Mini took the wraps off its next electric car concept ahead of the Frankfurt motor show, previewing a model expected to go into production relatively soon. We say “next” because Mini already fielded a low-volume EV a few years back; some 600 Mini Es were set loose in 2008 for a short period of time for parent company BMW to study EV use, contributing experience and knowledge to the BMW i3. Now it’s time for Mini to offer a truly mass-produced EV due in 2019 to complement the plug-in hybrid Mini Countryman currently on sale.
The Mini Electric Concept the automotive world will see in just a few days gives a glimpse of the marque’s evolving design more than anything else — asymmetric wheels, a filled-in grille now that the front of the car doesn’t need a functional radiator, and (our favorite) taillights featuring two halves of the Union Jack. The giant letter E probably won’t make it to production — it’s obvious enough this isn’t a gasoline or diesel-engined Mini Cooper — but other details like a restyled front fascia and spoiler, designed for improved aerodynamics, point to likely production details.
As we’ve seen it takes more than design to make or break an electric car these days — a number of production EVs have strongly suggested design is less of a priority for buyers — and it will take a range of more than 200 miles to make the Mini Electric make sense to buyers who’ll be cross-shopping it with other small EVs.
Mini is keeping quiet about the battery and range specs for now.
“The MINI Electric Concept is a quintessential MINI — compact, agile, simply the ideal companion for everyday driving. At the same time, it conveys a whole new take on the concept of sportiness,” said Adrian van Hooydonk, senior vice president of BMW Group Design. “Indeed, aerodynamics and lightweight design aren’t just important in the world of motor sport; they are also essential factors for maximizing electric range. The car’s surfaces have a sense of precision and contemporary clarity about them that lends added impact to the car’s efficient character. Plus, striking accents and vivid contrasts give the exterior that distinctive MINI twist.”
The automaker is staying mum on battery capacity and range, and it’s likely we won’t get closer to concrete figures even in Frankfurt. Whatever the range, we hope the Union Jack taillights not only stay, but migrate to the rest of the two-door and four-door models.