Remember the Mini Rocketman concept?
You'd be forgiven for forgetting all about the cute Mini Rocketman concept. Launched way back in 2011, the Mini Rocketman concept was an even tinier version of the bloated current-generation Mini, measuring only 134 inches long. But despite the buzz it generated, it never made it to production. Eight years later, Autocar is claiming the micro concept car will enter production after all - albeit with a significant change.
Thanks to the rise of electrification, the auto industry has changed significantly since the Rocketman concept was unveiled. Originally, the plan was to launch the Mini Rocketman with a range of three-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, but Autocar claims it will now only be offered with a fully electric powertrain as part of the company's plan to launch 25 plug-in hybrid and pure electric models by the end of 2023. It will also complement the newly unveiled Cooper SE, Mini's first ever fully electric model.
The production version of the Rocketman will reportedly launch in 2022 as an entry-level three-door hatchback and will be built at Spotlight Automotive, a newly established joint venture operation run by BMW and its partner Great Wall Motors in Jiangsu, China.
"We're advancing plans for a model along the lines of the Rocketman. It's a car we have been looking at for a long time, but to build it profitably at the price point we think customers are prepared to pay, you need a joint venture partner to share costs. Great Wall Motors has provided that opportunity with a shared electric car platform that will be used by Mini," a senior BMW official told Autocar.
According to Autocar, the production version of the Rocketman is expected to share the same platform as China's Ora R1 compact hatchback, which has similar dimensions to the 2011 Rocketman concept. Power is sourced from a front-mounted electric motor developing a modest 47 hp and 92 lb-ft of torque. As standard, the Ora R1 has a 30.7kWh lithium-ion battery providing a range of 192 miles, while the range-topping 33kWh version delivers a range of 218 miles. Let's just hope claims of the Mini Rocketman going into production are true this time after getting false hope several times before.