Peter Schwarzenbauer is the BMW board member in charge of the MINI division. According to BMW Blog, he said this week that a plug-in hybrid MINI will appear in showrooms sometime in the next two years. “We have the technology available,” he says.
That’s not surprising, since MINI is owned by BMW, which has a announced it intention to have a plug-in hybrid version of every car model is sells in the very near future. The 3 Series 330e and the X5 Xdrive40e are already on the market. The upcoming 5 Series sedan update is expected to have a plug, as will the new 7 Series sedan.
Schwarzenbauer also hints that an all electric MINI is in the works. Once again, that is not a shocker, since the BMW i3 and the MINI are very close in size. He declined to speculate on a time table for an electric MINI, sayjng that it will be ready when battery technology makes it feasible to manufacture. “MINI is the urban brand,” he added. “Long term, we will see a lot of electric mobility in the urban environment. MINI definitely needs one.”
Actually, MINI was one of the first manufacturers to offer a production electric car in the US market. The MINI-E had such a modest range that it may have actually set the electric car movement back several years. People didn’t really understand the term “range anxiety” until the MINI-E came along and taught them what it meant. The word quickly spread and range anxiety is still inhibiting electric car sales today.
Plans for a plug-in hybrid MINI were confirmed by this week by Andreas-Christoph Hoffmanm, the head of global communications for MINI. During the introduction for the 2016 MINI Convertible, he told Australian motoring site Drive that a plug-in hybrid powertrain could be used in “any of the models we have launched so far.”
That has led to speculation that the not-so-mini Countryman may get the plug-in treatment first, since it is the largest vehicle in the current MINI lineup. MINI is eliminating the Coupe and Roadster, which leaves the Countryman as the next model due for a refresh. That also means now is the perfect time to add a plug to it. The BMW 225xe and 2 Series Active Tourer, both of which come with a plug, use the same front-wheel drive UKL platform that will form the basis of the next Countryman.