The electric Mini – the first car in parent company BMW’s plans to roll out more conventional forms of its “i”-branded electron-driven range – is believed to preview the version of the hatch that will go on sale in 2019, British automotive publication Autocar said.
The e-Mini is expected to have a range of about 400km, meaning it could get its own spin on the i3’s two-cylinder range extender petrol engine that sits alongside the electric motor, doubling its range. An all-electric version, which will rely solely on a powerpoint, should at least match the i3’s 160km-odd range.
Mini has previously built an electric version of the Cooper, using it to launch a small trial of the technology in 2009 as part of a learning process that would one day help it shape a higher-volume model, including the BMW-badged i3. The Mini range will one day extend to include a mix of petrol and diesel engines, as well as plug-in hybrid and full electric versions.
Last year, it also revealed the Mini Vision Next 100, a forward-looking three-door coupe featuring an Apple-like clean interior meant to be a celebration of BMW’s centenary, but also giving a hint of the brand’s future direction. BMW has designed it as a fully automated car with “Cooperizer”, an artificial intelligence system that learns what the driver likes.
This year alone, BMW aims to sell 100,000 electrified vehicles globally via its “i” and “iPerformance” plug-in hybrid sub-brands. It will soon launch a roadster version of the i8 hybrid supercar, and plans to build an all-electric X3 from 2020. By 2021, it will launch the “iNext”, a vehicle that BMW calls the brand’s “new technology spearhead”.
Mini already produces a plug-in version of the Mini Countryman, but the hypermiling SUV-styled four-door is not yet confirmed for Australia, a country that is dragging its heels on the roll-out of public recharging infrastructure.
Autocar said the electric Mini would be built in the car’s spiritual home – Britain – with the electric drivetrain brought across from Germany.
The 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show kicks off from September 12. Read more about what we expect to see here.