Mini is indeed working on a plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman (or something very similar, as previously rumored), the company has confirmed.
The model, which will be the company’s first plug-in hybrid (PHEV), won’t necessarily be known as a Countryman, and there may be some notable differences, but the company confirmed that the basic design is related.
The plug-in vehicle will offer two different driving modes — an “Auto eDrive” mode where speeds of up to 50 miles per hour will be possible, and a “Max eDrive” mode where speeds of up to 77 miles per hour will be possible.
“With the combined output of both drives, the first MINI hybrid vehicle demonstrates unparalleled acceleration performance when compared with its combustion-only siblings,” BMW notes.
“However, MINI’s go-kart driving characteristics consists of more than just fast acceleration. Above all, this hybrid MINI has to prove how precisely it handles when taking bends on the most exciting, twisting roads. This is where MINI’s plug-in hybrid concept plays its next trump card. …. Thanks to the eDrive components, which are positioned very low down at the rear, the car’s centre of gravity is lowered and the weight is evenly balanced between the front and rear axle – ideal for achieving an even higher level of legendary MINI agility.”
Interestingly, the MINI team decided to split where the power from the electric motor and the power from the gas engine go — “the electric motor transmits its power to the rear wheels, the combustion engine to the front wheels.”
Like the BMW i3 REx in Europe, this model includes a mode to save battery power. “Intelligent energy management offers a further opportunity for both power sources to work together effectively. Driving on the motorway, Mackensen activates a third mode with the eDrive toggle switch: SAVE BATTERY. In this mode, the combustion engine powers the car whilst at the same time, the high voltage battery can retain charge at a constant level or indeed increase charge via a generator. Extended driving in SAVE BATTERY mode enables enough power generation for purely electric driving later.”
This will be MINI’s first entry into the electric vehicle sector in quite a while. It’s most notable effort to date was the leasable Mini E available back in 2009, and possessing fewer than 100 miles of range per full charge. The new PHEV is expected to be released in 2019.
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