The Mini plug-in hybrid is inching closer and closer to the finish line. BMW’s not so little brand is showing off a preview of the its first electric plug-in — which is expected to get its full public debut at the LA Auto Show in November.
First things first. Mini wants you to know that the goal behind the Hybrid Mini equals zero emissions plus non-compromising handling. That is to say it’s not purely electric. The model uses a combustion engine combined with an electric motor. But it makes it the first electric Mini of any kind.
So about the signature go-kart handling. Mini’s head of brand management Sebastian Mackensen says, “With this model we want to convince Mini customers of the benefits of hybrid drive and impress everyone who already has hybrid driving experience with Mini’s unique go-kart driving feel.”
The Mini model does this via “intelligent energy management.” It works by careful controlling the engine and motor to keep performance at the forefront. It starts up in all-electric mode. Then depending on acceleration and power demand the combustion engine kicks in. It should be a smooth process that drivers can get a feel for quickly. Furthermore, the gas engine powers the front wheels while the electric takes care of the rear.
Despite showing off a preview of the model, it still keeps a lot under wraps thanks to the camo wrapping. We can see though that it stays true to the Mini signatures style. It has a horizontal rectangle roof, circle headlights, and the bulldog stance. In other words, no flaunting its plug-in status with an odd design. Whew.
The plug-in socket keeps a low-profile. Mini places it in the left Side Scuttle. In everyman terms, the plug falls just above the front left tire and just in front of the left front door.
Mini says the cockpit looks just like a regular Mini. No worries though, the rpm monitor in the middle has been discretely changed to a power display. The only clear difference comes from the start/stop button glowing yellow instead of the standard red. The change of color draws subtle attention to the silence of starting up a plug-in hybrid versus a standard engine model.
The new plug-in Hybrid model is expected to be at the Los Angeles Show next month and join the lineup shortly thereafter. In 2019, a fully electric Mini is expected to join BMW’s 330e electric plug-in hybrid that directly challenges Tesla.