The brand produced an electric car 10 years ago, the Mini E, but it was a purely experimental model and only 600 were made. Earlier in 2017, a plug-in hybrid version of the Countryman SUV was launched, but the Electric Concept is considered a mainstay of the ‘Number One – Next’ strategy of Mini’s parent BMW Group.
No technical details of the Electric concept have yet been released, Mini only stating that the car ‘combines a drive system that is always quick off the mark with a precision-tuned suspension – the drivetrain and performance characteristics offer an enthralling drive on both city streets and country roads that is typical of the Mini product range.’
As a result, the exterior styling of the new car is being closely scrutinised – while Mini insists this is a concept and therefore not necessarily the look of a production model, industry observers believe it previews the future design direction of the Mini brand.
Overall the look is sharper, cleaner and more minimalist, and many believe this will be the next, fourth-generation Mini will take this route.
Several design elements reflect the electric drivetrain – the radiator grille and front air intakes are closed off as the motor does not require cooling. The body is smoothed out as much as possible to aid aerodynamics and increase the car’s range between charges. The exterior finish, with its yellow details, reflects the original Mini E.
The concept also makes use of 3D printing technology – aerodynamic inlays and the recessed louvred surfaces in the air intakes were produced using the technology. MINI says they illustrate the opportunities offered by 3D printing in terms of producing small-run or individually personalised parts.