There’s no way of getting around it. Global politics can be difficult to plan for. The plan for BMW to build all electric MINIs in China (taking advantage of lower costs, and Chinese expertise) made sense on paper when it was conceived five years ago. But since then the world has changed and the unfortunate outcome of that change is that the electric MINI Cooper currently sold in the US will die later this year with no immediate successor.
The current electric MINI Cooper was always meant to be a stop-gap while BMW designed and built a new one from the ground up. However to make the economics work, BMW had to find a company to partner to help defray the enormous costs associated with creating a new vehicle from scratch. That company, Great Wall Motors seemed to be the perfect choice having quickly become an expert of electrified vehicles thanks to China’s stringent laws mandating their sales.
However just months after the agreement was signed, US/Chinese relations began to implode. One thing led to another and tariffs on goods were announced on both sides. For electric cars that meant a 25% tariff on any Chinese car imported to the US. For a small car with equally small profit margins, those tariffs have proven impossible for MINI USA to solve for.
Because of this, sources tell us that MINI USA will not be importing the all new J01 electric MINI Cooper or J05 electric MINI Aceman in its current form.
But what about the current F56 electric MINI? Couldn’t it just continue to be made and sold in the US? The issue with that is MINI’s plans to heavily evolve the F56 into the F66 never included a fully electric version when they were hatched years ago. And why would they? The brand had an entirely new and much more efficient electric platform to be launch simultaneously in the J01. BMW simply didn’t see the US/China geo political saga coming and thus didn’t plan for it.
The result will be painful for MINI dealers and would be owners in the US. When the 2024 model year is over (which should be at the end of 2023), the electric MINI Cooper SE will be dead. And with it all of MINI’s electric offerings in the US.
There Is Hope for An Electric MINI Cooper in the US – Eventually
There is hope that we’ll see the J01 and J05 eventually. Rumors have been swirling that BMW and the UK government are working on a major investment in the Oxford plant that will lay the groundwork to build a revised J01 MINI Cooper and J05 MINI Aceman in a few years for global export. But those rumors have yet to be verified and even if they were, plans like that take years to come to fruition.
|Oxford, England||Leipzig, Germany||China (GWM)|
|G66 ICE Cooper 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman||J01 Electric Cooper 3 Door|
|G66 ICE Cooper S 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman S||J01 Electric Cooper S 3 Door|
|G66 ICE Cooper JCW 3 door||U25 ICE Countryman JCW||J01 Electric Cooper JCW 3 Door|
|G65 ICE Cooper 5 door||U25 Electric Countryman||J05 Electric Aceman|
|G65 ICE Cooper S 5 door||U25 Electric Countryman S||J05 Electric Aceman S|
|G67 ICE Cooper Convertible||U25 Electric Countryman JCW||J05 Electric Aceman JCW|
|G67 ICE Cooper S Convertible|
|G67 ICE JCW Convertible|
MINI USA’s Solution – The U25 Electric MINI Countryman SE
The J01 and J05 aren’t the only electric MINIs in the brand’s future product planning. Perhaps the most important electric next generation MINI is coming to the US. Sources tell us that MINI USA will indeed be importing the German made, U25 electric MINI Countryman.
While it’s not the electric MINI Cooper that has become a cult hit in the US, the electric Countryman will have a dramatically improved range and loads more utility for a market that seems to cherish space. Along with the ICE (internal combustion engine) Countryman S and Countryman JCW, the Countryman SE is expected to be the brand’s best selling product in the US market.
The U25’s FAAR platform was designed from the ground up to accommodate a battery pack and electric motor as part of the brand’s plans to transition all products over the next decade.
Assuming MINI will be leveraging the same technical layout as the BMW X1, we should see a dual motor, all wheel drive electric Countryman have a peak output of 268 bhp.
The power comes from a modest 64.7-kWh t-shaped battery pack that produces 266 miles of range using the WLTP testing protocol. That would likely translate into something around 240 miles using the EPA testing. The iX1 supports DC fast-charging at up to 130 kW, which can charge from 10 percent to 80 percent in only 29 minutes.
It’s worth noting that BMW of North America decided against importing the BMW iX1 to the US. While there’s never been an official rational for that move, sources tell us that the cost vs range ratio wouldn’t have made it particularly attractive. Could the same calculations keep the electric Countryman from the US? Given that the J01 Cooper and the J05 Aceman won’t be coming stateside for awhile and the F56 based electric MINI is as good as dead, we’d be surprised if MINI USA didn’t import the dual motor Countryman SE. Given the models popularity in the US and increasing brand association with electrification, it would make sense to us even if were a lower volume, higher priced model.
It’s an awkward reality for MINI that the brand has stated its intentions to become full electric, yet it’s killing its only electric model for sale in one of its largest markets. While the electric MINI Countryman will allow it to save face, for many of the brand’s most faithful fans, it’s likely not going to be a satisfying replacement. For that we’ll have to wait for a few years and hope that the rumors or a shift to UK production for the J01 and J05 is true.