Electric MINI is an Engineering Challenge According to BMW

The Electric MINI has been a challenge to engineer according to BMW. Planned for a 2019 release, the all electric MINI hatch will be produced in Oxford and China (with the latter meant for Asian markets only). However BMW is finding challenges in engineering and production of the F56 based electric car.

Electric MINI

According to MINI boss Peter Schwarzenbauer (via Autocar), MINI is the most urban car brand in the world and perfectly poised to move to electric. However due to the size of the vehicles, it’s proving difficult to fit the requisite number of battery cells into the current chassis.

Schwarzenbauer went onto to say, “…if you look at the role of electrification in the urban environment and the desire to be local emissions-free, there is no other brand with the credentials of Mini. It should be a natural fit, and that is the direction we’re moving towards for the future. The success of the plug-in hybrid Countryman shows what can be achieved, and the full electric Mini that is coming will show another step.”

Schwarzenbauer also mentioned that the joint venture with Great Wall Motors was necessary in order to qualify for the China’s electric vehicle regulations which require a proportion of the car’s parts to be sourced and manufactured there.

  • ulrichd

    In Europe will it compete with the Renault Zoe, which just got a nice battery pack upgrade to 41 kw-hours and a range of 300-400 km?

    • Eric

      You compare with a nearly lowcost vehicle… LOL

      • Michael Lehnert

        ulrichd’s point is valid, Eric. Cross-shopping in the emerging BEV segment occurs evidently less along brand loyalty and conventional premium/non-premium segmentation than for ICEs. If you look at the vehicle registration data across EU member states, the Renault Zoe and the BMW i3 are on average the top 2 selling BEVs. Looking at Germany, a country in which Renault has traditionally a more difficult customer recognition than BMW with its fleet sales, you will find registrations of the Zoe trailing BMW i3 sales only by 84 vehicles (i3 at 4407, Zoe at 4303 p.a., KBA 2017). And this despite the REX option (misleadingly) included into those figures, and Renault through most of MY2017 selling the Zoe with their off-putting separate monthly battery lease. Management in Boulogne-Billancourt clued up, and ditched this ill-fated policy for MY2018+.

        • Eric

          I understand. However, these sales figures are a coincidence point, the target audience is very different between these 2 cars. Things are changing very quickly on the electrical market, the current microscopic offer is doomed to spread like a stain of oil, dare I say.

        • Michael Lehnert

          First, these are not sales figures but registration figures, which already skews it in BMW’s favour – the Zoe is the best selling BEV across the EEA+CH. Second, these are observable trend lines across key targeted demographics since 2014 – I just provided the tail end data for the most interesting market to discuss Renault and BMW, Germany, in which premium cars now outsell non-premium cars: Mercedes out-reg’d Opel, BMW out-reg’d Ford, Audi out-reg’d all French marques combined… over the past half decade, the original meaning of exclusive ‘premium’ vs. mass ‘non-premium’ coined in the late 1980s is increasingly being lost as a differentiator here in Europe, and this is most pronounced in the BEV segment where cost/benefit aspects are fundamentally different to ICEs, and technological edge rather than brand matter. Third: your point was LOLing about the Zoe being “low cost” compared to the i3, which is a bold statement given the sales price is just on average 17% different in Europe. I personally think the Zoe is overpriced for how it looks-and-feels, but it is a superior package to the i3. And will evolve better than the i3 range.

          Look, erosion of brand loyalty during the cross-shopping for BEVs is widely discussed within automotive research centres and within sales and marketing departments, esp. in Munich, which I think has the most sophisticated sociological and psychological approach to marketing. This debate is taken very serious there. Veterans tend to take your view that these are just distortions in an emerging market segment, and eventually, all will fall back in line. Younger colleagues claiming to be more in tune with current and future customers take the opposite view. It’s an interesting situation. € for €, the i3 is a tougher sell than the Zoe.

          Despite being the first BEV I ever drove back in 2014, I didn’t buy the Zoe because of the coarse material mix and haptics in the cockpit, and that moronic battery lease deal. But I also dropped out of going through with an i3 purchase a year later because after being given a demonstrator for a week (as is common in Germany if the dealer knows you), the driving dynamics, user interface, and the packaging of the car are simply sub-par.

      • ulrichd

        My comment was a response to the “engineering challenge” in the headline. The Zoe may not compete in a perceived premium segment like the MINI but the new battery pack spec and range will be the benchmark for BMW. I think many EV buyers will gladly take longer range vs a nicely padded dash or trick interior LED lights.

        • Eric

          True, and many users rather like dynamic driving to driving a snail. That’s just totally different targets 🙂

        • ulrichd

          It’s a bit early to compare performance since the EV MINI won’t even be introduced until next year.

  • RM

    Errrm, turn the batteries side ways? Issigonis would kick you up the ass and tell you design a new chassis!

    • Michael Lehnert

      LOL, spot on. Yeah, from what I’ve seen, the first MINI E will be a pretty compromised package, for sure. The challenges are similar to the Mk7-based e-Golf, but that one has significantly more spatial leeway than the much smaller F56. In light of that, what isn’t talked about much is the achievable cost point for the F56-based MINI E, and hence its profitable sales price. I don’t think Munich doing the BMC thing and creating a 6% loss leader like in Issigonis’ time is viable today.

  • AnthLC

    I am not liking the chunky front bumper or the side of car a lot as looks tackled on. I hope they refine the look a little more. But I am interested in the platform. Will there be variations in models Cooper, Cooper S and JCW versions. I suspect probably no if they having trouble fitting batteries for the base model.

    Be interesting once moves from concept to something real.