BMW’s 'Mini' Looks To Bring Fully Electric Option To The U.S.
Electric cars are becoming more and more popular with major manufacturers. From Tesla’s Model S to the Nissan Leaf, it looks like electric cars are on track to become a standard option, and even classic brands are taking a swing at this bold new shift. MINI, which is known for its whimsical British flare, is now planning to hit the streets and join the quiet revolution in the electric vehicle world.
The first MINI was created in England back in 1959 in response to high fuel prices after World War II. The small car was engineered to be fuel efficient and has evolved over the years into an iconic image. Today, MINI is no less sensitive to the needs of consumers and is tweaking its approach to fuel efficiency again.
While BMW acquired the right to produce MINIs in the 2000s, the brand continues to incorporate modern features into the classic car and has tinkered with eco-friendly models like the MINI Countryman Plug-In Hybrid. As a middle of the road compromise, MINI’s hybrid gives drivers the option to run on gas or electric power. Drivers can use a standard outlet to charge the battery and have the freedom of range if they choose to use a blend of gas and electric power. Still, the brand had not yet released a fully electric car. Until now.
BMW recently stated that they are working on creating an electric model that would be the first of its kind. The new concept, which comes with a Lithium-Ion battery, was unveiled at the Frankfurt motor show. Unlike other brands which are focusing on crossovers, MINI is looking to go all in with a fully electric brand in the United States. BMW board member, Peter Schwarzenbauer told Reuters that the brand plans to target urban drivers.
According to Forbes, BMW has been struggling with the MINI brand in the United States. In fact, sales have been down by 10 percent in recent months. To remedy this problem, the company is tinkering with the idea of an all-electric line instead of following the trend towards creating large-sized cars.
While BMW is hoping to make a change, they’re not planning to do it on their own. Schwarzenbauer explained to Reuters that MINI is on the hunt for partners to bring down the cost of going electric, “We are talking to many OEMs (manufacturers) around the world, not only in China, (about) how to electrify smaller cars.”
Manufacturing partners would not only keep costs down, but also help the company sort out the technical hurdle of creating small electric powered cars. Electric cars in general often raise concerns about range, but little cars have a secondary problem of finding space to fit the batteries. To keep the MINI small, BMW will have to find a way to engineer the components to match the car’s size.