Previews a production model that will arrive in 2019

The modern Mini Cooper was launched in 2001, some 42 years after the British firm launched the original model. This time build under BMW Group ownership, the Mini became more of a fashion statement rather than an affordable, people’s car, but this is exactly what turned it into a big hit. Redesigned in 2006 and 2013, the Cooper grew larger and larger and gained more technology with each generation. In 2017, Mini introduced its first hybrid model, the S E Countryman All4, and it’s now looking to launch its first-ever electric car. And it just unveiled the Mini Electric Concept ahead of the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Designed as a preview for a production model that will be introduced in 2019, the Mini Electric Concept arrives almost ten year since Mini built its first EV, the Mini E. More of a demonstration vehicle rather than a production car, the Mini E was produced between 2009 and 2010 in the form of a three-door Cooper. More than 600 cars were deployed in several countries for on-road testing in a project that eventually led to a couple of BMW trial cars and finally the i3. A modern reinterpretation of the Mini E, the Electric Concept moves Mini one step closer to joining the EV market. It’s a bit late to the party, but as they say, better late than never.

Updated 09/19/2017: We added a series of new images taken during the concept’s debut at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Continue reading to learn more about the Mini Electric Concept.

Exterior

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A quick glance at the Mini Electric concept is enough to see that the EV is actually a reworked Cooper.

A quick glance at the Mini Electric concept is enough to see that the EV is actually a reworked Cooper. Now before you say that Mini should’ve created a more futuristic vehicle, keep in mind that the Cooper is the company’s most iconic car and the company’s best shot to make it in this niche. Also, the concept sports quite a few modifications compared to the standard model, so as far as design goes, I like it a lot.

The front fascia brings quite a few new features. While the typical hexagonal grille retains the shape and size of the Cooper, its design is completely different. Since the electric drivetrain requires very little cooling, the traditional grille was closed in order to improve aerodynamics. A Striking Yellow accent stripe and round "E" badge complete this assembly.

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While the typical hexagonal grille retains the shape and size of the Cooper, its design is completely different.

The same goes for the headlamps, which retain the traditional Mini shape, but feature a new LED cluster. The plastic covers have also been removed for a more futuristic look. Down below, there’s a redesigned bumper with an aggressive, splitter-like lower section. Although it appears to sport four air intakes, these are actually simulated and do not let air go through.

Moving onto the sides, there are plenty of new design features to talk about. The rims have a unique design that according to Mini pick up on the idea of the radiator grille. All I see if four rectangular cutouts, with one longer than the other three. It also has a yellow accent ring, like most design elements on this car. On top of that, the rims were designed using a 3D printing process, which has become increasingly popular with concept cars lately.

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A unique feature you won't find on the regular mini is the molded fiberglass on the side skirts.

Another unique feature you won’t find on the regular mini is the molded fiberglass on the side skirts. More bright yellow accents can be seen above the skirts and on the mirrors, as well as a combination of matte and high-gloss grey on the door. The yellow in the side skirts gains transparency as it rises, while the roof color flows from matte white to high-gloss yellow toward the rear. Now this is color option I’d like to see on the standard Mini Cooper.

We can see more bespoke features around back, starting with the LED dot matrix taillights that each form half of the Union Jack flag. Just in case you forget that the Mini Cooper is a British vehicle. There’s also a significantly wider bumper with air deflectors and a fiberglass diffuser, a yellow accent strip and "MINI ELECTRIC concept" lettering. Like all EVs, the Mini doesn’t have exhaust pipes, but the dark louvered surfaces in the bumper simulate air outlets.

All told, this concept car looks like a next-generation Mini Cooper enhanced by feature we’d usually find on all-electric vehicles. Which is cool.

Interior

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Interior from 2015 Mini Cooper S

Mini had nothing to say about the interior and did not release any photos. So I guess it’s safe to assume that this concept car is only about aesthetics. But if this EV has an interior, I bet it’s very similar to the standard model and includes the big round center stack, the large speedo behind the steering wheel, and an overall clean dashboard design. Of course, being a concept it could have a few fancy features like special materials and bright yellow accent stitching and detailing, but I’m not expecting anything wild.

Drivetrain

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I expect the production model to get the same powertrain as the BMW i3.

Likewise, Mini had nothing to say about the drivetrain, except that it’s 100-percent electric. This also means that theoretically we don’t know what powertrain we will find in the upcoming Mini EV. However, if we take a closer look at BMW’s current lineup, there’s just one option. And it’s called the i3.

Updated for the 2018 model year, the i3 uses a synchronous electric motor that generates a maximum output of 170 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. Hitting 62 mph from a standing start takes 7.3 seconds, while top speed is limited to 93 mph. The battery provides a range of up to 186 miles on the European NEDC cycle and up to 158 miles as per the Worldwide harmonized Light vehicles Test Procedure (WLTP), but a range of around 124 miles in everyday driving conditions is more likely according to BMW.

A performance Cooper EV S based on the BMW i3s is very likely.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find this exact configuration in the Mini EV, although some specs might differ and the Cooper could be a tad slower due to the extra weight. After all, the i3 was design as a unique car, while the Mini would have to share some underpinnings with the conventional Cooper.

BMW also offers an i3s version of its EV. In this model, output increases to 184 horsepower and 199 pound-feet thanks to a modified motor control and taper roller bearing that further optimize power delivery at higher rpm. Getting to 62 mph takes 6.9 seconds, while top speed jumps to 99 mph. Mileage, on the other hand, drops to 174 and 152 miles on the NEDC and WLTP cycle, respectively, but the everyday driving conditions estimate remains the same at 124 miles.

The electric Cooper could get more than 200 miles of range with BMW's optional extender.

You know what this means don’t you? The Mini EV could get its very own S version, just like the regular Cooper.

Furthermore, with both the i3 and i3s available with a range-extender in the form of a two-cylinder gasoline engine, Mini could also benefit from this small unit. Rated at 38 horsepower, it drives a generator that produces power while driving to maintain a constant level of charge in the high-voltage battery. This feature extends the car’s range in everyday use by 93 miles, bringing it up to a maximum of 205 miles. That’s a solid range that would enable Mini to give the Chevrolet Bolt and Tesla Model 3 a run for their money.

Conclusion

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There isn’t much I can say about the Mini Electric. The British firm made a few very cool revisions to the current design, but let’s face it, that’s exactly what you expect from a concept car. I have to give Mini credit for turning the already familiar Mini into a fancy show car, but that’s it. I’m also a bit disappointed that the carmaker didn’t showcase the car’s interior. And judging by this, I’m assuming Mini didn’t even bother to create something unique and it this concept is probably a standard cooper on the inside. Also, I would’ve like to see some drivetrain specs. Or at least some clever PR about how Mini will change the market and all that jazz. I’m not a big fan of PR talk, but I also hate it when concept cars come with dull descriptions and very little information. Still, this concept brings good news: Mini is finally taking the all-electric route after almost a decade since it created its first electric vehicle.

  • Leave it
    • * No photos of the interior
    • * No drivetrain information
    • * Production model still a couple of years away

References

MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4

2017 Mini Cooper S E Countryman ALL4 High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.

2017 Mini John Cooper Works GP Concept High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
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Read more Mini news.

Press release

MINI is using the IAA Cars 2017 show in Frankfurt am Main to showcase its take on future personal mobility in the city – in the form of the MINI Electric Concept. Designed for use in urban areas, this concept car offers a window into how pure-electric day-to-day mobility might look in the years ahead. And the MINI Electric Concept also brings the iconic design, city-dwelling heritage and customary go-kart feeling of the MINI brand into the electric mobility age. MINI will present an all-electric series-production model in 2019.

“The systematic electrification of the brand and product portfolio is a mainstay of the BMW Group’s NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy. The MINI Electric Concept offers a thrilling preview of the all-electric production vehicle. MINI and electrification make a perfect match,” remarks Harald Krüger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.

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Urban mobility is ingrained into the MINI brand’s DNA; the city is its natural habitat. Indeed, this environment and the specific demands it places on a car provided the canvas from which the MINI design team brought the MINI Electric Concept to life. The responsive drive system, sublimely judged suspension tuning and use of aerodynamic add-ons produce driving dynamics very much in the MINI mould and a fine operating range. It all comes together to make the MINI Electric Concept a highly attractive, zero-emission solution to the current challenges facing personal mobility in our cities and their surroundings.

“With its characteristic go-kart feeling and powerful electric motor, the MINI Electric Concept is great fun to drive while also being completely suitable for everyday use – and producing zero emissions to boot. That’s how we at MINI envisage electric mobility in tomorrow’s world,” says Peter Schwarzenbauer, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, responsible for MINI, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad.

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MINI – blazing a trail for electric mobility at the BMW Group.

It has been nearly ten years since MINI took a significant, pioneering step with the MINI E – and laid the foundations at the BMW Group for the development of electric mobility solutions to production readiness. The MINI E unveiled in 2008 was the first all-electric car from the BMW Group to be driven by private users in everyday traffic conditions – as part of an extensive field trial. Over 600 MINI E cars entered service worldwide for the purpose of the field studies. All of them helped to gain vital insights into the use of pure-electric vehicles, and this knowledge was subsequently incorporated into the development of the BMW i3. The MINI E also offered driving fun in spades, thanks to outstanding acceleration and handling.

The British premium brand’s first series-production model with a plug-in hybrid drive system was presented in spring 2017 in the shape of the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4. The new model variant enables electric and therefore locally emission-free mobility for the first time. The all-electric MINI Electric Concept represents a seamless continuation of this bloodline. In the future, all electrified products from the MINI brand will be grouped together under the “MINI Electric” banner.

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Unmistakably MINI – the design.

“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,” explains Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “Indeed, aerodynamics and lightweight design aren’t just important in the world of motor sport; they are also essential factors for maximising 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.”

A front end brimming with character.

A hexagonal radiator grille and circular headlights make the MINI Electric Concept instantly recognisable when viewed from the front. Even from the outside, it is obvious that this car has an electric heart. Identifying features include the vividly contrasting silver and yellow colour scheme reminiscent of the earlier MINI E, as well as the distinctive E badge. Besides this, the radiator grille and headlights have been reinterpreted to reflect the emission-free drive technology under the bonnet. As the electric drive unit requires very little cooling air, the radiator grille is closed for superior aerodynamics. A Striking Yellow accent bar in the grille – with an E badge in the same colour – produces a powerful contrasting effect, which is echoed by the styling of the daytime running lights in the all-LED headlight assemblies.

The highly expressive add-on parts in the front apron highlight the dynamic character of the MINI Electric Concept, at the same time as increasing its range with their aerodynamic benefits. The front apron’s simulated “air intakes” are also sealed, yet they still include dark louvres that look like cooling fins and inject some added technical flair. The crisp lines of elements such as the LED headlights and fibreglass structures contrast with the expanse of clear surfaces, and lend the front as a whole a very sophisticated look.

Compact and agile – the flanks.

The contrasting blend of colours, smooth surfaces and precisely contoured details continues into the MINI Electric Concept’s flanks. Clearly moulded fibreglass add-on parts along the lower edge serve to intensify the car’s snappy proportions. The car’s silhouette is composed of taut, clean-cut surfaces, producing a minimalist impression that exudes efficiency. The elements below the surfaces help to convey a feeling of restrained power and understated athleticism. The paint finish in Reflection Silver – a matt liquid metal colour shade – showcases the surfacing to exceptional effect and thereby focuses the spotlight on the model’s lightweight and sophisticated character.

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Expressive accents.

Material and colour highlights take a light-hearted approach to softening the technical appearance of the car’s flanks, as well other areas of the car. A large yet discreet “E” badge above the front wheel provides another tell-tale sign of the power source. The interplay between matt and high-gloss surfaces within a family of colours results in a progressive look with a puristic and classy feel. Further “MINI E” badges are integrated into the radiator grille and exterior mirror caps. Colour gradients in the accent shade Striking Yellow, incorporated into both the roof and side skirts, add further flourishes. The colour of the roof flows from matt white to high-gloss yellow, while the yellow of the side skirts gains in transparency as it rises, appearing to merge into the body colour. These colour gradients accentuate the concept car’s lightness and modernity.

Innovative 3D printing.

The design of the dark-coloured 19-inch wheels adds another visual highlight, picking up on the idea of the radiator grille’s accent bar and reinterpreting it in asymmetrical form. The aerodynamic inlays – made using a 3D printing process – echo the fibreglass structure of the air deflectors and inject the wheels with great aesthetic appeal. The recessed louvred surfaces in the simulated air intakes were also produced using a 3D printing method. These two elements emphasise the light and modern character of the MINI Electric Concept, while at the same time illustrating the opportunities offered by 3D printing in terms of producing functional design elements for vehicle styling and customisation.

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Clarity and dynamism – the rear end.

The rear of the concept car also marks it out as a thoroughbred MINI. Its wide stance on the road is striking in a sporty way, without lapsing into excessive flamboyance. The upper section is dominated by clear surfaces, but the rear takes on a far more dynamic aspect as it cascades down. This familiar approach from MINI, where the car’s volume steadily increases from the top down, makes the shoulders appear broad and athletic. The rear light assemblies constitute yet another standout visual feature and provide a clear pointer to the car’s British roots. Framed within the classic MINI outline, they each form one half of the Union Jack as an LED dot matrix. The rear apron features aerodynamic elements similar to those at the front, including air deflectors and a fibreglass diffuser. These reinforce the car’s efficient dynamism on both a visual and functional level. There is also a yellow accent strip that provides a striking colour contrast when the car is viewed from the rear, while simultaneously announcing the presence of an electric drive system. This is further underlined by the absence of exhaust pipes and the dark louvred surfaces in the simulated air outlets.

Cutting-edge, pure and dynamic (in an efficient way), the MINI Electric Concept encapsulates MINI’s near-term vision of an all-electric car designed for urban mobility in a changing world.

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