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.