The Mini is going miniature again!
Like many automakers, Mini is switching to electric-only powertrains within the next few years. By the early 2030s, Mini will become BMW Group's first electric-only brand, with its last combustion-powered model launching in 2025. Currently, the Mini Cooper SE is the only EV in Mini's model lineup, delivering an EPA-rated range of 110 miles courtesy of an electric motor producing 181 horsepower and 199 lb-ft of torque.
When the next-generation Mini Cooper arrives, it will be offered as a fully-electric hatchback, but a combustion-powered model will be sold alongside it. For the first time, our spy photographers have caught Mini testing the next-generation Cooper EV in the snow.
Development is clearly at an early stage as the prototype is heavily camouflaged and fitted with fake headlight rings, taillights, and a Cooper S-style hood air intake. Despite Mini's efforts to mask the car's identity, the prominent "electric test vehicle" sticker is an obvious giveaway that this is the new electric Mini Cooper. It isn't obvious in the photos, but the new Cooper will be smaller than the current car, harking back to the original Mini. Like the Cooper SE, the new electric Cooper EV will likely have colored accents to distinguish it from the traditional combustion model.
While our spies were unable to get a proper look inside the cabin, a close-up of the driver's side window reveals the prototype is fitted with a familiar-looking curved dual-screen display. This mirrors the dashboard layout of current BMW models, which may upset some Mini fans. It will be a radical departure from the current Cooper's funky cabin that's dominated by circular elements.
It's worth noting, however, that this is an early prototype, so the interior design could change between now and the launch. Technical details are unknown, but advances in EV technology should improve the Cooper EV's range and performance over the Cooper SE. The next-generation Mini Cooper is expected to arrive in 2023 and will it will be joined by two electric crossovers in the same year.