Speaking to the Australian media at last week's 2017 Frankfurt motor show, Mini senior vice president Sebastian Mackensen confirmed his brand’s intentions for electrification but also admitted that it will take time, with the transitioning period particularly important to avoid disfranchising existing owners.
“[Mini] is more attractive to electric vehicles. The nature of the brand, it is an inherent nature car, made for urban driving,” Mackensen said.
“I will say it’s the most urban car brand probably out there. The brand was created back then in 1959, by the size of the car it’s not the regular car you drive every day for 200-300 miles, it’s an urban brand already and I think the electric propulsion technology goes in like a hand in the glove for Mini.
"We don’t have to bend ourselves and we do not [have to pretend] to be really urban and make an urban electric car, no, people expect that already and it feels very natural to have that from the Mini brand.”
The brand used the Frankfurt motor show to unveil its full electric Mini three-door hatch concept, but Mackensen says that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will blindly dive headfirst into the electric future.
“We announced the [fully electric] concept car for the three-door hatch, does this mean we automatically do this for every vehicle? Is it feasible to do the effort to put every drivetrain in every car? Our answer is no it’s not. We create niche inside a niche, [there are expected to be] 15-25 per cent of electric buyers, this means on the flip side, 75-85 per cent are not electric buyers - we want to make all our Mini fans happy.”
According to Mackensen, Mini can take more risks with an early adaptation of electric mobility than its parent company BMW, however, even with just 360,000 unit sales per year globally, the brand still has to tread carefully.
“We don’t want to lose too many people along the way and the development of these technologies is very different, very heterogeneous around the world. We have a brand here which is a huge asset for the company, it’s a very urban and youth orientated and accepted… if you look at our comparison on volume between the two brands if there is something not going too well its probably better if its Mini than BMW.”
The BMW group has showcased its highly involved electric future at this year’s Frankfurt motor show, however, even by its own estimates, alternate electric technologies will not become the dominant force of propulsion for more than a decade, with the internal combustion engine remaining a core focus and area for continued development for the time being.
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