Spotlight: Mini Electric
Jonathan Musk gets to grips with the Mini Cooper SE; the first electric production car to come from the world’s most recognisable supermini maker.
Origin of the species
In 1959, the first Mini rolled off the production line at Oxford, born in response to a market driven to its knees by ever-inflating oil prices, thanks to the ongoing Suez crisis. 60 years later, Mini’s at it again with its first electric car launch, in an era when fuel prices are once again in a state of flux.
Many may recall Mini has been here before, with 2008’s Mini E trials that essentially paved the way for the creation of an entire new brand – BMW i – and the resulting research culminated in producing the BMW i3. Ironically, the new Mini Electric (Cooper SE) borrows components from the i3, including the motor.
Its timely release comes as electric vehicles are expected to be big business for BMW and Mini, with an anticipated step-growth of 30% year-on-year in terms of sales thanks to 25 new electrified models (including 50% BEV) by 2025.
Mini will make its new EV along the same production line as the petrol model, which currently pushes out 1,000 cars a day or one every 67 seconds. With a battery capacity of 32.6kWh, the Mini will offer a WLTP-rated range of 144 miles, and is capable of recharging 0-80% in 35 minutes using a 50kW rapid.
Mini believes the 1.5 million people likely to be interested in the car will have access to another vehicle, as well as off-street parking. Resultantly, the car will come with two charge cables – a 3-pin and an AC – as standard.
Driving the front wheels, the BMW i3-sourced motor with 184hp and 270Nm torque takes the Mini from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds (just a touch slower than the petrol Cooper S). In addition, its 50:50 weight distribution and low centre of gravity is said to make the car “more Mini” than any other before it.
Priced to sell
Mini is confident of sales success, with more than 20,000 expressions of interest, although its 144-mile range will find natural competition against the Nissan Leaf 40kWh. However, Mini has priced the Cooper SE to sell and undercut its rivals by a couple of thousand pounds, with prices starting from £24,400 including the Government grant. And, although monthly costs are still being finalised, Mini UK’s director, David George, anticipates two-year leases costing £299/month.
There are three trim levels, with mid-spec costing £2k more than the base model and top-spec £6k; at £30,400. Standard kit includes a new digital dashboard, clever 75% more efficient heater, 6.5-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay, and navigation with traffic updates. Order books are open now, with first deliveries expected in March 2020.
What better way to celebrate the original and world’s most recognisable supermini than introduce an electric version for the modern era.
Mini’s first pure-electric car is a triumph in every regard except range, and especially considering its keen pricing compared to its immediate competition. However, there’s no denying range-anxiety amongst many uninitiated potential customers and that could end up dictating the order books.