If Sir Alec Issigonis was designing the original Mini today, chances are it would have an electric motor. When it was launched in 1959, it was not just a little car but one which saved fuel at a time when there was an oil shortage caused by the Suez Crisis. Within its small footprint, creative use was made of the available space to accommodate four persons with their luggage.
Living on in a sustainable way
Although the original Mini was retired and its succeeding generations have charted a new course for the model, many units still exist around the world. With the MINI Recharged project which converts classic Minis to electric drive, the Mini legacy continues in the 21st century in a sustainable way.
The conversion of classic Minis to an electric drive combines traditional values with future-oriented technology. The idea was born even before the carmaker had a fully electric car. As a one-off, a classic Mini Electric was built in 2018 and presented at the New York Auto Show. The reactions were so positive that a dedicated team from MINI Plant Oxford set to work and developed the plan to offer a conversion to those who had the original Mini.
Changes are ‘reversible’ later on
To experience traditional go-kart handling with an emission-free drivetrain, the original petrol engine of the classic Mini is replaced by a modern electric drive. Only reversible changes are made to the substance of the car during the conversion as part of MINI Recharged. Careful handling of the historical heritage is an important part of the concept.
This makes it possible to restore the classic Mini to its original condition at a later date. During the conversion, the original engine of each vehicle is marked and stored so it can be reused in the event of a future retrofit of the classic Mini.
The MINI Recharged project means a vehicle’s life can be extended in a sustainable way. A classic Mini can now be given a new lease of life, accompanying its owner into the future, whilst maintaining its much-loved heritage. The drive is a modern electric motor that generates a continuous output of up to 90 kW and accelerates the electrified classic Mini from 0 to 100 km/h in approximately 9 seconds.
The energy is supplied by a high-voltage battery pack, which can be charged with an output of up to 6.6 kW for a range estimated to be around 160 kms. In addition, every electrified classic Mini from MINI Recharged receives the characteristic central instrument cluster, familiar since the early days of the model, but with displays showing the drive temperature, the selected gear, range and speed.
A whole new driving experience
The Mini has been well known as loved for its go-kart character and with the MINI Recharged, that zippiness will still be available with instant acceleration and an almost silent drivetrain. And while original Minis with combustion engines cannot enter the electric or low-emission driving zones of many large cities in Europe, this electrified Mini will be allowed to do so. Thus its owners will be able to drive along the streets of London just like the original owners in the Swinging Sixties and once again be part of the cityscape, without the driver having to pay an environmental tax (congestion charge) beforehand.
In addition, the converted car does not need a new registration (such a conversion is not allowed in Malaysia, which the JPJ has made clear). This, in a way, fits in the aspect of circular economy which the BMW Group promotes. For this project, no new vehicles are being produced and are created from much-loved, existing cars. It allows an original Mini to carry on in a second, more sustainable life.
Today, one in five new MINI models has an electrified drive and now the MINI Recharged project will allow the love of the brand’s classic vehicles to become an experience combining the past and the future.