MUNICH, GERMANY — After years of experimental models and concept cars, BMW unveiled a fully electric Mini Cooper that you will be able to buy.
Powered by a 181-horsepower electric motor that’s located under the hood, the front-wheel-drive Mini Cooper SE will deliver the sort of “go-kart handling” Mini promises in its other models, the company said.
Mini has previously offered electric versions of its Mini Cooper, but only as an experiment in limited numbers.
The car’s battery pack is T-shaped and runs down the center of the car and under the back seats. This configuration allows the small two-door car to have the same passenger and cargo space as the gasoline-powered version. It also has a slightly lower center of gravity for better handling around corners, according to the company.
The Mini Cooper SE will have a driving range of about 146 to 168 miles on a charge, the company said, although official figures, particularly for the U.S., are not available yet. The range estimates only apply to models in Europe.
Drivers will be able to select from four different driving modes. Sport mode will provide punchy performance and quick steering while Green and Green+ modes will be tuned for optimal energy efficiency. There will also be a balanced Mid mode for everyday driving. Drivers will also be able to select a “single pedal” driving mode in which the car will use its regenerative braking capability as soon as the driver’s foot lifts off the accelerator. In regenerative braking, the car’s rolling wheels push the electric motors instead of the other way around. This way the motors slow the car while also generating electricity to feed the batteries and it allows the driver to slow down without having to use the brake pedal.
To protect pedestrians, the car will make a slight noise at low speeds — as required by new European regulations — so people can hear the otherwise silent electric car approaching.
Mini is owned by BMW and, while the car will be built in Mini’s factory in Oxford, England, the electric motors will come from Germany. BMW executives decided to build the car in England despite concerns about Brexit. The company has also said it might build the electric Mini in China as well, but now says the cars will be produced solely in England. Production will begin in November, with cars being delivered to customers early next year.
BMW executives have said the company will mostly make electric versions of cars that are also sold in internal combustion and plug-in hybrid versions, rather than making a lot of electric-only models. This way the company can easily adjust its production of internal combustion, plug-in hybrid and electric cars to match consumer demand. The Mini Countryman SUV is already available as a plug-in hybrid.