First Photos of the 2019 MINI Electric

Even the dark of night in northern Scandinavia can’t keep the 2019 MINI Electric secret. Autocar snapped the first photos of the 2019 model undergoing cold weather testing inside the arctic circle.

2019 MINI Electric – Range

The 2019 MINI Electric (or MINI E as we believe it may be called) has unknown range and performance figures but we’ve been given several clues. First we know that BMW is heavily leveraging the i3 electric engine and battery design. Given the i3 rapid battery development that could mean a range of around 200 miles by late 2019 when this car hits showrooms.

The other scenario is that BMW uses the drivetrain but makes use of Samsung’s new Low Height Pack 125-Ah cells to solve packaging and increase battery density. Those same rumors have pointed to a range of “at least” 250 miles. This figure has been abdied about as key in making the MINI E a viable consumer product.

Perhaps more important we expect eventually BMW and MINI to adopt 150kW charging which would allow for a dramatically quicker charge than an existing i3 (or equivolant electric vehicle) when paired with quick charge stations. This last point could go a long way in making the electric MINI a more viable option than other electric cars for many of us who need more than a electric vehicle to commute in. Whether this first generation of MINI Electric will have that feature is unknown.

Electric MINI E

Electric MINI E – Performance

We expect the battery packs and electric engine to add 600-800 pounds to the 2600 lbs curb weight of the F56. BMW has a long history of being able to mask weight with proper suspension tuning but that will be a tough hurdle to overcome. In our review of the original MINI E, the added weight was immediately recognizable yet it didn’t kill the MINI experience in terms of handling.

One thing we know for certain is that straight-line performance could be good. With the wall of torque inherent in electric engines, MINI could choose to tune up or down performance depending on how they want to market the MINI E.

Electric MINI E

The original MINI E with plenty of batteries and no rear seats.

MINI E – Design & Packaging

Packaging will have a lot of impact on performance. Looking at the previous MINI E (which was leased to a few hundred study participants in the US), MINI made some sacrifces in interior space for battery placement. That begs the question, will MINI make this a two seater or retain the four seat layout of the F56? Given the increase in battery efficiency and the new low-height Samsung modules we believe MINI will try to contain the battery layout to the he area below the rear seats and boot.

Electric MINI E

The MINI stands a chance at being the first rear biased, rear wheel drive MINI ever created. Coupled with loads of torque from the electric engine and weight distribution that is likely close to neutral or even rear biased and you have what sounds like a lot of fun to us.

We’ve written at length about the design of the electric MINI E previously trying to shed some light on the concept and how it will compare to the production model.

According to sources the design will be largely derivative of the current F56 with stying elements added. That said we expect MINI to do everything they can make this model look and feel unique as compared to the rest of the F56 range. Unique trim, wheels and colors are certain. Inside we expect MINI to introduce some reworked controls to highlight the electric nature of the car.

Electric MINI E – When Can I Buy One and How Much Will It Cost?

MINI has given the 2019 date for awhile. However we’ve heard to not expect anything on dealer lots until the 2nd half of the year – perhaps in the fall. Like the JCW we expect the electric MINI to command a premium over the standard Cooper and even Cooper S models. We don’t have details on exact numbers (as MINI is will busy at work figuring them out) but we expect MINI to carefully keep tabs on the market and competition ahead of the launch.

Electric MINI E

Electric MINI E – How Will it Sell in the US?

We’re only two years away from the debut of the all electric MINI E hatch and even BMW isn’t sure how it will sell – especially in the US. Gas prices are low and distances are far. Those are a few of the reasons cited by some as to why BMW’s generally excellent i3 has failed to sell in sizable numbers IN North America. But in our mind it may also be the car itself.

Just before the i3’s engineering was finalized the BMW board made the decision to add an optional small power plant to act as a generator giving owners the ability to gas up and effectively extend the range. This option (known as REX) had the unfortunate side effect of limiting the amount of batteries that could fit in the all electric i3. The result was a $45k car that could barely get 80 miles on a charge in real world driving. That figure got substantially better with the 2017 i3 which was updated with more dense batteries (we saw over 130 miles at times). But it pales in comparison to the Chevrolet Bolt which costs 20k less and gets 238 miles to a charge.

Electric MINI E

The result? Last month’s i3 sales were down almost 60% from the year prior and are clearly not trending positively. But what must be puzzling for BMW is the i3’s sales outside of the US market make it the best selling premium electric car worldwide.

MINI will not make that mistake with the MINI E. The intention is to use the latest thinking in electric car engineering to maximize range, minimize changing time and offer it all at an attractive (albeit premium) price-point.

One thing we know for certain is that straight-line performance could be good. With the wall of torque inherent in electric engines, MINI could choose to tune up or down performance depending on how they want to market the MINI E.

  • Tom

    This might also be a tough sell in the States since the standard Coop hatch already gets decent mileage and if this turns into a 2 seater, it will only appeal to a very niche group of buyers.

    I feel like they would have better success with fully electrifying the larger Countryman E since its currently a Plug-In Hybrid with such limited electric range and misses out on the best aspects of a pure electric like off the line Torque and the ability to set the interior to the proper temperature before stepping into the car.

    BMW i line allows you to set up a schedule so if your tendency is to leave at a certain time for work/school, it will be toasty warm as you step in without an intervention once your have this time programmed in.

    I am on my 2nd lease tenure with the ReX i3. My current 2017 is a vast improvement over the 2014 i drove for 2 years. Range is very usable for my local needs and i have yet to dip into the gas backup generator. I started this lease in April of 2017. Most improved is the handling. Pre-2017 the suspension bits made it feel like driving around in a golf cart. Now it just feels like a proper car with amazing off the line torque that makes you feel like cars around you are driving in reverse since the i3 pulls ahead quickly and without effort.

    The US population as a whole probably finds this car rather polarizing in looks, hence limiting sales. Europeans can better appreciate modern/unique designs thus the success across the pond. However, I am fairly certain, if BMW adds a more traditional looking i-class offering, it will do much better stateside.

    As for me, the i3 fulfills all of my motoring needs while helping to save the world. Now the only thing i’d ask for is an i3 that drives like a Mini. Oh, wait, i guess that Mini is working the flip side 🙂

    • Interesting take. I agree a Countryman E would have made more sense for the US market and given the size and time remaining within its lifecycle, I’m surprised they didn’t go that direction. I hear they felt strongly about making the first MINI E a version of the classic hatch.

    • I don’t think this will be a 2-seater. The car in the photos clearly has rear seats, which would be unnecessary (or impossible) to put in a tester if the production version wasn’t going to have them.

      I do agree that the Countryman E would sell better and be more “practical”, I’m also interested in an electric that drives like a MINI, so I’m glad it’s going to be a hardtop.

      As far as the i3, I’ve always attributed any change in handling to changes in weight or wheels/tires between the older and newer cars. I’m interested to try out the i3s, though.

      I really think the MINI E could “fulfill” many people’s motoring needs, too, especially if it gets 150-200 miles of range and 150kW charging. That would make it as useful as the Bolt, IMO, though the size would be a limiting factor for people.

  • Alistar London Bridge

    Head Scratiching — What happened to the influence of the concept pictured above? This all looks disappointingly … normal and very ‘current gen’ … especially for 2019/2020 model release. I mean, those lights! And outdated F56 body style!

    Now don’t get me wrong, I’m on my 3rd MINI and loving it strong but it’s time for a leap in design and the electric concept shown earlier was at least looking very much in the right direction (and even more so once you delete the excess fins lips and flair happening at the bottom and add in some refined sleek sporty but euro design).

    This however already looks a bit stale. Is this design/model actually intended for production or am I all wrong and this is simply a really well hidden and disguised Electric Test Mule?

  • Alistar London Bridge

    Head Scratiching — What happened to the influence of the concept pictured above? This all looks disappointingly … normal and very ‘current gen’ … especially for 2019/2020 model release.

    I know it’s still quite early and I do understand it will be largely derivative of the current F56 but this overall design already looks a bit stale when contrasted with the concept.

    I wonder if this is simply a really well hidden (by current gen body panels) and unfinished Electric Test Mule.

    • I was thinking it was just a mule at first, since it doesn’t even have the new Union Jack taillights, but on the other hand, it seems like it might already have some unique parts installed: The rear bumper doesn’t seem to have any exhaust cutouts, and the “fuel” door looks to have the MINI E “logo” debossed into it. At least I think that’s what that is.

      I guess we’ll find out!

  • Perhaps more important we expect eventually BMW and MINI to adopt 150kW charging which would allow for a dramatically quicker charge than an existing i3 (or equivolant electric vehicle) when paired with quick charge stations.

    I think it’s worth mentioning that if the MINI E has 150kW charging in 2019, it wouldn’t just be quicker than some other EVs, it would be faster than every other EV, at least as of today. The fastest Teslas are 145kW, and the EVs that use CCS and Chademo are primarily at 50kW (i3, Soul, Leaf, etc.), with a couple being in the 60-80kW range (Bolt, Ioniq).

    Of course, if the 125aH i3 beats the MINI E to market, it may have faster charging first, or maybe the Mission E, etc., but 150kW would be a huge jump and possibly even the fastest-charging EV on the market.

    I hope they do it! With all the new fast charging stations going in as a result of dieselgate, a 150kW MINI E with 150-200 miles of range could be very useable, even for trips, for many people.

  • mike74jcw

    Great write-up! I am a 5-time MINI owner and currently an i3 REx owner since August 2014. I also had a 2012 LEAF for 3 years. Now have more than 90,000 E-miles :). I test drove the new Countryman E – loved it. However, it’s quite disappointing that the pure electric is so small………it might as well be all gas unless you live in a very urban area (NYC, LA, London, etc). Otherwise it drove well and felt great behind the wheel like a MINI should. Plus it’s got ALL4 for crappy winter conditions and plenty of room. The i3 has been wonderful for the most part and VERY efficient even if it’s offset a bit by my car payment which really sucks :-o. Lease next time. On to the MINI… I am really looking forward to the electrified MINI and hope it packs all of the latest technology that the market has to offer. May BMW/MINI take lesson learned from the 1 Active E, MINI E, i3, and i8 as well as the others to make it one badass MINI with a strong price point. In order to lineup with Bolt, Tesla Model 3, and others it will need to make a strong statement. I doubt highly it will be RWD although that’s a great dream! MINI will stay true to it’s roots with FWD and the latest Hardtop platform. I envision a fast, silent little FWD runabout with i3 running gear which will make it fast no doubt perhaps faster off the line (but not in the long run) than a JCW.

  • Nick Dawson

    A big advantage for the 4-seater MINI E is that the BMW i3 will not continue beyond its current production run, but instead will be replaced by the lower-tech, higher-volume iX1 SUV.

    • 3-time i3 owner here that’s planning to switch to the MINI E. We love our R56 (besides the engine), so a MINI E is perfect. If it comes down to a MINI E vs an electric crossover iX1, that’ll be the easiest car decision I’ve ever made.

  • ca_surfer

    This will be my next MINI as soon as it gets at lease 250 miles of range and is 100% electric. Otherwise, I’ll hang onto my 2018 Hardtop S.

    • Jaymes Deen

      It will be like the I3, Electric with the optional Range extender Gas engine

  • WheelNut

    This is going to built on the F56 platform right? I just don’t see how they are going to cram enough batteries into that platform to give it long range since that platform isn’t optimized for electric. Where are the batteries going to go? In place of the fuel tank? Distributed between the front and rear? Down the tiny exhaust tunnel? Then the next problem is that sales in North America are going to be absymal, but that doesn’t really matter maybe since they can make up for that with sales in Europe and China. They’ll sell a few electrics in the big cities here. Like everyone else said the Countryman would have a made more sense from a sales perspective. The hardtop might look better for the brand image though.

  • tax refund

    my lease will be up in march 2019. i am moving to electric car mini or not.