BMW AG is unveiling a fully electric platform for its Mini brand as the automaker looks to leverage its popular three-door hatchback to compete with a range of smaller Chinese battery-powered vehicles pushing into Europe.
(Bloomberg) — BMW AG is unveiling a fully electric platform for its Mini brand as the automaker looks to leverage its popular three-door hatchback to compete with a range of smaller Chinese battery-powered vehicles pushing into Europe.
The new generation of the Mini Cooper EV will be on display at next week’s IAA car show in Munich, after BMW’s partner Great Wall Motor Co. helped develop the new all-electric underpinnings and will produce the car in China for import to Europe.
With cost pressures eating into margins for smaller EVs, European carmakers including BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen are handing over development and production to Chinese joint-venture partners. Mini still strongly identifies as a British brand and has vowed to keep its roots in the UK, where the government and BMW have been in talks over a potential deal to support investment in the company’s Oxford plant.
The new electric Mini Coopers will charge faster and have a 30% better range than their previous version. New software will also provide improved speech recognition and over-the-air updates.
Mini is also overhauling other models. The Countryman sport utility vehicle, now based on a BMW platform, will be manufactured in Leipzig, Germany. In 2024, Mini will also introduce a 5-door-crossover called Aceman to replace current hatchback and station-wagon variants. While Great Wall will manufacture the electric Cooper and Aceman models in China, Mini’s UK plant in Oxford will produce the combustion-engine versions of both models.
BMW, which is seeking government incentives to increase investment in the Oxford plant, and UK officials have yet to announce a deal. Securing an agreement would be a significant marker for the UK, which is struggling to compete with US and Europe for green-tech investments.
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