Car News

Mini Electric concept takes a bow at Frankfurt motor show… what can we expect?

The Mini Electric Concept was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show overnight, hinting at a production version coming in 2019.

AT THE FRANKFURT MOTOR Show, BMW demonstrated this Mini Electric Concept. It’s the precursor to a production job coming in 2019, which will have fast-charge capability and a real-world range of 200km.

It’s been a bit of a lengthy comeback. There was an electric Mini in 2008. Some 600 were built and put out to lease among keen members of the public. The battery was so physically big that it took up the entire back seat area.

The new car will have a bigger capacity battery squeezed into a much smaller space, a flat oblong beneath most of the vehicle’s floor. It means no practical loss of cabin or boot space.

The concept car shows extensive aero work. It has, if you like, cavity walls along the side, like a Grand Prix car’s barge boards. They cut down turbulence past the wheels, jetting air between the layers. The radiator grille isn’t needed s has been blanked off.

It’s not just a show tease: the real thing will be very similar. Reducing drag is a critical element in increasing range of EVs when they’re at highway speeds.

There’s a bit of fun in the LED rear lamp clusters, which show a half-Union Flag shape. BMW has said the production car will be built in Britain.

Mini hasn’t actually published an official range figure, but I asked BMW’s head of R&D Klaus Frohlich and he indicated it will match today’s i3, which has a longer range than the i3 did when originally launched.

He says that all the BMW Group’s cars built on the current generation of platforms can be given full-electric or plug-in hybrid powertrains. The Mini Countryman PHEV, 225e Active Tourer, 330e, 530e and 740e are among them. In 2020 there will be a full-electric X3. Not all these cars will be available in all markets though, and Australia has been fairly slow in embracing plug-in cars.

In 2021, Frohlich says, BMW will launch a whole new generation of battery and motors. This battery tech can be fitted as an update to existing models, but it will also be used to power a mainstream four-door sedan with a range of “greater than 700km” he says.

The look of that long-range saloon car is also being previewed by a concept car on the BMW stand at Frankfurt, buut it won’t be so close to a production car as the electric Mini concept is.


Paul Horrell

Paul Horrell

Paul's working life has been paced out in cars. He began road-testing when the VW Golf was in its second generation. It's now in its eighth. He covers much more than the tyre-smoking part of the road-test landscape. He roots around in the financial machinations of the car corporations and the apparent voodoo of the technologies. Then he clarifies those complications so his general readers – too busy to lodge their heads up the industry's nether regions – get the fast track on what matters and what doesn't. A freelance writer living in London, he usually gets around the city by bicycle, which adds to his (sometimes justified) reputation as a bit green and a bit of a lefty. He's a member of Europe's Car of the Year jury.