New 2020 Electric MINI Cooper SE Makes Its First Appearance

The new electric MINI Cooper SE hatch has been spotted prior to its official first launch. Seen during a photoshoot in Los Angeles, the electric hatchback features several distinguishing design features that set it apart from other vehicles in the MINI range.

The new Cooper SE showcases an aerodynamic wheel design, yellow detailing and an obscured grille, which clearly indicates that it is an EV. Although other automakers, such as Nissan have chosen a more subdued design for their EVs, MINI’s head of design Oliver Heilmer told Auto Express that it was important for the company’s first electric vehicle to make a statement.

“For the production MINI electric we have carried over some of the details from the concept car, features like the wheels and grille,” Heilmer said. “This is important as the MINI electric is all about the details.”

Development testing for the MINI EV prototype has been underway in the Austrian Alps, where company engineers are perfecting the vehicle’s mechanical structure. The new Cooper SE will be based on a standard three-door Hatch, and the automaker has not yet planned for a larger five-door model.

According to Heilmer, MINI is transitioning from combustion-engine cars to EVs and wants to focus on highlighting the difference between these vehicles. The company wants the new electric cars to reflect their uniqueness in much the same way as the standard MINI and the John Cooper Works vehicles markedly differ.

Under the hood, the MINI Cooper SE will integrate technology currently used by parent company BMW, including the larger 29kWh battery seen in the BMW i3 range. The battery will power a 181bhp electric motor on the front axle and deliver almost 160 miles on the new WLTP cycle.

Like the Countryman Cooper SE hybrid, MINI’s other EV, the fully-electric supermini will resemble the petrol-powered Cooper S Hatch in terms of performance, going 0-62mph in under seven seconds. In the future, Heilmer suggested that the MINI’s hoped to match the performance of JCW-badged cars.

“Can electric cars and John Cooper Works cars come together?” Heilmer asked. “Why not? When you look at the performance of our MINI Countryman, performance and electrification work well together.”

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According to BMW, the MINI EV is being built at the Cowley plant in Oxford. The original two-door MINI was launched by the British Motor Corporation (BMC) in 1959. Given its space-saving front-wheel-drive layout that enabled 80% of the cabin area to be used for passengers and luggage, it’s considered an icon of the sixties and a key influence for a generation of automakers. In 1999 the MINI was voted the second most influential car of the last century, behind the Ford Model T.

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