From 2019, MINI will be offering a pure electric model and to provide a preview of what the zero-emissions car will be like, it will display the MINI Electric Concept at the coming Frankfurt Motorshow. This isn’t the first time that MINI is showing an electric variant but this time, it is confirming that such a model will go into production.
“The systematic electrification of the brand and product portfolio is a mainstay of the BMW Group’s NUMBER ONE > NEXT strategy. The MINI Electric Concept offers a thrilling preview of the all-electric production vehicle. MINI and electrification make a perfect match,” said Harald Kruger, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.
It has been nearly 10 years since MINI took a significant, pioneering step with the MINI E – and laid the foundations at the BMW Group for the development of electric mobility solutions to production readiness. The MINI E unveiled in 2008 was the first all-electric car from the BMW Group to be driven by private users in everyday traffic conditions – as part of an extensive field trial. Over 600 MINI E cars entered service worldwide for the purpose of the field studies. All of them helped to gain vital insights into the use of pure-electric vehicles, and this knowledge was subsequently incorporated into the development of the BMW i3. The brand’s first volume-produced model with a plug-in hybrid drive system was made available in 2017 in the form of the MINI Cooper S E Countryman ALL4.
“The MINI Electric Concept is a quintessential MINI – compact, agile, simply the ideal companion for everyday driving. At the same time, it conveys a whole new take on the concept of sportiness,” explained Adrian van Hooydonk, Senior Vice President BMW Group Design. “Indeed, aerodynamics and lightweight design aren’t just important in the world of motorsport; they are also essential factors for maximising electric range. The car’s surfaces have a sense of precision and contemporary clarity about them that lends added impact to the car’s efficient character. Plus, striking accents and vivid contrasts give the exterior that distinctive MINI twist.”
A hexagonal radiator grille and circular headlights make the MINI Electric Concept instantly recognisable when viewed from the front. Even from the outside, it is obvious that this car has an electric heart. Identifying features include the vividly contrasting silver and yellow colour scheme reminiscent of the earlier MINI E, as well as the distinctive E badge.
Besides this, the radiator grille and headlights have been reinterpreted to reflect the emission-free drive technology under the bonnet. The radiator grille is closed for superior aerodynamics. A Striking Yellow accent bar in the grille – with an E badge in the same colour – produces a powerful contrasting effect, which is echoed by the styling of the daytime running lights in the all-LED headlight assemblies.
The highly expressive add-on parts in the front apron highlight the dynamic character of the MINI Electric Concept, at the same time as increasing its range with their aerodynamic benefits. The front apron’s ‘simulated air intakes’ are also sealed, yet they still include dark louvres that look like cooling fins and inject some added technical flair. The crisp lines of elements such as the LED headlights and fibreglass structures contrast with the expanse of clear surfaces, and lend the front as a whole a very sophisticated look.
The contrasting blend of colours, smooth surfaces and precisely contoured details continues into the MINI Electric Concept’s flanks. Clearly moulded fibreglass add-on parts along the lower edge serve to intensify the car’s snappy proportions. The car’s silhouette is composed of taut, clean-cut surfaces, producing a minimalist impression that exudes efficiency.
The elements below the surfaces help to convey a feeling of restrained power and understated athleticism. The paint finish in Reflection Silver – a matt liquid metal colour shade – showcases the surfacing to exceptional effect and thereby focuses the spotlight on the model’s lightweight and sophisticated character.
Colour gradients in the accent shade Striking Yellow, incorporated into both the roof and side skirts, add further flourishes. The colour of the roof flows from matt white to high-gloss yellow, while the yellow of the side skirts gains in transparency as it rises, appearing to merge into the body colour. These colour gradients accentuate the concept car’s lightness and modernity.
The design of the dark-coloured 19-inch wheels adds another visual highlight, picking up on the idea of the radiator grille’s accent bar and reinterpreting it in asymmetrical form. The aerodynamic inlays – made using a 3D printing process – echo the fibreglass structure of the air deflectors and inject the wheels with great aesthetic appeal. The recessed louvred surfaces in the simulated air intakes were also produced using a 3D printing method.
The rear of the concept car also marks it out as a thoroughbred MINI. Its wide stance on the road is striking in a sporty way, without lapsing into excessive flamboyance. The upper section is dominated by clear surfaces, but the rear takes on a far more dynamic aspect as it cascades down. This familiar approach from MINI, where the car’s volume steadily increases from the top down, makes the shoulders appear broad and athletic.
The rear light assemblies constitute yet another standout visual feature and provide a clear pointer to the car’s British roots. Framed within the classic MINI outline, they each form one half of the Union Jack as an LED dot matrix. The rear apron features aerodynamic elements similar to those at the front, including air deflectors and a fibreglass diffuser.
There is also a yellow accent strip that provides a striking colour contrast when the car is viewed from the rear, while simultaneously announcing the presence of an electric drive system. This is further underlined by the absence of exhaust pipes and the dark louvred surfaces in the simulated air outlets.
Details of the powertrain are not being released yet but most likely, there will be common elements with the BMW i3 so as to enable the vital economies of scale in production that will push costs down.