Next year, Mini will introduce a fully electric version of its hugely popular hatchback. Here’s what you can expect from this new model
*** Note : £1 = $1.32 (correct at time of post)
Remember the Mini E? This fully electric version of the Mini hatchback was built in 2008 as a trial to assess the popularity of electric cars. Over the course of six months, 20 were sent to UK cities, where they could be leased for £330 per month.
At the time, it seemed like a battery-powered Mini you could buy was only months away from showrooms but, 10 years later, we’re still waiting.
Not for much longer, though, because a model called the Mini Electric will be introduced in 2019 and sold alongside petrol and diesel variants. So, what can you expect from it?
One of the main drawbacks of the old Mini E was that Mini was only able to squeeze in the batteries by removing the rear seats. Fortunately, battery technology has come a long way in the last 10 years, and the new Mini Electric will be a proper four-seater.
Bespoke front grille design
The finished design is still to be revealed, but official sketches show that the Mini Electric will have a closed front grille with a yellow bar running across it.
According to Mini’s head of design, Oliver Heilmer, the yellow bar will become an electric Mini signature, while the closed design simply reflects the fact that electric powertrains need air in different places to petrol and diesel engines.
Distinctive alloy wheels
The look of the wheels has also been revealed in sketches, with Heilmer saying: “You recognise them as something that is really different [from the wheels on other Minis] since the design is not symmetric.”
He also pointed out that the wheels are almost closed, which is much better for aerodynamics.
Looks toned down from concept
Mini showed a concept version of the new Mini Electric at the 2017 Frankfurt motor show. However, the production model won’t get the concept’s dramatic bodykit. Mini brand boss Sebastian Mackensen says this is because “Mini doesn’t need to make a big statement saying we want to be cool and electric any more”.
Improved handling promised
Prototype versions of the car have been spotted undergoing cold weather testing, something that’s important for any electric model given that batteries are less efficient at low temperatures.
Mini is promising that when it’s finished, the Electric will be even more enjoyable to drive than petrol and diesel Minis, thanks to the batteries lowering the centre of gravity.
Interior design very Mini
The prototypes caught testing had standard Mini interiors and, aside from bespoke instruments and on-screen graphics showing how the car is performing, it’s likely to be the same story with production models.
Range between charges
Although the range of the Mini Electric is still to be confirmed, it’s likely to be similar to the 186 miles that the fully electric i3, sold by Mini’s owner BMW, manages in official tests. After all, the Mini Electric’s powertrain is based on the i3’s.
Other bodystyles to follow?
Initially, the Mini Electric will be offered only as a three-door hatchback. However, if it proves popular, electric versions of other Minis could well follow.
Mini already sells a plug-in hybrid version of its Countryman SUV, which combines a 1.5-litre petrol engine with an electric motor for official CO2 emissions of 49g/km and an electric-only range of up to 26 miles.
The plug-in hybrid Countryman costs from £31,905, which is £8520 more than the regular petrol Cooper model. If Mini follows the same approach with the electric three-door hatchback, it would mean a starting price of about £26,000, although the car would be eligible for the Government’s £4500 electric vehicle grant.