think BMW of all carmakers wouldn’t fuck this up.

      Cause the clear solution when your base costs are high is to position yourself in the luxury market. Add some bells and whistles and a cool design and they could sell the thing for 40k.

      But that requires a good product underneath. Not a shittier version of what people can already get for the same price elsewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      @stingray: Rather than some baseless propaganda, let’s look at some real facts. The best density in regular mass production right now is 304 Wh/kg. That compares with the first Leaf in 2010 at 140 Wh/kg. At least a couple of manufacturers should be close to jumping to 500 Wh/kg. Getting beyond 500 might take some time, but I could be wrong.

      Costs should be coming down too. Lower cost NMC811’s are ramping up production and are up to 2% of the global market and 4% in China already.

  • avatar
    Asdf

    What’s described as “fast charging” in this article is not fast charging, on the contrary it’s EXTREMELY SLOW charging (even though there are chargers out there that are EVEN SLOWER). If this BEV Mini gets a range comparable to that of the petrol or diesel version, and a maximum charging time of five minutes, then it can be brought to the market. If it doesn’t even fulfill those MODEST criteria, it should be axed ASAP.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      We get it, you have an axe to grind against electric cars. The only question is: why?

      Possible answers:
      1) Your entire retirement is tied up in Exxon stock or shorting Tesla stock – take your pick
      2) Russian troll
      3) Too much coffee
      3) Your mom was dating a Tesla driver and he dumped her with a text message.

      (My money’s on the last one.)

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        For me it’s that they’re still not as practical as an ICE car and sometimes I resent that they’re being forced onto the public as the only alternative we have to save the planet

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          At this point, the government’s basically providing tax incentives to EV buyers, and I don’t see how that “forces” them on anyone.

          As far as EVs being some kind of magic bullet to save the planet is concerned, I’m not sold on that. But it’s pretty apparent to me the planet needs saving, and if EVs contribute to that – and they will, as long as the electricity they use is generated more cleanly – then they need to be part of the mix. Besides, there’s money in alternative energy. The fossil fuel players know that, and that’s why they’re fighting it tooth and nail.

          • 0 avatar
            Lockstops

            @FreedMike:

            When the government takes away your money and gives it to others you can be sure it “forces” their behaviour if they can switch over to receiving money that others pay!

            About actually helping the planet, well, are EVs contributing to that at all? Are they? In my case EVs pretty certainly pollute _more_ or at best are around equal to ICE or mild-hybrid ICE (then there’s E85 and CNG cars running on biomethane, both readily available here, produced from waste).

            What do you think, how will it affect the planet if instead of paying 10k€ more on an EV (and others paying more too by subsidising my EV) I can buy an ICE car that pollutes pretty much exactly the same amount in greenhouse gasses and then thanks to that large amount of saved capital I can buy that new, far more energy efficient house a lot sooner or installing that heat pump or geothermal energy system to really make a much larger difference in my greenhouse gas impact??

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @lockstops: You can make that argument about *anything* the government uses tax policy to incentivize. That includes stuff like taking out a mortgage, paying interest on a student loan, paying college tuition, and having kids (and that’s a short list).

            So, the government’s *forcing* people to do all that stuff because it gives people a tax incentive? Of course not. It just sees an economic upside to those things, and uses tax policy to sweeten the deal. This is nothing new.

        • 0 avatar
          Lockstops

          @Lie2me: Well put. I kind of hate myself for giving in to subsidies and tax breaks, and am considering after an EV and a PHEV to going back to pure ICE.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          “I resent that they’re being forced onto the public”

          Yeah, you’re walking down the street one day and are by jumped by government agents. They force you to test drive an EV whereupon you become hopelessly addicted to instant torque for life and must buy an EV to satisfy your unquenchable thirst. I know, I’ve been there, and no 12 step program can save me. Must have instant torque….

      • 0 avatar
        Asdf

        I don’t have an axe to grind against BEVs. In fact, I’d love to buy one myself, but only when the BEV had a range and charging time comparable to that of a diesel car of similar size, didn’t cost significantly more than its ICE counterpart, and didn’t require tax payer looting for that price point to be reached. Those are quite modest expectations, so my only problem with BEVs is that the BEV manufacturers steadfastly REFUSE to design BEVs that meet such modest requirements.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          So the axe you’re grinding is not against electric cars in general, but rather that no one wants to build you one with bleeding-edge future tech at today’s price. Got it.

          Good thing you’re being reasonable.

          • 0 avatar
            Asdf

            There’s no “bleeding-edge future tech” about it. We’re talking about features cars have had for decades. Any car that is unable to implement these features, regardless of technology used, is DEFECTIVE, and it’s entirely reasonable to expect manufacturers to fix defects BEFORE the cars are brought to market.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @asdf: “it’s entirely reasonable to expect manufacturers to fix defects BEFORE the cars are brought to market.”

            What about the torque-lag defect in ICE cars? Shouldn’t that be fixed. What about the carbon monoxide defect in ICE cars that kills people every year?

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Yawn. This is an annoying game, but equally easy to play the other way.

            ICE cars are “defective” because I can’t charge them at home and have to make a time-consuming trip out of my way to a gas station.

            ICE cars are “defective” because if I sit in one with the climate control and radio running while I’m waiting for my sleeping kid to wake up both of us are going to breathe in toxic fumes.

            ICE cars are “defective” because the primitive engines aren’t flexible enough to cover the entire range of speeds at which a car needs to operate without a lurchy and obtrusive multi-speed transmission.

            ICE cars are “defective” because on cold winter mornings they envelop my whole city in a disgusting, poisonous aroma of unburned fuel.

            They should all be pulled immediately from the market until those defects are fixed. /s

  • avatar
    conundrum

    No point telling us. We’ve heard your bleating before, ad infinitum.

    Screw up your courage, print out a series of your posts, stuff ’em in an envelope, stick on an actual stamp and send them to BMW HQ. Address is on their website, An actual letter will impress them, since anyone can delete an email. Here a human has to open an envelope, so I’m sure they’ll be glad to hear from you, take your criticisms to heart and will cancel production of the MINI E immediately.

  • avatar
    Add Lightness

    More range = more potteries = more weight.
    Within reason, I like lightweight cars more than the heavier versions.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      I agree. Most people buying a car like this don’t need more from an EV, as longer trips will be handled with the charging stops which don’t take too long (as long as the charging station is working and is not occupied). Bigger, heavier batteries make a lot less sense. An EV is a big compromise and I also consider this to be the better choice.

      What is interesting is the proposed, possibly upcoming feature of the Fiat Panda which will be all-electric: it will have small batteries and for long trips you can go to a pick-up point (probably service center?) to add on more battery modules which will result in a very large battery pack to give you a very long range. Sounds good and efficient: you’ll have the required battery capacity instead of lugging around a lot of dead weight.

  • avatar
    Lockstops

    Well, what is Mini going to do when the Honda e comes out?

    The Honda will be rear wheel drive, have almost the same power (150hp vs. 184hp), more torque (300Nm vs. 270Nm) and has a marginally larger battery (35,5kWh vs. 32,6kWh), and DC charging is double (100kW vs. 50kW).

    What if the rumours of pricing are true and the Honda e only costs about 30k€ and the Mini 31k€, with the Mini expected to be much more basic equitpment-wise, with customers having to spend about 40k€ for the Mini to be well optioned out vs. the Honda e having the better equipment level at around 35k€?

    What does speak for the Mini, a lot, is that it has a heat pump as standard equipment which is an absolutely huge advantage for efficiency in most climates for most of the year. While it is possible that the Honda e will also have a heat pump it’s very doubtful.

    • 0 avatar
      Lockstops

      BTW why are people comparing this to Tesla Model 3?? This and the Honda e are expected to start at well under 40k€, closer to 30k€, while the Model 3 starts at well over 45k€!

      • 0 avatar
        HotPotato

        Because the Model 3 is literally the benchmark against which all other EVs are judged.

        Compare it to a Hyundai Kona instead. It still shows poorly.

        I hear what you’re saying though. An actually-mini Mini is a city car; it doesn’t need long range. Mini is a luxury/niche brand; it doesn’t need good value.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          The Model 3 is overrated.

          In our recent purchase, we compared a Model 3 against a Chevy Bolt. The Bolt won the comparison, and probably would have won even with closer real-world pricing (we got our Bolt for nearly $10k off MSRP before tax credit).

          Granted, one of the demerits from our perspective (overly showy styling) is probably a win for most buyers, but we were also unimpressed by poor ergonomics, build quality issues, a harsh ride, a reckless attitude toward safety in the design of driver aids, and our lack of confidence in long-term support.


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