Mini Could Become Standalone Plug-In Electric-Only Brand In U.S.

3 months ago by Inside EVs Staff 27

Mini Electric Concept

It comes amid declining sales.

BMW is considering turning Mini into an a plug-in only electric brand for the U.S. market amid declining sales, according to a recent report.

Mini Electric Concept – Image Credit: InsideEVs

Peter Schwarzenbauer, BMW board member in charge of Mini, let slip the radical idea at the Los Angeles Auto Show, saying that Mini’s sales in America have dipped by 10 percent in the last month alone as more and more buyers look to SUVs. The brand has been criticized in Europe for selling increasingly larger “Minis” but even the Countryman SUV is still seen as quite small in the U.S. market.

“It’s really only in the U.S. where we are facing this with Mini,” he insisted. “The way for Mini in the U.S. is building the Mini brand in the direction of becoming the electric urban mobility company.”

An all-electric Mini is set the join the company’s model lineup in 2019, but if Schwarzenbauer’s plans are realized, it could be the only one offered in the U.S. in the coming years. BMW announced earlier this year that the electric model would be built in the UK, but it’s not clear if the new plan from BMW would involve using the German manufacturer’s U.S. factories to build electric cars.

According to Reuters, BMW is now looking for partners for the venture in order to lower the costs of making small, affordable electric cars. They’ll also need to work out how to package enough batteries into the small Mini platform to ensure a long enough range that will appeal to consumers who have got used to Tesla levels of capacity.

The upcoming electric Mini will be assembled at the famous Mini plant in Oxford. However, the electrified running gear and batteries will actually be built in Germany, alongside platforms for BMW’s own electric cars, and then shipped over to the UK where they will be fitted to the cars.

Electric Minis will be put together alongside gasoline and diesel examples, allowing Mini to seamlessly ramp up EV production if and when ICE models stop being produced entirely by the company.

Currently, BMW offers the Countryman as a plug-in offering inside the MINI lineup, but so far in the US has been selling in the low 3 digit range.

Keep the conversation going in our InsideEVs Forum covering electric cars and green technology. Start a new thread about this article and make your point.

Source: Reuters

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27 responses to "Mini Could Become Standalone Plug-In Electric-Only Brand In U.S."

  1. Disappointed says:

    Easily the ugliet car I’ve ever seen !

    As the joke goes, at birth the kid was so ugly, the Doctor took one look and slapped the mother instead of the baby!

    BMW,shame on you.

    1. JJames says:

      Really, it is the only car on the market that I think is attractive! Everyone has a different opinion. I love my 2015 mini, and get compliments on it every day. Never had that happen before.

  2. EVShopper says:

    Minis are just too expensive for what they are. Not sure how an EV is going to fix that.

    1. Dav8or says:

      You’re right. Minis are slumping sales here in the US because-

      1- Gas is cheap and few are looking for small cars.
      2- Minis are on the expensive side if you are looking for a small car.
      3- Minis now have a well established reputation for breaking down a lot and being expensive to repair.

      Simply going all electric isn’t going to save the brand by itself, particularly with that horrid looking concept!!! With all the competition coming online in the EV market, an EV only Mini brand will struggle and ultimately fail. The Mini dealers will need more product to sell.

      Now if they were planning a single BEV platform that supported several body styles at the same time, that might work, but just one lone BEV Mini or even a BEV Mini and a PHEV Mini isn’t going to cut it.

  3. SJC says:

    Mini would make a great EV.

  4. VazzedUp says:

    By making the Mini increasingly larger, to the point is now larger than many CUVs, Mini has lost the market it sold to, but doesn’t fit into the traditional CUV/SUV view.
    As to being hard to fit batteries into, the Mini is similar or larger than the i3 and Bolt, so he’s spouting BS.

    1. MTN Ranger says:

      Well you would be wrong.

      Mini Hardtop 2 Door (which the EV is based on) is 151″ long, 98″ wheelbase vs

      Bolt EV at 164″ long, 102.4″ wheelbase.

      BMW i3 at 157″ long, 101″ wheelbase.

    2. Yogurt says:

      +1
      It is not just in Europe where they think the Mini has gotten too large…
      I used to have one and Ive heard it called the Maxi because it certiany aint Mini…

  5. Disappointed says:

    The electric mini that proceeded the BMW,
    Active E, was the pocket rocket that none of the original beta Testers wanted to return.

    Produce that original mini and you will have excited buyers.

    1. Nix says:

      exactly!! They of course would have to put the battery under the floor to get the trunk back, but those were way ahead of their time back when they came out, and they were awesome!

      Just don’t put the wheels from the pictures in the story on them and they will sell like crazy… LOL!

  6. Bill Howland says:

    Although I wouldn’t mind another EV to choose from this seems more like Monkey See Monkey Do.

    German Automakers (primarily BMW, VW and Diamler) always blindly copy each other.

    At first VW was going to electrify the Phaeton, then Diamler didn’t go along with anything similar to it, so they cancelled it, or relegated it to one of their hundreds of ‘Concepts’.

    Now Diamler is making the Smart ev only. So this is just BMW playing copycat.

    The upcoming ban on ICE’s in inner cities is probably lighting a fire under some people’s cans also.

  7. guyinacar says:

    Execs who hint at using “partners to lower the cost” may also be hinting about UK labor relations vs. Chinese, Eastern European, and LATAM labor sources. It’s also potentially about how any Oxford “imports” to the EU will be treated in Brexit, much as “foreign” cars from Windsor, ON are treated here in the US. There is much to be negotiated in the next decade for Mini.

    As for the car: beauty, beholder, etc.

    The Mini brand would be rather more beautiful to this beholder if the Mini (and BMW) warranty were improved. IMHO, that’s the AchillIes’ heel. The Koreans smoke Mini in the warranty dept., more than doubling on power train (ignoring certain CARB exceptions), for example.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    “…BMW board member”

    Not surprised this is where the suggestion comes from. It shows hubris, IMO. Buyers prove themselves a stupid lot, every day, but it won’t be that much longer before electric drive-trains are accepted by most, as the ‘Premium’ choice.

  9. GeologyRocks says:

    As the owner of a 2013 Mini Cooper Clubman who commutes 112 miles a day, with 1-1/2 hours to the horrible 4 hour ride one way, an electric car does not have either the drive time or capacity to fulfill this need. I love my Mini and will within the year add a second GAS model to my household, even if it has to be used. If I wanted to drive an SUV I would buy one, instead I want a small well built vehicle that gets good gas mileage and can maneuver though Boston traffic. Return to your roots! Ask the 1328 owners who participated in the 2017 Mini on the Mack.

    1. Rhaman68 says:

      OMG! 112 miles round trip? You any idea how much gas is wasted? The mpg’s must be quite low. As to electric, the Chevy Bolt will do this trip with 135 miles to spare. An i3Rex can do your commute all electric if you charge while at work. An used Tesla Model S 85D can do the commute as well with plenty to spare. A Chevy Volt can do just over 100 miles using electric with charging at work. All viable options for your needs. Cheers!

  10. Jonathan says:

    I’m on my second clubman sport. I love them. I’ve drove my current mini from SF to Orlando FL via Grand Tetons & Rocky Mountain national park. I bought my current mini in 2013 and already have 122,000 miles on it. I have literally had NO PROBLEMS WHATSOEVER with my car! Thanks MINI OF SAN FRANCISCO! However I must say that I don’t like the current clubman. Where do I start:It’s too big, too tall, too long, and rides like a Toyota Corolla. The giant speedometer is long gone and the interior tech is all BMW now. Also, the price just keeps going up & up. Now here’s the thing. If I wanted a BMW I would buy a BMW! I bought a clubman S… twice, & I would have traded in my current car(I named my 1st Brownie for her brown leather seats & my current I named Elie which is short for elegance)for a new one except that I just don’t like ANY of the new models. The two door cooper JCW is ok but doesn’t have enough room & costs way too much money. BMW,YOU HAVE REALLY, REALLY UNDERMINED THE MINI BRAND. My only real hope now is the New Mini ROCKETMAN. When Coca-Cola issued new improved Coke & it flopped, they swallowed their pride and immediately launched Coke Classic. BMW PLEASE SWALLOW YOUR PRIDE AND RELAUNCH MINI CLASSIC! Even if you only relaunch a two door CLASSIC & not the clubman, I can still live with that. You have only yourselves to blame for your sales declines. Your design changes are all wrong & your attempt to consolidate BMW & MINI platforms & tech was a major mistake that cost you big time. I should know, I just spent thousands of dollars to buy a 3rd party warranty on Elie as her warranty ended at 100,000 miles. That’s money I would have liked to have spent on my third mini, only now I’m trying to keep Elie in tip top shape for the long haul. I’m now planning to drive Elie just for pleasure and purchase maybe a Honda or Subaru for necessity. This is what you’ve reduced me to. For shame BMW!

    1. Eduardo Perez says:

      You are 100% right congratulations the Mini should be mini no something else

    2. Bill Howland says:

      Jonathan I certainly hear what you’re saying.. I’ve been driving mostly GM products of late, and one of GM’s arrogance problems is they can never leave the dashboard alone, and every single dashboard they come out with is needlessly different. I guess they need to keep their 50,000 new hire engineers occupied with busy-work.

      I recently got a GMC Terrain small-midsize SUV as a loaner – the thing wasted its displays putting a winding 4 lane graphic on the screen with absolutely *NO* other detail, and the controls were so foreign I had to use the steering wheel controls to adjust radio volume. But it had a pushbutton transmission WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN WHAT I HAVE ON MY BOLT ev…But Bolts have a ‘precision shift system’ that prevents you from doing quick 3 point turns.

      GM usually beats BMW on reliability, and conservative designs, which is the main reason I like them.

      Why MINI’s marketing people couldn’t see that the funky LARGE speedo was one of the cute emblems of the car is beyond me. Seems like they almost WANT to kill sales of the car. Raising the price ain’t gonna increase profits if absolutely no one buys them.

    3. Marcel says:

      Wow, spoken like a true Mini enthusiast. I agree 100%. I’m on my 4 Mini right now started in 2003 when it first came out, yellow classic two door with black roof. Then two clubmans, which has to be my favorite. Now I have my 2015 last year production of the Mini Paceman. But yes BMW has ruined the line of Mini, and the new models are not my type. It disappoints me that I will not continue with Mini. Lol, and yes I miss the speedometer in the middle, that’s classic. BMW needs to return to what makes Mini a Mini.

  11. Courtney vegan says:

    Range is king. So far bmw has not challenged tesla.i guess bmw is not there yet on battery tech.

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      Total myth…If true, everyone would cancel their Tesla model 3 reservation and buy a Bolt EV which hasn’t even broke 3K sales yet…

      Truth is rarely do households exclusively contain EVs, they usually have access to an ICE that’s taken on long tips…

  12. Dwayne Sentell says:

    The mini convertible is a great car and I love the power of it but they apparently don’t make enough of them great car to pull behind an RV and park and let ur top down

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      Supply and demand, if Mini determined they could make a good profit they’d make more…

  13. Dwayne Sentell says:

    Convertible with stick is hard to find

    1. God/Bacardi says:

      Thank goodness we live in the digital age where you can go to cars/autotrader and find a 100 of them under a minute…

  14. JWoj says:

    Sales could be declining because of the awful dealers. They’re scam artists in the maintenance department. I love my Mini but it’s waiting to get $2500 worth of repairs done that the dealership said would be $6300.

  15. Nix says:

    The challenge they have (like all ICE companies) is that they need a dedicated EV chassis so they can put the batteries in the right place (under the car). So if they are really going to get serious, they have to decide between ICE or EV and just do it.

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