Unveiled at its Oxford manufacturing plant, the new Mini Electric is said to have 15,000 clamouring customers worldwide ready to invest in an example. Manufacturing will commence later this year, with first deliveries being made in spring 2020, as BMW confirms its commitment to electrification. In fact, the company will have 25 EVs and hybrids on the roads by 2023, exceeding its own projections by two years.
Interestingly, the Mini Electric will be fully integrated into Oxford’s production line processes, even using the same lines as the conventional Mini alternatives. Operating to Just-in-Time (JIT) standards, the plant will be able to react to model demand very quickly, a factor that will help to retain a vital element of affordability. Of course, by the time the customary personalisation programme has added to the invoice, a Mini EV is still going to sell at well in excess of £30k, so the description ‘cost-effective’ is unlikely to enter the frame.
Fortunately, the car is recognisable instantly as a three-door Mini Hatch, with the notable exceptions of its blanked-off radiator grille, the fluorescent trim details and the ‘three-pin-plug’ alloy wheels. It promises performance figures that are close to those of the hot hatch Cooper S, zipping from 0-60mph in a cool 7.1s, although its maximum speed is capped to save energy. As an ideal city runabout, its ultimate range of around 150-miles, allied to fast-charging potential (domestic overnight, otherwise), should prove more than adequate.
BMW has priced the Mini Electric fairly and, much like its i3 model, it will be promoting the viability of all-inclusive leasing, for which a choice of programmes commencing at less than £300 per month will be available. Its stated list price is from £24,400 after the government’s £3,500 Plug-In Car Grant has been applied, which suggests that it will be in the less costly EV arena.
Recent research has revealed that more than 1.5m UK households are perfectly suited to running an electric car but are not yet doing so. They have off-street parking, which allows easier at-home recharging, and more than one car in the household, one of which never drives more than 100 miles daily. BMW’s own data highlights that the average distance driven each day is a mere 26 miles, thereby the new Mini EV could be a convenient tipping point for motorists contemplating EV operation.
A little over a decade ago, I drove a Mini Cooper D to Munich, Germany (the HQ for BMW), to drive the company’s pre-emptive Mini EV, which may give some idea as to the model gestation period, bearing in mind that the car I was driving had already been three years in development. It was promising then but over the subsequent period of time the car has been refined and made dynamically superior, even though only minor design changes have taken place.