Mini is likely preparing to introduce its first electric model later this year for its 60th anniversary, and reports indicate the new EV will aim to be just as fun to drive as the current gas-powered Mini Cooper S, which is a very good thing.
The first electric Mini will reportedly come outfitted with the battery and motor from parent-company BMW’s i3 S city car, according to Autocar. As discouraging as that may sound, the i3's motor has 181 horsepower, which is only a few short of the current Cooper S and its 189 HP output, and Autocar claims range will be around 200 miles.
If it’s not too heavy, the likely improved torque should make the little Cooper even more fun, and it seems like a clever move to go electric for a car that most people only ever drive in cities anyway. At least except for that big Mini road trip the automaker hosts every two years. Probably won’t be very many of these completing that event.
Mini’s been talking about going all or mostly electric for some time, and lately there’s been talk of producing those cars with automaker Great Wall in China. Amid the SUV boom here in America, Mini’s sales have not been great, but it remains quite popular in other markets including its home in the UK. So while a switch to becoming an EV city car brand may make sense, it’s not likely to placate dealers in America unhappy with the car’s sparse lineup, lack of SUVs and slow sales. After all, we know car dealers are historically bad at selling EVs, and tend to steer customers toward conventional cars instead.
From a recent Automotive News report:
It might also be a milestone in the struggling brand’s saga. The marque, which expected annual sales of 100,000 cars by 2017, peaked at about 66,500 in 2013. Through the first 10 months of this year, sales totaled just 37,359. That is hardly enough to support the investments of retailers who opened 127 free-standing Mini stores since 2008 at the factory’s request.
“As a dealer and a manufacturer you have a vision of where the brand is going, and you have to prepare for it,” Jason Willis, a member of the Mini National Dealer Council, told Automotive News. “In this case, the vision now isn’t what it was when some of these stores were built.”
So if Mini’s future is electric, it has a long way to go.
According to the Autocar report, the EV will be based on the three-door Cooper and start at around £30,000, or roughly $38,000 at current exchange rates.