BMW unveils all-electric Mini, with plans to build them in China

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BMW Group unveils all-electric version of iconic 3-door Mini, with production set for 2019 in UK, and plans underway to manufacture in China.

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As Australian consumers face an even longer wait for affordable electric vehicle models to appear on the market, another major global automaker has released yet another new, fully electric EV: the MINI.

BMW Group said on Wednesday that it would begin production of its all-electric take on the iconic British car in the UK next year, in time to roll it out in conjunction with the car’s 60th anniversary.

The electric MINI, which is being unveiled for the first time at this week’s New York International Auto Show, is based on the same design of the classic MINI 3 Door, and will be produced at the MINI plant in Oxford, the company said.

The Bavarian auto maker has also recently signed a “letter of intent” with Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motor, to drive production of battery electric MINI through a joint venture there.

No further details have been made available on the car’s battery range or other specifications, as yet.

“With this unique vehicle, MINI sends out a clear signal demonstrating its commitment to retaining the brand’s unmistakable character whilst embracing innovative zero local emission technology,” BMG Group said in a statement.

BMW Group – which owns BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad –has been one of the early movers in electric vehicle manufacturer, delivering more than 100,000 EVs to customers worldwide in 2017 alone.

According to this week’s statement, work on producing the MINI E – based on the predecessor model of the current MINI 3 Door – actually began in 2008, with about 600 examples produced and used in a field trial under everyday conditions.

BMW says these trails played a central role in paving the way for the development of its popular i3 EV, which was released in 2013.

The company is also producing a plug-in hybrid MINI Cooper SE Countryman – a five-door that can drive up to 125km/h in purely electric mode.

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22 Comments
  1. George Darroch 6 months ago

    The original Mini was pushed off the road (rightly) because it couldn’t be updated to meet modern safety requirements.

    I’m not sure how it can meet these now in either the UK or China, unless the electric Mini is the more modern kind.

    • Joe 6 months ago

      Nothing that a Takata airbag can’t solve for safety standards….yes sarcasim.

      • solarguy 6 months ago

        The automotive version of the Claymore mine………..shrapnel anyone.

  2. Kevin Brown 6 months ago
    • Patrick Comerford 6 months ago

      For reasons only known to the BMW PR team who put out this latest blurb they are the ones who have used these original mini pics.

    • zn 6 months ago

      Actually, it seems like this is the car. I read on Electrek that BMW is releasing a ‘Classic Mini Electric’ as a kind of tribute to the 60th anniversary of the original (see above). The new Mini E is still due to be released sometime in the next year or two, and will have a modern look. This is what I understand.

      • Kevin Brown 6 months ago

        This red 1960’s “classic” Austin Mini is a one off PR job for the New York Motor Show. The production BMW Mini E that will be released in 2019 is based on the 2008 Mini E which is a predecessor model to the current three door Mini. See https://www.motoring.com.au/pure-electric-mini-e-confirmed-for-2019-108158/

        • zn 6 months ago

          Still, the photo wasn’t used in error, as you made it seem, and I think you should apologise to the author.

          • Kevin Brown 6 months ago

            The article is titled “BMW unveil all-electric Mini, with plans to build them in China.” This red 1960’s classic Austin mini fitted with electric running gear isn’t that car!

            The new BMW Mini E which BMW plan to build in their Oxford UK plant and China is based on the 2008 Mini E. A photo of that car would have been more relevant and avoided confusion.

  3. Chris Fraser 6 months ago

    They might mean the Morris E (has a nice ring to it anyway)

  4. Nick 6 months ago

    Clearly it won’t be the mini shown in these photos…..

  5. George Michaelson 6 months ago

    First car I drove (badly) was a mini Clubman. What I recall every mini owner from the sixties and seventies saying, is that the electrics were really badly positioned in the motor well with a battery which could flood if the road was thinking about rain. I bet Clarkson and the like will dredge this up if an EV mini gets on top gear.

    • Ian 6 months ago

      You either had to place a bag or an icecream tub in front and over the distributor to minimise the engine stopping.

      • Jon 6 months ago

        Someone used to make a clip on plastic cover, it worked a treat.

        I loved my mini, even though the electrics were made by Lucas, known as “The Prince of Darkness” when I did my trade…

        Wikipedia history & specs of the Mini E;
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mini_E

      • Ryan 6 months ago

        In my mini I used a rubber glove over the distributor to keep the water out when it rained. Looked a bit funny but worked well enough.

  6. Jon 6 months ago

    Smart move, I’m not sure why other manufacturers aren’t doing the same, especially the way cars are assembled these days.

    Take a successful car that is design approved in your target market, make an electric drive front subframe and a battery pack that goes where the ICE model’s fuel tank goes and you have an electric vehicle that needs a lot less testing and development than starting from scratch.

    • Ian 6 months ago

      Better still, offer it as a retrofit and you have bragging rights at a much lower cost.

    • Pixilico 6 months ago

      That would be ideal if there were incredibly energy-dense batteries available. Hardly the case now and for the foreseeable future.

      Presently what works is a larger battery bank that fits in the car’s floor. The powertrain(s) and electronics can be fit at either or both ends of it. Btw, fitting a larger battery bank in the the car’s floor can add to the passenger’s compartment rigidity, which can improve occupants’ safety.

      So, testing and development are still needed. But that’s quite manageable and with production levels at proper scales they won’t hurt the economics of EVs as much.

      On the other hand, it’s reluctance from major car manufacturers to jump right into EV making and abandoning their ICE assets what’s holding back the electrified transport revolution.

      Have you ever driven an EV? If your answer is positive, you know what I’m talking about.

      • Jon 6 months ago

        Adaquate range could be had by splitting the battery pack between fuel tank position and under the bonnet, this would also help maintain the cars original balance as an EV driveline is smaller/lighter than an ICE driveline.

        Auto makers will make what they think is going to sell, if they thought the public was ready for 100% EV they would be there in a heartbeat, they would be more interested in protecting market share than technology.
        The Tesla effect has grown public interest, therefore market potential, that’s why more manufacturers are bringing out models, not because they are less interested in their existing ICE technology.

        • Patrick Comerford 6 months ago

          I admire your optimism about car manufacturers motives but I think it is being naive to think that these large multinational corporations are any different to any of the other big multis, think Tobaco , Pharma, Energy. In the US they have just successfully had pulled back Obama era lower fuel consumption limits, in Germany they have frightened the government in preventing competition from Tesla charging installs. Big Corporations will do what Big Corporations do and that is buy governments to protect their profits by fair means or foul. The consumer has no say in it.

          • Jon 6 months ago

            I don’t believe it’s naive, I believe you are mixing up your industries.
            Comparing the fuel to tobaccos etc companies is an ok comparison as they want to keep selling you their product every week.
            A more accurate comparison would be mobile phones or tvs where they are selling an actual item, there is no prize in those industries for not having the latest tech available.

            Car companies want to sell a car, they will make whatever walks out the showroom door, and hope to never see it again other than scheduled service.

        • Vince Hey 2 months ago

          Where there’s a will there’s a way!

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