Mini has offered the first official hints about how it plans to expand its electrified line-up, following the recent launch of the all-electric Mini hatchback.
Outlining its product strategy for the near future, the brand said it will "enable customers all over the world to have emission-free driving with a completely electrified model family" while still offering "highly efficient petrol and diesel engines, which continue be an ideal solution for target groups and regions whose mobility needs are not yet met by all-electric vehicles".
Confirmed to be joining the new Mini Electric in showrooms will be a new crossover EV, which was first detailed by Autocar earlier this year. Developed as part of the brand's Chinese joint venture with Great Wall Motors, it will sit atop a new platform and take its power from a new generation of cobalt-free batteries of undisclosed capacity.
Further details of the new EV are thin on the ground, but it's possible it will revive the dormant Paceman nameplate and go on to form the basis of a replacement for parent company BMW's eight-year-old i3 hatchback.
A date for the electric crossover's launch has not yet been given, but the Zhangjiagang factory where it will be built, 85 miles from Shanghai, is set to go into operation in 2022. The factory will also build the long-awaited production version of the 2011 Rocketman concept, which will be positioned below the Mini Electric in the maker's line-up.
Likely to share the bulk of its powertrain and platform with the Chinese-market Ora K1, the Rocketman will be heavily geared towards urban use, with a maximum range of around 218 miles and ultra-compact proportions, including a length of less than 3.5m.
The product strategy also mentions a new EV in the small car segment, which will likely be the MPV-shaped Traveller scooped by Autocar earlier this year.
As reported by Autocar, that model will use BMW's front- and four-wheel-drive-compatible FAAR platform and be available with combustion and plug-in hybrid powertrains in addition to the fully electric option.
Mirroring BMW's 'Power of Choice' approach, Mini remains committed to developing new combustion powertrains alongside the ramp-up of its electric offering. The next-generation Countryman SUV, for example, will continue to be available with pure-combustion and electrified powertrains, while the brand's 'small car models' will retain combustion engines exclusively.
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Also set to receive a combustion option is a new crossover model, which, Mini brand boss Bernd Körber previously told Autocar, will be similar in size to its BMW X3 sibling, making it Mini's largest model to date.
The brand is marking 20 years since its resurrection at the hands of BMW following the collapse of the MG Rover Group several years previously. While it is plotting expansion into new, larger model lines, it remains committed to "creative use of space" and says every new model of the brand will "continue to be a typical Mini, with a maximum of interior space, exciting drive and individuality, achieved on the smallest footprint amongst its competitors".
Körber said: "It is part of our responsibility to the brand and the community to preserve the unique character of Mini. That is why every new model from our brand in future will be unmistakably a Mini."
Da anni ci sono speculazioni sul futuro di Mini, adesso BMW ha fatto un pò di chiarezza.
Come temuto diverse Mini avranno una base cinese, vi saranno prodotte una Mini elettrica più corta di 3,5 mt, un crossover compatto elettrico sotto i 4 mt destinato a sostituire la BMW i3 e un minivan.
Sul pianale BMW a trazione anteriore invece arriveranno l’erede della Countryman previsto per il 2023 e un suv medio delle dimensioni della X3.
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