Mini Cooper Electric May Be Less Daft Than Initially Presumed
Mini’s upcoming Cooper SE, the brand’s first all-electric model, goes on sale in 2020. Based off its initial specifications, we assumed it wouldn’t be incredibly popular. While output is a serviceable 135 kilowatts (roughly 184 hp), the model’s small 32.6-kWh battery pack only allows for 146 miles of range using the optimistic European testing cycle. While that would have made it highly competitive in the early days of modern electrification, it’ll be at a disadvantage when stacked against the likes of the Tesla Model 3 or Chevrolet’s Bolt.
We presumed this would manifest as weak demand, leaving Mini to tug uncomfortably at its collar. But the Cooper SE is already outperforming the BMW i3 in terms of sales, and it isn’t even slated for production until November.
BMW Blog made contact with the vehicle’s project leader, Elena Eder, earlier this week and learned the number of pre-orders for the MINI Cooper SE has already surpassed 45,000. Meanwhile, the i3’s best year in the United States (2015) garnered just 11,024 deliveries. European sales have performed better, with the BMW moving 24,252 examples within the region last year.
While the i3 is the more expensive model, similarities abound. In fact, the Mini utilizes the BMW’s electric powertrain, reconfigured from a rear drive, mid-engine setup to a front-engine, front-wheel drive one. That makes the Mini a more traditional and affordable electric offering from BMW Group, which may account for its pre-production take rate.
However, preorders aren’t necessarily a guarantee for continued volume. Mini’s sales have remained strong in Europe, with he vast majority coming from the brand’s small cars. Those electric orders could be stemming from loyalists eager to get their hands on a conversation piece. However, if regular folks are eyeballing the Cooper SE, the model may have a few good years ahead of it. But unless EV owners don’t give a spit about range, one has to assume demand will taper off rather quickly. No matter how you slice it, the SE isn’t really designed for anything other than inner-city jaunts, occasional trip to the suburbs, and modest daily commutes.
While earlier research commissioned by BMW Group indicated that battery range of up to 75 miles was sufficient for most commuters’ daily use, we remain skeptical. Either those surveyed individuals were shut-ins or most have a second car in the garage. Even in Europe, where important destinations are grouped a bit closer, a 75-mile trip doesn’t allow much room for detours. The Cooper SE will struggle on long journeys, making it unpalatable for many.
[Images: BMW Group]
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