Sales of MINIs dropped by 3% in 2022 to 292,923 cars, but demand for electric vehicles increased significantly as the Cooper SE found 43,744 new homes in the year that just ended. The zero-emission small hatchback enjoyed a 25.5% jump in sales compared to the year before. At the same time, the number of plug-in hybrid and electric cars went up by 14.3% to 60,839 units, thus accounting for about 21% of all deliveries.
In 2023, MINI celebrates its 110th anniversary and intends to introduce two battery-powered cars. The British brand part of the BMW Group doesn’t go into any details about the models, only saying they’ll be “the first two fully electric models of the new MINI family.” However, we have a good idea of what the year will bring: next-generation Cooper SE and the first-ever electric Countryman.
Already teased, the Cooper SE will usher in a new design language for the brand. MINI will move production of the electric hatch from Oxford to China as part of a partnership signed with Great Wall Motor back in 2019. The BMW Group formed a joint venture dubbed “Spotlight Automotive” with GWM and the plan is to make up to 160,000 cars at a new plant in Zhangjiagang.
A Cooper SE Convertible has already been confirmed for a launch in 2025 and will likely be made in China as well. On a related note, the next gasoline-fueled droptop model will be assembled in Oxford, unlike the current car made in the Netherlands by the VDL Nedcar automotive manufacturing company.
While the outgoing model shares its platform with the combustion-engined car, the new Cooper SE will use dedicated electric vehicle underpinnings developed together by MINI and Great Wall Motor. The gasoline versions are sticking around for one final generation and will continue to be made at home in the UK.
As for the other EV we’ll see this year, it’s likely the next-generation Countryman. Mechanically related to the latest BMW X1, the new crossover will continue to be sold with ICEs but will eschew the plug-in hybrid powertrain in favor of a purely electric derivative. While the outgoing model is made in the Netherlands by VDL Nedcar, its replacement in both ICE and EV flavors will be assembled at BMW’s factory in Leipzig (Germany).
Speaking of crossovers, a production version of the Aceman concept is scheduled to arrive in 2024. It’ll share the electric underpinnings with the next Cooper SE, and yes, it will be made in China.
These three electric models will kick-start MINI’s EV revolution considering the company wants to go purely electric by the early 2030s.