A Mini e-volution
The current Mini might appear distinctly different to the original model dreamt up by Alec Issigonis in the 1950s, but the principles remain the same. Whatever generation of Mini there has been over the past 60 years, there has always been an emphasis on it being fun to drive and also being as efficient as possible.
In Frankfurt at IAA 2019, the brand maintained those core principles as it debuted the all-electric Mini Cooper SE and also announced new cell technology that extended the drivable range of the Countryman plug-in hybrid by 30%. The former is set to appeal to a new generation of consumers who will have a growing number of small EVs designed for the urban environment to choose from. The latter now boasts a potential all-electric range of up to 57 km (35 mi), has increased energy capacity from 7.7 to 10 kW·h, and can be fully charged in just over 3 h.
Mini believes it is getting ahead of the pack of urban-friendly EVs and, with the Mini Cooper SE, says it offers “the first premium compact car with a purely electric drive system.” Based on the standard ICE-powered hatch, the SE features a 135-kW electric motor that drives the front wheels, enough power to reach 60 km/h (37 mph) in under 4 s from a standstill.
Mini has sourced what it believes is a “latest generation” lithium-ion battery that offers a driving range of up to 270 km (168 mi). Configured in a T shape, the cell stack offers a capacity of 32.6 kW·h, while a two-stage regenerative braking system adds to the efficiency and allows one-pedal operation, if desired.
Aside from the efficiency and addressing the “fun-to-drive” element of the car, the suspension has been retuned and a lower center of gravity. Made possible thanks to the deployment of the battery pack in the floor, this means marked improvements in the original vehicle’s ride and handling.
A real BMW Group effort means that the Mini Cooper SE will be built at the company’s production plant in Oxford, UK, with vehicles will begin rolling off the line in November 2019. The engineering and drivetrain development will take place in Germany—specifically BMW’s centers of excellence for electric mobility in Dingolfing and Landshut.
Keen to make the transition from ICE power to EV driving as seamless as possible, there will be a familiar look to the car with many components carried over from the model on which the SE is based. This means standard equipment such as: LED headlights; a digital instrument cluster; electric parking brake; two-zone automatic air conditioning; a heating system with heat pump technology; auxiliary heating and stationary air conditioning functions. There is also Connected Navigation, accessed via a 5.5-in colored screen, as well as a variety of driver assistance systems Apple CarPlay as standard and four equipment package options.
The Mini has always been known for its ability to the personalized to the specific requirements of the customer and the company says this standpoint will not change simply because there is now a battery-powered version.