BMW's Mini brand sees the fast acceleration that electric motors give to electrified vehicles as helping it promote its upcoming hybrid and battery powered models as fun-to-drive, in keeping with the brand's image.
Mini will offer its first plug-in hybrid with its new Countryman SUV, which is due early next year. An electric car will follow in 2019, using the architecture of a current model but with distinct styling to set it apart from the internal combustion engine models, said Sebastian Mackensen, global head of the Mini brand.
The Countryman plug-in hybrid is expected to use the same drivetrain as the BMW 225XE compact minivan, which is built on the BMW's front-wheel-drive UKL platform, as are Mini's new models.
The 225XE has a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbocharged gasoline engine and a rear-mounted electric motor. The 7.6KWh battery pack is said to give an electric driving range of 40 km (25 miles).
The engine will drive the front wheels and the electric motor will propel the rear wheels.
Positioning the batteries and the electric motor low in the car helps Mini to achieve its trademark 'go-kart' driving sensations, Mackensen said in a statement.
"In a hybrid Mini model, driving electrically must be an exhilarating experience," he said. The car can be driven in electric mode at speeds of up to 125 kph (78 mph). Some plug-in models restrict the electric-only speed to city driving speeds of 30 kph or 40 kph.
Mackensen sees electrification as a big plus for his brand. "Mini by nature is an urban brand already, and electric will play a bigger role in the urban environment," he told Automotive News, a sister publication of Automotive News Europe.