Mini Cautiously Approaching an Electric Future

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【Summary】While Mini has plans to offer every vehicle in its lineup with an electrified powertrain, the automaker isn’t rushing into the world of EVs.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Apr 12, 2019 10:24 AM PT
Mini Cautiously Approaching an Electric Future

A lot of automakers have had to switch gears as the mass adoption of electric vehicles looms on the horizon. Fuel efficiency laws and emissions regulations are forcing automakers to develop and explore more efficient powertrains, making electrified vehicles the prime focus for future vehicles. While some brands have dived right into the EV pool, like Mazda, which has plans to electrify 95 percent of its lineup by 2030, Mini is approaching EVs more cautiously.

Mini's Electric Plans For The Future

In an interview with Peter Schwarzenbauer, who's in charge of Mini and Rolls-Royce and is also a BMW board member, sat down with Automotive News where he gave the outlet a look at Mini's plans for electrified cars.

The first electric Mini is currently slated to be introduced in 2020, which coincides with the automaker's 60th anniversary. We first got a look at Mini's first EV back in July 2018 thanks to a few renderings, and the machine looked like a modern interpretation of the classic hatchback. Besides confirming that the three-door EV would come out in early 2020, Schwarzenbauer didn't provide any new details.

"Assembly in Oxford begins in the second half of this year and the market rollout is slated for early 2020," he said.

Auto News brought up Smart's – Daimler's miniature brand of vehicles that recently started the transition of producing all-electric vehicles with an end date of 2020 – recent move to be an all-electric brand and questioned whether Mini should do the same.

It's All About The Customer

"Electromobility is an excellent fit for our urban, progressive and open-minded customers," said Schwarzenbauer. "To secure that long-term future of Mini, we will enable the range of all electric, should the customer prefer that."

Schwarzenbauer made a crucial distinction in that response, and that includes the customer's preference. At the moment, electric vehicles aren't extremely popular and it all has to do with range. As far as mainstream vehicles go, the Hyundai Kona Electric is one of the more affordable vehicles and has a range of 258 miles. So for Mini, consumers have to show the brand that electric cars are worth developing. And that's a smart decision, as EVs are expensive to develop and haven't paid off for companies.

While Mini takes its time developing EVs, the brand will continue to sell combustion cars. But eventually, Mini will offer an electrified powertrain of every one of its cars. "Let me be clear, though, there will not be a single Mini model we plan to launch that a customer won't be able to order with an electrified drivetrain," said Schwarzenbauer. "The join venture we founded in China together with Great Wall Motors is in part to ensure that."

China continues to be one of the largest markets for electric cars, so it makes plenty of sense for Mini to sell vehicles in the country first before venturing to other markets. "An export option is entirely conceivable. In principle, these cars were designed to be sold outside of China as well," said Schwarzenbauer.  

In addition to all of this news, while Mini fits under the BMW umbrella, the brands will use two separate architectures from one another, which would make Mini's EVs unique.

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