BMW, the owner of the Mini Cooper brand, just announced an all-electric Mini Cooper that would have been utterly amazing in 2013 or so. Today, in 2020, it is still a very interesting car, but is found lacking in one key measure – driving range. Its very affordable price will make the 2020 Mini Cooper SE attractive to a household with multiple cars, who wants an electric car for around-town driving.
This isn’t BMW/Mini’s first time around at building an electric Mini Cooper. The first group of Electronauts, what BMW called the folks who participated in BMW’s pilot projects, were leased what was called the Mini-E. That was an all-electric car with a drive train supplied by AC Propulsion. Even though that car had several issues, it was very popular because of the electric go-kart feel and one-pedal-driving.
Click here to see the complete 2020 Mini Cooper SE press release, specifications, and image gallery.
For the all electric 2020 Mini Cooper SE, BMW is evoking some of those same attributes. The press release announcing availability in the USA says it offers “the same fun-to-drive, go-kart reflexes we’ve built into our MINI Cooper S hardtop”.
One hallmark of the Mini brand is what BMW describes as a goal “to develop a creative solution for a highly efficient car with a small footprint that was fun to drive, and accessible to the masses”. Today’s Mini lineup includes some over-sized cars we should call Maxi’s rather than Mini’s. However the photo’s released with the announcement show the Mini Cooper SE has a size similar to earlier Mini models:
The 2020 Mini Cooper SE offers some very nice features that we will prize highly in an electric car such as standard DC fast charging, and AC charging at up to 7.2 kiloWatts. It supports what Mini calls “E-Drive Services” which is the remote access features to do things like remotely start a charging session. And there is an Active Driving Assistant feature with Forward Collision Warning. The only other advanced driving assistance is the highest trim package includes parking assistant.
The motor produces a maximum output of 181 horsepower, and a 0-60 miles/hr time of 6.9 seconds. That’s not exactly a barnburner in acceleration (a Tesla will beat that surely) but it’s very good nonetheless. And of course what we need acceleration for is tasks like merging on the highway, since very few of us go to race tracks, and that 0-60 time will do very well entering a highway.
The press release includes this very helpful graphic explaining charging times.
Regular AC charging, and 50 kiloWatt DC charging. That’s pretty standard these days. It’s nice that BMW includes DC charging as a standard feature rather than making you pay extra for that (cough cough GM). It’s also nice that the supplied charging cord supports both 120 volt and 240 volt charging, the latter maxing at 16 amps.
But as nice as all these features are, we have to discuss the primary issue.
The technical specifications say the battery pack has a usable capacity of 28.9 kiloWatt-hours. That’s roughly equal to the battery pack size of the 2015 Kia Soul EV I have sitting in my driveway. With that battery size, BMW predicts the Mini Cooper SE will deliver 110 miles range which is better than my Kia Soul EV by about 20 miles. That’s likely due to better aerodynamics.
But the point of this comparison is that – BMW is offering a 110 mile range electric car in 2020. BMW!!! What’s wrong with you??
Other companies offered that much range five years ago.
However in BMW’s defense we have to note that the MSRP of $29,000 for the base model makes up for the range deficit, in a way. That 110 miles range will be excellent in around-town driving, and the dedicated EV driver will be able to do long range trips with it.
BMW seems to recognize this problem. The press release stresses this lower price, and other price advantages – such as it qualifying for full tax rebates at the Federal level and in several states. And, BMW has this to say: “On the rational side, 80% of all MINI house-holds own two or more cars, and with an accessible price, the MINI Electric is a perfect complement in offering more customers attainable, emission-free driving.”
In other words – anyone complaining about the range has to recognize that most people have multiple cars in their household. This Mini Cooper SE can be the around-town car, and the household can rely on other cars for long distance trips.
Prospective owners can place orders now via MiniUSA.com or ShopMiniUSA.com. Availability is not described as limited to certain states so maybe that means it is available nationwide. MSRP ranges from $29,900 to $36,900 depending on trim level, and there is a $850 delivery charge.
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