BMW has outlined new plans for its Mini brand, including the electrification of the entire model range, in cooperation with Chinese manufacturer Great Wall, and the addition of two new crossover models.
Mini started on the road to electrification in 2008, with the low-volume production of the Mini E. With the plug-in hybrid (PHEV) variant of the Mini Countryman alone, electric vehicles (EVs) accounted for 5% of the brand’s total sales in 2019, according to a BMW Group release. Following the launch of the Mini Electric earlier this year, the EV share has doubled to 10% of all new registrations for the brand.
Looking forward, Mini ‘will enable customers all over the world to have emission-free driving with a completely electrified model family.’ However, the brand will continue to offer internal combustion engines (ICEs) as they remain an ‘ideal solution for target groups and regions whose mobility needs are not yet met by all-electric vehicles.’
‘With the two pillars of our drivetrain strategy, we are pursuing the Power of Choice approach to meet the needs of our customers around the world,’ Bernd Körber, head of Mini, said in the statement. ‘This will create the conditions for further growth and actively shape the transformation of mobility.’
Speaking to the German publication WirtschaftsWoche, Körber commented that ‘we will electrify the whole Mini portfolio by 2024.’ He added that there will be Mini cars with ICE until 2030 but the brand will be ‘completely electric earlier than most other brands.’ Körber predicts that beyond 2025, more than half of all Minis sold will be purely electric, and Mini could be an electric brand in 2030. ‘Already at the end of 2020, the share of pure-electric and plug-in hybrid Minis sold will be about 10% to 15%. In 2021, it should then be about 15-20%.’
The future Mini range of all-electric vehicles will include the three-door hatchback, a new crossover model in the small-car segment and a compact crossover model. The Mini Countryman compact crossover will therefore be joined by a new crossover model in the small-car segment, which will be supplied exclusively with an all-electric drive. The next-generation Countryman will be available with both ICE and electrified powertrains.
However, this does leave a question mark over the future of the Mini Clubman compact hatchback model, which is produced at Mini’s plant in Oxford, UK. The Clubman spearheaded Mini’s move into the premium compact segment before being joined by the Countryman. Around 40% of the brand’s vehicle sales are in this segment.
Building with Great Wall of China
The Chinese vehicle market continues to grow and will become even more important for Mini in the future. Currently, around 10% of all new vehicles produced for the brand are delivered to customers in China. It comes as little surprise, therefore, that Mini will move from being an import brand to producing cars locally.
Based on a new vehicle architecture, developed from the ground up for pure e-mobility, battery-electric vehicles will be produced in China from 2023, in cooperation with local manufacturer; Great Wall Motor.
‘This venture will enable Mini to meet the rising demand for emission-free driving both in China and in the other global markets. Cooperation with the Chinese partner will be based on a clearly defined principle: production follows the market. With locally manufactured vehicles, Mini will serve the growing Chinese automotive market whilst maintaining stable production at other locations,’ BMW Group said in its statement.