Mini hints at its battery-powered future with the Electric Concept
Mini has been playing a long game with its electric vehicle plans. The company dipped its toe into the water with plug-in hybrids and electric teasers, but we don't have a clear picture of how a proper battery-electric Mini would look. It isn't a production reality yet, but the Mini Electric Concept provides some pretty strong pointers.
OK, so it still doesn't provide any powertrain clues, but the electric vehicle-specific touches on the Mini Electric Concept give us a few hints as to what the production version will look like. Without a hungry engine to cool, the radiator grille has been covered over for better aerodynamics, and its shape has been traced in lime green as a hint at the green credentials of its powertrain.
The details are still mostly Mini Cooper but small changes – things like the reworked daytime running lights and matte silver paintwork, along with a few choice decals – make for a showier, more interesting design. Although they're unlikely to make production, we're big fans of the Union Jack motif worked into the brake lights.
Those dark 19-inch wheels are another difference between the Electric Concept and regular Minis. Their shape is similar to that of the older Mini JCW GP, but they're a bit smarter, thanks to 3D-printed air deflectors designed to mimic the shape of the vents on the exterior. Speaking of the vents, their louvered shape is also the result of 3D-printing.
The electric Mini Cooper won't be the first electric car to come from Mini – that was the Mini E – but it will be the first series production model. When it launched in 2008, the Mini E was more of a rolling science experiment. Around 600 were built, before being handed over to real-world users for real-world testing. Lots of the information from the trials was subsequently integrated into the design of the BMW i3.
When it lands in 2019, the new Mini EV will be a fully-fledged production car. Here's hoping it still drives like a Mini, albeit a cleaner and quieter one. The concept will be on show at next month's Frankfurt Motor Show.