Electric Mini Breaks Cover

BMW AG’s Mini car unit took the wraps off the all-electric variant of its Cooper SE small car this week in Germany.

The tiny EV shares electrical components with BMW’s i3 subcompact. But the 181-hp electric motor powers the front axle of the Mini, while the i3 has a rear-wheel-drive configuration.

Zero to 100 kph (62 mph) acceleration is listed at 7.3 seconds for the Mini. Top speed is electronically limited to 150 kph (93 mph). Mini says the motor and power electronics fit in the same space as a conventional SE’s engine and transaxle.

The Mini’s 32.6-kWh lithium-ion battery provides a driving range of 235-270 km (146-168 miles) on the WLTP cycle, depending on configuration. Analysts note that several competitors offer small EVs with longer ranges.

The Mini EV’s battery is packaged under the floor to leave the car’s interior space and cargo capacity unchanged. Mini says the battery can be replenished to 80% capacity in 35 minutes with a 50-kW DC fast-charging system or in 2.5 hours from a standard 11-kW European outlet.

Exterior and interior styling changes from the conventional Cooper SE, which was last redesigned in 2014, are minimal. Most notably, the EV features a sealed-off grille with a yellow bar above the license plate. Yellow accents also can be added to the rearview mirrors, wheels and other components.

Other highlights include a redesigned rear bumper, low-drag wheels and standard LED headlights. The charging port is located behind the same fuel filler door found on piston-powered Minis.

Ride height is raised nearly an inch to ensure sufficient ground clearance for the floor-mounted battery. The electric model also is slightly longer than its conventional counterpart.

The interior sports Mini’s first digital instrument cluster, which displays the car’s speed, range, power reserve and charging status. The EV also gets an electric parking brake and an improved traction control system.

Four driving modes (Green, Green+, Mid and Sport) are available. In addition to driving performance, the Green+ setting limits HVAC and heated seat functions to maximize driving range. Drivers also can select different levels of brake regeneration.

The base EV gets a navigation system with real-time traffic data that can locate available charge points. Mid-level models add keyless entry/ignition, heated seats, leatherette trim, rearview camera, parking sensors and a driver-assistant technology package. The top-end car sports an 8.8-inch infotainment screen, full leather, panoramic glass roof, adaptive matrix LED lights, head-up display and a Harman Kardon sound system.

Mini will ramp up production of the electric Cooper SE in November at its plant in Oxford, England. Components for the electric powertrain will be sourced from BMW facilities in Germany.