MINI is about to put a charge in its lineup. The automaker unveiled a plug-in hybrid on Monday that it says offers a glimpse into the brand’s future direction.
While not quite ready to hit the streets, MINI says the plug-in hybrid’s development is almost complete. It will feature a combustion engine coupled to an electric motor, which will allow propulsion on electricity alone. That is a first for MINI.
The carmaker isn’t releasing details of the battery pack’s size, range or a power figure, but it says the MINI hybrid will be able to drive under electric power of speeds up to 125 kilometres per hour in MAX eDRIVE mode. In AUTO eDRIVE mode, the standard setting, that speed will top out at 80 km/h.
MINI stressed it its announcement about the hybrid that the brand’s go-kart driving feel will be maintained despite the electrification process.
“In a hybrid MINI model, driving electrically must also be an exhilarating experience,” head of MINI brand management, Sebastian Mackensen, said in a statement. “This means that entirely electric driving is not limited to speeds of 30 or 40 km/h, but to speeds well beyond city traffic pace.”
Peter Wolf, the head of MINI series management, says that the eDrive components, place very low down at the rear of the vehicle, actually result in a lower centre of gravity.
“As far as the chassis and suspension are concerned, nothing changes from the conventionally driven model variants,” Wolf said.
The MINI will also feature a Save Battery mode, which, as you might expect, conserves charge while using the combustion engine on the highway, for example. The engine can also act as a generator, recharging the battery to power the MINI later with electricity only.
The two separate power sources on the MINI Hybrid will also drive only one set of wheels, under normal conditions. The electric motor to the rear wheels, and the combustion engine to the front wheels.
However, when slippage is detected, Wolf says “the second drive unit is activated to provide additional traction when starting off or ensuring a high level of steering precision when cornering.”