Reintroduced to the world in 2001 as a modern, upscale take on the classic British Mini, the BMW MINI — often called the ‘New MINI’ by fans to differentiate it form the Issigonis-designed original — has not only enjoyed sales popularity during the past decade but has also grown from the original 3-door hatchback and 2-door convertible to a dizzying total of ten different variants. For a time, the MINI was even available as a limited-production lease-only vehicle under the BMW test-vehicle program used to develop BMW’s electric drivetrain technology and pave the way towards the launch of its i3 electric car.
The massive explosion of quirky MINI-based models in recent years has also led to some interesting new concept cars, including the all-electric Superleggera concept car, but as we reported in September, BMW bosses had voiced concerns that continuing BMW’s massive MINI lineup was the right decision. Consequentially, we were told, BMW would be taking a long and hard look at the future of the MINI family before deciding on the future of a possible all-electric MINI.
At the time, we inferred that a possible paring down of the MINI family to just four or five models would mean an electric MINI model would be highly unlikely, but now it appears that despite confirming plans to slash the MINI range to just five models, parent company BMW is keen to offer a plug-in MINI as one of those five models.
The news comes courtesy of MINI’s brand chief Peter Schwarzenbauer, who says that while BMW is reducing the number of MINI models it plans to offer in the future, an all-electric MINI– possibly based on the Superleggera — would enter production “soon.”
Interestingly, Schwarzenbauer hinted that despite paring down the range, MINI would ultimately offer customers more ways to customize their cars. While that’s likely to take the form of offering various individual packages that can be added on top of a series of base-level models, it could conceivably also include a range of power train options including gasoline, diesel or electric.
“The brand will continue to evolve over the coming years to ensure that we remain leading-edge,” he said. “We will take new and unexpected directions.”
What those directions will be remains something of a mystery, but with Schwarzenbauer admitting that MINI may even start looking at alternatives to traditional franchised dealerships, the future of the MINI brand — and an electric MINI model — look very interesting indeed.
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