British carmaker Mini will introduce an electric version of its iconic Cooper hatchback in Australian showrooms in the middle of next year.
Price is yet to be confirmed however, based on the European cost of about €32,000, the Mini Electric will likely arrive at about $55,000 plus on-roads.
The Mini Electric is based on the current generation Cooper three-door hatch introduced in 2013, meaning it arrives late in the model cycle and will likely be replaced by an all-new model within two to three years.
The Mini Electric – powered by a 135kW electric motor – has a claimed driving range of between 235km and 270km on a single charge.
Performance is relatively zippy with a claimed 0 to 100kmh time of 7.3 seconds, not much slower than most hot hatches. As with the regular Mini Cooper, power is delivered to the front wheels.
Mini says it has struck a balance between driving range and maintaining its fun-to-drive dynamics.
It could have fitted a bigger battery to extend driving range but that would have blunted the Mini’s nimble handling, the company says.
Mini also cites research that shows the average daily commute for most drivers in Europe is 47km, so most drivers will only need to top up their battery once every two days.
Thanks to a T-shaped battery under the car’s floor, Mini says there are no compromises on space between the electric versus the petrol version of the Cooper hatch.
The global boss of Mini, Bernd Koerber, says the company will not flood the Australian market with the Mini Electric and will let sales be dictated by genuine demand.
“We are not in the volume game,” said Mr Koerber during a briefing with Australian media during the Frankfurt motor show. “We need to find a sweet spot.”
Some countries, such as Australia, are still in the early stages of electric mobility, he said. “We would never push... and destroy the market,” said Mr Koerber.
“We have several markets where we just say: ‘Hey, use (the Mini Electric) for communication purposes. We know it’s not a market for you. Use it to make a buzz about the brand in terms of innovation’.”
“The worst thing you can do is... push too much in a market”, he said, that is not ready for electric cars.
The first mass-produced Mini Electric rolled off the UK production line in July 2019 ahead of deliveries in Europe and North America later this year.
However, Mini has experimented with electric cars before, with a limited run of Mini E models that debuted at the 2008 Los Angeles Motor Show.
Just 500 were manufactured: 450 were made available for lease across California and New York from 2009 while Paris received 50 Mini E models in 2010.
The original Mini E, based on the previous generation Cooper three-door hatch, was only a two-seater as the back seats were taken up by a battery. It only had a maximum driving range of 160km.