We’ve been writing about the surprising value that MINI USA has achieved with the electric Mini Cooper SE since pricing was announced last fall. But what do we mean and how does that translate from state to state?
Overwhelming Interest In the USA
MINI USA has seen overwhelming interest in the new MINI Electric over the past few months, including down payment reservations on more than half of the units allocated for the U.S. market and more than 18,000 hand raisers. Despite the closing of most businesses in the US, the 2020 MINI Cooper SE arrived at U.S. showrooms over the weekend with a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of $29,900 plus an additional $850 Destination & Handling fee. And yes, dealerships are still open (typically via appointment only) and deliveries are taking place.
“There is a lot of excitement and buzz around the new MINI Electric from our customers, dealers and our team. We look forward to showing customers around the U.S. how fun it is to drive an affordable, premium EV like the MINI Electric.”Michael Peyton, Vice President, MINI of the Americas
What we loved (among many things) about our time with the Cooper SE, is that it feels so authentically “MINI”. The MINI Cooper SE harkens back to the mission of the very first Mini developed by Sir Alec Issigonis in 1959 – to develop a creative solution for a highly efficient car with a small footprint that was fun to drive, and accessible to the masses. And it feels like a MINI perhaps even more so than the petrol powered Cooper and Cooper S.
Power and Performance
With a low center of gravity, a powerful electric powertrain, and dynamic handling, the MINI Cooper SE is a true performance car that retains all the fun-to-drive attributes MINI owners have come to know and love. The front wheel drive electric motor generates 181hp and 199 lb.-ft. of torque enabling the new MINI Cooper SE to go from 0 – 60 mph in 6.9 seconds and achieve a top speed of 93 mph.
Attainable Electric Mobility
While the MINI Cooper SE has an MSRP of $29,900, the federal EV credit of $7,500 along with available state EV incentives make the MINI Cooper SE even more attractive. In some cases, qualified consumers can get a MINI Cooper SE below $20,000. Examples of some state EV incentives include;
- CO – offers $4,000 (as of 2020)
- CA – offers $2,000 plus an additional $2,500 based on income qualifications
- DE – offers $3,500
- MD – offers $3,000
- OR – offers $2,500
- NJ – exempt from 6.875% sales tax on new vehicle purchase of base trim equals an estimated $2,114
Additionally NJ law recently passed with 6 months given to enact allows for a $2,750 credit on the MINI Cooper SE plus additional $500 rebate for the installation of home charging. Total combine state tax incentives savings on the base trim are $5,634.
There are also a number of states that offer $1,500 – $1,700 in credits, along with some states that offer additional benefits such as access to HOV lanes.
The value equation goes up more when one factors in fuel savings on top of federal and state incentives. A MINI Cooper SE battery electric customer may realize an additional saving of up to $3,700 over a six-year period of driving with the comparison based on the following assumptions:
- MINI Cooper S with 2.0 liter 4-cylinder engine – 30 MPG combined
- MINI Cooper SE battery electric – miles per kWh at 3.22
- 10,000 average miles driven a year
- Premium fuel at $3.30 a gallon
- Electricity at $0.15 a kW
Electric MINI Cooper SE: That Range
The MINI Cooper SE is equipped with lithium-ion batteries delivery a range of 235 to 270 km according to MINI. In United States EPA terms that translates into only a 110 mile range. That range is why you’ll hear MINI often talk about how the MINI Cooper SE is designed for cities.
Designed for cities is also another way of saying the range of this car isn’t Tesla like, but the 110 miles quoted by the EPA isn’t the whole story. In my time with the car, I drove equal parts city and highway, and came away with at least 125 miles of range (on a 60 degree day). And while we’ve seen major differences in the BMW i3 in cold temps, the engineers responsible for the MINI Cooper SE promised me that that large delta doesn’t exist on this car thanks to the newer generation batteries and the way the car manages them. Additionally those batteries also make it more efficient than the i3 getting 3.8 miles per kWh compared to 2.9.
Can 110-125 miles really work as a daily driver? MINI USA tells us that most MINI owners have 2-3 other cars in the garage, and for those people the MINI stays true to its brief of being an urban runabout or weekend car. But for those who rely on one car the Cooper SE has drawbacks.
Charging can be quick, but only if you find a fast charger. How fast? on a DC 50 kW it takes 35 minutes to charge 80% and 64 minutes for 100%. On a MINI Wallbox in your garage it takes 2.5 hours (AC 11kW) and 3.2 (AC 7.4 kW) to hit 80%. For the full 100% it takes 3.5 and 4.2 hours, respectively.
Like all electric cars the SE will have energy recuperation that acts as automatic braking. However MINI has designed a system that allows this energy recuperation to be variable giving the two levels to choose from tailoring their one-pedal driving experience.
Electric MINI Cooper SE: Equipment, Price And Performance
But let’s put all that aside for a moment and remember this is a MINI and intended to be an engaging driving experience rather than an appliance like so many electric cars. While the 0-62 time of 7.3 doesn’t seem all that impressive, the immediacy of the torque and ultra low center of gravity reportedly create a feeling like no other MINI. According to those who have driven the SE, it’s an absolute riot on the track and is likely the most capable around an autocross. This is also due to something called ARB – BMW’s highly advanced traction control system designed for electric cars that features a slip control system positioned directly in the engine control unit making it dramatically faster to react. Combined with with DSC, actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (say that three times) significantly reduces the power understeer usually experienced with front-wheel drive vehicles, but without control intervention to stabilize lateral dynamics.
The MINI Cooper SE will be well equipped with LED headlamps, 2-zone automatic air conditioning, heating with heat pump technology, auxiliary heating, electric parking brake and Connected Navigation. It will also debut the highly anticipated digital gauge cluster that we’ve been reporting on for years at MF (look for this to make its way to other MINI models by 03/20 production).
In our time with the car, we came away loving how the SE reinforces what makes the MINI brand so special. Its performance coupled with utility and value positions it the same way that BMC positioned their classic Mini 61 years ago. And in many ways it points to a very bright future for the brand. But perhaps the best part MINI has priced it in a way that allows for it to be more accessible for more of us.