The First All-Electric Mini Cooper Is Radical in Its Simplicity

The 2020 Mini Cooper SE looks and feels like … a regular Mini

2020 Mini Cooper SE Electric Vehicle From BMW Group
Introducing the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, their first all-electric model.
BMW Group

If electric vehicles are indeed the future, we’re on the brink of a major upheaval in car design. The necessary components for EVs are different enough (bye bye internal combustion engines) that they have the potential to take forms hitherto unseen on American roads. You’ve seen hints at these futuristic designs from Tesla, Rivian and even top brands like Toyota. 

Where you won’t see quasi-sci-fi EV design: the 2020 Mini Cooper SE, the British brand’s first all-electric car which was unveiled today. Instead of pushing the limit of what a Mini could look and feel like, the company chose to design it as close to the existing, gas-powered Minis as possible. And that makes it radical.

Yes, a Mini is a Mini because of its iconic design, but the similarities between this new electric model and the pipsqueaks Europhiles know and love go beyond the shape. The battery is situated low enough that the luggage capacity is the same, the charge connection is in the same spot as the fuel door,  the 0-60 MPH time is about even (around 7.3 seconds) and — as you can see in Kelley Blue Book’s first look video — the structure is similar enough that it comes off the same production line as all the other models.

That’s not to say there aren’t significant changes for this model. The basics: it packs a 32.6 kWh battery pack, a single motor producing 181 HP and 199 ft.-lb. of torque, front-wheel drive, multiple regenerative braking modes and a range estimated between 146 and 168 miles (emphasis on estimated as official U.S. EPA range figures have not yet been released). As Jalopnik points out, both the battery and subsequent range are on the low end, even for compact electric cars. But how many people buy Mini Coopers for road trips, anyway?

It should be noted that, yes, there are a few EV-specific touches, such as a new digital screen behind the steering wheel, wheels inspired by British power outlets and a few yellow accents (because electricity!). But it’s all done with a subtle hand.

If this whole time you’ve been wondering, didn’t Mini Cooper already release an electric model? Yes, but only for a trial period. That was the Mini E, which was available to lease back in 2009, but all of those preliminary EVs were eventually retrieved by Mini, according to Kelley Blue Book.

Expect to see the Mini Cooper SE in the U.S. early next year. While Bloomberg notes a price tag of $36,400, that’s just a conversion of the U.K. price. Official U.S. pricing will be announced closer to the release.

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