New 2020 MINI electric to arrive on brand’s 60th birthday

Our exclusive images preview the look of the new MINI electric hatch, while the model has also been spied testing in Austria

MINI will mark its 60th anniversary next year by launching the most radical model in its history: the MINI electric. 

It will be the brand’s first mass-produced EV following a trial of 600 MINI Es back in 2007, and will launch next summer ahead of customers taking delivery in early 2020. Crucially, it will also be one of the first premium, small EV hatchbacks on sale. It will sit above the likes of the Renault ZOE when it arrives, ahead of Volkswagen’s eagerly anticipated I.D. hatchback.

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Prototypes of the MINI electric have been undergoing development testing in the Austrian Alps, where engineers are busy fine-tuning the car’s mechanical set-up. Previous spy images show the electric MINI will be based on an entry-level three-door Hatch, and there are currently no plans to offer the car as a larger five-door model.

Despite the disguise, the spy shots do reveal some of the car’s production-ready details, such as the aerodynamic wheel design. While some manufacturers, such as Nissan with its pioneering Leaf, choose not to highlight the car’s EV credentials from the outside, MINI’s head of design Oliver Heilmer told Auto Express it’s important that the firm’s first electric vehicle stands out.

“For the production MINI electric we have carried over some of the details from the concept car, features like the wheels and grille,” Heilmer told us. “This is important as the MINI electric is all about the details.”

Our exclusive images preview how the finished car could look; the distinctive LED headlamps, alloy wheels and flashes of yellow bodywork will make it clearly identifiable as the all-electric model.

Heilmer added: “We are in a transition phase from combustion-engined cars to electrified ones. During this time we need to show the difference between these cars. Our electric cars need to be like the difference we already have between the standard car and the John Cooper Works cars; noticeably different.”

Under the skin the MINI electric will use familiar technology from parent company BMW; the EV is expected to make use of the larger 42kWh battery that has just been introduced to the BMW i3 line-up. The battery will power an electric motor on the front axle and should deliver a range of just under 200 miles on the new WLTP cycle.

Much like MINI’s only current electrified vehicle, the Countryman Cooper S E hybrid, the fully-electric supermini is expected to offer similar performance to the petrol-powered Cooper S Hatch. With full torque available from a standstill, that means a 0-62mph time of less than seven seconds could be on the cards.

However, Heilmer hinted that MINI’s future EVs could go even further and pair up with the more potent JCW-badged cars.

“Can electric cars and John Cooper Works cars come together?” Heilmer asked. “Why not? When you look at the performance of our MINI Countryman, performance and electrification work well together.”

What do you think of our exclusive images of the new MINI electric? Let us know below…

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