Mini preparing for a huge change
IT'S the car that trounced V8s at Mount Panorama, helped with a golden getaway in T he Italian Job and made for bumbling gags with Mr Bean - but the humble Mini could be about to undergo a huge electric shock.
The legendary Mini could ditch its diminutive engines in a stunning move to reposition the brand, according to a board member from the British brand's owner BMW.
Speaking to UK publication Auto Express, the former board member in charge of Mini and the man now in charge of BMW's electrification strategy, Peter Schwarzenbauer, said Mini may soon drop internal combustion engines altogether.
"For Mini, the Countryman as a plug-in hybrid (EV) was the first move - it is working much better than originally planned and shows electrifying Mini is the right way to go," Schwarzenbauer told Auto Express. "But then for Mini and small cars you have to focus yourself on emission-free, fully electric."
He justified the radical move by suggesting Mini's status as an urban car made it the perfect fit to fast track to electricity.
"Step-by-step we electrify the Mini line-up completely - this fits perfectly with the brand," he said, suggesting a shift to an all-electric Mini range would not occur for at least a decade. "If you have in the automotive industry one brand which you can call urban it is Mini".
Schwarzenbauer also told US authority Automotive News in April that an all-electric shift for Mini was a possibility.
"To secure the long-term future of Mini, we will enable the range to be all electric, should the customer prefer that."
He added that every new Mini will come with an electric option, albeit possibly teaming electric motors with petrol engines in a hybrid configuration.
"There will not be a single Mini model we plan to launch that a customer won't be able to order with an electrified drivetrain."
The Mini was a game changer when it was unveiled in 1959, teaming a compact two-door body with clever utilisation of space and a loveable design. It also made the now dominant front-wheel drive layout popular.
As an affordable small car the Mini also created big surprises on race tracks, including Bathurst's Mount Panorama. In 1966 the Mini not only won the then-500-mile endurance race but it took out the first nine positions, its simplicity and light weight construction beating the opposition that included Chrysler V8s.