MINI Going 100% Electric, Mullen Mulls Memphis

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At its annual financial meeting this week, BMW is expected to announce that by 2030, every car built by its MINI sub-division will be a battery electric vehicle. According to Der Spiegel, MINI will stop designing new gasoline-powered cars after 2025. By 2027, it expects half of all MINIs will be battery powered, and by 2030, all of them will be.

MINI Cooper SE
Credit: BMW

The first battery electric from MINI is the Cooper SE, which we test drove in Miami last year. It’s a fun car to drive — oodles of torque to go with its trademark razor sharp handling — but suffers a bit from rather limited range. 125 miles is fine for around-town duty but makes the car less appealing for road trips. One presumes BMW will figure out how to give its electric cars more range going forward.

The MINI C0untryman is available now as a plug-in hybrid. “It works much better than originally planned and shows that electrification is the right way for MINI,” said former BMW board member Peter Schwarzenbauer last year. A battery electric version of the Countryman is expected to go into production at the factory in Leipzig in 2023. A fully electric MINI is also planned for the joint venture between BMW and Great Wall in China, electrive reports.

Zero Emissions Steel

BMW has also made an investment in Boston Metal, a startup company that is working on ways to lower the carbon footprint of steel. “We systematically identify the raw materials and components in our supplier network with the highest CO2 emissions from production. Steel is one of them, but it is vital to car production. For this reason, we have set ourselves the goal of continuously reducing CO2 emissions in the steel supply chain. By 2030, CO2 emissions should be about two million tonnes lower than today’s figure,” says Andreas Wendt, the BMW board member responsible for purchasing and supplier network.

Instead of using conventional blast furnaces to make steel, Boston Metal uses electricity to produce molten iron that is later processed into steel. If electricity from renewable energies is used for this process, then steel production is carbon free. The company intends to build demonstration facilities for its proprietary process over the next few years as it ramps up industrial scale production.

Mullen Technologies Targets Memphis For Electric SUV

Mullen MX-05. Credit: Mullen Technologies.

Yesterday, we reviewed proposed electric cars from Alpha Motor of Irvine, California. They are tasty looking vehicles, but as my old Irish grandmother liked to say, “There’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip.” Designing electric vehicles is easy. Building them is hard.

Another new player on the EV stage is Mullen Technologies, another southern California startup that says it is “currently working with several global OEM partners to provide exciting EV options that will fit perfectly into the American consumer’s lives.” It has released concept drawings of a proposed battery electric SUV called the MX-05 (Mazda may have something to say about that model designation) and says it is considering building them at a former Nike warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee.

It has submitted an application to the Economic Development Growth Engine for a 15 year PILOT tax incentive package worth $40.5 million. The application is scheduled to be considered at a meeting on March 17. For its part, the company says it plans to invest $362 million and create 434 jobs with an average pay of $53,000 at the new factory.

Mullen says the MX-05 will have a range of 325 miles and accelerate to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds. It expects to unveil a prototype of the vehicle in the coming weeks and begin pre-production activities at its Monrovia factory in California in the 3rd quarter of this year. It is now accepting fully refundable $100 deposits for the MX-05, which will be priced between $58,500 and $78,500.

According to WREG Channel 3 News in Memphis, the Tennessee factory is expected to produce 5,000 vehicles in 2024. The company expects to produce 22,000 units a year, with sales of $2 billion, by 2027. While it is exploring other manufacturing sites in California and the state of Washington, Memphis’ central location and proximity to another facility Mullen recently purchased in nearby Tunica, Mississippi, are factors in favor of the Memphis location.

Whether Mullen will achieve any of its goals remains to be seen. It seems more than a bit ambitious to think a new company will be able to compete head to head with established firms like Mercedes, Audi, Cadillac, and BMW, all of whom are planning to manufacture premium electric SUVs and have them in showrooms before the Mullen MX-05 is available. Then again, a decade ago, no one gave Tesla much of a chance to be successful. “We’ll see,” said the Zen master.

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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