Surprisingly, the coronavirus is to blame.
Automakers have stepped up to fight the coronavirus by volunteering to build much-need protective medical equipment as well as life-saving ventilators. The risk of spreading the disease has caused many automakers to shut down their production facilities but Mini has been impacted in a different way.
That's because of a very specific wheel design used by one model, the Mini Cooper SE. Mini's first mainstream electric car is just going on sale in 2020 with an attractive starting price of $29,900 before tax incentives. But the Cooper SE's unique wheels have quickly created a problem for the company, a problem that has nothing to do with the funky design.
We'd understand if consumers responded negatively to the oddly-styled wheel but it is actually an issue with the name of the wheel that's caught Mini off-guard. By complete coincidence, Mini calls these 17-inch wheels the "Corona Spoke." Talk about bad timing.
According to Mini's website, the Corona Spoke wheels only appear on the top Iconic trim level while the Signature and Signature Plus trims ride on more conventional wheels. The original press release for the car still mentions an "Additional wheel option 17-inch Corona Spoke" on the Iconic trim level but clearly, Mini needs to make a change.
"The name of the wheel design that is available on the Mini Cooper SE with the Iconic trim level has been changed from 'Corona Spoke' to 'Power Spoke.' This was done to ensure Mini remains sensitive to all those experiencing the widespread impacts of Covid-19," said a Mini spokesperson. "Although the name of this wheel design was in place a good time prior to the current pandemic, we're making sure all marketing and consumer communications materials are being updated to reflect the new name of this wheel design. It's simply the right thing to do."
Given the devastation caused by the coronavirus, we feel like Mini has made the right decision here even if the Power Spoke's design has been compared to a UK electrical outlet. We actually dig the design as it helps the Cooper SE stand out over its gas-engined counterpart.