Report: All Electric MINI E Concept to Debut at Frankfurt

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a concept from MINI – over a year in fact. According to a report from Autocar that is set to change with the debut of the all electric MINI E concept car at the Frankfurt IAA this September.

Mini e

The concept is reportedly set to preview both the look and the technical capiabilities of the new all electric car. Rumor has it that MINI is working on a range of “at least” 250 miles. With a figure that high one has to wonder how much re-engineering went into the chassis and if the rear seats will remain.

Look for more soon on the electric MINI E concept.

  • Nick Dawson

    Next to the standard 168bhp version of the BMW i3, a iPerformance variant i3S, is also due to be launched at Frankfurt this September, adding to the worldwide popularity of the i3.

    Details remain scarce, though high-level engineering sources at BMW have revealed that it will receive an updated electric motor featuring a 20bhp boost in peak power over the standard i3, taking its total up to 188bhp.

    The subtle increase in power is claimed to provide the new range-topping i3S model with added accelerative ability without any detriment to driving range, which is a claimed 186 miles with the 94Ah battery.

    The increased performance of the i3S iPerformance is allied to a number of detailed chassis tweaks, including the adoption of a 40mm wider front track and a 10mm reduction in ride height over the standard version of the updated i3.

    • Michael Lehnert

      Interesting. Would you mind sharing the source from where you copied this? The text reads like a BMW press release. I am asking because the noteworthy point is that an alleged BMW i3S iPerformance would mean that BMW Group would redefine the use of its ‘iPerformance’ badge. So far, ‘iPerformance’ was only to denote conventional Otto or Diesel engine cars with added Electric Drive plug-in hybrid components. Based on what you write, we would see iPerformance used for BMW i, where it would become a sort of ‘M’-label equivalent for the BMW i vehicles. Very interesting indeed!

      • The i3s is real. BimmerFile has been reporting on its development for the last 2-3 years. It’s coming next year.

        • Michael Lehnert

          Yeahyeah, I know about the i3s, as it was announced in May to be introduced at the IAA Frankfurt next month. I have not known, though, that it will indeed in the end be marketed with the ‘iPerformance’ badge on it. There was some to-and-fro about the usage of the iPerformance badge for the i range, as Ian Robertson was against it. However, he is now retiring from the job but remains employed as “UK Brand Ambassador” until March 2019 before his German corporate/public pension package can legally kick in. So this were to indicate that one internal team won over the other, and there will be even more badging changes coming our way. That’s what I was interested in, as Nick seems to have a good source there. Who wouldn’t want a “BMW Mi3S eDrive iPerformance M-Sport 10 Anniversary Celebration – Carbon Edition”?

        • Gotcha. The fact the most if not all the original BMWi team is gone has made for massive upheaval and a lack of clear direction at the sub brand. I think bmw is just holding out hope that they’ll have a big hit on their hands with the iNext – which is one of the worst names conceivable.

        • Michael Lehnert

          I agree 100%. 2022 with the iNext will be 25 years after the launch of the bondi-blue iMac, and 35 years after NeXT was founded. This Bavarian obsession with Steve Jobs-related Me-too branding needs to stop. In fact, lots of branding fetishes need to stop at BMW. It’s getting a bit frivolous.

          Apart from branding and keeping up with BEV mainstreamers like Tesla, Nissan, Hyundai, Nio or Geely’s brands, BMW also faces the problem of cost, and access to battery-making capacity. How much will the MINI E cost to produce, and how many can they produce? Will MINI’s brand appeal win over a $35k battle with a Model 3 or Y? Interesting times ahead.

        • That’s my thought too. There are several (dramatically) different directions the MINI E could take – even within the F56 shell. It’ll be interesting to see where they go with it.

        • I think the MINI vs. Model 3 “battle” is an interesting thought experiment, and valid for some customers, but the MINI E is certainly never intended to sell even 1/10 the cars that the Model 3 is shooting for, and not exactly the same market (except that they’re EVs). They don’t have to beat it from a value perspective, necessarily, either. They are only going to be capable of building maybe 10k per year, if I had to guess (Bolt is 30k), so pricing it so that they have the demand for 50k or 100k per year may not make sense except from a hype standpoint.

  • Nick Dawson

    It is rumored that the MINI E will use Samsung 125-Ah “low-height pack” battery cells, scheduled to come to market in 2019, which BMW had intended to use in the now aborted i5. Those cells would give the MINI E a rated electric range of more than 200 miles in a smaller pack than is possible today.

    • I’m curious how this is going to work out. The i3 with Samsung 94-Ah cells is rated at 114 miles EPA. A cell-for-cell switch to 125-Ah cells would net ~150 miles EPA. Are the 125-Ah cells both higher capacity AND smaller? The “low-height pack” seems to indicate that. But to go from 114 miles EPA to “more than 200 miles” (a 75% increase) seems difficult given just a 30% increase in cell capacity and considering that the existing Fxx MINI wasn’t designed to maximize available battery volume.

      Perhaps the “200 miles” is NEDC and not EPA? The article’s claim of “250 miles” has to be NEDC and not EPA, right? How could the MINI E have 120% more range than the i3?

      • Michael Lehnert

        Even for NEDC, the mathematics don’t work out if we upscale from the i3 to a F56 MINI on a UKL1. Samsung SDI’s LHPs that we are talking about are 20-30% physically smaller, and have a 20% increase in energy density. Bear in mind the volume reduction is of the thermal management components of the pack, not the cells themselves. Overall, Samsung claims a 30% increase in range for LHP in like-for-like vehicle packaging.

        • Interesting, so they’re only claiming there will be a 30% increase in range for the i3, for instance, to go from 94Ah to 125Ah, plus lower profile? I was hoping it was 30% increase (94->125) PLUS additional range due to size decrease “per cell”.

      • Nick Dawson

        I have attached a quote from an engineer working on the i5 before the project was aborted. The i5 was to have been BMW’s answer to the Tesla 3.

        “The i5 will use Samsung’s Low-Height-Pack cells that are estimated to be about 125-Ah with a specific energy of about 250Wh/kg, nearly double the energy density of what the current i3 batteries have and cost less than the current 60Ah cells do.

        These cells will allow a 78.75kWh battery pack in the i5 and still keep the weight under 4,000lbs. The i5’s battery pack will consist of 14 modules, each containing 12 battery cells for a total of 168 cells. Allowing for 90% of the pack to be available, that means 70kWh of usable energy and an EPA range of about 245 miles per charge”.

        • Very interesting info.

          The “double the energy density” seems to be in reference to the 60Ah cells, though.

          Therefore, the i3 might see approximately double the original 81 mile EPA range using these cells and go from 22kwh / 81 miles EPA to 44 kwh / 162 miles EPA. If I’m reading it correctly (125 Ah has double the energy density of 60Ah), I still don’t see how the MINI E can get to 200 miles EPA.

          Look at it another way. The 78.75 kWh pack in the i5 would be ~39.5 kWh with 60Ah cells (again, assuming half of the 124 Ah). The 60 Ah i3 had 22 kWh, or ~56% of that battery volume, apparently. So, multiply the 124 Ah i5’s EPA range of 245 by 56%, and you’d get 44 kWh and 136 miles EPA range for a 124 Ah i3 (the i3’s efficiency may account for some of the difference between this calc and the previous one).

          So, either way one backs into the i3’s range with 124Ah cells, it’s not looking like 200 miles EPA is feasible for the i3. From there, my assumption is that the MINI will have similar battery volume to the i3. It seems unlikely for it to somehow find significantly MORE volume than the i3 that was designed for batteries, but I could be wrong.

          Again, my assumptions are: -The 125Ah cells have double the energy density of the 60Ah cells, not double the 94Ah cells. -The MINI E will not have significantly more battery volume than the i3.

        • Nick Dawson

          If that is the case, the MINI E’s range looks a little disappointing. Perhaps MINI has a surprise up its sleeve 🙂

        • I guess we’ll find out! Perhaps one of my assumptions are wrong, too.

          Either way, even if it’s ~160 miles of range for 35k, I’ll probably buy one because I love MINIs and EVs, but they may not fly off the lots at that range / value.

        • Nick Dawson

          After more delving, I found the following quote from the same author, this time regarding the next generation i3. Your assumptions were not far off.

          “Using Samsung’s Low Height Pack 125-Ah cells in the second generation i3 would mean that BMW can offer a 48kWh i3 which would most likely have about a 180 mile electric range. BMW is expected to stick with the range extender option with the next generation i3, so the choices will be the 180 mile BEV and a REx that has about 325 miles of combined range, and both versions will charge at 150kW like the i5”.

        • Thanks for the additional info!

          I wonder how much of this has changed since he said it. Is there even going to BE a “2nd gen i3”? The 125Ah cells are presumably going into the LCI i3 before they do a 2nd Gen, either way.

          Either way, my assumption is that the “2nd gen i3” hes referring to has similar battery volume, so this gives us an idea of how much improvement we can see. This would actually be more than double the 60Ah cells (81 -> 180, if EPA), which could be explained by double the capacity per cell, plus added cells due to smaller size per cell. Maybe.

          I’m still making a lot of assumptions :).

          On another note, to me, the bigger difference-maker is the charge rate @ 150kW. With infrastrucure getting better and better, I’d take 180 miles of range with 150kW charge rate over 240 miles and 50kW charge rate any day. Even on an existing 50kW charger, the 150kW capable car is likely going to charge significantly faster, practically, because it won’t have to taper the charge rate as early or as drastically.

          Look at the Bolt: “50kw” charging drops below 40kW at 50% and below 25kW at 70%. A car that is rated for 150kW may be able to keep charging at ~50kW up to 80%, for instance, effectively charging faster than existing EVs, even without increasing the max output of the charger.

          If the new MINI E has 180 miles of range and 150kW charging, I’d be very happy. Save the weight of the battery, and give us faster charging, instead.

        • Greg

          Exxxxxxcellent point about charging, the value proposition of a faster charging EV is better than the longer range.

          Assuming the same rate of charge, that’d mean a 120kW rate at 50% and below 75kW at 70%, so a charger would do 0-50% in about 12 minutes, and when you add 50-70% in about 8 minutes that makes 0-70% (126 miles) in 20 minutes.

          Or a 50kW charger would give 0-80% (144 miles) in 45 minutes.

          Now my order of importance is: -Price (under Model 3 price) -Charging rate (150kW pretty please) -Range (mmmk I guess a 48kWh pack will do, with about 180 miles)

        • Yeah, 150kW would be a game-changer. In the time it takes to stretch and pee, you’ve got another 2 hours of driving range (based on your math). And when you’re not on a road trip, 180 miles of range is going to cover anything a normal person does in a day.

          One variable here is the charge rate of available charging stations, but that’s why I mentioned that even if only 50kW stations are available, the 150kW car is still going to see a notable increase in practical charging speed.

          But with VW being forced to put in DCFCs as a result of Dieselgate, and they’ve announced many will be designed for 150kW, so that’s what I hope BMW/MINI are planning on for the future. It doesn’t make THAT much of a difference in their current offerings because of the taper that would be required due to battery size and such, but when you get into the 150-250 mile range, 150kW would be a game-changer, if you ask me.

        • That’s what people often miss about electric cars. It’s not the range it’s how fast it charges and the proliferation of those chargers. That’s really a critical ingredient to Tesla’s success.

        • Yes, there are lots of variables for the viability of an electric car: use case (probably the biggest), range, charger availability, charging speed, etc.

          Most people only consider range, and don’t actually consider their use case, the actual logistics of how it works, how/where it would charge, etc. For the most part, you’re going to charge while you sleep, which is even more convenient than gas for 350 days per year. Even on trips, the car is going to charge while you’re doing something you would probably do anyway (eat, pee, stretch). Faster charging speed will make those times even shorter, and more chargers will mean your routes and stops become even more flexible.

        • Eric

          When you fill up the gas tank it takes 5 minutes, as long as the charging speed takes more, people will not accept switching to electricity. It’s as simple as that.

        • Disagree.

          When I fill up the tank in my MINI every week or so, it takes 5 minutes every time.

          When I plug in my EV every 1-5 days, it takes 5 seconds. And I don’t have to go out of my way for a gas station, wait for an available pump, etc.

          Besides all the other pros of driving an EV (instant torque, quiet operation, etc.), it’s more convenient for 360 days of the year, which outweighs the slight inconvenience on the rare long trip.

          Even day trips are more convenient for us in our EV. We drive 80-100 miles to Disney World, park in the best parking spots in the whole park, plug in, enjoy the park, and then drive home.

          For long trips, many of the “long” charging stops coincide with eating, anyway. So, it doesn’t matter if the charge takes 5 mins or 45 mins, we’re eating anyway. In this case, charging takes LESS time than filling up. Pull in, plug in, walk into the restaurant.

          EVs don’t work for everyone, but the minor inconvenience of charging on long road trips is becoming smaller and smaller (longer range, faster and more chargers), and people are going to start realizing that EVs are actually more convenient the other 360 days of the year, outweighing the often slight inconvenience on trips.

  • Nick Dawson

    The stimulus behind the growth in EV’s comes not from Europe or the US, but from China. Apparently motivated by a need to reduce its heavy industry-driven pollution, Chinese officials are in fact determined to break out of the dependence on imported oil, a natural resource the country is famously short of.

    At the same time, the aim is to take advantage of a once-in-100-year powertrain shift in order to leapfrog established car makers.

    By encouraging its home car makers, such as SAIC, Geely and Trumpchi, to focus on electric powertrain technology, China sees an opportunity to build a thriving domestic car industry with the ability to sell credible Chinesemade cars internationally. It is a plan that was born more than a decade ago but which is only now coming to fruition.

    • Eric

      Merkel says lots of things… a few days ago she said that diesel has been diabolized and must therefore continue 😉

      • Nick Dawson

        You are right, but in an interview on Wednesday, Merkel said comments she had made about diesel engines had been misinterpreted as meaning she had abandoned the electrification target.

        Merkel explained that diesel engines were currently necessary to keep pollution levels under control. As such, tax breaks favoring diesel cars would continue to be offered, due to their lower output of carbon dioxide compared to petrol engines.

        In the meantime, work needed to be done to quickly build a network of car battery charging stations across the country, including retro-fitting them to street lamps and in car parks, she said in the interview.

  • Rikki Loades

    I really wish they were considering making the 5 door an option also. It widens the potential market to people like me who have children. Again it looks like Mini/BMW are going to miss an opportunity with me.