The MINI is an icon of British culture. For its 60th anniversary, the brand is announcing a MINI Electric. Thankfully, the new electrified offering is not a concept, but is actually set to come to market in early 2020. With competitive pricing, the MINI Electric will stick to the brand’s original promise — to deliver an affordable compact vehicle for the masses.
For starters, the MINI Electric maintains the brand’s commitment to affordability, with an introductory price point of £24,400 OTR in the UK (that includes the Plug-in Car grant), or as a lease for just £299/month (plus £4,000 initial rental). For that price, drivers can expect everything they’ve come to want from a MINI on the inside, but with an electric power plant and batteries instead of a petrol tank.
The fully electric drivetrain promises to be a hit in the diminutive MINI form factor. Push the skinny pedal all the way down and it will propel the vehicle from 0–62 mph (0–100 km/hr) in 7.3 seconds. The synchronous electric motor (developed by BMW) won’t help the car break any records with its 184 HP, but its 200 lb-ft (270 N-m) of instant torque will make the small and light MINI fun at all the street lights and stop signs around town.
That power won’t be wasted, as the low placement of the battery in the MINI Electric translates to a center of gravity that’s about 30 mm lower than in the MINI Cooper S. Said another way, this thing is going to be fun whether in straight lines around town or zipping around your favorite set of country road curves. Drivers can select how much fun they want to have and how much range they’re willing to sacrifice by selecting one of four driving modes: SPORT, MID, GREEN, and GREEN+ for those looking for maximum range.
Its compact footprint makes it well suited to cities, but at a cost of less room for batteries. In practical terms, that translates to less range, with its 32.6 kWh battery (28.9 kWh usable) providing just 124–144 miles (200–232 kilometers) per charge on the WLTP cycle. The battery is comprised of 12 modules of lithium-ion cells that are arranged in a T shape that runs along the floorpan. On the plus side, this tradeoff leads to a lighter battery pack, which could mean better efficiency and driving experience.
Up front, the new MINI Electric has some electric-specific touches like custom badging and a sealed grill, as the vehicle no longer needs airflow being directed into the area formerly known as the engine bay. Sealing up the front makes the MINI Electric more aerodynamic, as does the enclosed undercarriage, the rear apron, and a special series of optional 17-inch aero rims built specifically for the MINI Electric.
It will come standard with both the home and public charging cables. Under the charging port, located above the front right wheel, owners can use the Type 2 port for both AC and DC level 2 charging. Alternatively, drivers needing a faster charge can kick things up a notch with the CCS Combo 2, which can charge the battery up to 80% in just 35 minutes from a 50kW station.
Inside the cabin, the dash has been upgraded, with a new 5.5″ color screen displaying relevant driving and electric consumption info. The MINI Electric will also ship from the factory with the newly mandated acoustic pedestrian protection system, which emits a distinctive sound to alert pedestrians of its presence at low speeds.
The MINI Electric builds on early test vehicles built by BMW in 2009–2010. Originally, they took the MINI platform, and created the electric MINI-E as part of BMW’s Project i. The MINI-E demonstration car led to BMW’s Active-E program, which eventually resulted in the creation of the BMW i3.
UK orders for the new MINI Electric will be taken starting immediately, with production starting in late 2019 at MINI’s Plant in Oxford. The first orders will go out to UK customers in March 2020. To book a production slot, interested parties can place a £500 deposit either with a MINI retailer or online at www.mini.co.uk.
Production slots are not yet available for US customers, but MINI does plan to export the vehicle across the pond. Specific US pricing and release dates are not yet available. Interested US customers can sign up for e-mail updates on the new vehicle here.