Originally published on CleanTechnica.
This is a story that I’m sure will get my mom to perk up — she (like many) is a huge fan of the BMW Mini Cooper styling, which seems to bring us back to another era while still fitting in nicely with a modern life and especially the cities of today.
Once upon a time, BMW unveiled a “mini Mini” concept that it called the Rocketman. Back then (2011), it wasn’t an electric concept, and it was deemed too difficult to do because getting all of the organs and veins of a gasmobile packed into such a small car (with that design and adequate interior space) was an idea that just wasn’t based in reality. However, with the ongoing development and improvement of electric vehicle technology, the option is actually on the table now, and BMW is excited about it.
As a quick reminder, as well, there was a small pilot program with electrified BMW Minis, as part of BMW’s ActiveE program — which was the predecessor to the BMW i program that famously launched the fun & torquey BMW i3, the hot & sporty BMW i8, and, hopefully soon, will launch the practical + spacious (but still fun & hot) BMW i5.
Anyhow, what spurred on all of this chatter?… Some recent statements by Mini product chief Ralph Mahler (coming to us via Autocar & Green Car Reports). Granted, they weren’t anywhere close to definite, but they indicated that BMW is very seriously considering the option.
“The Rocketman is inspiring us as of today, especially as an EV in the future,” said Mahler.
“It was something that was ahead of its time but is still inspiring. With a smaller car, it’s a bigger challenge. With Rocketman, and talking EV in the future, as the EV engine gets more portable, it’s give and take [as to whether it is possible to make such a small car].”
In addition to the Mini Cooper, Autocar notes that the Rocketman could take design elements from the MINI Superleggera Vision, a beautiful electric roadster concept that has got to be one of my favorite car designs ever (though, yet again, I’m having a hard time getting over the fake grille now that I’m used to and loving the clean front of the Model 3 and Model X).
Highlighting the popularity of the Superleggera Vision (come on, how could that thing not be popular?!), Autocar writes:
This was a collaboration between Mini’s design team and coachbuilder Touring Superleggera and previewed Mini’s future design language on a two-seat, rear-wheeldrive roadster concept.
However, the concept car has proven such a hit that Mini is investigating ways of putting it into production, although it would seem unlikely at this stage.
Mahler described it as “the second concept that’s inspiring us at the moment”.
There had been “very positive feedback on the car,” he said, but the “roadster segment is small and demand is going down, with new markets opening up. The growth is not there, so it’s always a challenge”.
Mahler added: “It fits perfectly into the brand, but we’re a small [on sales volume] car brand and have to be focused and know what we want to have. The Superleggera is playing a role but no decisions.”
I think the Rocketman is an awesome idea, especially with some more design cues from the Superleggera Vision, and I hope BMW can make it happen with a fully electric drivetrain, decent range (~150 miles), and competitive pricing. But I guess I’m just on a BMW kick today. Related stories published hours ago include:
What do you think about the electric Rocketman idea?