Battery-powered Mini aims to corner green market
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It is almost 60 years since it revolutionised motoring.
Small, stylish and nippy, the Mini quickly became an icon of the Swinging Sixties, famously earning a starring role in hit films The Italian Job (pictured below) and Goodbye Pork Pie (pictured bottom).
Now the marque hopes to have the same effect on the electric car market.
The first all-electric Mini was revealed in the Netherlands on Tuesday, aiming to spark a price war against its green and not-so-green rivals.
The five models will be built at the same Cowley factory in Oxford, UK as their famous predecessor, with a government subsidy bringing the cost of a three-door hatchback to under the equivalent of $50,000.
Mini, owned by Germany’s BMW, said more than 15,000 potential customers have already expressed an interest in the new electric car. Production is due to start in November, with the first deliveries next March.
The battery, which sits in a T-shape unit between the front seats and below the rear seats, consists of 12 lithium ion modules. While this adds to the weight of the vehicle, the Mini Electric is only around 10 per cent heavier than the Mini Cooper S automatic.
The Mini Electric has a range of up to 144 miles and can be charged to 80 per cent in 35 minutes at a fast-charging station, although it will need 12 hours if you plug it in at home.
It would be almost silent but new safety laws mean it must emit a distinctive sound through speakers at low speed to protect pedestrians.
With limited public charging points, one of the biggest impediments to many buying an electric car is fear of running out of power. Car manufacturers are trying to develop far more powerful solid state batteries that will significantly increase the range of electric cars.
Oliver Zipse of BMW said: "We are entering an era in which electric cars will become a normal choice for our customers. The Mini Electric will kick off our new model offensive for fully electric vehicles. By 2023 we will have 25 electrified models on the market. More than half of them will be fully electric."
David George, of Mini UK, said the new vehicle combined "everything about a Mini" with the environmental and low running-cost advantages of an electric car.